Gold liner, liquid lipstick and eyelash glue precision: drag queen tips for everyday makeup

As RuPauls Drag Race comes to British TV, former contestants share their makeup dos and donts, from time-saving tricks to lipsticks that stay put

culture

After 10 years of RuPauls Drag Race bringing drag culture to mainstream TV audiences, the UK is getting its own version of the show, filled with British charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent and, of course, makeup. Drag queens are known for their exaggerated makeup: false eyelashes, bold brows and extreme contouring are all commonplace. So, too, is a lot of glitter (and to do Drag Race shimmer sustainably see options here and here). Importantly, whether comical, cartoonish or comparatively subtle, drag makeup is always on point. Here are the tips and tricks that translate from the werk room into everyday makeup looks, according to former Drag Race contestants.

Courtney Act: Press Sellotape on to glitter to remove

Courtney
Courtney Act at the London premiere for A Star Is Born in 2018 Photograph: Anthony Harvey/Rex/Shutterstock

It sounds like a cliche, but good makeup starts with good skin. The best makeup tip is to drink water not just while you put your makeup on, but generally. It plumps up your skin and makes it glow.

Your foundation shade should always resemble your skin tone. Skin comes in different tones this applies to all skin colours so some people have warm tones, some have cool tones. One thing I often see is orange foundation with pink necks.

People always ask me how to apply glitter and sparkles. You can stick crystals on your face with eyelash glue, the same for glitter. The trick is taking your time, using a fine angled brush and being quite precise. Then theres how to take glitter off because if you just wash your face, then you will end up with glitter everywhere for days. Instead, get some Sellotape and press it on to the glitter to remove. That will leave you properly glitter-free.

The Vixen: It baffles me that people use tape to draw on their eyeliner wings

The
The Vixen at RuPauls DragCon 2019 in New York. Photograph: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

If you are in a rush, then pick up your black eyeshadow and dont put it down until you are done. You can use it for eyeliner, eyebrows, your eyeshadow crease so just do them all at once, using one angled brush.

I tend to do my brows using a gold liquid liner, which really adds a pop. I have even done it as a boy, when I have been going out to a club. It baffles me that people use tape or card to draw on their eyeliner wings its not that hard to draw a straight line at a 45-degree angle! It looks manufactured and just makes me think that you failed art class.

Drag makeup is designed to pop. The minute you walk in a room youre going to catch everyones eye because your features are so exaggerated. I love the transformation that I create using makeup and I love knowing that people in the back row can see every detail.

Alaska Thunderfuck: You can also use liquid lipsticks for eye colour

Drag
Drag queen Alaska Thunderfuck Photograph: Startraks/REX/Shutterstock

I call my face a Frankenstein face because theres no one brand that I use on every single area. I use Kryolan and Mac foundation, all different kinds of eyeshadow, and liquid lipsticks from Anastasia. Its a good idea to play and experiment.

I use liquid lipsticks because they stay put. Im not one of these dainty queens who has to have a straw honey, Im using my mouth. Im eating, Im drinking, Im talking and I need lipsticks that stay where they are supposed to. You can also use liquid lipsticks for eye colour.

Ongina: You dont have to paint with all the colours of the rainbow

Drag
Drag queen Ongina Photograph: Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Your eyebrows should be at least close relatives if possible, twin sisters. When it comes to eye makeup, you dont have to paint with all the colours of the rainbow. Ive seen a lot of people who have obviously bought an eyeshadow palette that has five colours, and then put all five colours on their eyelids without blending them. The main technique is to go from light to dark, from the brow bone down to your eyelid. Then just blend everything.

My go-to lipstick right now is anything nude for me that means a muted, matt grey-toned pink colour. Currently I use Sugarpill Cosmetics Liquid Lip Colour in Trifle. Its easy and it complements any makeup look. If you wear red and it bleeds out, you can look as if youve bitten into a red berry, but that doesnt happen with nudes.

I take as much time on my makeup as I do in creating a look or preparing for a performance and I think that is why drag queens tend to look so good. Beyond makeup techniques, its really down to time and preparation.

RuPauls Drag Race UK starts on BBC Three on 3 October at 8pm and will be exclusively available on BBC iPlayer

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Eddie Murphy shows you can evolve, apologise and still be funny

A 30-year-old video of George Carlin is proof some standups have long understood the ugliness of attacking underdogs. Its a lesson many current comics are learning

Comedy

Comedy is dying and political correctness is killing it. Nobody can joke about anything any more without triggered liberals screaming racism and cancelling them.

Ill stop there because Im sure you have heard this screed before. Conservatives love complaining about how millennial snowflakes cant take a joke and dont understand edgy humour. In September, for example, the comedian Shane Gillis was dropped from Saturday Night Live after footage surfaced of him making racist, homophobic and misogynistic gags. Gillis responded to the outrage with a non-apology in which he explained that he pushes boundaries and takes risks.

Comedians should obviously push boundaries and take risks. But punching down has never been remotely risky or funny. This isnt a development of our woke era; its a principle the worlds best comics have always acknowledged. Just look at the 30-year-old video of George Carlin that recently went viral. In the clip Carlin criticises bigoted jokes made by his fellow standup Andrew Dice Clay. Comedy has traditionally picked on people in power, Carlin says. Women and gays and immigrants, to my way of thinking, are underdogs. He adds: I think [Clays] core audience is young, white males who are threatened by these groups.

Aiah Samba (@Dualityman81)

Wow, this is from 1990. And I thought us sensitive folk didnt understand the unfunny punching down jokes from these comedians. Interesting pic.twitter.com/2jU5Xj6pA3

September 28, 2019

Around the same time that Carlins comments were going viral, the New York Times published a new interview with Eddie Murphy, who is returning to standup. Murphy, 58, told the Times he isnt afraid of current controversies over humour, pointing out that he was picketed for homophobic jokes he made in the 1980s. It took Murphy a long time to apologise for those jokes and the backlash was partly why he stopped doing standup for years. But you know what? He still has a career. Whats more, he says he cringes when he thinks of his old, ignorant material.

So there you are: Murphy is living proof that political correctness hasnt killed comedy. He shows that its perfectly possible to apologise and evolve, even if it takes a while. I hope Gillis is paying attention.

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I love drag. It’s dangerous: Graham Norton and Alan Carr on desire, camp and cancel culture

As RuPauls Drag Race comes to the UK, two of its judges discuss homophobia, the celebrity they first fancied and why todays comedy audiences want more kindness

Alan Carr

How do you think you would do if you were contestants on RuPauls Drag Race?
Graham Norton:Poorly.
Alan Carr: Before I started dressing up as women in sketches, I thought: I bet because Im not a looker as a man, Im one of those ones that, when you put on the make up, I am quite something quite stunning. And no. It just doesnt translate.

Ive seen the first episode of your show and it is a lot more messy and anarchic than the US version.
Alan:Drag queens in the UK, they survive it all theres a hen party, a stag party, people throwing beer bottles. They work not on their heels, but on their wits.
Graham: Even the ones that arent funny are funny. Suddenly, you realise how unfunny some of the American ones are.

Do you think the UK version might get lost in translation?
Graham: Funny is funny, I think.
Alan: I sort of hope it does get a little bit lost. I had to go in and tell RuPaul who Kim Woodburn [the TV personality and cleaner] is. How can you explain to Americans who Kim Woodburn is? Its just nice, for once in my life, to not be the campest one in the room.

