A regular fixture on the club scene since the ‘70s, Sallon always looked, as Boy George once put it, “deliciously ridiculous”. His life truly is a drag, sartorially speaking, as he never goes out without working grotesquely entertaining looks.
He has a reputation for being opiniated, which is paradoxical as he always claims that the reason people dress up is to hide the fact that they have nothing to say. Never short of conversation when growing up in Dollis Hill, Philip got into promoting events early on simply because he liked “organising people”. “Everything is so normal”, he laments. “You’ve got to be a bit subversive, even if that sounds tired. Suburban is cool, in a piss-take way, like tea parties, musical chairs and statues.”
His notorious infatuation with Vivienne Westwood started the minute he set foot at Sex, her flagship shop down the Kings Road. “She’s the best designer in the world and my inspiration,” he claims. She did inspire him whilst studying at St Martin’s and, later, when working in the Opera House’s costume department.
Sallon hung around Louise’s, the in-place du jour in Chelsea which swarmed with punk talent, the likes of The Pistols, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Adam Ant, Billy Idol, etc.
Around that time, a rosy-cheeked novice went up to Philip, as he was spinning around on Bang’s dancefloor, and asked the legendary question “Are you gay?”. A pertinent answer would’ve been “Are you blind?”, but Philip quipped “Why, are you interested?”. That’s how he famously met Boy George. By the way, they did not get it on, if you were wondering.
Philip cut his teeth at club promotion in 1981 at Planets, which is only remembered today as the place where both George and Jeremy Healy made their DJ début. However, Sallon earned his stripes soon afterwards by launching the happening Mud Club. Neither as lasting or lucrative was the subsequent Opera House, where I personally DJ-ed for a while alongside Marc Moore. However his ’90s project, the post-acid Bagley’s Warehouse in King’s Cross, hit another jackpot by catering for a more mainstream crowd. Alas, that nice little earner came to a sticky end the night a punter was fatally stabbed.
Nowadays Philip Sallon, whose facial features are strikingly akin to Tony Bennett‘s (with a bad weave) and whose speaking voice sounds uncannily like Rod Stewart’s, only runs one-off events. ”I’d like to promote a club again, but the people I know are too cool and glitzy to pay an entrance fee,” he explains, without a trace of irony. “Now, if the club didn’t charge me and we shared the bar takings, who knows?”
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