Sunday, 27 December 2015

Beverley Hills John

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/ John Waters. Beverly Hills John, 2012. C-Print. 76,2 x 50,8 cm /

[Note: this article originally appeared on the Beige website beginning of July 2015]

Cinema’s trash maestro John Waters may not have directed a film since 2004, but if anything “the peoples’ pervert” is more venerated than ever. When A Dirty Shame (his last film to date) tanked, the durable Waters simply diversified, successfully re-inventing himself as an author, comedian, all-round pop culture “filth elder” (think gleefully corrupting sleazy uncle) – and visual artist.

Waters wrote about his passion for collecting modern art in his 2010 book Role Models. He’s also branched out into producing conceptual art himself. And in the kinky outsider art event of summer 2015, The Sprüth Magers gallery in Mayfair is presenting “Beverly Hills John” Waters’ first-ever exhibition in London (1 July – 15 August 2015).

The opening reception (or vernissage, if you prefer) was 30 June. As a lifelong Waters fanatic, needless to say my ass was there. To paraphrase a line from Serial Mom – I was so excited I could shit!

According to the press release, the exhibit promised “a fresh set of affectionate barbs about the movie biz. While he hasn’t lost his mordant wit or sense of mischief, “Beverly Hills John” finds Waters in a more reflective mood, asking the question: ‘Since celebrity is the only obscenity left in the art world, where do I fit in?’ He also hopes to resolve issues about childhood fame, false glamour, the horrors of nouveau-riche excess, his ongoing sexual attractions and the possible risk of ‘careericide’ with dignity.”

Inside Sprüth Magers, it was the hottest night of the summer thus far in more ways than one. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a sneak preview of an art exhibit by cult cinema’s Pope of Trash lured every sexually ambivalent freak, punk and club kid in London. The gallery was packed and steamy. Adding to the buzz, Waters himself was holding court in person. Impeccably soigné in a Comme des Garcons jacket (or was it Dries van Noten?), Waters confidently circulated through the crowd, frequently stopping to graciously pose for photos with fans.

“Beverley Hills John” is saturated in macabre, sensational and perverse Hollywood Bablyon-style tabloid culture. The main gallery incorporates a section called “She Shoulda Said NO!” with cautionary portraits of glamour jungle casualties like Whitney Houston, Anna Nicole Smith, Amy Winehouse and Princess Diana. Waters includes among them doomed Country & Western chanteuse Patsy Cline, which felt odd since – unlike Houston, Smith and Winehouse – she died in a plane crash rather than of drug and alcohol abuse. (Perhaps Cline “shoulda said NO!” instead of boarding that plane?).

Waters offers two self-portraits: one of himself as a grotesque toupeed and Botoxed plastic surgery victim and one as an evil, grimacing dog catcher. (Sticking with the canine theme, perhaps the most disturbing and lingering image from the exhibit is what a “surgically-enhanced” Lassie would look like after a face lift).

In perhaps a sideways look at the concept of “gay respectability”, “Bill’s Stroller” is a toddler’s stroller fashioned out of studded black leather bondage straps, the fabric silkscreened with the names of hardcore gay sex clubs (Mineshaft, The Toilet, Blow Buddies) and spurting dicks. Know any expectant parents? It would make a great baby shower gift.

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/ John Waters. Bill’s Stroller, 2014. Umbrella lightweight stroller with silkscreened linen and spiked, leather belt. 99,1 x 35,6 x 66 cm /

Elsewhere, Waters’ twisted vision integrates the covers of pornographic vintage gay pulp novels (if any straight attendees were unfamiliar with the old-school gay expression “chicken”, they will be now), novelty chest wigs, crabs (as in: pubic lice) and anal fissures.

The exhibit concludes with the video installation Kiddie Flamingos, in which Waters directs a cast of children as they re-enact the script of Pink FlamingosIt’s disarmingly sweet to see the “filthiest people alive” re-interpreted by kids – especially the little girl channelling Edith Massey as the egg-obsessed “Mama Edie” with blacked-out teeth and a beehive wig. It must be said, the girl portraying Connie Marble in a flame-orange wig and cat’s eye glasses really nails the venom of Mink Stole’s performance.

The rancid preoccupations and sensibilities that aficionados treasure in Waters’ films like Female Trouble and Cry-baby are present in abundance in the exhibit. “Beverley Hills John” is a life-affirming jolt of vivid kitsch.

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/ John Waters. Justin’s Had Work, 2014. C-Print. 76,2 x 50,8 cm /

Further reading: I've blogged about John Waters - one of my key and most treasured inspirations - many times over the years. Read 'em all! My epic 2010 interview with Waters for Nude magazineWhen John Waters Met NicoA Reunion with the Prince of Puke Part 1 (2011)John Waters' Christmas Show at The Royal Festival Hall in 2011The Amy Grimehouse John Waters Filth Festival in 2014Reunion with the Prince of Puke Part 2 (2014)Reflections on John Waters' book Role Models. The Complete Films of John Waters (Every Goddamn One of Them) at The BFI. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Lobotomy Room 27 November 2015 at Fontaine's DJ Set List

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As threatened on the Facebook events page...

