ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Dressed to thrill

Juggling Maddie Hayes, Sylvia Plath and Dorothy Parker, Act once again attempt to conjure up the essence of perfect pop. Carmen Keats comes face to face with Claudia Brucken and scrapes the mascara off the masquerade.

“Because these times, people dont listen to lyrics, they dont give a damn. No one picks it all to pieces like this.”

Here comes Thomas, into the breach with both sides burning.

“Anyway, I react to music very much like painting. And if you went to, say, de Koening, who does abstract painting, and said, “hats this red bit here?, hes say ‘F*** off. Although were very pleased that you picked it up, it was a very interesting question.

“What frightens me? Hay-oy-oy. Death! Im frightened that nuclear waste is getting transported through the area where I live. Im frightened that I have to trust other people for my future. And of anything nuclear. Or Gulf War. Freaks me out every time. Im on high edge now.

“And sometimes I feel trapped by my body. Like, if Im not doing anything for it, if Im not working on it, I feel imprisoned. Swimming is essential for me, then I have control. When I can feel myself being fit.”

And what doesnt frighten?

“Glamour. Sophistication. When I do our tribute to Morrissey, ‘Heaven Knows Im Miserable Now, I have a lovely white dress and a bunch of white carnations. This is to symbolise virginity. I dont know why, but people didnt get it. Even here in London, astonishingly. Then at our recent show, I thought, you know what would look chic is very tight, sexy dresses…”

If Act were a shape, what shape would Act be?

“A candelabra.”

CLAUDIA Brucken fancies being in the movies, but shes already typecast. To most people, shes silly little Susan Alexander, the hopeless singer who marries Orson Welless Citizen Kane and cant get a gig ‘til he builds her an opera house.

For now, shes a bit of a performing poodle, juggling with toys too big for her to catch. She wants her audience to range for teenies “to Liberace fan”. I bet she lip reads “Dallas”, she probably admires Thereza Bazar on the quiet. Shes an old-fashioned girl and she cant see the wood for the very attractive trees.

“The single — ‘I Cant Escape From You — is all about all this obsessiveness when you are in love, how high an edge, an nerve you come, your whole life is reflecting, is he going to call you, are you gonna see him tonight or not, or is he gonna look at you.

And I still feel that every day. And its growing.”

“Into love and out again, thus I went and thus I go.

Spare your voice and hold your pen — well and bitterly I know

All the songs were ever sung, all the words were ever said

Could it be, when I was young, someone dropped me on my head?” — “Theory”, Dorothy

“I have always been scared of you,

With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.”

- “Daddy”, Sylvia Plath

“My worst nightmare? Well, Ive had quite a few about Hitler, and gas chambers. I think thats possibly very much because I am German and it follows you through your whole life. Especially in school, from fourth class on ‘til you finish school, this is your main subject and you explore it in every little corner, from every viewpoint. Just to make sure something like this wont happen to the German race at all any more. You see, also to understand it. Weve got loads of guilt, from generation to generation. To not forget such a thing.

“But I always dream Hitler is now, and Hitler is maybe American. And this time, Im the helpless victim.

“Sometimes I have two weeks great dreams, then no dreams at all, and suddenly one really bad dream. Sometimes dreams about witches being in my house. I mean, I dont particularly believe in witches.”

Its not Claudia Bruckens fault she got married to arty-farty pop-writer and record company playboy Paul Morley. You cant help falling in love, they tell me. So Claudia did it, and now shes having to pay with her credibility. Shes a cryin, talkin, slieepin, walkin livin doll motivated by him, apparently.

So, what do you do when youre married to the guy, tell the world you think his ideas are a pile of puke? Tell him to keep his hands to himself? Shes still stuck on his label, for better or worse, and with her mate Thomas Leer engaged in trying to make a go of an LP called “Laughter, Tears And Rage”.

Someone with his nose stuck in a big book is helping, and the result is a Titanic all covered in fairy lights, sailed by people who only know about pretty inflatable dinghies.

“If I have a shiny gun, I could have a world of fun,

Speeding bullets through the brains

Of the folk who give me pains” — “Frustration” Dorothy Parker

In the roughhouse, Dotheboys Hall atmosphere that is ZTT this week — what with Holly Johnson shooting his gob off about contracts and Trevor Horns hefty wife and ZTT supreme Jill Sinclair doing likewise — Claudia and Thomas look like Cattle Annie and Little Britches, clinging to a milk bottle, riding the rapids. An instrumentalist and a girl singer who likes prancing about in fancy dresses, with a number of quite awful songs, a few entertaining ones and the occasional bit of neat phrasing.

They want to make a simple pop record, because thats the kind of thing thatll sell, but theyll hallow art because shes in love with someone who tells her thats where its at. And in the bottleneck that must be head office, the bows and arrows are out.

“Jill Sinclair said something very nasty about me last week which I was very disappointed with, she said that, you know, the only reason Claudia Brucken is still on the label is because she married Paul Morley. She said that they personally, Trevor and Jill, werent guilty of anything Hollys accusing them of, so indirectly putting the blame on Paul…”

All hands on deck, I think.

“Great googly-moogly!” — David Addison, “Moonlighting”

THERES an Act advert out about now lumping Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Path and Maddie Hayes into a wild triumvirate. Maddie Hayes is a character in a comedy show, played by Cybil Shepherd.

In case you were unaware, this dame is “a great exhibitionist”. Fascinating, revelatory, though my interlocutors are at a loss to explain the Hayes godhead. And dont see why they should

“You see, you take three names, you put them together like this, putting a film character with Sylvia Plath, you just play with that, to make people have a quick laugh, or grin or get something out of it. Its not to be taken and questioned seriously.”

Its odd, though, how all these women had such creaking failures of personal lives; I never saw the funny side before. Maddie Hayes is pregnant and telling her secretary of this over the Ansafone while she sobs her head off…

“Oh, that was a good episode, aha ha hah!”

Dorothy Parker died drunk and alone in a hotel room…

“Dorothy Parker. Yes, ah… but a f***ing amazing writer!”

And Sylvia Plath, f***ing amazing poet, sticks her head in the gas oven because old bugger Ted Hughes whips off with some floozy.

“She put her head in the over?”

Youd think Paul couldve explained. But it doesnt stop here.

“The thinker is a fool? Er, well that was just a jingle, you see, one song on the LP thats just a jingle made out of one line — I think — introducing the next song, which is “Laughter”. You see, which is not about thinking.” Claudia laughs, tries to think, licks those lips with the curious lipstick patterns and turns vast, worried eyes on Thomas, but he can be no help to her here.

“Or saying, whoever thinks is a fool,” she continues.

As far as Claudias concerned, anyway, its nonsense. Am I supposed to argue?