Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Lobotomy Room DJ Set List at Fontaine's 29 June 2018

/ Hair hoppers are welcome at Lobotomy Room! /

From the Facebook event page:

Revel in sleaze, voodoo and rock’n’roll - when incredibly strange dance party Lobotomy Room returns to the basement Bamboo Lounge of Dalston’s most unique nite spot Fontaine’s! Friday 29 June!

Lobotomy Room! Where sin lives! A punkabilly booze party! Sensual and depraved! Bad Music for Bad People! A spectacle of decadence! A Mondo Trasho evening of Beat, Beat Beatsville Beatnik Rock’n’Roll! Rockabilly Psychosis! Wailing Rhythm and Blues! Twisted Tittyshakers! Punk cretin hops! White Trash Rockers! Kitsch! Exotica! Curiosities and Other Weird Shit! Think John Waters soundtracks, or Songs the Cramps Taught Us, hosted by Graham Russell. Expect desperate stabs from the jukebox jungle! Savage rhythms to make you writhe and rock! Vintage erotica projected on the big screen all night for your adult entertainment!

One FREE signature Lobotomy Room cocktail for the first twenty entrants! 

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!

I won’t lie - this post is a rush job! The next Lobotomy Room is fast-approaching (Friday 27 July! THIS Friday!). My broadband at home is on the blink (this will be the third EE engineer to come out to investigate since May), which makes me feel like I’m losing my mind. (Think of all the gay porn I’m currently NOT seeing on Tumblr! It won’t look at itself, you know!).  And I’m a sun-baked human wreck at the moment. (Pal and I went to the beach in Margate on Saturday and I am shocking lobster-pink over much of my body. Ouch! I also now have water trapped in one of my ears and am practically deaf on one side. If I was your pet, having the vet put me down would be the compassionate thing to do).  

The May 2018 Lobotomy Room felt like a triumph. The June 2018 one was much more challenging. None of my regulars or friends came, but we did get a group of middle-aged rockabillies. At one point the sole male of the group approached the DJ booth and requested I play some rockabilly so they could dance. At that moment I was actually playing hardcore rockabilly (“Let’s Go Baby” by Billy Eldridge), so I asked him if he had anything in particular in mind. He replied, “Elvis. Gene Vincent. Eddie Cochran.” So their knowledge of rockabilly didn’t extend far beyond the well-worn classics and their tastes were decidedly conservative. Trying to second-guess what they wanted was difficult! A lot of what I thought would please them met a dead response. If they liked and recognized a song, they’d jump-up and dance (or the women would stroll). To their credit, they danced to “Juvenile Delinquent” by Ronnie Allen. If they didn’t dig what I was playing, they’d whip-out their phones and start scrolling, radiating disapproval in my direction! When I’d drop a punk cover version of a rockabilly song, you could see their brains whirring in confusion. Tough crowd!  I have to admit, it stressed me out and cramped my style. I like to whip-together punk, surf instrumentals, rhythm and blues, tittyshakers and weird, abrasive kitsch novelty stuff as well as frantic, more obscure rockabilly but found myself compromising in order to please this contingent. There’s usually considerably more melanin in my playlists!

On the plus side, my friend Ejole (aka “Little E”) from San Francisco surprised me by turning up (I knew he was going to be in London but didn’t know he was coming to Lobotomy Room that night). Because I was DJ’ing, I didn’t get to actually hang out, though! 

/ I dropped this eternal camp classick ... /

/ What a glorious duo! I also played tracks by Jayne Mansfield (Patron Saint of Lobotomy Room) and Billy "Crash" Craddock /