Witness forbidden voodoo rites and adult situations - at LOBOTOMY ROOM!

Yes! Leave all sense of shame and propriety at the door - when LOBOTOMY ROOM returns to its new home, the subterranean Bamboo Lounge of Art Deco vice palace Fontaine's! Friday 27 November!

At last - a club night for the hillbilly beau monde! LOBOTOMY ROOM! Where sin lives! A punkabilly booze party! A spectacle of decadence for the permissive Continentally-minded! A Mondo Trasho evening of Beat, Beat Beatsville Beatnik Rock’n’Roll! Rockabilly Psychosis! Wailing Rhythm and Blues! Twisted Tittyshakers! Punk Cretin Hops! Kitsch! Exotica! Curiosities and other Weird Shit! Think John Waters soundtracks, or Songs The Cramps Taught Us, hosted by Graham Russell (of Dr Sketchy and Cockabilly notoriety). Expect desperate stabs from the jukebox jungle! Savage rhythms to make you writhe and rock! Now with added vintage erotica projected on the wall for your adult viewing pleasure!

Admission: gratuit - that's French for FREE!

Lobotomy Room: Faster. Further. Filthier.

It's sleazy. It's grubby. It's trashy - you'll love it!

A tawdry good time guaranteed!


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I won’t lie. It’s been an agonising, anxiety-ridden and bumpy recent few months characterised by unemployment woes. In fact I’ve been a full-on freaked-out casualty since summer 2015. In September I was made redundant at my then-current job in a painful re-structure. (I’d been there just under two years so – as human resources gleefully pointed out – I wasn’t eligible for any kind of redundancy package). I swung hard into frantically applying for jobs and liaising with recruitment agencies – and within a week of getting officially made redundant, had scored a new job! Phew! The new job initially felt like a godsend.  But by about the third or fourth week it quickly became apparent it was not a good fit. In fact I was filled with overwhelming anxiety and dread on a daily basis. By about the end of the second month, the worst case scenario happened: I was officially informed I hadn’t survived the six month probationary period and they wouldn’t be keeping me on. It was a pretty crushing blow to be plunged into unemployment and financial uncertainty again.

Since the end of November (in fact, within days of getting the news) I landed a temp job and I’ve been steadily temping since. This has been a positive development: it’s kept me afloat and helped me claw back some confidence. It’s also demonstrated that – much as I dislike the financial insecurity - I can survive by temping if absolutely necessary. On Monday 7 December I had a job interview for a new permanent role. By Wednesday 9 December the recruitment agent phoned to inform me I was successful. It looks like I’ll be starting the new job on 11 January 2016. It’ll be another six month probationary period and I’ve been burnt before – but it is reason to be optimistic.  Hopefully I’ll be back on track soon and the past few months will just be a blip in my life.

27 November represented the last Lobotomy Room of 2015. (Lobotomy Room is the last Friday of every month and the last Friday of December is 25 December –Santa Claus’ birthday!). Considering I’d been fired earlier that very week, my nerves were still well and truly shot. Necking beer and DJ’ing some angry punk and rockabilly tunes in the dimly-lit Bamboo Room certainly helped – it just needed more people in attendance! If there was ever a time to show me some support, this was it. Since re-locating Lobotomy Room to its new permanent home downstairs at Fontaine’s in summer 2015, I’ve lost every single regular I’d gradually built up over the years. It’s a kick in the teeth, but the Bamboo Lounge of Fontaine’s is the ideal home for my vision of Lobotomy Room. Hip boss lady Emerald Fontaine encourages me to crank-up my most putrid musical selections loud. It’s got Mondo Tiki Polynesian decor. It’s in Dalston (well, the bit that bleeds into Stoke Newington). And it’s got the most beautiful big movie screen (bordered by two silver-sprayed palm trees either side) for me to project grainy vintage erotica (of the boob-tastic Russ Meyer / Bettie Page-burlesk-Teaserama variety and the Athletic Model Guild baby-oiled guys-wrestling-in-posing-pouches beefcake homo porn – so something for everybody!). Difficult as it is, I’m gritting my teeth and soldiering on and just hoping there is some new hip Beat Generation out there hungry for kicks and ready to embrace what I’m laying down.  Anyway, later on, some loyal friends did turn up (and earned my eternal gratitude): Mal (fellow DJ and my partner in crime at Cockabilly) and Chris (potentially better known to some of you under his drag name – Baby Lame).


