The capital's subterranean, after-hours haunts have always been the traditional breeding ground for people brave enough to inflict their unusual 'skills' on an unsuspecting public. Whether you'd call some of the more outre acts 'entertainment' in the classic sense is strictly a matter of taste, but clubbers' appetite for ever more sensational divertissements guarantees that current favourites will not be becoming household names.

Who, for instance (bar the cognoscenti) has heard of Donald and Shelia Tequila, who host the monthly theme parties under the Central Bar at King's Cross? Their most recent capers have included a do entitled 'Bride of the Year'. Sheila, of course, dressed as a bride, while Donald went among the guests, rubbing onions into their eyes to make them cry. Donald has also been known to eat cotton wool and rub tin foil on his teeth to please his public. And the public keeps coming.

In much the same mode, but rather more extreme, is seasoned cabaret artist Ian Hinchcliff (he was Alternative cabaret Arts artist of the year in 1992). After 30 years in the business of making people laugh, he will stop at nothing in his 'pursuit of the unusual'. The unusual includes Hinchcliff eating a pane or two of glass (he claims 'I no longer do it because I've got a new set of teeth now') and being welded into a steel evening suit. One of his more recent stunts involved encasing his head in plaster in an attempt to immortalise himself. Asked why he does this for a living, Hinchcliff says that, apart from it being a compulsion, it's because he 'can't do anything else.

If Hinchcliff simply isn't anarchic enough for the jaded palate, then there's always Chris Lynam. Lynam says that he indulges in 'confrontational improvised lunacy' - ie he sticks a firework up his bottom. His personal preference is for a good, showy Chinese firework, although he confesses he has had a few accidents with them in the past. Nowadays, he only does the legendary banger up the bum if specifically requested - or if the money is right. Lynam enjoys his profession: 'I do it because it makes people laugh.'

Leigh Bowery is at pains to be less of a laughing matter. Dubbed the 'Queen of the Obscene', what began as clowning on the dancefloor has mutated into a full-blown cabaret-style turn, complete with music. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted. . . or the weak-stomached. In the past Bowery has been known to adminster himself an enema, live and direct, on stage.

Now, backed by a band called Minty, a 15 minute act features Bowery (wearing a padded two-piece velvet evening suit, neck corset and a 15 dernier stocking on his head) giving 'birth' to a woman. This is interspersed with demonstrations of peeing prowess and other moments too scatological to dwell on at length.

Not much call for this, you might think, but the very opposite is true. Bowery has a long, long string of metropolitan and international dates to fulfil. Which must say something about the preoccupations of London's clubbing scene - but what?

Do Call Us. . .

Donald and Sheila Tequila's next party has a Voodoo Theme. There is no date as yet. Entrance pounds 3, under the Central Bar at King's Cross. No address, no telephone number (very hip).

Chris Lynam is at The Comedy Cafe, 66 Rivington St, EC2 (071-739 5706) on 19th, 20th, 21st. Also at the Red Rose Club, 129 Seven Sisters Rd (071-281 3051)on the 27th, 28th. The 'banger up the bum' act has been requested at The Reingold, 361 Oxford St, W1 (071-272 8862) on the 18th.

Leigh Bowery appears at Maximus, 14 Leicester Sq, WC2 (071-734 4111) on 28th

(Photograph omitted)