Dirty White Boy: Tales of Soho by Clayton Littlewood

DYB(Not discussed by the group but written in a personal capacity.)

The author came from Weston-Super-Mere and went to the prestigious Broadoak Comprehensive School.

In January 2006, his partner, Jorge, closed down his high fashion menswear Provincetown shop, Dirty White Boy and with Clayton re-opened it on Old Compton Street in London’s Soho. Clayton and Jorge lived below their Soho shop. Over a two year period, during which business went from bad to worse, manager Littlewood watched the ebb and flow of London’s so-called Dirty Square Mile and wrote down his observations in this book, which started life as a blog on myspace. This blog got a huge following leading to a column in the London Paper.

Interviewed in Polari Magazine Clayton said, “I’ve always written diaries. I’ve kept them for years, but just sporadically, during important moments. So when we had the shop I thought, ‘This is going to be an important moment’. I had a feeling we weren’t going to be there very long, and I wanted to document the period. We were getting all these crazy people coming into the shop, all these mad characters, but I thought rather than just write it as a diary I would post it on MySpace. It was the first time that I’d shown anybody what I had written.

For over 200 years, Soho was the centred of London’s thriving sex industry and is also now London’s major gay village, centred on Old Compton Street, where dozens of gay or gay-friendly business owners set up shop in order to profit from the “pink
pound.”

There are street people who stop by the store for a bit of change or even just a hug. There are the wild celebs and wannabe celebs. There are the young hustlers who are aging too fast from the lifestyle and the drugs. There is the constant drama of the brothel upstairs. And there is the once-was and maybe-will-be-again coupling of Leslie and Charlie.

There is the elderly man who comes in once a month to educate Clayton on all the different types and cuts and styles of underwear (and never buys a thing). There is Pam, a local who comes ’round asking for money or “cuddles” – and is equally happy with either. The madam and her hookers who live and work upstairs, or the myriad of older businessmen who are dragged in to the shop by their flaming, kept houseboys.

I found it funny and sad in turns. There is irony by the ladleful.

The author’s blog is here

Quotations:

QX [a British bar rag] recently ran a feature on the ‘faces of Soho.’ Drag queens, DJ’s, club owners, cabaret acts, promoters, party hosts. Anyone who’s anyone in ‘gay glitterati’ land. . . .[However] the real faces of Soho are never featured. You won’t see them in the documentaries on Soho that seem to pop up on our televisions with increasing frequency. Yet they are the lifeblood of the village. They are the underclass, the true eccentrics, the waifs and strays the party crowd passes by as they make their way to the Shadow Lounge.”

Chico, “a very colorful, Afro-Caribbean American, based in London. Decked out in Gucci, D&G, Prada. You name it, he flaunts it. And he’s become one of our regular customers…..was once a Diana Ross impersonator who married rich, but his boyfriend died. Thus he was left with a large amount of money, two properties, and a broken heart. The perfect aphrodisiac for a QX hooker.”

“The judge, obviously not well versed in the whole gay client/hooker scene, saw “’Black Man Rapes White Man‘ and put him away” for six years.

the feisty transsexual Angela Pasquale. A Janice Dickinson look-a-like, the tall – “at least six foot three” – and stunning Ms. Pasquale has “a beautiful face and big pair of creamy white breasts that look like they’re about to wrap themselves around my neck. ’You’re not stealing my lines again, are you?’ said Angela when she caught Clayton taking notes for his Blog. ‘Well, actually…I am,’ he replied. ‘But only because you’re part of Soho. . . .’ ‘Girl – I AM SOHO!’ she retorts, removing her glasses and shaking out her hair, up and down, backwards and forwards, letting her luscious locks drape over the glass counter.”

Leslie, “a small, old gentleman dressed in a beige three-piece suit with a white handkerchief flowing extravagantly from the top pocket.” Leslie, who knew Soho “in the old days,” entertained Clayton and his readers with his reminiscences and touched us with his star-crossed love affair with Charlie, a writer Leslie loved and lost. “We were lovers . . . And then one day he broke my heart.”

I’m sitting behind the counter. A bearded guy walks in—white T-shirt, camoufl trousers, rucksack on his back. He smiles. I smile back. browses the racks for a few minutes, pulls out a Dirty Boy vest, walks over to the counter.

“I’ll take this.”

“Okay. That’s half price. Thirteen pounds fifty,” cheerfully.

As I wrap the vest he takes off his rucksack, plonks it the floor, bends down, rummaging inside for his wallet. “What time do you finish?”

“We’re open ’til eight.”

“You wanna go out?” he asks, expectantly.

“Ummm. No, thank you. I can’t tonight.”

“We can go to the cinema, a bite to eat, whatever want. Just the two of us.”
“I can’t. Sorry,” I reply, a bit firmer. “I’ve got a partn “Okay, I’ll see you at nine o’clock outside Compton’s.

“You’re persistent, aren’t you?” I reply, laughing. Then he stands up. Looks at me strangely. And carries on talking into his mobile.

I’m sitting by the window, buffing my nails, catching up on world politics in Boyz magazine

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