Saturday, 19 July 2008

1994 May - Mr Pussy's, Bingo and Bono

Jane, Dianne and I went to Dublin for a week in May. One of the visits we made was to the new place in town that we heard just had to be seen, Mr Pussy's Cafe Deluxe. It was a cabaret cafe in which Bono and his brother Norman a stake amongst others. It was situated in Suffolk Street on the site where Norman's restaurant Nude is now. It was only open for a relatively short time, there was a lot of opposition to it and eventually it was forced to close.

So, one evening we went along to Mr Pussy's. It was a long narrow building with a small balcony at the far end. It is almost impossible to describe the place on paper, but I'll try my best! First of all, think of kitsch, ultra kitsch, pink, lots of willies, garish colours, feathers, numerous cat statues, there was a neon MacPhisto sign, and the Mario Lanza picture from MacPhisto's dressing room was behind the till. It was surreal, I'd never seen anything like it before and never have since!

While we were there Mr Pussy (aka Alan Amsby) opened a cabinet on the wall close to where we were sitting - which already contained Naomi Campbell's signed satin knickers - and put MacPhisto's gold boots into it. Jane asked, "Did Bono drop those off himself?"

To which Mr Pussy replied, "Yes, he's in the back peeling the potatoes for the chips."

We had some of those chips and they were definitely homemade and delicious. The menu was unusual too, you could have a "pint of pussy" which was a pint milk served in its bottle with a straw. If finances were tight you could have a plate of broken biscuits for 50p, wine was served from a teapot into a cup. Nothing was very expensive so you could have a cheap night out there.

I went to the toilet downstairs and again my senses were assaulted by major weirdness. Pink and gold, kitsch statues, rosary beads on top of the hand drier, a pair of gold stiletto shoes nailed to the floor underneath the sink. The photo here of me in there give you an idea of what it was like. It's the first and only time I've had my photo taken in a toilet but I just had to have a memento of it!

Not long after we had arrived we heard a waitress tell some American lads on the table next to us that "One of U2" was coming to the cafe after 1am. We took that "one of U2" to be Bono because we could just imagine him loving such a surreal place! What good timing on our part too.

We got quite excited and looked at our watches, it was only 9pm! We ate and drank, drank and ate as we had to buy to stay! Good job the place was cheap. We noticed Norman (on crutches from a recent hip replacement operation) popping in and out regularly.

By 1am we were very full and we watched every person that came into the cafe. 1.30, 2, 2.30 passed by. Then Simon Carmody a good friend of Bono's came in, followed by the man himself. He walked quickly, not making eye contact with anyone on the way, trying to avoid being stopped by anyone. As he passed us one of the American guys next to us jumped up and was in front of Bono like a flash. Bono stopped shocked for a second, then his expression changed to surprise as the young man held out his hand and said, "I'd like to shake your hand Mr Hewson." Rather an odd thing to do! Bono shook his hand and said, "Hi." He then walked on and up the steps to the balcony.

Bono looked well and wore a black suit with a fine pinstripe, the sleeves were turned up and the trousers bunched up around his ankles. He had on a scarlet red shirt with ruffles down the chest and at the wrists, the shirt tail was hanging out, typical Bono!

Behind Bono was his beautiful wife Ali, and behind her trailed Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington. They looked like giants as they wore extremely high heels which added to their already well above average height, Ali looked tiny compared to them. The men in the place couldn't stop themselves from gawking at them! Another person I recognised in the following entourage was Jim Sheridan. All these people and others with them went up to the balcony area. Naomi and Christy sat at the front of the balcony and seemed to be enjoying the attention they drew. Bono and Ali sat further back and were not in the slightest attention seeking.

At 3am the cabaret started. Mr Pussy (who is a drag artist) came on dressed in a black sequinned dress and huge blond bouffant wig to introduce Chutney Heuston, another drag performer who covered Whitney Houston songs. Chutney had on a black lycra dress (that he had a lot of trouble with!) and thigh length black patent leather boots. He was a good laugh but not a good singer.

Naomi leaned over the balcony watching with not the hint of a smile on her face, Christy completely ignored what was happening on the stage. Bono stood further back grinning and clapping along enthusiastically, really getting into the spirit of the fun night. It was really nice just seeing him enjoy himself like that.

Next Mr Pussy himself did a song, then we played Bingo with him calling the numbers, the prizes being jellybeans! We had a good laugh, I noticed that Bono was often looking down from the balcony at the "ordinary" people in the cafe, I wondered what he was thinking, maybe he would have liked to have been down there, anonymous, having a laugh playing Bingo.

Mr Pussy finished off with another ditty called, I'll Sing A Song That Gets On Your Nerves, over and over, and it was irritating, but also very funny and everyone sang along. Once more Bono stood watching, smiling and clapping getting into the spirit of the night.

Shortly afterwards Bono went to the toilet and two of the American guys followed him! Poor Bono, he wasn't down there very long! No one else took any notice of him. Shortly afterwards Bono's party left. As Naomi strutted past us I heard Mr Pussy say to her, "Thanks for the knickers." Classic!

Bono and Ali stood talking to Jim Sheridan near us as they waited for the rest of their party. They had their arms round each other and she was gently rubbing his back (he had been having back problems recently). Jim left and Bono and Ali talked as they waited, you could see and feel the love between them, it was lovely to see, they are the perfect couple. They were soon joined by the rest of their party and left.

We paid our bill - the till receipt was about a foot long! - and left minutes later. We blinked in the cool, early morning light of the real world. I felt like I'd been in a bizarre alternate universe and now had stepped back into reality. Kitsch, drag acts, supermodels, Bingo and Bono at 4am ..... did all that really happen?

3 comments:

neil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
neil said...

Ahh, Brings back great memories... I worked there as a commi chef and in Dillons before that , What a cool place to have on your cv!, Thanks for writing the blog and refreshing my memories ... The only thing wrong with Mr.Pussys was that it was ahead of its time by about 8 years.I seen bono there a few times when I worked late into the night but being 16 years old I did not appreciate him as much as I do now.
Its a pity people were not allowed to take pics in the resturant- the one you took in the toilet is like looking at de ja vu- Some how bringing back glimpses of the weird and wonderfull place, Slan leat,

Northern Star said...

Thanks for your comments Neil, Mr Pussy's was certainly one of a kind! I used to go to Dillons too, really liked it. I think Dublin has some great restaurants, are you still a chef?