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Improvised queer punk drama series Wonky will be performing at creative club night Duckie, Eagle London, on the 27th of January at 9 pm. The musical performance will be joined by Minty’s (Leigh Boweryavant-garde producer Richard Torry.

The brainchild of Ryan Clifford, Wonky’s message is of “liberation to inspire working-class talent”, as the cast of six Margate locals play characters “on the rampage and on universal credit”.

Once the beau of pop star Marilyn, Ryan found himself skint and living in Margate after the two finally separated – he moved to Margate because it was cheap! To date there are seven YouTube shows in the can.

Ryan writes about his journey to Margate, the impact of gentrification on the working class community there – a community he is part of – and how Wonky was born. 

Ryan Clifford Talks Wonky

Down to Margate. Lured by the smell of the sea salt and affordability. London’s final curtain had fallen hard on me. Authenticity from artists in the metropolis had died long ago. So out of the drag rat race I found myself in pirate land that is having itself scrubbed up for the rich who now work exclusively dandy digital.  

The establishment art world has set up shop on Margate’s filtered sandy shores. Tourism is on the up again. The well heeled survey the town with puffed up chests thinking about all they could buy. The galleries here buzz me like annoying bluebottles. They are exclusive and not for the working class. Their objects of prestige raise house prices more than emotions. Where’s the transcendence? How can new ideas be developed when they have to appeal to corporate interests? There is little risk from today’s serious youth. 
 
 
 

A movement obsessed with trending on social media, enacting their virtual protest whilst posing. So what’s really happening here? 

Constant renovation projects are in full swing and it’s Airbnb galore. A graffiti cutesy Crowley cat is sprayed on every pillar and post with slogans like ‘far out’. Even Banksy would cringe. Sanctioned vandalism; I smirk in despair. 
 
The ramshackle refugee dwelling is now exchanged for wooden shutter blinds and shiny golden knobs. Vintage nostalgia. The hundred-year-old rollercoaster is back at Dreamland. Pop stars of times gone by scream out their chart-toppers over the brick chimneys for a few grand. Hollywood is down on a visit scouting for movie locations. Celebrities, hipsters and investors are all sniffing around for that pound note before the hype or cash disappears. Be warned – they are a fickle mob and will move on soon enough.
 
Wonky is at Duckie at London´s Eagle gay bar.
Wonky (image supplied)
The virtue of this seaside town in flux is its working-class spirit. A friendliness, raw street banter and let’s-have-a-good time attitude even if the ship is sinking. Shirts off, bikinis on the high street, bag of chips and neon amusements. Margs is dizzy, dangerous, common and very sexy. So I’m here to help the locals in art class war before it’s all too late. 
 
So a new chapter of my life started. I have an affinity with the locals in their survival struggle and search of adventure. Being on the dole, I couldn’t sit around in cafés drinking expensive coffees that had been sourced by Abyssinian nuns and listening to the clientele moan on with their executive problems. I walked the streets penniless in hope of a miracle. 
 

Dream a different reality. The universe did provide. A vision. A leggy beauty with no teeth in skimpy fetish wear that transcended gender and labels was getting the local branch of Nationwide bank dancing to house music blaring from her boombox. Lighting struck. We became muckers. He introduced me to the local homeless, drunks and crackheads born and bred in postcode CT9. Cosmic discourse and ideas of agitation fell out of the dazzling Turner sky.

Stage one: I recorded a tune titled Bored at a local ska studio with a mum of two from the council estate. Then the cast climbed out of the woodwork. The broken who had put their dreams long behind them. In my eyes, the beautiful people of this world, with their flaws, rich life stories, vulnerabilities and hearts on their worn sleeves. 
 
I trained as an actor at 19 in the Method at Drama Centre London on a scholarship from Anthony Hopkins. Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, Joan Littlewood and all that realist jazz. But times have changed, and today thespians want to be brand ambassadors, which says it all. Mike Leigh style, I spent months running a weekly class improvising and creating characters for each of my coastal crew. I filmed the whole process whilst goading these street stars along.
 
Wonky (image supplied)
Over the summer months, with a documentary photographer friend I set up situations and stunts all over Margate and filmed the show. Wonky the punk pilot was born. It was an easy labour because we did it for fun, not money. Everyone had full creative rein. Authentic creative chaos. No script ever. No interference. We kept it moving, fresh, without any thought of a career. 
 
I got seven episodes in the can. Me and avant-garde wizard Richard Torry are on the edit of Wonky as I write this in his Soho flat. A large photograph of Leigh Bowery looms over us from their days together in the band Minty. I’m in the right hands. Whilst he rolls a fag on a break we laugh at clips from early John Waters movies, giggling at The Dashers, getting punk inspiration. 
 
Wonky is a story that’s not been told. Meet the characters: on the rampage and on universal credit. Unfashionably sleazy and forever trying to nick a few quid, no morals are required of the characters. They saunter carefree in crime, winding up a medicated cop called Minty who goes about armed with vegetable truncheon. Her illegitimate son Leo is forever chasing his tail, a builder, hustler, a geezer who turns on the charm and loves mum’s bread pudding. Candy, his childhood friend with benefits, has nine kids with different dads; she gets by thanks to exotic cam shows and shoplifting. Her sidekick is the leggy Chantelle, who once lived in the forest. Bending gender, she only does a label for a massage punter; he sells a bit of hash by day and talks to aliens at night. The town’s gob is Gloria, a mouthy landlady from up north who leaves her fat husband Barry for a lesbian on meetaminge.com. Lilly, her East End confidante, sings pubs songs and strangles a reporter because of his condescending attitude. The glamorous Isobel is French, mysterious, romantic and passionate. Does she practice witchcraft? Is she a double agent who’s gonna grass them up? They are all truly off-key, unhinged, WONKY.

Tickets to see Wonky at Duckie https://duckie.co.uk/saturdays/saturday-27-january-2024

Wonky is at Duckie, Eagle London, on 27th January at 9 pm. 349 Kennington Lane, London SE11 5QY, United Kingdom. 
 
 
 
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