Friday, 11 May 2012

Down in your alleys, seems that anything goes

Last night was quite possibly one of the most popular book launches I have ever attended! Such is the love and respect that Mr Clayton Littlewood (author of the marvellous Dirty White Boy) evidently commands...

Soho's wonderfully atmospheric Madame JoJo's club (one of the last surviving throwbacks to the classic era of that "sleazy city" full of "seedy films") was absolutely packed to the gunnels with the great and the good (and possibly the not-so-good) of the literary, entertainment, and hedonistic worlds. As I mentioned earlier, I was overjoyed to see people who I hadn't seen for ages - among others, Rupert Smith, Dom Agius, Stewart Who?, Kenneth Hill, Uli Lenart from Gay's the Word, and Roger Lloyd-Thompson (aka Dexter Clark the Celebrity Hairdresser). But more of him later...

Mr Littlewood was, of course, sharing the spotlight of the evening with the adorable Maggie & Martin, whose songs interspersed Clay's own appearances on stage. Launching their first album as a duo Union, Maggie K De Monde is famous for her chart success with her bands Swans Way and Scarlet Fantastic, and Martin Watkins is best known for his work writing and performing with Marc Almond. Their appearance last night was particularly meaningful, as it was through their mutual friend Mr Littlewood that they first got in contact with each other (via MySpace), and began writing together.

Here's their excellent single Night Of A Thousand Stars:

To launch his new book Goodbye to Soho, Clayton first introduced us to the back-story to it all - leaving sleepy Weston-Super-Mare in pursuit of Marc Almond, meeting Quentin Crisp, meeting hubby Jorge, setting up the shop (also called Dirty White Boy) in Old Compton Street under a notorious brothel, the madness of living in the middle of London's most eccentric and sleazy part of town, and of course the many and varied characters they encountered, that inspired Clay to first write his experiences down in his MySpace blog (via which, of course, I first got to meet him).

And, with the more-than-able assistance of Mr Lloyd-Thompson, playing all the characters - transsexual Angie (who was sat in the booth right next to us in the audience!), the wonderfully bitter old queen Leslie, thong fetishist Charlie, brothel madam Sue and her dodgy plumbing - were brought once more vividly to life in a series of joyful (if familiar; we went to see it not once, but twice!) scenes from the stage version of Dirty White Boy.

Each scene was wonderfully done, and the interplay between Roger and Clay was hilarious. After the break, the story continued - but this time concentrating more on the later years of their Soho life. The shop wasn't doing well, their close friend Chico was dying in prison, the brothel had been raided just one too many times, and a move was inevitable. However, some of the loose ends had been tied up - Leslie had rediscovered his long-lost love (in fact the self-same Charlie the knicker specialist), and the lovely Angie was doing better than ever.

But as the new book continues where the old one leaves off, the situation is grounded in the saddest ending of them all. Clay has dedicated the book to his dear friend - the most decadent, the most sleazy, the most eccentric of them all, the late, great Sebastian Horsley, whose own death was a huge shock to the Soho community. At his funeral procession - a typically understated Victorian carriage hearse pulled by two dressed black horses around the streets of the West End - thousands turned out to give him a big send-off. And with Clayton's sublime recollections, his memory will never be lost.

By way of my own little tribute to the whole evening, here's the man who inspires everyone in Soho - Mr Marc Almond, with Seedy Films:

This was a marvellous night, an excellent venue, and a wonderful turnout for a book launch. It was a shame that Jorge (manning the bookstall) had no debit card facility otherwise I would have purchased a copy of Goodbye to Soho and got Clayton to sign it. Never mind, it's yet another excuse to keep in touch...

Goodbye to Soho is available through Clayton's website.

Maggie & Martin's Union is available from HMV.

And, in a great bit of news, Dexter Clark's "Fabulous Head" comes to the Leicester Square Theatre in June and July 2012! A must-see!


  1. Gorgeous to see you too Madam, I miss our regular Soho chinwags...and what a jolly review......Big love. x

    1. Daaahling - it was fab to see you too! One day, our paths will cross at a time and in a place where we can really have a good catch-up... Jx

  2. I was gutted to have missed this - once again your review is as close as I'll get to being there …

    Today I am feeling better (although still getting through tissues like Michael Jackson in Mothercare) isn't it ironic … don'tcha think?


    1. "Breathing so heavy
      Next to my neighbour"

      Shame your cold has kept you away - it's been a good week for cultural (wiv a capital "K") events... Jx

  3. Fabulous blog of a fabulous evening. A landmark occasion indeed. You were missed Tony (again). You really must stop hanging around with undesirables who share their nasty bugs with you!! Get better soon xxx

    1. Great evening, great company - let's look forward to the next occasion! Polari? Dexter's show? Jx


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