One of the original innovative trailblazers who shaped London's disco and alternative gay scene in the early '80s, Tasty Tim has been an integral part of everything fun and flamboyant going on in the capital since. He's seen it all, done it all, and played at all the most pioneering club nights and been a very welcome guest here at Superstore. He returns on Saturday 5th May to play Delirium alongside Jaime Ritchie and Kris Di Angelis so we caught up with him to ask all about his prestigious DJing history...
What prompted you to first start DJing?
It wasn't something I'd intended on doing or even given any thought to, it just "happened”. I was working in a record shop on Kings Road that was owned by Rusty Egan (of Blitz club and Visage fame). We flogged all the fab electronic tracks that Rusty used to spin at his clubnights. It was a great place to hang out, hear the latest tunes and swap make-up tips and that was just the boys! I mean we’re talking back in 1981 here. You HAD to have the face on if you were stepping out on the Kings Road.
Steve Strange and Rusty had had such great success with their one-nighter club events like Blitz and Hell that other people were catching on (or should that be cashing in?) on the idea and new nights were starting to happen. One such venue that wanted a slice of the action was the almighty Heaven. So vast and cavernous that it could easily accommodate what they called an "alternative" night in a back room, hidden away from the rest of the club. The night was called Cha-Cha and was so quirky that the music for the night was all on pre-recorded cassettes. I'm not sure why they decided to change it to having DJs but I'm very glad they did because that's how I got started. I'd met one of the promoters at the record shop who invited me to the club and then almost as an after thought said "Why don't you bring some records and you can play them at the club." VERY clever promoting if you ask me!
And that's how it started...I got the DJ bug. Apparently, there is still no cure.
The alternative gay scene of the 80s is massively influential - what was special about those years and why do you think the legend endures?
It's actually a bit of an urban myth that the alternative scene of the 80s was solely a gay scene. In fact it was very very mixed. All the really great nights were a melting pot. That's what made them so special. The Mud club in particular had a really fantastic blend of straights, gays, boys, girls and everything in-between. Even Taboo was a very mixed-up affair. It wasn't about your sexuality it was about having a certain style or a certain attitude and that is part of the legend that has endured. Any great club night has to have the right blend, too much of one thing or another is just boring. Get the mix right and you've got yourself a hit.
What has been your craziest gig?
I can tell you the most dangerous! I was DJing in Moscow once at a really big event. I was up on a stage spinning away and behind me on big podiums were naked go-go boys in paddling pools splashing around and throwing beach balls. All good fun. But of course they got over excited and decided to try and soak the crowd as well but it didn't quite make it into the crowd, it was landing on me! That I could just about cope with (it was rather a warm night so it was quite refreshing really) but then it started hitting the decks and the mixer. Even I know that electrics and water don't mix. Smoke was starting to come from the mixer. Not good. Not good at all.
Luckily the promoter was on hand and we quickly decided to put one of the planned drag shows on early so we could shut the music down and change the mixer. Which, bless them, they did in record quick time, saving the night and what could have been one very toasted tranny. The go-go boys and their paddling pools were never seen again. Shame really.
What is special about London's gay scene today?
There is just sooooo much choice. Something for everyone. Personally I still prefer a "mixed" crowd, still an 80's girl at heart I guess. Luckily the Superstore mix it up just right and I can't wait to play there on the 5th.
What are your plans for the future?
To carry on carrying on! I have a new night with Lady Lloyd called Lost in Music which starts June 23rd at a new venue in Vauxhall. We're super excited about that one, it's gonna be H.O.T. I'm also planning a return to the studio. Gonna throw out a few tunes. It's been quite a while! Watch this space.
Tasty Tim plays Delirium here at Dalston Superstore on Saturday 5th May from 9pm to 3am.