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/ Mal corrupting Pee-Wee Herman /

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/ Chris, Elizabeth and Richard /

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/ Fierce! Incandescent rhythm and blues queen Tina Turner in the seventies. Did anyone ever look better in zebra print? /

The night before Lobotomy Room Bold Soul Sister extraordinaire Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock on 26 November 1939) turned 76. I venerate the iconic bewigged rhythm and blues tigress and Tina’s music (especially her sixties R&B material) is a perennial Lobotomy Room (and Cockabilly) staple. Needless to say I played some Ike’n’Tina, but also a track from Turner’s second solo album Acid Queen (1975) - her gender-fucked version of The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb", to be precise. (Tina’s actual first solo album is the weird obscurity from 1974 Tina Turns The Country On! on which she tackles country and western music by the likes of Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. It’s never been issued on CD). The record was clearly meant to capitalise on Tina’s wild, hair-tossing appearance in the role of Acid Queen in the berserk 1975 Ken Russell film Tommy. It’s billed as a solo album but strictly speaking Tina was still with Ike and The Ike and Tina Turner Revue at the time (the turbulent royal couple of rhythm and blues broke up in 1976). Acid Queen sees Turner dabbling with white hard rock cover versions (she gives songs by The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin a sustained feline attack), anticipating the musical direction of her later much more commercially successful comeback career in the eighties. Acid Queen is no lost classic: it’s strange, patchy and not entirely successful. The production is frequently tacky (there are disco flourishes here and there) and Tina is backed by jaded generic seventies studio musicians. (Fun fact: one of the backing singers cooing behind Tina is Kim Carnes of “Bette Davis Eyes” infamy! Her raspy tones are instantly recognisable on certain tracks. Bring back the Ikettes, I say). Tina, though, is in ferocious voice, sounding exultant and liberated throughout Acid Queen. In fact she sings the hell out of it. All hail Tina Turner!

Meanwhile, Turner’s rhythm and blues contemporary the fabulous Little Richard turned 83 on 5 December. The Bronze Liberace, Georgia Peach and simultaneous King and Queen of Rock’n’Roll was born Richard Wayne Penniman on 5 December 1932. I revere Little Richard as the freakiest, queerest and most flamboyant of rock music’s early architects. Beloved by John Waters (the inspiration for Waters’ signature sleazy little pencil-line moustache), Richard’s essential masterpiece “The Girl Can’t Help It” manages to be synonymous with both Jayne Mansfield and Divine. Little Richard is now enjoying a hard-earned and hopefully serene retirement from performance but I managed to catch one of his last-ever gigs at Viva Las Vegas in 2013. It was a deeply odd but memorable experience. Read about it here.

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A few days later came the announcement of the death of underground actress, cabaret artiste, Warhol muse and transgender pioneer Holly Woodlawn (born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl , 26 October 1946 - 6 December 2015) aged 69. In the late sixties Holly Woodlawn, along with Candy Darling and Jackie Curtis, was part of the trio of outrageous Andy Warhol Superstar drag queens who would inspire and get name-checked – and thus be immortalised - in Lou Reed's 1972 song “Walk on the Wild Side”. (Woodlawn outlived her friends Darling and Curtis by decades). The best way to honour Woodlawn’s memory is to watch her raw, vivacious and funny performance in the 1970 Paul Morrissey-directed film Trash. (I think you can find the whole film in its entirety on Youtube. Her Trash co-star Joe Dallesandro was by Woodlawn’s hospice bedside when she died). I only crossed paths with Woodlawn once, when she was in London in September 2007 to promote an exhibition of portraits painted of her by the artist Sadie Lee at The Drill Hall Theatre. (See photos from the day here). Author and raconteur Rupert Smith memorably interviewed Woodlawn onstage about her life and career. Physically she was already in failing health and virtually immobile, but Woodlawn gave a master class in charisma, wit and star power that afternoon. A mature, ravaged but resilient and still defiantly glamorous diva in a bouffant wig, she reminded me of a character out of a Pedro Almodovar film. When I was leaving I told her what a pleasure it had been to see her and Woodlawn vowed, “Oh, you haven't seen the last of me! I'll be back!" Sadly it wasn’t to be. Kudos in particular to Woodlawn’s long-time friend, New York’s earth mother / she-wolf of performance art Penny Arcade, who launched a spectacularly successful Gofundme campaign page that raised enough cash to ensure Holly’s final days were serene and dignified.

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/ One less Warhol Superstar: Farewell Holly Woodlawn /

In other news, I’ve branched out - last month saw the debut of my Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies film club.  Fontaine’s already has a free weekly film club in the Bamboo Lounge on Tuesday nights. I’ve muscled in on their action and once a month I crash the proceedings and screen a rancid film of my own selection. Like I asked on Facebook: as winter draws in, how better to break the monotony on a Tuesday night than watch a free film, drink cocktails and eat snacks in the plush and intimate environs of Fontaine’s basement Bamboo Lounge? My emphasis will be on cult, queer, obscure curiosities. So far I’ve shown two films: on 24 November I inaugurated things with Marlene Dietrich in Seven Sinners (1940). That was a fun film to screen at Fontaine’s:  most of the action in Seven Sinners takes place within a Polynesian-style bamboo Tiki nightclub – and people were watching it within the Polynesian-style bamboo Tiki surroundings of the Bamboo Lounge!  It was a buzz to see the dreamy soft-focus close-ups of Dietrich’s veiled face framed between the silver palm trees.

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/ Marlene Dietrich as good time girl nightclub chanteuse Bijou Blanche in Seven Sinners (1949) /

Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies Film Club 24/11/15

/ Glamorous attendees of Seven Sinners night: Sarah and Abigail /

Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies Film Club 24/11/15

/ Glamorous attendees of Seven Sinners night: Vera and Lauren /

On Tuesday 15 December I embraced the festive spirit with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988), the campiest and kitschiest of TV specials. In it, that bow-tied perverse brat Pee-Wee Herman welcomes a glittering selection of special guest stars (including Grace Jones, Little Richard, Cher and Joan Rivers) to the Playhouse and learns the true meaning of Christmas in the process. Attendance figures have been on the low side so far, but here’s hoping Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies catches on.


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/ Grace Jones and Pee-Wee Herman in Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988). If you haven't already, read about my fleeting encounter with Grace Jones last month here /

I did have some depressing news to share: After thirteen years at 2 Hackney Road, earlier this month the truly great epicentre of East London gay bohemia (and home of Cockabilly) The George & Dragon in Shoreditch permanently padlocked its doors, another victim of soaring rents. But just as we were all mourning its demise, the management / brains behind The George & Dragon announced on Facebook this week they’ve been working hard behind the scenes and are opening a whole new venue – The Queen Adelaide further up on Hackney Road! This news counts as a genuine Christmas miracle. I still haven’t clapped eyes on the place, but it’s already my new favourite pub! Mal and I don’t know at this point whether Cockabilly will continue at The Queen Adelaide, but our fingers are crossed. (Read about The Queen Adelaide here). 

Finally, after a lengthy gap I’m back behind the decks at Dr Sketchy! The Anti-Art School (where life drawing meets cabaret) re-launched in the Bamboo Lounge of Fontaine’s on Saturday 12 December for a decadent afternoon of cocktails, art, burlesque - and me spinning tittyshakers and exotica. It looks like this will be a permanent new arrangement. A full Dr Sketchy scene report will follow separately! 

Sheba - Johnny and The Hurricanes
Night Scene - The Rumblers
The Flirt - Shirley and Lee
Beatnik - The Champs
Teardrops from My Eyes - Ruth Brown
Fever - Edith Massey
Eager Beaver Baby - Johnny Burnette
Drummin' Up A Storm - Sandy Nelson
Boots - Nero and The Gladiators
One Monkey Don't Stop No Show - Big Maybelle
Ain't That Good - George Kelly and Orchestra
I Wish I Were a Princess - Little Peggy March
Point of No Return - Gene McDaniels
Vesuvius - The Revels
Honey Rock - Barney Kessel
Rawhide - Link Wray
You're Driving Me Crazy - Dorothy Berry
Rock-A-Bop - Sparkle Moore
Booze Party - Three Aces and a Joker
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
Meu Bem Lollipop (My Boy Lollipop) - Wanderlea
Love Potion # 9 - Nancy Sit
Shanghaied - The Fabulous Wailers
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Margaya - The Fender Four
It's A Gas - The Rumblers
I'm a Woman - Peggy Lee
Twist Talk - Jack Hammer
Viens danser le twist - Johnny Halliday
Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters
Peter Gunn Locomotion - The Delmonas
Twistin' the Night Away - Divine
Big Girls Don't Cry - Edith Massey
Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio? The Ramonetures
Viva Las Vegas - Nina Hagen
Under My Thumb - Tina Turner
Gostaria de Saber (River Deep, Mountain High) - Wanderlea
Harley Davidson - Brigitte Bardot
Jukebox Baby - Alan Vega
Atomic Bongos - Lydia Lunch
Cretin Hop - The Ramones
Let's Go, Baby - Billy Eldridge
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Don't Be Cruel - Bill Black Combo
Where's My Money? Willie Jones
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Wiped-Out - The Escorts
I Can't Believe What You Say - Ike and Tina Turner
Your Phone's Off the Hook - The Ramonetures
Devil Doll - X
Esquerita and The Voola - Esquerita
Aphrodisiac - Bow Wow Wow
Ultra Twist - The Cramps
How Much Love Can One Heart Hold? Joe Perkins and The Rookies
I Want Your Love - The Cruisers
You're the One for Me - Wanda Jackson
Twisting with Bad Boy Bubbles - Shuggie Smith and The Cajuns
Dance with Me, Henry - Ann-Margret
I Will Follow Him - Little Peggy March
Big Bad Boss Beat - The Teen Beats
Woo-Hoo - The Rock-A-Teens

Further reading: 

Did you know Lobotomy Room now has its own official Facebook page? Like and follow it if you dare!

