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Monthly Archives: June 2012

When FHM was invited to the new Ted Grooming Room in Mayfair – the latest in Ted Baker’s line of decadent man-parlours – we got a bit excited.

After all, we haven’t had a close shave before, and we’ve been going to the same barber for 18 years. His name’s Monty, in case you were wondering. Whiskery. Quiet. Likes to get the job done.

So after a fun day at FHM towers, one involving cheeseburgers, puppies and water balloon fights, we were pretty stressed, so went down to see what the fuss was about.

Ted Baker himself wasn’t present, but we were soon sat down and chatting about what we would like done. FHM sat back and relaxed, wondering why we watched Sweeney Todd at the weekend.

It was a bit scratchy, but didn’t hurt, and was oddly satisfying. Like striking a match. Wait, is this what it feels like to be that strip of card on the side of a matchstick box that gets struck? Ffffkkrrrrt. Or something.

Ted Baker Grooming Room
This is a beard. A fine beard

The barber wasted no time slapping pleasant gels on our face, designed to help relax the skin after it’s brief massacre. The stinging, he assured us, was a good thing.

But perhaps the most curious part of the event – apart from drinking a rapidly re-filling glass of scotch throughout – was the part that came next.

“Close your eyes, this might sting a bit,” said the barber. A sharp, hot pain struck FHM in the ear – opening our eyes, we saw he had lit a long bit of tape on fire and was whipping our ears to burn away excess fluff.

Ted Baker Grooming Room
Put these sort of things in your hair and on your face. They smell nice

“It’s awful when you see TV presenters or bands on TV, and they zoom in so you can see the little white fuzz around their ear,” the owner explained afterwards. That explains the Turkish ear-burning ritual, then.

Now with fresh, youthful ears and a face smelling of Healthiness, we had a quick haircut. A lock-chop, a wig-bash, call it what you like – we only vaguely told the barber what we wanted (no dinner + excessive scotch = slurred speech) but he did a proper good job.

With shorter hair, clean ears, a smooth face and a hankering for fast food, we left Ted’s Grooming Room in high spirits – and would recommend it to anyone looking to fix up and look sharp.

If you think this might be good for you, get your hairy chin to Ted’s Grooming Room and thank us later.

Tonight we’re in Kensington, West London, at a nice little bar/theatre that smells like a school assembly hall, all in the name of work. Standing among middle-aged men whose three-quarter length shorts barely conceal sunburnt shins, it feels like the perfect venue for some lighthearted whimsical folk music.

Credit due to Smoke Fairies then for, among other things, making music that loosely falls under ‘folk’ without a pretentious straw hat in sight. Yes, Jessie Davies and Katherine Blamire’s dulcet tones are delicious and dreamy and often full of whimsy, but second album ‘Blood Speaks’ was bolted together with throbs of bass, heavy drumming and wild electric guitar bits that suggested raw spirit and an untamed haircut – Mumfords, they certainly ain’t.

Throughout their set tonight there’s a steady, bluesy pulse, showcasing the band’s elegant voices well; their shrill harmonies can be haunting (‘The Three Of Us’) and other times perfectly pleasant (‘Daylight’). But it’s really let-down by the atmosphere, or lack of – the set is incredibly one-paced tonight and, after the half-way point, the solemn music and airy vocals begin to feel sombre and disengaging. The gap between stage and audience grows wider, there’s little interaction, and it becomes easy to feel detached from a band who aren’t doing a great deal to reel you in.

For all their latest album’s grungy moments and pockets of ferocity, it’s disappointing that none of it makes it onto the stage. Of course, this is Kensington, and we’re drinking pear cider by the bottle, so maybe it’s a question of choosing the right time and place; certainly the crowd seem to enjoy themselves. But Smoke Fairies have the capacity to be far more corporeal than their name would suggest.


