Steve Strange nearly in My Fair Lady


Visage1983 was not a good year for the King of New Romantics – Steve Strange. In fact, I think it would be true to say it was the year when the writing was firmly on the wall.

His pop glory years were behind him though the Camden Palace continued to do a roaring trade.  I went that year with my Liverpool buddy Austin Muscatelli and a good time had by all – even if we couldn’t find a night bus and ended up sleeping on Hampstead Heath.  Oh, happy memories.

But Mr Strange was interviewed that year and said  he’d been offered a part in a new musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber that involved going round on roller skates – Starlight Express??   Anyway, Steve was too busy for that.

He then said he’d been offered a TV film part for a version of My Fair Lady where a Malcolm McLaren type would spot him on the streets, take him to the top of the Post Office Tower (now the BT Tower) and show him London.  “One day, this will all be yours.”

I’m trying to decide whether it’s a shame or a relief that film was never made.

New Romantics – glamour on the cheap


Between 1979 and 1981, there was a shocking rise in youth unemployment in the first years of Maggie Thatcher. But alongside that was the rise of the New Romantic movement. It sought to achieve glamour on the cheap.

It was also gender bending and extremely camp. I can remember the curious sight of a very heterosexual jock at school going to a party in a frilly white shirt and Bowie trousers. He’d been into rockabilly a few weeks before.

The club that best epitomised this whole look was Blitz. It was overseen by Steve Strange who imposed a very threatening door policy where those meeting his required standards were turned away. Hopefuls caked themselves in make up – male and female – and bought their knickerbockers and velvet capes from outlets like Fab Gear (pictured), which advertised in the music press and fashion magazines.