Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Golden Age had finished before the end of 1998, and there then followed what I always think of as my Grey Years, until in 2001 I discovered The Black Hole of Calcutta, quite by chance, my first encounter with a "strip pub". The Calcutta would eventually become my whole life but that was some years away.

In the meantime, I started to search for Other Sohos, and in 1999 began my Golden Age of Travelling, with a Grand Tour that took in Brussels, Munich, Vienna, Berlin and briefly Malmo and Stockholm. It was a journey that would imprint itself on me as much as that first afternoon in Soho.

Before a trip back to Europe in 2004 I saw Fellini's Casanova at the NFT. It instantly became one of the primal texts of my life, this loathsome bloated Casanova humping his way around Europe like an automaton, devoid of all pleasure but instead in the grip of some joyless mechanical compulsion. The scene at the beginning where he fucks a nun is the sexiest in the whole film.

Basically I was searching Europe for big tits. I found many. The African Clarisse in Empire in Brussels. The mind-boggling Martina in the Pils Bar in Nuremburg with her breasts covered by nothing except necklaces. The Romanian Emily in black fishnet with nothing underneath in Munich who dipped a cotton wool bud in fake champagne and rolled it around the head of my manhood. In Berlin, the Polish black-haired Yulia in Mon Cheri, Berlin blonde Riccarda also in Mon Cheri who gave me the overwhelming impression I was fucking Marilyn Monroe, Polish white blonde Iga in the Golden Gate, Czech blonde Diana in black zip up catsuit again in Mon Cheri, beautiful brunette Maria in Pour Platin in Vienna.

The first place I go in Brussels is the Justice Palace, the largest building built in the 19th Century. It sits on the precipice that divides Brussels in half. I like to fancy this cleavage occurred when Jesus was on the cross, like the valley in Under the Volcano. The effect of this magnificent building is akin to the sight of St Paul's Cathedral in London. Why did such a small country feel the need to build such a huge Justice Palace? The second is the Bourse, the Stock Exchange. I sit on the balcony of O'Reilly's Irish pub looking over the road to it, and Le Grand Cafe next to it. Money is all about Eros, because money buys you sex. "Fall in spending power as bad as 1870s depression".

The Museum of Modern Art has a huge number of treasures: Geefs's Genie du Mal, Alfred Stevens's Salome, Figure Tombale, Tresors de Satan, Death of Marat, Dali's Temptation of St Anthony, and numerous Magrittes and wonderfully erotic Paul Delvauxs. Contemplating the erotic thrills I will be seeking later that evening I seek for paintings with an erotic subtext and they are all around.

"The paintings Delvaux became famous for usually feature numbers of nude women who stare as if hypnotized, gesturing mysteriously, sometimes reclining incongruously in a train station or wandering through classical buildings. Sometimes they are accompanied by skeletons, men in bowler hats, or puzzled scientists drawn from the stories of Jules Verne. Delvaux would repeat variations on these themes for the rest of his long life, although some departures can be noted. Among them are his paintings of 1945-47, rendered in a flattened style with distorted and forced perspective effects, and the series of crucifixions and deposition scenes enacted by skeletons, painted in the 1950s. In the late 1950s he produced a number of night scenes in which trains are observed by a little girl seen from behind. These compositions contain nothing overtly surrealistic, yet the clarity of moonlit detail is hallucinatory in effect. Trains had always been a subject of special interest to Delvaux, who never forgot the wonder he felt as a small child at the sight of the first electric trams in Brussels."

Preparing as I usually was to get the night train a day or so later on to Munich, or Vienna, or Berlin, his night time train and naked women pictures were particularly powerful to me.

The theme of a man  being destroyed by a woman, as represented by the Death of Marat and the Stevens Salome, was particularly appealing to me, being an erotomane who fell head over heels in unrequited love with one unobtainable woman after another. When they showed any interest in me I would run away like my life depended on it, and then die of longing for them for a safe distance.

From the Museum of Modern Art and its enormous Fountains of Inspiration (which also had erotic connotations for me) in the lobby, to the Wiertz Museum, the former house of Antoine Wiertz now turned into a museum of his work, an overwhelming and claustrophobic space. Using Brussels as a stepping stone on my way to Munich or Vienna or Berlin as I did, the Wiertz Museum was always a staging post on the way to the erotic delights that were awaiting me, so it itself became an erotic swooning experience.

To the extraordinarily beautiful bar of the Metropol Hotel, the last of the great 19th Century hotels left in Brussels, returning via Murphy's Bar in the Gare du Nord to read my Guardian newspaper, before buying some gorgeous ham & egg rolls in one of the station restaurants, and returning to my beautiful Ibis room with the window set in an archway to sleep off the drinking, before the delights of the night to come.

