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5 more people in Prague that you should know

By Ryan Keating-Lambert

1. Mirek

Mirek

How would you describe Prague in only a few words?

Sometimes beautiful, crowded and very historic.

Where do you like to hang out in Prague?

Anywhere near the train station.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you choose to see?

Having this chance, I would like to meet my grandpa in his twenties.

What’s your favorite word in English and in Czech?

’Pusillanimous’ in English – I like the way it is pronounced; and ’jídlo’ in Czech – as I’m always hungry and love eating.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Brad Pitt. He also has chicken legs.

2. Javier

Javier

How would you describe Prague in only a few words?

An open air museum. A world of contradictions.

Where do you like to hang out in Prague?

Due to my work, I always hang out in the historical center, you can find not so touristy places if you look for them hard enough. Other than that, you can find me in Vinohrady and sometimes in Letná.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you choose to see?

The time of Rudolph II, the Renaissance era in Prague must have been wonderful.

What’s your favorite word in English and in Czech?

Maybe ’fashionable’ in English, I like the sound of it. ’Ahoj’ is one of the few words in Czech that I find optimistic, too bad they don’t use it that often, at least with me.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Leo DiCaprio or Daniel Craig.

3. Tish

Tys

How would you describe Prague?

Prague is a haggard old woman who’s got her claws in your heart. Prague is magic.

Where do you like to hang out in Prague?

Prague 1,2,3,7,10. Everywhere.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

I would like to go back around 80 years and see Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong play in a Harlem blues joint.

What is your favourite word in English and in Czech?

My favorite Czech word is ’sbohem’ (godspeed). It is so wonderfully finite and loving and tragic. My favorite word in English is ’grace’.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Russell Peters.

4. Jan

Jan Kopecky

How would you describe Prague?

A magnificent historical city where even low-income students can live a rich life.

Where do you usually hang out in Prague?

Náplavka, Riegrovy sady and Havlíčkovy sady.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

Ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome to see some of the great wonders being created.

What is your favourite word in English and in Czech?

’Air’ because it brings about the lightness. ’Život’ (life) because the sound of it is in soothing harmony with the meaning.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper or Alexander Skarsgård.

5. Martina

Martina

How would you describe Prague in a few words?

Still running, endlessly stunning.

Where do you usually hang out in Prague?

Well, when I’m with my friends I don’t care that much where we hang out. Company is more important for me. But usually I prefer underground pubs or bars, restaurants or café anywhere in Prague 3 – Žižkov.

If you could travel back in time and see anything, what would you see?

I wish I could go back to the 60s and see Elvis Presley in concert!

What’s your favourite word in English and in Czech?

In English, ’fluffy’ – sounds so funny. In Czech, ’hovnožrout’ which means ’shit-glutton’ – so funny.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

I can’t decide between Renée Zellweger (before that awful plastic surgery) and Tom Hanks – they both fit perfectly to my role and actually sometimes I’m on ’The Edge of Reason’ like Bridget Jones and sometimes I feel like I’m a ’Cast away’.

Written by Ryan Keating-Lambert.

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Brook: pilot and funeral director

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Rarely do I have the opportunity to chat with someone with as diverse a background and interests as New Zealand born Brook. Having spent time traveling as both a pilot and flight attendant, Brook’s wisdom is limitless. It was also the first time I’ve had such an in-depth conversation about death. His funeral directing experience is certainly not what you would expect. In fact, it was quite uplifting to hear such positive thoughts on death. He also serenaded me with a happening number on the piano. The whole experience felt a little bit like the HBO hit Six Feet Under.

Where are you from originally?

I’m from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. I moved to Prague after living in Dubai for two and a half years, and I also fell in love with someone there. We broke up after about 8 months and it was a difficult one, but I came out of it ok.

And you decided to stick around?

Yeah, I really really love it. Just last night I was at the opera seeing Tosca and it was beautiful. I always try to see an opera every month. The architecture of Prague is really beautiful too, so that’s another reason I stayed, and the people.

What did you do in Dubai?

Why did you move there? Well, I was a funeral director for 8 years in New Zealand and I had my own business and after 4 years I became a bit burnt out and needed a change, so I began to see the world. A colleague of mine applied for a job with Emirates airlines and suggested I do the same, and I did. So I went to Dubai, there were 25 000 people that applied for the job and only a few thousand got it.

Wow and that was a flight attendant position?

Yes, I did that for two and a half years.

Ok, and being a flight attendant you obviously travelled a lot. Where do you think was the best place?

Rome, closely followed by Prague.

What do Czech people ask you when they find out you’re from New Zealand?

Why on earth do you live here? (Laughs). New Zealand is so beautiful and green! I just relay it back to them and say the Czech Republic is also a very beautiful, clean and green country – they just look at me completely baffled. We take advantage of the beautiful mountains and lakes in New Zealand, whereas they take advantage of the buildings, culture and history. There is so much history.

So… The Lord of the Rings. Do a lot of people mention that to you?

Definitely, everyone.

What do they ask you?

Is it really like that? Does it really look like that and I always say yes, it does. Peter Jackson didn’t touch it up at all. Obviously he added the towers and stuff like that. But, I have a confession. I didn’t really enjoy The Lord of the Rings.

You didn’t?

No, I must be the only Kiwi that didn’t. I actually fell asleep during it. The only reason I watched it was to see what I could recognise.

Was any of it filmed where you’re from in Hawkes Bay?

No, but the closest place was Matamata, which is where the Shire is.

Nice, and what was it like growing up in Hawkes Bay?

It was fun, I grew up on a farm.

What did you do for fun as a kid?

Hmmm, ride on sheep, horses, motorbikes and that sort of thing. When I was really young I couldn’t obviously ride horses so I would hang on to the sheep in the pens and ride around on them.

(Laughs) Sounds fun. What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a pilot, but my parents never really entertained the idea when I was a kid. They realized how expensive it was to learn to fly so they tried to discourage it as much as they could. They would even say no to toy planes, so I would nail two bits of wood together and pretend it was an airplane.

And you are a pilot now, how did you get there?

Eventually they saw that it wasn’t a phase. I did maths and physics at school just so I could be a pilot – they were both subjects that I didn’t like, but they saw there was determination there so they sent me off to flying school in Auckland. I did my first flight with my father and a flying instructor and I was hooked. I got my private license just after turning 16, and my commercial license some time later.

Why is that?

It was difficult. I came out of the closet, so my parents stopped funding my education.

And how did you make money?

Well I turned to funeral directing. It was the next thing on my list. So I banged on a couple of doors, I needed to get a job. What terrible timing. Yes, I was almost finished! However, shit happens as they say. So I banged on the door of ‘Fountains funerals’ and eventually did some work experience for two weeks; I discovered that I really enjoyed it and they hired me full time. That’s where I took care of all of the behind the scenes stuff.

