'First lady' of London's fashion scene, Princess Julia, performs theatrical memoir
PUBLISHED: 16:26 20 November 2015 | UPDATED: 17:18 20 November 2015
Drag queen Jonny Woo makes a cameo appearance in a theatrical memoir about the life of the woman dubbed the first lady of London's fashion scene, Princess Julia.
Drag queen Jonny Woo makes a cameo appearance in a theatrical memoir about the life of the woman dubbed the first lady of London’s fashion scene, Princess Julia.
An icon of the underground club and fashion scene, Julia has been part of counter cultures in the capital since the age of 15, when she joined the punk movement in the mid ’70s. She then became part of the New Romantics, appearing in the video of electro hit ‘Fade to Grey’ by her friend Steve Stange’s band, Visage.
She was friends with Lucien Freud’s muse Leigh Bowery who ran the club Taboo in the mid ’80s, and the rave scene of the ’90s when she became friends with Kylie Minogue, and she still DJs and writes cultural magazine i-D.
The 55-year old’s camp, self-penned tongue-in-cheek theatrical performance sees her reminiscing about the capital’s ‘counter culture’ in the era as she sits on a throne on a stage, surrounded by flouncy clouds.
The show includes an appearance from drag queen Jaqui Potato and a different special guest each week to join her in conversation like her former flatemate milliner Steven Jones or fashion professor Ian R Webb, along with “words of wisdom” like “when in doubt go out”.
“It’s very much ‘an audience with’ in that sort of Kenneth Williams Joan Collinsy way,” she laughed.
“I usually go, ‘Oh, I see so and so is in the audience, you know that story better than me’.”
The tale starts with how Ziggy Stardust and David Bowie was a pivotal moment of inspiration for her as a teenager.
“I hated growing up, I couldn’t find any like minded souls and I didn’t have a very good time at school, and nobody really liked me,” said Julia. “I thought ‘I want to leave home, I know there are people out there who think the way I do.
“When I was at school they taught you how to wash a baby and cleaning the oven, who wants a lesson on cleaning an oven, I hate cleaning.
“I knew that there was something outside of the confines of the classroom, so when I left school at 16 I hot footed it up to the west end on the 29 bus and I found myself a job doing hairdressing.
“I saved up my tips and bought things from shops, mixed it up with hand me down clothes, whatever I could find and made my own clothes as well which is how I am now in a way, I like to ‘switch it up’.”
She soon took on a job in a fashion shop and immersed herself in the world of punk.
“What was really interesting about that scene was it was the beginning of a street culture, a style culture, and that attitude of DIY dare I say it subculture. The punk movement in London was pivotal for creating this whole group of people interested in expressing themselves in the way they dress in a much more confrontational way.
“That energy is the same whatever decade you are from, if it’s 76 or 86 or the noughties.”
“An Audience With Princess Julia” at Woo’s pub The Glory in Kingsland Road has proved such a success it’s been extended for an extra night.
“No one has given it to me on a plate to do, I just decided it would be a fun thing to do and much to my surprise, a lot of people quite like hearing an old trout like me going on,” she said.
“It’s not about my whole life because that’s quite a lot to cram in, but we are condensing the 70s and 80s eras together - but you never know there might be a part two with the 90s and the noughties.”
Tickets for performances on Monday November 23 and Monday November 30 cost £15. See www.theglory.co/events/an-audience-with-princess-julia-3/