Friday, 3 April 2015

Sex With Miss X

Not a bad record this week, but a distinctly peculiar one, and one I feel obliged to share with you, Christine backed with S-E-X, issued in 1963 by Ember Records in the UK (the song was also issued in a rather fetching picture sleeve in Europe on Stateside Records).

Based on the then-inescapable Profumo Affair – Christine is, of course, about Christine Keeler - the enigmatic Miss X is actually Joyce Blair, the sister of dancer and choreographer Lionel. The ever-so-slightly risqué song entered the charts (it reached number 37 in August 1963) and Joyce found herself appearing on the iconic TV show Ready Steady Go alongside WWR favourite Pat Boone plus Billy Fury, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Burl Ives and Chris Barber.

Lionel was 15 and Joyce just 12 when their father, Myer Ogus, a Russian barber who changed the family name to Blair, died. To help support their mother the siblings both sought acting work. In 1945, the pair won an amateur talent competition in Stoke Newington, and the theatre retained their services for the week. They went on to perform together in summer shows, pantomimes, cabaret and at the Windmill Theatre.

Miscredited to Count Jaine de Mora y Aragon, the co-composer and pianist featured on the coupling was actually Jaime de Mora y Aragon, a flamboyant Spanish aristocrat who worked as a musician and part-time wrestler. With his slicked-back hair, waxed moustache, monocle and cane he was once likened to Salvador Dali.

A fixture in Marbella since the early 1960s de Mora, or Jimmy as he was known, became such a favourite among the wealthy and wellborn who make the resort their summer playground that he was named by the city's tourist office as its official greeter. Although he was at various times a waiter, bullfighter, taxi driver, model and movie actor, de Mora was primarily a promoter, one who provided the public face for an assortment of business ventures from nightclubs to theatrical productions financed with other people's money.

The son of a wealthy count - and related to the Spanish royal family – Jimmy was born in Madrid but, after dropping out of school at the age of 17, entered the bohemian life of Paris, learned to play the piano and married first a Mexican actress and later a Swedish model. In 1960, when his sister, Fabiola, married King Baudouin of Belgium, Jimmy was excluded from the wedding. When he was later cast as the Belgian Ambassador in an Italian film, he played the diplomat in drag – his act of revenge.

His role as an international gadabout was curtailed in 1965, when he was convicted in his absence in Italy for passing bad cheques. He died in Marbella in 1995.

Leslie Bricusse, the song’s other co-writer, is an English composer, lyricist, and playwright who has worked most prominently in musicals. He’s also the composer or co-composer of several huge songs including Feelin’ Good, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, What Kind of Fool am I and Christmas at Hogwarts. In the 1960s and early 70s Bricusse enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Anthony Newley. They wrote the musical Stop the World - I Want to Get Off (1961), which was successful in London and on Broadway, and was made into a film version in 1966. The pair also wrote The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd (1965) and the music and songs for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), for which they received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song Score.

A fun record made by fun people from a fun time.

UPDATE: This wasn't the only Christine Keeler-themed record issued by Ember and involving Leslie Bricusse. The same year that the company issued the Miss X single they also issued an album and EP of songs and dialogue from the satirical stage show Fool Britannia. Starring Peter Sellers, Anthony Newley (Bricusse's writing partner) and Joan Collins, the show lampooned the Profumo Affair, JFK and the then-current establishment. Have a listen to Peter Sellers' song about Christine Keeler here:

Thanks to The Squire for that info!


1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the heavy breathing at 1:54 was planned or just ad-libbed when the vocals were being recorded?


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