It was when the Golden Age of Travelling ended, that I became a regular at The Black Hole of Calcutta, and Soho experienced a brief flowering of a second Golden Age. It only takes one great dancer to bring a place back to life for you, and at Sunset Strip when I returned in 2005 after a long absence there was not one but three.

In these days I preferred the Golden Lion to the Nellie Dean.

Monday, 13 June 2011

A brief visit to Sunset Strip, after the appalling enforced Christmas
abstinence, to see the divinity that is Jolanda and the callipygous
Helen. It is amazing how much more naked a stripper looks when she takes
off her shoes. The first thing Helen always does when she steps on stage
is to take off her shoes, & then slowly pads around the stage,
Salome-like even without the Salome costume, on the balls of her bare
feet. All strippers should dance barefoot, I think. Without wanting to
get too personal, she does have the best behind in London, apart OF
COURSE from Hannah/Pink at the White Horse who possesses a bottom that
you would follow anywhere if you met it in the street.

When Jolanda steps on stage it is like how Zola describes Nana:

"Then scarcely was Diana alone than Venus made her appearance. A
shiver of delight ran round the house. Nana was nude. With quiet
audacity she appeared in her nakedness, certain of the sovereign power
of her flesh. Some gauze enveloped her, but her rounded shoulders, her
Amazonian bosom, her wide hips, which swayed to and fro voluptuously,
her whole body, in fact, could be divined, nay discerned, in all its
foamlike whiteness of tint beneath the slight fabric she wore. It was
Venus rising from the waves with no veil save her tresses. And when Nana
lifted her arms the golden hairs in her armpits were observable in the
glare of the footlights. There was no applause. Nobody laughed any more.
The men strained forward with serious faces, sharp features, mouths
irritated and parched. A wind seemed to have passed, a soft, soft wind,
laden with a secret menace. Suddenly in the bouncing child the woman
stood discovered, a woman full of restless suggestion, who brought with
her the delirium of sex and opened the gates of the unknown world of
desire. Nana was smiling still, but her smile was now bitter, as of a
devourer of men.

"By God," said Fauchery quite simply to La Faloise."
Jolanda wore a lime green see-through slip of fabric for my first sight
of her, then a pink dress for her double act with Helen, finishing with
that Stokerish white see-through dress. I realise now not only is she a
Nana, but a blonde Zora Suleman, and there is not much better than that.
For me, she is the Queen of Sunset Strip. Miss Soho 2006. Jolanda is a
girl Toulouse Lautrec would have designed posters for. Why don't
they do that anymore!? I left after her last dance to rush to the NFT
just in time for Under the Volcano, set on the Day of the Dead in
Mexico, of course, which is always a bit upsetting for me because that
is where, well, that is where it happened. Sgt T "This was the epoch
in her existence when Nana flared upon Paris with redoubled splendor.
She loomed larger than heretofore on the horizon of vice and swayed the
town with her impudently flaunted splendor and that contempt of money
which made her openly squander fortunes. Her house had become a sort of
glowing smithy, where her continual desires were the flames and the
slightest breath from her lips changed gold into fine ashes, which the
wind hourly swept away."

I like big girls so I don't know why I like Honey so much. An almost
child-like body, implacable face half hidden behind long wavy
honey-blonde hair. She is a FAST dancer. The slow, quiet cinema-seated
somnolence of the Sunset often seems to be reflected in the dancers;
they prowl & pad around the stage in a languid, cat-like way & if they
lie on their back a tad too long you suspect they have actually fallen

Honey bounces around the stage like a baby kitten. As soon as a few men
are standing at the back, the atmosphere immediately seems to improve.
The snowball fights it seems are just a distant memory. I am sure the
poor chap who always had to come round afterwards looking for all the
snowballs under the seats and between people's feet is glad about
that. It was good to see the place so packed. When Honey was on I
thought she is the star of Sunset Strip; yet when Jolanda came on in her
almost Stokerish see-through white dress, I thought, no, it is Jolanda;
then when Melani was on I thought, no, of course it is Melani; but then
Fernanda is so lovely; and "French beauty" Lilou is so stunning;
oh and Lana; and let's not forget the electrifying Elektra who
wasn't even here tonight.

That, though, was only the start of my night of appalling debauchery. I
wake up at 630AM the next morning, and just think "Shit", still
six hours till the pub opens again. What on earth am I going to do for
those six hours? They stretch ahead of me like an eternity. It is four
hours till I can even get a Macdonalds Hamburger & Fries for breakfast.
Pondering obsessively on Simon's "lost" weekend in
Amsterdam, those still unaccounted for three days—I have become so
hooked on his Around & Abouts that I now want every SECOND of his life
accounted for. I am The Man with the Golden Arm, and for two, no more
than TWO, days in a week, I am just shooting up, lost to the world in my
strip addiction oblivion.

