The astonishing Tempest Storm (judging by her bouffant hairstyle, circa the early-1960s)
It’s fair to say everyone at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern was blown away by this Dr Sketchy's featured performer, chanteuse and comedienne Sabrina Chap visiting from New York. Accompanying herself on keyboard, Sabrina sang three twisted, scabrous and funny torch songs so filthy they shocked even me. Afterwards Sabrina also posed: at one point she came onstage with her hair in Lolita-esque pigtails (or “bunches” as Brits insist on calling them) and posed giving the audience the finger. I wish I’d had something more aggressive and confrontational cued up to match her punk-y pose (it was Lizabeth Scott's heartbroken version of the jazz standard “Can’t Get Out of This Mood”, with its great campy and dramatic spoken introduction. Our eternally soigné emcee Dusty Limits reassured me the contrast between the music and Sabrina’s pose worked in spite of itself!).
The other model was Dr Sketchy veteran Mam’zelle Celine with the Bardot-like waterfall of long blonde hair. At the end of the night, Sabrina and Celine posed together. For one pose, Sabrina bound a startled-looking Celine’s hands behind her back – it was like something out of a 1950s Bettie Page-Irving Klaw bondage photo session! When two females model together at Dr Sketchy, I often pull out a Marilyn Monroe-Jane Russell duet from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Considering Sabrina is brunette and Celine blonde, it seemed particularly apt.
Mam'zelle Celine and Sabrina Chap (well, Bettie Page and victim as photographed by Irving Klaw. You get the general idea).
I threaded a subtle gynaecological theme throughout the night: "My Pussy Belongs to Daddy", "Poon-tang", "Eager Beaver Baby", "Beaver Shot", etc. Classy, huh? Not sure if anyone noticed, but I found it amusing. On a more elegant note, I also gave things a bit of Continental je ne sais quoi by playing some songs by two great 1960s European pop divas: France’s Francoise Hardy (singing in German) and Italy’s Mina. Both songs are from arthouse cinema soundtracks. Hardy’s “Traume” (which means “Dream” in German) is from the deeply strange and kinky black tragicomedy Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000) by Francois Ozon (in a nice cross-European twist, it’s a film by a French director adapted for the screen from a play by a German (my hero the late, great maestro Rainer Werner Fassbinder) and the song is sung in German by a French chanteuse), while Mina’s “Un Anno D’Amore” (“A Year of Love”) is used in Pedro Almodovar’s High Heels (1991). “Traume” almost becomes a running joke in Burning Rocks: the film is set in the early 1970s (Hardy recorded “Traume” in 1970) and every time someone puts a record on the stereo, it always seems to be this. Listening to Hardy’s spellbinding performance of this sublimely morbid and tragic song, it’s easy to understand why she’s become a cult figure in even non-French speaking countries. Enigmatic, lush-lipped, ash blonde and fashion model beautiful, with a wispily alluring crystal tear drop voice awash in melancholy, Francoise Hardy is like a French equivalent of Nico or Marianne Faithfull without the troublesome heroin addiction.
France's exquisite Francoise Hardy singing "Traume" in German -- and channelling Marlene Dietrich as Lola Lola in The Blue Angel with her top hat, cigarette and mesh stockings
“Un Anno D’Amore” is the perfect encapsulation of the artistry of Mina (aka the Tiger of Cremona). She specialises in lush, swirling ballads surging with tension and romantic agony: think of Dusty Springfield in “I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten” / “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” mode with added Italian passion. (Like Dusty, Mina had a penchant for thick black eyeliner and false eye lashes. Unlike Dusty, Mina took things a few steps further by entirely plucking-out her eyebrows for extra impact). Extremely dramatic and intense, “Un Anno D’Amore” is a slow-burning heartbreak ballad that begins measured and restrained and keeps building to crescendos of raw emotion until Mina is finally wailing the chorus; the piercing sadness of her astonishingly emotive voice creates an almost operatic sense of tragedy. Needless to say, Mina’s songs and persona are a natural fit for the films of Spain’s Pedro Almodovar. In one of High Heels’ most memorable segments, the drag queen Letal portrayed by Miguel Bose (son of beautiful Italian actress Lucia Bose – the Italian Ava Gardner, check her out in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1953 film Le Signora Senza Camelie – and Spanish bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguin) lip-synchs to “Un Anno D’Amore” in his nightclub routine. In fact, it’s rumoured Almodovar’s next film is due to be a biopic of Mina. It sounds like a marriage made in heaven.
Italy's Mina in full cry. Goose bumps! (I actually prefer this version, but annoyingly the person who uploaded it on Youtube disabled embedding! Make sure to check it out).
Miguel Bose in High Heels (note: this version is "Un Ano de Amor", sung in Spanish instead of Italian. Drag-tastic!)
Love Me or Leave Me - Nina Simone Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker When I Get Low I Get High - Florence Joelle's Kiss of Fire One More Beer - The Earls of Suave Trash Can - Ken Williams Mi Palomita - Yma Sumac Mama, Looka Boo Boo - Robert Mitchum Go, Calypso! - Mamie Van Doren De Castrow - Jaybee Wasden St Louis Blues - Eartha Kitt The Whip - The Originals Follow the Leader - Wiley Terry Greasy Chicken - Andre Williams Baby I'm Doin' It - Annisteen Allen I Love the Life I Live - Esquerita Love Letters - Ike and Tina Turner Poon-tang - The Treniers Beaver Shot - The Periscopes Save It - Mel Robbins Elle est Terrible - Johnny Hallyday 8 Ball - The Hustlers Fever - Ann-Margret Anasthasia - Bill Smith Combo I'm a Bad, Bad Girl - Little Esther Drive-In - The Jaguars My Pussy Belongs to Daddy - Faye Richmonde Womp Womp - Freddy and The Heartaches Traume - Francoise Hardy Mondo Moodo - The Earls of Suave Un Anno D'Amore - Mina Harlem Nocturne - Martin Denny Caravan - The John Buzon Trio Jealousy - Billy Fury It's Legal - Shirley Anne Field (Beat Girl soundtrack) Yogi - The Bill Black Combo Fever - Nancy Sit Tall Cool One - The Wailers Teardrops from My Eyes - Ruth Brown You'd Better Stop - LaVerne Baker Shangri-La - Spike Jones New Band I Love How You ... Lydia Lunch Love - Eartha Kitt Look-a There, Ain't She Pretty - Bill Haley (Pink Flamingos soundtrack) Little Things Mean a Lot - Jayne Mansfield Can't Get Out of This Mood - Lizabeth Scott You're Crying - Dinah Washington Let There Be Love - Diana Dors Blockade - The Rumblers I Can't Give You Anything But Love - Marlene Dietrich L'appareil a sous - Brigitte Bardot Pauvre Lola - Serge Gainsbourg Just Two Little Girls from Littlerock - Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell Bikini with No Top on the Top - Mamie Van Doren and June Wilkinson The Whip - The Frantics Revellion - The Revels Bombie - Johnny Sharp and The Yellowjackets Eager Beaver Baby - Johnny Burnette All of Me - Mae West Daddy Daddy - Ruth Brown Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks Witchcraft - Elvis Presley