Princess Julia launched into her tales before I got a chance to even set the mic up, and so I hastily pointed one in her direction and let the conversation carry on! We went on a potted tour of queer venues in London from the late 70s until the 00s – so many conversations in so many directions that I’ve decided to make it a two-parter!
Find out about how queer punk was, where you could get the best spam supper, and ‘the twilight world of unhappy gays’!
Follow Princess Julia on Instagram.Transcript
Princess Julia 00:00
Basically, we went clubbing for that night in 78 onwards.
K Anderson 00:11
I am chaos and you are listening to lost spaces, a podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories they created there and the people that they used to know. Princess Juliet is London clubbing royalty first coming to notoriety in the late 1980s as one of the original Blitz kids. From then on, her name has been synonymous with just about every trend in queer clubbing from taboo to kinky, kinky. We kind of broke the rules for this episode, and instead of focusing on one specific club, we instead traced a potted map of Princess Julie’s clubbing history. From late 70s bar sombrero right up until now, we had so much to talk about that I’ve had to split the conversation across two episodes. This first episode focuses on princess Julie his first days of clubbing from this umbrella on Kensington High Street, right up until the mid 80s and Leigh Bowery’s Taboo.
Princess Julia 01:51
Because I’ve been involved in so many clubs in all the decades.
K Anderson 01:56
Yeah, we could pick and choose, we could just go through a
Princess Julia 02:02
timeline maybe of club events going on. So some of my earliest memories of clubbing are places such as the sombrero. And so this temporary set was on Kensington High Street, the sombrero was on Kensington High Street. And it was a little gay club in a basement. But some weird drinks licence down there. Where if you got there early enough, you’d have this sort of like spam supper served to you like actual spam, two slices of white bread, a leaf of salad, and some presumably spam, which, actually we were all starving. So we ate it
K Anderson 02:58
just to get you in the dancing mood
Princess Julia 03:01
drinks, the loophole, our case, it was like a members clause or if they served food. Yeah. But it wasn’t it was really just as this go dive bar that had a late licence in Kensington High Street. And the DJ was a guy called Rudy, who ended up who was actually did the coat check at heaven when heaven first opened. He did there for a while. I do believe Yes, he did. So we’d all go there. And you could go any night of the week. And generally, you’d go after, you’d been somewhere else like say a gig or something like that. Yeah. And when you get this band, he got a little ticket. And then you were in and it was the sombrero. Yours or MMA and brackets and add a little raised dance floor, light up dance floor. He walked in down the steps turn left. And it was quite opulent, in a sense. And as I said before, there’s no real there’s no real evidence of that club but they raise an Adam on the ads video that was filmed there will have to bear with me while I try and remember which one it was because you can see it but it was filmed in a sombrero array and the waiters had rent this was a guy describe a real miniature one. As I remember, they did have roller skates on on occasion. I might be making that
K Anderson 04:58
I might be crosshatch Seeing the BMC Okay, okay, so and so you say it’s miniature what kind of size like how many people
Princess Julia 05:09
basement, but the way they sort of laid out it sort of had a tiered effect. So dancing, dance row in the middle, a lot of darts winner, and then there was a little mushroomy chairs around the age. And then the way it would come over sashaying over dark brown colour, but with the light up
K Anderson 05:32
dark. And was it that those kind of squares where they were different colours were amazing.
Princess Julia 05:37
Yeah. And then it had a sort of tear defect site. I guess it was a sort of hierarchy going on. There was a VIP. I remember there was a woman there called Mandy Miami, who was a journalist. And she was there with another journalist that’s still going David Johnson. And they were always in the higher echelon of champagne and all the rest of it and and I used to basically go and with Geoffrey Hinton, and my flatmate, my roommate, because I had lived in a bedsit in Church Street, then Ashley veins. So we used to go in there from time to time, and hang out with the DJ.
K Anderson 06:38
And it wasn’t one of the first gay clubs.
