Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Reflections on ... John Waters' Role Models (2010)

(In preparation for swapping my creaky 8-year old PC for a gleaming new laptop, I'm combing through and sorting old files of ancient photos and documents and deleting crap. I came across this review I wrote of John Waters' 2010 book Role Models. It appeared on the alternative art and culture Nude website at the time, but that was yanked down a few years ago now, so I'm posting it here for posterity). 

There’s an illuminating anecdote in Prince of Puke John Waters’ new book. In 1957 aged 11 he shoplifted a Little Richard record.  Sneaking it onto the hi-fi at his grandmother’s house, Waters felt a spasm of pleasure at the horrified reaction when The Bronze Liberace started wailing “Lucille”: “In one magical moment, every fear of my white family had been laid bare: an uninvited, screaming flamboyant black man was in the living room.” His impulse to épater le bourgeois was already seething even in childhood.

Role Models profiles the various personalities who've warped the wworld-view of cinema’s trash virtuoso, encompassing people from fashion, music, pornography, literature – plus a former member of the Manson Family. Most interesting are the freaks from subterranean Baltimore who anticipate the gallery of grotesques from Waters’ films:  a teenage drag queen called Pencil (“rabidly enticing despite his repellent packaging”); Zorro the alcoholic stripper who’d stumble onto the stage already naked snarling, “What the fuck are you looking at?”

Waters shares his thoughts on modern art (“Isn't that the job of contemporary art? To infuriate?”), his ideal death (spontaneous combustion), a social history of his favourite squalid Baltimore dive bars, his philosophy of success (“True success is figuring out your life and career so you never have to be around jerks”),even his beauty tips (his signature moustache is augmented with Maybelline Expert Eyes in Velvet Black eyeliner).

For Waters, reading Tennessee Williams revealed, “There was another world ... a universe filled with special people who didn't want to be a part of this dreary conformist life that I was told I had to join.” For many of us, Waters himself has served a similar role. Trenchant but generous, Role Models reads like missives from a wise uncle for the maladjusted who counsels, “Make friends with your neuroses.”

All of the above photos are swiped from the current issue of i-D magazine. It's a must-have, featuring a lovingly-done interview and fashion spread / homage (by Alasdair McLellan) to cult cinema king and “the peoples’ pervert” John Waters shot on location in Baltimore. It incorporates portraits of Waters, his great regular character actress Mink Stole, a shot of Divine’s tombstone and a fashion model clad in Miuccia Prada’s spring/summer 15 Miu Miu range (inspired by Waters’ 1974 masterpiece Female Trouble) and styled to evoke bad girl Cookie Mueller (1949-1989). The hair and make-up people nicely capture Mueller’s tousled beehive hair-do and winged Brigitte Bardot-style black liquid eyeliner – but the model is considerably softer-looking than the actual tough-as-nails Cookie, and doesn't have Mueller’s home-made tattoos.

Read my epic 2010 interview with Waters here.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Cockabilly DJ Set List 10 June 2015

Rare Color Photo Of Brando on the set of The Wild One

/ The human face of Cockabilly: Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953). Brando and his biker gang The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in juvenile delinquent flick The Wild One remain the absolute visual / sartorial ideal for male rockabillies today in the way that, say, Bettie Page or Mamie Van Doren do for female rockabilly kittens. Considering the film dates from 1953, it’s actually pre-rock’n’roll (in the cafe where the bikers hang out, the jukebox blares loud, frantic bebop jazz). Brando in this film anticipates punk, when it still meant someone who was raped in prison. Plus: for me surly young Brando in his biker cap and leather jacket is one of the most (homo) erotic images of all time / 

As promised / threatened on Cockabilly’s Facebook group 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 Wednesday 10 June 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 Practice (aka 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

This was the first Cockabilly since April (right after I got back from the annual Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender). It felt great to be back behind the decks at The George & Dragon. Here’s what I played in my hour-long set:

Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio? The Ramonetures
Wailin' - The Fabulous Wailers
Killer - Sparkle Moore
Beat Girl - ZZ en de Maskers
Money Money - Big John Taylor
Woo-Hoo - The Rock-A-Teens
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
It's a Gas - The Rumblers
Jailhouse Rock - Masaaki Hirao
Funnel of Love - Wanda Jackson
Let's Go, Baby - Billy Eldridge
Poor Little Baby - Billy "Crash" Craddock
C'mon Everybody - The Sex Pistols
Deuces Wild - Link Wray
Johnny Hit and Run Pauline - X
Your Phone's off the Hook - The Ramonetures
Ring of Fire - The Earls of Suave
Lucille - Little Richard
Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Wipe Out - The Surfaris
Tina's Dilemma - Ike and Tina Turner

Further reading:

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

Follow me on tumblr for all your retro, kitsch and homoerotic vintage sleaze needs! 

