When cosmic geek / fashion angel / love monster Johnny Blue Eyes walks into the room you can feel the galactic energies shifting. As he descends a flight of stairs to make an entrance (festooned in flowers and perhaps some sparkle spangled chiffon, or as he is today in a red Mickey Mouse velour romper and biker leather) you hear his astral-projected, travelling soundtrack: “(This is the Dawning of the Age of) Aquarius”; the Cilla Black version. Or perhaps something by Donna Summer, because after moments in his mega presence you can’t help feel love. Part throwback to past summers of love, part pole-dancing tranny, part glue-gunning stylist, part spray-painting lily-guilding fashion designer… Johnny may look like a character from hippy musical Hair (by way of The Cockettes; Google it’s necessary) but don’t get him wrong: you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. One chav who tried picking a fight with Johnny in a nightclub, when Johnny was “working a heel and a sheer chiffon babydoll” got two black eyes, a stiletto to the neck and a broken nose. Johnny Blue Eyes is in every way major-fierce.
We meet in Machine-A, a boutique in Soho specialising in selling graduate collections and one-off pieces from avant garde new generation designers (Gemma Slack mouth armour: check, Charlie Le Mindu rat hairpiece: check.) It’s at Machine-A Johnny is holding his first “Love For Sale”: a sort of carboot of his own fashion archive and personal history. Everything must go! From customised denims worn by countless models/bands to a silver sequined black velvet wizard’s gown, which Johnny chucks on over his Mickey Mouse. A costume change already and we’ve only just met. Johnny has made over the shop window; moving his living room in. We sit down on patchwork cushions to share a pot of tea as Berwick Street buzzes past and spectators congregate to watch our very public tea party. After the drinks are poured and cake cut, and Johnny plants his plastic flower “Pop Art Crown” on long his long hippie locks and beams “Just having a moment of gorgeousness in a window in Soho!” He waves enthusiastically at the gang gathered outside. “See you don’t need much space to make something beautiful”.
Johnny has begun his sermon. Whether it was on the phone arranging this interview (a conversation that lasted over an hour and took many turns including an in depth debate on Lady Gaga’s utter amazingness to bitchy journalists, and how dated throwing shade now seems) or a five minute encounter at the Love For Sale launch (he thrust a cider into my hands and told me how fabulous I looked before whooshing off to tell everybody else how gorgeous they were looking) everything Johnny Blue Eyes speaks feels like divinely inspired preaching. His constant talk of Angels and love and radical queer lib sound like they need to be declared from a gauche lectern. Johnny is completely idealistic but not at all naive. The output of The House of Blue Eyes can be lo-fi, often immediate… it’s about communicating an instant and urgent message in whatever medium feels right for that second-right-now. The medium is sometimes shambolic, sometimes high-finish but always carrying the message loudly…and quite simply the message is Love.
The Gospel of The House of Blue Eyes. As spoken by Johnny Blue Eyes himself. In a shop window in Soho. Over builders tea and girly cakes.
Lesson 1: A Room of One’s Own
“If for students or people without much money; if they could be given their own little space where they could create a place of beauty and love… they’d be so fucking happy! Space in a city is very limited but we all need our own space as human beings… to express ourselves and the sooner that happens the better. Not only for us but for mum and dad as well. I’m a Londoner and I’ve lived here for 42 years and one of the things I’ve decided is that when I run for Mayor (yes I’m running for Mayor; you’ve got a scoop there) is that I’m going to bring Love and Revolution to our City. I’m going to take all of the office space and the industrial space… all of the places that haven’t been used for a while, and they’re going to be given over to the people who need a place to live. They’re going to be given a small space (we don’t need large spaces) and after a period of time it’ll just be given over as their homes!”
Lesson 2: The Truth
“All of these artists and singers: tell the truth! Don’t be afraid of the truth my dear it will set you free. All this business with PRs and publicists telling people what questions they can and can’t answer… no you can’t ask them that and they have to be photographed from this angle and that make-up artist has to do their face…fuck that shit it’s just nonsense! We all want to be seen how we want to be seen but one thing lacking in our world is people who will tell the truth. I believe in angels and I believe in generational angels who have the ability to touch many people. Let us cleanse our eyes and see this and be aware of it because angels exist and they are here with us! Gaga, Madonna, Miss Beth Ditto… Angels of Art! And you know what? I’m going to stick my hand up and say that I’m one of them! Be free and let’s make our world beautiful.”
Lesson 3: “The power of the dressing up box is huge”
“Here we are in 2010 and the worlds in a dark place. There are wars all over the world. As people we are at war. The world’s in recession. We’re all struggling. What can we do as artists except say “fuck it. I don’t give a shit. I’m going to express myself and make the world beautiful.” I believe in heaven and that heaven in here on earth right now. With me and you here we have a little bit of heaven. And we’ve been able to manifest that with a sense of joy and a sense of purpose and it hasn’t cost much it’s all about what’s in the mind. I accept all people. I accept the man in his grey business suit and I expect him to accept me in my pop art crown and fierce 1960’s priestess gown from Massachusetts.”
Lesson 4: Family
“I’m going to start a church in my flat on Sunday mornings. Somewhere gorgeous where people can come from the clubs, have some tea and cake and listen to some disco. My people are my family. With The House of Blue Eyes there’s 10 designers I work with and we’re a family and it’s the collaboration: the experience of being with somebody and connecting with somebody; what I find is the important part. My door is always open, as long as you are kind and respectful. The creative world is small. If somebody is nice to you you tell two people. If somebody is a cunt you tell twenty two people. Negativity is such a thing of the past, it’s all so done now. We need to be positive. The House of Blue Eyes is very inclusive and it’s about here and now: Let’s work together. Let’s embrace the sun and lets love one another.”
Lesson 4: LOVE + ART + FREEDOM = HEAVEN ON EARTH