This week I’m joined by the, quite frankly, charming Liz Naylor, who, amongst other things has been a writer and music industry bod, before embarking on her recent adventure as one of the founders of the charity Foundation for Change,
We caught up to discuss the Manchester scene in the late 70s, how grim lesbian bars were at the time, butches and femmes, and the overlaps between the punk and queer scene…
Liz Naylor 00:00
Like, if we talk about shame is like, you know, I hated myself as a kind of, you know, 14 year old I just wanted to die really. And but the thing you know, it drove me out of hide it got me to kind of explore new things. I was I was aware of punk I’d sort of was on my radar and I was like, Oh, this is really interesting. The thing this is quite common for lots of people ended up around punk is it wasn’t so much about like a musical movement, but it was an opportunity to find, find an escape route and change who they are.
K Anderson 00:36
I am 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 are created there and the people that they used to know. This week I caught up with the quite frankly charming Liz Naylor, who, amongst other things, has been a writer, and music industry Bard before embarking on her recent adventure as one of the founders of charity foundation for change. We caught up to discuss the Manchester scene in the late 70s. How grim lesbian bars were at the time, butchers in firms, and the overlaps between the punk and the queer scene.
Liz Naylor 01:51
Well, the picador was a club in kind of, Hank, it was, it was round shoot Hill in Manchester. And it was owned by Fufu Lamar at some point, but it’s sort of has a really kind of sketchy history, a little bit of research into this. And it, it’s sort of been a sort of shabby little nightclub from, I think, sort of 50s onwards. And by 1979, it was called the picador. And it was a lesbian club, and I was taken there by sort of somebody, I’d met really randomly through punk. And it I mean, there’s, there’s the whole kind of, you know, it’s important because it was like the end of an era of, you know, butches at the bar kind of femme sitting down. You know, it was very sort it was like a kind of regional gateways, you know, wasn’t quite as as busy or quite as well known or actually quite as affluent, but like, it was a proper old school, weird lesbian bar.
K Anderson 03:03
I want to I want to find out more about this, but before we do, who is Fufu? llama? Okay, who
Liz Naylor 03:11
was a very famous? Well, not well, he was not that famous, but in Manchester Fufu Lamar was a sort of a drag artist, a few nightclubs. He was a bit of a, you know, Mr. Manchester style, you know, it was quite kind of mainstream people kind of knew him as a bit of a dance, you know, like Manchester’s Danny La Rue sort of thing. Oh, okay. So Fufu owned a few nightclubs. And one of them. There’s a weird sort of what I was interested in talking about is a weird, like, gay scene and gay scene kind of punk crossover that happens. This is like this really interesting kind of little bit of history of Manchester is correct. I live in a house in London with Louise’s and Sex Pistols, kind of frequenting kind of lesbian clubs as well. But then there was some there’s an equivalent in Manchester. So that’s where I wanted to start off. And so
K Anderson 04:10
her took you there? Well, I
Liz Naylor 04:16
had to be careful. No, you know, it was, it was something it was, I went to a punk band called the distractions and their bass player was, you know, and he’s sort of trans but that concept wasn’t around then. So, you know, as far as I knew, it was like, Oh, it’s the first lesbian I’m new as lesbian. And then I went to this band really randomly, and it was like seeing my first live lesbian, but that didn’t look like you know, barrel read or, you know, awful kind of thing. depictions of lesbians I’d seen on the telly, you know,
K Anderson 04:57
now I feel really dumb who is barrel raid.
Liz Naylor 05:00
Okay, they will read rain they will read was The, the main character in the killing of sister George. Okay. Okay. So you know, as a young lesbian, you had no kind of access to any kind of visual representation of your world, you know, like, it’s like having to imagine a, you know, the way the world was without a map. So we were all I had was like, this terrible film that I’d seen one night, probably where lesbians were awful, and you know, like, unhappy. And I mean that, you know, there were obviously equivalences for gay men. So all you kind of see are these links really selective depictions? Yeah, that’s right. So I can you as a lesbian, but I look them up. Well, I’m not not one of them, I’d made no sense to me. And then I sort of went through this, this kind of punk band, it was 1978. Now, you know, punk was really important for me, because it gave you a sense of there, you could be something else you could be we went to this punk band in 1978, I’m 15 years old, had no idea how to sort of escape my home. And, you know, become a lesbian. It’s hard to become one right. So and I lived in a place called Hyde, which is sort of small market town in Manchester, which is interestingly, the world’s kind of murder capitals to serial killers come from behind being what was my dress and how Chipman
K Anderson 06:33
nice thing to be proud of for the town that,
Liz Naylor 06:36
yeah, put it on there kind of welcomed to hide and, you know, sign as you go in. So that like the chance of having two mass murders from one small town is is is quite
K Anderson 06:49
old. Like there’s something to bond over here, though. Because I grew up in Adelaide, which is the murder capital of Australia. Not not the world, but you know, Australia.
Liz Naylor 07:00
There you go. Well, you know what, I don’t know. It’s my labour. Well, I
K Anderson 07:04
mean, not many people get out
Liz Naylor 07:10
of nothing. But yeah, there was a lie on, you know, in 1977. And 1978, there was a real sense of, like, if I don’t get out of here, online, I will, like, be here forever. And that, you know, and I can’t be because I’m a lesbian, because I’m the only lesbian in the hide, forever. And, but I can, you know, like, it was the kind of place where people grew up there. And when you got married, and you kind of lived through that. So you know, that kind of that, that, that desire to kind of escape one’s physical, and the surroundings very strong. And so I get to see this punk band called the distractions, they have a bass player who, as I say, you know, was trans, but that was a kind of unknown concept as well. So I saw somebody who’s a really cool lesbian who looked fucking great. And I just kind of went up and went, you know, hello, y’all need to talk to you. Yeah, I think I might be in this view.
