Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Post-Christmas Lobotomy Room at Fontaine's DJ Set List 29 December 2017

From Facebook event page:

Feeling jaded? Didn’t get the cha-cha heels you wanted? Head-bang away your post-Christmas blues – at Lobotomy Room!

Yes! 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 most unique nite spot Fontaine’s! Friday 29 December 2017!

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! 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! Grainy black-and-white vintage erotica projected on the big screen all night for your adult viewing pleasure!

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!

Downstairs in the basement Bamboo Lounge of Fontaine’s, Lobotomy Room was worried. Worried that people hadn't prepared themselves for the inevitable post-Christmas comedown! This club night was offering a public service!

Scheduling a club on the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s – when loads of people would still be out of town and whole swathes of public transport comprehensively immobilised due to engineering work – is always a risk.

/ Jayne Mansfield and Santa Claus /

But happily, this one turned out to be a blast! The crowd was small but enthusiastic and rowdy. I laid-on a putrid soundtrack of ominous surf instrumentals, punk cretin hops, desperate rockabilly and greasy rhythm and blues. Thanks in particular to the gang of bad girls who danced and drank until 1:30 am! The spirit of Female Trouble's Dawn Davenport, Chiclet and Concetta lives! One of them asked me to play “Party Lights” by Claudine Clark – perhaps the single best song request I’ve ever received in all my years of DJ’ing! 

Der Karibische Western - Lydia Lunch
Steel Pier - The Impacts
Surf Rat - The Rumblers
Jane in the Jungle - The 5,6,7,8s
Wailin' - The Fabulous Wailers
Vampira - Bobby Bare
Vampira - The Misfits
Goo Goo Muck - Ronnie and The Gaylads
Bikini with No Top on the Top - Mamie Van Doren and June Wilkinson
Scratching on My Screen - Ric Cartey
Adult Books - X
Monkey Bird - The Revels
Beat Girl - ZZ en de Maskers
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
I Don't Need You No More - The Rumblers
Forming - The Germs
Rock-A-Bop - Sparkle Moore
Don't Be Cruel - Bill Black Combo
Let's Go Baby - Billy Eldrige
Comin' Home, Baby - The Delmonas
Scorpion - The Carnations
Pedro Pistolas Twist - Los Twisters
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Pass the Hatchet - Roger and The Gypsies
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Year 1 - X
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Action Packed - Ronnie Dee
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Woo-Hoo - The Rock-A-Teens
Shakin' All Over - Johnny Kidd and The Pirates
Treat Me Right - Mae West
Intoxica - The Centurions
Love Me - The Phantom
Jailhouse Rock - Masaaki Hirao
Heartbreak Hotel - Buddy Love
Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran
Wiped-Out - The Escorts
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
Somethin' Else - Sid Vicious
Wild, Wild Party - Charlie Featherss
Let's Have a Party - Wanda Jackson
Be Bop a Lula - Alan Vega
Batman Theme - Link Wray and His Ray Men
You're Driving Me Crazy - Dorothy Berry
He's the One - Ike and Tina Turner
I'm a Woman - Peggy Lee
These Boots Are Made for Walkin' - Mrs Miller
How Does That Grab You, Darlin'? Nancy Sinatra
Johnny Are You Queer? Josie Cotton
Party Lights - Claudine Clark
Bossa Nova Baby - Elvis Presley
Roll with Me Henry - Etta James
Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret
Crawfish - Johnny Thunders and Patti Palladin
Big Girls Don't Cry - Edith Massey
Twistin' the Night Away - Divine

Date for your social diary:

The next Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies film club presentation (the first of the New Year!) is ... Strait-Jacket! 17 January 2018!

Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies is the FREE monthly film club downstairs at Fontaine’s devoted to Bad Movies We Love (our motto: Bad Movies for Bad People), specialising in the kitsch, the cult and the queer! On Wednesday 17 January Lobotomy Room shamelessly jumps on the Feud: Bette and Joan bandwagon (I mean, embraces the spirit!) with a screening of campy horror masterpiece Strait-Jacket (1964) – starring Joan Crawford as a deranged ax murderess!

