Category Archives: Berlin

My first burlesque drawings in Berlin!

Immodesty Blaize at Vaudeville Variety Wintergarten Berlin March 19 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

We’ve been here almost two years, but it took me until now to get to a burlesque show and draw!

Sheila Wolf at Vaudeville Variety Wintergarten Berlin March 19 2017 by Suzanne ForbesLuckily I got to start at an exceptionally fine one, as Queer’lesque producer Sheila Wolf, above, invited me to draw Vaudeville Variety at the Wintergarten.

Gloria Viagra at Vaudeville Variety Wintergarten Berlin March 19 2017 by Suzanne ForbesBerlin’s legendary Wintergarten is a classic cabaret supper club, with velvet seats and a starry sky ceiling.

It is beautiful, luxurious and comfortable, a fitting tribute to the original Wintergarten which was destroyed by bombs in 1944. I had a table to put my stuff on and wasser mit gas and everything!

I was seated next to Gloria Viagra, shown here; Gloria was the afterparty DJ and is a very well-known Berlin performer. We had a delightful chat!

The show was wonderful. I couldn’t draw everybody, but I did get in a lot of drawings.

Tom Harlow and Dave the Bear at Vaudeville Variety Wintergarten Berlin March 19 2017 by Suzanne ForbesThe ravishing, award-winning boylesque babe Tom Harlow (legs for days!!!) danced to the Tom Jones and Jools Holland version of “St. James Infirmary Blues”. I drew Dave The Bear, stripping to “Video Phone”.

I was mesmerized by the sublime “Opium and Bondage” performance of Marlene Von Steenvag, where she actually ties herself into a rope harness at the end while dancing.Marlene Von Steenvag at Vaudeville Variety March 19 2017 by Suzanne Forbes

Immodesty Blaize with Gloria Viagra and Sheila WolfAnd I made two drawings of the amazing, the breathtaking Immodesty Blaize!

I’d never even dreamt I’d get to see her perform live. Let me tell you, the only thing more amazing than Immodesty Blaize in a corset is Immodesty out of a corset!

I stopped drawing after the second one and just watched her move. Here‘s Immodesty and Gloria, with Sheila in the background!

Immodesty Blaize at Vaudeville Variety by Suzanne Forbes March 19 2017

Immodesty Blaize at Vaudeville Variety by Suzanne Forbes March 19 2017

These drawings are licensed Creative Commons, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0; you are welcome to share them or print them out as long as you give credit to Suzanne Forbes, artist.

You can find full-size downloadable versions here on my flickr. Burlesque album (NSFW!)

As always, the support of my precious Patrons on Patreon makes it possible for me to do this work documenting the community and share it with you all. You can help for as little as a buck a month!

Update: here’s one of the beautiful pictures Gloria took of me. Look how fucking happy I am in Berlin. You can see the rest here, on Gloria’s pinup fashion feed!

Photo of Suzanne Forbes by Gloria Viagra

Photo of Suzanne Forbes by Gloria Viagra, March 19 2017 at Vaudeville Variety

Another perfect Berlin day.

The graceful violinist by Suzanne Forbes March 17 2017On Friday I was feeling a little shaky. So I went rambling around Friedrichshain in the just-a-bit-raw weather with Daria, and felt immeasurably better.

pink musician March 17 2017 Suzanne ForbesOn the train I was working on the drawing of the violinist I started last week, (when we went to Dussman Cafe, pics soon), and then:

this guy with a pink accordozylophone thing got on!

Ninja drawing by Daria Rhein photo by Daria Rhein

Ninja drawing by Daria Rhein, photo by Daria Rhein

As I drew the guy I could hear Daria’s voice in my head saying “Don’t overwork it!”, just as I hear the voices of my teachers and mentors advising me at so many moments.

To be guided by the wisdom of artist friends is the best thing in the world.

We got china markers when we went to Modulor, because I hadn’t one for decades; here’s Daria’s first china marker drawing! I used a mix of greyscale marker and china marker on the musician drawings.

There is nothing, absolutely, nothing, like living and working around true peers for an artist.

Yesterday we went first to look at a possible flat for her and the adorable auburn-haired English lad. It was a really gorgeous perfectly reno’d altbau, in the absurdly desirable neighborhood around Boxy, about 700 sq. ft., rent about $750. Yes, you should still move to Berlin. Changes in the law meant to control rising rents appear to have worked, and you can still get an incredible place for what seems like nothing.

Then we went to Daria‘s tattoo studio Tremuschi Ink!

