Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A dead good evening with Betsy Baker

I was so excited, Betsy Baker, the Betsy Baker, star of the original Evil Dead movie agreed to do an interview with me! But why in such a secluded spot I wondered? I couldn't find the place she mentioned on my GPS, so I had to take the directions she had given me... It wasn't exactly a main high road and the only landmark she had told me to look out for was a Chicken Shack, and I had passed that about 20 minutes ago. I was looking for a turn in the road, but this road, with only trees either side seemed to be going on forever. It didn't look too bad in the light of day, but I wouldn't want to be alone here when the sun went down.

After a few more minutes I spotted it, I turned in... Great I thought, another track....

The path to the cabin was rough and just big enough to get through, thank god for my old 4 wheel drive, I’d never of made it without her. She was also going to need a bit of a wash after we got back, mind you, so was I!

After what seemed like an eternity on this dust path I spotted something in the distance. And  log cabin with an old yellow car parked in front. The trees and shrubs around it looked over grown and unkempt, this was certainly no Malibu beach hut… What the hell was I getting myself into here?

But then, like a mirage, there was Betsy, waving at me from what I presumed once was a driveway. I pulled up in front of the house, her warm smile was welcoming, but that was not even enough to steady my nerves, both from the house and meeting Betsy Baker.
Betsy Baker starred in Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic ‘The Evil Dead’, playing Linda, Bruce Campbell’s girlfriend and eventual ghoul… After a break of 17 years she has recently resumed her acting career, appearing in the awesome ‘Tim and Eric Show’ and a cameo in Sam Raimi’s fantastical hit ‘Oz the Great and powerful’.

But to me she will always be that crazy, doll faced ghoulish bitch from hell who was decapitated with a shovel by her boyfriend…

We walked into the cabin and immediately my flesh began to itch and spine crumble. As i entered my trouser leg got caught on a loose nail on the doorway, ripping them at the ankle and lightly scrapping my skin. I took a seat at the table and Betsy poured me a coffee made on an old wood stove, I would have preferred something stronger but it would have to do.

I got out my pad and my Dictaphone, I noticed a dusty old tape recorder on the desk near the table, a good back up, I thought, my recorder had been so unreliable lately.

Gathering my thoughts and wiping away the spider that was making his home in my hair, I took a large gulp of coffee and began my questions. 

So how did you get the part of Linda? 
"Sam and Rob (Tapert) had contacted a talent agency I was listed with; and asked them to contact me about their interest in meeting me and having a discussion about the film."

Ok, Ok... And when did you first meet Mr Raimi?
" I first met Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell (Ash)... at a neighbourhood restaurant, where we talked about the film, and they asked if I was interested.”

I suppose inviting three strange men into your home for a first meeting wasn’t a safe option… Mind you, meeting someone in an old cabin in the woods, wasn’t exactly the Ritz either, which prompted my next question.

I heard that the cabin in the woods, was really a cabin in the woods?
“The actual cabin was indeed in the woods ....”

Wow, perfect setting then, how far was it from civilisation?
“It was at the end of the very same dirt road that the car turns onto, and slowly drives into the woods. At the end of that 'driveway', was the cabin. The driveway was off of a paved road in the countryside, a few miles from the local town.”

I felt my ankle, I think that nail had done more damage than I initially thought …

Despite my amazing company, this place was not welcoming. I had heard that most of the cast had left before the end of the film, leaving Bruce Campbell to help out with the filming and effects, as well as act, was this true?
“Many actors leave the film as soon as they are done with their parts. All of the cast finished their roles - whether it was within the first time frame they were in Tennessee, or if they picked up more scenes later on during the filming.. which is what I did. I worked from the end of October until nearly the end of December, and then did some more scenes the following spring.”

And was filming as bad as rumoured?
“It was freezing, cold, damp, rainy, and miserable many, many nights. We had no heat in the cabin, no running water, no toilets. No hot coffee, and with all the fake blood all over the set, didn't even have clean coats or jackets to put on between takes.”

I looked down at my drink, small blessings, I thought.