Princess Julia 06:40
It’s very, very amusing because Rudy, then we think maybe during mixing, it was more like, quite often, the N on a disco 12 inch or B parts one and part two. Those of people that are disco connoisseurs will know this fact. And quite often, Rudy will just let one run out turn the record over the other side on to come in up. 12 inch vinyl, don’t it was Oh, long disco fabula arity
K Anderson 07:20
and so what kind of songs could you expect to hear
Princess Julia 07:23
rice Jones? Amanda Lee sariah all those fabulous songs supernature. Like all those ones that are still actually playing today.
K Anderson 07:40
And so yeah, was it one of the first go bars that you went to? Or?
Princess Julia 07:46
It probably was actually because basically, when I left school in 1976, I got a hairdressing job in Knightsbridge. as a as a hairdressing Junior, or apprentice. And the person that I trained under was a boy called Willie and fail used to go there as well. So it was one of those places. There were some other places as well, but that was the guy’s the guy. Where are the places that we used to go to? around and about at that point in time old cold was the the epicentre of gayness at those caught was what old Compton street is today. Basically, all the bars or the pubs were all there. And then I lived in that side of London,
K Anderson 08:45
but you know, you knew Jeffrey, before you started going,
Princess Julia 08:48
No, I met Jeffrey around the same time, Jeffrey was friends of my roommate, Ashley. So yeah. Sort of merging in isn’t genuine. So are we going to do a sort of rocker of little thread of history, maybe a snippet of it because because out of that, and you’ve got to remember this was that this was 76 for me, sort of the mid 70s there was also the sort of punk thing going on as well. So you know, the punk movement was actually really gang. It was people kind of seem to forget that it was full of, you know, the core of it. We’re all artists, and creative people, musicians, fashion designers, people creating stuff, writers. And it was really was very guy. And so a lot of the places people went to are Have you go to a gig of some sort would be a gay, a gay club, sorry. And there was a place called Louise’s that people I went a few times, but I was still quite really young then. So there were these, you know, these sort of places that people want to and when punk movements sort of dissipated somewhat, because basically when the band started getting signed black Siouxsie and the Banshees, and all the rest of it, and they all started to ring so that the kind of the core of it kind of shifted a bit, I feel, and there was a bit of a lull. And out of that scene, I actually met Steve strange, and he sort of this is like an old stock story, but it’s true. He kind of, he’s from Wales, and he kind of took a sabbatical for a few months, and then contacted me out of blue one day and said, Let’s go out and back in town. So we started going out again, we went to places like bang, and the embassy, and sometimes the summer array, and just different places. And there wasn’t a lot going on that we wanted to get in, like sort of be, in a way
K Anderson 11:23
didn’t feel like the right vibe.
Princess Julia 11:25
I just felt like there was new music coming through, as David made friends with a guy called rusty Egan at some point. And really rusty and Steve sort of masterminded the beginnings of the Blitz, what became known as Blitz club, but it was actually we ran a bobby knight, okay, in med street in Belize. And that was the beginnings of it. And that lasted for about six months in early 78. And then I was working with Steve in a shop called PX in the then derelict Covent Garden, and they decided to move the night they heard that there was somewhere where we could do it and was actually it The club was called the Blitz. And it was a place that we used to go to ice to go there when as a hairdressing apprentice actually before maybe over the weekend, every now and again, a nice to go there. And, and that’s where I met BD and Eve, who were the cabaret act on there. But the bowie knife that we did, that I was more involved in was a Tuesday night. So that ran just over Yeah, really at the Blitz club. And it became known as the Blitz night new romantic.
K Anderson 12:59
And so it just it just evolved from
Princess Julia 13:02
there then well evolved from there because basically, Rusty and Steve had a very strong idea of what kind of night they wanted to do, and involved a lot of dressing up, which we all love doing. But away from the sort of mainstream idea of what a disco was. And there was a lot of post punk European electronica coming through that was kind of like some of it was quite disco orientated. Some of it was very sort of roar and sort of new sounding and that was sort of our classics, you know, craft work. Things like the normal tvod you can play all these go on and on in the background,
K Anderson 13:58
Princess Julia 14:03
And then there are things that Miranda coming in, and all the discovery things that we loved, as well. Really roughly, Mark masterminded that sort of formula. And with the bogey, you know, the ag pop and the rock and roll coming in as well. I mean, it was really a great mix of music.
K Anderson 14:25
And so when you saying it started off as a bowie knife is that just like, just playing Bowie music all night?
Princess Julia 14:31
Now busty? That was that was the sort of the basic Yeah, that was a basic I mean, the the the cornerstones but encompass the music that came out of people experimenting with Electronic Arts, that could be crap rock. You know, it could be all kinds of stuff that was coming out of your ad. tear out of the UK you know things like Human League. Yeah not being boiled that was like a major classic at that we had that on all the time. But then we had things like the chase in those things like that Moscow disco. That’s a good one. So I still playing all those wow
K Anderson 15:22
classics never gonna
Princess Julia 15:22
die. So that that really was the new Romantic era and what can that was really happened over a period of like months, not even two years, but around that sort of Mark. And then it moved to another night called hell to another club. The club was called hell.
K Anderson 15:44
But so while we’re still on the Blitz, that it wasn’t that wasn’t like, marketed as a like a queer. No,
Princess Julia 15:52
it wasn’t marketed at all really. I mean, Steve strange did quote the media. He enjoyed that. And the media called it various names. Because as you know, people like to label things or like, and villainise things that things have engaged people that have inboxes. So the new romantics was one such description, shall we say? And then it will also known as the clap for the count with no nine things like that.
K Anderson 16:34
The call was no name.
Princess Julia 16:36
Yeah. The Twilight world of unhappy guys, which was actually one of my favourite headline.
K Anderson 16:46
That was a headline to describe.
Princess Julia 16:51
That night, I forgot that, you know, there was a sort of strike contingent going on Spandau Ballet? Yes.
K Anderson 17:00
Princess Julia 17:01
So we did have, you know, it’s quite a mix of people, it’s basically people that we’re interested in, dressing up,
K Anderson 17:11
and to the media just kind of hopped on the fact that it was a flamboyant, and associated that with queerness,
Princess Julia 17:19
but what probably stay strange actually phoned him up and said, Come to my night, quite frankly, on tonight, you know, because people were coming, you know, people that were pretty famous, were coming to that night as well in the end. But the core of it was off, you know?
K Anderson 17:47
And so when did you kind of cottoned on that it had gotten bigger?
Princess Julia 17:54
We didn’t really, I think till it kind of ended, because that night maybe ended in 1980. CIO, didn’t really think that it would have such a resounding effect. And really set the premise for the 80s to happen, actually. So it’s quite interesting that it’s the legacy is still with us today. You know, it’s a lot, I’m fascinated by it myself, and I was in it. Yeah. What tends to happen is when, like a movement or a club night or something becomes an area becomes popular, lots of hangers on start showing up, or people that you wouldn’t necessarily want to be in your club. Did that happen? I’m trying to say in a nice way, but it’s kind of tourists thing of hangers on and what have you, I don’t get it. Because, you know, as I was saying earlier, you know, in my life, I have carried on in the clubbing fashion through all those decades. And I see clubbing as a sort of more of a community and escapism. Sometimes headiness deck and quite a lot actually, that’s very I think that’s a good idea to throw your cares away in a safe environment. And because the theme itself is so small, there was no idea of hangers on or anything to be honest because there just wasn’t that many people that is a core of creative people. So you didn’t have like when when there were these headlines going out and when People became aware of it, you didn’t have lots of kind of people coming to see what it was about but who weren’t actually part of the same. Anyone that came to that night, we’re part of that now. Okay. That’s my opinion. And from that night, other people were inspired to do their own nights. In a sense. What the Blitz did was create a night that you could put on yourself and gave people that idea that they can run their own night generally, in clubs before then people the clubs ran their nights. Yeah, they programmed all their nights. I didn’t really have people coming in and hosting a night as such.
