Monday, 1 December 2014

Reflections on ... Something Wild (1961)

Upcoming British Film Institute season Birth of the Method [25 October – 30 November 2014] explores the intense, influential and revolutionary school of acting espoused by New York’s legendary Actors Studio in the 1950s. 
Sure, much of the then-radically naturalistic Method approach looks pretty twitchy and mannered today (the scratch-your-crotch and mumble clichés started for a reason), but the season features some genuinely interesting titles starring the Method’s most notable exemplars: Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe and of course the Method made flesh, Marlon Brando (at the height of his virile beefcake beauty in On The Waterfront).
Particularly intriguing is the arty and obscure sexploitation vehicle
 Something Wild (1961). Starring pouty and perverse Carroll Baker (of Baby Doll notoriety, which is also screening) it’s virtually never revived so seize this rare opportunity to see this curiosity. Cinema’s kitsch king John Waters has raved about Something Wild as camp-meets-“failed art movie” hybrid and likens Baker in it to Ann-Margret in Kitten with a Whip as “When a Sexpot Emotes.” What more incentive do you need?

Obviously I made a point of seeing Something Wild (1961) at The British Film Institute on 27 November and it was indeed wild and a real experience! I’d never seen this rarely-revived and obscure psychological drama before but had always been curious about it.

I was expecting something a bit more sexploitation-y, kitsch and Kitten with a Whip. Having now seen Something Wild, I eat the words I wrote above! In fact it was relentlessly bleak, dark and very much an uncompromising somber European art film that just happened to be in English and filmed in New York. It stars luscious blonde Carroll Baker in what must surely be her career-best performance. The film both looks and sounds incredible. The dissonant jazz soundtrack is by Aaron Copeland. The film’s stark noir-ish black and white look is via cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan. Something Wild was apparently his last film. He’d begun his career working in German silent cinema under Fritz Lang in the 1920s and he invests that knowledge of German Expressionism to Something Wild, which frequently unfolds like a dream (or a nightmare). In 1960 Schüfftan had worked on the eerie French horror film Les yeux sans visage – he brings a similar sense of menace and dread to Something Wild.

Amazingly, the director Jack Garfein (now 85) was in attendance to introduce the film onstage. He said it took him fifty years to make sense of why he made Something Wild. As a child he was imprisoned in Auschwitz. The film was his cri de coeur and attempt to come to terms with those memories. Something Wild was a mega-flop when it came out, baffled critics and public alike (as Don L Stradley put it, “critics reacted to it as if they’d sat in something slimy”) and was swiftly buried by the studio. As a result, Garfein (who was married to Baker at the time – it was an intensely personal project for them both) was never entrusted to make another film again! I'm careful not to give too much away: the film concerns a girl who gets raped and psychologically unravels – very much anticipating Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965). The ending is genuinely strange and divisive. It may be over fifty years old, but Something Wild hasn't lost its ability to disturb.

Further reading:  Read Kim Morgan's analysis of Something Wild here

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Next LOBOTOMY ROOM ... Saturday 27 December 2014 at Paper Dress Vintage!

Escape the boredom that imprisons us all – at LOBOTOMY ROOM!

Frug, twist, watusi and monkey away your post-Christmas / pre-New Year’s Eve ennui - with the throbbing excitement of Lobotomy Room at East London boîte de nuit Paper Dress Vintage! 

Lobotomy Room – a punkabilly beer blast! A spectacle of decadence for the permissive Continentally-minded sin set! 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!

Musical guest is JANE RUBY - the bluesy chantoosie who purrs and belts in a voice of pure pink cashmere. Perhaps best-known as the hour glass-contoured frontwoman of South London’s now-defunct voodoobilly band Naked Ruby throughout the 2000s, Ruby then sang and played guitar in all-girl surf punk outfit The Deptford Beach Babes – and now she’s seducing audiences with her new one-woman solo act. Ruby’s songs evoke visions of Ann-Margret in her Kitten with a Whip prime twisting frantically to Link Wray and are informed by her chequered past. Hailing from the wastelands of Adelaide, Australia has left the devilish red-haired singer a life-long glamour junkie, something Ruby indulged via her stints as a former nudie cutie artist’s model, dancer (Can-Can, flamenco and belly) and cocktail lounge jazz diva covering Billie Holiday and Nina Simone standards (an apprenticeship that still lingers in her femme fatale vocal antics). Ruby’s lyrics are sometimes spun from her real-life debauched alcohol-fuelled Janis Joplin-esque misadventures and sometimes are Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!-style revenge fantasies (assuming her songs about killing men are not based on firsthand experience). Blues, flamenco-tinged rock’n’roll and dirty stories are assured. If we’re lucky Ruby might even throw in a spot of belly-dancing!

All this and admission is gratuit. (That’s French for FREE!)

Lobotomy Room – a tawdry good time guaranteed!

Facebook events page

Lobotomy Room is kindly sponsored by Vivien of Holloway - for all your faux vintage glamour needs!

Flyer by Ego Rodriguez. The “cover girl” this time is cult movie actress / burlesk strip-tease artist / convicted felon / naive outsider painter / gangster’s moll / authoress of books including My Face for the World to See and How to Attract Men ... the fabulous Liz Renay (1926 - 2007). You inevitably know Renay best for her portrayal of the vicious Muffy St Jacques in the 1977 John Waters classick Desperate Living. She is the embodiment of Lobotomy Room!

Read about all the Lobotomy Rooms so far hereherehereherehereherehere and here.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Reunion with the Prince of Puke: John Waters at Southbank Centre 11 November 2014

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[John Waters - the "filth elder" of us all  - made a triumphant return visit to London on Tuesday 11 November 2014 when he brought his This Filthy World: Filthier and Dirtier show to The Royal Festival Hall. I've been regularly contributing to Beige magazine lately and they asked me to do a scene report. You can also read this on their website]

Trust John Waters to lure the freakiest, queerest crowd assembled at The Royal Festival Hall since punk diva Siouxsie’s 2013 Meltdown comeback gig. Or the last time Diamanda Galas performed there. Or in fact since the last time Waters brought his acclaimed one man stand-up comedy show This Filthy World to town.

In his tight, rapid-fire ninety minute set, the veteran cult filmmaker turned raconteur regaled us with dirty stories like a joyous bad influence toilet-mouthed uncle (albeit an exceptionally elegant uncle clad in Comme des Garcons). [Note: I've since been corrected that Waters' ultra soigné suit was by Belgian designer Dries Van Noten!]

Outing himself as a Lana Del Rey fan, the trash auteur admitted contemplating coming onstage and serenading us with her entire Ultraviolence album while maintaining direct eye contact in an act of creepy performance art - but chickened out. Waters suggested David Lynch should produce the dysfunctional ice maiden’s next album and argued Lynch would be missing a trick if he doesn’t invite her to appear on the 2016 Twin Peaks reboot.

Perversely, Waters loves tarnished pop idol Justin Bieber even more now that he’s on the descent, admitting he’d love to cut an album of duets with him like Tony Bennett’s and Lady Ga Ga’s.

Recalling his childhood, Waters described how in kindergarten he’d tell his mother stories about the peculiar little boy in his class who never spoke to his classmates and only coloured with black crayons. When Mrs Waters enquired about this kid to his teacher at a PTA meeting, the teacher exclaimed, “But that’s your son!”

Anecdotes about the making of his notorious midnight movies were inevitable. Waters called outrageous late maverick actress Susan Tyrrell - who loved freaking out the squares by loudly announcing she possessed “the pussy of a 12-year old girl”- one of the most terrifying women he ever met.

[Tyrrell, of course, played Ramona Rickettes in Waters' 1990 film Cry-baby. He mentioned the cast also included the notorious, troubled and frequently violent sex kitten Joey Heatherton. He talked about Heatherton being arrested in 1985 for physically assaulting a clerk at the passport agency office – and then just recently attacking a neighbour whose noisy juicer machine was disturbing her. “Don’t fuck with Joey Heatherton!”]

When his elderly mother asked about the subject matter of 2004’s A Dirty Shame (Water’s last film to date) and he replied, “Sex addiction”, she wearily sighed, “Maybe we’ll be dead before it comes out.” His father shrugged “It was funny but I hope I never see it again.”

Waters cited viewing putrid 1945 “sexual hygiene film” Mom and Dad at an impressionable age as a key influence on his own sensibility. An embryonic example of sexploitation cinema, it played in Baltimore’s grindhouse theatres for eight years. Starved for a glimpse of female nudity, the men in the audience actually masturbated to close-ups of childbirth. Waters said seeing this set him on his path as a filmmaker.  

