(ZentaiSpot's version of South Bank today is: Here)
So we walk into the Tate Modern onto the second level that overlooks the turbine hall. We walked but a few paces to be greeted with a "jacket filler" of a security jobsworth.
"Eeehhhhhh, What are you doing with your faces covered" he asks.
"we're wearing outfits" I say
"Eeeeehhhhhh, you cannot cover your faces" he says.
"So if I show my face to a CCTV camera or whoever, then put it back on would that be ok?" I ask.
"Eeeeh, No you cannot do that." he replies
By this time Andy steps in. He's worse than me so far as taking no BS from people who are talking utter BS anyway.
"Is your manager here?" he asks, not blinking an eyelid
"UUuuueehhhhh, yes" he responds, confused.
"Well I'd like a word with them please" Andy says calmly.
So this guy gets on the radio and we're all standing around waiting for the security manager to show up.
A lady comes up looking like she just finished sucking out the innards of a very sour lime indeed.
"No, you cannot have this on...why would you want to hide your face?" she says
"I'm not hiding anything, however I just want to know what issue you guys actually have" I say.
"You cannot hide your face" she says
"So what about muslim women who want to visit, who wear full face veils"..
ok...now, you guys need to brace yourself for this response....I had my hood up but my jaw dropped at this when I heard her response:
"Muslim people do not come here, they hide their faces"
I SH** you not!!! I'm glad Andy was there to call her up on that because there was a torrent of rage setting itself up in my mouth that I was taking a moment pushing back down.
"I can't believe that" Andy says, "You mean to tell me that you're openly willing to say that you turn away people with full face veils?? You realise that's discrimination"
"I'm sorry miss but I don't believe you. Have you got your policy in writing?" I pluck up.
She carries on wittering for a few minutes longer, and Andy asks the question again, "Have you got your policy in writing?" very sternly now.
She says no but then tells us to go talk to information if we want to read up on the policy. I had my hood down by this time. I needed some more air to my head I was shocked about what she said earlier! Spot made a stage-right exit to go find a tree :-) whilst Andy and myself moved to the information desk to see this "policy". I put my hood back up to see if the security people were going to try and get the hump.
So we spoke to a lady at information who was lovely, she really didn't know what the policy was so she called the duty manager to come and have a word. Andy and I were still flabbergasted at what the security manager said. Spot came back, smile on face and put his hood back on too. Whilst we waited some more people asked to have pictures with us and there were more smiles around :-)
The duty manager lady comes down and she's AWESOME. Firstly she apologises for the way the security mishandled the situation. She doesn't know what the security manager said to us...She then states that this is in fact a unique situation and she wanted to look at us, check us out before coming to a decision.
We then revealed to her what was said in regards to dealing with women wearing full face veils, and her face did in fact turn a slight shade of red. If that were to go out to the masses, that would be a sh**storm in a teacup me thinks!
She asked us what we were doing, Andy took the lead in explaining that he's a photographer and I'm doing a blog an Spot is a fellow zentai person and we just want to get some pictures.
She took it all on board and then stated what she'd like us not to do. Performances and making people uncomfortable, not photographing other people and the usual following of rules so far as no photography in the galleries. To ensure we didn't make people uncomfortable, she gave us a curfew of 3.30pm which meant we had an hour and a half to take pictures in the public access areas.
I have to take my hat off here to that lady. She didn't have to say yes at all. She could have quite easily have said no, given the excuses and let us get on our way. I would have been happy with that too, but the woman had a little bit of common sense! It seems to be lacking now a days. I mean Spot with his tail and dog ears covered in..well spots; and me wearing a white top hat, in zebra print and really loud clicky shoes. We're hardly going to get up to no good. We just want to stir it up a little and put smiles on peoples faces so far as breaking the norm is concerned!
Anyway, we moved around the allowed areas in the Tate modern without any bother. It's like the high "vis" yellow visors all but disappeared! After the lady told folks over the radios that we were ok to walk around in public places.
We had pictures taken on the escalators, the stairs (sprawled zentai bodies, much), and these walls that had writing on them. Namely Existentialism and Fetish were points of interest. Whilst posing next to the "Existentialism" word, we got a massive crowd around us. I was airing concern as technically what we were doing constituted a performance. And I was right, the lady showed up and said we had to stop. Although - again - she was really understanding and liked the idea I mentioned about having pictures taken quickly, then running like hell to somewhere else so a crowd didn't form.
We apologised, and she carried on. As did we, but more aware of trying not to pull crowds. Not sounding pig-headed here, but do you know how hard that is?!
Still it was fantastic in there. And the hour and a half drifted by like water. We settled up on level 7 for a drink and a chat about stuff then had to face the inevitable walk back to the station...
Unfortunately spot was going westbound and Andy and I east. So we had to say our goodbyes in the station. They're never fun, especially when the energy is still bouncing all over the shop!
Warmer weather!! More of you folks need to come out and do stuff!!