I do make a rod for my own back sometimes. This post has been hanging over me like an overdue homework assignment, and I’m rapidly approaching the Can’t Be Arsed stage with it. So here goes – but quickly now – and then we can all move on with our lives.
5. Went to Duckie.
Immediately upon arriving at my friends’ house in Clapham – three and a half pints down, and beginning to wilt – I was informed that I was going to Duckie, and that I had better get a move on, as they were already waiting for me at Kazbar. Having successfully negotiated a brief top-changing window (nice smart Paul Smith stripey shirt OFF; interesting glow-in-the-dark Camembert Electrique T-shirt ON – it’s the only vaguely “rock and roll” garment I possess, providing you don’t peer too closely at the hippy-dippy graphic), I was summarily bundled back out onto the street, with barely even time to snatch a burger. Still, being told I’d been guest-listed put a spring in my step.
“Guest listed for Duckie!”, I texted to K, with the customary glee which I reserve for such nano-triumphs. Duckie is the only gay club EVER, in nearly a quarter of a century of being made to suffer them, which K has genuinely enjoyed. (There had to be somewhere.) That’s probably because a) they don’t play “dance” music, b) nobody’s cruising (at least not so as you’d notice), so there’s none of that brittle, competitive sexual tension, c) tops are kept firmly ON, d) it’s relaxed, friendly and mostly 30+ (at least), e) there are no vicious, self-adoring, sociopathic disco bunnies bouncing around on f**king E. I wish we could go more often.
In the middle of what passes for the dancefloor, Amy Lamé was making popcorn from a little machine that she picked up from Argos during the week, and was handing it out in plastic bowls. (“Why am I doing it? Because we’ve been running this club for eleven f**king years and I’ve run out of ideas, OKAY?”)
Cabaret Act #1 performed a routine that was vaguely based around The Phantom of the Opera. Gothic burlesque, you could have called it. A bunch of red roses was seized; the petals were bitten off, chewed up and spat out over our eagerly upturned faces; and the remaining stems were contemptuously tossed away, most of them landing smack in my face. (The honour!) Upper clothing was removed, leaving a pair of red love hearts, one covering each bosom. A large crimson candle was brandished and dangled above the performer’s bare midriff, so that a third love heart could be etched upon her skin with the molten wax. Ooh! Aah! Hey, that’s actually quite pretty!
Next, a tourniquet was applied to the performer’s upper arm, a syringe inserted, and a blood sample extracted. (I couldn’t look. I’ve got a thing about needles). The blood was then squirted into a half-full wine glass, stirred, and greedily gulped down. Erk! Eek! But hold up, we’re not done yet!
Lower clothing (such as it was) was removed, revealing – you guessed it – a fourth love heart, protecting what little remained of the performer’s modesty.
It was at this point that we noticed the string.
As the soundtrack changed to “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”, and even before a collective “Uh-oh!” could be muttered, the performer grabbed the string and yanked it downwards – extracting a length of large, threaded beads from her hoo-hah as she did so.
It swiftly occurred to me that this was only the second time in my life that I had been presented with a lady’s hoo-hah at such close quarters – and that the first time had also been at a Duckie event, when Ursula Martinez had extracted a string of brightly coloured handkerchiefs from her “special place”. Really, the place is an education.
Cabaret Act #2, a slender, bare-chested androgyne of indeterminate ethnicity (if pressed, I’d plump for Flipino), who had previously performed at Caesar’s Palace and the Brixton Academy, proceeded to thrill us all with the most remarkable display of hula-hoop-manship that any of us are ever likely to see. To the strains of CCS’s cover of “Whole Lotta Love” (used as the theme tune for Top of the Pops for most of the 1970s), he/she worked that hoop like a whirling dervish, spinning it from every limb, and at every angle, at dazzling speed – and somehow managing to avoid hitting the ceiling, the walls, and indeed us (it was a very small stage, and a very large hula hoop). Ooh, we went mental – all lingering memories of vaginal bead extraction banished, as we cheered him/her to the rafters.
The music was – as ever – eclectic, seemingly random, but never obscure (I recognised everything they played, even that “modern” one by The Fratellis) , and always perfectly chosen. Forget the Guilty Pleasures aesthetic; although many of the choices would have overlapped, their context was quite different. For the final run, we gave it up to: “Living Thing” (ELO), “Cannonball” (The Breeders), “Justified and Ancient” (The KLF with Tammy Wynette), “Teenage Kicks” (The Undertones) and “Get Down” (Gilbert O’Sullivan). As I say: perfect.
The day’s total damage: seven pints of lager and one can of Red Bull – but spread out over eleven hours, allowing plenty of time for absorption and processing. At forty-four, I don’t do shit-faced. So unbecoming in the slightly older gentleman.
Ah, London. You never let me down!