Sisters of Spin

After the disaster that was the Horror Cons collapsing, which you can read about here, a lovely guy named Chris, who runs the Liverpool Horror Club, emailed us, offering us a free table at a horror event he was planning at the end of September. He wanted to do something to restore faith in the horror community. There are still good people in the world. Then he saw we do polefit and invited us to perform after the horror event was over. Hyped on excitement and pole addiction, we agreed. We’d been considering entering doubles pole competitions, but chickened out, so this would let us know whether performing was for us. We like challenging ourselves and this certainly counted.

What usually happens after we’ve been brave, is that the anxious brain wakes up and asks: what the hell have we done?

We’ve never performed. We’d never even SEEN a pole performance that wasn’t on Instagram. Luckily, we had tickets to the Welsh Pole Championships and Bristol Pole Championships, so we went, hoping to be inspired. It worked. And raised the nerves a little. But at least we wouldn’t be doing this in front of knowledgeable pole fans. And we had about three weeks to choreograph a routine. No pressure.

We spent those weeks in the pole studio we use, KT Wild’s vertical Fitness, choreographing a routine. KT let us have unlimited use of the studio, whenever we wanted it, for which we are eternally grateful. We’ve never choreographed a routine before. This whole thing was so far outside our comfort zone, it needed its own postcode. We feel awkward when we film sexy pole routines in front of other polers in the class! How the hell could we perform in front of a room full of strangers? This was a bad idea. But backing out never crossed our mind. We wanted to do this.

We instantly knew what song we wanted – Cry Little Sister by G Tom Mac. The song from Lost Boys. We were in the pole studio three, sometimes four days a week, sometimes for two hours at a time. Weirdly, we never got sick of that song! We even decided to throw in a bit of chair burlesque, just to make it a bit different. We thought a chair spin from standing on the chairs would be cool. It was. It was also ridiculously scary at first but we didn’t die on our first attempt so figured it would work. The last third of our routine was changed so many times, it’s wonder we learned it at all. But four years of zumba had prepared us for learning dance routines and we barely forgot a single move. Our last practice in the studio went really well and we were ready. We deliberately didn’t do anything stupid in gymnastics so we wouldn’t get hurt.

Our teacher, KT, kindly lent us her stage pole for the performance and allowed us to borrow the chairs we’d been using.

And it all started to go wrong.

We’ve never used a stage pole. It’s a foot and a half off the ground. It’s high and the pole wobbles and dear god it was terrifying. Even doing basic moves on this was scary. Doubts pummelled us like a furious boxer. We had two days to practise our routine. Two days to conquer our fear and sudden inability to pole. In one part, Cat jumps down from near the top. She was too scared to do it on the stage pole and kept bailing and sliding down. Lynx was too scared to sit and lean around right at the top as we could see our entire street from up there. Other parts needed altering to fit into the much smaller space we now had. And the chairs slipped on the stage’s metal plates. As Cat jumped off the chair, it fell, hitting her leg and gouging a deep wound into her shin, leading to a swelling and tender bone. Remarkably, her leggings were undamaged. A month later, the scar and swelling are still there. Then during a reverse grab spin, Lynx kicked one of the chairs, leading to a bruised and swollen toe. We behaved in gymnastics, only to injure ourselves practicing the routine. Every practise went wrong on the Thursday. By now, we regretted agreeing. We couldn’t do it. We were going to fuck it up and it would look awful. Our confidence was taking a battering. Annoyed, we went to a pole lesson then returned to practise in the dying evening light. Those two rehearsals went ok.

In one part, we cartwheel off the stage. Due to our sloped garden, we didn’t have room to practise this part together. We only hoped it went alright on the night. On Friday, it all kept going wrong. Again. The reverse grab spin just wasn’t working and it was one of the coolest parts. Cat’s arm ended up scrammed, either by her or by Lynx, and Lynx’s little finger got crushed in a spin. The final practise on Friday was the best one we did and even that wasn’t perfect. But we’d run out of time. We had to drive to Liverpool.

