Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Savagery With the Sequins

Had fun last night at a Glasgow cabaret night, The Not So Secret Society, held in the rather swanky surroundings of the Art Club, a private member's club for artists -- posh! Even apart from showing support for some friends, in the shape of San Fran & the Siscos and Miss Leggy Pee & Charlie, I was most up for it. On the bill were The Creative Martyrs (awesome, as I knew already,) and a Tom Waits tribute act called Frank's Wild Band I was well curious to see. (They didn't disappoint -- also awesome.)

It got me thinking of a blather I had with Neil Williamson though, a couple of weeks back. What I love about the Martyrs' act, see, is the way it really nails the dark and edgy bite of proper '30s Berlin cabaret (or at least how I imagine it.) In black suits, whiteface and bowlers, they come across as some twisted Laurel & Hardy turned fugitives from the Third Reich... by way of the People's Independent Soviet Republic of Ruritania, I'd say. And it's not cheesy pastiche; with songs touching on CCTV an the surveillance state, it's an act that draws on that past but as a way to speak to the present.

Anyway, in the full show they did at the Fringe last year, a narrative is woven between and through their songs, of a cabaret being clamped down on as a repressive regime kicks in, so Neil and I ended up talking of how that sort of frame could easily be opened up, how they'd essentially make perfect compéres for an evening that stepped away from the lighter vibe of Glasgow's DIY variety scene and went full-on disturbing. Cause the cabaret nights I've seen here are all cool (e.g. Spangled Cabaret) but they tend to remind me of the old easy listening night I used to frequent, Casino Royale. I loved that night, don't get me wrong, but we're talking... camp fun rather than creepy undercurrents. What I want to see is... you know that song in Cabaret with the gorilla in a dress, "If You Could See Her Through My Eyes"? With its punchline ending, "She doesn't look Jewish at all"? I want to see the act that does to Islamophobia what that song does to anti-Semitism.

"Without an element of cruelty at the root of every spectacle," Antonin Artaud wrote, "the theatre is not possible." Damn straight. I want savagery with the sequins.

So, I ended up, in that chat, trying to think of the sort of act I'd do, in my limited capacities for live performance, and came up with a vague notion of "The Magnificent Mister Fox." With his top hat and tails, moustache and goatee, with a sidekick in a monkey costume and a barrel-organ/hurdy-gurdy that plays something like... you know the theme from Carousel? Dee dee dee DEE, Dadada, dee dee dee DEE, Dadada, dee dee dee, dee dee dee, DEE!

Yes, see the Magnificent Mister Fox make his monkey dance!

"Immigrants!" he shouts.

Dee dee dee DEE, Dadada, dee dee dee DEE, Dadada, dee dee dee, dee dee dee, DEE!

"Al Qaida!"

Dee dee dee DEE, Dadada, dee dee dee DEE, Dadada, dee dee dee, dee dee dee, DEE!

"Gay marriage!"

Dee dee dee DEE, Dadada, dee dee dee DEE, Dadada, dee dee dee, dee dee dee, DEE!

And so on. You know where I'm coming from, right? We all know the Magnificent Mister Fox all too well, I'd say, master puppeteer in the Society of the Spectacle. (Hmmmm, he thinks. A monkey marionette, perhaps?)

It'd be something of a one-trick pony at just that, right enough, but I did end up musing on it a bit further in the last few weeks, even working up a sort of theme song for the bastard. After last night I got to thinking: given that there's more than a whiff of the Proprietor to Nowhere Town here, might the Magnificent Mister Fox work best as an MC rather than an act in his own right? We're pretty much talking Evil Impresario, after all. "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... bastards and bitches! Welcome to the End of the World Club!" If I wasn't such a lazy and disorganised motherfucker, I'd be sorely tempted to go scouting for a venue and just go for it. Sadly, I'm far from the right person to be actually arranging an evening like this.

But still, I thought I'd air my thoughts just cause it's on my mind, and chuck up the lyrics just for the hell of it. You might well imagine it being sung to kick off proceedings, the Magnificent Mister Fox dancing his way through the audience to the stage, with the spry skip of a Childcatcher in his step, and a twirl of cane most useful for bashing heads in. Can't describe the tune, of course, but if you imagine the style of "Big Spender" with maybe a hint of "After the Fox"...

The Magnificent Mister Fox

The Magnificent Mister Fox,
He's just too delicious,
Walks head up high,
Fell out of Heaven,
God-given,
Straight-up kinda guy.

The Magnificent Mister Fox,
He's a vulpine, vicious
Vox Populi,
A twenty-four / seven
Nine / eleven,
Twinkle in his eye.

Oh what a spectacle!
Oh what a show!
As the Magnificent Mister Fox
Brings the news you need to know,
That the streets are overrun
With drugs and immigrants and guns!
So stay glued to your box,
Says Magnificent Mister Fox.

Cause it's murder, mayhem, monsters out there,
We got movie stars in meltdown live on the air!
Which celebrity's a junky?
Is the president a monkey?
Can we cure all the gays?
Let the people have their say!

[break]

The Magnificent Mister Fox,
He's so family-friendly,
Talks eye-to-eye,
Balanced and fair,
Never swears,
Sweet as apple pie.

The Magnificent Mister Fox,
He's so fuck-you-gently,
Stalks softly by,
Then hand in your hair, he's
Suddenly scary --
Babe, you gonna die!

Oh what a carnival!
What a cavalcade!
As the Magnificent Mister Fox
Calls us to his black parade,
Full of terrorists, insurgents
Gonna kill for twenty virgins!
So stay glued to your box,
Says Magnificent Mister Fox.

Cause it's murder, mayhem, monsters out there,
We got movie stars in meltdown live on the air!
Which celebrity's a junky?
Is the president a monkey?
Can we cure all the gays?
Let the people have their say!

The Magnificent Mister Fox!
He's a spectacular
Magnificent Mister Fox
In the vernacular
Magnificently malevolent,
He's malevolently magnificent!
He's the cock of the walk,
The Magnificent Mis-ter Fo-o-o-o-o-ox!

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