Do you ever find that you check yourselves in public any more that you worry about people recognising that youre gay?
Alan: I give up with all that. I give up.
Graham: But I understand it. I mean, sometimes you do, because if you feel like someones gonna punch you, then yes, you do. Still, now, you know. Its funny when people talk about coming out, because you want to say to them: it never ends. You think you come out and thats the end of it. No. Because then its the first nice day of the year and the cab driver says something about Oh, I love the summer, you know, theyve all got their tits out, and youre like: is this a moment? Is this worth my time? Do I reveal myself?

Do you still encounter a loathing of camp among some straight-acting gay men?
Graham: I think you do in that, still, straight acting is an ideal. And thats just part of our sexuality. Were all prone to that. I remember seeing a BBC Three thing about young gays down in Brighton, and my name came up, and the idea of being me was just horrific to them. And it broke my heart, because they were me. I just thought: But you are little mes, you are the fey, camp ones.
Alan: I say to Graham, do you remember when we used to get slagged off by the snooty gays, you know: Oh, camp is that really how gay men should be portrayed? I mean, look at whats come since, love. Were like Vin Diesel and Sylvester Stallone, compared with that. Camp is different things to different people. Did you ever watch Dynasty? What about when the son came out as gay and had a fight? That, to me, was the stirring.
Graham: No, my stirring was Alain Delon in The Yellow Rolls-Royce. He took his shirt off. And I remember trying to discuss with a boy at school how lovely his back was.

How did he respond?
Graham: Well, it was a nice car!

Alan

Bring it on Alan Carr, Michelle Visage, Graham Norton, judges of RuPauls Drag Race UK season one, with contestants. Photograph: James Spawforth/BBC

Youre both known as chat show hosts. Who have been your worst and best guests?
Alan: Im not going down that road. I mean, booking for a chat show is when you are on Channel 4 and youre not
Graham Norton it is pulling teeth. [Turns to Graham] One time you had David Beckham on, just as an amuse-bouche. He just came out for 10 minutes and then went away! And Im like: Oh no, which reality star am I talking to today?
Graham: But at Channel 4 when we started we had exactly the same thing. For that audience you have to push things further and its ruder and I think publicists get really nervous. So actually on BBC One where its nice, everythings lovely, its much easier to welcome people on.
Alan: Towards the end of Chatty Man I just found that they wanted more vitriol. Then the monologue at the end was becoming a nightmare. I mean, you would go to a function and you would be like: Oh my God, Simon Cowell is coming along in his built-up shoes. You cant keep pushing the envelope, because socially you become a pariah. And the people you slag off in the monologues, when you meet them, theyre actually quite lovely. And its the people you like who are the complete arseholes.

Do you think comedians should be worried about cancel culture [where someone is called out or boycotted online]?
Alan: Its a nightmare. I just feel that if standup comedy disappears, where do you go … I dont know. Let me have a think about this. It does wind me up.
Graham: Im in two minds about it. On the one hand, I think its annoying that youre being told what to say But funny continues you just have to be slightly cleverer about what youre funny about. When alternative comedy began, it was saying, OK, Bernard Mannings act: that doesnt exist any more. And I think we have started to drift back to Bernard Manning. People are using really lazy targets in a kind of look at us, we can say anything way. I think theres nothing fearless about soft targets. Its actually the opposite of fearless. Youre picking on people who dont have a defence, who dont have a voice.

Graham, do you ever miss the camp smuttiness of your old Channel 4 show, So Graham Norton?
Graham: I dont. Because [that kind of thing is] still on the telly, if you want that. Its there. But happily, its not being presented by a 56-year-old man. Because I think that it was already getting quite dodgy by the time I stopped doing it, in my 40s. And it just becomes unseemly.

Alan
Youve already broken so many rules just to get on stage. It gives you a freedom and theres something dangerous about drag still, and I enjoy that Alan Carr and Graham Norton. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

What do you mean by dodgy?
Graham: I think its unseemly for someone of a certain age to be doing all of that. I still find it funny, but not as funny as I did. Things shock me now that wouldnt have shocked me when I was 25. Im a bit like [sharp intake of breath] he said cunt twice! Maybe I have become more sensitive.
I always think its weird when people talk about jokes and what you can do, or you cant say anything now. And its like, the only people stopping you are your audience. They decide whats funny and whats not funny. There isnt some weird comedy police. If I came out in front of my audience on a Thursday night and did some of those jokes we did [on
So Graham Norton], the audience would just look ashen. And they wouldnt like it. It is partly, I think, because of Twitter and things now, where theres so much bile and viciousness out there that people dont want that in their entertainment.

Did you see the online backlash against drag queen Baga Chipz when she was announced as a contestant on UK Drag Race? It was because of an old article in which she said it was OK for gay people to vote Tory in the 2017 general election.
Alan: Well, thats her opinion, isnt it? Its an opinion. Its dangerous when you start telling people they cant have an opinion on something. And, you know, you dont cancel someone, you engage with someone. Thats the problem. I think thats why I was struggling with the cancelling thing. Because it doesnt actually cancel if anything it gives people more column inches. Doesnt anyone make any mistakes any more?
Graham: Apparently, they do.
Alan: It sounds like I work at Hallmark, but every day is a journey and you get better and thats the whole point of life.
Graham: Try working at the BBC. Easy for you to say, Mr ITV over there. Going back to the comedy, I think there is something about drag that gives performers licence to do stuff. Every performer that gets on stage has a persona, youre never truly yourself it doesnt matter who you are. Youre putting something on, but I think, because in drag you are hidden, you can say and do things and an audience will allow you to do them. Like [US drag queen] Bianca Del Rio does material that no one else is doing Joan Rivers type stuff. A proper insult comic. And that isnt that popular right now. But shes getting away with it.

It does seem that with drag queens the bar for what is deemed acceptable is slightly lower.
Alan: Because youre otherworldly: your rules dont apply to this world.
Graham: Youve already broken so many rules just to get on stage. It gives you a freedom and theres something dangerous about drag still, and I enjoy that.

Do you think things are getting worse for LGBT people in Britain?
Graham: Well, theyre certainly repetitive. Why does anyone study history? Why do we bother?
Alan: The one thing you do learn from history is that you dont learn from history. Its becoming a bit of a minefield just the semantics and the language. I feel as if we cant really get to the problems, because we have to tiptoe through this minefield of language. It would be nice just to get it all out on the table and discuss, but I think sometimes social media can blur all that.
Graham: Twitter, I think, must destroy some young gays. If you stick your head above the parapet and you retweet the wrong thing, or you comment on the wrong thing, suddenly you must think the world is so ugly, and so horrible. And I think thats properly dangerous. Because when youre a kid, the one thing you dont know is that this is just going to blow over. And even though people are saying they want to rip your head off and shit down your throat, theyre never going to say boo to you if they see you in the street.

Alan, I read somewhere that you live on a farm with Julian Clary and Paul OGrady. Is that true?
Alan: No! I mean it sounds like the most amazing sitcom, but yeah, its been said that I live on a farm with Paul OGrady and Julian Clary, and I would love it to be true, but its not. I dont know where that came from.
Graham: But you do farm, dont you?
Alan: Well, I just mince around in some wellies [on his husband, Pauls farm]. I am so crap down there, because its all shit and death. You see an animal on its side and youre like: Please be a narcoleptic, please dont be dying, please be having a kip. I cant bear it.

So theres no chance of you doing a farming show on telly?
Alan: No. Listen, Ive had the phone calls. I know how they want me they want me pulling a cows teat, screaming Ah! Ah! [mimes milking a cow]. They want another Rebecca Loos.

