from drag battles to kamikaze karaoke: celebrating 2 years of the glory pub
Owners Jonny Woo, John Sizzle and Colin Rothbart pick their favourite moments and hedonistic highlights from the east London LGBTQ performance space and local boozer's first two years.
Since it flung open its doors a little over two years ago, The Glory has become one of east London's most exciting and vibrant venues. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what The Glory is -- it's part LGBTQ performance space, part disco dungeon, and part friendly but alternative local pub. So maybe, in a way, The Glory is more of a feeling, one that mixes glitter-strewn inclusivity with masses of gay abandon. Here, three of The Glory's owners -- Jonny Woo, John Sizzle and Colin Rothbart -- pick their hedonistic highlights from the venue's first two years.
An Audience with Princess Julia
Jonny Woo: "This was a pretty special event. It was a theatrical memoir show about Julia's life, and the stage was dressed so it looked like Julia was sitting on a throne made of clouds. She had a bell to buzz whenever she lost her thread! Jacqui Potato did an interpretative dance that encompassed Julia's twenties and celebrity milliner Stephen Jones was the guest of honour. Boy George and Julia's old squat boys came down too. It got quite heated with audience members arguing over who bonked who in the '80s - there were tears, laughter and revelations! Julia's next show will be some time in April and we're hoping to film it live from the pub."
Colin Rothbart: "Butt Mitzvah, the UK's first gay Jewish club night, was a definite highlight for me! As The Glory has rightly established itself as the alternative performance venue, it was only natural that we'd host something like this. We do like to put on events that other venues might not do. We had drag tributes to Jewish pop stars - Amy Winehouse, Dana International and Barbra Streisand of course. As a British Jew myself, whose grandparents were brought up in east London, this made me very proud. And we've got more nights planned which celebrate London's diversity - Latin, Greek, Arabic and Bollywood-themed nights are all in the pipeline!"
Jonny Woo: "These are controversial parties dressed up as karaoke, I like to think. Christeene's Kamikaze Karaoke was especially good because it was the most insane and intense take on a karaoke night I've ever witnessed. It was held in the basement and started around midnight - people were rolling on the floor, naked, screaming along to Abba songs like it was heavy metal. I was in a leather harness and at one point Christeene peed down my leg. It was such fun!"
John Sizzle: "This is The Glory's annual drag battle. I hosted it last year and for one of my opening numbers, I performed Barbarella on top of a giant moon which was actually supported by a badly-stacked pile of pub tables. I was trying to do a slow motion striptease while supposedly flying in zero gravity -- and at the same time, trying not to get my wig stuck in my helmet, which was basically a modified mop bucket. This year it's Jonny Woo's turn to host, so I can sit back and laugh as the mess unfolds. It's a big deal, though, LIPSYNC1000; we've had people like Grace Dent and Christopher Kane judging it. We keep trying to get Aisleyne from Big Brother to judge it too. I can't remember why, we just thought it would be funny."
Unique fan-girl nights
Jonny Woo: "Bjork Scratchings was a really great night too. We have a recurring series in which the pub pays homage to a star, usually female and usually someone with queer appeal. So we've had A Night of 1000 Beyoncés and Britney's Glory Party. We also had a George Michael party shortly after his passing and even rented a jacuzzi for the occasion. It was very sexy and very sloshy, just as George would have wanted it. Kate Bush is up next!"
Lauren Harries keeps popping up
Colin Rothbart: "I have a reputation for spontaneously booking Lauren Harries. I guess the antiques child prodigy turned transgender TV personality and Welsh pop star is a guilty pleasure of mine! She got up on the bar and started singing after a party we held for [my film about the east London alternative scene] Dressed as a Girl. The second time I booked her, we ended up clubbing in Vauxhall, then going to a house party in Peckham - where Lauren performed her hit single I Am a Woman in the kitchen, lip-syncing with a hairbrush - and then back to The Glory. So just a standard weekend, really."
Suddenly Last Summer
Jonny Woo: "The pub does put on some quite serious plays, which is nice. There's no reason drama should stop at school for everyone: I think it's healthy to keep acting through life, so The Glory provides that opportunity. I was asked to be in Suddenly Last Summer because the director Giorgio Spiegelfeld wanted some real-life figures from the pub to appear in the cast. So suddenly me and Princess Julia were up on stage wearing white period costumes with proper theatre critics from The Stage coming in to watch us, all looking deadly serious. It was the most scared I've ever been in my life! I'm really an improv artist - I storm about in patent boots and get off with people's dads - so scripts scare me. But luckily it seemed to come off on the night."
The Glory's National Theatre takeover on the South Bank
John Sizzle: "Every night we threw a free party on the Thames. The glow rave was incredible - it was spitting with rain, we had 30 drunken transvestites on stage and hundreds of amazed tourists piling in to rave with us, it felt proper naughty. Tourists normally get to see someone banging a plastic barrel with a stick - but we gave them a proper '90s underground drag-fuelled rave complete with glow sticks and snogging. They couldn't believe their eyes!"
Text Nick Levine
Photography courtesy The Glory