Obscene badges, old-school game shows, and exploding butts were all things you could expect to see if you attended Shinky Shonky, a legendary club night in London in the 00s. I caught up with Boogaloo Stu, host/producer/DJ/you-name-it of the night to reminisce about it and The Polar Bear, a bar in Soho that hosted the event for the majority of its life.Transcript
Boogaloo Stu 00:01
It was pure filth a lot of the time is, you know, just all about sex and smart and, you know, obscenity. So that was reflected in the content of the flyers.
K Anderson 00:16
I’m K Anderson 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. Boogaloo Stu is the legendary promoter who reshapes nightlife with his distinctive take on mass culture, which is a light hearted and irreverent approach that is nevertheless grounded in an obsessively detailed understanding of his source material. He was the host, DJ, producer, performer, everything else that you could imagine, at Shinky Shonky, a club night, which ran in a number of venues across London from the late 90s. We caught up to talk about Shinky Shonky as well as the polar bear at bar in Soho London, which hosted the night for a number of years from the turn of the century.
So at Shinky Shonky you performed as Boogaloo Stu. Yeah. Where did he come from?
Boogaloo Stu 01:45
Well, I suppose Boogaloo Stu was conceived. Probably when I was still a college. I would, I would throw parties at college and I would DJ. And I didn’t call myself abuse to that. But I was dressing up and showing off. And then when I left college, actually, I should say, when I got my, my degree was in textile design. And for a year of my degree, I was lucky enough to go to New York, and I worked in New York for a year. And when I say worked, I did as little as possible in my job and save all of my time, going to clubs and partying and coming into work the next day and throwing up in the toilets and stuff like that. I was really, really badly behaved. I can’t believe I held a job down for as long as I did. But that year in new New York, I was quite a shy person. Really. I wasn’t like a massive show off, unless I dressed up. But I would go to clubs, and I observed a lot of amazing amazing people like grupo de light lady with care lady Bunny, Suzanne barge like all these Diane Brill, all these kind of icons of New York nightlife in the late 80s, early 90s. And I was sort of seeing them all firsthand, and I had a brief friendship with RuPaul, where I, I styled him for a photoshoot. And I was just, I was kind of pretty much in all of all of them. So they were really inspiring for me. And part of the inspiration was the fact that they were really nice. They were really nice people. If you get this, I don’t know, up until that point, maybe I had this idea that to be sassy was more important to be a bitch or, you know, like the idea of a bitchy drag queen or a bit cheeky celebrity or a bitchy haughty show off, you know, and they were all really nice, friendly, kind of people. So that was quite, you know, enlightening and inspiring. So I came back and I finished my degree, and then when I left, it just felt logical that I wouldn’t get a job. And I would start at you know, try putting on club nights. And that’s what I did. And for ages I didn’t have the name boogaloos to I was just stupid. And then the club night was called dynamite Boogaloo, which those two words are lifted from a song by liquid gold called dance yourself dizzy. Those lyrics in that dynamite and Boogaloo. And I don’t even know why. But we chose to call it down in my booboo because of that song. It’s like, it’s a good discos record, and we didn’t play it in the early days, but that’s where the name came from. And then I don’t know whether I’m just really stupid, but it took about a year. And I’m sorry, it took someone else to point out that the club is called dynamite Boogaloo. Why don’t you call yourself Boogaloo stew? idea. So that became my name. And again, the look, we’re slowly evolving as well, initially, I would like to know, just for recovering myself in blue fallen in a dressing up box, I can look like a dog’s dinner basically. And gradually, it became a bit more polished and a bit more interesting. A new, you know, individual quiff appeared, I took probably about a year in the quiff appears and has never left. So it’s like, yeah, that’s how he sort of metamorphosed.
K Anderson 05:51
And so what would you say is the main difference between you and him? When I’m
Boogaloo Stu 05:58
quite shy, and quite quiet. I do like to be noticed. And when I’m dressed up as dubious to you, I will talk to anyone, and I’ll say anything to anyone, you know, I mean, I’ve got no barrier. I’m not sort of, yeah, it’s just, I don’t think we’re wildly different. It’s just he, the week the week gives. It gives it somehow gives me permission to show off. I don’t know, it gives me more confidence being dressed up. So yeah.
K Anderson 06:42
Yeah, it’s incredible.
Boogaloo Stu 06:44
Yeah, I don’t really work in clubs anymore. I mean, I’m still performing. But I don’t really do much work. I do DJ anymore, which kind of suits me in my advanced years, so that I’m not having to go out until 5am. and stuff like that. So I’ve got a bit more of a social life now. Because even though I was doing club, DJ, all that kind of stuff, it’s surprisingly antisocial in terms of establishing a social life. You know, cuz obviously, you’re in a venue and you’re DJing, making sure that people had a great time, but it’s actually quite a sort of solitary existence. See, I don’t really do that anymore. I do lots of quizzes, and bingo shows, and theatre work and stuff like that. But I’ve managed to slowly extricate myself from nightclub work, which was drying up anyway, which I think is the is is what we’re going to talk about, I suppose is how this sort of landscape of, of clubs and venues has changed over the past decade or two decades. Yeah.
K Anderson 07:54
It’s currently a queer bar. It’s the Q bar. Yeah. So why? Why do you want to talk about it as the polar bear? And how is that distinct from the venue that it currently is?