K Anderson 08:08
Do you have a pamphlet or anything
Liz Naylor 08:12
then arranged to meet me must have been like, the following weekend, I was really kind of, you know, right. I’ll be there at a the gay club with gay pub. And it was first game pub and ever been to called the union. And then picked PIP took me to the picador. And it it was kind of terrifying. I mean, I remember feeling really, really, it was shoot here was a kind of a rundown. You know, God, it was kind of a rundown part of the city then and in Manchester was a bit of a bomb site at that point as well. But shoot here was particularly sort of Robbie an unpleasant part of the city and the picador was up. You know, it’s like you get to this doorway and go It was really kind of rickety. These rickety stairs, there was no kind of frontage or anything. And then you come into what is like a small, somebody’s small front row with a bar, and a DJ kind of decks in the corner, and a few chairs and it was it was, you know, nightclubs in 1978 lesbian and gay nightclubs were like a bar and you know, few butchers standing around leaning at the bar and then sitting at the table, and like often jukebox, or I think, you know, a thing when I went to the picador they had a DJ, I think, but it wasn’t night every night wasn’t TJ night. So it was very basic. And so is that why you met in the Union because it was such a like off the beaten track type of venue. Um, I think no PIP just like PIP went to the union. It was bit older than me, but I was 15 and looked about 12 Do I look really young? I thought there’s no way I’m gonna get served. And I walked into the union and I, you know, they remember I’m in quite old now. But you know, I remember the the woman behind the bargain, what do you want let them motovlogger peace, and they just didn’t bat an eyelid. And the union was absolutely fantastic. It was full of absolute weirdos and I say that kindly, people who had just been kind of rejected, I guess, by the straight world, and that kind of a really kind of made sense to me. I’m like, Oh, I’m home, you know, these are my people. And then so the picador and Dickens was the other place. I go the other nightclub I go, though, I think it was probably a little later because dekins were a little more select amount letting people in the door person. So I think you know, at 50 you know, I don’t think I’ve got into dickins I think I went to dickins more like when I was 1617. So it will be like 7980
K Anderson 11:05
So talk to me then about Canal Street, because whenever so Canal Street, for those who don’t know, is the gay strip in Manchester. And whenever I think about it, I think about it as very commercialised mainstream type gay venues straight. I’m trying not to be like really dismissive with the words. But you just said that when you went to the union, it was full of kind of freaks and and outcasts was the same, very different than
Liz Naylor 11:39
Yeah, yeah, totally. I mean, there was at that point, Canal Street was it looked like something from you know, there’s a film of Sheila Sheila did a nice taste of honey, which I think, filmed in about 1962 in Salford, and it’s black and white film, and it’s kind of full of shots of, you know, black filthy canals and kind of, you know, factories belching smoke and, you know, faculty children, and can ask me, it was kind of a bit like that in in 79. There were no other clubs that was at the top end kind of near Piccadilly was the Rembrandt hotel, which is still there. And that was kind of very much like gay men. You know, they weren’t particularly friendly if you went in as lesbian. There’s a pub called New York, New York, and there was the Union and the union was the most, you know, welcoming, was welcoming and why. And the people that went there, it wasn’t like a gay pub, and it wasn’t a queer pub. The people that went there were prostitutes, there, punters really really bad. transvestite transvestites. And just people that would just fucked. You know, it was something that needs to be somebody walking around, called pinky used to just walk around selling blues, like tap, you know, dexy tablets going blue through for quick blue. So you quit quit. So it was
K Anderson 13:21
just, I’m so sorry. I’m so ignorant. And what what a blues?
Liz Naylor 13:26
Like, speed tablets?
K Anderson 13:27
Oh, okay. Okay. All right. Yeah.
Liz Naylor 13:30
You get served. You know, the, the, you buy drugs, and you have a, you know, a wild time. But it wasn’t me now, you’d sort of say it was quite I mean, he was genuinely a queer space. I think, you know, I have a bit of a kind of issue with that, because I think it’s a bit a historic, because it didn’t feel like a queer space to me, or I’m sure anybody else in 1979 or 978, or, you know, in 1968, when when people were there, and this idea of sort of renaming a queer space, I think sort of it kind of negates or It, it, it I don’t know, it does, it shuts down the actual way that people were inventing themselves, and making their world you know,
K Anderson 14:19
imposes our current lens on it, rather than accepting it for what it was. But if it wasn’t clear, then what how would you describe that?
Liz Naylor 14:27
He was just full of weirdos. And it was absolutely fantastic to be amongst weirdos because that’s what I felt like, you know, I didn’t sort of think Oh, great. I’m a lesbian. You know how cool I just felt weird. And I only loved being around weirdos. I really kind of, I was very, you know, went to the union, probably, you know, once a week at least, regularly. I was quite poor. So I kind of couldn’t, couldn’t do a lot of drinking but, you know, I was in there from 78 to 81 82 it was a very important space from them, but it was so it’s so hard to try to convey how different Canal Street was in those days. It was like this kind of grim cobbled cobbled street next to that canal. And, you know, the prostitutes used to take their punters down to the canal bridge, right near the union and, you know, give them a hand or somewhere and then be back in the
K Anderson 15:25
wet wipes ended, you
Liz Naylor 15:28
know, it was it was very, it was really good rally me. You know, it was and the union by that point hadn’t been done up. And this this is Martin Parr photo, the photographer Martin Parr, took a photo of the Union Emmaus a it’s about 7576 this photo, and it was pretty much like that when I first went there, there was a jukebox that was kind of playing like, you know, weird 60s kind of Dusty Springfield, you know, very sort of wasn’t up to date stuff. And there was a live drama this woman called Sandy used to pack herself with a pair of socks playing the drum singing Bobby’s girl, and it was just, you know,
K Anderson 16:13
why do you need to work? What do you need to pack yourself with a pair of socks to play the drums?
