Flexipop founders: Tim Lott and Barry Cain at Red Gallery last night. (Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s)
◼ THREE DECADES AFTER the maverick monthly music magazine Flexipop closed, guilty names were named during last night’s book launch at Shoreditch’s coolest new venue, the Red Gallery. During a Q&A with the mag’s founders Barry Cain and Tim Lott, they confessed that the three most difficult artists to deal with in those heady days of Britain’s burgeoning pop scene were. . . [X-Factor-style pause] . . . Tears for Fears and . . . Paul Weller and . . . the American new-wave band Blondie! Lott tactlessly remarked that what surprised him most was that singer Debbie Harry had “a huge head out of all proportion with her body” – which clearly means he really had a thing about blondes.
Whinging hosts apart, guests at their party were distinctly more polite. Generating tidal waves of affection was the original 2 Tone rude girl Pauline Black, who was happy to chat about this summer’s new album titled Subculture 36 years after her band The Selecter set out, having survived two splits and reunions, and now poised for a UK tour. . . Exchanging gossip beneath the “Free hugs” notice we found veteran 80s popsters Christos Tolera (Blue Rondo à la Turk) and Phil Bloomberg (Polecats). . . Catching up on the music du jour were the gifted jazzer Mark Reilly (Matt Bianco, still going strong and knocking out albums every few years) and the ubiquitous Andy Polaris (Animal Nightlife, long defunct) who these days injects magic into the windows of the UK’s trendiest Oxfam in Dalston. . .
Click any pic below to launch slideshow
Pauline Black with friends Ella and Jim . . . All photos © Shapersofthe80s
Q&A with Barry Cain, Tim Lott, Neil Matthews
80s superstars Mark Reilly and Andy Polaris
Flexipop strip satirising Soft Cell
Neil Mackenzie Matthews with his photo exhibit
Lensman Neil Matthews and Toyah, immortalised wearing his bunny ears
Free hugs from Christos Tolera and Phil Bloomberg
Flexipop readers’ all-time fave tracks
Powering through the crowd was photographer Neil Mackenzie Matthews
, eager to push his exhibition of pop-star photos printed on smart Somerset paper and selling at very affordable prices. He produced some flopsy-bunny big ears which apparently was the prop he invited stars of the 80s to wear in front of his camera. We saw immortalised on a poster the playful chanteuse Toyah Willcox, though Neil recalled how, despite having bought the ears as a gift for the precious Ian McCulloch of Echo and The Bunnymen
(geddit?), he refused outright to see their entertainment value.
It was Flexipop’s belief that all celebs should be humiliated at every turn. As further proof, souvenirs of the magazine’s heyday were visible everywhere, including a blown-up cartoon strip satirising Marc Almond as a “sex dwarf” and Dave Ball his partner in Soft Cell as a beer-swilling “mega-hunk”. Writs for libel were due to be served at midnight.
Flexipop’s trademark plastic 7-inch discs were being dispensed free, after unsold supplies were recently unearthed in Cain’s mum’s garage – and “still playable”, assuming you have a wind-up gramophone.
Apparently Paul Weller couldn’t get along to the party as he was collecting some award as Modest Mod-father of Them All.
➢ The big public Flexipop! book launch party
for charity starts at 7.30pm tonight 25 Sept at the Red Gallery, London EC2A 3DT – tickets £20 at door