Boogaloo Stu 08:09
I think, I mean, it. It was actually it was called What was it called? When I first started working there, it was West. It was West, West, something like West Central. It was West Central when I started working. And that would be 1997, I think. And then it became the polar bear. And then it became flipped. And then it became West Central again. So it had sort of during my tenure there, it had four different names. And then it was closed, and became Australian pub. And then it became q bar. So that was the sort of lineage and the name was never, you know, we were there the whole time. And there was all these new managers coming in and saying, oh, we’re going to rebrand it as this and that. So we were the kind of constant and it was the management team or kept changing. It was always owned by the same brewery, though, right up until I left. It was really just a sort of marketing strategy. That meant they kept changing the name.
K Anderson 09:20
Okay, that’s odd. Yeah. It’s the best way of putting it. And so then were you employed like on a freelance basis to run at night,
Boogaloo Stu 09:31
and I started off doing Shinky Shonky at the tube, which it was later a ghetto, and we were on a Monday night there. And it was really difficult to get people to go on a Monday night in in any great number. So we were struggling, we were getting to know 50 people a week at the tube, which was okay, but I wanted to attract a bigger audience. And yeah, I just wanted to I wanted to get back at night basically. So that All my all my friends and people that wanted to come to the club who were working during the week, for whatever reason could come up on Monday night. So I found what centres It was then. They had to, they had Joe egg during the Friday night, once a fortnight. And his mission, his night was called pop machine. And we took on the alternate Friday. So we were there on support night, and the first night, the venue got absolutely trashed. The first night we were there, we had something like the venue that he held 150 people, it’s really small day now you probably remember. And the first time we were there, about three or 400 people turned up, which took me by surprise. I mean, obviously, they didn’t all get in, but it was a big queue of people waiting to get in. And the venue just weren’t prepared for it at all, they didn’t have enough staff. So the there was no one going around collecting glasses or anything like that, like really basic things didn’t get done. And by the end of the night with the floor, and the floor was like a sea of broken glass, there was glass kind of packed up into the corners of the broom, you know, like, like a kind of wave like a, I don’t know, like a pile of snow or something. It was ridiculous. People were kind of walking through broken glass. And it was absolute Carnage, you know, I mean, if the place was a mess, like, stuff had fallen off the walls, pipes had come up the balls in the toilets, water was pouring up. And it was like an absolute mess. And they were just totally ill prepared for that. Because they were used to identify 5050 or 60 people turning up for the Friday night, or Saturday night gigs that they had on there. I think Joe Heck was doing a really good job with publishing but he wasn’t getting the same. He didn’t have the same kind of opening night that we had basically. So from then on, they were kind of a bit more prepared for it. And they were excited that we were doing it because they knew we had to an audience. So they were invited back. So that’s great. Yeah, but we did wreck the bank. We were there. So yeah. And then we continued sort of doing it in tandem with Joe egg for about I don’t know, it was probably about six months or something or maybe a year. And then Joe egg. I can’t remember why he stopped doing that. I don’t know if he got a different venue. Maybe I think they moved. He moved his note to somewhere else. I can’t remember. But anyway, the other Friday became available. So we ended up every Friday. And we were there for about today. I think we were there for about six years, maybe something like that.
K Anderson 12:42
And so for those who don’t know, can you tell us about what a typical Shinky Shonky night is?
Boogaloo Stu 12:51
Well, I mean, before I started drinking champagne, I was doing a nightclub dynamite Boogaloo in Brighton, where the premise when I started to do in this back in 1992, that Dan I bhrigu started and it was always meant to be the sort of antidote to rave culture, and to house music and the sort of bland, you know, nondescript nature of dance music. And so we played, the playlist was pop music, and you know, radio edits, and vintage disco and vintage indie tunes and kind of music that people can sing along to, you know, kind of party anthem. So that was the idea in terms of the playlist and then combined with that, I wanted to put on a show a bit of a cabaret and have, you know, just be really stupid basically. Sort of aware that I wanted people to get more out of the experience than just turning up dancing and having a dream getting off with someone I wanted it to be more of an experience. So I’ve been living in London for a few years. By the time I started chunky, chunky and I wanted to do a similar thing to done in my Boogaloo but do in London. So that’s why I started it and the first couple of years that I did chunky chunky it morphed into more than just music and cabaret. You know, it was giving away badges and we also had like all kinds of stuff that I would go to Sainsbury’s or the the cheapest supermarkets I could find or the cash and carry and I bulk buy food in my freezer was absolutely full of mini mill Ronnie’s and I’d have to get them in the height of summer from you know from my house to the venue as quickly as possible before they melted, but we give away all this stuff like I go around with a big tray of hula hoops and Jelly Belly jelly beans sponsored us for a while so we had loads of little packets jannik recover and, and the battery is of course as well like badges to people so people would have a slogan, an obscene slogan on there. lapel for the evening, which was hopefully act as an icebreaker to an extreme. So it was more than just a, you know, there was all these things going on simultaneously. It was, it was always a bit chaotic as well. But yeah, that was the that was the basic. And we also had obviously, my cabaret guests who, in the early days, it was pretty much Miss high leg kick every, every Friday or every Saturday with me. But then other people came into the fray as well. There was princess knickers, legato shuffle our we had the incredible tall lady who has various different characters who, you know, performed on stage with me. So, yeah, it was like a little kind of cult with its own, I suppose for a little while.
K Anderson 15:50
Okay, there’s lots of picking up on there that we need to talk a bit more about, first of all, the obscene badges. Yes, yes. Tell me, tell me your favourite ones.