So, just to bring it back to drag
Graham: Speaking of death and shit.

Do you think drag is here to stay in mainstream culture or is it just having a moment?
Graham: When Drag Race started, drag was nobodys first choice. Something had happened in your life. You failed at something else. Or you were hiding from something or there was some story before you got to the moment where you were dressed as a woman, lip syncing. I think thats changed. There are now children growing up thinking: I want to be a drag queen.
Alan: It will never go away. I mean, listen, you know, in the Bible obviously I havent read it for ages
Graham: Well, we didnt expect this, did we! We did not see this coming.
Alan: Wasnt there something in the Bible about how [men] should never wear womens clothes or the other sexs clothes, what was that all about? Theres something about transvestism and drag in the Bible, I swear it. So its been around for ages. I think it will be around for ever because it is a state of mind. Theres a male energy and a female energy and I think you get it in performers like Prince, Michael Jackson, George Michael, David Bowie there is something magnetic in that fight between male and female going on before your eyes. And I feel in good drag you cant take your eyes off of it.
Graham: That is really true.
Alan: Thats actually deep. But cut out the Bible bit. I think we all knew I was out of my depth.
Graham: I hope drag is here to stay because I really enjoy it. Instagram drag may go away the idea of boys sitting in their bedrooms painting their faces. But actual drag performers Its midnight ladies and gentlemen, please welcome thats going to go on for ever.

RuPauls Drag Race UK starts on BBC Three on 3 October at 8pm and will be exclusively available on BBC iPlayer

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Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson on surviving the trolls: ‘People were saying horrific things’

Eight years after she shot to fame on The X Factor, Nelson describes how she navigated the trauma of being relentlessly bullied on social media

culture

When Jesy Nelson was 19 and working behind the bar at a pub in Dagenham, Essex, she remembers watching The X Factor on TV, and thinking: I know I could win that. In 2011, she did just that, as part of the girl group Little Mix and thought: This is the worst day of my life.

Competing in Simon Cowells singing contest unleashed ceaseless criticism of her appearance and weight (although rarely her voice). All I cared about was what people were saying about me, she says now.

Winning offered no respite. When Little Mix were crowned, the first Facebook message she saw was from a stranger. It read: You are the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life. You do not deserve to be in this girl band, you deserve to die.

I should have been on cloud nine, she says. I had Leigh-Anne [Pinnock, also of Little Mix] in my room being like: This is the best! and I was like: No, this isnt.

Little Mix went on to become the biggest British girl group since the Spice Girls, but Nelson was consumed by the trolling and abuse on social media. Within two years of the finale, she had depression and an eating disorder and had attempted suicide.

The downward spiral and her eventual, slow recovery are the focus of an intensely personal BBC One documentary, Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out. Before shooting it, she says, she had never spoken publicly about her struggles in the spotlight.

When we meet in a corner of BBC Broadcasting House in central London, Nelson, now 28, is friendly and glamorous, dressed in a double-breasted tangerine suit. It is the eighth anniversary of her X Factor debut and #8YearsofLittleMix has been trending on Twitter all morning, thanks to their fans, the Mixers.

On
On The X Factor in 2011: (from left) Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jesy Nelson. Photograph: Ken McKay/Talkback Thames/Rex/Shutterstock

Within minutes of sitting down, she says that, had she known the consequences of appearing on The X Factor, she wouldnt have done it: I dont think anything is worth your happiness, and it was a lot of my life that I wont get back.

As a child growing up in Romford, Essex, Nelson was intent on becoming a performer, be it singing, dancing or acting. I didnt really have any reason to not be confident, she says.

In mid-2011, she auditioned for The X Factor as a solo entrant, and was eventually placed in a group with three others: Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall, all aged between 18 and 20.

Back then, social media was not as inextricably linked with reality TV as it is now. In fact, that eighth series was the first where applicants could upload their audition videos to YouTube; Nelson didnt even know what YouTube was. She remembers being wowed when all the contestants were given new Samsung phones and told to get on Twitter to build their fanbase.

On the first live show 12 weeks in, Little Mix (then Rhythmix the name was changed later) performed Nicki Minajs Super Bass to gushing praise from judges Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and their mentor Tulisa Contostavlos. It was the best feeling in the world, said Nelson through happy tears on stage.

That night, off-camera, the contestants gathered to watch themselves on YouTube. Someone pointed out the comment section. I was very naive, says Nelson. I thought it would be people giving their opinion on our performance. But nearly every comment was about the way I looked: Shes a fat ugly rat; How has she got in this girl group?; How is the fat one in this? She remembers the air being thick with tension because no one knew what to do or how to react.

I felt a rush of anxiety, because Id never experienced anything like that in my life. People were saying my face was deformed just the most horrific things. I felt like I was heartbroken. I remember ringing my mum and saying: Mum, I want to go home, I dont want to do it.

Jesy
Jesy Nelson with Liz Richie in the forthcoming BBC documentary Odd One Out. Photograph: Rahul Bhatt/BBC/October Films

At about 1am, a member of The X Factor team found Nelson crying alone and asked why she was so upset. A couple of days later, she was asked to explain again on camera. She didnt want to do it. They told me it wasnt recorded, and it was.

A few weeks later, the clip of Nelson in tears over a few nasty comments was broadcast before Little Mixs performance, the reality TV playbook of sad piano switching to upbeat pop music when Thirlwall comforts her: an uplifting moment of girl power. From then on, that was Nelsons public narrative.

She does not hold that clip, or the producers, responsible: I think it would have always happened that just added fuel to the fire. From the start, relatability had been billed as a central tenet of Little Mixs appeal. Contostavlos introduced them as the girl group to represent ladies in this country; she framed Nelsons tears as evidence of Little Mix having the same insecurities as every other girl.

Nelson, however, was the only member even remotely close to the average UK woman at size 16. Although the four bandmates have always been friends thats why were still together she felt singled out. I was with three other girls to be compared to. I dont think it would have been as bad if Id been on my own.

After the clip presented her as Little Mixs weakest link, the abuse snowballed. It was like as soon as people knew that it was really affecting me, they wanted to do it more. Nelson had been bullied at school, to the point of stress-induced alopecia but this wasnt playground stuff.

She was shocked by the cruelty from adults some clearly parents. Obviously everyone sits in their living room and will see someone on TV and make a comment. But to actually pick up your phone and go: Im going to make sure this girl sees it even if they didnt think I was going to see it you have no idea the effect that one comment will have.

Nelson became obsessed with reading criticism. The praise didnt register. It only got worse when I got Twitter. And that led to the Daily Mail, and reading the [below the line] comments the worst you can read about yourself. It was like I purposely wanted to hurt myself.

I had a routine of waking up, going on Twitter, searching for the worst things I could about myself. Id type in the search bar: Jesy fat, or Jesy ugly, and see what would come up. Sometimes I didnt even need to do that, Id just write Jesy and then Id see all the horrible things. Everyone told me to ignore it but it was like an addiction.

At one event, Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud who had seen the clip of her crying took Nelson aside. She said: Can I just give you one bit of advice? Please dont read stuff about you. Its the worst thing you could do.

Little
Little Mix in Sydney, Australia, in 2013: (from left) Perrie Edwards, Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jesy Nelson. Photograph: Newspix/Rex

Nelson rolls her eyes self-mockingly. But did I listen? No.

Contestants had been told help was available if they were struggling, but Nelson had learned that talking only made the problem worse. I dont think any of the team really knew how upset it was making me its just go-go-go, from the car into hair and makeup, then rehearsals.

