Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Carnival Club Soho


When you go looking for pictures of old Soho they come amazingly pejorative. Scanning through Getty Images I was struck by pictures of young men buying knives and another showing a street scene with a caption 'prowling the streets...'. It was like something out of Winogrand or Weegee. Lots of us are nostalgic for old Soho, whichever old Soho befits your generation of course, but I don't remember it like that at all. By the eighties perhaps only Chief Constable James Anderton (the Manchester cop whose anti-sleaze campaign famously netted the Sun's Page Three Annual ) might have described me as 'a prowler'. For instance when I first arrived in London I discovered my History and Theory lecturer worked in a sex shop and I was soon friends with a girl from Newcastle, a barmaid in the Intrepid Fox, who found life better in a clip joint. Neither were at all 'menacing'. And when I think about it further, a rather large percentage of my friends might respond to this surreptitiously taken image (not taken by me) and at least twenty years old, which passed in to my no doubt (in the archaic Anderton's language) 'sweaty' hand yesterday. It was taken inside a tiny but somehow secure cavern; the long lost Carnival strip joint which sat just along from the Pollo Bar on Old Compton Street, and the reason we might smile is that we shared (independently of course) many pleasurable afternoons there.
It was a most peculiar not to say fascinating place. For instance, the (I assume regular) clientele made a great fuss of distributing chocolates on to the stage. There must be a very complex psychology behind wanting to do this, but I certainly wouldn't call whatever that mechanism was 'prowling'.
Even further, remembering Michel Foucault's adventures in San Fransciso or discovering that Professor Richard Feynman, world changing quantum phsysicist, declared his topless local his 'office away from the office', and affirmed in court it was 'a public need' really makes us think about the way we describe things and what it means.
My next beef will of course be on the subject of 'hard working families'.

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