26th Apr 2010
Pulp Press Party
On Saturday night, high on an intoxicating cocktail of sunshine, red wine and volcanic ash, I wriggled my way into my best rockabilly frock and ventured into town for Pulp Press‘ annual charity launch, at the Horse Hospital in London’s Russell Square. And what a night it was.
Burlesque and books might not seem the most obvious combination, but when the books’ central characters include deadly dames just out of Holloway and determined to wreak their revenge on the men they’ve been wronged by (such as Marcella and Cass, the leading ladies in Dominic Milne‘s My Bloody Alibi), it starts to make more sense. Even the grisly venue (the Horse Hospital’s grooved stone floor is not just a health-and-safety hazard for those in high heels; it’s a relic of the place’s past, used to ensure the ease with which horse blood and guts could be hosed down and rinsed away) seemed suitably macabre for an event at which the extracts read out by the authors inevitably involved sleaze, crime, violence and revenge.
So, I took my seat on the front row (I know it’s dorky, but since school I’ve never quite felt cool enough to assume I can be down with the bad kids at the back), and waiting for proceedings to begin. After an introduction by a suited and booted Danny from Pulp Press, Dominic Milne was the first to take to the microphone, reading the opening chapters of My Bloody Alibi. The story of the aforementioned Marcella and Cass, My Bloody Alibi details the plan the friends concoct to get rid of their enemies; two toxic men, one a rapist policeman and the other a murderous drug-dealer. Taking advantage of the physical similarities between them, they come up with a solution involving podium-dancing in Soho’s infamous Alley Cat Club and a fictional, feisty character called Slyvana. Although the assembled audience were only read the first few pages, it was more than enough to get a taste of Milne’s evocative, fast-paced prose; perfect pulp fiction that I’ll definitely be investing in soon.
Next onstage was Alan Kelly, all the way from Ireland and reading from his Pulp Press novella, Let Me Die a Woman. At the end of the evening, worn out from all the excitement, his was the one I spent my last £6 on, so expect a proper review soon. But in the meantime, a short synopsis: Bunny Flask has worked hard to establish her place on horror magazine Blood Rag, no mean feat for a woman in such a male-dominated genre. But her world is turned topsy-turvy with the arrival of money-grabbing, sexist “squirrel-dicked” sleazeball Mick Jones (who I can’t help but imagine as looking and acting like Mick Jones from The Clash), who’s bought out the magazine, snuffed out Bunny’s influence and instated flame-haired bitch-face Alice Fiend. There’s far more sinister goings on behind-the-scenes too; women are disappearing and Bunny no longer knows who she can trust.
Last up was Belfast-born Charlie McQuaker, reading from his debut novel, Die Hard Mod, the opening chapter of which featured the protagonist being savagely beaten in his home by drug-dealers he’d accidentally gotten on the wrong side of, followed by his mod memorabilia being mercilessly mocked and smashed into bits by the two intruders.
Then there was two sets of beauteous burlesque, the highlight of which was Coco de Ville (above), filling in for Miss Kitty Peels (stranded in Spain by the volcano apocalypse), and who I shall surely be dirty-daydreaming about for at least the next few days. After that, a dance or two to the musical stylings of DJ $uave, a speedy catch-up with the ever-glamorous Cathi Unsworth, and then a sharp exit in time for the last train home. Roll on next year’s knees-up!
Post by Jane Bradley