I flicked through my notes and chose my next question wisely, not wanting to get too distracted by the pain that was now coursing up my leg. I needed a laugh.

What was it like working with Sam, Bruce, and the other cast and crew? Do you have any funny anecdotes?
“Lots of funny times that we can look back at now .... and laugh. We all became very close during our time in Tennessee; we lived together, worked together, so therefor we were together 24-7. Many times we were so tired and exhausted, that any little thing would set us off and make us laugh. Then again, any little thing or frustration would also make us very mad, too!”

I wasn’t surprised, I was once trapped in a lift with 2 others for half an hour and nearly went crazy, mind you having to listen to the musac version of ‘The girl from Ipanema’ on a loop didn’t help the situation, believe me, if there was someone there with a chainsaw, I’d be begging for a decapitation.

Ooh, talking of chainsaws…
Was it true that Bruce used a real chainsaw on your neck?? (Or rather near your neck) that must have been terrifying!
“Yes -- that is a mistake that I could have unfortunately really, really regretted. I agreed to do it 'for the sake of the scene', but would also be the first to admit it was probably one of the stupidest things I have ever done in my life. Fortunately, they kept true to their promise, and we only did 1 take.”

What about the scene where the possessed Linda attempts to stab Ash with the dagger? Is it true that you actually had no idea where he was. With your heavy, white contact lenses preventing you from seeing?
“That is absolutely true. Neither Ellen, Theresa or I could see anything while wearing the lenses.. so we had lots of rehearsals. Bruce had to work just as hard to miss the dagger, knowing that I actually couldn't see anything while trying to stab him. We had to very carefully count out the running steps that it took to get closer to him up against the wall. A long night.......”

My stupid Dictaphone started playing up, I hit it against the table, it seemed to kick it back to life, but for how long I wondered. Better get on with my questions…

Were the guts really made out of creamed corn??! Were there any other interesting make up recipes?
“Our great special effects man, Tom Sullivan, would be best to have all those answers. But yes - we used everything from creamed corn, to milk, to actual chicken bones from dinner the night before....”

Interesting… I could just imagine the smell. I reached down to inspect my ankle again, this time it felt strange… Crap, It was bleeding, Betsy found me a rag to tie round it, but I was a professional, my questions came first, I made a mental note to pop into the nearest chemist on my way back to my hotel.

Your make-up changed halfway through the film, from green to the iconic doll like ghoul... 
Why was this?
“Not everyone notices this! There is a scene in which I am dragged out of the cabin, and my face is made up with a prosthetic mask. All of us were fitted with them -- but after some discussion with Sam one night on a set, I had suggested that Linda actually turn into a sickeningly sweet baby doll character, very unnatural, and overly frighteningly sweet. It was decided that night that we could probably portray Linda with blushing cheeks, oversized lips, and oversized eyelashes, to appear more like a grotesque baby doll.”
It was getting dark outside now, time to speed up my questioning if I was going to make it out ok.

I heard you lost your eyelashes during the casting of your face!! How did that feel?? And
were there any other accidents on set?
“Painful! Yes -- while we were making the masks with plaster, the plaster became very hot, very fast ( which it's supposed to do).. but they had hard time removing it with ease, and it kept getting hotter and hotter, so they basically had to forcefully rip it off my face... and the eyelashes went with it! There were other scrapes and scratches, and Bruce broke his ankle running down the hill one night. In some of the scenes, you can see him limping.”

Do you love the fact that people copy your makeup for Halloween? (I know I have!)
“Well - let's say it's very flattering... I guess!!”

It was true... Last years costume had been a big hit, and after i'd had a bit too much to drink, no one questioned me sitting in the corner laughing hysterically.

Bruce and Sam are obviously still very close, but are you still in contact with them?
“As "Ladies Of The Evil Dead", going to conventions, we often see Bruce. We don't see Sam as much .. although all 3 of us worked together with him during the making of 'OZ -The Great and Powerful', in which we all had a small cameo role.”