Call it “hagsploitation” or “psycho-biddy”, Strait-Jacket (directed by low-budget trash maestro William Castle – one of John Waters’ primary influences) is a stark, vicious little b-movie featuring a truly berserk and mesmerizing performance from bitch goddess extraordinaire Crawford! If you liked What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? or Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, you’ll LOVE Strait-Jacket!

Doors to the Polynesian-style basement Bamboo Lounge open at 8 pm. Film starts at 8:30 pm prompt. Arrive early to grab a seat and order a drink. (Special offer cocktail on the night to be announced!). I’ll be projecting grainy black-and-white vintage erotica on the big screen for your pre-film “adult” entertainment!

Event page

Read more about our film club

The next incredibly strange Lobotomy Room dance party is Friday 26 January! Official event page.

Further reading:

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

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


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Reflections on ... episodes 1-4 of Feud: Bette and Joan

Just some random thoughts, musings and reflections on re-visiting the first four episodes of the insanely enjoyable Feud: Bette and Joan (2017) -  Ryan Murphy’s deluxe eight-part TV mini-series covering the rivalry between veteran screen queens Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (above) during the making of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) - on BBC2. (I originally watched Feud when it was first broadcast by FX in Spring 2017).

/ Above: the real Bette Davis, Jack Warner and Joan Crawford at press conference announcing What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? /

/ Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) in Feud /

First two episodes: Sui Generis and The Other Woman

The costumes and set design (by Judy Becker, who also designed the mid-century look of Todd Haynes’ film Carol) are glorious. Any time one of the characters click-on a pair of severe vintage cat’s eye sunglasses, I involuntarily gasp. Even the food is immaculately retro: when Crawford and Davis dine at gossip columnist Hedda Hopper’s, Davis kvetches, “Fish Jell-o?” (Hopper corrects her: it’s salmon in aspic. Or “en gelée” as I prefer). As you can see from the photo above of Bette Davis, Jack Warner and Joan Crawford at the press conference announcing What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? some of the outfits have been meticulously recreated. I especially love Crawford’s palatial cream-and-turquoise Hollywood mansion with the cherry tree, the Chinese interior motifs and the white grand piano in the living room. Like any self-respecting diva, she has an ultra-flattering glamorous portrait of herself (complete with museum lighting) above the mantelpiece. 

Davis addresses Crawford as “Lucille”. (Crawford’s real name was Lucille Fay LeSueur). Was that true? In the Hollywood film community, did people routinely call Crawford “Lucille” – or was that Davis’ way of undermining her? On film sets, was Cary Grant referred to as "Archie" or Marilyn Monroe as "Norma Jean"?

Exemplary, stylish use of atmospheric period music on the soundtrack: Nat King Cole, Mel Torme, Perry Como, Sarah Vaughan, Brenda Lee, Paul Anka, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, “Wives and Lovers” by Jack Jones.

Feud freely takes liberties with (or "streamlines") the facts or at least chronology for maximum dramatic impact and greater psychological truth. For example: in episode one we first encounter a drunken Crawford in 1961 at the Golden Globe awards silently seething with resentment as a gold lamé-clad Marilyn Monroe shimmies past her onto the stage to accept an award. (No one seethes with drunken resentment quite like Jessica Lange). This incident did happen, but much earlier – at the 1953 Photoplay Awards when red-hot newcomer Monroe won the Rising Star award and earned Crawford’s disapproval. But who can blame Ryan Murphy for shuffling the time frame around for his own narrative purposes? In episode one, this scene perfectly establishes how sidelined and embittered Crawford felt at the time. 

/ "Hebrews and Sodomites, greetings!” / 

In episode one we see a fleeting glimpse of director Robert Aldrich working on a tacky “sword-and-sandals” Biblical epic, which is meant to represent the mortifying nadir of his career. (Like Davis and Crawford, he is also desperate for a comeback pre-Baby Jane). This film was in fact 1962’s Sodom and Gomorrah (also known as The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah) – and as far as these things go, it’s not half bad! I enjoyed it when I watched it several years ago. (It used to be available on YouTube). I liked its camp value, but perhaps mainly because of the presence of exquisite, inscrutable French actress Anouk Aimee as the depraved villainess Bera, Queen of Sodom. For a film of its time, it’s surprisingly overt about Bera’s lesbianism (she is always surrounded by an all-female entourage and appreciatively ogles belly-dancers and pretty slave girls). When people write about the history of LGBTQ representation in Golden Age Hollywood films, how come Sodom and Gomorrah never rates a mention? Aimee spoke perfectly fine French-accented English but weirdly, Aldrich opted to have her dialogue dubbed by an American actress. And – as a coincidence – with her dark eyebrows and sculpted cheekbones, doesn’t Aimee slightly resemble a young Joan Crawford?

Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange were justifiably praised for their performances as Davis and Crawford when Feud premiered on FX in March 2017, but watching it again so should be the supporting actresses Judy Davis (malevolent gossip columnist Hedda Hopper) and Jackie Hoffman (Crawford’s ultra-efficient German maid Mamacita). Watch Davis’ perfectly-judged split-second horrified reaction when Lange complains about the pressures of stardom and breezily tells her, “You’re so lucky you weren’t successful as an actress.” And Hoffman’s deadpan Teutonic line delivery: telling the gardeners impatient to get paid, “It’s an honour to trim Miss Crawford’s bush.”

/ The long-suffering Mamacita with Miss Joan /

Vanity Fair vividly describes Lange’s tremulous, frequently drunk, almost operatic Joan Crawford as “a booze-saturated, violently wilted flower” and “a volatile hurricane, an addled tragedy in a musty dress.” Someone else (I forget who) described Lange’s representation of Crawford as almost being like a Tennessee Williams character, which raises the intriguing question: imagine if Joan Crawford had ever played a Tennessee Williams role! What would Crawford have been like as Violet Venable in Suddenly Last Summer (1959) instead of Katharine Hepburn? Or as Karen Stone in The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone (1961) instead of Vivien Leigh? It’s also, of courses, fascinating to compare Lange’s Crawford with Faye Dunaway’s berserk Kabuki representation of her in Mommie Dearest (1981).

Sarandon’s portrayal of Davis is more dialed-down and lower-key. (In interviews Sarandon was insistent she deliberately avoided slipping into a Bette Davis impersonation). I happened to love Sarandon's interpretation of Davis - some found it underwhelming. She nicely captures Davis’ flat-footed waddling walk, low-slung bosom, gimlet-eyed stare, clipped speech patterns and innate blunt, emotionally direct toughness. Within Feud Davis is depicted as relatively sane, level-headed and stable in comparison to Crawford. In real terms, Davis was probably just as much of a frequently hard-drinking and temperamental holy terror as Crawford, just in a different way. For example: we see a glimpse of Davis onstage in 1961 as Maxine in a stage production of Tennessee Williams’ play Night of the Iguana (the role Ava Gardner would later play onscreen). Read any Tennessee Williams biography and it’s well-documented that Davis was an absolute nightmare to deal with, loathed by the cast and crew for her spoiled movie star antics. (This is the single best profile of Davis I've ever read. It gives a real sense of what a difficult, tormented woman she would have been off-screen).

/ Above: Bette Davis onstage in Night of the Iguana /

Davis was 53 during the making of Baby Jane. Sarandon was 71 when she played her. And yet Sarandon throughout looks considerably younger and more glamorous than the defiantly, unapologetically frumpy middle-aged Davis. (Even made up as Baby Jane Hudson with the ringleted little girl wig and chalky white powder, Sarandon never matches Davis’ grotesquery in the role). Who Sarandon really resembles is Tallulah Bankhead. (The makers of Feud seem to have decided that the Davis of 1961 should resemble Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950) – who was overtly based on Bankhead).

/ Above: the dissolute Tallulah Bankhead /

Episode 3: Mommie Dearest

/ Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford holding court at Perino's /

Feud repeatedly shows the luxe Art Deco cocktail lounge and restaurant Perino’s in Los Angeles (now long defunct) as one of Crawford’s frequent haunts. But would Crawford really have gone there accompanied by her housekeeper Mamacita to drink Martinis? (Perino’s also featured in the 1981 film Mommie Dearest. In one scene after Louis B Meyer takes her to dinner there, an enraged Crawford fumes, “Perino’s is my place!”). Interestingly, I don’t think Feud ever depicts Davis there, but in real life she was a habitué of Perino’s and maintained her own permanently-reserved personal booth. Perino’s permanently closed in 1986, was razed in 2005 and is now the location of an apartment complex.

