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!"