Monday, 13 February 2017

Joey Arias at Brasserie Zédel 12 February 2017

Any time Joey Arias – veteran performance art / cabaret legend, toast of Mondo New York and all-round fabulous creature – breezes into London, attendance is freaking obligatory! So, a big gang of us assembled to see his gig last night (Arias is doing a residency at Brasserie Zédel inSoho 11-14 February 2017).

Arias’ speciality is his evocation of doomed jazz diva Billie Holiday in all her earthy, ravaged foul-mouthed hedonistic glory. This isn’t a conventional “tribute act”, though – Arias is freakier, raunchier and far more original than that. And the Art Deco opulence of Brasserie Zédel provided the perfect backdrop, creating a sense of mid-century café society.

Arias himself was a compelling spectacle in fetish-y black Frederick's of Hollywood-style lingerie and full Vampira make-up. His voice is a soulful smoky, scratchy rasp alternately lewd and awash with heartbreak (my friend Louise admitted afterwards she cried several times during Arias’ set). As well as samplings from the Billie Holiday songbook ("You’ve Changed", "God Bless the Child"), Arias also answered the musical question: what would unlikely other songs by the likes of Cream or Bob Dylan sound like given the Holiday torch song treatment (with added Yma Sumac-like bird noises and punctuated by deep stripper squats)? The answer – hilarious, dramatic and exquisite!

Between songs, Arias gave a swear-y but elegant masterclass in audience participation, shuttling between seduction and aggression just because it amused him. Mingling through the crowd, flirting outrageously, he stopped and asked a woman’s name. “Ann-Marie? That’s a whore’s name.” He implored two (platonic) female friends at another table to kiss on the lips. When they hesitated, Arias snapped, “I’m not saying eat her pussy! Just kiss her on the lips! It’s love!” More pointedly, he turned his full laser beams on a rude heterosexual couple who arrived late then proceed to check their mobile phones and talk amongst themselves. “Sarah! Look at me!” Joey hissed. “Focus!” (Who were those two and what were they doing there?)

For the night’s emotional high-point, Arias demanded all the venue’s lights be extinguished (even the neon sign behind the bar) so that he was illuminated by just a single blue spotlight. Then he crooned an eerie, spine-tingling “I Cover the Waterfront”, transforming the jazz standard into an anguished prostitute’s lament. Devastating!

/ Afterwards we ambushed Arias in the lobby for an impromptu red-hot camera session! L-R: (back row) Chris and Pal. Front: Louise, Joey Arias, Nell and me /

/ Above: (Back) Chris, Joey, Nell and Pal. (Front) Louise and Alex /

Further reading:

See the full set of photos from Joey Arias at Brasserie Zédel here

See my photos of Joey Arias performing at London's Institute of Contemporary Art in 2014 here

Read my account of seeing Arias perform in 2013 here

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Cockabilly at The Glory DJ Set List 4 February 2017

As I posted on Facebook on Saturday 4 February:

I know it’s ultra-short notice, but … calling all leather boys, gay greasers, cry-babies, prison wives and juvenile delinquents of all ages! We’re having a mini Cockabilly reunion TONIGHT at the fabulous Glory! Saturday 4 February! Mal Nicholson is DJ’ing upstairs and I will be joining him for a guest slot!   Expect all your favourite rancid vintage sleaze classicks! Think rockabilly, rhythm and blues, surf, punk and tittyshakers! Daring and virile! Chains, whips, knives and leather belts all swished around together in bone-jarring rock and roll! Way-out sex and sin for those who like it that way! Why not drag a comb through your quiff, swallow a fistful of bop pills and rock around the cock? Tonight!

The Glory 281 Kingsland Road E2 8AS
10 – 2 (Free before 10 pm!) 

/ Classic beefcake model Cherokee (aka Everett Lee Jackson) photographed by Kris Studio circa 1955 /

I’d love to announce “Cockabilly is back!” In fact London’s only regular queer rockabilly club night (freaking out the squares since 2008!) is still on hiatus ever since we got unceremoniously turfed from our last venue (which shall remain nameless!). But for now at least, Saturday 4 February was a bit of a one-off Cockabilly reunion when Mal and I guest DJ’d at Haggerston’s epicentre of happiness and gay bohemia The Glory! 

It’s virtually impossible to not have a blast at The Glory (their generosity with the drinks tickets certainly helps) and I grab every opportunity to DJ there that I can. (In an ideal world, Cockabilly would re-launch in 2017 with The Glory as its new permanent base – hint, hint!).

