West is best...
It’s January 1974 and the Labour Government is running the country, headed by charismatic Norman Kirk. New Zealand is all of a fever because the Commonwealth Games are about to be held in Christchurch – and there is even colour TV!
It’s also when Ted West is getting out of jail after a stretch for burglary to be reunited with his wife Rita and son Wolfgang.
That's right, the West family are coming back to our TV screens. But something's different. They've all got younger and some of the characters you know and love haven't even been born yet. This is, in TV lingo, a prequel. A prequel, in this case, to Outrageous Fortune and in a nod to the returning fashion sensibilities of the screaming 70s, the latest instalment of the West's epic of crime and passion, Westside, is set firmly in the decade that, until recently, good taste had forgotten. If you got a kick out of the modern day Wests as most of us did, then you're going to love their younger selves even more.
Each episode of Westside is set in a different year, spanning the period from 1974 through to 1979. Given that our upcoming issue of Glory Days is all about the New Zealand home, we selected a few preview images of the period-perfect set as a taste of what's in store when the series launches this Sunday 31st May on TV3 at 8.30pm.
Look on in joy (or horror!) at what 70s New Zealand home style was all about...
We also got to catch up with one of the stars of the series, Esther Stephens who plays ambitious perfectionist Ngaire, about life on the Westside set and how that influence filtered into her real life home.
Westside is set firmly in the 1970s. Did you do much research about the time period before you started shooting?
I’ve had a love affair with the 1970s since I was a kid, so I was pretty up with the era before I started on Westside. I’ve always been into '70s music, fashion and homewares. I did do some extra reading around the current events of the period, and also studied up on the gender roles of the time, and how different they are to today.
Tell us about your character in Westside?
Ngaire is a mother, housewife, and would very much like to be considered the first lady of the Westside gang. She appreciates the finer things in life, though some may disagree with her taste. She’s an ambitious perfectionist and executes everything she does with dramatic flair.
How was your character developed through the clothing and styling on set? Did it give you a real sense of living in those times?
Absolutely, I cannot sing the praises of our costume, makeup and art department highly enough! They created a gorgeous and authentic 1970s New Zealand world for us to play in. With Ngaire I really felt inside the character the first time I was on set with a (herbal) menthol cigarette between long acrylic fingernails – that helped start to build the ‘Desperate Housewives of West Auckland' character framework.
Were you a child of the 70s?
Nope! '86 kid.
Did working on Westside give you a great appreciation for the design aesthetic of the 1970s?
Absolutely, though as I mentioned I was already a fan.
What item did you want to steal from the set?
Everything! I loved Ngaire’s house. The running joke was that it was basically like being at home for me, as the apartment I share with my partner in Melbourne was so similarly furnished. There was a gorgeous little bar I coverted, those are quite hard to find and I’ve wanted one for ages, I also loved the orange lounge suite, and all the glasses and decanters, and I’ve proved my point - I just wanted it all!
What three '70s home items have stood the test of time in your home?
Personally I love the kitchen tin sets for tea, coffee, flour etc. My apartment is tiny so they are very useful. We also couldn’t live without our record players - we have two! My boyfriend is a DJ and plays primarily old soul, rock 'n' roll and blues so we have a fantastic retro record collection. My other favourite pieces are my bead curtain and cow skin rug.
Complete this sentence, "The 1970s were a time of....."
Great music and weird food!
Photography by Jae Frew and Matt Klitscher. All images are © 2015 South Pacific Pictures Ltd.
Visit TV3 for all the details and to catch up on Outrageous Fortune before you delve into the Westside this weekend!
Playing with fire
Heather Holliday got her first break ten years ago at the Coney Island Sideshow, when, on her first day as an intern, the snake charmer quit and a girl was needed to assist on stage. The New York native was quick to step into the breach and her circus career took off. Dolores Daiquiri chats to her on the eve of visit to New Zealand as one of the stars of Limbo, a sexy circus cabaret at the Auckland Arts Festival.
You're an impressive fire eater and you were one of the world's youngest sword swallowers. Can you share your other circus skills?
I also do whip cracking, knife throwing and a little bit of tap. I can do any other sideshow acts required but fire is my favourite. I've been doing sword swallowing the longest and I'm best at it. I've been doing fire professionallly for six years. With sword swallowing– you learn through repetition. I've never hurt myself with a sword but I'm always very cautious. I'm usually more concerned with the show rather than than having an accident.
What is your favourite city to perform in and why?
I love New York as it's loud. Middle America is really really fun, I prefer Australia over Europe as the audiences are louder and more appreciative.
Do you have a backstage ritual?
Not really. I'm always running from show to show getting organised. I always have a messy table/desk as I'm busy all the time working.
Who are your idols or influences and why?
Miss Behave is one of my idols. In a sideshow female performers can be territorial, so not many woman do it.
Are any of your family members performers too?
No just me. My mom is an artist who makes all my costumes.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I don't have a five-year plan. I prefer a more spontaneous approach. I don't like to jinx things. I only ever set short term goals.
Any tips for anyone wanting to be a sideshow circus artist?
Safety is key. I make it look risky but I am very careful. Go slow, take your time, don’t perform something you are not comfortable with.
Describe what you do in two words.
Dangerous and feminine.
To book tickets for Limbo visit http://ticketmaster.co.nz/
My art will go on...
Just as we promised, it's Friday again and here we are delivering our second installment of top picks for the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival. As we've said before we're very much liking the vintage flavour of many of the acts and we strongly recommend you have a look at the following.
Lake Street Dive (United States): March 12- 14
Lake Street Dive are an irreverent all-American line-up who belt out their own unique mash up of classic soul, jazz, and British invasion pop on trumpet, upright bass, electric guitar and drums. Their music draws from '30s jazz, '50s rockabilly and doo-wop, as well as '60s blues and soul. LSD lead vocalist, Rachael Price, has a sultry gospel tinged voice and the femme fatale looks to match (the two gents in the band are also very dapper), their ebullient live shows –a combination of nostalgic joy, gutsy humour and virtuosic instrumentals – are not to be missed.
Electric Swing Circus (Britain): March 20
Time to dust off your dancing shoes, don a dapper suit and swing back in time with live six-piece electro swing bank, The Electric Swing Circus! Think Vaudeville-meets-electronica! The quirky sextet present a daring fusion of saucy old-school sounds and stomping dance beats, and explode onto stage with dual-vocals, electric double-bass, vintage samples, gypsy-jazz guitar, keys, live drums and dirty synths. Electro swing is huge in the UK and with the huge resurgence of swing dancing and vintage we're experiencing locally, it's probably not long until it takes off here too.
And then for something completely different...
Billy Apple: The artist has to live like everybody else. March 14, Auckland Art Gallery
During the 1960s, artist Billy Apple was at the vanguard of the pop art explosion on both sides of the Atlantic. A pioneer not only in the pop art world, he also was one of the first to use neon in art before moving to a more conceptual and process –orientated practice in the 1970s. The Auckland Art Gallery is mounting a major retrospective exhibition of the work of Billy Apple, The artist has to live like everybody else featuring everything from early pop and conceptual works to his latest investigations into branding and biomedicine.. For more information visit: www.aaf.co.nz
You can also buy Issue 6 here and read our profile of Mr Apple before you see his show.
Book tickets at http://ticketmaster.co.nz/
Glory Days has a double pass to see Lake Side Dive to give away to a lucky blog reader. Simply comment on this post why you'd like to go and we will select a winner at random. Competition closes Friday 6th February at midday.