As my Facebook timeline reminds me, I came up with the idea for a new act in September 2014 – I love the creepy victorian gothic tale of The Sandman by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (E.T.A. for short!), published in 1816 and a favourite piece at german schools! Parts of the story have found their way into Jacques Offenbach’s opera “Hoffmann’s tales”, which I was lucky to see a few years ago in London (in fact I loved it so much I went as Olympia one Halloween!!), and plenty of other outlets.
Re-reading the original story again, I researched it some more and looked at various pieces of pop culture influenced by the story – and discovered a not so well-known Rammstein song inspired by the Sandman. Watch the original video here:
After hearing this song I could envision the act and the whole idea started taking shape!
In the story the Sandman is a creepy bird-like creature, who comes to visit little children at night and pours sand into their eyes if they refuse to sleep – which will make their eyes fall out, so the Sandman can collect em and then takes the eyes to his iron nest on the Moon, and uses them to feed his offspring. Yup, creepy stuff! The boy Nathanael, who hears this bedtime story from his nurse, grows up into a disturbed young man and finally commits suicide. Great stuff!!
I kept thinking about this for a while and then one day saw a big art poster on the underground, which ended up influencing the whole visuals of the act: it was part of a series of Elizabethan era portraits and the whole rigid fashion of the period kinda gave me the idea that this would be a great look for the Sandman! The idea for the Elizabethan Sandman was born that moment.
I decided to go with Elizabethan shapes for the costume and started with an overcoat, inspired by this Italian loose gown, dated 1610:
Mine is made of black crushed velvet and has black lace-trimmed chiffon sleeves. The original garment is meant to be worn open, mine however needs to be closed at first to not give away the underlayers! So I added a big hook & eye closure at the chest.
I also wanted to get a big Renaissance-style collar and decided to go with the one pictured. It’s called a rebato and is made of millinery wire, which I covered in some leftover sequinned lace fabric and trimmed with black lace. The collar is not attached to the dress or my body, so although it looks cool it has to come off rather early in the act as it won’t stay in place long!
This is the finished collar together with the teal blue taffeta plunge corset I made. It’s got a zipper closure for easy release and is trimmed with some leftover antique lace on the top and new scalloped lace at the bottom, as well as Swarovskis in light blue, black and peacock.
On top of the corset I’m wearing a floor-length hoopskirt plus a winged chiffon skirt, which works like isis wings, but is attached at my waist. I just love the effect of this skirt and the wings look amazing!
You can see this quite well in this live shot (by Rosemary Rance), from the act’s debut in March 2015:
For the bottom layer I went for simple undies, a pretty thong in black and teal with crystals and a matching harness:
I also got a custom Elizabethan headpiece made by Demons & Diamonds to complete the costume!
So in keeping with the Sandman story I needed the most important prop: eyeballs! My eyeballs come from a Halloween prop shop in the US and look nice and creepy! I keep them on a plate that’s already placed on stage when I enter, and of course there’s also a goblet waiting for the final blood pour!
Ready to see the promo images (by Khandie Photography)?
After taking the act to Edinburgh Fringe it has now become one of my favourites to perform! I had lots of fun getting it out all Halloween this year!
And finally, here’s some footage of the finished act, as performed at Ed Fringe! Hope you enjoyed this!