Because nothing says "Christmas" like Ann-Margret in a leopard skin catsuit ...
Another night of Christmas-a-go-go! Much as I love it, by now even I am sick of Christmas music! Obviously on Christmas day I’ll be playing some 1950s Christmas lounge and jazz music while pounding back glasses of snowballs and mulled wine – but after that my Christmas compilations are being put on mothballs for twelve months.
This night Dr Sketchy was at probably my favourite of all our venues: the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. It’s long been the home of London’s most cutting edge alternative cabaret club nights (living up to its reputation as a historic music hall venue), and (gratifyingly for a DJ) its sound system is thunderously loud. The RVT was decorated with beautiful Christmas decorations (including big plaster cherubs), with moody atmospheric night club lighting and candles glowing on the tables: think festive but Weimar Republic decadent, as if the seedy nightclub in Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel(1930) was decorated for Christmas. In other words, the perfect locale for Dr Sketchy at Christmas! So I was annoyed when suddenly the houselights were cranked up again just when people were starting to filter in. There also seemed to be a commotion outside, with RVT staff rushing in and out, but I was busy DJ’ing and oblivious. Finally one of the bartenders came over and explained why they’d turned up the lights: there was a bomb scare outside; the surrounding area was taped off while it was being investigated. That’s the kind of news that really jangles your nerves, but we carried on in the British blitz spirit and hoped that we wouldn’t have to cancel, and that people would be able to arrive safely. Mercifully the bomb scare was a false alarm, and the place gradually filled up. We just had to push back the start time from 8:00 pm to 8.30 pm to accommodate late comers.
We had two models: Platinum blonde burlesque starlet Slinky Sparkles (a Dr Sketchy veteran) performed an adorable Christmas-themed striptease number giving new meaning to the concept of “Christmas stocking”. We also had a sinewy male model, Beau Black. The RVT is primarily a LGBT venue, and our shows there tend to get a little raunchier than normal, sometimes featuring full male nudity. At the end of night for the final sketch the two models plus suave emcee Dusty Limits and a member of the audience recreated a kinky, non-traditional (sacrilegious?) nativity scene onstage – for which Beau posed stark naked except for a Santa hat, while I played Wayne Newton belting out “Jingle Bell Rock!” My kind of Christmas!
Doing two sets now of Christmas tunes this month (see my playlist from 6 December 2010) made me realise how many endless versions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” I’ve played. Great songs that open themselves to infinite interpretations, but considering the lyrics of neither ever make reference to Christmas, it’s funny how they have been embraced as Christmas standards. (For the record, Julie London’s sloooowed down version of “I’ve Got My Love ...” is the sultriest of all time).
As of the next Dr Sketchy on 8 January 2011, normal musical service will be resumed. In the meantime ... Merry Christmas!
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town / White Christmas - Jimmy McGriff Winter Wonderland - Chet Baker Violets for Your Furs - The Continental Candles Glowing - Marlene Dietrich Silent Night - Dinah Washington First Snowfall - The Coctails Exotic Night - Martin Denny Let Christmas Ring - The Coolbreezers What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? Nancy Wilson My Christmas Prayer - Billy Fury White Christmas - Elvis Presley Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me - Mae West Santa Claus is Sometimes Brown - El Vez Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Wayne Newton Jingle All the Way - Lena Horne I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus / Jingle Bells Bossa Nova - Eddie Dunstedter Sorry to See You Go - June Christy Winter Wonderland - Peggy Lee Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Lou Rawls Let It Snow! Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - Eddie Dunstedter Christmas Time is Coming - Stormy Weather JIngle Bells - The Vel Mares Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas - Ruby Wright Santa! Please Don't Pass Me By - Jimmy Donley Sleigh Bells, Reindeer and Snow - Rita Faye Wilson I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Jimmy McGriff Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - Al Martino Jingle Bells / Jingle Bell Rock - The Hollyridge Strings Santa Claus is Comin' to Town - Lena Horne Far Away Christmas Blues - Little Esther Blues for Christmas - John Lee Hooker I'd Like You for Christmas - Julie London Christmas Time Is Here - El Vez Santa Claus is Back in Town - Mae West Christmas in Jail - The Youngsters Ole Santa - Dinah Washington Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Mambo - Billy May Winter Wonderland - Dean Martin Jingle Bells - Gene Autrey Fat Daddy - Fat Daddy Merry Christmas, Baby - Lou Rawls Nothin' for Christmas - Eartha Kitt Christmas Kisses - Ray Anthony I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Julie London Christmas Wish - El Vez Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt (1960s version) I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Billie Holiday Warm December - Julie London Baby It's Cold Outside - Dean Martin Cha Cha Cha All the Way - Capital Studio Orchestra The Merriest - June Christy White Christmas - Peggy Lee I'll Be Home for Christmas / Baby It's Cold Outside - Jackie Gleason / Jack Marshall Everybody's Waitin' for the Man with the Bag - Kay Starr Jingle Bell Rock - Wayne Newton Christmas Island - Bob Atcher & The Dinning Sisters I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Sammy Davis Jr and Carmen McRae This Year's Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt Santa Claus is Back in Town - Elvis Presley Frosty the Snowman - The Ventures
Haunting Christmas scene: pink flamingos in the snow
Keep up to date with upcoming Dr Sketchy's in the new year here
For the first of our two Christmas extravaganzas this month (this one was at The Paradise in Kensal Green), Dr Sketchy’s glamorous promoter and stage manager Clare Marie emerged from behind the scenes to emcee the night herself. Marianne Cheesecake (who’s done three Dr Sketchy’s in a row and is starting to feel like Dr Sketchy’s burlesque artiste in residence!) charmed the crowd with a great Santa’s little helper routine in green sequins. Considering it was a Christmas spectacular, we spiced things up with a grand total of four beautiful models: Marianne Cheesecake, Ruka, Violetta and Ellie.
Later on there was high drama when a woman in the audience accidentally set her hair on fire! She was leaning back to get a good photo of the performers onstage and leaned right back into the candle on the table behind her! I was DJ’ing and distracted, when I heard a woman scream, there was a puff of smoke and suddenly the air was filled with the stench of scorched hair. What was cartoon-like was the people surrounding her spotted her hair was on fire before she did and started screaming. She was initially oblivious. Horrifying, but mercifully she wasn’t hurt or even lost much hair! Also luckily it happened toward the end of the night. Once we realized she was OK we tried to get on with the rest of the show and pretend nothing had happened, but it was hard to ignore the smell of singed hair. She even said, "I feel like Michael Jackson!" She also said she was wearing lots of hairspray -- it could have been much worse. It was a very John Waters moment, actually! So please remember the hazards of combining long hair and candles this Christmas season, ladies.
Musically, it was a great opportunity to go heavy on the abrasive kitsch Christmas tunes. Things started off quite elegantly, with the focus on 1950s cool jazz (Chet Baker’s Christmas album – think Christmas standards played at sultry junkie tempo) and exotica / lounge (an ethereal Martin Denny track, a bossa nova interpretation of “Jingle Bells”, Marlene Dietrich huskily exhaling Christmas carols while still sounding like she’s straddling a chair backwards and wearing fishnet stockings). Later on I ramped up the campiness and sleaze appeal: Christmas novelty songs,Christmas doo wop, Christmas surf instrumentals, Christmas raunch (Mae West’s 1966 Christmas album),Christmas rockabilly (Elvis Presely, Billy Fury, Jack Scott), Christmas rhythm & blues (Little Esther, Dinah Washington), glitzy Vegas Christmas (Wayne Newton, Dean Martin), sex kitten Christmas (Julie London, Eartha Kitt), plus other oddities and curiousities.
Our next Christmas Dr Sketchy will be at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on 22 December – I’ll inevitably play the same tracks, but in a different order!
