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‘A Dinner Date With Kid Creole’ and other great interviews by Fiona Russell Powell

Journalist and author Fiona Russell Powell has uploaded a treasure trove of interviews, which she conducted during the 80s, to her website, and they make for some fascinating reading.

Featuring a host of musicians, writers and actors, many of these interviews were originally published in the British style bible The Face, which ceased publication in 2004. Among them are Andy Warhol, Irvine Welsh, Simon Le Bon, Marc Almond, Martin Amis, Oliver Reed, Mick Jagger and many more. While they’re all people who have made an impact on pop culture in one form or another, they’re also people who are interesting for more than just their fame.

This is my favourite so far, an interview with August Darnell, aka Kid Creole, with a preface that states:

The night Fiona Russell Powell joined August Darnell for a late late dinner date ran into the morning of the Kid’s 32nd birthday and the day the Kensington Hilton caught fire.

Here’s a (relatively) brief taster:

At 9.30 sharp, as a hot August evening begins to cool down, enter the heroine in a Monroe dress. Temperatures rise, voices subside, the ravishing reporter wiggles her way across the not-so-plush lobby of the Kensington Hilton Hotel, a structure unaccountably situated in Shepherd’s Bush and presents herself to the discreetly non-camp manager filing his nails behind the reception desk. The rendezvous, a dinner date for two, has been arranged with our hero Kid Creole, the pseudonymous alter ego of the 32 year old Bronx(ian) showman August Darnell.

Room 5068. Fiona knocks and waits. No response. She can hear a telephone ringing unanswered inside. The Kid is not at home. Ill-tempered, she returns to the foyer downstairs. The Kid is paged but fails to show. Fiona waits, and waits some more, deciding not to hang around this joint any longer when, out of the corner of a Fabulash-ed eye she sees Taryn, of the Coconuts or more specifically The Babes, cruise across the parquet in full war paint.

Before long our reporter is in the Hilton’s mock baroque dining room, in the company of a small, curl-haired Negro-esque gentleman in turquoise trousers and chinoise t-shirt who is introduced as Greg Ward, tour manager, aide de camp and personal bodyguard to The Kid.

” Hey babe, sorry we’re so en retarde.’ says this former captain in American Intelligence. “The Kid’s just got back from a photo session that took us all goddam day and he’s upstairs changing his suit. How about a drink in my room while we’re waiting?”


[Eventually she does meet the Kid, and the interview proper begins]


What was your reaction to the Falklands War?

The Falklands War is a fairy tale actually. The most unfortunate thing about it is that people had to die. If you can forget for a moment that people died. I think it was the most ludicrous thing that I have witnessed in the last 20 years. I think it was an event which should have been prevented. As for my opinion on what side was right—I will restrain from voicing any opinion until I’ve seen the video tape of the war.

On your travels so far, which country have you enjoyed visiting most to date?

It has to be Switzerland because it’s the antithesis of America. It’s everything that America isn’t. I really like England, it’s great every time I come here I always have a good time. If New York were to blow up tomorrow and I had to move, it would be to London for sure. The worst place that I’ve been to, or rather the place where I had the worst experience was in Copenhagen because some asshole broke into my hotel room and tried to molest my wife. This was during the last tour.

You can read the rest of the interview here. To read more of these, visit Fiona Russell Powell’s interviews archive on her website.

Thanks to Simone Hutchinson.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
A decade before ‘60 Minutes’, ‘The Mike Wallace Interview’ defined intelligent TV

“My role is that of a reporter.” – Mike Wallace on the debut of The Mike Wallace Interview
With the death yesterday of TV journalist Mike Wallace at age 93, we’ve already seen many remembrances of him as the man who—along with producer Don Hewett—created the American institution we know as 60 Minutes in the tumultuous American year of 1968. It’s impossible to short-change Wallace’s 38-year legacy as both gate-keeper of that show and pioneer of the “gotchya question” interview technique that defines much of our current news media landscape.

But it behooves us to also have a good look at the man’s stint as the host of The Mike Wallace Interview, the spartan and penetrating late-night program that broadcast nationally from 1957 through 1960. Wallace was 18 years into a broadcast career (mostly as a radio announcer and game show host) as he launched the show based on Night Beat, a similar and more groovily-named program he’d hosted locally in New York a couple of years earlier. During the show’s tenure, he brought a fascinating array of folks to the American public eye, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Pearl Buck, Eric Fromm, Lily St. Cyr, Aldous Huxley and many others.

Besides its solid bookings and now-surreal-seeming live-ads for its benevolent sponsor Philip Morris, TMWI distinguishes itself with a bare-bones visual setting to focus viewer attention on the substance of the personalities interviewed. Dare I say the only two journalists I can think of who’ve truly adapted the show’s black-background format with similar grace and talent are Charlie Rose and Dangerous Minds’ own Richard Metzger.

Do yourself a favor and check out the digitized collection of interviews from the first two years of the show that Wallace donated to the Ransom Center at the University of Texas. Meanwhile, here’s Wallace throwing down with a 54-year-old Sal Dali on death, religion, politics and the fact that “Dali is contradictory and paradoxical in any sense.”

After the jump: more Wallace vs. Dali…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
More late 80s Sonic Youth interviews
01:46 pm


Sonic Youth

Here’s some great footage of Sonic Youth being interviewed in the late 80’s - before grunge, before Nirvana, just on the cusp of signing with Geffen and the release of the Goo and Dirty albums. My God, how different things were then. The MTV interview piece makes this abundantly clear, with its declaration of Sonic Youth being “the biggest underground band in the whole country”. This was in 1989, and oh how different things would be just two years later.

Thanks to my older brother having purchased a copy of Goo on cassette when it was released, I was exposed to Sonic Youth at a young age, and before Nirvana became the de facto coolest band in the universe. I also had the utterly mind blowing “Teenage Riot” taped onto the end of one side of a C90 (remember them?) by one of the cool older kids at school.Thanks Simon Doyle!
Although Daydream Nation is generally regarded as their opus (and it is fantastic), Goo has really stood the test of time. Despite the band coming in for a lot of flack for signing to a major and for daring to write *gasp* songs. The sleeve is now one of the most popular t-shirt designs on the planet, even appearing as a tattoo on the arm of an America’s Next Top Model contestant. “Kool Thing”, with its famous Kim Gordon and Chuck D monologue, has become one of the band’s best known singles.

Of course, the musical landscape has changed massively since these clips were filmed, but time captured here was one of massive change itself. The underground punk and hardcore ethics of the 80’s were mutating into something much more corporate and accessible to the mainstream. Punk rock was losing it’s sheen as the coolest, edgiest music with the growing popularity of hip-hop and the advent of acid house. For a while it seemed like Sonic Youth might be left behind by these changes. But the truth is that, despite their bevy of famous friends, tourmates and collaborators, Sonic Youth are a scene all unto themselves. They may not have become the biggest underground band in the world, but they didn’t need to. Their legacy is assured.

Here’s that MTV clip:

More Sonic Youth interviews after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment