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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


The beauty of burlesque

May 20 2017

Sequins, nipple tassels, fishnets and feather boas – burlesque dancers sure know how to put on a show. Gayle Ritchie meets Burntisland’s very own Brandy Montmartre... Man or woman, gay or straight, it’s impossible not to be mesmerised by super-hot burlesque dancer Brandy Montmartre. On stage, she’s a mistress of seduction as she wiggles her bum, shakes her nipple tassels, peels off a glove and gives a cheeky wink to adoring fans. Her act is slick – raunchy yet classy – and it’s no surprise that Brandy, 30, was crowned Burlesque Idol Scotland 2016. “I’ve been into 50s fashion and pinups since I was a teenager and became aware of burlesque in 2004 when my sister showed me videos of Dita Von Teese,” says Brandy, whose real name is Hannah Rose. “I was spotted at the Burlesque Ball in Edinburgh by the producers Chaz Royal and Betty Rose Royal in 2015. “I’d been going to their shows whenever they came to Edinburgh and started chatting to them. “I’d been wanting to try burlesque for a while and a friend of a friend happened to be putting on a charity show at Abertay Union in December 2015. “I took the spot of someone who’d dropped out, and threw an act together in four weeks flat. “Once Chaz saw I was performing, he offered me a slot in his show a few days after my debut. The rest is history!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt2hQLcnMJI While she’s a professional burlesque entertainer, performing her act across the UK, Brandy is also studying for a PhD in Spanish comics at Dundee University. All her “free” time is spent choreographing her solo shows, making her own costumes, sourcing backing music, and then it’s up to her to direct the lighting technicians and stage crew. “I’ve got the vintage look down to a tee,” she beams. “There are many types of burlesque but my act is classic. It’s very high glamour, with 1950s pin-up style dresses, feathers and rhinestones. “I’ve been collecting bits to add to my outfits for years, mostly online, and I’m very handy with sewing patterns.” Brandy describes her fire-themed signature act as high energy, fun and feel-good, and is adamant that it’s definitely not seedy or sordid. “Fireball has a really good carnival atmosphere infused with Latin choreography, and it’s a striptease, which is very tongue-in-cheek. “The tease is part of burlesque, and it can be very sexy – it’s not sleazy although titillation is part of it.” Being a burlesque performer requires oodles of confidence, so it’s a surprise to learn that Brandy, who grew up in Manchester, was shy as a teenager. “I’ve become more confident as I’ve got older but it didn’t always come naturally,” she admits. “I took up dance classes at the age of 14 and that really helped boost my self-esteem and positive body image.” For Brandy, burlesque is about disregarding beauty ideals, celebrating your body and refusing to conform. “It’s about saying ‘this is who I am’ and not falling victim to negative body images. "If you’ve got cellulite or perceived imperfections, flaunt it; don’t hide it or be ashamed.” Her idols range from Dita Von Teese, arguably the world’s most famous modern burlesque dancer, to Gypsy Rose Lee and Satan’s Angel. Brandy’s advice to anyone thinking about getting into the burlesque scene is to go and see lots of shows. “It’s open to everyone – men and women,” she says. “There are different types of acts, from classic, to comedy and even gorelesque, which is horror burlesque. “Seek lessons from performers and get your face known. If there are no shows in your area, you can always stage one yourself.” Brandy will bring her own show, the Twilight Tease Revue, the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy, on December 9. For more information, see Brandy's website at brandymontmartre.com


Risqué business – Fife burlesque performer Brandy Montmartre’s meteoric rise to fame

October 27 2016

She may live closer to Methil than the famous Moulin Rouge, but a Fife burlesque performer is certainly making waves when it comes to the risqué business. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt2hQLcnMJI Brandy Montmartre only started performing just 11 months ago but has skyrocketed to success in that time, winning the Burlesque Idol Scotland competition in July. And despite being based in Kirkcaldy, the stunning 30-year-old has not let the lack of a local cabaret scene hold her back from breaking into the burlesque scene in a big way. Brandy, whose real name is Hannah Rose, is now fine tuning her act as she prepares to compete in Miss Burlesque Idol 2016 in London next month, while she is also in the running to be named Best British Newcomer in the World Burlesque Games in London in December. Since making her debut in Dundee, Brandy - whose stage name was inspired by a cocktail - has performed nationally, including shows in Glasgow, Newcastle and Leicester plus an 11 night run at the Edinburgh Festival in 'Best of Burlesque'. Brandy is also balancing her PhD studies in Spanish Comics at the University of Dundee with her burgeoning burlesque career. Appreciative of the fact that her on stage activities might raise a few eyebrows, she told The Courier: “I’m aware that there’s an aspect of it that people will see as sleazy but I definitely don’t feel that way. “It’s more a celebration of your sexuality and there’s many different types, from comedy to neo, which is a type of burlesque performed since 2001. “It’s a pure form of art that isn’t diluted. “Some of my friends have been behind me 100%, others were a bit distant to start with, but once they came to one of my shows they saw it wasn’t what they thought it was. “The only issue I had was with my mum because I think she thought I was throwing my PhD out of the window, but she’s seen how much it makes me happy and she’s accepted it. “It’s hard work and there can be a lot of sleepless nights, but it’s definitely all worth it. “My uni is OK with me doing it as long as it doesn’t interfere with my studies, but I’d say my heart is in burlesque so we’ll see where it takes me.” Brandy, who is taught by Gypsy Charms, one of the UK’s top performers, revealed that her career took off quite unexpectedly after going to the Burlesque Ball in Edinburgh, where her moves on the dance floor got her noticed by major London-based producers Chaz Royal and Betty Rose Royal. “When I saw the dancers at the Burlesque Ball I thought to myself: ‘I want that to be me within a year’s time’, so I’ve been delighted with how things have gone so far,” she explained. “I’ve always had an interest in vintage things and the style, and my sister tried burlesque for a couple of months, but it was a bit of luck that I was at the show and the producers clocked me as a potential performer. “Miss Burlesque Idol is billed as one of the most prestigious competitions there is, so I’m excited about taking part next month. “If you win there are obviously prizes, but it’s more the notoriety you would get and it would mean a lot to my career as a burlesque performer. “Audiences love my show and it certainly makes people want to party.”


Burlesque group raises cash for Ninewells Hospital

February 15 2013

A group of racy performers will strut their stuff in Dundee, performing a raunchy burlesque evening to raise funds for charity. A total of 13 different performers are taking part in Burlesque Cares, the brainchild of two women, Vicky McLaughlin from Dundee and Leigh Nelson from Forfar. The pair have already raised more than £2,200 for local charities at previous events and Vicky says she’s hoping they can reach £1,000 at Friday’s event in Non-Zero’s in Castle Street. Vicky (27), a student at Dundee College, said: “Leigh is a tattoo artist, we’ve been pals since 2004 and we wanted to do something different for charity. “Both of us have been involved in burlesque before so we decided to set up Burlesque Cares in 2011. “The idea came about because I’d heard of a charity in Dundee, the Inclusion Group, which was in desperate need for a disabled car they were hoping to buy. “We both worked with Club Wonka in Dundee, a small group in 2009/2010 and we knew quite a few people through that. “We knew there was a demand for burlesque because most of those people had moved on and weren’t doing it any more, so we thought, ‘Let’s bring it back and do it from a charity point of view.’ “We wanted to help out some of the charities that are struggling, there are so many of them and our first show raised over £700 last year. “Then in July we did another show for two charities, one for people suffering from MECT2 Duplication Syndrome because my cousin’s little boy suffers from that. “He was also in SCBU when he was a born so we split the £1,500 between them. I’m hoping to raise about the £1,000 mark on Friday so we want as many people as possible to come along. “We want people to get to know who Burlesque Cares are. It’s a different kind of night it’s adult entertainment for people of both genres and we’re doing it because we believe in helping the community.” Vicky, whose burlesque name is Vodka Vond Roxx, and Leigh (Miss Gin Kiss) have chosen the Tort Centre at Ninewells Hospital as their fundraising charity for the event. Doors open at 7.30pm and the event kicks off at 8.30pm.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Perth & Kinross

Concert hall bringing burlesque to Perth

September 17 2011

Audiences in Perth will be introduced to the art of burlesque next month. An Evening of Burlesque showcases the era of glamour with couture costumes, comedy and magic. The history of burlesque dates back to the very origins of British theatre and in the 17th century it was a popular form of musical and theatrical parody, although the burlesque enjoyed the world over today has its origins in 1890s Paris and the rise of the Moulin Rouge. Taking place at Perth Concert Hall on October 14, the performance will be compered by Kiki Kaboom, while Amber Topaz and Chrys Columbine will show off their dancing, singing and piano-playing skills. Tickets for the over-18s show are available from www.horsecross.co.uk Photo by Flickr user Dance Photographer - Brendan Lally.


