Update: 25th July 2010 – Allister sadly died yesterday, he will be missed by everyone who knew him.
This the blog post we did last year:
It’s a hot afternoon and friend Tony Pike has thrown open a private terrace for us to go and film an indepth interview with Allister Logue. Seen in various TV shows representing moments of hedonism in clubland, it occurred to us that as ever the media was missing a trick, and that it was time we sat Allister down and got the rounder picture of what he’s really about. And why he’s so much a part of the island’s rich tapestry.
I was born in Belfast in 1954 and I lived there until I was 15 but my sister Daphne, who I was very close to, lived in England. And from the age of nine I started going over every holiday time, summers and winters. She had an infamous place in Hampstead called The Witches Cauldron and I lived above it (Sister Daphne’s The Witches Cauldron was a folk and blues restaurant venue opposite the Belsize Tavern.)
So I caught the sixties through the eyes of my sister . It looked amazing! I was living in a warzone in Belfast and seeing free love in London. From one extreme to the other. I loved living in Belfast and I love the Irish anyway but all of a sudden to be dumped in the sixties in the middle of all these people and colours and music in London as a child was like watching a film. I caught all of that. I was at the Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park etc, so consequently going back to school in Belfast was very, very strange! So I kind of grew up very quickly, being between these two lives.
I often wonder what I’d have done if I’d have stayed in Belfast. I was always quite creative and I just wanted to be older so I could be part of the happening scene. I just knew I wanted to be near my sister and be in London. I started hairdressing and when I was 17 started hitting the club scene, and a friend of mine at the time who I worked with was friends with David Bowie and took me to my first big events in London and that’s when it all started to happen. I met all the colourful people crowd and started to live a life of my own as opposed to living through my sister.
When I was 21/22 I started working with photographers and one of the first I worked with was David Bailey. One of the first things we did together was a cover of Ritz Magazine with Marisa Berensen. Bailey took a shine to me and the rest, as they say, is history. So I became based in London, doing hair and make-up. I was the first hairdresser to be doing both hair and make-up! When I was doing hair on shoots, I worked with people like Barbara Daly (who did the make-up for Clockwork Orange, and later for Princess Diana on her wedding day) and the other top make-up artists, and watched how these people did make-up. So I got on a plane, went to Milan (it was collection time) and did the make-up and came back and had a book full of make up, and that’s how it started with hair and make-up together. I did a lot of trips in those days. It’s easier for people to have one person doing both. They’re paying one flight, one room, and sometimes you can get a hairdresser trying to upstage the make up design or vice versa, so it works to have just one person doing both. I did that for many years.
During this 1970s period British glossy magazines hit a glamour peak, with homegrown photographers like Snowdon, Bailey and Terence Donovan becoming household names; and New York, Milan, Paris and London swiftly becoming interchangeable hangouts for the fashion world scenesters and models. The jetset life was becoming almost mainstream for the first time ever.
Yes, and it was always quite strange for me because at the end of the day I was a simple boy from Belfast with a lot of talent who just worked very quickly. So that appealed to photographers. I’d do the fashion shows, get all the hair done and get on with all the models. But I was quite shy in those days, although that changed! I was thrown into this whirlwind of famous models, photographers and jumping on planes to do photoshoots and I really enjoyed it, I loved it in fact.
The first time I went to NY what inspired me was Studio 54. I was a stylist by that time. I was earning a pittance and Freddie Laker had just started his 50 pounds to NY flights so my best mate and I rolled all our clothes together, jumped on a plane and went to Manhattan for Studio 54. I spent two weeks going there every night. And money wise it was either no Studio 54 and a hotel or Studio 54 and…we ended up staying at the YMCA and a close friend had an uncle who was the anchorman at NBC. He used to send a limousine to pick me up at the YMCA to drive me to Studio 54! It was so new, it was so big. The clubs in London were smaller at that time. All of a sudden you walked into this theatre where it didn’t matter how famous you were you had to look the part to get in, so when you got in it was a high in itself. The lasers would come on in a blizzard while you were dancing, all sorts of famous faces on the dancefloor and waiters in satin shorts and beautiful models… it was amazing. It’s never to be repeated again. I’ve seen the film but you can’t capture that on celluloid at all because the atmosphere was too amazing. And I went every night for two weeks. What an experience.
