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Scottee salivates over duo Unskinny Bop - the saucy DJ baps of Hamburger Queen

 

Part collective, part indie knees up, part Dolly Parton fan club - Unskinny Bop are camp, full fat rioters who have been clashing culture in the capital since 2000 and something. They play records, sell t-shirts and like photocopiers. As part of this years Hamburger Queen contest, my annual beauty pageant / talent show for fat people, Unskinny Bop will be selecting the records off the jukebox. I caught up with them to find out what's in store...

Scottee: For the uninitiated who and what is Unskinny Bop?
Rudy and Tamsin:
The Bop is a low-concept disco enterprise which exists to realise the wild & thrilling potential of a dancefloor and offer it up to all the misfits who love music and dancing but can often feel excluded from club scenes where people’s looks, size, style, gender or whatever are policed. Our central tenets are sincerity, enthusiasm, inclusivity and joy.

It is run by Rudy and Tamsin, who met in 2001 as two fat dorky music-obsessed weirdos, but found ourselves dissatisfied that many of the clubs in London could be hostile environments hung up on establishing cool fashion-y cliques; we just wanted a place to dance to our favourite songs without feeling shame or judgement. In the early 2000s we had started to make some friends in the queer feminist punk underground, and that scene felt like home to us, but as well as going to see DIY punk and riot grrrl bands and dancing to Sleater-Kinney and the Gossip, we were also obsessed with the new Justin Timberlake and Mis-teeq records, 60s soul and garage like the Sonics and legendary geniuses of camp like Dolly Parton. Music policies at many clubs were quite snobby, there was no space where you could hear all these musical styles in the same night and no place which deliberately identified itself as welcoming to people who were fat, and/or didn’t comply with normative standards of physical desirability, and/or who were otherwise weird and shy and awkward. We needed the Bop to exist so we created it. Did we mention that we are super earnest?
 
Scottee: I remember picking up your photocopied flyers and zines in Soho 10 years ago are you still big fans of the DIY aesthetic…
Rudy and Tamsin:
Our aesthetic approach has always been rooted in DIY zine culture and that is still our biggest visual influence. Our best friend Bill Savage has been making posters, banners etc for the Bop since the second party we hosted in 2002, and our decorations are still hand-made by Bill using their work photocopier, scissors and Pritt Stick. We are also lucky to have Alex Creep (Sister Ectoplasma Distro) in our crew who is the 3rd member of the Bop DJ team and is also an incredible artist. Alex draws and doodles things and then computerises them using some wizardry or other to create our website and other Bop graphics.  

Scottee: …and your monthly pro-geek-fat-outsider disco is still going strong…
Rudy and Tamsin:
Yes! Still can’t quite believe we have managed to make our humble DIY disco last for ten whole years, but we are still enjoying it and people seem to like it so we are keeping on.  We play every third Saturday of the month at a pub called the Star of Bethnal Green. We do special events now and again too and are hoping to put on an all-day mini-festival this summer.

Scottee: You're quite partial to a chubby pop star - who are your favourites?
Rudy and Tamsin:
Meat Loaf. He is the best. Histrionic, theatrical and ROCKIN. Such a diva. Also Beth Ditto, for being a fearless inspirational queer fat riot grrrl superstar and never apologising. <3

Scottee: What can we expect to be hearing at Hamburger Queen?
Rudy and Tamsin:
Well, as it is Hamburger Queen we shall be incorporating as many of our Podge Pop Heroes into our set as possible so you will likely hear Meat Loaf and The Gossip as well as Divine, Sylvester, Control-era Janet Jackson, Aretha, Belinda Carlisle, Missy Elliott, Pixies, etc. We have to draw the line at Adele though, sorry gays. Other than that, our usual approach is to play a jumble of quality songs by mainstream pop giants along with bed-wetting sensitive indie types via 60s soul, r’n’b (old and new), divas of any stripe, and angry feminist shouting music. So basically – expect anything. This year we’ve started to post a mixtape on our website to whet your appetites!

You can catch Unskinny Bop at Hamburger Queen on the 3rd, 10th, and 17th April at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern - hamburgerqueen.co.uk
For more info, gossip and disco outings unskinnybop.co.uk