Friday, 18 July 2014

Remembering Nico (16 October 1938 - 18 July 1988)

Warhol superstar Nico (16 October 1938 - 18 July 1988) - the ultimate wraith-cheekboned, crypt-voiced, chain-smoking, heroin-ravaged chanteuse and the Marlene Dietrich of punk - died on this day in 1988.

Nico modeling in Paris in 1956 photo Nico_1956_shorthair_zpsd50a5bcf.jpg

A nice way to remember her: These two moody and dramatic portraits of androgynous crop-haired 18-year old beatnik Nico in her fashion modeling days in Paris in 1956.

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Below: a much later shot of the angel-of-death diva in the 1980s. (The cigarette was ever-present, spanning decades).

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Note the skull-studded black leather wristband she's wearing here - one of her punk-y sartorial trademarks in the 1980s. I wonder who has it now, or if she was cremated wearing it? And did anyone ever smoke a cigarette with such bleak conviction? I've blogged about Nico many times: her contemporary Marianne Faithfull reflects on Nico here; the historic encounter When John Waters Met Nico; Nico’s 1960s modelling days; how the old jazz standard "My Funny Valentine" (and heroin) connects Nico with Chet Baker; and finally, When Patti Smith Met Nico.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Lobotomy Room DJ Set list 31 May 2014

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/ If Lobotomy Room had a human face … it would be the enigmatic Gertrude Forstner (stripper name: Lady Chinchilla), photographed here in 1963. Between burlesque engagements (she was famous for her savage “cage act”) she was French sex kitten Brigitte Bardot’s screen stand-in. Read more about Lady Chinchilla here

From the Facebook events page:

The international sin set has been waiting - and the first Lobotomy Room of 2014 is Saturday 31 May 2014 in the subterranean basement lair of Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington (or "outer Dalston" as I prefer).
Lobotomy Room – a punkabilly beer blast! A Mondo Trasho evening of Beat, Beat Beatsville Beatnik Rock’n’Roll! Rockabilly Psychosis! Wailing Rhythm and Blues! Twisted Tittyshakers! Punk Cretin Hops! Kitsch! Exotica! Curiosities and other Weird Shit! Think John Waters soundtracks, or Songs The Cramps Taught Us, hosted by Graham Russell (fresh from The Amy Grimehouse’s triumphant Filth Fest, regular DJ at Dr Sketchy and Cockabilly). Expect desperate stabs from the jukebox jungle! Savage rhythms to make you writhe and rock!

Admission is gratuit (that’s French for FREE!!). If you're working that night -- call in sick. If you're in prison -- BREAK OUT! A sordid and tawdry good time guaranteed!

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Wow. Just – wow. This Lobotomy Room was a chaotic trauma with problems a go-go. I won’t go into the unpleasant details. Suffice to say the night began with me being given the news “Just so you know – one of the CD drawers doesn't open” in a really nonchalant no-big-deal manner (not exactly music to the ears of someone who uses CDs to DJ! And which was made clear from the beginning). At one point it looked very likely I'd have to cancel the whole thing. Why do I put myself through it, eh? The search for a hip, simpatico and functioning permanent home for Lobotomy Room continues. Onward and upwards: I’m not defeated. Let’s hope the next Lobotomy Room is a vast improvement.

On the plus side, a functioning CD mixer was eventually sourced and I managed to salvage the night musically at least. (My set got messier and more drunken as the night progressed, as I'm the first to admit). Most importantly, my glamorous and loyal regulars didn't let any of this cramp their style. In fact, I think I’ll let the photos do the talking.

/ Sheffield Christopher, Harrogate Rachael (two of Yorkshire's finest) and Matt /

/ Pal and Lauren /

/ Charlie (giving his best Robert Mitchum) and Sarah /

/ Pal and Craig. Having Craig in attendance is always like having my own Warhol Superstar. That's Dez reflected in the mirror /

/ Xena and friend /

/ Hayley and Roberta /

/ Hayley and I /

/ Lauren and Christopher (aka the band Spanking Machine) /

/ Outbreak of violence at Lobotomy Room. Those damn juvenile delinquents! I must have been playing aggressive punk music at the time /

