The wonderfully, terrible Christine Ibrahim

The wonderfully, terrible Christine Ibrahim
Image: Christine Ibrahim. Image: supplied

It’s been a very busy 12 months for multi-talented artist and creative entrepreneur, Christine Ibrahim;  it’s also been very challenging.

“This year had me almost wanting to give up the show.”

Wonderfully Terrible Things. Image: supplied

Ibrahim is a musician, writer, aerialist, singer, goddess and creator of Wonderfully Terrible Things, a deliciously naughty circus cabaret. Earlier this year, Wonderfully Terrible Things had attained a 6 month residency at a newly renovated venue in Newtown which was fabulously received.

The next gig did not go so well. Ten days before the scheduled performance, the venue cancelled the show because Ibrahim refused to work with a venue staff member who publicly and aggressively verbally abused her. 

Christine Ibrahim. Image: supplied

“As a female producer in the industry it’s not easy to have a six foot man screaming at you in front of a group of people,” said Ibrahim who was shell-shocked by the incident. “It cost me a lot of money, it cost a few performers work…it was quite a kick in the guts for the show and just not something pleasant to have to deal with.”

It’s unfortunately not the first time Ibrahim has had to deal with a belligerent man in her line of work. She’s found there is still a distinct power imbalance between men and women. 

Wonderfully Terrible Things at 5 Eliza, Newtown. Image: supplied

“It’s quite troubling to me, especially with my show [which is] very much about feeling safe as a woman. The raison d’etre of the show is to feel safe and seen and heard.”

Thankfully it hasn’t been all bad. Wonderfully Terrible Things has a great relationship with The Vanguard in Newtown where they have performed several times, and with venues like the Sydney Spiegeltent. Ibrahim is currently performing in Rouge at the Spiegeltent and will be back in January with her WTT troupe. 

“I’m very excited to be playing the show in such an iconic venue,” says Ibrahim. The Spiegeltent suits the aesthetic of  WTT to a T. The show is sexy, irreverent, funny, awe-inspiring and a little rowdy. The upcoming show will feature new talent discoveries by Ibrahim as well as some core performers. 

Wonderfully Terrible Things. Image: supplied

“We’re elevating a couple of the existing acts, so you’ll see them but they’ll be levelled up a little bit. A little bit more fire, a little bit more danger, a little bit more naughtiness. And we are going to have some guest performers,  people you’ve never seen before in Wonderfully Terrible Things.”

This style of hybrid, side-show entertainment was once considered fringe, performed at festivals and small, alternative venues. Now it has become quite mainstream and individual performers are able to go from show to show. This has raised the bar for artists, pushing them to up-skill but also providing the space for them to workshop their acts in front of different audiences. 

Wonderfully Terrible Things. Image: supplied

For Ibrahim, it’s an incentive to be more creative, up the ante in her act.  

“I want to make it more original, more engaging for the audience — more production value, investing in costumes and different coloured silks and nicer lights…try and make the audience experience more.”

Wonderfully Terrible Things is always on the lookout for new talent, but it also has a stable of regulars who have become audience favourites. 

“Captain Finhead is one of our amazing core team. He is a sideshow performer who does incredibly dangerous skills. He is out of this world, and such a lovely, kind human.”

Captain Finhead, Wonderfully Terrible Things. Image: supplied

His acts including balancing the tip of a sword on the tip of a knife while the handle sits on his chin and while he stands on a balancing board; doing sit-ups on a bed of nine-inch nails while balancing a fire-lit trident on his chin; juggling knives while on a balancing board; doing lots of menacing things with fire. 

Captain Finhead, Wonderfully Terrible Things. Image: supplied

Blake Wilson is one of Ibrahim’s protégés. He sent a video to her via Instagram, wanting to join the show, and while he was young and quite raw, Ibrahim saw a lot of potential. Wilson performs aerial routines and a brilliant hula hoop act, all of which he developed and embellished under the tutelage of Ibrahim. 

“He was doing his hula hoop act, then we added the heels in,” she explains, describing the thigh-length, bayonet-heeled, black patent leather boots that have added a degree of kink to his aesthetic.

Blake Wilson, Wonderfully Terrible Things. Image: supplied

Natalya Alessi joined WTT with a fetish act and has since added whips which have become her signature. 

“WTT has been a great place for her to develop that act. She’s up-skilling on her own but she’s got the space and the performance opportunities to work that in with an audience,” says Ibrahim.

Well-known burlesque artist, Memphis Mae, frequently appears in WTT shows as Ibrahim’s side-kick.  Her feature act involves “playing” the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony on what can only be described as a dildophone: a row of small to large-sized dildos. 

Wonderfully Terrible Things. Image: supplied

“I really love the amalgamation of high brow and low brow art,” laughs Ibrahim. 

Another regular side-kick is Page Walker.

“She’s just so fierce. She’s such a gorgeous multi-skilled performer and she does that wonderful chair strip which is elevated because she’s an incredible tango dancer who trains in Argentina regularly… she’s just, you know, incredible,” says Ibrahim. 

Wonderfully Terrible Things. Image: supplied

For Ibrahim, Wonderfully Terrible Things is about finding unique, exceptional talent and inducting them into her edgy, kinky universe.

“I’m trying to create a little world, and I think it’s coming together.”

January 17 – 21

Sydney Spiegeltent, The Showring, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park

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