Speakeasy Wonderland

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We’ve been very fortunate for the support we’ve had at Speakeasy HQ from the very start. So many artists have contributed their time and resources to not just help get this amazing venture off the ground but to also see it become a true wonderland in so many ways. 

Despite extremely limited resources of both money and manpower we’ve done all we can to take as many of the ideas from the drawing board to our devoted followers. The result has been that we’ve been able to grow, we’ve been able to create new spaces for our existing performers to try new things and we’ve been able to invite artists from more fringe genres to present their works to a new audience.

By way of inspiration we’ve stayed true to our original plan to echo the creative genius’ of an era now past but still much loved. Amongst those are the fastidious minds of genius’ that include people who went out on a huge limb to build and create incredible ventures in the same spirit as Speakeasy HQ – in the name of beauty, art, a free sense of hedonism and the passion to collaborate with others to make a true wonderland experience for all. Top of the list of inspiration is Walt Disney, whose Disneyland concept to create a whole experience for the public gives rise to all who follow to want every possible detail of their own creation to be also as well polished. The ‘Toy Maker of New York’, Fredrick Thompson, who’s inspiration created the original Luna Park in Coney Island, which acted as the springboard for over 130 others around the world over the following 100 years. More close to home was the Canadian born, American migrant who came to Australia after seeing the Coney Island theme parks in 1900 and set about building four Luna Parks here, as well as founding the George St Cinemas that became Greater Union Cinemas. 
Our collective love of live art, the style and dynamism of 1920’s culture has given us an incredibly rich pallet from which to colour Speakeasy HQ with. So as we throw open our doors tomorrow night we look forward to your responses to so many new and exciting additions and inventions. The newly refurbished Lounge Stage, the brand new Speakeasy Slingshot flavour and our biggest programme to date with over 23 artists gracing both stages. 

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at Speakeasy HQ and visit our website for tickets, events and more!
www.speakeasy-HQ.com

The Contemporary History of Speaking Easy

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It’s been an exciting process for us as we grow and develop Speakeasy HQ into what it has and will become.

From the beginning our desire was twofold: first and foremost was our desire to create a genuine Melbourne venue that gave performance opportunities to artists across the widest spectrum of performance art, true to the original genre and style of vaudeville. The second was to create a food and wine experience that fed into the overall experience of a 1920’s vaudeville era speakeasy. 

As we’ve designed Speakeasy HQ we’ve been careful to add only things that are true to that spirit while also allowing us to play on the historical aspects of the original speakeasy’s, sly grog shops and Booz dens of the 1920’s. One of our biggest hits so far has been the invention of the Speakeasy slingshot. As mentioned in a previous blog, the Slingshot was reviewed and talked and raved about straight after it’s invention; but the name of its flavour, the Blind Melon, deserves a special mention. 

When naming the Blind Melon, the origins of its title drew special relevance to the history of the Speakeasy culture. The two words each have direct links to significant historical features of the vaudeville period speakeasys. The term Blind comes from the term ‘Blind Tiger’ which was commonly used as a decoy term for a sly grog shop with show in the 1920’s. The establishment owners would advertise they have a vaudeville show, naming the acts in the bill in the same ways that we are today , but for the addition of a significant act known as the Blind Tiger, which served as code for ‘alcohol available’. The second part of at title, Melon, is derived both from the inland Australian paddy melons that were and still are used in home, moonshine stills as well as the famous southern watermelon wine stills that became extremely popular during the 1920’s. 

Keeping it real whilst still creating a mass appeal at Speakeasy HQ has been a huge amount of fun for us and our followers. We’ve leaned heavily on images from the classic pinup girls of Gil Elvgren in some of our promotional material, as well as creating new pinup imagery at the event (spoiler alert – keep an eye out for the artworks on the crisps bags on Saturday night). 

So as we now begin the final countdown until the next speakeasy HQ we look around and do the final check to make sure everything is in place. Perhaps the most colourful addition at December’s Speakeasy will be the introduction of the Speakeasy Candy Girls , who will be every present during the night (remember to tip them). 

Overall we hope that everyone who comes to Speakeasy HQ has an experience that they take away with them and remembers for the rest of their lives. We want to encourage you all this time to take as many photos as possible, and to upload your best ones onto our Facebook page or hashtag your own pics with #speakeasyhq. We look forward to seeing you all this weekend!!
www.speakeasy-hq.com

Profiling the Greats!

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By Roy Maloy

In Australia we presently have a wealth of variety artists who present their skills at a world class level. Their skills are vast and varied, and reflect an interest from the general public in circus, burlesque, song and dance. But as we head toward the biggest Speakeasy HQ yet, the December 14th event will showcase some of the country’s biggest and most identifiable names, we look back on history in the view of inspiring lesser know styles of performance art.