/ Ginger beards unite: Christoper and Pal /

/ Soft focus glamour shot of Xena and Craig /

/ Sweaty and stressed DJ /

/ The CD I'm holding here is X's essential punk classic Wild Gift (1981) /  

High Wall - The Fabulous Wailers
Der Karibische Western - Die Haut featuring Lydia Lunch
Slow Walk - Sil Austin
Fever - Edith Massey
Ain't That Good? George Kelly and Orchestra
Drummin' Up A Storm - Sandy Nelson
I Learn a Merengue, Mama - Robert Mitchum
Don'a Wan'a - Wanda Jackson
Go Calypso - Mamie Van Doren
I Live the Life I Love - Esquerita
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Sweet Little Pussycat - Andre Williams
Pussycat Song - Connie Vannett
My Pussy Belongs to Daddy - Faye Richmonde
Dragon Walk - The Noblemen
Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters
Peter Gunn Locomotion - The Delmonas
Let's Twist Again - Johnny Hallyday
Twistin' the Night Away - Divine
Deuces Wild - Link Wray
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
You're Driving Me Crazy - Dorothy Berry
He's the One - Ike and Tina Turner
Don't Be Cruel - Bill Black Combo
I Got Stung - Elvis Presley
Year One - X
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Little Girl - John and Jackie
Tall Cool One - The Fabulous Wailers
Drive Daddy Drive - Little Sylvia
Boss - The Rumblers
Garbage Man - The Cramps
C'Mon Everybody - Sid Vicious
Margaya - The Fender Four
Shortnin' Bread - The Readymen
Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Pass the Hatchet - Roger and The Gypsies
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Party Lights - Claudine Clark
Khrushchev Twist- Melvin Gayle
Chop Suey Rock'n'Roll - The Instrumentals
Tina's Dilemma - Ike and Tina Turner
Bombora - The Original Surfaris
Female Trouble - The Melvins
Wipe-Out - The Surfaris
I Can't Stop Thinking About It - The Dirtbombs
Handclapping Time - The Fabulous Raiders
You Give Me Worms - Turbonegro
Media Blitz - The Germs
Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran
Hard Nut to Crack - The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks
Chicken Walk - Hasil Adkins
Chicken - The Cramps
Run Chicken Run - Link Wray
Mi Palomita - Yma Sumac
Tongue Tied Jill - Charlie Feathers
Tongue Tied - Wanda Jackson
I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent - Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
Juvenile Delinquent - Ronnie Allen
Dance with Me, Henry - Ann-Margret
Cry-baby - The Honey Sisters
Beat Girl - Adam Faith
Rocket in My Picket - Jimmy Lloyd
Intoxica - The Revels

Further reading: 

See the rest of the photos - raw and uncut - on my flickr page

Read about previous Lobotomy Rooms hereherehereherehere and here

If you don't already, follow me on tumblr. My page (also called Bitterness Personified) is a squalid, kitsch and frankly homoerotic celebration of vintage sleaze

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

30 May 2014 Cockabilly DJ Set List

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/ Nice ass: James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) /

The May 2014 Cockabilly (London’s only regular queer punkabilly beer blast, last Friday of every month at epicentre of hip, The George and Dragon) was reliably divoon, to quote Saint Jayne Mansfield. As usual, Mal Nicholson (the brains behind Cockabilly) and I DJ’d our most putrid vintage sleaze selections to an eye poppingly sexy crowd. In fact, I was looking around like this from the DJ booth.

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A while back in an older blog I posited, Was Billy Fury gay? It turned out to be pretty popular. This time (in the continuing spirit of Homer Simpson's maxim, "If celebrities didn't want people pawing through their garbage and saying they're gay, they shouldn't have tried to express themselves creatively"), let’s play: Was cinema’s bongo drum-playing archetypal 1950s bad boy James Dean (1931-1955) gay? Or bisexual? Hetero-flexible?  When asked, Dean himself reportedly replied, No, I am not a homosexual. But I'm also not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back.” Let's go there!

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/ James Dean obliging us with a tantalising glimpse of the waistband of his white boxers /

The persistent rumours of Dean’s conflicted ambivalent sexuality add to rather than detract from his tormented, sensitive and brooding “rebel male” allure. When I was an old movie-addicted kid I would dutifully snap up and devour each new James Dean biography as fast as they appeared (and there have been loads; Dean ranks alongside fellow mid-century pop culture icons Marilyn and Elvis as catnip for biographers. My first was definitely 1974's Mutant King by David Dalton).  

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/ James Dean at home in his tightie whities /

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Justifies the invention of Photoshop: Fellow traveler Montgomery Clift and James Dean get intimately acquainted. From the 1997 Mark Rappaport film The Silver Screen: Colour Me Lavender. (I love how Monty looks so into it). Alongside Marlon Brando, Clift was one of Dean's essential influences. In her 1978 book Montgomery Clift: A Biography, Patricia Bosworth recalls director Elia Kazan telling Clift about upcoming rival Dean: "He's a punk and a helluva talent. He likes racing cars, waitresses - and waiters. He says you're his idol." Clift’s assessment: “Dean is weird.”  /

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/ Masterpiece of Photoshop, part two: Dean also hero-worshiped Brando. When director Elia Kazan (again!) introduced them during the making of East of Eden, a tense Dean “was so adoring that he seemed shrunken and twisted in misery.” (James Dean: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Paul Alexander) /

The subject of Dean’s sexuality has definitely been reappraised over the decades.  As most recent Dean biographer Val Holley notes, “There's been quite an evolution in the thinking since Dean's death in 1955, moving from "James Dean was straight" to "Dean had sex with men but only to advance his career" to "Dean had sex with women but only to advance his career.””