On the way up, we tried to think up a stage name. We couldn’t use our writing name, but wanted something that combined our love of horror and pole. We thought of Pole’s Ravens, or Sisters of Spin. Dave suggested Slutty Little Midgets and that became our unofficial name.

The trading event at the Sanctuary Bar went really well. Us and Dave were together and Neen travelled up with us to help out and film our routine. We did a reading from Silent Dawn and hadn’t even practised as all our attention was on the routine. All day we were nervous. Breathless, heart pounding, unable to eat type of nervous. We didn’t want to do it. The two other poledancers had performed or competed before. We were complete newbies, so asked to go first. We didn’t want the audience to feel let down by ours if we went last. We strongly considered backing out. The anxiety was overwhelming. It would go wrong, like it had in every practise with the stage. We’d hoped to be able to put the stage up and have one practise beforehand. All the performances were taking place in one room. We couldn’t put the pole up until it was our time to perform. So no last minute practise. The performances were then pushed back. We were meant to be on at 8:30. Think it was around 10pm we finally got on. Except fake blood needed to be cleaned up from the gorelesque girls before us. And tables and chairs needed to be moved out of the way. There wasn’t a lot of space. We didn’t even know if there was room to cartwheel. We didn’t have a backup plan. We hung out in what got dubbed the Strip Loft with the two poledancers, Lou D and Alabama Whirley, and the Enchantico gorelesque girls, Lex Cole and Kitty Massacre. That actually helped ease our nerves. That and the raspberry vodka and lemonade Neen made us drink.

Putting the stage together killed our nerves, as we became very stressed about it, conscious of time, speed and the audience watching our every move. Then some audience members refused to move. Neen told one woman that we needed to practise a kick out and she was in the way. She didn’t want to leave her friends. Neen kept insisting she moved. She wouldn’t. Cat told the woman we would be kicking out and she might get kicked in the face. She still wouldn’t move. So Cat high kicked inches from her face. She fucking moved then! Listen love, if a performer tells you you are in the way, you do not get to decide that you’re not. Take your drink and move the fuck away! Cat then warned two men she would be cartwheeling off and they may get kicked. They stepped back. She did the cartwheel and landed right by them. They were scared and impressed and agreed not to move even a step forward.

Then it was time. Oh god.

Our timing was a bit fast at the start but we compensated for it. And we did the reverse grab spin! That was the bit that was causing us the most anxiety. People were whooping and clapping in parts, especially when Cat stands on Lynx’s shoulders and Lynx stands up. Cat did the jump from the top without holding on. And Lynx did the lean around. We both did the cartwheels at the same time, even though we hadn’t practiced it! Yep. The first time we cartwheeled together off the stage was during our performance. That got a big cheer.

When we bowed, there was a big sense of “thank god that’s over!” And “Yay it didn’t go wrong!” The audience seemed to really enjoy it. Afterwards, people came up to us to tell us how much they loved it. One of the other pole dancers, Alabama Whirley, told us we need to compete. We’re probably not at that level yet! Once the adrenaline of finishing was over, we were starving, relieved and in desperate need of a drink. We were glad it was over and thankful we didn’t fuck up in front of a crowded room.

Would we perform again? Probably. But we’d give ourselves longer than two days with a piece of equipment! And maybe we’d be more forgiving of ourselves and not expect perfection. After all, the audience doesn’t know our routine.

And our injuries still hurt.

Here is our performance.

The road so far

Every year, our New Year’s Resolution never changes: Do Something Different. This year, we smashed it.

VeniceWe went away for our birthday in February for the first time, visiting somewhere we’ve never been: Venice. We rode Vaporettos, tried Gelato (yum) and pizza for the first and probably last time (ych a fi, that taste still haunts us) and went to an insane Asylum museum on a separate island. We deliberately got lost so we could explore every part of Venice. We went to Murano and visited the glass museum. Sadly we didn’t get to go to Poveglia, the plague island. Maybe next time…It was an amazing experience and we still miss it, even though the dogs wouldn’t come and say hello. Venice is an incredible place. The architecture, the canals, the museums (we visited 11) and due to going in February, there were hardly any tourists.Venice

SpainIn May, we went to Spain for the first time to visit our friend, Cinta. It was an unexpected holiday, but we’re glad we said yes. We also went to Gibraltar. It would’ve been rude not to, as we were so close. Fortunately, we didn’t get mugged by monkeys. That would’ve been a low point. We also learned to drive a left-hand drive car on the other side of the road. That was a terrifying experience! But we loved every minute of it. Particularly the vegan ice cream. We also visited the historic town of Ronda, which we meant we got to drive through the Spanish mountains.

