The first Dr Sketchy of the New Year! I hadn’t DJ’d since the last one on 21 December 2011 (which had been all Christmas music, anyhow) and was itching to get back behind the decks at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Our emcee this time was a newbie, comic performer James Huntington (aka James H) making his Dr Sketchy debut (he did a great job). We had two model / performers: Bettsie Bon Bon made a welcome return visit after posing at the 8 October 2011 Dr Sketchy (and for her burlesque number wore an amazing exploding black feather headdress), and Crimson Skye, who performed in her drag king persona Duncan Donut. The leering and hirsute Duncan was a bit of a dirt bag, to be honest! He had a constant “wardrobe malfunction” (a certain private part of his anatomy was hanging out of the side of his thong pretty much the whole time) which I’m not convinced was entirely accidental! Thinking of sleazy gender-fucked songs for Duncan’s pose was a fun challenge (I went heavy on raunchy “blue” novelty songs by the likes of Faye Richmonde and Filthy McNasty). Then when Duncan and a scantily-clad Bettsie posed together, I laid-on a series of sultry male / female duets (Elvis and his Viva Las Vegas leading lady Ann-Margret, a heavy-panting Serge Gainsbourg and Bardot, etc).
I cheekily swiped some photos from the night via the Dr Sketchy Facebook page without asking permission! These shots are by Andrew Hickinbottom.
The gorgeous Bettsie Bon Bon
Duncan Donut, mercifully keeping it covered this time
Early on I tried to shake things up and do something a bit different, making an abortive attempt to create an eerie, atmospheric David Lynch-ian musical vibe. I've recently re-discovered one of my old favourites, unjustly forgotten chanteuse Julee Cruise, and that ghostly, finger-snapping 1950s jukebox-in-a-haunted house feel is where my head is at these days. But I’ve got to say I didn’t quite pull it off (and the sold-out capacity crowd was pretty rowdy and noisey), so I probably won’t attempt that again anytime soon! Anyway, that’s why you see Cruise’s sublime "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart" midway through the set list. I got back on track, taking listeners on an erotic journey south of my border (OK, maybe not) with my more usual titty shaker instrumentals and frantic rhythm and blues wig-outs (Ike and Tina, Esquerita, Big Maybelle, etc).
(RIP, Jennifer Miro of The Nuns. Pic from the wonderful book We're Desperate: The Punk Photography of Jim Jocoy, which documents the San Francisco / Los Angeles punk scene between 1978-1980)
Midway through the set I also worked in a tribute to the late Jennifer Miro, inscrutable ice queen front woman of pioneering San Francisco punk band The Nuns, who died of cancer on 16 December 2011, aged just 54. The track “Lazy” is from The Nuns’ 1980 self-titled album. Two years earlier they’d supported The Sex Pistols at their legendarily cataclysmic final gig at San Francisco’s Winterland, ensuring The Nuns would forever at least be a footnote in punk history. (Art-y but melodic and memorable, with the right management, record label and better luck, The Nuns could have been a West Coast equivalent of Blondie). Miro’s alluring persona was post-Marlene Dietrich and post-Nico: an icily pristine platinum blonde who exuded retro glamour, with a wonderfully glacial, haughty and deadpan voice. Her obituary certainly makes for melancholy reading: despite making music since she was 18-years old, Miro never enjoyed the financial rewards that accompany mainstream success (cult and punk credibility doesn’t do much for the bank balance) and before her death she was working as a receptionist. Miro died riddled with breast and liver cancer, alone and presumably in agony (she’d opted to eschew traditional chemotherapy and even pain killers for alternative homeopathic medicine). The original and definitive incarnation of The Nuns was short-lived, imploding in a welter of drugs and recriminations. Relocating to New York and re-naming herself Mistress Jennifer, Miro would maintain different line-ups of The Nuns over the decades, working a dominatrix image and taking things in a fetish-y/Gothic direction which, to be frank, looked embarrassing. Better to listen to the wry, stark and timeless-sounding Weimar Republic decadence of “Lazy”, with just Miro accompanying herself on the piano. It slotted in beautifully with the Marilyn Monroe and Dietrich tracks that followed (and it anticipates Nico's version of "My Funny Valentine."). It also makes you wonder what could have been. Jennifer Miro deserved better.
Serenata - Jonah Jones Quartet Fever - Hildegard Knef Melancholy Serenade - King Curtis Watermelon Gin - Florence Joelle's Kiss of Fire Pas Cette Chanson - Johnny Hallyday Sea of Love - The Earls of Suave Rigor Mortis - The Gravestone Four Rockin' Back Inside My Heart - Julee Cruise Ebb Tide - Al Anthony, Wizard of the Organ Dancing on the Ceiling - Chet Baker Lunar Rhapsody - Les Baxter Pad - Bobby Summers It's Crazy, Baby - Ike and Tina Turner Wipe Out - The Escorts Unitar Rock - Willie Joe and His Unitar That's a Pretty Good Love - Big Maybelle Wait A Minute, Baby - Esquerita House Party - The Party Rockers Love Potion # 9 - Nancy Sit Commanche - The Revels Handclapping Time - The Fabulous Raiders Crawlin' - The Untouchables Beat Party - Ritchie & The Squires Womp Womp - Freddie & The Heartaches Traume - Francoise Hardy Strip-tease - Nico Un Ano D'Amor - Mina Lazy - The Nuns Lazy - Marilyn Monroe The Laziest Gal in Town - Marlene Dietrich Are You Nervous? The Instrumentals Bombie - Johnny Sharp and The Yellow Jackets Witchcraft - Elvis Presley Dance with Me Henry - Ann-Margret Nosey Joe - Bull Moose Jackson Lucky Lips - Ruth Brown Drums A G-Go - The Hollywood Persuaders Don't Be Cruel - The Bill Black Combo My Pussy Belongs to Daddy - Faye Richmonde Seperate the Men from the Boys - Mamie van Doren Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks Big Man - Carl Matthews Ice Man - Filthy McNasty The Coo - Wayne Cochran A Guy What Takes His Time - Mae West Crazy Vibrations - The Bikinis The Beast - Milt Buckner The Stripper - John Barry (Beat Girl soundtrack) Lola Lola - Eartha Kitt Hump-a-Baby - Little Ritchie Ray You're the Boss - Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret Little Girl / Little Boy - John and Jackie Je t'aime, moi non plus ... Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot Pop Slop - Bela Sanders Und Sein Tanzorchester Chattanooga Choo Choo - Denise Darcel That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield Hot Licks - The Rendells Esquerita and the Voola - Esquerita Dragon Walk - The Noblemen Scorpion - The Carnations Lucille - Little Richard
Finally, in my blog for the 23 November 2011 Dr Sketchy, I wrote about two great European divas: Italy's Mina and France's Francoise Hardy. It didn't occur to me until later that musically they overlapped on one memorable occasion. In 1966 Mina scored a big hit in Italy with "Se telefonado", written for her by Ennio Morricone --one of her essential statements. The same year Hardy would adapt her own French lyrics to Morricone's tune and release her interpretation, "Je Changerais D'avis."