Saturday, 16 June 2012

13 June 2012 Dr Sketchy Set List

/ The sublime Jayne Mansfield looking as understated as ever in Too Hot To Handle (1960) /

This Wednesday night Dr Sketchy at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern featured two Dr Sketchy doyennes: bad girl of cabaret emcee Ophelia Bitz and bump-and-grind artiste Cherry Shakewell. The outrageous Ophelia was on especially raunchy form. “I am and probably will Ophelia Bitz,” she introduced herself. Sporting an especially short micro mini-dress, she apologised in advance to the audience members by the front of the stage if they copped an eyeful of more than they bargained for. Truly, she is the Tallulah Bankhead du nos jours.

Cherry Shakewell’s act incorporated a bubble machine, and her spectacular green and gold outfit and headdress evoked an under-the-sea vibe, implying sexy mermaids, a Sea Queen or (as Cherry herself described it) Lady Neptune. (Unfortunately there was no one taking photos tonight, but Cherry looked a lot like this ... in fact, this tune was the cue for the bubble machine to start).

Ophelia used this as inspiration for suggesting themes when people drew Cherry. She paraphrased a line from a song in The Little Mermaid (“It’s better down where it’s wetter”) in a way that Disney almost certainly didn’t have in mind. Another of her suggestions was “Something Fishy, Starring Cherry Shakewell.”

I haven’t made any serious technical blunders in a while, so I guess I was overdue for one. There was a horrifying moment at the beginning of the night when I botched Ophelia’s music cue. Because there was just one model and burlesque performer this night, Ophelia treated the audience to a few songs from her cabaret repertoire. When she arrived and said her musical backing was on her iPhone rather than on a CD, my heart sank. I don’t have an iPhone myself so am panicky and unfamiliar with operating ‘em. And even at the best of times, I screw up musical cues (just ask poor long-suffering Claire Benjamin/Freuda Kahlo!). Ophelia quickly ran through with me what her musical cue would be but I still completely misunderstood it (I thought she was singing a song at the end of the night, not right after she introduced herself at the start!). So she stood there staring at me from the stage when her music was due to kick in, and I was staring back at her blankly before I realised, Oh! She means now! Luckily, Ophelia is such a seasoned and unruffled pro we quickly got back on track and she rocked the house with her first song.

Needless to say, we mostly get a great crowd at Dr Sketchy nights: fun, open, talented, smart, perhaps a bit drunk – and always respectful of the performers. Wednesday night we had a garrulous group of newbies (apparently some gals from the office on a night out) who were pounding back glasses of rosé or something and seemed not to be au fait with basic etiquette about not talking while a performer is singing (and bear in mind the RVT is a small venue, so it was right in Ophelia’s face). To her credit, Ophelia rose above it and handled it in her stride (well, she did tell them to shut up mid-song), but it made my blood boil. Obviously these are the same ilk of people who probably talk and text all through films, too. It’s unlikely any of them will read this, but seriously ladies – STFU!

Musically, it didn’t occur to me until midway through Cherry’s first pose I should try to play some underwater/sea-related music. Doh! I quickly remedied that by slapping on "Atlantis" by high emperor of Mondo Exotica, Les Baxter. Elsewhere, while she posed I cranked up cooing sex kitten tunes by Cherry’s platinum blonde spiritual predecessors like Mamie Van Doren, Brigitte Bardot, Jayne Mansfield and (token redhead) Ann-Margret. I decided long ago that “Cherry” by The Jive Bombers is Cherry’s unofficial theme song. For me Cherry’s 1960s go-go dancer look (tousled blonde mane, frosted pale lipstick, false eyelashes like thick black tarantulas) always suggests Nancy Sinatra and Russ Meyer’s sexploitation masterpiece (and what John Waters calls “beyond a doubt, the best movie ever made”) Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Of the trio of homicidal, vengeful go-go dancers, Cherry most resembles the fun-loving blonde femme one, Billie).

I corralled some friends into coming to this Dr Sketchy: Christopher, Paul (these two used to be in art-punk band Matron together) and Ilana. (Ilana in fact won one of the main prizes at the end. Ophelia couldn’t decipher the signature scrawled at the bottom of Ilana’s sketch and announced her as “Lana”). After Dr Sketchy itself was pretty much over, I dashed outside where the three of them were standing smoking cigarettes like a bunch of delinquents. I said I’d just play one or two more songs to wind things up then I’d be free to join them. They had the nerve to say No, they’re going back in and they want to listen to me play more. So I continued DJ’ing for another 25 minutes or so for their pleasure while they drank beer. What can you do with people like that, huh?

Cockabilly 2 November 2011 001
Christopher and Paul photographed at the 2 November 2011 Cockabilly at The George and Dragon

Simba - Les Baxter
Run - Jeri Southern
Cocktail for Two - Cliff Duphiney
If I Love Ya Then I Need Ya, If I Need Ya Then I Wantcha Around - Eartha Kitt
Love is Comin' My Way - Myrna March
Trash Can - Ken Williams
Madness - The Rhythm Rockers
What Do You Think I Am? Ike and Tina Turner
Rompin' - Jerry Warren
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Leave Married Women Alone - Jimmy Cavallo
I Want Your Love - The Cruisers
Good and Bad - The Gauchos
Pink Champagne - The Tyrones
Heartbreak Hotel - Buddy Love
Surfing Snow Matador - Mickey and Ludella
Shomblar - Sheriff and The Revels
Intoxica - The Centurions
Fever - Nancy Sit
It - The Regal-Aires
Scorpion - Jimmy McConville
Miss Irene - Ginny Kennedy
Night Scene - The Rumblers
Mambo Baby - Ruth Brown
I Learn a Merengue, Mama - Robert Mitchum
Wimoweh - Yma Sumac
Esquerita and the Voola - Esquerita
Delilah Jones - The Thunderbirds
Little Miss Understood - Connie Stevens
Beaver Shot - Hollywood Hurricanes
Drummin' Up a Storm - Sandy Nelson
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Atlantis - Les Baxter
Boots - Nero and The Gladiators
Let Me Entertain You - Ann-Margret
Harlem Nocturne - The Viscounts
Handclapping Time - The Fabulous Raiders
Margaya - The Fender Four
Chop Suey Rock'n'Roll - The Instrumentals
Kruschev Twist - Melvin Gayle
Ain't That Loving You, Baby - The Earls of Suave
Comin' Home, Baby - The Delmonas
Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters
Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran
Bombie - Johnnie Sharp and the Yellow Jackets
I Was Born to Cry - Johnny Thunders
Lucille - Little Richard
Tall Cool One - The Wailers
I Gotta Get Out of This Town - Nancy Sinatra
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! The Bostweeds
Woman - Empress of Fur
Cherry - The Jive Bombers
Angel Face - Billy Fury
Je Me Donne A Qui Me Plait - Brigitte Bardot
Crawlin' - The Untouchables
The Girl Who Invented Rock'n'Roll - Mamie Van Doren
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
Pass the Hatchet - Roger and The Gypsies
Vesuvius - The Revels
Beat Girl - Adam Faith
No Good Lover - Mickey and Sylvia
Breathless - Arlie Neaville
Torture Rock - Rockin' Belmarx
Drive, Daddy, Drive - Little Sylvia
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks
The Chicken Scratch - The Commandos
Chicken Shack - Ike and Tina Turner

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