Most of us will never attend a Ted Talk , but there are still plenty of opportunities to see inspiring speakers live. Like my ‘claims to fame’ list, I wanted to record the weird and wonderful talks I’ve been to as a means to celebrate my past experiences. So without further ado here is my Top Talks Life List:
Jon Ronson – In conversation with The Undertone’s Micky Bradley upstairs Sandino’s Derry 2013 circa ‘Lost at Sea’ launch. I asked a question in the Q&A about the Men who Stare at Goats movie, and chatted afterwards at the book signing, where I asked what he really thought about the Bilderberg group!
Michael Rosen – Derry 2009, legendary children’s author speaking at an intimate workshop on writing for children at the VAC. I asked him about writing with a particular ‘audience’ in mind and was soothed to hear many children’s writers are addressing their own inner child.
Neil Gaiman – IOE London 2006 promoting short story book Fragile Things. He gave a reading of some poetry and short stories and gossip on the Stardust movie which was in production. I was too shy to get anything signed, which seems daft in retrospect.
Alan Moore – Tate Britain 2006, speaking about the Gothic Nightmares exhibition and William Blake’s ‘Supermen’ and how they ushered in a new era of gods as superheroes.
Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie – interviewed by Stewart Lee London ICA 2006. Talking about their collaboration Lost Girls, its context and backdrop of WWI, art and pornography, and the inevitable censorship and publishing controversy (at the time of the talk it wasn’t legally available in the UK).
Michael Moorcock and Alan Moore – in conversation, Jerwood Vanburgh theatre, Rada in 2006. They appeared dressed as each other long grey hair, beards, waistcoats and walking canes. Not a Moorcock fan, so a bit lost on me.
Iain Sinclair with Alan Moore – Bishops Gate Institute 2006 (?) talking about the psycho-geography of London, circa the release of London: City of Disappearances. Moore talked about Shooters Hill and meeting Alexander Gilchrist’s relative at Lewisham Station near where I lived at the time.
Guillermo Del Toro – Presenting Pan’s Labyrinth, with a Q&A afterwards at Frightfest Leicester Sq. 2006. This the film’s 2nd screening post Cannes premier. Chatty and engaging Del Toro even invited artists to solicit him in the bar, re: HellBoy 2!
Laurie Anderson –The End of the Moon, spoken word performance on her Artist Residency for NASA, Barbican London 2005. Moving and deeply personal. I had seats all to myself in a small balcony by the stage. The Barbican felt like home, I was happy I’d gone alone and could weep with impunity!
Julian Cope– Book Launch of The Megalithic European, KCL London 2004. The arch-druid is quite the character, he wore a wide-brimmed black hat and sunglasses indoors which gave him the impression of being in disguise. Oddly what I remember most from this talk was his obvious love admiration of his wife. (Awww).
Harvey Pekar – London premier screening of American Splendor movie 2003. Pekar and family appear as themselves in the film and were onstage for an interview and Q&A. I was familiar with the memoir comic and excited to see it so idiosyncratically brought to life. Pekar was one of my writing inspirations.
Irvine Welsh – Reading from Filth, Derry 1998. Upstairs Gweedore night club during the day with the audience sitting on the floor like kids. Very weird. My friend bought the ‘pig’ poster and got it signed.
ORLAN -Nottingham University, 1997 Screening footage from her plastic surgery performances of The Reincarnation of St ORLAN, and discussing beauty ‘ideals’ and post-humanism. I was thrilled when she nodded at me and smiled as she passed the queue at the auditorium. Lady Gaga’s aesthetic owes much to this artist’s ground breaking work.
Stelarc – Manchester Metropolitan University, Alsager Campus,1997? Speaking about bionic enhancements and trans-humanism, the internet controlled ‘ping’ body, ingestible robotic art, and his third ear. An energetic, enthusiastic madman with a crazy laugh, Stelarc was way ahead of his time. I still cringe thinking of the body suspension hooks.
It seems I most often attend talks given by writers, comic creators or performance artists, which says a lot about my interests! For brevity’s sake, I haven’t included all of the comic creators I’ve seen, (I attended comic cons for years). Nor have I included stand-up comedians, who could have their own list another time.
Have you ever attended talks given by someone you were a fan of? Who would you like to see? Is there anyone you’d recommend seeing a talk by? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.