Most urgently: scrawl the date Friday 26 June 2015 in blood! It's when LOBOTOMY ROOM (my semi regular Mondo Trasho punkabilly booze party club night) returns - at its new home, the basement Bamboo Lounge of Fontaine's in Dalston!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Vip Vop DJ Set List 3 May 2015

Since getting back from my US trip to Viva Las Vegas and New Orleans, I’m a good ten “art projects” behind. So I’m only just now getting around to blogging my set list from my DJ’ing guest spot at Vip Vop, DJ Gavin A GoGo’s vicious little rock’n’roll honky tonk night at The Stag’s Head in Haggerston.

Sunday 3 May 2015 fell on a bank holiday – bliss! That meant I could properly party and let it all hang out without worrying about having a hangover at work on Monday. And boy, did I! The festivities started at The Glory in Haggerston – London’s new epicentre of gay Bohemia and definitely one of my “happiest places” in London these days.  The Glory celebrated Bank Holiday Sunday with a trashy, boozy afternoon hillbilly barn dance. The proposed dress code was red and white gingham shirts (I dutifully wore mine!). Think people drinking beer while sitting on bales of straw, the DJs playing kitsch country and western music (as Pal and I entered, the first song I heard was by the sublime Bobbi Gentry; I just about jizzed), line dancing and the reliably anarchic and sewer-mouthed host John Sizzle dragged up as Dolly Parton.  

The most glamorous attendee was veteran New York cabaret artist Justin Vivian Bond, who I’ve revered since the Kiki and Herb days. It’s been a good few years since I’ve seen Bond perform and v [the pronoun Bond prefers over "him" or "her"] looks pretty sensational these days, with a long straight mane of blonde hair reminiscent of Nico on the cover of her 1967 Chelsea Girl album. After a few beers I plucked up the liquid courage to approach Bond and tell v about the first time I ever saw v perform: it was 1999 at the sadly defunct queer punk club Squeezebox in New York. Bond sang Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English.” Bond’s eyes lit up at the memory of Squeezebox and asked, “Was I any good?”

From there, considerably refreshed after several hours at The Glory, Pal and I walked around the corner to The Stag’s Head for Vip Vop.  DJ Gavin AGoGo has an absolutely killer night and it was a pleasure to be a part of it. As you can see from the berserk photos, the night descended into a total rockabilly booze party bacchanal. (There’s no way I could have made it to work the next day). I played two sets alternating with Gavin. At one point the barmaid was threatening to close the place at 11 pm. Gavin found the manager and persuaded him to let us continue to play until midnight. That explains my second shorter set. I think I’ll let the photos do the talking now.

Vip_Vop_3_May_2015 (2)

/ Bad Girls Go to Hell: The Women of Vip Vop


/ Pal and I /


/ These people are bad news /


/ The adorable Sarah /


/ DJ Gavin A GoGo /


/ Christophina wearing the Cramps t-shirt I bought him at Viva Las Vegas /

Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Let's Have a Party - Wanda Jackson
Ah! Poor Little Baby - Billy "Crash" Craddock
Goin' Down That Road - Ersel Hickey
Let's Go, Baby - Billy Eldridge
Motorcycle Maniac - Bobby Warren
Beat Girl - ZZ en De Maskers
Vampira - Bobby Bare
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! The Bostweeds
Your Phone's off the Hook - The Ramonetures
We're Desperate - X
Esquerita and The Voola - Esquerita
Tough Bounce - The Fabulous Wailers
It's a Gas - The Rumblers
Like a Rolling Stone - Mamie Van Doren
Lucille - Masaaki Hirao
How Much Love Can One Heart Hold? Joe Perkins and The Rookies
The Girl Can't Help It - Little Richard
Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret
Rock-A-Bop - Sparkle Moore
I've Told Every Little Star - Linda Scott
Little Miss Understood - Connie Stevens
I Will Follow Him - Little Peggy March
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Domino - Roy Orbison
Love Me - The Phantom
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Jim Dandy - Sara Lee and The Spades
Rawhide - Link Wray

Set 2

Blitzkreig Bop - The Ramonetures
Tina's Dilemma - Ike and Tina Turner
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Pass the Hatchet - Roger and The Gypsies
Breathless - Arlie Neaville
Muleskinner Blues - The Fendermen
Shortnin' Bread - The Readymen
Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen
Chicken - The Cramps
Chicken Walk - Hasil Adkins
Run Chicken Run - Link Wray
Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks

Further reading:

The next Cockabilly - the first since April! - is Wednesday 10 June 2015.

My next Mondo Trasho punkabilly Lobotomy Room club night - at its new home, opulent Art Deco vice palace Fontaine's - is Friday 26 June 2015.

For all your putrid retro, kitsch and vintage sleaze homo porn needs, follow me on tumblr!