Sunday, 23 October 2011

19 October 2011 Dr Sketchy Set List

/ And God Created ... Brigitte Bardot /

Happily, my jinxed period at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern has definitely has come to an end – this Dr Sketchy was smooth sailing and a really enjoyable night. My friend Jim (who I go to Viva Las Vegas most years with) turned up with a surprise guest: his Staffordshire bull terrier Daisy. Daisy was beautifully-behaved, nestling on the floor in the corner of the DJ booth. It was an added, unexpected bonus to get to kneel down and kiss a dog on the forehead while DJ’ing.

/ Sweet face: Daisy photographed at my place in February 2011. She's a bit bigger now. Who's a good girl? Who's a good girl? You are, Daisy /

The emcee this time was Dusty Limits (Weimar Republic decadence personified), and we had two burlesque performers/models: brunette Australian minx Sarina del Fuego and the frankly very fit Spencer Maybe. For once I kept the tone a bit classy and elegant (relatively-speaking), at least during Sarina’s pose. After her performance, Sarina had stripped down to just black lace lingerie and a kinky black lace eye mask. Her musical selection for her striptease was the dreamy finger-snapping instrumental “Perdita” by Angelo Badalementi, from the soundtrack to the 1990 David Lynch film Wild at Heart. Inspired by the song and Sarina’s outfit, rather than crank-up the sleaze and tittyshakers, I played some moodily lingering 1950s cool jazz-inflected make-out music: Dolores Gray's minimalist bongo drum-propelled "You're My Thrill", Julie London, Chet Baker, Eartha purring “I Want to Be Evil.”

Later I compensated when our male “boylesque” performer Spencer Maybe posed, and then he and Sarina posed together, spinning my raunchiest single-entendre novelty songs like “Tony’s Got Hot Nuts” by Faye Richmonde and Filthy McNasty’s “Ice Man”. I also incorporated exotica (Yma Sumac, Martin Denny), rockabilly, rhythm and blues and some 1960s French pop (Brigitte Bardot, more than one song by Johnny Hallyday!).

During Spencer’s pose I also played a track by Lizabeth Scott, the most haunting and enigmatic of 1940s and 50s film noir actresses. Because of Scott’s languid mane of ash blonde hair, smoky eyes, sultry and insolent demeanour and raspy low voice “that sounded as if it had been buried somewhere deep and was trying to claw its way out” (John Kobal) she’s been frequently (and unfavourably) compared to the more famous Lauren Bacall. In fact, Scott was a much stranger, more intense and harder-working actress than Bacall, and made more interesting choices.

A true actrice maudite, Scott has traditionally been disparaged or overlooked by mainstream film historians. An all-too typical assessment is writer Penny Stalling’s: “Scott ... churned out twenty-two films between 1945 and 1953, but few are memorable.” In fact Scott’s filmography between 1945 and 1957 (when she abruptly retired), is studded with obscure gems, and virtually all of them are films noir, partnering her with many of the greats of the genre: Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan. It’s only in recent years that Scott has emerged as a genuine cult figure for old film obsessives (like me!) and her career has been more generously reappraised. In particular, search out 1949’s Too Late for Tears (aka Killer Bait) to see Lizabeth Scott at her most mesmerising, almost serpentine as a suburban Los Angeles housewife with a treacherous and homicidal dark side.

/ Separated at birth: Lauren Bacall and Lizabeth Scott /

By the mid-50s the film noir cycle was coming to an end as public tastes changed, and so were Scott’s days as a leading lady. What certainly was a contributing factor to her abrupt and premature retirement was scandal magazine Confidential “outing” her as lesbian in 1955 – making her what must be one of the first victims of tabloid homophobia. In the article Confidential gloated “In recent years Scotty’s almost nonexistent career has allowed her to roam further afield. In one jaunt to Europe she headed straight for Paris and the left bank where she took up with Frede, the city’s most notorious lesbian queen and operator of a nightclub devoted exclusively to entertaining deviates just like herself.” (In fact the shadowy Frede was the proprietoress of the posh Parisian nightclub Carroll’s, where key figures of French show business performed to a presumably mixed clientele. A very young Eartha Kitt, for example, launched her singing career there in the late 1940s. In her 1989 memoirs Kitt describes Frede (a former lover of Marlene Dietrich’s) as “the most beautiful manly-looking lady in the world”).

