Sunday, 27 May 2012


One of the greatest scenes from seminal counter-cultural macho fest Fight Club has got to be the one and only Tyler Durden burning the crap out of Ed Norton's hand with caustic soda in a male-bonding initiation ceremony so hardcore its almost homoerotic. Durden of course turns out to be Norton's merrymaking alter-ego and this is his first lesson in the very sexy dangers of soap production.

"this is your life and its ending one minute at a time..."

It was this brilliant scene I had in mind when I attended Melinda Coss's soap production course today in lovely, leafy Walthamstow. Melinda couldn't quite reach the same heights of hotness as Tyler Durden but she proved to be a wise old owl, having decades of soap making experience including a stint learning and teaching the craft in Africa. Melinda (above) and her lovely crew of ladies explained the delicious chemical reaction which occurs when caustic soda mixes with oil to create soap, like water into wine...(maybe not that good). Hence the requirement of the heavy duty industrial safety chic items below.

Melinda's course gave an excellent run down of the fundamental history and principles behind soap making as well as two attempts at the actual process, very messy and requiring an exacting precision to get the measurements correct. We made a basic batch with ylang ylang essential oils, then a batch experimenting with different colour pigments to create some pretty pastel swirly effects. It proved to be somewhat of a labour of love producing our own bespoke soaps...and it feels creepily satisfying to pour your heart and soul (not to mention risking third degree burns and potential blindness) into creating an object your lover will ideally be rubbing enthusiastically over his/her genitals at some point in the future. For more information on Melinda's courses check this link.  

Friday, 25 May 2012


My quintessential '60s British moment has always been the Profumo Scandal of '63, rather than the awful 'swinging sixties' hippie zeitgeist that followed. The notorious affair had all the hallmarks of a classic gutter press story...glamour, politics, international espionage, suicide and underage call girls all played out within the inner circle of the upper echelon of conservative British politics. These were the bunga-bunga parties of the early 60s, Christine Keeler's innocent beauty tempered by the cynical cock-teasing power of a young woman entirely cognizant of her female potency, particularly entrancing to powerful middle-aged Tory stiffs.  

London's Mayor Gallery in Mayfair featured these photographs from Keeler's personal collection at a small show in 2010. Classically beautiful studio portraits cut with seedy Soho bar glamour shots were balanced out by the fresh-faced naiviety of our herione playfully sunbaking in the rolling pastures of Albion. She must have loved these particular images herself, and my favourite is the one of Keeler tucking into a home-cooked chicken dinner on her first night of freedom from Holloway prison (below). The saucy minx. These photographs seem to symbolise some kind of end of an era of post-war British innocence, the beginning of the breaking down of conservative social conventions into the repugnant maelstrom of acceptable behaviour we take to mean civilisation half a century later. Keeler looks like shes having so much fun. Just good clean good time girl fun. Hooray!

Friday, 18 May 2012


Anyone who knows me knows I maintain an unhealthy obsession with born and bred Battle boys and maudlin pop ivory-tinklers Keane. I came across this fote below on the band's website, taken by drummer Richard Hughes (whose clearly been indulging in my favourite pastime of guerilla manbagging) on his US blog featuring their own performances plus a variety of hipsters and generally atmospheric shots from Texas's SXSW festival. I'm not normally enamoured of American sartorial style, but lets face it, this guy's manbag seriously epitomises 21st century post-ironic coolness. I'm seeing 'the chaps' play again next month, and a Keane show is a religious experience equalled only by the likes of seminal indie fops Richard Ashcroft and Sir Stephen Patrick Morrissey. People sometimes take the piss out of Keane for being southern posh nonces (read...'middle class') who dare to write epic, emotional, piano-based tunes about their feelings. These people are twats. Click here to see a very funny example.  

Sunday, 13 May 2012


Really keen to crack on with TOMORROW'S fine reportage from the black lungs of Londinium TODAY but just a couple more art related ones I'm catching up on from last forgive me. Rewinding back to October last year for the Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, I think in its 9th year now and increasingly reeking of rank commercialism as each year passes. The fair is just that - a huge commercial enterprise enabling more than 500 international galleries to hawk their wares in overcrowded marquees crawling with hipsters, art students (at least those that can afford the admission price) and various London ace-faces hoping to get their sweet mugs featured, drunk, at the opening in the Standard Evening's magazine.

Being a nit-picking little so and so, I thought the calibre of the work on show was disappointing...and again proved the art rule I swear by that you need to syphon through 90% of utter tosh in contemporary art to discover the 10% that truly, and often for reasons only know to yourself, resonates. The work pictured above (all artists featured in this post unknown as I was sans notebook...apart from Gavin "The Man" Turk, bottom pic) did just that, its initial shock value giving way to a general low-level creepiness and fascination with a situation that the majority of people would normally never have the misfortune to experience. The work is probably taking centre stage right now in the Saatchi/Nigella dining room, affording privileged guests like Rebekah Brooks and Dave Cameron the opportunity to drink Baileys from a shoe and suck Nigella's creamy eggnog off the toes. Hooray!

Having a healthy sense of smut, a feminist bent, appreciation for glorious architectural monuments, a taste for appendages, an Eastern European fetish, a long and tawdry history with British indie music and a well documented love of my man Gavin Turk...may I now present a selection of my favourite pieces from the Frieze.

Saturday, 12 May 2012


Yes, The YBAs, those Publicity-Obsessed Marketing Geniuses...sorry, artists...have come of age and some guy called Jeremy Cooper has cashed in on a book all about them in this mid-career stage of their working lives. Having not read the book or listened at all to him (or the publisher's 'PR representative') gasbagging at the launch, I'm not sure whats in it (though I assume its some mildly interesting interviews)...but the party was refreshingly low-key and hipsterish at the Bethnal Green Working Mens' Club in East London.

Presumably Tracey Emin was too busy talking to the taxman about poetry (and entirely legal, Tory-sponsored tax avoidance loopholes) to attend such a humble event, with Damien Hirst no doubt locked in negotiations with one of Charles Taylor's henchmen regarding his next shipment of Liberia's finest commodity. However, the ever reliable, down to earth family man and shit hot post-ironic artiste Gavin Turk put in an appearance, spinning vinyl on the decks with what looked like one of his sons but more likely some Goldsmiths' Masters graduate art-world intern. I was hoping for a sighting of Sarah Lucas, but she must have been burrowed away in glorious hermitage, stuffing scrunched up copies of hoarded News of The Worlds into pairs of nude hosiery from Oxfam.

So there you have it...another post ostensibly about something, but in reality utterly superficial and pointless. Did someone mention YBAs?