Christmas Song - Chet Baker That's What I Want for Christms - Nancy Wilson I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus / Jingle Bells Bossa Nova - Eddie Dunstedter Santa Claus is Comin' to Town - Lena Horne The First Snowfall - The Coctails Candles Glowing - Marlene Dietrich Exotic Night - Martin Denny Let Christmas Ring - The Coolbreezers Santa! Don't Pass Me By - Jimmy Donley Christmas Island - Bob Atcher & The Dinning Sisters Silent Night - Dinah Washington My Christmas Prayer - Billy Fury Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me - Elvis Presley Merry Christmas Baby - Mae West Sleighbells, Reindeer and Snow - Rita Faye Wilson Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Mambo - Billy May Brown Christmas - El Vez Jingle Bells - The Vel Mares Jingle Bell Rock - Wayne Newton I'm Gettin' Nothin' for Christmas - Eartha Kitt Christmas Wish - El Vez Far Away Christmas Blues - Little Esther Warm December - Julie London I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Billie Holiday Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley Ole Santa - Dinah Washington There's Trouble Brewin' - Jack Scott Santa Baby - Mae West Christmas Time Is Coming - Stormy Weather What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? Nancy Wilson Happy Holidays - Peggy Lee Fat Daddy - Fat Daddy All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth - Nat King Cole Have a Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas - Ruby Wright Sleigh Ride / Jingle Bells - Al Caiola & Riz Ortolani / Jimmy McGriff Jingle Bells - Gene Autrey Little Drummer Boy - Marlene Dietrich Snowfall / Snowfall Cha Cha Cha - George Shearing / Billy May I'd Like You for Christmas - Julie London Christmas in Jail - The Youngsters The Christmas Waltz - Nancy Wilson Blues for Christmas - John Lee Hooker Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me - Mae West Christmas Time Is Here - El Vez Christmas Kisses - Ray Anthony Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Julie London Baby It's Cold Outside - Dean Martin Everybody's Waitin' for the Man with the Bag - Kay Starr Frosty the Snowman - The Ventures Jingle Bells / Jingle Bell Rock - Hollyridge Strings Here Comes Santa Claus - Elvis Presley I Wish You a Merry Christmas - Big Dee Irwin & Little Eva Let It Snow - Wayne Newton This Year's Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
Essential Christmas viewing ... John Waters' 1974 classick "Female Trouble":
"I hate you, I hate this house and I hate Christmas!"
Jazz sex kitten Ann Richards posing for Playboy magazine in 1961
It was a night of technical hitches a-go go! Like I’ve said before the decks and controls for the lights, etc in the DJ booth at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern are as complicated as the control panels of a helicopter! When I was setting up the venue's manager was kindly helping and somehow the dry ice machine got accidentally switched on – and then we couldn’t work out how to turn it off again. Dry ice kept billowing out, filling the whole venue with thick smoke. Finally he had to phone someone to instruct him how to switch it off. Mercifully it was all resolved before punters started arriving: I was thinking we’d need to fling open all the doors to air the place out, but by the time people arrived there wasn’t even a hint of grey mist.
Later one of the performers realised she’d brought the wrong CD for her number and she couldn’t dance without it. She had the song on her iPod but try as we might we couldn’t get any audio when we tried to play her iPod through the decks – nightmare. And none of my music was suitable for her act. To her eternal credit, at the last minute she did a whole other routine based around the music she did bring and really saved things – and the audience was none the wiser.
Otherwise: a great night. The crowd was up for it, the two featured burlesque performers (Sophia St Villier and Marianne Cheesecake) were both seasoned Dr Sketchy veterans, and Ophelia Bitz emceed again in her inimitably sassy and casual way.
Early on I eased into things (and calmed my frazzled nerves!) with some lounge, Fifties Cool Jazz and Latin exotica – as the night progressed the music got sleazier and more raucous. I had to play a Juliette Greco track (the classic “La Javanaise”, written for her by Serge Gainsbourg) because some friends and I went to see the legendary Parisian beatnik chanteuse's breathtaking concert at The Royal Festival Hall on 21 November – that merits its own blog, which I'll try do soon.
I’m a sucker for obscure jazz and blues singers with tragic life stories. Sick, I know. Someone who definitely fits that bill (and who I play on a regular basis at Dr Sketchy) is the beautiful and talented but doomed 1950s jazz vocalist and sex kitten Ann Richards. As a rising starlet under the wing of her husband, big band jazz leader Stan Kenton, Richards seemed destined for great things. But while she emerged from the same 1950s cool jazz style of singing as Julie London and June Christy, Richards sadly never quite achieved their level of stardom. After her marriage to Kenton ended her career began to circle the drain: posing for Playboy magazine in 1961 to promote her Ann, Man! album backfired, leading to scandal rather than reviving interest in her career. From there Richards succumbed to depression and alcoholism (although apparently never stopped performing, singing in jazz clubs in Los Angeles) until she died aged 46 in 1982 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Thankfully her music lives on and her reputation has been rehabilitated. Ann Richards deserved a lot better, and I highly recommend her sultry, swinging Ann, Man! album (from which her finger-snapping rendition of the Dinah Washington standard “Evil Gal Blues” comes from). See more pics from Richards's Playboy spread here.
Hurt - Timi Yuro I Remember You - Chet Baker Playboy's Theme - Cy Coleman Life Is But a Dream - The Harptones One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) - Marlene Dietrich Exotique Bossa Nova / Quiet Village Bossa Nova - Martin Denny La Javanaise - Juliette Greco Requiem pour un Twister - Serge Gainsbourg Mack the Knife - Hildegard Knef Blues for Beatniks - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Besame Mucho - Betty Reilly Eso - Conjunto TNT Kiss Me Honey Honey - The Delmonas Tonight You Belong to Me - Patience and Prudence Honey Rock - Barney Kessel Somebody Buy Me a Drink - The Earls of Suave Honey's Lovin' Arms - Robert Mitchum Little Things Mean a Lot - Jayne Mansfield I Love the Life I Live - Esquerita Save It - Mel Robbins A Week from Tuesday - The Pastels I Would If I Could - Ruth Brown Nosey Joe - Bull Moose Jackson Interlude - Sarah Vaughan Harlem Nocturne - The Viscounts Honeysuckle Rose - Lena Horne Mack the Knife - Bill Black's Combo Falling in Love Again - Billie Holiday You're My Thrill - Chet Bake (instrumental version) Everybody Loves My Baby - Brigitte Bardot The Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Sam Butera No Love for Daddy - Serge Gainsbourg I'm in Love Again - Lizabeth Scott I Feel So Mmmm - Diana Dors She Acts Like a Woman Should - Marilyn Monroe Blondie's Strip - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) The Beast - Milt Buckner Mack the Knife - Eartha Kitt (you can never play too many versions of Mack the Knife) Baubles, Bangles and Beads - Marlene Dietrich Some Small Chance - Serge Gainsbourg (Strip-Tease soundtrack) Lovin' Spree - Ann-Margret Begin the Beguine - Billy Fury Desfinado - Si Zentner Blockade - The Rumblers Bacon Fat - Andre Williams You Can't Stop Her - Bobby Marchan Cherry Wine - Little Esther Tuxedo Junction - Bill Black Combo Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby? Dinah Washington Evil Gal Blues - Ann Richards The Stripper - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Night Train - Alvino Rey Drums A Go Go - The Hollywood Persuaders Fever - Timi Yuro Blue Kat - Chuck Rio & The Originals Summertime - Little Esther Revelion - The Revels The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard Chattanooga Choo Choo - Denise Darcel Jungle Drums - Earl Bostick I Put a Spell on You - Nina Simone Stop and Listen - Mickey and Ludella Drive Daddy Drive - Little Sylvia Bewildered - Shirley & Lee I'll Upset You Baby - Lula Reed Stranger in My Own Hometown - The Earls of Suave
The titty shaker du jour:
Don't miss out! Keep track of upcoming Dr Sketchy's here.
I can't imagine DJ'ing at Dr Sketchy and not playing at least one track from John Barry's soundtrack for the ultra kitsch 1960 sexploitation B-movie Beat Girl (aka Wild for Kicks). The moody and atmospheric album cover alone is inspiring: Shirley-Anne Field pouting in front of a vintage jukebox, dreamy young Adam Faith in a black leather jacket brooding over a cappuccino and sex kitten Gillian Hill painstakingly styled to look exactly like Brigitte Bardot.