K Anderson 20:47
But into did that not come on
Princess Julia 20:48
might be party hosts, like Vicki DeLonge Bray that would run like celebrity parties and hosts these parties. But there was no real man night a week, specialist party for like minded individuals. But I can’t think of one.
K Anderson 21:09
And so this kind of set that blueprint then for for now.
Princess Julia 21:13
Yeah. Yeah. Obviously, in clubs and bars, there were things going on that were different from night to night, let be different DJs but the club themselves would programme those nights in, they wouldn’t have someone from the outside, come in, and go right, we’re gonna like, this is our scene and we’re gonna take it out.
K Anderson 21:32
Yeah, that didn’t really happen. And so why, why did it enter soon? why it was only two years.
Princess Julia 21:39
I think Steve just wanted to move it. And I think it come to the end of its life. And I think he wanted to nip it in the bud while it was going, going well, and then I was particularly precious about it. There was another club, a new club opening in Covent Garden, not too far away. And I think he got he got an offer to run a night there. And the club was called hell. It didn’t really last that long there though. And then the Camden palace lightened. And then Steve. And rusty basically took that over the people’s palace. Oh, yeah. But then you say things like heaven. They’d started up in heaven opened in 1979. And it started off as a men only club, although I did go there from time to time. But it was only known for quite strict. That arch.
K Anderson 22:39
So just men and Julia there every
Princess Julia 22:42
now and again. I wouldn’t like to see Grace Jones. desperate. Yeah, of course. Anyway, so further down the line within a couple of years really. haven’t started doing different nights in the week. So the weekends it was that the moon only plant your clone Queen kind of thing. And in the week, it soon became a place where people could host one of the bars around the back was the sound shaft. which you may
K Anderson 23:21
Oh, no. What so that’s new. Yeah,
Princess Julia 23:23
that was part of heavier. Okay, but the sound shaft was your hard core, or leather mine, saying,
K Anderson 23:35
Why is that not there anymore?
Princess Julia 23:36
Well, it probably is there, but it’s at the back. Yet to go, you know, the stages to the right. As you walk in, it’s sort of out there. And it was a sort of like secret place. And it had a different entrance. So it was kind of so it had an entrance down that alleyway is pulsating in there. There was a night called Charles and that this was early 80s. And that took over the sound shaft and it was an industrial looking Spicer’s, we get in fact be still vacant properties. Go and see. I don’t know what they I mean, it’s part of the heaven.
K Anderson 24:20
Building thing. Yeah. Having no proper smell.
Princess Julia 24:26
I don’t know. Yeah, totally. Did you see like it when qx used to have noise. They used to have like a rent boys party. In the sound shaft sometimes I so love that.
K Anderson 24:41
What like to showcase rent?
Princess Julia 24:43
Well, you know, the rent boy. It’s really supported qx when it first started what they probably do now. Well, advertising. Yeah, you know, basically supported that make that free publication to happen. Sorry. Yeah one compliment boys have a party and it’d be really great to meet all the rent boys. Amazing Stories. titles of glory holes, and
K Anderson 25:16
we’ve all got one of them. Anyway, whilst I still talking about heaven, are you able to talk about the this clone?
Princess Julia 25:27
What do you know what the other day, you know, on the internet, and I found a programme that was, it was a documentary about low or Laura lay, low abona, Queen of fabulararity. And in a law who is a drag queen of a bygone era talks about exactly the question you’re asking me so I’m just going to pass it over to allow and tell you to go and go and watch. It’s on YouTube low above nikolina fabula arity. And lo talks about all the different types of Queens and your clone queen is one of them. Which is a relatively modern Well, it’s the sort of late 70s and it’s really I guess it was sort of adopted from the village people. Okay, you know, it was a sort of a butcher them bush kind of dressing up to pass kind of,
K Anderson 26:37
you know, hyper masculine hyper masculine
Princess Julia 26:39
Yeah. But there was a moment when they Village People want a bit new romantic.
