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.