What was that behind the scenes stuff exactly?

As funeral directors we are responsible for everything from the time of death to the disposal, it’s horrible that they call it that but they do – whether it be by burial or cremation. Basically everything in between. We kind of liken it to a wedding planner, but with a funeral (laughs).

That’s a nice way of putting it.

Yes and the behind the scenes stuff includes what you do with the body, the make-up. Sometimes people don’t die in particularly nice ways, so there are many things you have to do to make them look peaceful.

Is it common to have open-casket funerals in New Zealand?

Yes, it is. We pretty much embalm everybody which I think is much nicer actually, because I don’t want the last memory of my mother to be like… you know. When you die, all of your muscles relax. There’s even a muscle to keep your jaw closed, your eyes closed.That thing in the movies with closing people eyes is not true.

They always open up again?

Exactly.

Was there a particularly difficult case that you encountered? Perhaps an accident?

Well there are several cases where you can’t embalm. For example, if someone has tuberculosis, there are spores in their lungs, so when you push their chest they will come out and then you get TB so obviously you don’t do it. It doesn’t die with the carrier, whereas HIV does, so we can embalm them.

There was a particular case I remember. A 23 year old man who was drunk fell asleep on railway lines. Lucky in a lot of ways because he didn’t feel anything, but the body was shocking… It was recognisably human, but every bone in his body was crushed – like a carpet or rug, you could literally roll him up… Obviously we didn’t, but you could.

(Laughs). I feel bad for laughing, but that was brilliant.

It was really difficult because trying to explain to the family that you can’t view your son is a really difficult thing to do. Viewing gives some sort of closure and realisation that they have actually gone. And this poor mother wanted so badly to see her son, but I couldn’t show her. She asked if she could at least hold his hand, and I had to say that there actually was no hand to hold. It still tugs at the heart strings a bit.

Do you attach a sense of humour to the work?

It is a coping mechanism, a way of avoiding the hurt that we see. Nobody should really have to see this stuff. Some use alcohol, some use drugs, but mine was humour. The home I worked in was great, everyone was so humorous.

For instance, I remember one day we were all making up caskets, putting the handles on etc. We had the radio on and the song ‘Highway to Hell’ by ACDC came on so we all started dancing and singing. This family came in to arrange their funeral early and they could all hear us! The funeral director opened the door and said, “could you please turn it down”, but the family said “no, look at them! they’re having fun. Let them go!”.

Have you seen the TV show Six Feet Under?

I have and it is similar actually. The humour is very similar, although I have never stood over a body smoking pot!

And what do you know about the funeral business in the Czech Republic?

I’ve studied it, unfortunately I think it’s pretty communistic – if you even have one to begin with, they’re usually only 25 minutes long, the director talks briefly and then there is just music, CDs playing. It’s nobody’s fault, this is all they have known. The percentage of people who don’t have funerals is very high. Because funerals are so old-fashioned here, nobody wants one. I would love to bring a different kind of funeral to the Czech Republic.

How would you change them?

Definitely more personalised, not just using a template and changing the name. I would make it more about the person themselves, involving the people who are attending the funeral. It would be more focused on what they need with music the person liked and so on. It shouldn’t be a cold, dreary affair, it’s a celebration of one’s life. It depends on the situation.

Have you ever had any strange requests for funeral music?

Yes, I had an 80 year old lady who loved Def Lepperd. All of her bingo lady friends were listening and thinking this is the wrong song surely. I had another lady who planned her own funeral, and she chose the song ‘The Ring of Fire’ by Johnny Cash.

And what song would you like at your funeral?

Well, I think it’s changed a lot over the years. I used to want ‘It’s my Life’ by INXS, but probably now it would be more along the lines of ‘Learning to Fly’ by Pink Floyd.

Is there a special kind of person that is drawn to this job?

I think so. Some of the people I have known and met, I would hate to think what they were capable of if they didn’t do it. I’ve met some embalmers and thought; this must be some kind of release for you. As a director we deal more with the family, but embalmers are in a concrete room and only see bodies. But, obviously I’ve met some very nice embalmers as well.

Who organises a funeral for a funeral director?

Their friends. It’s a funny thing because I’ve been to one and it was filled with funeral directors. Are they critical? Oh definitely, most definitely. That reminds me, I was actually unfortunate enough to lose a guy that I was dating. His mother called me and asked me to do the funeral. I regret not doing it actually, because it was shodily done.

I can’t imagine what that must have been like… So Brook, time for our People in Prague questions. How would you describe Prague?

Beautiful, historical, old, hmmm cultured.

If you could go back or forward in time, where would you go and what would you see?

It would be interesting to see what future Prague has, in terms of how people will be, whether they will be more friendly. I mean I have been pretty lucky, not too many problems. But when it is bad, it’s very bad. It would be interesting to see how Prague will be in 10 or 20 years time and I’m interested to see what the economy will do too.

Me too, and who would play you in a movie about your life? Your story already sounds like a movie actually.

I think George Clooney (laughs). He would look good as a funeral director with the grey hair, not that I have grey hair! What do you miss the most about home? My friends, family, fish. I really miss seafood.

Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating-Lambert. Photo by Ryan Keating-Lambert.

DeafMessanger Kučin on art and fatherhood

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Kučin’s DeafMessanger label and project have been going for quite some time now. Since his first series of postcards his industry and talent has grown immensely. Using found objects in Prague and all over the world, Kučin and his team carefully assemble diaries, notebooks, postcards, bags and many more. All designs are intricately sprayed and printed using a stencil system typical for street art. With DeafMessenger products now being sold globally, I thought it would be nice to visit Kučin and find out what makes him tick. We sat down with an espresso and a cigarette in his studio which had distinctive smells of freshly brewed coffee, paper and paint – that creative smell that all art spaces have. Frida – Kučin’s beautiful one-eyed cat, patrolled the space guarding her master and artist’s terroritory as we chatted about life, art and the contradicting adjectives that make up this crazy city we live in.

Where are you originally from?

I’m originally from the East of Czech Republic, from Moravia. A place called Napajedla. I never really wanted to go to Prague, but my girlfriend at the time did. We had just come back from New Zealand after 6 months and I was 24 and the time had come where I had to follow some goals. I thought if I stayed there (in the town), I would regret it. I would have to get a job and have a kid. It sounds silly, but I was scared. So that’s how I got here.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to work with animals. I didn’t want to be an astronaut or a pilot, you know all these crazy positions. I wanted to work with animals because from an early age I was trying to catch fish, lizards, birds etc. So my dream job was to work in a zoo, later I found out how sad and shitty the conditions are for the animals. Even to be a marinebiologist with dolphins and whales – it kept in my head until I was 14.