K Anderson 26:45
Yes, sex over the phone. That’s a pay I have that. Sir, yeah, yeah. You have to watch the video. Okay, so, but so was there a stigma attached to colognes? Because I can’t quite get my head around it.
Princess Julia 27:08
Is it? Well, it’s called was the climb kind of Central but I’m not sure that people are really that cloney if you know. So that was your leather. Man. Look, that would be the colon. But it’s very can it wasn’t. It kind of looked kind of quite butchy for it, but it’s a bike with a crash helmet. They might meet someone with a with a bike. It wasn’t mine only once again, it was a madman. I did go there every now and again. And then there was Will you let the Queen climb the plaid shirts. Oh, that’s Beardy. Look at the look. But yeah. Is that Yeah, that’s a lot but it was even more you know? butchy fine. Like
K Anderson 28:19
Yeah, when this is something that
Princess Julia 28:22
Klein Queen looks were there. I have to go get it. I’m gonna come back to you on that. diagram somewhere. Oh, is there Yeah. Tom of Finland tight look, you now hear that was part of the the thinking that Tom of Finland, you know, cruising in the forest type look. That that would really be your climb queens? Yeah.
K Anderson 28:51
was there any kind of overlap? Or would you would you like, on your I’ve got one. Have you ever been to backstraight and what you have to go after another man or venue that you’ve
Princess Julia 29:03
opened in like 1983? Yes, another venue. But this club was actually it’s been teetering of light, but it is still there. backstraight it’s in bethnal? No, it’s not, it’s in Milan. I mean, I’ve only been there. But then I did realise that I did actually know the manager and everything but so it’s fine. But I won’t know because a friend of mine, James Jeanette mine who has a band called Wild daughter. One wanted to put a party on there. And so he did one for Rick Owens, and girls could go and then wild daughter a bit later on more in more recent times did a gig there as well. So I’ve been there a couple of times, but if you go there, you can go there everyone, like tomorrow. And it is it’s quite fabulous. They have posters that have been hanging up since 19. it through a tom of Finland posters and whatnot, you know, a cold up at the edges I’ll take you there. Beyond you have to go and it’s got like the duck it’s got dusty boots, you know proper like one of those tight clamps, it’s got dusty boots hanging from the ceilings. It’s got like, you know, 40 years of dust on. It’s got cages, it’s got shackles, it’s got glory holes, it’s got everything. And all the staff are really really lovely. In fact, one of the staff is an artist I went to see their show as well through combat back with the nine that Yeah, is quite sort of unite. A beyond space that exists still exists. But it is meant only I think, compromise
K Anderson 30:50
to kind of this kind of like a shout back know what, what’s the word? I’m looking for? The call back to the olden days, because those kind of places don’t really exist in London anymore.
Princess Julia 31:02
Do they? really know. And so really, in a way, that’s why, you know, to find somewhere like that, that’s kind of stayed exactly the site. Okay, is that up? Quite unbelievable. Hey, he makes you want to sniff popper
K Anderson 31:22
against him now? Yeah.
Princess Julia 31:27
Well, wait. So yeah, we were going talking about the sound shaft and that which was a similar kind of thing and sort of started around the same time. But, you know, I was more involved in these more abstract kind of nights where I say abstract, just sort of, like, less rigid in the dressing up department, and not sort of, say cruzi. But then it’s cruising, there’s always cruising going on in clubs, isn’t there? There’s sort of going out. I mean, in real life, I mean, if you wouldn’t bother going out if you didn’t think that love was in the Air somewhere along the line very low. And so that leads us on a fail to the mid 80s and the club called taboo, which was me boundaries. Night, which in a way was another hosted one night of a week affair in a club called Maximus in Leicester Square. And he run that with a person called Tony Gordon. He’s sort of looked after all the comings and goings, and Susan Tilly did the cashier lady job. I actually Sue and I also worked at the wag Club, which is another club. I used to do the cashier. Job rounds. I did see. Anyway, so So yes, so that was the cashier lady and avoid Walmart VGA did the door. And, yeah, another hedonistic night that really didn’t last that long.