For some reason DJ'ing at Saturday afternoon Dr Sketchy's at The Old Queen’s Head in Angel always feel more relaxed and laid-back. This time the guest emcee was the vivacious Ophelia Bitz (my first time working with her; it was a real pleasure) and the models / performers were Scarlett Daggers and Marianne Cheesecake. It was a nice day: I drank two pints of lager on a practically empty stomach, which made me very mellow (that’s the problem when you DJ in the middle of the afternoon! Obviously I could have drunk coffee instead of beer, like the sensible and professional Ms Bitz). During the break a cute rockabilly couple were dancing to the music I was playing, which was insanely flattering. I eased into DJ’ing by playing some mambo and Latin exotica. Later on I played more rockabilly than usual in honour of Scarlett Daggers' stage persona, which is inspired by outsider fetish artist Vince Ray's Bettie Page-style bad girl drawings.
Tierra va Temblar - Eartha Kitt Ou Es-Tu Ma Joie? Caterina Valente I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me - John Buzon Trio Yeh, Yeh! - Mongo Santamaria Pauvre Lola - Serge Gainsbourg Ich bin leider viel zu faul (Laziest Gal in Town) - Hildegard Knef You Make Me Feel So Young - Chet Baker Call Me Irresponsible - Dinah Washington Topsy - Joe Bucci Trio A Week from Tuesday - Pastel Six I Ain't Drunk (I'm Just Drinking) - Jimmy Liggins I Ain't in the Mood - Helen Humes Stranger in My Own Home Town - Elvis Presley x-rated version Wait a Minute, Baby - Esquerita Beaver Shot - The Periscopes The Flirt - Shirley & Lee Revelion - The Revels That's How It Is - Diana Dors Red Hot - Billy Lee Riley Accentuate the Positive - Bill Black Combo Mondo Moodo - The Earls of Suave Angel Face - Billy Fury Uska Dara - Eartha Kitt Shangri-La - Spike Jones New Band Lust - Les Baxter Sexe - Line Renaud Cherry Pink - Bill Black Combo Love Me or Leave Me - Lena Horne Blues for Beatniks - John Barry (Beat Girl Soundtrack) Don't You Feel My Leg - Blue Lu Barker Melancholy Serenade - King Curtis Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - Eartha Kitt Basin Street Blues - Julie London No Good Lover - Mickey & Sylvia Blue Moon Baby - Dave "Diddle" Day Lucille - Little Richard Suey - Jayne Mansfield Cheap Wine - The Earls of Suave Fool I Am - Pat Ferguson Hound Dog - Little Esther Such a Night - Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters Ooh! Look-A There Ain't She Pretty - Bill Haley & His Comets Woman Love - Gene Vincent Salamander - Mamie van Doren(See video below) Little Girl - John & Jackie Boss - The Rumblers Tall Cool One - The Wailers Give Me Love - Lena Horne Honeysuckle Rose - Marlene Dietrich You're My Thrill (instrumental) - Chet Baker The Immediate Pleasure - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) I'm a Fool to Want You - Billie Holiday Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Denise Darcel Anytime - Bill Black Combo All of Me - Mae West Begin the Beguine - Ann-Margret Desfinado - Si Zentner Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters Comin' Home - The Delmonas Rip It Up - Little Richard One, Two, Let's Rock - Sugar Pie & Pee Wee Fever - Nancy Sit Uptown to Harlem - Johnny Thunders & Patti Paladin
For her first pose, Scarlett Daggers wore a harem girl outfit -- a great excuse to play Eartha Kitt's hip-swivelling Turkish delight "Uska Dara."
Eartha singing "Uska Dara" in 1952:
And in a 1967 TV special:
Ultimate 1950s bullet bra'd bad girl Mamie van Doren belting out the song "Salamander" (backed by rockabilly hearthrob Eddie Cochran on guitar -- frustratingly, you get just a few glimpses of him) in the 1957 juvenile delinquent film Untamed Youth.
Seeing as how this time it fell on 20 October, it qualified as the Hallowe'en Dr Sketchy. Our elegant emcee Dusty Limits wore special cadaverous make-up to mark the occasion, and needless to say it was a great excuse for me to go heavy on the kitschy 1950s and 60s Halloween novelty records: think Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Screaming Lord Sutch -- loads of screaming, basically. Inevitably I played the daddy of all Halloween novelty records – “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett – but I saved it until the end of the night. I also worked in some weird curiosities: The Yma Sumac track comes from her 1957 Legend of the Jivaro album with the infamous cover of her hovering over a steaming cauldron, contemplating a shrunken head: it sounds like a voodoo priestess casting a spell. And a spine-tingling instrumental from a genuine Satanist: Anton LaVey, High Priest of the Church of Satan, was also a musician – and a friend of Jayne Mansfield. (See below. The photo is faded, but that's a skull Jayne is clutching):
My favourite Halloween record, though, is by the more obscure and enigmatic Tarantula Ghoul. Like Vampira before her and Elvira afterwards, Ghoul provided campy comedic introductions to horror films as the macabre Morticia Addams-like hostess of her own weekly TV show called House of Horror in 1957 – 1959 in Portland, Oregon. Sadly no footage of the show survives, but backed by her band The Gravediggers Ghoul cut one immortal single in her brief heyday: “Graveyard Rock” /”King Kong” (both songs are so good it qualifies as a double A-side!). Listening to Tarantula Ghoul’s sexily malevolent purring voice (pitched somewhere between Tallulah Bankhead and Eartha "I Want to Be Evil" Kitt) makes me wish everyday was Halloween. Read more about the alluring Ms Ghoul here; you can listen to and download “Graveyard Rock”/”King Kong” here.
Various glamour shots of Tarantula Ghoul:
Anyway, it was a fun night: the two featured models / performers (Agent Lynch and Lumberjack Luke) were both great and the legendary Royal Vauxhall Tavern is my favourite venue to DJ at. I hope the set list below might provide some inspiration for anyone planning a Halloween party.
In a similar vein: I found an old interview with Poison Ivy and the late Lux Interior (RIP) of The Cramps (a band that warped me at a young age) in an issue of Details magazine from 1994. They give tips on how to make your Halloween party truly memorable:
Put Valium in the punch bowl * Play music loud enough so guests are forced to do anything but talk * Throw out guests who whine for white wine * Give home perms, tattoos and / or bikini waxes to guests who pass out
Lux suggests these frighteningly good tunes for a perfect party tape
“Midnight Stroll” – Revels “The Green Slime” – The Green Slime “Mr Ghost Goes to Town” – Louis Prima “The Headless Horseman” – Kay Starr “The Ghost of Smokey Joe” – Cab Calloway
The article concludes with a recipe for their toxic-sounding Poison Ivy’s Scarlet Sangria:
To one large cauldron add: 13 pints blood-red wine. 1 #5 beaker cognac. 69 cc’s Cointreau, and slivers of blood oranges. For a really dramatic effect, light with a blowtorch and set fire to the house as you serve. Kills eight
Contestants in a 1950s Vampira lookalike contest. Some of these chicks are even scarier than they intended to be -- the one on the far right with the white belt looks like she should be entering a Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch of the West contest.
