Ever had a life coaching session inspired by the mysterious, murderous (but quite literally voiceless) Queen in the 1965 fantasy adventure flick ‘She‘? Today we’re joined by Charmian Hughes for a binarised beverage in the Binge Fringe Pub. Charmian is bringing her experiences with femininity, first loves, failed relationships and a colossal squid to EdFringe 2022 in her new stand-up show She! Immortal Horror Queen’s Guide to Life. Let’s dive right into our chat!
Jake: Hi Charmian, you’ve mentioned that the impetus of your show starts way back with you seeing a mysterious and murderous queen in the Hammer Horror film ‘She’ – tell us about your experience and your relationship with Ursula Andress.
Charmian: As kids, we’re so impressionable; and films we thought amazing then, we’d find ridiculous now..and maybe that’s the same with relationships.
So when I was 8 I saw a Hammer Horror film called ‘She’ and thought it was the most frightening thing ever. Basically, x-bond girl Ursula Andress, the sexiest woman on the planet, plays ‘She’, an immortal mysterious gorgeous queen of a lost kingdom somewhere in Africa that gets discovered by some British explorers. One of them turns out to be the reincarnation of her dead love – she has been awaiting his return across the centuries! So that’s a lucky coincidence.
‘She’ is a proper evil cow, but she gets away with everything because everyone fancies her- a bit like my beautiful older sister. Also she is two thousand years old, and at the end of the film she becomes her real age, starts wrinkling and greying in front of our eyes, shrivelling, grimacing and ending up a skeleton then a pile of ash. I was terrified!!
But that wasn’t the scariest bit! The scariest bit was that this beautiful woman with all that power and immortality should waste it longing for her old boyfriend to come back.
In parallel, Ursula Andress had everything: beauty, intelligence and a great film career. But she wasn’t allowed to use her real voice in the films ‘She’ or in ‘Doctor No’. She was dubbed as it was too German sounding and bossy! She literally had no voice.
So, There’s no point being jealous of people who seem to have it all. Sometimes when it comes to real personal power, we already have it all.
Jake: In your show you run into “that old boyfriend” – how did you find extracting the humour from that situation and how does it link back to your younger self coming to understand her feminine/feminist identity?
Charmian: You never forget your first horror film and you never forget your first love and the two can get confused.
We comedians turn trauma and shame into laughs. We’ve all fantasised about running into old loves, looking our best so they regret us forever.
The reality is we bump into them when we don’t expect to, popping to the shop in the middle of dyeing our hair, plastic bag on our head and red gunk dripping down our forehead.
Then a lightbulb moment shows us the strong, interesting individual we are now would not have been happy with that first love and that if we had stayed with them we would not be the strong person we are today!
Jake: You’ve been described as “a mad aunt on acid”, what’s your comedy style and what can the audience expect?
Charmian: I am an older person myself now after over thirty years in stand -up, and I wear my age with pride. I started my performing life in clowning all those years ago, and that expressive eccentric physical essence is still in me. I want to be dignified and sophisticated but I can’t stop gurning. I want to have fun on stage and share that with my audience so they have fun too.
Jake: The show is a self-described “immortal horror queen’s guide to life” – are you willing to share a nugget of wisdom with us?
Charmian: Yes! Being dumped by your first boyfriend shouldn’t define your life and if you are an immortal goddess use that time to have fun and learn! Don’t waste it in what-could-have-beens.
Also you will get away with everything if you are an old person.
Jake: Now that we’re gearing up for Fringe season, what are you most excited for?
Charmian: We’ve all been shut in for too long. I can’t wait to get to Edinburgh and perform a solo show again. I can’t wait to see loads of shows and share a flat with other performers.
Jake: Where in all this does the Colossal Squid come in?
Charmian: In 2020 I went to New Zealand to perform at their festival. I was sucked into their lockdown after just two performances! I still managed to visit the museum in Wellington and see their most famous exhibit, The Colossal Squid, (deceased) the largest non vertebrate animal on Earth and the only captured specimen. Like our memories of First Love and like the immortal Queen in ‘She’. The Colossal Squid is trapped in a moment in time. Can I break her out and let her move on?!
Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen’s Guide to Life lands at EdFringe 2022 between August 4th and 14th, then again between the 16th and 28th at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House: The Attic. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Jake is a theatremaker and playwright interested in political theatre, new writing, comedy and international theatre. Jake has a particular interest in the post-Soviet space, Queer performance, British grassroots politics and Scottish new writing. They started their Fringe journey in 2018 and is an avid festival-goer. Their favourite drink is an IPA – no hops held back.
Festivals: Edinburgh Fringe (2018-2019, 2021-2022), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020)