We also did something this year that absolutely terrified us –  we started gymnastics. Our coach came up to us in Comic Con (Cat knew him from physio class four years ago) and said the magic words: “You know what will help you with polefit? Joining my gymnastics class.” So we did. A month later, because it took us that long to pluck up the courage to go. We’ve never done a forward roll, cartwheel or handstand in 34 years of living. Mostly, the fear of breaking our necks always stopped us from trying them. Most kids don’t have that fear, but we did. Now we can do them. Sort of. We can also do somersaults. Can’t land them though. We’re learning handsprings, backflicks, roundoffs, front walkovers, handstands on the beam, Aerials. Haven’t yet mastered a single one of them though but we’re persistent. We’re also doing Acro Yoga poses for funsies. Mostly we fail and face plant and ruin our coach’s prep work. We prove nothing is fool-proof. Starting gymnastics at an age where most people have retired, isn’t easy. Especially when we’ve never done it before and everyone else is much younger and better than us. But we’re conquering our fear and doing things we never thought we could do.It’s a very frustrating, soul-destroying sport that inflames our darkshines to the point we want to quit. But we’ve made some awesome new friends, in particular, two women, both called Sarah. We would’ve quit if it wasn’t for them.acro balance

paddleboardingPaddleboarding with fellow poledancers was certainly a new thing. We thought we’d be shit and end up in the water. We were actually pretty good! And we instantly fell in love with it, imagining ourselves as Olympic champions. Turns out it’s not a competitive sport. Oh well. Though a woman has paddleboarded across the Channel, so it could be a cheap way for us to get to France.

acro balanceIn November, another gymnast, Si, messaged us with the words “Warrior Training will help you with polefit.” Next thing we know, we’re in a gym in Caerleon running on a treadmill, lifting weights and pushing a monstrosity called a Prowler while Si graciously takes being sworn at as he increases our treadmill speed and adds more weights. Usually, people take offence when you flip them off, but Si just responds with “I love your fighting spirit.” This is going to be a brilliant relationship. During our first session, pushing the prowler up and down the gym nearly killed us. By our fourth session, doing it with 30 kg weights didn’t seem as hard. Then we went up to 40kg. In just four sessions our strength has dramatically improved. Now we’re going to enter something called the WOLF run. We HATE running! 6 miles of Woods, Obstacles, Lakes and Fields. But you get a cool medal and t-shirt at the end. They’re our motivations for doing it.Warrior Training

warrior trainingWhile poledancing is not a new thing for this year, conquering our fear is. Considering we used to be scared of being upside down, we’re now doing pole flips and drops and even spinning upside down! We’re loving the progress we’re making and we’re finally starting to look a little graceful! We did a routine to Marilyn Manson’s Killing Strangers that our teacher, Amy, devised and thanks to Hannah, we finally beat our nemesis move – The Superman – by flipping in to it. We don’t do things the easy way!

We also did something else  scary – starting our own radio show! It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, but never had the guts or opportunity. Then our friends, Jack and Laura, started volunteering at Vitalize Radio in Torfaen. They suggested we get our own show, then Jack spoke to our boss, Dan, who loved our idea of a horror show. We now host The Graveyard Shift every Friday 7-9 p.m. We love it and talk all things horror. We even get to play our own choice of music, which means we have to upload it to the system, because whilst there’s a load of Beyonce and Little Mix, Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson are sadly underrepresented. Until now.Vitalize Radio

Frightmare

with one of our sets at Frightmare

In September we got a job helping to build a Halloween attraction on a farm in Gloucester, thanks to our best mate, Neen. We love Frightmare and visit it every year. This year we got to help build it! We spent our breaks patting the animals and threatening to ride the ostriches. And of course the three of us went along, dressed up, to enjoy the fruits of our labour. We loved every minute of it and even offered to pole dance at next year’s show. Halloween itself was spent watching a Burlesque performance for the first time with our other best mate, Andrew.

