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Hey guys, don’t ya just hate retrospective morality, the f*ckwit grafting of current, PC values to the past?

Holy murdered mothers on a cross, I know I do! Hell, who wants pouting, St.Trinian’s sluts stripped of sheer stockings and smokes? Not me, buddies; I lived through times no-one cared less about passive smoking, let alone pure, NHS smack prescribed to junkies!
So what joy to read this memoir of an almost totally dead Soho, the squalid, bohemian paradise still stubbornly clinging to life with syphilitic genitalia! Whereabouts? Oh, in three or four rancid spots I’m certainly not disclosing, but surprise, surprise, none of them are gay joints!

Which brings us nicely to West End Girls, a no-holds-barred expose of post-war prozzies and their maids. It’s a carefree world teeming with conveyor-belt cunts and bareback butts, as, contrary to the title, many ‘working girls’ were guys, either in semi-drag or blatant, Quentin Crisp mode.

Picture the scene; a maze-like warren of semi-derelict slums, each nesting a prozzie and her ‘maid’, who’d take and safeguard the punter’s fee and fetch essential toiletries like perfume and condoms.

Author Barbara Tate – later gaining fame as a painter after leaving the maid scene-brings a bewitching narrative of tarts, ponces and johns to almost stench-ridden life. Then as now, tarts of many sexes catered for the closeted trannies, submissives, voyeurs and simple rocks-off johnnies that are every prozzie’s bread and butter.

Ok, sure, the subject’s as unremarkable and banal as breakfast cocaine, but what’s riveting is the fabulous sense of innocence drowning the prose.

Screw jaded, bitter Marc Amond-style bile as immortalised in that singer’s ‘Catch A Falling Star’; this breezy take on trade reads as cosily as a buttered crumpet up the snatch.

Pre-cell phone, girls like Fae, Barbara’s mistress, minced to the street and simply lured punters by the dozens, sometimes forty a night! No wonder the scumbag hiding under Fay’s bed –who ate every used condom she’d slyly drop in his mouth – lived in pervert paradise!
There’s also a lovely camaraderie, now vanished between rival escorts today, the only downside being Fae’s eventual, tragic and suspicious death by fire in Rupert Street 1977, but still working and in possession of a fabulous figure in her late fifties! Oh, how many tarts can boast that? Read this book and dream, girls!

 

• Barbara Tate (Orion Books, £16.99)

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