Monday, 22 August 2011

Canada Bound

I’m blowing this gosh forsaken heckhole (to paraphrase Marge Simpson) tomorrow to go to Canada (depart 23 August, arrive back on 2 September. Am sure I’ll be kissing the tarmac at Heathrow airport when I get back. Visiting Canada once a year is great, but I miss London while am there). I pretty much go annually, usually around the beginning of September as soon as peak travel season is over and the prices return to normal. This year I nabbed a decent affordable-ish flight for August, so am hoping the weather will be good and I’ll be going to the beach every day (my mother’s house in rural Quebec is walking distance from the beach).

Don’t suppose anyone has urgent tips on breaking the news to your mother you now have big tattoos on your arms? I’ve not mentioned it in advance and think just taking off my jacket and waiting for her to notice isn’t the right approach! Most of you probably don’t realize quite how rural / square my background is (the reason I hot footed it to London in the early 90s in the first place). Am just hoping it won't be a big emotional scene! I’m intending to take the “I waited until I was 41” angle. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, please watch this brief clip for a snapshot of Canadian culture and politics, and reflect on this woman’s wise words about bilingualism.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

20 August 2011 Dr Sketchy DJ Set List

Rare glimpse of Jayne Mansfield as a brunette (her natural colour. Great line in the film Kiss Them For Me: Cary Grant compliments Jayne on her beautiful hair, and she coos, "Thank you. It's all natural. Except for the colour.")

On this occasion we were back at The Paradise in Kensal Green for an intimate and private Dr Sketchy as part of a woman’s hen party. (I’ve been living in the UK for almost twenty years now, but I seem to recall in North America these are called bachelorette parties: a party organised for a woman getting married and her female friends).

It may have been a small-scale Dr Sketchy, but the bride-to-be lucked-out, because it was quite star-studded, featuring the urbane Dusty Limits as emcee (he was splitting to perform at The Edinburgh Festival the next day) and for the models, pulchritude of both the male and female variety (burlesque elite Hooray Henry Higgins and Sophia St Villier respectively, both seasoned Dr Sketchy veterans). (Speaking of male pulchritude, I noted that The Paradise has a strapping, lanky broad-shouldered new bartender: Sonic Youth t-shirt, black nail polish on one hand like early 1970s Lou Reed circa Transformer, punk-y safety pin in his ear. Sigh. But if I’ve learned anything in 2011, it’s to stay the fuck away from the bar staff where I DJ).

Anyway, it shaped up to be a fun time: the girls in the hen party were rowdy, good-natured and up for a laugh. The bride-to-be won a pair of nipple tassels at the end of the afternoon and was happy to model (and twirl!) them for us. And the performers were great. For the second part of the afternoon Sophia St Villier was to perform her big burlesque number, then pose. I’d cued some typically sleazy Las Vegas Grind-type titty shakers to play while Sophia posed, but promptly re-considered when I saw her startling outfit: jet black sequinned nipple tassels and thong, black feathered headdress and – the pièce de résistance -- a sensational, kinky black lace mask across her eyes. The contrast of the black lingerie against her pale complexion and Rita Hayworth-red hair was stunning. As Dusty Limits suggested, “She looks very True Blood!” Imagine a 1950s burlesque pin-up / vampire priestess hybrid. So instead I played some macabre and mondo mood-y stuff, like Freddie & The Hitchiker’s unearthly “Sinners” (with its eerie screaming theremin) and spine-tingling instrumentals (“Black Tarantula” by Jody Reynolds, "The Rat" by The Ventures). The cluster of male-female duets towards the end (literally climaxing with the Bardot-Gainsbourg version of "Je t'aime ...") was for while Sophia and Henry modelled together. I also cranked up the raunch factor (and lowered the tone) by playing “Ice Man” by Filthy McNasty and “The Pussy Cat Song” by Connie Vannett (the latter personally requested by Dusty) – the two filthiest single entendre novelty songs I own.

In an ideal world, when I look out from the DJ booth, this is what I'd see ...

How life-affirming is that? "Jaan Pehechan Ho" by Mohammed Rafi: 1965 Bollywood heaven. The surf guitar sound on that slays me. And doesn't the masked singer with the black pompadour and sleazy little moustache look a bit like an Indian version of El Vez?

