Michael White Is the Most Famous Person You’ve Never Heard Of
Michael White in the early 1970s. All photos courtesy of Michael White unless otherwise stated
How do you begin to tell the story of a man who’s spent his life telling the stories of others? I’m sitting on the floor of impresario Michael White’s home in London’s fashionable Westbourne Grove, sifting through an endless collection of photo albums and trying to work out the answer.
“I have 20,000 photographs of people. I only like to take pictures of people, not places,” says Michael, casually ignoring the fact that the “people” he’s talking about happen to be some of the most iconic figures from the past four decades of popular culture.
Bruce Anderson, Margaret Thatcher, Dennis Thatcher, Naomi Watts
Here’s a picture of a young Bob Geldof holding a pair of Easter eggs; there’s a photo of Jack Nicholson flexing his muscles by a pool; a few pages down, Naomi Watts, conservative columnist Bruce Anderson, and Margaret Thatcher are leafing through books next to a Christmas tree. On his mantelpiece there’s a tiny framed picture of Kate Moss with Michael’s son in her lap, taken on vacation sometime in the 1990s.
“Michael White is the most famous person you’ve never heard of,” says actress Greta Scacchi inThe Last Impresario, an upcoming documentary about his life. You might not have heard of him, but there’s no doubt you’ll be familiar with his work.
Michael White, Susan Sarandon, Boy George
Having basically discovered men like John Cleese—as well as introducing women like Yoko Ono and Pina Bausch to Britain—he’s had a hand in shaping the sensibilities of both your generation and your parents’. Meanwhile, his productions Oh! Calcutta, The Rocky Horror Showand Polyester liberated the concept of camp and elevated it to a mainstream aesthetic.
Watch: The Party Island of Ibiza
Ibiza is a place that looms large in all our imaginations, the sun-kissed, beer-drenched rock in the middle of the Mediterranean where all our hedonistic dreams can come true. But what is it that makes people come back year after year to the same tiny island?
Host Clive Martin sets off to investigate the magnetic appeal of “the party island,” and meets a cast of characters including DJs Carl Cox and Luciano, a crew of scantily clad club-dancers, puking kids on vacation, Alfredo Fiorito—the man who basically invented Ibiza as we know it today—and a 10-foot-tall flying rave robot.
Roger Perry’s long out-of-print The Writing on the Wall—–a collection of photos charting London’s early graffiti scene—is being republished this week. Here, George Stewart-Lockhart, an art historian and publisher who wrote the extensive new foreword for the re-release, takes us through a few of his most striking images.
Behind the Scenes at the Drunken Club Wonderland of Ibiza
Ibiza is a place that looms large in our collective imagination. It’s the island that is smaller than even Majorca but has become not just a holiday destination for Brits in search of the usual sun, sea and STDs, but a sort of tech-house Shangri-La. A place whose no-holds-barred, no-fucks-given majesty makes it worth toiling through 50 or so weeks of spreadsheets and supermarket pizza. It’s a place that people don’t just work to visit, but that people will work in while they visit, purely to keep the party going.
The stereotype goes that it’s a paradise of pillheads and Portobello hippies, the gurning masses huddling together in the death throes of a 15-hour Roger Sanchez set on one side of the island, while personal friends of Jade Jagger and James Blunt sit on the other side smoking expensive hash in their turquoise cowboy boots and Stevie Nicks buckle hats.
‘Hunks, Chunks and Drunks’ – The Booze-Drenched Legacy of ‘Britain’s Own Guantanamo’
Diego Garcia, the British Indian Ocean Territory leased for a US military base, hides the truth over UK involvement in the CIA rendition program.
But on the surface at least, the closest thing to waterboarding going on is drenching in the drunk tank.
Meet the Man Behind London’s Biggest ‘Elite’ Sex Parties
Chris Reynolds Gordon is kind of like Britain’s answer to Dan Bilzerian. Only, where the latter made his name playing poker, throwing naked women off roofs, and rapidly becoming Instagram’s most-followed misogynist, Chris has managed to get where he’s at without any of the awkward social media machismo of his American counterpart.