Read about all the previous antics at Lobotomy Rooms to date hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere , here , here and here

If you don't already, follow me on tumblr here. Warning - NSFW to the max!









Saturday, 21 November 2015

Grace in Your Face! Grace Jones in London

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/ "I was born … I came out of my mother feet first. I arrived kicking and pissed off, sticky with fury, soaked to the skin. I was what’s known as a stargazing fetus as well, my neck fully extended. From the very beginning I was going against the grain and making trouble.” Excerpt from I'll Never Write My Memoirs, 2015 /

“Late one night last week, after dreamily listening to the great Dinah Washington on my car radio, I was knocked out to hear the inimitable voice of Grace Jones come crackling out over a Caribbean/Mediterranean/Eurodisco beat I'd never heard before. It was "Pars," sung by Grace in moody French. .. Recorded in 1980, "Pars" still sounds utterly fresh.  What an extraordinary pop personality Grace Jones was! Oh, how I'd love to see that mannish battalion of glowering, stylish Jones clones in the "Demolition Man" video tread and trample on today's simpering crop of Zellwegger-Paltrow-Diaz-Flockhart wimpettes.... Amazing Grace, pagan diva!” Pop culture provocateur Camille Paglia writing in one of her Salon.com columns in 1998.

So ... I had a fleeting encounter with post-punk freak diva extraordinaire Grace Jones recently! 

The Jamaica-born tigress was signing copies of her autobiography I’ll Never Write My Memoirs at the big Piccadilly branch of Waterstone’s on 12 November. It was meant to start at 5 pm. I got there at 6 pm after work and was advised by a Waterstone’s employee Jones herself had just arrived – which counts as being early by Jones’ notorious standard. 

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/ Jones was on her best behavior in London.  For her book-signing session at Barnes & Noble in New York in October, she rocked-up two hours late - and flashed her "raspberry ripples" to the awaiting photographers /

As each of us in the queue gradually filtered into the room and caught our first glimpse of the Afro-Dietrich and panther-in-human-form seated at the table we all gave an involuntary gasp. Up close, the 60-something Jones (she’s vague about her precise age. She’s meant to be 67 in human years) is jaw-droppingly, eye-poppingly exquisite beyond belief and preternaturally ageless. She was wearing a skimpy, flesh-exposing black dress and a dramatic black 1920s flapper-style hat. Beautiful gleaming white teeth, chiselled bone structure worthy of Nefertiti and the most glowing unlined dark mocha skin (especially around the décolletage. Yeah, you better believe I checked it out). 

It was like an assembly line designed to move us past Jones with our signed copy of the book as fast as possible. She was surprisingly un-intimidating: Jones is famous for that haughty dominatrix-from-outer-space persona but in person she exudes warmth and was smiling the whole time. But what charisma: it’s probably the equivalent to meeting the likes of Marlene Dietrich or Josephine Baker in their prime. When it was my turn, I’m pretty sure she called me “darling” when she glanced up at me. I quickly asked her when her long-awaited new CD is due out and – straight from Jones’ mouth – was told spring or summer 2016. 

Sadly photography was strictly forbidden – and it was strictly enforced by security men dotted around the room. Everyone there was itching to get a shot of Grace and the guards were quick to pounce as soon as someone tried to aim their iPhone in her direction! The closest to a shot of Jones I could get was this when a striking hardcore male fan in immaculate Grace Jones drag rocked up to join the queue. Taking photos of him was permitted! In retrospect, I should have waited around to see Jones’ reaction when she came face-to-face with her adoring lookalike.


Grace Jones Lookalike

/ OK not a photo of Grace Jones - but a very close facsimile! Kalypso Bang at Grace Jones' book signing. 12 November 2015 at the Piccadilly branch of Waterstone's in London /

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/ Right! I subsequently learned the fan in Grace Jones drag is called Kalypso Bang. And I've shamelessly swiped this shot from his Facebook page! This happened after I split. I'm so glad they loosened the "no photos" rule so this meeting could be documented /

Some of my favourite excerpts from I'll Never Write My Memoirs:

“I met Marianne Faithfull that New Year’s Eve (1977). She once said she never hung out at Studio 54, that she didn’t have the clothes or the desire. She was definitely there, though, unless I’m making it up. Maybe it was the only time she went. I remember it well, because that was the moment she introduced me to Cocoa Puffs: marijuana cigarettes laced with cocaine. I would call them Mariannes, because she was the first person I smoked them with.” 


