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Feature: Broadcaster Kate Hutchinson on Julia Cameron and The Last Bohemians

Image: Kate Hutchinson, photographed by Lisa Jelliffe


Kate Hutchinson is a freelance journalist, editor, broadcaster and DJ based in London. She is the creator and host of award-winning podcast series The Last Bohemians.


She has covered the cutting edge of music and club culture for over 15 years, first as Time Out’s youngest editor heading up the Nightlife pages aged 19, then as the Guardian Guide’s Deputy Editor, and now as a freelance journalist, presenter and podcaster.


In 2019, Kate launched the acclaimed podcast-portrait series The Last Bohemians, which won silver at the British Podcast Awards in 2020 and was crowned a ‘best new podcast’ in NME, Financial Times, the Guardian and on Spotify. It includes interviews with cultural luminaries such as Marina Abramović, Pauline Black, Zandra Rhodes and Cosey Fanni Tutti, bringing their worlds to life in an intimate, imaginative way, bringing aboard a totally independent, all-women team of audio whizzes.


As Kate and her team launch the final episode of the latest series set in Los Angeles featuring iconic writer Julia Cameron (The Artists Way), she reflects on the origins of The Last Bohemians, and shares candid insights from the award winning project.


It all started with Molly Parkin. Run Riot readers will no doubt be familiar with – to use her parlance – this Welsh chapel girl who became one of the definitive British bohemians. She’s an impressive self-made woman, too: a style maven at the centre of the Swingin’ 60s, a single mother in the 70s, a Soho arts club regular in the 80s, a stand-up, erotic novelist, poet, painter, TV personality and now, in her 90s, remains one of the last torchbearers of a London that feels all but lost: the grimy speakeasies, Duggie Fields’s cartoonish art, the outlandish DIY outfits seen only annually at the Alternative Miss World (of which, incidentally, Parkin was among the first judges). I wanted to capture her essence; her story told in her own words. And I knew there were many more women like her, untamed by expectation. But not with quite such an amazing selection of turbans.


I launched The Last Bohemians podcast in 2019, with Parkin as the lead episode. What started as a sort of punk independent alternative to a Radio 4 documentary (at least I hope so anyway!) has expanded to four series, 22 episodes and, this year, a Los Angeles-set special. I’ve walked around a country estate in Oxfordshire talking about the health benefits of psychedelics with Amanda Feilding, found a feminist film-maker in a Dublin suburb, listened to the birds in Cosey Fanni Tutti’s garden, retrodden the footsteps of 60s Soho with PP Arnold, stared deep into Marina Abramović’s eyes on Zoom, snooped around Dana Gillespie’s mystical lair in Kensington and spluttered through Maggi Hambling’s cigarette smoke. I’m always looking for something; a clue, maybe, as to how to live my life without limits. Or, in the case of Parkin, reassurance that, in my golden years, I might too be still self-pleasuring first thing in the morning.


I do not consider myself much of a bohemian, although I wish I was. I have the makings of one, perhaps: I’m single, live alone and have a flexible freelance working arrangement as a writer, which generally means I sit and stare out of the window a lot. But I’m jittery with self-doubt, a worrier, a people pleaser. I get asked a lot about what that word means to me, bohemian, and it has expanded and adapted over time: it can suggest any combination of hedonism, avant-gardism, eccentricity, debauchery, subversion, disruption, bold artistry, radical thought. But loosely I take it to be existing outside of the norm and not caring what anyone else thinks. I feel strongly about how social media has streamlined our worlds to all look the same while increasing the anxiety of inadequacy. I wanted to create an archive that you can drink in; to remind ourselves – young people especially – that you can go your own way. And I wanted to try and capture these attitudes – some of which, rightly, you might not even agree with – before these women were gone.


Image: Linda Ramone, Kate Hutchinson, and JD King, photographed in Los Angeles by Lisa Jelliffe.


