Tag Archives: animals

Coming soon – Great Sexpectations, the Erotic Awards, The Night of the Senses

(This was also published by Indian news site WSN)

Grace Gelder in Soho yesterday

Grace Gelder in London’s Soho yesterday

It was comedian Matt Roper – currently in India – who first told me about The Night of the Senses. This year, it is being organised by his photographer friend Grace Gelder.

“You’re not actually going to call it an orgy, are you?” I asked her yesterday.

“No. It’s an erotic ball,” she replied.

“A good combination of words,” I said. “Do you have a job title?”

“Apparently I am officially called The Director of Pleasure,” laughed Grace.

We were at Bar Italia in London’s Soho yesterday, talking about The Night of the Senses, which has been run by Tuppy Owens for 25 years to raise money for her Outsiders Trust, the UK charity which aims to raise awareness about sex and disability.

“So,” I asked Grace. “This year it’s you organising The Night of the Senses. Why you?”

“I originally met Tuppy,” explained Grace, “because I had started to develop a documentary film about sex and disability. We worked on that for two years and went to interview Tuppy at her home in Inverness. She’s in her late sixties now and said that, when she started running the event, all of her friends came. A few weeks ago, she said to me It’s the same as you guys. All your friends are gonna come. We’re all over sixty; it’s time there was a new generation of people starting to hear about it.

“A new generation of sensual people?” I suggested.

“Well, it feels,” said Grace. “like there’s a lot more interest in this kind of thing right now. I’m not sure why. But people want really experiential things. The Secret Cinema has taken off. People want to go to an event and be integrated into it. There’s a lot of parties which touch on the ‘erotic’ like people who have hot tubs in the middle of their parties. But I think people are quite scared of putting on something that is so overtly sensual because they’re worried about How do you manage it? How do you handle it? I feel confident that I’m able to do that, especially having done erotic photography with people who start off really scared because they’ve never done anything like it.”

“And you’ve been to previous Nights of the Senses?”

“I’ve been to two.”

“How many people turned up last year?”

“About 1,000. This year’s one is in May with the Great Sexpectations semi-final in March.

“Basically, on The Night of the Senses itself, there are the events and included in that there’s The Erotic Awards, which have been running for about 17 or 18 years. They champion the stars of the erotic universe. People are picked out in different categories – books, films, campaigners – people who are campaigning for sex workers’ rights for example – artists, strippers, live artists whose work has an erotic element.

“The theme for this year’s Night of the Senses event in May is ‘The Zoo’, because Tuppy is a former zoologist, so it’s like a homage to Tuppy and the work she’s done over the last 25 years.”

“But,” I said, “as in movie disclaimers, no actual animals will be hurt during the production of this event?”

“Only humans dressed as animals,” said Grace. “Or zoo keepers. It leaves some space for the more kinky members of the public.”

“What was the theme for last year’s event?” I asked.

Last year's theme at Night of the Senses was 'Equestrianism'

Last year’s theme at Night of the Senses was ‘Equestrianism’


“And you officially only started organising all of this on Monday this week,” I said. “Why did you get involved?”

“Initiating my film documentary project about sex and disability,” explained Grace, “completely opened my world to all this stuff which I didn’t know about. I found it very, very fascinating… which fed into my own life and ended up initiating a sexual journey for myself… of liberation and exploration and that sort of thing.”

“Any details?” I asked.

“What sort of details?” laughed Grace.

“Preferably quirky,” I said.

“Well,” said Grace, ignoring this, “I had to go to The Night of the Senses as research, for example, and that blew me away. Going to the event was a real catalyst. You step into a completely different environment.”

“How?” I asked.

“Just because of the nature of the event. Tuppy has never said to people You’ve got to come to this, because it is still a sophisticated event where you need to have some understanding of being in a sexual environment. To be aware of what you’re going to go and experience. People just being completely open and free with their… fetishes, with their actions… but in a very safe and well-held event.”

“I know nothing about this world,” I said, “but I did once get dragged to the Torture Garden club about twenty years ago.”