It is the coolest place ever in the world, absolutely not kidding.

Photo: Steffen Diemer, Model: Lexy Hell, Corset: Redcat 7. Hairpiece: icing

Photo: Steffen Diemer, Model: Lexy Hell, Corset: Redcat 7.

It is open in the front half to the incredibly charming handmade burlesque fashion design shop Redcat7, where a pink-haired gal manned the counter. One of the tattoo artists was working on sketches for a throw-up style tat; in the back Sammy, the designer and owner of Redcat7, was getting ready to be tattooed by Vivien.

They have benches and a tattoo bed and rests of every kind, to tattoo any part of you comfortably, and a big lightbox for composing designs, and a screened private area.

The walls are covered with framed art and there is a tag wall too.

After we rifled through all the pretties at Redcat, we walked to Aunt Benny.

Coexist Berlin Instagram shotIt was a long walk, through all the charms of Friedrichshain, past the coolest shops and dive bars and eis cafes and music shops and print shops where people were making beautiful real screen prints like people do in Berlin.

We had to go in to Coexist Berlin, a totally amazing punk pastelgoth alternative fashion shop for local and European designers.

I told the lovely pastel-haired designer of Indyanna who was working that it was like a perfect flashback to Betsey Johnson’s first store in Soho, Manic Panic and Trash & Vaudeville in the 80s.

Patches at Coexist BerlinIndyanna designs included a biker jacket lined with blue leopard and appliqued with blue glitter flames I badly coveted.

Ragged Priest dress

Ragged Priest dress

I bought an insane Tyvek paper jumpsuit in Patricia Field in 1980 and it was just the kind of thing Coexist would sell. Daria wanted this mesh flame dress by The Ragged Priest for her next tattoo convention– comfy but rad!

We arrived at Aunt Benny and met the lovely English girl Daria painted the last time she was there. I had mint lemonade since it was St. Patrick’s Day and we shared the really, really, really quite extremely good Carrot Ginger cake.

Everything looked gorgeously fresh and delicious. We sat in a secret alcove in the secret corner room that you get to by going to the WCs. We discussed getting a visa so I could go to visit Moscow with Daria later this year and see the magnificence of her home town.

Berlin, du bist so wunderbar!

An Ode to Creative Work by Behance from Behance on Vimeo.

Horrific insect Gothic Rococo mirror project for the Salon!

By Suzanne Forbes Gothic Rococo insect mirror 2017I made this hideous pastel nightmare of a rococo mirror over last weekend.

bug bricolage art and sculpture by Suzanne Forbes 2017I documented the process extensively for the folks who enjoy DIY how-ya-dos and the backstory to my bricolage projects!

First, I washed the lightweight plastic mirror frame I got at our local Woolworth’s for 2,99. Then I used a glue gun to attach a selection of plastic bugs, also thoroughly washed with hot water and soap.

Always wash plastic items well before attempting to paint!

There may be mold release still on them, there could be skin oils, cooking grease, anything. And any foreign substance will reduce primer adhesion.

A glue gun is really my favorite medium for attaching plastic bugs. It makes a nice solid bond to most plastics, which many adhesives of vaunted power cannot do. There is none of the risk of frosting your surfaces which cyanoacrylates like Super Glue and Zap present. Of course, I would never use only glue gun glue, because – it melts when it gets too hot! How hot?

Many glue stick glues will soften in a hot car, at least on the dash.

By Suzanne Forbes Gothic Rococo insect mirror 2017Plus, I wanted the bugs to look they were sculpted out of or onto the surface of the frame, like a bas relief. I added a bunch of plastic flowers left over from my various jewelry projects, and then I used my beloved epoxy clay, in my favored Apoxie Sculpt White (which is gray), to further secure and incorporate the bugs.

I did a rough pass with the clay, filling in gaps, and then hit the whole thing with primer. I was tormented about choosing spray primers here, because I had a good system going in the US but this is the Land of No Krylon.

It’s VERY hard to find a primer for plastic that will really bond to hard plastic items like bugs and action figures and allow you paint over it with acrylics, glue things to it and spray paint shiny finishes on it.

I’ve spent many hours reading action figure customizing sites, model car boards and model magazines, puzzling over primer and paint and plastic.

Here, I finally found and bought the Primer for Plastic by the ubiquitous (and excellent) German spraypaint company Dupli-Color. I also bought a can of Dupli-Color plain white primer. Good thing, because imagine my surprise at learning the primer was CLEAR! I shouldn’t have been surprised, because the cap was clear. Oh well.