Boogaloo Stu 16:01
Um, we’re in the early days, this kind of predates with Photoshop, and those kind of things I was, I was making badge designs above lecture set and coming up photographs of people from TV, quick magazine and things like that. So people who were in soaps like dark cotton, or, you know, people from EastEnders people from Coronation Street, or Richard and Judy, anyone that that, that were in these magazines, I cut them out, and then I put a little speech bubble, and then I’d like to set an obscene phrase into the bubble. So let’s just say it’s like, it’s where you have a sheet of lettering, and you rub them off onto the paper, saying, it’s, it’s like typesetting, but manual typesetting, you know, so really old fashioned. So I’ve made these badges, and I still got them somewhere, actually. But I have sheets and sheets of them, like 11 badges on an a4 sheet 11 designs that I’ve done. And they didn’t really they were the most fun because they were very time consuming, but they were kind of there was a lot of love for interest in that they said things like,
K Anderson 17:19
is this false modesty here? Oh, I can’t remember.
Boogaloo Stu 17:23
There’s one that I had. That sticks in my mind, which was a cat a picture of a cat with a speech bubble coming out of his mouth, saying I require immediate clitoral stimulation. And that was a classic badge. Yeah, there was, you know, I make it seem like a nature magazine. So there’s lots of animals on the benches as well with speech bubbles, saying stupid things like that. But other than that, they might just say, big hairy baltics, or massive cork or, you know, whatever, just for someone to wear and display that slogan. And over the years, I became familiar with how Photoshop worked. And so I would then designs became a little bit more polished those early designs is very sort of homespun. And I take them to be photocopied and colour copied. And then I’ve cut my makeup. But more recently, they became more professional in the look,
K Anderson 18:28
a huge effort. So you were making like 50 badges a week or
Boogaloo Stu 18:32
know what’s in there. I mean, sometimes I had to get people to help me to it depended. But I thought I’d always try to make enough badges for the capacity of the venue. So I think it was 140 150 the polar bear capacity. So I’d make 140 badges every week.
K Anderson 18:52
And so I’d like to talk about some of the performers that you worked with. So a typical show, so it’s kind of everyone’s dancing, the music stops, you come on stage, then what happens?
Boogaloo Stu 19:07
Well, I will deal with in a typically a chunky, chunky, I would always sing a song, I’d sort of welcome the choir, and I would sing a song. I had a variety of songs, casting my mind back to those days. I had to, you know, there was a fuku rap, which urges sort of, it was just obscene basically, a lot of smoked. And then typical songs would be born to be wild. These boots are made for walking the girl from Ipanema kind of weird, sort of slightly chancy standards that I found on old PC listening albums, like instrumental versions of them, so it seemed those. I also had feeling weak mentally. And I had to I had a wig, which had a sort of motorised thing on top. And I had a separate sort of wig section on top of the existing wig, which I had a little wire down my sleeve and I could make the top of the wigs in. And I had this medley of songs that it’s been in the title that You spin me around and spinning the wheel, and things like that. So I sometimes do my spinning wheel medley. And that was the opening of the show, then I would introduce a special guest, Miss highlight case would always come at it as sort of set piece of music that she would do her introduction to, and she’d allow her to peek through the curtain and sexy leg would appear and then she’d burst through and do a volley of leg kicks. And then they play a game of some sort. Or we might have a sing along or both. We used to do sing alongs to like, reach by s club seven that don’t impress me much beige nightwave case of the day, it’s that era, like the early 90s, early noughties and we I would rewrite the lyrics in an absolutely obscene fashion. And we took them printed up on the boards. And we told up the board like verse by verse and everyone would sing along. And that was really good fun. You know, it’s hilarious that everyone’s singing these obscene words to s club seven hits. So yes, I like it. Can I do x and Misaki is a terrible voice as well. But it’s brilliantly terrible. So again, it was fantastic for people to hear her shrieking. And then we always have a game show at the end, which would involve some audience participation. Now initially, again, when I was in my showbiz infancy, I would pick people at random to participate. Sometimes we play musical, past the past or something like that. And the past that we just go to anyone in the audience, and I kind of very quickly learned that it wasn’t a fair way to do things, because some people are really shy, you know, obviously, and I don’t want to embarrass people, if they haven’t volunteered to do something. So it didn’t take me long to figure out that that wasn’t really a good way to do it. So I don’t know, within the first year of doing chunky chunky, it became about inviting people up onto the stage to participate. So you’ve got you basically got people who wanted to join in,
K Anderson 22:45
or who were forced by their friends.
Boogaloo Stu 22:47
Yeah. Yeah, but um, yeah, genuinely it was it was done that way so that no one felt they were being picked on. And we play, I mean, the games were usually messy. There was Penny up the crack, there was shake lips with kiss the chicken, sniff my panties.
K Anderson 23:16
Okay, break down the rules for these games for us.
Boogaloo Stu 23:21
So, Penny at the crack, I still play when I’m doing my bingo games, or whatever bingo show. It’s a really simple game, where you have a penny clenched between your bum cheeks, and you start off at one side of the stage. And there’s a pint glass at the other end of the stage. And you have to walk across the stage clenching the penny, and then you drop it in the glass. And we always had two or three rounds in Rome two would be you had to repeat repeat that process, but you had to use a pickled onion. And then round three would be repeating the process but with an egg with a raw egg. So it kind of became steadily there was more Jeopardy as the show went on, basically. And we’d often end up with eggs smashed on the stage, which was you know, health and safety would have had a field day that then we have shipped lips, which was a sort of question and answer a very arbitrary question or questions were complete nonsense. So the answer was completely like random and people would have to say whether that’s true or that’s false and if they got it right, they avoided it lips and if they got it wrong, they got shit lips, which was you know natella or chocolate mousse in a big bowl which would be brushed onto their face, so he
K Anderson 24:43
wasn’t lightly brushed.
