Bob’s Cabaret (Area 10 – London: Thursday 15th Aug, 2002)

Week 4 of Bob’s Cabaret
After last week’s shenanigans (see I had expected many, many people down at Area 10 last night. Indeed, I had invited a bus load of people, and for once people were actually making noises that indicated they might even come down to Peckham *gasp*.

Going down early, the entrance was all closed up, but we rang the door bell, and we were welcomed again by Miles, who remembered my name again. Nice touch.

To get to the main arena it is necessary to walk through a huge, dark warehouse, heading towards a small lit doorway. Through the door way is the bar, the balcony, projection screens, videos and the main performance space. This place is all about space. It is massive.

Last night I was proved wrong in my assumption that cock sucking and public pissing would be a huge draw. There was a small crowd. Everyone is very approachable. I interrogated last week’s “suckee” regarding whether or not the sucking had been planned. He replied that he was not allowed to tell. Hmmm…

The show kicked off with a man playing improvised on an electric guitar. Good to begin, but with time he outstayed his welcome, and people started to talk amongst themselves, and buy more drinks. And the night, to a certain extent, continued like this. More of a party atmosphere with a lot of milling about.

A projector showed a rather abstract film called Santa Sangre, directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Scenes that I caught including a man having his willy sliced off, a Jesus type character being escorted by a crowd of kids with Down’s syndrome, and the sliced willy man tying a boy down and tatooing him. This seemed to have caught the attention of a large proportion of the punters.

A man started doing a similar improvisation (to the guitar, not the film) on a double bass, which was very nice indeed. Easy to slip into.

Next was a video, which consisted of following an old lady in a “Rascal” electric buggy around Peckham. Hmm…

After this my friends got a bit restless, obviously slightly disapointed that there was less of the Exorcist going on. We decided to split.

Highlight for me was talking to a bloke with trousers embedded with LEDs, who turned out to be Frank Zappa’s old photographer.

Not as nutty as last week, but a grand little party venue. Very chilled. Definitely worth checking out if you like a bit of arty farty stuff.

Bob’s Cabaret (Area 10 – London: Thursday 8th Aug, 2002)

Bob’s Cabaret Week 3.

A lot more people down at the old Whitten Timber yard last night. More like 100 than last weeks 20. 100 people all of whom are telling their friends about what they saw last night. Next week is sure to be crowded. Why?

When I got to the bar, I asked what was on the menu tonight. Some poetry, a dance show, a couple of bands.

The first half comprised of some poetry reading, a human beatbox (actually very good), a couple of guys singing funny songs which were actually funny. If course, I can’t remember the names of any of these people. Compared to last week the quality of the acts was much higher. I think some serious hard work preceded the event.

The human beatbox guy was a revalation. He had been introduced as reading a poem, but he began with quiet clicking noises, and built up to a fast rythmn. I could imagine the look on a latecomer’s face when walking into the warehouse to be confronted by 100 people quietly listening to a man making mouth sounds into a mic.

The act that followed that was two guys like you might find down the pub singing songs about fish and shopping. We’ve all seen the purveyor of the “funny” song on “variety” shows on TV, and I always find them disapointing and trite. Perhaps it is something about live performance, or they were actually very good, or I had smoked a reefer, that meant I was giggling at their utterances. Their apparently unrehearsed performance was surreal yet familiar.

The second half began with an act that required 9 volunteers from the audience. The poet promised he wouldn’t put them on the spot. Eventually 9 brave people sat on the stage, and the poet, Paul McKenna like asked them each a question. He then sent them off and composed a poem based on their answers “to draw a picture of this evening”. This took about 5 minutes, after which he read a short piece that was much deeper than the doggerel I was expecting.

Following this, another reading, this time of what I imagine was a cut up technique as pioneered by William Burroughs. The man reading was very animated and interesting to watch, though I found the rambling poems a bit hard to follow.

The next performance was a “dance” piece. It began with one of the organisers walking out completely naked and putting a record on, then sitting on the sofa on stage. A woman wearing a wrestling mask floated round the audience to the music, then walked behind the naked man and preceeded to stroke his arms. Seeings as there was a naked man on stage I wasn’t really sure what to expect next, and I was realising that watching a live sex show might not actually be the most comfortable experience, but she got out some scissors and started to cut the mans long hair off. She snipped away, then produced a shaver, and went at the man’s hair. When she had finished she carried some of the hair out to the audience. At this point it all went a bit wild. A japanese woman ran up on stage and leapt on the mans dick, sucking at it. He looked rather surprised. There were a few cheers from the audience. The first public blow job I have ever seen…

This marked the end of that act. I think the masked woman was not too pleased by the “disruption” (I think the man was her boyfriend), but she restrained any feeling she was having and let the evening continue. For the art?

