Kate Middleton’s Cousin Katrina Darling on Her ‘Playboy’ Debut & Burlesque Tonight

So the summer is over according to everybody except my really smart smartphone which swears I have another couple of weeks till fall. To add to the confusion, Fashion Week is upon us and it’s celebrating spring 2013. Tonight, down at Demi Monde, Katrina Darling – the second cousin of Kate Middleton – will perform her burlesque routine. Darling will join my favorite double entendre DJ Miss Guy and the princely but not really truly royalty DJ Prince Terrence for a soiree. The event is to celebrate her cover of Playboy, although "Playboy is not a sponsor of this event.”  I’m completely confused but feel comfy as the always enlightening Lyle Derek, Patrick Duffy, and Kimyon Huggins will surely fill in my blanks. Katrina was a burlesque queen before she fell into this Middleton muddle and is enjoying the luck.

Burlesque troupe Lady Circus will also provide some flesh for fantasy. Now the whole shebang will take place down at the aptly-addressed 90 "Broad" Street. There is also a celebration of Elle Macpherson’s new lingerie line "Intimates" and rock goddess Theo Kagin’s new makeup line “Armour Beauty.”

I caught up with Katrina Darling and asked her all about it

So you are coming back to the USA for a show at Demi Monde… what did you learn from your previous NYC burlesque experience, and how will it affect this performance?
With every performance, the venues and the audiences are different, so I’m always adapting and tweaking things to fit. I know that this time around the audience will be at a safer distance as I’m using fire in my performance.

Did you get to meet NYC’s burlesque queens?
Not whilst in New York, however the guys from The Slipper Room did two shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow a couple of years back, and I saw Julie Atlas Muze, Ms. Tickle, and many more. They’re two of my favorite performers; I’m more into the bawdy, provocative, modern burlesque than the mainstream stuff.

This cousin Kate thing… is it her problem, your problem, or anybody’s problem. Has anyone "talked" to you?
I don’t think it’s anybody’s problem! I’m a distant relative. I’ve been performing since I was 18. I’m not going to stop expressing myself through my art because some British journo showed up on my parent’s doorstep and decided to “out” me because I did  a “God Save the Queen” act (I’m not the first girl to do a royalty-themed act). You deal the hand life throws at you and mine seems to be unfolding with some happy coincidences. That’s all. Katrina Darling

What attracted you to this ancient art form, and where do you want to take it? With your new notoriety, has it become your entire world?
Well, as a child I was a show-off, and as a teen I dispelled my angst by performing in music bands. But as a young adult I stumbled across burlesque and toyed with my sexuality. I grew up in a small town and come from humble means; the gift of being able to express myself was a form of escapism for me. Being able to create a fantasy world is what I’ve been doing since I’ve had an imagination. I prefer a modern take on burlesque; for me, if the art form is to last it needs to evolve past nostalgia and into the present. As an entertainer, I love to parody the present pop culture and explore new skill sets. Ten minutes on stage isn’t too long, so you gotta make them remember it. As for the future, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

Playboycalled, and you said yes. Why did you do it? Was the money the primary factor or does it define you as your own person and, of course, drive your brand?
I’ve spent a lot of time admiring beautiful women and great minds. For me, it’s a privilege to be accepted into an institution and be a part of that history, alongside beautiful women and great minds. I had an amazing time working with everyone on set shooting the cover spread, and I’m proud of what was created.

What have you gained and what have you lost?
Reaffirmation that I am always going to be very decidedly myself, my mind, and my hair.

Your act includes “God Save the Queen.” Tell me about what you are saying with this royal reference.
When I created this act I was hanging out with a lot of the older punks in my area. They were pretty split on their ideals, but when discussing monarchy I was pretty much on the fence, listening to both sides of the argument. I guess, in my naivety, I thought the problem was I couldn’t relate since I came from such a different world. Which then led to me parodying this in my act. 

Speaking of queens, you have large – how shall I put it? – broad appeal in the gay community. Tell me about that.
Well, someone asked me the other day if I thought it was weird for me to go on stage with my tittles out, having men gawk. I said "it’s not just straight men that come to shows; it’s straight women, lesbians, gays, trans, queens, blacks, white, Asians, Indians, young, old, rich, and those who don’t have two £1’s to rub together." And I’m humbled by everyone who takes time out of their life to watch me perform.

Your gigs are timed with NYC Fashion Week. Will you attend some shows? What appeals to you?
I am very excited for Fashion Week and I’m scheduling in as much as I can, including Marc Jacobs and The Blonds. However, as this is my first Fashion Week, I am more than open to show suggestions. I just want to absorb it and have a great time!

If Kate called you on the cell.. what would you say to her?
"Fancy a cuppa?" – tea, that is.

Katrina Darling

Mad Men, Artists, and Designers Finally Get Their Day

Today, when advertisements, logos, and layouts shout from a variety of shiny boxes and nearly every surface, it is easy to tune out the visual noise. In fact, it might be necessary. But that would be to discount the formidable and perhaps capital artistic achievement of the industrial revolution. Phaidon’s handsome new book—technically a box—The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design takes a catholic curatorial approach not just to advertising but to all sorts of graphic design.

The box contains 500 12 1/2” x 9 1/2” index cards. On each, the reader is greeted with the images that seek to convince us to eat, drink, buy or, at least, to think. Ben Franklin’s cut–up snake, what many consider the first political cartoon, is here next to Milton Avery’s I NY and George Lois’s Muhammad Ali as St. Sebastian 1968 Esquire cover. Among the wide selection are deep cuts—a Binaca ad from 1941 is particularly edifying—but the real pleasure here is the recontextualization. The images that are so often meant as tools are finally themselves the end. The © from 1909 is here. Ironically, its designer is unknown. The YSL logo, once segregated from clothes, takes on a graphic heft hitherto ignored.

But perhaps the singular charm of this mass of images is the free–form filing system. Though Dewey would churn, the cards can be filed by name, designer, date, or whatever taxonomy makes personal peculiar sense. The Borzoi dog can bark at the RCA pup staring at a phonograph next to the album art for God Save the Queen and the logo for the Victoria & Albert museum.

Though blindness is the only bulwark against constant image influx, the Phaidon archive, at least, allows you to see the images with brand new eyes.

Photo by Joshua Scott