Sunday, January 28, 2007

~ Aikia’s Mandolin ~

May 27 – 31, 2005

Aikia Kha's one-of-a-kind mandolin, the one with which she so successfully demonstrates her musical talents for modern audiences, was fashioned many, many years ago by Frabrizio Sognatore, an artisan-craftsman in Venice.

Using only the finest and rarest materials, Fabrizio Sognatore built the mandolin to the exacting specifications of Herr Ricard Krüli...

…the Concertmaster to the Prince-Archbishop of Plashmar.

Herr Krüli was greatly pleased with the mandolin, indeed he used it again and again to entertain the Prince-Archbishop and his court, and Herr Krüli was always ready to raise the baton...

...and conduct his players in happy mandolin diversion.

Unfortunately, after the disasters of the Poultry Wars and the pillage of the Prince-Archbishop's palace, the mandolin fell into the hands of the notorious pirate Lucien "Daddy" Spango.

...and Daddy Spango sold the the mandolin to a Rajputani Maharaja, whose daughter The Princess Chilooknapati, played cool breezy ragas in the warm Rajputani evenings.

The mandolin eventually traveled to the distant Mingai-Ya Provinces and became the favorite instrument of Madame LaikiaYa Khan-Ya, the 13th wife of the Great Mingai-Ya Khan. LaikiaYa enjoyed playing the mandolin in the imperial jade costume of the Pink Dragon while dreaming of the future.

When the mighty Mingai-Ya Empire fell, the mandolin was rescued in a daring naval engagement off the Maldive Islands by Ensign Lord Seems.

who offered it to Lady Phrasia Shouting as proof of his affection.

Lady Phrasia's mother, the Countess of Shouting, disapproved of a match between the young lovers however, and Lady Phrasia was left holding a mandolin she could not play.

The Countess, to pay her gambling debts, sold the unwanted instrument to Dewar Strop, Esq., a businessman of international reputation.

Dewar Strop took the mandolin to New Orleans as part of an antique commodities and artifacts sale, and it wound up in the able hands of freed slave Jupiter McMoanson who played soulful blues with it for years. "Ol' Jupe" taught the blues to Ray Tipton Slim, the great Memphis Blues Man, much admired by Aikia Kha and her trio of talented musicians recently hitting the heights of popularity for their rejuvenation of experimental Thé Dansant.

The mandolin was lost after the death of Ol' Jupe. Ray Tipton recalls he played a couple tunes on it at Jupe's wake, but the mandolin went missing the next morning.
Nor is there is indication of how the mandolin returned to The Old World, or how it was acquired by Curly Bezhukov, the bargeman from Tsarskoselo, who played it lovingly on the rivers of Russia, effortlessly and mysteriously coming up with melodies no one had heard for several hundred years.

Curly told vacationing Juliard School of Music student Harry Manning-Belmont, it was “a fine set of strings” when he traded it for Harry's iPod and telecamera in the Yalta gyro cafe.

Harry played the mandolin for awhile cruising the Greek Islands...

…but, realizing he was no musician himself, gave it to his friend, teen-idol Frankie Wales, who plays with 'GreenPants', the break-out garageband from Los Banos, California.

Frankie loved the mandolin, but his girl friend the ingenue-actress Tina Code did not, and in a pique of redecoration she put Fabrizio Sognatore's fabulous mandolin for sale up on eBay.

That's where Aikia Kha saw it of course, and when she saw it she immediatly knew she had to have it. She out bid several hundred others for the venerable instrument, the wonderful mandolin that now gives her so many moments of reverie.

Aikia believes the mandolin to be an extention of her very soul, feels she is channeling every pluck and strum ever played on its strings, indeed feels she is channeling the very Madame LaikiaYa Khan-Ya herself.

Here is Aikia playing her mandolin in concert at Whitney Warren Hall in Cambridge Massachusetts, interpreting a Ricasoli peasant etude with Georgette d’Issac-Spango, (a direct descendent of the notorious pirate), and Anthony Eisly, Georgette’s recently announced fiance’


~ Dame Lily Spango and Her Donkey El Zorro ~

( with Giles! )

1 June 2005

Happily included in the shatteringly successful d'Issac-Spango multi-media production of 'The Spectacle in Your Mind' is the cameo performance of the legendary and fabulous Dame Lily Spango, who, at the venerable age of 113, still gives sold out concert hall audiences the world over those magic moments expected from her for over a century.