It’s interesting to compare the different slants Dean’s various biographers have taken on the issue. For example, everyone agrees a key influence on Dean’s proto-beatnik sensibility growing up in Indiana was his teenage friendship with local Methodist minister Reverend James DeWeerd.  Initially this was depicted as innocuous: it was older bohemian, unmarried mentor DeWeerd who encouraged young Dean’s non-conformity and interest in high culture. According to James Dean: Little Boy Lost (1992) by Joe Hyams, the relationship was more sinister: DeWeerd sexually molested him. In James Dean: Boulevard of Broken Dreams (1994), meanwhile, Paul Alexander argues Dean and DeWeerd were consensual lovers and it was more akin to an affair.

If so, it set a pattern. Dean’s sugar daddy liaisons with older men are well-documented and beyond dispute. Like many a female starlet before him, calculating and opportunistic Dean was seemingly agreeable to sleeping with influential male show biz figures who could further his career. (See also heartthrob of 1960s European art cinema, French actor Alain Delon.  The “protégé” of Italian director Luchino Visconti was widely perceived to have slept his way to the top – something the present-day ultra-conservative elderly Delon would probably prefer everyone to forget). In particular the hungry young actor was the “kept boy” of New York ad executive Rogers Brackett. “The fan magazines spoke of their father-son relationship,” Kenneth Angers writes in a typically acid aside. “If so it was touched by incest.”

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/ Homoerotic tension: Dean and cute chicken co-star Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) /

This brings us to Anger’s gleefully malicious book Hollywood Babylon II, the 1984 sequel to his legendarily scabrous original Hollywood Babylon. Anger’s chapter on Dean (“The Trouble with Jimmy”) begins, “During production of Rebel Without a Cause James Dean was host to a colony of crabs. He acquired the critters from a binge of sleeping around” and just gets more sordid from there. The origins of “The Human Ashtray” legend can probably be found here:
“Dean had taken to hanging out at the Club, an East Hollywood leather bar. The predatory night prowler, who dug anonymous sex, had recently discovered the magic world of S&M. He had gotten into beating, boots, belts and bondage scenes. Regulars at the Club tagged him with a singular moniker: the Human Ashtray. When stoned, he would bare his chest and beg for his masters to stub out their butts on it."
“After his fatal car crash,” Angers continues, “the coroner made note of the “constellation of keratoid scars” on Jimmy’s torso.” Much as I revere Angers’ underground art films and treasure both volumes of Hollywood Babylon for his deliciously bitchy writing style, his stories should always be taken with a heaping grain of salt: Angers never let the truth get in the way of a juicy sin-sational good story. One by one many of Anger’s assertions have been disproven over the years: Frances Farmer never had a lobotomy. Jayne Mansfield wasn't decapitated in her 1967 car accident. Lupe Velez didn't drown face-down in her own toilet. Clara Bow never had an orgy with the entire USC football team. Certainly Dean was frequently filmed and photographed bare-chested throughout his career with no obvious disfiguring third degree burn scars visible. I suspect the utterly amoral Angers enjoyed spreading these lurid urban myths out of sheer perversity.

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/ James Dean on the set of his last film Giant (1956) /

A few years ago I was very briefly involved with a gloomy Dutch quasi-rockabilly guy. I hate national stereotypes, but he definitely conformed to Dennis Cooper’s appraisal of Dutch guys in his 1991 novel Frisk: “Dutch guys are impossible, even the hustlers. They have these childishly beautiful faces that lead you to think they’ll be open and sweet and so on, but it’s a fluke because they’re actually closed, repressed, insecure arrogant people ...” Anyway, he definitely had a James Dean fixation (a bit adolescent for a 35-year old, you might argue). In particular he really embraced the Human Ashtray story. When I told him my theory it was probably wishful thinking on Anger’s part, I suspect that’s the moment he decided he really didn't want to pursue things with me. (Having said that, considering what we know of his proclivities, Angers almost certainly would have been au fait with the underground gay bondage scene of 1950s Hollywood – so maybe the Human Ashtray rumour is true!). 

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Anyway, as Angers ultimately concludes, “Jimmy may have had crabs, but he also had durable charisma.” That no one can dispute.

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/ Modern biographers now acknowledge Jack Simmons (left) as one of Dean's key boyfriends /

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/ In the 1970s this famous grainy black and white nude photo supposedly of Dean surfaced in The Advocate magazine.  “A couple of years ago (the) alleged photo of Dean was selling in New York like hotcakes, purported to be a scene from a gay porno movie that Dean made before he became a star,” the caption leered. Paul Alexander, author of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, argues that if it is Dean, it probably dates from 1952. I’d ask: does it really look like him, or is it the power of suggestion? /

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/ As usual, if you read this far down you're rewarded with a totally gratuitous nude vintage beefcake pin-up. Find more like this here /

