(When Marilyn met Marlene: Monroe and Dietrich photographed circa the mid-1950s. Dietrich (born in 1901) could have comfortably been Monroe’s mother (Marilyn was born in 1926; Dietrich’s own daughter, Maria Riva, was born in 1924), not that you’d know it judging by this photo. Dietrich, of course, was a “joyous(ly) bisexual Good Time Charlene” (description courtesy of Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon). I forget the source now, but I remember reading an account of Dietrich being at a Hollywood party when Marilyn arrived late and already tipsy. Monroe was wearing a white fur coat, and there was a smear of her bright red lipstick on the collar. Dietrich told a friend afterwards that she found it “maddeningly erotic.” I’ve always remembered that expression: maddeningly erotic).
For this relaxed, enjoyable (and sold-out!) afternoon Dr Sketchy at The Old Queen’s Head, the performers / models were burlesque starlets Slinky Sparkles and Emerald Fontaine, with the raucous Ophelia Bitz (the Tallulah Bankhead du nos jours) on emcee duties. “Release the repressed sexual urges you’ve been holding back all week ...” Ophelia urged the audience, only to later accuse them of “leering and touching yourselves under the table.”
Ms Bitz and I. I'd been sweating to the oldies behind the DJ booth. Ophelia is placing her hand to cover my arm pit sweat patch. What a woman! Photo by Clare Marie
Emerald and Slinky certainly facilitated the leering and self-touching. I’d never worked with raven-haired, bullet-bra'd, pencil skirted and hardboiled bad girl Emerald before. Her act was very much a tribute to the cinema of trash auteurJohn Waters (Ophelia introduced her as “John Waters’ wet dream”), which obviously won my instant approval. The music for her burlesque number was “Jungle Drums” by Earl Bostick (from the Cry-baby soundtrack); it started with a lollipop-sucking Emerald as a hitchhiking runaway trying to thumb a ride, holding a sign emblazoned “Baltimore” (think teenaged delinquent Dawn Davenport in Female Trouble running away from home, or sulky Traci Lords in Cry-baby). For her poses, I happily wallowed in songs from John Waters’ soundtracks (his sleazy musical selections have always been a huge inspiration for me anyway) from films like Pink Flamingos, Cry-baby and A Dirty Shame, as well as tracks that sound like they could be from a John Waters film.
She's got it, ooh baby she's got it: Emerald Fontaine photographed by Andrew Hickinbottom (all photos from the day are by him unless indicated)
Later, platinum blonde Marilyn Monroe lookalike Slinky Sparkles did a spectacular fan dance routine. For her poses, I raised the tone a bit with twinkly cocktail music cooed by sex kittens like Marilyn Monroe (playing at least a few tracks by Marilyn is de rigueur when Slinky models), Julie London, Ann-Margret, Diana Dors and Jayne Mansfield.
Series of photos of Ophelia Bitz and I ogling Slinky Sparkles in action. Photos by Andrew Hickinbottom
Otherwise, a loose “chicken”-related theme cropped up (remember the scene in Pink Flamingos where Cookie and Crackers have sex and a live chicken gets involved in the action? I’m sure you’re still as traumatised by it as I am. Anyway, the song used in that sequence is “Chicken Grabber” by The Nite Hawks) and also a Latino / Mexican theme (which perhaps climaxed with Eartha Kitt’s berserk version of “La Bamba”, from her Eartha canta en Espanol album). As is my wont, I also went on a gynaecological musical journey to the centre of a girl with a series of single-entendre "pussy" songs (from Faye Richmonde's "My Pussy Belongs to Daddy" to "Can Your Pussy Do the Dog?" by The Cramps).
Emerald Fontaine and Slinky Sparkles together. Photo by Leigh Van Der Byl
Not to get nostalgic on your asses, but I know both Slinky and Clare Marie (Dr Sketchy’s imperturbable promoter / stage manager) in the first place because we all worked together at deluxe faux vintage lingerie emporium What Katie Did when its London boutique first opened in 2007. (They worked there full-time; I was just the occasional “Saturday boy” who worked the till, ran to the post office, climbed ladders and yes, occasionally, when necessary strapped semi-naked women into a corset with trembling hands). None of us work there now (although Slinky still regularly models for What Katie Did), but if it hadn’t been for my brief but fun stint there, I would never have met Clare Marie, who went on to promote Dr Sketchy and helped instigate my DJ’ing career (now you know who to blame! The reason I got my Saturday boy position is because way back in the 1990s, Katie Halford, What Katie Did’s founder and boss lady, and I used to work together for a fetish mail order company – but that’s a whole other sordid can of worms).
