Category Archives: Media

1978–87 ➤ British nightlife snapped by Ridgers as it came out of the closet

London, New Romantics, Blitz Kids,  Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Underground publicity: Derek Ridgers with lavish poster treatment for his photo-book published jointly by Damiani and Transport for London. (Pic by Shapersofthe80s)

❚ THIS FRIDAY AT THE V&A MUSEUM, London photographer Derek Ridgers will try to explain the power of his touching yet confrontational images of London youth taken in the transformational decade of the 1980s. His newly published book 78–87 London Youth can be viewed online. He is best known for these documentary portraits taken on the streets and in the clubs by night, though he has also snapped celebs from James Brown to The Spice Girls, Clint Eastwood to Johnny Depp, as well as Tony Blair, gangster ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser, artist Julian Schnabel, writer Martin Amis, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and more.

The recessionary 70s had precipitated a drone age of rocketing unemployment in the UK, threatening no jobs for school-leavers, ever. Yet from this black hole burst a passionately tribal youth culture that was to create the Swinging 80s, an era of optimism, marked by hedonistic good times and a flair for exhibitionism that played up to Derek’s camera. Ambition and self-improvement were the ultimate goals of the young then, in sharp contrast to the cynical narcissism of today’s lost children.

➢ Derek Ridgers talks on photographing the 80s at the V&A’s late evening, 6.30pm Friday July 18, with yours truly in the chair. Derek will be signing his book afterwards

London,Sacrosanct,  Billie Madley , Twinkle Bunty, Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Twinkle Bunty comments on this Sacrosanct club pic by Ridgers posted at Facebook: “Just trotted over to Foyles and bought Derek Ridgers’ fab new book. Thrilled to find this pic from 1985 of me and Billie Madley proving that the 80s were ALL about the eyebrows. Mine were jet black Rimmel and Billie’s were red BIRO.” Another from ‪Laura Whitcomb: “When you shaved that eyebrow it was epic… That Westwood shirt and suit and of course those ear muffs your obsession – and the inimitable final touch of a Fosters with a baby blue straw.” Plastic bath cap: Billie’s own.

❚ IN OCTOBER 1982, I INTERVIEWED DEREK RIDGERS while writing the massive survey of London’s newly exploding nightlife phenomenon which became The Face’s cover story, The making of UK club culture in February 1983. Direct from my original notes, here is Derek’s perceptive analysis which helped inform my thinking about the turmoil that was transforming British youth culture…

Derek talking: “The depression of the late 70s made the future oh so inevitable. But from the Blitz club period onward [1979], the feeling has been different. A reaction of ambisexual kitsch. It’s an honesty with the way you look and what you want to do. There’s an enthusiasm to investigate the possibilities. There’s no sense of inevitability.

“As a photographer, I go as the casual observer and stand in the shadows. When I first went to those Tuesday nights at Billy’s [1978] it was like walking into a Hieronymous Bosch painting – furtive but lively, very decadent reflecting what they were into, and yet with a sense of oneness, a dedication that’s never been equalled since.”

In 1980 the Blitz leaders had moved on to another Covent Garden club called Hell which Derek said “was similar but more decadent because they tried to keep it to themselves. In its final weeks, only out-of-towners were going to the Blitz, because by then the media had blown away the furtiveness”.

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In 1982 Steve Strange and Rusty Egan began fronting the 1,600-capacity Camden Palace and the Pose Age went public. Ridgers said then: “At the Palace poses are adopted, yet it’s probably more interesting than the Blitz or Billy’s because it’s more honest… 90% are regulars, 9% out-of-towners, and 1% could be any type of person who’ll choose to go clubbing there, but go nowhere else except their own pub. Sometimes they’re out of their depth and try to dress as they think is expected – they bring with them an unconsidered primitiveness.

“Men are wearing dresses now but not pretending to be women. They are proud to be men – that’s fairly modern.” In autumn 1982 Boy George was in the charts with Culture Club’s first single. “George wants to look pretty, rather than handsome. He asks me whether I find him attractive and I have to pretend he’s a girl and give him an appraisal – which I don’t mind. I don’t feel threatened.”

“What’s important at the Palace is feeling special, being noticed – in a sea of other people. A good club has become a place to go for the right social reasons, rather than just to hang out.”

➢ View more Ridgers portfolio at his website

ESSENTIAL READS

➢ Blitz kids and the birth of the New Romantics – my overview for the Observer Music Magazine

➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture
– for The Face magazine, here at Shapersofthe80s

Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Cover star Tuinol Barry photographed by Derek Ridgers in 1983. Sadly, Barry was to die young.

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This week: Culture Club’s first live show in 15 years

Culture Club, Mikey Craig ,pop music,Boy George,  Jon Moss ,Roy Hay,comeback,Edinburgh Castle, BBC1, TV

Old faces, new photo: Culture Club’s Mikey Craig, Boy George, Jon Moss and Roy Hay stage their comeback at Edinburgh Castle on Saturday

❚ NOBODY HAS YET SAID whether we can expect to hear a track from Culture Club’s new album at this Saturday’s live concert on BBC1. The newly reformed 80s supergroup kick off their comeback among a dozen acts giving a spectacular two-hour concert, Live at Edinburgh Castle, before 8,000 people ahead of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The One Show’s Alex Jones will present a line-up of international acts, including Jessie J, Kaiser Chiefs, Culture Club, Smokey Robinson, Rizzle Kicks, Paloma Faith, Katherine Jenkins, Il Divo, One Republic, Alfie Boe, Ella Henderson, Pumeza and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – plus comedy from Bill Bailey.

This will be the first time the original members of Culture Club have performed together in 15 years. They are Boy George (lead vocals), Mikey Craig (bass guitar), Roy Hay (guitar and keyboards) and Jon Moss (drums and percussion). Time for three numbers is allotted, but not a dickybird yet has leaked out about what the band will play. The past couple of months have been spent in the studio rehearsing new tunes for their 11-date tour with Alison Moyet in December.

➢ Live at Edinburgh Castle starts at 8.30pm Saturday
on BBC1

➢ Buy tickets for Live at Edinburgh Castle, starting
at 7pm Saturday

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: The Culture Club comeback begins

➢ Tickets are still available for Culture Club’s UK tour, December 1–15

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2013 ➤ Bobby Womack’s last interview with Old School Robbie

radio, soul music,Bobby Womack,Robbie Vincent, Jazz FM,interview

Jan 2013: soul legend Bobby Womack meets UK deejay Robbie Vincent at Jazz FM

➢ At Facebook, the legendary UK soul deejay Robbie Vincent writes: We have lost a real Soul Brother in Bobby Womack, one of the greatest. We go back a long time and he used to call me Old School Robbie. Respect to an amazing and talented musician and a real gentleman. At this time I wish I was on air to pay tribute… Delighted to say you can hear again my last interview with Bobby Womack at Mixcloud. Thanks to Mike Vitti for his help in making it possible for you to share words and music from our Soul Brother. He was in fine form too.

When Robbie met Bobby... Part 1 of Robbie Vincent's interview with Bobby Womack - January 2013 by Robbievincent on Mixcloud

➢ When Robbie met Bobby… Robbie Vincent’s Essential Rhythms interview with the legendary Bobby Womack on Jazz FM in January 2013, in three parts – James Brown, hiding from the tax man, pretending to be blind, Sam Cooke, Wilson Picket, great music, this thing has got the lot.

➢ Soul legend Bobby Womack dead at 70 – Rolling Stone obituary: Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. ‘My very first thought was — I wish I could call Sam Cooke and share this moment with him,’ Womack said. ‘This is just about as exciting to me as being able to see Barack Obama become the first black President of the United States of America.