I woke up one day, some 20 odd years later and realised I was ready for a change. I wanted to put my toothbrush somewhere and it would be in the same glass a year later. My family lived here in Ibiza and I came over just for a few weeks to reassess the situation. My sister Daphne (whose Santa Eularia restaurant Daffers was already hugely popular within the acting and artistic community here) said what are you going to do? And I said I’ve always got hair and make up to fall back on but something will come to me… and I was approached within two weeks by Mike and Claire from Manumission and they offered me a deal there and I did some pictures for them and then started working there and it enabled me to stay on the island, to see all my family; my sister the kids, I’ve got a whole Brady bunch living in Ibiza!
I think I always knew in my heart that I would end up here, that it’s my home. When I came in the early 80s/late 70s I loved it immediately. I loved the fashion. I loved how everyone made an effort. You would sit on the beach all day thinking what the hell am I going to wear tonight that I didn’t wear last week that people would remember! It was all very fashion-oriented. Privilege which was still KU then was the closest equivalent to Studio 54 anywhere. It was renowned to be the most beautiful club in the world, but it had no roof then, so the sun would come up as you were dancing. I remember one night dancing and a hot air balloon was coming down to land in KU and the music was great – the first days of Balearic Beat which was later to become house music and it was a brand new sound with fabulous people wearing fabulous clothes and everyone up for a good time. It was total escapism.
So I did several years for Manumission. I did the hair and make-up but then I became part of the Manumission image because I’ve got a very recognisable face and I was very good friends with Mike and Claire. I used to go on the parades with them and I kind of ran the dressing room I did the hair and make-up for lots of girls. The dressing room was usually more fun than upstairs. Everyone used to pile down there and we’d just have fun…then at about 6am I’d have a shower, put my make-up away and we’d hit the Cocoloco. Little did I know that later on the Cocoloco would become mine. I used to dance in the Cocoloco when it was Ku in the early 80s and the Cocoloco is such an important part of the Ku/Privilege story, and still is.
When I worked with Manumission it was like a big family, everyone got on, one year turned into the next and I loved all of it. Then there came a point where I knew I had to move on. I had no idea what I was going to do when I left Manumission but within a week I was approached do host my own nightclub. I’d thrown parties before, which were very succesful, but I never considered myself as a club promoter. I didn’t even learn how to use a computer till 15 months ago, so I thought how can I be a club promoter and not use a computer? I used to get my 11 year old nephew to send emails that I didn’t want anyone else to see…so I started to learn it and its kind of been trial and error but in Ibiza everything is. Because I know a lot of people in Ibiza and I have a lot of support from my friends it was fall flat on your face but go for it!
I still love the nightlife but these days I’m much more laid back about it. I don’t have to be out there every night hitting the nightclubs. I like going to dinner parties more now. I grew up in the last couple of years from swinging around poles on podiums to then having to realising I’ve got my own business now so I’ve got to walk in a straight line. There’s a point I crossed between a crazed kid or whatever to being a middle aged man. There’s a very fine line there between doing it stylishly and making a fool of yourself. I decided then I’d hang up the young image and go for a slightly more controlled one. Still the same slightly eccentric Allister, but a more in control one.
Empire was invented in 2006. I was going to leave the island for the winter and a friend of mine had a nightclub and he said I should throw an event. I was a bit tired of the nightlife because I’d been doing Manumission for several years , but his place had pillars and I thought Rome…Emperor…Caligula…Me! So I went ahead, and it was a success, and on the second week I was approached by Privilege and I agreed to do the Cocoloco in 2007 and that was very succesful, and it’s gone on from there. It’s based on Imperial Rome. Caligula was the most flamboyant, decadent and clearly most insane of the Caesars. I stuck with the Imperial colours – gold and purple and I had my girls in transparent togas.