How did you start DeafMessanger?

Ok so I mentioned New Zealand, right? The idea came there that I really want to work with my hands. I knew that my position wouldn’t be in an office or in front of a computer screen. So I came back and started to spray my first postcards which were very different to what I do now. I thought that if I made these and sold them, it would be enough to make a living. Then I realised that it definitely wasn’t, so I started to do social work and that dream kind of disappeared. Then later on with no ambitions, I made my first set of notebooks. I already had some stencils from street art, so I brought the spare notebooks to one of the shops that sold my postcards and he called me the same day to say that this German couple bought all of them, so I should make more. Then I started to travel with it. I went to Berlin, London, Vienna – the main cities, trying to get my products in their shops… And that’s how it all started.

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Check out designs here and on Facebook.

So I know you did some designs for the Sea Shepherds. Some people support them, but some think there is too much violence and Greenpeace is better. what do you think?

I think both of these organisations make really profound changes. Sea shepherds are more dedicated to marine life, whereas Greenpeace are covering other issues. Sea Shepherds are more about direct action and Greenpeace about speaking to the government. I think when Greenpeace are speaking and trying to do things, there are still animals dying. While the Sea Shepherds are trying to be there in the actual spot at the moment protecting the animals – and that justifies their work for me. I don’t see the violence in that. These animals cannot speak for themselves, so the Sea Shepherds are their voice and they’re really acting in the moment.

You’ve travelled quite a bit with your work. What is your favourite place to go to?

Well the work trips are usually short trips and in connection with the people living there. Half of the reason to go there is to visit friends or the city, and the other half to talk to the shop. The other trips are places that I don’t do business in like South East Asia or India are some of my favourite spots. New York City for business too, that’s one place I love going back to.

Has your work been influenced by your travels? By art or culture?

Just being around all this street art happening in Berlin or New York City (from what I’ve seen in Brooklyn that is). I think these places and seeing all this stuff happening is an influence, and of course going to the galleries and being surrounded by art and creative people. It’s not the designs that are influenced, but just the feeling that I really want to create. It motivates me.

Everyone has a specific work environment. What helps you work?

Well in the spraying room for the last three years. I always listen to the soundtrack from Black Hawk Down. I know the timing of it, so I put on my gloves and the facial mask and I work. There were a few times when my phone battery wasn’t charged or something and I wasn’t comfortable without it. Here in the studio if it’s me and my colleague we might listen to something else.

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So you are hard of hearing, how would you describe this?

It’s part of everyday life. Something that annoys me, but also something I can joke about a lot. And now, with a kid on the way people are saying when I’m a father I won’t have to wake up. I can just turn off my hearing aid and not hear anything (laughs).

And what about fatherhood? Are you excited?

I’m so excited, I really am. Now it’s three weeks to go, and what is a really cool thing is the feeling of becoming responsible. My girlfriend is doing fine, and I have a great deal of respect for her coping with being heavier and having to sleep on only one side, all of these things. And for myself I just feel like now is the right time, it’s not stopping me from anything. I want to be a good father and someone that the kid looks up to, it’s not an easy task.

Decribe Prague in adjectives.

Awesome! Beautiful, definitely. Conservative. Changing. It’s hmmm… exciting in so many ways. It’s depressing in so many ways. There are many contradicting adjectives I think of when I think about Prague.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

I’ve never thought about that before! Joaquin Phoenix from Walk the Line. I can imagine him, yeah.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

It doesn’t have to be from my life?

No and it can be in the future too!

Another planet with life on it

For more information on DeafMessanger’s art, notebooks and designs, visit the website and Facebook page.

Written and photographed by Ryan Keating-Lambert.

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Ondra ‘CasaNova’ on Prague City Roller Derby

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Prague born Ondřej or ‘CasaNova’ put on his skates and gave us an insight into the world of the ever-growing and exciting contact sport that involves girls with roller skates, little shorts.. and big bruises – yep, this is Roller Derby. For a sport that is relatively new to the Czech Republic, it seems to be gaining a lot of attention. We sat down with Ondra at a training session in Prosek to find out more about the sport, and his life in Prague which includes growing up in an airport and selling beer to the UK.

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Where are you from originally, Ondra?

Well, I’m from Prague. I’ve lived here all my life, here in Prosek actually.

What did you want to be when you were young?

Well, when I was really young I really like dinosaurs and wanted to be a palaeontologist and this sort of stuff. I also wanted to be a pilot because I spent a lot of my childhood years with my grandpa who was a pilot. 5 days a week I was at the airport in Letnany, hanging around the planes and sometimes flying too. I really liked to tinker around with the mechanical stuff, most of the aircraft were ultra-lights. My mother said I was too smart for the mechanic things, but don’t feel like that now! (laughs)

That’s a really cool way to grow up. Do you study or work now?

I’m studying media studies at the Metropolitan University of Prague, I’m finishing my first year.. again! I had some bad luck, but it was experience. Nowadays I work in the logistics team for AB-Inbev doing beer orders for the UK.

You’re a Roller Derby referee, how would you describe the sport in short words?

Fast. Contact. Lifestyle. Travel. After-parties. 🙂

How did you get involved in this sport?

I knew the former captain of this team, Lenka, and she asked me if I wanted to do some sports again. I’m really sporty so I went for a ‘fresh meat’ event and then bought some skates and decided to go for it and stick with it. I had also just been through a break-up, so I needed to meet some new friends, and I met a lot of wonderful people and so far I’m really happy that I’ve joined Roller Derby and that I can do it.

Great and did you do any other kind of skating before you went to the quads?

Yeah, I was skateboarding when I was young, but I wasn’t really good or anything. I also used to in-line skate which is kind of popular here in the Czech Republic, but I started on quads for the first time here. It’s kind of similar to skiing too, so that helped me a lot.

How easy is it to learn how to skate?

It really depends if you are clumsy or not! It’s just a matter of months really. If you train regularly it can be a fast process.

Is quad skating becoming more popular?

Maybe it is a little with a few shops popping up, but I think the sport will make it more popular. It’s a little harder outdoors, it’s heavier for your legs I guess.

You mentioned travelling before, have you been to many places?

Well, with Derby I’ve gone around a lot of Europe. Last week I was in Milan, and the week before in Vienna. You meet people you already know from time to time, other officials. And it’s really nice making these friends and connections. This is really great.

Some people say it is not a recognised sport, what would you say to these people if you met them?

It means that they don’t know the sport so much. It’s becoming like a regular sport because it is very athletic; a lot of the girls need to reach a high fitness level to withstand the tournaments. It’s definitely a real sport, it will just take some time to get crowds of people following it.

