Tag Archives: Burns Night

My Kinky night… Plus showman and creative midwife Adam Taffler talks sex

Malcolm Hardee 10th Anniversary Show 2015

Adam’s show in memory of the iconic comic Malcolm Hardee

Yesterday, at the Soho Theatre in London, I talked to comic Elf Lyons for a future blog.

Then I was due to talk to showman Adam Taffler about a show he is arranging at Up The Creek in Greenwich to mark the 10th anniversary of Malcolm Hardee’s death by drowning.

“Is it confirmed yet?” I asked him.

“Yes, Monday 2nd February at Up The Creek,” he said.

Then comic John Robertson appeared.

John Robertson (left) with Adam Taffler yesterday

John Robertson (left) be-hatted with Adam Taffler yesterday

“Bloodshot eyes at the window,” said John Robertson.

I have no idea what this means, but he and Adam started discussing their hats.

“I was just talking to Elf Lyons,” I said. “She always wears a hat. She said I would look good in a Panama hat.”

“A Panama with your usual Hawaiian shirts would look good,” agreed Adam.

“Elf asked what you do,” I told Adam. “And I couldn’t explain. Bits and pieces of everything.”

“I’m doing a Burns Night at the end of this month,” he said. “We’re going to do a ceilidh – a Scottish Independence Referendum dance. You get everyone who was for Yes on the right and everyone who was for No on the left and you get them to dance together. It will be really funny.”

“It needs a punchline,” I said.

“It does,” said John Robertson.

“I don’t do punchlines,” laughed Adam, “I am an artist.”

“Where is the Burns Supper?” I asked.

Burns Night without any battling monks

Adam’s Burns Baby Burns! without monks

“In the ecclesiastical colosseum of St John’s at Hackney.”

“Do they have monks fighting in Hackney?” I asked.

“One of Henry VIIII’s mistresses is buried there,” said Adam.

“You have to admire his stamina,” I said. “Six wives and multiple mistresses. Why are you suddenly doing Burns Nights?”

“I love ceilidhs,” said Adam.

“This will not help me explain to Elf Lyons what you do,” I suggested.

“I am,” said Adam, “just making it up as I go along.”

“He is a human dynamo,” said John Robertson. “He is a pathfinder.”

“He is a man with a false moustache,” I said.

“It’s real,” said Adam. “I am a midwife to people’s dreams.”

“It could be a real moustache with a false man,” said John Robertson. “But this is getting like a Philip K Dick novella.”

And with that, like Keyser Söze, John Robertson left without a limp.

“Are we talking about your date with a person from the media?” I asked Adam.

He had told me that, after seeing me, he had a romantic assignation.

“It is a silent date,” he replied.

One of Adam’s many business ventures is a series of regular Shhh Dating events where people, in effect, do speed dating with each other but without saying any words.

Adam Taffler behind Metro

Adam told me this would be the first sight his date would see

“Why are you having a silent date?” I asked.

“I dunno.,” said Adam. “I just thought it would be fun.”

“This is after your Free Love period?” I asked.

“Not Free Love,” said Adam. “The Sex Positive scene I was getting to know a little bit.”

“It sounds like Free Love to me,” I told him.

“It’s just another form of creativity,” said Adam. “Oh!!! That will sound so shit in your blog!”

“Things do,” I said. “In print, ‘Sex Positive’ may sound like a randy man with a false moustache going round knobbing people.”

“It’s a real moustache,” said Adam.

“I have to go to the toilet,” I told him. “Alone. I will leave my phone recording.”

While I was away, Adam talked to my iPhone.

“John thinks I might say something interesting now,” Adam told my iPhone, “but actually I have nothing to say. That is the reason I don’t perform stand-up comedy. But I do do other things like ceilidh dancing and nudie dancing in the moonlight.”

When I came back, Adam told me: “So, this summer, I got invited by my friend who runs an event called the Summer House Party. It is about 300 adults from the Sex Positive scene. It’s like a mini Burning Man. There are loads of different creative things. You can hang-out, do face-painting, do hot tubs and it builds to this big event on the Saturday night and there’s a playroom and I don’t know if we should talk about this, John.”

“It will be in print forever,” I agreed.

“It might sound wrong,” said Adam. “It’s such a sweet thing but might sound dodgy… OK… I went along to the Summer House Party and I was running some of these Shhh Dating workshops and it was great fun and, on Saturday night, there was a big party and, in one room at the party, there were lots of people having sex with each other… So it was like any normal party, really.

“What I want to say is it was really creative and artistic and human, but I suppose you could say that about dogging. What it looks like to me is there’s this whole spectrum of sexuality all the way from dogging and… what’s that other one where you fuck and never see them again?”

“Sheep worrying,” I suggested.