I threw myself into the Caligula thing, threw on a toga, got noticed doing it and the Empire night immediately had a following, and was succesful, and that was it! I’ve always had very very pretty girls and very good looking guys. It didn’t matter if they could dance or not. I want everyone to work with me, not for me. Everyone kind of mucks in. I like everyone to work together. I don’t like hierarchy or people pulling numbers or playing the diva. People say I’m a diva but I just have an image of something whether it be the way I do the make up or the way we should be dressed. I have a very definite idea and sometimes I pay too much attention to detail and lose sight of the big picture The good thing about Empire is I can take it in any direction whether it be the decadence of Berlin in the 30s, or Japan – any empire really. The roman theme worked and I basically didn’t have time to start changing everything since so I’ve carried on the roman thing for three years now and next year I’ll go in a different direction.
|Allister at Pikes Hotel with his dog Chupito|
I’ve kept Empire very tame I try not to bring sleaze because that’s been done, I like to keep on the borderline of suggestiveness and sensuality. You don’t have to be naked to be sensual it’s a hint of …suggestion, you know? So I like it to be quite stylish, and I could go completely the other way and just throw total debauchery into it which may come later on but I’m not going to exploit any of the girls . You can come to Empire whether you’re straight or gay, young or old. I’m throwing myself around a podium in my 50s and I’m dancing next to 18 year olds. You know the one thing about Ibiza is you can be yourself. If I lived in a city I’d be considered totally eccentric, but here I just do what I want.
Musically I want things that get the crowd going. I particularly love DJs who can work the crowd. I love getting up on a podium. I like everyone to do it naturally but it’s vital that you feel comfortable with what you do. I’ve taken my time in deciding where I’m going this year, and I’m opening in midseason because I wont do anything unless I feel totally comfortable with it. I can’t play something to the best of my ability unless I feel part of the character. That’s why I’ve waited for the right moment this year , and the right place which is going to be BOHO in San Antonio.
I don’t do boring office jobs. My family used to say I led a wacky life and what seemed normal to me then looking back now… yes, I knew some very famous people, I knew some very dangerous people; some very rich, some very poor. I never judged people. I was always surrounded by interesting people I had this capacity to fall into situations or get into trouble. I did silly things like I had a cigarette on an American Airlines flight when I was on a photographic trip to the Amazon. It’s a very foolish thing to do I must admit, but I was on the plane with the photographer and the models, so I went to the bathroom and put a blanket over my head and had two puffs and came back out. Two airstewardesses ran to the front and I couldn’t get out of it, everyone was looking at me. I said I only had two puffs. They told me it’s a federal offence and I got off by making them laugh. But I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Very foolish but that was me.
Someone once introduced me as someone whose life is like a freight train: You either jump out of the way or get in and enjoy the ride, if you can hang on that long! And I’ve lived the kind of life that has been a journey and I decided that if it’s going to be a journey then I might as well have as much entertainment as possible on board, with the people that just kind of pass through my life. Living in different countries and being in the fashion world, and the fashion world is a complete story in itself… it’s got a dodgy side to it and a very glamorous side. I used to worry a lot about the girls because you would get 16 year old girls coming to Milan and they just wouldn’t know what to expect so I was always very, very, very protective of models. As I am with my dancers in ibiza. a lot goes on in ibiza so I’m very protective, and more so the older I’ve got. I’m very loyal to anyone works for me. I ask three things from people who surround me: Don’t use me, don’t make a fool of me and never ever betray me. And I will return that tenfold but if anyone breaks those three rules then they’re history to me.
I don’t have many heroes as such but if I had to pick anyone it would without a doubt be Oscar Wilde, the greatest ever wit. He has been a very big influence on me. I love his work and I love the story of his life. It wasn’t such a great life but he was a hugely talented person and I can read his books over and over again. There have been people who’ve passed through my life who have impressed me or who I’ve been amused by and they have influenced me to a certain extent. Andy Warhol was very clever with what he did. I was friends with some of the peple from the Factory later on, but I don’t think I would have liked Warhol very much as a person, although I admire his amaing talent for finding people.
Do I have regrets? No, no regrets really. The bad things that happen to you in life you’ve got to learn from. Life’s full of ups and downs and you cant have the highs without the lows. How can you feel exhilarated unless you’ve been miserable? Everything that’s happened to me, whether its been the death of someone close to me or anything else has had its effects. Time is a great healer, as they say, and I’ve had to learn from everything I’ve done. Its like hair and make-up: You’re only as good as your last job. No matter how many great Vogue shoots you’ve done, youre always only as good as your last one. I’ve made mistakes in my life yes, of course I have, but I try to learn from all of them and at the end of the day, 50 years down the line, I’m a much wiser calmer person than I was. I do regret that my sister didn’t live long enough to see my change into a more grown up person…
I do regret having travelled to so many amazing places and yet being there, like in Victoria Falls and watching an amazing sunset going on, I’d be thinking ‘oh I’ll be back in London in a few days and I can go to such and such a club’. When I look back, I’d seen all this beauty that I’d just taken for granted. I wish I could have had more appreciation for the moment back then.
