CAPE TOWN empresario, chick magnet and purveyor of hard liquor held what must be rated as one of the most Over the Top (OTT) 60th birthday celebrations ever. The date – Saturday April 5, The venue, the Royal Albert Hall in the bohemian paradise of Lower Woodstock. Here are some snippets — I am greeted by Wonder Woman, a barrage of artists on roller skates, odd members of a 70 piece orchestra, Waddy Jones and an “8-year-old boy” whom I mistake for a live alien from Zeta Reticuli.
The alien is eyeballing me, with the ancient eyes of a creature who has just traveled a million light years across the interstellar tide in a fifties flying saucer (with matching soap dish). I rub my brow, but everything is still out of focus. Is this it, an extraterrestrial contactee, at an art party of all places? My unconscious screams — I am co-hallucinating, or maybe somebody slipped me a Mickey Finn? It all compresses down, an 8 foot high human transmogrified into an Eloi. I may as well have tripped down a rabbit hole and ended up with Jessica, the March Hare and the Red Queen.
I wake from my stupor — as Waddy guns me down with a polite “scram, get out of here”. Am forced to beat a retreat back home to fetch my trousers which I have apparently neglected to put on. It’s going to be one of those nights, pinch yourself you should be dreaming. Turns out, the kid has Progeria (Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome) and is physically handicapped, at least that’s what I choose to believe. No way of actually knowing for sure.
Having answered the call of nature – lots of eligible women, drag queens, ex-girlfriends and bored housewives, I regain my composure and try the whole routine again. This time I am in one of Beezy Bailey’s paintings. We talk about Yoko Ono, white lawns and eighties table tennis.
Bruce Gordon is playing poker surrounded by a brandy of red-heads, mermaids, naiades, in a movie directed by Cas Rasch and Steven Markowitz. In each hand there are five cards. The sequence goes like this: Lose a round and you forfeit five years, win and you win big. I realize Bruce is much younger than he looks. An eight year old boy trapped in a 60 year-old body.
A bedroom scene materializes in which the lovely Sue Williamson is surrounded by Tuxedo Wearing Cuban Gangsters all holding Charoots. A fat woman smoking a cigar has a Purple Shall Govern t-shirt. She has signed her life to Wikipedia and says the pay isn’t half that bad, compared to Google.
Barend De Wet appears with a strobe light flashing out of his nostrils. I look towards the bar and the light beams are now being cast by Elf-like spook creatures and the spiders from Mars, to command us all to drink. A matre de’ manifests in a shower of sparks, but turns out to be a cabinet minister from a country too small to mention in the world encyclopedia. (Ronald Suresh Roberts swears his next biography is about Die Bokke).
Joburg Bar has found a bigger scale, this time it is J & B Met of the eighties underground. Pill Box hats are apparently still in Style (The New Vogue) and the whole thing is being conjoured up by the label of the decade, (yes it is) Over the Top (OTT) clothing and of course Radio 2000. Andre Vorster parachutes in with a veritable Twinkly Sea party. (What is it with 7 foot fashion queens?)
Herman Van Wyk and Robert Weinek are 15 minutes apart, competing with each other to see who has the most famous six pack — that’s a six pack of beer boop. Johnathan Garnham and Tinkerbell are both sprinkling fairy dust, angel essence and sweetie pies everywhere. Just give me fifteen minutes with TB. An old buzzard laughs and tells me 84 is a good age for poison. Pirates gather in an antechamber designed by Bruce Gordon himself. Swashbuckling from yore.
In true thespian style Guy Willoughby is dramatically illustrating a point to Andre that has Restoration as its main theme, but according to an insider, the restoration of the Albert Hall is in danger of turning into a full-blown coup for the monarchy. Rule Britannia, Long Live Rhodesia at least as far as the actors guild is concerned. This does not go down well with my “date”, Gael Reagon who is about to bonk me on the head with a copy of Der Grundrisse for neglecting to bring her a food parcel — the Albert Hall thankfully is handing out parcels of food to those less fortunate guests who can’t afford Amex or MasterCard, but patrons are hesitant, lest they be seen to consume an original Sue Wiliamsonianism (Available at any retailer)
“I’m so pissed off, that’s it the last straw” Gael says interrupting a conversation with THE Catherine Ochello, a remarkable Kenyan artist who has only recently graduated from art school and is in the process of painting the scene (believe it or not, with floor paint) If only there were more women painters, but it would seem none exist.
Kevin Brand drifts past. Gael walks home. Catherine disappears. Bruce Gordon’s life is transforming itself into a living, walking garden ornament dispensing beer. I imagine a champagne hedge and Greek Maze and fountain filled with Ambrosia would also do the trick.
Ian Arrow is at The Bar with his six shooters and like Dr Strangelove’s Cowboy about to drop a neutron bomb. “Hey mate!” he beams. Before he can rock, he hooks me up with a real looker – a girl by the name of Jackie who does mud wrestling on a Thursday. I forget who I am with for enough time to realize Denver is dissing Waddy on Stage. It apparently has nothing to do with my suit.
We dance. The Alien-boy checks me out. I check him out. “You’re Bruce Gordon, I presume?” Wink, nudge, and my eyeballs explode. When the Tornadoes eventually do play it is like being hit by a cyclone. The Albert Hall is on fire. I imagine one would need a licence to do this sort of thing.