Looking down, there was now pus coming from underneath the rag, not pleasant… and my leg had started to numb. Betsy looked concerned and went to look for a first aid kit. How could one scratch get infected so quickly and so badly but one small nail? There was
something not quite right about this place, I was looking forward to finishing up and leaving and hoped that Betsy was coming with me. Suddenly my Dictaphone, spluttered and died… Crap, I thought, I was so near the end of the interview, I just had a couple more questions to get through… Then I spied the tape recorder again… Maybe I could use that? I hobbled over and grabbed it from the desk. It wasn’t exactly high tech, a Panasonic reel to reel, but it would have to do. There was already tape in it, I clicked it to play, Some professor started talking about a discovery he’d made, I was intrigued and spellbound by his words…
Betsy called from the other room which shot me out of my trance… I checked my notes, just one more question… One more question and I was ready to leave.  My leg was killing me and the woods were dark…

Betsy, I shouted… What was on that tape?
“The tape? On the tape recorder?? .... A warning... to not do any of things we did, go outside into the woods, or even stay in the cabin. Guess we didn't listen too well.. or follow the warnings!!”

The tape continued to roll… Betsy remembered that she had a first aid kit in her car… she left to get it…. The voice on the tape was warning us, don’t go outside… Oh my god, I thought… This was that tape!!!

Betsy re-entered the cabin, she stood in the doorway, her face pale and doll like, giggling like a child… an axe in her hand……………………………

Monday, 22 July 2013

My date with Boba - In Interview with Jeremy Bulloch

I had seen his picture online, he described himself as tall dark and handsome, I could see he was tall, but as for handsome, well, I had never actually seen him without his helmet.
I had joined the computer dating site after many failed relationships, my last boyfriend was a nice guy at first, but then he started going to meet this horrible old guy and ended up being half machine, always dressed in black and intent on universal domination... Or something, like that... Anyway  it was also impossible to sleep next to him because of his terrible asthma. 
Then I went out with this hunk of a guy, lord he was gorgeous, but he got frozen in Carbonite, so that was doomed too.

Then there was this cute gold droid from Tatooine, he was such a gentleman and so polite, but he was far too intelligent for me, I mean, he could speak over 6 million languages!
So now I'm meeting this new guy, he seemed very nice on-line and  after all, I thought,I had dated men, had had a go at half men, half machines, so why not a clone? He said he worked as a bounty hunter, it sounded so glamorous. Born in a place called Kamino, he had been cloned from his late father Jango, who was also a bounty hunter, nice I thought, carrying on the family business, plus I was a sucker for a man in a uniform. 
I reapplied my lipstick, checked my watch and stared at the door, he was late, not the best start, but he had a long way to come, he was coming straight from a job apparently, I had never heard of Alderaan but I guessed it was further than Croydon.
Then I saw him, he stood at the door surveying the room, he was carrying roses, how sweet, I thought.  I stood and waved him over. He looked as nervous as me.
I poured him a glass of wine and we sat in silence, for a trained soldier he was very shy. Then he lifted off his helmet, to my surprise, underneath was a silver fox, it Jeremy Bulloch, an actor of fine reputation, he had been in movies as diverse as Bond movies (‘Octopussy’ and 'For your eyes only'), to the TV series Dr Who, as well as the obvious - StarWars ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and the ‘Return of the Jedi’. 

He was also in Revenge of the Sith, but as another character called Captain Colton… Boba was little more than a boy during this chapter, Jeremy is a fine, fine actor, but all the prosthetics in the world ain’t going to make that happen!

