Monday, 17 May 2010 Was yesterday's BBC film 'Worried About The Boy' an accurate depiction of those times?
Not in my view, no. But I think it would have been a whole lot less coherent and believable if it had been. Those were some pretty wacky times and a lot of the characters were fairly wacky too.
Plus many of the key participants were far more interesting and complex than either Boy George or Steve Strange but are either unheard of or far less famous than either. I guess that was always going to be the case. 'Worried About The Boy' did capture some element of the crazy, live-for-today spirit of that club though. But the characters were either amalgams or creatively re-imagined and the timeline was completely screwed up.
For instance, when George shows his dad the article in i-D magazine, that would have been when i-D started, in the autumn of 1980. By that time, the group of friends that eventually became tagged as the Blitz Kids had already been all over every national newspaper, including a big spread (photographed by me) in the Sunday Times Magazine, from where the image above was taken. George himself had been featured in a two page spread in the Daily Mail, about Bowie Night at 'Billy's', in 1978 nearly two years before.
Bowie Night at 'Billy's' is often glossed over in the whole story but that was really where it all began. And the sort of feted media characters that Boy George, Marilyn, Steve Strange and Martin Degville eventually became, were mostly just overdressed yet rather shy teenagers during their time at Billy's. That's not to downplay it or them. Stepping down into Bowie Night at 'Billy's' was a little like walking through a Hieronymous Bosch painting but it was far more unselfconscious and hedonistic than Blitz ever was. And to my mind, the best club of the era was Le Beat Route, which managed to happily exist somewhat below the radar of media attention (other than mine, obviously) and from this observers point of view, seemed to be a lot more fun.
One other thing that I think I should mention is that the seeds of the modern fetish club might have been sown back at Billy's as well. David Claridge, the guy that started the original Skin Two Club, used to go there as did many of the people who would become well known rubber and fetish wear designers in the '80s - like Daniel James.
They really were remarkable and very creative times. Which ended, in my opinion, when Leigh Bowery's Taboo closed in 1987. 'Worried About The Boy' was a good start but that whole era deserves something a lot better. Or a decent documentary. Whilst most of the participants are still compos mentis enough to able to talk about it.