You also said before that it’s a lifestyle, what does this involve?

It depends on the individual. A lot of girls get into the ‘pin-up’ style, it’s also about their self-promotion – they can choose their nickname and have an alter ego. It’s also good for girls to let some pressure off. Not everybody has the chance to hit somebody else! (Laughs). It’s not too much like boxing or Thai boxing, but it’s cool.

Everybody has a derby name… and yours in ‘CasaNova’, why?

Actually (laughs), well it’s not my alter ego. This nickname is kind of old for me. I got it at a pre-high school camp and its popular to create names for everybody and I was the last one in the cabin that didn’t have one. So, there were two girls calling me asking about the camp that night, so they said ‘hey you are Casanova!’. Lenka suggested it would be a good derby name when I started out so I took it. It’s really funny because sometimes I go to a bout (a Roller Derby game) to meet new people and officials and sometimes they say “Casanova, really?”, then at the after-party they say, “ok, I get it”.

What is the coolest derby name you’ve seen so far?

Yeah there are a few. One of the refs is named “Ref-rigerater” (laughs).

Have you ever witnessed any bad accidents or fights during a bout?

Hmmm, I’ve never encountered a real fight, but yeah I’ve seen a few injuries, but nothing really serious like broken bones or anything.

Roller Derby is mainly a women’s sport at this time, but there are men’s leagues popping up. What do you think about a Prague men’s league?

I’m not sure, it would be nice if someone did it. I’m just not sure about myself, I can picture a Prague League and I would like to help them out with some knowledge or ref for them. I don’t know if I could play, they would tell me to go for jammer because they already know that I know the sport… and then I will get beaten a lot! (Laughs). I’ve seen some games on YouTube and stuff and the hits are REALLY REALLY hard, it looks like they’re about to fly out of their skates.

Where are some good places to skate in Prague

Usual skating places are the best for quads as well. You just need to have the right wheels. Ladronka, Stromovka, Modřany, they’re all good. You also have the toe-stops on the quads which are good for stairs and walking around.

How would you describe Prague?

It’s a city with a lot of history, both positive and negative. I really like the architecture and the sights. It’s also a party town because everything is really cheap, especially for tourists. It’s easy to meet a lot of people from other countries and have a really good time with them. It’s the city of my youth.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

Oh, I would definitely like to see a nuclear test with my own eyes.. from a safe spot, of course. I’d really like to encounter that out of curiosity.

I’d also like to see old Prague, the medieval times to see if it was really like the history books. That’s what I would like to see.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Which actor? That’s hard! I don’t think any actor looks like me. One of my favourites is Tom Hanks, but he doesn’t really look like me. Maybe when he was young. Or I could be played by Morgan Freeman if they don’t mind that I’m actually white (laughs). Just because of the voice! I mean, picture him as a referee. It’s really cool!

Thanks a lot for your time, Ondra.

Remember to check out the bout against Munich this Saturday in Prague. More information here.

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For more information on the upcoming bout this weekend, visit the Prague City Roller Derby Facebook page.

Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating-Lambert. Photography by Petr Kurečka.

Football fan Damien talks about World Cup corruption and Turkish ice-cream

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Manchester born Damien seems to be a local celebrity here in Prague, known by many for his work with the worldwide famous hiking (with a little bit of drinking) group the ‘Hash House Harriers’. But during the interview we were also pleased to see that Damien is quite a devoted football fan, but probably not to the team you’d think. He also has quite a controversial perspective on the current FIFA World Cup in Brazil…

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Where are you from originally?

Originally from Manchester in the UK.

How long have you been in Prague for?

It started with a big football tournament in 1996, the Czech Republic played two games in Manchester. I lived in a bar at the time and we had a girl working for us who had been teaching English in Prostějov and one of her former students came over for the tournament and basically my mother adopted them. So in 1999 we came over to the Czech Republic to visit them, then I went about 5 or 6 times a year to visit them. Then about 6 years ago I just gave up and moved here.

What do you miss about home?

Absolutely nothing!

What are the Czechs’ reactions when you say you’re from Manchester? What is it known for over here?

Ahh most people know it for football, unfortunately. I mean, they’ve got the two famous football teams, but I’m actually a fan of Liverpool which a lot of people find strange. I just say that I was raised proper. I mean at the time that I was being raised, every newspaper in the country thought that the Manchester teams were the greatest thing that ever happened. They’re so far off, it’s ridiculous. Manchester City has just been bought by a Sultan or whoever and he has put in hundreds of millions of pounds to buy the best players.

Are you following the World Cup?

So far I’ve managed to avoid every minute of it.

On purpose?

Yes, I just got so fed up with the corruption of FIFA. If anyone asks me about it now, I just call it the FIFA World Bribery Tournament… I mean the next two World Cups after this one are in Russia and Qatar, and they’re talking about having to switch the World Cup (in Qatar) to the Winter because it is 50 degrees there in the Summer, which they knew at the time; it didn’t suddenly become 50 degrees after they’d won the bid. There was obviously millions and millions being paid to FIFA members to help secure that vote.

I heard you take in stray dogs?

Yes, I foster dogs. I travel as much as I can, but when I’m here I like to have a dog. I help out the shelters by taking a dog for a few weeks at a time. The shelters have limited resources and can only keep them for so long. They way I look at it is if I take the dog for a month, it goes back to the shelter as a new dog, as opposed to a dog that has been there for three months and is about to be euthanised. It then gives them another three months to find a home.

Is it easy to get into? Should more people do it?

Yes more people should. I love dogs, not a huge fan of cats, but there is also the opportunity to foster them as well. It’s very easy, I just found a group on Facebook and emailed someone.

You mentioned that you travel a lot, what do you do for work?

I do freelance proof-reading.

Is it stable work?

Most of the time it’s pretty stable. It goes through slumps. Sometimes I struggle to keep up with the work that I have, and sometimes a week will go by with no jobs at all. It’s mostly university papers, dissertations, theses etc.

What is the weirdest or most interesting thing that you’ve read?

The only thing I’ve really learnt in the three years doing this is that Turkish ice-cream is made out of orchids.

That is weird. On this topic, tell us about your writers’ circle. What do you usually write about?

Prague Writers Group, yes. I founded that maybe 3 years ago – I was trying to write a novel at the time and I thought that would maybe give me a little push if I could meet some people on a regular basis and they could give me some feedback. It’s really starting to take off now, we have around 8-10 people who turn up for meetings.

What is your novel about?

Well the one I was working on at the time was about a serial killer knifing people at train stations, it’s mainly told from his point of view. A lot of the stories I do are short stories, and quite a lot of them have a twist at the end.

You told me some time ago that you’re in a running/hiking group with the slogan “Drinker’s with a running problem”.. How did you get this slogan?

Yes (laughs). The group is a worldwide organisation and was started in the 1930s in Malaysia. We just had the 30th anniversary in Prague. We’re called the ‘Hash House Harriers’. One person will set a trail using chalk and flour and every other person has to work out where the trail goes. Some people like to run, and some like to walk along at their own pace with a beer.. I am more the second part.

How would you describe Prague in adjectives?

The greatest city I’ve ever been to – the atmosphere, the people, obviously it’s the best beer in the world. You actually have seasons here, I’m from Manchester where you have rain.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

That is one thing I’ve never thought of. In my lifetime, the thing that I most wanted to see, I was actually there and saw… That was when Liverpool won the champion’s league in 2005. They beat A.C. Milan in Istanbul and I was there in the stadium.

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For more information on the groups, check out the links below.

Prague Writers Group

Prague Hash House Harriers

Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating-Lambert. Photography by Petr Kurečka.

People in Fringe: The Václav Havel Project and ‘Olé!’ on Prague and its audience

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Susan Galbraith in Unveiling – The Václav Havel Project. Photo: praguefringe.com

Part two of the People in Fringe interviews includes snippets from Duane Gelderloos of The Václav Havel Project and the cast of ‘Olé!’, including director Paul Bedard. These artists give us their opinions on the Czech capital, the best moments of the festival, and an insight into their captivating work and talents.

Duane Gelderloos, Executive Director of Alliance for New-Music Theatre and Producer of The Václav Havel Project

Where are you from originally, Duane?

Well my parents were American but in the Foreign Service so I grew up overseas.  I was born in Indonesia and spent much of my childhood moving between south-east Asia and Europe.  I was informed by both far-eastern traditions of theatre which incorporate so much music and dance as well as European theatre — both text-based works particularly of British theatre but also the fantastic corporal theater forms of other European traditions.

How would you describe Prague in adjectives?

Beautiful, densely historical, at times chilly (people and place).

What do you think of Fringe in Prague? Any highlights so far?

I am impressed by the eclectic nature of the offerings and the passion that is brought to bear on so much work.  By its nature a fringe festival gives adventurous people opportunities to try out new material and viewpoints, and is less about polished professionalism. I have loved meeting the artists and learning about their work and their processes. I find everyone I have spoken to, to be committed, interesting and  hugely supportive of each other.  I am also impressed by some of the sophistication, as well as courage, that these participants have about attracting audiences to their work, working outside as well as working through social media. Much more savvy than I am for sure!

What would you have said to Václav Havel if you had met him?

I imagine he would be a wonderful dinner companion, genuine with his time and very curious. We would eat well and enjoy our Czech beer. I would want to hear HIM speak as much as possible, about his plays, about the challenges of offering people their own freedom. I would ask him questions about what he feels now about his own country, and how he sees how the artist can continue to challenge and poke at establishments everywhere in the world.

How do you find the audience here in Prague?

I find audiences very intelligent here.  In the Fringe we have found many friends, and it has been wonderful for them to get the inherent theatricality and  performer-audience connection Havel and I hope we make with our style of theatre and the two companion pieces we brought.  We work with eclectic forms and dry changeable rhythm and styles. It has been fascinating to hear responses from Czechs, particularly those who knew Havel, his wife Olga, etc. They have been very encouraging about our work.  It has been a little strange to adjust to the way Czechs tend not to laugh out loud. In America, I would say audiences would have laughed immediately at the comedy in ‘Unveiling’, maybe only understanding it superficially, and only later seeing the twists, the horror and pathetic quality of Michael’s and Vera’s  marriage and the cost of their “sell out.”  Our lovely interviewer from Czech radio said, “Czechs are depressed. They like their own depression.”  But I think our director Miřenka Čechová was right, Czechs are chucklers at best, but they so deeply get the language and the layers in ‘Unveiling’.  It has been especially heart-warming for me to feel our new musical, ‘Vanek Unleashed’, has been so enthusiastically received. Our composer Maurice Saylor and these actors — Pam Jusino, Meghan McCall, Ron Heneghan an d Drew Valins — have worked so hard to make these characters come to life off the page.

Cast of ‘Olé!’ and Director Paul Bedard

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(From left) Frankie Alicea, Adrian Bridges, Sofia Lund and Jake Lasser in ‘Olé!’ Photo: Martin Mlaka

How do you think you would describe Prague, Paul?

Paul: Majestic, it has that fairy tale quality, you know? The castle is REAL.

Yes, it’s not a Disney castle!

Paul: Exactly! We’ve been talking about that it is so clear when the city was made because they really cared about the landscape. There is such a beautiful cohesive design to lift the spirit.

And you’re from New York originally?

Paul: I am, I grew up just outside the city and then moved there for school afterwards.

What’s your favourite thing about New York?

Paul: Almost everything is there at one moment, it’s overwhelming at times.. If you’re bored, it’s your fault!

So, in this play we see a lot of memorable romance and chaos between the Spanish greats, Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca, and of course their arrrrt. Jake and Frankie, you guys played Lorca and Dali, what do you think THEY would think of the play?

Jake: Dali would think it was putrefaction and cry secretly in his bathroom!

Frankie: It feels like Lorca would be honoured and excited by the conversation that is being had.. and really, if I may say so myself, the amount of bravery that the four of us have to work with on stage.

Sofia: Every time this play is done it releases something precious about Spain and life and love. Every time you do it more things come into the real world and Lorca and Dali still live on; through the music and through the beings.

What have you really enjoyed here at Fringe?

Jake: Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum, they were incredible! And the illusionist.. AMAAAAZING.

Paul: I’ve done a number of Fringe festivals and in this one it’s so easy to be a community. That Fringe bar (Beseda) is not only a casual hangout, but they draw you to it. As silly as karaoke is, it’s a great way to laugh at a friend! It’s just been so easy to meet people and ask them about their work.

For more reviews and other festival highlights, check out the Fringe website here.

People in Fringe: Organiser Carole and Cat Black’s Stu talk about Prague and the festival this year

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Carole Wears – Prague Fringe Associate Director and Co-founder. Photo: Martin Mlata.

Prague’s Fringe Festival has always met with success, but this year has been an exceptional year for all involved. I had a chance to chat with some of the extremely talented performers and witness their wonder and for the first time, as well as an opportunity to get my fringe on with some of the organisers and volunteers involved with the festival.

This part 1 “People in Fringe” special looks at writer and performer Stu Mentha and Director and co-founder Carole Wears. See what they had to say on the festival, the city and the atmosphere of this splendid and hilarious past week.

Carole Wears – Associate Director and Co-founder

Where are you from originally, Carole? How long have you been in Prague?

