Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Clubland Venus: Paula Yates at the Reform Club

Agent Triple P had dinner at the Reform Club on Pall Mall last week.  We go there reasonably often as we know a couple of members.  Given its exclusive nature we were rather surprised, when we recently picked up a copy of UK Penthouse on eBay (to fill a gap in Triple P's collection), to discover a pictorial shot in the club featuring a young Paula Yates.  Paula was a rock and pop journalist in the early eighties.

This came from UK Penthouse Volume 14 no 5 (August 1979) and the pictorial didn't appear in the US edition, of course, due to Paula only being well known in the UK.

Paula Yates was born in Wales in 1959, the daughter of an actress, former showgirl and erotic novelist.  Yate's mother's husband was Jess Yates a well known TV personality who presented the religious Sunday show Stars on Sunday.  Jess Yates career and his popular show ended in 1974 when it was revealed that the  fifty-six year old had been having an affair with Anita Kay, an actress thirty years his junior, although he was separated at the time.

The Reform Club library contains over 75,000 books

The journalist who broke the story about Jess Yate's affair was called Noel Botham, who was a friend of another TV presenter Hughie Green.  Jess Yates had been Green's producer on one of his shows but Green couldn't stand him and wanted him removed.  Green told Botham about Yate's affair with Kay who sold the story to the News of the World (recently closed down by Rupert Murdoch following revelations of systematic phone hacking).

When Hughie Green died in 1997 Botham a wrote another story for the News of the World revealing that it was Hughie Green who was Paula's biological father and not Jess Yates.  Green had revealed this to Botham  twenty years earlier.  Paula only learned of this through reading the tabloid headlines.  Her mother denied it but Paula then took a DNA test which revealed, following samples from two of Green's children, that she was, indeed, Green's daughter.

The upper corridor of the saloon

As a teenager Paula became a fan of new wave band The Boomtown Rats and its lead singer Bob Geldof, later famous for co-organising Live Aid.  She pursued Geldof and started having a relationship with him when she was sixteen or seventeen.  By the time this pictorial appeared her fame was almost entirely based on her relationship with Geldof.

Very soon, however, she began a column in the Record Mirror and in the early eighties started co-hosting the TV music show The Tube which increased her profile enormously.

The floor of the main saloon

In 1986, after ten years with Geldof and having had a daughter, Fifi Trixibelle, with him they got married in Las Vegas in 1986.  However, the previous year she had met Michael Hutchence, lead singer of Australian rock band INXS, whilst interviewing him for The Tube.  They kept in touch and by the time she interviewed him again on The Big Breakfast TV show in 1994 it was apparent from the sexually charged atmosphere that something was going on between them and, in fact, it had been for some time.  Strangely, this series of rock star interviews, which were always conducted on a bed and had Yates flirting with most of her guests, were actually produced by her husband.

This window is between the library and the Upper Corridor of the saloon

In 1995 she left Geldof and, under Hutchence's influence started to take drugs and indulge in S&M activities.  Hutchence abandoned his then girlfriend, supermodel Helena Christensen, for Yates.  In 1996 Paula  had another daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, with Hutchence. In November 1997 Hutchence was found hanged in a hotel room in Sydney.  Paula, increasingly distraught and then learning the truth about her father shortly afterwards, sought psychiatric help but lost custody of her daughters.  She was found dead of an overdose of heroin in September 2000 at the age of 41.

In some of these pictures Yates can be seen sporting a tattoo on her right arm which was most unusual in those days but may explain her daughter Peaches', addiction to them.

The Reform Club was founded in 1836 by Edward Elice MP, a former fur trader in Canada who had made his fortune as a director of the Hudson's Bay Company.  The idea of the club was that it should be a centre for the sort of radical politics that had led to The Reform Act of 1832, which Elice was a strong supporter of. This act reformed the electoral system of the UK taking the first significant steps towards the system we have today by increasing the number of eligible voters and establishing parliamentary seats in large industrial cities for the first time.

The club's building was designed by Sir Charles Barry (whose most famous building is the Palace of Westminster and its distinctive "Big Ben" tower) and was modelled on the Palazzo Farnese in Rome (currently the French Embassy - Triple P went to a reception there once with his aristocratic lady friend I).

The balconied main saloon, where many of these pictures were taken is very much the most splendid room in any of the London clubs.  The upper level of the saloon leads, on it's southern side to the library which holds over 75,000 books.

The Upper Corridor of the saloon in 1841 Compare with the picture six from the top

There have been many famous members including Arthur Conan Doyle, HG Wells and Winston Churchill, who resigned however when one of his friends was blackballed. In Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days Phileas Fogg was a member of the club so his journey started and finished there.  It has appeared in numerous films most notably in the scenes at the fencing club in Die Another Day (2002) and, more recently, Sherlock Holmes (2009).

 The main staircase which leads from the Lower to the Upper Saloon

You are certainly not allowed to take pictures inside the club or use a mobile phone in the public areas.  We can't think that the club would allow a photo shoot like this today and wonder if there were any appalled letters to the club secretary at the time.

We never really liked Paula Yates and she subsequently had a nasty breast enlargement but here, as a nineteen year old, she looks rather splendid..  

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