Anyway, What Katie Did continues to go from strength to strength, and recently even opened a “sister” boutique in Los Angeles. On Sunday 4 March 2012, What Katie Did held an in-store party and fashion show to launch their Spring/Summer 2012 range. It was all very chi chi and frou frou: gin cocktails served in vintage tea cups, chocolate cupcakes branded with the WKD logo, etc. The party was a blast. Here’s just a handful of pics (by me, except for the one I’m in, which I swiped from Facebook!).
Surrounded by bullet bras and suspender belts – my natural habitat! Left to right: Therese (Swedish rockabilly, my George & Dragon drinking buddy – we enable each other!), me, Katie Halford herself (the founder of What Katie Did), and Katie’s adorable daughter Poppy. Expert bartender Poppy poured out the drinks into vintage tea cups without spilling a drop. I drink gin out of a tea cup so daintily.
This photo is a bit of who's who of burlesque / cabaret starlets on the rise: Sophia St Villier (who'd actually modelled in the What Katie Did lingerie fashion show earlier), Ava Iscariot (both Sophia and Ava are frequent Dr Sketchy models and performers) and Luna DeLovely.
Kayee and Therese having a cigarette break outside
See more photos from the party (and the actual lingerie in the fashion show) here
Finally: speaking of Sophia St Villier, she recently did a smouldering photo session inspired by the paintings of Tamara De Lempicka, which is well worth checking out here. NSFW alert!
Make the World Go Away - Timi Yuro Torture - Kris Jensen Stop and Listen - Mickey and Ludella The Fire of Love - Jody Reynolds Riding By - The Majestics Oop Shoop - Big John and The Buzzards Matilda, Matilda - Robert Mitchum When I Get Low, I Get High - Florence Joelle and Her Kiss of Fire I Put A Spell on You - Screamin' Jay Hawkins Give Me Your Lov - Ike and Tina Turner Rock It - The Rockin' Brothers Screwdriver - Luchi Chicken Boogie - Ralph Marterie Kiss Me Honey Honey - The Delmonas Souvenir, Souvenir - Johnny Hallyday Salamander - Mamie Van Doren Blockade - The Rumblers Ring of Fire - The Earls of Suave La Bamba - Eartha Kitt The Mexican - The Fentones Surfin' Snow Matador - Jan Davis Eso - Conjunto TNT Chihuahua - Mina Besame Mucho - Betty Reilly Chicken Talk - Yma Sumac Love Potion # 9 - Nancy Sit The Girls in Paris - Lee Hazlewood Night Scene - The Rumblers I Would if I Could - Ruth Brown A Cruise to the Moon - Lydia Lunch Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran Boss - The Rumblers I'm a Bad, Bad Girl - Little Esther Save It - Mel Robbins Hand Clapping Time - The Fabulous Raiders Drummin' Up A Storm - Sandy Nelson Cry-baby - The Honey Sisters Let's Go Sexin' - James Intveld Chicken Hawk - The Nite Hawks No Good Lover - Mickey and Sylvia Uptown to Harlem - Johnny Thunders and Patti Paladin The Flirt - Shirley and Lee Roll with Me Henry - Etta James Jim Dandy - LaVerne Baker Lucille - Little Richard Maybe Baby - Esquerita Kruschev Twist - Melvin Gayle 8 Ball - The Hustlers Fever - Nancy Sit Wiped-Out - The Escorts La valse des si - Juliette Greco Mondo Moodo - The Earls of Suave Harlem Nocturne - The Viscounts Kiss - Marilyn Monroe A Kiss and a Cuddle - Diana Dors Love Me or Leave Me - Lena Horne Go Slow - Julie London Slowly - Ann-Margret Little Things Mean a Lot - Jayne Mansfield Two Little Girls from Little Rock - Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell Bikini with No Top on the Top - Mamie Van Doren and June Wilkinson My Pussy Belongs to Daddy - Faye Richmonde Sweet Little Pussycat - Andre Williams The Pussycat Song - Connie Vannett Can Your Pussy Do the Dog? The Cramps Boots - Nero and The Gladiators Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires Wondrous Place - Billy Fury Witchcraft - Elvis Presley Early Every Morning - Dinah Washington Love Me or Leave Me - Nina Simone Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker