Lucinda takes a break from writing reviews to interview one of her idols - Mister Joe Black... 

When VisitBrighton & Brighton Museums took part in the Pride Parade this year it was the perfect opportunity for me to go as my idol Mister Joe Black in homage to his (yep – that’s the correct pronoun) infamous Royal Pavilion outfit. Much to my delight I then got to interview Brighton’s cherished Vaudeville Villain, Cabaret Reprobate, Musician, Singer, Song Writer, Ru Paul’s Drag Race stand out, 1920’s era lover & Sea Shanty enthusiast about all things Brighton:

I went as you to Pride this year! Your Royal Pavilion Dress on Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK Series 2 was just stunning.

Ha! I saw you! I came out to watch the Pride Parade & was hidden in the crowd in sunglasses like a witch crawling out from her hovel. In fact, the Royal Pavilion crown lives on my bookshelf and the gown is in storage as leaving that out and having cats would be a recipe for destruction. My Boyfriend Arran Shurvinton (as ‘Nosferatu’) won ‘Brighton’s Big Drag Pageant’ at Spiegeltent in 2018 and the crown was in the shape of the Royal Pavilion, which is what gave me the inspiration to create the look.

During lockdown I watched your ‘Quarantine Cabaret’ online shows. That must have differed from what you’re used to.

That really stretched my creativity. I had been in venues like Proud Cabaret where I would perform to a backing track and then, in my living room I could play my piano or accordion or any of my instruments live because they were right there. The rest of the time I was getting obliterated on Gin while singing Tom Waits songs and wearing a beautiful gown over the top of my pyjamas!

Club Cataclysm is your new show touring the UK. What can we expect?

Expect the apocalypse! News and the state of the world in general feels bleak. The format of Cabaret is often the response to social unrest or unease and I love the idea of lampooning bleakness. It’s a chance to smile and forget all our troubles and laugh about it for the duration of this event. I enjoy a  jolly piece of music but where the lyrics are about everything being pointless and worthless. We’ll have jolly accordion sing along sea shanties. We’re basically all going to drown – but it doesn’t matter.

I accidently found out that you were going to be on Drag Race when I was googling for something, but the cast hadn’t actually been announced!

I don’t think I’ve spoken about this before, but I’m out of contract now. Ha! It was Michelle Visage.

She had ordered a Nandos to set and was putting a little video on social media. Unfortunately there was a list of the queens in the background and someone screenshot it before it was taken down. Everyone assumes the cast let it slip – but it was head judge Michelle Visage!

Before covid & Drag Race I saw one of your shows at the Komedia and now I’ll be seeing you at Club Cataclysm at the Theatre Royal. What do you like about performing at each?

I get a bit of a thrill from each of them. The Komedia is always fun. Down & Dirty - you’re literally in the basement with the low ceilings and dark walls. It’s an intimate venue and I’m blessed that I’m always sold out.

The grandness of the Theatre Royal I view as a gift for working hard. I don’t take it for granted. I’m going to bleed them dry until they ask me to vacate and then I’ll happily go back to the Komedia! “Right sir, you’ve caused enough disruption. You need to go now.” Then I’ll be at Brighton Dome hammering on the door!

Who is your favourite Brighton celebrity resident?

Nick Cave is endlesslessy brilliant and inspiring. Someone told me he is selling his Brighton home for £3.5 million. We’ll forgive him if he goes to Lewes or somewhere. I’ll have to sell quite a few more t-shirts and up the price of the Club Cataclysm tickets substantially in order to even buy one part of his building!

I appreciate how you included drag race catchphrases ‘Can I get an amen? And ‘Now let the music play’ in your new song ‘Final Curtain’. Obviously everyone at VisitBrighton thinks you should have won RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 2. Did you still have a 'Damn good time doing it'? (They’re also lyrics)

Ah, thank you. They said my look wasn’t Brighton enough, but what’s more Brighton than the Royal Pavilion? If I had money – I would have sued! Ha!’ When I was writing the lyrics for ‘Final Curtain’ I was also listening to Tom Waits album ‘Big Time’ and the song ‘Way Down in the Hole’ has this sermon in the middle of the song. There’s a part where he says ‘Can I get an Amen?’ and I felt a bit diabolical and thought ‘Oh, this could be very, very funny.’ Like ‘Yes – I am aware – with a little wink’ I spent time in the Black Dove writing the lyrics and it’s my favourite writing I have ever done.

What are your favourite lyrics in ‘Final Curtain’?

“So raise a glass as we all stand here burning,

Our fates are sadly not for turning

As we fall into the schism

Please tell my cats I miss ‘em!”

Schism I meant as in divides or breaks. But it actually means a split in a political party too. When I was trying to find a rhyme I thought ‘miss ‘em’ Who would I miss? My cats!

Your cats Klaus and Egon feature on your Insta. It made me laugh when one of them put a soggy cat toy on the antique telephone you were using for promoting your Podcast ‘Joe Black meets….’

Ah, yes – Egon likes to press his pickle toy into his water bowl and place a soaking wet pickle ON YOU  to get a reaction. It’s even more haunting because the pickle is smiling.

When did you make Brighton your home?

Well, I grew up in Portsmouth - a seafaring place - and always thought Brighton was a ‘fabled land’ where you could be whoever you wanted to be. Full of local characters like the bird whistle man. I moved here in my early 20’s and I refuse to leave!’ There’s something about this city that brings me to life.’ I sometimes look at house selling sites and think ‘You get so much for your money elsewhere’ but it’s not Brighton is it. Even when I have time off, I stay in Brighton.

What’s it like living here?

People want to stay in your home. I don’t allow it. There’s no airbed here. I basically live in an antiques shop. Like a small branch of Snoopers Paradise.

You could open your home as the ‘Joe Black Museum’
Yes! And put a Sum Up device on the front door!

What else would you like to add about Brighton?

We need to cherish the glorious, wonderful, bizarre, amazing, strange, unusual, and un easy things this city has to offer.

Thank you Mister Joe Black! 

⇒ Club Cataclysm is on at the Theatre Royal Brighton on 20th November 2022.
⇒ The new single – Final Curtain - is out now. 




Nobody has commented on this post yet, why not send us your thoughts and be the first?

Leave a Reply