“That’s very much more specifically fetish and power games,” said Grace. “The Night of the Senses has all of those elements, but more as well. There’s always a dungeon-type place, but there’s also a tantric space where people can get a massage and put their name down to be tickled with feathers: that type of thing. A lot of sensory stuff. So it’s a lot more… You don’t have to be into power games. And there’s a bit more of a theatrical aspect to it as well. There’s a sensuality chamber for couples where live musicians play along.”

“You said your eyes were opened…” I prompted her.

“I’d never been in a situation like that,” said Grace, “where there was every spectrum of people – people with disabilities, people who were older, younger, gay, straight, all spectrums with all sorts of fetishes. Apparently one year they had a turtle-neck jumper fetish corner. They have their own clubs.”

“For people who have a fetish for turtle-neck jumpers?” I asked.


Ed Wood, fan of angora

Ed Wood, movie fan of angora sweaters?

“I seem to remember,” I said, “ that the film director Ed Wood had a fetish for angora sweaters. I think he had an angora sweater in every one of his films. Or it might have been his refrigerator that he had in every film. I have a very bad memory.”

“Interesting,” said Grace.

“When is your event happening again?” I asked. “I’ve forgotten.”

“Two events,” said Grace. “The Night of the Senses is in May with the final of the Erotic Awards as a stage show as part of it and, after that, everyone goes upstairs to play – or just watches – it’s up to you.

“But the first event is Great Sexpectations – in Bush Hall, Shepherd’s Bush on 22nd March. It’s a beautiful old music hall. Great Sexpectations is a sit-down table event, including the semi-finals of the live part of the Erotic Awards. The judges decide who will be finalists at the main event in May.”

“Is it like ice-skating?” I asked, “where you get awarded points on style. content and artistic interpretation?”

“It’s not like The X Factor,” laughed Grace. “Our judges watch and take notes and decide afterwards. Best Stripper and Best Live Artist are the two categories for the live aspect – It’s a cabaret, basically. I think we’ll also include a comedian and a singer, whereas the ‘stripper’ is anything from pole dancing to burlesque and boylesque. But then there’s also the author, photographer and the other categories at The Night of the Senses in May”

“Where is the main Night of the Senses going to be held in May?”

“The location of the venue is always released much later on to everyone who has bought a ticket. There has been trouble with the event in the past because of people campaigning against it or ringing the local council because of the nature of it. Some venues have an issue, but most people are totally fine with it: they know what it is and that it’s a fundraiser, so…”

“And,” I interrupted, “there’s no illegality of any kind. It is not ‘outraging public decency’ because it’s a ticketed event and people know exactly what they’re buying the tickets for.”

“Exactly,” said Grace. “You have to choose to go. You don’t just pass by and say Oo-err! I think I’ll pop in there and see what’s happening. And there’s a very clear code of conduct which is on the website.

“I’ll be updating the website in the next few weeks. Like I said, I only officially started organising all of this on Monday. There’s more to come.”

Grace asked me to say: “Any enquiries to gracegelder@gmail.com.”

I am not sure this is necessarily wise, but what do I know?

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Comedian Lewis Schaffer revealed as a multiple killer in New York and London

Lewis Schaffer: the face of a killer

Last night started quite showbizzy. Then it went downhill rapidly.

After his show in Soho, London-based American comedian Lewis Schaffer and I were eating £2 take-away pizzas, sitting on the new wall opposite the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square. He paid.

Comedians Paul Chowdhry and Gary Delaney were passing by, noticed Lewis sitting there and stopped to say hello to him.

Then Lewis Schaffer and I returned to talking about my current mouse problem. As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, a mouse has taken up residence in my living room.

A small mouse. But it is a mouse nonetheless.

“We had a mouse,” Lewis Schaffer told me last night, “and my tenants wanted to get rid of it. The Spanish guy thought it was a rat. I said It needs to be killed. They said What about a humane way of killing it? I said It doesn’t work. I don’t know if it does work, but I can’t imagine it working.

