Julian Maclaren-Ross


Sohemian Rhapsody

A Journey into the Lost World of Bohemian Soho

Hosted by The Society Club with Paul Willetts and special guests Callum Coates and Virginia Ironside

The Charlotte Street Hotel
Private Cinema
15-17 Charlotte Street London W1T 1RJ

Monday, 9th of July

Doors open at 7pm, Talk and screening starts promptly at 7:30

Few people have led such a strange life as the cult writer and Soho dandy Julian Maclaren-Ross (1912-64), whose work has attracted admirers as varied as Harold Pinter, Evelyn Waugh, Iain Sinclair, Graham Greene and Sarah Waters. Brought up on the French Riviera during the 1920s, his subsequent life encompassed fame and literary success as well as alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness and a psychotic obsession with George Orwell’s glamorous widow.

To commemorate the centenary of his birth, we’ll be staging a recreation of one of his short, characteristically stylish 1950s radio plays, starring Callum Coates, founder of the popular Fitzrovia Radio Hour and stalwart of the Globe Theatre under Mark Rylance. We’ll also be presenting rarely seen footage of Maclaren-Ross and his friends talking about the long lost world of Soho bohemia. There’ll also be short readings from Maclaren-Ross’s witty and atmospheric work, juxtaposed with a discussion between his biographer, Paul Willetts, and the writer and stand-up comedienne, Virginia Ironside.

Paul Willetts wrote the biography of Julian Maclaren-Ross, ‘Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia’ and has edited several books about Maclaren-Ross, including Collected Memoirs, Collected Stories and Bitten By The Tarantula and other writings. Willetts also wrote the Paul Raymond biography Members Only, which is currently being filmed directed by Michael Winterbottom, starring Steve Coogan.

A night filled with celebrating one of our greatest local writers on his 100th birthday.

£15, includes a complimentary glass of Fontaine Absinthe

Limited number of tickets available, please book in advance at

or call The Society Club at 02074371433


Absolute Beginners

The Society Film Club is proud to present Absolute Beginners.

Set against the post-war Britain, a time in which pop culture is transforming from jazz to a new generation on the verge of the 60s, a young hip photographer (Colin) falls in love with an aspiring fashion designer (Crepe Suzette).

Directed by Julien Temple, Absolute Beginners features David Bowie, Sade, Ray Davies and stars Eddie O’Connell and a break-out performance by Patsy Kensit. The film has become a cult classic, mainly through it’s incredible soundtrack (featuring Bowie, Sade, The Style Council and Ray Davies).

Clive Jennings will lead a fascinating conversation with director Julien Temple, Eve Ferret, who appears in the film and Roger Burton, who consulted on the memorable styling, before the screening, with an audience Q & A afterwards.

This will be a Film Club Night not to be missed.

Doors open at 7pm, Q&A begins at 7:30 promptly – we ask that audience members arrive in time as this is likely to be a popular event. Doors close 7.25pm

Copies of the Colin MacInnes novel, Absolute Beginners, will be available for purchase on the night

Members £5 | Non members £10

My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta

Lots of chatter in The Shop today surrounding the screening of Lolita at Monday night’s Film Club.    Hope you are all coming.

Join us next Monday,  March 12th where The Society Film Club, in association with Penguin Classics, presents the 1962 classic Lolita, based on the celebrated and controversial novel by Vladimir Nabokov.

“How did they make a movie out of Lolita?” teased the print ads of this Stanley Kubrick production. The answer: by adding three years to the title character’s age. The original Vladimir Nabokov novel caused no end of scandal by detailing the romance between a middle-aged intellectual and a 12-year-old nymphet. The affair is “cleansed” ever so slightly in the film by making Lolita a 15-year-old (portrayed by 16-year-old Sue Lyon). In adapting his novel to film, Nabokov downplayed the wicked satire and sensuality of the material, concentrating instead on the story’s farcical aspects.

DATE:    Monday, March 12
TIME:     7pm
PLACE:  The Sanctum Hotel,  20 Warwick Street, Soho, W1B 5NF
Members: £5, non-members £10

Forthcoming films include:
March 19:  Black Spring Press night, Luis Bunuel’s Viridiana
March 26: Absolute Beginners

Pussycat Alley!

Join us Monday, 27/2, for a showing of The World Ten Times Over.

In London’s sin-filled strip, there is one place where every man goes … Pussycat Alley.  Where everything happens!

Sylvia Syms and June Ritchie play Soho nightclub ‘hostesses’.  Bella is jaded and fed up with men, while Ginnie is an accomplished seductress.  When a rich executive who is separated from his wife gets involved with Ginnie, Bella becomes envious.  The romantic entanglements proceed to challenge the friendship between them.  ’A downbeat, realistic and gritty portrayal of a day in the life of a lustreless London’ said the NFT programme.

Most of the film takes place on the studio set used for the girls’ flat.  There is however an extended location montage in the streets of Soho, which gives a good atmosphere at the height of the cafe era, including a nice shot of the sign of the Heaven and Hell Coffee Bar.

DATE:    Monday, Feb 27
TIME:     7pm
PLACE:  The Sanctum Hotel,  20 Warwick Street, Soho, W1B 5NF

Members: £5, non-members £10

Win Tickets to Bonjour Tristesse!

This coming Monday, The Society Film Club, in association with Penguin Classics, is proud to present the 1958 classic film Bonjour Tristesse, based on the novel by Françoise Sagan.

Haven’t been to Film Club before?   Well – here’s your chance.

We are giving away FIVE FREE TICKETS (with a plus 1) to people selected at random who email me the (correct) answer to the following question:


What does Bonjour Tristesse mean in English?

