As someone brought up in the rural armpit of nowhere, London never ceases to surprise me with the sheer range of extravagant, eclectic activities one can take part in on a lonely schoolnight. This particular schoolnight I visited a hipster matchmaking and vintage pornography double feature: welcome to Coming Up Later.
The Old Vic Tunnels are situated a hop, skip and a jump away from Waterloo station and the associated hobo-banker-tourist crowd. A few turns take you to a tunnel spray-painted within an inch of its life and lit too brightly by those uncomfortable, hospital-type lights. A crowd snakes out of the doorway, smoking and chatting. One might imagine people who attend dating nights as sad, trenchcoat-wearing, balding types. But no, the queue is attractive twentysomethings in their rockabilly, burlesque and indie finest.
Tonight is a follow-up on Coming Up, which took place last February to great success. The evening is aimed at showcasing fresh, alternative talent, although the dating side of the evening gels the whole thing together. Compered by a lovely and witty duo Anything Bloody Goes, the crowd is kicked off almost immediately with a round of fantastically risqué comedy. Comedienne Carly Smallman (think female Tim Minchin with less eyeliner) steals the show with musical musings on the benefits of incest and Scottish Iain Stirling becomes responsible for a joke I will be drunkenly slurring every weekend for at least a month (‘The night bus is like heroin. If you’re on it, you’re probably a junkie.’). The crowd giggles, eyes rove around the room and awkward overtures are made in the queue for the bar.
Let’s talk about vintage porn. Vintage pornography is really, really funny. Not only have the cinematographers not yet figured out how to slow down the frame rate, but sex a hundred years ago appears to be inextricably linked to crude humour. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time maintaining a lady boner when the similarities between a penis and an asparagus are made explicit. On the upside, this makes it the only kind of erotica (barring True Blood) socially acceptable to watch in a room with two hundred strangers.
The ArtWank experience is made exponentially more enjoyable by the talents of “bordello accordionist” Tom Baker. I can only imagine this is how serious porn theatres were like back in the day. Complete with leering jeers from particularly classy gentlemen in the audience whenever penetration occurs. Fast forward a few clips, and drinks, later: enter Dott Cotton, a lady I shall file away in my list of people who have made mimes less creepy and more Paris-street-art chic. That brings said list up to one.
My only regret for the night is the abject cynicism which stopped me from putting myself down for all three nights. Bring on Coming Up Even Later!
IdeasTap presents Coming Up Later at:
Old Vic Tunnels
103 The Cut