/ An intriguingly butch study of Lizabeth Scott. The safety pin makes a punk statement /

Scott took legal action against the magazine, but the damage was done and shortly afterwards she quit the film industry – and withdrew from public life. To date, Scott has never publicly acknowledged the gay rumours – certainly the general consensus was that she had been the mistress of (married) film mogul Hal B Wallis, who’d guided her career in the 1940s at Paramount. Now 89, the elusive Scott never married and lives in deep seclusion in her palatial Hollywood Boulevard mansion, declining all interview requests as the enigma around her grows. We can only hope Scott writes an autobiography before she dies or gives one last genuinely revealing interview – but at this point it looks likely she’s taking her secrets to her grave.

After completing her last major film role (in the 1957 Elvis Presley musical Loving You, incongruously enough!), Scott’s one last gasp at a show business career was re-launching herself as a torch singer with the album Lizabeth in 1957. (Weirdly, Scott frequently played nightclub singers in her films – but always lip-synched over another singer’s dubbed voice!). It’s an alluring and credible album, with Scott warbling jazz standards like “Willow Weep for Me” and “Can’t Get Out of This Mood” in a husky 40 cigarettes-a-day voice over stylish arrangements courtesy of Henri Rene and his Orchestra (he’d previously collaborated with Eartha Kitt, so knew a thing or two about chanteuses with idiosyncratic voices). Sadly, Lizabeth wasn’t a hit, and Scott didn’t pursue singing but I love to drop in an occasional track from it when I DJ.

/ The cover of Lizabeth Scott's 1957 album Lizabeth /

/ Lovely and dramatic: Lizabeth Scott singing "He is a Man" on television in 1958 from her album Lizabeth. The guy leaning against the lamp post in a trench coat whistling is such a nice touch /

Watermelon Gin - Florence Joelle's Kiss of Fire
Town without Pity - James Chance
Pas Cette Chanson - Johnny Hallyday
Because of Love - Billy Fury
Early Every Morning - Dinah Washington
Beauty is Only Skin-Deep - Robert Mitchum
Too Old to Cut the Mustard - Marlene Dietrich and Rosemary Clooney
Virgenes Del Sol - Yma Sumac
Exotique Bossa Nova / Quiet Village Bossa Nova - Martin Denny
Monkey Bird - The Revels
Contact - Brigitte Bardot
Rockin' Bongos - Chaino
Greasy Chicken - Andre Williams
Follow the Leader - Wiley Terry
Love Letters - Ike and Tina Turner
Whisper Your Love - The Phantom
I'll Drown in My Own Tears - Lula Reed
The Fire of Love - Jody Reynolds
It - The Regal-Aires
Miss Irene - Ginny Kennedy
Give Me a Woman - Andy Starr
Don't You Feel My Leg - Blue Lu Barker
Night Scene - The Rumblers
Woh! Woh! Yeah! - The Dynamos
Drive-In - The Jaguars
You're My Thrill - Dolores Gray
Shadow Woman - Julie London
Sexe - Line Renaud
I Want to Be Evil - Eartha Kitt
Lonely Hours - Sarah Vaughan
Shangri-La - Spikes Jones New Band
Little Girl Blue - Chet Baker
Crawfish - Johnny Thunders and Patti Paladin
I Learn a Merengue, Mama - Robert Mitchum
Go, Calypso! - Mamie van Doren
Rock-a-Hula - Elvis Presley
Honalulu Rock'n'Roll - Eartha Kitt
Elle est terrible - Johnny Hallyday
L'appareil a sous - Brigitte Bardot
You Can't Stop Her - Bobby Marchan
Roll with Me Henry - Etta James
Man's Favourite Sport - Ann-Margret
Cat Man - Gene Vincent
Tiger - Sparkle Moore
Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad - Betty Hutton
He Is a Man - Lizabeth Scott
The Strip - The Upsetters
Tony's Got Hot Nuts - Faye Richmonde
Ice Man - Filthy McNasty
Ford Mustang - Serge Gainsbourg
Seperate the Man from the Boys - Mamie van Doren
Beat Party - Ritchie & The Squires
Kruschev Twist - Melvin Gayle
Wino - Jack McVea
Summertime - Little Esther
La Javanaise - Juliette Greco
Fever - Hildegard Knef
Work Song - Nina Simone
Beat Girl - Adam Faith
You've Changed - Billie Holiday

/ For all you glove freaks out there, as modelled by stripper and bondage / fetish model Tana Louise, aka "The Cincinnati Sinner" /

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