October 5, 2011

BULLETT talks to Roger Spy from Roger Spy on Vimeo.

Roger Spy wasn’t in his house last Thursday evening, but I was there snooping around. My friend has just moved in with him, providing me with ample opportunity to do some research. I wanted to try and understand him through his paraphernalia. The house is a display cabinet of Roger’s life and obsessions, yet it is spacious, uncluttered and has the modesty of an IKEA showroom. In fact, it looks exactly like an IKEA showroom, except the photos of happy families have been replaced with portraits of Roger in the arms of Annie Lennox, Siouxsie Sioux, Boy George and Roisin Murphy (the lead singer of Moloko, whose life and work he believes deserve more attention), whilst the Swedish books have morphed into biographies of Michael Jackson, Marlene Dietrich and David Bowie, as well as lavish Taschen porno catalogues (The Big Book of Penises, The Big Book of Butts etc) and what Roger calls the bible, Madonna’s ‘SEX.’

We’d met for the first time the previous week, and he’d already given me a brief tour of his bedroom where his large collection of wigs are displayed on the wall above the bed, each adorning a mannequin head. But I wanted to have a look around myself and take notes. I hit a light switch and blew the fuse on the entire house, plunging the place into darkness. As we ate dinner by candle light, my friend remarked that Roger had probably caused the fuse to blow as he is in fact an alien, allegedly. From the brief research I’ve completed, I have compiled a few other things I think you should know about Roger Spy.
Firstly, he is a big Michael Jackson fan. A Michael Jackson poster greets visitors at the front door, and this leads on to a Michael Jackson calendar in the kitchen, a Michael Jackson statue in the living room, which hangs above Michael Jackson’s complete musical oeuvre as well as various books and Blu Rays. I’ve never been that interested in MJ, but I think Roger sells him pretty well, describing him as “the most amazing organism that ever existed to our knowledge as a human race. His art has no peers and is beyond perfection and I really do think he is the best person that ever lived in every way that we can be.” Roger was alive for the last twenty years of Jackson’s life, which rules out any possibility of Roger being a reincarnation of his idol (although there are similarities between the two in terms of looks and mannerisms). However, another of his interests – Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen – lived long enough ago to have been successfully re-birthed through several generations before finally ending up in her current form, which may well be the artist we know as Roger Spy. As he himself points out, “I’ve read so much stuff about her and there’s so much that I can relate to. She wore wigs, she didn’t have any eyebrows, she was never with anyone in a romantic relationship – well I have been but it’s all gone downhill. I mean it lasts a couple of hours and that doesn’t count does it? She always overreacted to little things, which I do to. So I like to think that I was her. I think I was her.”

As I mentioned before, Elizabeth I was a famous virgin. I have no in-depth knowledge of Mr Spy’s sex life, although I’m aware that his favourite word is ‘cunt,’ which according to Wikipedia is a ‘vulgarism, primarily referring to the female genitalia.’ Roger is more interested in the subversion of the word, for positive use. Perhaps that analysis is too serious – basically he enjoys calling his friends cunts, in an affectionate manner. But please beware that he despises small talk, and regards words as inferior to actions – what you do is more likely to offend than what you say. To understand Roger you have to understand his humour, which is rooted in the culture of old Soho bohemia. It’s a shame the Colony Room club closed down a few years ago (the famous haunt of London creative types such as Francis Bacon and Sebastian Horsely) as he would have fitted in perfectly as a private member. Its late owner, Muriel Belcher, addressed her favourite patrons as ‘cunt’ or ‘cunty,’ and like Roger, referred to male friends in the feminine tense: where is she going, what is she eating, who asked her to speak? On our second meeting, at a barbeque on the roof terrace, he revealed that I am one of the few people who laughed at his rudeness upon first meeting him. He then went on to hurl potato chips in my direction whilst referring to me as ‘Piggy.’

I’m impressed and humbled by his large CD collection, as it seems such a rarity in our current i-world, where people’s musical tastes are confined to a hard drive. Humanity in the affluent Western World is stuck in a rut regarding technology, culture and the mass of information we have at our beck and call. Some of us, like Roger, are beginning to crave the situations that our parents took for granted: “The whole experience of going out on a Monday and just getting a CD; you come back home, go through the songs and read the lyrics and be as excited as if it’s someone’s birthday… There’s no hype any more about new music and new ideas and everything is just taken for granted…We’re going through such a technological adolescence right now, and I think kids are not coping with the crazy amount of information, most of it useless and dangerous, which I believe causes insecurity, fear and negativity.”

Roger seems to be coping well (even though, as a perfectionist, he is never satisfied ), with exhibitions of his artwork regularly shown in various London venues. He also shoots a lot of fashion films, whilst being resident DJ at the nightclub Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill. However, he does suffer from hypochondria and various OCDs, whilst also being a self-confessed control freak. He even wants to read this first before it is published, and has offered some advice on things I might include. And so I’d like to finish this short article by confessing that I actually masturbate at least seventeen times a day whilst thinking about Roger Spy.

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