But to me, helmet or no helmet, this was Boba Fett…
We ordered our food, I had the seafood risotto and he had the steak, we both chose the cheesecake pudding, but after the waiter had left, we sat nervously playing with our cutlery and starring around the room, some one had to say something to break the ice, we'd been talking online for weeks, but it was different in the flesh… But I had learnt a lot about him, so I thought I'd ask him a few questions...
I thought about him playing in the 2005 film ‘Revenge of the Sith’ as captain cotton and realised that he wasn’t just Boba Fett,  he had played three different characters in 3 of the Star Wars films…
 "There was no one available to play Sheckil the imperial officer and I was asked if I would like to play Captain Colton in the final film." 
I wondered if he was offered any role in the next trilogy what sort of character would he like to play? 
"It would have to be Boba Fett.”
Of course it would… Silly question really! I took another sip of wine and continued.
I remembered that his half-brother Robert had helped him get the role of Boba, that was nice of him, I thought, how kind. I wondered why he’d thought it was a good role for him? And how he'd thanked him?
"I just said thanks as playing the part of Boba fitted in with a role I was working on in the theatre."
I noticed his suit, well you couldn’t miss it! I had to ask, I knew that when he first saw the Boba Fett costume was it a sketch, which one was it? The white prototype suit or the coloured version?
"The Colour version.”
And what was your first reaction to it? I enquired 
“I thought that the costume was strange looking but once I put it on I felt very at home."
Our meal came, but now the conversation was really starting to flow, so I just carried on as we ate.
So what was the first piece of Boba Fett merchandise you owned?  I asked, munching into my rice.
"The full size BOBA FETT statue."

Men and their toys eh?! It reminded me of the Boba Fett action figure that my brother had and... Hey?! I remembered something about the gun, I asked how did he feel when he discovered the missile firing action of his action figure had to be welded in place due to safety concerns?
"It could have been very dangerous if the rocket was loose."
And when was the point he realised Fett was going to be such a huge character for the fans? 
"I think when they re released the first three films in 1996."
And did he feel Boba lost a lot if his coolness once his back story was explained? 
"Yes I think that once you saw his face he lost the mystery that surrounded him."

Our main course finished and two bottles down,  we were handed our puddings and ordered coffee and the conversation continued...
Did you have any say in the costume or character at all? 
"No I just watched what was going on so I could settle in to the scene."
Boba dropped a glob of cake down his front, as he wiped himself down and I noticed something, exactly what were the hair plaits hanging from his armour?
"They were Wookie Scalps." He replied.

I wondered if he had any funny stories about shooting?
"The only funny stories was when I tripped over Darth Vader's cloak in the carbon freezer."
This did make me chuckle at the thought.
We finished our cheesecake, drowned the last of our coffeeand signalled the waiter for the bill.  He asked me how my coffee was, I replied "The caffeine is strong in this one", making myself laugh and prompting my next question...
When was the last time you quoted a line from Star Wars, in an everyday situation? 
"Nearly every day, usually when I am in the garden. HOW WEIRD!"

And one last question just had to be asked... 

What is it like being the best sci fi character ever? 
He answered, with a smile "its totally awesome being Boba and I get to fly in Slave 1..."

What a lovely time, what a lovely man, under his cool fa├žade was a genuinely fantastic guy… This could work, I thought as I excused myself and went to powder my nose, and after 2 bottles of wine it needed a good powdering!
I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror as I reapplied my lipstick… hmm… Mrs Boba Fett… It had a good ring to it. I straightened my dress and exited the bathroom…. 

Boba had already paid and was standing by the door, I smiled and started towards him, maybe it was time to settle down... But then...

That's when I saw him… He entered the restaurant through the open door and crossed the room like a hairy Greek god… He must have been well over 7 foot tall, glistening blue eyes, brown hair, well… everywhere… Wow, this was a whole lot’a Wookie.
But that’s a whole other story…

Monday, 15 July 2013

Back into the fog with Adrienne Barbeau

The doors were all closed and bolted, the window latches firmly locked and the curtains drawn. I never liked the nights when the fog came in. It drowned the town and always frightened me, but I never really understood why until today. 
I turned the radio on, I could hear Adrienne Barbeau's sultry voice, it calmed me as the fog grew thicker. 

Adrienne had always been my hero, her career spanning over 35 years, she could turn her hand to anything, from horror, (The Fog, Creepshow, Swamp thing), to comedies, (Cannonball Run, the George Carlin show) to sci fi and action (Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and Escape from New York) Voice overs for Scooby Doo, The Thing and Demolition man... And was recently head hunted by Ben Afflek for her part in Argo, Afflek said "I liked the idea of her being part of this slightly kitsch, '70s sci-fi movie vibe. She just seamlessly blended in. Having her in the movie was kind of a trip. It was cool."  And then there's her singing, her writing, motherhood, the woman is an inspiration! 
My tiny apartment was starting to feel like it was closing in on me, my heat pounded, it felt as if a million tiny insects were crawling over my body, my skin.. my eyes... everything itched... I had to get out before I went truly crazy. But the fog was so thick now how could I leave? I needed a sign, a beacon of hope, but from where? I walked to the window and starred out into the nothingness, no one went out when the fog came in off the coast, but I had never seen it this thick, it made me claustrophobic and so lonely... I needed to be near someone, anyone...  Then I saw it, like a ray of hope... A light coming from the hill, it was the radio station! Of course, she must be there, I could hear her! If I followed the light, I could make it to the station, to Adrienne... But would I dare? 

"I will survive" by Gloria Gaynor started playing on the radio, that's all I needed, I grabbed my keys.

I started driving up the hill, having lived in Antonio Bay all my life, I knew this road like the back of my hand, handy now I thought, as, right now I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face.

The short drive didn't seem to short tonight, but I carried on, no other cars dared to be on the road in this weather, so it was a clear route. I kept my eyes focused on the windscreen, too scared to look anywhere else, but after what seemed like an eternity, I made it. I parked up as close to the station as I could. I couldn't see the door,  but I could guess where it was, I took a deep breath and made a run for it. I found the building and felt along blindly for the door handle, I could sense something, something behind me, something close, I didn't know what it was, didn't want to know, but what it was made me want to find that door even more.

At last I found it, I turned the handle, my heart missed a beat... I knew if this door didn't open I was not going to be making it home tomorrow.

The door clunked and swung open, I breathed a sigh of relief, ran in and slammed the door behind me, panting furiously, my heart felt like it was about to jump into my throat, but I was safe for now. 

I rushed up the stairs, following the signs that read ‘Studio’, I could see the fog seeping under the door, ‘Exactly how safe was I?’ I thought.

Finding the door I banged on the window, I could see the 'on air' light glowing brightly and Adrienne at her desk, wow she looked great I thought...  She saw me, smiled and ushered me in.

I rushed in and locked the door behind me, that feeling that something was coming for me began again, but Adrienne’s smile soothed me and with a heavy sigh I took a seat next to hers.

She poured me a scotch to calm my nerves and we got chatting while the music was playing, she asked me my name and why I was there, I told her about the fog and the light being a beacon, she poured me another drink.  I was a big fan, I had told her such, so I took this opportunity to ask a few questions of my own, to take my mind off what was happening outside...

I asked...

What do you think is the best movie you've been in? And what do you consider to be your best performance to date?  
“I think ARGO is probably the best movie I've been in, although I just made a cameo appearance in it. It's a great film!  As for a performance, well, I always get a kick out of Billie in "Creepshow" but I think I loved the role of Ruthie in "Carnivale", too.”

When you were a child growing up did you always aspire to be an actress? If you hadn't been, what do you think you would have chosen as an alternative career?  
“I always thought I'd get my degree and teach acting, I suppose. never dawned on me until I was in my first year of college that I should attempt to pursue a professional career.  My other love is psychology, and of course, now, it seems like I might have been writing all those years, as well.”

We laughed at all her comedies, I remember her in her tight red cat suit in Cannon Ball run, driving a sports car fast and playing the men… Everyman wanted her, every woman wanted to be her… I wondered what was it like filming with Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise? Mel Brooks once said that he scheduled an extra two days every time he planned to work with Deluise, I asked, was this the case with Cannon Ball Run? Was it as fun as the out takes lead us to believe?
“The full answer to this question is in my memoir "There Are Worse Things I Could Do".  The chapter that starts with "Was making that movie as much fun as it looks?"   The short answer is no. But Dom was a sweetheart, then and always.”

I already had her book on my shelf and had read it from cover to cover 100 times, but was too embarrassed to say, but I did remember a line about her role in The Cannonball Run (1981) "All the talent I needed was in my breastbone." She said... And what woman wouldn’t die for a bone like that!

