(LONDON) LIFE BECOMING ART

Leigh Bowery by Fergus Greer

Last night to Brixton to see the TABOO musical – a revival of the original award-winning production from about ten years back. I remember the posters and was intrigued by Leigh Bowery but I didn’t know anything about the Blitz club / early eighties New Romantic scene in London so didn’t see it then.

I was there last night because the book was written by Mark Davies Markham with whom Marcella Puppini and I have been working. Boy George co-wrote the songs (and starred in the original production as Bowery) and it includes a couple of original Culture Club songs and various early New Romantic classics.  It is very good, very funny, very entertaining – even if that isn’t your sort of music.  There isn’t a stage – its like being in a club with a catwalk and it happens all around you. It was absolutely rammed and went down a storm – I think it’s going to run and run and very possibly go West End, a sort of hip Mamma Mia.

But last night was something else – it was like three shows in one.  You see Steve Strange, Philip Sallon, George and various other luminaries from the period were both there in the audience and major characters in the musical.  It was press night so they are not usually in attendance, but it meant you could simultaneously watch the drama unfold, watch some of them sitting there AND witness them actually interacting with their characters..  For instance The Real Steve Strange (looking rather fragile it has to be said) made various comments to his younger self on stage and, with seeming equal regard, to both The Real Phillip Sallon (sitting anciently prim on his own in a low cut dress) and the character Phillip Sallon camping it up on stage.  They had a whale of a time.

I suppose this is what is meant by Post-Modernism.

Very entertaining and interesting but also quite poignant with regard to the transitory nature of fame and age (which is kind of the modern taboo isn’t it?). Where are they now? What do they do now?  What is like to see the signal events of your youth (which happened to become pop-culturally significant) re-enacted before you as you, as it were ‘fade to grey’?

Slightly haunting I would have thought.