(Laughs) Well I am originally from Newcastle upon Tyne and I am still based there.  Fringe Festival Praha is truly international.  Our technical and Production Director is based in New Zealand, for example.  Fringe brings many people from across the world to the city year after year and of all of those thousands of people over the last 13 years of festival, I don’t know one who hasn’t fallen in love with it.  Of course I feel Prague is my second home because I am here whenever I can be, planning the festival, programming, meeting friends and enjoying the city.  My partner in Fringe Festival Prague, Steve Gove is one of my oldest friends as well as business comrade, perhaps he is the greatest lure of all!!

How would you describe Prague in adjectives? Bohemian (in the wider sense!)

Captivating and generous.

Nice! And how would you describe Prague Fringe?

A Family, a very very large, family…full of all associated drama in all senses of the word!

What’s your involvement with the festival?

I am one of the Directors of the festival, there at the beginning when we had a meeting with Prague City Council armed only with an A4 sheet of paper outlining the concept of Fringe, our own enthusiasm for a Fringe in Prague and a translator!  To the eternal credit of the officer we saw that day, she got it, understood what Fringe can do for a city, bringing in hundreds of repeat fringe cultural attenders back to the city year after year.  Fringe Festival Praha was born the very next year and this year it is a teenager!

What’s been the best moment of the festival so far?

We spend so much of the year planning this event, the weeks and days leading up to it are beyond frantic, believe it or not so many people contribute their time and energy simply for the love of this being that when the first show of the festival goes up I just feel a huge sense of happiness and relief and excitement of what is to come!

Stu Mentha – Writer / actor of ‘Cat Black’

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Photo: Petr Kurečka

Where are you from originally, Stu? How did you get to Prague?

I’m from Melbourne (Australia), I was born there but I grew up in a place called Warrnambool. And I came to Prague in 2009 after an Erasmus program in Italy and fell in love with the city and made a lot of friends.

How would you describe Prague in adjectives, Stu?

Hmmm. Free… and orange – because of the rooves and the certain glow that Prague has.

And how would you describe Prague Fringe? How many years is this now?

This is my third year. It’s just FUN. There is so much variety, from magicians and illusionists to cabaret and theatre people. I love the atmosphere.

You’re from a Creative Writing background so if there was a famous author who was going to write a book about you. who would you choose?

Well, I’d like to say Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but he’s passed away now…

It can be hypothetical 🙂

Ok, so maybe him. I love magical realism.

Your show ‘Cat Black’ is about the mind of a cat being transferred into a human, which sounds pretty exciting. Do you have a cat at home?

I did have a cat! This was part of the inspiration for the play, but there were many seeds. Her name was Kismet – it means fate in Hindi I think and she had this great personality. She really felt she was human. She loved to drink champagne for instance.

She loved to drink champagne?

(Laughs) Not that we would give it to her straight from the bottle, she’d lick it from your finger. She loved it!

More People in Fringe interviews coming soon. Be sure to check out the last day of Fringe today! There is still time!

Jan Wolf on ‘Siciliana’ and Czech film

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Jan’s cozy and stylish flat sports a lot of film and art memorabilia setting a nice vintage feel and atmosphere for our interview about the Czech film industry, and of course the release of his new film Siciliana, which was rendering as we spoke.

Read on for an inside look at this neo-noir film and for a look into the workings of the Czech film industry.

Thanks for having us today Honza. Are you from Prague originally?

Yes, I was born in the 80s.

An 80s baby, like myself! Where did you grow up?

In Dejvice. I had my elementary school around the corner from our house and spent a lot of my childhood running around outside with my friends and riding a bike. I also loved visiting my grandma and taking long walks around Baba looking at the beautiful old buildings. I also travelled the world a lot because my parents both worked in aviation.

Excellent and did you study film at university?

No, I actually studied graphic design in Žižkov, back then it was called advertising graphics. I also worked in television for a while and then a production company in 2007. I spent two years there and learnt everything about film.

Have you always been interested in film and art?

Since I was a kid – I was always drawing posters for non-existent films and I got my first video camera for my 18th birthday.

What was the first thing that you filmed with that camera?

My first film! It was called 1976. The movie was so shitty and it was filmed in 14 days with my schoolmates in our cottage. It was supposed to be a drama, but it was terrible.

Well it mustn’t have been too bad if you’re still making films now. Tell us about your new film Siciliana

It’s a short film, 26 minutes long and the reason why it is short is because of the rejection of the previous script for a feature film by the Czech Ministry of Culture. We had already casted it and everything so I said to myself we have plenty of time, let’s make a zero budget film with the same crew. I wrote the script, which is only 9 pages, in 14 days. It is basically a simpler version of the feature with zero budget of course (laughs).

14 days? That’s quite a short time.

Yes! So, it’s set in the early 60s in Sicily in a sleepy little town by the sea shore. The main character Maddalena (Petra Nesvačilová), who is in love with a travel agent that is married of course. The agent’s wife is very jealous and begins to make plans for revenge… It may sound cheesy, I did get some inspiration from cheesy TV movies, but it’s still a thriller.

I believe you also helped with the costumes? It looks very vintage.

I asked for help from ‘Lazy-eye’ who designs remakes of original 1950s dresses. I think it’s called neo-vintage. She is one of the partners of the film and without her we would never have made it.

I see. And what will happen after this film? What’s your next project?

I’m still developing some scripts, one main script in particular which took me over two years to write and rewrite. We always ask for some financial support from the Ministry of Culture… but they always want rewrites.

What do they want you to change?

Well the jury once said, “You know in this country we don’t shoot movies like this…” It was like going back to the stone age.

I see, and have your parents always supported you in terms of your art and film?

Not really. Mum was an air hostess and my father was a navigator. But my Mumis quite supportive now.

If you could choose an actor to play you in a movie about your life, who would it be?

I want somebody cool, of course! Hmmm.. Let’s say Ewan McGregor or Jude Law.

Good choices. What do you want people to get out of this film?

I suppose that life can be unfair sometimes.

Is this film based on true events? Maybe events in your own life?

No and I’ve actually never been to the Sicily either!

No? Would you like to go there?

Of course, maybe this Summer.

What’s your favourite part of the movie?

The climax or generally the whole second part which is at night, but shooting at night was terrible. We were all tired and wanted to go home.

What kind of movies do YOU like watching?

All types of movies, from the cheesy stupid comedies to cabaret.

What do you need to have to break in to the Czech film industry?

A good project. It’s hard to have one though, there are a lot of films that are the same, nothing is special that you remember. It’s all the same actors and stories every year.

What do you think the industry needs to fix that?

Something special. They shouldn’t be afraid during the development of the script and shooting. Be original. Of course, it’s much harder to have success with a non typical Czech movie. The audience always wants that nice little film.