First appearing to astonished audiences as an equestrienne ballerina at the age of nine for the Crowned Heads of Europe with her father's Wild West Carnival, Dame Lily. highly regarded for her stage and screen accomplishments, now returns in her original and much loved role.

Her beloved grandson, the multi-talented Giles d'Issac-Spango, (who singularly awes the crowds as The Acrobat Watteau in the 'Spectacle in Your Mind'), accompanies Dame Lily, leading El Zorro the Performing Donkey, as the splendid rider flies along above.

El Zorro, Dame Lily's favorite performing animal, (claimed by her to be half zebra), was given to Dame Lily by her third husband, Italian communist filmmaker Reza Ragusa Folioni in 1952, as a make-up gift for the humiliation caused by the refusal of the British Royal Family to extend the couple an invitation to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II because of Folioni's political affiliations.

Dame Lilly's performance, guided by the proudly smiling and ever attendant Giles, and supported by the smooth steps of El Zorro and his gentle clip-clopping trot, is nothing but perfect balance and grace. She rides across the stage, around the center ring and through the aisles amid the wildly cheering audience in a show stopping exercise of talent and skill.

Together, Dame Lily, El Zorro and Giles break the boundaries of art and cross the generational eras to give all who witness the astounding attraction unforgettably stunning amusement and electrifying entertainment!

~ Maria d’Issac-Spango on the High-Wire ~

24 May 2005

Of all the great performers of any age or media, Mde Maria d’Issac-Spango forever defines the highest quality of theatrical excellence.

Her presentation of The Dying Swan from Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake”, interpreted for the High-Wire, is perhaps her most famous creation.

Here, in frames from the unforgettable show at The Warsaw Rialto in 1990 is a glimpse of her incredible talent.

With high stepping pirouettes Maria seems to fly weightlessly atop the wire…

…then, in a transcendent evocation of the music and the narrative, Maria, The Dying Swan, falls from the wire as the audience gasps.

She tumbles over and over…

…dropping feathers in her downward spin to the net-less depths below!

But with preternatural grace, she rights herself...

…loops the loop...

…to make the turn…

...glide in…

...and descend majestically in an artful pose of beauty, strength and courage…

…to a safe landing…

..on the surface of the Lake…

… and finally takes the acclamation of the roaring crowd with her singular and ever-gracious bow!


~ The d’Issac-Spango Family ~

16 May 2005

The fabulous d’Issac-Spango Family, (most of them anyway; Steve was on tour with his breakout garage band from Los Banos CA, ‘Green Pants’, the twins were in the Maldives sandbagging the bars in the port and passing out condoms. Fredo was inexplicably delayed on the tarmac in Riyad, but sent a congratulatory iCast from the cockpit of his Marlo-Stukka V7, and Ghislene, well, no one quite knew where Ghislene was.

That’s Smokey with his Bear Hat on the left of course, and then the Daddy Spango with his dear momma on his arm, yes, the one and only Dame Lily Vandegam Spango. Next is Maria d’Issac-Spango, the Mde Daddy Spango, she’s holding Georgette’s hand and finally there’s the marvelously multi-talented Giles, still in costume from a first act rehearsal of his featured performance as The Acrobat Watteau in the Family’s world renowned sold out show, ‘The Spectacle in Your Mind’.

They were gathered for Dame Lily’s 113th birthday party on Friday, the 13th of May, held at the Old Vandegam Farm in West Linn, now the country residence of Dame Lily’s cousins, the Manning-Belmonts.

Here they are without their hats. Lucien Oscar Thomas ‘High Tip Tommy’ Spango! He looks great doesn’t he? The Daddy Spango. His extraordinary interpretation of King Pontiac in Ricasoli’s great opera ‘”Dona Gianadonna” restablished the legendary actor-entertainer’s reputation as One-of-The-All-Time-Greats last season, and his Live Television series, “Zoot Suit Survivor, Zoot Suit Alors!”, iCast from Paris every Sunday night is a critical and popular hit world wide.