The tone sweetened when he fondly reminisced about his two much-missed leading ladies, Divine and Edith Massey. Explaining Divine’s persona as hybrid of Jayne Mansfield and Godzilla conceived to scare hippies, Waters described filming his 300-pound drag starlet crawling through mud on a pig farm in 1969’s Mondo Trasho. Once the cameras started rolling two of the pigs spontaneously started fucking. It wasn’t in the script, but it added to the magic. “Divine turned the pigs on!” he marvelled.

Admitting he still wakes up surprised that Divine is dead, he revealed that actress Mink Stole, his casting director Pat Moran and himself have bought burial plots together adjoining Divine’s and dubbed the area Disgraceland. Waters urged everyone to come and fuck on their graves when they’re dead: “We’d love it!” His is actually a double burial plot and Waters suggested if any rabid fan wanted to dig-up the remains of either Pier Paolo Pasolini or Jean Genet and re-bury them next to him, he’d appreciate the tribute.

But let’s face it, we come to John Waters for filth and he didn't disappoint. Most middle-aged straight men “are bears without even knowing it,” he argued. Waters is an unrepentant connoisseur of poppers. When he throws “popper parties” uncomprehending straight guests unsure about the mechanics of taking amyl nitrate have drunk it or stuck it in their asses. “We need popper education!” He skewered what he sees as the dysfunctional S&M relationship between humans and their pets: dogs are “doomed to suffer human caresses ...your cat hates you!” And he taught us kinky new sexual slang. A “blouse” is an effeminate top. [Note: he also lamented no one uses the expression "basket" anymore!]. As for “blossoms” (also known as “rosebuds”), do a Google image search if you’re feeling brave but perhaps not from your office PC.

/ The photos below were taken by Mia of Amy Grimehouse /

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Further reading:

My 2010 interview with John Waters for Nude magazine

My 2011 reunion with the Prince of Puke

When John Waters brought his Christmas Show to Royal Festival Hall in 2011

Full scene report from the Amy Grimehouse 12-hour John Waters Filth Fest on 29 March 2014

Monday, 13 October 2014

Graham Russell's DJ'ing Résumé

/ Photo by Adrian Lourie /

I first thrust myself onto an unsuspecting world as a DJ circa 2008, gradually progressing from my public debut at a friend's birthday party to playing in a wide range of clubs, bars and even festivals, ultimately launching my own semi regular club night Lobotomy Room in 2012.

/ The first Lobotomy Room flyer by Ego Rodriguez /

Obviously I vary things a bit depending on where I’m playing, but my music policy can probably best be described as “vintage sleaze”: I like to whip together a mixture of frantic 1950s rhythm & blues (the Fifties really is my decade), desperate rock’n’roll and rockabilly, beatnik Cool Jazz, Latin exotica, lounge, twang-y surf instrumentals, sleazy titty shakers, novelty stuff and curiosities – atmospheric and obscure weird shit, basically! And I aim to keep it punk-y, confrontational and abrasive as opposed to too nostalgic, purist or soothingly retro (especially once I've had a few drinks).

17 May 2013 Lobotomy Room at Ryan's Bar

My first real break was in 2008 via guest DJ’ing stints at Cockabilly (London’s only monthly queer rockabilly night for gay greasers, punks, leather boys, cry-babies, prison wives and juvenile delinquents of all ages). Cockabilly venue-hopped a lot in the early years: I managed to DJ at all of its residencies at The Moustache Bar, The Haggerston, The Dalston Superstore, The George and Dragon in Shoreditch and Bloc Bar in Camden Town.

Read about the squalid proceedings at previous Cockabilly nights hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere,  here, herehere and here.

Since 2009 I've also been the regular resident DJ at the monthly burlesque-meets-drawing class / Anti- Art School cabaret night Dr Sketchy. Emceed by cabaret aristocracy like Dusty Limits and Ophelia Bitz, Dr Sketchy originally happened three times a month at three different venues: The Paradise in Kensal Green, The Old Queen’s Head in Angel and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall. These days it is once a month, solely at The RVT.

In September 2012 I DJ’d five shows a day at the Time for Tease tent at Bestival (four Time for Tease shows a day, and one Dr Sketchy show each night) to the biggest crowds I've ever played before. It was draining but exhilarating! 

