How We Met: Jodie Harsh & Lee Broom
'They had a full bar on their roof, fireworks, and midget waiters and pole dancers'
Sunday 25 July 2010
Lee Broom, 34, is an award-winning interior and product designer. Broom launched his first furniture collection, Neo Neon, to critical acclaim in 2007 and has designed more than 35 bar and restaurant interiors across the UK. He lives in south London with his boyfriend
We met in Punk, quite a wild club in Soho. I was with the owner, who thought Jodie and I would get on. You might look at someone like Jodie and think she'd be bitchy, but the moment we were introduced, we were chat, chat, chat for the rest of the evening.
Jodie is superb at keeping in touch, which is why she knows everybody. We emailed and I started going to a club night she ran and meeting for dinner. We're quite similar – we both studied fashion design and we love music and a bit of celebrity gossip.
I showed her my work as she loves interiors and has a lovely flat. It's not what you'd call minimal – her wigs and shoes make up the décor, too – but she has good taste. She's had her eye on one of my neon mirrors, but doesn't have any of my work yet – none of my friends do, because it's all a bit expensive to give away.
We hadn't known each other long when I had a private view coming up. They're normally stiff affairs, so I asked if she'd DJ. She transformed the evening and at the end of the night she stuck on Madonna's "Hung Up", threw herself on to the dance floor and did a routine with everyone dancing around her. She does what everybody else wants to but is too scared. She has balls. I admire her confidence.
We became good friends quickly and I soon met Jodie "out of character". Actually, it's more like out of costume; some people assume a completely different persona from their everyday self, but Jodie is more or less the same. She doesn't become some bitchy drag queen when she puts on the make-up, but it's not as if she is shy and retiring when she's being herself.
Jodie is very kind, which might surprise some people, as you could look at someone who dresses up like that and think they'd be self, self, self. A lot of people want to be around her because she has a lot of sparkle, but once you scratch underneath, you realise she has a really warm heart.
She is also a very good businesswoman – she's got a plan and a lot of people who do what she does don't. Her nights draw the best crowd in London and she works hard for that. You won't see her on the stage in a pub miming Tina Turner any time soon.
Jodie Harsh, 25, is a DJ, club promoter and founder of Circus, a popular electro and nu-cabaret London club night known for drawing outrageous outfits and a celebrity crowd. As a DJ she has played around the world, from Ibiza to Glastonbury. She lives in east London
It was a champagne-fuelled evening a few years ago, so I have hazy memories of first meeting Lee out in Soho. I thought he was really funny – he's dry and witty and has a cute, slightly Cockney accent. I dragged him to the Soho Revue Bar because I knew I could get free drinks, and it probably ended up very drunkenly chatting rubbish in a seedy club, as many of my nights do.
I have a lot of fair-weather friends and I meet a lot of people out and about, so a few might want to hang out for the free drinks, but I have a good filter and I knew Lee was wicked from the start. He showed me some pictures of his work and we talked about furniture, because I had just outgrown living like a student and was getting into being a grown-up, decorating my flat and having people round for dinner. I love all the neon pieces he does, but we've been friends for a while now and I've had nothing. In fact, he gave me the idea to have a big neon sign made for my bedroom, so basically I've made myself a knock-off Lee Broom.
People generally don't meet me without my drag make-up – unless you're one of my few close friends, you wouldn't recognise me. When we were first friends, Lee and his boyfriend would come to my nights or I'd meet them for dinner in Soho with mutual friends, but these days it's usually low-key. I think a good test of friendship is being able to go to someone's house and sit there without all the make-up for a chat.
We're both down-to-earth at heart, and don't get caught up with the celebrity party stuff – I used to be out every night wondering where to go next, but I'm much more settled these days, and friends like Lee are a big part of that. He is very sorted in terms of his relationship, work, home. He is one of those very rare people who are happy with their lot. I don't mean he isn't ambitious, but it's in a calm, focused way and he is content with what he has. It's uplifting in a time when everybody's on edge about what they want next.
That's not to say we don't love a good party. My favourite was one he threw a couple of days after New Year's Eve this year for his boyfriend's birthday at their house in south London. I don't cross that river unless there's a very good reason and I'd just quit smoking, so I was in a nicotine-deprived rage. But they put on such a good time I forgot all that. They had a full bar on their roof, fireworks, and midget waiters and pole dancers – can I say that? It was amazing and totally beat my club nights.
Architrave, Lee Broom's new collection with Heal's, launches in-store this month as part of the Heal's ReDiscovers Collection (leebroom.com). Jodie Harsh presents Circus on Saturday at Paramount Centre Point, London (thisiscircus.com)
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