Liz Naylor 16:19
I Well, she was in full kind of, you know, male attire, at the drums, singing, singing and drumming at the same time, but like, not a lot like Karen Carr.
K Anderson 16:31
Manchester’s version of Karen Carpenter. Yeah,
Liz Naylor 16:33
good. Singing, I want to be Bobby’s girl, and then they’ll be sort of single on so it was like some weird, you know, it felt like something from a different decade, you know, even then, and it was a very strange place. But it was a wonderful place. So we always meet at the union. And then we go off to these kind of strange lesbian clubs.
K Anderson 16:59
And then so like so was it quite segregated, then in each bar on Canal Street had its own distinct identity and clientele? Yes. Okay.
Liz Naylor 17:08
So union was was it was like, absolute weirdos went to the union. And it’s kind of a bit like that now. Last winter, about 10 years ago, I’m assigning it kind of it was it was full of very working class people who were getting really really pest to really shit 90s kind of doctor album, kind of,
K Anderson 17:28
you know, where you did you do say Dr. Robin was shared. Like,
Liz Naylor 17:35
he was like, come on, like somebody bought a kind of 90s mid 90s dance compilation for a car boot sale. I think the tone really loud in the pub was just going mental to it. It was bit like shameless. Okay, when I went about 10 years ago, so it’s the, the vibe is very much the same. So that was a union that New York, New York was a bit kind of a more sedate, and it was hit a mess, whether I could get served in there. Certainly when I was young, they were a bit suspicious. The Rembrandt, as I said, was very much like gay men. And as a lesbian, you know, you probably would enter and just get ignored. And, and also, it was always kind of punky lesbian as well. So you know, kind of looked wrong. So, you know, I don’t think I ever really drank in the Rembrandt. And then the Thompson’s arms was there, which is was next to the coach station. And the Thompson’s arms was predominantly gay men, but also kind of Perry boys, which are kind of there are there are a kind of, sort of Manchester thing. And Perry boys would work. I was terrified. The parable is though, kind of chase you and beat you up, but there was sort of they were kind of weird, sort of rent boy, but kind of straight, you know, gay for gay for pay style. Our sort of football hooligan is not a foot wide again, but they were they were they’ve been soul boys and Bowie funds. So they there was it’s a really fascinating little bit of kind of youth subculture that exists in Manchester in the late 70s and early 80s. And, you know, a few people were pretty scared of gangs of payroll is though pretty nasty, but they used to like drinking in the Thompson’s arms. I think. That’s when they put quite a lot of their business,
K Anderson 19:26
just falling into a bit of a Google hole finding out about hairy boys because I’d never heard of them. Perry boys were notorious for attending Manchester United matches abroad and shoplifting, luxury brand clothing and jewellery from upscale boutiques.
Liz Naylor 19:39
But strangely for all their you know, heterosexuality they Thompson’s arms quite a lot. So there was some weird period boy kind of read by crossover in the Thompson’s. And then there was a gay club on the opposite corner called Napoleon’s which was just like strictly like no women in there at all. Like, didn’t even try it. It was really, actually
K Anderson 20:06
interesting. And so so you’d go to the Union have a pint, and then you’d go off to one of the secret lesbian bars that you were talking about. What was the lesbian scene lying
Liz Naylor 20:18
in? It was very small, you know? And I didn’t know how times have changed. Yeah, yeah, it’s kind of felt like you saw the same faces, and again and again, and they’re very little options. And there was there was quite a lot of the lesbian scene around the union that also drank in the picador. And then also drinking dekins were kind of very working class women from North Manchester, coalhurst and mosson that are very kind of economically deprived areas. I mean, you know, and have been for years and years and years. And they, you know, they, it was they were kind of the first time I kind of met lesbians who had kids who’ve been married and, you know, worked in kind of normal jobs. They weren’t, you know, they weren’t kind of middle class lesbians. They voted. So this is kind of very sort of working class lesbian scene around the Union and the bars I went to. Later in the late 70s, a bar called Swithin’s that nobody remembers opened. In back Thomas Street, I think, again, kind of all around where the northern quarter is now in Manchester. And so these bars were very, like, say they were just like, you’d go and it was like somebody’s front room with some really, really hideous pattern carpet.
K Anderson 21:50
So talk to me about the picador, then, do you remember what the carpet was like?
Liz Naylor 21:54
Yeah. Having said that, though, I remember the carpet in dickins a lot because it was like brown swirly. It was like your Nan’s carpet carpet. Just to pick it Oh, I can’t I can’t ever remember just the really with rickety stairs and going up. And it’s it was on three levels, which makes it sound like a really, you know, plush nightclub. It wasn’t it was just like three tiny little rooms kind of on top of each other.
K Anderson 22:23
Did they have their own kind of distinct activity happening in them?
Liz Naylor 22:27
They’re just kind of like, they’re just like rooms with chairs and sit and drink. And that was it. I think. An interesting thing about picador is I went I went there first it must be like, completely 79 kind of, it seemed probably early 79 and went there. And then it became it changed its name to use it. While it was use it. This is a hard white space. And I’d become friends with the guy called Richard Boone, who was, you know, man, a record company in Manchester and managed a band called the Buzzcocks. And Richard wanted to open a nightclub and I went, Oh, I know a really sleazy place. You know, it’s great. And very and Richard opened the club called the beach club on a Tuesday night that ran for booze. It’s the you know, the hideout because like basically nobody was going to lose it. And you know, New Order play their first gig there. I mean, it’s quite an important you know, music venue in Manchester’s history. And kinda it runs for like a year or so. And Richard Hughes like that. There was the downstairs ballroom and then there was a middle room where they used to show films, and the top the top floor they were were bands played. Ah,
K Anderson 23:49
and so so when it became music, did it stop being a lesbian bar?
