2013: Brand, Miliband and Cold Porridge


I’ve met a weird bunch of people this year. You’d never invite them to the same dinner party unless you wanted indigestion. Put together, they almost rhyme like a poem.

Russell Brand
Ed Miliband
Genesis P’Orridge
Glenn O’Brien

I didn’t say it was a good poem.
There were a couple of others but they don’t fit the poem.

I went to see Russell Brand in November and I’m still haunted by the look on his face at the very end. It’s the same look he has at the end of the trailer for Alan Carr’s Christmas show.

"Don't dilute your devotion with these losers."

“Don’t dilute your devotion with these losers.”

It’s the look of being spent. A microexpression of self-loathing, an acid reflux from purging his bad self.

The show was an insight into an impossible life. A cartoon life of embodied ecstasy and whorish honesty – addicts know more than the rest of us about human nature and the sick hard simplicity of it.

I’d accidentally got the best seat in the house- front dead centre- after buying a ticket off Gumtree from a man who bought it for himself before his wife decided she wanted to come too, by which time the front row was full. So, I had his amazing ticket and they were relegated to somewhere near the back.

I paid for it in karma though- I was stuck next to a woman who laughed like bad sex.

It was a show about “mundane villains and flawed heroes,” delivered by a minor deity who openly admits his narcissism and self-centredness. Which is what all entertainment is about, it just pretends otherwise.

He simpered through a Frank Spencer impression: “I don’t do that voice very often,” he admitted cutely, “It comes too naturally.” This is the rarest of men, able to flick his mane and be the perfect woofter and yet draw an audience equally composed of long hairs and louts. His act ushers us into club doors we didn’t even know existed where porn star moans echo off the infinity mirrors, a pantheon where glam pony Russell canters on a paddock of coke.

“Just because I know something that you don’t know doesn’t make me better than you – just different. [He pauses for a lascivious side-grin]. In a better way.”

We all laugh because it’s true. We are happy to admit defeat to the Dauphin of pansexual appeal. This is a man with the common touch like the common cold, a personality that infects a room with awe-influenza.

He talked about sex constantly, as we knew he would. He sat on men’s laps luxuriously and ogled women openly. His florid fabrications stayed with me long afterwards, especially:

Simulating having his cock and arsehole titivated together, captioned by Dr Pepper’s catchphrase – ‘unbelievably satisfying’.
Describing being stood naked on a police van, wanking to wake up his shrivelled cock, as a crowd of protesters turned away in embarrassment (remind you of anyone?).

But then right at the end, as the applause peaked, his face fell. That’s when I saw THE LOOK. Just before he exited stage left, his manic grin dropped into the depths of an unfillable social void.

Gone was the cocksure posture and irradiating saucer eyes as he jumped around Sheffield’s City Hall for his captive audience of hundreds, to be replaced by a look of abject horror.

“I’ve given you my all,” he seemed to be saying, “and you love me unconditionally. So why do I feel so freaking empty?”

He looked directly at me a few times during the show as he stalked the audience in his leather chaps. Each time, I was secretly gutted when his eyes passed over me.

I put it down to two things:

1. Going bald
2. Not wearing the right outfit.

If I still had my long hair, I told myself, and had kept my fur coat on (and taken my knickers off), he’d have made fun of me in a conspiratorial way. Or maybe he saw my wild, thrilled eyes and recognized a similar social whore and didn’t want to encourage me.

Either way, I was glad-annoyed. What, you’re saying there’s no such emoticon?

At the end, everyone whooped and a blind man went to the stage and shook his hand. I almost did the same, but I stopped myself because it seemed only disabled people and unsolicited women are allowed to touch him. Then I wished I had. But it would have meant giving away even more of my power, and he’d already been quite greedy enough, thankyou.

"Jesus wept by the time I'd finished."

“Jesus wept by the time I’d finished.”

Celebrities, especially those ones with real charisma, are like magicians. They can make you giant-size or dwarf you in their aura. The best ones can do both at the same time. Knowing that magic is a parlour trick doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it.

Fact: London is made of magic. Where else could a bedheaded fascist mayor be so adorkable that we forgive his worrisome ways?

No, London is special. Need proof?

Evidence 1: Terry Wogan made the safety announcement when I was in St Pancras station.
Evidence 2: I met Ed Miliband in the rain with pal Sebastian. He was doing a speech in Hornsey about pulling loan ads from kids TV. He said “nice hat” about my leopard print fur one and he put his arm round me when we had our photo taken together. Lovely chap.
Evidence 3: I met crazy-eyed gender-indeterminate goblin Genesis Breyer P’Orridge at Rough Trade East, deep in Hipstershire.

I’d interviewed him earlier in the year over the phone and he’d suggested we go for a drink. He probably didn’t mean it but I hung on to his every word, as us mortals are apt to do in the presence of stardom.
Sadly, by the time I met him in the flesh, he didn’t know who the fuck I was nor had he read my (IMHO bloody good) feature about him.

Incidentally, Genesis was the last person to speak to Ian Curtis, who rang him shortly before hanging himself in his shabby un-chic Macclesfield box house. Apparently, he sang one of Throbbing Gristle’s songs at him (definite sign of depression) and said he didn’t want to tour America (definite sign of sanity).

Genesis had blonde squaw plaits and lips so big he looked like he’d just fallen on his face. The turnout was impressive; people with hats so strange it was less a case of trying to see round them than it was remembering it was Genesis you were meant to be staring at. And when you remembered, boy did those eyes hold you in their tractor beams.

"Can't...stop...looking..."

“Can’t…stop…looking…”

I saw the same insanely dilated soul-holes looking out from a page of the Macclesfield Times back home. They belonged to Commander Crow, an artist who had a show on in town at a venue called  Steven Young (or was it the other way round?), and he glowered from the poorly laid out pages like an aesthetic thug.

Macclesfield has become noticeably hipper in my absence; now chavs are swept up hourly in souped up roadsweepers and deposited somewhere in a recycling bin in Hurdsfield (not a good place).

"Look into my eyes, not around my eyes etc"

“Look into my eyes, not around my eyes etc”

Yes, these are the eyes of people who mess with magick with a special K. These too-hardcore-for-new-Age sigil-botherers always look like they’ve forgotten how to blink.

I went to see the show before I got on the train. The artist himself was there, moaning to a woman who was probably his mum.

“I’ve just been harangued by a couple who brought back my painting. They said it didn’t go with the colours in their house. The woman said her husband was crying outside…”
“Oh, well dear,” his mum said, “never mind, you’ll sell loads I just know it…”

The work was hideous, a sickly re-appropriation of the sexiest religious iconography from a dozen mismatched belief systems. More Hindu kitsch than Hindu Kush: giant gaudy Ganeshes and crudely drawn symbols in gold paint relief. It was kind of amazing.

It was either pre-ironic outsider art or a beyond-post-ironic insider joke; either way, it was ace.

But I think I’d have to return it after a week spent staring at this glitz that glares back.

In contrast, erstwhile Warholian Glenn O’Brien had dark little coyote eyes and the shifty stare of a born trickster. You can read my interview with him here. Suffice to say, I was so professional that I seated him next to a kaput printer which other journalists kept hitting to make work.

Yes, Dear Reader, I am fast becoming a celeb-botherer of the middling order. Here’s to another year of embarrassing exploits among the almost famous…

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