It was also a popularity contest. We just wanted to make everyone happy, and we wanted everyone to like us.

In December 2011, Little Mix became the first group to win The X Factor. Their debut single entered the charts at No 1 seven months later; DNA, their first album, was released in November 2012. Scrutiny of Nelson only increased amid the pressure to maintain momentum.

Although she tried not to discuss it, she feels the abuse came to define her public image. Id become a bit of a joke. People would make memes, chopping my head off in a group photo and putting a monster or ET on there. Id be in live Q&As and these things would pop up and Id have to just sit there.

Interviewers asked her how she dealt with it; fans said they looked up to her. She was depressed and in denial: she refused antidepressants, and therapy didnt help. Our schedule was so gruelling. I was going to see a therapist at six oclock in the morning, crying, and then going to a photoshoot.

Meanwhile, in public, she was giving speeches about being confident. Little Mix, as the guardians of girl power, were not only supposed to represent every woman, but defend every woman.

I felt I had to be this person who was like Nelson juts her jaw, sashays from side to side, a facsimile of her sassy music-video persona: I dont care what people are saying about me, Im this strong woman. That was the role I had to take on in the group, when really I was an absolute mess.

In the lead-up to TV performances or video shoots: Id starve myself Id drink Diet Coke for a solid four days and then, when I felt a bit dizzy, Id eat a pack of ham because I knew it had no calories. Then Id binge eat, then hate myself.

Yet she did not see herself as having an eating disorder. I could see that I was losing weight and sometimes Id see a few good comments and that spiralled me to be like: This is how I need to stay. No one cares whether your performance was good, or if you sounded great.

Nelson
Nelson in Odd One Out. Photograph: Jamie Simonds/BBC/October Films

Nelson started skipping events where she knew she would be photographed. On one magazine shoot, the wrong size clothes were provided. I had a meltdown. I cried so much, I had to wear sunglasses. I did one photo, then left. She hid her misery well, she says now. I think people just thought I was a miserable bitch.

Her lowest point was in the lead-up to Little Mixs second album, Salute, in 2013. Her mum, Janice, increasingly desperate, told her she had to quit the band. Yet Nelson worried that leaving or even taking a break would draw more attention to herself. Everyones going to ask why.

In November 2013, Little Mix returned to The X Factor to perform their new single, Nelson notably slimmed down. Coverage centred on one tweet from Katie Hopkins: Packet Mix have still got a chubber in their ranks. Less Little Mix. More Pick n Mix.

Increasingly, Nelson felt trapped. I felt that I physically couldnt tolerate the pain any more. She attempted suicide.

Nelsons family, her management and the rest of the group knew but once it was spoken about, it wasnt ever spoken about again, she says. She was offered time off, but once more was too frightened of drawing attention to herself to take it.

The turning point came in February 2014, when Little Mix spent six weeks travelling across North America, opening for Demi Lovato. One day, on the bus, the dancers pulled her aside and told her she had to quit Twitter, likening it to a book filled with loads of nasty things that Nelson always had her nose in. She finally deleted her account.

It was a long, hard process, because I didnt want to help myself. But it wasnt until I deleted Twitter that everything changed for me and I slowly started to feel normal again. Through more regular therapy and talking to friends and family, eventually she was able to stop reading articles about herself, and distance herself from her public image even as Little Mixs star continued to climb. In 2016, Glory Days became their first No 1 album in the UK.

Since February, Nelson has been dating the 2017 Love Island contestant Chris Hughes, who has defended her publicly from online trolling and who she says is a positive influence on her feelings about fame: Its nice to be around someone who doesnt give a shit about all that stuff.

Making the documentary also contributed; she lights up while talking about meeting a body-image specialist, Liz Ritchie, to help her understand her relationship with social media and the mask that she had developed to withstand the spotlight. Part of this involved going over footage from The X Factor, which was a difficult experience, but ultimately empowering.

Dont get me wrong, I still have days when I feel shit in myself but instead of beating myself up about it and being miserable, I think: OK, Im going to have my moment of being sad, and Ill be over it. Before, I didnt let myself be sad.

Talking to other young people who have experienced online abuse made her feel less alone. A lot of people think stop moaning, but until youve experienced it, its hard to understand and it doesnt just happen to people in the limelight. Theres so many people struggling with social media and online trolling. People need to know about the effects it has.

The turnaround in five years, she agrees, is remarkable: now, as Little Mix work on their sixth album, Nelson is less conscious of her weight, her appearance, what shes eating even what is being said about her. To shoot the documentary, she returned to Twitter, and discovered some new slurs. I didnt even know some people said that about me, but its because I dont look for it and also, I. Dont. Care, she says, leaning forward in her chair.

Now Im mentally a lot happier, I just think people are always going to have an opinion. But I only care about mine. She flashes a smile from beneath all her hair, happy but defiant and for a moment she looks exactly like the girl in the music videos.

Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out is on BBC One at 9pm on 12 September, and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 and the domestic violence helpline is on 0808 2000 247. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732. In the US, the suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and the domestic Violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

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Succession recap: season two, episode seven deliciously twisted as ever

The worlds most offensive family are forced to go on a charm offensive. What a superb episode, with barbs raining relentlessly

culture

Spoiler alert: this recap is for people watching Succession season two, which airs on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK. Do not read on unless you have watched episode seven.

I suppose everyone has to apologise for everything nowadays

Following the collapse of Logans plans to buy out PGM, Waystar face the prospect of a shareholders revolt, requiring a charm offensive from a family who do offensive far better than they do charm. But while the barbs rain beautifully and relentlessly throughout, this episode carries sombre weight, with Kendall forced to face up once again to the terrible secret he has borne since the first series.

Hes chipper at the start, though, acquiescing to demands for a dick pic from Naomi. Shiv, by contrast, is finding Tom more of a pest than a partner, too preoccupied with her own pursuit of succession to handle his constant, solipsistic anxiety, tonight over an impending internal investigation into his period at Parks.

Shes frustrated because she cant get a meeting with Logan about a memo shes written. Again, hes cut her out of family business as he orders a trip to London to appease wavering shareholders; one Jack the Ulsterman and the other Logans ex-wife Caroline. Hell deal with Jack. Kendall and Roman are to butter up their mother.

En route to Britain, Logan attempts an apology to Roman for accidentally striking him, which descends into a morass of awkwardness and denial by both. On the plane, the brothers are surprised to find that Rhea, sacked CEO of PGM, is along for the ride. Privately, Logan sounds her out about the succession, revealing that hes genuinely undecided. She gives fair but disparaging assessments of all three sibling contenders. They are then joined by Kendall and Roman for some sport in rubbishing Shivs over-earnest memo, prefaced by a quote from Thomas Aquinas to much mirth.

Making
Making a sport of rubbishing his sister Shiv … Roman. Photograph: Home Box Office

Kendall and Roy wonder if Rhea and Logan are intimate and Kendall even confronts his father regarding her. As Rhea and Logan take a late-night drink together, he confesses his regret at having privately committed to Shiv. Rhea suggests she can make that go away. Logan asks if she wants to stay over.

More breaking bad news: Sandys tabloids have got hold of the British parents of the waiter who drowned driving Kendall to seek out drugs. But they havent got wind of that; rather, they claim bullying by Logan led to his demise. With great reluctance, he agrees to visit the family and apologise. However, in a somewhat knowing and punitive manner, he asks Kendall to accompany him.