Mau Mau - The Wailers
Rocket in My Pocket - Jimmy Lloyd
Little Darlin' - Masaaki Hirao and His All Stars Wagon
I Want Your Love - The Cruisers
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks
Khrushchev Twist - Melvin Gayle
Viens danser le twist - Johnny Hallyday
Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters
Peter Gunn Locomotion - The Delmonas
Twistin' the Night Away - Divine
The Swag - Link Wray
Harley Davidson - Brigitte Bardot
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7, 8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
You're Driving Me Crazy - Dorothy Berry
Margaya - The Fender Four
Save It - Mel Robbins
Muleskinner Blues - The Fendermen
Shortnin' Bread - The Readymen
Boss - The Rumblers
Let's Go Sexin' - James Intveld
Handclappin' Time - The Fabulous Raiders
My Boy Lollipop - Rita Chao and The Quests
Drummin' Up a Storm - Sandy Nelson
Cry-baby - The Honey Sisters
I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent - Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
Juvenile Delinquent - Ronnie Allen
Beat Guitar - The Fabulous Wailers
Human Fly - The Cramps
Breathless - X
I Got Stung - Elvis Presley
Oo Ba La Baby - Mamie Van Doren
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Ooh Look-a There Ain't She Pretty? Bill Haley and His Comets
Pink Champagne - The Tyrones

Further reading:

Read about the squalid proceedings at previous Cockabilly nights hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere and here

If you don't already, follow my sensual and depraved tumblr page - for all your kitsch, retro and vintage homoerotic needs! NSFW and never will be!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

7 May 2014 Dr Sketchy Set List

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/ Striptease icon, the cat-faced Lili St Cyr (1918-1999), aka the Anatomic Bomb. (The perfect cleft in her chin rivals Ava Gardner's). Read about her stormy life here /

In a celebration of red-headed mamas, all the performers this evening at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern were gingers: emcee Ophelia Bitz, burlesque performers / models Amelie Soleil and Sophia St Villier and even the DJ (my bad self!). In tribute, I could have played endless back-to-back tracks by ultimate atomic era auburn vixen Ann-Margret – but I didn't.

The night witnessed saucepot mistress of ceremonies Ophelia at her juiciest, most debauched and Tallulah Bankhead-esque. Barefoot in Capri pants, black sequinned beret cocked at a jaunty angle, she looked like an earthy 1950s beatnik poetess en route to an Allen Ginsberg reading. “Draw with your non-dominant hand,” Ophelia challenged the crowd. “If you’re right-handed, draw with your left hand. If you’re left-handed, draw with your right hand. If you’re ambidextrous please see me after the show. I have plans for you.” At one point she invited the audience to stub out their cigarettes on her body, James Dean human ashtray-style. Following Sophia St Villier’s stunning performance, Ophelia picked up her discarded bra from the stage floor, sniffed it, inhaled deeply and purred something about “the moist patch spreading towards my knees.” 

Ophelia introduced the first act of the night with, “Welcome to the stage my dear friend and wank fantasy, Amelie Soleil.” This time the stage fans were switched off beforehand and Amelie successfully did the same macabre carnival freak show act from last month. It incorporated some nonchalant fire-eating (Amelie shrugged like it was no big thing) and then she “ate” some razor blades as casually as if they were Pringles. (I was torn between watching Amelie and the frozen, aghast expression of one of the guys in the front table).

Happily, the night also featured the return of statuesque (5’10”) showgirl deluxe Sophia St Villier. Jessica Rabbit lookalike Sophia (New Zealand’s finest export) used to be a Dr Sketchy stalwart but these days she’s occupied with her own ventures, like Naked Girls Reading.  Anyway, her serpentine old-school burlesque performance was totally bewitching and left the audience awe-struck.

/ Children of the Damned: the ghostly harmonies of sisters Patience and Prudence /

Musically, I shook-together disparate elements like exotica, greasy rhythm and blues, grinding burlesk tittyshakers and sophistiqué Continental divas like Hildegard Knef and Juliette Greco - and then stood back to see how they landed. As the night progressed I veered toward an eerie spine-tingling David Lynch-ian noir vibe, especially when Amelie and Sophia were posing. The evocative soundtracks of both Lynch and Kenneth Anger are eternal sources of inspiration for me. Considering Sophia’s spectacular stage outfit was iridescent royal blue, playing versions of “Blue Velvet” felt apt – and of course the 1963 Bobby Vinton classic is where Lynch and Anger overlap (it features in Anger’s homoerotic experimental Scorpio Rising (1963) as well as the 1986 Lynch masterpiece). Isabella Rossellini as abused masochistic nightclub chanteuse Dorothy Vallens in the latter, crooning an endless (tuneless) Nico-like rendition of “Blue Velvet” in her bouffant wig is goose bump-inducing. The brushed drums, melancholy trumpet and prowling basslines of 1950s Cool Jazz (the sound of one finger snapping – in a morgue) is as synonymous with Twin Peaks as backward-talking midgets. (Doomed Cool Jazz icon Chet Baker’s instrumental version of the jazz standard “You’re My Thrill” from his 1965 album Baker’s Holiday: Plays and Sings Billie Holiday is one of my Dr Sketchy staples). The crystalline, ethereal voices of Julee Cruise, Francoise Hardy and The Paris Sisters (sighing and cooing about their elusive “Dream Lover” in Kenneth Anger’s 1965 film Kustom Kar Kommandos) are angelic verging-on-ghostly. Hell, even the sugary harmonies of 1950s novelty act Patience and Prudence have a blank-eyed Children of the Damned quality.