The genuine article:
Night Scene - The Rumblers Sick and Tired - Lula Reed Save It - Mel Robbins Get Back Baby - Esquerita Ghost Satellite - Bob & Jerry Night of The Vampire - The Moontrekkers Sauma (Magic) - Yma Sumac Rockin' In the Graveyard - Jackie Morningstar Torture Rock - Rockin' Belmarx Beat Generation - Mamie van Doren Skull & Crossbones - Sparkle Moore Vesuvius - The Revels The Monster - Bobby Please & The Pleasers Wino - Jack McVea Drac's Back - Billy DeMarco & Count Dracula The Whip - The Frantics Frankenstein's Den - The Hollywood Flames Frenzy - The Hindus The Creature from Outer Space - The Jayhawks Bloodshot - The String Kings Strollin' Spooks - Ken Nordine Bop Pills - Macy "Skip" Skipper Bo Meets the Monster - Bo Diddley The Whip - The Originals Monster Party - Bill Doggett Caravan - John Buzon Trio The Munsters Theme -All-Stars / Milton DeLugg Dragon Walk - The Noblemen Nightmare Mash - Billy Lee Riley Black Tarantula - Jody Reynolds Tall Cool One - The Wailers Oo Ba La Baby - Mamie van Doren Red-Headed Flea - The Caps Big Man - Carl Matthews King Kong - Tarantula Ghoul & Her Gravediggers The Way I Walk - The Cramps Mr Werewolf - the Kac-ties Spooksville - the Nu-Trends Drums A-Go-Go - The Hollywood Persuaders Do The Zombie - The Symbols Screamin' Ball - The DuPonts Midnight Stroll - The Revels The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - The Monotones Vampira - Bobby Bare Graveyard Rock - Tarantula Ghoul & Her Gravediggers She is My Witch - Kip Tyler I'd Rather Be Burned as a Witch - Eartha Kitt The Voodoo Walk - Cindy & Misty/ Sonny Richard's Panics Alligator Wine - Johnny Thunders & Patti Paladin Monster in Black Tights - Screamin' Lord Sutch Satan Takes a Holiday - Anton LaVey Goo Goo Muck - Ronnie Cook & The Gay Lads Monster Surfing Time - The Deadly Ones I Put A Spell on You - Screaming Jay Hawkins Theme from The Addams Family - The Fiends Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett Dinner with Dracula - Zacherley The Werewolf - The Frantics The Mummy's Ball - The Verdicts The Mummy - Bob McFadden Frankenstein's Party - The Swingin' Phillies Feast of the Mau Mau - Screaming Jay Hawkins Coolest Little Monster - Zacherley
Read a nice write-up Dr Sketchy got in The Erotic Review -- the journalist was at the Halloween night. For all your Dr Sketchy needs, refer to this.
A special thank you to Steve "Evil" Eden for sharing his stash of Halloween novelty songs with me.
Above: Perma-pouting film noir icon Gloria Grahame in sweater girl mode, demonstrating how best to fill out a bullet bra
Getting to the venue was a chaotic, sweat-drenched nightmare, but even the tube strike didn't dampen what turned out to be a fun night. The featured performer and model was Beau Burlington. For one of her poses she worked a motorcycle mama / rock chick look (black leather jacket, long black boots), so I cranked up some female-fronted rockabilly: Wanda Jackson, Jackie De Shannon and a sultry psychobilly deconstruction of the old Peggy Lee standard “Woman” by my old mates Empress of Fur.
For one of Beau’s earlier poses I played a great new discovery. I love the jazz staple “Caravan”, and this accordion-driven version by The Dell Trio is the most berserk I’ve ever heard – so lurching, abrasive and frantic, it sounds like it could be played under the opening credits of a horror film. Listen to it here on the great blog The Homoerratic Radio Show.
Little Ole Wine Drinker Me - Robert Mitchum Stranger in My Own Home Town - The Earls of Suave Love Potion # 9 - Nancy Sit Tonight You Belong to Me - Patience and Prudence Drums A Go Go - The Hollywood Persuaders Oh Lonesome Me - Ann-Margret You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog - Little Esther Yogi - Bill Black Combo Oo Bala Baby - Mamie van Doren Hearts Made of Stone - Otis William & The Charms I'll Upset You Baby - Lula Reed Poontang - The Treniers Fool I Am - Pat Ferguson My Heart Goes Piddily Patter Patter - Nappy Brown I Would if I Could - Ruth Brown Too Old to Cut the Mustard - Marlene Dietrich & Rosemary Clooney Honey Rock - Barney Kessel Comin' Home - The Delmonas Gizmo - Jimmy Heaps Tight Skirt, Tight Sweater - The Versatones Caravan - The Dell Trio Teach Me Tonight - Dinah Washington Too Close for Comfort - Eartha Kitt Yes Sir, That's My Baby - Ann Richards Baby Won't You Please Come Home - Julie London Spring, Sprang, Sprung - Jack Fascinato I Wanna Be Loved - Ann-Margret Les Feuilles Mortes - Juliette Greco Autumn Leaves - Eartha Kitt Petite Fleur - Chet Baker Crazy Horse Swing - Serge Gainsbourg (Strip-tease soundtrack) My Heart Belongs to Daddy - Hildegard Knef Tuxedo Junction - Bill Black Combo I Did What You Told Me - Adam Faith (Beat Girl soundtrack) Woh! Woh! Yea - The Dynamos If I Could Be with You - Mae West Night Scene - The Rumblers Lucky - Lizabeth Scott Beaver Shot - The Periscopes Woman - Empress of Fur You Don't Know, Baby - Wanda Jackson Trouble - Jackie De Shannon The Strip - The Upsetters Harlem Nocturne - The Viscounts L'Eau à La Bouche - Serge Gainsbourg Strip-tease - Nico (Strip-tease soundtrack) Misirlou - Laurindo Almeida You're My Thrill - Chet Baker (instrumental version) Mack the Knife - Hildegard Knef Begin the Beguine - Billy Fury Boulevard of Broken Dreams / Fever - Sam Butera I Wanna Be Loved by You - Marilyn Monroe Everybody Loves My Baby - Brigitte Bardot
Sleazy does it ... my all-time favourite actor, the ultra-suave Robert Mitchum, was an underrated singer.
Resident emcee Dusty Limits suggested the theme "autumn" -- a good excuse to play Juliette Greco's version of the classic chanson "Les Feuilles Mortes", followed by Eartha Kitt singing the English language version, "Autumn Leaves." Here La Greco gives an exquisite and intense performance of "Les Feuilles Mortes" on German TV in the early 70s -- but check out how stony-faced and unmoved the tuxedo-clad audience is at the end. Tough crowd!
People often ask me, So what kind of music do you play at Dr Sketchy? Obviously it covers a wide range of various styles of kitsch and vintage sleaze, but strictly speaking the technical term for much of what I play is “Tittyshaker.” Think desperate, grinding instrumentals propelled by honking saxophone designed for strippers to rotate their nipple tassels to; the soundtracks of grainy black and white 1950s and 60s sexploitation B-movies; sequinned go-go dancers writhing in a cage ... and you’re on the right track. If you're curious to hear more, this excellent website is devoted to the dark art of the tittyshaker.
This time as well as the usual ass-shaking vintage sleaze I incorporated some calypso (Robert Mitchum and Mamie van Doren singing calypso = kitsch heaven), latin exotica, doo wop, rhythm and blues and more rockabilly than usual. Obviously I try to take my musical cues from the costumes the models are wearing and the poses they strike. For example, when Peekaboo Pointe posed wearing black sparkly cat’s ears, I went with a feline vibe (i.e. “Sweet Little Pussycat” by Andre Williams, “The Pussycat Song” by Connie Vannett – a song whose single entendre lyrics are so blue the audience always starts tittering). More of a challenge was Bomb Voyage who wore a blood-splattered corset and a nurse’s hat – tricky to know what to do with that! That’s why midway down my set list it suddenly takes on a bit of a morbid horror theme.