They arrive at the modest family house. Logan turns on the charm over tea in the sitting room. Kendall paces the hallway, looks at childhood photos of the dead son; we feel the dead weight of guilt and unresolved trauma. Its a reminder that Kendall does most of the emotional heavy lifting in this show. Later, he creeps back to the house and posts a bundle of 20 notes through the letterbox, a pathetic attempt at atonement.

Meanwhile Shiv, arrived in England, meets Rhea, who suggests that to show her father she has options Shiv should consider joining PGM as CEO. Puzzled, Shiv agrees to think about it.

She then joins Roman at her mothers. After initial pleasantries, the atmosphere turns frosty. Even a how are you? elicits a passive-aggressive response from Caroline; when she offers to be mother serving up some unappetising, shot-addled pigeon, Shiv retorts, Why dont you give it a go?

Her
Her children are motherless … Caroline with Kendall. Photograph: Home Box Office

They commence negotiations. Roman has been instructed to go no higher than 50m as a sweetener, ostensibly reopening the divorce settlement. Caroline sets out her terms: 20m, and for her children to spend Christmas with her. A miserable prospect for them, but thatll be small matter to Logan. Her inadequacy as a parent is revealed when Kendall returns late at night and tries to open up about his secret guilt. She suggests they discuss it in the morning over an egg. At the breakfast table, she leaves a note claiming she has things to do. She has shirked her parental duty. Her children are motherless.

Back in the US, Tom, worried at the unexpected toughness of the internal inquiry, seeks out Greg to demand the incriminating documents he has been withholding. Greg reluctantly agrees, and later than night, they burn the papers; however, when Tom fetches matches, Greg snatches a couple of documents and stuffs them down his trousers.

She
She knows shes been had … Shiv. Photograph: Home Box Office

Much as Caroline fled Kendall, so Logan has been fleeing Shiv. When she finally tracks him down, demanding an answer on the succession, he turns the tables on her, accusing her of betraying the family by seeking out the PGM job. Shes been played by Rhea, who on the plane, Logan thanks for removing the noose from his neck. But Shiv knows shes been had. She puts in a call to Kendall.

The heir apparent?

Rhea, undoubtedly. Dismissed from PGM, she is playing the Roys clearly with a view to putting her own name in the frame as successor, taking advantage of his amorous feelings towards her. Although commanding, he doesnt seem quite in control right now. But Shivs got her number.

Notes and observations

Fun for Brits to see Shiv and Roman visit the local shop near their mothers pile, with Roman eyeing a tin of Golden Syrup distastefully. Americans, Golden Syrup does exist the nectarine of many a British childhood.

How quickly Logan rinses himself of remorse following the visit to the dead waiters family. From poor bastards to nothing to be ashamed of in three short hops.

Gregs spoken word monologue trying to handle his anxiety at the internal investigation reminds of a Talking Heads lyric circa 1980. Im moving, brisk movement this is faster wind is blowing and Im talking louder I dont remember, no, I dont remember.

Two episodes in a row without Connor; is he busy on the campaign trail? Or is that all talk? And is a spaghetti western-style showdown with Sandy and Stewy in the offing? Whatever transpires, the prospects are delicious. This has been a superb series.

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Emmys 2019: Fleabag and Game of Thrones win big on Brit-dominated night

Phoebe Waller-Bridges comedy was the surprise victor while the final season of HBOs fantasy drama picked up the most Emmy awards

Awards and prizes

It was a British invasion at the 71st Emmy awards, with Game of Thrones taking home the prize for best drama and Phoebe Waller-Bridges Fleabag sweeping most of the comedy awards in a night that saw numerous nods to stars from across the pond.

The biggest question heading into the night was whether Emmy voters would reward perennial juggernaut Game of Thrones for its divisive final season. The show was nominated for 32 awards the most for any single season of television ever and had already won 10 Creative Arts Emmys last week. Game of Thrones took home the nights final prize for outstanding drama series and a best supporting actor nod for American star Peter Dinklage bringing its total to 12 awards and breaking its own 2015 record for the most awards given to a series but was otherwise shut out of the telecast.

Instead, Fleabag emerged as the nights big winner, upstaging Veep, HBOs other Emmys mainstay in its final season, and last years darling The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Fleabag, which originated as Waller-Bridges one-woman show at the Edinburgh festival fringe, took home the awards for outstanding writing, best comedy series and best directing. Waller-Bridge also claimed lead actress in a comedy series a surprise win over Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who would have become the most decorated Emmys performer of all time had she won a ninth award for her role as Selina Meyer on Veep.

Jodie
Jodie Comer. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Waller-Bridge, who began her third acceptance speech by saying This is just getting ridiculous, was the crest of what amounted to a British wave at the Emmys, with wins for several stars: Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal) won for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series, while Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) apologized to her Liverpudlian parents for not inviting them because she didnt think it was my time in her speech for lead actress in a drama series. Chernobyl, HBO and Sky Televisions brutal, critically acclaimed limited series on the 1986 nuclear disaster, won for best outstanding writing, best directing and limited series. John Oliver won his fourth consecutive Emmy for best variety series for Last Week Tonight, and Jesse Armstrong took home best drama writing for HBOs upstart Succession. Black Mirrors choose-your-own-adventure flick Bandersnatch also won for best television movie.

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Emotional speeches take center stage at 2019 Emmys video highlights

In a hostless awards show packed with more awards than anything else, perhaps the most stirring moment of the night was Michelle Williams speech for outstanding lead actress in a limited series (Fosse/Verdon), in which she heralded gender pay equity. My bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honor Gwen Verdon, said Williams, now an outspoken activist for gender pay equity following the revelation to herself and the public that she was paid significantly less than costar Mark Wahlberg in the movie All the Money in the World. The next time a woman, and especially a woman of color because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, Williams said to some tears from the audience.

Believe her, because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing [her] to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it.

Jharrel
Jharrel Jerome wins lead actor in a drama series. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The nights other highlight was an inspiring win for Jharrel Jerome as lead actor in a limited series for When They See Us, Ava DuVernays Netflix series on the wrongly convicted Central Park Five that was otherwise shut out of awards by Chernobyl. This is for the men we know as the exonerated five, Jerome said as the real Central Park Five, now exonerated, raised their fists in solidarity.

Representation and tolerance were also the themes of speeches by Billy Porter (Pose), who took home the prize for lead actor in a drama series The category is love, yall, love! he shouted and Patricia Arquette (The Act), who won outstanding supporting actress in a limited series. Arquette dedicated the award to her sister Alexis, a trans woman who died in 2016, and urged an end to discrimination of trans people. Give them jobs. Lets get rid of this bias that we have everywhere, she said.

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Michelle Williams gives powerful Emmys acceptance speech on pay inequality video

Outside of the British winners, other highlights of the evening included two nods to The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein for supporting actor and actress in a comedy series, respectively and an underdog win for Ozarks Julia Garner as outstanding supporting actress, besting Daenerys Targaryen herself, Emilia Clarke.

Game of Thrones still got its recognition, however, as a portion of its massive cast and crew took the stage for the nights biggest honor. Given all the fire and ice, dragons and long shoots, it is amazing that all of you are still alive, said co-showrunner DB Weiss. I cant believe we finished it.

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Emmys 2019 predictions: who will win, and who should win?

Another competitive year pits old favorites against critically acclaimed upstarts. Will there be a Game of Thrones victory lap? Will Fleabag upset Veep?

