Sunday, 3 October 2010

Of Hearts and Bars, the Raymond Revue Bar that is...

Suddenly about a week ago my heart appeared to break, quite literally, and I ended up in A&E. A very sobering experience, the Doctor rushed off leaving my notes on the bed. There is a black lined box in case you decide you have had enough of the lunacy of the holding ward and decide to die. I didn't, obviously and am waiting to see what might be up in a kind of don't exert yourself and don't get angry purgatory. Not getting angry is particularly difficult as I am a Londoner and we are born angry. We'll see, I'm hoping for something minor that involves a drug which gives me a sense of serenity and knocks a few pounds off my weight. It has at least given me the chance to catch up on some reading.


I have been lost in the pages of Paul Willetts latest 'Members Only' a biography of Paul Raymond of Revue  Bar fame. Paul told us that he had wanted to call the book 'Panties Inferno' but his publishers wouldn't have it. This does give an idea of the wit and interest Paul invests in his book about a man who is not really very lovable. Raymond's life is fascinating, not least in the story of the famous Revue Bar which involved farcical efforts by the police to catch him out, bra-nibbling horses, cheetahs on the roof and the inevitable snake. Where there is a naked girl there always eventually seems to be a snake. Pornography, prostitution and the exploitation of women were all elements of Raymond's trade but what is interesting is to consider his effect on Soho.

Paul Willetts addressing members of the London Adventure on a walk.
I don't actually like the sex industry but Soho's atmosphere is what it is largely due to the lingering atmosphere of loucheness and danger. Some claim it has disappeared. Certainly in its old tarty in your face way it has but there is plenty of nastiness still lurking beneath the surface. I wouldn't like Soho without it; the sex trade encourages the presence of other wayward behaviour and I like wayward behaviour but it is an uncomfortable admission.  Many claim that Soho is becoming sanitised, a place of fetes, chi chi shops and chain restaurants. I don't entirely concurr with this but it certainly has changed. If you want a real sniff of Soho in the fifties and sixties I strongly recommend this book, readable and full of anecdote and choice tidbits from Soho's past.

Minn x

5 comments:

kcm said...

Hope the medical problem turns out to be nothing serious and you're recovered quickly! Hugs, K xx

Straight Talking Mama! said...

Lordy lady, hope it's something minor and you're all fixed up soon!

Fleur de Guerre said...

I hope you get your good news soon - would love to see you when you're allowed out again :) xx

Mim said...

It sounds as though you have a view of Soho that chimes with a lot of JG Ballard's writing, where he links transgression with creativity and life.

I hope you get better soon.

Katie Chutzpah said...

If you ever get hold of the drug that makes feisty women with too much heart become less impassioned and serene while helping induce weight loss, I'm in. K xx

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