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Lockdown correspondent, Mat Fraser, New York City, USA.

Mat Fraser is an acclaimed and brilliantly subversive English rock musician, actor, writer and performance artist. Some will know Mat as Raymond Van Geritt from the BBC One adaptation of Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials (2019); while others will relish the memory of him playing the drums for Ian Dury's Spasticus Autisticus performed by Graeae Theatre company at the London Paralympics 2012 (Mat's now a Patron for Graeae, Europe's leading disabled theatre company). However, many of our readers will know Mat from his hilariously biting and racy cabaret acts from the London burlesque scene. He's since jetted over to NYC to marry his love Julie Atlas Muz, a burlesque star (together they were recently voted New Yorkers of the Year by the New York Times. You got it, Mat's a fly guy.

Right now, in April 2020 he's in a New York Lockdown. Over to you Mat...

RR: Can you describe where you are right now?
Day 21 of my personal quarantine, at the little hinged table for two in front of our kitchen window on the 14th floor of the Grand St Apartment we live at in NYC, which overlooks the FDR highway, then the football park and then the East River. Beyond that Brooklyn. We see a lot of it from here, including the 10pm Friday night fireworks of Coney Island.

I’ve just typed 'THE END' of the first draft of my 2nd Panto for our theatre in New York, Abrons Arts Center on Grand St, “Dick Rivington & His Cat: An Immigrant’s Tail” which I started on Feb 27th. It’s a rare feeling and I’m sitting here enjoying it, looking out over the river to Brooklyn. But, I’m lost in terms of any plans for my life, the immediate or not so immediate future, as no doubt we all are, on April 2nd 2020, but I’m feeling very grateful for being with Julie Atlas Muz, my wonderful partner in most things, including this Panto which she’ll direct, either this December, or Dec 2021.

RR: Could you share any fun and wise thoughts on your habits and routines?
Yes, it's important to keep them up during these strangest of times. If possible, reduce the unhealthy and increase the healthy ones. Having said that, I’ve pretty much abandoned wearing any clothes. It's tea towels for sitting (thanks Bishi I knew your weirdly long yet thin Albion Voice tea towel would come in useful one day, ha!) then a robe at tea time if I’m lucky, but, I have been writing so that’s mostly why. Now I’ll put on trousers and a T-shirt before lunchtime for a few days before going on to my next writing project. I’ve given myself a list of them, because I have found that for me, without a creative work structure in place, I might go a bit weird sitting this thing out.

Finally, the crutch that a lot of us have, for some its' drink, for others it's other things, that’s something we've got to keep an eye on. This time can play into the flippers of the devil, or goodness, and my self discipline is the only thing keeping me from potential disaster. Like everyone... right? …Right?…. guys? … Hello, anyone?

Photo: Mat and Julie.

RR: What silver-linings are you experiencing?
More time with Julie, more sex, more 'doing-nothing-together' time which when constructively used really is lovely. Chatting for 2 hours straight. Putting up those pictures I tucked behind the chair 2 years ago; doing an hour’s home gym every day…new recipes, cleaning out the fucking spice rack - god what’s going to happen? I’m scared... Mmm, not many silver linings, I shall work on discovering more.
RR: What creative activities or online culture would you recommend to our isolating readers?
Well all the extra movies and theatre shows that have been put up online are good time consumers. My Mum sat through all three and a half hours of a Wagner opera at The Met. Making your own movies at home, then actually having the time to learn iMovie editing... Knitting, for those with thumbs. Writing I find to be the best place to go, but for solo people craving interaction, I guess the Zoom meetings and parties are good… lots of wanking... Taking up painting, cleaning windows and growing plants where possible, because life is so important. Being as immune as possible and making oneself so.
RR: What are your hopes for the post-covid-era? Life.
Democracy. Equality. Democratic socialism. For 45, [Mitch] McConnell, Johnson and Cummings to be humbled by illness and to embrace compassion with sincere integrity (fat chance of that happening, so I'll cheer on the Grim Reaper's painfully drawn-out touch). Not having to have a vaccine, or RFID chip, and a return to a fairer Society. Yep, grieving all of that, ‘cuz I fear it ain’t gonna happen.
RR: How will you celebrate ‘Liberation Day’?
Fictionally? Fuck knows, but it will involve public nudity if I can help it x


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