/ Mal and I sweating to the oldies /

Anyway, I did a guest spot of about 90-minutes. Here’s what I was laying down: 

Rip it Up - Little Richard
Let's Have a Party - Wanda Jackson
Three Cool Cats - The 5,6,7,8s
I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramonetures
Somethin' Else - Sid Vicious
Be Bop A Lula - Alan Vega
Viva Las Vegas - Nina Hagen
Margaya - The Fender Four
Atomic Bongos - Lydia Lunch
Bombora - The Original Surf-aris
Hanky Panky - Rita Chao and The Quests
Gostaria de Saber (River Deep Mountain High) - Wanderlea
Party Lights - Claudine Clark
He's the One - Ike and Tina Turner
Year 1 - X
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Boss - The Rumblers
The Swag - Link Wray
Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad - Tammy Wynette
Ultra Twist - The Cramps
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
Aphrodisiac - Bow Wow Wow
Let's Go, Baby - Billy Eldridge
Bossa Nova Baby - Elvis Presley
Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret
Roll with Me Henry - Etta James
Ring of Fire - The Earls of Suave
Road Runner - The Fabulous Wailers
Cry-baby - The Honey Sisters
How Much Love Can One Heart Hold? Joe Perkins and The Rookies
Under My Thumb - Tina Turner
Twistin' the Night Away - Divine
These Boots Are Made for Walkin' - Mrs Mills
My Way - Nina Hagen

Updated news for all your Lobotomy Room-related needs: there are two upcoming opportunities to get down and dirty later this month at Dalston sin bin Fontaine’s! Jump on them!

Wednesday 22 February is this month’s film club. Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies is, of course, the FREE monthly film club downstairs at Fontaine’s devoted to Bad Movies We Love (our motto: Bad Movies for Bad People), specializing in the kitsch, the cult and the queer! (The January presentation of Russ Meyer's magnum opus Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was triumphant!).

Considering February is the month of Valentine’s, we’ll be embracing a romantic theme with … Sid and Nancy (1986)! Hey! It’s a love story! (Well, director Alex Cox himself describes the film as “a horrific love story”. Its original title was going to be Love Kills). It outlines the doomed tragicomic “amour fou” between punk’s Romeo and Juliet: Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious and his heroin-addicted groupie girlfriend Nancy Spungen … and let’s just say it all ends messily.

So – why not throw on a black leather jacket, stick a safety pin through your nostril and join us on 22 February for a quiet night with Sid and Nancy?

Added incentive: in honour of Valentine’s Day, Fontaine’s is being sponsored all month by the fancy French raspberry liqueur Chambord! So there will be special offer cocktails on the night – and they will be pink! Full details on the Facebook events page. Read more about my sin-sational monthly film club here. 

Friday 24 February 2017

“It’s just what you need when you’re down in the dumps / One half hillbilly and one half punk …”

It’s back! The first Lobotomy Room of 2017!

Revel in sleaze, voodoo and rock’n’roll - when incredibly strange dance party Lobotomy Room returns to the Polynesian-style basement Bamboo Lounge of Dalston’s premiere Art Deco vice den Fontaine’s! Friday 24 February!

Lobotomy Room! Where sin lives! A punkabilly booze party! Sensual and depraved! A spectacle of decadence! Bad Music for Bad People! A Mondo Trasho evening of Beat, Beat Beatsville Beatnik Rock’n’Roll! Rockabilly Psychosis! Wailing Rhythm and Blues! Twisted Tittyshakers! Punk! White Trash Rockers! Kitsch! Exotica! Curiosities and other Weird Shit! Think John Waters soundtracks, or Songs the Cramps Taught Us, hosted by Graham Russell (of Dr Sketchy and Cockabilly notoriety). Expect desperate stabs from the jukebox jungle! Savage rhythms to make you writhe and rock! Now with vintage erotica projected on the big screen all night for your adult viewing pleasure! Come for the special offer cocktails - stay for the putrid music and dirty movies!

Admission: gratuit - that’s French for FREE!

Lobotomy Room: Faster. Further. Filthier.

It’s sleazy. It’s grubby. It’s trashy - you’ll love it!

A tawdry good time guaranteed!

/ As ever, if you've read this far you get rewarded! /

Further reading:

Read about all the previous antics at Lobotomy Rooms to date hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere , hereherehere, hereherehere, herehere, here and here!

