|Molly Parkin between the legs of her own effigy which|
greeted guests at the Chelsea Arts Club entrance.
Photo by Tommy Candler
We're at Molly's 80th birthday bash. Friday night, Feb 3. She's addressing friends and liggers at London's legendary Chelsea Arts Club from a high-up balcony - her 'Mussolini moment'; or as she prefers, 'My Jesus on the Mount' impression. She loves that a newspaper recently made her 'theologian of the week' after she told the Indy on Sunday that Christ, like she, 'would have had sex with everyone' had he, like she, lived through the 60s.
The Jesus act ends when she lifts out her top denture, waggling it at the screaming crowd, and delivers the rest of her speech half-toothless. 'Well, I was afraid my teeth would fall out and break,' she told me later.
|Molly outside the Chelsea Arts Club being|
filmed by Robert Chilcott.
Photo by Duggie Fields
'I don't want any fucking corporates at this party,' she had said earlier in her room at the club. No suit zombies, no kerching hustlers. Just fellow artists, child-souls and 'people living their passion.' Three beautiful dresses were laid out on the double-bed - the scarlet one she wore later, a black one traced with scarlet and her 'gilded beauty outfit'; not forgetting the black swan ruffled or feathered ensemble with black turban she wore already. She'd got through all four self-stitched costumes by night's end.
In her honour, the club had decorated its outside walls with many monochrome portraits and cartoons of Molly by the artist Tony Common. She was particularly touched by a line montage of life in her birth place, Pontycymer, Wales. And over the main entrance stood a giant wooden Molly effigy 'so that people can walk through my legs and look up at my cunty,' as she put it.
|Molly with daughter Sophie Parkin.|
Photo: Tommy Candler
But had he or any of the others turned up, would they have got in? The club's hall was chocka for most the evening. As was the makeshift smokers' tent 'for the cancer-seekers,' said Moll.
Marc Almond made it having just returned from New York. He looked astonishingly youthful and healthy - quite a contrast to the nonsense one hears following his bike crash years ago and claims that he never goes out. In fact he was recently spotted in the Colony. In his Soft Cell days he looked to Moll as his hair and makeup muse - he even lived with Moll in her Cheyne Walk house back in the 80s. 'He was like my understudy,' she says.
Another gifted sleb she discovered, or at least helped to fame when she was fashion ed of the Sunday Times, was Manolo Blahnik CBE who turned up in treble cashmere. Never less than exquisite, with hair so stiff you could pick a lock with it, he now describes himself as a 'factory boy' because he sits at a lathe to make his shoes. 'I have never been happier than to be one of the boys.' He gave Molly a letter which entitles her to select a pair of shoes as his birthday gift next time she visits one of his shops.
Another behemoth of fashion inspiration is Barbara Hulanicki OBE, founder of clothes store Biba. She'd flown over from the States for the do and wore her trademark shades. We didn't get to talk much but I did introduce her to The Lady's editor-in-chief, Rachel Johnson, who put in an admirable display of targeted socialising.
Once she had talked to Barbara, Rachel then insisted we seek out Moll. A few minutes later, seated birthday girl appeared to revive the Jesus act as Rachel knelt down before her in an act of slebby supplication and told he she looked 'hot' and gorgeous. I don't think Our Lord & Saviour could have hoped for a blessing anything like that.
I was also delighted to welcome Duncan Fallowell, friend of this blog, and once described rather mischievously by Gore Vidal as 'the canapes' on London's literary circuit. We managed a quick embrace before he was lost to others and a long night ahead. He was spotted gossing with Duggie Fields, accompanying a fabulous Italian girl in shocking pink and leopardskin, and then with Jenny Runacre, 'looking like a Russian countess - she gets better and better,' to quote Duncs.
|Molly outside the Chelsea Arts Club. Tony|
Common drawing. Photo: Tommy Candler
I could carry on name-dropping but won't. Everyone agreed it was a contender for party of the year - Duncan described it as 'anarchic'. I loved the Marlborough-educated former barrister and public prosecutor Clifford who gave up his life of lawyering to become a nude male model for the likes of Lucien Freud after being impressed by the free spirited lives of Moll and her sometime late lover George Melly.
I know Moll was utterly delighted by the guests and their many gifts, including cash. 'The central heating boiler broke down at the weekend so the money was useful to keep me warm,' she said.
She added of life at 80: 'I'm at the pinnacle of refinement after a time in the gutter and pleasuring meat porters. I know spiritual contentment.'
Moll is now planning her 90th birthday party.