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Feb 212012
 

THE HELMSMAN

Pimlico Gardens,
Grosvenor Road, SW1

part of the millbank collection*

I don’t know how many of you were part of the New York leather scene at the tail end of the ’70s but, let me tell you, in the bars around Christopher Street, there were really only ever two topics of conversation: were the Village People cynical frauds helping to perpetuate offensive gay stereotypes, albeit with great tunes; and should you, when suddenly called upon to pilot a small boat through uncertain waters, strip off completely, or leave your cap on?

Thirty years later, the jury’s still out on the first one: yes, they probably were, but the songs were catchy, the videos fantastic, and those boys sure knew how to party, which is no bad thing. Indeed, an old-school moustachioed biker, teaching us how to relax, open up, and get a little bit of New York City throbbing away inside us, might be just what some of us need in these drab, recessional days.

As for the second question – well, my own inclination would be to don a cable-knit sweater, a yellow sou’wester, and some oilskins, but – maybe I’m just as guilty of dealing in cheap nautical stereotypes as the Village People? So, yeah, each to his own and – you know what? – now I think about it, I rather like that tightly clenched fist, that rigid shrug, and that moody sideways gaze from beneath an outrageously lowered leather peak.

Oh. My. God. Is he trying to vogue?

Incidentally, if you’re thinking that’s a large chopper behind his knees, let me put you straight: it’s actually the top of his rudder. If, conversely, you’re thinking that’s a large chopper above his knees, then you have my sympathies, madam. Or sir.

Matt Haynes

* see 9A (“Jeté”) and 9B (William Huskisson) for more on London’s campest embankment. Or should that be encampment?

Our sturdy cox originally appeared in Smoke 15, at the suggestion of Ben Hawes.
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