Sgt T

"The addict's revolt has a special grace. When he shoves a
needle into his vein it is, in a sense, to spare others. Somebody had to
be punished all right—and he's the first who's got it
coming. Things are going wrong in the world, so, in a sort of suicidal
truculence, he impales himself".—Nelson Algren.

Yes, I think going to strip pubs is about sex. I only enjoy watching a
girl strip if I want to fuck her (for those who like dirty talk). There
is nothing worse than watching a girl strip who you do not fancy. This
is the time to get up & get another drink or go to the toilet even if
you do not really need to go—although, thinking particularly of
Sunset, it always looks so rude when a man gets up & leaves his seat as
soon as a girl comes on to dance! I try and do it delicately when her
back is turned. The dirtiest striptease I ever saw was Hungarian Janet
at the *[Hogarthian place]* dancing to Madonna's Material Girl this
year, during her all too brief stay on these shores. I pray for her
return in 2007. Nothing else has ever come close to Janet for pure (!)
dirty sexiness. It is almost always all in the eyes, I think. You can be
watching a dancer and be completely unmoved, but then she looks you in
the eye for a couple of seconds, and straightaway you are turned on, as
the "smutty provocations" pass between you. But then that is the
same anywhere, of course. Tenseness, Eroticism, Repulsive Pathology.

The plethora of Christmas decorations hanging down from the Queen Anne
ceiling made it seem like a tropical whorehouse—oh I do apologise,
HOThouse. Like a mangrove swamp, with the tendrils of fog curling
through the door every now & again easily mistaken for steam—if it
wasn't so fucking cold.

And it seemed so DARK in there! Obviously the effect of the new
lighting. I like dark so I am all in favour of this. Also the music
seemed louder than I have ever known it. Still not deafening, but louder
than usual. In contrast to the Esteemed Maestro, I love going to strip
pubs at Christmas as they are so packed & the atmosphere is so good, and
the QA was certainly packed. And then, there she was—the loveliness
that is Ms Adaire…In Santa hat, and little red lacy Santa outfit
{Great Tontoolian Marshes! "And those white Martian Princesses have
to be seen to be believed!"} With no disrespect to the other ladies
present, I enjoyed watching Redd sitting down more than I did watching
the others dancing. Why pay to watch? I'd pay to watch her doing
nothing. I'd pay to watch her sleep. Still recovering from my Golden
Arm excesses of the previous night, and my weakened body already
succumbing to a cold, I would not have bothered coming out for anyone
but her. I did not stay long & did not indulge in a private dance as the
thought of having to sit on my hands when such temptation was right
there in front of me was too much to contemplate. I am not that strong.

Sgt T

Overdosing on Galloway's cough mixture

Monday, 6 June 2011

I LEFT THE LUSH PLANT-FILLED INTERIOR of the Nellie Dean and headed down the grey windy September Dean Street, into Sunset Strip, paid my money, down the death trap stairs, into the dark fug of cigarette smoke, jazz music, gentlemen sitting in cinema style seats reading their Evening Standards, before the curtain squeaked open and on came a girl dancing to Tallulah. It was the first naked woman I had ever seen. "My name is Tallulah, I live till I die. I take what you give me and I won't ask why. I made a lot of friends in some exotic places. I don't remember names but I remember faces." I knew for the first time in my life I had found somewhere I belonged. It was an overwhelming feeling.

Thus my career in infamy began. After that my illicit thrill seeking settled into a routine. A pleasure becomes a habit, and habit becomes an addiction, then one's addiction gets worse and worse and worse.

It must have been a month or so later that I discovered the other strip club in Soho, the Carnival in Old Compton Street. I paid my money to the old Chinaman upstairs, down the stairs to a similar dark basement filled with cinema seats to the Sunset, the curtain opened and there on stage was the most voluptuous huge-breasted brunette in short shiny silver dress who started dancing to Queen's Fat Bottomed Girls. My mind blew again. Never in my life had I wanted a woman so much as I wanted that girl during those first three minutes. I did not know what had come over me. After a lifetime of pain and outsider loneliness and despair, I had found the most exquisite delicious pleasures.

One night at the Carnival I was so rapt in the silver dress girl and all the others that I stayed all the way to closing time not even realising that I had shit myself, and only discovered when I got home. There can be no higher compliment you can pay to a stripper than you shit yourself while watching her and never even noticed, nor any better indication of how strong my scopophilia is. Not only am I a scopophiliac, but I am an erotomane--someone consumed with a morbid sexual obsession.

