Battle for Madam Jojo’s
One of the biggest battles in British burlesque is quietly talking place in London - and yet it’s perhaps the most heavyweight contest the UK burlesque world has ever seen. Lined up on the one side: Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry and Roger Daltrey. On the other side - property developers. The subject of the dispute? Madam Jojo’s - one of London’s most established (and establishment) burlesque joints, in Soho.
Soho Estates, which owns the venue, has received planning permission to demolish the property and convert it to a complex of shops, offices and flats. The issue is complicated by the fact that Madam Jojo’s closed in November after an ‘unruly customer’ was attacked by club bouncers, with a baseball bat! So it’s definitely unsavoury, but for those trying to save the venue, that’s the point - they fear that Soho in general and Jojo’s in particular, is being sanitised, whilst those who visit are seeking the authentic experience of a rough, transgressive, counter-culture in the heart of London’s naughtiness. What they are likely to get is a disinfected version of late night life in London’s red light district, according to campaign’s organiser, Tim Arnold. Arnold is not just an aficionado of burlesque, he’s known as the Soho Hobo and writes and performs songs dedicated to the seedy side of life. And it’s not just his preferences - Arnold’s His grandmother was a circus performer whilst his mother was a Windmill Girl - a long history of eclectic living!
Soho Estates is fighting back, claiming ‘We recognise the rich and creative history of Soho and the importance of venues such as Madame Jojo’s,’ and offering to created two new nightclubs to replace the one they are demolishing. But those who want the original Jojo’s are asking London Mayor, Boris Johnson, to intervene and save the venue.Read More