“You gotta get glue traps, John. It’s like the glue that is on the bottom of a sticky tile or a linoleum square – your hand sticks to it if you touch it. You put the glue trap on the floor and the mouse gets stuck on it.”

“You put bait in the middle of it?” I asked. “We tried Mars bars yesterday.”

“You don’t need to put food down,” Lewis Schaffer told me authoritatively. “The mouse just stumbles on it and realises Boy! I’ve made a very big mistake. Cos it can’t get off. And then you’ve got no choice but you’ve got to kill it.”

“How?” I asked.

“Scissors in the head,” Lewis Schaffer told me. “That’s what I would do next time.”

“Next time?” I asked.

“I used the kitchen knife last time,” he said flatly.

“You slit the poor beast’s throat?”

“Well,” he confessed. “I didn’t slit its throat. I slit underneath its belly.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it was squirming,” Lewis Schaffer told me.

“Well, it would squirm in the circumstances,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Lewis Schaffer. “Fighting for its life. And squeaking like a baby squeaking. Like a human squeak. It hits the same…”

“It sounds quite similar to what the English did to William Wallace,” I said.

“Did they cut off his…”

“I think they invented hanging, drawing and quartering for him,” I said.

“I thought that was invented by Kentucky Fried Chicken,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“So why did you slit the belly first?” I asked.

“Because it was squirming,” he replied. “And squeaking. I was aiming for its head. It was squirming desperately and I was aiming for its head.”

“You were trying to chop off its head and you missed?”

“Yeah. I missed because it was squirming and I chopped his belly, which put him in even more pain. And then I cut his head off. And then I threw him in the wastebin.”

“Did you stick his head on a spike at the entrance to your flat as a warning to others?”

“No, but I think they got the idea. No other mouse turned up. Usually they come in pairs.”

“Was this in America?” I asked.

“I did it once in America and once here.”

“So you’re a multiple murderer of God’s creatures.” I said.

Josie Long is going to come after me,” Lewis Schaffer said sadly.

“Did you behead both mice or only one?” I asked.

“I don’t remember what I did in olden times in the US,” he replied. “In England, I did this to keep my tenants happy.”

“Did you show them the head to prove it was dead?” I asked.

“No. They believed me. I told them You’re murderers. You’re accessories to murder.

“So you are recommending this is what I should do to my mouse?”

“I wouldn’t,” said Lewis Schaffer slowly, “because you’re gonna feel… Well, if I felt bad – and I’m Lewis Schaffer…”

“So what am I going to do?”

“You’re going to get a glue trap. £2.99. You get two. You put one down and you save the other one till later.”

“What’s wrong with a humane trap?” I asked. “I have one in the cupboard under the stairs. There was a mouse before. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Mice are too smart for that humane trap type of shit,” Lewis Schaffer said and then he paused. “Does it sound like I’m being cruel that I killed a mouse? They don’t tell you how killing a mouse is going to rip your kishkas out and make you feel bad that you’re a human being.”

“Kishkas?” I asked.

“It means Rip your stomach out.”

“That’s what you did to the mouse. That’s what the English did to William Wallace.”

“All I remember is that I killed a mouse in New York maybe 10 or 15 years ago and, when I was asked to do it again in London, I didn’t want to do it.”

“But you did it.”

“We live in very recessionary times,” said Lewis Schaffer. “I need the rent from the tenants.”

Later, I drove Lewis Schaffer to his home via my eternally un-named-friend’s flat in Greenwich. She likes cleaning.

“You slit its throat?” she asked Lewis Schaffer. “There must have been blood everywhere. What did you do with the knife?”

“The knife?” Lewis Schaffer asked.

“Do you still eat with it every morning?”

“There was glue stuck on it,” said Lewis Schaffer, “and blood. In order to get the glue off, I had to use a lighter.”

“You kept the knife,” my eternally un-named-friend said slowly.

“If you use a lighter on glue, it would burst into flames,” I mused.