Frightmare

working hard at Frightmare

Getting a new tattoo counts as doing something different, right? We commemorated our love of poledancing by getting a poledancing fairy tattoo. The wings match the butterfly wings we each designed for our mum’s tattoo. While our broken raven tattoos represent starting to heal from twenty years of mental illness, the poledancing fairies represent the next stage of finally becoming comfortable with ourselves, with our bodies, and celebrating the enormous fear we’ve overcome since starting polefit. We would never have started gymnastics or warrior training if it wasn’t for polefit. We would still be refusing to expose any part of our bodies that isn’t our arms.

poledancing tattoo, gothic fairy tattoo,

Cat’s tattoo

We got our lips and ear lobes pierced. Now, we love getting tattoos. We get so excited about it. Piercings, we hate. We get so scared we nearly hyperventilate. It doesn’t make sense. So we decided to get it all over with in one go and get three piercings done at once. That was a load of agony we could’ve done without! But we don’t regret it and will hopefully get some new piercings next year.

poledancing tattoo, gothic fairy tattoo

Lynx’s tattoo

Frightmare

with our boss, Matt, and best mate, Neen, at Frightmare

And we’ve actually had a pretty good writing year. Well, the end of the year anyway. The start was shit, as always. We were asked to participate in a Dead Authors Death Match at Bristol Horror Con. We picked Poe, of course. And we did a reading of The Malignant Dead. Our horror story, Some Strings Attached was published by Burdizzo Books in the Reverend Burdizzo’s Hymn Book. Our travel article, Culture Shock, about our disastrous trip to Paris won second prize with Writing Magazine. A horror comedy, Pretty Vacant was shortlisted in the To Hull and Back competition and is out now. Another story, Hell’s Bells, has just been published in Australia in a Christmas horror anthology. Our first Australian publication! The Art of Dying was shortlisted by Crystal Lake and very nearly published. Deadhead has made it through to the second round of voting with Dark Moon Digest in America.

dressing up for Halloween gymnastics

ClownfaceWe also got work on an indie horror film, Clownface. We were hired as Costume and Set Dressers and also did the role of Second Assistant Camera, Sound, Runners, Props and Makeup. We get so nervous working with people because we’re used to working alone and we had to live with them. This was a major stressor for us but we coped. Even if we did end up Hulking out and screaming at people for constantly refusing to do the washing up. But from that, we were asked to write our own film. So we’ve adapted The Black Kiss from Romance is Dead trilogy and next year, we will become directors as we shoot it. We’ve also helped on our mate Dave’s film. Lynx got to die and Cat got to be a newborn demon and we helped crew it.

We’ve had some losses this year – our guinea pig, Reggie, and two of our cats – adopted stray Moussy and our beloved Warlock. And the year has ended pretty shittily for us in terms of finances, which has meant that our plans to spend our next birthday in Rome have gone the way of the Roman Empire. However, we’ve achieved a lot and next year we’re going to do even more. Or die trying. Either way.

polefit

Installing Updates

Sorry, it’s been two months since our last blog post. There just hasn’t been any news to report, apart from countless rejections and we save those for Twitter. Though we have had an acceptance – To Sleep, Perchance to Scream, a story we wrote back in 2008 and have recently reworked will be appearing in Thirteen Vol 3: The Neverending Nightmare. We tend to hibernate from ghost hunting/urbex in the winter ‘cos it’s bloody cold and we’d rather not freeze to death and become ghosts ourselves. Though that would mean we’d finally get some on the show. We’ve been busy working on a new project which we’re very excited about – our first comic! The fantastic guys at Hellbound Media asked us to write a short comic for them based on monsters from the silver screen and naturally, we said yes. We’ve been wanting to move into comics for a while but had no idea how to write one, as it’s a very different format to short stories and novels. But with their help, we’re learning and are now working on adapting another story into a comic.

