Amanda Palmer
Singer, writer and pianist, enjoys meditation, and was born in 1976.

Brian Viglione
Drummer, active supporter of the LGBT community and was born in 1979.


The Dresden Dolls cannot be categorised musically, yet terms such as “theatrical rock”, “punk cabaret” and “manic-musical” have been used, this unique band formed in 2001 in Boston. The duo Amanda and Brian first met on Halloween 2000, and this is when they became the Dresden Dolls.

Two years after forming they created their debut in September 2003 by 8ft records, the bands personal label, then the same album was chosen by Roadrunner records the following year, to be released in the U.S and Japan.

Once signed with Roadrunner records the band had sold-out concerts in four continents! Where they performed at the worlds’ biggest festivals such as Glastonbury, Coachella and Rockide. Then released their second album “Yes, Virginia” in the spring of 2006.

There was more excitement to come as they were awaiting their premiere in 2007, for the original musical they wrote at the prestigious American Repertory Theatre. A live performance of the musical was released onto DVD in the summer of 2007.

Dresden dolls got their band name from the Eastern town of Germany: Dresden, which is renowned for its china, porcelain and the dolls they make from these. Dresden is also associated with firebombing that took place there near the end of WWII which levelled the whole city and destroyed its architectural beauty.

The Dresden Dolls recapitulated for you, it is time to move forward. While sounding similar to Revue Noir in their music. The lyrics unique, original as you can imagine, or not imagine. Brian plays his drums relentlessly with Amanda on keyboard using every ounce of her soul, and together they create a psychotic collage of music, if you never listen to them you will never see these colours.

Amanda from the Dresden Dolls was in the newspaper- The Guardian, of the UK this February 2009, after the Roadrunner records told her, her video for the song “Leeds United” needed to be edited. Too explicit you may think? Making light of taboo topics? No, well not this time! Apparently her stomach “didn’t look quite flat enough”. Amanda did not take offence, because at the end of the day the record was receiving publicity, and she knew she looked hot!

Amanda and Brain are currently working on their own projects, Amanda on her solo career as a singer, writer and pianist, and Brain in his new band as a drummer, guitarist and singer. Amanda’s most recent project is taking place in Lexington High school where she is working with 20 students to create and perform the play “with a needle that sings in her heart”, a performance about Anne Frank.

This is not the end of the Dresden Dolls as for now they are just “expanding their empire”. 

The Dresden Dolls


Gay Marriage: A Fight Over Language and Religion

The internet is increasing with pages, campaigns and groups being made to support of the legalisation of gay marriage. This is to replace Civil Partnership which allows homosexual couples to have their relationship legally recognised, thanks to the Civil Partnership Act 2004. However the term “Civil Partnership” has developed an inferior status in comparison with the heterosexual “Civil Marriage”, but, for those who are not religious, Civil Partnership is synonymous with Gay Marriage. I will explain.

The majority of the differences between Civil Partnership and Civil Marriage actually allow the former additional choice in how the wedding is conducted, while “Marriage” is more constricted by institutional laws. For instance, the registration certificate does not need to be signed at the wedding and verbal exchange is not essential. This means a Civil Partnership wedding can be held in private and conducted in a manner that allows the couple to use originality and creativity which otherwise would not be possible.

The issue is religion. Civil Partnerships are prohibited to contain religious references; this includes readings, music and the premise in which it takes place. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 states “no religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document.” Consequently, Civil Partnerships are not recognised by the Church of England at this present time. This goes to show that even now, in a world dominated by science and technology the Church still has more power over society. Although rather than viewing this as a constriction to our freedom and rights, this can be seen as being free from the institution of the Church; so once again, the Civil Partnership wedding becomes less institutionalised and more personal. If one wishes to mention divinity in their wedding, it can be done with the mind, the heart and in prayer before and after the wedding. This shows real dedication and spirituality.

In spite of this current state of affairs “Partnership” when used in “Civil Partnership” is actually a religious term. This dates from Old English.

‘Partnership’ = ‘partner’ + ‘ship’

Since Old English ‘ship’ at the end of a word (suffix) means to ‘create’ or ‘ordain’ (‘ordain’ – to invest with holy meaning). In the context of a wedding the meaning is obviously ‘ordain’ as this is what the Civil Partnership registrar does. Therefore religious connotations are inherent in the meaning! So not only is it discrimination that gay couples cannot have an openly religious wedding ceremony, it is also a total contradiction.

However, come the end of the wedding the couple are not pronounced ‘husband and husband’ or ‘wife and wife’; instead the couple are pronounced ‘Civil Partners’. This assumes the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ belong solely to the concept of heterosexual marriage, but where is the evidence for this? Also Language continuously changes: Dictionaries do not dictate the language we use, it is the language that we use which is recorded in dictionaries. For instance look at how the meaning of ‘gay’ has changed over the years! Therefore there is no reason why the terms husband and wife should not be officially used by homosexual couples. Furthermore there is nothing to stop “Civil Partners” referring to their spouse as husband/wife. Nevertheless there is an exchange of names, and change of title for lesbian couples.