At Dr Sketchy’s I've had the opportunity to work closely with the crème de la crème of striptease performers.  Over the years I've become a kind of musical advisor to some of them (I'm the "go-to" man for grinding tittyshaker instrumentals): the likes of Kiki Kaboom, Cherry Shakewell, Sophia St Villier and even Bunny Pistol in San Francisco have all incorporated songs I've recommend into their routines.

/ Above: Lobotomy Room flyer by Joe Pop /

By the end of 2012 it felt like a natural progression to venture into organising my own club night. My vision for Lobotomy Room was informed by my decades of clubbing and bar hopping, in particular by More than Vegas in London, Squeeze Box in New York and San Francisco’s Hole in the Wall Saloon. I pictured Lobotomy Room as a low brow Mondo Trasho punkabilly beer blast, with a rancid musical approach informed by John Waters soundtracks and Songs The Cramps Taught Us.

Initially I mainly alternated between two venues:  Paper Dress Vintage in Shoreditch and Ryan’s Bar in Stoke Newington (there was one memorable night at Hysteria in Dalston, too). When my Paper Dress Vintage permanently shut its Shoreditch location (another casualty of gentrification!), I felt a bit bereft. But then in summer 2015 I was invited to re-launch Lobotomy Room at a new permanent monthly home (last Friday of every month) at Dalston’s premiere Art Deco vice den Fontaine’s.  In fact, I’m in Fontaine’s Polynesian-style basement Bamboo Lounge – a Mondo Exotica Tiki paradise! The music (desperate stabs from the jukebox jungle!) is putrid, admission is free and I project vintage erotica on the big screen for your adult viewing pleasure. Come for the £6 cocktails - stay for the trashy music and dirty movies! A tawdry good time is guaranteed!

In November 2015, I diversified and instigated Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies, a free monthly film club in Fontaine’s Bamboo Lounge (last Wednesday of every month). The emphasis is on the cult, the camp and the queer, with the hope of reviving the communal (and boozy!) experience of old-school midnight movies. Some of the titles I’ve screened to date include Kitten with a Whip, Desperate Living, The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield, Valley of the Dolls and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Read Loverboy Magazine's account of a visit to Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies here. 

/ Above: Lobotomy Room flyer by Ego Rodriguez /

/ Above: Lobotomy Room flyers by Ego Rodriguez /

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

Otherwise, I've made some fun and notable guest appearances over the years: In 2009 I DJ’d at the Christmas staff party for high-end luxury reproduction / faux-vintage lingerie boutique What Katie Did at The Paradise in Kensal Green (the night ended with Lily Allen’s friends causing a fight and the police being called!). When Sparkle Moore and Cad van Swankster, the proprietors of the chi chi vintage clothing emporium The Girl Can’t Help It had a farewell party at Ryan’s Bar before relocating to San Diego in April 2011, I was invited to be one of the featured DJs. Art Wank is Ophelia Bitz’s cabaret night centred around screening her huge collection of 1920s stag films (porn with dead people, essentially).  I was an obvious choice to DJ afterwards when she held one of these at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in February 2012.  Since then, I've appeared several times at the queer rock'n'roll night Wild Thing at The Retro Bar in Charing Cross. Read about those here, here and here. On Easter Sunday 2016 I channeled my hillbilly roots DJ'ing at The Glory's annual barn dance. 

I definitely reached a kind of acme DJ’ing at immersive cult cinema organisers The Amy Grimehouse’s 12-hour John Waters Filth Fest on 29 March 2014. DJ’ing to such a wild, freaky, trashy and appreciative crowd while scantily-clad drag queens and Divine lookalikes did stripper squats and slut drops really spoiled me.

John Waters Filth Fest

/ Contestants of Filthiest Person competition at The Filth Fest (photo by Alex Menace) /

For more information, email me.

Monday, 29 September 2014

17 September 2014 Cockabilly DJ Set List


First the good news: the return of COCKABILLY! London’s only monthly queer rockabilly night for punks, leather boys, cry-babies, prison wives and juvenile delinquents of all ages! Rock around the cock! Gay greasers unite! This was the first Cockabilly since July and I was itching to get back behind the decks at The George and Dragon (East End hotbed of gay bohemia) and crank up some putrid vintage musical sleaze.