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/ "She wore Bluuuuue Velvet ..." Kenneth Anger's underground homoerotic classick (sic) Scorpio Rising (1963) /

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/ "I like to sing "Blue Velvet" ..." Isabella Rossellini in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) /

KUSTOM KAR KOMMANDOS - KENNETH ANGER (1965) from Tanya Muzanovic on Vimeo.

/ Essential viewing /

/ I know I've posted this clip before, but screw it! Another Dr Sketchy perennial: France's Francoise Hardy crooning in German and channeling Marlene Dietrich with her top hat, cigarette and mesh hose. Haunting /

Ebb Tide - Al Anthony (Wizard of the Organ)
Love Song of The Nile - Korla Pandit
Virgene del Sol - Yma Sumac
Intoxica - The Revels
Egg Man - Edith Massey
Mamma's Place - Bing Day
Ain't That Good? George Kelly and Orchestra
Letter from Tina - Ike and Tina Turner
The Coo - Wayne Cochran
Tonight You Belong to Me - Patience and Prudence
I Learn a Merengue, Mama - Robert Mitchum
Fujiyama Mama - Annisteen Allen
Anasthasia - Bill Smith Combo
All of Me - Mae West
Jungle Drums - Earl Bostic
Tear Drops from My Eyes - Ruth Brown
The Flirt - Shirley and Lee
It- The Regal-aires
Strolling After Dark - The Shades
No Good Lover - Mickey and Sylvia
Khrushchev Twist - Melvin Gayle
Night Scene - The Rumblers
Fever - Nancy Sit
Esquerita and The Voola - Esquerita
Kiss Me Honey Honey - The Delmonas
Scorpion - The Carnations
A Cheat - The Earls of Suave
Your Love is Mine - The Ikettes
I Love How You ... Lydia Lunch
If I Should Lose You - George Shearing
Champagne Taste - Eartha Kitt
Crawlin' - The Untouchables
C'est Moi, C'est Lola - Anouk Aimee
Blues in My Heart - The John Buzon Trio
Hot Toddy - Julie London
You're My Thrill - Chet Baker (instrumental)
Give Me Love - Lena Horne
The Stripper - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack)
Heartbreak Hotel - Ann-Margret
Bombora - The Original Surfaris
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
Sweet Little Pussycat - Andre Williams
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
Love Potion # 9 - Nancy Sit
Revellion -The Revels
Black Tarantula - Jody Reynolds
Mon coeur n'était pas fait pour ça - Juliette Greco
Where Flamingos Fly - Linda Lawson
Blue Velvet - Bobby Vinton
Traume - Francoise Hardy
Up in Flames - Julee Cruise
L'eau à la bouche - Serge Gainsbourg
Hiasmina - Jean Seberg
Wind Up Doll - Little Peggy March
Little Darlin' - Masaaki Hirao
Dream Lover - The Paris Sisters
Kiss - Marilyn Monroe
Blue Velvet - Isabella Rossellini
Love for Sale - Hildegard Knef
Chattanooga Choo-Choo - Denise Darcel
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Hit The Road, Jack - Ray Charles
Drive Daddy Drive - Little Sylvia
Wipe-Out - The Surfaris
Little Queenie - The Bill Black Combo

Obviously I can't miss an opportunity to plug my own club! The international sin set has been waiting - and I can confirm the first Lobotomy Room of 2014 is Saturday 31 May 2014 in the subterranean basement sex dungeon of Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington (call it "the fringes of Dalston." I do). Cram a lifetime of squalid thrills into one night - at LOBOTOMY ROOM! Full details on the Facebook events page.

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Monday, 5 May 2014

Cockabilly at The George & Dragon DJ Set List 25 April 2014

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/ Below: In an ideal world, when I look down from the George and Dragon DJ booth at Cockabilly, the scene at the bar would look like this

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I’d like to dedicate this Cockabilly to the great New York-based punk-era photographer, scene-maker, raconteur and connoisseur of firm male flesh Leee Black Childers (24 July 1945 – 16 April 2014). As pop culture theorist Paul Gorman beautifully and succinctly summarizes in his online tribute: “no one was embedded in and simultaneously chronicling the demi-monde of glitter, glam and punk, of Warhol’s Manhattan, Iggy’s LA and McLaren’s London, in the manner of this charismatic soul.” I will always appreciate the sweetness, generosity and encouragement Leee unfailingly showed me over the years and miss his stories and old-style Southern good manners. His 2012 book Drag Queens, Rent Boys, Pick Pockets, Junkies, Rock Stars and Punks (the title perfectly reflects the milieu Leee moved in) is a wonderful testament to his talents. He will be sorely missed. Read Christopher Raymond's obituary for Leee Black Childers here


/ Leee was an early supporter of Cockabilly. The above photo of he and I was taken at one of the first Cockabilly club nights in 2008 when it was still at The Moustache Bar in Dalston. (As the former manager of Levi and The Rockats, Leee knew a thing or two about cute rockabilly boys) /

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/ Raw beauty: sexily disheveled 1950s B-movie bad girl Mamie Van Doren demonstrating how to fill out how a tight sweater. It just wouldn't be a Cockabilly without a track by La Mamie / 

Deuces Wild - Link Wray
Woodpecker Rock - Nat County and The Braves
Jailhouse Rock - Masaaki  Hirao
Heartbreak Hotel - Buddy Love
I Want Your Love - The Cruisers
That's Why I'm Asking - Carl Dobkins Jr
Salamander - Mamie Van Doren
Church Key - The Revels
Killer - Sparkle Moore
One Hand Loose - Charlie Feathers
Poor Little Critter on the Road - The Knitters
I Stubbed My Toe - Bryan "Legs" Walker
Jim Dandy - LaVerne Baker
What Do You Think I Am? Ike and Tina Turner
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Crawfish - Johnny Thunders and Patti Palladin
Party Lights - Claudine Clark
Pass the Hatchet - Roger and The Gypsies
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Rock'n'Roll Waltz - Ann-Margret
Wipe-Out - The Surfaris
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Somethin' Else - Sid Vicious
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
The Big Bounce - Shirley Caddell
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Breathless - X

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/ As usual, if you've made it this far down you get rewarded with some bonus / gratuitous vintage beefcake male nudity / 

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In other news: the international sin set has been waiting - and the first Lobotomy Room of 2014 is Saturday 31 May 2014 in the subterranean basement lair of Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington (or "outer Dalston", as I prefer).

LOBOTOMY ROOM – cram a lifetime of thrills into one squalid night! A FREE putrid punkabilly booze party for sullen and defiant rebel rousers! Juvenile delinquents of all ages!

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Further reading:

Read about previous Cockabilly nights (London's only regular queer rockabilly night!) herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere and here

If you don't already, follow my sensual and depraved tumblr page - for all your kitsch, retro and homoerotic needs! NSFW and never will be!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

John Waters Filth Fest DJ Set List 29 March 2014

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/ The great Liz Renay as Muffy St Jacques in Desperate Living (1977) /
Amy Grimehouse Presents: John Waters Filth Fest
Could you be the filthiest person alive? Then this is your church: a 12-hour mass in praise of the Pope of Trash. Brought to you by anarchic promoters Amy Grimehouse, it promises all the camp hysteria and debauchery you'll find in Waters's celebrated movies – obscenity and health and safety laws permitting. As well as a marathon Waters screening session (including an Odorama version of Polyester), expect cabaret and live music performances, a Hairspray-like ball (featuring Corny Collins dance lessons), bizarre competitions, trampolining, an "eat your makeup" stall and a "tea bagging booth" (we're not sure either). Dressing up is compulsory, but be warned: not even Divine could stay looking like Divine for 12 hours. 
From The Guardian 

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/ Official Filth Fest poster /

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/ The cast of Pink Flamingos (1972) /

My slavish reverence for the oeuvre of cinema’s sleaze John Waters is pretty well-documented. (Interviewing him in 2010 was the pinnacle of my journalism career. My semi-regular club night Lobotomy Room is virtually a tribute to Waters). So as well as being honoured to be asked in the first place, DJ’ing at the triumphant mondo trasho John Waters Filth Fest (organised by immersive cult cinema / arts club organisers Amy Grimehouse) fit me like a tight (wet) t-shirt.

Talented photographer Elissa Cray was in attendance taking portraits of the clubbers all night. She took this glamour shot of me early on. (The Jayne Mansfield cheesecake pose was her idea) /

Divine make-over at the John Waters Filth Fest on 29 March 2014 /

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/ The Girl Can't Help It: Divine as Babs Johnson in Pink Flamingos (1972) / 

Described as a celebration of all things John Waters, the Filth Fest inevitably included screenings of beloved Waters trash masturpieces (sic) (including Crybaby, Desperate Living, Multiple Maniacs, Serial Mom and Polyester, complete with scratch’n’sniff Odorama cards). But it also incorporated live music (the band Oh! Gunquit), performance art, vibrator racing, an “eat your make-up” stall, Corny Collins Show-style dance classes and the crème de la crème of London’s hippest drag queens emceeing and cavorting in various stages of undress (they truly are the progeny of Divine).  Sadly, the tea bagging booth didn't seem to happen – I would have been up for that!