K Anderson 33:18
Yes, this legend,
Princess Julia 33:20
once again, made a huge impact on the clubbing scene, and on the whole idea of clapping and sort of change things again, switched
K Anderson 33:31
it all up again. Until why what would you expect from a typical night at the table, activity
Princess Julia 33:37
activities heard. They’ve never really been a typical night. Geoffrey Hinton was the DJ, along with Rachel O’Byrne. Rachel burned DJ though when she was pregnant, in the most fantastic sort of outfits, and a boy called Mark Lawrence was also the DJ. So that was the three of them Jeffrey. There’s a screen there which we quite liked. And jeffy used to show his videos. They were called Scratch videos I think at the time but that basically lots of edits or things and Jeffrey from that is still creating vision scapes of club life that Mel’s through the era’s but actually saw something last week at the ICA that he did that, you know this. There’s a festival coming up. And they had a launch there or what festival was gone sorry. It’s really important to get all the things in. What was it fringe? Was it the fringe? No, it’s not that. Anyway. That was very exciting. Actually. Hold on. I have that set. Yeah is the fringe Film Fest. So the Finch Film Fest they launched, I got things coming up in March, which I think will be really worth quite sort of very exciting. I love it that these these sort of festivals going on actually, there’s another one a launch tomorrow for something called liberal arts. Anyone, but there are things where people can exchange ideas and join everyone what they’re doing, but Geoffrey’s archival film, actually, that was really good because he’s managed to actually use will archive, snippets, work, film work, and make it be relevant to the life that we all live now. And the club world we’re all involved in now. How is the footage great goes sort of kind of went back to like about early 80s. And right up to the present, there was sort of things that Amanda Peck prancing around in it and you know, sorts of stuff, you know, things that happen in club land, events and things that happen in a real sort of underground II type of why that are still going on. I should take you on a tour, should we see higher bass? things going on? anyway. So timber sighted Berg was midweek night. And a typical night to be, as I said, there wasn’t really a typical night. But you know what, whatever he was wearing that was the highlight. Obviously, that’s very exciting. I mean, I think sort of quite sort of fun things that go but I’m gonna take an acid before I go, and then we’ll meet you there. And then we’ll have a dance around or something like that. Or MDMA had to sort of come along really, then that’s when ecstasy sort of sort of starting up in the mid 80s. So but it was in a sort of powder form. And I think to remember, somebody had a bag of it. So it was all pretty sort of crazy, but the energy levels were definitely up.
K Anderson 37:25
And so what was the main differences between timbu and the Blitz?
Princess Julia 37:32
Well, I guess the new people, you know, new people coming in, the music can change somewhat, I think maybe the Blitz was caught sort of serious in some aspects. And to be able to sort of lacquer a different kind of controversy to the situation by was still both very sort of confrontational in different aspects, such as, you know, in creative dressing, and ideas and hedonism, but I think that the, how energy level was ramped up a notch or two, quite frankly, with two birds. Yeah,
K Anderson 38:23
there’s a kind of a theatricality as well. Both very theatrical, it’s like a heightened,
Princess Julia 38:29
it was a much more is ramped up. It was kind of quite a crazy feeling. I always used to say it was because Halley’s comet, like blasted into the atmosphere at some point. And it for the child, there was an energy if you believe in those sort of things.
K Anderson 38:54
Do you recognise any of the places that we discussed in this episode and have your own memories to share? If you do, I would love to hear from you. Please reach out through any of my social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you can find me with the user name K. Anderson music. Last basis is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and the experiences within them and the people who go there and used to go there and might go there in the future. And I’ll be releasing those songs over the next year. You can hear the first single from the set well groomed boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right now across all streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe, leave a review on the iTunes Store or just tell people who you think might be interested in finding out more. I am K Anderson, and you have been Listening to lost spaces.