“I’d never seen or heard of a kinky casino before!”
– James Bollinger

That sounds fun, doesn’t it? A kinky casino. It conjures up all manner of naughty mental mayhem. Ahem. Anyway. Outside of the performers turned promoters we’ve encountered, we’re actually yet to speak to someone who has actually started their own new event from scratch. By this we mean someone who hasn’t put on tassels and bounced the bump n grind. Someone who’d been to an event (or more) but hadn’t been involved in promoting one at any level.

With burlesque, cabaret, drag and fetish all gaining in popularity, we wondered what sort of people go about creating their own events and what challenges they have dealt with along the way. Have people been keen? Have they been dismissive? Has it been easy or has it been hard?

And what exactly can they bring that hasn’t been brought before?

So we thought we’d speak to James Bollinger – promoter of The Bollinger Club, Brighton’s newest burlesque and kink club, about his experiences in setting up a series of new events, and above all else, what people can expect to see and experience at the club this coming winter.

By the sounds of it, it’s going to be a cheeky old time on the south coast…

We’ll let James tell you a little bit more…

So James, what is the story behind The Bollinger Club? Where did it come from?

Myself and my partner in the Bollinger Club are both kinksters, and we were on the beach last year and she said she wanted to have a party. Of course we can’t fit everyone into my flat, so we thought we’d put on our own event!

We went to some shows to see what was going on in Portsmouth, Brighton, places nearby. You’d think Brighton would be packed out with events but it’s not.

We went to an event at the Rialto Theatre from another promoter and thought we could do this too, so we pursued the venue. It’s a beautiful gothic Victorian building built by a philanthropist, so it’s got a wonderful history. We’re fairly well travelled people, so we thought we’d bring some flavours from our travels. I think we can bring in something different.

So the next thing we said was, ‘what do we want to call it’? Initially I thought about ‘The Martini Club’, but then I relented and thought ‘what about The Bollinger Club!’

What can people expect to see at the show? 

The idea is the club will run once a month during the winter in order to ‘brighten your winter up’. And we thought we’d get some local acts and give them a break. We’ve been inundated with people who go to burlesque events and they said they’d do it for free, but we didn’t want people to perform for free.

We’d love to give some new acts a break. It’s about that lucky break, isn’t it. So we’ve got Lady Cheek and Lady May Den-Voyage to headline, and then we’ve chosen to give a local girl – Dolly Venom – the chance to perform as well. She seems to be going down a storm on our social media! We’ve also got some local DJs to perform as well.

Our first event is called ‘The Bollinger Club’, and another one is called the Las Vegas Kinky Casino. As you can see, we’re trying to bring something new!

In December we’ve got a cosplay event between the eves – between Christmas and New Year – we’re going to call it The Old New Year Party. And then we’re back in late January with the Speakeasy, based on the Bugsy Malone theme of the Speakeasy. We’ve got some acts coming along who can do the Charleston – I’ve been practising myself! And then into 2017 we’ve got some events that we haven’t announced yet.

And then the Rialto came to us and asked us to come up with an event for Brighton Pride. I scratched my head and thought – we’ve only got 12 weeks! But we’ve got an event planned for that and everyone’s welcome!

How much of a challenge has it been?

It’s been very challenging, doors remaining shut etcetera, and stressful at times, but equally doors have been flung wide open for us so all in all it’s been good. I think we’ve had some influence on how the industry here thinks – I think it’s been a shot in the arm. I’ve got acts coming out of my ears, but we’ve enjoyed it.

I’d never heard of a kinky casino before! I think we’re seeing a change in the industry in how promoters go about events. We’re challenging old boundaries.

We’re trying to blend kink and burlesque/cabaret together. We went to see Joe Black’s House of Burlesque. We got there dressed in jacket and jeans and everyone is dressed in kinky attire! The show was cracking and a good inspiration. So we thought ‘imagine this with the play equipment!’ The advantage we have is that we’re kinksters ourselves – it’s by kinksters for kinksters. And we think we can offer quality at a decent price.

What kind of toys and equipment will you have?

Oh, we’ve got a hangman’s post instead of a St Andrew’s cross, and we’ve got a cage/spanking bench. We’re working on a dining chair and seeing what kinky things we can do with that. We’ve done everything up and gold badged it all with the club’s logo. My job is to run around managing it all! People are of course encouraged to bring their own toys and to improvise. We’ve got an open mind on these things!

What kind of things are you hoping to see people dress up in?

Blimey, we’d love to see latex, corsets, military, or even a decent dinner jacket! For the cosplay event, I’d love to see Superman and some of the superheroines. Anything that you wouldn’t wear on the bus in the morning – that’s what I’d wear!

You could have Superman being whipped by Catwoman!

Well wouldn’t that be great! Or Wonder Woman. That’s cool with us! I’m confident that all of us are going to have a good time.

Finally, what would you say to someone who is thinking about coming along to the event? 

The biggest thing I can say is, if you travel to London every day in a grey suit and you think ‘oh hell it’s six o’clock in the morning…I’d love to be in my latex or stretched out having my back whipped’ then this is your opportunity! Come to the Bollinger Club!

Enjoy your fantasy! Indulge!

Coming soon to The Bollinger Club:

6th August: PRIDE – Dave The Bear, Roasie Glow, Lydia L’Scabies, Kinky Sax Dez (in the bar), Smashlyn Monroe

October 21st: ‘The Bollinger Club’ – Lady Cheek, Lady May Den Voyage & introducing Dolly Venom

November 19th: Las Vegas Kinky Casino – Cherry Shakewell, Madeleine Soleil

December 30th: Cosplay ball (Old Year Eve Party) – Miss Betty Boneapart

January 28th: Speakeasy – Miss Boneapart & Lulu Vesper

More shows & acts to be confirmed.

For further information, please run along to the The Bollinger Club.

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