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Interview

The Actionettes
Miss Kitschenette and Miss Velvelette

Article written by Ged M - Oct 10, 2010

Actionettes_Goodwood2_cUrban75_site.jpg
Actionettes by www.urban75.com
The Actionettes have been a great London dance group for the last 10 years with the costumes, the sounds and the synchronised dance moves to match. We’ve seen them at Track and Field and Fortuna Pop nights, at their own outrageous 60s themed evenings and even on TV, yet it’s purely a labour of love for them, borne out of their adoration of songs by the Shangri-Las, The Ronettes and the Marvelettes and 60s pop icons like Dusty, Nancy and Aretha. What’s especially impressive about them is that they’re fans of music and dancing first and foremost, and incorporate different ages and body types, demonstrating that style and glamour come from within. They’ve even inspired a parallel male dance troupe, the Action Men.

They celebrate their anniversary with A DECADE O’ GO-GO at the 100 Club in Oxford Street on Saturday 16 October, joined by Betty and the Werewolves, and Piney Gir. We were granted an interview with Miss Kitschenette and Miss Velvelette in October 2010.

SXP: How did the Actionettes begin and what inspired you? And what keeps you doing it after 10 years?

K&V: The Actionettes started when the Todd sisters saw The Devilettes in Las Vegas and formed their own go-go dance troupe as soon as they got back to London! We love being in a girl gang - it taught some of us to do eyeliner and wear ladies’ shoes - and to get dressed up (like all good nights out, the preparation is half the fun). Also we go on lots of adventures (usually involving trains, cake & cava!). It's good exercise too :)

SXP: How do you choose the songs that you dance to? And what are the Actionettes’ three all-time favourites to dance to?

K&V: A good beat is essential! It’s hard to pick three favourites, maybe Gloria Jones’s Tainted Love, The Velvelettes’ Needle in a Haystack, The Shangri Las’ Simon Speaks and our very latest dance, Sugar Pie de Santo’s Go-Go Power! Oh and Rita Pavone’s Il Geghege and Lulu’s Stop Fooling Around and Melba Moore’s Magic Touch and Ellie Greenwich’s I Want You To Be My Baby and Aretha Franklyn’s Think…

SXP: You’re always immaculately turned out in 60s outfits on stage. Who’s responsible for the costumes?

K&V: The dresses are a mixture of second hand shops, Ebay, ones we've made, ones we've had specially made for us (London College of Fashion and Tim Bargeot) and good old high street.

SXP: Have there been any malfunctions over the years either wardrobe or technical?

K&V: Miss Kitschenette has a tendency to forget to do her zip up at the back before going on stage. Eyelashes have been caught in each other’s hair / dresses. And two girls did become enmeshed in their two sequinned dresses!

SXP: Pan’s People had Flic Colby. Hot Gossip had Arlene Philips. Who’s your choreographer?

K&V: About 4 or 5 of us do the dances; we sometimes workshop them with the rest of us adding our ideas to finish it off.

SXP: Is being an Actionette a big commitment? And is it just a hobby or is there something more serious going on now?

K&V: It is a big commitment - we practise once a week, more if we have a big gig coming up - but it's also a social thing because we’re all friends. It’s also about celebrating women in all shapes and sizes and joyously not conforming to society’s po-faced ideals of beauty and the female form.

SXP: When did the idea for giving you all -ette names begin and who allocates them? Is there a Baguette, Leatherette or Maisonette?

K&V: We each make our own names up - to date none of these have been used as far as we can remember... Miss Kitschenette is dying for someone to be Courgette :)

SXP: And I notice you have a Marmosette – isn’t that a bit unflattering (or does she just have long arms and a tendency to swing from the lighting rig)?

K&V: She's a cheeky monkey :)

SXP: When did the Action Men start? And who hogs the mirror most, Actionettes or Action Men?

K&V: That’s a difficult question, we’re all mirror-hoggers! The Action Men started when the boys saw how much fun we were having!

SXP: You seem to be in demand for all sorts of events and TV now (I saw you dancing on Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe programme). What are the most memorable performances to date?

K&V: Dancing 30 foot up on a shelf at Shunt (no railings, and we'd have shimmied too hard we might have fallen on the bar below - exciting!)

SXP: We know a few people who have passed through the ranks of the Actionettes - how many have there been in those 10 years? Will there still be Actionettes in another 10 years?

K&V: There have been many Actionettes, to be honest, we're not entirely sure how many, it's a bit like a mad extended family, it must be at least around 30! Some of the former members will be joining us for the 10th anniversary party on Saturday so the 100 Club will be teeming with Actionettes (one of the former 'ettes' is even coming all the way from Sweden for the occasion)! And we definitely intend to carry on so we'll be seeing you in another 10 years' time for the 20th anniversary celebration, probably with another extra 30 members!

Links:
http://www.actionettes.com/
http://www.myspace.com/theactionettes

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