Liz Naylor 23:54
I don’t think so. I mean, I think you know, it. I can just remember it being not many people being there. And the thing is, if I’m honest, I can’t remember whether like, I went every Wednesday night, which was lesbian night. Yeah. You know, I kind of a, it’s, it is sketchy. It’s a really long time ago, and it I just remember it being the first time I’d ever been to a lesbian bar and I didn’t know what you did there. You certainly didn’t dance. Nobody was.
K Anderson 24:26
Sure. We talked then about that. So you mentioned butchers and firms before and how this was kind of the last the last gasp of that type of scene. What? Yeah, what was the like? That So to me, when people talk about bridges and firms I’m always like, right, so the bridges are on one side of the room, and they are eyeing up the firm’s on the other side of the room. But what is it actually like? It was like that, okay.
Liz Naylor 24:52
coverage is this an inch? There’s an artist called Linda Sterling. You know, it’s quite a big deal, kind of visual artists these days and And Linda has got some photos that she took in dickins, which is the other bit of nightclub in late 70s. And you can see butches in there. And they dressed like, Oh, god, they’re dressed like, I mean, it’s really interesting what how lesbians point of shoes, they’re kind of visual style. But in the 70s, the butchers were were dressed more like, you know, blazers and really bad trousers, and, you know, just like, they dress like your dad. Dad, but you know, it, oh, you’re kind of, you know, your elderly uncle or something. So the visual style for butches was, you know, just sort of
K Anderson 25:47
harkens and, yeah.
Liz Naylor 25:50
And friends were, you know, just friends, or just firms and firms that kind of, you know, long hair. And it’s sort of it was just this very sort of coded sort of world.
K Anderson 26:01
What’s the only criteria to be considered firm that was to have long hair? I think so. Yeah.
Liz Naylor 26:09
And it’s really interesting, because like, actually, the last time I properly went out clubbing was I know, about 10 1013 years ago, I started to go to bar, whatever, in London. And I really loved it. Because it was partly it was a bit like, Oh, this is like, you know, this is full circle. It’s like, No, there isn’t families, but they’re playing with it. And you know, the thing about ball, whatever is, is it was playful. It was quite stylish. It was people kind of enjoying those roles. Whereas if we’re talking about Manchester in 79, felt really, really grim. You know, it felt I used to look at these butchers and think, I mean, I’m fairly, Byam Butch. But I used to look at butches and just think, Oh, my God, I don’t want to be then. You know, I just like, that’s, that’s a horrific thought for me that this is who I am.
K Anderson 27:03
That’s really interesting, because I was going to ask that too, in a young, impressionable, first time on the scene. And being that there were these two distinct tribes? Did you feel any pressure to conform?
Liz Naylor 27:17
Yeah, I guess. I didn’t know who I must have been the pressure. I mean, actually, I kind of didn’t know how to be, and that’s quite, you know, well, I was very fucked up. You know, young woman, I’d been expelled from school and kind of had loads of other, you know, really difficult stuff happened to me around my mental health. So, absolutely. Fucking rocker most of the time. And I just kind of, but you know, I think in common for laughing in a kind of slightly defensive way. I think, you know, as anybody who’s kind of experienced kind of poor mental health, it’s like, I just didn’t understand how the world worked. I didn’t have the instructions for it. So I’d sort of I knew I wanted to be in relationships with women. But I’d go into these kind of social settings and just think, Oh, you know, I don’t really know how to be Butch shown, certainly, you know, my hair was short. You know, okay, I’m not a fan. But it didn’t really make sense. When I think, you know, looking back, that’s also why the union made a lot more sense to me, because it was it was fluid, you know, it’s like, you know, that, okay, the lesbians were actually, you know, sex workers, they were going off and kind of chugging blokes and coming back coming back in and like, everything was up for, you know, well, what is it? And, you know, where is this the kind of the club scene at that point was a lot more codifying, I think.
K Anderson 28:51
But then there’s this other kind of layer there as well, in terms of the punk scene. And how did that intersect for you?
Liz Naylor 28:59
It’s always sort of been there. And the very, you know, it was sort of before my days, but there were kind of very early punk scene in Manchester is 676 77. And the main venue that bands played and all those kind of very early punks met was a place called the ranch. And the ranch was owned by Fufu levar. And the ranch was, that is now okay. Yeah, exactly. I was like, I’m not I’m not a representative of the estate of food. Well, basically, you know, like, the food. So fulfilling them are owned a foods place, I think it was called a kind of one of those venues where kind of straight office workers would go and watch a drag act, you know, okay. It’s kind of kind of popular, and boozy, and kind of very working class. And then he had this other venue that I think wasn’t earning any money and then it was kind of like he was struggling with and then so we know, I think somebody said can we put on gigs here and you know, fukada went well, yeah. Okay, because we need the money. And the same thing happened with the picador slash shoes. It’s when Richard went to them and went, Oh, can you know, can we hang out on a Tuesday evening we want to put gigs on. So there’s always been this kind of history of punk in Manchester happening in gay or lesbian, you know, places because they were the they were the venues that that said yes. I think I don’t think it was through any kind of what it was factually, you could say, isn’t that I was just about to say, I’m sure it’s just kind of financial. But actually, you know, there is there is something going on where people recognise other nurses in the media, you know, that are the nurse because they exist in those places. And yes, they were very sort of they were places that were the most tolerant
K Anderson 30:57
when, punk. But But, but in referring back to the blockchain firms, were you able to reject that? Because you could see yourself as a punk? Yes,
Liz Naylor 31:08
totally. I mean, that’s a kind of an astute. Let’s do point is, it’s, you know, it’s not that Oh, you know what, I’m nearly 58. Now, I don’t sit around listening to punk music, you know, it kind of musically, it just really kind of mean anything to me. What it was, was this fantastic way to get a kind of alternative identity that was beyond Butch or fam. It was a way you know, again, you know, the most easiest way to understand that though, we should resist labelling it, but it was a queer identity. And I didn’t you know, I just didn’t fit in to the world of butcher Femi there. So I was punky. And those those those places, those kind of the picador dekins. You know, they, the lesbians who were there, kind of, I think, probably just thought I was weird. You know, I was weird. Because I didn’t look like them. Around this time, and then 79 me and my sort of first girlfriend Kath, moved, we were given a council flat and a place called Kali Hearst in North Manchester, where it where that, you know, lots of say lots of those kind of lesbians lived around there. And honestly, kind of I forgotten this what cat remembers it? Well, we were just every night chased by gangs of us and it threw stones, you know, with throw stones and in rock that as and reunify identified
K Anderson 32:42
you as lesbians. Yeah.
