Jayne Mansfield with a totally impractical surf board
This was my first post-Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender Dr Sketchy. I scored some great CDs in Vegas: a Ruth Brown greatest hits package and two wonderfully seedy compilations of freaky rockabilly and garage punk oddities -- Twisted Tales from the Vinyl Wastelands volume 8: Please Don’t Go Topless Mother and You Better Believe It 1955-1969: White Trash Rockers! Both of these more than live up to the promise of their lurid titles. I also recently acquired volume three of the Las Vegas Grind titty shaker series, which represent the bedrock of my DJ sets. It was about time I’d refreshed my music and I drew heavily on these new CDs at this Dr Sketchy. Music this sleazy and abrasive is like oxygen to me.
The night (which was at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern this time) featured Dusty Limits as emcee and two great performers / models: Trixi Tassels and Chocolat (aka Ruka. Alongside Dr Sketchy promoter Clare Marie, she's one of the proprietors of red-hot new lingerie emporium Sugarlesque). Unfortunately poor Chocolat’s performance occasioned the worst technical glitch of my DJ’ing career thus far! Both Trixi and Chocolat gave me their CDs of music for their acts, I tested them beforehand (as per usual) and both worked just fine. After the break, Dusty was to introduce Chocolat, I'd have her song cued, and she’d go straight into her act. Dusty announced her; I pressed “play” and ... nothing. I frantically yanked the CD out and tried another CD player and – still nothing! And then a message I’d never seen before came up on the little monitor: Disc Error! I was well and truly bugging out (my blood pressure was exploding, sweat beads were popping) and the crowd was murmuring impatiently wondering what the hell was going on. Luckily these people are total pros and swung into action: Dusty brought Trixi back out to pose some more and keep things moving while we sorted out the music crisis. Rising burlesque starlet Slinky Sparkles was in attendance and worked out with Chocolat backstage some potential alternative songs for her performance – except I had none of them! But Slinky herself had one of the songs on her iPod. We were able to hook up her iPod to the decks and use it for Chocolat’s number. Phew! I’m forever in Slinky’s debt! It was a relief to get everything back on track, and Chocolat’s act was great: she came out covered in balloons and gradually popped them one by one with a cigarette.
Sophia Loren sneaks a peek at Jayne Mansfield
Anyway, in a sense the night was my delayed tribute to Jayne Mansfield. (Although in truth every time I DJ is a bit of a valentine to Jayne Mansfield, anyway – just like it is for other heroes like Esquerita, Little Richard and Eartha Kitt). I’d read the month before that Jayne’s birthday is 19 April -- so if she hadn’t been killed (aged 34) in her 1967 car crash, Mansfield would have turned 78 this year. Because she’s been dead for so long, Mansfield feels like a distant figure from a bygone age but it’s certainly feasible she could still be alive: her contemporary Elizabeth Taylor just died in March aged 79; Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot are both alive and well at 77. It’s fascinating to speculate what Mansfield would be like if she’d lived to see old age -- her personal life and career seemed to be circling the drain when she died. Maybe she'd be like her closest living equivalent Mamie van Doren, who's still posing for softcore nude photoshoots and partying at the Playboy Mansion aged 80. I’m not sure if anyone even noticed, but to honour her I played “I Walk like Jayne Mansfield” by the wondrous all-girl Japanese surf band 5,6,7,8s and then “That Makes It” by La Mansfield herself. RIP, Jayne.
Two fun couples: Mamie van Doren and date. Mickey Hargitay (Mr Universe 1955) and Jayne Mansfield. Jayne's eyes look like they're clocking Mamie's cleavage
Shame the audio quality is so muffled
Otherwise: when Ruka / Chocolat models at Dr Sketchy I tend to go heavy on the great rhythm & blues divas: Dinah Washington, Little Esther, Eartha purring “Mack the Knife". I ended things on a defiant note with the wounded / wounding “I Hold No Grudge” by the angrily politicised High Priestess of Soul Nina Simone. “I’m the kind of people you can step on for a little while,” she snarls. “But when I call it quits, baby, that’s it! I’m the kind of people you can hurt once in a while. But crawling just ain’t my style!” Sing it, sister! Belt it out! (The 1966 song is by the great Angelo Badalamenti, long before he became David Lynch’s soundtrack composer. You can already discern the signature ominous / brooding 1950s Cool Jazz keyboard sound he’d later bring to the music for the likes of Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, an atmospheric sound so essential to Lynch's cinematic vision).
Heartbreakin' Special - Duke Larson Leave Married Women Alone - Jimmy Cavallo Whisper Your Love - The Phantom Teardrops from My Eyes - Ruth Brown The Fire of Love - Jody Reynolds The Flower of My Heart - Sparkle Moore De Castrow - Jaybee Wasden Love Letters - Ike and Tina Turner Khrushchev Twist - Melvin Gayle The Sneak - Jimmy Oliver Out of Limits - The Marketts Stampede - The Scarlets Snow Surfin' Matador - Jan Davis Scorpion - The Carnations Vesuvius - The Revels Rockin' Bongos - Chaino Pas C'est Chanson - Johnny Halliday Because of Love - Billy Fury Go Calypso - Mamie van Doren Rum and Coca Cola - Wanda Jackson Try It No More - Genbe Marcum I Just Don't Understand - Ann-Margret Fool I Am - Pat Ferguson The Chase - Chaino Hillbilly Surfer - Whitey White Oh Baby - Esquerita Nightscene - The Rumblers Cherry Pink - Bill Black's Combo Drive In - The Jaguars Womp Womp - Freddy and The Heartaches Bad, Bad Girl - Little Esther I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield Beat Party - Ritchie & The Squires She's My Witch - The Earls of Suave The Coo - Wayne Cochran Rigor Mortis - The Gravestone Four Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley The Bee - The Sentinels L'il Lil - Mel Dorsey Mambo Baby - Ruth Brown She Wants to Mambo - Johnny Thunders and Patti Paladin Anasthasia - Bill Smith Combo Go Slow - Julie London You're Crying - Dinah Washington Aged and Mellow Blues - Little Esther Crawlin' - The Untouchables Mack the Knife - Eartha Kitt Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby? Ann Richards My Daddy Rocks Me - Mae West Happy, Happy Birthday Baby - The Tune Weavers (in honour of Dr Sketchy Clare Marie's birthday) I Was Born to Cry - Dion Begin the Beguine - Billy Fury La Javanaise - Juliette Greco You Can't Stop Her - Bobby Marchan The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard I Hold No Grudge - Nina Simone
When Mansfield’s Hollywood career fizzled out by the late 1950s, she resorted to low-budget European films – like ultra-obscure 1963 German film Heimweh nach St. Pauli (known as Homesick for St Pauli in North America). Mansfield’s speaking voice is dubbed by a German actress, but the singing in the musical numbers is obviously all her! The film looks irresistibly trashy – dig Mansfield’s cotton candy bouffant wig. I love it when she serenades the sailors. I’ve been reassured by German friends her accent and pronunciation are appalling.
Update! It turns out there was a journalist in attendence at this Dr Sketchy, and he wrote a great article online about it. Some great photos of Chocolat in action in her balloon costume.