Saturday, 1 May 2004

The Night Gallery Opening

A long time ago I was on the Nux Vomica mailing list. This week I got an invite to an opening of The Night Gallery because I was on this list.

Heady days of Nux - lots of people taking their clothes off in a stripping kind of a way but a bit more burlesque or even Yoko Ono happening and a bit less Soho peep show, if you know what I mean. Apart from the one time when they had the Stripper of the Year appearing - she played the electric violin and melted ice-cubes in her vag, then let the water pour out when she chose - that time men jumped on the chairs to see and howled like wolves at full moon.

And inbetween the clothes off were performance poets, singers and bands. A band of rock chick trannies booed off the stage. Periodic performances by the Tiger Lillies in their pre-Shock Headed Peter days when they made frequent appearances at the Kings Head and you could hear them for free. And could sing along to your hearts content to Suicide, Heroin & Cocaine, Born to Fail and Jesus.

Watch Martin Jacques, dickensian, long plait, teasing out songs on the accordian. A physical instrument that has to be caressed, handled, squeezed. The sound of French love music, tainted pained but passionate. Singing with eyes closed, sweat dripping down his face in a suprising falsetto operatic voice, lyrics base, seedy and low down more Tom Waits than Puccini - drugs, prostitutes, suicide and corruption.

The music building inevitably to a crashing manic end accompanied by the bass and drums played frantically by the two Adrians. I was in love with that sound - odd french-inspired songs from miserable depths of life, squalor that I have found most fascinating almost my entire life (not for me that squeaky clean European living of Switzerland or Scandinavia). Theatrical life, reminiscent of Berlin, Paris or Havana.

Anyway, this is how I first came across Nux Vomica. One summer I travelled to Marseille with a friend and the Tiger Lillies were there for a short while. We went to see them, and while there met Sophie - the wife of Martin. Sophie was a performer, stripper and arts management student and had just started a regular cabaret event called Nux Vomica with a couple of friends.

So, I'm on the Nux mailing list and I got this invite through the post and persuaded HS to travel down to the Elephant with me to go. We went early cos we weren't going to stay long. We had to wangle our way in cos we only had one ticket and the sarf london bancers with ear pieces and suits were being jobsworths and couldn't let anyone in without a ticket. While being held outside while they tried to figure out whether they would let both of us in we were chatted up by a very young film maker who on overhearing our conversation said, "all beautiful ladies come in free at my'd have to pay though!" Good beginning to a very friendly evening.

We sat for a while in a red room by the loos on a settee, waiting for something to happen (films were starting at 7.30). A couple came in and asked us if we were an installation. They thought we were very good. Amazingly once it got started we didn't feel like leaving until 10.30 - too much to see [if this link isn't working look at Seen on the left bar]. Took me right back to the days of art oddity and other stuff.