Awards and prizes

Outstanding Drama Series

The Emmys conversation is dominated, of course, by Game of Thrones, HBOs decade-defining, lavish fantasy epic that wrapped after eight sprawling seasons this spring. Thrones is an Emmys juggernaut it won for best drama series in its last three eligible seasons (2015, 2016 and 2018) and is nominated for 32 awards this year, the most for any single season of television, ever. (The show already won 10 awards at last weekends Creative Arts Emmys). The question this year, however, is whether the majority of the 24,000 Emmy voters will still reward Game of Thrones after a divisive, narratively uneven final season. Thats likely to be the case, especially with traditional rivals such as The Handmaids Tale, Stranger Things and The Americans no longer in the running. But younger, smaller shows could spoil the victory lap; HBOs other entry, Succession, received five nominations for its critically acclaimed first season, and BBC Americas Killing Eve could ride a solid second season and the wave of popularity for stars Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge to a win. Other nominees Better Call Saul, Pose, Ozark, This Is Us and Bodyguard all have sizable audiences and, for the most part, critical praise, but probably lack the momentum to topple Westerosi dominance.

Will win: Game of Thrones

Should win: Succession

Outstanding Comedy Series

Its a testament to the ever-expanding state of comedy in 2019 that despite a near-total turnover in nominees, last years most competitive category remains as tight and stacked this year. The only returning nominees from 2018 are HBOs critically adored Barry and the defending champion, Amazons The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. The 50s-set comedy, with 20 nominations, has broad support among Emmy voters, but as in outstanding drama, the sentimental favorite here is a beloved HBO series in its final season: Veep. Veep has won twice already, and though its final season was, like Game of Thrones, not of its previous caliber, the series could still win based on the popularity of its star, Emmys mainstay Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Phoebe
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the second season of Amazons Fleabag. Photograph: BBC/Two Brothers/Steve Schofield

But both frontrunners contend with several strong, and popular, new entries. Barrys brilliant dark comedy Bill Hader as a hitman trying to become an actor could take home a win for its second season, as could the searing sophomore season of Phoebe Waller-Bridges Fleabag. And Russian Doll, shepherded by comedy veterans Natasha Lyonne and Amy Poehler, enjoyed a splashy, moment-seizing debut early this year. Schitts Creek and The Good Place, though broadly appealing, are long shots.

Will win: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

Should win: Fleabag

Outstanding Limited Series

Its a year of strong entries for limited series: the moody, ephemeral Sharp Objects topped several critics lists (though its Emmys stock has dropped considerably since the show premiered in summer 2018), Showtimes Escape from Dannemora earned solid, if not overwhelming, positive interest, and Fosse/Verdon effectively revised the history of a storied Broadway partnership. But theres really just two options for the Emmy, both 80s-set historical dramas that mine famous tragedies for searing cultural and political relevance. Will voters go for HBOs meticulously crafted, expertly adapted Chernobyl? Or the wounding, pristine When They See Us, Ava DuVernays mini-series on the Central Park Five?

Will win: Chernobyl

Should win: When They See Us

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama

Sandra
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

With last years champion, Claire Foy, and Elisabeth Moss not in contention, the race for best dramatic actress is fairly wide open, though given her recent Golden Globe and SAG awards, Sandra Oh in Killing Eve is the favorite. Ohs most likely rival is her co-star, Jodie Comer, whose scene-stealing turn as the serial contract killer Villanelle only turned more heads in the second season. Emmy voters could, however, choose to reward Emilia Clarke, nominated four times but with no wins, for her nearly decade-long work and an especially heavy lift in the final season as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. Theres an outside chance each for established awards favorites Laura Linney (Ozark) and Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder). Mandy Moores nomination is already a win for This Is Us, and it seems unlikely Emmy voters will pick Robin Wright (House of Cards) for a show that has faded significantly.

Will win: Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)

Should win: Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama

This could be Bob Odenkirks year the much-loved star of Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul has lost three previous nominations (to Jon Hamm, Rami Malek and Sterling K Brown). But Billy Porters electric performance in Pose could sway voters, and never count out a representative from Westeros (Kit Harington has never won for his portrayal of Jon Snow on Game of Thrones). Bateman, as the director-star of Ozark, has years of TV cred playing in his favor, while Sterling K Browns performance in This Is Us has already garnered him the award. Milo Ventimiglias nomination is, like his co-star Mandy Moores, itself a win for the lone network series represented in the category.

Will win: Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)

Should win: Billy Porter (Pose)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy

This year will mark either a triumphant return to tradition or a changing of the guard for best comedy actress. The obvious favorite is Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the final season of Veep. Louis-Dreyfus has won six (six!) times before for her role as Selina Meyer, though a year of ineligibility last year opened up the door for Rachel Brosnahan as the star of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. In any other year, Brosnahan could confidently assume a repeat, but competition this year is stiff, even outside of Louis-Dreyfus. Phoebe Waller-Bridge was luminous as the triple threat creator/writer/star of Fleabag. Natasha Lyonne had a breakout year in Russian Doll, and Catherine OHara who last won an Emmy in 1981 has decades of goodwill and a passionate fanbase for Schitts Creek on her side. Christina Applegate (Dead To Me) is unlikely to eke out a win, but crazier things have happened.

Will win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Should win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) or Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy

Bill
Bill Hader as a hitman turned struggling actor in Barry. Photograph: HBO

Last years winner, Bill Hader, returns again with a strong case for the second season of Barry, though he could be unseated by two popular TV veterans: Ted Danson, for network darling The Good Place, and Eugene Levy of cult-favorite Schitts Creek. If anyone outside those three were to score an upset, it would probably be Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method), a six-time nominee who last won in 2013 for Behind the Candelabra. Don Cheadle (Black Monday) and Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) have each delivered solid work beyond their respective TV seasons, but thats unlikely to stem the tide of support for Hader, Danson or Levy.

Will win: Bill Hader (Barry)

Should win: Bill Hader (Barry)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

Yet another strong category pits industry favorites Patricia Arquette (Showtimes Escape from Dannemora), Michelle Williams (FXs Fosse/Verdon) against relative newcomers Joey King (Hulus The Act) and Aunjanue Ellis (Netflixs When They See Us). Williams likely has the edge, given the overwhelming critical praise for her portrayal of old Hollywoods Gwen Verdon. But awards regular Arquette, also nominated for best supporting actress in a limited series for The Act, might eke out the win. The prospects for Amy Adams, once a frontrunner, have dimmed in the more than year since Sharp Objects premiered. Niecy Nash is also a possible spoiler for When They See Us.

Will win: Michelle Williams (Fosse/Verdon)

Should win: Michelle Williams (Fosse/Verdon)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

Jharrel
Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us. Photograph: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Benicio Del Toro (Escape at Dannemora), Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal), Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon), and Mahershala Ali (True Detective) all achieved solid performances, but go up against the surging popularity for actors from the two defining mini-series of the year: Jared Harris of Chernobyl and Jharrel Jerome of When They See Us. The winner probably depends on the outcome of best limited series: the Emmys will want to reward When They See Us somewhere, and Jeromes turn, as the only actor to carry his character through the full series arc, was devastating.

Will win: Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us)

Should win: Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us) or Jared Harris (Chernobyl)

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

At this point, all the nominated variety talk series either cover basically the same political material Trump and his headline-grabbing scandals, from Sharpie-edited maps to the Mueller report or riff on friendly celebrity chats and games. The two exceptions are the weeklies Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS) and HBOs Last Week Tonight with John Oliver which have more time to select and dig deeper into larger, more opaque subjects. Emmy voters are more likely to reward John Olivers unabashed, absolutely no-bullshit HBO show, but the real outstanding star is Colbert, whose consistency five nights a week outpaces all the other hosts.