“I’ve always been a strict disciplinarian. Some people perhaps find I’ve been too strict, especially with my first two, Christina and Christopher …” There’s something ballsy about how Feud directly tackles the legacy of Mommie Dearest in this episode. Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina Crawford’s tell-all misery memoir came out in 1978. The notorious film adaptation starring Faye Dunaway followed in 1981. One of the most positive aspects of Feud is how Murphy and Lange rehabilitate and humanize Crawford as a complex, tragic and flawed figure. Mommie Dearest no longer has the last word.

The sequence where Davis and Crawford temporarily bury the hatchet long enough to have drinks alone together after work and really let their hair down is a high point of the entire series. This would never have happened in real life - these highly competitive sworn enemies confiding in each other about their relationships with their mothers and their children, their childhoods and their sex lives over cocktails? (Crawford shocks Davis by admitting she lost her virginity to her stepfather aged 11. Davis waited until she was 27 on her honeymoon). And yet who could quibble when the scene is so beautifully written, acted and directed, effortlessly cramming-in several biographies worth of info about the two women and their lives?

Kiernan Shipka (aka Sally Draper from Mad Men) co-stars as Davis’ teenage daughter BD Hyman. The inexperienced, non-professional Hyman wound up in a supporting role in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? as the neighbour’s adolescent daughter – and she was a notoriously inept actress. Re-watch Hyman in Baby Jane and Shipka only hints at just how outrageously sub-Edward D Wood Jr-level bad Hyman is in her few brief scenes. The constant eye-rolling! Aldrich actually compensates by cutting away from Hyman while she speaks! I loved Sarandon’s blankly horrified reaction as it dawns on her just how incompetent BD is, and her later motherly attempts to reassure her with tactful faint praise. “You spoke clearly. You hit your marks. You didn’t look into the lens once – not once!”

/ The real BD Hyman and Davis /

Davis and Crawford clash when Davis complains that she was “robbed” for not winning Best Actress in 1950 for All About Eve.  “It was Gloria Swanson who was robbed in 1950, not you, bitch!” Lange shrieks, her voice dramatically swooping on you. Sheila O’Malley in The New York Times: “Lange catapults her voice up into the stratosphere, with the final words elongated into a near-operatic screech. It’s such a bizarre and brilliant choice, the hugeness of expression matching the hugeness of the emotion.”

“That face right into camera. This really is a horror picture!” Crawford watching Davis film that famous Baby Jane shot of her applying lipstick straight into the the camera is if facing a mirror. Below: the genuine article. 

Davis showing maternal concern for gay Baby Jane co-star Victor Buono. “All the queens love me!” she proudly declares, acknowledging, “I only really knew I’d made it when the female impersonators started doing me in their acts.” It’s probably true that Davis was already a cult figure amongst queers by the early sixties alongside Judy Garland and Tallulah Bankhead. Buono asks her to do the “What a dump!” line from Beyond the Forest and she obliges. Buono to Davis: “I think it’s so admirable the way you’ve embraced my tribe.”

Insight beyond Davis’ hard-boiled veneer:  we witness her private guilt and anguish over her disabled daughter Margo, who lives in an institution. One of Davis’ pressures to keep working – even when the good roles have dried-up – is to continue paying the bills for Margo’s special school.

Crawford also has some wrenchingly sad moments. “The mad rush that was once my life … all you’re left with is yourself” she laments to Mamacita as she mourns her twin daughters leaving home for boarding school, the death of her husband (Pepsi magnate Alfred Steele) and the decline of her acting career. Later, we see Crawford attempting to adopt another baby. When the she is refused (“You’re simply too old”), Crawford responds like the words are a slap across the face. (Lange excels at wordless moments like these).

/ Below: might the design of Crawford's ultra-glamorous boudoir in Feud have been influenced by ...

... Joan Crawford in Queen Bee? (1955) /

“All those years of alcohol abuse have exacted a terrible price …” Crawford unkindly says to Hedda Hopper about her ravaged co-star Davis.

Funniest moment: Crawford and Mamacita are on location at the beach for Baby Jane’s climactic finale. “It’s warm, Mamacita. I’m going to need my water standing by.” By this point the alcoholic Crawford has been seen repeatedly availing herself of her secret flask of vodka. Mamacita warily asks, “Which water?”

Episode 4: More or Less

/ Lange recreating an iconic moment as Crawford in Baby Jane /

The episode mainly explores the indignities and vagaries of fame when stardom is on the wane. (Baby Jane was yet to be released; advance word anticipated it would flop). Feud is at its least engaging when it imposes its present-day feminist theme too heavy-handedly, overly eager to cast Davis and Crawford as casualties of Hollywood misogyny and ageism. (The other weakest aspect: the sequences with Joan Blondell and Olivia de Havilland reminiscing). In this episode, we see the fictional character of Aldrich’s assistant Pauline – an aspiring director – stymied by industry sexism.

Aldrich’s next film after Baby Jane was the 1963 rat-pack Western 4 for Texas. Feud captures what an arrogant prick that movie's prima donna leading man Frank Sinatra was. It gradually dawns on Aldrich that sure, Davis and Crawford were difficult, demanding and needy, but paragons of professionalism compared to Sinatra’s bullying man-child tantrums.

My personal highlights:  Crawford’s angry meeting with her agents at the William Morris agency deliberately echoes the scene in Mommie Dearest where Faye Dunaway rages at the Pepsi executives (“Don’t fuck with me, fellas!”). A nice touch.

Mamacita vacuuming the spectacular grand staircase to the strains of Gene Pitney’s “Town without Pity.”

When a distraught Crawford wails, “It’s just like 1937 all over again.” Mamacita replies, “When Hitler took Austria?” Crawford (ever the self-absorbed film diva): “No, when they labelled me box office poison.”

Davis on The Andy Williams show warbling her outrageously campy Chubby Checker-inspired novelty twist song in powder-blue pleated chiffon. What a bonanza of camp! No wonder the queers of 1962 had already embraced Davis as their queen! Watch how Sarandon lovingly recreates every swirling arm gesture and grimace.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies Film Club 2017: A Year in Review!

What with 2017 imminently drawing to a close, let’s take a wistful misty-eyed look back at what we screened this year at Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies – the free monthly film club downstairs at Fontaine’s bar in Dalston devoted to Bad Movies We Love (our motto: Bad Movies for Bad People), specialising in the kitsch, the cult and the queer! 

Considering Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies launched in November 2015, the film club is now two years old! If you've still never ventured downstairs into the Polynesian-style Tiki splendour of the Bamboo Lounge for one of our movie nights, what are you waiting for? Come explore the Wild, Wild World of Lobotomy Room! 

/ Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell: doomed girl band The Carrie Nations in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls /

/ “Men were toys for her amusement …” The truly glorious glamazonian Edy Williams as sexually voracious porn starlet Ashley St Ives in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (that’s Russ Meyer himself in the background) /

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls -  25 January 2017

Beyond bizarre! Beyond outrageous! Beyond any film you’ve ever seen before! Lobotomy Room presents the notorious Beyond the Valley of The Dolls

Most definitely not a sequel to the 1967 hit Valley of The Dolls (which we screened last year. An outraged Jacqueline Susann sued 20th Century Fox over the title and won), Beyond is entirely it’s its own animal. And what a frenzied animal it is! Co-author Roger Ebert himself called it “a camp sexploitation horror musical that ends in a quadruple ritual murder and a triple wedding.”

Like the original, however, Beyond – to quote the opening voice-over narration – “deals with the oft-times nightmare world of show business”, this time charting the progress of all-girl rock’n’roll trio The Carrie Nations in Hollywood’s ruthless and hedonistic glamour jungle. This is the Woodstock era but the bouffant-haired Carrie Nation are the girliest of girl bands. As John Waters says, “The Carrie Nations hardly looked like hippies. They looked like showgirls on LSD.” And for an emergent red-hot pop sensation, they only apparently have about three songs which we hear over and over and over again! (Members of The Carrie Nations neither sing or play their own instruments, which adds to the sense of artifice).

In any case, the rather vapid Carrie Nations are arguably overshadowed by sexually voracious porn starlet Ashley St Ives – a predatory glamazon in a crocheted bikini portrayed by the statuesque Edy Williams (whom Meyer would marry in 1970). Beyond concludes in a genuinely tasteless orgy of violence inspired by The Manson family murders. How many other films can you describe as “Jackie Susann-meets-Charles Manson”?

Rated “X” upon its release, Beyond represented b-movie sleaze maestro Meyer’s first time working at a big mainstream studio and the biggest budget he’d ever worked with. It shows onscreen: the costumes and decors are wildly baroque. Beyond is garish Pop Art, a comic strip come to life!

Decades later, Beyond still begs many questions: is it a parody of an exploitation film? Is it meant to be a satire? Are we supposed to take any of this seriously? Trying to work out Beyond is part of the fun! Certainly, its depiction of gay, lesbian and trans characters is what we would now call “problematic” to say the least. Commercially the film was successful, but the reviews were savage (Variety declared it “as funny as a burning orphanage”. Other assessments included “true pornography” and “utter garbage”). Judge for yourself on 25 January! The campy dialogue alone makes Beyond the Valley of the Dolls essential: “Hey! Don’t Bogart the joint!” “You’re a groovy boy. I’d like to strap you on sometime!” "This is my happening - and it freaks me out!" “Now you listen to me, hippie!” Kelly: “You’re turning me into a whore!” Lance: “You love it, you little freak!” “You will drink the black sperm of my vengeance!”

"I'll never look like Barbie. Barbie doesn't have bruises." Chloe Webb as Nancy Spungen in Sid and Nancy /

Sid and Nancy – 22 February 2017

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?

Read more here.

/ Below: my favourite of all Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford “looks” in Mommie Dearest: the bizarre 1960s blue pant-suited image with the huge chestnut bouffant wiglet. It’s very Jacqueline Susann / Valley of the Dolls

Mommie Dearest – 22 March 2017

Attention, all you bad muthas! This month the Lobotomy Room film club presents … Mommie Dearest!

Screening this notorious unintended camp classic (adapted from Christina Crawford’s 1978 revenge memoir about her relationship with adopted mother Joan Crawford) right now is timely for several reasons. We’ve scheduled it a bit earlier in the month to embrace the spirit of Mother’s Day! Its leading lady – scary screen diva Faye Dunaway - is currently in the news for that very unfortunate mishap with the Best Film winner envelope at the Academy Awards. And finally: now that the much-anticipated TV series Feud: Bette and Joan is underway, you can contrast Jessica Lange’s interpretation of Joan Crawford with Dunaway’s.

Anyway, ANY time is a good time to watch Mommie Dearest. Sure, it’s widely ridiculed as an embarrassing fiasco - but it’s also wildly entertaining. As John Waters argues, "I don't think this is a campy movie. I don't think it's so bad it's good. I think it's so good it's perfect."

Female Trouble – 26 April 2017

Cinema’s Sleaze Maestro (and Patron Saint of Lobotomy Room) John Waters turns 71 in April. To celebrate, this month’s presentation is Waters’ definitive trash epic Female Trouble (1974) on Wednesday 26 April! See freaky 300-pound hog princess Divine in his greatest role as unrepentant bad girl and criminal Dawn Davenport! 

In his 1981 book Shock Value, Waters himself outlines Female Trouble as “the story of a headline-seeking criminal named Dawn Davenport (Divine). The film traces her life from teenage years as a suburban brat to her untimely death in the electric chair.” As Jack Stevenson eloquently argues in his essay on Female Trouble in issue number five of Little Joe Magazine: “Waters’ films have been called comedies but this one is full of horror … the chemistry of the cast sets this film apart and makes it Waters’ most collaborative and yes, spiritual work. It was the film they were all put on earth to make, the culmination of a collective vision. The unjustly more celebrated Pink Flamingos is lifeless in comparison and was really just a dress rehearsal for Female Trouble. For Female Trouble Waters functioned more as a psychic medium than a movie director, populating his all-American disaster story with a large movable feast of cast, crew, friends and oddball “discoveries”, tapping into the spirit of the times as well as the spirit of a specific rebel milieu in Baltimore. Then he spiked it with energy, attitude and weirdness, and zapped it to life.”

/ Diana Ross in full diva-gone-berserk mode in Mahogany /

Mahogany – 17 May 2017

“I can never stress enough the importance of Diana Ross as a gay icon and Mahogany perfectly explains why. Both impossibly fabulous and impossibly camp, Ms. Ross is throwing tantrums, slapping people, fucking shit up, wearing an endless array of kimonos as a matter of course and just generally living her life.” OUT Magazine

This month’s presentation is Mahogany (1975) starring pop diva Diana Ross. And boy does Ross seize the opportunity to emote! It’s an outrageous, unintended so-bad-it’s-GREAT camp classic in the tradition of Valley of the Dolls, Mommie Dearest and Showgirls particularly beloved by drag queens. Find out why on Wednesday 17 May!

Mahogany is a lurid rags-to-riches melodrama starring Ross as Tracy, a poor but determined girl from the gritty Chicago slums dreaming of becoming a fashion designer. Instead, she winds up transformed into international supermodel Mahogany. But is success - and her decadent Euro-trash existence in La Dolce Vita Rome - all it’s cracked up to be? Note: your enjoyment of Mahogany will depend how much you like the number one Diana Ross song “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?” (It’s played over and OVER again in the film).

/ Jayne Mansfield's frosted white-lipsticked smile in The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield /

/ "Roma! City of gladiators!" Jayne Mansfield embracing Rome's la dolce vita in The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield

29 June 2017 is a holy day! It represents the fiftieth anniversary of the fatal car crash that killed beloved Lobotomy Room patron saint Jayne Mansfield (19 April 1933 – 29 June 1967). Let’s commemorate Jayne’s memory in the boozy style she would have wanted with a FREE screening of The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield!

Rated “X” upon its release in 1968, the ultra-trashy faux documentary Wild, Wild World chronicles the kinky globe-trotting misadventures of Hollywood sex kitten-gone-berserk Jayne Mansfield. Watch agog as scantily-clad camp 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, accompanied by her pet Chihuahua!

Let’s make the night a celebration of all things Jayne! Come dragged-up as Jayne Mansfield! Throw on a ratty blonde wig! Bring a Chihuahua! Giggle, squeal and cavort!

Not enough incentive? Drink a Jayne Mansfield-themed cocktail (light rum, raspberry liqueur and prosecco) for special offer price of £6.50! Free love heart candy, strawberry ice-cream and popcorn! Traditional white trash-style American hot dogs for £6!

/ See Marlene Dietrich wear a mini-dress - in 1931?! /

/ Marlene Dietrich in butch black leather as prostitute-turned-spy X-27 in the sublime 1931 film Dishonored /

Dishonored – 19 July 2017

Strictly speaking July is “Pride month”, so let’s seize the opportunity for a night of old-school diva worship on Wednesday 19 July! Dishonored (1931) stars sultry German glamour-puss (and perennial LGBTQ favourite) Marlene Dietrich as a World War I prostitute turned spy in a variation of the Mata Hara story. Filled with shimmering close-ups of Dietrich’s face and stylishly directed by Josef von Sternberg, Dishonored is strange, exotic, morbid and sexy – and the perfect film to watch over cocktails in the Art Deco surroundings of Fontaine’s!

/ The sensational Dorothy Malone in Written on the Wind /

/ The opulence! The fabulous Lauren Bacall, leading lady of Written on the Wind

Written on the Wind – 16 August 2017

On Wednesday 16 August, we present a night of sex and dying in high society – with a screening of Written on the Wind (1956)!

Director Douglas Sirk was the absolute maestro of lush, deluxe Techincolour fifties “women’s films” (think beautiful people with beautiful problems). Written on the Wind - praised by Roger Ebert as "a perverse and wickedly funny melodrama" – is one of his artistic pinnacles. It stars Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall, but the film is well and truly stolen by Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone in supporting roles as the rich and wildly dysfunctional siblings Kyle and Marylee Hadley. He’s a tortured, self-loathing and insecure alcoholic with “weak sperm”; she’s a voracious hot-pool-of-woman-need nymphomaniac tormented by her unrequited love for Hudson. Both devour the screen! Throughout, Malone - who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance - looks like one of the bullet bra’d bad girls from a trashy 1950s pulp novel come to pouting life. The scene where cat-on-a-hot tin roof Marylee dances to frantic mambo music in sexy lingerie in her bedroom … well, it just has to be seen to be believed! Watching Written on the Wind on the big screen over cocktails promises to be a lurid and head-spinning experience! 

/ Patty Duke and Susan Hayward in Valley of the Dolls /

Valley of the Dolls – 20 September 2017

Before Mommie Dearest ... before Showgirls ... the original “What the hell were they thinking?” Bad Movie We Love was show business cautionary tale 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 scandalous 1966 bestseller took the already lurid source material – and went even trashier with it!

Throw on a bouffant wig, get yourself a stiff drink and strap yourselves in for a wild ride when Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies presents Valley of The Dolls! 

Read more here

/ “Give this man satin undies, a dress, a sweater and a skirt or even the simple lounging outfit he has on – and he’s the happiest man in the world!” Legendarily inept "gutter auteur" Edward D Wood Jr in Glen or Glenda? /

Halloween Double Bill: Ed Wood / Glen or Glenda? 18 October 2017

Considering Halloween is “gay Christmas”, we’re embracing it big-style this October – with a themed double bill of Ed Wood (1994) and Glen or Glenda (1953)!

Yes! A Halloween tribute to Edward Wood Jr (1924 – 1978) and his frequent leading man, horror movie icon Bela Lugosi (1882 -1956)! Filmed in atmospheric black and white, Ed Wood is an affectionate biopic of the man widely hailed as the worst filmmaker of all time and the definitive collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Glen or Glenda? - also known as I Changed My Sex - is Wood’s own gloriously inept debut film, an autobiographical and mind-boggling cri de coeur as a transvestite and angora sweater fetishist

/ Ona Munson as Mother Gin Sling in The Shanghai Gesture

/ Ona Munson and Gene Tierney in The Shanghai Gesture / 

The Shanghai Gesture – 15 November 2017

Join us on 15 November for a descent into depravity with Josef von Sternberg’s The Shanghai Gesture (1941) – perhaps the wildest, weirdest film to come out of Golden Age Hollywood!

A torrid and baroque study in vengeance and corruption, the film sees Sir Guy Charteris (Walter Huston), a rich white industrialist with a murky past, seeking to gentrify Shanghai (he calls it "the cesspool of the Far East"). When gorgon-like dragon lady Mother Gin Sling (Ona Munson) learns he intends to close her gambling den she starts plotting her revenge. Meanwhile, slumming rich girl Poppy (the exquisite Gene Tierney) becomes ensnared by the toxic allure of the casino ("It smells so incredibly evil ..."), addicted both to gambling and the heavy-lidded charms of Dr Omar (a torpid Victor Mature in a burnoose and fez).

Filled with exotic locales, outrageous costumes, campy dialogue ("my plucked bird of paradise"; "Stop behaving like a disabled flamingo!") and featuring in the sinister Mother Gin Sling one of the all-time great screen villainesses, The Shanghai Gesture is the perfect film to watch over cocktails in the Tiki surroundings of The Bamboo Lounge! (Remember: the film is FREE so you can buy more cocktails!). Doors to the Bamboo Lounge open at 8 pm. Film starts at 8:30 prompt. Seating is limited - come early! Wearing a fez is highly encouraged!

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As you may know, BBC2 finally begins screening the sublime seven-part TV series Feud: Bette and Joan (about the arch rivalry of Golden Age Hollywood bitch goddesses extraordinaire Bette Davis and Joan Crawford) from Saturday 16 December. Therefore, Lobotomy Room is jumping on the bandwagon (I mean, embracing the spirit!) with a themed mini-season of "hagsploitation" horror films starring Crawford and Davis. We start on 20 December with the original mutha of them all, Gothic camp classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)! Upcoming titles in the New Year will include Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Strait-jacket!

Who knows what other putrid delights the Lobotomy Room film club holds in store for you next year? Some hints: 2018 represents the thirtieth anniversaries of the deaths of Divine and heroin-ravaged Warhol Superstar Nico - and the release of John Waters' 1988 masterpiece Hairspray! 

Further reading:

Everything we screened in 2016

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

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Coming up … the last Lobotomy Room club night of 2017!

Feeling jaded? Didn’t get the cha-cha heels you wanted? Head-bang away your post-Christmas blues – at Lobotomy Room!

Yes! 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 most unique nite spot Fontaine’s! Friday 29 December 2017!

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! 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! Grainy black-and-white vintage erotica projected on the big screen all night for your adult viewing pleasure!

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!

Full rancid details on the Facebook event page