Road Runner - The 5,6,7,8s
Drive, Daddy, Drive - Little Sylvia
Little Darlin' - Masaaki Hirao
Hey Little Star - Ann-Margret
Blue Velvet - Bobby Vinton
Adult Books - X
Savin' My Love - Wanda Jackson
Mau Mau - The Fabulous Wailers
Kismiaz - The Cramps
Monkey Bird - The Revels
Drummin' Up a Storm - Sandy Nelson
Fever - Nancy Sit
Jaguar - The Jaguars
Hot Licks - The Rendells
Wild Wild Party - Charlie Feathers
Jukebox Babe - Alan Vega
Atomic Bongos - Lydia Lunch
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Riding with a Movie Star - L7
Wiped Out - The Escorts
Ring of Fire - The Earls of Suave
I Don't Need You No More - The Rumblers
Let's Go Baby - Billy Eldridge
Bikini with No Top on the Top - Mamie Van Doren and June Wilkinson
Sweetie Pie - Eddie Cochran
Bop Pills - Macy Skip Skipper
Juvenile Delinquent - Ronnie Allen
Strychnine - The Sonics
Vampira - Bobby Bare
Save It - Mel Robbins
Boss - The Rumblers
Love Me - The Phantom
Rock Around the Clock - The Sex Pistols
Little Girl - John and Jackie
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Bottle to the Baby - Charlie Feathers
Blitzkreig Bop - The Ramonetures
The Swag - Link Wray
Funnel of Love - Wanda Jackson
Breathless - X
C'mon Everybody - Sid Vicious
Be Bop a Lula - Alan Vega
Whistle Bait - Larry Collins
Action Packed - Ronnie Dee
Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret
Rock-A-Bop - Sparkle Moore
Domino - Roy Orbison
What's Inside a Girl? The Cramps
Chicken Walk - Hasil Adkins
Wood Pecker Rock - Nat Couty and The Braves
Poor Little Baby - Billy "Crash" Craddock
Margaya - The Fender Four
Viva Las Vegas - Nina Hagen
Surf Rat - The Rumblers
Pedro Pistolas Twist - Los Twisters
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Treat Me Right - Mae West
Three Cool Chicks - The 5,6,7,8s
Woo-Hoo - The Rock-A-Teens
Hoy Hoy - The Collins Kids
Bombora - The Original Surfaris
Teenage Lobotomy - The Ramones
Nothing Means Nothing Anymore - The Alley Cats
Year 1 - X
Party Lights - Claudine Clark
He's The One - Ike and Tina Turner
One Night of Sin - Elvis Presley

In other news: there were no photos taken at the July 2018 installment of Lobotomy Room – but my friend Rachael (Yorkshire’s finest!) celebrated her birthday in The Bamboo Lounge the following night and I DJ’d there again! Here’s a bonus "glamour shot" of me with the fierce, fabulous and forty-year old Rachael (the TRUE “angel of the north!”).  See more paparazzi pics from her party here.

There’s a Lobotomy Room playlist on Spotify! You can finally hear the strange and sleazy sounds of Lobotomy Room online! I should have sorted this out myself years ago, but in the meantime my friend Louise (that red-headed vixen!) pieced this together based on my May 2018 Lobotomy Room DJ set list. 

/ Next Lobotomy Room club: Friday 27 July 2018! Full squalid details on event page! /

Further reading:

Follow me on Tumblr for all your kitsch, camp, retro vintage sleaze and fifties homoerotica needs!

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"Like" and follow the official Lobotomy Room page on Facebook if you dare! 

Monday, 16 July 2018

Reflections on ... Cindy Sherman Exhibit at Sprüth Magers

“In the large-scale colour portraits, the artist imagines herself as a cast of 'grandes dames' from the Golden Age of 1920s Hollywood cinema. Differing from Sherman’s earlier series, these actresses are presented outside of the filmic narrative, posing instead for what seem to be formal publicity shots. Despite their elaborate garb, coiffed hairdos and painted faces, the leading ladies are clearly in their twilight years, and the grave stoicism of their expressions gives way to instances of poignant vulnerability: fine lines emerge through caked-on make-up, and sinewy, aged hands seem at odds with the smooth polish of their owners’ faces. The actresses pose against digitally manipulated backgrounds that are suggestive of the film sets and backdrops of yesteryear. Skyscrapers, a busy café scene, manicured gardens and a classical landscape all feature within the series. One photograph created earlier this year, displays four actresses in different coloured tulle costumes. Seated together, they reference the historic popularity of sister acts in the entertainment industry.” 
From Sprüth Magers’ catalogue
“Some play with scarves to hide their wrinkles, others rely on a brave, haughty or mysterious expression. All could quite clearly carry off once more whatever roles they played on the silver screen until age edged them out of the system. But in each case there are a hundred more nuances, of doubt, pride, suffering, foolishness, survival, courage, learned from the life and irrepressible even in these supposed publicity shots for films that will never be made.” 
From The Guardian’s review

I visited the new Cindy Sherman exhibit at Sprüth Magers’ gallery in Mayfair on Saturday 7 July. In it, the masterful American artist and photographer completely transforms herself into a series of powdered and bewigged veteran show biz divas of a certain age in eerie, powerful and riveting self-portraits. The focus is on liver-spotted hands clutching chiffon and the whole arsenal of artifice: plucked-out eyebrows, scarlet lips painted into a cupid’s bow. The vibe is very ruined glamour, Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, decaying Hollywood Mansions, Sunset Boulevard / Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? 