Liz Naylor 32:46
And weird, and it was really terrifying stuff. And I really, you know, and Katherine members, again, following us home and just going we’re gonna burn your flat down, you quit your lessons,
K Anderson 32:56
and you don’t remember this.
Liz Naylor 32:59
I actually think it was quite dramatic. We had a really traumatic time living there. It was really horrible. And lo desperately poor and, and frightened. Right. So but that, you know, like Kali Hearst was the heart of that kind of working class culture and culture. So as kind of a wrong word to use that you just like it was there is a really terrifying place to live with culture that I don’t know. It wasn’t. It didn’t represent a culture but um, but so what am what am I trying to say here is like, they were the same people that were in the clubs that we were living around, you know, but they, they, they, they they weren’t weird. Well, they were weird. Oh, this is a kind of, I’m taking my sacred the whole day. But I’m trying to kind of say that, you know, those lesbian clubs at the time were full of just very, very rough working class people doing drugs and dressing in the wrong, you know, men dressing up as women, but then punk was another identity.
K Anderson 34:06
Yeah, okay. Do we want to talk about calf? Um, no.
Liz Naylor 34:13
I mean, she’s, you know, she she was my first girlfriend but she is, you know, then the rest of her life heterosexuals. Oh, wow. It’s like one of those. It’s, it’s it. Yes. It is like one of those kind of classic kind of filmy type romance, you know, where you kind of you meet somebody and they kind of say, you know, it’s it. It, it was all very kind of it was a year or so older than me. So I met her when I was 15. So probably kind of later on 70 78 later on, or maybe early 79, and she was four year old me. So I was 17 she was 18 she felt a lot, a lot, a lot older than me. Because when you’re that age a year makes all the difference. And all this is totally fraud. You know, all I’m trying to say is like, it says classic kind of teenage really, really? overly fraught painful, painful. Yeah, I know, we gave earlier is like, you know, as you know, kind of few gay men I know have also had this very similar experience of kind of falling in love with somebody or they’re important in love with, like, somebody straight, falling in love with them, by the way, and they all been really painful and kind of, you know, difficult. I didn’t raise any more maybe kids just dying. Yeah, whatever. But you know, in 1979, you had to decide whether you were straight or gay. And, you know, even by step bisexual felt like a bit of a statement. And Kath was Mencap went out at the end, you know what, I think we probably went out each other for like, six months or something, and then split up, but we carried on living together and working together for years afterwards. But
K Anderson 36:25
yeah, and so in that time, when you carried on living and working together, did she start dating men? Yes. What was that? For you?
Liz Naylor 36:35
Honestly, I think it was really painful for me. And I think I was I yeah, I think I probably behaved really nuts. Because it was it felt I felt very rejected, you know, both both sort of personally rejected, but also sort of as a lesbian, I think didn’t do my didn’t do my lesbian self esteem are great, they look good.
K Anderson 37:03
And while I was so terrible that she went back to them.
Liz Naylor 37:08
And then another one, another really good friend of mine called Judy who I’ve no idea where she is, she was bisexual. And she, she left me for some punk bloke called rat toe, you know, so kind of like some real kind of awful punk bloke, and I remember writing your like, nine, nine page letter, kind of, you know, detailing my outrage at this so that God this is like going to a therapist. I haven’t thought about this for ages. So I would do I you know, I kind of really liked straight girls or girls that were bisexual because, you know, all that internalised homophobia, I didn’t want to date him, because that would make me a butch. So I kind of my girlfriend’s was were either straight or bisexual.
K Anderson 37:57
But so. So again, this is my naivety. So please put me on the right track. Like, how could you tell the difference between a straight woman and a fan woman? Are you can you kind of catch
Liz Naylor 38:16
because what I liked were girls that were sort of slightly androgynous. And I think this is sort of class thing going on there as well. I mean, describe Cathy’s particularly middle class, but, you know, certainly Julie was, and and so I kind of I also wanted to get out of my class. You know, I also internalised cat class hatred, as well. And so, you know, my God, I was at one time I was fucked up, I was confused. I was there in the Union kind of feeling like a freak. And that’s where I really belonged, but really desperately, like not wanting to be a butcher fan, and also desperately not wanting to be working class, I was terrified of ending up, like what I saw around me. So I kind of wanted to get date girls that look like Tina Weymouth and talking heads. Who is you know, absolutely straight. I mean, there’s no doubt that Tina Weymouth looks straight but she looks kind of classy and androgynous and that’s just like, their, you know, or Chrissy hind or that kind of thing. You know, you know, those people. This is real straightness to them. But there’s also a confidence around there kind of ability to be androgynous. And I think I was really attracted to that kind of confidence as well, that I saw when people were, as I described earlier, those kind of early gay lesbian clubs in Manchester, there was a real air of desperation among those femmes weren’t kind of like yeah, I’m really loving my femininity here. The the message you were getting in those clubs was like, I hate men. I’ve had really shit relationships with men. I’m going to try it on with some, you know, butchers. This is where I’ve ended up there was there was This is a real weird like, it wasn’t good. It wasn’t like, you know, a kind of celebrated replace to be those those tubs.