I wondered…

So, who had the cheesiest chat up line? And did it work?
“Well, John Carpenter and I met on the set of "Someone's Watching You" and ended up getting married, so I suspect whatever he said worked. Don't think it was too cheesy, though.”

Oh yes,  John Carpenter, one of the World’s greatest directors and an ex-husband of Adrienne's, my boyfriend sprang to mind, he was a driving instructor and a good guy, he was teaching me to drive and we were nearly killing each other,  I thought about Adrienne, doing a three point turn is one thing, but being directed by a partner? What was that like?
I guess it depends on the partner. I loved working with John Carpenter, before and after we married. He's just the best.” 

I was suddenly aware of the door, fog was slowly seeping under it and a cold sensation was making my spine shiver, but I carried on with my questioning, it calmed me and kept my mind busy.

I've noticed over the years that a lot of actors remain uncredited in many films they feature in, you yourself are uncredited in many, 'The Thing', 'Demolition Man' and 'Judge Dredd', why is this? Why do so many remain uncredited? I take credit when I've just made an outfit for a party last year, let alone acting in a major motion picture!
“I didn't appear in these three films, I just did voice work in them. In fact, I have no recollection of doing Judge Dredd at all, so if it weren't for you mentioning it, I wouldn't believe I was in it in any way.  But a fan just brought me the DVD cover to sign and so I guess you both must be right!”
Looking at the door made me think about Adriennes 80s classic of the same name and I wondered What did she think of the 2005 remake? I asked, why do you think so many films are being remade? - Many very badly, I added
“I Haven't seen the remake of "The Fog". I suspect a lot of remakes get made because executives are afraid to trust their artistic sensibilities with original material and think a remake is a shoo-in for success. And they might be if they were made as well or better than the original, but that's not often the case, is it?”

I was starting to get worried now,  I was feeling spooked… Then I realised, I was with a woman who had been so many classic horror films, I wondered if she had ever felt this way during filming? 
 “Never by acting in a horror film.   Although I did avoid the set when E. G. Marshall did the cockroach segment of "Creepshow".  Rats, I don't mind.  Snakes and tarantulas I can handle. Roaches, I'll probably turn down the role.”

I could see a shadow by the door, Adrienne saw it too, quick as a flash we were out of our chairs and starting backing away… Then it started banging, banging on the glass of the door… Adrienne and I held on to each other… A million regrets flowed through my mind… Why hadn’t I learnt to drive earlier? Why hadn’t I been nicer to my mother? Why did I think that perm looked good? I wondered if Adrienne had any regrets about her career?

Are there any films that you thought "Damn, I wish I'd played that"? or "I could have done a much better job with that role"? 
“I love Jane Fonda's role in "Klute". She was great as Bree Daniels and I certainly couldn't have equalled that performance, but I do love that role. And I would have loved to essay Brooke Adams' role in "Cuba", just for the opportunity to do that love scene opposite Sean Connery.”

Then there was a sudden crash and the glass window smashed, fog poured into the room like a smoking waterfall, we couldn’t see, we couldn’t scream, we couldn’t think, all we could do was cling on to each other as we pressed ourselves to the back wall of the room. The figure came closer, I could just make out from the silhouette a bearded man, wearing a polo neck sweater and what looked like a sea captains cap, was there something was in this hand? I couldn’t quite see… 
He slowing shuffled towards us, there was something in his hand, it looked sharp, an axe!… He lifted it above his head…After all my years of living in a fishing town I could tell a Boarding axe when I saw one… Especially when it was travelling directly towards my head…

Now we could scream… But not for long…


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Retro LadyLand presents The Polka Dots

Today is Sunday the 2nd of December 1945, and you are listening to Radio LadyLand, coming live from the front lines. And while war carries on around us, music is in our ears courtesy of three lovely ladies, Caroline Fitch, Michelle McMinn and Ella-Louise Kay, known collectively as The Polka Dots.

These three troopers have travelled all the way from jolly old High Wickham in Blighty to support our troops and give them rousing renditions of all their favourite tracks, from “Boogie Woogie Bugle boy” to “The Chatanooga Choo Choo”.