3/5

London’s snaking streets are a haven for shoppers, but after a busy day trailing up and down stores there’s nothing better than taking the weight off your feet and having a quick drink. Whether you’re after a hearty pint, a big glass of wine or even a bitter shot of coffee, the best pick-me-up bars are closer to the changing rooms then you think.

After trailing up and down central London’s shopping streets, there’s nothing like taking the weight off and relaxing in a pub or bar. Chances are you’ll have popped into Selfridge’s if you’re shopping around Oxford Street, so why not save it till last and – as soon as your latest purchase has been bagged up – head to the department store’s Wonder Bar, located above the wine section. It’s a bright, stylish hideaway, with an exceptional selection of wines. Their automated machines let you try sample sips of different wines and order from your seat using their self-service mechanism – so you won’t even have to wait for a waiter to turn up.

Alternatively, if you’re shopping along Carnaby Street, head to the area’s Newburgh Quarter where you can find some nice pubs and bars tucked away. The pillar-box red Shaston Arms is a friendly, laid-back pub with some great ales on tap. But if you need reviving, try Speakeasy Espresso And Brew Bar up the road for a shot of coffee. Just the ticket after an exhausting afternoon.

If you’re in Leicester Square or Covent Garden, try The Porterhouse. It gets incredibly busy at times, but is a vast pub – split over 12 different levels – and decorated with old clocks and copper pipes, which snake through the walls. Bag a booth and you might end up staying here a little longer than you planned. They have a menu of more than 100 bottled beers, and a range of their own from their Dublin brewery. If pale, crisp lager is your thing, a cold pint of Chiller comes highly recommended.

Flanked by traditional barbers’ poles, Murdock caters for the modern man-about-town and is perfect if you’re looking to upgrade your usual regime. With smart shops in Shoreditch, Covent Garden, Mayfair and Soho, it’s distinctly masculine interiors and first-class service will ensure you keep coming back.

A great haircut needn’t be edgy or complicated, and Brooks and Brooksoffer a no-nonsense approach to cutting hair. Their premises, a short walk from Holborn station, has a relaxed atmosphere, and whether you’re looking for a new look or just want your usual style maintained, their team of award-winning hairdressers will be more than happy to help.

Don’t let the Soho postcode fool you; yes, the staff are attractive and the interior sleek, but The Lounge focuses on substance just as much as style. As well as giving a great cut, the hairdressers are happy to impart grooming wisdom, offering advice on managing your hair and suggesting products to use to keep it looking as great as it does when you get out the chair.

More men than ever are indulging in a classic wet shave – it’s a decidedly masculine treatment that’s indulgent without feeling metrosexual. For a classic shave, look to London’s traditionally upmarket areas for an authentic treatment.

Gentleman’s Tonic in Mayfair offers a mix of old and new; handsome mahogany and leather mixed with state-of-the-art LCD screens showing anything from music channels to the sport.

Established in 2000, The Refinery, based in Kensington, uses its own brand of shaving products, specifically designed to give a smooth, relaxing shave. The friendly staff will even talk you through the procedure, giving advice on how to incorporate the treatments into your own routine.

Anyone visiting London is expected to make a trip to Harrods – but beneath the many floors of designer clothing lies a discreet gentleman’s barbers where you can experience a range of treatments. A former pub for well-heeled types, it’s perfect if you want a relaxing atmosphere teeming with a gentleman’s club feel to it.

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This interview originally appeared in The Fly a few weeks ago. I think I conducted the interview during the really hot friday on that nice weekend, so it was probably published eight days after that. You’re welcome.

Hello, Ana Matronic.
Hey! How are you?

OK! How good are you at DIY?
I’m pretty good! I can change a lightbulb and rewire a lamp. I’d say I have a rudimentary knowledge of DIY. Apart from Scissor Sisters I’m in a light show called The Joshua Light Show. When you’re in the light show “business” you need a lot of knowledge, I work on a giant overhead projector. But DIY is simple enough. Righty tight, lefty loosy, you know. It’s a pretty good mantra for life.