If Georgette looks a little peaked in the family shots by the way, it’s the result of the several Cosmopolitans she drank at breakfast with Anthony Eisly and Aikia Kha, Georgette’s musical partners. The three of them make up The Aikia Kha Trio, the extraordinary group noted for the resurgence of experimental the’ dansant. Maria, still somewhat disconcerted by her daughters’ artistic collaboration with Ms Kha, and not forgetting their recent encounter at the ensembles’ recording session with Ray Tipton Slim, the famous Memphis blues man the day before, put Georgette tout-suite on plane headed south. Georgette was enrolled in one of those 28 day Billie Holiday retreats as soon as the cake was cut, and, not known to Maria, joined Mr. Eisly at the desert de-tox center in Twenty Nine Palms. (More on all that will have to be saved for another report!)

But what can one say that hasn’t been said about the fabulous Lillian Jeanette Moss Spango Pleasance Folioni Vandegam?

It seems she’s been part of our lives forever. Child star, (“Little Eva’s Last Christmas”, 1917; “I See the Plague Ending”, 1919; the hilariously unforgettable “Open the Blinds: It’s Venice, Sister!”, 1979); animal tamer and professional jockey, (she rode Thruster in the Derby twice, in drag, and won both times), she is a comedienne, tragedienne, a dancer, a singer: she is an actress supreme, an Icon of The Arts. She is also an Olympic Gold Medalist, (Rekyavik, 1925, singles water ballet), a repeated Lottery Winner, (Minnesota, 1967, 72 million, New Jersey 1982, 15 million) and the grand dame mother of the late cinema legend Elena Spango, and of course, the beloved momma of Lucien, the Daddy Spango.

Never a… conventionally great beauty, Lily Spango, (born Lillian Jeanette Moss in 1892 to a machine shop assistant turned carnival barker and his Nez-Perce’ wife in Kalispell, Montana), is known and universally admired for the attractions of her inimitable and contagiously sparkling personality.

She received her title from King George V in 1930.

She was married five times, to four men: the first and fifth to the true love of her life, Sir John Lucien Knemble Spango of The Great White Way and The London Stage. Her second marriage, one of convenience to Lord Pleasance, 10th Earl of Shouting was short, (six blank months on the Riviera she called them; the months subsequently became the background of J. Samuel Dierky’s best selling romance novels), and were not quite as romantically fulfilling as she’d hoped after the disconsolation of her failed first marriage to, and divorce from, the philandering Sir John. However the marriage proved enormously fulfilling financially. Lord Pleasance died with a certain dignity but no real discretion, in the arms of an apprentice sel-de-mer grinder from Montpellier, but he left several hundred million, and the inheritance dispute with the Pleasance family was tidily settled in Lily’s favor. Her third marriage to Italian communist filmmaker Reza Ragusa Folioni was noted for public turmoil as well as the great films she made with him: (“Stiletto”, 1947, The Moon in Milano, 1950”, and “The Butter, The Padre and Me”, 1954).

But it was the love for John Spango of Broadway and the London stage that she held most dearly, they never forgot each other through the decades and remarried late in Sir John’s life. They spent three glorious weeks of resurrected bliss sailing the Greek Isles on the yacht Dame Lily inherited from Lord Pleasance, but alas Sir John himself fell over board near San Torini one moon lit night recounting in a game of charades the tragic story of Natalie Wood off Catalina, suffered an embolism and died in the water.

Companionship, friends in common, and a shared love of classic Japanese ikebana floral arranging brought Andy Vandegam III and Dame Lily together. They enjoyed many years breeding exotic orchids and thorobreds at the Old Vandegam Farm in West Linn until Andy’s death at the age of 101.

Since then Dame Lily has happily returned to the appreciative eye of the public with cameo appearances in d’Issac-Spango productions, receiving special accolades for her famous equestrienne and elephantine acrobatics.

Dame Lilly maintains a floor-through in Sutton Place, and the Spango pied-a-terre on the Ile-St-Louis. She sold the villa at Cap d’Ail on the death of Sir John saying the place was just too damned windy.

She dotes on her son and grandchildren.