MARGI CLARKE FEATURE
Never Mind the Bondage:
HERE’S MARGI CLARKE
It’s a long way from on-screen chicken stufﬁng to on-stage cock hugging. Margi Clarke tells Thom Dibdin about making it to the top.
ueen of Sex. that‘s Margi Clarke: the uncrowned Queen of Sex. It‘s a mantle she whisked from Cynthia Payne‘s drooping shoulders when The Good Sex Guide hit the small screen. radiating glossy images of real people’s favourite kinks direct into real people’s bedrooms. It is a mantle she hopes to retain at this year‘s Fringe as she recounts her life as a let Century Scut. A scut is a girl well on her way to becoming a slut according to Our Margi, and is used as a term of endearment in Liverpool.
Where Madame Cyn merely provided the grey- suited with discreet luncheon voucher rumpy- pumpy from an anonymous suburb. before tipping off the tabloids. Our Margi was altogether more forthright. She tossed back her blonde mop. poured herself into a sexy red number and scudded off — with cameras in tow — in search of the lumpy and gleaming-eyed who could explain the intricacies and joys of clitoral stimulation. cross-dressing and other well-lubricated excitements. l
‘The Good Sex Guide was brilliant '
because it took that idea of Britain being really reserved and turned it upside down.’ she says modestly. ‘In fact the public were often far more outrageous than i was. that was what was great about it. If it had been ﬁlmed squelchy and noisy and dirty. then it would have gone in the tacky bin. but it was very, very glossy and really sophisticated. The public were larger than life.‘
Which is typical of Our Margi. Despite her tough exterior, she is a straightforward woman of the people. Like her mum, who saw injustices around her, stood as a Labour councillor and was Mayor of Kirkby for twelve months. ‘You don’t have to be what people think you are,‘ she explains, ‘l‘ve got a steady partner who I’ve been with for fourteen years, which I suppose is one of the reasons i can go out there and be the sex goddess for everyone else.’
The Good Sex Guide was more than an excuse for lascivious leers round other people‘s kinks, you see, it was a useful exercise. providing hard-core information to those who need it. ‘The Good Sex Guide is really valuable to young people who didn‘t experience the freedom we had in the 70s, when AIDS wasn’t around so you could drop your drawers whenever you wanted.’
Like the best queens, Our Margi has spent a few years in exile. Mostly Paris, where she lived with her long-term fella: lnverness-born Situationist Jamie Reid. Paris is where she was when brother Frank phoned to say that he‘d taken time off from writing Brookside to write Letter To Brezhnev. He persuaded her to return to Liverpool to play Theresa. the chicken stuffer who, together with her unemployed pal, enjoy a night of sexual abandon with a couple of seamen. ‘I wrote the part with Margi in mind, but she wanted to play the
‘I don’t take my 2 clothes off ' because
there’s just too ,
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but I do have a very naked
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Alexandra Pigg part.’ Frank remembers. “I said no. you’ve got to play the slut because that’s who‘ll win everyone‘s heart at the end of the film. but she wanted to have the romance you see.‘
The outspoken Theresa did more than set a marker for Our Margi‘s future screen personality according to Frank. She provided a reference point for the outrageous female impersonator Lily Savage. ‘ln Brezhnev. Margi‘s picking people‘s pockets. she‘s picking up sailors, fucking them and talking about giving greasy wanks. i wrote that in 1981 and it came on screen in 1985. Now i love Lily Savage, and her act is very similar. but they both come from poor deprived areas. where shoplifting and so on is a way of life for most people. lt’sjust very similar Northern humour. but remember that Lily is the female impersonator. Margi is one.’
After Brezhnev, she wasn‘t getting much work, so a chance remark to Frank that she‘d love to ‘punch somebody‘s face in. preferably in the film business‘ sparked the idea that eventually became Blonde Fist. Despite opening the l99l Edinburgh Film Festival, it was given out for the count by critics and public alike. Before that came out though. she starred in Finnish director. Aki Kaurismaki’s I Hired a Contract Killer in which she played opposite Jean-Pierre Léaud. ‘He played the little fella who takes out a contract on his own life,‘ she says. ‘but after i give him a good going over he doesn’t want to leave this mortal coil.’
Then there was Queenie. doyennc of the electronics factory in Making Out. she was Our Margi's best loved screen persona. Even then, despite the fact it was a BBC sitcom. there was sex involved: ‘I said to the writer. Debbie Horsfield, that I wanted a sex scene with my screen husband Chunky, but I wanted it where you don‘t hear anything and you don’t see anything. So she said “What kind of sex scene’s that?" Anyway. it ended up it was just about telling Chunky to take his teeth out. So you can get away with doing anything in an innocent fashion.‘
innocence is not Our Margi’s forte. she has the sort of ribald laugh that makes a single out of a double entendre. Take, for example. her penchant for vibrators. ‘They’re so liberational.‘ she asserts. remembering that on a recent trip to France to shoot a new ﬁlm, again with Jean-Pierre Le’aud: La Nuisance D'Amore, she had one in her bag. ‘Thcy said “Anything to declare" and I said “Yeah. my vibrator." You know. l‘d love a jackhammer for Christmas. They make me laugh, you know. you see the workmen in the street on them jackhammers. Oh. they're my favourite desirable object!’
Her vibrator ﬁxation goes beyond the merely functional to the completely fantastical. For her one-woman Fringe show she uses a set designed by Jamie. Still courting controversy after all these
years. the punk collagist is reknowned for the artwork which politicised the Sex Pistols and has the distinction of having his artwork banned from record shops across the land. Now his art tours raves and other unlikely venues. Our Margi enters through the lips of a giant fanny. It is an outrageous. fun-fair entrance. But look at the size of her other stage prop: a penis.
This dick is not merely tumescent. it is a mountainous member. a dazzling gold lift-long engorgement. rising up at an improper angle. Twice as tall as Our Margi. its anatomically correct shaft is too thick to fully embrace. Here is a dildo to be reckoned with. a vibrator for an altogether more uplifting voyage. No wonder she says: ‘1 don't need a face lift. you could say I could do with a fanny re-bore.’
21st Century Scut follows her life over the last fourteen years with Jamie. ‘l use little bits of what people know me for. so you've got little stories about Queenie and Making Out. and tales from The Good Sex Guide,‘ she says. Mixed with this are personal stories and more surreal material, including an instrumental called Donkeys in Cahoots during which Our Margi has a visitation from Our Lady on Kirkby‘s rubbish dump.
One strong source for the show is New Age philosophy. inspired by Jamie who comes from a line of druids. although he has not yet finished the seven—year novitiate period himself. ‘I take the piss out ofthe New Age as well as being part of it.’ Our Margi says. ‘it‘s like. anything new. that‘ll do me. I‘ll put my name down for that.‘ However she denies that the show is going to be a load of solid Scouse filth. ‘l wouldn't say ﬁlth. It depends on which way you look at sex: I don't take my clothes off because there‘sjust too much llobbage. but I do have a very naked tongue.’ 0
2/st Century Scut. (Fringe) Margi Clarke.
Assembly Rooms (Venue 3 ) 226 2428. I3 Aug—3 Sept ( not 23, (£6.50/£7.5()).
'o' ' ‘ ,. I ,I; ' I ., rt 1. [49,115
3/ Aug). l 1pm, £7.50/£8.5()
Blonde Fist: Given out tor the count by
The List l3—l9 August i99313
critics and public alike.