Fun couple: Elvis Presley and flame-haired burlesque icon, Tempest Storm in the 1950s. (According to her, they were lovers until Colonel Parker broke it up). Tempest is 83 now and still performs occasionally. She made an appearance at the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender this year. I snatched a photo of her at the car show. See it here.
Wow. Just ... wow. This night at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern was the nadir of my DJ’ing career to date – I was completely overwhelmed by technical glitches.
It started well enough. Performance artist Claire Benjamin (in the persona of her character Obsessia Compulsia D’Sorda) did a great, strange, edgy piece. The burlesque performer for the evening was emergent Australian starlet Ava Iscariot, who’s performed at Dr Sketchy before. The song for her number was by Marilyn Manson. I tested her CD by playing a snatch of it early on, and it worked just fine. You’d think I would have learned from the debacle with Chocolat's CD the last time I DJ'd at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern!
Claire Benjamin in character as Obsessia Compulsia D’Sorda, filmed in performance at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in 2009
Anyway, Ava’s track was ready and I pressed play when it was her cue. I stepped away from the decks to watch her perform. It was all going smoothly. Her track was 4-minutes long: about two minutes and 11 seconds into it, the CD abruptly stopped playing! Needless to say, as soon as anything audio-related goes wrong, every head in the venue swivels to stare at me! Poor Ava stopped dead in her tracks: she was standing with her back to the audience, about to unlace her corset and was looking at me wondering what the hell was happening. I was frantically jabbing “Play” and nothing was happening. The ever-unflappable emcee Dusty Limits swung into action and quickly brought Claire Benjamin back onto the stage to pose while I tried to work out what the hell was wrong with Ava’s CD. I tried to stick on another song to at least provide music while Clare was posing (the sound of silence and the audience murmuring was freaking me out! The multi-talented Claire played the musical saw, Dietrich-style, while she posed, by the way), but this time I couldn’t get anything to come out of the other CD deck either – and when I pressed the “Open” button, the CD drawer wouldn’t open!
By now sweat beads were popping out of my head and I was getting frenzied. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern manager came over: we established that Ava’s CD was simply faulty (I played it again through my headphones and it consistently stopped at the same point), and that the reason I couldn’t coax any music out of the decks or even open the CD drawers was because a fuse had blown! What are the odds of both these things happening at once? Could only happen to me! (And by the way: the night was being filmed, and apparently a Time Out journalist was in attendance).
Once the blown fuse was fixed, I was able to get back on track, although the rest of the night was a jittery blur. (My nerves were shot. I self-medicated with beer; had one mutha of a hangover the next day at work). Mercifully a friend of Ava’s had the song she needed on his iPod. We hooked up his iPod to the decks so Ava was able to come back out at the end of the night and do her (excellent) routine properly. Phew!
Now let’s never speak of this night again...
Follow the Leader - Wiley Terry Bacon Fat - Andre Williams Baby, I'm Doin' It - Annisteen Allen Mambo Baby - Ruth Brown She Wants to Mambo - Johnny Thunders and Patti Paladin Mambo Miam Miam - Serge Gainsbourg Unchain My Heart - Florence Joelle I Was Born to Cry - Dion Fever - The Delmonas My Baby Does the Hanky Panky - Rita Chao & The Quests Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers One More Beer - The Earls of Suave Revelion - The Revels Leave Married Women Alone - Jimmy Cavallo Little Girl - John and Jackie It - The Regal-Aires Save It - Mel Robbins Bikini with No Top on the Top - Mamie van Doren and June Wilkinson The Flirt - Shirley and Lee Maybe Baby - Esquerita The Sneak - Jimmy Oliver Heartbreakin' Special - Duke Larson Jungle Walk - The Dyna-Sores Bop Pills - Macy "Skip" Skipper Shombalor - Sheriff and The Revels Cheesecake - The Nite Sounds Drive-In - The Jaguars C'est si Bon - April Stevens Some Small Chance - Serge Gainsbourg (Strip-tease soundtrack) Kiss Me - Dolores Gray Shangri-La - Spike Jones New Band Beat Party - Ritchie & The Squires Java Partout - Juliette Greco Caravan - John Buzon Trio Yogi - Bill Black Combo Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer) - Nina Simone Work with It - Que Martin Dragon Walk - The Noblemen Snow Surfin' Matador - Jan Davis 8 Ball - The Hustlers Love for Sale - Eartha Kitt The Lonely Hours - Sarah Vaughan Crawlin' - The Untouchables Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Gene Vincent Bossa Nova Baby - Elvis Presley Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret Beat Girl - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Ne Me Laisse Pas L'Aimer - Brigitte Bardot Tall Cool One - The Wailers Womp Womp - Freddie & The Heartaches Your Love is Mine - Ike and Tina Turner The Bee - The Sentinels The Coo - Wayne Cochran I Walk like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s