“The glue was melted off,” Lewis Schaffer told me. “You just can’t throw away a knife every time you kill a mouse,” he told my eternally-un-named friend.

“But how many times are you going to kill a mouse?” I asked.

“As often as it takes to kill those…” said Lewis Schaffer, then he paused. “What are you looking at me like that for? You wanna get rid of it, you gotta pay the price. The price is living with guilt.”

“I wouldn’t have guilt,” my eternally-un-named friend said. “The mouse should not have come into the house.”

“Is there some way of using Zyklon B?” I asked.

“If you ask a mouse to leave and it doesn’t…” my eternally-un-named friend continued. “I haven’t tried that yet, but I might do.”

“You could persuade it to go to the shower room,” I said.

“John,” said Lewis Schaffer, “I’m not going to do some Holocaust joke for your blog.”

“Did you hear about the trap I’ve made?” my eternally-un-named friend asked Lewis. “A piece of paper over a bowl of water.”

“Mice can’t drown,” said Lewis Schaffer. “They can swim.”

“It worked once for me,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “There was a dead mouse in the water. I presumed it had drowned. Maybe it had had a heart attack.”

“Maybe it died of embarrassment,” I suggested, “at falling for the trap.”

“Maybe it was just its time to go,” my eternally un-named-friend sighed.

When I got back to my home in the early hours of this morning, there was no dead mouse.

It is still there somewhere. In the living room. Confident. Taunting me.

I have to do something about it.

Death is inevitable.

For one of us.

Well, for both of us.

But, as in comedy, it is the timing that matters.

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Filed under Comedy, Mice

How to rip off an incompetent ad agency with only fish and a Japanese rock band: advice from Bob Slayer

In response to yesterday’s blog about the chaos surrounding the shooting of IKEA’s latest TV commercial, rock ’n’ roll comedian Bob Slayer sent me this fine example of how other people’s incompetence can make you money… I highly recommend watching the video he mentions.

Bob says of yesterday’s blog:


I have had similar ‘fun’ times with advertising agencies and, one year, made quite a lot of cash out of a German agency on a campaign for Shockwaves hair gel.

They really liked some videos I had made for the Japanese band I was managing – Electric Eel Shock – and so they flew me and a crew out to Japan to make some more. We had a lovely time and did a load of filming for a TV series called How 2 Fish Rock & Roll Style

When we got back to the UK and all the money had been spent, the ad agency suddenly told us that Shockwaves could not use any advertising with live or even fake fish in it.

Proctor and Gamble, the company who owned Shockwaves, had a company-wide rule that no animals could be used in their marketing – the reason being that they didn’t want to rattle the cages of any animal rights campaigners. They already had enough problems because of the amount of shampoo they claimed that they needed to squirt into rabbits’ eyeballs on a daily basis just so that we can have a squint-free shower in the morning.

When it came to the ad agency settling my invoice, instead of paying me the remaining 25% I was due, they paid me 100% – which I kept as a cancellation fee.

We were only one part of a bigger campaign – all of which had to be binned because the ad agency guy had not got it cleared by the client before starting to spend money.

I think the agency had to carry all the costs and the guy behind it got the sack…

Here is one of the videos we made with Electric Eel Shock for How to Fish Rock & Roll Style. As you can see, we were mostly pissed and high when making them.

We took all mention of Shockwaves out of the other videos – but I liked it in this last one, so I  left it in and added a cheeky disclaimer at the end.

They asked me to take it down but I ignored them…


But enough of Bob Slayer.

Back to me again – John Fleming. The one with the very active Facebook page you can befriend and the less active Twitter feed you can follow…

Can I point out that Electric Eel Shock provided a lot of the music for last year’s culturally significant movie Killer Bitch and that they and Bob Slayer appeared in the film? Bob was killed by having his head smashed in. One of the band members was killed by having a fish stuffed down his throat.

He likes big fish.

A lot.

He enjoyed filming the sequence.

Just thought I’d mention it.

Normal blogging will resume tomorrow.

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Filed under Ad industry, Comedy, Movies, PR, Record Industry, Television