K Anderson 40:11
It’s really fascinating. And and so like So you went to you went to your first kind of queer club sorry queer shouldn’t do you first went to your first lesbian bar 15 What was it? Were you still at school at that point?
Liz Naylor 40:26
No, I’ve been expelled from school. So kind of like around October 78. And so all this happens in the summer. So it’s like one of those kind of things make a great movie. I wake up from school and you know, in 1970, I’m 15 I break up from school and that summer, I need sever yourself. Yeah, exactly. And I started to kind of stay out and out and perform other, I started to kind of stay out at night and sleeping kind of used to go to gigs at the factory and human, I was going to kind of punk gigs and things like that just be I just kind of centrally kind of run away from home. So I was a bit of a runaway in Manchester around that time. And then but I did you know, I hadn’t, I went back to school in that September, whatever, and told my teacher to fuck off. I mean, it was so little, but you know, and then then days, and I was just expelled. They were just like, right, you’re out here and then. And then I kinda was gonna put in a mental health unit. And it was all you know, there’s lots of sort of trauma around that. And I think it’s not, it wasn’t particularly. I didn’t know, it wasn’t particularly necessary or something, you know. But
K Anderson 41:52
yeah. Extreme response.
Liz Naylor 41:55
It was Yeah. And it was a lot to do with the fact that I’d kind of feel like I kind of, you know, broken up from summer holiday. And that summer, suddenly I like cut my hair. And I was like, why I’m a lesbian that I went to the union. And I ended, you know, like, I understood, that’s what I want to be. And I went back to school, and there was just no way that that identity was, you know, and I went to very straight girls school and all the girls had kind of Farrah Fawcett kind of flicked kind of 1870s hairdos. And, you know, they all said they’d all be classified as firms. Yeah.
K Anderson 42:35
Until then, what happened? So like, so it sounds like you were you know, there was a bit of a light. I don’t know if this is the metaphor to use, but like, a light switched on. And you went from from like, not really knowing to being very adamant about lesbianism, your lesbianism, sorry, making it sound like a disease. And so what did that mean for your home life?
Liz Naylor 43:04
Well, I left home, then I left Well, okay, my mother. My mother just mentioned it. But I think I mean, you know, during that kind of late 78, when I was kind of running wasn’t running away, but I just, I just wouldn’t come back in the year ago, I sort of slept on floors and things like that I wasn’t street homeless, I just keep on people’s floors and that. So there’s a bit of a sort of punk community that were quite supportive. And I remember that was just kind of distraught, I think, but didn’t really mentioned. The lesbianism wasn’t it was just my delinquency problem. lesbianism was kind of hidden by the fact that I’d become a punk and, you know, kind of stay out all night and things like that. So there wasn’t a kind of moment where my mother went, Oh my god, you’re a lesbian on you. Like, even though it’s really funny, I kind of was also I’d started to wear men’s clothes as well but in a not so complicated to describe, you know, in words, but I’d also started to wear men’s clothes in a way that was kind of punky and cool not like the butcher’s I saw you know, I didn’t not like I was modelling for Kay’s catalogue or something. I was wearing like old kind of suits I got from the Salvation Army and things like that. And I can remember I was I was putting those centrally sectioned in a mental health units and I remember then them asking me why I wore when men’s clothes they were like, why are you wearing men’s clothes? And I was just like, well you know it’s cool in it you know Fuck off. I’m a punk. So that that kind of identities pumpkin and you know, my my sexuality was so sort of intertwined you know? But I think my mother just chose to address the more delinquencies say the more delinquent parts on personality.
K Anderson 45:07
It’s so interesting, there is another that in the mental health unit, they were like, well, this must be like, part of the reason because you’re wearing clothes that aren’t for the gender your best selling, like, that’s just so bizarre. It I find all this
Liz Naylor 45:26
you know, because I actually haven’t worn female clothes since, you know, since I, you know, may 1978. And that, you know, I kind of just, you know, it, it was that summer just allow me to be who I felt was actually. And so it’s, it’s kind of being, it’s really odd being kind of older and single kind of the debate around trans stuff, you know, I find it quite painful for me, I find it kind of quite painful and upsetting to sort of see how that’s polarising people, but it’s also kind of a weird sort of sense of, yeah, just my own past, you know, in this. And it’s not an identity. I mean, I just feel like I’m a middle aged lesbian, and I’m a woman, I just like, I put in those. In those days, I think my identity was was very difficult for me, as it was very difficult being a woman in those early times.
K Anderson 46:24
And so do you want to talk about this a bit more? So why why do you find it difficult? Around the trans debate at the moment? And
Liz Naylor 46:36
the interesting thing is, I know actually, I kind of like, personally, sort of friends with people who are both on who represent, you know, either sides of the debate. Yeah, and I only I, I find that the I just find it really kind of black and Whiting and painful. Because my own my own identity has moved around so much through you know, whatever. You know, since my since my late teens, I think I think I find it painful. Now God, I really didn’t want to talk about this. I think I’ll keep it brief. But I think during that time, if trans had been a kind of an identity on a very much taken that on. So I think I find it difficult, because it’s like, every day, it’s not something I particularly want to take on now. It feels like a, you know, an odd thing to do. And the but I know that if you’d have if trans had been around, I mean, the kind of people were trans, you know, don’t want to sort of Yeah, I don’t hear I mean, though, but as a sort of concept that wasn’t really discussed. People were just like, really Butch lesbians, or you know, or not. Yeah. And if somebody said to me, oh, you know, how about this? Do you feel like you are really a male? And you? Do you feel uncomfortable? In your Do you know, with your, with your tips? Do you? You know, do you feel uncomfortable being a lesbian? Are they gone? Oh, god, yes, that’s me. You know, that is exactly how I felt. So I can and I feel like I can understand it a lot. But I feel really painful. Because a lot of people I really love and respect are kind of, you know, what would be kind of called on the kind of trans exclusionary feminist side of things. And then there are lots of people I really love and respect who who are kind of very much around kind of trans rights. So I don’t know, I’m being a bit tricky on the fence answer, but I just, I just feel like I don’t want to fucking take a position on it. You know, I find it crazy to me.