He’s been a millionaire; he’s gone broke. He’s owned property around the world; he’s been homeless. He was a junior national 800 meters champion; he’s met with Vladimir Putin about trading rough diamonds. Now, before hitting his 30th birthday, he’s turned his and his friend Eva’s “Heaven SX” concept into one of London’s most popular “elite” sex parties.
In light of the Killing Kittens group—probably the UK’s largest sex party brand—recently inviting Heaven SX into its fold, I thought I’d catch up with Chris to find out his thoughts on how he makes his money.
VICE: Hey, Chris. So, first off, run me through what happens at a Heaven SX party.
Chris Reynolds Gordon: It’s like going to any normal bar or club—you have people dressed up looking nice, chatting, laughing, getting to know each other. Then, a little bit later on—at about 12:00 or 1:00 AM, when the mood’s right—the girls will go and get changed into lingerie. It’s a bit of an awkward moment, with all the guys chatting and sitting with each other, then all these girls come in looking super hot and the atmosphere changes and people start disappearing.
Why do you call it “elite”?
I went to quite a lot of parties in the past, and everyone was calling them elite. But then you’d see, like, 50- or 60-year-old people who weren’t that attractive. Not that there aren’t attractive people in their 50s and 60s, but these weren’t people you’d stereotypically think of as attractive. It’s really quite a shallow thing, though, because what is good looking? Basically, the hottest [people] we wanted to play with just got together—everyone who was a 10 on the hot chart. The average age is also quite young. There’s nothing else like it.
The Sad Death of London’s Weirdest Tourist Attraction
(Photo by Nick Hilton, all other photos by Mark Duffy unless stated)
For tourists visiting London, the beating heart of the West End isn’t the Eros statue, Chinatown, or the flagship Waterstones book store, or any of the other high-profile TripAdvisor-friendly attractions. It’s the palatial white building that sits between the freak show at Ripley’s and the freak show at the Leicester Square KFC: The London Trocadero.
In his 1968 poem “For the Union Dead,” Robert Lowell describes the derelict South Boston Aquarium as standing “in a Sahara of snow.” The Trocadero stands in a Kalahari of krap. The Baroque restaurant, opened at the turn of the 20th century, is now the home of invasive souvenir hawkers and chain gift shops displaying a level of bad taste that borders on satirical performance art.
It wasn’t always this way. In the 1990s, the historic building was salvaged for the purpose of creating the biggest “leisure space” in London, packed with a Nickelodeon studios, an IMAX theater and its crowning glory, SegaWorld, which was essentially just loads of arcade games and a giant statue of Sonic. It was a feat of uniquely poor planning, and almost immediately developed a rust of crapiness. By the Millennium the Trocadero dream was dead: Sega withdrew their sponsorship and SegaWorld was relegated to something called “Funland,” the IMAX vanished, and the escalators stopped moving, never to be effectively repaired. As a final insult, the place was used as a location for the video of Madonna’s 2005 single, “Hung Up.”
Yet, despite the inexorability of this decline, a couple of years ago, the ground floor of the complex was fighting bravely against its inevitable destruction. An apparently salaried attendant was employed to supervise the bungee trampoline. There were public toilets that charged a full £1 ($1.68) and must’ve made a fortune catching the urine of children who’ve had too many sugary tourist-drinks. There was even a time-warp underground connection to Piccadilly Circus subway station, which was populated, at all times, by a silent Japanese break dancing troupe. They head-spun to their terrible J-Pop while the scent of cinnamon wafted down from the fresh bun store (which shared its premises with a shop that, obviously, sold scuba diving equipment).
I Was an Accidental Porn Star
Civilian to porn star; it’s a route most travel via casting couches and cum shots. However, for Luke-Kristopher Davis—a 21-year-old physics student at Swansea University—everything happened the fairytale way. While spending a year in Spain, he was whisked off his feet by director Erika Lust, who cast him in two of her films.
