In my monthly blog series ‘Needle Play’, I discuss some of my favourite records. This one’s on Chris & Cosey’s ‘Songs of Love and Lust‘, with a tangent about Derek Jarman’s Jubilee.

Art, sex, music

Cosey Fanni Tutti is an icon for many sex worker artists like myself. My own art owes a lot to her, and to the creative output of people who’ve been in her orbit over the years. I’m going to assume the majority of my friends and lovers reading this are already well aware of Cosey Fanni Tutti’s work. If not of your own volition then most likely via my obsessive ravings! However, if you are keen to learn more about her work then my best suggestion would be her autobiography ‘Art Sex Music’.

Chris Carter with Cosey Fanni Tutti in black patent leather dominatrix outfit
Cosey Fanni Tutti & Chris Carter

This is weird music, and weird music is for weirdos. Cosey’s vocal is not tuneful, the lyrics are simple, and the songs are sparse and repetitive, and that is the point. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m more than used to hearing that said about my taste in music. I don’t always need tunefulness, deep poetic lyricism or expert instrumentation. I come from an artistic background which values experimentation and the courage to just pick up an instrument and play. A lack of regard for the ‘rules’ on how art should be is exactly what has always pushed creativity forward.

Seminal synth

Whole generations of electronic artists owe thanks to Chris & Cosey, but specifically to Songs of Love and Lust for seminal tracks like ‘Driving Blind’ and ‘Walking Through Heaven’. This iconic 1980s synth record was given to me as a birthday present by a very close friend and is perfect when I’m looking to create an unnerving, sexual atmosphere of the cyber gothic kind.

I listened to this record a lot when I was living in Berlin. These songs now remind me of late nights riding the U-Bahn, dressed up to the nines in black patent leather, eyes smoky with dark black eyeshadow. Imagine moving in slow motion, dancing through a fog of sweat and smoke, admiring bodies and holding gazes. That kind of imagery seems like a total cliché of Berlin nightlife until you find the right party.

Experimental music informs experimental culture – and vice versa. So, is it really any wonder this kind of music continues to be such a hit on the Berlin scene? Apply the same exploratory philosophy to all areas of life and interesting things can happen. Perhaps this is why Berlin is a city famed for it’s non-conformist, sexually free and kinky inhabitants.

“Cut me like a knife…”

I have often fantasised about playing around to Love Cuts, using some of the sharper weapons in my arsenal on a submissive lover. The actual breaking of skin isn’t for everyone, but if this song, and the idea of knife play turns you on then there’s a lot of fun with a blunt butter knife that’s been left in the fridge for an hour. The cold sensation tricks your mind into registering a sharpness, and we can do a beautiful rendition of one of my favourite moments from Derek Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’. (Cue a tangent).

Toyah Wilcox in Derek Jarman's Jubilee holding a knife in her mouth
Mad (Toyah Wilcox) with a knife in her mouth
From Derek Jarman’s Jubilee (1978)

If you haven’t seen it, I’ll attempt a brief description of the moment. It’s a scene within a scene – while the rest of the characters continue conversations in the room with them, Mad (played by Toyah Wilcox) lies with a knife in her mouth on a bed. Bod (played by Jenny Runacre) looks on while eyeing up the knife, slowly removes her blazer jacket to reveal her naked body underneath. The scene continues around them as Mad flips Bod over and sits on her back. She proceeds to carve the word ‘LOVE’ into Bod’s upper back. It’s an amazing scene – so casual yet so intense. Trying to describe it here will never do it justice – I strongly recommend you watch the film and see for yourself.

Look out for the next ‘Needle Play’ in August – I may or may not slip off into fantasies based on art punk films!

Favourite track: Driving Blind 

Mad uses a knife to play with Bod (played by Jenny Runacre)
Mad (Toyah Wilcox) carves ‘LOVE’ into Bod (Jenny Runacre)’s back with a knife
From Derek Jarman’s Jubilee (1978)

Want to discuss your favourite records, dress up in leather or act out Mad and Bod with me? Get in touch here to arrange a date. If you’re not quite ready yet, you can get to know me better via my Twitter, or by reading more of my blog.