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Now the not-so-great news: since Cockabilly’s triumphant return to The George and Dragon our regular monthly residency was on a Friday night. As of the September Cockabilly the management at The George and Dragon has relegated us to Wednesdays instead. Obviously moving from a buzzing, ultra-desirable Friday night to a quieter week night feels undeniably like a demotion. But Mal and I are hard-bitten tenacious starlets in the Jayne Mansfield tradition. So rather than feel dispirited, what would Jayne Mansfield do? She’d click on a pair of diamanté cat’s eye sunglasses, thrust out her breasts, paste a smile on her face and get on with it.

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Anyway, it was a good night and I vow that Wednesday is destined to be the new Thursday. And we had some glamorous notables pop in. Nightclubbing royalty Princess Julia was spotted dancing at the July Cockabilly. This month irrepressible Prosecco-guzzling enfant terrible of the cutting-edge London drag scene, DJ John Sizzle of Gay Bingo and The Amy Grimehouse notoriety (I had the pleasure of DJ’ing alongside him at the rancid John Waters Filth Fest in March; sweetly, he calls me “Trash Bag”) and novelist, man-about-town and all-round silver fox Jonathan Kemp were in attendance.

I DJ'd for a tight hour. Musically I puked-up my standard mess of frantic rhythm and blues, white trash rockers and deep kitsch. As usual, I drew inspiration from film soundtracks: think Kenneth Anger’s homoerotic underground classic Scorpio Rising and the cinema of John Waters. Cry-baby in particular is, of course, a perpetual Cockabilly touchstone.  

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/ Wanting it, wanting it, wanting it: Pencil-skirted hot pool of woman need Traci Lords in Cry-baby (1990) /

This week I learned of the death of the great mid-century homoerotic beefcake photographer John Palatinus (6 July 1929 – 22 September 2014). He was a true artist, a connoisseur of firm male flesh – and a genuinely modest and sweet man. I had the pleasure of briefly meeting him in October 2012 (he was an impressively dapper 83-year old) at the launch party for a retrospective exhibit of his photography in London. In tribute I’m posting some of my favourite physique pin-up shots by him. As I’m sure you’ll agree the work of John Palatinus is timelessly sexy.

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/ Gay greaser: double denim beauty Tony Ames by John Palatinus. (Gee, which side do you think he “dresses” on?) / 

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/ Quintessential homoerotic cowboy: Peter Andrews by John Palatinus. 1957 /

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/ Bob Ireland photographed by John Palatinus in 1957 (the scruffy little beard makes Bob look so heartbreakingly au courant) /

John Palatinus Exhibit Launch Party at Space Station 65 Gallery

/ Great example of Palantinus's photography at its smouldering best. This is Brad from the Brad and Bob series taken in New York in 1957. Brad and Bob were lovers. Most of Palatinus's models were straight guys (or at least hetero-flexible!). I love this image (I love "biker cap" porn!): it evokes Marlon Brando in The Wild One / 

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/ Russ Alles by John Palatinus. 1960s /

Read more about my encounter with Palatinus here. More photos here

Beat Guitar # 2 - The Fabulous Wailers
Rockin' the Joint - Esquerita
Let's Have a Party - Wanda Jackson
Tongue-Tied Gill - Charlie Feathers
Woodpecker Rock - Nat County
She Said - Hasil Adkins
How Much Love Can One Heart Hold? Joe Perkins and The Rookies
Bop Pills - Macy "Skip" Skipper
I Want Your Love - The Cruisers
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Big Bounce - Shirley Caddell
Wiped Out - The Escorts
Cry-baby - The Honey Sisters
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Party Lights - Claudine Clark
Welfare Cheese - Emanuel Laskey
Tina's Dilemma - Ike and Tina Turner
Wailin' - The Fabulous Wailers
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks
Batman Theme - Link Wray
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Wipe-Out - The Surfaris
Jim Dandy - LaVerne Baker
Beat Party - Ritchie and The Squires
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Killer - Sparkle Moore
Johnny Hit and Run Pauline - X

Further reading:

Read about the squalid proceedings at previous Cockabilly nights hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere,  here, here and here.

Follow me on tumblr - for all your retro, kitsch and vintage gay porn needs!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Lobotomy Room 6 September 2014 DJ Set List

/ If Lobotomy Room was a vintage beefcake pin-up, it would look like this /

/ If Lobotomy Room was a vintage cheesecake pin-up, it would look like this /

From the Facebook events page:

End summer 2014 on a note of sordid desperation … at Lobotomy Room!