Amongst the vaudeville theatres of 1900 were a swag of acts that we no longer see often, on indeed at all. These include some which would no longer be thought of as entertaining, such as poetry readings, those that are somewhat forgotten, such as spoons or saw players, and those which were flat out cruel, such as performing animal acts.

The first group aforementioned included a wide group of styles in historical vaudeville that spanned execution competitions, original poetry readings and clever spoken song poems accompanied by an organ.

The second group spotlighted include a fascinating and extremely inventive assortment of acts that we at Speakeasy HQ would LOVE to see perform on our stages. These included a common feature of extreme juggling, known also as scenario juggling. A family breakfast would be the scene, with table and chairs around a breakfast dining taxable. One by one the members of the family would begin tossing the table items, then the chairs, and finally the table, in a display of juggling that routinely ended when all items were slapped back into their original places in an instant and breakfast would resume as though it were never interrupted in the fist place. Others among the now not-so-common were novelty tap dance/gymnastics hybrid performances, and acts of agility and human strength such a strong men and acts of endurance. Houdini was possibly one of the greatest names in this category, taking escape acts to the stages in a whole new way. Another sensation around that time was the bullet catch, where the magician would catch a bullet in their mouth fired from a gun. It was legitimately performed by a small number of people from about 1860 onward but also carries an extremely high mortality rate.

Finally we come to animal acts. Although we humans have had a history that is punctuated with cruelty toward animals, it is Speakeasy’s view that there also exist acts with animals in them that are brilliant and not cruel. However, and for the sake of naming a few, there have been some extremely well regarded animal acts historically. Monkeys behaving like humans was an extremely popular act in all parts of the works until recently. Whereas performing dogs are still a huge favourite at theatres, street shows and on tv.

Speakeasy HQ is on the hunt for diversity and we’re hoping you can help us find it. If you know an artist who performs, we’d love to meet them!!

Log into www.speakeasy-HQ.com for event details and tickets for the December 14th show!

Size Matters

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Speakeasy HQ draws it’s inspiration to create a place where the biggest names in Australian vaudeville, circus, cabaret, burlesque, comedy, dance, illusion, song and art can present their brilliance to an adoring audience from over 500 years of theatres that have gone before it.

Arguably, there are literally thousands of amazingly talented artists from so many genres of performance that the challenge now is being able to give those deserving and willing the opportunity to perform.  The solution came early on in the form of two stages! Unheard of by any other Australian vaudeville, cabaret or variety club we kept the entire program consistently flowing all night for over four hours at our November show – and December is shaping up to be even bigger!

This December Speakeasy HQ will be hosting 23 artists, again performing over two stages, and consistently filling out a six hour programme! Artists from over a dozen disciplines will be performing circus, cabaret, burlesque, musicians, body painting, comedy, acrobats, mime and clown Nuevo!

Don’t miss this Speakeasy HQ – log onto www.Speakeasy-HQ.com and get your pre-sale tickets now!

Sensational Speakeasy Slingshot

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In the lead up to the launch of Speakeasy HQ the Speakeasy Mafia were brainstorming for a standalone, jewel-in-the-crown item that would add to the menu of what would be forever known as an invention of Speakeasy HQ. We were looking for something completely unique that would be loved by all and would also help us along the way to a healthy level if inebriation. At the end of a long night of ideas, and discussion no stone seemed to be left unturned. The following morning, however, an SMS went around from Roy Maloy. It was a picture of the now iconic Slingshot and in it was something he called his ‘sling-shooter’. The good news is that he had stumbled upon the amazing idea we had all been looking for. The bad news was that you read the first part of this paragraph correctly – it was sent in the morning. 7am to be precise. However, he justified that since he hadn’t slept yet it was technically still the same party. 

So, the unique shooter bottles were ordered and Knuckles got to work designing the now famous Blind Melon to go in the first Slingshots. It was a hellova a week that week – testing and tasting her creations. But finally, drawing upon her extensive international travels and culinary experience Knuckles brought to the table an all new cocktail that draws upon The Cajun Quarter of New Orleans and her cosmopolitan Australian outlook on life. 

Such has been the response to the Speakeasy Slingshot that we’ve had about a dozen requests for the recipe and been asked by too many to count if they will be again available at future Speakeasy HQ events. 

So – without further adieu, it brings us huge pleasure to announce that not only will we be Sling-shooting the now classic Blind Mellon at December 14’s Speakeasy HQ, but we will also be road testing a brand new Slingshot!!!

Today at 4pm we will be unveiling two new promotional posters for the Speakeasy Slingshots and will be giving away 10 free Slingshot drink cards at the next Speakeasy HQ to 10 people who share the posters on Facebook. So stay tuned and share like crazy for your chance to win!!!