K Anderson 48:57
I can totally appreciate the Yeah, the point that you’re making. In the, I guess, I guess the way it’s being framed is that gender is an absolute. And it isn’t necessarily, and you’re like the, the way you perform gender or the way you feel about your gender can shift over time. Yes. But I don’t know I just I feel like like if you if you know that you’re in the wrong gender, you should be able to, to transition without that being a problem for everyone. And I just lots of the arguments remind me of things that I was hearing when I was growing up like, Oh, we’ve we teach kids about being gay, then they’re all going to want to be gay. And I just that and that’s like, obviously not true. And it’s kind of the same arguments now. Like, oh, if we let kids think that they can be trans and they’re all gonna want to be true And then it’s just as fashion statement. And I just don’t think that’s true.
Liz Naylor 50:05
You know, I think it’s probably a, a, a paradigm shift in how people kind of understand themselves. You know, I think if I’m optimistic, I think, actually, it’s probably, you know, a foretaste of the future, where people have a very different relationship to gender. I hope so. You know, what I saw? I mean, I don’t know, I feel like I really need to cut this out, you know, I feel like I’m not expressing myself really well, but a lot of my experience of what I mean, you know, we’ve cut to the core here a bit of being young and seeing those butchers in those, you know, clubs in Manchester, and having a kind of visceral kind of repulsion, you know, because, like, it was like, I can’t be that, you know, that’s, I can’t, it was. So it felt so sad and difficult. And it was, I mean, a lot of times, it was I don’t think I was being particularly judgmental or something, you know, there was loads of those clubs, I went to those, that scene I was in, people were alcoholic, they were poor. They were, you know, there was a very kind of material deprivation to their lives. There was quite a lot of domestic abuse between lesbians, you know, it wasn’t like, Oh, yeah, it’s just, you know, good old butcher, and good old fam, there was lots of real pain that went along with those identities.
K Anderson 51:34
Yeah, and I mean, the thing that I can relate it to is, like, you know, hyper feminine men. And my first experiences in gay bars was just like, Oh, I don’t want to, I don’t want to associate with them. Because of the way I was conditioned to believe that, you know, there was something. And, you know, obviously, I was also conditioned to believe there was something wrong with me, but but it was almost tolerable if I could be somewhat masculine in my presentation. And to see these hyper feminine men in those spaces was really jarring and really something that I wanted to not associate myself with. And, and that’s kind of their experience, which is shared. And I feel really bad that that’s how I responded.
Liz Naylor 52:26
Yeah, I think, I don’t know where this is going. But I think this like, my feelings aren’t translate I really kind of complicated and I actually don’t really talk about much, because I don’t want to complete be a complete dick to anybody. I don’t want to kind of piss anybody off. But my own, you know,
K Anderson 52:43
I have experience experienced.
Liz Naylor 52:44
Yeah, my life has been made incredibly complicated about the Oregon Oh can say is also at the time, it was like, a, you know, a lot. You know, I was quite traumatised. And also it’s like, not having a language for something. Yeah, I’m doing it’s, you know, my mind kind of day job kind of thing. I, I’m doing some kind of research moment about shame. And I’ve just wanted to do a podcast on shame. I mean, you know, the, you know, the lots of various kind of theories around it. But one of them is like, the idea of like, having a core belief about a negative core belief by yourself. It’s kind of formed before language, so it’s never articulated to yourself. So I think a lot of you know, it’s not like you have the words for the thing you’re experiencing, because you’ve never had the words. And a lot of my, you know, being a lesbian, being repelled by Butch lesbians, not understanding who I was hiding a bit behind the kind of punk identity was also I did, I just didn’t feel like I had the way to understand myself because that I didn’t have the words in my vocabulary. They weren’t there. And I was thinking about this podcast and I in about 1991, I think it would be I was working for record company. So I went on a press jaunt to New York. And I went to a club called the clip club on the kind of meatpacking district in New York. And it you know, it was very in 91, it was very kind of clearly a queer space. And I went to the clip club, and it was like, Oh, my God, this, this is what I’ve been searching for. This is this makes sense to me. So when I kind of came across kind of a new version of queer, that did make sense to me. But all my experiences before that had just been very confusing because I didn’t have that kind of language.
K Anderson 54:42
So what was it then about that? That made sense?
Liz Naylor 54:46
It was it was inclusive and inclusive god that’s a bit of a bland word. You know, like community centres and it’s like, okay, you It felt like there were women there who were, you know, black African American women, there were women who were Asian. But it wasn’t like some kind of middle class lesbian thing. It was just like, there were women who were fat, thin, there were women just who were, you know, it was just a huge mix of people enjoying themselves. There’s like a peaches video or something, you know. And it was just really cold. And it was like people not giving a damn enjoying themselves. And the thing, you know, in a way, you could sort of say that the early clubs in Manchester went to mark Peck and Dickens, you know, people were, we’re not giving a damn, but there was a, there was an edge of desperation there. And there was an edge of real kind of, you know, pain. And, and, and, you know, we knew because I was a tourist as well, but I mean, in New York, it was just like, a real celebration of queer it felt like, we can be who we want. And I remember, like, you know, where there were kind of naked women dancing on the bar, and they were kind of sex toy workshops going on and things like that. And, and we just shared it you wasn’t around kind of a bit like, Oh, my God, I know. So you know, it’s like, you know, I just it was, I was just, it was just so liberating.