The chaps are going wild! With only a picture of their loved ones and a cup of brown battery acid every morning, these brave guys need a boost and this is going to be one hell of a show! And the girls are really cooking with gas now as they start their encore!

So if you’re ‘in the mood’, we’ll have a chat to these gals as they come off stage.
Hello, ladies, that was fabulous!

So, how did you all meet, are you school chums or a fit up deal?
Ella: Michelle and I actually started the group with someone else back in 2008, thinking it might be nice to get together for a bit of a sing-song and maybe the odd gig… I’d met Caroline separately in a local production of ‘We Will Rock You’ (‘coz that’s how she really rolls!) and then as we grew, Caroline came and joined our clan, taking over the Top Sop line… and here we are!
Caroline: No impresarios / music moguls were involved.  I knew Ella through a mutual friend and auditioned for the group about 18 months ago now.

I see, but why swing music? Where you all into it, or was it a niche you thought needed tapping?
C: I was never into it hugely until I joined the group and now I'm a fan!  It's just so nostalgic but fun too.
E: My granddad was a big band leader back in the day, so in all honesty it was a genre I felt drawn towards and he has definitely influenced our style  – we could also see vintage was making a lindy-hop, skip and a jump forward and wanted to join the party!  

It certainly is! Everybody loves a bit of
Boogie Woogie! So, what did you each do before you were in a swing band? Have you got a secret punk past?
Michelle: Not secret punk, but I was in an steps esque pop group called Noyz! When I was in my late teens.
C: I'm a bit of a guitar-girl. I used to play in an all-girl rock band when I was 16. Luckily I've checked youtube for any scary evidence of this!
E: … Well I feel really boring now, I wasn’t in a band – I was in dancing lessons when you two gals were popping and rocking it in our teens! I did work as an entertainer in Mallorca and Crete for a while… I was a firespitter too, does that count?!

I think that counts with knobs on Ella!
Have you noticed, vintage is every bloody where at the moment, has this boosted your profile?
Michelle: We launched at the same time as the re-emergence of vintage so this definitely made it easier for us – The key has been making ourselves a bit ‘different’ which is why we’ve made our act all-singing and dancing. Seeing the Polka Dots is not just a performance, it is a show!
E: Definitely! We feel very lucky to have jumped aboard the Chattanooga Choo Choo in-time to be able to make our mark in the, errr, market!
C: Perhaps, vintage is very 'cool' at the moment and quite rightly so.

I know that you incorporate modern music into your act, so do you like any modern music at all, or are you hardened swing fans? Go on do tell…
E: Haha, modern music can be a bone of contention in the journeys to and from gigs!! I have to say I’m with Caro, and the John Mayers of this world whereas Michelle is happy as a clam listening to a hectic drum & bass line… I’m usually driving, so get to win the in-flight entertainment war though! En route home in the early hours we can be heard belting out a bit of Oleta Adams on Magic FM!
C: I got into music through playing guitar so as you can imagine my influences include John Mayer, Incubus, but have so much love for the greats...Stevie Wonder, MJ...
M: I will listen to all genres of music except for thrash metal - it just hurts my throat listening to it!

Oh I know dear, I don’t understand it, just gives me a headache and I have to sit down with a cold flannel… Now I would say that you’re like the later day Andrew sisters and I’m not the first.  I’m guessing you admire them, but who else are your favourites and influences?
M: The Andrews Sisters are legendary and I only hope that we do their songs justice, bringing recognition to a generation that wouldn't automatically know who they were.
E: Ahh the Andrews Sisters set the bar didn’t they?! Since then there’ve been loads of other fabulous trios to take influence from. I hope we’ve used the best bits to create something different… In our sets now, we have some classic as well as modern influences including The Puppini Sisters, Jamiroquai, the Zutons, George Michael, Rhianna and Beyonce (just for Caroline!)
C: Beyonce is beyond awesome, I wish I was her every morning!

