Sunday, 24 June 2012

Performance Art Royalty: David Hoyle and Penny Arcade at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern

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Dynamic duo Penny Arcade and David Hoyle onstage causing chaos at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern

On 21 June 2012 I attended the final night of David Hoyle's triumphant latest residency (entitled Pandregina: a programme of 'entertainment' for the post-political, pre-apocalyptic age) at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. I went with Rachael Halliwell, Allan Taylor (who "transcends gender", by the way. At least that’s what Hoyle announced from the stage when he saw him) and Steve Millar. Bravely, we sat right by the front.

It was a spectacular night of performance art royalty. As well as Hoyle (on typically ferocious and scathing form) there were several special guests: porn star Ashley Ryder (who screened an eye-popping / eye-watering hardcore short film), Sjaak van Der Bent (who merits comparison to Klaus Nomi) and Al Pillay (who sang some spine-tingling torch songs).

I was especially keen to see New York underground theatre legend Penny Arcade again, who’s currently in town with her one-woman show Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! I’ve long been a fan of this tiny, volcanic force-of-nature – she’s the she-wolf/ earth mother / Anna Magnani of performance art. (Last Spring when Penny was in town sorting out the red tape for bringing Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! to London we liaised about me interviewing her for Nude magazine. Sadly in the end her schedule didn't permit it).

In Penny’s volatile performance piece she was “in-character” as tragic Andy Warhol Superstar Andrea Feldman. (Unstable and drug-addled poor little rich girl and Max’s Kansas City habitué Feldman committed suicide aged 24 in 1972. She was a totally idiosyncratic and unforgettable raspy-voiced comedienne and screen presence in the films Imitation of Christ (1967), Trash (1970) and Heat (1972).)

Afterwards, Hoyle invited Penny back again and it was just the two of them riffing onstage together. They were brilliant and lacerating. Hoyle was asking her about how New York has changed for her over the decades, which led to a discussion about gentrification. New York hasn’t been the edgy centre of bohemia now for years, Penny argued. She sang the praises of London, saying this is now the artistic world centre. Hoyle talked about how the middle classes all want to move into the city centres because they’re buzzing, cosmopolitan and happening – and then they complain about the noise of bars and nightclubs keeping them and their children awake, and campaign to get them closed! This led to a lamentation about middle class people and their precious children. Penny explained when she sees them on the street she wants to scream, “Your children AREN’T special!”

At the end for the finale everyone came back out and sang “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” together. Then Hoyle serenaded each of them with a long, drawn-out and eerie “You Made Me Love You” (when he sings that jazz standard, he makes it sound like the music a stalker hears in their head).

Viva the avant-garde!

I managed to snap a few photos ...

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Penny Arcade David Hoyle 006

Further reading: check out some photos I took of Penny Arcade onstage at the club night Duckie at The Royal Vauxhall in April 2011 here

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