Silent DawnIn December, we released Silent Dawn, our first YA book. We decided not to tone down the horror for a younger audience. We were reading adult horror at 12 and we turned out…anyhoo, it is available on Amazon in ebook and print. We’re currently editing The Devil’s Servants, set during in 1649 during Edinburgh’s witch trials. It’s sort of a sequel to The Malignant Dead. This will be our next release this year.

Birmingham Horror ConNow it’s February, con season is starting. On Saturday we were at Birmingham Horror Con and had a great time. People who met us at Horror Con UK in Sheffield came to see us again and some online friends showed up as well. We spent a long time cuddling snakes and faced our lifelong fear of spiders by holding a tarantula, Pandora. It’s something we’d never thought we’d do and we’re pleased we summoned the courage to hold her. We’ll probably still flee in terror the next time a garden spider scuttles towards us but for a few minutes, we were brave. And we have photos to prove it.

Birmingham Horror Con

Cat and Pandora

Birmingham Horror Con

Lynx and Texas

We’ve also been busy with our new obsession – polefit. We haven’t been this obsessive about an exercise since horse riding which we gave up when we were 16. Depression’s a bitch. Though we have an intense fear of being upside and falling, which doesn’t help when we have to do upside moves and let go with one hand. One day we hope to be able to do them without being scared, but that’s a long way off. Though it’s better to be scared and concentrate on doing the move right then throwing ourselves into it and fucking it up. It took us 11 years to get over our social phobia, so we’re hoping to conquer this fear much quicker.

Polefit

Lynx doing an Upside Galaxy

We’ve improved a lot since we started in September  – when we started, we couldn’t straighten our legs because of tight hamstrings. Due to doing flexibility stretches every day, we can now straighten them and thanks to a two hour flexibility/contortion class, we are now closer to doing the splits! We also have a pole in Casa Raven and spend a lot of time watching Polefit videos on Instagram and wishing we were those ladies! Now that our legs are finally on display, we need to tattoo them. At least we potentially have a new career when we run out of money. Twin Goth poledancers hasn’t been done before. As long as we can keep our clothes on. While we enjoy giving people nightmares, we prefer to do it through our writing, not through inflicting our nudity on people. Check out the video for our first three months of Polefit.

Cat doing a Reverse Layout

Cat doing a Reverse Layout

Next week, it’s our birthday and we shall be spending it in Venice! We’ll arrive on Valentine’s Day and while the Italians have only recently started celebrating it, Venice is meant to be one of the most romantic cities. So naturally, we’ve found all the haunted, gory locations and will be visiting them with Calamityville regular and fellow birthday girl, Lesley. Other Calamityville regulars Tom and Amy are also joining us but as it’s their anniversary, we shall leave them to their romantic slushyness and go off chasing ghosts and little girls in red coats. The carnivale will be on while we’re there. We also plan to visit Verona and recreate the famous Romeo & Juliet scene on the balcony. We’ve been practising important Italian we’ll need – chips, ice cream, vegan, bill please, hello, goodbye, thank you and please don’t arrest us.double-figurehead

So here’s a list of our upcoming cons for this year so far if you want to come and say hi.

February 25th & 26th Digicon – Doncaster.

March 4th and 5th Cardiff Film and Comic Con (we’ll be lowering the tone at Hellbound Media’s table)

March 11th Optimus: A touch of horror – Bristol

April 21st – 23rd Whitby Goth Weekend Bizarre Bazaar (we’ll be in the Pavillion theatre)

May 6th Oldham Comic Con we’ll be doing a reading, though haven’t decided which book we’re reading from.

July 1st & 2nd Swansea Horror Con (we’re guests! Well, we do have Swansea blood, so it’s only fair.)

July 15th Edgelit – Derby

October 14th Bristol Horror Con

October 28th & 29th Birmingham Horror Con Halloween Special.