Follow me on tumblr for all your kitsch, camp, retro vintage sleaze and fifties homoerotica needs!

Follow me on twitter!

"Like" and follow the official Lobotomy Room page on Facebook if you dare!

Monday, 30 January 2017

Reflections on ... What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

Around Christmas time I finally watched the powerful 2015 Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? Consider yourselves warned: the film is wrenchingly sad. It could just have easily been titled The Torture of Nina Simone or The Anguish of Nina Simone. The inside of Nina Simone's head was  seemingly a harrowing place to be. But it’s compulsory viewing even for people with only a passing interest in Simone’s earthy but elegant musical oeuvre. It follows the former Eunice Waymon (a child musical prodigy born in 1933 in North Carolina) on her difficult transformation into the lacerating and angrily politicised High Priestess of Soul. There are plentiful hypnotic clips of the regal diva in performance, highlighting her serpentine piano playing and lacerating bittersweet voice (Simone herself explains “sometimes my voice sounds like gravel, sometimes it sounds like coffee with cream.”).

But it also explores the personal torment audible in Simone’s agonised singing. The genuine seething rage in Simone’s music makes for exciting art for us listeners but wasn’t so edifying for Nina Simone herself or the people close to her. She had a lifelong reputation for being volatile and temperamental. Only after her death was it revealed Simone lived with undiagnosed mental illness for much of her life (she didn’t start getting treatment for bipolar disorder until the eighties). She also suffered domestic violence in her tempestuous marriage with her manager-husband, a tough ex-vice cop. The documentary frequently incorporates revealing passages from Simone’s own journals, where she confides in her depression, loneliness and violent fantasies.

Her later life was blighted by financial difficulties, record label woes, legal problems (Simone wasn’t exactly thorough with her taxes), heavy drinking and the racism she routinely encountered in the country she called “The United Snakes of America.” The documentary puts Simone’s whiplash mood swings at her infamous performance at the 1976 Montreux Jazz Festival into context. It includes the scary moment when Simone abruptly stops playing when someone in the audience dares to get up from her seat mid-song. “You! Girl!” she hisses. “Sit down …” I wonder how long that woman required trauma counselling for? 

/ You can watch Simone's entire Montreaux performance here /

There is unlikely to be a more definitive documentary on Simone than this: all of her closest intimates come forward to give warts-and-all accounts, including her ex-husband and the musicians who toured with the imperious chanteuse for decades. Most remarkable is Simone’s daughter Lisa, who frankly discusses her prickly relationship with her frequently abusive mother without a trace of bitterness. 

On a more superficial level, What Happened Miss Simone? demonstrates how ineffably stylish Simone was over the decades. Early on she favoured cocktail gowns and sleek wigs. Later she increasingly embraced African headwraps, Cleopatra eyeliner, crocheted halter top-and-bell-bottoms combinations and Black is Beautiful natural Afro hair. The epitome of radical chic!

Simone found her true purpose giving expression to the civil rights movement in the sixties. The footage of her as an avenging fury singing for all-black audiences will make you want to give the Black Power salute to the TV. Nina Simone died in 2003 aged 70. You can’t help but wonder what she would have made of Black Lives Matter and the rise of Donald Trump.

/ "I'm gonna kill the first mutha I see ..." My all-time favourite Nina Simone track: the simmering-with-rage "Four Women" / 

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Reflections on ... Grace Jones' Warm Leatherette (1980)

It started with a photo.  Entitled Samurai Sissy, the stark black and white 1979 portrait by French artist and conceptualist Jean-Paul Goude depicted steel-cheekboned Amazonian black supermodel turned actress and disco chanteuse Grace Jones wrapped in a dramatic padded-shouldered Issey Miyake creation. At the time Goude and Jones were both artistic and romantic collaborators (he’s the father of Jones’ only child, Paulo born in 1979. In fact Jones is pregnant with Paulo in Samurai Sissy).  Sinister but sexy, the image is so powerful, androgynous and alluring it suggested a world of possibilities: Jones as a panther in human form. Black Marlene Dietrich.  Female Bowie.  Space-age Nefertiti.  Dominatrix from outer space. In her 2015 autobiography I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, Jones herself describes it as “me as an ominous hard-eyed samurai filtered through something occult and African, the killer clown interrupting some mysterious ceremony.”  Chris Blackwell, head honcho of Island Records, had the photo enlarged and stuck to the wall of his deluxe Compass Point recording studio in the Bahamas, instructing his crack team of musicians, “Make a record that sounds like that looks.”