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➤ Glasgow art school fire appeal launched by Edinburgh College of Art

Glasgow School of Art, fire, Charles Rennie Mackintosh,

Yesterday’s fire at Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow School of Art, fire, Charles Rennie Mackintosh,

Yesterday’s fire at Glasgow School of Art: snapped by Tweeter xdxxnx

Glasgow School of Art, fire, Charles Rennie Mackintosh,

Mackintosh was a 28-year-old junior draughtsman when he drew up plans for GSA, recently voted the best building of the past 175 years

➢ Firefighters battled yesterday to rescue Glasgow School of Art from a blaze that engulfed its iconic Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed building:
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service crews are continuing work to fully extinguish the fire and save artworks. The fire service said more than 90% of the structure was viable and they had protected up to 70% of the contents… / See video at BBC News

➢ Saturday update by the GSA media centre:
Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated… Mackintosh was not famous for working in precious materials. It was his vision that was precious and we are confident that we can recreate what was lost as faithfully as possible.

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➢ GSA fire appeal launched by Edinburgh College of Art:
A report on BBC News at Ten carries footage but no further developments. The windows of the hen run are clearly badly damaged with mullions and transoms destroyed in places, but how badly will the Library have been damaged? … / Continued at GSA website

➢ The Glasgow School of Art photo gallery at Flickr

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➤ 40 years on from Abba, Austria fields a bearded drag artist for Eurovision

Tom Neuwirth, Conchita Wurst, Eurovision , sexuality, drag

Conchita aka Tom: a bearded lady in the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen

❚ THE PRIVATE PERSON TOM NEUWIRTH was born in Austria in 1988 and the art personality Conchita Wurst in 2011, the same year Tom graduated from the Graz School of Fashion. In last night’s second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, the bearded drag performer Conchita won her place to represent Austria in Saturday’s final by singing what could pass gloriously as a Bond theme, Rise Like a Phoenix.

The homophobic backlash could have been predicted from conservative nations such as Ukraine, Belarus and Russia where petitions have urged her removal from the competition. Russian politician Vitaly Milonov called her a “pervert” adding: “It is not normal but a person cannot be punished in Russia for being homosexual, or to live with a dog, with a horse, with a sheep, whatever.”

Ms Wurst answered her critics: “I can only say ‘Thank you for your attention’. If this is only about me and my person, I can live with it. I’m just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard.

“I created this bearded lady to show the world that you can do whatever you want,” she said at a press conference in Copenhagen. Although the German word Wurst routinely means “sausage”, its idiomatic meaning is “irrelevant” so signalling that Conchita’s sexuality is a non-issue. She makes a statement for tolerance and acceptance while 25-year-old Tom’s motto is: “Be the best version of yourself rather than a bad copy of someone else.”

➢ Conchita interviewed by Brendan O’Connor on the Irish Saturday Night Show

➢ Live video meet and greet with Conchita Wurst in Copenhagen: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars. That’s the way I live”

➢ Ich will einen Grammy” – Conchita wird von deutschem Fernsehen auf dem roten Stuhl interviewt: “Ich bin in Kolumbien geboren, am Bogota. Ich wurde genannt meine Grossmutter, Conchita. Und Wurst, bei mein Vater natürlich Alfred Knack von Wurst”

BEFORE: TOM NEUWIRTH …

… AFTER: CONCHITA WURST

HOT UPDATE MAY 10 – CONCHITA WINS!!!

Tom Neuwirth, Conchita Wurst, Eurovision , sexuality

Conchita Wurst victorious: she was second favourite to win going into the contest (PA)

➢ BBC News reports: Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst has been crowned the winner of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest: “The singer, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, won with the song Rise Like a Phoenix, collecting 290 points. The Netherlands finished second with 238 points, with Sweden in third place with 218 points. Wurst had been the second favourite to win behind Sweden going in to the competition, with many predicting the act could be too divisive among voters. However she was the clear winner, with her victory announced after 34 of the 37 countries had submitted their scores.”

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