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/ This shot is from a few years after their Studio 54 encounter, when Jones and Faithfull were Island Records’ reigning bad girls / art-punk divas in the New Wave-era. I've loved the music of these two since I discovered them in my teens. I continue to listen to both Jones and Faithfull to this day /

"With Richard (Bernstein), I had played with the Marlene Dietrich imagery, my head on her body in the sailor suit. Jean-Paul (Goude) saw me as the black Dietrich. There was something about the idea of her he wanted to update ... I had a friend, Patrice Calmettes, who managed at (Parisian nightclub) Le Palace after Fabrice died. Patrice and I are very close, and he was close friends with Marlene Dietrich. When I was with him one night he put me on the phone.  I said “Hello” in my usual deep voice. And she said, “Well, you sound just like me.”  It was close to the end of her life and she had become a recluse – she didn’t leave her apartment or speak to many people. Patrice was one of those she still spoke to. Our conversation was very brief: “We have the same voice,” she purred. She wished me all the best."


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/ Jones channeling Dietrich /

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Further reading:

I blogged my account of seeing Jones perform at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010 here.

Check out my photos of Jones performing at The Roundhouse in Camden in 2009 here. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Lobotomy Room 30 October 2015 DJ Set List

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/ Morbidly beautiful cadaverous cutie / glamour ghoul pin-up, part one: 1950s horror movie hostess, actress and confidante of James Dean, Vampira (aka Maila Nurmi, 1922-2008) - seen here in Plan 9 from Outer Space. Check out her finger nails - and that freaky emaciated waist! /

As promised / threatened on the Facebook events page:

It’s the night before Halloween! Time to awaken the ghost of Jayne Mansfield and twist your head off at LOBOTOMY ROOM!

Revel in sleaze, voodoo and rock'n'roll - when LOBOTOMY ROOM returns to its new home, the subterranean Bamboo Lounge of Dalston's Art Deco vice palace Fontaine's!

At last - a club night for the hillbilly beau monde! LOBOTOMY ROOM! Where sin lives! A punkabilly booze party! A spectacle of decadence for the permissive Continentally-minded! A Mondo Trasho evening of Beat, Beat Beatsville Beatnik Rock’n’Roll! Bad Music for Bad People! Rockabilly Psychosis! Wailing Rhythm and Blues! Twisted Tittyshakers! Punk Cretin Hops! Kitsch! Exotica! Curiosities and other Weird Shit! Think John Waters soundtracks, or Songs The Cramps Taught Us, hosted by DJ Graham Russell (of Dr Sketchy and Cockabilly notoriety). Expect desperate stabs from the jukebox jungle! Savage rhythms to make you writhe and rock! 

Costumes are welcome but not obligatory - but I'll inevitably throw in some Halloween novelty songs ("Goo Goo Muck", "Graveyard Rock" by Tarantula Ghoul, "Dead Man's Stroll" by The Revels - hell, even "Monster Mash")

Admission: FREE!

Lobotomy Room: Faster. Further. Filthier.

A tawdry good time guaranteed!


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/ Morbidly beautiful cadaverous cutie / glamour ghoul pin-up, part two : actress Gloria Holden (1903 - 1991), unforgettable as a lesbianic vampiress in the lead role in Dracula’s Daughter (1936) /

Lobotomy Room (my monthly punkabilly booze party! Wild! Wild! Wild!) is, of course, usually located in the subterranean Bamboo Lounge in the basement of Fontaine’s. That was reserved for a private party this night, so I moved upstairs to the plush Art Deco splendour of the ground-floor bar with the silver-painted palm trees. Although the lighting was dark and Fontaine’s was decorated for Halloween, it still felt like I was dragging the elegant 1930s surroundings down to my putrid level. The only downside to re-locating upstairs: I couldn't project my usual vintage erotica


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/ Morbidly beautiful cadaverous cutie / glamour ghoul pin-up, part three: Carroll Borland (1914 - 1994) as Luna Mora, eerily silent vampire daughter of Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) in horror movie classic Mark of The Vampire (1935). As Luna in her trailing white funeral shroud, Borland created the archetype of the sexy female vampire, paving the way for everyone from Morticia Addams,Vampira , Lily Munster and Elvira. She also may well have been the original goth! /

I didn’t particularly market this Lobotomy Room as a Halloween party (for one thing, Fontaine’s already had a Halloween-themed night lined-up for Halloween proper the following night). But how could I miss the opportunity to exhume a couple of kitsch atomic-era Halloween novelty songs? I played two tunes by campy 1950s horror movie hostess Tarantula Ghoul (well, the A side and B side of her only single!). In a just world, Ghoul’s “Graveyard Rock” would be celebrated as a Halloween perennial just like Boris Pickett’s “Monster Mash” (which I brought and totally intended to play – but forgot!). No one can resist the theme tunes from TV’s The Addams Family (those finger snaps!) and The Munsters (that twangy surf guitar!).  I also dug up some macabre tittyshaker instrumentals with blood-curdling screaming and groaning (“Rigor Mortis” by The Gravestone Four, “It” by The Regal-aires).  Playing something by The CrampsThe Addams Family / Munsters of punk and a band for whom every day was Halloween – was obviously compulsory.  (To embrace the spirit of things, I also wore the Vampira t-shirt I bought at Viva Las Vegas in April 2015).