Hold on, I’ve just been handed some news… Telecommunication suggests that something quite major is happeneing… No definite news yet, but it’s going to be big… The Japanese are on the USS Missouri and pens are being drawn… Any hoo, back to you guys…

Now apart from here, I know that you do the festival circuit, which is a little like here but without the threat of being blown up… So, where is the best place you’ve played?
C: We are so lucky to have played at some awesome venues at private functions/ charity events.  I'm looking forward to our Goodwood gig this year...
M: Performing at the Glenn Miller festival on the main stage will always be one of my all time favourite performances. It was a very special experience and I was lucky enough to share it with the girls.
E: Oh there’ve been so many! Sometimes it’s the place, and sometimes it’s the people that make a gig great! Have to say though, the Glenn Miller Festival was a definite highlight, sandwiched in between the Glenn Miller orchestra and the Jive Aces (ooh lucky us!) in front of thousands of people. We have gigged quite a few times at Goodwood together with those beautiful vintage cars and even had out own butler for one event, which we could definitely get used to.. he gave us a glass of champers as we came off stage!

Has anything disastrous or particularly amusing happened while on stage? I noticed some of the chaps out there asking you to show them a bit of leg, do you get heckled often?
M: We have had our fair share of wardrobe malfunctions (tops falling down, hold-ups sliding down you leg ending up like Nora Batty)
E: Pretty much every gig there is something we

get the giggles about – and often mic stand or wardrobe malfunction-related… I once got completely stuck in a toilet trying on a dress at a vintage festival we were performing at – I I’d have been scared if I wasn’t laughing so much… the girls were no help but bent over double in stiches!
Heckles? Well we’ve got an army gig this weekend so we’ll see how rowdy a crowd we can create and come back to you on that one ok?! ;)
C: Not yet...!

Oh bless Caroline, I’m sure you will soon!

Now, you all look so divine each time we see you, who creates your couture
M: We discuss what kind of look we are going for and then research what's out there - obviously sticking to the theme.
E: A fabulous local designer called Clem Short designed and made all our signature Dotty dresses… Now we can’t currently say too much, but keep ‘em peeled for some new cozzies that may soon be coming our way!
C: A local designer Clem Couture made our dresses....

Oooh, I’ll get their number off you later.
I have to say dears that your harmonies sound just smashing, my friend Mabel and I tried a while ago, but we sounded more like we should have been sitting on a garden wall watching out for dogs than singing in The Albert Hall! I do admire you so! How long do you have to practice to get them so perfect?
M: It takes me quite a while as I am not a natural musician and I also sing alto which can be a difficult melody to pitch - we never get the tune! I have to repeatedly listen to the track in order to secure it in my mind and sing with confidence. 
C: Close harmony work with dance moves takes a bit of practice, it's a case of just getting it all into your muscles memory and making sure you blend.
E: Ah piece of cake innit?! Haha – It’s  tricky one but I think it gets easier with practice. It’s just a matter of zoning out what you think you know or how you think a song should be, and re-learn your line as if it was the tune. The great thing is, working together for a while now, we tune into each other and so often can feel when something’s right or not. Caroline’s the expert on that one though!

So, one last question, If you could sing with anyone, past or present, who would it be?
E: Ooh good question! Michelle and I actually sang with Stevie Wonder once (ok, we were in the audience of thousands singing backing to Signed, Sealed, Delivered, but it was a spesh moment ok?!) For me there’s loads of people and all for different reasons… Glenn Miller and his band of course! Nat King Cole’s voice is smooth like chocolate for me, we could do ‘Unforgettable’ but also I’d love to have performed on-stage with Michael Jackson – schamow! What a show we’d have put on!
M: I would love to sing with Freddie Mercury - an absolute legend! 
C: I'd love to work with John Mayer, his music is really soulful. 

Thank you… Wait, more news coming in! Yes, yes yes… We have word coming in that the Japanese have signed the surrender documents and the war is officially over!!! Rush out on to the streets everyone, hold on to your young ones! String up that bunting and shout as loud as you can! The war is over!

So, I know what I’m going to do now, I’m off to find myself a bottle of liquor and a soldier, so what are you going to do ladies? What’s next for The Polka Dots?
C: Onwards and upwards!
M: World domination 
E: Well said Mich! Look out world, here we are!! xxx