Saturday, 28 December 2019

Reflections on ... Sue Lyon

Farewell to the notorious Sue Lyon (10 July 1946 – 26 December 2019) – most infamous for playing the nymphette titular character in Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film adaptation of the troubling Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita.

The casting of unknown starlet Lyon was considered problematic (the role was offered to Tuesday Weld first), partly because Lolita was meant to be 12-years old and Lyon – a poised and sophisticated 14-year old during filming – was obviously older. (Although to be fair, there was no way the Motion Production Code in place at the time would have permitted an actual 12-year old playing the part).

I for one genuinely love the bouffant-haired, petulant Lyon’s memorable performance in the film: so pert and doll-like, a kitten-ish teenage hybrid of Carroll Baker and Ann-Margret. No one ever looked better in heart-shaped sunglasses! And she holds her own remarkably well among heavyweight, experienced talents like James Mason, Shelley Winters and Peter Sellars.

Lyon continued to act post-Lolita (her final acting credit was in 1980. I know I saw her in the 1964 adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Night of The Iguana years ago) but never again with comparable impact. (You could argue that was also true of Lyon’s spiritual precursor – Carroll Baker in Babydoll). Eventually she drifted into obscurity. And Lyon’s personal life sounds insane, encompassing near-fatal car crashes, rumoured mental health problems and five stormy marriages (including one to a convicted felon, then in prison for second-degree murder and robbery!).

The enigmatic Lyon withdrew into complete seclusion in later years and was reportedly estranged from her children. In one of the few relatively recent photos of her to surface, she looks totally unrecognizable and almost Morticia Addams-like. (Lyon's contemporary Tuesday Weld, too, has become a recluse and apparently now struggles with mental health issues).

The Lolita persona Lyon created in the early 60s still haunts popular culture: when Lana Del Rey first appeared in 2010, she made stylish references to Lyon’s heart-shaped sunglasses and lollipops in her early publicity shots. Rest in peace, Sue Lyon.

/ All photos of Lyon from a photo session by Bert Stern. Below: Lana Del Rey paying homage in 2010 /

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Lobotomy Room Dance Party DJ Set List 8 November 2019 plus Dirty Shame 9 November 2019

Revel in sleaze, voodoo and rock’n’roll - when incredibly bizarre dance party Lobotomy Room returns to the basement Bamboo Lounge of Fontaine’s (Dalston’s most unique nite spot) on Friday 8 November 2019!

Lobotomy Room! Where sin lives! A punkabilly booze party! Sensual and depraved! A spectacle of decadence! A night of Vintage Sleaze-o-Rama! Beat, Beat Beatsville Beatnik Rock’n’Roll! Bad Music for Bad People! 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! Grainy vintage black-and-white erotica projected on the big screen all night for your adult entertainment!

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!

“Hell-o? What’s that? Incredibly bizarre punkabilly dance party LOBOTOMY ROOM returns to Fontaine’s bar (Dalston’s most unique nite spot) on 8 November? And admission is FREE?” /

Good lord! With 2019 careering to an imminent close, I’d better get postin’! Note: there was meant to be one final Lobotomy Room dance party of the year on Friday 13 December – but it got cancelled because someone has reserved the entire venue (both floors of Fontaine’s) for a private party. Friday the thirteenth is genuinely unlucky – who knew? So, by default, the November 2019 Lobotomy Room was the last club night of 2019! Here is my scene report from the night - a jolting, dramatic human document ripped from the pages of life! Told with the intensity of white heat! Read it if you must!

/ Rockabilly royalty: Sparkle Moore with Gene Vincent /

“Rockabilly bombshell Sparkle Moore was born Barbara Morgan in Omaha in 1939. The quintessential bad girl, she dressed in leather (and often in men's clothes), with her short blonde hair greased back in an Elvis Presley-styled pompadour. Dubbed "Sparkle" in honor of a supporting character in the Dick Tracy comic strip, she signed to the Cincinnati-based Fraternity label to issue her debut single, the hiccupping "Rock-a-Bop," in late 1956, and though still just 17 years old she toured the US in support of the record, even opening for Gene Vincent at the peak of his fame. (A planned appearance on radio's Grand Ol' Opry was canceled due to a bout with laryngitis, however.) The sultry yet sinister "Killer" followed in 1957, but soon after Moore learned she was pregnant and abruptly quit performing to focus on raising a family. No subsequent recordings are known to exist, although an unreleased Fraternity ballad called "Flower of My Heart" subsequently appeared on several compilations, most notable among them 2004's Good Girls Gone Bad: Weird, Wild & Wanted, the first to assemble her complete recorded output in one disc (including a handful of alternate takes).”

