Tag Archives: Society Club

➤ Another eyeopener from always-there Ridgers

photography,exhibition, Derek Ridgers

Natassia Doubleoseven, Las Vegas 2012 – photography © Derek Ridgers

❚ PUNK AND CLUB PHOTOGRAPHER Derek Ridgers has a new show titled Afternoon At The Seven Palms And Other Stories which opened this week at The Society Club in Soho.

At his blog Ridgers writes: This is my first foray into the world of a very mild form of erotica. It’s really more like naked portraits. I’m not at all sure how it’ll go down but Babette and Carrie have been very encouraging. The above photograph is of the mysterious and exotic secret agent Natassia Doubleoseven. There are two photographs of her in the show (I’d better not tell you her real name in case she has me eliminated)… The Society Club is a small but trendy cafe/ bookstore/ gallery and it’s run by Babette and Carrie, who have both been very supportive. Some afternoons I go there and have a chat and a coffee and stare out of the window … / Continued online

➢ The Society Club is at 12 Ingestre Place, London W1F OJF


➤ Proustian frissons aplenty as Derek Ridgers’ photographs revisit three decades

Derek Ridgers, photography, exhibition, Society Club,Morrissey

Derek Ridgers in Soho last night: his portrait of Morrissey a bridge between two eras. Photographed by Shapersofthe80s

❚ SOME PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE as extrovert as their famous sitters, but Derek Ridgers has captured the essence of British street style and achieved a uniquely influential status by tip-toeing through the margins of life, feather-footed as the questing vole. Anyone who has followed the Punk and New Romantic scenes recognises the Ridgers types — “transient beings moving across an urban landscape, experimenters, flamboyant souls who cared more than anything about how they looked and whose greatest fear was of being ordinary”, as writer Val Williams noted in the Ridgers photobook of 2004, When We Were Young: Club and Street Portraits. His straight-up photographic style pinned those clubbing butterflies like curios into the display case labelled Swinging 80s. They trigger the involuntary remembrance of the texture of an era as readily as cake did for Marcel Proust: each image has the potential to become the “vase filled with perfumes, sounds, places and climates”.

Throughout April and May we may relish the Ridgers back catalogue in a new exhibition titled Unseen at Soho’s Society Club. The selection documents celebrities and street stylists from 35 years of commissions by music mags and national press. Here is an engaging mix of concert shots and powerfully intimate portraits in which eye-contact is key: Nick Cave, David Lynch, J G Ballard, Boy George, Leigh Bowery, Tom Waits, The Cramps, Mick Jagger, plus the image of Keith Richards which is currently touring in the Sunday Times Magazine 50th anniversary show.

Another exceptionally striking portrait has the singer Morrissey eyeballing the Ridgers lens with an intense gaze that definitely says misunderstood but could just as easily be saying cussed. It was shot in London in 1985, year of The Smiths’ second album, Meat Is Murder, when Moz began raising the temperature with political views about the Thatcher government and the monarchy.

Derek Ridgers, photography, exhibition, Society Club, Keith Richards

Soho last night: Ridgers, Richards and a new snapper called Tracy Jenkins. Photographed by Shapersothe80s

Ridgers said: “He’s a bit of a strain to photograph in the sense that there is so little of his personality coming back at you. Or at least there wasn’t in those days. Maybe he was very shy but he seemed taciturn in the extreme. The two times we met, he gave the impression of not wanting to say boo to a goose. He honestly hardly said a word to me. Nothing at all like the extremely opinionated personality that comes across in interviews these days.”

The two characteristic Morrisseys of then and now — the one taciturn, the other curmudgeonly — bestride three decades which completely reinvented British notions of youth culture, music, sexuality and success, yet at last night’s preview it was salutory to be pulled up by a 26-year-old illustrator among the guests who had to ask: Who was Morrissey?

All the more reason to buy ourselves a cool black-and-white print as a Proustian trigger, either directly from the Ridgers Archive or from an earlier catalogue viewable at the Society Club. Titled Previously Unpublished, this takes us from an iconic 1982 lineup of the ever-evolving band The Fall, through Culture Club, John Galliano, Roddy Frame, Tim Roth, into the 90s of the Charlatans, Ray Winstone, Lee Scratch Perry and a pensive Kylie Minogue to a raunchy Boo Delicious and more in the new century.

Ridgers has published three books of photographs, has exhibited frequently, and was a judge in How We Are Now, an online photography project launched by Tate Britain in 2007.

➢ Derek Ridgers Unseen runs until May 31 at the Society Club, 12 Ingestre Place, London W1F 0JF

➢ Previously Unpublished can be bought in various formats from Blurb, “a creative publishing service”

➢ 50 Years of The Sunday Times Magazine is viewable in Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham until June


➤ Robert Pereno: My road to recovery in the recession

Robert Pereno , Society Club, cafe, gallery, Soho

The Society Club, Soho: Robert Pereno and tea hostess Daisy. Photograph by Rebecca Reid

◼ WHO ACTUALLY IS ROBERT PERENO? You won’t find him at Wikipedia but may remember him from Shock, a New Romantic music/mime/dance troupe who supported bands such as Gary Numan, Kid Creole and Depeche Mode in the early 80s and had the odd dance-floor hit with Angel Face and Dynamo Beat. In 1983 he metamorphosed into a vocalist with electronic club band Pleasure and the Beast, along with Lowri-Ann Richards from Shock. He became a bit-part actor and then nightclub promoter, notably with Tuesdays at Crazy Larrys in Chelsea. He kept fronting clubs though, in his own words, by the mid-90s his life fell to pieces. In 2005 he suddenly appeared in a TV documentary aptly titled Whatever Happened to the Wild Child? — in his case, a reference to a runaway teenager he married young.

Today a video interview with Pereno — one of those men who wear a hat indoors — has been posted at YouTube [2018 update: whole channel now deleted]. It seems to be the second in a talk-show series titled The Independent Session and it is effortlessly viewable. Pereno fesses up to his rocking past frankly, fearlessly and perhaps foolishly, should Lily Law be watching. He is vague on the intimate details of his downfall, but as he talks 19 to the dozen, you may not feel that you want to be the reconstituted Robert Pereno Mk2, but you grudgingly admire him for making a huge effort.

Robert Pereno, Shock troupe, Pleasure and the Beast, bands, Blitz Kids,

Pereno in Shock 1980 and in Pleasure and the Beast 1983

He tells us he’s a minor boarding-school Chelsea boy who was born in Turin, Italy, and grew up first in ex-pat Calcutta with a mother who was a nightclub singer, and later in the London pubs where X-Ray Spex and Adam Ant played in the late 70s. With Crazy Larrys “I catered for dysfunctional Chelsea girls and south-London black guys”. On the night it was raided and closed, he says, “it was packed with an extra 25% of people who were all police because there was a lot of drug-taking”.

This autumn he and his wife interior designer Babette opened a discreet little corner shop in Soho called The Society Club which sells literary memorabilia and multi-tasks as cafe and art gallery. Within minutes, namely, this week, it has been reviewed favourably by an Evening Standard restaurant reviewer (though hot meals are actually supplied by Café Soho next door). Pereno gets described as a “flaneur” and as he has a knack for reinventing himself always gives the impression of knowing everybody and being everywhere. In the video he talks energetically of hosting poetry readings, book launches, photo exhibitions (currently Graham Smith and with John Stoddart’s photos and Derek Ridgers’ to follow in the New Year), plus pop-up events including a vintage film club nearby in Soho.

At 54 Pereno is sanguine about the future. “I quite like a recession. I was involved in the warehouse scene — office blocks empty, throw a party. Now with a recession we’ve got a shop and done a deal with the landlord because times are hard. It’s a time for the outsider to make a move.” He gallops with his theme. “It’s probably healthy for the music business. Simon Cowell is already yesterday, because he’s part of what we’ve just had, which is an over-inflated economy. Now is the time for the maverick. I don’t even have a bank account, mobile or television. My wife gives me pocket money… Unfortunately I’m not very good at being single.”

➢ The Society Club shop/cafe/gallery is open daily at 12 Ingestre Place, London W1F OJF (tel 020 7734 3400)

➢ Update: The Promoter (2013), a documentary directed by Ed Edwards – “Robert Pereno should be a household name, but every time he is on the brink of greatness, he somehow manages to mess it up. This is his story.”


➤ Meet Smith & Sullivan, the wags behind the story of the heroic 80s

Wag telling tales: Sullivan in full flow at an earlier photography show by Smith, right. Photograph by Shapersofthe80s

Update Nov 22:

➢ Although the first edition of We Can be Heroes has sold out, a special cloth-bound edition is now on sale for £35, plus a Deluxe edition for £350, at the Unbound Publishing website

❚ HERE’S AN IRRESISTIBLE PARTY INVITATION. As their fund-raising barometer hits 60% of target, the authors of We Can Be Heroes, a ribald account of Britain in the 80s, announce another soirée
 to raise public awareness. Their nightlife peers changed the face of the UK club scene which created dozens of new bands, artists and designers. Born with the mutant party-animal gene, Graham Smith & Chris Sullivan are taking over Robert Pereno’s new Society Club in Soho for two reasons: to show off Graham’s stylish clubland photos, which will be selling there until Christmas; but chiefly to win over buyers who are dithering over investing £30 in their huge coffee-table book that is garnished with tall stories from Sullivan as well as 100 other club-world collaborators.

Come along next Friday to meet them over a drink and to hear the garrulous Welshman Sullivan “in conversation with eminent journalist Michael Holden” — in other words, talking hind legs off donkeys. Orders for the book can be placed only online at Unbound Publishing (where Graham has an explanatory video) so they won’t be prising your wallet open on the spot. Inevitably, a further high point of the evening will be a free-entry after-party where Sullivan will be deejaying classic club tunes from 1976-84 half a mile away at The Aviary Bar.

We Can Be Heroes, Graham Smith, Chris Sullivan, Unbound Publishing,photography,As of today there are only 16 days left to buy your prestige 
limited first-edition of We Can Be Heroes (there won’t be a second edition unless they reach 100% on the first) and you get your name printed in it. You’ll be within the same hard covers as starry contributors such as Robert Elms, Boy George, Gary Kemp and Steve Strange. The clock is ticking because of the new “crowd-sourcing” technique to raise funds. This is being pioneered in books by Unbound, a new offshoot of Faber, whose authors include Python Terry Jones, cultural taste-maker Jonathan Meades, and creator of TV’s This Life series, Amy Jenkins.

One of the reasons fund-raising has been a slow burn for S&S is that, uniquely on the Unbound list, We Can Be Heroes is the only photo-book, requiring quality paper and classy printing. Sullivan says: “Ours needed six times as many pledges as the other text-only titles.”

Smith says: “Dig out your espadrilles and book yourself a baby sitter now!”

➢ Exhibition and talk, Friday Nov 4 … 7–10pm at The Society Club, 12 Ingestre Place, W1F OJF … and afterwards 10–3am at The Aviary Bar, 17 Little Portland Street, W1W 
8BW … Graham Smith’s photos remain in exhibition and on sale here until Christmas

➢ Skimmable list of media coverage of We Can Be Heroes so far

We Can Be Heroes, Graham Smith, Chris Sullivan, Robert Pereno, Society Club , Soho ,books,Unbound Publishing,photography, exhibition,afterparty, Aviary Bar, Robert Elms, Boy George, Gary Kemp ,Steve Strange, Blitz Kids,Wag club,

Smith & Sullivan’s invitation to a party: click to enlarge


2011 ➤ Leee Childers interviewed: risqué tales of Warhol, glitter and Iggy’s best feature


❚ LAST NIGHT BRITISH PARTY PROMOTER Chris Sullivan sat in a new London gallery cafe to ask Leee Black Childers about his formative years leaving Kentucky for New York City and getting drawn into Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd of the late 60s and 70s. For more than an hour at The Society Club in Soho, Childers confessed all about his formative years when Warhol encouraged him to “say” he was a photographer, after which he snapped many informal early pix of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Jayne County. All the photographs on display are on sale for the next week.

Our two videos catch a few ribald moments verbatim. Other landmarks included Danny Fields and Andy Warhol taking him to see this “terrific new band”. Using the camera his brother had given him on his 17th birthday, Leee produced sensational pix of the young misfit Iggy Pop at the Stooges’ first New York concert. Leee lived for a year with Iggy. “You should know that he had a really great mind. He would talk about Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and kept me awake talking about philosophy all night. He was also a very kind person and had one of the best penises I’ve seen.”

Lee attributes the birth of the glitter phenomenon in 1970 to Theatre of the Ridiculous director John Vaccaro’s production of Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit which was set in a circus, to which he brought “giant, huge barrels of glitter and he said, Put it everywhere, and everyone onstage was covered in glitter”.

Linda Clark, Leee, Nancy Spungen, Sid Vicious, Dee Dee Ramone. (Photo by Danny Fields)

In 1971 Leee visited London when Andy Warhol’s ground-breaking show Pork took over the Roundhouse with nude scenes that revelled in the recent abolition of theatre censorship in the UK. During this trip he met David Bowie performing at the Country Cousins nightspot in Fulham: “I’d never heard of him but I went because they said he wore a dress, but he wasn’t wearing a dress. We also met Angie Bowie who was not wearing a dress either. That show was pretty lame.” Yet when Bowie later came to play in New York, Leee was asked to be the vice-president of his US company. He subsequently travelled with Bowie through Russia in 1973 and was tour manager for Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers when they supported the Sex Pistols on their 1976 Anarchy tour across the UK.

Leee hung out with the Sex Pistols in both London and New York. Asked from the floor “Who killed Nancy?”, Leee replied: “Nancy killed Nancy. She created the situation where it was impossible to go on” — referring to her fractious relationship with Sid Vicious. Though Vicious was charged with her murder in 1978, Leee says: “We all know it was not Sid.”

➢ Last week’s report: Leee Childers brings his slice of 70s New York to London

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