One of Soho's most famous nightspots is no more. After a serious incident outside Madame Jojo's involving baseball bats hidden in bin liners and glass bottles being thrown, Westminster Council shut the place down subject to appeal. Last week, the appeal failed and one of London's few remaining burlesque joints is now history. Venue owners Soho Estates plans to redevelop the entire block into offices and shops.
The cabaret community still hope that all is not lost. They have organised an online petition (currently standing at over 7,000 signatures) and yesterday held a protest march. There were about a 100 faces in the parade. Pallbearers carried a coffin along the route and other people carried wreaths. All it needed was a brass band and it could have been a New Orleans funeral.
Jugglers and burlesquers walked alongside singers and acrobats. Producers, promoters and industry press were there, too, to show support. The procession began in Soho Square and stopped off at the Greek Street offices of Soho Estates to show disapproval for its intended plans. One of the protestors defaced the company's plaque with a marker pen before the march continued onto Brewer Street and the site of the now defunct Madame Jojo's. Wreaths were laid, pictures were taken and many then shuffled off to a local pub for some liquid consolation.
There was no sign of the original Madame Jojo's, a transvestite who was friendly with "King Of Soho" Paul Raymond. Raymond's son Howard, though, put in an appearance. When his father died, Howard was passed over in the will — instead, his nieces Fawn and India James inherited the £650m estate which covers over 60 acres across Soho.
Quite what this all means for Soho and the cabaret community in the long term is unknown but this much is sure: neither will ever be the same again.