I never saw anyone dance to Tallulah again after that first time, but if there was one song that will always sum up the Sunset Strip for me it is Grace Jones's La Vie en Rose. There was a beautiful tall Welsh brunette who always used to dance to this, two or three times every night. Most girls had to dance to two tracks but this girl just danced to this full 7½ minute track. She would come on in bikini and red boa and after quickly divesting herself of her clothes would just shimmy from foot to foot with that red boa in a kind of Soho can-can. The song starts quietly and then just climbs up into the stratosphere, making your head want to blow off. It was an incredibly beautiful performance every time. Wherever that girl is now I hope she is happy and rich and healthy, because she gave me so many happy nights. It was truly beautiful. Beauty comes in many places and people who look down on strippers and strip clubs and the dirty old men who go to the strip clubs have no idea what beauty can be created on that stage for 3, or 4, or 7 minutes at a time.

Soon after the Welsh brunette, the famous Marisa Carnesky used to dance with boas and fans to Edith Piaf's La Vie en Rose followed by Je Ne Regrette Rien. Legendary amazing performances, by a big voluptuous girl, with real artistry and beauty and sexiness. This was the heyday of Sunset Strip and of Soho for me.

"Another breed of lodger was the "gentleman slummer," who, like thrill-seeking men of every era, would leave his respectable home and family to enter a forbidden world of low-life pub-hopping and music halls and cheap, anonymous sex. Some men from the better parts of the city became addicted to this secret entertainment, and Walter Sickert was one of them."

After these early spectacular forays into seedy Soho I became absolutely hooked. I went as often as my dole money would allow me.

My day would start with a midday train into Charing Cross then straight down onto the Northern Line to get the tube to Goodge Street to the newsagents that sells the Italian magazines filled with paparazzi shots of Italian starlets naked at the beach or on their yachts. Walk back down to the bookshop on the corner of Old Compton Street with the porn magazines downstairs, then down Charing Cross Road for the second hand bookshops looking for Fu Manchu books. Then I would start my imbibing in the Chandos on the corner of St Martin's Lane.

In those days three pints was about my limit and then I would be off, walking back up to Sunset Strip and the Carnival. Incredibly, it was not until after more than two years of this that I developed that growing feeling that just watching them was not enough anymore, and I wanted to take that next step.

One of my favourite scenes in all cinema is in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold when Richard Burton meets his contact in a Dean Street upmarket strip club called The Pussy Willow.

It was Sunset Strip Dean Street that I saw my first ever naked woman, and it was in the "model"'s room on the corner of Dean Street that I lost my virginity, so how can Dean Street not always be my "shining road"? It was in 1994 that Cranes released Shining Road and this instantly became my theme song for the longing to return to Soho, at a time when I was out of work and could barely afford to go outside the house. Also loved by me at this time was The Auteurs Upper Classes, and Sneaker Pimps. All these songs become bound up in the seedy glory of Soho. Music has always been central to the Soho experience for me, though people scoff when you say one of the best things about a strip club is the music; as central as drinking.

This is a story of pubs, strippers, whores and porn cinemas. The glory that was Soho. It was a time, crucially, before I had internet, and whenever I was randy to satisfy my erotic needs I had to go to Soho. Those fabulous first years in Soho were the Golden Age of my life, and I constantly yearn to bring that Golden Age back to life.

My trajectory was always the same. To the Chandos to get myself to the perfect point of inebriation, to Sunset Strip and Carnival to make me randy, to the Astral Cinema to bring me to the perfect point of priapic arousal where I was ready to absolutely explode, then to a "model" to release it all, or more often than not, being so drunk, to end the ten minute triste unable to release, and to be thrown out with my juices still intact.

This is a story of perversitude, and of priapic glory, and it was always so much more thrilling for me to have to walk back through the night time streets of Soho, across Leicester Square, round the corner of the bottom of Charing Cross Road back to Charing Cross Hotel and Station, with my manhood still swollen and throbbing, unsatisfied, and refusing to go down, swaying from side to side in one's trousers like an iron road for all to see. This was so much more pleasurable than finishing with the "model" and then experiencing that instant ennui, and shame, as if waking from a spell, looking around at one's surroundings and thinking "what the hell am I doing here?" and going home feeling down in every sense of the word, depressed. Better to keep one's juices, and finish it off when one got home! The last thing before falling asleep!

To this day I still prefer sex without resolution, to keep bringing oneself to the point of pleasure and then pulling back, prolonging the moment of ultimate pleasure for as long as one possibly can.

It was then that Soho, my Soho, began to be destroyed. My Golden Age started to fade away. In 1997 the Carnival closed. In 1998 the Astral Cinema closed. Two of the central pillars of my sinning had been knocked away. A year later the Sunset Strip changed hands from Freddie Bass to new owners who began the process of modernisation--gone the darkness, gone the curtains, gone the jazz. A bar was built at which the girls would sit upstairs, so no longer could they be seen and used as anonymous objects. No longer a club for old men in mackintoshes. The Boulevard followed it along the same path.

The destruction of all that brought me to life. The Demolished Eroticism.