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/ Morbidly beautiful cadaverous cutie / glamour ghoul pin-up, part four: Tarantula Ghoul. Like Vampira before her and Elvira afterwards, Ghoul provided campy comedic introductions to horror films as the macabre Morticia Addams-like hostess of her weekly TV show called House of Horror (1957-1959) in Portland, Oregon.  Sadly no footage of her show survives, but backed by The Gravediggers, Ghoul cut one immortal Halloween novelty single in her brief heyday: "Graveyard Rock" / "King Kong" /

Otherwise I aimed to keep things characteristically weird’n’sleazy. As per usual, I worked in my “chicken suite”, desperate rhythm and blues, foreign language cover versions (I’ve had a CD by vivacious Brazilian 1960s pop siren Wanderléa for years from when I used to have a Brazilian boyfriend. I don’t know why I’ve never used it DJ’ing. I love her berserk Portuguese-language rendition of Ike and Tina’s “River Deep Mountain High”. It’s so wrong it’s right) and some cooing 1960s “white girl with problems” singers via the cinema of Kenneth Anger, John Waters and David Lynch. In honour of what would have been the recent 70th birthday of The Queen Mutha of us all, I played a track by Divine (19 October 1945 – 7 March 1988). Suitably for Halloween, the song in question – “Hard Magic” – features some howling werewolf sound effects. And not one but two punk freak-outs by wacky German New Wave diva Nina Hagen: I’m on a one-man mission to have her reappraised as a genius unsung maverick post-punk outsider artist somewhere between a white Grace Jones and Klaus Nomi. (Trust me: this is a very lonely pursuit).

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High Wall - The Fabulous Wailers
Night Scene - The Rumblers
Torture Rock - Rockin' Belmarx
Alligator Wine - Johnny Thunders and Patti Palladin
The Munsters' Theme - Milton DeLugg and Orchestra
I'd Rather Be Burned as a Witch - Eartha Kitt
Graveyard Rock - Tarantula Ghoul
Theme from the Addams Family - The Fiends
Rigor Mortis - The Gravestone Four
Vampira - Bobby Bare
A Cheat - The Earls of Suave
Rockin' at The Graveyard - Jackie Morningstar
Goo Goo Muck - Ronnie and The Gaylads
Sinner - Freddie and The Hitchhikers
Jukebox Baby - Alan Vega
Spooky - Lydia Lunch
Jungle Fever - Charlie Feathers
Tough Chick - The Rockbusters
It - The Regal-aires
Big Bad Boss Beat - The Teen Beats
Her Love Rubbed Off - Carl Perkins
Bombora - The Original Surf-aris
Love Me - The Phantom
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks
Chicken Rock - Fat Daddy Holmes
Chicken - The Cramps
Chicken Walk - Hasil Adkins
Run Chicken Run - Link Wray
King Kong - Tarantula Ghoul
Torture - Kris Jensen
I Wish I Were a Princess - Little Peggy March
I've Told Every Little Star - Linda Scott
Little Miss Understood - Connie Stevens
Wipe-Out - The Surfaris
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
Gostaria de saber (River Deep Mountain High) - Wanderléa
My Boy Lollipop - Sakura and The Quests
Harley Davidson - Brigitte Bardot
Margaya - The Fender Four
Muleskinner Blues - The Fendermen
Shortnin' Bread - The Readymen
Khrushchev Twist - Melvin Gayle
Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You - Elvis Presley (played in error!)
Woo-Hoo - The Rock-A-Teens
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad - Tammy Wynette
Intoxica - The Centurions
Tina's Dilemma - Ike and Tina Turner
You're Driving Me Crazy - Dorothy Berry
Revelion - The Revels
Where's My Money? Willie Jones
Money, Money - Big John Taylor
Bewildered - Shirley and Lee
Beatnik - The Champs
Beat Girl - ZZ en de Maskers
Viva Las Vegas - Nina Hagen
Big Girls Don't Cry - Edith Massey
Hard Magic - Divine
Johnny Are You Queer? Josie Cotton
Your Phone's Off the Hook - The Ramonetures
It's a Gas - The Rumblers
Breathless - Arlie Neaville
Jailhouse Rock - Masaaki Hirao
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Ah Poor Little Baby - Billy "Crash" Craddock
Year 1 - X
Comin' Home, Baby - The Delmonas
Twist Talk - Jack Hammer
Viens danser le twist - Johnny Hallyday
Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters
Fist City - Loretta Lynn
Funnel of Love - Wanda Jackson
C'mon Everybody - Sid Vicious
Breathless - X
Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran
How Much Love Can One Heart Hold? Joe Perkins and The Rookies
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
I Live the Life I Love - Esquerita
Rock-A-Hula Baby - Elvis Presley
Honolulu Rock'n'Roll - Eartha Kitt
Bop Pills - Macy "Skip" Skipper
Ultra Twist - The Cramps
Aphrodisiac - Bow Wow Wow
My Way - Nina Hagen


