1960s Hair Hopper – Swiss style! Photo by Swiss cult / outsider photographer Karlheinz Weinberger from his book Rebel Youth
Since starting my half-assed, harebrained DJ’ing “career” all those years ago (actually, not that many years ago), I estimate I’ve DJ’d pretty much everywhere in London: South (Vauxhall), North (Angel and Stoke Newington), West (Kensal Green) and best of all, East (Dalston and Shoreditch) – but never before in the actual West End. So this gig at the club night Wild Thing at The Retro Bar in Charing Cross officially represented my glittering West End debut. I’ve arrived! “Won’t you come and give me a warm hand on my big opening?” I urged everyone on Facebook. “Give me the clap I so richly deserve?” (Yes, I will keep recycling those jokes).
Retro queer record hop Wild Thing is the brainchild of artist, club promoter and DJ Joe Pop. Sprung on the world in January 2011 (first on a monthly basis, then weekly – it’s currently every Wednesday at the Retro Bar), the Wild Thing music policy is essentially (in the words of its Facebook page) “raunchy rock’n’roll, girl group melodramas, retro pop wonders and snot nosed punk of every type ... It’s got great hair, a bad attitude, a stuffed bra and possibly a switchblade in its back pocket! It’s the soundtrack to a John Waters / Tarantino / Warhol movie starring YOU!”
Needless to say, Wild Thing fits my own squalid musical aesthetic like a tight (wet) t-shirt, so when I was invited to guest DJ I leapt at the chance.
(Joe Pop has a real flair for creating striking iconic flyers for Wild Thing. Here are some of my favourites)
Tribute to Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising
Tribute to Jayne Mansfield
Tribute to Little Richard
For this night I DJ’d as part of a duo with Phil Clark. He did the first hour; I had an hour solo, and then for the last hour we were an alternating tag team. The space behind the decks is tiny. Two people crammed back there is pretty intimate. A certain amount of lager was drunk. There may have been times when my tongue might have been in Phil’s mouth and my hand jammed down the back of his jeans; after a few drinks I get wandering “party hands”. But hey, the Retro Bar patrons are worldly and broad-minded adults and it all added to the night’s louche, anything goes, Max's Kansas City ambiance.
My set was pretty much a variation of what I used to play at London’s gay greaser night Cockabilly: think sleazy titty-shaking instrumentals, wailing rhythm and blues (Little Richard and Esquerita are, after all, the mothers – muthas? – of us all), white trash hillbilly rockers, punk and assorted confrontational / abrasive kitsch.
Me - DJ'ing at Wild Thing on 4 July 2012. Eine foto von my glamorous friend Lauren Jones. That Hillbilly Hop t-shirt is now so old it qualifies as vintage.
Speaking of Cockabilly: it’s been on hiatus since The George and Dragon kicked it out (well, refreshed their club night policy if you prefer) at the beginning of January 2012. The good news is Cockabilly is back, back, BACK! Tenacious and resilient promoters Mal and Paul have found a new venue in Dalston and they re-launched Cockabilly on Thursday 5 July. The timing was unfortunate: I was way too hung over from Wild Thing the night before to even contemplate going, but I’ll definitely report back after the August Cockabilly.
And now -- finally an excuse to post some vintage beefcake ...
Deuces Wild - Link Wray Heartbreakin' Special - Duke Larson Muleskinner Blues - The Fendermen Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades Hand Clapping Time - The Fabulous Raiders Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby? The Earls of Suave Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires Breathless - X Chop Suey Rock'n'Roll - The Instrumentals Bombie - Johnny Sharp and The Yellow Jackets Funnel of Love - Wanda Jackson Bottle to the Baby - Charlie Feathers Crawfish - Johnny Thunders and Patti Paladin Dance with Me Henry - Ann-Margret Kruschev Twist - Melvin Gayle C'mon Everybody - The Sex Pistols Booze Party - 3 Aces and a Joker Willie Joe - The Mystery Trio Duck Calling Boogie - Gene Price Chicken Walk - Hasil Adkins Boss - The Rumblers Chicken Shack - Ike and Tina Turner Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks Comin' Home, Baby - The Delmonas Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran Elle est terrible - Johnny Halliday Salamander - Mamie Van Doren I Love the Life I Live - Esquerita Tiger - Sparkle Moore You Done Messed Around and Made a Mean Woman Mad - Julia Bates Cry-baby - The Honey Sisters I Stubbed My Toe - Bryan "Legs" Walker Little Miss Understood - Connie Stevens Can Your Pussy Do the Dog? The Cramps The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard Margaya - The Fender Four Fever - Nancy Sit I'm a Bad, Bad Girl - Little Esther