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August 8, 2011 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Dr Sketchy. Yes, Dr Sketchy.

The international Dr Sketchy movement was founded in 2005 by artists Molly Crabapple and A.V. Phibes. Both were Art School dropouts who had a passion for art, founding Dr. Sketchy, effectively a live drawing class where the shows have a distinct lack of boring naked 50 year olds, with a whole lot more bouncing burlesque dancers with balloons. Generally held in bars, Dr Sketchy serves to make art fun, and encourages those from the very talented and well-known, to those who have just learned that pencils meet paper, to have a go at drawing something interesting. Going beyond the mere model-on-stage formula, events overseas have included flash mobs, live art installations for art galleries, and impromptu public performances. Themes have included steampunk, candy, boxing, and, more recently, Obama vs Palin.

Dr Sketchy Wellington is monthly and hosted by Mighty Mighty. For $12/$14, anyone can come in and experience a wealth of colour, models and atmosphere with a sketch book in hand. The talented Wellington scene brings a variety to the table, with costumers and dancers doing their thing to avoid mere traditional poses, and some pictures are simply breathtaking. Rachel Rouge began Dr Sketchy Wellington in 2009, and will be retiring in October of this year.

Venus Starr will be taking the reins of Dr Sketchy, with big boots to fill. Starr has over six years of circus performance under her belt from the Circus Trust in Miramar, in addition to lengthy stints teaching and performing worldwide on the burlesque and circus scene. Among her talents, she can do aerial silks, hula, and swinging trapeze, which she enjoys bringing to Burlesque in Wellington. She aims to bring a more circus-style feel to performances in Wellington, avoiding mere ‘striptease’ style shows for full, high calibre burlesque shows, often combining talents such as aerial silks, pole, or hula. In addition to this, in a moment of boredom when pregnant, the high energy Starr formed the monthly event Carousel Cabaret to remain active when unable to perform in the Wellington burlesque scene.

One of the best things about the Wellington burlesque scene, and Venus in particular, is that she knows most performers well enough to push the boundaries. Venus knows her performers’ limits and can tailor each session to each performer, and vice versa. Wellington Dr Sketchy artists are becoming well known for drawing more detailed, beautiful pictures owing to each performer’s ability to hold poses for five to seven minutes, as opposed to one or two. Combining this with a passion for extending the common view of burlesque as simply striptease, shows at Mighty Mighty combine a range of concepts appealing to increasing numbers of Wellingtonians. Rachel Rouge has organised her final Dr Sketchy to be Zombie themed, ending with the symbolic killing of Rouge by Starr, as she takes the spotlight.

Venus’ monthly Burlesque show, Carousel Cabaret, is a work of art combining traditional Burlesque with more circus-style entertainment, with a healthy dose of comedy. It is next held at Garden Bar at 7pm, August 26.

The next Dr Sketchy will be held at Mighty Mighty, from 4-7pm on Friday 12 August 2011.


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  1. Rachel Rouge says:

    Thank you for the lovely article. The next Dr. Sketchy Wellington will be on SATURDAY THE 13th OF AUGUST 4-7pm at MIGHTY MIGHTY.

    Dr. Sketchy Wellington is monthly, always on the 2nd Saturday of the month from 4-7pm at Mighty Mighty.

    Unfortunately there is a bug on the site that makes the times show up in New York time on some browsers. We are working with Dr Sketchy HQ to get this sorted out.

    For the freshest of juicy fresh information feel free to join our Facebook group

    Thank you kindly
    xXx Rachel Rouge
    Outgoing grand high pooba of Dr. Sketchy Wellington

  2. Venus Starr says:

    Thank you for a fabulous write up Zoe!

    I look forward to seeing you all at Dr Sketchy on Sat 13th of Aug.
    This month we have the fabulous “All Togethers” Wellingtons own burlesque troupe.

    Venus Starr :)

  3. Great Article!!!! Can’t wait to be part of either event again soon!!

  4. Electrum Greenstone says:

    Interesting piece of journalism!

    “Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

    From the ashes a fire shall be woken […]

  5. Electrum Greenstone says:

    Will there be snowy pictures of Victoria-in-the-Snow in the next Snow-lient?

  6. Electrum Greenstone says:

    ‘ Of all the Buddhist catchwords to have taken popular hold in the West, “karma” is possibly the most widely used, and the most grossly misunderstood.