/ From Allmusic Guide /

Enigmatic platinum blonde rockabilly icon - and perennial Lobotomy Room favourite - Sparkle Moore (born 6 November 1939) turned 80 just before this dance party! Sing along with me: “You should be labelled with a skull and crossbones / You’re a jinx to my soul …” Needless to say, I dropped one of Moore's tracks in tribute to the birthday girl. 

 / “The violence that was normally only a promise (or threat) in rock'n’roll was realized in Esquerita’s sound.” Charles Gillett in his book The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock‘n’Roll / 

Also born in November: the flamboyant, pompadoured king (or should that be “queen”?) of outsider rhythm and blues Esquerita (born aka Eskew Reeder Jr on 20 November 1935 in Greenville, South Carolina. He died in 1986). Esquerita was such a beauty (and – alongside Jayne Mansfield – is one of the patron saints of my Lobotomy Room dance party club night). Photo via Norton Records’ Instagram page.

I won't lie: the crowd this night was small but ardent (people were dancing until almost 2 am). And the attendees included fabulous burlesque VIPS Mysti Vine and Trixi Tassels. For me, there is no greater compliment than having off-duty striptease ultra-vixens like this duo dancing to my music!

Snooker Final - Low Rocks
I Don't Need You No More - The Rumblers
My Boyfriend from Outer Space - The 5,6,7,8s
Sugar Town - Lara and The Trailers
Mau Mau - The Fabulous Wailers
Kismiaz - The Cramps
Katanga - Ike Turner and His Kings of Rhythm
Monkey Bird - The Revels
Jungle Drums - Earl Bostic
I Would if I Could - Ruth Brown
Sweet Little Pussycat - Andre Williams
Let's Go Sexin' - James Intveld
Uptown to Harlem - Johnny Thunders and Patti Palladin
Jukebox Babe - Alan Vega
Pass the Hatchet - Roger and The Gypsies
Suey - Jayne Mansfield
Hanky Panky - Rita Chao
Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramonetures
Gunnin' for Peter - The Fabulous Wailers
Touch the Leather - The Fat White Family
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
Bombie - Johnny Sharp and The Yellow Jackets
Garbageman - The Cramps
Strychnine - The Sonics
You're Driving Me Crazy - Dorothy Berry
Tina's Dilemma - Ike and Tina Turner
Little Queenie - Bill Black Combo
I Don't Care - The Ramones
You're Phone's Off the Hook - X
Riding with a Movie Star - L7
Cha Cha Twist - The Detroit Cobras
96 Tears - Big Maybelle
Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! - The Bostweeds
Woodpecker Rock - Nat County and The Braves
Fools Rush In - Ricky Nelson
Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Party Lights - Claudine Clark
Rockin' the Joint - Esquerita
I Can't Believe What You Say - Ike and Tina Turner
I'm Blue - The Ikettes
Boss - The Rumblers
C'mon Everybody - The Sex Pistols
Let's Have a Party - Wanda Jackson
Wild, Wild Party - Charlie Feathers
Love Me - The Phantom
Rip It Up - Little Richard
Jailhouse Rock - Masaaki Hirao
Jim Dandy - Ann-Margret

I've knocked-together a Spotify playlist for the songs I played. The usual caveats: disable shuffle for the full grittily authentic "you were there" experience. Let me take you on an aural journey into deep vintage sleaze-o-rama! The Spotify playlist is strictly approximate: much of the stuff I play isn't available on there and the tunes to select from shrinks all the time. Frustratingly, Spotify "purges" tracks on a regular basis, presumably for licensing reasons. But for now, it's the best medium for creating playlists. Listen to it here.

Dirty Shame - Saturday 9 December 2019

/ The sultry bad girl pictured above giving major badittude is Fontaine's boss lady, Emerald Fontaine  /

Bonus material! The following night, I just about scraped-together a few brain cells to drag my tired ass back down the stairs to Fontaine's Polynesian-themed Bamboo Lounge to DJ again! (Honey, I was exhausted! DJ'ing - and boozing - two late nights in a row is brutal at my age). This time I was doing a guest DJ'ing spot as part of Dirty Shame - a  confrontational "bad taste" evening of cabaret inspired by the twisted imagination of The Peoples' Pervert, John Waters! Emceed by Benjamin Louche, the festivities incorporated performance artists, exotic dancers, potent cocktails, free popcorn - and a screening of Waters' most infamous celluloid atrocity, Pink Flamingos (1972)! For the post-film club night, I played a set loosely inspired by the cinema of John Waters. Let's just say I spun music for juvenile delinquents of all ages! Dirty Shame is due to become a regular event in 2020. Be sure to "like" and "follow" the Fontaine's Facebook page to find out when the next one is.

