This pretty little lady is not only the longest surviving female club kid around, she’s also even more active today than ever before. More than likely unbeknown to herself, her exotic looks, big dark eyes and gutsy mannerism strangely bring to mind a ’50s Italian film star named Gina Lollobrigida.
Presumably unlike the other girls who grew up on her Wood Green council estate, she was never interested in getting married and raising a family. She had grander designs on metamorphosing into a social butterfly and collecting pollen, so to speak, from as many blooms as she possibly could. That way, she’d hopefully get known within on-trend circles and would be afforded a pampered life of fancy launches, peppered with continuous media exposure and photo opportunities. A substantial chunk of that originated from me over the years, a fact she never seemed willing to acknowledge. That didn’t stop her not long ago to upload online a montage of my portraits of her (I’m guessing made by her, i.e. not very well) without watermark or so much of a credit. Blimey, has she still not learned anything about courtesy or indeed copyright?!?
She first showed her face socially in 1978 at a Bowie night that was held on Tuesdays @ Billy’s in Dean Street. She didn’t waste any time getting acquainted to the club’s main protagonists, the likes of Boy George, Marilyn, Jeremy Healy, Sade Adu, Siobhan Fahey, Midge Ure, Martin Degville and, of course, Steve Strange – all soon-to-become pop stars. Next step up the proverbial social ladder: getting a job as a shop assistant at PX, Covent Garden’s hip boutique of the late ’70s. Conveniently, Steve worked there too and he got her on board the burgeoning Blitz bandwagon by posting her at the club’s front door, armed with the guest list clipboard. He was too busy holding a mirror up to the punters, asking “would you let you in?”, to see to a guest list. Ha ha, only joking! He also famously roped her in for his band Visage’s often seen début VT for Fade To Grey, simply to lip-synch the two iconic words, devenir gris, that Rusty Egan’s then-girlfriend from Belgium had recorded. The poor girl was allegedly fuming!
From then on, Julia’s dream clearly became reality as she proved to be ubiquitous at apparently every underground club and happening party “known to mankind”. Needless to say, practical opening-of-a-toilet-seat jokes went viral behind the scene, but that obviously never deterred her.
Whatever she got up to virtually every night at those functions seemed immaterial. The only thing that mattered was her being in attendance. Somehow, looking pretty amply sufficed for scenesters to feel as though she added a certain cachet to the place. So long as she could play down her notorious cockney sparrow demeanour à la Babs Windsor in full-on ’60s Carry On mode, that is. Be it as The Blitz’s door whore, The Wag’s front-of-house cashier, Taboo’s cloakroom attendant, World’s shop assistant or as a host, performer, DJ or simply as a guest in countless other dives, she quite simply bit at every disco bait.
There’s no doubt that nobody could possibly survive that exceptional amount of time on the scene without possessing some sort of aptitude. Call it staying power, resilience or mere tenacity, La Julia seems to have it in spades. When the average clubbers’ lifespan usually clocks up 2 to 3 years before they eventually throw in the towel, hers has lasted since the word dot. I reckon The Guinness Book of Records ought to take note, should they decide to stop looking upon such activities as insignificant.
Remarkably, the self-appointed princess possesses an inherent ability to keep her gaggle of fans and sycophants interested in more or less whatever it is she turns her attention to, even if it changes from one week to the next. However, that doesn’t quite absolve her manifest and rather curious penchant for having a finger in every pie. Generally, if playing your trump card – whatever it may be – can only prove positive, being by all accounts oblivious of your own limitations inevitably smacks of misguidedness. I guess you’ve got to give it to her for continually networking, promoting herself and still getting job opportunities coming in, even if that may require a fair leap of faith from the folk involved.
So, how does she do it and, more importantly, what can possibly motivate this rather perplexing character? Does she constantly live in fear of missing out? Is she trying to prove something? Is she punching above her weight?
One concrete talent of hers is that she managed to preserve her image in rather pristine order over the decades. She did most of the time make a conscious effort to, as she puts it, “beautify herself”. That could surely warrant some sort of certificate or award, couldn’t it?
I would wholeheartedly wrap things up with something along the lines of “may she flutter her wings in clubland for a good while longer” if there was indeed any indication that she’d finally decide to slow down, take a step back or drop out of the scene altogether. No need for that, the word on the street is that she’ll still unequivocally be around when the cows come home … naturally always at the right time and in the right place.
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