Yesterday’s blog was a chat I had with comedy performer Lindsay Sharman at the Soho Theatre Bar. By coincidence, also sitting at the table, was showman/promoter Adam Taffler. After I had finished chatting with Lindsay, Adam joined in.
“It would be great,” said Adam, “to have a pop-up venue to encourage new artists and to have a place where people like Lindsay can do her shows.”
“Not a money-making venue, then,” mused Lindsay.
“You could have one floor,” suggested Adam, “where you just have people coming in to freelance and type. Hot desk spaces. And, for some shows, people could come in and wear blue overalls and they get in there and throw grunge at each other. And you could have Bob Slayer in one room, Martin Soan in another room and John Robertson down in the basement doing some crazy shit. Great fun.”
Lindsay asked: “Can you find anything like that place Bob Slayer found for his Christmas Grotto in the City of London?”
“Well, I’ve got something up my sleeve,” said Adam. “But we’ll see. I’ve got some ideas. I want to start a little hot tub cinema in my basement in Fitzrovia.”
“So,” I asked Adam, “you would have Hot Tub Cinema presents Fifty Shades of Grey?
“No,” said Adam. “Something like Ghostbusters and we would have marshmallows and stuff.”
“How many people can you fit into a hot tub?” I asked.
“Depends how big it is. Six to eight?”
“And I suppose,” I said, “it depends how friendly you want to be.”
“Yes it does,” agreed Adam.
“You should,” suggested Lindsay, “do what you did with Doctor Brown – take people off to the Welsh countryside but do it in whatever weird format you want to try-out.”
“It’s going that way,” Adam told her. “I’m doing one next weekend called The Winter House Party.”
“A bit like the Summer House Party?” I asked.
“Except in the winter,” explained Adam. “And I’ll be doing some interesting things there.”
“Wasn’t there an orgy involved in the Summer House Party?” I asked. “Everything you do involves orgies.”
“It wasn’t an orgy,” Adam corrected me. “It was about sexual liberation.”
“I’m a child of the 1960s,” I said. “I said it was Free Love and you said: Oh no, it’s not Free Love. It’s something else. I think you said it was about £55 a throw.”
“It’s Sex Positive,” said Adam. “The 1960s probably weren’t the best time for women’s liberation.”
“Sex positive,” Lindsay pointed out, “sounds a bit too much like HIV Positive.”
“I was brought up as a Scots Presbyterian,” I said. “That’s all about sex negative.”
“I think it’s the next big thing in London,” Adam said.
“Scots Presbyterianism?” I asked.
“Sex Positive. Sexual liberation.”
“Well,” I said, “the cultural impact of Fifty Shades of Grey…”
“That is not a cause,” said Adam. “It’s a symptom of the thing that’s…”
“I actually wonder,” said Lindsay, “if people are becoming more prudish. Apparently teenage pregnancies are down.”
“That’s good,” said Adam.
“I was reading something,” continued Lindsay, “saying that the amount of really quite alarming porn that’s out there is actually turning youngsters off sex. And, if you look at history, it’s prudish – backlash against prudery – prudish – backlash against prudery.”
“Fifty Shades of Grey,” I suggested. “There’s a backlash there.”
“It’s a wheel, a circle,” said Lindsay.”
“It was worth having Oliver Cromwell,” said Adam, “just to have the Restoration afterwards, where things were filthy.”
“But then,” said Lindsay, “the Victorians were very prudish.”
“But I do think,” said Adam, “that every time you come to a new level of understanding. The great thing about the Sex Positive scene is about embracing sexuality in a healthy way and exploring it and you can’t limit your sexuality to the bedroom.”
“The pavements,” I suggested, “are going to get slippy. There will be accidents.”
“It sounds unhygienic,” said Lindsay. “You’d have to carry wet-wipes everywhere. It’s because whatever the previous generation did you don’t want to do, so you do the exact opposite. So, actually, we might be due a prudish period.”
“There’s loads I want to say,” mused Adam, “but I don’t want to open my mouth.”
“Well,” I said, “you grew up living the hippie life in the fields of the West Country.”
“You don’t like being called a hippie, do you?” Lindsay asked Adam.
“His parents were hippies,” I told her.
“No they weren’t,” said Adam sharply.
“They certainly were when they got mentioned in my blog,” I told him.
“My mum started a community in Wales…” Adam started to explain.
“Hippies,” I said.
“…and we lived in canvas structures,” Adam continued.
“Hippies, I said.
“It’s not a bad thing,” Lindsay suggested to Adam, “labelling someone a hippie.”
“But,” he argued, “a label sometimes defines something in a way that isn’t useful, because then you can’t understand all the nuances of it. But an audience can understand a generalisation, so…”
“Do you think,” asked Lindsay, “the word ‘hippie’ has negative connotations?”
“For me it does,” explained Adam. “I fucking hate hippies. I used to do all these festivals with them. All these people wafting around…”
“You grew up in a community living in wigwams,” I asked, “but you weren’t hippies?
“Not in my understanding of it,” replied Adam. “The word ‘Bohemian’ is one thing. But ‘hippie’ to me has connotations of someone who doesn’t really do anything and complains about everything and thinks they’re really kind-of right-on. The people I hang around with now do loads of stuff. They’re intelligent, creative, they’ve got an open mind…”
“So they’re not drop-outs from Society,” said Lindsay.
“That’s right,” agreed Adam. “And, for me, ‘hippie’ does have that connotation.”
“I think of hippie,” explained Lindsay, “as someone who integrates a bit of Eastern mysticism with a Western way of life but in alternative lifestyles.”
“I think Sex Positive,” said Adam, “is interesting people who are trying to do something, looking at ways of re-inventing culture, having new ways of relating to each other which are not always sexual.”
“But,” asked Lindsay, “is polyamorousness quite prevalent in your…”
“Well,” Adam told her, “when I first came across that at hippie festivals, everyone who said I am polyamorous sounded to me like a complete arsehole who just wanted to have sex with lots of people. Whereas, in the Sex Positive scene in London, I’ve met some pretty cool couples who I really respect who do have multiple relationships and it comes from a very strong core of love for each other and I think it works well for them… Though so much can go wrong in those situations.”
“How long have those wonderful relationships lasted, though?” I asked. “Five years?”
“Yeah, four, five years at most.”
“Yes,” said Lindsay, “I don’t know that it’s a long-term strategy.
“The thing is,” argued Adam, “we’re all different and all have different boundaries. What’s good is just to be adult and to communicate with each other what those boundaries are and to explore them. So for some people it might be right; for other people it might never be right.”
“Well, some people,” I said, “think buggering badgers is wrong, but we’ve all been there, haven’t we?”
There was a slight pause.