Letter from London - March 2009

Let's start with a brief mention of the venue. I've always liked the Water Rats. It's a nice capacity (250
to 300 I'd guess), has a good sized stage that provides decent views
and has a separate area for drinking and chatting. Yes - it does just
boil down to a room at the back of a pub, but it's a good room at the back of a pub.
Jeffree Star's music was introduced to me by PCS, the singer from
the Bow Mods. Jeffree is a peacock of a man, his (professional looking)
myspace page has many photo's of him with immaculate hair and make up.
Imagine if Brittany spears and Marillon Manson got mixed together in
transport machine : Jeffree would be the result. He's playing with
gender, but I don't think he's trying to be shocking. Not that 25 years
after Culture Club there can be many people who find that that shocking.With
nearly one million fans on his myspace page (I know that it's pretty
easy to trawl through myspace and aquire friends, but a million?), I
was expecting it to be rammed. What's more, I was hoping for it to be
rammed with a colourful collection of the cream of the capitals freaks,
so I could spend some time people watching. What a disapointment.
There's only about 150 people here tonight. There are a handful of the
sparse crowd with immaculate clothes and make up, a few women in lurid
leotards and tights, but mainly it's teenage emo kids. Some eyeliner,
some hair dye, some piercings with standard issue clothes over bodies
cocooned in puppy fat. So - not quite the visual feast I was hoping
for, but as the night progressed their behaviour proved interesting
enough for an anthropologist to write a paper. Before the
music starts the kids are downstairs in the toilets. Apparently they
don't care about the signs on the door - there's boys in the ladies and
girls in the gents. The excitement is too much for the poor dears:
there's a hightened state of emotion. "Why did you get off with her?
It's not fair!" one boy sobs. The kids that are upstairs have
rammed themselves at the front of the stage, and clambered behind the
PA to get the best views. As there's so few of them there's plenty of
room at the back of the room for me to easily wander about and get
different views. Jeffree takes the stage with a band of
keyboard player, bass player and drummer. Tonight he's got orange hair
,in side pony tails, that glows spectacularly when the UV light is turned
on. Actually, I think the make up on his face goes a bit blue too. It's
a good effect. A minute after the music starts the kids from downstairs
stumble into the venue, pushing us lurkers out of the way so they can
get close to the action. It seems like almost everyone has a
camera(phone) in the air, trying to get shots of Jeffree. One group of
kids unfurl a giant message to Jeffree with there mobile number on it.
"Call us Jeffree" it pleads. It's only up for 30 seconds, not because
it's too big an people behind can't see, but because the people holding
it can't enjoy themselves properly. Everyone is here to worship Jeffree
and he's here to hand out blessings. One lucky member of the
congregation has there camera taken from their hands and Jeffree takes
a shot of himself. Another get's a direct conversation between songs.
There's enough of Jeffree for everyone in the room. The music?
You want descriptions? It's easier and quicker to head to his myspace
page, but if you insist: I doubt if anyone but the keyboard player does
any work towards making the backing track for Jeffree. It's power pop?
Drag-star Disco? Tranny Trance? No ... it's definatley not trance, but
I stuck in an alliteration rut and it sounds good. The songs are short
with simple, danceable beats carrying witty lyrics with catchy beats.
Think 'Peaches', but slightly less minimal. The song titles can be
fantastic ('Plastic Surgery Slumber Party', 'Eyelash Curlers and
Butchers Knives') or a little stereotyped ('Straight Boys' or 'We Want
Cunt'). One odd thing, that I hadn't picked up from the recorded stuff,
was that there's quite a liberal sprinkling of the kind of demonic
growls you find in speed metal. I'm sure it's all microphone effects,
as I doubt that Jeffree would risk damaging his throat singing when he
suggests it's his main source of pleasure. Ahem. As the night
reaches a climax, Jeffree is beginning to flag : "It's so hot in here I
could give birth" he says in his valley girl drawl. The show ends (it
sounds like the sequencer dies, but just at the right time for it to
sound like it they meant it to happen), and my party file out to finish
our drinks. All the kids are hanging around to meet Jeffree at the
Merchandise 'stand' (two pub tables pushed together). Now, what strikes
me now is that despite the frenzy during the music, despite the eager
hands reaching up to touch Jeffree, despite the faces in a rigor mortis
of ecstasy is how well behaved they all are. One of the management
shout to say Jeffree will be out in five minutes, but you've all got to
line up to take your turn to see him. Immediately there's an orderly
line. When Jeffree does appear, he's not mobbed, and he can wander
happily past (even through) the line without being stopped, stroked or
grabbed. It's time for me to leave, outside I notice the
massive tour bus. What is a band, that's unable to sell out a 300
capacity venue, and that's touring venues like 'The Bank Club' in Port
Talbot(!), or 'Club Rockshots' in Chesterfield doing with something
suitable for Coldplay? Where's the money coming from? He's not going to
make it back in the next few weeks. All credit to him - I'd expect
Jeffree to try and break the UK by hanging around the celeb spots in
London, but he clearly cares for the fans that he's (or maybe thinks
he's) got. http://www.myspace.com/jeffreestar