Looking at them, you can’t help but associate the photos with the doomed flapper Clara Bow, Mary Pickford’s reclusive alcoholic later years, or the botched face lift of Hedy Lamar. The show is about aging, but also about haughty defiance (or denial) towards aging, and a commitment to glamour at all costs despite aging. (And the show is inevitably about the aging of Sherman herself, who is now 64. Those unretouched liver-spotted hands belong to her!). The exhibit is free and runs until 1 September 2018.

Further reading:read my scene report from John Water's 2015 exhibit Beverley Hills John at Sprüth Magers here.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Reflections on ... Lauren Bacall in Young Man with a Horn (1950)

Recently watched: Young Man with a Horn (1950).  Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, Mildred Pierce), it covers the rise and fall of an idealistic, uncompromising young jazz trumpeter Rick Martin (Kirk Douglas) in the hard-bitten, dog-eat-dog neon jungle of New York’s nightlife. Doris Day co-stars as Jo, the wholesome and sympathetic big band singer who’s in love with Rick. If he only he could see she’s perfect for him! The dramatic black and white film noir photography is spectacular and it gets wildly, pleasurably overwrought as it progresses, encompassing alcoholism, nervous breakdowns and pneumonia. Note: your enjoyment of Young Man with a Horn will depend on how much you can tolerate watching Douglas mime playing trumpet in the frequent musical sequences.

BUT mid-way through the film Lauren Bacall – that smoky-eyed Siamese cat-in-human form – rocks-up as Amy North, Douglas’ frosty, frigid rich bitch socialite wife and blows everything apart. Perennially wreathed in cigarette smoke and meant to represent the polar opposite of Doris Day, Bacall’s sleek and soignée appearance belies a roiling, wildly dysfunctional (possibly mentally ill) interior.  Amy is cultured and worldly, sexually ambivalent, independent, speaks Latin and is studying to be a psychiatrist: in the context of the film, her intellect is depicted as off-putting and unappealing. Worst of all – she admits she doesn’t actually like jazz! There are hints of repressed lesbianism: Rick and Amy are seen to sleep in separate single beds, and she’s subtly coded as queer recognizable to contemporary 1950 audiences in the way that characters played by, say, Peter Lorre or Sydney Greenstreet would also have been understood as gay. As Ian Scott Todd writes in his blog Primal Scenes:

“Amy is neurotic, withholding, passive-aggressive, and anal-retentive, to name only four of her "symptoms."  All of the other familiar lesbian signifiers are here, too, in her elegant but mannish suits, her stand-offish demeanor, and the sophisticated décor of her apartment.  Bacall’s Amy North is what Halberstam might classify as a predatory dyke: calculating, urbane, aloof.  She matches her interior space, with its hard, sleek, coldly elegant surfaces, off-set by touches of the bizarre, such as a pet cockatoo to which she refers—ominously—as her “best friend” … Amy is an example of the predatory dyke as femme fatale, trapped within the gilded cage of her own sexual “perversity,” someone to run away from, preferably into the arms of a “real” woman.  And yet, like all femme fatales, Amy’s dangerous sexuality makes her infinitely more attractive than the blandly chipper Jo, whose normality is, indeed, terrible.” 

Towards the end, Amy casually tells Rick, “I’ve met a girl – an artist. We might go to Paris together.” Here Bacall suddenly anticipates Cate Blanchet in Carol (2015). “You’re a sick girl, Amy!” Rick finally shouts as their marriage unravels. “I’m sick of you trying to touch me!” she screams.

The ostensibly unsympathetic but compelling and complex Amy represents the late Bacall’s strangest, most intense performance and she steals the film from Douglas and Day. I don’t recall her ever being asked about Young Man with a Horn in any interviews. I’d love to know how Curtiz and Bacall conceived and discussed the part. Did Bacall even know her character was meant to be gay? In any case, her portrayal should be included as at least a footnote in any discussion about LGBTQ representation in Golden Age Hollywood cinema.