Luke-Kristopher’s now back in the UK, but besides his bio on Erika’s site—which says he “dances and attends university when he is not wowing us with his great smile”—I didn’t know much about him or his accidental foray into porn. So I gave him a call to talk it over.
VICE: Hi Luke-Kristopher. So how did all of this happen for you?
Luke-Kristopher Davis: I was in Barcelona on a night out with some friends, and this woman came over and asked me if I was a model or an actor. I said I was just a student. Then she asked me to do a porn film.
Did she say what she found so alluring about you?
Yeah, yeah. Well, she thought I’d done modeling. She said, “Oh, you’re very good looking. Are you a model or an actor?” I do actually get it absolutely everywhere I go [laughs].
Yeah. Right now I work in a bar, and all my customers ask me. They come up to me and take pictures. It’s quite funny.
What went through your mind when she suggested it?
I wasn’t really shocked, to be honest. I just saw it as an opportunity to have a little—you know, fun [laughs]. I thought about it rationally: ‘Would this be worth it?’ I had to assess the risk and if it was safe. She described her company and it didn’t sound like a back alley thing. It’s very high quality. And it’s a feminist company, so I was impressed by that.
The Sad Demise of Nancy Lee, One of Britain’s Young Ketamine Casualties
Ketamine is that crazy wobbly-leg drug. The wacky-student drug, the post-club chill-out aid, the new-gen LSD that gives users the power to become—according to 1970s K-hole explorer and dolphin whisperer John C. Lilly—“peeping toms at the keyhole of eternity.” But its reputation as a popular recreational drug, since filtering into the mainstream via the gay-clubbing and free-party scenes in the 2000s, does not tell the whole story of what’s going on in modern British K-land.
Apart from a brief paragraph in the Brighton Argus’s obituary column, Nancy Lee’s drug death went unreported. There was no shock factor: She hadn’t collapsed in public from a toxic reaction to a pill or a line of powder in a club. Instead, at the age of 23, Nancy had died slowly over seven years, her body trashed by a steady diet of ketamine.
Nancy started using ketamine at age 16 when she made new friends. Most teenagers getting high in the local Brighton park were necking cider and smoking skunk, but Nancy and her group of indie-kid outsiders used the open spaces to take ketamine. It was cheap, at 12 grams for about $150, and, important for Nancy, it transported her away from real life.
“She was sensitive and very caring, but Nancy was a misfit,” her father Jim, a college lecturer, told me. “She was bullied at school because of a bad squint and for being a tomboy. She had a victim mentality, a feeling that the world was against her.” It’s just that Nancy ended up finding solace in ketamine. “If someone were to design the perfect drug for a teenager who is depressed and doesn’t have much money, this would be it,” Jim said.
The VICE Guide to Glasgow 2014
Edinburgh might have the castle, the parliament, the Japanese tourists, the neo-classical architecture, and the advantageously low murder rate, but Glasgow has all the fun. Scotland’s largest city is pretty drunk, yes, but we also punch above our weight culturally, with a dynamic music scene, one of the world’s most iconic art schools, and some of the best pubs and clubs in Britain. So taps aff ya dafties, ‘cos here we fucking go.
Jump to sections by using the index below.
– WHERE TO PARTY
– WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH DRUGS?
– POLITICS, PROTESTS AND JUST HOW RACIST IS EVERYONE HERE?
Self-Important Sectarian Bigots | Glaswegian Authority Issues | Immigration
– WHERE TO EAT
– WHAT DO LOCALS EAT?
– WHERE TO DRINK
– WHERE TO STAY
– LGBT GLASGOW
– WHERE TO HANG OUT WHEN YOU’RE SOBER
– HOW TO AVOID GETTING RIPPED OFF AND BEATEN UP
– HOW NOT TO BE A SHITTY TOURIST
– PEOPLE AND PLACES TO AVOID
– TIPPING AND HANDY PHRASES
– A YOUTUBE PLAYLIST OF QUESTIONABLE LOCAL MUSIC
– VICE CITY MAP