Hello there to all the talented and fabulous gourmands out there who are loving their Personal Chef Approach™ and the unique glamor and beauty Jewels brings along to it. We always say that we are twin sisters from another band, divorced moms with daughters the same age, rock survivors, but I have to say that while Julie Anne was busy teaching the world her own brand and style of gorgeousness I’ve often felt that I might be the flip side to that, the shabby old reality, the punchline – what invariably and comically goes wrong instead of the mystique and allure of living the high life. I keep meaning to ask her to teach me how she swans so effortlessly, but every time I see her she stuffs me with food. Anyway, usually we’re discussing daughters, so I don’t think I’ve ever shared this story. Here goes…
Duran Duran Gave Me Food Poisoning by Alison Louise Hay
Many of you will know that the song Save A Prayer by Duran Duran reached number 2 in the British charts in August of 1982. I have to say that to this day, I love that song. It’s by far my favorite Duran Duran track. The exotic, sultry video was the perfect accompaniment to the summer of ’82. Which of us didn’t long to visit the location, Sri Lanka, and pout fetchingly on glorious cliffs regarded benignly by giant ancient Buddhas and waft along spectacular palm fringed beaches accompanied by yellow sarong clad, rosy-cheeked children in studious pursuit of monk-like Zen?
Culture Club, conversely, were all about DIY. Down to earth, anyone-can-be creative, home-made British, which found us far more likely to be freezing our behinds off on a cold November morning on Shoreditch High Street in East London for a video shoot, and grumbling about it too. There were definitely times when the band narrowed their eyes in George’s direction and muttered that they weren’t in Duran Duran and filming on a distant sun-drenched beach. Nevertheless, they had their own path to follow and by December of the same year, they were promoting their second single heavily and aiming for the Christmas charts in the UK.
Roy had proposed in September, honoring his vow to marry if the band had a Number One success. With the now busy schedule of TV and touring, it seemed the only window open to us was to get married on the 19th of December. We accordingly booked the Registrar’s Office in Fulham, London, and reserved ourselves a honeymoon in the Bahamas, our first real trip out of the country together. We were excited and looking forward to our wedding, when we suddenly got word that Culture Club would be expected to put in an appearance at the BBC on the 19th, in order to film Christmas Top Of The Pops. It couldn’t be turned down. The wedding was off unless we could make alternate arrangements. It seemed the last available time slot was late afternoon on Christmas Eve, which didn’t look so bad – quite lovely, really. A romantic Christmas. With that sorted, we rushed to the travel agents to rebook our Bahamas sojourn. No go. There was nothing left available. Where to stay? I saw a brochure for Sri Lanka and immediately thought of Save A Prayer. That’s it. That’s where we’d go. I bought into the seduction.
We flew out of a rainy, grey London on Christmas Day and as we soared over the coast of India with the sunrise illuminating the clouds it seemed to us that we were having an impossibly glamorous adventure. To our dismay, on arrival, we were ferried by bus miles out of the city, away from anything resembling civilisation, to a remote hotel on a beach that had seen its best days round about, oh, the 1950s. It was horrible. The food and service would have been easily outshone by a prison. True, the beach was picturesque, but if you ventured out onto it, you were immediately swamped by beggars pestering continually for tourist dollars. One gnarled old gentleman gave us a deluxe tour of his corrugated shack, for the reasonable sum of five pounds. One mile up the beach was a leper colony, so walking wasn’t advised. Far from scenic ruins and poetic looking locals, the only day trips offered were to a tea factory and the botanical gardens, which boasted a gift shop selling local sapphires the size of grains of sand.
We took the trips. Still searching in vain for a flavor of the culture, a night-time religious festival promised interesting customs and costumes and along we gamely went only to be horrified that the big feature was a wooden scaffold, pushed along on wheels, suspending three men by means of meat hooks looped into the skin of their backs as they waved serenely to the crowd. I’ve had more romantic experiences, I can tell you, but as the highlight of a honeymoon, it wasn’t a potent aphrodisiac. I did ride an elephant, by the way, for about 90 seconds. I was petrified I’d fall off. We never did find out the locations of the spectacular scenes from the video.
Of course, in those days, before bottled water and International hotel star standards, the dreaded food poisoning bug was inevitable and we succumbed after three days, spending most of a week in bed, not in passion but in the hell of sickness. At this point, Duran had become my new swear word. It was only later, when we’d had a chance to get to know what nice chaps they really are, that I forgave them at all. I did learn a lesson to take videos with the proverbial pinch of salt though.
Whether it’s rescuing her cat from Ray Charles’s bathroom sink, hiding from naked French policemen, groping Donny Osmond, Christmas dinner in a crack house, comforting Boy George in the back of a transit van, haggling with Arab car salesmen or stuffing Christina Aguilera into a rubber corset, Alison Hay’s caustically funny and unflinching observations on the dark side of celebrity drama and personal disaster will have you laughing despite being deliciously aghast.
Unafraid to punch holes in the myths of stardom and its aftermath, she takes the reader on a tour of profane adventures.
From life as a rock wife, then working for Agent Provocateur in Hollywood, being the sole pink haired woman in a prohibitive Middle East to crashing back down to earth in England, this journey of behind-the-curtain chaos is decidedly not through rose tinted glasses but alternatively hilarious and heartbreaking.
Pink Prose is an emotional collection of stories, pictures and music that paints a vivid and outrageous portrait of the diverse characters along the way, famous and infamous, rough, smooth and occasionally furry, that have starred in the absurd soap opera that is unapologetically Alison.