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My London: Philip Sallon

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St John’s Wood and I grew up in Cricklewood. I don’t live with anyone, but I have to live with my evil self. It’s not a ‘cool area’ like Hackney but I’ve always liked it and those cool areas come and go. You could say it’s grand — I don’t live far from Regent’s Park and it’s very central. I’m very bonded to it. London is my womb.

Which shops do you rely on?

Never Fade Factory on Old Compton Street is like no other shop. The clothes are off the wall, they’re in there hand-painting them. And then at night they have parties and it’s like a club. It stays open till 2am, they have DJs and people are sitting on the floor having a drink. People must steal stuff. If I get anything new it’s Vivienne Westwood. She’s always ahead and I’ve been into it since the early Seventies. I also live at car boot sales. I can’t tell you where because you’ll all go and ruin it for me.

Best meal you’ve had?

I’ve never been that fond of restaurants and I’m not fussy with food, so I have a chicken burger with sweet chilli sauce from McDonald’s a lot. I went to The Wolseley recently, but everywhere is a backdrop to the people who are in it. I like Home House: the venue is beautiful, the people are a bit question mark. Contrast is the source of good drama, so I like to hop around. I live at The Groucho, you always have an interesting conversation when you go in there. I’m not a member but they always just let me in.

The iconic Wolseley (The Wolseley)
The iconic Wolseley (The Wolseley)

Where do you go to let your hair down?

During the first lockdown and all through that summer, I went to the South Bank with a speaker. I’d play Forties and Fifties music — and ‘The Wellerman’! — and I sang and danced dressed as a pirate and got people up singing with me. It was a scream. I made it into one big music festival because people didn’t want to be locked away.

Who is the most iconic Londoner?

I was up on stage with the Sex Pistols when they began, dancing and introducing them. They’d go into Vivienne Westwood in 1973 and had a member called David Harrison, who I was friendly with. One day they booted him out, I suppose he was too camp for their image. I said to Malcolm [McLaren], ‘Do you think I should audition?’ I was 23. He said, ‘You’re too old!’ Then they got Johnny Rotten. Malcolm and Vivienne brought him to my father’s house and from that day on we went everywhere together, along with Billy Idol, Siouxsie Sioux, that lot. I’d get them into clubs.

The Sex Pistols (ANP/PA) (PA Archive)
The Sex Pistols (ANP/PA) (PA Archive)

Ever had a run-in with a police officer?

I used to go a lesbian club called Louise’s with Malcolm and the Sex Pistols. One night I went as Goldfinger and the police raided it. So, there I was, outside in Poland Street, in nothing but a loin cloth and gold paint. In 1975 it was beyond outrageous.

Who do you call if you want to have fun?

I feel more at home with misfits, I don’t wish to fit in. My ambition from when I was eight was to know everyone in the world. Through the Seventies, I used to get a bunch of people together, but not for money. And then Steve Strange cashed in on it with Blitz, and I ended up organising something and having a bit of money left over. I loved bringing people together. I didn’t advertise Planets or Mud Club, I just invited everyone I knew, so I’d print out an invitation — I’d never call it a flyer — and most of it was done by Philip Sallon’s big mouth. When Malcolm and I wanted to run a club, it had to be in the West End. It was down-market, Soho was all brothels. It was scummy and scummy is punky.

What’s your London secret?

I don’t wish to be looked at as a relic from the Eighties. Yes, I was part of it here, but my thing was always, ‘what’s next?’ When people are like ‘wasn’t it better when we were young?’ I hate it! Whatever is round the corner is what’s better. I’m not into dwelling. Fun party time is what’s on next week, thanks.

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