The resulting album – Warm Leatherette (1980), a masterpiece of style and substance – succeeded. And now – over thirty five years later – Warm Leatherette is being reissued in a sumptuous digitally re-mastered two CD box set encased in sleek black leatherette packaging, with rare re-mixes, extended liner notes and lavish photos.

Call it death disco, Afro-punk or simply black alternative music, Warm Leatherette probably invented it.  Menacing but sensual, over three decades later the album still sounds futuristic and bleeding-edge.  Considering Jones herself was Jamaica-born, the album was recorded in Nassau and most of the backing musicians were Jamaican it’s no surprise the sound of Warm Leatherette is primarily rooted in reggae. But this isn’t straight reggae in any sense: spiked with New Wave rock, Warm Leatherette suggests eerie art-damaged cobwebbed reggae reverberating out of a haunted house.

But ultimately the identity of Warm Leatherette is dictated by Jones’ own haughty, scolding dominatrix voice.  The album represented a dramatic reinvention for Jones both sonically and visually, jettisoning the disco frivolity of her earlier recordings for something infinitely scarier, artier and punkier.  From Warm Leatherette onwards, Jones would have more in common with, say, Klaus Nomi, Nina Hagen or post-Broken English Marianne Faithfull than Donna Summer or Sister Sledge.  (Not to malign Jones’ three disco records, which are campy as hell and deeply enjoyable; listening to them you can almost smell the amyl nitrate). On Warm Leatherette Jones emerges as a woman of mystery from everywhere and nowhere, a world-weary escapee from the most decadent nightclubs and catwalks of Paris, Berlin and London.  Jones took the template established by Josephine Baker and Eartha Kitt (black female singers as exotic Continental sophisticates mostly divorced from blues, jazz and soul traditions) and updated the persona for the post-disco and post-punk generation.

On later albums Jones would write her own lyrics. Here she (mostly) radically reinterprets New Wave hits by others in her own inimitable style. The title track sees The Normals’ stark electro-punk minimalism transformed into lacerating blaxploitation funk. Jones amps up the sexual tension in Roxy Music’s “Love is the Drug.” Just try not to get goose bumps when Jones contemptuously snarls, “Your sex life complications / are not my fascinations” to a would-be suitor on The Pretenders’ ghostly “Private Life”. Jones’ take on Smokey Robinson’s 1966 hit “The Hunter Gets Captured by The Prey” – one of Warm Leatherette’s poppier and more charming moments – uses the sound of electronic birds chirping to convey an urban jungle realm. French chanson “Pars” confirms Jones is at her most seductive crooning en francais (think of her initial 1977 breakthrough hit “La vie en rose” or the accordion-laced “I’ve Seen That Face Before”).  Best of all is Jones’ deranged rampage through Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control” (re-titled “I’ve Lost Control”), a nervous breakdown set to music.

Needless to say all of this was catnip for a queer audience. Warm Leatherette turned a lot of people gay (or at least confirmed it). It certainly consolidated Jones’ status as a perennial gay favourite. In fact from Jones’ first album onwards she was deliberately marketed towards a hip gay urban audience on the (correct) assumption they would get her – an artist too barbed and strange for mass appeal. Jones is our kinky freak diva and an honorary gay (her reputation as a joyous and unapologetic bisexual probably helps).  She continues to influence queer artists likes Zebra Katz, Peaches and Christeene.

Warm Leatherette would be followed by Nightclubbing (the one with “Pull Up to The Bumper”) and Living My Life (the one with “My Jamaican Guy”). Jones closed the eighties with two frankly terrible albums (Inside Story and Bulletproof Heart – avoid at all costs) and then – except for the occasional film appearance - vanished from the pop radar for almost twenty years until her majestic 2008 comeback Hurricane. Jones reportedly has an album of new material due out later this year.  Warm Leatherette, though, represents the origins of Grace Jones’ mystique.

