And so, once again, to Duckie. We're becoming quite the regulars, these days; I think it makes a difference having discovered the little Duckie-flavoured corner of the blogosphere and knowing people to chat (or at least nod) to. The place was quiet too (relatively speaking), and it was good having more room than usual to dance. Is this a reflection of Credit Crunch Duckie, a shape of things to come? Perhaps it was just the Last Saturday Before Payday effect.
Having grabbed a (very) brief nap after early evening Eurobeat, I'd decided at the last minute to accessorise with my Blue Peter badge. Dominic at the door noticed, and I had to admit I'd bought it from eBay. The shame! In the course of the evening, another three people remarked upon it and I decided I really ought to make up something more exciting, claim I sucked off Peter Purves, perhaps, or deflowered Percy's garden. Ho bloody ho.
Initially a four-hander, with Amy still in the air (in Ayia Napa, apparently) and Richie Rich standing in for Chelsea Kelsey. I noticed that Chelsea did arrive later, though, and finished off the night. I'm never very sure what governs the comings and goings of the Readers Wifes - they move in mysterious ways, their wonders to perform - but I like to imagine that even when he's officially absent/awol (can a DJ pull a sickie?) Chelsea can't resist the siren call of Duckie.
The cabaret was introduced again by Amy replacements, Nathan Evans (and, having chatted about it with Gareth, I'm more convinced than ever that I ought to break the No Going Out On School Nights rule and make it along to Nathan's Thursday night Vauxhallville more often) and some nameless chap dressed in a cub scout/schoolboy uniform. Hmm.
First act was one Dickie Beau. Ho hum, I thought, another bog-standard lip-synching drag queen with a Judy Garland fixation. Wrong! Within a minute or two, I was absolutely rapt, held spellbound by what turned out to be an extraordinary performance piece of unusual intensity.
Yes, the obvious Judy Garland references, dramatically displayed (a scarlet Dorothy!), but more than that: the initial distorted Chasing Rainbows mash-up (with handfuls of pills and shots of blood-coloured liquor) segued into an utterly riveting spoken (or ranted) word piece, presumably taken from one of Garland's more out-of-control recorded monologues (I wondered if it was from the same place as the defiant quote at the end of The Other Side). Dickie Beau performed the monomaniacal rant perfectly, capturing the attention of all in the club, with jerky, doll-like movements, expressions and gestures which, while exaggerated, never lapsed into slapstick. When he fell over backwards in his chair, face bloodied, it was shocking rather than funny. There were a couple of moments when, for a second or two, I felt suddenly tearful.
There was music playing softly in the background of Dickie Beau's monologue but, other than Sakamoto's refrain from Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence - which fitted beautifully, affectingly - I can't recall what. I think everyone was caught up in it: even allowing for the fact that it was a smaller audience than usual, the pin-drop silence was eerie. Quite incredible. Afterwards, I found myself thinking about Liza Minnelli (the streaked mascara and handfuls of prescription drugs were, I think, meant to reference her as well as her mother) and the nod toward Little Red Riding Hood. Child stars as babes lost in the woods, gorily consumed by the Big Bad Wolf of celebrity? Okay, possibly too much analysis but it did seem a multi-layered piece which could be read into a number of ways. It reminded me a little of Geoff Ryman's WAS.
Second act was Nathan Evans as the Queen, a sort of puppet striptease act making a series of points about the shedding of various human rights. I was sure I'd seen him do this one before, possibly on YouTube:
It was a good and clever piece but, coming hot on Dickie Beau's ruby heels, seemed a little lacking in bite. Perhaps we're more used to the one kind of nihilism than the other? Still, after last weekend's disappointment at the zoo, it was nice to finally catch a glimpse of the Queen's beaver. Just the one, though.
Following from Gareth's Duckie Commandments, I think the biggest unspoken rule of thumb would have to be
Thou shalt not remove thy shirt.
That said, there's something amusing about those gayers who've obviously strayed into Duckie for the first time and take a while to realise the ways in which it's not quite as other gay clubs. The punters are, by and large, there for non-pectacular reasons: the music is not simply an aural backdrop for muscleboy adoration; the music is the principal raison d'être, the reason people are there. Getting one's disco tits out for the lads is neither big nor clever and will generally be met with averted gazes and embarrassment (such a social gaffe...) rather than gasps of appreciation. Put 'em away.
Then again, there are exceptions to every rule. Standing out from last night's crowd was a dark-haired fellow, bare-chested beneath a rather nice black leather waistcoat. Somehow - possibly because he was pleasantly hairy, possibly because he didn't strip off entirely, possibly because he didn't seem to be soliciting pec-worship - he managed to carry it off.
Don't try this at Duckie, kids.