Dark Gathering

Wow, it’s been a while since our last post. We’ve been quite busy so haven’t had a lot of time to blog, as we’ve been catching up on other stuff. Since we last blogged, we’ve done two ghost hunts – at RAF Rivenhall in Essex and the Savoy Theatre in Monmouth – and we’ve been selling our books at different horror cons – Bristol in October and Wales Comic Con at the start of November.

Tom Wlaschiha

us and the gorgeous Tom Wlaschiha

We got to meet one of our childhood favourites, Mr Motivator, and attempted to flirt with Tom Wlaschiha, who played Jaqen H’Ghar in Game of Thrones. We say ‘attempted’ because we may have given him a backhanded compliment. He told us we were going on his list. Considering he plays an assassin, this may not be a great list to be on. But as we say to our best mate, Neen, the day we stop embarrassing ourselves, the Fates will grow bored of us and cut our mortal coils. Our next con is Whitby Comic Con on 19th November. We’re staying in a youth hostel on Whitby Abbey grounds, so naturally we’ll be spending our night ghost hunting and looking for Dracula. We’ve also been commissioned to write short stories for a few anthologies, so they’ve been keeping us out of mischief.

Dark GatheringBut we have some good news. Our poem, Banquet of the Damned, was published in Swansea and District Writers Circle’s horror anthology, Dark Gathering. We wrote the poem back in 2009 and it’s about the damned and demons celebrating the end of days with a lavish feast of human flesh. We don’t often submit poetry – mostly because our rebellious natures don’t respond well to all those rules and restrictions. Plus we can never remember what the rules are.

14732139_887577514676349_6067987868793053303_nAlso, our short story, Death’s Cold Kiss was shortlisted in To Hull and Back‘s humorous story competition and published in the anthology. We wrote this story in 2007 – it was one of the first short stories we wrote and has always been one of our favourites. It’s set in the waiting room of the afterlife. The main character believes she’s being stalked by the man of her dreams, but he’s actually a grim reaper. And definitely not Mr Right. This would probably happen to us.

But wait, there’s more. We know, usually, as our mate, Andrew said, if we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all. And we didn’t even have to sacrifice someone to ancient god to make this happen. Bit gutted about that. We’d bought the robes and everything. But our story, The Eden Project, won third place in the British Fantasy Society Award. The judge loved it and said it takes the knife to celebrity culture and society’s obsession with beauty in a witty way. It’s set in a futuristic world where natural beauty has diminished so retreats were set up to breed beautiful people, who then earn their keep by being film stars and models. The story follows twins Leah and Shania, who tour the human safari park and learn that beauty has an ugly truth. It was written in 2009 but has had several rewrites since then, including a new ending. We actually gave up on it for a couple of years, but needed a story for a competition, so worked on it, improved it, and submitted it. After a couple more rejections, it’s finally found a home and will be published in the BFS journal. We cannot wait.

And our short story, Penitence Ball, was accepted in an anthology, Welcome to the Dance, but we don’t have a release date yet. Again, it was written in 2009 and was inspired by My Chemical Romance’s ‘To the End’ where they mention a penitence ball. We originally wrote a poem, based on what we thought a penitence ball would be like, then turned that poem into a story. Every Halloween, those who died with regret, rise from the dead to dance at the penitence ball. If they accept what brought them there, they can leave the dance. If they can’t, they must return every year until they do.

Clearly, 2009 was a good year for ideas, but our writing wasn’t up to standard for them to be published. Perhaps in 7 years, the stories we wrote this year will be published.

Polefit

Cat doing the geisha

And in completely unrelated news, two months ago, we started doing PoleFit at KT Wild’s Vertical Fitness and we absolutely love it. We thought we’d be shit at it but we’re not too bad. Except for yesterday’s lesson, when Lynx was upside on the pole, fell and landed on her shoulders and head. Considering how much we fall over on Calamityville, we’re surprised we haven’t fallen off before. So if this writing malarky fails, at we now have a Plan B…

Polefit

Lynx doing the gemini into a handstand. She fell off in this position