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FASHIONFERN: ALI EISNER

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January 9th, 2014 by:  Fernando Fernandez

Looking back on a childhood dream...

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            Ali Eisner over the years has surely become a Canadian icon in the entertainment industry.  Having won a Gemini for being a producer and writer on Kids’ CBC and being nominated several times for her puppeteering performance as Mamma Yamma, Ali Eisner could have not picked a better time to let her fans and audience know what she is all about.  After a successful 6 year run on Kids’ CBC as Mamma Yamma, Ali decided to recently leave the program to pursue new creative projects.  Photography is one of the first things on her list.   “Favourite Things” a photographic show that will be held at one of her favourite spots in Toronto, the Gladstone Hotel, is a chance to really see the sacrifice she has put into her work over the years.  In addition, the title of the show wouldn’t get the name it deserved if it wasn’t for some of the great people ranging from musicians to journalists she has met and worked with along the way which truly made her craft of puppeteering unforgettable.  “Favourite Things” will be a chance to celebrate the inspiring journey of an artist who lived her childhood dream of being in music and puppeteering.  FERNTV had the chance to talk to Ali Eisner who is a notable figure of the times.  

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FERNTV:  Tell us what inspired your photography show "Favourite Things" and what may have been the thing that made this get under way?


Ali:  2013 was a year of ginormous events and awesome changes for me…one of the things I decided was that I’m going to start doing all the things that I’ve always wanted to do.  No more waiting.  I’ve taken photos since I was a kid and having a show has always been on my to-do list.  I decided to compile a bunch of my favourites for my premiere - a fancy whirlwind of recent years of my TV life, music life and general random silliness.  I think unconsciously I put all my favourite things/pieces together to reflect on where I’ve been and on some of the things I’ve done.  I move pretty fast and sometimes forget to look back!  


FERNTV:   Do you feel that the work you have done for this photography show is a true representation of who you are rather than the works you have done for children and other collaborations with other artists?


Ali:  While TV Land is so super duper awesome, I’m often helping others achieve their creative vision for a final product.  It’s their overall vision and then I add my own spice and artistic voice to make it more my own. When I take photos, it’s solely my vision through and through.  It’s how I see things, with no one else’s filter but my own.


FERNTV:  Tell us about a photo that you have in "Favourite Things" that you were impressed with and never saw coming?


Ali:  I guess one of my favourites is the one of the Honest Ed’s sign.  It was a pretty grey day - I looked up and the word “HONEST” seemed very separate to me from the rest of the building.   Another one I dig is the one of Rae Spoon.  Lots of darkness on stage that night and it made Ray pop right out.  I played with it a lot in post to give it a certain kind of vibe.  The one that makes me laugh the most is the photo of "The Flash" waiting patiently for a sandwich. 


FERNTV:   You said you would blast Motown when you would develop pictures in the darkroom when you were younger?  Can you perhaps tell us a few of the records that you would listen to and why of course Motown was your selection?


Ali:  Thankfully my parents had good taste in music when I was growing up. Motown was our “happy dancing on the couch” music.  Those tunes really brought out the joy in our house, so that genre feels pretty personal for me.  Temptations, Supremes, 4 Tops, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye...but above all, I was obsessed with Stevie Wonder.  I’d develop for hours listening to Stevie’s  “Talking Book”, “Songs in the Key of Life” and a weird record he made called “The Secret Life of Plants”.  I often refer to Stevie as “The Lord”.  Listening to him makes me feel like I’m getting a tan.  We also share the same birthday.  

“I move pretty fast and sometimes forget to look back” -Ali Eisner

FERNTV:   Tell us why you think the Gladstone Hotel feels like the center cell of the city?


Ali:   I love the way the Gladstone Hotel feels. Great vibe. Being an older building it has so much charm and detail.  Supporting local artists seems to be a huge priority for them to keep the space alive and also in making a difference in the west end community. Rooms are all uniquely designed by local artists. The "Travel” themed room is my fav.  Events at the Gladdy are always pretty rad - seems like the the gay art hub of the west end. 

I haven’t been to an event there that I haven’t liked.  And, anywhere with a one billion old sexy elevator that still looks that vintage and still works, deserves a round of applause.


FERNTV:   What is it about Flash Gordon that gets your blood pumping?


Ali:   The Flash is my favourite superhero character. When I was a kid I used to run really fast and pretended that no one could see or catch me.  I didn’t want to fly. I didn’t want to lift cars.  I very simply, wanted to be the fastest kid on the block.  Lightning Bolts are my favourite symbol.  I have a very simple one tattooed on my upper arm :)  


FERNTV:  You mentioned that there is a picture of The Good Lovelies in your show.  Do you feel that this is one of those groups that are totally underrated and deserve more credit than they deserve because of the music they produce?

   

Ali:  The Good Lovelies might be one of the nicest, most talented group of women i’ve ever met.  Their music makes me really happy.  They have an incredible work ethic and tour more than any band I know.  They are also beyond hilarious on stage.  There are so many talented Canadian artists that i hope get more recognition. Rose Cousins, David Myles, Christine Bougie, Rae Spoon...


FERNTV:   Is there a photo that you might hate or dislike in your show but ironically beautiful at the same time?


Ali:     I don’t hate any of them, but there’s one that I find slightly disturbing.  It’s the one of the Ostrich, trapped inside a building at the Canadian Exhibition. I snapped this one quickly because I felt bad for the guy.  I find that when I look at that photo I either laugh at his head darting up in confusion - or, I feel sad because the poor dude is trapped there as one million people eating corn dogs aim their cell phones at his face. While I’m sure he's quite a star on Instagram, I’m sure he could probably use a full day at an Ostrich Spa.  I’ve decided that his name is Gary. And that he is a girl.  


www.alieisner.com