Vírgenes del Sol - Yma Sumac Eso - Conjunto TNT Oink Oink Mambo - Chuy Reyes & His Orchestra Thunderbird - The Casualaires No Good Lover - Mickey & Sylvia Jelly Roll Rock - Walter Brown & His Band Beauty is Only Skin Deep - Robert Mitchum Go Calypso - Mamie van Doren Intoxica - The Centurions Peter Gunn Locomotion - The Delmonas Night Scene - The Rumblers Tight Skirt, Tight Sweater - The Versatones Near You - Marlene Dietrich Like Young - Dave Pell Dancing on the Ceiling - Chet Baker Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer - Nina Simone Maybe Baby - Esquerita I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers The Flirt - Shirley & Lee Vesuvius - The Revels Daddy Daddy - Ella Mae Morse The Whip - The Frantics Crawfish - Johnny Thunders & Patti Paladin Blue Moon Baby - Dave Diddle Day Cyclone Bop - Bill Black Combo Life is But a Dream - The Harptones Bye Bye Young Men - Ruth Brown I'll Upset You, Baby - Lula Reed Hump-A-Baby - Little Ritchie Ray Blockade - The Rumblers Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters Anytime - Bill Black Combo Sweet Little Pussycat - Andre Williams Pussycat Song - Connie Vannett Aged and Mellow - Little Esther Make Love to Me - June Christy Shangri-La - Spike Jones New Band Do It Again - Eartha Kitt Lazy - Marilyn Monroe Caravan - John Buzon Trio Frankie and Johnny - Mae West Stagger Lee - Lloyd Price I Was Born to Cry - Dion You'd Better Stop - LaVerne Baker Kiss Me Honey Honey - The Delmonas Jungle Drums - Earl Bostic Wo Ist Der Mann? - Jayne Mansfield Bloodshot - The String Kings The Strangeness in Me - The Runabouts She's My Witch - Kip Tyler I'd Rather Be Burned as a Witch - Eartha Kitt Sinners - Freddie & The Hitchhikers Werewolf - The Frantics Black Tarantula - Jody Reynolds Give Me a Woman - Andy Starr Esquerita and The Voola - Esquerita Yogi - Bill Black Combo Boss - The Rumblers 8 Ball - The Hustlers The Stripper - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Mack the Knife - Bill Black Combo C'est Si Bon - Ann-Margret Love for Sale - Hildegard Knef Pop Slop - Bela Sanders und Sein Orchester One, Two, Let's Rock - Sugar Pie & Pee Wee Eager Beaver Baby - Johnny Burnette Rip It Up - Little Richard Pink Champagne - The Tyrones
I can’t imagine DJ’ing and not playing at least one track by the late, great Esquerita – an endless source of fascination and inspiration for me. Little Richard may be the Queen of Rock'n'Roll, but Esquerita (his chief influence) comes close. I played “Esquerita and the Voola” while Bomb Voyage and Peekaboo Pointe posed together – with Esquerita’s knuckle-pounding off-key piano and blood-curdling whooping, it sounds like the soundtrack to a voodoo ceremony. Read about the demented genius and tragic life of Esquerita on this excellent blog.
Esquerita at the height of his beauty. I only wish I'd been there to light his cigarette for him:
Another heroine (and one I had the chance to meet before she died): sex kitten deluxe Eartha Kitt. "Do It Again" tends to be perceived as one of Marilyn Monroe's musical signatures, but I love Eartha's sensual, purring rendition. Check out her singing it on a 1962 television special -- her constant smouldering eye contact is mesmerising.
Cyril Roy is like my petit frère. I got to know him in the mid-90s when he used to play in the awesome garage punk band The Sires (I interviewed them for the legendary hardcore punk zine MAXIMUMROCKNROLL). He also used to work behind the bar at The Elephants Head in Camden Town (my all-time favourite pub). With his raspy Pepé Le Pew French accent and Gallic joie de vivre, Cyril was a much-loved fixture in London on the retro rock scene. Years ago he married a Japanese woman and re-located to Tokyo, where he managed a bar. Every few years he visits London, and is as reliably debauched and hilarious as ever.
A while back I started getting occasional cryptic emails from Cyril saying he got an acting gig and would be appearing in the new film by Gaspar Noé, the French-Argentinean enfant terrible / provocateur notorious for the brutal rape revenge film Irreversible (I’ve never seen that film and don’t intend to – I’m very squeamish. I know someone who saw it years ago and is still traumatised!). This was a very surprising development, as Cyril had never expressed an interest in acting. Sure enough, when the film Enter the Void screened at Cannes in 2009 there was Cyril photographed with Noé and the rest of the cast on the red carpet. I’ve been dying to ask him about it ever since.
Finally caught up with Cyril this week when he was passing through London (touring with the Japanese garage punk band The Minnesota Voodoomen), which coincided with the film’s premiere in London. Managed to snatch a quick drink with Cyril before seeing a screening of Enter the Void at The Curzon in Soho (at the French House, appropriately enough). Over a large Pernod Cyril explained how someone from Noé’s production company asked to rent one of the function rooms at the bar where he works to hold auditions for the film. Cyril had been a fan of Irreversible and was curious to meet Noé. When they finally did meet, Noé – presumably impressed by Cyril’s charisma and grungy sense of style -- asked him if he’d be interested in doing a screen test. Apparently he liked the results, because Cyril wound up with one of the lead roles! To me, Cyril is the best thing in the film – but then I would say that.
Enter the Void is Noé’s hellish, hallucinatory vision of Tokyo as a neon-lit purgatory. The soundtrack is mostly one long menacing industrial throb while Noe’s astonishingly mobile camera swirls and swoops overhead, capturing a cavalcade of depravity below. In truth I’d find it hard to recommend the film (it’s two and a half punishing and intense hours of having your face rubbed in squalor!) but it is virtuoso and original filmmaking – Enter the Void is a bit of an endurance test, but also a genuinely memorable experience. And I’m so proud of Cyril! He told me that Noe paid him the compliment that he “eats the screen.” It’s true, he does.
Characteristic pose for Cyril outside The French House in Soho: drink in one hand (Pernod), cigarette in the other. Note the beautiful skull ring.
Cyril and Dominique Gillan outside the Wenlock Arms in Shoreditch
Cyril and I outside the Wenlock Arms in Shoreditch
Cyril and French chanteuse Fabienne Delsol (his former bandmate in The Sires) outside the Wenlock Arms in Shoreditch
Cyril displaying his impessive Japanese tattoo. (Trust me, it extends down to his ass)
Enter the Void UK trailer:
Read Peter Bradshaw's five star (!) review of Enter the Void in The Guardian here.
Read an interview I did with Cyril circa 1998 and his bandmates in Dollicious for Razorcake.
Quickly posting my set list from earlier today -- I depart to Canada for two weeks early tomorrow. It was a fun and memorable Dr Sketchy: the burlesque performer / model this time was Khandie Kisses. Our usual resident emcee Dusty Limits was indisposed; his replacement was glamorous burlesque performer Kiki Kaboom. I’d never worked with her before and she was a blast: a wry, relaxed and engaging mistress of ceremonies, and best of all she finished things off by serenading a guy from the audience with an alluring rendition of the Marilyn Monroe standard “You’d Be Surprised.”
Kiki in action (her showreel, to the tune of the awesome "Boss" by The Rumblers):
Playboy's Theme - Cy Coleman Eso - Conjunto TNT Mi Palomito - Yma Sumac Chihuahua - Luis Oliviera Vesuvius - The Revels Java Partout - Juliette Greco Gizmo - Jimmy Heap Go Calypso - Mamie van Doren Sunny - Robert Mitchum Frankie and Johnny - Bill Black Combo I Found Her - Esquerita Bye Bye Young Men - Ruth Brown Stranger in My Own Home Town (x-rated version) - Elvis Presley I Need Your Lovin' - Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford Strange Love - Slim Harpo Bewildered- Shirley & Lee Begin the Beguine - Billy Fury Rock'n'Roll Waltz - Ann-Margret Destination Moon - Dinah Washington Fever - Nancy Sit Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers Groovy - The Groovers L'Appareil a Sous - Bardot It's Legal - Shirley Ann Field / John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Jungle Drums - Earl Bostick Where's the Money, Honey? Chubby Newsome Crybaby - The Honey Sisters Boss - The Rumblers Love is Strange - Johnny Thunders & Patti Paladin Salamander - Mamie van Doren Yogi - Bill Black Combo The Whip - The Originals 8 Ball - The Hustlers Summertime - Little Esther Little Things Mean a Lot - Jayne Mansfield Sweet Little Pussycat - Andre Williams Pussycat Song - Connie Vannett I Feel So Mmmm - Diana Dors Like Young - Dave Pell C'est Si Bon - April Stevens Pop Slop - Bela Sanders und Sein Tanzorchester Hot Toddy - Julie London Last Night - Lula Reed Dragon Walk - The Noblemen Heartbreak Hotel - Ann-Margret Chattanooga Choo Choo - Denise Darcel Blue Kat - Chuck Rio & The Originals Aged & Mellow - Little Esther The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard St Louis Blues - Eartha Kitt I Was Born to Cry - Johnny Thunders I Love the Life I Live - Esquerita Monkey Bird - The Revels Someone to Love - Dinah Washington Astrosonic - Jimmie Haskell Hearts Made of Stone - Rudy Gray Comin' Home - The Delmonas Train to Nowhere - The Champs Tiger - Sparkle Moore Thirteen Men - Ann-Margret A Guy What Takes His Time - Marlene Dietrich Jim Dandy - LaVerne Baker I'd Love to Take Orders from You - Mildred Bailey Tuxedo Junction - Bill Black Combo Wo ist Der Man? Jayne Mansfield My Daddy Rocks Me - Mae West Nite Hawks - The Chicken Grabber Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Sam Butera Whatever Lola Wants - Eartha Kitt You're My Thrill - Chet Baker (instrumental version, not vocal version) I'll Upset You, Baby - Lula Reed The Beast - Milt Buckner Je t'aime, Moi Non Plus - Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot Black Coffee - Julie London Ou es-tu Ma Joie? Caterina Valente Mambo Miam Miam - Serge Gainsbourg Lover - Peggy Lee Ole Devil Moon - Chet Baker Wondrous Place - Billy Fury Fever - Timi Yuro Beat Girl - Adam Faith Honeysuckle Rose - Marlene Dietrich Look-a-There, Ain't She Pretty? Bill Haley & His Comets Uptown to Harlem - Johnny Thunders & Patti Paladin
Nice'n'sleazy does it every time ... "The Whip", one of the ultimate bump and grind titty twisters by The Originals:
The sublime Brigitte Bardot in 1963. Music by Serge Gainsbourg:
Saw the new Serge Gainsbourg biopic earlier this week. Not sure what to make of it: the tone and pacing of the film strange and uneven, some of the more whimsical bits really grated on me (am unconvinced by the puppet representing Gainsbourg’s subconscious – if you see the film, you’ll know what I mean!). On the plus side, it looked stunning, the performances were great (was really enjoyable seeing how the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Juliette Greco portrayed) and Gainsbourg’s music on the soundtrack gave me goose bumps. Many years ago I wrote a piece about Gainsbourg for the punk zine Razorcake. Seeing the film inspired me to dredge it up again: I’d write it very differently now, but in any case here it is!
Felt like one of the sweatier, more chaotic Dr Sketchy nights, but still fun – some challenges can really keep you on your toes and keep you focused. The main technical glitch was that no one could locate a microphone for the master of ceremonies Dusty Limits to use. It stressed me out, but Dusty is such a consummate pro he was completely nonchalant about it and just projected his voice a bit louder. (Anyway, a mic was finally sourced midway through the night for him). The two exquisite models were Miss Johnson (aka Ruka, the brains and beauty behind Sugarlesque) and Vee Worldmistress. Towards the end of the night they posed together. I had an elegant French chanson number cued up and ready to play, but then I saw their pose: Miss Johnson sprawled across Vee’s lap, ready to be spanked, straight out of an Irving Klaw / Bettie Page bondage photo session. So I scrambled to find and cue something more raunchy and lewd: “Here Comes the Bug” by The Rumblers (the percussion almost sounds like spanking noises anyway).
Catwalk - Jack Constanzo
All of Me - Little Jimmy Scott
Pick Up - The Corvettes
Beat Generation - Mamie van Doren
Little Ole Wine Drinker Me - Robert Mitchum
Oh Baby - Esquerita
I Would If I Only Could - Ruth Brown
After Hours - Bob Taylor
Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret
Nosey Joe - Bull Moose Jackson
Destination Moon - Dinah Washington
Astrosonic - Jimmie Haskell
Fool I Am - Pat Ferguson
Frenzy - The Hindus
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
The Strip - The Upsetters
Vesuvius - The Revels
It's Legal - Shirley Ann Field / John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack)
Cafe Bohemian - The Enchanters
Mi Palomita - Yma Sumac
Cha Cha Cha du Loup - Serge Gainsbourg
The Lady is a Tramp - Hildegard Knef
Street Scene - Lou Busch
The Strip - The Upsetters (played again in error. It was that kind of night!)
Oh Honey - Gloria Wood
Fever - Timi Yuro
I'm a Bad, Bad Girl - Little Esther
A Woman Wouldn't Be a Woman - Eartha Kitt
Harlem Nocturne - Martin Denny
Honky Tonk - Bill Black Combo
I Got a Right to Sing the Blues - Billie Holiday
Travellin' Light - Chet Baker
Work Song - Nina Simone
Born to Cry - Johnny Thunders
Pink Champagne - The Tyrones
Blue Kat - Chuck Rio & The Originals
Bachelor in Paradise - Ann-Margret
Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby - Ann Richards
Do It Again - Eartha Kitt
Chery Pink - Bill Black Combo
Love Me - Marlene Dietrich
Shangri-La - Spike Jones
Take It Off - The Upsetters
Night Train - Alvino Rey
Blondie's Strip - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack)
Kiss - Marilyn Monroe
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
La Javanaise - Juliette Greco
Mack the Knife - Hildegard Knef
C'est Si Bon - April Stevens
Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker
Makin' Whoopee - Marlene Dietrich
Jane Morgan singing "C'est Si Bon": not the version I played (in fact I'd never heard of this singer before), but this clip is so irresistably kitsch (the ultra low-budget set! The pouting, crotch-thrusting go-go dancers! That cotton candy bouffant wig!) I had to include it on here.
The late Johnny Thunders singing Dion’s “I Was Born to Cry”. His second last record was Copy Cats, a brilliant album of covers on which he duets with smoky-voiced Noo Yawk bloozie chantoozie Patti Palladin. I bought it on vinyl when it first came out in 1988, then many years later bought it again when it was reissued on CD. Yes, a heroin-ravaged Thunders looks distressingly cadaverous here, like a corpse being dangled on wires (he only had a few more years to live – he was dead by 1991) but he’s still in great, powerful voice and what a magnificent pompadour!
Another great Dr Sketchy night at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, probably my favourite venue to DJ at. Because it fell on 14 July, the night had a Bastille Day theme -- which explains why you see more French music than usual by the likes of Serge Gainsbourg, Juliette Greco, Edith Piaf and Brigitte Bardot twined amongst the customary vintage sleaze. A particular highlight: our glamorous Parisian model Mam'zelle Maz demonstrated she was talented as well as beautiful by warbling a husky-voiced French chanson.
Frankie and Johnny - Bill Black Combo Wino - Jack McVea Wait a Minute Baby - Esquerita Evil Gal Blues - Ann Richards Bop Pills - Macy "Skip" Skipper Cafe Bohemian - The Enchanters Baby Let Me Bang Your Box - The Bangers Monkey Bird - The Revels Taki Rari - Yma Sumac Chihuahua - Luis Oliveira and His Bandodalua Boys Jim Dandy - LaVerne Baker Frenzy - The Hindus Salamander - Mamie van Doren Drive Daddy Drive - Little Sylvia Tight Skirt, Tight Sweater - The Versatones Nosey Joe - Bull Moose Jackson The Whip - The Originals Rock Me All Night Long - Ella Mae Morse Roll with Me Henry - Etta James Fool I Am - Pat Ferguson Blue Kat - Chuck Rio & The Originals I Was Born to Cry - Dion Fever - Ann-Margret Beat Girl - John Barry (Beat Girl Soundtrack) Crazy Horse Swing - Serge Gainsbourg (Strip-Tease soundtrack) Lover - Peggy Lee Paris Canaille - Juliette Greco Sexe - Line Renaud Dormir - Denise Darcel The Touch - Eartha Kitt The Beast - Milt Buckner Night Train - Alvino Rey Je Sais Que Vous êtes Jolie- Marlene Dietrich My Man - Denise Darcel T'es Beau Tu Sais - Edith Piaf He Is A Man - Lizabeth Scott My Man - Eartha Kitt I Want a Boy - Connie Russell Bewildered - Shirley and Lee Yogi - Bill Black Combo Call Me Irresponsible - Dinah Washington Hearts of Stone - Rudy Grey Sous Les Ciels de Paris - Juliette Greco The Girls of Paris - Lee Hazlewood The Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Sam Butera Je T'Aime, Moi Non Plus - Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot La Vie en Rose - Edith Piaf Uptown to Harlem - Johnny Thunders & Patti Paladin No Good Lover - Mickey & Sylvia Lucille - Little Richard Little Things Mean a Lot - Jayne Mansfield Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks I'm In Love for the Very First Time - Diana Dors Shangri-La - Spike Jones New Band All of Me - Mae West Oh, Baby - Esquerita I'm a Bad, Bad Girl - Little Esther Je Me Donne a Qui Me Plait - Brigitte Bardot Les Cigarillos - Serge Gainsbourg
The delectable Brigitte Bardot in her sex kitten prime singing "Je Me Donne a Qui Me Plait" in a strange bouffant black wig:
One of my perennial favourite tunes to play at Dr Sketchy is the sleazy and atmospheric bump and grind instrumental "Blue Kat" by Chuck Rio & The Originals -- that saxophone! I first heard it on the soundtrack of John Water's 1974 trash epic Female Trouble and it's haunted me ever since. (John Waters soundtracks are an endless source of inspiration for me). I can't imagine not playing this song at a Dr Sketchy.
Rock chicks unite! Ian from The Baby Janes and Jane, formerly of Naked Ruby now in The Deptford Beach Babes, photographed on 13 July 2010 outside The Royal Vauxhall Tavern where The Baby Janes later played a memorable gig. Moments earlier Ian had serenaded Jane with a medley of songs from Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English album. It was like a twisted variation of those scenes from old Elvis Presley films where he sings to his leading lady (say, Ann-Margret or Nancy Sinatra) and they stare dreamily into his eyes. This being Vauxhall, the bystanders included the local outdoor Special Brew drinkers.
Watch this charming clip of The Baby Janes in action from that night. Punk performance art at its finest!
Everyone’s favourite gritty Yorkshire lass Rachael turned 32 on 2 July 2010. She celebrated her birthday with a boozy and raucous party on Saturday 3 July at the appropriately louche and theatrical Phoenix Artist Club in the heart of London’s glittering West End. The hostess looked radiant in a faux-vintage halter neck black dress, her hair styled by Miss Betty of It's Something Hell's on Carnaby Street. Take a peek at these exclusive pics!
A great night! I love DJ'ing at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and got some really appreciative feedback from both audience members and the cabaret performers, which had me buzzing. The featured cabaret artistes were Mr Meredith and Tricity Vogue. I was blown away by Tricity’s “Blue Lady” act – a tribute to the (in)famous / ubiquitous/ iconic 1950s kitsch painting Blue Lady by Vladimir Tretchikoff (also sometimes known as Green Lady or Chinese Girl) of the serene-faced, enigmatic Oriental woman with the peculiar cadaverous turquoise complexion. It culminated in Tricity doing an eye-popping striptease down to nothing but blue skin – it had to be seen to be believed!
The original "Blue Lady" ...
Tricity Vogue pays homage ...
Tricity Vogue posing. Photo by Paul Monckton
Tricity Vogue and I. Photo by Paul Monckton
Clare Marie (the promoter / brains behind Dr Sketchy in London). Photo by Paul Monckton
My set list:
Sometimes I Wish I Had a Gun - Mink Stole Work Song - Nina Simone Little Ole Wine Drinker Me - Robert Mitchum The Beast - Milt Buckner Destination Moon - Dinah Washington I Was Born to Cry - Dion Vesuvius - The Revels Go Calypso! Mamie van Doren I Ain't Drunk, I'm Just Drinking - Jimmy Liggins Green Mosquito - The Tune Rockers Red Hot - Billy Lee Riley My Daddy Rocks Me - Mae West Groovy - The Groovers Suey - Jayne Mansfield Blockade - The Rumblers Heartbreak Hotel - Ann-Margret Train to Nowhere - The Champs Die Herren (Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love) - Hildegard Knef Mambo Miam Miam - Serge Gainsbourg La Javanaise - Juliette Greco Misirlou - Laurindo Almeida Gopher Mambo - Yma Sumac The Strip - The Upsetters Beat Girl - Adam Faith Honey Rock - Barney Kessel Revellion - The Revels Evil Gal Blues - Ann Richards Cherry Pink - Bill Black Combo Love Me - Marlene Dietrich Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Sam Butera The Blues - Eartha Kitt The Blues Are All I Ever Had - Julie London Shangri-La - Spike Jones New Band Petit Fleur - Chet Baker Falling In Love Again - Billie Holiday Yogi - Bill Black Combo Heatwave - Marilyn Monroe A Week from Tuesday - The Pastels Don't Fuck Around with Love - The Blenders Take it Off - The Genteels (see video clip below) I Want a Boy - Connie Russell He Is a Man - Lizabeth Scott Sexe - Line Renaud What Is a Man? Denise Darcel Anytime - Bill Black Combo Daddy Daddy - Ella Mae Morse Tall Cool One - The Wailers Happy Birthday Baby - The Tune Weavers Drums-a-Go-Go - The Hollywood Persuaders Fujiyama Mama - Annisteen Allen A Guy Who Takes His Time - Mae West Topsy - Joe Bucci Trio Commanche - The Revels Caravan - John Buzon Trio Mack the Knife - Hildegard Knef You're My Thrill - Chet Baker (swinging, finger-snapping instrumental; not his better-know vocal version) Romance in the Dark - Dinah Washington Honeysuckle Rose - Marlene Dietrich (see video below) Harlem Nocturne - Martin Denny Easy to Love - Eartha Kitt Jungle Drums - Earl Bostick Let There Be Love - Diana Dors Black Coffee - Julie London Crawfish - Johnny Thunders and Patti Paladin Bewildered - Shirley & Lee I'll Upset You, Baby - Lula Reed
Take It Off by The Genteels (the clip features Mamie van Doren gyrating to the ultimate titty twister anthem!)
Marlene Dietrich singing Duke Ellington's "Honeysuckle Rose" in 1963 (annoyingly, embedding is not allowed, but here's link . It's a great clip and worth watching. Dietrich at her purring, mature sexiest):
Keep track of future Dr Sketchy events in London here
El Vez is one red hot tamale! Routinely described as “The Mexican Elvis”, that only hints at what El Vez (aka Robert Lopez) actually does. Injecting the Elvis Presley song book with a jolt of spicy ancient Aztec blood, El Vez looks like a black velvet painting come to life, and his shows are a riot of rock’n’roll, punk energy, kitsch, sex appeal, politics and humour.
Sadly he rarely performs in London these days, so when El Vez returned to play at the 100 Club attendance was mandatory! True to form, he put on an explosive show backed by his band The Memphis Mariachis and accompanied by the Elvettes.
The whole night was a bit of a reunion and nostalgia trip: it was my friend Sparkle Moore (the platinum blonde doyenne of the London vintage / retro scene) who first brought El Vez to London in the mid-90s for his London debut at The Garage. A gang of us who were at that historic gig also went to this and we were dazzled by El Vez all over again.
Postscript: It looks like I’ll be interviewing El Vez for Nude magazine, so watch this space.
Mexican Elvis Impersonators Prefer (Platinum) Blondes: Vivien (aka Vivien of Holloway), El Vez and Sparkle Moore.
El Vez and I: Unfortunately I seem to be doing an imitation of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel from The Simpsons.
A clip from the underground film Guérillère Talks of baby-faced teenaged juvenile delinquent Lydia Lunch delivering an outburst of bile in 1978. In a Warholian move, filmmaker Vivienne Dick keeps the camera running for a good minute and a half after she's finished!
