5. HEROES

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I haven’t mentioned Michael. We worked together on sets at Country Cousin. We became close friends, spending days working there and evenings enjoying the dramas and the entertainment CC constantly provided. Christopher often invited us to join his table of invited guests. We were both youthfully eccentric, entertaining if prompted and people enjoyed our company. Christopher loved to introduce ‘randoms’ to his table to join the rich, the famous and the influential. Michael and I were amongst his favourites and always had a ball. Christopher trusted us both implicitly, knowing we could handle ourselves and be discreet enough to keep the gossip to ourselves.

(For those who would like a couple more La Hunter stories – an additional blog will be posted very soon – Michael arrested for burglary and Shirley Bassey, well …)

By now I’d learnt the fundamentals of graphics. Modern students would hardly recognise the tools of the trade. Computers were still a decade and a half away so then it was paper, pencils, Letraset (who remembers that?), drawing boards, original illustrations and layouts covered in overlays and print instructions. These days a designer is artist, typographer, proof-reader and production and print manager. Not then, and in many ways, the design process was better for it – less of the ‘Jack Of All Trades’ and more a group of knowledgeable individuals working together – pooling specialised expertise to experiment with new techniques – or to break the rules to find original solutions to design ideas.

When Country Cousin (inevitably!) went bust and Christopher moved on to overspend on a new venture, Michael and I decided to contact a few people who’d offered us work during our sojourn at CC. (At first we’d refused – we were having a ball there, thank you very much.) We contacted Brendon who ran a successful club in Covent Garden. He hired us to re-vamp the club style, creating a logo, letterheads, menus, and fliers. Michael and I formed SATORI – which is still the name of my primary design company.
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In Soho, BILLY’S was a venue frequented by a group of theatrical individuals who loved the music of Roxy Music and David Bowie. Rusty Egan (later of the RICH KIDS) and Steve Strange decided the Covent Garden club Michael and I now  worked at was the perfect venue to host a weekly gathering for those who inhabited BILLY’S. The club was BLITZ and it’s flamboyant denizens became known as the BLITZ KIDS.

The BLITZ KIDS were, in many ways, social misfits – bored by Punk, most of them uninterested in the developing Disco scene and all determined to create a serious alternative to both. It would be easy to accuse them of an obsession with fashion, (it WAS pretty extreme –  outlandish clothes, deliberately androgynous – excessive make-up for girls AND boys), but at the heart of their distinctive spirit was a serious love of music.

To give you an idea of the extreme fashion at BLITZ, I went one Thursday with a friend of mine who was determined to get to the club despite the fact half his head was covered in bandages from a nose operation – he was beaten up – his eyes were hardly open the bruising was so bad, his arm was in plaster still and he struggled to move around the club with a crutch. A passing BLITZ KID looked at him horrified then said ‘Outrageous outfit darling – absolutely outrageous. I LOVE it.’

Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, Billy Currie and Midge Ure formed VISAGE, Billy Currie and Midge Ure went on to form ULTRAVOX, SPANDAU BALLET performed their first gig at BLITZ, Boy George was the cloakroom attendant (CULTURE CLUB and DEPECHE MODE debuted at a spin-off club called THE REGENCY and many of the Blitz Kids became part of the emerging phenomena that became the NEW ROMANTICS. The Kids were an incredible melting pot of developing talent and found their expression in music, art and fashion (one – Carl Teper – went on to be a distinguised British Judge!). Pete Burns (much more of him later – I did artwork for him for years, starting with the sleeve design for the disco smash, ‘You Spin Me Round’), Martin Degville and Tony James (SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK – well yes?), all of SPANDAU BALLET, Leigh Bowery (Boy George played him in his celebration of the Blitz Kids in the West End musical ‘Taboo’), Isabella Blow, Philip Salon and John Galliano all frequented BLITZ on a regular basis. David Bowie also visited on occasions – his songs ‘Heroes’ and ‘Ashes To Ashes’ were anthems for the NEW ROMANTICS. (Mick Jagger was once turned away by Steve Strange – Bowie was cool, Jagger was not at the time.)

More than 25 years later I realised how fortunate we were to be involved in such an amazingly creative scene, but when things progress effortlessly I believe there are reasons. Being ‘in the right place at the right time’ can’t be a manufactured ambition. It happens when you’re ready for it.

COMING UP … Sector 27 (at last) ‘Pete Burns Walking On Cars’, ‘Axl Rose Throws A Wobbly – And Tables’, ‘Under Jew Management’ and ‘The McCartney Files’.

AND don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

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