My favourite thing for a quiet night is stay at home, stick on a good video, with my dog Chupito by me, which he is anyway 24/7. I love being quiet. I love my own company. Especially with the lifestyle that I lead. You’ve got to learn to like your own company, and appreciate the peace and quiet. I’m surrounded by amazing people but sometimes theres so much of everything that you’re spoilt for choice. Here you can be in the wildest nightclubs in the world but in the morning when the sun rises you can walk through the countryside back home, Look what we’ve got behind us one, of my favourite hotels in the world, right in the middle of the countryside. I never tire of all this beauty. Being here is like I died and went to heaven.
Apart from preparing EMPIRE this summer, I’ve done 3 shows for label kurru kurru this year and were doing the next show on the 11th august. Marinela, the designer has a very similar character to me I liked her instantly when I met her. She’s a great designer and shes got a good team around her.
I had an accident that was to turn my life around. I spun my car while on very strong painkillers for a suspected broken wrist. And I’d had a couple of chupitos on top of that. I was kind of dazed by it but after that I realised how lucky I had been not to have come out worse, or to have involved a kid or something. Needless to say I lost my licence and a couple of days after that I had to do some filming and I just knew that was it. It was time to pull back. I had a drink in my hand. I already knew alcohol was having a different effect on me from what it did when I was younger, when I used to be funny and have a good time. But sometimes if I’d had too many it would bring out an Allister that I didn’t like.I’ve got a very sharp tongue, and my wit is based on sarcasm (which is the lowest form, as they say) and I’m always kind of sarcastic and get a laugh from it but if I’d had a couple of jars too many that sarcasm could actually be quite offensive to some people. So thinking about all this I finished the drink and I threw it in the sea and got on with another part of Allister from that moment… and that was 15 months ago. I don’t miss it and I must admit it didn’t bother me to have lost my license because a few weeks later a dear friend’s son from the island had a car crash and was paralysed from the neck down and I was so lucky. There but for the grace of god. His accident was tragic. And that was the vey big eye opener. I was already on a fine borderline where I was having lots of fun but there comes a time when you know you’ve got to grow up. I grew up when I was 54. A new broom sweeps clean. And what transcended from that was quite amazing because I did a 360 in the way I dealt with situations. I made a vow to myself that no situation will ever control me again in the same way. All I’ve done is exorcise the old Allister – the destructive part, the cynical part.
It annoys me the way ibiza is often portrayed and I should know! Es Vedra is the second most magnetic point in the world next to the North Pole – much history. Perhaps that’s why the island had a very strong pull for me, as I’ve heard said by many other people. Sometimes in the winter I get slight pangs of cabin fever but I know wherever I go I’ll always come back. Because of my family and because it’s my home. They’ll be carrying me along the road in a gold coffin! But I’ve still got a lot of living to do here. I’ve been here constantly now or more or less 9 years. I’ll always be based here now, wherever I go.
I did a TV show (Living TV) that was edited in such a way that I felt a little bit like the village idiot. It irritates me sometimes when people are totally misled about the island. You know you go anywhere and you’ll get a load of drunken kids but you don’t hear about that. You’ll certainly hear about it when it happens here. When I’ve been interviewed in the past people have wanted the silly side of me but never wanted to delive any deeper than the surface, because it doesn’t suit them to listen. The press have always zoomed in on the bad side of ibiza and I’ve yet to see anyone do a really good expose on the good side of ibiza. People so often prefer to focus on the negative, out of fear. I feel sorry for people who walk around with the half empty glass people who trundle through life moaning and groaning about what could be. Oh get on with it! Stop complaining. There’s the airport, off you go. If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out…and Its as simple as that. My god, I’m quoting the bible now..
EMPIRE OPENS TONIGHT, THURSDAY AUGUST 13TH AT BOHO.
Interview by Helen Donlon
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