Will win: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Should win: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series

Anthony Carrigan (Barry)

Stephen Root (Barry) Will win

Henry Winkler (Barry)

Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method)

Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel) Should win

Tony Hale (Veep)

Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series

Sarah Goldberg (Barry)

Sian Clifford (Fleabag)

Olivia Coleman (Fleabag)

Betty Gilpin (GLOW)

Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel) Will win

Marin Hinkle (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel)

Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)

Anna Chlumsky (Veep) Should win

Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series

Peter
Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones. Photograph: Associated Press

Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul) Should win

Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul)

Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones)

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) Will win

Michael Kelly (House of Cards)

Chris Sullivan (This Is Us)

Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series

Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones)

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) Will win, Should win

Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones)

Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones)

Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve)

Julia Garner (Ozark)

Outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or TV movie

Stellan Skarsgrd (Chernobyl)

Paul Dano (Escape at Dannemora)

Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal)

Aante Blackk (When They See Us)

John Leguizamo (When They See Us)

Michael K Williams (When They See Us) Will Win, Should Win

Outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or TV movie

Patricia Arquette (The Act)

Marsha Stephanie Blake (When They See Us)

Patricia Clarkson (Sharp Objects) Will win, Should win

Vera Farmiga (When They See Us)

Margaret Qualley (Fosse/Verdon)

Emily Watson (Chernobyl)

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‘I got the guy!’ My 17-year manhunt for a $50m art criminal

For years, documentary-maker Vanessa Engle has been on the trail of a notorious swindler who escaped from prison and disappeared into thin air. Then one day, the phone rang …

culture

You probably havent heard of Michel Cohen. Do a search and you get Michael Cohen, the Trump fixer who went to jail. Wrong one. Though this one did go to jail, too. Hes French, born in 1953 on an estate in a poor suburb of Paris and his first job was to sell the Encyclopedia Britannica door-to-door, which he was very good at.

Cohen later went to the US and started selling French pat, then prints. He got into the art world, became a dealer, sold Picassos, Monets, Chagalls. For a while he lived the dream, drove fast cars, had a house in Malibu with his German wife and two kids, a chef, horses, everything. He got into the options market. That didnt go so well, so he got into debt. Cohen started to put loans and artworks that werent his into the market; the hole got bigger and bigger. In the end he disappeared, having swindled the New York art world out of $50m.

That was in 2001. Vanessa Engle, the documentary maker (The Funeral Murders, The Cult Next Door, Women, Jews, Lefties, loads of other brilliant stuff) was making arts documentaries at the time. She clocked the story as one to keep an eye on.

And she did for 17 years. Nobody knew where he had gone; he had just vanished with his wife and kids, she says. I thought it was an interesting story, but I didnt have a way in. The art world is very secretive, they dont like to talk, especially if they have just been ripped off to the tune of many millions. Its a world built on trust. Clients are not going to want to know a dealer of a gallery that could so easily be defrauded.

Were in a north London pub, and Engle is telling me about her manhunt: the search for Cohen. Ive searched his name online every two or three months for 17 years.

He
He just vanished … Cohen. Photograph: BBC/Top Hat/Michel Cohen

The first hit came in 2003: a small story in the US press. Cohen had been arrested, by Interpol, in Rio de Janeiro; he was in jail in Brazil. I thought OK, nows my chance, maybe the Brazilian authorities will let me into the prison, I can get the whole story, its going to happen, says Engle, reliving the excitement.

She was on another project, but there was no hurry because he would be in prison for a long time. Then, later that year, she searched again and he had escaped! The story just got better Papillon meets The Goldfinch meets The Great Train Robbery. But it had also gone cold. I thought: oh, Ive missed it.

The trail stayed cold for years, although Engle never forgot about Cohen. In 2017 she spoke to a commissioning editor at the BBC. She didnt think she would find him, didnt even know if he was alive, but she could talk to his friends, and people in the art world.

Ive often said I should have been a policeman because what we do is the same, she says. We gather clues to put together a plausible story, and find witnesses who can testify to that story.

Yet Engle argues shes not really the detective in this story. Im good at getting people on board, mapping the story, but if it was not for Billie Billie is Billie Shepherd, the producer Engle hired because she worked on Who Do You Think You Are? and knows how to find people. You dont want to fall out with Billie, says Engle. She will track you down.

They made a timeline of transactions, paintings, swindles and people; it ran to more than 100 pages. They called in legal documents from the US and Brazil, sometimes getting people to go to court and photocopy them.

Once they had names and addresses, they made a big drawing: Cohen in the middle, then his inner circle of family and close friends (people such as Richard Roy, who plays a big part in the film), followed by an outer circle of those he had done business with or ripped off.

Then Engle wrote letters to them. She had heard rumours there were people who wanted to have Cohen assassinated. There are people in the art world who have mafia connections, laundering money, says Engle. Its actually quite a dirty business. In the end, I was convinced there are people who would know where to get a hitman. Or he might just be dead; he would be in his mid-60s.

Vanessa
Vanessa Engle: I should have been a policeman. Photograph: Johann Perry/BBC/Top Hat

She concentrated on the outer circle first, fearful that someone near Cohen would tip him off and cause him to run. They got some hits: old acquaintances who agreed to talk, dealers, just about enough to make a film. Then we thought, weve got nothing to lose, and pressed go on that last lot of letters, including ones we hoped might get to his family and maybe him.

Engle waited. There was no response from Cohens sister, but they got Roy, Cohens friend and business partner, who had gone to the US with him and set up the pat business. When we got him, me and Billie were just screaming, says Engle.

Then, one day, Engle was at home when the phone rang. This woman said: My name is blablabla [she doesnt want me to know the womans name]. I was distracted, I didnt know if it was the wrong number, or someone asking if I was satisfied with my gas supply, she recalls. I can be slightly brusque, so I said: Sorry, who is this?

It was Cohens wife, who had also gone to Brazil with the two kids, had a third there, then had a really tough time after he was arrested. She was going to be able to fill in the missing pieces, perhaps even lead Engle to the man himself.

Cohens wife was very nervous. She said she couldnt really talk on the phone, didnt say anything about where Cohen was or whether he was still alive, but did agree to meet in a cafe. Not in London, but a different country and Engle was to come alone. The BBC werent happy about that, so a colleague went as well, pretending not to be there, tracking Engles phone.

Mrs Cohen, it turns out, was lovely, sweet and warm. She talked for hours. Now, would she do it on camera? Absolutely not. Uh oh. It is a shame, but not the end of the world, because … well, its in the film.

Which is fabulous; a stonkingly good romp. Not a million miles away from the Netflix Fyre festival documentary, but with more personality, motifs and metaphors running through it. And we got the guy! says Engle. There has been a whole spate of these films where you have a central protagonist whos done something really wrong, but its very rare to get the guy.

Oops, spoiler alert. Actually, not such a spoiler: hes there, right at the beginning of the film. He was there in that cafe, too. A small man shuffled up to the table, unshaven, his hair was quite long, wearing a scruffy sweatshirt, says Engle. I thought: is that the guy Ive been looking for for 17 years? And it was.

The $50m Art Swindle is on BBC Two on 23 September 2019 at 9pm.

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Dave Chappelle under fire for discrediting Michael Jackson accusers in Netflix special

Standup comedian also takes aim at callout culture that sees public figures held to account by audiences

Australia news

Dave Chappelle has come under fire for his latest Netflix special in which he claims he does not believe Michael Jackson sexually assaulted young boys, and makes jokes at the expense of Jacksons accusers.