Fife sensation bringing burlesque extravaganza to hometown

January 12 2018

Feathers, sequins, fishnets, feather boas, circus skills and singing saws – burlesque performers certainly know how to put on a show. Prepare to be dazzled by Brandy Montmartre, Kirkcaldy’s very own award-winning international burlesque sensation, when she shares the stage with the brightest stars the UK has to offer in the Twilight Tease Burlesque Revue. The show – the first burlesque event at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy for two decades – promises to be jam-packed with glitz, glamour and a dash of class to tantalise and tease you. Dressing up is encouraged, and there’ll be a prize for the best dressed. Alongside show producer Brandy, 31, will be five performers – Markee de Saw, Rock Hart, Ebony Silk, Ruby Trix and newcomer Poppy Fields. Brandy, who was crowned Burlesque Idol Scotland 2016, said: “I don’t want to give too much away about individual acts, but it will certainly be a fantastic mix which adds up to a very entertaining evening. January is such a cold month so why not warm it up a little?” Brandy will perform two raunchy yet classy acts on the night, as well as ensuring everything runs smoothly backstage. “I’ll perform my signature act, Fireball, and one other act, but I’ll keep that one a surprise!” she said. “Expect the unexpected – feathers, showgirls, and a diverse range of entertainers that will dazzle and delight!” Brandy, whose real name is Hannah Rose, was first spotted on the dancefloor of the Burlesque Ball in Edinburgh by producers Chaz Royal and Betty Rose Royal in 2015. These days she’s a professional burlesque entertainer, performing her act across the UK, but she’s also studying for a PHD in Spanish comics at Dundee University. All her “free” time is spent choreographing shows, making her own costumes, sourcing backing music, and then it’s up to her to direct the lighting technicians and stage crew. “There are many types of burlesque but my act is classic,” she said. “It’s very high glamour, with 1950s pin-up style dresses, feathers, rhinestones and crystals. “I’ve been collecting bits to add to my outfits for years, mostly online, and I’m very handy with sewing patterns.” Brandy describes her fire-themed signature act as high energy, fun and feel-good, and is adamant that it’s definitely not seedy or sordid. “It’s more a celebration of your sexuality and there are many different types. It’s a pure form of art that isn’t diluted.” Her advice to anyone wanting to break into the burlesque scene is to see lots of shows. Those lucky enough to have secured a ticket for the cracking Kirkcaldy event on January 20 (which is now sold out) are in for a treat. But thanks to popular demand, Brandy has organised a second show on February 10 at Teviot Underground at Teviot Row Union in Edinburgh. For more details on the Kirkcaldy show see www.onfife.com To book tickets for the Edinburgh show see www.eusa.ed.ac.uk  


Burlesque is back: Club Noir comes to Fat Sam’s

February 23 2011

Burlesque is back and it's classy, not sleazy. Ahead of the world's biggest burlesque show hitting Dundee, Jack McKeown talked to the owners and performers of Club Noir. Surprisingly, a show that features women taking off their clothes attracts an audience containing more ladies than men. "Burlesque is much more for the girls than for the boys I would say," reckons Tina Warren. "Girls taking their clothes off do tend to be appreciated much more by men but burlesque is the exception to that rule." Tina (40) is co-owner and a performer in Club Noir. She and her business partner and friend Ian Single founded the burlesque show in 2004. "We'd been on to a few interesting places in London, seeing cabaret, rockabilly and so on. We thought, there's nowhere in Scotland that does that sort of thing." The pair set up Club Noir in 2004 on a shoestring budget. "Initially, the idea wasn't for either of us to perform," Tina explains, "but we didn't have enough performers to put on a show, so both of us had to take to the stage. I do burlesque and Ian comperes and does comedy. "Going onstage and undressing is quite terrifying. Sometimes I ask why am I doing this to myself but once I'm out there I really enjoy it." For Tina, who had worked in advertising, and Ian, who directed television adverts, it was a big change of direction. "Neither of us had any experience of running a club or doing theatre shows. We just put everything we had into it and jumped in at the deep end." That makes it all the more remarkable that Club Noir is now the biggest burlesque club in the world a distinction that was given official seal by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009. "We had known and been saying we were the biggest in the world for a couple of years but we thought it would be good to make that official so we got in touch with Guinness. Our first nights had about 100 people at them and now we're getting as many as 2000." Club Noir events are held around six times a year, most frequently in Glasgow's O2 Academy but this weekend Tina and Ian are bringing burlesque to Dundee, with a show at the city's biggest nightclub. Tina says that anyone with an open mind and a sense of humour will enjoy the show. This, if you'll excuse the pun, is a double-edged sword for Heather, who says, "I came up with the name Chelsea Dagger when I was studying theatre at Glasgow University. We used to come up with funny stage names for ourselves and that was the one I would use. "John came to see me perform one night and thought my name would make a good song title. It was great that the song was such a big hit but the problem is that now everyone thinks I stole the name from him, not the other way round." Heather (31) has been a Club Noir performer for almost six years. "I've always loved performing and when I finished university I did a bit of acting here and there. I went to Club Noir not long after it started up. My friend knew Ian and it just happened they were looking for performers, so I went for it." Heather married John Lawler in 2006 and has a 12-year-old stepson. The fact that both parents have night jobs can make things difficult. "If he's had a gig the night before I'll get up and do the school run and he'll do it if I've been working." Despite Club Noir only taking place a handful of times a year, Heather says it's still quite time-consuming. "A lot of time and effort goes into each act. You don't just make it up on the night. There's a couple of months of work gone into coming up with a theme, rehearsing and making my own costumes up." Chelsea Dagger will be teaming up with comedic actor The Great Aldo on Saturday. "We'll be doing two acts," she says. "In one of them he plays an old man I've married for the money. I strip to try and give him a heart attack so I can get my hands on his wealth. The other one is called Dagger's Dungeon. There's a lot of magic tricks in that one. I've been to magic school to learn how to do them... but I had to swear not to reveal the secrets." Despite all the years she's been doing it, Heather says she never loses her stage fright. "I have a love-hate relationship with going on stage. When I'm standing waiting in the wings I'm about to pass out from fear but as soon as I get up there it's fantastic."Club Noir is at Fat Sam's in Dundee on Saturday from 9pm-2.30am. Tickets cost £15.50 and are available from www.fatsams.co.uk, Groucho's Record Store at 132 Nethergate, Dundee, or from Ticketweb on 08444 77 2000.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk