Saturday, 10 July 2010

Retro Blast - July 1991

I'm afraid there's one phenomena that's close to my heart that just can't be avoided when covering 1991 - male strippers.

Ten years later it is the first topic covered by Vic & Bob on "I Love 1991"

And, of course they're talking the Chippendales who frankly exploded on a visit to the UK, taking up residency in a West End theatre and completely milking the chat show circuit and the resurrected "Generation Game" (clip included in that last YT). I swear they were even on "Blue Peter", but that might have been a mad dream. In turn this lead to the creation of lots of home-grown copycat troupes, of varying quality (many were better than the Chips).

In July 1991 though, a less than fun but just as notorious chapter began for the Chippendales:
"the FBI was approached by a man called Lynn Bressler, who was offering his services as an informant. Bressler told the agency he had been hired as a 'hitman' by an individual named Ray Colon in Los Angeles. Colon had asked him to travel to Britain and kill two members of Adonis, who were performing at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool."
Full story here, though it was written before Banerjee's apparent suicide in prison in 1994.

Anyhow, much as I was pleased at the Chips for making male strippers so very mainstream, they weren't really to my taste, as I'd had three and a half years of living in London and checking out the superior solo acts on the gay scene. Those acts were doing the full monty years before the GBP cottoned on to that term. That summer was probably a peak of activity. I was living in Tooting Bec (Mantilla Road if you're interested) and was in easy reach of two fairly short lived strip venues. One was "The Bridge" in Putney, which was actually on my usual route to work in Earls Court. More amazingly, the other was a Parisian themed showbar called "Cafe de Piaf" which was on Waterloo station! I once took my mum there which mortified the management there as they had an, erm, 'duo' performance on that afternoon (they'd only had solos and go-go troupes on before). We all survived that and Mum got free drinks!

Other venues I frequented at the time were Islington's The Regent and the legendary White Swan in Limehouse. That month (it may even have been this weekend) I attended an underwear party at Heaven under Charing Cross station. Most risky in those days when so many people had a lit fag on the go, even on the dance-floor!

Returning to the male strippers, my faves in 1991 would have included Troy Passion, Willy the Kid, The Stag and Rebel Red (as pictured below) who was also in the London Knight troupe. A recommended little guide to this golden era at this site:

In these days before I was introduced to Wetherspoons, I mostly only went to gay pubs and clubs though I remember having a big thing for Ed's Easy Diner at the time.

I also think I went for a job as membership secretary for the Doctor Who Appreciation Society this month - all us candidates had to troop down to Southfields one very hot Sunday to get interviewed one by one. I didn't get it, but I continued to contribute the odd review for the Celestial Toyroom (I certainly did ones for the VHS releases of "The Three Doctors" and "City of Death").

Now "Doctor Who" was off air by now, all of us fans somewhat resigned to it after 18 months absence. But a new era began in the summer of 1991 - the launch of the Virgin New Adventures. In the 70s and 80s we'd had the Target novelisations of the classic TV stories, but these were the first proper stab at original novels. Though they featured the 7th Doctor and Ace and continued on from "Survival", they soon established a rather adult tangent on the franchise. Rather fittingly in the first story arc of four books - published every other month between June and December - included classic Who writer Terrance Dicks and nu-Who writer Paul Cornell.

The Doctor might have left the building for a while, but continuing on was "Eastenders" with some of this month's episodes directed by the late Barry Letts. A key storyline was Ricky Butcher eloping to Gretna Green with Sam Mitchell, with families including the first incarnation of Peggy in hot pursuit.
Over on ITV, the first series of "Soldier, Soldier" was nearing its end, featuring future chart-toppers Robson & Jerome but also David Haig, Holly Aird and Denise Welch. Like the Doctor Who New Adventures it would stick around until 1997.

Hitting the newsstands was another naked American import - Demi Moore's famous pregnant cover shot for Vanity Fair.

What was in cinemas was also in the charts - I'm not putting up the YouTubes of these two, but one was a new entry at #3 while the other had just this week knocked Jason Donovan from the singles chart and was not removed (by U2) until late October!

Cher was topping the UK album chart with "Love Hurts" while ...

her "Love and Understanding"was a new entry at #36

This is the Boy George vehicle Jesus Loves You with the Paul Oakenfield mix of "Generations of Love" - this week up to #35. Look out for Troy Passion in the film within the film (there is a more explicit version of this promo with more of the fake nurse/patient porno flick)

And even Billy Bragg was talking "Sexuality" - up to #27

Based on a true story, here's OMD and Louise Brooks in "Pandora's Box" - up to #26

Lastly, Cola Boy - 7 Ways to Love - up to #8. If you recognise the vocalist, she's Janey Lee Grace, now a regular on Steve Wright's afternoon Radio 2 show (and occasionally "The Wright Stuff"). If you think the music sounds a bit like St Etienne, that's because it almost is, but it was too fluffy and lyrically banal to associate formally with the brand.

Full chart here:

Next weekend - July 1966

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