    X X X

    ‘ Unlike the theory of linear causality — which led the Vedists and Jains to see the relationship between an act and its result as predictable and tit-for-tat — the principle of this/that conditionality makes that relationship inherently complex. The results of kamma experienced at any one point in time come not only from past kamma, but also from present kamma. This means that, although there are general patterns relating habitual acts to corresponding results […], there is no set one-for-one, tit-for-tat, relationship between a particular action and its results. Instead, the results are determined by the context of the act, both in terms of actions that preceded or followed it […] and in terms one’s state of mind at the time of acting or experiencing the result […]. As we noted in the Introduction, the feedback loops inherent in this/that conditionality mean that the working out of any particular cause-effect relationship can be very complex indeed. This explains why the Buddha says in §12 that the results of kamma are imponderable. […] We can compare this with the Mandelbrot set […], a mathematical set generated by a simple equation, but whose graph is so complex that it will probably never be completely explored.

    […] The point here is that old kamma does not override other causal factors operating in the universe — such as those recognized by the physical sciences — but instead finds its expression within them.

    However, the fact that the kammic process relies on input from the present moment means that it is not totally deterministic. Input from the past may place restrictions on what can be done and known in any particular moment, but the allowance for new input from the present provides some room for free will. ‘

    X X X

    ‘ But though the detailed workings of kamma escape our intellection, the practically important message is clear: the fact that kammic results are modifiable frees us from the bane of determinism and its ethical corollary, fatalism, and keeps the road to liberation constantly open before us.

    […] It is our own response which removes the ambiguity of the situation, for better or worse. This reveals the kamma doctrine of the Buddha as a teaching of moral and spiritual responsibility for oneself and others. It is truly a “human teaching” because it corresponds to and reflects man’s wide range of choices, a range much wider than that of an animal. Any individual’s moral choice may be severely limited by the varying load of greed, hatred and delusion and their results which he carries around; yet every time he stops to make a decision or a choice, he has the opportunity to rise above all the menacing complexities and pressures of his unfathomable kammic past. Indeed, in one short moment he can transcend aeons of kammic bondage. ‘

  7. Electrum Greenstone says:

    P.S. TL? Try R-ing this Full Fucking one! :

    ‘ Karma is one of those words we don’t translate. Its basic meaning is simple enough — action — but because of the weight the Buddha’s teachings give to the role of action, the Sanskrit word karma packs in so many implications that the English word action can’t carry all its luggage. This is why we’ve simply airlifted the original word into our vocabulary.

    But when we try unpacking the connotations the word carries now that it has arrived in everyday usage, we find that most of its luggage has gotten mixed up in transit. In the eyes of most Americans, karma functions like fate — bad fate, at that: an inexplicable, unchangeable force coming out of our past, for which we are somehow vaguely responsible and powerless to fight. “I guess it’s just my karma,” I’ve heard people sigh when bad fortune strikes with such force that they see no alternative to resigned acceptance. The fatalism implicit in this statement is one reason why so many of us are repelled by the concept of karma, for it sounds like the kind of callous myth-making that can justify almost any kind of suffering or injustice in the status quo: “If he’s poor, it’s because of his karma.” “If she’s been raped, it’s because of her karma.” From this it seems a short step to saying that he or she deserves to suffer, and so doesn’t deserve our help.

    This misperception comes from the fact that the Buddhist concept of karma came to the West at the same time as non-Buddhist concepts, and so ended up with some of their luggage. Although many Asian concepts of karma are fatalistic, the early Buddhist concept was not fatalistic at all. In fact, if we look closely at early Buddhist ideas of karma, we’ll find that they give even less importance to myths about the past than most modern Americans do.

    For the early Buddhists, karma was non-linear and complex. Other Indian schools believed that karma operated in a simple straight line, with actions from the past influencing the present, and present actions influencing the future. As a result, they saw little room for free will. Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in multiple feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. Furthermore, present actions need not be determined by past actions. In other words, there is free will, although its range is somewhat dictated by the past. The nature of this freedom is symbolized in an image used by the early Buddhists: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction.

    So, instead of promoting resigned powerlessness, the early Buddhist notion of karma focused on the liberating potential of what the mind is doing with every moment. Who you are — what you come from — is not anywhere near as important as the mind’s motives for what it is doing right now. Even though the past may account for many of the inequalities we see in life, our measure as human beings is not the hand we’ve been dealt, for that hand can change at any moment. We take our own measure by how well we play the hand we’ve got. If you’re suffering, you try not to continue the unskillful mental habits that would keep that particular karmic feedback going. If you see that other people are suffering, and you’re in a position to help, you focus not on their karmic past but your karmic opportunity in the present: Someday you may find yourself in the same predicament that they’re in now, so here’s your opportunity to act in the way you’d like them to act toward you when that day comes.