Lobotomy Room – where sin lives! A punkabilly beer blast 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 (regular DJ at Dr Sketchy and Cockabilly) playing all your rancid vintage sleaze favourites. Expect desperate stabs from the jukebox jungle! Savage rhythms to make you writhe and rock!

And featuring special musical guests … the vicious EMPRESS OF FUR! Led by the Bettie Page-tastic Venus Raygun (half angel, half jungle cat – all woman!), Empress of Fur answers the musical question “Why do the sweetest kittens have the sharpest claws?” – and rasp your freakin’ face off in the process with their raunchy post-Cramps voodoobilly assault! Imagine the musical equivalent of a 1960s Russ Meyer film about go-go dancers on a homicidal rampage, and you’re on the right track.

Kicking off proceedings: the surf garage punk mayhem of The Von Nitros!

Admission is gratuit (that’s French for FREE!!).

Lobotomy Room: a good time so tawdry and squalid – it might snap your mind! 

Lobotomy Room: Further. Faster. Filthier. 

Lobotomy Room at Paper Dress Vintage

/ Photo of me by Thomaz Månskugga /

Phew! What a night! Considering what a debacle the last Lobotomy Room was, I really needed this one to be a success. And thankfully it was! The two bands were on fire: The Von Nitros and Empress of Fur totally tore it the fuck up onstage. To their credit, they also both helped aggressively promote the ass off the night beforehand - and it was one of the biggest crowds Lobotomy Room ever attracted to date.

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/ Go baby, go! Sex kitten deluxe Venus Raygun of Empress of Fur lashing out. Lash! Lash! /

And it was great to be back at Paper Dress Vintage in Shoreditch. When DJ Mal Nicholson (of Cockabilly notoriety) rocked up he looked around and noted admiringly that the surroundings looked like something out of David Lynch's Twin Peaks. I’d never thought about it before, but he’s right: the black and white checked floor and red velvet curtains does make Paper Dress Vintage look like somewhere a finger-snapping, backwards-talking midget (or the ghost of Laura Palmer) might suddenly materialise. 

Typically, on the night itself I was never able to fully relax, enjoy it or talk much to people and it went by in a drunken blur. (I started necking beers early on to steady my nerves). I was also struggling with a glitch-y, temperamental CD mixer which made DJ’ing very suspenseful and unpredictable! (As a result, my DJ’ing wasn’t as smooth and assured as I would have liked). Before I knew it, the houselights were switched on and it was over!  My only real regret from the night is that I was too distracted and manic to take many decent photos, so some of Lobotomy Room’s most striking, sexy attendees yet went mainly undocumented.

/ Dancing like this is strictly encouraged - at LOBOTOMY ROOM! / 

In fact, once I compiled photos from a variety of sources, it wasn't so bad. But how could I have not photographed glamorous Lobotomy Room regular Craig’s dramatic new image change?  Craig – Lobotomy Room’s own Candy Darling / Cookie Mueller, who transforms any venue into the backroom of Warhol-era Max’s Kansas City just by showing up – recently changed his trademark tousled beehive from sun-kissed Brigitte Bardot-blonde to deep Morticia Addams raven: think Divine as Dawn Davenport in Female Trouble, Ronnie Spector in her hair-hopping pomp or 1960s wedding portrait Priscilla Presley.  

/ "I'm a thief and a shitkicker and, uh, I'd like to be famous ..." Divine as Dawn Davenport in John Waters' Female Trouble (1974) /

Craig had let it be known in advance he had a special song request. I guessed correctly that it was “The Girl Can’t Help It” by Little Richard, so he could channel both Divine in Pink Flamingos and Jayne Mansfield at the same time. Miraculously, just as I saw Craig and his gang of girlfriends standing outside finish their cigarettes and about to enter Paper Dress Vintage, the song I was currently playing ended and I was able to swiftly cue and play “The Girl Can’t Help It” right as he came through the door! Craig was clearly ecstatic at the timing, screamed and made his friends drunkenly dance to it. He also seemed to dig Empress of Fur (clearly recognising Venus Raygun as a fellow bad girl).