(Warm Leatherette boxed set was reissued by Island / UMG on 17 June 2016)

/ Grace on Chilean TV in 1980. This TV show is fascinating for several reasons. Musically it captures Jones in mid-transition: in an odd set, she performs a combination of her new edgy post-punk tracks from Warm Leatherette (“The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” and “Bullshit”) with her earlier disco material (“La vien en rose”, “Fame” and a spectacularly dramatic “Autumn Leaves” as the grand finale). On opening number “Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” Jones sings live, prowling and stalking like a tigress. It will gradually dawn on you as the programme progresses that – even though she is wielding a microphone - she is lip-syncing the rest of the time. For all we know, this was standard procedure on Chilean television at the time (certainly all musicians lip-synced on Britain’s Top of the Pops throughout the seventies and eighties). To be truthful, it hardly matters: even lip-syncing Jones makes for dramatic and riveting performance art. In fact, Jones is fragile and intense throughout (during her febrile mood swings she confesses to the host she has the flu). It’s also interesting to compare and contrast Jones with the people comprising the studio audience. They’re wearing earth toned casual lounge wear, flared trousers, have blow-dried feathered hair and facial hair (I mean the men, of course) and seem firmly rooted in the seventies. Jones – especially in the sensational dominatrix catsuit and headdress ensemble she rocks at the beginning – looks like a visitor blasted in from the future or another galaxy  /

/ Grace Jones performing "Private Life" on Top of the Pops in 1980. (The single scraped the UK Top 40). I love how minimalist this is, And I wonder what the teenage girls in the audience made of it? /

Further reading:

This review already appeared on Loverboy website in summer 2016. I'm posting it here for my archives in case it eventually gets deleted

The time I met Grace Jones in the flesh at a book signing in 2015!

I blogged my account of seeing Jones perform at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010 here.

Check out my photos of Jones performing at The Roundhouse in Camden in 2009 here. 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Canadian Freak Diva Peaches at Oval Space on 8 November 2016

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Freaky Canadian raunch queen Peaches outrageous gig last year at The Electric Ballroom in London was one of my cultural highlights of 2015. So when the kinky ambisexual electro-punk diva returned to London (this time at the intimate Oval Space in East London) for a sold-out two-night engagement in November 2016, my ass was there! My boyfriend Pal and I went on the first night of her residency so we could be there for Peaches’ big opening (insert your own joke). 

How amazing to see Peaches in such a small venue: Pal, our friends and I were right up front, with Peaches and her two boy-girl backing dancers crotch-thrusting and gyrating right in our faces! It was a night of joyous, life-affirming sleaze, with Peaches performing her stark, grinding electronica (mostly drawn from her majestic 2015 comeback album Rub) in various stages of semi-nudity (loads of boobage and buttage was on display, both male and female. Peaches has always been an equal opportunities perv). Each song was a piece of wild performance art complete with multiple costume changes. Peaches was in fierce, belting voice throughout (in perfect tune even when crowd-surfing or cavorting in a giant inflatable penis suspended over the audience). At times, clad in her revealing leotard, the kinetic and impressively fit Peaches suggested a toilet-mouthed aerobics instructor gone berserk. (In September 2016 we’d all been to see swampy skank-goddess Christeene’s gutter revue at The Soho Theatre which revolved around similar minimalist overtly sexual / punk performance art aesthetic of skimpy costumes and slut-dropping backing dancers. We’re clearly living through a cultural age d’or at the moment!).

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Seeing Peaches in concert is comparable to seeing fierce dominatrix-from-outer-space Grace Jones: afterwards you can’t stop babbling, “Wasn’t she amazing?!” Peaches apparently turned 50 years old on this UK tour. Suffice to say, present-day Peaches is filthy, fabulous and 50. She is an artist at the top of her game – and makes me burst with Canadian pride. Who else is flipping over the hidebound stale, pale and male world of rock with such élan and joie de vivre? Now sing along with me: “At the dawn of the Summer I give birth to a bad girl / without a motherfuckin' epidural …”

The beautiful crisp photos are by Pal. The rubbish ones are mine (my camera couldn’t cope with Peaches’ smoke machine!). See the full set on my flickr page.

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

/ Above: Jemimah, Tara, Pal and I in the front row, bitches! /

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Peaches at Oval Space 9 November 2016

Further reading: both The Observer and The Guardian gave Peaches' 2016 UK tour concerts five star reviews!

/ Play this LOUD! /

/ Modern queer performance art royalty: Peaches and Christeene dueting /

Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Year and a Bit of The Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies Club!