    This belief that one’s dignity is measured, not by one’s past, but by one’s present actions, flew right in the face of the Indian traditions of caste-based hierarchies, and explains why early Buddhists had such a field day poking fun at the pretensions and mythology of the brahmans. As the Buddha pointed out, a brahman could be a superior person not because he came out of a brahman womb, but only if he acted with truly skillful intentions.

    We read the early Buddhist attacks on the caste system, and aside from their anti-racist implications, they often strike us as quaint. What we fail to realize is that they strike right at the heart of our myths about our own past: our obsession with defining who we are in terms of where we come from — our race, ethnic heritage, gender, socio-economic background, sexual preference — our modern tribes. We put inordinate amounts of energy into creating and maintaining the mythology of our tribe so that we can take vicarious pride in our tribe’s good name. Even when we become Buddhists, the tribe comes first. We demand a Buddhism that honors our myths.

    From the standpoint of karma, though, where we come from is old karma, over which we have no control. What we “are” is a nebulous concept at best — and pernicious at worst, when we use it to find excuses for acting on unskillful motives. The worth of a tribe lies only in the skillful actions of its individual members. Even when those good people belong to our tribe, their good karma is theirs, not ours. And, of course, every tribe has its bad members, which means that the mythology of the tribe is a fragile thing. To hang onto anything fragile requires a large investment of passion, aversion, and delusion, leading inevitably to more unskillful actions on into the future.

    So the Buddhist teachings on karma, far from being a quaint relic from the past, are a direct challenge to a basic thrust — and basic flaw — in our culture. Only when we abandon our obsession with finding vicarious pride in our tribal past, and can take actual pride in the motives that underlie our present actions, can we say that the word karma, in its Buddhist sense, has recovered its luggage. And when we open the luggage, we’ll find that it’s brought us a gift: the gift we give ourselves and one another when we drop our myths about who we are, and can instead be honest about what we’re doing with each moment — at the same time making the effort to do it right. ‘

  8. Electrum Greenstone says:

    ———- ‘ The carrot surely has conventional existence; it attracts rodents and makes great juice. It functions as a food. However, it totally lacks independent or inherent existence, what we falsely believe is the core of its being. In other words, the object or subject we falsely believe independently exists is not actually “findable upon analysis.” When we search diligently for that entity we believe inherently exists, we cannot actually find it. Its independent being does not become clearer and more definite upon searching. Instead, phenomena exist in the middle way because they lack inherent existence, but do have conventional existence.

    While reifying carrots, I simultaneously reify the one who desires carrots and consider him as inherently existent too. Out of the seamless flux of experience, I falsely impute or attribute inherent existence to both the subject and its object of desire and thereby spin the wheel of samsara. In this way, perception is a double act that simultaneously generates a false belief in inherently existent subjects and objects, gentleman farmers and their carrots. Then our time is occupied with cherishing our personal ego, putting its desires before all else, pushing others aside to satisfy those desires, and running after objects we falsely believe inherently exist. We think those objects will make us happy, but in fact they can never satisfy us. […]

    According to the Middle Way, we can put out the fire by deeply appreciating the doctrine of emptiness, the lack of inherent existence in all subjects and objects, in all phenomena. ‘ —————

    The above is a nice summary of the Buddhist perspective, and in particular, of the central Mahayana notion of “emptiness” (as in “form is emptiness, emptiness is form”). But it also accords with the Three Marks of Existence / Three Universal Characteristics / Three Dharma Seals (implicit in the Four Noble Truths), which not only describe unenlightened samsaric existence but which also function to distinguish any teaching that can properly be called ‘Buddhistic’.

    When viewed in this way, ‘liberation’ (from samsaric existence) implies fully realising, and helping others to fully realise, that there is ultimately no inherent, unchanging ‘self’ that can be grasped at, beyond the conventional sense. Which is why the Bodhisattva Vow says “And though I thus liberate countless beings, not a single being is liberated.” (Red Pine’s translation) This also exemplifies the perfect union of Wisdom and Compassion (for all beings beset by samsaric dukkha), both of which are indispensable to the Buddhist path and which are really two sides of the same coin.

    For most of us in everyday life, however, it may be useful enough to reflect on the fundamental equality of “self” and “others” (i.e. other “selves”) by experimenting with this famous statement in the Bodhicaryavatara (8:129):

    “All the joy the world contains / Has come through wishing happiness for others. / All the misery the world contains / Has come through wanting pleasure for oneself.”

    “You can go test it, make it your own, see if it’s really for real, and see what its limits are, play with it, be a real scientist about it.”

  9. Electrum Greenstone says:

    As the Great Physician reassuringly points out:

    “You” are not “your” form [e.g. “your” body, or what happens to it physically];

    “You” are not “your” feelings [ or sensations – Red Pine];

    “You” are not “your” perceptions;

    “You” are not “your” mental formations [or memory – Red Pine];

    “You” are not “your” consciousness.

    ——– ” [W]hat we fear as nothingness is not really nothingness, for that is the perspective of a sense of self anxious about losing its grip on itself. According to Buddhism, letting go of myself into that no-thing-ness leads to something else: when consciousness stops trying to catch its own tail, I become no-thing, and discover that I am everything—or, more precisely, that I can be anything. With that conflation, the no-thing at my core is transformed from a sense-of-lack into a serenity that is imperturbable because there is nothing to be perturbed.

    X X X

    ” From a Buddhist perspective, it would be naive to expect social transformation to work without personal transformation. But the history of Buddhism shows us that the opposite is also true: although Buddha-dharma may focus on promoting individual awakening, it cannot avoid being affected by the social forces that work to keep us asleep and submissive. It is the mercy of the West that those social forces need no longer be mystified as natural and inevitable. […]

    […] Today our world calls out for new types of bodhisattvas, who look for ways to address suffering, dukkha, as it is institutionalized in our social and political lives.”

    X X X

    “Karma is better understood as the key to spiritual development: how our life situation can be transformed by transforming the motivations of our actions right now. When we add the Buddhist teaching about not-self—in contemporary terms, that one’s sense of self is a mental construct—we can see that karma is not something the self has; rather, karma is what the sense of self is, and what the sense of self is changes according to one’s conscious choices. I (re)construct myself by what I intentionally do, because my sense of self is a precipitate of habitual ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. Just as my body is composed of the food I have eaten, so my character is composed of conscious choices: “I” am constructed by my consistent, repeated mental attitudes. People are “punished” or “rewarded” not for what they have done but for what they have become, and what we intentionally do is what makes us what we are. […]


    Such an understanding of karma does not necessarily involve another life after physical death. As Spinoza expressed it, happiness is not the reward for virtue; happiness is virtue itself. We are punished not for our “sins” but by them. To become a different kind of person is to experience the world in a different way. When your mind changes, the world changes. And when we respond differently to the world, the world responds differently to us. Insofar as we are actually not separate from the world, our ways of acting in it tend to involve feedback systems that incorporate other people. […]

    This more naturalistic understanding of karma does not mean we must necessarily exclude other, perhaps more mysterious possibilities regarding the consequences of our motivations for the world we live in. What is clear, however, is that karma as “how to transform my life situation by transforming my motivations right now” is not a fatalistic doctrine. Quite the contrary: it is difficult to imagine a more empowering spiritual teaching.”

  10. Electrum Greenstone says:

    forever alone

  11. Electrum Greenstone says:

    Oh sorry – I thought I missed something. Here we go:

    […] ” [K]arma is not something the self has; rather, karma is what the sense of self is, and what the sense of self is changes according to one’s conscious choices.

    […] [H]appiness is not the reward for virtue; happiness is virtue itself. We are punished not for our “sins” but by them. “

  12. Electrum Greenstone says:

    P.S. By the way, the post at 1.20am is not mine, even though it makes so much more sense.

  13. Electrum Greenstone says:

    ” A resuscitated orthodoxy, so pervasive as to be nearly invisible, rules the land. Like any religion worth its salt, it shapes our world in its image, de­monizing if necessary, absorbing when possible. Thus has the great sovereign territory of what Nabokov called “unreal estate,” the continent of invisible possessions from time to talent to contentment, been either infantilized, ren­dered unclean, or translated into the grammar of dollars and cents. Thus has the great wilderness of the inner life been compressed into a median strip by the demands of the “real world,” which of course is anything but. Thus have we succeeded in transforming even ourselves into bipedal products, paying richly for seminars that teach us how to market the self so it may be sold to the highest bidder. Or perhaps “down the river” is the phrase.

    ” Ah, but here’s the rub: Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, req­uisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves) its due. […] ”

    X X X

    ” […] It seems to come when we are at ease with our surroundings, at peace with the world, not worrying about anything, not looking for anything, when the mind is calm and clear, when we are sensitive, open and receptive, when joy is near the surface.

    ” But, though I have named some of the factors that appear to be present when this meditative state arises, I must stress that it cannot be produced, that it is not within our capacity to ‘make it happen,’ and in that sense, we— that is, the ‘I’ in us— cannot become enlightened. “Why not?” you might ask; “Then what is the point of following the Dharma?” You see? Just look at the nature of this question: clearly, it reveals the desire to get something out, without which there would be considerable doubt and hesitation about following the Way. “If I’m not going to get anything out, then why should I bother to live by the Dharma? I may as well live without restraint, having a good time and enjoying myself!” Clearly, those who think like this— and it is not rare— are wrongly motivated. Why follow Dharma? Because it is the natural thing to do once we have seen how life is; it is not a matter of getting something out, but of putting something in.