K Anderson 56:24
Yeah, Isn’t that fascinating? I mean, so yeah, not not withstanding that you had holiday spectacles on at the time? Like, is it that this isn’t gonna come out? And please, no one from Manchester get really angry at me? Is it because they’re working class background of Manchester and the general climate of the 70s?
Liz Naylor 56:49
Like, it was such a fucking grim city, it was horrible. I mean, it was really interesting, because it was, it was really, really kind of the centre of the city was really sparsely populated. And because and it was really, really rundown. And everywhere, where, you know, so the venues I’m talking about, where we’ll be shut down these days due to kind of, you know, I suppose safety kind of like, okay, they were filthy. They were horrible. And they were in fire truck kind of buildings. And, you know, just just what was good was a bit, you know, it’s a bit like New York in the 70s, where people talk about that, or 80s people are kind of lonely side seats. It’s like, because because the centre was so destitute, people could live there. And I was really, really cheap. And you could, it was like, you know, you could you could inhabit the centre of this really, really rundown city. But it was really grim. And the, the, the club that came, so eventually, I think kind of it was it’s shot. And like, I mean, the the Richard boons Beach Club only went on for about a year and a half. That’s kind of 81 ish. So is it shut and then around that time, I put called a club called Swithin’s opened, and it was down it was in the basement. And in order to get a licence, they had to serve food with my sister, my sister gave me one my sister’s lesbians for mother and they have to serve food. So you go to dances basement sit just in like two rooms, like nothing, you know, is like awful kind of strip lighting almost. And a bloke a really fat bloke in a vest used to come around at about midnight, with plates of sausages and chips. And smack them down for people. And it was it was like, it was part of them kind of keeping their licence on. And the DJ was just awful. The DJ would like play something and a few people would dance. And she kind of go right girls, you like that one and put the kind of needle back at the view and the record again, and it was the same. So yeah, it was, it was probably about 20. You know, like 20 was lesbians that used to sit in his basement eating sausage and chips that, you know, while some lucky it’s the owners husband in his best wood Lily, you know, it’s like some big fat kind of Northern bloke in a vest, some greasy kind of sleazy guy was wandering around and you know, we’d all danced to, in the record, say record again and again. And it was it was bizarre in retrospect, but at the time, it was just like, well, that’s what it is, you know, this is this is the height of clubbing in Manchester, people. And here we are.
K Anderson 59:43
So the kind of the main difference is in Manchester there was like nowhere else to go.
Liz Naylor 59:48
No, I think there was there was sort of there was a gay club call to veals. But that was again, it was kind of men and it was like slightly more. I was really poor. Right, like it’s really, really, really poor. So a lot of the places I went to I went because every sausage and chips I was like fuck a meal. But um, you know, they they weren’t they were where the poor people went. They were very working class and yeah, they were cheap. Remember how much any of them were to get into but I’m sure they weren’t much or, or they were free and and but in terms of other clubs in Manchester at the time, they were called the veals. And they were I think there were a couple of more kind of Gay Men’s clubs towards Dean’s came to the end of town. There wasn’t a lot you know, it wasn’t sort of I mean, clubbing in Manchester only really arrives in I went to the few kind of black clubs and I went to one in Cork audit, calm and what is called a really famous hip hop club. So that must have been kind of early 80s. And so clubbing sort of early sort of starts happening kind of early ages nine Hacienda Windsor sassy and arriva goes like 82 I think I read way early Hacienda as well. And so yeah, it felt like before that clubs, what I described as clubs are, you know, you will be provided
K Anderson 1:01:27
for men in a string vast handing out sausages. So you’ve just mentioned that your sister is a lesbian. So is she is she older, the new younger than you
Liz Naylor 1:01:37
older than me. And when a young lesbian, she was a straight?
K Anderson 1:01:42
Oh, I see. I was gonna say so did that not open the door for you. When you open the door for her? Yeah, sure. It’s actually Yeah, I think so. Oh, there’s something like I’ve heard from other people that have a gay sibling, that the one who comes out second feels like visit additional pressure because they’re going to let their parents down even more.
Liz Naylor 1:02:10
So I’ve never talked to my sister really about the great family great not talking about things. I don’t really know how she felt about you know, like, what, what that kind of pressure meant on her. That she came up it sort of like a lot all later on. And she just kind of was, you know, kind of having relationships with men. make it sound like a loose woman. She just had, you know, she had sort of No, you know, got like quite important relationships to read. And then I guessing in her when she’s late 20s kind of came out. But it was useful. I mean, she was an airline. She’s She’s lovely, lovely woman I loved very much. And she is she was a real kind of ally for me, in those early days. And then she moved down to she went to college in London, in the she moved down to London, I think 79. So also she was kind of away from the house. And my dad was dead. So you know, in a way, it was just me and my mom during a lot of that that those times of upheaval. My sister was away at university. And she came down to London in 79. And then kind of stayed and in the in the early 80s I was kind of I was hitching down to London to visit her. And then I started to go to the barrel and kind of London clubs like that. So kind of, I was felt like I needed. It’s funny. I’ve kind of I felt like I needed to get out of Manchester because it felt really small. And it didn’t have what I needed. What I needed. But yeah, I couldn’t I couldn’t get going to the Dickinson picador and the union. I was I was really kind of looking for something else. I found it a bit in London in the bell. And kind of that kind of early 80s London scene certainly felt kind of a different enough for me.
K Anderson 1:04:16
Did you ever go to the picador, or any of the other venues discussed in today’s episode? Well, if you did, tell me all about it. Find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Connect with me and let me know your stories. my user name across all platforms is 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 experiences and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming year. You can hear the first thing go well groomed boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right Now on all good streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might be interested to have a little listen as well. I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.