/ I call this Christophina Makes a New Friend: My friend (aka "Christopher") with a slut dropping Baby Lame. Note the underwear with skid marks and used tampon decorations - an elegant touch /

/ Christophina Makes a New Friend, Part 2: He gets acquainted with Jacqui Potato /

/ Baby Lame (covered in dog food. Oh, god - I hope it's dog food) and Pal. (You can barely see it, but Pal's wearing a Pink Flamingos t-shirt he made himself) /

/ John Sizzle (in costume as Lobstora from Multiple Maniacs) and I. The first words out of his mouth were, "I'm going to rape you!" /

/ High performance art: Baby Lame and Moan Crawful. Photo by Alex Menace / 

Proceedings reached a sordid climax with the Filthiest Person Alive competition. I missed whole chunks of it because I was in the other room (the Fudge Pit, in fact) sorting out last minute audio issues with the sound engineer but I could see it through the window and it was a truly eye-popping Fellini-esque spectacle. Recall the Cavalcade of Perversions carnival tent in Waters’ 1970 film Multiple Maniacs (vomit eaters, bicycle seat lickers, “men kissing on the lips like lovers”) and you’re on the right track. I can definitely confirm copious nudity was involved. At one point I caught a vivid snatch of performance artist Mouse splashing stark naked in a children’s paddling pool, stuffing dog food into her orifices. An exhibitionistic obese guy with moobs who could suck his own nipples ultimately won. (The choice may have been controversial: the fierce Divine lookalike standing next to me shook his head in silent disapproval). I think the winner’s name was Timothy. At the end of the night, when I had packed my DJ bag and was leaving Timothy was standing outside. He approached and asked if he could come home with me. When I politely declined he asked if I could find him “a special friend.”

/ Contestants in the Filthiest Person competition. Photo by Alex Menace /

/ Contestants in the Filthiest Person competition. Photo by Alex Menace. Note woman in foreground clutching can of Tyskie. Her costume is the most loving reproduction of what Mole McHenry wears in her guise as female wrestler Wrasslin' Rita in Desperate Living (1977). I was in awe. Just look at that lovingly detailed vagina. Also visible: Moan Crawful in Leigh Bowery-esque leopard skin all-in-one /

/ Baby Lame and the winner of the Filthiest Person competition. I think his name was Timothy. As far as I could tell, his primary talent was self nipple-sucking. Photo by Alex Menace /

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/ Susan Walsh as Chiclet in Female Trouble (1974) /

I DJ’d between 11:30 pm – 2:00 am (then superstar DJ John Sizzle took over). I’m officially spoiled now – I only want to DJ while scantily-clad drag queens do stripper squats and slut drops. And if only every crowd was so wild, freaky, trashy and appreciative: being surrounded by Divine lookalikes (and a few brilliant Mink Stole-as-Connie Marble-in-Pink Flamingos lookalikes) sure is inspiring. (So is swigging from cans of Tyskie). Obviously I seized this as an opportunity to wallow in deep vintage musical sleaze. I alternated tracks from John Waters’ best soundtracks (Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble – there was never an official soundtrack but I pieced it together - Cry-baby, A Dirty Shame) with songs that sound like they could be from John Waters films, incorporating punk, juvenile delinquent rockabilly, surf and greasy rhythm and blues (Waters shares my boundless love for the turbulent Ike and Tina Turner). Playing some Cramps felt pretty compulsory (interesting bit of trivia: The Cramps were approached to provide music for the Cry-baby soundtrack, but none of it was used).

/ "I'm a thief and shit kicker and - uh - I'd like to be famous." Unsurprisingly, there were multiple Divine lookalikes at the Filth Fest. This one was my favourite /

/ I only want to DJ with drag queens doing stripper squats and slut drops from now on. (That's Jacqui Potato in the fuchsia wig) /

/ Jacqui Potato doing a classic young Tina Turner / Ikettes wig toss. Note Christophina in foreground /

/ View from the DJ booth /

/ Dance floor action. By this point Jacqui Potato had stripped down to a jockstrap and was lying on the floor bicycling his legs in the air. This is the only shot I managed of the Mink Stole as Connie Marble in Pink Flamingos lookalike /

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/ Punk Granny Edith Massey /

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/ Pin-up shot of Edith Massey /

A few numbers by Waters leading ladies Edith Massey and Divine were also de rigueur. I love their abrasive, nasty voices which are somehow alluring and repellent. I always remember someone describing infamous novelty singer Mrs Miller’s voice as sounding like “roaches scurrying across a trash can lid.” How beautiful! What could be more punk than that? It’s a quality that both Divine and Edie share –as does Wayne / Jayne County (punk’s Venus with a penis) or Kembra Pfahler, frontwoman of New York’s Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. (I played “Pillowcase” by the latter. The snarled chorus of “painted lips, false eyelashes, dyed hair” always makes me think of John Waters films).  “Edie Conquers Godzilla” is banging techno music overlaid with samples of Massey’s dialogue from various Waters films (“I’m in a heavenly mood today!” she squawks as Cuddles in Polyester). “Punks Get off the Grass” dates from when Massey good naturedly jumped on the punk bandwagon, donning her black leather dominatrix outfit from Female Trouble and hitting the road backed by a New Wave band.  Hog Princess Divine ultimately saved my ass: at one point I was bursting for a slash – every DJ’s nightmare. Rockabilly and punk songs rarely last more than two minutes. I stuck on Divine’s six minute rancid hi-NRG disco version of Sam Cooke’s "Twistin’ the Night Away". I could actually hear her lecherous raspy voice booming from the urinal, so I knew I had time to rush back.