Boogaloo Stu 24:46
And then kiss the chicken was a roast chicken on impaled on a leak. And quite often I would give it a face as well. It would have the roast chicken have like, I’ve made a lot of carrot nose and, you know, whatever I could find brussel sprouts, rice, you know, sort of dress to chicken up so it looks a bit more human. And again, it was like shaped lips with question and answer. And if they got the answer, right, they got to eat some chicken. So they’d kind of I told the leak, and they’d go in for a mouthful. And basically, there was two chickens. So a one for each contestant and whoever had the most chicken, by the end of the contest was the winner. And, you know, I’m a vegetarian, and if I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t do that game anymore. But it was fun. Chicken would seek as well. We had lots of little clips on CD that the DJ would cue, like sometimes point the mic to the chicken and there’d be something queued up and the chicken we’d say. And then, obviously, if again, we’re just much Oh sniff my panties, as they used to sell really cheap multiplexes knickers. So go and buy like 10 pairs of women’s knickers, 10 pairs of guys pants. And we would foil the gussets of these knickers with all kinds of substances like piccalilli Marmite, raspberry jam, custard, like whatever we could find that looked disgusting. And then people had to smell the patents and figure out what it was or taste it. Yeah. Sometimes as the game would progress, we put the gusset over, like put the pants over their heads, the gusset was across their nose. Do you know what I mean? Like vertically over their nose and eyes. You know, dependent how wild the the show got up for if they were, that’s just reminded me of another game that we did actually, which was blind drunk, which was a kind of take on blind date, like Phil is blind day. And we would blindfold contestants, if we put on a barstool on stage, and we blindfold two contestants. And we give them things that they had to identify like, the first thing would be something they had to touch, it would maybe be, I don’t know, a chocolate bar something they’d have to guess what it was from touching it. And then the be a fragrance, which was usually a really pungent air freshener, we’d spray a bit for freshmen, and they’d have to guess what the or the flavour was the set the fragrance. And then as it progressed, they’d have to taste something. Yeah, we were always careful to check if people had allergies, or anything like that before we invited them on stage because they never knew what they might be asked to eat in this particular game. So we then asked them to, they might eat a bit of chocolate was something that guess it was chocolate, but then obviously, they’re blindfolded. So we would then bring out something that looked like a poo. But obviously, it wasn’t a poo, but it might be like a chocolate bar made squashed into the shape of poo. And so the audience is again. And they’d be like, oh, it
Boogaloo Stu 28:19
chocolate, you know. And then the last thing we would do would be a condom washed, you know, get all this sort of, you know, the the stuff they put on condoms wash that off. And that was something that was around before the condom actually, Cat Cat food, we would, I would do forget and letting you trade secrets here, but I would get like the Sheeba cat food in a little foil tray. And I were very carefully peel the foil off, dispose of the cat food, wash the tray thoroughly. And I would replace it with mushroom patay or something like that. And I’d, I’d stick the foil back down with double sided tape. So we bring them out and we peel the foil off and it looked like it was just being opened. And inside the speakers sort of patay like substance that you’d like cat food. So we would feed them pretend cat food. And again, the audience would just be absolutely horrified like this can’t be happening. But of course it wasn’t happening. So the two contestants would be eating it. And then the final one, as I was saying with condoms, which I would wash and then I would put a little bit of yoghurt in. So I can use condom, and we’d ask them to take their head back and we’d squeeze the condom contents down onto that arm. And it was I mean, it was just disgusting. And the audience would be like heaving by this point. And the contestants be like
who is joker?
Boogaloo Stu 30:01
Um, so that was a good fun game.
K Anderson 30:05
But um, so, I mean for the sounds of things, it took you the whole week to prepare for that one.
Boogaloo Stu 30:13
Yeah, I mean, it took up a lot of my time. At that time. I didn’t have a lot of other things in my, in my diary I was doing I was still doing dynamite Boogaloo in Brighton I was DJing, here and there. But my life was quite sort of, you know, during the day, I was like, Well, what am I going to do today, it was like, I didn’t have a job or anything like that a normal job. So I would just, that’s what I would be spending my time doing with devising ridiculous scenarios of making stupid props or costumes or whatever. I mean, thinking about murder was also quite often I do miss my leg kick, and I would do a special routine of some sort that we’ve come up with. And that was one of the two things that I can remember where we did a routine to soldier soldier, soldier, soldier, will you marry me? This kind of traditional folk song type thing? Which The lyrics are really stupid, and well, they’re not stupid, but obviously, I turned them into something completely stupid. Because I like it. We recorded her singing it really badly. And then we mind shoot with mine, the soldier, soldier soldier, will you marry me with a musket fighting drama. And I will say I know sweet mate, I cannot marry you for I have an object of high bar. And I had this costume, which was like, it was a pair of trousers with a fake bond sewn into. And they were like really big, baggy, flared trousers. And in the legs of the flowers, I had all kinds of things. Like she would stick her hand in into the farm, like this farm, and she would stick her hand and she would call out all kinds of like household implements. And it went on and on, like, every breath, oh, no sweet me cannot move or I have something up my barn. And the last thing that came up was sort of full size French to get which was right down one leg to my ankle, you know, and she, and people were like, Oh my God, if the whole begat. And there was another, you know, the soul pump up the jam.
K Anderson 32:25
Boogaloo Stu 32:26
We did a version of that called pump up my balls, which was I had this costume that I made. It was covered. It was flesh coloured, and it was covered in little pockets, this costume. And so it was mentioned like skin tone, body suit, with lots of little pockets. And in the pockets, there were balloons with little plastic tubes attached and little, tiny little cork tube. And so I rewrote the lyrics to pump up the channels. Each birth was about a different body part being blown up. So the first thing was pump up my wig. And I had this huge wick which had a balloon inside and misaligned, that kick would blow up the balloon as I was singing the verse so my hair would kind of grow. And then the next verse was pump up my texts, and she’d go from side to side, and she blocked one ticket, and then she blocked the next tip inside this costume, and then it was pump up my ass, and she’d go around the back and there was two balloons in each button and a balloon and each buttock and so she’d blow those up. And then it was pump up my balls. So again, there was two balloons and balloon in each bowl. And so by this point, my costume is completely distorted, like ridiculously distorted, and then pump up my cock and she’s blowing up my cock. But actually inside the caulk, I’ve got a turkey based. It’s filled with hand cream. And instead of her being able to blow up my cock, which obviously isn’t something that normally is blown up, explodes in her face, the hand creams. I attract later her face. So if we would do that, we would do the soldier soldier who was another there was another brilliant act that we did for friend where she’s at sorry misallocate where she was. I made this costume again, it had a fake bar and fake teeth in it. And it was kind of like a strip routine, but she was dressed as an old lady and the tapes were stitched into this like old 70s house coat, and the bomb was stitched on the back and in the bomb again, with loads of objects like a really, really long string of like silk handkerchiefs tied together, it just went on forever and ever. And in the text, what I’ve done is I’ve cut out the nipples and in the text that was eight rule sausages in each taped. And that the sausage, when she came on stage, it just looked like the nickel. But then she, you know, during this little strict routine, she would pull the sausage out, and the whole string of sausage would come out for tears. I mean, it was really, really, really stupid. I don’t even know how I came up with it. It’s like, throwing raw sausages arrived on stage. It’s like, so not suitable for health and safety nowadays. So yeah, you know, so again, I would spend my week thinking about those things
K Anderson 35:38
are what can I pull out of my butt this week?
Boogaloo Stu 35:41
Because I was also aware that we had lots of regulars. And we did repeat stuff. We did do stuff more than once. But I was also aware that I didn’t want people to turn up and see the same thing every week. So I was always thinking, what could we do this week is different. So that we would listen to adverts a lot as well, I posted on the TV, we had various favourites that, again, had been doctored that we dumped stuff over it to make it more obscene than it was or whatever. And we had props. And so it was it was kind of fertile for it’s a real sort of fertile period for smart thinking of, you know, the most ridiculous mighty things that we could do. It was.
K Anderson 36:25
And so in amongst all of that Miss high leg kick was your ride or die that and then she just went along with everything. But she provided her
Boogaloo Stu 36:33
own smart. She, she was she’s gotten naturally good comic timing. And we would we would get together to come up with some of it. You know, we would sort of work on things together. And so it wasn’t just me on my own, sometimes was but sometimes she would come around and we’d go, what are we going to do? We’ve got to think of something for this Saturday, or this Friday, or whatever. And we were also simultaneously we were doing performances at ducky. So we didn’t know why. But we’d always put in an extra special effort to do a chauffeur ducky. And then sometimes from the stuff we did, Ducky, other ideas would come follow on and we’d end up doing those chunky chunky so she was irregular for the first I don’t know, six years I think chunky from 97 to maybe early noughties and then gradually other people started coming in and doing occasional Fridays and Princess knickers and being critical total ad like after chocola there was various other guests that started doing bits and bobs. So yeah, this is good.
K Anderson 37:46
And so the How did you like meet these new people? Were they just regulars of the club that then started performing or
Boogaloo Stu 37:56
princess knickers was a regular the club basically. And she was always flashing her knickers at me. And they always said a little sparkly word done in gemstones like to act or minge or slipped. And I was like, and then she just like, Oh, you know, she said I could do striptease here. I was like, okay, so she became like a kind of house regular. Who would, who would join me in the same format, where we would do lots of messy game shows. And she would do a little burlesque style routine again. Princess knickers had a more interesting take on, you know, what she did wasn’t really burlesque. That does a disservice to call it that. Because I think people now have a particular idea of what that means. But then she was taking her clothes off. But she was doing things that were like really either really stupid or really kind of innovative, like she had one routine that was pushing hoovered her clothes off, she had a Hoover and like all her bra and knickers and various other items of clothing would be Cooper doll that would come off and disappear into the harbour. So there was kind of more more to her than just being a sort of burlesque girl. And the incredible tall lady again, just another friend who was, you know, a show off a really big show off. So it was the natural place for her to be on stage with us. And again, doing the same kind of thing. Just joining in with the game shows and doing little sketches with us and stuff like that. So and the ghetto. I thought Sure, actually if the gassho started doing stuff with me after after we left And it came because we ended up going back there doing chunky chunky for turnovers. It’d be three years maybe for a Q bar, but it was on a Wednesday. By that point, they offered us the Wednesday. And q buys a very different kind of venue. It didn’t. In retrospect, I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did, because we were it was very much chunky, chunky was a fish out of water in that space. I kind of appreciate what they do. You know, it’s it’s got a it’s got, they’ve got their market, but it’s a very young kind of Twinkie market that can you buy, and it didn’t fit with the kind of ethos that we’ve built up around chunky, chunky, you know, the, the regular following that we had, and the kind of people that would go to Q bar, really. So we struggled a bit there. And we eventually we eventually left.
K Anderson 41:00
But isn’t that like, isn’t that kind of incredible that you were in the exact same building. And you had built up a number of followers over the years or regulars over the years. And suddenly because of new management. The vibe was different. And it didn’t work?
Boogaloo Stu 41:20
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it basically it was like a completely different space. You know, it wasn’t the same wasn’t the same brewery there was nothing connected, apart from it being the same building. And obviously, it was still an LGBT led company. Yeah. But beyond that, there really wasn’t much connection. So yeah, it was quite odd.
K Anderson 41:51
Yeah, it’s just really fascinating. And, and, and so you talked about the qq buyers kind of target audience or its niche being a younger clientele. Twinkie? Yeah. How does that differ from who’s going to Shinky Shonky,
Boogaloo Stu 42:08
Shinky Shonky was a real mixture of people. It was a mixture of words mixture of gay and straight, you know, it was a mixture of gay, lesbian, straight, queer, and a mixture of ages, there was a bit of a bear following. There was a bit there was a lot of lesbians that came. And it was a real mixture of people. It’s a broad brushstroke of students and kind of arty types. And, you know, it was just, and also Soho was a much more vibrant place then is Well, I mean, there’s stuff going on in Soho, but there was much more to bring you into so home than there is now I would say. Can you expand on that? Well, I think you’ve heard Well, you had your story out, you had ghetto, you had a polar bear, retrovirus feel that there was lots of other little bars, Barracuda. Think of some odour with some, what’s it called trash palace. There was freedom bar. I’m just trying to think of some of the other places that were around there. And beyond, beyond those places that I’ve just mentioned, which are specifically LGBT, led venues, candy bar as well. There was also lots of straight clubs, you know, summer rates or technical one, and it was under the arches. It’s in the basement in the arches Academy, but the name of it No, I think it was gossips, loads, loads of clubs, basically East club on on Regent Street, and then later on, it was on Burlington street like loads of venues. And one by one that sort of being picked off and, and turned into flats or of work or shops or a chain restaurants or whatever. And there isn’t much to draw people into the West End anymore, but they’re also the way licencing was in that in those two decades. People would go It was kind of like there was a routine to your night you would go to the breakfast that made a lot of our regulars mentioned retro buy. To start with, they would have a drink at the retro buy until about 10. And then at halftime, they knew they had to get in the queue which chunky chunky or they might not get in. So retrovir will be closing at 11 anyway, so they believe retro by half 10 walk up to Lowell Street to West Central polar bear. We opened at 10 and a half 10 that could be Really big q at its peak, we had it, we’d always have a queue by that time. So there was this kind of routine that people knew they had to get there on time. And then they get into the club or get a drink or Cadbury and be off 12 and then dancing till 3am. And that was a sort of routine. But then when the licensing laws changed in 2008, that all went a bit pear shaped for clubs and venues. And also it was, it was simultaneously scuppered by the smoking ban, which it was like, the same year, those two things happened, and suddenly loads of clubs, had to make a purchase, stop charging, you know, the promoters didn’t make any money anymore, because all the venues were going, Oh, well, it’s free entry tonight, because everyone was staying in pub beer garden until 2am. Instead of thinking, Oh, we need to go to a club at 11. We know that we know we’re open. So it just it all changed around that time. And I don’t lament it particularly, I think it’s a good thing that people aren’t smoking clubs to one thing. And I also think it’s a good thing that you can get a bloody drink in a pub past 11 o’clock. But it did. It definitely did affect clubs and businesses. And, and, you know, that’s it, it’s pretty much why I ended up moving out into that industry. I think I was ready to leave Anyway, you know, DJ, and that sort of world and I was ready for a different challenge. And also, as I say, I didn’t want to be DJing till 5am on a Saturday night, I kind of thought I wanted my social life back. So. So yeah, it did all change around that time. But I had to go back to the original point, which was about Cuba, and how the audience are very different. I think it’s, it’s just one of those things where they’re in. Yeah, they’ve they’ve taken on that new space. And I think their demographic is a much younger audience. And they’re the people who go into the West End, they then they go to Q bar, they go to circa and they go to heaven and places like that. The more interesting arty types are going out in the East End, you know, like Dalston, Dawson superstore wherever those kinds of venues or maybe not going out at all, or maybe living somewhere else like Margate, you know, it’s like everything is shifted, and fractured. So there’s not like Soho is the epicentre of, of kind of all types of queer culture anymore that it once was. And it’s all it’s all kind of dissipated now. So, I mean, I think there’s still, you know, you’ve got the admiral Duncan Compton’s, basically, on Compton street that still cater for different age groups and different types of people and what have you. So of course, it’s still there, but it’s kind of marginalised a little bit. I think it’s much smaller scale than it was.
K Anderson 48:02
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And yeah, it’s probably part of getting older. But I can’t imagine myself going into central London every weekend. Just be like, Well, of course, that’s where you go. And now it’s like, Oh, God, I’ve got to go on the bus. And I’m not going to do this.
Boogaloo Stu 48:22
Yeah, yeah. No, I agree. I mean, there’s just nothing. There’s nothing that would draw me into the West End. Really? You know, what? I’ve been to the theatre and Western to, you know, the theatres. It’s still standing. But, you know, it’s like, yeah, most most of the big clubs that were in the West End have gone in. I think that the death knell was when the story was pulled down. And that whole block back, there was there was a metro club that was ghetto and numberss story out and across the road. Not so far away. There was the end. And there was another club that was directly across the road. Next to Centrepoint. I can’t remember the name of it, but they’ve all gone Do you know that and there was also a billion dollar bait million dollar babes, which was in the basement of the YMCA on Tottenham Court Road. And, yeah, I mean, that there was no loads of pubs around there. There was loads of stuff. And it is largely it’s gone. You know, there’s little places little quirky places that you might still discover, but there’s no big kind of club culture in Soho or nearby.
K Anderson 49:31
Yeah. Do you remember the last night the last event that you ran at that venue?
Boogaloo Stu 49:37
I vaguely do. I remember getting a letter from the venue from the from the head office people that Mitchell from Butler thank thanking me. Like saying thank you so much for for, I don’t know it was it eight or nine years of you know, successful promotion. Have you, which was really nice. I was actually quite touched by that, because normally just think I don’t give a shit. But then I kind of I kind of remember. I mean, I remember being really, really packed, you know, and we did have a lot of people queuing to get in the cocaine and stuff like that. I don’t regret I’ve got no idea what we did or anything like that. But I do remember we already had a new venue lined up, which was in Stoke Newington, you know, miles away, but the oak, the oak bar, and we were going to go monthly that we did that for two to three years, maybe we were monthly at the oak bar, and it was good fun up there, actually. But it was, it was a struggle to, to promote it, because it wasn’t nearly as easy as it had been in the West End. But because we had this new, you know, because it wasn’t stopping dead. It didn’t feel it didn’t feel like the end of an era or anything like that. So I don’t I don’t have specific memories of that finishing at that venue. I can’t really remember. There you go.
K Anderson 51:14
Yeah, no, that makes sense. And so then looking back, what’s the thing you miss most? Um, I don’t know. I don’t know if I missed it at all. Actually. Why are we having this conversation?
Boogaloo Stu 51:33
I missed the kind of atmosphere of I suppose that kind of, yeah, it was it was had a mistake, but without any drugs, or too much alcohol or anything like that. Because, again, that was something that we just didn’t do. And it was bluesy, actually chunky. But that was it really, wasn’t it people were on drugs, I wasn’t aware of it. So yeah, I just I kind of miss that sort of slightly had an estate looking back, you know, some part of my misspent youth really promoting promoting and performing there. You know, so, I’ve got, I’ve got fond memories of me, you know, like all these things that I’ve been talking to you about these ridiculous costumes that I would spend days making, you know, to do a lip sync, or a version of a song with inflatable boobs or whatever it was, you know, that was a lot of fun, like putting all that together. And, you know, working with this highlight kick and the other special guests. It was, we were all at the beginning of our career. You know, we’ve all gone off in different directions and done totally different things. But it was good fun doing all that. So yeah, I suppose. And also the DJs I mean, I wasn’t the only DJ at chunky, chunky, there was some we started off with Newton and Ridley as guest DJs who were the sort of GMO and then one of them that which is named after the the brewery in Coronation Street is called Red Lake. And we ended up we lost Newton he he left the ranks and we were left on Wrigley whose name is DJ name is Alberto Matlock. And our tight lock is still a very good friend of mine. He’s still DJ sound again, for other people. But he had to he had a big part to play in shaping the kind of music that we played, you know, bringing in, in sort of more left field, indie tunes, or he always had promo copies of brilliant new pop stuff as well ahead of anyone else.
K Anderson 53:48
To give you some examples of the songs.
Boogaloo Stu 53:51
Well, he he first played the clapping song, the version by Anita Harris, which is an absolute staple of chunky chunky is like an absolute classic. If it’s not played, then it hasn’t been shrinking chunky. It’s like, you might be familiar with the Shirley Ellis version, but you haven’t lived until you’ve danced to the Anita Harris version. It’s just it’s so much more jazzy and beefy, and don’t we know it’s brilliant. It’s an amazing so he introduced that he would play things like stereo lab and, and bands like that, who were a bit more left field, but people actually did want to hear. So there was a kind of it was interesting what he brought in, in terms of musical choices. And I remember there was one night, this was a payment Actually, this was me. I have been sent a promo of the sugar babes freak like me, which was like a mash up of a dino Howard freak like me and Gary Numan boyfriend’s electric push and he went on to be like a massive number one. Yeah. But I got this like CDI said from the from a promotions company. This sugar basically single and I was playing it. And Richard x who actually produced it was there. Oh, wow, he led over the DJ decks. And he said to me, where did you get this and I was sent it and he was like, I haven’t even heard this. And he hadn’t heard the finished mix. And I was playing it. And I think he was a bit annoyed because they tweaked the drums and stuff is something he was like complaining about it. But But yeah, you know, so we were, we were always interested in playing new, brilliant pop stuff. So there was, there was a big part of it. It was about like, you know, I remember Dude, I love I Goldfrapp we had that weeks ahead, but coming out, and we were playing that all the time, because it’s just so brilliant. It just sounded so completely different to anything else in the chart. And people would always you play and people would be coming up going, who’s Dr. Seuss? This, you know, so we had that kind of, we were excited about new music, but we also loved all this from the 60s through to the 90s whatever, like kind of cheesy, interesting, disco, easy listening, whatever it was, you know. So there’s a real mixture of that. But I think Albert Twatlock really helped to fine tune and helped us find an identity that was different to rival clubs, like pop stars, or Ducky or any of those other you know, Vaseline,
Vaseline, Ganesh, that
Boogaloo Stu 56:41
anyway, you know, it was kind of it set it apart.
K Anderson 56:43
Yeah, its own identity. And I think that was largely down to him. Yeah. And I think I mean, the The one thing I would take away from that time and going to that night is the, you know, down from the the music and the performance, and the whole vibe is just that complete lack of pretension. It’s just like, do we enjoy this? Yes, then let’s do it rather than, oh, what does enemy say about this? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. Yeah. So one of the questions I had was, obviously, like, throwing a club night, having a gig during any of those types of things, is like throwing a birthday party and being terrified that no one’s going to come. And then kind of being on tenterhooks all night, trying to like, make sure that everyone’s having a good time and make sure that if anyone’s annoyed or pissed off that, that you’re attending to them. did, was that kind of the thing that happened to you when you were there? Or, or did you like, were you able to have like, fun and just relax at any time?