Now that 2016 is circling the drain, won’t you indulge me in reminiscing a bit about Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies? My free monthly film club (focusing on the cult, the kitsch and the queer!) in the basement Bamboo Lounge of Dalston’s Art Deco fleshpot Fontaine’s is just over one year old. Let’s get all retrospective and wistfully re-visit the titles we’ve presented over the past year.

Let the countdown commence!

Seven Sinners (1940) – 24 November 2015

The seven films director Josef von Sternberg and his muse and leading lady Marlene Dietrich made together between 1930 and 1935 were dark, erotic, witty and sublime works of art. Together they honed Dietrich’s complex, sultry and feline persona and brought a whiff of genuine Weimar decadence to mainstream Hollywood. By comparison Seven Sinners (made after Dietrich and von Sternberg’s personal and professional relationship imploded) is pure trash - but kitschy, enjoyable fun trash of the highest order! It’s a romantic comedy starring Dietrich as good time girl nightclub chanteuse Bijou Blanche, set adrift and stirring up trouble in a South Seas port, while pursuing a hunky naval officer (played by a young and still relatively unknown John Wayne).  

Pee Wee’s Christmas Playhouse Special (1988) - 15 December 2015

In honour of the holiday season, let’s get festive and combine some Christmas cocktail capers with the most kitschy and campy of all TV specials – Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special from 1988! In which that bow-tied perverse brat Pee-Wee Herman welcomes a mind-boggling selection of special guests to his playhouse - including Grace Jones, Little Richard, Cher, Joan Rivers, Charo, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Oprah Winfrey and kd lang! [Note: the TV special is actually just under an hour long, so before and after I will play my most abrasive atomic-era Christmas tunes to pad things out!]. So … won’t you join me for a snowball, glass of prosecco or mulled wine and learn about the true meaning of Christmas with Pee-Wee Herman? See you there!

Kitten with a Whip (1964) - 27 January 2016

The featured presentation this month will be the ultra-lurid 1964 juvenile delinquent exploitation psychodrama Kitten with a Whip – starring quintessential atomic-era sex kitten-gone-berserk Ann-Margret. This sleazy little black and white B-movie urgently poses the question: why do the sweetest kittens have the sharpest claws? Fresh from cavorting with Elvis in Viva Las Vegas, red-headed vixen Ann-Margret plays a vicious teenage sociopath escaped from her high-security juvenile detention centre – who then takes hostage and torments straight-laced local politician John Forsythe in his palatial suburban dream house. (Yes – a cardigan-wearing and still dark-haired John Forsythe as in Dynasty’s silver fox Blake Carrington!). From there, Ann-Margret’s gang of thug friends turn up – and things just get wilder!

Morocco (1931) - 24 February 2016.

Considering Valentine’s Day falls this month, February’s selection is a love story. But bear in mind this is, after all, Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies – so the love story is a twisted, high camp tale of amour fou. In Morocco (1930) – directed by visionary maestro of kinky exotica Josef  von Sternberg – dissolute nightclub chanteuse and woman of mystery Amy Jolly (German screen diva Marlene Dietrich in her sensational Hollywood debut) finds herself adrift in North Africa and caught in a love triangle, torn between a handsome amoral Foreign Légionnaire (lanky young Gary Cooper at the height of his beauty) and a wealthy playboy (Adolphe Menjou. Perversely, Menjou is meant to represent von Sternberg himself – who in his complex off-screen relationship with the bisexual Dietrich stoically stood by and watched her seduce legions of men and women both). Depending on your sensibility, Morocco culminates in an ending which you’ll either find irresistibly romantic or totally absurd. Either way, the film is a blast!

Desperate Living (1977) - 23 March 2016

The featured presentation this month will be John Water’s ultra-twisted punk-y black comedy Desperate Living (1977). It’s one of his relatively lesser known gems (probably because his usual muse and leading lady - three hundred pound drag queen Divine - isn’t in it). The genuinely nasty Desperate Living has something to offend everyone! See the film that Variety lambasted as “amateur night on the psycho ward” and that Waters himself has called “the worst of all my films. And it’s the grimmest!”