Chicken Grabber - The Nite Hawks
Little Queenie - Bill Black Combo
Salamander - Mamie Van Doren
Here Comes the Bug - The Rumblers
Let's Go Baby - Billy Eldridge and The Fireballs
Be Bop A Lula - Alan Vega
Viva Las Vegas - Nina Hagen
Atomic Bongos - Lydia Lunch
Wiped-Out - The Escorts
What's Inside a Girl? The Cramps
Johnny Are You Queer? Josie Cotton
Teenage Lobotomy - The Ramones
Big Girls Don't Cry - Edith Massey
Pedro Pistolas Twist - Los Twisters
96 Tears - Big Maybelle
Johnny Hit and Run Pauline - X
Media Blitz - Germs
What Do You Think I Am? Ike and Tina Turner
The Swag - Link Wray
Aw Shucks Baby - Tiny Topsy
Comin' Home Baby - The Delmonas
She Said - Frank Scott and His Scottsmen
Drive, Daddy, Drive - Little Sylvia
The Flirt - Shirley and Lee
Intoxica - The Centurions
Revellion - The Revels
Peter Gunn Twist - The Jesters
Twistin' the Night Away - Divine
Ultra Twist - The Cramps
Muleskinner Blues - The Fendermen
Shortnin' Bread - The Readymen
Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen
I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield - The 5,6,7,8s
That Makes It - Jayne Mansfield
Bombora - The Original Surfaris
Juvenile Delinquent - Ronnie Allen
Wailin' - The Fabulous Wailers
Stranger in My Own Home Town - The Earls of Suave
Killer - Sparkle Moore
These Boots Are Made for Walkin' - Mrs Miller
How Does That Grab You Darlin'? - Nancy Sinatra
53rd & 3rd - The Ramones
Contact - Brigitte Bardot
My Way - Sid Vicious
One Night of Sin - Elvis Presley

Here's the Dirty Shame Spotify playlist! Once again - compiling this was a major bummer as so many essential tunes are missing from Spotify, such as "Johnny Are You Queer?" by Josie Cotton, punk granny Edith Massey's version of "Big Girls Don't Cry" and Lydia Lunch's magnum opus Queen of Siam (1980). C'mon, Spotify - raise your game!

Next Lobotomy Room film club: Wednesday 18 December 2019 

“It’s Got the Heat! And The Beat!” Yes! For the last film club of the year, let’s end things on a high with a FREE screening of the irresistible Mercedes Benz of rock’n’roll musicals – The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)! Starring perennial Lobotomy Room favourite, squealing and cooing sex kitten-gone-berserk Jayne Mansfield in one of her most iconic roles! And featuring performances by a star-studded who’s who of 1950s rock’n’roll greats including Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Fats Domino – all captured in glorious DeLuxe Color and CinemaScope! Wednesday 18 December!

Lobotomy Room Goes to the Movies is the FREE monthly film club downstairs at Fontaine’s bar (Dalston’s most unique nite spot!) devoted to Bad Movies We Love (our motto: Bad Movies for Bad People), specializing in the kitsch, the cult and the queer! Doors to the basement Bamboo Lounge open at 8 pm. Film starts at 8:30 pm prompt! Remember: the film is FREE so you can enjoy more cocktails! Speaking of which: Fontaine’s signature pink “Jayne Mansfield cocktail” will be available on the night for special price of £6.50! Event page.

Further reading:

In August 2018 I spoke my brains to To Do List magazine about the wild, wild world of Lobotomy Room, the monthly cinema club – and my lonely one-man mission to return a bit of raunch, sleaze and “adult situations” to London’s nightlife! Read it - if you must - here. 

Follow me on twitter!

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

I have serious issues with the frankly homophobic, puritanical, hypocritical and censorious Tumblr these days, but you can follow me on there. 

And I'm now spreading my message of filth on Instagram!

And just in case I don't post again before Christmas - here is your official Lobotomy Room Christmas playlist! A festive "vintage sleaze" Christmas soundtrack featuring all our Lobotomy Room favourites like Mae West, Ike and Tina Turner, Elvis Presley, Eartha Kitt and Ann-Margret! Think surf instrumental, rhythm and blues, punk and rockabilly Christmas tunes! No Mariah Carey, no Wham, no tired old "Fairtyale of New York" by The Pogues - guaranteed!! (Play it on "shuffle" for maximum seasonal pleasure).