Friday, 22 March 2013

Lobotomy Room 16 March 2013 Set List


“I’m a thief and a shit kicker and, uh, I’d like to be famous ...” Ultimate freak diva Divine (formerly Harris Glenn Milstead, the three hundred pound drag queen, singer and leading lady of choice for Prince of Puke, John Waters) has been haunting my imagination lately. For one thing, I recently re-visited Pink Flamingos for the first time in ages when I realised a friend in his early 30s had never seen it. Then the 25th anniversary of Divine’s death was earlier this month (she died 7 March 1988 at the tragically young age of 42; I hope everyone marked the occasion by doing something extra filthy in her honor).  And in an exceptionally timely coincidence, I paid homage to this eternal outlaw / queer icon when the documentary I Am Divine made its UK premiere at the 2013 Lesbian and Gay Film Festival at The British Film Institute in London on 14 March. My old friend film journalist Damon Wise was on the guest list. Thanks to him adding me as his “plus one” I managed to hustle my way into the sold-out opening night screening. (For the record, Damon is as straight as an arrow. To paraphrase New York doyenne of performance art Penny Arcade, Damon is “so queer he’s not even gay!” Or at least, I’m queer enough for the both of us). Anyway, I Am Divine is a loving and sweet-natured tribute to the punk Hog Princess and a true must-see for aficionados of the cinema of John Waters (which I hope is most people I know!). I therefore dedicate the 16 March 2013 Lobotomy Room to the memory of Divine.

From the Facebook events page:
Lobotomy Room: 16 March at Paper Dress Vintage in the heart of bohemian Shoreditch! A Mondo Trasho night of rockabilly, frantic Rhythm and Blues, tittyshaking sleazy instrumentals, punk, kitsch and exotica (weird shit, basically! Think John Waters soundtracks, or Songs The Cramps Taught Us).

As an added bonus, there is a live performance from:


Vicious beehived mistresses of surf-punk (comprised of ex-members of The Voodoo Queens, Mambo Taxi, Naked Ruby and Urban Voodoo Machine) stir up a tidal wave of guitar instrumental mayhem. Wipe out!

Admission is FREE, the booze is cheap, and the venue is walking distance from Old Street tube. If you’re working that night – call in sick. If you’re in jail – BREAK OUT.

/ Above: photo I took of Ella Guru at a Deptford Beach Babes gig at Ryan's in Stoke Newington, 2006 /

Lobotomy Room Blank

/ Below: Deptford Beach Babes guitarist and front woman Ella Guru and I /

The Second-Ever Lobotomy Room: 16 March 2013

Strictly speaking this was the second-ever Lobotomy Room. But considering the first one (on 29 December 2012) was sort of a low-key, trial one attended mainly by my friends, this felt like the debut proper.  In the lead-up to the night, I worked myself into a foaming-at-the-mouth frenzy worrying about details. Who would come? Would it be deserted? Would it be an embarrassing fiasco? It didn’t help that Spanking Machine (my friends Christopher and Lauren’s blues-punk duo) were playing a gig on the same night – and that a good 40% of the crowd I would normally rely on would be at that instead. So I was sweating bullets / shitting bricks / having kittens. (Spread some newspaper on the floor!).  By Saturday night I was virtually hugging myself and rocking back and forth, catatonic with stress.

In fact, the second Lobotomy Room was a triumph! Some useful stuff I learned: the Facebook events page is almost meaningless as a gauge for estimating who is actually coming. For one thing, by 2013 everyone is so inundated with events invitations via Facebook they’re immune to them. I certainly ignore 90% of mine. My “attending” numbers on Facebook stayed mortifyingly low right up until the night, which was making me anxious.

In the end, only a small hardcore group of my own friends came – the rest were strangers. But the location of Paper Dress Vintage (the centre of buzzing Shoreditch) on a Saturday night, and their no cover charge policy, almost guarantees a successful night. It also certainly didn’t hurt that a big group of Spanish people reserved a table for a birthday celebration. While DJ’ing I kept glancing up and thinking, Hmmm – the place is slowly but surely filling up. Then I realised the bar is three-or four-people deep, and when I needed to make a speedy dash for the men’s room (the perennial DJ’s dilemma – especially for one who drinks as much beer as me), I’d have to really push my way through throngs of revellers.  Most importantly, they were rowdy, good-natured and up for a laugh – I couldn’t have hoped for a better crowd.
The Second-Ever Lobotomy Room: 16 March 2013

/ Ella Guru and I, take 2 /

The Second-Ever Lobotomy Room: 16 March 2013

/The Deptford Beach Babes' Jane Ruby and Eric. Note Eric's painful, swollen and oozing pink eye infection -- and yet he still came! /

The Second-Ever Lobotomy Room: 16 March 2013

/Paddy and Sally /

The only downsides were technical. There were some hassles with glitchy / sticky decks- but I can’t complain because the decks are my own! (Paper Dress Vintage has vinyl-only decks, so I brought my own CD decks from home and keep them stashed at the venue to use when I play there). They kept “rejecting” my CDs, and not just the home-burnt ones. While one deck was playing, I’d load in the next CD into the free deck, try to cue the track I wanted – and it would stick on “Reading” and just keep whirring away – so as the currently playing song was counting down to its final seconds I would be frantically pressing “Eject”. Either it would suddenly “read” the CD at the last minute, or I’d have to quickly scramble to eject it and find a replacement song pronto! Obviously I got drunker as the night progressed, but this really kept me on my toes -- it kept things suspenseful! Then plenty of songs “skipped, which was odd because in theory my CDs are immaculately clean. (In an OCD ritual I polish the finger prints off them individually as I unpack them from my DJ bag and replace them in their cases every time). On a few occasions I accidentally played tracks I didn’t intend to, but no one was the wiser and I just shrugged it off. Paper Dress Vintage promoter Stephen and I tried to organise having DVDs projected against the wall to add to the sordid atmosphere (i.e. 1950s burlesque footage of Tempest Storm and Bettie Page bumping-and-grinding from Teaserama and Varietease; The Wild World of Jayne Mansfield) but it turned out my DVD player and his projector were incompatible; hopefully we can resolve that before the next Lobotomy Room.
Paddy and I Lobotomy Room 16 March 13