In a standup set that seemed designed to provoke precisely the backlash that it was critiquing, Chappelle took aim at a prevailing callout culture that sees celebrities being held to account by audiences and in the media for perceived or actual crimes and for the offensive things they say.

He talked at length about the allegations of sexual assault against Jackson, who died in 2009, made by James Safechuck and Wade Robson in the HBO/Channel 4 documentary, Leaving Neverland.

Chappelle described the allegations in detail before complaining about the graphic descriptions in the documentary itself, and then said he didnt believe Jacksons accusers because actor Macaulay Culkin, who also spent time with Jackson as a child, hadnt made accusations of his own.

Acknowledging that he was saying something that Im not allowed to say, Chappelle also joked about how making such statements made him a victim blamer.

If somebody come up to me like, Dave, Dave, Chris Brown just beat up Rihanna! Id be like, Well, what did she do? Dave! Michael Jackson was molesting children! Well, what were those kids wearing at the time? he said.

But you know what, even if he did do it its Michael Jackson. I know more than half the people in this room have been molested in their lives. But it wasnt no goddamn Michael Jackson, was it?

Chappelle also compared the Jackson allegations with those made by multiple women against singer R Kelly, which he said he did believe.

Robson and Safechuck, Jacksons accusers, responded to the comedians set, with Robson saying: He can say whatever he wants. It reveals him, not us.

Robsons lawyer Vince Finaldi said of Chappelle: Its unfortunate that he has chosen to use his platform to shame sexual abuse victims, and spread his ignorance of sexual abuse and the way it is perpetrated upon children, in an attempt to resurrect his career.

Sticks & Stones is Chappelles third Netflix special, the first two of which were also widely criticised for their apparent homophobia and transphobia.

Chappelle appeared to predict the backlash to Sticks & Stones, which was released this week, suggesting in the set that such backlash was the reason his public appearances were few and far between.

Thats why I dont be coming out doing comedy all the time, he said. Im goddamn sick of it. This is the worst time ever to be a celebrity. Youre gonna be finished. Everyones doomed.

Later, he said: Doesnt matter what I say. And if you at home watching this shit on Netflix, remember bitch, you clicked on my face. Celebrity hunting season. Doesnt matter what I say, theyre gonna get everybody eventually. Like look, I dont think I did anything wrong, but well see.

John Branca, an executor of the Jackson estate, told TMZ he agreed with Chappelle.

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Wild oversharing comic Phoebe Robinson: ‘I do dumb things. That’s who I am!’

Algorithmia AI Generated Summary

 

Is the fringe ready for the brash standup who utilized to get paid in nachos as well as chicken wings. We fulfill one fifty percent of 2 Dope Queens as she loads her shoes with sweat

What does Phoebe Robinson wish to see when she shows up at the Edinburgh edge. Just lots of dudes smuggling their bangers and also mash in their kilts.


 

Is the fringe ready for the brash standup who utilized to get paid in nachos as well as chicken wings? We fulfill one fifty percent of 2 Dope Queens as she loads her shoes with sweat

What does Phoebe Robinson wish to see when she shows up at the Edinburgh edge? Just lots of dudes smuggling their bangers and also mash in their kilts. Observational comic, sharp social doubter, signee of a handle ABC workshops, bestselling writer (You Cant Touch My Hair & Various Other Things I Still Have to Describe) as well as one fifty percent of 2 Dope Queens (the podcast duo transformed HBO stars), Robinson has an ideology: that comedy parched, spontaneous, periodically gross, with riffs on Googling David Bowies penis dimension after learning he has passed away can be a force for great.

At Edinburgh, Robinson will explore her show, called Sorry, Harriet Tubman, which covers sex stuff as well as race stuff yet additionally discussing accidents in the bedroom during sex, just like lower-brow points. So I think that itll be type of a conclusion of where Im at in my life today. It suggests, like a lot of her job, that if we can be truthful concerning our greatly mistaken selves as well as our profoundly mistaken culture, possibly we can make our globe a little less screwed up. Or at the very least tell a couple of decent fart jokes along the road.

The title, she states, stems from a running joke she and likewise her other dope queen The Daily Exposes Jessica Williams used to make on the podcast, concerning just how dissatisfied Tubman would certainly be, because, you understand, she basically led servants to freedom on the below ground railway and additionally Im like I simply wan na wreck Michael B Jordan, Robinson states.
I ask her exactly how she has actually pulled down Tubman this week. Its only Tuesday, she items. Nevertheless after that she births in mind exactly how that day or the day previously, she and her person had been exercising at the fitness center in her structure, which while practicing a curtsy lunge, an incredibly sophisticated action, she merely discharge like the loudest, wettest fart. Her companion has his earphones in, however he still heard it. So I thought that was an ensured dissatisfaction for Harriet, she specifies.
Robinson suches as to think of Tubman, her honorable face flecked with a solitary, excellent Demi-Moore-in-Ghost tear, hearing that fart as well, and questioning if discovering to browse by the North Star had truly deserved it.

As authentic as possible Robinson did a standup course and fell in love with it.

The comic, that describes herself as an off-brand Oprah, expanded up in Americas midwest, enjoying the sitcoms Moesha as well as Martin, and the sketch show In Living Color. She was an ironical child, but not one that might always fracture a joke. Funny was never her endgame. Yet in university, she signed up with an improv performers, and also after college, while functioning as an executive aide, a pal convinced her to take a standup course and she dropped in love, executing any place she could, from clubs to biker bars. She was usually paid in nachos. Or chicken wings.

Some comics will create a character, yet Robinsons persona is herself, with all the Instagram filters shut off. Her strategy, she claims, is to be as authentic as feasible and also her brand, she states, is similar to kind of not taking myself also seriously.

She had gotten here for lunch, at a drowsy Brooklyn restaurant, in streamlined sunglasses, worn denims, and also a pink T-shirt checking out Bonjour yall. Her sweetheart whom she calls British Baekoff (he is British, he is her bae, he takes pleasure in cooking) had actually asked her not wear it on the Paris Mtro and also which she had of program used on the Paris Mtro. So the not taking herself also seriously point checks out.

When 2 Dope Queens relocated to HBO, Robinson would typically record discounts without makeup or while pretending that her wig was doing the talking. Fifty percent the time Im doing something truly stupid as well as I can much like conceal it, but Im like, thats who I am, she claims.

She doesn ‘t recognize just how, or if, her oversharing design will certainly convert to the UK, yet her partner has actually alerted her that British target markets can be more suppressed. They might not be hooting and shrieking, yet that doesn ‘t mean they ‘reOriginal message also short.Original message as well short.Original text too brief. not enjoying, she guarantees herself. The possibility does not make her remotely as worried as the moment she and Williams talked to among her heroes, Michelle Obama (various other heroes: Oprah, Bono, her moms and dads, her huge bro). When she stood up after the meeting, her shoes had plenty of sweat. I was really nervous concerning sliding and also falling, she states. Thats how much sweat remained in my footwear!

Funny, which is still really white and also still really male, hasn’t always rated to such females as her, and also she does not love concerns concerning exactly how to enhance things. It needs to be a teamwork and till straight dudes are expected to roll up their sleeves as well as get to function, she states, Im over being inquired about what males need to do. What does she need to do? Talk as honestly and truthfully as she can around hookups as well as periods and sexism and racism as well as the errors of white-lady feminism as well as shapewear knowing that the funny will constantly discover its method there.

 

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