Drop in and chill out
His east London loft is filled with salvaged club furniture. But when it comes to bringing work home, that's as far as Cy Kelly is prepared to go. James Sherwood on a clubber's refuge
Sunday 31 May 1998
Apart from the ubiquitous big white sofa and two of the ugliest salamanders languishing in a fish tank, the main space in Kelly's apartment is relatively bare. The stripped wood floors, an original feature, have withstood a million stiletto heels and spilt Absolut. The salvaged shop and club furniture, mostly made in rough-hewn wood, is what you could call improvised. Two milk churns support a wooden bench behind the make-shift breakfast bar. A poster of a blaxploitation diva, in the Pam Grier school of Seventies afro and bikini wear, has been customised as a lampshade.
The whole point of open-plan living is escaping the rabbit-warren rented flat syndrome. A bank of light hits Cy Kelly's apartment from a wall of industrial windows. Essentially, the main space is living room, kitchen, gym and photographic studio. It is a much more relaxed approach to interiors. Features are free standing and mobile. The room is dominated by three Hewitt Universal studio standing lights. Kelly's flatmate, Mark Ray-Jones, is a photographer currently working with Storm models. The apartment transforms into a photographic studio when Ray-Jones is shooting pictures.
Cy Kelly is the Tony Manero of the Nineties. He's 24, he knows how to accessorise and he's straight. His years working the guest list for clubs like Thunderdome and The Limelight have made him into the Gatsby of clubland. "I remember the night when I knew I wanted to work on the club scene," he says. "I was in the Hippodrome in Liverpool and saw this guy at the end of the bar. Everyone shook his hands, girls paid him a bit of attention. People treated him like a film star or something. He was the owner of the club. I took one look and thought, 'I want to be like that.'" Cue the intro to Boogie Nights.
"Understandably, I don't spend a lot of nights in," says Kelly. "For the next three and a half months I'm going out to Ibiza." Ibiza - once a desperately tacky destination for what Kelly calls the "Fluffy bra" female clubber - has regained its credibility thanks to London hard-core gay club Trade and glam party promoter Pushca taking their following on a summer holiday. Sleaze Nation is promoting the tour and Kelly is doing the on-location PR. "If you don't spend every night at home I think it's important to have a relatively tranquil environment to come home to," says Kelly.
"Working in the club scene is not an honest game," says Kelly. "A lot of people want to be a part of the club-scene. So employers take the piss. After a few years, you learn who to trust and you get their respect. I'm not saying I have a hard life. I love what I do. But it's either totally fabulous or totally bad. There are no compromises." Clubland does have the three lethal ingredients for burn-out. There's an awful lot of money, an awful lot of drugs and even more ego. This goes some way to explain the punch bag hanging from Cy Kelly's ceiling.
Kelly won't have a problem packing for Ibiza. His entire wardrobe is displayed in a galvanised steel supermarket crate on castors. It looks not unlike Robbie Williams' tour wardrobe for a Wembley gig. "I suppose I do lean towards the more glam club scene compared to the Old Street scene. I was in Sheffield last weekend at a fluffy bra club. The lads looked at the sparkly shirt I had on and grunted a bit. Get over it." Today he is wearing trainers that probably cost more than a pair of Bruno Maglis and track pants. "Don't you dare photograph me looking like this", he says to the Real Life snapper.
Kelly's apartment is the most exclusive VIP room in town, precisely because it isn't party central. The people who come here are The Professionals. They come to get away from the twilight zone that is clubland. From Ray- Jones's bedroom there is access to a terrace. In London, a garden terrace is more important than a cooker. The wide-screen TV is flanked by a thousand videos. As a whole, the apartment is a calm environment built for disco damage limitation.
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