Sano - The Revels
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Wait a Minute, Baby - Esquerita
Rock-a-Hula Baby - Elvis Presley
Honolulu Rock and Roll - Eartha Kitt
Tic, Tic, Tic (The Lost Watch) - Robert Mitchum
Go Calypso - Mamie van Doren
Rum & Coca-Cola - Wanda Jackson
Bombie - Johnny Sharp & The Yellow Jackets
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Elle est Terrible - Johnny Halliday
Night Walk - The Swingers
Cherry Wine - Little Esther
Club Delight - Jack Jolly
Train to Nowhere - The Champs
When Did You Leave Heaven? Jimmy Scott
I'm a Fool to Want You - Billie Holiday
Tony's Got Hot Nuts - Faye Richmonde
Take it Off - The Genteels
Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad - Betty Hutton
Ice Man - Filthy McNasty
The Gentleman is a Dope - Diana Dors
The Stalk - The Giants
Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby - The Earls of Suave
Your Line Was Busy - Big Bob
Trouble - Jackie De Shannon
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks
Cry-Baby - The Honey Sisters
I Was Born to Cry - Johnny Thunders
Love Letters - Ike and Tina Turner
Don't Be Cruel - Bill Black Combo
Jaan Pehechaan Ho - Mohammed Rafi
Sinners - Freddie & The Hitchikers
Black Tarantula - Jody Reynolds
Shadow Woman - Julie London
The Rat - The Ventures
Crawlin' - The Untouchables
Assez - Marlene Dietrich
Charge It - The Playboys
You're the Boss - Elvis Presley and Ann-Marget
Pussycat Song - Connie Vannett
Je t' non plus - Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot
Can Your Pussy Do the Dog? The Cramps
Beaver Shot - The Periscopes
I Stubbed My Toe - Bryan "Legs" Walker
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Saturday 6 August 2011 Dr Sketchy Set List at The Old Queen’s Head

/ Peru's volcanic Yma Sumac -- the high priestess of Latin Exotica /

After some turbulent recent Dr Sketchy’s at The Royal Vauxhall where I was overwhelmed with technical glitches (fuses blowing, malfunctioning CDs), was reassuring to have a laid-back Saturday afternoon Dr Sketchy at The Old Queen’s Head where everything just went smoothly. It also helped that the audience was buzzing and up for it, and ace stage manager-ess Trixi Tassels kept me topped up with beer all afternoon!

Making her debut as a Dr Sketchy emcee was the brilliant comedienne and performance artist Claire Benjamin (in character as “Freuda Kahlo” (sic), complete with hirsute mono-brow, hint of a moustache and broad comedy “Spanglish” accent). At one point I had to introduce Freuda onto the stage – the first time I’ve ever spoken into the microphone at a Dr Sketchy. Amazing how nervous it made me! I had to write down word for word my introduction, and then mentally rehearse it in my head! (Bear in mind all I was saying was something along the lines of, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage your hostess ...”). So now I’m also technically a performer / actor. It’s gone straight to my head and I’m well on my way to becoming a temperamental artiste. Next time I’ll demand to know what my “motivation” is.

The model / performer for the day was Tempest Rose, who exuded such impeccable old-school glamour and poise I toned down the usual raunch and aimed for something a bit more elegant music-wise while she posed. Inspired by Claire’s Freuda Kahlo persona, I also went heavy on the Latin exotica like mambo and bossa nova (For her big finale, Freuda donned some plastic fruit on her head and sang Carmen Miranda’s "I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)").

Miss Irene - Ginny Kennedy
Women are the Root of All Evil - Paul Williams
Jungle Drums - Earl Bostick
No Good Lover - Mickey and Sylvia
The Flirt - Shirley and Lee
Take Half - Hal Singer
Crazy, Crazy Feeling - Esquerita
Red Hot - Billy Lee Riley
Astrosonic - Jimmie Haskell and Orchestra
I Ain't in the Mood - Helen Humes
Yogi - The Bill Black Combo
Hanky Panky - Rita Chao & The Quests
Caravan - The Dell Trio
Drive-In - The Jaguars
The Beast - Milt Buckner
Give Me Love - Lena Horne
Anasthasia - Bill Smith Combo
Mack the Knife - Eartha Kitt
Begin the Beguine - Ann-Margret
Womp Womp - Freddie & The Heartaches
You're My Thrill - Chet Baker
Blues in the Night - Julie London
I Put a Spell on You - Nina Simone
Taki Ruro - Yma Sumac
Ou-es tu, ma joie? Caterina Valente
Peter Gunn Mambo - Jack Costanzo
Laisse-moi tranquille - Serge Gainsbourg
Mambo Baby - Ruth Brown
Rum & Coca Cola - Wanda Jackson
She Wants to Mambo - Johnny Thunders and Patti Paladin
Chihuahua - Mina
Chihuahua - Luis Oliveira and His Bandodalua Boys
I've Been in Love Before - Marlene Dietrich
Some Small Chance - Serge Gainsbourg (Strip-tease soundtrack)
I Travel Alone - Hildegard Knef
Mondo Moodo - The Earls of Suave
Strip-tease - Juliette Greco
Misirlou - Laurindo Almeida
Pop Slop - Bela Sanders Und Sein Orchester
Oh Honey - Gloria Wood
Take Half - Hal Singer (yes, it appears I played this twice)
Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby - Ann Richards
Imagination - Diana Dors
Blues in My Heart - John Buzon Trio
Don't You Feel My Leg - Blue Lu Barker
One Night of Sin - Elvis Presley
Chattanooga Choo Choo - Denise Darcel
All of Me - Mae West
You Can't Stop Her - Bobby Marchan
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Salamander - Mamie van Doren
Jim Dandy - LaVerne Baker
That's a Pretty Good Love - Big Maybelle
Groovy - The Groovers
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
Moi je joue - Brigitte Bardot

 An ethereal Marlene Dietrich mesmerises a young John Wayne by huskily warbling "I've Been in Love Before" in the film Seven Sinners (1940)

Sunday, 7 August 2011

3 August 2011 Cockabilly DJ Set List

/ Who says smoking isn't sexy? The dreamy pairing of James Dean and Sal Mineo in Nicholas Ray's Rebel without a Cause (1955). Photo shamelessly stolen from the ever-wondrous A Queens' queen blog /

It’s always a blast to guest DJ at Cockabilly (London’s only queer rockabilly night!) at the reliably louche George and Dragon in Shoreditch. (The other guest DJ was the awe-inspiring Beyondadoubt, Beth Ditto’s tour DJ).

It was an incredibly hot night, so I was drenched in sweat (my hair was soaking wet!) and pounding back lager for my entire hour-long set. I managed to incorporate frantic hillbilly, sleazy instrumentals, female-fronted rockabilly (Wanda Jackson, Sparkle Moore, Janis Martin, Shirley Cadell), punk (X, The Sex Pistols) and even a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse (Wanda Jackson’s great cover of “You Know I’m No Good”). My only regret is I didn’t crank the volume up even LOUDER: when Beyondabout came on right after me, she blasted everyone’s faces off with her soul 45’s! Ah, well – lesson learned. It was a great night and well worth the following day’s agonising hangover. (That final pint at The Joiners Arms with Marc and the two Alexes afterwards might have been ill-advised -- fun, though)

Willie Joe - The Mystery Trio
Deuces Wild - Link Wray
Poor Little Critter on the Road - The Knitters
Chicken Walk - Hasil Adkins
Big Bounce - Shirley Cadell
Bang Bang - Janis Martin
Lonesome Me - Johnny Cash
Tongue-Tied Jill - Charlie Feathers
Dancing with Tears in My Eyes - X
Tunnel of Love - Wanda Jackson
Whistle Bait - The Collins Kids
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Esquerita and The Voola - Esquerita
Dragon Walk - The Noblemen
Boss - The Rumblers
Scorpion - The Carnations
Killer - Sparkle Moore (screaming version)
Stranger in My Own Hometown - The Earls of Suave
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
De Castrow - Jaybee Wasden
Beat Generation - Mamie van Doren
Beat Party - Ritchie & The Squires
You Know I'm No Good - Wanda Jackson
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Bop Pills - Macy "Skip" Skipper

1950s cowboy demonstrates how to wash jeans. Not sure he gives them sufficient time to dry, though.