The Journo: Ceci Mourkogiannis

Libertine Magazine started its life as a naive teenage dream, cooked up in the back of a classroom after my efforts to reinvigorate my school magazine had resulted in the majority of the issue being censored. Together, my friend and I started a humble blog, encouraging young journalists and photographers across the World Wide Web to send us their submissions for publication. Our aim was to publish a magazine that would act as a platform for undiscovered young talent, in all its guises, and to present our readers with a fusion of poetry, politics, music and photography all submitted by young people. Much to our surprise, within days of the website’s launch our inboxes were overflowing with submissions from as far afield as Japan and Palestine. In the months that followed, we trekked up the steep learning curve of the magazine publishing industry, put together a Libertine editorial team and, by October 2009, we were eventually ready to go to print with our promo edition, Libertine: Issue 0. In 2010 we embarked on a rather more ambitious scheme to produce 10,000 full-length issues of the magazine.

I would be lying if I said it was easy. Firstly, convincing ad-executives that a magazine produced by teenagers was a viable investment was a tricky hurdle to overcome. Secondly, we had overlooked the fact that 10,000 magazines wouldn’t just distribute themselves. Oh yes, we distributed each and every magazine by hand. Each and every one… We were also nearly sued on three separate occasions by PR companies who didn’t seem to appreciate irony. There was also the slight problem that sex-crazed French people continuously hijacked our Facebook page. Apparently ‘libertine’ has slightly different connotations across the Channel…

But, needless to say, the hard work was worth it. Over the past year, Libertine has developed an estimated print and online readership of over 45,000 and I’ve been able to do things I never thought I would have the opportunity to. From interviewing leading human rights’ activists and musicians to presenting business pitches to hard-nosed investors, working for Libertine has given me a wealth of experience that I couldn’t have gained in any other way. Luckily, my friend and I both ended up at Cambridge and we’re slowly adjusting to the fact that we’ll have to squeeze phone calls to distributors and photographers into our lecture schedule. It can be somewhat odd to find myself rapidly oscillating between skimming books on the British working class in the 19th century and engaging in frantic email debates with paper suppliers at 2am but, then again, at least I’m an arts student.


The Cheerleader: Rosie Sargeant

In this atmosphere of academia, where hard-nosed intellect reigns supreme, the last thing one would ascribe to this series would be something as frivolous as cheerleading.
After all, isn’t cheerleading is the quintessential pastime of American high-school dumb blondes, where foolish chanting and ridiculous dancing are flaunted in an inane attempt to impress mindless jocks? Surely Cambridge undergraduates, hand-picked for their first-rate intelligence, have far better things to do with their time than ponce about with pom-poms?

Apparently not. For a number of years now, a daring faction of radical students has been meeting twice a week to engage in such audacious activities. Their membership has been growing at an alarming rate and, if their success in recent competitions is anything to go by, they are a force to be reckoned with. They call themselves the Cambridge Cougars, and they can be found on the prowl at several sporting events in the city, ready to pounce on their innocent, unassuming prey.
Perhaps it was their infectious smiles, their boundless energy or their dazzling outfits, but within days of joining the University, I too had joined the dark side.

Before I could even “Give you a ‘Why’” I was throwing High Vs, jumping herkies, catching cradles and donning spankies as part of the Cambridge University cheerleading squad. It was, like, totally awesome.
But any prior assumptions I had of cheerleading being an undemanding, lightweight activity were immediately backflipped away. I was plunged into high-impact stunts, tumbles and dance sequences that demanded infinite reserves of energy and unlimited stores of strength. I was placed in a stunt team in which one false move meant the collapse of our unsettlingly trustful ‘flyer’. And when I asked about the pom poms, I was met with the sardonic reply, “Real cheerleaders don’t use pom poms.”
What, then, had I let myself in for? An hour into my first training session, having been expected to produce multiple jumps, hold complicated balances and display unnatural flexibility, I realised that cheerleading is anything but the sport of hysterical teenage girls. It requires absolute commitment and dedication, and maximum levels of fitness coupled with spirit and determination. Being a cheerleader is hard work – but I love it.

So, boys, next time you ogle at the group of girls supporting your team from the sidelines, remember that cheerleaders are more than just eye candy. It might look like we’re flaunting our skills, but a huge amount of work has gone into that performance – we’ve just perfected the art of making it look effortless.


The Thesp: Fred Maynard

Freshers are first introduced to the ADC by the back entrance, which is a crying shame, if you ask me. Since auditions at a new university are going to be intimidating anyway, why not go for broke and send them up the front stairs, past the notice telling you that Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi and apparently every other impressive thesp you’ve heard of performed there? Which isn’t to say waiting for your first audition while a fellow auditionee warms up by perfectly enunciating every syllable of “Modern Major General” under his breath isn’t sufficiently off-putting. And then there are the audition slips which require you to give “previous acting experience”, and on which you can’t help noticing that everyone else appears to be writing an essay.

