Not one of my better nights! This Dr Sketchy was actually based around the launch of the graphic novel / biography Kiki de Montparnasse, about the bohemian 1920s Parisian nightclub chanteuse, scene maker, Man Ray muse and model (and artist in her own right). I only caught a glimpse of the book, but it looked beautiful. I wasn’t briefed that well about this in advance: it turns out the musical policy for the night was meant to be “1920s” – which is one era am definitely not that knowledgeable about or particularly motivated by (Charleston music? Flapper music? I don’t really feel it!). So I turned up to The Paradise with a grand total of zero 1920s tunes to play!
The Queen of Montparnasse, photographed by Man Ray
Trippy/surreal video of Kiki in action
Luckily our featured burlesque performer (the reliably excellent Marianne Cheesecake) had her laptop with her and it was loaded up with twenties music (she uses it in her act a lot. It was mostly songs by Fletcher Henderson) so we hooked it up to the decks and for the first hour or so I played her selection from iTunes. But standing there with my arms folded didn’t really feel like DJ’ing so at a certain point I snapped and wound up playing my usual brand of sleaze from the entirely wrong era! (This also explains why the set list looks so much shorter than usual!). I was kicking myself afterwards because while I don’t have much in the way of 1920s music, what I do have a lot of is French chanson music from roughly the right period if only I’d known to bring it. In particular the first time I went to Paris I snapped up a compilation of French cabaret / music hall songs from the 1930s featuring the likes of Piaf, Josephine Baker, Jean Gabin, Arletty, Frehel, Charles Trenet, Maurice Chevalier, Mistinguett, etc – that would have worked beautifully in this context!
I also drank a bit more than usual (or actually not, but maybe I didn’t eat enough beforehand) and things got a bit sloppy: I played some songs in error (!) and even played one track more than once! Like I said, not one of my better nights. Still, it’s impossible not to have fun when working with Ophelia Bitz (the emcee for this Dr Sketchy), Marianne Cheesecake was amazing (especially her gold Josephine Baker-inspired outfit with the banana skirt) and I managed to pay a little tribute to the late, great Jane Russell: when Bomb Voyage and Cheesecake modelled together, I played the Russell-Monroe duet from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, “Two Little Girls from Little Rock.”
Marianne Cheesecake promotional video / showreel
What a Little Moonlight Can Do - Billie Holiday Coco and Co - Serge Gainsbourg Die Herrn ... Hildegard Knef Crazy She Calls Me - Chet Baker Champagne Taste - Eartha Kitt Kiss Me Honey Honey - The Delmonas You Win Again - Bill Black Combo Lucky - Lizabeth Scott What is This Thing Called Love? Lena Horne Frankie & Johnny / Honky Tonk - Bill Black Combo Don't You Feel My Leg - Blue Lu Barker Assez - Marlene Dietrich (Some Fletcher Henderson tracks) Sexe - Lene Rinaud Falling in Love Again - Billie Holiday Java Partout - Juliette Greco Some Small Chance - Serge Gainsbourg Cherry Pink - Bill Black Combo She's My Witch - The Earls of Suave Makin' Out - Jody Reynolds Do It Again - April Stevens You're My Thrill (instrumental) - Chet Baker Mondo Moodo - The Earls of Suave Eight Ball - The Hustlers That's A Pretty Good Love - Big Maybelle Hiccups - The Empallos Vesuvius - The Revels Maybe Baby - Esquerita Jim Dandy - LaVerne Baker My Daddy Rocks Me - Mae West Tall Cool One - The Wailers I Would if I Could - Ruth Brown Under the Bridges of Paris - Eartha Kitt Jezabel - Edith Piaf Penthouse Serenade - Dolores Gray Moi, Je M`ennuie - Marlene Dietrich (meant to play this; played an entirely different track) Mack the Knife - Ann-Margret These Foolish Things - Chet Baker (played twice in a row in error!) Crazy Horse Swing - Serge Gainsbourg (Strip Tease soundtrack) Two Little Girls from Little Rock - Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe Shangri-la - Spike Jones New Band Striptease - Juliette Greco (Strip Tease soundtrack) Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend - Julie London Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters Suey - Jayne Mansfield Groovy - The Groovers Monkey Bird - The Revels
Jane Russell (1921 - 2011): What a woman! Truly amazonian, the definition of "statuesque." (Photo courtesy of the wonderful blog Stirred, Straight Up, with a Twist). This pic is definitely from the film The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956), in which Russell was a redhead
Russell's obituaries inevitably cited The Outlaw (1943) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1955), but for me La Russell's best films were the two atmospheric noirs that partnered her with my all-time favourite actor Robert Mitchum: His Kind of Woman (1951) and the even better Josef von Sternberg-directed Macao (1952). Mitchum and Russell smouldered together: so laconic, lazy and good-natured. You never caught either of them acting -- they were like two sleek, beautiful animals that just sauntered up in front of the camera exuding effortless charisma and sex appeal. Russell was also an underrated singer. This is her singing the torch standard "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" in Macao -- a nice way to remember her.