Reading some full-size car detailing sites, I gathered it is a chemical scuff or so-called chemical sander, a surfacing agent that creates “tooth” for the paint to adhere to. People raved about the performance, but noted it’s hard to see if you’re getting good coverage with a clear primer. And since I wanted a white base, I needed to spray the whole mirror white next. Then I added color!Suzanne Forbes Gothic Rococo Insect frame 2017 collage WIP

The last picture is after the second color pass, with initial detail cleanup and color unification by means of dry brushing, washes and scumbling.

By Suzanne Forbes Gothic Rococo insect mirror 2017Here’s a detail shot of the frame after the pearl pass, made with a sheer pearl finish acrylic from the craft company Plaid’s FolkArt line. After the pearl coat, I added black glitter in clear acrylic varnish, “Extreme Glitter“. I used the pearl on the highlights and the black glitter on the midtone transitions into dark areas, but not the dark areas themselves.

I like these crafts paints for final coatings because they have a tough finish and will go on over most surfaces.

By Suzanne Forbes Gothic Rococo insect mirror 2017The last thing I added was a scattering of Swarovski crystals and iridescent crystal eyes.

By Suzanne Forbes Gothic Rococo insect mirror 2017I’m really happy with how the whole thing came out!

This piece is a hilarious mix of my BFA in Fine Arts/Painting, and thousands of hours studying action figure customizing and model making techniques.

I made an earlier version of this, a round bug mirror in blue and green shades, but I finished it right before we left for Germany.

I was terrified about leaving it in a hot storage locker in San Leandro for months, because there were so many coats of primer and different solvents involved in making it- not all of which might be fully off-gassed!

So I gave it to my friend Molly, instead.  And now I have my own.

A feminist art salon in Berlin.

dr laura by Suzanne Forbes March 3 2017A friend of mine, Miss Natasha Enquist, invited me to come along to see a movie her friend Gia Balestra has directed and produced.

The movie is called Clitorissima. It was being shown at a long-running sex-positive feminist salon. I arrived a bit late, but luckily there was a fellow outside who spoke English and told me which buzzer to press and what floor, and I went up in the lift. With my asthma, the usual Berlin staircase marathon is a no-go.

On the landing there were dozens of pairs of shoes, as you often see; it is customary to take your shoes off outside the home in Germany. I was nervous about leaving mine, because I was wearing my precious bottle-green granny boots that are a homage to proto-genderqueer YA novel Nightbirds on Nantucket. It took me almost two years of daily eBay search alerts to find a pair. And I am a New Yorker, and assume anything not nailed down will be stolen and anything nailed down defaced or set on fire.

But this is Berlin, and my shoes would be fine, and I entered a room packed with all kinds of women and a few cismen, and someone made space for me on the floor and gave me a pillow to sit on.

Sexclusivitaeten‘s house sexpert Dr. Laura Méritt was displaying a beautiful vagina hand puppet, with detailed anatomical features, wonderful for therapy and education.

Gia Balestra by Suzanne Forbes March 3 2017 BerlinAnd then the film was introduced; I had arrived just in time. Here’s Gia introducing the film.

It is a mixture of documentary and animation. As she talked about interviewing the women she made this beautiful, graceful gesture with her hands, describing the shape of the vulva and clitoral arms. Inscribing it in space, a reiterative dance, so lovely.

About Clitorissima:

Giancarla Balestra (Vulvah Van Klitt Productions), directed/produced the short documentary “Clitorissima” which is a series of interviews with women asking the same question: “At which age, and on which occasion, did you have clitoris awareness?”. She teamed up with the Danish Animator and Illustrator Sara Koppel (Naked Love Film & Koppel Animation) with the mission to normalize and facilitate the first mother/daughter conversation about clitoris and clitoris awareness, told through interviews with various clitoris owners, and storytelling through animation.

It was the winner of ‘Outstanding Creative Vision Award’ at the CineKink Film Festival, NYC, USA, March 2016!

CLITORISSIMA – Official Trailer (Italian subtitles) from Vulvah Van Klitt Productions on Vimeo.

Sara Koppel AnimatorThe film is so beautiful and magical. It would be wonderful for parents to show their young kids; it is elegant, cheerful and not graphic.

The artist who drew the exquisitely blooming animation sequences is Sara Koppel of Naked Love Film and Koppel Animation, left. She is so very extraordinarily talented.

Her previous sex educational work, which came out of talks with Gia in the Berlin sex-positive scene, is a short movie called “Little Vulvah and her Clitoral Awareness“. Which has won just buckets of awards and would also be a treasure to show your young child. You can watch the trailer and buy it here.