Great advice. Your latest single is called ‘Only The Horses’. How much do the Scissor Sisters love horses? 
Well actually Jake [Shears’] Mom and Dad breed racehorses back home, and my mother and her husband Ron own a horse. They did have two, but one died. I don’t ride horses myself, but I would love to.

But why ‘Only The Horses’? Why not ‘Only The Cats?’
I find horses fascinating and scary at the same time. They’re sentient beings, very powerful. And they have massive mouths and strong back legs. I’m with you on cats, though. I like cats. I think I’ll end up being a crazy cat lady when I’m older.

How much do you love the UK?
Oh I really love the UK! The thing I love is the culture. We’re doing loads of publicity for the new album, but when I get some free time I’ll be visiting loads of museums and exhibitions. I’d like to go to the Science Museum, there’s this great exhibit about alchemy. I’ll be visiting the tate, too.

Do you have a favourite part of London?
Well I like going to Portobello Market, seeing all the vintage stalls and stuff in Covent Garden. I don’t know much of London but I do know Shepherd’s Bush. A friend of mine was living there and I really love it, it reminds me of Brooklyn. There’s a lot of immigrants and a real mix of people, loads of great restaurants. Shepherd’s Bush is keeping it real.

What’s the most unusual thing that’s ever happened at a Scissor Sisters gig? 
We have some amazing fans, so there’s always something unusual going on. But when we were last over in the UK we did a show at Shep Bush and we had a marriage proposal, on stage, by a man to his girlfriend. And this man happens to have the faces of all the Scissor Sisters tattooed on his back. My face is on his back. And yeah, he proposed to his girlfriend during the show. It was the least we could do, he had our likenesses on his back.

What did she say?
I loved how she responded to it. Her answer was “You can’t see tits on the radio”*, which I thought was brilliantly nebulous.

Are they always friendly fans?
Well, we have some bizarre ones too. There was a group of guerrilla drag queens who interrupted a performance in Copenhagen. They burst on the stage, and one of them was wearing a pair of trousers with a hole cut out in the crotch. We didn’t notice at first because there was a sock covering it, but it was quite a show. From the neck up, he was very Gollum-esque and he was frightening, to say the least.

Was there a ‘situation’?
I think I said something like “You’re more show than me, but this is my show. Leave please.” I don’t want to be extreme, ultimately he was very supportive of us. I’m from New York, if you get in my face I’ll tell you.

How do you find the UK’s passive/aggressive approach?
It’s different. There’s a way of being over here that’s like “Don’t rock the boat.” If you’re upset about something here you can’t be direct about it. Personally speaking, if I’m acting like a cunt, just call me a cunt.

Do you like the Queen?
I am in love with all Queens, so of course I love Miss Elizabeth too. I respect her, she is a very strong, committed person, and I think she is great. I am excited as an American can be, but I’d call myself a Royal Enthusiast. Most of the Brits that speak about the Jubilee have been talking about the traffic, and how bad the roads will be. I do enjoy the pomp and circumstance.

What else do you do when you’re not being a Scissor Sister? 
I am working on writing my first comic book, so for that I’m reading a bit about the Middle East. The comic is set in Oman in an archeological dig, so I’m studying that, and the history of Arabia. I don’t have a title yet, but the main character is a mathematician so I’ve had to read up on loads of maths stuff, all the characters are so academic. My next script will be full of salt-of-the-earth types.

Anything a bit less heavy-going?
I’ve been reading this book about colour, which is a natural history of the palette, and the lady who wrote it goes through each colour and talks about the pigments, it’s really amazing. White is all about titanium, and the make-up they used in olden times was made from titanium ground down, so it was all very toxic and cancerous. Also, purple is a very strong colour, because it’s associated with royalty, so wearing a lot of it can be intimidating.

Do you have any advice for anyone who has suffered extensive sunburn?
Okay, what you need to do is first go to Boots and invest in some really good sun screen. I’m talking at least SPF30. I should know, because I am fair with British heritage. Then go to a health food store and get some essential oils, like lavender. Stick it all over your sunburn, it will cool the stinging and lavender helps make you sleepy. It will give you nice dreams.