“Maybe,” said Adam. “But this is more like you form friendships and hang-out together. Sex Positive means exploring sexuality and doing it safely. But there’s another thing which I’m starting to understand a bit now… about gender identity. In this scene, you’re not supposed to refer to someone as a He or a She or a Man or a Woman until you ask them first, because there’s a lot of transgender people in the community and some of them got really upset. People are saying: Let’s throw away the whole notion of gender. It’s so passé. So that’s kind of interesting.”

“This is going to sound a bit Californian in print,” I said.

“It is, I guess,” said Adam.

“Anyway,” I said, “earlier, you told me you had now decided to be more into single relationships.”

Adam Taffler

Adam limbering up for his silent date in London last night

“That’s right,” said Adam. “This summer I had the whole awakening of this scene and meeting lots of different people and exploring lots of different things but, actually, I think I prefer to have a deeper relationship with one person.”

“And this media person you are seeing tonight is female?” I asked.

“Yes, I date women. I’m not homosexual.”

“Animals?” I asked.

“Only squirrels,” said Adam.

“And professionally?” I asked.

“I’m just trying to survive and build. I’m trying to do things that excite me and it excites me to have a room of 500 people dancing or feasting or having sex. In a good way. Or squirrels. Or to take artists and ask them what they ACTUALLY want to be doing and then to make that happen. That also excites me.

“I don’t want to do a normal job,” said Adam. “and the things I’ve done before are coming back again this year and getting better and some really cool people are starting to ask me if I want to work with them. Which is great. I like interesting experiences. How boring is that as a sentence in your blog? I wanna touch people. That’s what I wanna do. It could be in a show, in their brain. That’s what excites me. And, again, that’s probably going to look terrible in print. But I’m doing stuff and it’s fun.”

With that, Adam went off to have his silent date with a media person and I went off to see the Kinks’ musical Sunny Afternoon with my eternally-un-named friend.

Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks

Last night I saw Sunny Afternoon & remembered drunk Kinks

Our last two theatrical excursions together – Charles III and Great Britain – were not triumphs, but things are getting better. We saw a preview of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper at the weekend – I thought it had surprising depth; she said it was OK. And Sunny Afternoon could not really go wrong with Ray Davies’ songs and an exuberant (I thought slightly over-directed) production.

I saw The Kinks perform a couple of times in London in the 1970s. They started off slightly dull but, after about 10 or 20 minutes, they appeared to get drunk and were absolutely superb.

My eternally-un-named friend told me she thought Sunny Afternoon was: “Fantastic! Possibly lose the thrust stage as unnecessary and distracting. But fantastic singing, dancing, costumes and – literally – swinging from the chandelier. Fantastic!”

After the show, in the walkway from Charing Cross station to Hungerford Bridge, I looked ahead and saw Adam Taffler walking towards me. It turned out, in his youth, he had known Kink Dave Davies’ son.

“How did the date go?” I asked. “Did you manage to keep totally silent?”

“For the first 40 minutes,” he said. “We ordered a bottle of wine without talking.”

“How?” I asked.

“I wrote it on a Post-it note.”

“That’s cheating,” I said.

Adam Taffler

Adam Taffler on his return from a successful romantic silence

“It was great,” said Adam. “It was fun. She found it a bit difficult at first and we had a 5-minute talking break, but we broke that initial bullshit of This is who I am and this is what I do. We got to know each other really well through not talking to each other and the rest of it was just a dream. We’re going to date again next week. She’s a really intelligent, lovely girl.”

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Filed under Comedy, Eccentrics, Sex

A spectacular Lions party in Kiev with sword fights and Red Hot Chilli Pipers

(This piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)

Honestly! I had to have breakfast in Kiev to hear about the current protection rackets of Glasgow gangsters and Glasgow Council officers. Other people’s lives!

Stuart McKenzie - master of spectacular events in the Ukraine

Stuart McKenzie – master of highly spectacular events in the Ukraine

But, really, I was in Kiev to attend the annual Burns Night celebration which, it seems, is never held anywhere near Burns Night in the calendar.

The only thing I can say about it is that Stuart McKenzie (stepson of the late Scots comedian Jimmy Logan) sure knows how to throw a charity party. I was at last year’s celebration, which was wonderful, but this year he has outdone himself.

Iconic Scots TV presenter Dougie Donnelly flew over to present 11 acts, 55 entertainers, multi-lingual addresses to the Haggis and genuine sword-fighting.

The Lions Club in Kiev is the biggest in Eastern Europe and, judging from last night, no wonder they manage to raise around $300,000 every year for charity, with this annual event contributing mightily.