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/ I was so busy sweatin' to the oldies behind the DJ booth all night I only managed to snatch a single photo all night - of Pal and Martin /

Further reading: 

Did you know Lobotomy Room now has its own official Facebook page? Like and follow it if you dare!

Read about all the previous antics at Lobotomy Rooms to date here,here,here,here,here,here,hereherehereherehere , here and here!

If you don't already, follow me on tumblr here. Warning - NSFW to the max!

And remember ... the next Lobotomy Room is Friday 27 November! Facebook events page here.

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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Cockabilly at The George & Dragon 29 October 2015 DJ Set List

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As promised / threatened on the Cockabilly Facebook page:

Drag a comb through your quiff, swallow a fistful of bop pills and rock around the cock – at COCKABILLY!
COCKABILLY returns to the louche surroundings of The George & Dragon in Shoreditch on Thursday 29 October 2015! Leather boys, gay greasers, cry-babies, prison wives and juvenile delinquents of all ages are welcome at Cockabilly - London’s only regular queer rockabilly night! With DJ Mal Nicholson and I spinning all your favourite rancid vintage sleaze classicks! Think rockabilly, rhythm and blues, surf, punk and tittyshakers!

The George & Dragon: 2-4 Hackney Road London E2 7NS

8-midnight

FREE


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Unbelievably, this was the first Cockabilly I got to DJ at since July 2015! For various reasons (being in Canada, job interviews the next day, etc) I had to skip the August and September ones. This is what I played in my concise and twang-y set!

Let's Go - Billy Eldridge
Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio? The Ramonetures
Viva Las Vegas - Nina Hagen
Jailhouse Rock - Masaaki Hirao
River Deep Mountain High - Wanderléa 
Shout - Johnny Hallyday
Hanky Panky - Rita Chao and The Quests
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Big Bad Boss Beat - The Teen Beats
How Much Love Can One Heart Hold? Joe Perkins and The Rookies
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad - Tammy Wynette
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
He's the One - Ike and Tina Turner
Wailin' - The Fabulous Wailers
Killer - Sparkle Moore
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
C'mon Everybody - Sid Vicious
Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
Batman - Link Wray
Ultra Twist - The Cramps
Bossa Nova Baby - Elvis Presley
Intoxica - The Revels

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Further reading:

A bleak development - it was confirmed in August 2015 that The George & Dragon as we've known and loved it won't be around for much longer. (You should have seen the wailing and gnashing of teeth on Facebook the day this was announced). This is gutting news as The George & Dragon pretty much represents the epicentre of gay bohemia in London. Not that that counts for much in the current climate. It's yet another casualty of the ruthless gentrification rampaging through London, which has gradually seen all my favourite East End gay bars (like The Nelson's Head and The Joiner's Arms) become casualties. The George & Dragon is in the process of being sold at the moment so it's hard to gauge how many more Cockabillies we will have there. Obviously Mal and I will stick it out there for as long as we can - and hunt for a new venue for Cockabilly afterwards. In the meantime: better come and show The George & Dragon some love while you still can! Read about the imminent closure of The George & Dragon here.

Read all about the sordid antics at previous Cockabillies hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere,  here, herehereherehereherehere and here.

Follow my tumblr blog (also called Bitterness Personified) for all your retro, kitsch and vintage homo porn needs! Warning - it contains adult situations!


Lobotomy Room is, of course, my own Mondo Trasho punkabilly booze party last Friday of every month at Dalston's Art Deco boîte de nuit Fontaine's. (In Fontaine's basement Tiki-themed Bamboo Lounge, to be precise!). The next one is Friday 27 November 2015. Before that: I'm tentatively tip-toeing into hosting a low-key monthly film club - with an emphasis on camp, queer and cult curiosities - in the Bamboo Lounge called "Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies!" If it succeeds, it will be the last Tuesday of every month. Admission is free. The debut film night is Tuesday 23 November and the first film will be the torrid Marlene Dietrich vehicle Seven Sinners (1940). Full details can be found here.

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/ Above: Marlene Dietrich in full butch naval drag king mode in Seven Sinners (1940). Come see it at Fontaine's on Tuesday 23 November 2015! /


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/ And finally: in the spirit of Cockabilly, to reward all you aficionados of firm male flesh for reading this far - some totally gratuitous vintage beefcake nudity! Catch you next time /