I have dug out an old magnetic audio tape I have had for years of a demo recording of ‘Choice’ to share with you.
Choice was a musical project conducted by Vivienne with her then house model/muse Sara Stockbridge in the years 1987-89.
Simon Barker who was friends with Murray & the partner of the then World’s End shop manager Derek was to interpret the music from Vivienne’s ideas.These were from a mix of sources including Ariel’s song from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, the 17thC-19thC pantomime ‘Harlequin & Columbine’, Titian’s painting ‘Venus of Urbino’, Gregorian chants & 2 large kettle drums.
For the project Simon employed two fellow musicians that he knew. One was the guitarist Mark Rutherford who had been in a previous band with Simon called ‘Jimmy the Hoover’ & the other was an American girl called Carla who played percussion.
Not enough for an album but enough for several live performances, there were four main songs developed & recorded. These were: Venus, Pagan Kiss, Bride of Fortune & Desert.The first venue Choice played was a party in Florence. After this venues included The Fridge in Brixton, The Empire Ballroom in Leicester Sq, The Mud Club at Busby’s in Charing Cross Rd, The Hacienda in Manchester, two shows in Tokyo & of course Vivienne’s Pagan 1 SS88 fashion show.Not only were the songs written & overseen by Vivienne but the stage performances were also choreographed by her.
Sometimes this got a bit complicated.
I remember the performance that they gave at Brixton’s The Fridge.The performance started with a projection of the Titian painting Venus of Urbino onto a gauze screen at the front of the stage. The music started & then the lights of the projection died down as the lights behind the screen were turned up to reveal Sara lying in exactly the same position on a couch as Venus was in the projection, the stage background being the same as the projection as well.Sara gets up wearing a gold lame corset dress (not nude as in the painting) & walks to the front of the stage singing as the gauze screen is raised (The Fridge was originally a theatre).After this & as the lyrics of the song describe, a whole range of extras come onto the stage. These included two girls wearing the mini crini skirts, a little dog & a baby Cupid in loincloth with wings (a friend’s baby was borrowed for this).
Unfortunately things did not go to plan on this night.
At the rehearsal Vivienne was so busy with the choreography & things like making the quiver for Cupid’s arrows that the band did not have enough time to do a proper sound check, which was ok but more importantly there was not enough time to do a thorough stage rehearsal.
Everything went smoothly at the beginning but as Sara walked towards the front of the stage, the gauze screen started to rise, but then stopped a foot off the ground..
Sara was left stuck singing behind it. This situation carried on for what seemed like a minute until Sara decided to just get on the floor & squeeze, still singing under the low screen.
Eventually the screen did raise but other things did not go to plan either as the baby Cupid did not seem to know what to do & just wandered around behind Sara on the stage.
After the nights performance I found out that the problem with the gauze screen had been that as it had started to roll up & lift, it had caught both of the two mini crini girl’s crini skirts & was rolling up dragging the girls with it. The screen had had to stay down until someone had been able to cut both the girls skirts away from the screen (sounds like a Benny Hill sketch). The girls could not then appear in the show.
Sara’s initiative had saved the night.
The choreography was worked on though & another performance I saw with the same routine at the Empire Ballroom went to plan.Eventually the project came to an end. Vivienne of course had to check & oversee everything but due to her being very busy with all her other projects there was a lot of delay & there were further delays because the music for all the songs was constantly being added to & tweaked as Vivienne got closer to what she wanted. Unfortunately after two years of this Sara & the band, who were waiting for at least two songs to be finished so that a single could be released (& maybe make them some money), got impatient & drifted off to other things.To round off this story Sara is back. In 2010 she formed a new band called ROOSTER with her partner Cobalt Stargazer (who is also in the band Zodiac Mindwarp).
In 2012 Sara & the band played their music live as the soundtrack for the SS13 Red Label show ‘Climate Revolution’ at the Home Office in London.
See the show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guN-o_jRoV4
Mark Rutherford is now a film & video game soundtrack producer. See him here: