Duckie was founded in November 1995 as a collective of gay club runners and performance pedlars. Since then we have run our flagship rock’n’roll homo-disco at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern every Saturday platforming bentertainment for mainly LGBT punters. For 18 years the club has been led by the same core team of six faces – hostess Amy Lamé, promoter Simon Casson, disc jockeys Readers Wifes and doorwhores Jay Cloth & Father Cloth.
In our early days in the 90’s we ran a myriad of club nights at various London venues. Notable nights were ‘Duckie Dancehall’, ‘Art Skool’ and ‘Inn-Difference’ at the New Connaught Rooms, ‘Viva Apathy’ and ‘Wig’n’Casino’ at the Market Tavern, ‘The Youth Club’ and ‘Big Girls Blouse’ at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, ‘Duckie Up West’ at The Eve Club and many others. Duckie were at the zeitgeist of alternative post-queer culture creating a punky opposition to the mainstream hegemony of the dominant commercial gay club scene. The media thus defined Duckie and our co-horts as spearheading the ‘Anti-Gay’ movement.
Performance at the clubs was limited to short pieces presented in a cabaret style, but we found ourselves at the engine-room of a vibrant post-queer performance culture. From 1998, Duckie began to develop full-length shows and unusual interactive theatrical events devised with our key artists. Early theatrical inventions included a trilogy of promenade shows & walking tours exploring London history – ‘Vauxhall Pleasure Promenade’ (1999), ‘Explosion! The Rock‘n’Roll Ghosts of Soho’ (2000) and ‘Blowzabellas, Drabs, Mawks & Trugmoldies’ (2001). Duckie also produced a pair of glamorous lesbian beauty contests, a trilogy of tribute events to English pop icons Kate Bush, Morrissey & Julie Burchill and two festivals of audience-interactive new theatre called ‘Nightbird’ (2000 & 2002).
The Divine David was the brightest star of the Duckie scene in the late nineties, and the company produced many performance vehicles with and for him. He retired in 2000, with the final performance ‘The Divine David On Ice’, returning as David Hoyle in 2006 for 3 years work with the company (Magazine, 2006/2007/2008) before going independent.
Since 2002, Duckie have been a revenue-funded client of Arts Council England. Following the success of ‘C’est Vauxhall!’, the firm began touring internationally to New York, Sydney, Tokyo, Kyoto, Berlin and elsewhere, receiving substantial support from the British Council.
Annually on Gay Pride Day from 1996 until 2009, Duckie ran a rival event called ‘Gay Shame’ – an innovative interactive arts club and a satire on commercial gay culture. The final ‘Gay Shame’ was at the Brixton Academy in July 2009 for an audience of 3,500.
In the recent years Duckie have developed a fruitful producing partnership with the Barbican, producing four commissions and five month-long runs, including our acclaimed dinner theatre show ‘The Class Club’, our shopping centre troll ‘Copyright Christmas’, and our audience sleepover show ‘Lullaby’.
Socially engineering an OAP audience with a younger crowd for our ‘Queers and Old Dears’ strand, Duckie have produced four of these events in the past few years – Blackpool Tower Ballroom (2008), Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion (2009), Battersea’s BAC (2010) and Wilton’s Music Hall in east London (2012).
All through these years Duckie has continued to run every Saturday at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and we have run a number of additional inventive shebeens at the south London boozer like the 24 hour dance marathon ‘They Shoot Queers, Don’t They?’, the live art revue ‘Performance & Cocktails’ and the pop-performance-mix-tape ‘Readers Wifes Fan Club’.
Duckie have received a number of awards including an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment, a Time Out Special Theatre Award and two Fringe Firsts.