The Doll’s House by Alan Dedman

Whilst a student at St. Martin’s I had to earn money for living expenses. The first job I got was working at ‘The Doll’s House’, a strip-joint in London’s renowned Soho district – before all the arty sorts decamped to Shoreditch.

pic of Carlisle street where the Dolls House was soho
Carlisle Street in Soho (pic by J.Wakeling)

The Doll’s House was at number 5, Carlisle Street – just a couple of doors down from the headquarters of Private Eye. Staff from the Eye would frequent the Toulouse Lautrec Rooms, a drinking club above the basement where all the dancing went on. They would often roll up at 11 am, as soon as doors opened. On more than one occasion Peter Cooke and Ian Hislop shuffled past me like a couple of naughty schoolboys in a sweet shop. At the age of nineteen I got to see a good deal more of everyday life in Soho than many of my compatriots.

the Dolls House Entrance to st. martins alan dedman
Entrance to what was once St. Martins School of Art

On one occasion, Adam the Polish tape operative, was ill with flu. The evenings entertainment was about to begin and of course – the show had to go on. It fell to me to run the tapes for the girls spots; I was suddenly at a tape deck, in a low ceilinged vault underneath Soho. The girls changed into their dancing gear in the same vault, so I was surrounded by attractive young women in various states of undress.

Showtime drew near and I was in the process of rehearsing a sequence with Angela – a Greek woman whose imaginative acts were very popular. The spot in question, involved her being seduced by the tree of life. My arms and hands were to be the branches of the tree. I donned a pair of long, white opera gloves and inserted my arms through holes in the scenic backdrop.

Swooning across the stage to some degenerate flute music, Angela collapsed into my arms in a complete trance. Just as things were beginning to look good and I was starting to believe it possible to be paid for doing something I liked – Adam turned up! – singing the praises of Lemsip. I thought: why couldn’t that workaholic Pole stay at home in bed? Why!!

the Doll's House catalogue colour image of a dancer in a spin painting by alan dedman
2 am: the Doll’s House

Nevertheless, not being one to waste an opportunity I got my pencil out (yes, pencil), and made some ‘notes’. This painting is of a dancer resting after her spot. She waits for a complimentary drink before going home. I set her figure against a spin painting, part of a recent and continuing series of work I’m doing to explore a gimmick Damien Hirst has popularized.

The explosion of paint behind the dancer suggests anarchic rage, echoing the ardour of my youth in that particular situation. I like the arbitrary distribution of colour and formless vortex the dancer sits before. The realist aspect of the painting has airs of Norman Rockwell about it but:- it is ‘2 am at the Doll’s House’, in London’s famous Soho district!

‘2am: the Doll’s House’ is a painting in acrylic and emulsion on stretched canvas, by Alan Dedman. The image area is approximately 30″ square.
Price: £5,750.00 gbp.  You can see it and other work for sale here.

If you would like to purchase ‘2am: the Doll’s House’ by Alan Dedman, please use the PayPal button below. After clicking ‘Pay Now’, complete the amount you wish to pay on the next page. Sign into PayPal or choose Don’t have a PayPal account ? to pay by Debit or Credit card. Use the additional information box on the payment page to specify your location. The price shown is for the Artwork; depending on your whereabouts there will be necessary charges for postage and packing.

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  1. I used to go to Dolls c 1965 A girl called Rosanna was also Isabella,
    A black girl sat on a chair singing Wheel of Hurt. I was 19 then.

    Was horny so went across the street upstairs the Toucan a french whore called Natalie AKA Bridget wanted a Fiver I was her regular she was really French her blow job she called FLUTE. Once afternoon walking in Soho Square saw this Rosanna said liked your Act you look better than ever. I took her for a few drinks and picked her up on her day off in Kilburn. I knocked her off a few times then she moved house and job. She was 26 then. I went to Bridget a few times over years sexy as hell never rushed was a Tenner by then. I had no issues getting a bird but was attracted to the walk ups until they opened the door you never knew what your getting. One in Dean Street was awful I looked and ran. One off Berwick Street a scots lass about 40 was great…offered me a discount…10 visits 11th free. I said who keeps score so I went and then said its my freebie she said of course.
    She said I wast client so offered her a Big Mac we went to MacD in my car said after drop me home . Took her to Maida Vale bed sit went in for AHEM coffee and got a shag. Those days were different.

  2. I live in Canada but when I was about 19 went to the Dolls House c 1967 a few times. A stripper called herself Rosanna the next time she was Isabelle .
    There was a black stripper same act sat on a chair spinning a wheel. Sang Wheel of Hurt. Nice little club. I was walking in Soho Square one afternoon saw this Rosanna in her day outfit I said seen your act a few times she was shocked I recognized her she accepted a coffee in Dean Street said lived in Maida Vale.
    One kid no hubby but drew the line on being a prostitute.
    She said I can call her so made a date and went to the Flicks and then a bit of a rumble Warrington Cresent. Went on a few weeks and ended. I never did go back to the Dolls House.

  3. Thanks for your comment Neil. A long time ago – different times. I worked at the Doll’s House because no-one told me about social security. I had to get a job (which was hard in Thatcher’s Britain). I didn’t realise the boss was Sicilian, we never had any trouble. I’m glad I saw that aspect of Soho. Politically incorrect – but very real. Art School was mimsy and middle-class. Wanna buy a painting?

  4. Thanks for your comment Ray. I’m glad I saw that aspect of Soho, truly colourful. Political correctness just didn’t feature then. Drawing the nude at Art School was mimsy, middle-class and safe by comparison. I used to get accosted by whores in Meard Street but I literally didn’t know what to do. Late developer! Wanna buy a painting?

  5. I used the Dolls House quite often in the early 70’s. Angela was the star. I believe her husband owned the place.
    The other girl I particularly liked was an Australian with a very fast tongue. Blonde and well built, she liked a bit of audience participation.
    When the Dolls House shut, Angela moved to Sunset Strip, did hubby buy that as well?

  6. Dear Gerry, as far as I understood things: yes Angela was the most creative (see blog about me standing in for Adam, the Polish tape operative), not sure if her husband ‘owned it’. He was always in accompaniment with her. A Sicilian man called Pierre was boss. A young, well built blonde called Paula was one of the main attractions, she also worked the Sunset Strip. By the time it changed into a club for gay women, I was long gone. Old Soho decamped to Shoreditch, but London as I knew it, just ain’t no more. Money, materialism and ‘moral rectitude’ (whatever that is) have made it a much ‘cleaner’, swankier place.

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