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2022 ➤ New Romantics? Here are some who won’t own to that name

BFI Flare Film Festival 2022, Tramps!, Kevin Hegge, Brian Robertson, movies, New Romantics

After yesterday’s Gala premiere of Tramps! – BFI host at left, then director Kevin Hegge, Scarlett Cannon, Jeffrey Hinton, Philip Sallon, Verity Susman (music), Matthew Sims (music) and Brian Robertson (producer). (Photo © Tessa Hallmann)

❚ MAYBE IT TAKES AN OUTSIDER to see a whole decade with a fresh perspective? Saturday night saw the launch of a documentary called Tramps! that attempts to do just that in almost two hours.  The much-spun truths and fables of a movement which, even after this film’s premiere, refuses to own its given name, appears to have a new champion. In truth there was not just one group of people who started the emerging movement, there clearly were many who at times intermingled but also grew their own quiet revolutions under a greater umbrella that later came to be called a cult: the New Romantics. This is the story of some of them.

Tramps!, BFI Flare Festival, Mark Dooris, review, movies

FILM REVIEW BY
MARK DOORIS
(Photo Tessa Hallmann)

The Canadian Kevin Hegge’s film opens cleverly to a domestic picture of the model Scarlett Cannon tending to her sun-drenched garden as she recollects her formative years. In this unexpected view of a woman whose powerful and iconic imagery has been documented and used as one of the least compromising style statements of the Eighties (playing “key identity” for the V&A Museum’s major exhibition From Club to Catwalk), she speaks about simply being there!

Just like the film’s poster, this is well-placed bait that slowly draws you into what will turn out to be a very well-constructed game plan. A definitive film about the so-called New Romantics has yet to be made but this contribution to the BFI’s annual Flare Film Festival offers a well-stacked sandwich of people and events that gives a very personal view of their experiences through a uniquely creative period of history.

Driven by a musical score that both emotes and supports the story, we see unfolding before us spliced and collaged pictures and film clips of a selection of renegades who love and survive in punk’s underlying gloom and spend ten years carving out a brighter world through Thatcher’s hectic Britain. The patchworking together of views and motivations of some of the witnesses proves that the movement was bigger than its over-used title.

Judy Blame steals the show by saying it as it is. The unrepentant gay designer, who has sadly died since being interviewed by Hegge, is often overlooked for his contribution to Eighties style and gay culture. Disc jockey Princess Julia remains a constant through the film, as indeed she should, as a very relevant force in style and club culture to this day.

In a new twist, nightlife entrepreneur Philip Sallon was given credit and indeed respect for his very singular influence on both the scene and indeed the followers who helped change the growing movement. Unlike many previous interviews, this time they let his wit and views be heard rather than using him as the cymbal-clapping monkey who offers only light relief to the story of the times. At Saturday’s screening, the effervescently clad Philip asked the audience to be kind to each other and to look beyond the superficial outer paint to the person within and that, at its core, is what this film itself does.

BFI Flare Film Festival 2022, Tramps!, Kevin Hegge, movies,

Kevin Hegge, director of the documentary TRAMPS! © Kevin Hegge

“If you have a bone of contention with
the movie… make your own movie”
– director Kevin Hegge

John Maybury talks of his film-making career and the people who appear in the clips we see of his days in the legendary Warren Street squat, plus the influence and support that director Derek Jarman gave him to discover and use his skills after being invited to join what turned out to be the cult film Jubilee in 1977. Artist Andrew Logan with his occasional Alternative Miss World competitions is rightly identified as a pioneering force in the new bohemia party scene that was emerging, while the painter Duggie Fields added some graceful recollections of this time gone by, he too having passed on since filming.

Thrown aside are the frilly shirts in favour of the BodyMap duo of David Holah and Stevie Stewart, offered up as the fashion revolutionaries who, hand in hand with Michael Clark and Les Childs, danced to a different beat. Performance artist Leigh Bowery is featured throughout the film and images of his eccentricity almost drive the visual impact with its cinematic styling and its Venus in Furs-esque vibe. An intriguing insight is given into the apparent genius of Bowery’s room-mate Trojan (Guy Barnes), his part in the Taboo nightclub set and the impact he might have continued to make if not for his untimely death.

Michael Costiff and his amazing partner Gerlinde are acknowledged for their roles in both the club world and the counter culture that was emerging, as were Miss Binnie and the Neo Naturists who are almost forgotten in most reviews of the Eighties. Sadly many people were lost to the Aids epidemic that cut its way through the careers of others referenced within the film and their contribution to gay culture, as was the demise of many in the drug-fuelled parts of club world. What and who are missing is a list too long to type but a refreshing and often underplayed star emerges in disc-jockey Jeffrey Hinton’s outlook during a pivotal chapter in the history of style.

Curiously, the title Tramps! and its poster are misleading about the ground this film covers and what it offers instead, but as an insight into how key people saw their time in the sun, it’s a winner. And impressively moving.

The Gala evening was not awash with big names from the Eighties and indeed a grave lack of New Romantic superstars was evident at both screening and drinks party after. Sadly the promised Questions and Answers section never really hit the mark and no chance was given for the audience to question the director or cast. That said, Tramps! made a great choice for the closing night of the Flare Festival.

❏  The film is not yet on general release

Blitz Kids, film, New Romantics, Swinging 80s, Michele Clapton, George O’Dowd, Lee Sheldrick , Princess Julia, Kevin Hegge, Tramps!, BFI Flare Festival

Leading the Goth wave in 1980: Blitz Kids Michele Clapton, George O’Dowd, Lee Sheldrick and Princess Julia, on the rooftop at St Martin’s School of Art, photographed by Graham Smith and dressed in Gothic mode for Stephen Linard’s “Neon Gothic” collection in the second year’s Alternative Fashion Show

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: 1981, Who are the New Romantics, what are their sounds and how do they dance?
➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, The year the Blitz Kids took their first steps into the headlines

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➤ Fassbender is the new man inside Big Frank’s papier-mâché head

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender ,Domhnall Gleeson,Frank Sidebottom,movies, Film4,Lenny Abrahamson

Filming Frank: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson in the New Mexico desert. (Picture: Artificial Eye)

❚ WITH TIMPERLEY COMEDY LEGEND, Frank Sidebottom, cremated barely 18 months ago, a biopic titled simply Frank started shooting this week in New Mexico. Making his feature debut as a screenwriter is Jon Ronson, former member of Frank’s Oh Blimey Big Band in the 80s and investigator into
The Men Who Stare At Goats. The comedy about a young wannabe musician is a fictionalised account of the life of Lancastrian cult comic Chris Sievey, who was revealed finally in death as the creator of Frank Sidebottom, a character recognised across the North by his outsize papier-mâché head.

Ronson is co-writing the script with the Oscar-nominated Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), while Film4, the BFI, the Irish Film Board are signing the cheques. The Irish director Lenny Abrahamson has marshalled an exceptional cast led by Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Scoot McNairy …

➢ Read more news of Frank-the-movie online at Heyuguys

➢ RIP Big Frank and Little Frank – Comprehensive coverage of Frank Sidebottom’s 2010 funeral and tributes at Shapersofthe80s

➢ I was the keyboard player with the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band – Jon Ronson in The Guardian, 2006

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1972–2009 ➤ Andrew Logan’s glistening vision of Planet Earth and all its creatures

Andrew Logan, eccentrics, Alternative Miss World Show, ICA, British Guide to Showing Off ,Jes Benstock, movies, Blitz Kids, Princess Julia,

“As a cherishable example of alternative British culture,
it makes you wonder why this isn’t the orthodoxy”
— Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

❚ ANDREW LOGAN. BRITISH ARTIST. SOCIAL MAGICIAN. Here is one of the giants of the subcultural landscape during the 70s who helped shape the imaginations of the Blitz Kids of the 80s. In 1972, Logan created the anarchic and outrageous Alternative Miss World Show, a spectacular costume pageant and fancy dress party for grown-ups, which has been reborn in 12 incarnations over the years.

 In a new film, The British Guide to Showing Off, director Jes Benstock takes us under Logan’s glittering wing to share this joyous and exotic subcultural event.

 Raucous, liberating and sexually charged, The British Guide to Showing Off “speaks to the outsider in all of us”, they say. At the ICA cinema from today.

“Makes Salvador Dali look like a painter and decorator”
— Empire magazine

➢ Former Blitz Kid now international deejay Princess Julia introduces us to the world of Logan at i-D online:
Andrew’s eclectic crowd has consisted of musicians such as Brian Eno and Divine and Nick Rhodes, designer Zandra Rhodes who has designed all of Andrew’s she-male stage costumes, fellow artists Duggie Fields, Derek Jarman, Grayson Perry and even David Hockney… a cast which includes models, scene stealers and individualists that have made London so vital from the days of glam-rock to the very present…

➢ Click for screenings… at the ICA London Nov 11–24, and afterwards at 60 independent cinemas around the UK

➢ Nov 27: Andrew Logan talks to Jarvis Cocker on 6Music about his new film The British Guide to Showing Off (within the first hour)

➢ Nov 13 update: The 10 best show-offs — in the Observer Andrew Logan, founder of The Alternative Miss World, pays homage to the outrageous, outlandish and out of this world

Two of Logan's choice show-offs: clubhost Daniel Lismore (pic from Rex) and the Binnie Sisters, aka the Neo-Naturists

❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer. ➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click

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