Nice. Change of pace now..Who could you not live without in Prague?

My friends and my mother of course.

Where do you hang out in Prague?

I like Bukanýr, Le Clan and Pioneer of course, it’s one of the best parties. Also, Groove bar, Q cafe and in the summer I like to be outside in Riegrovy Sady, for example. Basement Bar is good as well.

Describe Prague in adjectives..

Quiet but loud. Fast but slow. Prague is not black and not white, you can just find whatever you want here. I like the quiet little pubs with my friends and I also like loud parties..

Very ambiguous, sounds like the way Charles Dickens would describe a city! If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

Maybe the Roman empire.

Cool. Also, your surname is ‘Wolf.’ Have you ever been compared to the animal?

Not really. It’s a German surname originally. It used to be spelt with a ‘v’.

What animal would you compare yourself to then?

Something lazy, not a wolf (laughs). A fish I guess, something slow..

Thanks a lot for your time and the best of luck with the film!

Be sure book tickets to the premiere of Siciliana this Friday the 23rd of May at 8pm in Lucerna. For more details, go to their Facebook page.

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Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating. Photography by Petr Kurečka.

Comics Centrum’s Václav compares Prague to ‘Hellboy’

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Comics Centrum have just released the new Czech translation of ‘Hellboy Volume 10: Paskřivec’ or ‘The Crooked Man and Others’ in English. The Hellboy comics are based around a team of supernatural misfits combating evil spirits and demons, almost like a darker and sexier version of Ghostbusters. Volume 10 even sees the red guy and his team dealing with headless pirates and who doesn’t like a headless pirate? WHO? Comics Centrum is a Prague based company that transforms the darker and more adult side of the comic world into Czech language, they also publish the popular ‘Sin City’ graphic novels which have also been made into films. Václav Dort is the company’s director and also helps with translating the comics into Czech. Read our interview below for some details on the comic world in the Czech Republic and its connection to Hellboy!

Thanks for your time today. So tell me, what benefits are there from reading comics?

For foreign people who live in Prague and want to learn Czech and Czech slang, it is the perfect way. Czech people do the same, we all learn English from film subtitles or books.

Who would you compare yourself to? Which hero/villain character?

I prefer stories and the graphics, not the heroes. I like when people are more into the stories than the heroes.

Have you ever written anything yourself?

No, but my grandfather was quite a famous author of many detective novels. Eduard Fiker – he was published in Germany a lot.

Tell us a little bit about Comics Centrum…

We’ve been going for 11 years now and are perfectionists with translating, so the words in the Czech versions are really similar to the originals. The last ‘Sin City’ (Volume 7) that we translated is actually one of the best we have done so far. It is the best for foreigners too I think. And if they liked the film, they can also purchase the big collection ‘Kurva Velky Sin City’ – all seven volumes including the two that have been made into films.

Wow… that’s a lot of Sin City. What about Czech comics? Are there any that foreigners should read?

Czech authors don’t understand comics yet nor do they understand how to do them. They have not learned to properly use comic means of expression and to distinguish between illustrations and comics.

How do you begin translating a comic? How long does it take?

It’s completely different from comic to comic. I used a professional translator but had to rewrite and correct a lot of mistakes myself; it had lost reason and rhythm. It’s all about feeling. You need to spend a lot of time in the comic’s world to understand it. First main thing – It goes to someone who knows English well for the first draft corrections, and this guy is actually Slovak which is really interesting because he has a different perspective and feeling as well. Then it goes through language and grammar correction before it comes back to me. It gets read so many times. After all, just one change to a speech bubble can change the whole meaning of the page.

What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to translate? I couldn’t imagine translating Shakespeare into Czech…

For Shakespeare, I like to use E. A. Saudek translations. Today he is not that popular, but his translation of Shakespeare is the best ever in my opinion. And for the Bible I used translations from the first edition in Czech language – Bible Kralická. The text has best quotes, but has inaccurate translations in some places because it was mostly translated from Greek. So I needed to fine tune it. This was reflected most in the translation of the ‘Se7en’ comics.

What is your favourite comic?

‘The Crow’ – I’m fascinated by how many emotions are put forward. I don’t know any other literature that would ever come close to the amount of emotion used in ‘The Crow’. I also had a chance to meet the author and he is a very cool and interesting guy.

What is the difference between a comic and a graphic novel?

A graphic novel is longer and more for adults. But here, people still don’t know the difference – to us they are all comics. But it’s starting to change, there is a border developing. Before they didn’t know the difference between ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Spiderman’.

How would you describe Prague? Is it a bit like the Hellboy world?

I’d say yes. One of the books is called ‘Prague Vampire’, which we actually got permission to change the name to. Originally it was called ‘Troll Witch’, and this short story is actually set in Prague. The second book from the series: ‘Wake the Devil’ is set in Karlstejn castle, but in the comic it is known as Giurescu castle in Romania. So we created a special cover for the book with Karlstejn on it. We had to get authorisation from the author Mike Mignola to do that.

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The movie Hellboy (2004) and the sequel Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008) were actually filmed in Prague, were you involved in the process?

Yes, I was. I got to meet the author of the books Mike Mignola, the director Guillermo Del Toro and the main star Ron Perlman. They all signed a copy of the book for me and were all very nice.

If you could immerse yourself in any comic world, which would you choose?

I don’t think I want to be in any. Maybe in ‘The Goon’ – this is a fantastic world. It’s an incredible mix of zombies and gangsters.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to upcoming titles!

For more information on Hellboy, Sin City and other popular comic translations. Check out Comics Centrum

Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating. Translated by Ivana Marcinová. Photos: http://www.comicscentrum.cz

The Anonymous Bar Brothers and their vision

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Anonymous… According to the Oxford dictionary is defined as something having no outstanding, individual, or unusual features; unremarkable and impersonal. Interesting, considering that Anonymous Bar in the centre of Prague’s old town appears to be nothing short of remarkable and outstanding. I’d like to say that I don’t love a good drink and I’m not out almost every night, but that would be a lie. I’ve seen a lot, and I’ve never seen anything like this, nor have I met two owners that are so driven to succeed and really create something original amongst an ocean of mainstream tourist traps. I sat down for a chat with the “Anonymous brothers / owners” to see what makes them tick and found that the bar is particularly loveable for these reasons…

1. The three souls of the bar.

The brothers took inspiration from three stories or ‘souls’ stretched out over the last 400 years. The first being the true story of anti-hero/terrorist Guy Fawkes’ infamous and spoiled attempt to blow up the houses of parliament in London on November the 5th, 1605. The second soul was created by Alan Moore who wrote the graphic novel V for Vendetta that adapted Fawkes’ face into the mask that many now recognise as being a symbol of revolution and rebellion. The novel was later adapted into a film of the same name starring Natalie Portman. And finally, the third and final belongs to the hacker activist group ‘Anonymous’ who have also used the mask to rebel and expose government data to the general public.

2. The interior.

What was once an old horses stable has seen a great transformation over the years. The brothers have drawn inspiration from the 3 souls of the bar. All three can be seen clearly from the handmade furniture to famous and familiar paintings that have been airbrushed with the mask – everything has also been made and designed locally. The brothers have clearly spared no expense and have imprinted their vision and character upon every last brick. Even the toilets have the appearance of Evey’s (Portman) prison cell in the film.

3. The drinks.

Again drawn from inspiration of the 3 souls, each drink has been carefully crafted, selected and named. The brothers were kind enough to let Petr and I sample ‘V’s blood’ (named after V for Vendetta) – a blood bag labelled V+ filled with a homemade bitter infused with vermouth and raspberry tea which is then drizzled over a giant ice cube and mixed with brokers gin and campari – based on ‘negroni’, a cocktail made in Italy in 1919….incredible. The bartenders also bring a number of different qualities and entertainment to the hideout. As well as being trained as ‘mixologists’, they also bring charisma, dancing skills and some classy magic tricks.

Continue reading for a personal / anonymous interview with the brothers and to also see it all for yourself through Petr’s eyes and lenses. This is truly a spectacle that has to be seen by all. This kind of quality and originality is seldom seen in the Czech capital.

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Where are you guys from originally? Are you from Prague?

Anonymous 2: Yes, we were born here in Prague in Vinohradské nemocnice.

So you live together?

Anonymous 1: Yes, we have a little house there and we live together because we can do a lot of work. It’s good.

Ok, so doesn’t it ever drive you crazy that you live AND work together?

A2: Yes! (Laughs)

A1: No, it’s ok (laughs) My brother is a bartender and plans the drinks and entertainment whereas I look after the numbers, the PR etc.

How is your bar more unique than others? I know that you pride yourself on your drinks, especially the cocktails.

A2: Everything is about how you speak to the customers. Everything starts at the main doors. You start a conversation with them and ask them about their favourite base for the drinks.. Do they like vodka, whiskey, gin? Most people, especially here in Prague, think that a cocktail is just about juice and syrup. We want to show people how you can make and play with spirits and herbs and all these things, you know?

Sounds great. And whose dream was it to open this bar?

A2: Both of our dreams.

A1: When we found this place we didn’t really know what we wanted from it, it started with my brother and his bar work.

A2: I used to wear the (Fawkes) mask while I worked. I travelled in Europe doing a bartender’s competition and this mask became my image.

And why this mask specifically? Is it because you want to remain anonymous? Are you in the hacker activist group?

A2: If we were, do you think we would tell you?

No (laughs). But it was worth a try anyway.

A1: A lot of people don’t know what this mask means. Some people know it from Anonymous, but not many know where it originally came from. And that’s what we want to do; we want to explain the history of this face and of course to talk about V for Vendetta and ‘Anonymous’.

A2: Before we were here it was a strip bar, a typical one.

A1: We changed everything.

A2: I knew the story behind the mask and I suggested it to my brother and thought hmm… that could be cool! So we put our ideas together and combined the three ‘souls’. Everything has a reason – it all started with this mask. V’s terrorist hideout was the reason for our interior design here. Every original bar must have a concept.

A1: We have similar ideas to the hacker group ‘Anonymous’. We don’t have any brands here. We don’t have a deal with Coca-Cola or Absolut vodka. Everything here is from us. We don’t like the mainstream. A lot of bars here have too many brands.

A2: We have a motto here. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. Come to our hideout and relax.

It looks a lot like the real hideout from the film. I think people are going to be impressed! Have you ever had any really intense fans that actually come in wearing the mask already? I’ll be honest.. I probably would.

A2: Not many, but some people from all over the world directly come with the mask and of course we give them a bit of a bonus because we love this.

Great. I’ll bring mine next time then!

A2: We have had some very interesting customers. But we won’t talk about them because everyone has the chance to remain anonymous here. We don’t collect emails or any personal contact information. You can organise reservations through Facebook, but that’s it.

Ok, now Guy Fawkes was seen as a bit of an anti-hero in English history. A terrorist, but also as a freedom fighter. After all, they celebrate this day every year by lighting bonfires in London. Do you think that the Czech Republic has a similar anti-hero in its history?

A1: Yes, maybe Jan Palach.. He burned himself in protest against the Russian occupation.

And what do you generally think about the hacker group? Do you support them? Are they active in Prague?

A2: We’re not going to tell you! (Laughs) On Facebook we get sent a lot of invitations to participate in events. They are actually raising awareness about plastic foreign objects in food in the US right now – we support them not by joining them, but in our own personal way.

What is your favourite cocktail?

A1: The Monkey 47 gin and tonic, it’s an old one from Germany. The gin is of a very high quality.

A2: And mine, 100%, is the New Orleans Fizz – gin, egg whites, fresh lemon, lime, sugar, vanilla, cream soda and orange flower water. The egg whites combine the flavours together. You must shake the drink for 10 minutes, which sometimes can take a while on a Friday (laughs). It’s originally from nineteenth century New Orleans. But, my favourite drink also depends on how I wake up in the morning.

And A2, what inspired you to get into mixology?

A2: It was all about studying and reading about it. And of course also trying everything behind the bar and experimenting.

What advice do you have for people planning to open their own bar?

A2: You must love it and you must find people who think the same way as you. Now in this age, it’s not easy to survive – so you need a lot of friends to help and support you, like we do. What you imagine in your head – put it in your hands.

Sounds cool. Now onto our People in Prague questions! How would you describe Prague?

A1: It’s amazing.

A2: Historic.

A1: It’s crazy. Every night in Prague is crazy actually.

A2: And weird. I mean, everywhere here you can still smoke in restaurants. Czech Republic and Albania are the only countries left in Europe that are doing this.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

A1: If I could choose I would like to see the Czech Republic in the 16th century or Prague in the 13th or 14th century. Or 16th century in London. I would love to see New York City during the financial crisis – Black Friday.

A2: In 1830, the godfather of bartending Jerry Thomas created all of these drink categories. I would like to have him here in the bar.

And Finally, for the silliest question… Do you think Natalie Portman has a bad English accent in V for Vendetta?

A1: (Laughs)

A2: There are always three teams of people; those who love it, those who hate it and those who don’t care. But for me, Natalie Portman promoted the film, she put the story out so I don’t care about her accent because she did a good job… and she’s very beautiful of course.

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Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating. Photography by Petr Kurečka.