Boogaloo Stu 57:49
Yeah, I was, I always managed her phone. So sometimes it it could be stressful sometimes, but usually, only if something had gone badly wrong. Like, on occasion, the power would go down inside though, we had power cards. There was occasions when, you know, people can get in that really needed to get in or there was never any trouble. But they might be really drunk people who needed to be ejected or, or some nights It was really quiet. And like bank holidays, were notorious Brighton pride weekend was notorious, and it would just be empty. And I would kind of think it’s really not worth actually bothering me. No, but we would, but we’d like have like 50 people rattling around. wondering, Roger one was there, but it never bothered me because I was largely always prepared for it. I suppose. There was occasions when people were caught having sex. And that wasn’t particularly upsetting for me to have to be ejected, obviously, you know, we’re injected good. Yeah, it was it was largely it was it was fairly stress free. I mean, what I realised now having sort of passed for the past 10 years I’ve been doing, you know, devising theatre shows and, and touring with them, as well as running my quiz nights and what have you. And what I’ve learned is that actually what I was I was doing there, I was a DJ on this promoter and I was also a producer. Now you’d kind of separate all those out into three people doing those jobs, and I was doing them all, I would turn up at like, nine 839 o’clock at the venue. And I would put the glitter coat knob and I saw at the stage and I’ve got all the prices backstage and I’d make sure the lights are working stage lights and genomic It was like I was doing all the all the kind of prep as well as making costumes. So preparing show tapes because we’re using tapes then as well like perfect. Yes. Yes, I’d be editing show tapes i’d basically be doing the the older jobs that are show producer would normally do failing the condoms with
K Anderson 1:00:15
yoga as well.
Boogaloo Stu 1:00:16
Yeah, yeah, we do that comparing the liquids for sniff my panties. And then I would I do a DJ set. And then I do the cabaret. And then I might do a bit more DJing afterwards. And if I wasn’t doing that, then I was walking around the club getting badges and jellybeans and all that kind of stuff. I must tell you heard about the jelly beans. Actually. It’s a good story. Because we had this, we had sponsorship from Jelly Jelly Belly jelly beans, which were really delicious, obviously. And the woman who was the PR for jelly beans punch anybody with this really lovely lady called Victoria. And she’s very posh. And I spoke to quite a few times on the phone. She’s okay. Yes, yes, I’ll send you. I’ll send you 10 boxes this quarter. And I was like, okay, we can make that work. And she said, she always said in return, she needs to see some publicity with their logo on it and what have you. So I was always very mindful to send her flyers and what have you with their logo displayed and maybe a little tagline saying sponsored by Jelly Belly. And, of course, some of the flowers were a bit fruity. And I would, I’d say to you know, some of the players have got rude words on them and why shouldn’t I just let my bosses see them? You know, what have you. So I remember I sent her one. I sent her a bunch of flyers. We had loads of flyers done, particularly when it was fortnightly. It was like a different ply for every single party every fortnight. But anyway, I amassed a load of flyers to send her this particular time. And one of the flyers had an image of a couple doing massage, and the guy was lying on his front with nothing on and the woman was meeting his buttock with her face. And I mean, she was assisting him Don’t get me. She was needing his buttock. So her clenched fist was kind of quite close to his bundle, I suppose if you want to look at it that by. And that was the reason I used to photograph because it looked vaguely obscene. And obviously, it had lots of text over it and what I viewed silly words and speech bubbles and things like that. It was the same style of design as the badges. And obviously, in the bottom corner, there was a little chubby bunny logo, or all these flyers, and this was in amongst them. And she had left them on her desk at work. And her bosses had discovered these flyers. And they, I didn’t hear from her for about two months. And I wonder what was going on. And basically, she nearly lost her job over that flyer. She eventually she called me and she said, Oh my goodness, it’s been absolutely terrible. And I’m afraid we won’t be able to sponsor you again. I think it was the end of the sponsorship deal.
K Anderson 1:03:21
But did you did you then go to Crisco or some other kind of? No,
Boogaloo Stu 1:03:26
I vaguely tried. No, I didn’t. Yeah, we just I just I don’t know what I used instead. But I’ve just bought pick and mix or whatever. Kind of lobbyists and things like that from the cash and carry but yeah, she was she was really upset and apparently had been really bad at work for her because of that, you know, it’s my fault.
K Anderson 1:03:53
So she’s gonna leave on her desk. I think that’s on her. Well, yeah, I
Boogaloo Stu 1:03:57
mean, she kind of knew she shouldn’t have, you know, I remember her being she was apologising to me. So, you know, I shouldn’t have, I should have made sure that they weren’t anywhere to be seen, or they should have gone into bed or whatever. And I was like, Look, it’s as much my fault really, I should have been taking liberties with your brand. You know, to some degree, I should put a bit more respect to the fact that you were sponsoring it and I could have kept the flyers it cleaner, you know. So yeah, there is the flyers were obscene. A lot of them were absolute feels, you know,
K Anderson 1:04:33
I mean, like, promote your night in an accurate way.
Boogaloo Stu 1:04:36
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the night was filthy, you know, it was pure filth a lot the time is, it was, you know, just all
Boogaloo Stu 1:04:46
sex and smart and, you know, obscenity, so that was reflected in the content of the flyers.
K Anderson 1:04:54
People know what they’re getting themselves in for? Yeah. Did you ever go to Shinky Shonky at the polar bear. Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. Please share your stories and any photos that you may have from that time through social media. You can find me on all platforms with the username K Anderson music. Last spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and things that happened within them and the people who lived their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the next year. You can hear the first single well groomed boys which is also playing underneath my talking right this very second on all streaming platforms. If you enjoy this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe to the podcast, and leave a review on the iTunes Store or failing all of that just tell someone tell someone who you think might be interested in hearing the story. I’m K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.