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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
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.
“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.”