/ Paddy and I /

Everyone really responded to The Deptford Beach Babes, who rocked the house with a tight ten-song set. I’ve known the band’s two front women guitarist Ella Guru (the Stuckist artist) and chanteuse Jane Ruby (formerly of the band Naked Ruby) since the 1990s. Both are veteran rock chicks extraordinaire and a scream to hang out with. (Earlier in the night I was talking to Ella while she stood in front of a mirror combing-out her vintage auburn beehive wig, fretting about how matted and ratty it is. I explained the split ends just make it look more real. In retrospect I wish I’d taken Ella’s photo while she combed her wig – it was a very John Waters / Female Trouble moment). Afterward pretty much everyone stuck around dancing and drinking right until chucking-out time. I obliged by cranking up my most desperate hillbilly and punk stuff. From my vantage point in the DJ booth, I had a great view of cute, sweaty and tattooed straight guys flailing around – most enjoyable.
The Second-Ever Lobotomy Room: 16 March 2013

/ Ike and Tina Turner in 1964 absolutely tearing through "I Can't Believe What You Say" in a punk-y 1 minute and forty five seconds /

/ Fuzzed-out garage punk stomp "Primitive" by The Groupies set to footage of early 1960s juvenile delinquent gangs: marriage made in heaven /

/ Punkabilly: Sid Vicious does Eddie Cochran /

Moon Mist - The Out-Islanders
Monkey Bird - The Revels
Wimoweh - Yma Sumac
Quiet Village - Les Baxter
I Learn a Merengue, Mama - Robert Mitchum
Don'a Wan'a - Wanda Jackson
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Handclapping Time - The Fabulous Raiders
Khrushchev Twist - Melvin Gayle
Viens danser le twist - Johnny Hallyday
Bombora - The Original Surfaris
Uptown to Harlem - Johnny Thunders and Patti Palladin
Bacon Fat - Andre Williams
Wiped-Out - The Escorts
I Can't Believe What You Say - Ike and Tina Turner
Intoxica - The Centurions
Trash Can - Ken Williams
One Hand Loose - Charlie Feathers
8 Ball - The Hustlers
I Love the Life I Live - Esquerita
Eggman - Edith Massey
Love Potion # 9 - Nancy Sit
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8's
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Dragon Walk - The Noblemen
Madness - The Rhythm Rockers
Club Delight - Jack Jolly
Safari - The El Capris
Peter Gunn Locomotion - The Delmonas
Drummin' Up a Storm - Sandy Nelson
53rd & 3rd - The Ramones
Harley Davidson - Brigitte Bardot
Boss - The Rumblers
Don't Knock Upon My Door - Billy Fury
The Big Bounce - Shirley Caddell
Saturday Night - Roy Brown
One, Two, Let's Rock - Sugar Pie and Pee Wee
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
Rock'n'Roll Waltz - Ann-Margret
Little Queenie - Bill Black Combo
Her Love Rubbed Off - Carl Perkins
Red Headed Mamma - Sonny Burgess (dedicated to Red Headed Mamma Jane Ruby)
Strollin' After Dark - The Shades
Stranger in My Own Home Town - The Earls of Suave
Batman - Link Wray and His Wraymen
C'mon Everybody - Sid Vicious
Breathless - X
Mean Muthafuckin' Man - Wayne County and The Electric Chairs
Pillowcase - The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black
Pass The Hatchet - Roger and The Gypsies
You Give Me Worms - Turbonegro (for Eric -- although he'd left by then)
Willie Joe - The Mystery Trio
Poor Little Critter on the Road - The Knitters
Muleskinner Blues - The Fendermen
Shortnin' Bread - The Readymen
Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen
Primitive - The Groupies
Rock Around The Clock - The Sex Pistols
Little Girl - John and Jackie
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks
The Whip - The Frantics
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Beat Girl - John Barry
Commanche - The Revels
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Roll with Me Henry - Etta James
Hanky Panky - Rita Chao and The Quests
Forming - The Germs
Johnny Hit and Run Pauline - X

On 27 March 2013 I split for the annual Viva Las Vegas weekender over the long Easter weekend, followed by a few days recuperating and hanging out with friends in San Francisco (so pretty much the exact same trip I did in 2012). I’m yearning for this trip for several reasons: it’s still deep winter in London and am craving some sunshine and warmth. Work is so stressful at the moment I feel permanently drained and angry. And there’s been some romantic disappointment bullshit I’d rather forget. But most importantly, The Queen Mutha of Rock’n’Roll Little Richard is headlining Viva Las Vegas this year, so my attendance feels compulsory. Journeying to Vegas from London to see the Bronze Liberace / Queen of Rock'n'Roll will be like a religious pilgrimage! I’ll give you a full scene report when I get back.

Further reading: Check out the rest of my photos from the 16 March 2013 Lobotomy Room on my flickr page

I have a new tumblr page! It's going to be NSFW and a bit more sexually explicit / homoerotic than I usually go on this blog. Proceed if you dare!

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