The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968) - 27 April 2016

Rated “X” upon its release in 1968, the ultra-trashy faux documentary chronicles the kinky globe-trotting misadventures of Hollywood sex kitten-gone-berserk Jayne Mansfield.  Watch agog as kitsch icon Mansfield - the punk Marilyn Monroe, revered by John Waters and Divine (and “the face” of Lobotomy Room) - visits the hedonistic “sin spots” of the world, encompassing topless go-go clubs, gay bars, drag queen beauty contests and nudist colonies, usually accompanied by her pet Chihuahua! The low-budget Wild, Wild World was in production 1964 - 1968. Bear in mind Mansfield died in 1967. Part of the fun is spotting how the producers cobbled things together after Mansfield’s death in order to complete the film. Watch for the (many) shots of a body double filmed from behind wearing Mansfield’s dishevelled blonde wig. And the sound-alike who delivered the voice-over narration (nailing Jayne’s breathless babydoll coo) deserved an Oscar!

Valley of The Dolls (1967) – 25 May 2016

“You have to climb Mount Everest … to get to the Valley of The Dolls.” Before Mommie Dearest … before Showgirls … the original “What the hell were they thinking?” Bad Movie We Love was Valley of the Dolls. A perennial favourite of drag queens and a cult classic for connoisseurs of kitsch, the unintentionally hilarious and wildly entertaining 1967 film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s lurid 1966 bestseller took the already trashy source material – and went even tawdrier with it! (At the film’s premiere, an outraged Susann reportedly called the film “a piece of shit!”). A cautionary tale about the perils of show business, it follows the travails of three ambitious casualties of the glamour jungle: friends Anne, Neely and Jennifer. (The “dolls” of the title refer to the fistfuls of uppers and downers the characters pop like Tic Tacs throughout – usually washed down with booze). Valley of The Dolls packs everything discriminating thrill-seekers demand in its lunatic two hours: hammy performances, pill-popping, bouffant wigs, cat-fights, slurring drunken scenes, rehab, drug-fuelled meltdowns and crap-tastic musical numbers.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence, the word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favourite mantle still remains: sex. Violence devours all it touches, its voracious appetite rarely fulfilled. Yet violence doesn’t only destroy – it creates and moulds as well! Let’s examine closely, then, this dangerously evil creation, this new breed, encased and contained within the supple skin of woman… the softness is there, the unmistakable smell of female. The surface shiny and silken. The body yielding yet wanton. But a word of caution – handles with care and don’t drop your guard! This rapacious new breed prowls both alone and in packs, operating at any level! Any time! Anywhere! And with anybody! Who are they? One might be your secretary! Your doctor’s receptionist! Or a dancer in a go-go club!” Yes! The Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies film selection this month in the Bamboo Lounge of Fontaine’s is ultimate sexploitation B-movie Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1966). Perhaps cleavage-fixated director Russ Meyer’s defining masterpiece, it follows a trio of vicious thrill-hungry go-go dancers going on a homicidal rampage in the desert. As cinema’s sleaze maestro John Waters argues, “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is beyond a doubt the best movie ever made. It is possibly better than any film that will be made in the future!”

[Pussycat! was our biggest hit to date - the first time we had to post a warning on Facebook that if you hadn't already reserved a seat in advance, don't turn up on the night!]

La Dolce Vita (1960) – 28 August 2016

Attention, jaded Continental sophisticates! Embrace the spirit of Eurotrash hedonism (and pretend we’re still in the EU) when Lobotomy Room presents a FREE special decadent Bank Holiday Sunday screening of Federico Fellini’s carnival-esque and hallucinatory epic masterpiece La Dolce Vita (1960)! You know that iconic image of voluptuous Swedish sex bomb Anita Ekberg frolicking in Rome’s Trevi Fountain? That’s from La Dolce Vita – one of the most stylish movies ever made! It captures the acme of Italian glamour: the cars, the clothes, the nightlife (no one films debauched nightclub, party and orgy scenes like Fellini in his 1960s pomp) and most of all – the sunglasses! While you watch the film, take the edge off your hangover with negronis or glasses of Prosecco! Needless to say, it’s illegal to smoke in the Bamboo Lounge, but feel free to keep your shades on! 

Blonde Venus (1932) – 28 September 2016

Of the seven sublime films director Josef von Sternberg and leading lady / muse Marlene Dietrich made together, surely the wildest and weirdest is Blonde Venus (1932). It stars sultry German glamour puss Dietrich as a hausfrau and mother forced to resume her career as a nightclub chanteuse due to circumstances too complicated to go into here – and then finders herself entangled in a romantic triangle between her sick scientist husband and a suave millionaire (played by a very young Cary Grant). But none of that is important! It’s mainly an excuse to luxuriate in Dietrich’s shimmering close-ups, multiple extravagant costume changes and sensational musical numbers. Most notorious of the latter is the riotously kitsch and freaky “Hot Voodoo” sequence. If you’ve never seen it before I won’t spoil it for you, but 1) “Hot Voodoo” is the campiest thing you’ve ever seen, 2) watching it might turn you gay and 3) over eight decades later, the likes of Grace Jones, Madonna and Kate Moss are still referencing it in videos, concerts and photo shoots. 

[This was the third Dietrich film I’ve screened. The previous two – Seven Sinners and Morocco – both bombed big-time and just didn’t lure any punters in – which was really demoralising, as Dietrich is possibly my all-time favourite actresses and I'd hoped to make her films Lobotomy Room staples. In retrospect, the main reason the two earlier two screenings belly-flopped was because I hadn’t yet mastered the dark art of promoting them properly online – which is, to shell-out loads of money to Facebook every month to reach more people! Happily, Blonde Venus was a maximum-capacity, red-hot triumph! It restored my faith in the allure of Marlene Dietrich!]

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) – 28 October 2016

Embracing the spirit of Halloween, the October presentation is … Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)! A gleefully low-brow, raunchy broad comedy starring buxom, beehive-haired horror movie hostess Elvira, the beloved cult figure for generations of punks, psychobillies, Goths and misfits of all description. In the film, Elvira inherits a haunted house en route to making her Las Vegas debut – but really, it’s all mainly an excuse for endless boob jokes. If you’re a fan of trashy eighties cinema or the humour of Pee-Wee Herman and John Waters, this is the Halloween movie of your (wet) dreams! 

Sextette (1978) – 23 November 2016

This month we’re really scraping the barrel with perhaps the WORST film we’ve screened to date – Mae West’s infamous final film Sextette (1978)! Think of it as an unintended camp classick – or a freaky Diane Arbus photograph come to life! Bewigged, carefully shot in ultra-soft-focus, virtually immobile and never making eye contact with any of her co-stars, West frequently looks like she has been mummified or taxidermied. Just how nuts was West? When West and [Timothy]Dalton duet on the Captain and Tennille soft rock hit “Love Will Keep Us Together” (did I mention Sextette is a musical?), West insisted the original lyric “young and beautiful / someday your looks will be gone” be changed to “young and beautiful / your looks will never be gone!” Gasp in astonishment at the mind-boggling Sextette – one of the most wildly misjudged films ever made! See the movie that made The New York Times declare, “Granny should have her mouth washed out with soap, along with her teeth!"

Christen Christmas party season 2016 on a sweaty, desperate note – at Lobotomy Room! When we transform the Polynesian-style basement Bamboo Lounge of Dalston’s premiere Art Deco vice den Fontaine’s into Santa’s grotto! Friday 2 December! For the final festive and boozy Lobotomy Room of 2016, we’re combining the film club and the dance party! COME for the FREE screening of the most kitschy and campy of all seasonal TV specials – Pee-Wee Herman’s 1988 Playhouse Christmas Special! Watch agog as bow-tied perverse brat Pee-Wee welcomes a mind-boggling cavalcade of super star special guests to his playhouse - including queer favourites Grace Jones, Little Richard, Cher, Joan Rivers, Charo, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Oprah Winfrey and kd lang!

And so we conclude by coming full circle with Pee-Wee Herman. (His Christmas special is an annual festive tradition! Sadly, I’ve deduced from bitter experience that both Pee-Wee and Elvira – for me, beloved cult idols – just aren’t that well-known or appreciated in London judging by the tepid responses to the Halloween and Christmas screenings. And I blew a lot of money promoting these! For the most part, Brits – especially the millennials – just don’t know who they are!).

So - who knows what 2017 holds for Lobotomy Room Goes the Movies? The first film club of the New Year will be Wednesday 25 January and the title is yet to be determined. (An announcement will follow soon!). Some potential clues for upcoming selections: John Waters – the Peoples’ Pervert, revered Filth Elder and a holy religious figure for Lobotomy Room – celebrates his birthday in April. And June 2017 represents the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Lobotomy Room’s patron saint, definitive doomed Hollywood Babylon starlet Jayne Mansfield (19 April 1933 - 29 June 1967). You’d better believe we’re going to commemorate that! Suffice to say, I’ll be endeavouring to excavate more cinematic curios and oddities to titillate and corrupt! Follow me on Facebook here and/or here to keep informed.

Read more about Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies in Loverboy magazine

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