Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Get back, JoJo!

Sad news from The Guardian:
Nestled in the heart of Soho in central London sits a small, unimpressive looking venue. Push your way through the double doors beneath a seedy flashing neon sign, however, and you encounter a plush world of opulence, red velvet curtains and Art Deco mirrors.

Until recently, the crowd filling the dance floor was as likely to be clad in baseball caps and chains as burlesque basques and feathers, but Madame Jojo’s - home to some of London’s most diverse nightlife for more than half a century - has now shut down for good.

News that Westminster council had revoked its license this week following an incident outside the club has been greeted with disbelief, both by those who have hosted nights at the venue for years and the many loyal punters who flocked there every week in search of the quirkier side of London’s club scene.

Supporters of Madame Jojo’s say that the closure is part of the council’s drive to gentrify Soho, which is robbing the area of its unique atmosphere and heritage in the process.

The venue, known to many as the home of burlesque and cabaret in Soho, hosted some of the earliest gigs played by bands such as The xx and Anna Calvi, and Lorde played her first UK show there. It was also the focal point of Michael Winterbottom’s 2013 film The Look Of Love, in which Steve Coogan plays Paul Raymond, the Soho porn baron who owned and ran Madame Jojo’s in the 1960s.
Home for many years to quirky club and music nights Tranny Shack (UK), Cabaret Roulette, White Heat, Queerly Out and House of Burlesque, this is yet another sad loss to Soho, formerly the bustling heart of our slowly-but-surely being sanitised capital...



  1. It's been a long time since I've entered this legendary boîte but was always a stop when in London. So sad.

    1. Now it has gone, so has the notorious "Raymond's Revue Bar", the Astoria is demolished, the Café Royal is a "luxury hotel" and the Hippodrome has turned into a (admittedly glorious) casino, there is very little left in the West End that can replace it. "Heaven" never had any class nor character - even less so now they let all the straights in - and the swanky private members' clubs like The Groucho or Soho House are not exactly places one can just "drop into". It's just the Café de Paris and the "new kids on the block" like Brasserie Zedel left, methinks... Sad, really. Jx

  2. The best potential humanity is being lost to a shallow, fearful and effortlessly manipulated throng that cries for freedom yet requires constant coddling and accepts ever-increasing restrictions. Making it worse, few seem to give a rat's ass about what is being given up and/or let go.

    'It's just a club,' some might say. As you alluded to, Jon, it symbolizes so much more.

    The second photograph: an absolutely fantastic creation.

    1. More than "coddling", methinks - homogenisation. Although Madame JoJos was not selectively a "gay venue" - far from it - there is a creeping antipathy towards anything "quirky" or "different" these days, and many gays have even gone "mainstream hetero-normative" in their open hostility to such places. It is to their own detriment methinks - playing into the hands of such reprehensible organisations as The Daily Mail, Westminster Council and the "nu-puritan" Soho Estates - but, more depressingly, detrimental to all of us who actually enjoy being "quirky" and "different".

      As one wise head recently wrote in Gay Times (a publication that sadly is hardly regarded as radical nowadays): "No iPhone app is a substitute for a gay old party!"

      I clink a glass of knock-off bubbly to the men, women and in-betweens who made Madame JoJos such a legend. Jx

      PS The second picture is of "The Very Miss Dusty O", who herself will now need to find a home for Tranny Shack...

    2. You do a great job of keeping the fascinating and eccentric in view. For instance, reminding me earlier today of Marianne Faithfull; that voice that warms from your ears to your chest and leaves your brain quivering in its wake.

    3. Thank you, my dear!

      I dare say Miss Faithfull may have graced the doors of Madame JoJos at some stage in its history... Jx

  3. Ruby Venezuela's rendition of 'Any Tom, Dick, or Harry' while dressed as a mattress will never be forgotten.

    1. I imagine that would be rather difficult to forget... Jx


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