The vibe at my first Sexclusivitäten event was cozy and warm, and everyone was friendly. My drawing was enjoyed and supported. It was like the first time I went to SF Citadel and met August; I felt so at home. I got stickers!

puzz powerI am enormously excited about the upcoming event celebrating menopause; I find it is really necessary to learn more about this process as I go through it and I am thrilled to be meeting members of a community that has such an open and creative dialogue.

In the Bay being involved with Midori‘s fundraisers, supporting her performances and creating work with her was so important to me, as was working and exhibiting with Madison Young and her Femina Potens gallery. I look forward to getting to know and doing creative work with kindred spirits here.

Upcoming Sexclusivitaten salon events can be seen here! And workshops!

“For the whole month of March sex-expert Laura Meritt and her team offer an insight into the evolution of pussy power. 10 years ago the (Women’s) March was declared the month of vulvas to push its popularity forward and strengthen the sexual confidence of every vulva owner. All the events take place in the rooms of Exclusivitäten and offer a diverse program consisting of an exhibition, films and workshops around the female sexual organ. Viva la Vulva!”

 

 

 

Unterweg Drawings Nr. 4 – March!

Berlin clarinetists by Suzanne Forbes March 3 2017Lots of amazing unterweg drawing opportunities already this month!

These clarinet guys were reconstructed from a glimpse while my train was stopped at the platform they were on. I focused on details like their different styles of coat, their backpacks behind them, their hairstyles- so I not only didn’t get the specifics of the station, I don’t remember what station it was!

Accordionists at Yorckstrasse by Suzanne Forbes March 1 2017

Me and Daria went to a cafe in a cemetery, and it was the most wonderful place you could ever imagine.

I’m not telling which one, cause it’s too precious. When we left we saw these accordionists in the station, and she got on her train but I stayed to draw them. Using the set of grayscale markers I received as a 50th b-day gift from a beloved friend-muse-Patron has been so fun and rewarding.

Longboard by Suzanne Forbes March 1 2017Me and Daria went to Modulor, the legendary amazing Berlin art supply store. They have EVERYTHING. It is a terrible, evil place, just as she had warned me. We were running around saying “Bad, this is bad,  yes it is a bad place.” “Ok I just need this one more thing-” “Of course this too-”

Also the cafe there, Rock-Paper, has fantastic American style chocolate chip cookies. Better than serviceable Snap (which luckily has just opened a branch in our U-Bahn station), better than decent Scoom, even better than quite good Shakespeare and Sons. If you are in Berlin and your heart is aching for a real, American, gosh damm actual chocolate chip cookie, you should go to Rock-Paper.

On the way there and I back I drew this guy with the longest longboard I had seen since the early 80s. He said it was 1.4m.

Berlin, du bist so wunderbar!

 

A three-hour portrait painting.

When you live in Berlin and have a large flat, your friends send their friends to stay with you.Bryce in library by Suzanne Forbes Feb 12 2017

And when you come to stay with us, you may be asked to pose.

Bryce in library by Suzanne Forbes eb 12 2017 WIP.Bryce in library by Suzanne Forbes Feb 12 2017 WIP.

Our recent houseguest Bryce graciously agreed to pose while reading in the library with my hub.
Bryce in library by Suzanne Forbes Feb 12 2017 WIP.
Bryce in library by Suzanne Forbes Feb 12 2017 WIP.

 

Now that I have an Instagram, I’ve been trying to document my process more. It’s fun to see how fast it happens.

ryce in library by Suzanne Forbes eb 12 2017 WIP. 2 - Edited
This 15″ by 20″ acrylic on board portrait was completed in just under three hours.Bryce in library by Suzanne Forbes Feb 12 2017 face

Unterweg Drawings Nr. 3 – January!

3am on the U7 by Suzanne Forbes Jan 30 2017This is one of those Berlin moments that kind of confused me.

It was a Saturday late fairly late, and this guy was eating a sandwich in a white Tyvek jumpsuit. Was he a homeless guy, with his possessions in his cart? His cart also contained folders of papers and cleaning products, maybe he works in the subway system?

I couldn’t tell. I snuck behind the elevator shaft and drew him through its glass walls. Then I finished it a month or two later with the new greyscale markers one of my beloved Friend-Muse-Patrons gave me for my 50th birthday!80s classics come around again by Suzanne Forbes Jan 25 2017

I saw this woman last week on the U-Bahn. Everything about her took me back to the 80s.