    ” Why do I say we cannot become enlightened? Simply because enlightenment has no room for self; the idea of ‘self,’ as opposed to ‘others,’ must dissolve and disappear for enlightenment to arise, or, to put it another way: enlightenment burns out and destroys the concept of self. Whichever way we look at it, selfishness and enlightenment cannot co-exist in the same mind; one of them must dominate, and we all know which one usually does. Krishnamurti once put it this way: “To talk of so-and-so ‘attaining liberation’ is a misuse of terms.” […] “

  14. Electurm Greenstone says:

    Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing;
    nor upon tradition;
    nor upon rumor;
    nor upon what is in a scripture;
    nor upon surmise;
    nor upon an axiom;
    nor upon specious reasoning;
    nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over;
    nor upon another’s seeming ability;
    nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’

  15. Electrum Greenstone says:

    ” In deliberate counterpoint to the brahman tradition, the majority of the Buddha’s discourses begin with the declaration: Evam me sutam—‘Thus have I heard…’.

    X X X

    ” Shortly after the Buddha’s death (ca. 480 BCE), five hundred of the most senior monks — including Ananda — convened to recite and verify all the sermons they had heard during the Buddha’s forty-five year teaching career.[9] Most of these sermons therefore begin with the disclaimer, “Evam me sutam” — “Thus have I heard.” ”

    X X X

    ” This opening is usually followed by a statement specifying the place where the discourse was delivered and the names and number of those present. After this preamble, known as the nidāna, the discourse itself is narrated. ” :

    X X X

    ” Lionel: Why should I waste my time listening to you?

    Bertie: Because I HAVE A VOICE!”

    X X X

    P.S. ” […] ‘The monk is our teacher’

  16. Electrum Greenstone says:

    The Lion King 3D > Jane King’s Arrietty:

    “Asante Sana! Squash banana! We we nuga! Mi mi apana” … King Aśoka!——”It means ‘No Worries’ ” …

    P.S. ” [F]or nearly 2000 years most of what was known about Ashoka came from Buddhist texts written four to six hundred years after his death. The Vedic community, which he had abandoned, paid him no attention until 1915, when a linguistic puzzle was finally solved and Ashoka’s historic legacy finally swung into view.


    ” In these ‘letters’ to his people are more intimate than official. […] What had been consigned to legend gained historic currency. Who emerged was a leader who championed equality, social just, religious tolerance and more. H.G. Wells wrote, “Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Asoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star.”


    ” The Edicts themselves offer a personal glimpse into Ashoka’s world and what he hoped to engender. They tend towards the practical. In the first of the Girnar inscriptions, we read, “Formerly, in the kitchen of Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, hundreds of thousands of animals were killed every day to make curry. But now with the writing of this Dhamma edict, only three creatures, two peacocks and a deer are killed, and the deer not always. And in time, not even these three creatures will be killed.” Promoting vegetarianism, but gradually.


    ” He promoted equality, peacemaking, social justice, women’s rights, religious freedom, education, science, kindness to prisoners, sustainability, and universal free medical care for animals and birds as well as people […] “

  17. Electrum Greenstone says:

    ” Today the elite move back and forth easily – from CEO to cabinet position, and vice-versa – because both sides share the same entrenched worldview: the solution to all problems is unfettered economic growth. Of course, they are also the ones who benefit most from this blinkered vision, […] “

    X X X

    ” Broad altruistic principles aside, the Buddha did not prescribe for us what social justice looks like in concrete terms. It’s left to society to work it out. How, then, can we all agree on a just law, a constitution or a government, despite our vastly different life situations? “


    ” Unaware whether we will be a factory worker or a hi-so factory owner, red shirt, yellow shirt, dry-zone resident, wet-zone dweller, handicapped, able-bodied, male, female, transgender, young, old, straight, gay, atheist, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and so on – Rawls argued that we would all agree on equal basic liberties for all citizens, such as freedom of speech and religion. He also argued that, in order to overcome the inequalities of natural contingencies, we would select conditions that are most beneficial to the least advantaged people. “


    ” In the final analysis, saying that “My loved ones could be in any of those social positions (Rawls)” and “There are not any one of them who are not my loved ones in samsara (Buddha)” amount to the same thing. By drawing a conceptual veil to temporarily block out our ego and selfishness, Rawls brings out the deep-seated sense of justice in us. “

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