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers playing in Kiev last night

Red Hot Chilli Pipers left Kiev reeling & rocking last night

Classical music, bagpiping, the aforementioned swordfighting by The Clann, Dutch singer Mark Enthoven and the extraordinary Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

Plus 38 ‘silent’ auctions in which people bid for everything from a $500 Muhammed Ali autograph to a $3,000 two-day training prize for up to 15 people… plus ten ‘live’ auctions which started with an $11,000 bid and ended with the auction of a $23,000 holiday-for-two in the Seychelles (all money going to charity).

The various holiday auction prizes included two separate Seychelles holidays, two Kenyan holidays and a $7,000 London holiday all put together by Fred Finn, the Guinness Book of Records’ title holder as ‘most travelled person’.

Zap, the magician, mystifying a glamorous guest last night

Zap, the magician, mystifying a glamorous guest last night

Fred had also arranged for the magician Zap to perform table magic during the show. I am ashamed to say I had never seen Zap before but, as a close-up magician, he is flawless. One trick involves taking a low-value note given to him by a punter and changing it into a high-value note ‘before your very eyes’.

Fred told me: “I took Zap to Kenya where he changed low bills into high ones and some of the guys there got a bit rough and took him outside to make him do it for all their money. And then there was the occasion with the UK celebrity where he turned £5 into £50 and the celebrity just walked off with the £50…”

Andrei Trilev got into the Chilli Piping spirit of last night’s event

Profile of publisher Andrei Trilev air guitaring

The six hour long but astonishingly fast-moving Burns Night event yesterday evening was quite something.

I was on an interesting table with, among others, Andrei Trilev, founder of the ultra-glossy Profiles magazine. He is a man unafraid to join in the fun.

And let’s not even mention the Scots croft in the foyer, the Scots castle set on stage or the live sheep.

Not surprisingly, Stuart McKenzie co-owns Ukrainian events company Pulse.

He has been in Kiev since 1994 and his company interests now include entertainment, events, logistics, marketing, property, research and training and his attitude is far from that of the cliché dour Scot.

His view is:

“The best marketers are in the game early and are always on the lookout for the next selling opportunity, the latest trend, the next unmet need. It’s enough to keep you awake at night – but from excitement, rather than from fear.

Some of The Clann members fighting during last night’s show

Some of The Clann members fighting during last night’s show

“My crystal ball has been in the repair shop for a long time. I have absolutely no inkling of what the future holds. Don’t ask me what the trends will be in 2015. I do not have a clue. I can say this, though, with absolute certainty: the future will be glorious for the optimists; the creative marketers who will set the trends and stand to profit from the opportunities that they represent!”

It was announced that, after 18 years of being involved in organising this annual Burns Night celebration in Kiev, it may be Stuart McKenzie’s last. If so, Kiev social life and local charities will be poorer for it.

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Filed under Charity, Entertainment, Marketing, Ukraine

Burns Night in the Ukraine in March

Stuart McKenzie - the Celt is their delight

The last time I flew to Eastern Europe it was to Moscow on Aeroflot in 1985 – they served you caviar to show what a People’s Paradise the Soviet Union was. Mikhail Gorbachev had just succeeded from Yuri Andropov, who died after an unusually and some might think suspiciously short stint in power.

Once you accepted that all Aeroflot staff scowled at all Westerners – partly because of the traditional Russian aversion to smiling at strangers and partly lest the KGB thought they sympathised with the evils of Capitalism – and that the interior decor of the planes appeared to be based on a Lambeth council flat circa 1952 – flying Aeroflot was a fairly relaxing experience.

Yesterday, I was flying to Kiev on the more smiley Ukraine International Airlines to meet up with Fred Finn (the Guinness Book of Records’ most travelled person). He arranged the sponsorship for Gorbachev’s first UK trip after the Soviet Union collapsed, has flown 15 million miles, had 718 flights in Concorde and is now an advisor to the Euro 2012 football championship and a ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ to Ukraine International Airlines, for whom he writes a travel blog.

At his behest, at Gatwick Airport, I bought two bottles of vodka for people in the Ukraine. Yes indeed, as requested, I carried two bottles of vodka from London to Kiev. Over the years, I have come to accept such things as normal.

But I am actually in Kiev to attend a Burns Night Supper tomorrow. Yes, that’s tomorrow – the 31st March – and, yes, I realise Burns Night is/was on 25th January. And, no, I have no idea why the Kiev version is being held tomorrow either.

This Burns Night Supper is organised annually for a local charity by Stuart McKenzie, a highly-successful entrepreneur from Edinburgh.

Last year, apparently, his Burns Night Supper was combined with a St Patrick’s Night party.

It sounds like a great idea and one which I think should be picked up elsewhere. Lateral thinking is always to be encouraged, especially when unexplained.

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Filed under Scotland, Travel, Ukraine