/ Grab life by the boobs: John Sizzle having his tits groped by an admirer /

/ Nice rack! John Sizzle in action. How many nipples can you count? /

/ Nice brief glimpse of the raunchy goings-on at the Filth Fest /

Postscript: Last weekend I re-visited the John Waters’ mid-period trash masterpiece Polyester (1981). I have it on DVD but hadn't watched it in years. It was screened at midnight at the Filth Fest but by then I was deep into DJ’ing in the Fudge Pit. Think of it as a transitional work between Desperate Living (1977) and Hairspray (1988). It represents Waters’ tribute to two of his key influences – William Castle and Douglas Sirk – and as the long-suffering suburban housewife Francine Fishpaw, features one of Divine’s best and most sympathetic performances. It also represents the last screen performance by the ultimate “outsider actress” Massey (1918-1984) as Francine’s friend Cuddles in a Waters film. For me, Massey and Divine together is one of the great comedic partnerships – like Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz for freaks, queers and punks.

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/ Divine as alcoholic suburban housewife Francine Fishpaw in Polyester (1981) /

Further postscript: The Filth Fest was such a success it looks likely to become an annual event.

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/ Above and below: Divine as defiant bad girl and career criminal Dawn Davenport in Female Trouble (1974) /

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Final postscript: The international sin set has been waiting - and the first Lobotomy Room of 2014 is Saturday 31 May 2014 in the subterranean basement lair of Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington (or "outer Dalston", as I prefer).

Lobotomy Room – a punkabilly beer blast! A Mondo Trasho evening of Beat, Beat Beatsville Beatnik Rock’n’Roll! Rockabilly Psychosis! Wailing Rhythm and Blues! Twisted Tittyshakers! Punk Cretin Hops! Kitsch! Exotica! Curiosities and other Weird Shit! Think John Waters soundtracks, or Songs The Cramps Taught Us, hosted by Graham Russell (fresh fromThe Amy Grimehouse’s triumphant Filth Fest, regular DJ at Dr. Sketchy London and Cockabilly). Expect desperate stabs from the jukebox jungle! Savage rhythms to make you writhe and rock!

Admission is gratuit (that’s French for FREE!!). If you're working that night -- call in sick. If you're in prison -- BREAK OUT! A sordid and tawdry good time guaranteed!

Read about previous Lobotomy Rooms hereherehereherehere and here

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Blue Kat - Chuck Rio and The Originals (Female Trouble)
Edie Conquers Godzilla - Edith Massey
Female Trouble - The Melvins
Fuck Off - Wayne County and The Electric Chairs
Pillowcase - The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black
Punks Get Off the Grass - Edith Massey
Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters
Peter Gunn Locomotion - The Delmonas
Let's Twist Again - Johnny Hallyday
Twistin' the Night Away - Divine
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks (Pink Flamingos)
Chicken Walk - Hasil Adkins
Chicken - The Cramps
Let's Go Sexin' - James Intveld (A Dirty Shame)
The Swag - Link Wray (Pink Flamingos)
Pussycat Song - Connie Vannett (A Dirty Shame)
Sweet Little Pussycat - Andre Williams
Can Your Pussy Do the Dog? The Cramps
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Breathless - X
Funnel of Love - Wanda Jackson
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard (Pink Flamingos)
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Wipe-Out - The Surfaris
Cry-baby - The Honey Sisters (Cry-baby)
You're Driving Me Crazy - Dorothy Berry
Welfare Cheese - Emanuel Laskey
He's The One - Ike and Tina Turner
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Whistle Bait - The Collins Kids
Little Girl - Jackie and Johnny
C'mon Everybody - Sid Vicious
Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran
Boss - The Rumblers
Dance with Me Henry - Ann-Margret
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
Muleskinner Blues - The Fendermen
Shortnin' Bread - The Readymen
Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen (Pink Flamingos)
Bombora - The Original Surfaris
Intoxica - The Centurions (Pink Flamingos)
Contact - Brigitte Bardot
53rd & 3rd - The Ramones
Rock-a-Bop - Sparkle Moore
Kruschev Twist - Melvin Gayle
Margaya - The Fender 4
How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? Patti Page (Pink Flamingos)
Go Motherfucker Go - Nashville Pussy
Johnny Hit and Run Pauline - X

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