To book your seats at Speakeasy HQ log onto www.Speakeasy-HQ.com

It’s All In A Word

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By Roy Maloy

The term vaudeville is commonly thought to have French origins meaning Word of the Village. Between approximately 1550’s through until the end of the Victorian era European entertainment was both heavily regulated by license-enforcing authorities and restricted to formalised plays about mainly Christian narratives called ‘mystery plays’. However, along with Shakespeare came a fresh approach to entertainment, and although the bulk of performances were still presented in playhouses such as the Globe and the Rose, tolerance was growing for the burgeoning new forms of entertainment. Amongst those to appear about this time was a performance type known as the Mountebank.

In modern times we saw Sasha Barron Cohen playing the role of a Mountebank in the film version of Sweeny Todd. As the populations of Europe expanded and people from formerly rural villages made their way to the city centres one of the first aspects of city life to explode was the size and scale of market places. The thronging bustle and activity of the marketplaces also gave rise to the entrepreneurial showmen, including the Mountebanks, whose presentations became more and more elaborate. Because most Mountebanks were illegal stall holders in the market places, they would usually make short presentations and then move away to avoid being forced to pay bribes to local sherifs.

As a mechanism of attracting the attention of the market going public the Mountebanks would usually also have in there custody one or two small orphan children, usually under the age of 10, who would perform elaborate displays of gymnastics to gather a crowd. The children had a title and were known as ‘Merry Andrews’. Typically the Mountebank would set up a display or let down the back of a horse drawn wagon to show a display of his snake oils, cures, trinkets and ‘exotic’ wares. The Merry Andrews would be sent out to the furthest reaches of the market place, dressed in costumes similar to a jester, with small bells attached to their clothing, to then slowly move back to where their master’s display was ready to be presented. The Children would cartwheel, whilst singing songs and performing flips and acro-holds as they went; drawing with them an audience to hopefully buy the wares of the Mountebank.

These new forms of entertainments, and specifically the gradual acceptance of the Mountebanks and Merry Andrews became so common in European culture that others began to pop up, including one-man-bands, shell and pea games and so many more acts. It was a short jump by about the middle of the 1700’s when proprietors of pubs and hotels began seeing the appeal of some of the more talented and popular artists available and began hosting their performances in their establishments as a draw card to get more customers to drink their beer and ale. 

More and more popular became the variety of live entertainment as natural synergies took place. Music in the forms of brass bands, violins and harps were common features as well as animal acts. Particularly common we’re animal acts that depicted that the animal possessed unusual intelligence or skill. 

By 1900 circuses had overtaken all other forms of entertainment ever seen before and it’s overflow was a glut of highly talented acts all over Europe, Australia and the US who were all vying for the extremely well paid, star positions in the biggest big-tops. With the advent of cinema still 20 years away small and large vaudeville theatres were prolific. Some as small as 20 seat halls off the side of someone’s house as well as the whopping Tivoli Theatre in Bourke St Melbourne. 

As Speakeasy HQ finds its feet the task has been clear – bring to Melbourne a venue that shamelessly seeks to be provide the widest variety of acts, with the largest number of artists, with amazing skill, talent, pace, speed, colour and movement in a way that does justice to the thousands of hours that each artist has invested in learning their craft. 

The December Speakeasy HQ will be a presentation of 23 artists who will be presenting shows across countless disciplines. As far as records seem to indicate, the program at Speakeasy HQ on December 14 will be the biggest vaudeville program ever presented in Australian history! A close second exists in a program promoted in the mid 1920’s in Sydney with a continuos program from 11am-10pm and spanning 20 separate half hour performances. 

Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing, Star Studded lineup on December 14 at Speakeasy HQ by logging onto www.Speakeasy-HQ.com

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Biggest Vaudeville Program In Human History 

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As Speakeasy HQ hurtles toward its second monthly show it has to be said that every single one of the team putting this together are truly grateful for all the support we’ve had from too many people to thank!

After the overwhelming response to our November launch, where we had 14 acts performing across two stages and the feedback we had was phenomenal! We had people from all over the country, including a scattering of US and English artists wishing us well but it did leave us with one very important question – where to next? But the answer was pretty simple – MAKE IT BIGGER!!!

So, in the spirit of all things that our audience seem to love, our artistic director, Roy Maloy, has risen to the challenge and made it bigger by far! In fact, so big that he has named the next Speakeasy HQ, on December 14, as the biggest lineup of talent to EVER perform on the same vaudeville bill in Australian history! 

This December 14th, Speakeasy HQ will be host to a programme that includes a whopping 23 artists, performing across two stages!! The acts found by Roy include circus, burlesque, sideshow, carnival, vaudeville, clown Nuevo and illusionists! However, not to overlook the astounding and world class headline performances that will be given by the Sultan of Slapstick, Justin Sane, Circus Comedy Genius Sarah Doogs on the main stage, and headline artist Inventor and Explorer One Man Band, Uptown Brown on the Lounge Stage. 

Stay tuned over the next few days for more about the artists who will be performing at Speakeasy HQ, for commentaries about the artists, the food we’ll be serving, the ever popular Speakeasy Slingshots and so much much more!!!!

For more information log onto www.speakeasy-hq.com