A cheap time was had by all

The Club Awards were a glamour-free zone, reports Monique Roffey
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Indy Lifestyle Online
THE VIDEO clip of DJ Fat Tony blowing snot out of his nose and up in a high arc over a nearby hedge was worth an award in itself. But while it didn't win him the Award for Best DJ (Judge Jules won instead), it did set the tone for the rest of the night.

What night? The London Club Awards, last Wednesday evening in the naffest venue in the heart of London's naffland, the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square. The crowd? Young babes who take the fashion pages too seriously (lots of strappy sandals and sex siren dresses) mingling with old time club-runners and thirtysomething male journalists. The fact that the champagne wasn't free (though they were giving away the new Virgin frozen vodka shots as well as the new Virgin fizzy pop) helped set the tone too: cheap.

But the awards were funny as well, thanks to the inimitable Boy George, who was in fine, waspish form. It was thanks to him that the evening managed to keep any kind of style at all - and the odds were stacked against him. While the celebrity scrape-the-barrel award givers were pleasant enough (Mariella Frostrup twice, Gary Kemp, EastEnders actress Michelle Collins, Marilyn and veteran club host Rusty Egan), it was the award nominees and winners who were tough going. Grainy videos of the nominees tracked down at home, in clubs, in Soho alleyways suited their seedy subject matter: DJ Jeremy Healey in plaits (who, as Boy George pointed out, looks exactly like Sally Gunnell), club host Robert Pereno cuddling a chihuahua called Tequila, Oliver Peyton of the Atlantic Bar and Billion Dollar Babes laughing nervously at everything the interviewer said, and even stale old cheeses like Peter Stringfellow (winner, Sexiest Host Award) and Dai Lewellyn (winner, Old Bastard Award) wittering away in their own clubs. The only real gem was the long-running clip of the legendary club queen Philip Sallon, rudely disturbed at home, who proceeded to do feisty Harvey Fierstein drag impersonations from his sofa in a full head of curlers and a pink feathered bathrobe. He later won the Outstanding Contribution to London Nightlife award, and also complained about the lack of free drink and nosh laid on for the night.

The awards were collected by an array of hard-core clubbers. One big girl in a tight red dress and square purple shades made a very loud, lewd and unintelligible speech before stumbling off the stage. The Rudest Door Policy went to The Ministry of Sound, the Longest Guest List went to Roger Michael at Iceni, The Most Expensive Drinks went to Steve Strange. The least covetable award, the Graham Ball Prize (for being a tight git, named after a notoriously stingy club host) went to Oliver Peyton. Best Club was a tie between the Hanover Grand and the Cross, and the Leigh Bowery Creativity Prize went to Love Muscle at the Fridge.

The Oscars it wasn't. The audience smoked, jeered, ate (and threw) popcorn. But the oddest thing was that the awards showed how stagnant London's clubland is. This faded clubber hung up her boob tube some time back when people like Fat Tony and Judge Jules were the big DJs in town. Five years later, I didn't expect to find that they still were.

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