Read more about the cinematic collaboration between Lydia Lunch and Vivienne Dick here
Finding out your daughter has gonorrhea can really wreck the rest of your day. The only solution is to go to the powder room and wash down a fistfull of pills. Burlesque legend Liz Renay (who later played Muffy St Jacques in the 1977 John Waters's trash classic Desperate Living) gives the performance of a lifetime as the anguished mother. See if you can tear your eyes away from her astonishing bouffant wig.
Probably my most stressful Dr Sketchy’s yet -- bedevilled by technical glitches right up until show time (trying to sort out the audio so that the MC Dusty Limits can talk over music is not as simple as it sounds! Right up until the last minute his microphone was barely audible and the music sounded muffled). I was also waaay too sober – am definitely more relaxed and inspired with a few beers inside me!
(Lucky winner. Me looking startled on the right. Photo by Celine Chaplin)
Anyway, here’s my set list from the 15 May 2010 Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School at The Old Queen’s Head in Angel.
Revellion - The Revels I'm a Bad, Bad Girl - Little Esther I Ain't in the Mood - Helen Humes Crank Case - Bill Black's Combo Switchin' In the Kitchen - Don Covay Work Song - Nina Simone Someone to Watch Over Me - Jimmy Scott Crybaby - The Honey Sisters Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers Bye Bye Young Men - Ruth Brown The Flirt - Shirley and Lee Roll with Me Henry - Etta James I Need Your Lovin - Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford Baby Let Me Bang Your Box - The Bangers Crazy Horse Swing - Serge Gainsbourg (Strip-tease soundtrack) Anytime - Bill Black Combo The Stripper - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Harlem Nocturne - The Viscounts The Girl Who Invented Rock'n'Roll - Mamie van Doren The Man I Love - Hildegard Knef Baubles, Bangles and Beads - Marlene Dietrich Kiss - Marilyn Monroe No Love for Daddy - Serge Gainsbourg (Strip-tease soundtrack) Looka There Ain't She Pretty? Bill Haley and His Comets Fujiyama Mama - Annisteen Allen My Daddy Rocks Me - Mae West Hit the Road to Dreamland - Dean Martin Fever - Ann-Margret Bewildered - Shirley and Lee Destination Moon - Dinah Washington The Immediate Pleasure - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) You're My Thrill - Chet Baker Look Me Over Closely - Marlene Dietrich Do It Again - Eartha Kitt Let Me Entertain You - Ann-Margret Some Small Chance - Serge Gainsbourg 8 Ball - The Hustlers I Got a Right to Sing the Blues - Julie London Little Girl Blue - Chet Baker Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Denise Darcel Strip-Tease - Juliette Greco (Strip-tease soundtrack) Mack the Knife - Bill Black's Combo All of Me - Mae West Stagger Lee - Lloyd Price St Louis Blues - Eartha Kitt Crazy, Crazy Feeling - Esquerita Drive Daddy Drive - Little Sylvia Intoxicated Man - Serge Gainsbourg Me Myself and I - Billie Holiday Wo Ist Der Man? Jayne Mansfield Uptown to Harlem - Johnny Thunders and Patti Paladin Born to Cry - Dion Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker Love Me or Leave Me - Nina Simone Misirlou - Laurindo Almeida Lover - Peggy Lee Jungle Drums - Earl Bostick
Whenever possible I’ll always play an obscure kitsch cover version rather than a classic original. So rather than Peggy Lee singing Fever, I’ll spin Ann-Margret's or Timi Yuro’s version. A particular favourite though is husky-voiced German chanteuse Hildegard Knef’s rendition. Check out Knef’s weirdly anguished, almost horror movie-like Germanic black and white 1963 video, with leotard-clad zombie-dancers interpretive dancing behind her.
Even if you’ve seen her perform before, it’s always genuinely astonishing to see Grace Jones in the flesh. The imperiously beautiful face with sculpted bone structure Nefertiti herself would envy; the taut and sinewy Amazonian limbs seemingly carved out of ebony. Onstage Jones is completely mesmerizing (and, at 62, eerily ageless). Her sexy but sinister and androgynous persona suggests a combination of dominatrix / alien / android and warrior.
Like her January 2009 gig at The Roundhouse in Camden, the Royal Albert Hall show melded tracks from her majestic 2008 comeback album Hurricane with classics culled from her essential trio of early 1980s recordings Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing and Living My Life; songs which don’t just still sound modern, they still sound futuristic.
Thirty minutes later than scheduled, the curtain fell to reveal Jones isolated onstage entirely concealed within a silver tinfoil-like burka. She sang the opening song “This Is” from inside it, throwing art-y sculptural shapes within its folds. Withholding her appearance when everyone was gagging to see Jones made for a dramatic entrance but the song was a good five minutes long: you kept expecting her to burst out of her shroud but she stayed inside it for the entire duration of the song. Not being able to see her became anticlimactic, creating a sense of impatience.
When she unveiled herself from her burka, Jones was revealed in a brown and white striped catsuit that turned her into human / zebra hybrid, with a waist length mane of platinum white albino hair: the first of an amazing series of costumes by Eiko Ishioka, which included a black and red PVC catsuit and mask combo that turned Jones into a Spiderwoman/Medusa combo, and ancient Egyptian pharaoh chic.
(Ishioka’s costumes cleverly evoked memories of Jones’s key looks and images over the years. The brown and white stripes of the zebra catsuit recalled photos of the late Keith Haring transforming a nude Jones into a Masai warrior with white body paint).
For the first part of the RAH show the choice of song sequence felt disjointed and abrupt. And while her costume changes were remarkably speedy (her band continued playing, extending the ends of songs, and Jones herself kept up banter from the wings while changing) so many pauses couldn’t help but disrupt the momentum.
Keeping the band virtually concealed at the very back of stage was an odd choice (at first I feared she was performing to musical backing tracks until I started seeing the tops of the musicians’ heads bobbing on the horizon). It meant no opportunity for interaction or chemistry between Jones and her (awesomely tight and versatile) band, but then traditionally when a diva like Marlene Dietrich performed her musicians would have been hidden in the orchestra pit with her the sole focus onstage, so it did make a kind of sense.
The gig was also bedevilled by a surprising amount of technical glitches: no fan positioned where it should be (“I may have legs like a racehorse, but I don’t like to sweat,” she grumbled), no stool placed centre stage for the mournful ballad “Sunset, Sunrise”. The video for “Corporate Cannibal” stopped playing midway through the song. The eerie lookalike mannequin she was meant to tango with during “Libertango” was missing (which makes you wonder just how chaotic and disorganized it was backstage for such an important prop to be missing in action). “This is the Royal Albert Hall!” she fretted. “This isn’t supposed to happen at The Royal Albert Hall!”
(Corporate Cannibal costume)
They hardly mattered though, when Jones and her band were on such fierce form. As the gig progressed things began to flow better, sustaining a sinuous and alluring mood and Jones herself was utterly magnetic. Her bossa nova-tinged disco interpretation of “La Vie en Rose” was tender and dramatic.
(Note: for this number Jones wore an outrageous exploding flame burst orange dress and headpiece; towards the end she began twirling, revealing it was backless and she was naked except for a g-string. Except for anyone in the front you could clearly see she was in fact wearing a bronze catsuit that zipped down the back!).
Jones tore into the autobiographical “Williams Blood” like a tigress, working herself into a rage recalling her strict religious Jamaican upbringing. Both “My Jamaican Guy” and “Pull Up to the Bumper”, meanwhile, showcased Jones at her most warm, frankly lewd, relaxed and funny.
A hard rock “Love is the Drug” with green lasers pointed at the mirrored surface of her silver bowler hat, transformed Jones into a human disco ball.
Jones often makes musical and sartorial references to iconic chanteuses like Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and Josephine Baker. She’s one of the few modern performers who belong in their otherworldly company. Seeing Jones live is a reminder she is the modern equivalent of a Dietrich or Baker: she transfixes and seduces us the way they did for earlier audiences.