Finally, have you got any amazing useless trivia?
Did you know in France, their word for dusk, or magic hour, is “Entre Chien Et Loup” – it means “between the dog and the wolf”. I find that really evocative, the dogs own the day time and the wolves take ownership at night.

*‘Tits On The Radio’ is a Scissor Sisters song, so this is funny on two levels.

‘Magic Hour’ is out now on Polydor.

This interview first appeared in The Fly on May 08.

Guy Connelly is a man who has a beard, but unlike a lot of people who have beards, Guy Connelly is also an excellent musician in a musical-project-type-outfit called Clock Opera. I saw him play at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen in November, which was magic in a sort of grown up way. Then I reviewed his album in March and didn’t like it. When not discussing artichokes and double decker chains (see below) I told Guy why I found his album felt a bit uninteresting, and he seemed to find some coherence in the incoherent point I was trying to make. What a gent.

Hello Guy. Where are you right now?
I’m at St Pancras station, we’re about to do a small gig as a warm-up for Camden Crawl this weekend. We’re on this stage at 5pm, right in the middle of rush hour.

Does St Pancras have good acoustics?
It does. There’s a guy playing some music nearby, it sounds very good.

Really? Give us a live review please…
Er, yes. It’s quite ethereal, whispery… beautiful music. The whole place is very dreamy, I’m just walking along on the phone to you. Playing a gig in a station feels a bit dream-like.

When was the last time you went on a train? Apart from an underground one?
Oh man, it’s probably been a while. I remember it being a double-decker train, though, but I might be confusing it with that film I saw, where Jake Gyllenhaal had 15 minutes to stop a train bomb. You know, the one where he kept going back in time to the start of the fifteen minutes.

What!?
I can’t remember the name [it was Source Code, Films Ed], but it was like that train. I was on the bottom ‘deck’ of the double-decker train, if indeed it was real at all.

Given the options of the ‘standard’ deck and the exciting upper-deck, it seems you made a poor decision regarding where you sat on the train.
Yes, I suppose I couldn’t enjoy the view as much. Wherever I was going, I’m sure the view would have been good up at the top.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone?
A long time ago. I’d love to write more letters but I never have the time. When I was visiting my dad’s house though I found a sealed letter that I’d written, but never sent.

Who was the letter for?
My best friend at the time.

What does it say?
I have no idea. Maybe I should send it, and pretend it took six years to arrive. The real question is… why didn’t I send it?  Also, I found an old camera at my dad’s with the film still inside. I really want to get it developed and see what’s on there.

Can you still get photographs developed?  Maybe at Boots?
Yea. If I ever get round to it, I’ll send you one.

What did you have for lunch?
I had a posh cheese and artichoke sandwich. It was basically a cheese toastie with artichoke added. I would recommend it, I mean, it was pretty standard but the high quality ingredient was very good.

Would you recommend artichoke to The Fly readers?
I absolutely would, yes.

What does artichoke taste like?
I don’t know, that’s like asking what the colour green is to a blind man. Just have some in a salad or something.

The UK has been gripped by ‘Bank Holiday Fever’. Do you enjoy bank holidays?
I’m usually working them. I have no idea what a bank holiday is! I have to ask crowds what day of the week it is.

Are the-
Source Code! That was the film with Jake Gyllenhaal.  [We know. Smugness Ed]

Amazing. Bank Holidays are great, but what is ‘the vibe’ like at your gigs? Are the fans more excited on a bank holiday, for example?
I don’t actually think we’ve played one before. I suppose there’s that elation a having an extra day off… but a bank holiday Monday is basically a sunday night, isn’t it. There may be an air of regret, if they’ve misbehaved. I will ask them how they feel.

If you had to spend your life living one day of the week forever, what would it be?
Thursday! Every day for me is a Thursday night.

Thanks Guy!
Thanks!