Email me    for a chance to win!


On the French Riviera, Cécile is a decadent young girl who lives with her rich, playboy father.  When Anne, a mature and cultured friend comes to visit, Cécile is afraid that she will disrupt the undisciplined way of life that she and her father have shared.

The film is based on the explosive and controversial novel by a then a 19-year-old Francoise Sagan (1935-2004).  Sagan failed to pass her examinations at the Sorbonne and decided to write a novel.   The novel received international acclaim and by 1959 had sold 850,000 in France alone. Bonjour Tristesse scandalized 1950s France with its portrayal of teenager terrible Cécile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom.

Starring Deborah Kerr and David Niven, Bonjour Tristesse was directed and produced by Otto Preminger.

Copies of the Penguin edition of Bonjour Tristesse are currently being featured at The Society Club and will be available for purchase at the screening.

*** The night features book prizing and giveaways!

Our many thanks go to Penguin Classics!

DATE:    Monday, Feb 13th TIME:     7pm PLACE:  The Sanctum Hotel,  20 Warwick Street, Soho, W1B 5NF Members: £5, Non-Members: £10

Film Club Monday: A Celebration of London’s famed Windmill Theatre


“We Never Clothed”
Celebrate the 80th Anniversary of London’s infamous Windmill Theatre”

Join us to pay tribute to London’s famed Windmill Theatre. A small theatre that, while only seating 320, became a British institution.

Maurice Poole, one of the leading authorities and collector of Windmill Theatre memorabilia, will discuss the history and importance of The Windmill Theatre as well as introduce a rare 1969 documentary and display a collection of colour photographs taken in the early 1940s (taken by the House manager at the time). Also in attendance, two original Windmill Dancers, who will be on-hand for Q&A.

Purchased in 1930 by Laura Henderson and managed by Vivian van Damm (she left the theatre to him after her death in 1944, although van Damm went on to call Mrs. Henderson ‘a great strain on one’s nerves’ in his 1952 memoir), the theatre produced some memorable and elaborate revues. Famed for pioneering tableaux vivants of motionless female nudity (‘if you moved, it’s rude’), The Windmill Theatre was never closed during even the worst times of the Blitz. The phrase ‘we never closed’ quickly and jokingly turned into “we never clothed’ and the theatre went on to thrive during the war.

The theatre was inherited by van Damm’s daughter after his death in 1960 only to close in 1964 and reopen as a cinema. After a decade showing films, the theatre was then reopened as a club by famed impresario Paul Raymond and thrived in the 1970s only to close again in 1982. Today The Windmill stands a table-dancing club, staging adult live entertainment.

WHEN:    Monday, 6th February

WHERE:  The Sanctum Hotel, downstairs private cinema
              20 Warwick Street, Soho
TIME:      7pm
COST:     £5 members £10 non-members. Don’t forget, we have a drink special now, too.

Jonny Woo introduces the doc The Cockettes at Film Club Monday Night

Monday, January 30 – The Society Film Club returns to The Sanctum Hotel (private cinema, downstairs), The Society Film Club proudly presents an evening celebrating The Cockettes with special guest star Jonny Woo

TIME:  Starts at 7pm
PRICE:  £5 for members, £10 for non-members.
VENUE:  The Sanctum Hotel (20 Warwick Street, Soho, London W1B 5NF)

     ”Well, the Cockettes were basically complete sexual anarchy, which is always a wonderful thing.” -John Waters 

On New Year’s Eve, 1969, a flamboyant troupe of gender bending artists took the stage of San Francisco’s famed Palace Theater, they kicked-up their heels, wowed the crowd with their flamboyant garb and nudity, and when the bearded chorus girls lifted up their frilly skirts to reveal glittering genitalia, The Cockettes were born. For the next few years, this performance troupe became an underground phenomenon, performing shows with titles such as “A Crab on Uranus Means You’re Loved”, “Pearls over Shanghai” and “Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma”, but when The Cockettes hit the Big Apple, the outcome was surprisingly disastrous. Nevertheless, their influence was clear and while The Cockettes disbanded a few years into the 1970s, they left an indelible influence on popular culture and lit the way for the glitter rock era that was to come. The Cockettes also helped launch the careers of Divine (who performed the song ‘The Crab at the Center of Uranus” while dressed as a lobster) and disco wonder Sylvester.

Directors Bill Weber and David Weissman have painstakingly gleaned and layered amazing archival footage, including Divine and Sylvester, and wove in interviews with those who remember the shows first-hand. The result is a stunning film that captures not only the history of the Cockettes, but their essence.

Nominated for the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and winner of the LA Film Critics Award for best documentary of 2002, the film was praised as ‘wildly entertaining” (Rolling Stone) and “inspiring” (Empire).

Our presenter for the evening will be none other than Jonny Woo.

Jonny Woo, crowned the Shoreditch Ringmaster by The New York Times, a Tranny Superstar byTime Out and the bastard lovechild of Kenny Everett by the Times, is one of London’s leading performers on the alternative gay and straight club and cabaret scenes. He has been resident artist at Bistrotheque since it’s creation and has taken four shows onto The Soho Theatre and The Edinburgh Festival. He has taken his unique brand of entertainment onto The Royal Opera House, The Royal Festival Hall and is the host for the mainstage at LOVEBOX.

Jonny Woo will be taking you through creating the ultimate Cockette look and will be talking about how the legacy of The Cockettes has been an inspiration. Jonny was creating work and exploring drag before his introduction to the Cockettes so he will also be talking about how the alternative drag scene has similarities with that of 70′s San Francisco. To finish off Jonny will perform excerpts from his repertoire of original spoken word and song, all in fabulous Cockette inspired style.