At school it was relatively easy to be known as the “theatre person” – all you needed was to audition for everything and you ended up with that identity. It wasn’t a cool identity, no, but at least people vaguely assumed you were good at something. At Cambridge you are still just as uncool a drama-nerd as you were, but now there are so many better ones that you’ve lost your trademark.

I admit that I auditioned for plays in Fresher’s week because it never occurred to me not to. But between getting a couple of small roles in this term’s plays and performing them, my reason for doing drama changed, and for the better. No longer trying to be impressive (what’s the use? My cast-mates all seem to be scions of some theatrical dynasty or other), I can just enjoy making a play for the sheer joy of the process. Within a few weeks, I have come to love the ADC – the discarded Dominoes boxes, the feral clubroom kitchen, the people who hang around without immediate purpose – because it feels lived in.

Even if you are terrible (and my debut at the ADC did not go well – sprinting onto stage in an emotional scene with a dying hero in my arms, I careered into an unexpected box and dropped him, luckily into the arms of another, more competent actor), putting on plays is worth the massive amounts of time you put into it because of the sense of community. Yes, I could play a team sport for that feeling, but a) no, I actually couldn’t, and b) Rugby teams don’t sit around a piano at four o clock in the morning improvising comedy scenes after a match. That may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but hey, I’m a theatre person.


The Protestor: Rosa Friend

Last Wednesday I decided enough was enough. I escaped the bubble of Cambridge to wail on the streets of London. This was not a week five breakdown: I went to bellow with fifty thousand students on the NUS demonstration.

I need not inform you that “the demonstration” was in actual fact a guise for the gathering of pyromaniacs with a penchant for beating up policemen. The national press have kindly already done that for me. But as well as fire-fuelled high jinks, it felt like we were actually doing something, opposed to doing something in the sense of sitting in a cold room attempting to write an essay but failing miserably. We were fighting to give others the chance to sit in a cold room, the chance to write an essay, the chance to fail miserably.

Having been up until 3am doing just that, I crawled onto the London bound bus at eight feeling slightly worse for wear. I wondered if I was still sleeping when my supervisor greeted me with a high five. To quote the multi-millionaire, welfare-slashing prime minister, we were all in this together.

When we arrived in the capital we had to wait around for a while due to the huge number of people who had come to protest. But it did not matter. It gave us time to admire the creativity that those nasty politicians are attempting to stifle. Banners reading, “Tories! Putting the N in cuts” and “First no letter from Hogwarts… Now this?!” taught me more about the power of language than a morning of lectures ever could.

After a good few hours of marching, we presumed it was all over. We had chanted “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts” till our cheeks were crimson, our voices hoarse and our stomachs rumbling. I didn’t even attempt to disguise my envy as students from Cardiff tucked into packed lunches. Never have crabsticks looked so tasty.

It was during this moment of weakness that we spied a certain restaurant that does ridiculously good dough balls with gloriously greasy garlic butter. I was just tucking in when I got a text: “Just seen the violence on the news: try not to get arrested”. I was too ashamed to text my Mum back to say I was safe and sound enjoying the culinary delights of a high street chain.

I’m a fresher; I still have a thing or two to learn. On the next demonstration – and there will be another one – I pledge to forsake food and set fire to things.


The Virgin: Henry Staples

Having a camera follow me around was fun, and a bit flattering if I’m honest. I’m still not sure if it should have hurt my feelings – what’s funny about me just talking? You were laughing with me, right? Anyway life goes on even if it’s not being documented, as I’m sure you know. It’s hard to sum up a whole term, but by God I’m going to try. Otherwise I’ll get in trouble.

Girls are always on my mind. In lectures, on my bike, on facebook. But it seems to me like the other boys at college aren’t suffering in the same way. Sure, they go to Cindies and pull nice girls and then probably later have sex with them, but it’s all no big deal. If that kind of thing happened to me – that’s the biggest if there’s ever been – then I need to talk about it with everyone. It’s not kissing and telling, it’s just being really excited about girls. (What am I, 15? No, of course not.) And the good thing about this article is you can’t not listen to me or tell me to shut up. You’re reading this. You could stop, but I bet you probably won’t.

I was desperate to get into a college drinking society. What better way to meet a girl and make her my girlfriend? Right? Or at least kiss one, for Christ’s sake. One night I pluck up the courage to approach a few of the society guys in the bar. Somehow I end up challenging the president of the society – a  fairly hefty 3rd year whose name I won’t mention – to a drinking contest. If I can outdrink him, I can join. Brilliant! Fast forward some hours, I’m being sick outside a porter’s lodge of a college I’ve never been to before, being supported by a girl whose name I don’t know. Fast forward some more hours, I’m woken up by said girl, presumably on the floor of her bedroom. Plus it feels like I’ve wet myself. It takes a surprisingly long time for me to get my stuff together and leave. If you are that girl, thanks for keeping it quiet so far, and I’m obviously very sorry. Could I maybe get your number?