It was an older train, she was in the classic straphanger bookworm brace position, she was reading an 80s thriller and wearing the same kind of puffer coat my mom wore in the 80s. Puffer coats came back in style a couple years ago, and I am glad because they are so fun to draw.

December Unterwegs here.

November Unterwegs here.

Drawing Amanda Palmer in Berlin!

Amanda Palmer in my kitchen, by Suzanne Forbes Halloween 2016

Our longtime beloved FriendMusePatron Whitney was on tour this fall with her longtime friend Amanda Palmer.

On Halloween she and Amanda and baby Ash and the whole delightful entourage of cool people came to our house. I made this drawing of Amanda in the kitchen. Daria drew the same moment!

Amanda and I had only met once before, almost a decade ago, so we had some sad quiet time in my bedroom talking about our mutual friend Conor. Amanda’s blog still sends a reader almost every day to my post about how Conor lost his battle with depression and addiction.

I’m grateful that her fans are reading my message about how depression is a medical illness, not a failing of character.

While we talked baby Ash, a sweet-tempered and happy baby, crawled around the coverlet and peered at the cats. He has soulful, deep-set eyes. I love him.Amanda and Whitney practising Paperback Writer in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

Then on the next day me and Daria got to go to the show and be backstage and draw and it was wonderful.

This is Whitney and Amanda practising “Paperback Writer” in the empty venue before the show. The show was at a legendary Berlin venue, Huxleys Neue Welt, and the acoustics were gorgeous. Their voices rose up pure and exquisite in the open space, and the piano was amazing.

When we came into the concert hall where Amanda was at the piano, she sang into the mike, “The artists have arrived!”. I would like to be introduced this way everywhere.

Amanda Palmer and Ash in the Green Room by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

Scotty the Blue Bunny in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016In the green room Ash was looked after by his nanny, who had been an on-point Eleven for Halloween, and old friends of Amanda’s who live in Berlin. His mother’s ear was always tuned to him, even as she got ready to perform.

Scotty the Blue Bunny, another Bay Area refugee now in Berlin, opened the show with his signature baton twirling. Amanda said she would like to be introduced this way everywhere she goes.

Amanda speaks fluent German, as you may or may not know, and fans were yelling “Your German is great!”

She spoke in German quite a bit and it went over gangbusters.

Here’s Amanda taking requests by writing them on her arm!

This is her traditional method of taking requests. The audience happily complied, yelling out song titles.Amanda Palmer taking requests in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

And Amanda playing the ukulele. I fucking love when Amanda plays the ukulele!

Here’s Daria’s. It was so great, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be there and make these drawings. You can support both me and Amanda continuing to make exactly the art that feels most authentic to us on Patreon!

Amanda Palmer playing ukulele in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

Amanda Palmer playing ukulele in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes Nov 1 2016

Amanda is in Melbourne right now, but in the US you can hear Whitney sing with group Midtown Social all over the Bay Area.

 

Patron Portrait Party!!!

So many beloved Friend-Muse-Patrons came to Berlin to celebrate my 50th birthday!

J by Suzanne Forbes Jan 8 2016I got to make portraits of lots of loved ones, it was glorious.Icka by Suzanne Forbes Dec 29 2016

For me making portraits of people I care about is a way of recording love, making it eternal.anandamayi and alexis by Suzanne Forbes Jan 6 2016

To have these wonderful people in our home and make art of them was the best birthday gift I could possibly have imagined.
neysa and ramon by suzanne forbes jan 7 2017

A new year of portrait painting.

Portrait of DIa by Suzanne Forbes Jan 4 2017I’ve known Dia for years, and made a very good drawing of them at the Edwardian Ball back in the Oughts.

Portrait of Dia by Suzanne Forbes Jan 4 2017Dia came to my Halloween party in this outfit, dressed as Desire, and I was like “Oh HELL yeah!”

I wanted to seize the opportunity to make a portrait while Dia was still in Berlin, before they headed off to New York for a new job doing important work protecting civil liberties.

I am as giddily pleased with this rock-solid powerhouse portrait as I’ve ever been with anything I’ve done. I think it’s a good indication for the New Year.

My work has always been deeply committed to queer and trans visibility, and I pledge to work as hard as I can on representation with love and respect in 2017.

If you’d like to help support my work, please visit my Patreon!

https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes

If you’d like to see more of my work representing diversity, queer love, trans visibility and body positivity, click over to my flickr. Some of the drawings are VERY explicit drawings of queer love and sex, so to see all 98 images in this album you’ll have to have your “adult” safeties off!