The audience was then led up to a platform where a reading of “The Bald Premadonna” under the influence of vodka, a play by the french surrealist Eugene Ionseco. The players were all armed with shot glasses, which were filled up at regular intervals. The play is a critique of the English middle classes and their dull lives. The vodka and the fact that I think none of the players had seen the script before meant the performance was rather improvised. And the Japanese woman was back with a script too. She started reading her lines in a monotone Japanese accent. She began to squat, and the next thing I noticed was a puddle of piss growing around her feet. I don’t know if this was deliberate, part of an act, or involuntary, induced by vodka, nerves, or a schizoid episode. She sat down, and the reading continued, the dialogue of two people discussing their lives which are exactly the same, because they are man and wife, it is finally revealed. But what of the piss soaked Japanese woman. She had removed her trousers, and hung them up to dry, and was waiting for her next cue, playing with the puddle of piss, then soaking an Always pad in it, and throwing it at the audience, splashing us with her urine. Her cue came, and she went into the monotone drone reading again, but shortly she threw the script down and started shouting “Me so horny, me love you long time!” over and over, getting into the crab position and wandering up to members of the audience. I thought my brain was going to melt. After stunning the audience for five minutes she ran down the stairs and disapeared. Another member of the audience got onto the stage and started shouting, and I thought he was going to hit someone, till I realised he to was a poet. It was getting a bit chaotic, and the Japanese woman returned and started shouting “Borrocks! Borrocks!”.

By this point I was starting to wonder what was going to happen next, and some pretty intense things were running through my head. Time to leave I think before someone does something dangerous. The japanse woman had grabbed the ranting man, and was kissing him on the stairs. Her friends sat and watched the performance, seeming to not really know what to do. I still don’t know if it was all an act, or some sort of attack, which makes me feel slightly guilty about writing it up (but I have to don’t I?) We left, and as I was walking up Rye Lane, a police car hurtled round the corner, all blues and twos, possibly heading for Area 10, and I don’t know what…

I think I will be back next week. I have to find out what happened. I expect next week there will be a much, much larger audience. And a couple of people filmed the whole thing.

Bob’s Caberet (Area 10 – London: Thursday 1st Aug, 2002)

Named after Bob Whitten of Whitten Timber Yard fame (well, in Peckham anyway) Bob’s Caberet is a weekly get together hosted by the folk who brought us the cracking Area 10 party a few weeks ago.

This is a small club in a very large space. Accessed by a secret side door behind Peckham Library you find yourself in a large dark room, greeted by a man with a torch. He leads you to the back of the warehouse where a few sofa’s are scattered around. A bar has been built from scraps of wood left by the previous occupants. A television screen flickers, balanced on more reclaimed planks, showing second rate french porno. In the center of the room a drum kit in the spotlight.

This is Bob’s Cabaret. Anyone can participate here. Tonight there is a Portuguese band (that is the only detail revealed), some videos, and poetry performances. There will be some collaborative sound improvisation too. There are about 20 people here tonight.

The show kicks off with everyone gathering around the tv to watch the french video. It is set in Egypt. Some people go into a pyramid, find a sarcophagus and surprise surprise, there is a naked women in it. Pretty soon everyone is bathing in asses milk. The host decides to put his video on. “From a few years ago” he says. It is a shot of a dancing bare bottom. Dancing to some sort of rhumba music. It to’s and fro’s. It is a mans bum. All hairy. Then the camera zooms in to the crack. Something starts to come out. Sweetcorn. It isn’t special effects. Apparently this film is one and a half minutes long. It seems a lot longer. It ends and people applaud.

The poets begin, and vary wildly.

Then the spontaneous improvised sounds start. People are banging pipes. I accidentaly smash a bottle tapping it on the ground. Someone starts hurling giant steel bars from a balcony, scaring the shit out of me, as they land right next to me. Lots of noise. It is a bit Lord of the Flies really, but amusing. I take a steel bar and hit the ground with it, creating some sparks. Pretty.

And finally the Portuguese band, who play chilled out funk with a film of making bread played backwards behind them. A bit safer. It is getting late now, and this doesn’t quite have the energy to make me stay up all night. So I leave. Very weird. But free and local for me. If you are in the area next Thursday, pop in to Area 10 and bang some pipes!