Anyway, back to the bands. To be frank, I’d never actually heard of The Von Nitros previously – they were chosen by Stephen, the main man at Paper Dress Vintage. But they were a perfect fit, with their bratty Stooges-style garage punk, naggingly minimalist Question Mark and The Mysterians keyboard sound and in Adz Queenie Bond, a very memorable frontman in the Joey Ramone tradition. Nice sense of showmanship, too (I always love bands who wear matching outfits).

Lobotomy Room at Paper Dress Vintage

The Von Nitros wigging out

Lobotomy Room at Paper Dress Vintage

I've known Empress of Fur for about twenty years now and consider them pure distilled essence of Lobotomy Room - in fact, they probably represent the ideal Lobotomy Room band. This was their second time performing at a Lobotomy Room: their debut in summer 2013 was wild, but the crowd that night was a bit square and couldn't really dig what Empress of Fur was laying down. This night was a triumphant vindication! The sight of 1950s pin-up come to snarling life Venus Raygun in her blood-red Queen of Hearts outfit flailing and thrashing around on the floor, evoking sex kitten-gone-berserk Ann-Margret in Tommy and a female version of The Cramps' Lux Interior will not soon be forgotten!  

/ Photos of Empress of Fur below: top one by Thomaz Månskugga, rest by me /

Lobotomy Room at Paper Dress Vintage

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Right. From here I'll let the photos do the talking. You can see the full set (raw, uncut and uncensored) on my flickr page.

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/ Chani and Pal: Check out Chani's suave new Tilda Swinton haircut. The women had the best quiffs at this Lobotomy Room /

Lobotomy Room 6 September 2014

/ I'll Be Your Mirror: Photo by Emma-Louise /

lobotomy room 6 september 2014 002

/ Niels and Thomaz - they came all the way from Amsterdam to attend Lobotomy Room! (Not really: they were in London to see Kate Bush) /

Lobotomy Room at Paper Dress Vintage

/ Thomaz and I /

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/ Nell and Chris of Tuffbroad Productions (you may know Chris better in his scary drag persona of Baby Lame, currently wreaking havoc in venues around London) /

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/ Mia and Alex (possessor of another great female quiff) of The Amy Grimehouse /

Lobotomy Room at Paper Dress Vintage

/ The gang's all here: Christopher (aka Christophina), Mal of Cockabilly, Pal, Charlie and Sarah /

Lobotomy Room at Paper Dress Vintage

/ Gingers united: Emily and Pal /

Lobotomy Room at Paper Dress Vintage

/ As well as being very ginger-y, it was also a very beard-y night: Eric and Christopher /

lobotomy room 6 september 2014 037

/ Hayley (right) and friend injecting proceedings with some serious glamour /

Lobotomy Room at Paper Dress Vintage 6 September 2014

/ Hayley and friend dancing /

Mau Mau - The Fabulous Wailers
How Much Love Can One Heart Hold? Joe Perkins and The Rookies
Save It - Mel Robbins
Eager Beaver Baby - Johnny Burnette
Wiped-Out - The Escorts
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
I Stubbed My Toe - Bryan "Legs" Walker
Love Me - The Phantom
Funnel of Love - Wanda Jackson
Bombora - The Original Surf-aris
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Little Girl - John and Jackie
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
Esquerita and the Voola - Esquerita
Rockin' Out the Blues - The Musical Linn Twins
Drive Daddy Drive - Little Sylvia
Boss - The Rumblers
Sweet Little Pussycat - Andre Williams
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Dance with Me Henry - Ann-Margret
Viva Las Vegas - Elvis Presley
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Trash Can - Ken Williams
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Pass the Hatchet - Roger and The Gypsies
Vesuvius - The Revels
Salamander - Mamie Van Doren
Beat Guitar - The Fabulous Wailers
Deuces Wild - Link Wray
Somethin' Else - Sid Vicious
Breathless - X
Juvenile Delinquent - Ronnie Allen
Chicken Walk - Hasil Adkins
Dragon Walk - The Noblemen
He's the One - Ike and Tina Turner
Teenage Lobotomy - The Ramones
Nothing Matters Anymore - The Alley Cats
Harley Davidson - Brigitte Bardot
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran
Jailhouse Rock - Masaaki Hirao
Chicken - The Cramps

Further reading:

Read about previous Lobotomy Rooms herehereherehereherehere and here

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