I suppose my own ‘fuck it’ moment was going to LA earlier this year to make another series. I'd always said I'd try and live there for a bit and after years of pandemic-induced inertia, I booked a flight. It sounds lavish, perhaps, but The Last Bohemians is a proper DIY affair: a bit of sponsorship here, a lot of blagging there. I cat-sat for some friends in their haunted Laurel Canyon home over a few months – although what I thought were the chills of a ghost was actually COVID. My friend, the brilliant audio producer Holly Fisher, had just quit her job and came over from London on a whim so we’d have a steady finger on the record button. Then it was on to the job of getting people to speak to us. Part of the joy of the series is finding forgotten figures from significant periods in (counter)culture – Maxine Sanders, the 70s witch pin-up who I'd spotted in a book from Donlon Books in east London, remains my proudest coup – but it’s quite a different challenge in Hollywood, where many potential bohemians are tucked away out of sight in their mansions in the hills. That and their agents don’t give a toss about some cult podcast from England.


Image: Angelyne, photographed by Lisa Jelliffe.


And so I found myself in a Denny’s – the American equivalent of a Wimpy’s – on Sunset Boulevard one afternoon telling the long-standing LA icon Angelyne that no, I couldn’t pay her $10,000 for an interview, but it would be great if she’d do one anyway. She drove me in her car, a pink Corvette, up to her office, one of the most unforgettable encounters of my life. I went to an eerily empty Chateau Marmont to meet style savant Michéle Lamy, who was once the owner of the coolest nightspot in 90s LA. I spent ages trying to find the “Lady Gaga that never was”, performance punk Johanna Went – a name mentioned in passing in Flea’s Acid For The Children memoir set in the 1980s punk scene, but who deserves her own book. Holly, photographer Lisa and I spent a gorgeous few hours with Gloria Hendry, a former Bond Girl who made her name starring in lascivious roles during Hollywood’s 70s ‘blaxploitation’ era (she prefers to call it, more positively, the Black Renaissance). It might seem like a rather random mix at first, but as with every episode of The Last Bohemians, I’m always looking for those women whose stories say something about a time and place – as well as them being a riot.


The series closes, however, on a more sombre note. For one, because I never know whether I’ll be able to make another season or not. I’m not a celebrity, and podcasts have become increasingly less of a level playing field and more the boxed-off playpen of those with huge followings – they’re who get the proper funding and the help with podcasting’s biggest issue, discoverability. The Last Bohemians is what you might call ‘bijou’ – expensive, plush (sounding) and accompanied by beautiful portraiture, with photos taken by Laura Kelly, who encouraged me to start the series, and, in LA, Lisa Jelliffe (who some of you may know as DJ Roxanne Roll of the party Fleetmac Wood).


And two, it’s sombre because the star of our bonus episode had just lost her beloved pet when she opened the door to us in Santa Fé. Julia Cameron is known to many as the writer of The Artist’s Way, the hugely successful creativity manual, and her heroic tale of dedication, resilience and starting afresh felt like the right way to end. It’s true that she wasn’t much up for discussing her wildchild days in Hollywood while married to Martin Scorcese (there’s plenty of that in her book, Floor Sample, which was rereleased in the UK this summer) but I hope that the episode says something about complicated women regardless: I’m fascinated by how we construct our myths and our truths, how thoughts and beliefs become mantras and where strength comes from in order to survive.


Image: Julia Cameron, photographed by Anna Kooris.


Ah yes, survival. I’m eternally grateful to our sponsors who have helped grease the wheels of the series each time, and our hardcore listenership who always embolden me with their support. Every time I get a message from someone saying they watched the sun rise listening to The Last Bohemians on Hampstead Heath (true story!) or that they hear themselves in these audio portraits, I get a gleeful fanny flutter. I had to write that, otherwise it’d all seem too earnest. Like this bit: The Last Bohemians remains an eternal hustle but also an eternal time capsule of sauce and sleaze, creativity and passion, attitude and inspiration that I hope people continue to find and be challenged by, or moved by. Even after it’s stopped. 


Find out more about Kate Hutchinson at


The Last Bohemians is available on all the usual podcast platforms, including iTunes Podcasts, Audioboom, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Deezer and more. 



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