What it boils down to is allowing homosexual couples to have overtly religious ceremonies and to officially use the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. So, it may help if we are specific in our demands when campaigning to the authorities to recognise LGB rights. Until the government make those bureaucratic adjustments, in reality non-religious homosexual couples do indeed marry, it just comes under a different name. For religious couples we can make it religious ourselves and use the title of our choice.

I would love to hear readers views on this.


Understanding NOM/DOMA

This takes a look at the reasons why people do not feel comfortable supporting gay marriage, and while taking these into account I intend to expand and add to your views.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is against the idea of legalising gay marriage in the view that…

“Oppose any effort that would eliminate DOMA and its protections for state marriage laws all across the country.
Please drop the attack on DOMA and instead defend the rights of states to protect marriage yas the union of a husband and wife. Thank you for protecting DOMA!”

(National Organization for Marriage, 2011)

In their petition letter NOM are asking presidents to “protect marriage”. This implies these people view marriage as a commodity or as a possession which belongs only to heterosexuals. This then alludes to the idea that the marriage ritual forms part of the heterosexual identity since they wish for it to remain exclusive to them. However, a flaw in this line of thought is that some heterosexual couples even those who have been together for over a decade choose not to marry and yet they are in a heterosexual relationship and friends and acquaintances would be happy in the acknowledgment of this sexual preference, although this scenario is rather less common as opposed to long term partners who do marry. Thus marriage, for some, must be part of their sexual identity – it is their right as a heterosexual to be permitted to partake in this particular ritual.

What is the reasoning that only they are permitted? Well, the most common reasons people marry are that they choose to, a sign of their love one other, want a sign of their commitment to one another, want to announce their feelings to God (I use this term to refer to all figures of Divinity) or they wish to bring a child into the world and feel this would provide a more secure environment. All of these remain the same in Gay Marriage. However, the penultimate statement is slightly controversial, but this can easily be put to rest. This is because not all married heterosexual couples are religious and thus may not have a religious ceremony; so from this point on religion is not an issue. Moreover marriage is never a prerequisite for a stable family environment. I have heard the Holy Bible being used as an excuse not to tolerate homosexuals – apparently it’s just wrong, period. However marriage is an act – and linguistically speaking it is a ritual consisting of a series of speech acts – which is a sign of commitment and love between two people. Thus as this is a reason for some of the prejudice beliefs against gay marriage, surely then atheists should also not be allowed to legally marry.

More specifically many hold prejudice because they feel that homosexuality is unnatural. This is because the reason males and females are [meant to be] attracted to one another is because it is inherent in all of humanity that the imperative to reproduce, after all that is nature and that is what we are meant to do, supposedly. “We’re meant to have children so homosexuality is not natural” – is the crux of the argument. But sex can/is no longer be scrutinized in terms of functionality. Humans have sex for pleasure which is completely devoid of the function of reproduction. Therefore then gay sex cannot be judged in terms of functionality either. It is possible then that humanity has another function in this world other than to breed. If we did not then surely by now we would be like the male octopus that dies after impregnating a female octopus. Therefore using the “what’s natural” argument, whereby the logical premise would be that of ‘natural selection’ there must be further functions for humanity.

Stewardship is one possibility – which is very fitting with Christendom, being a parental figure to those in need who are already struggling on this planet – whether that be in adoption, bringing up and healing an abused child, saving someone’s life, dedication to charitable work. Example figures include Mother Teresa, Orang-utan Lady. These people helped our world to thrive without adding to the human population – rather they added quality of life to those alive then and now.

Furthermore there are plenty of heterosexual couples out there who do not have children out of choice. In such a situation what is the difference between a heterosexual couple and a homosexual couple? Both couples signify two loving married people whom of which have not propagated the species.


Lesbian Burlesque Beauty Performance Poet

Literary Society: Lesbian Burlesque Beauty Performance Poet

Sophia BlackwellSophia Blackwell will be visiting Anglia Ruskin University as a guest to the Literary Society on 27th October 2010 at7.30pm. She’ll be performing poetry from her debut album ‘Into Temptation’, followed by a Q&A session.

Sophia has previously appeared at Glastonbury, The Pink Festival, Velvet London Burlesque and Swindon, Oxford and Wells Literature Festivals among others. Her poetry is a social commentary immersed in emotion and comedy, delivered in a vibrant manner. Amy Winehouse, Eminem and Lilly Allen are just a few of her contemporary influences, while Sylvia Plath, John Donne and Philip Larkin also continue to inspire her.

To give you a taster, here is a stanza from her poem ‘This is Not the Poem About You’:

“… I want to tell you now that even when I’m 92, and necking tesco value gin while bombing down the street, on a nifty tartan scooter, with my fags under the seat, teaching classical translations with sapphic implications in an all girls boarding school. This is something I still won’t do. I will never, write the poem, about you…”

[Edited from the original…]

If you wish to hear more of Sophia Blackwell’s work before the show you can find her at