New Romantic & Tender Hearts at Berfrois


In ’84 I manufactured jewellery incorporating Fray Bentos tins at the heart. This was New Romantic designer fashion, at its heart was not normally processed meat. Wearing top-to-toe House of Sui Juris or Bodymap outfits, my amateur models would carry their respective Fray Bentos jewels close to their hearts. Fray Bentos necklaces were energising cardiac regions en masse in ’84, and arguably the radical Zeitgeist that distinguished the period. I made a limited edition series of Fray Bentos brooches, too. This was the height of New Romanticism, at the heart of its industry was not normally processed meat. Margaret Thatcher’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme was at the heart of its industry, and a generation’s resourcefulness and resilience.

It’s true that faggots were at the heart of New Romanticism. Girl faggots, boy faggots, fags of all genders. Faggots are a processed meat and traditionally made from pig’s heart, entrails, offal. Processing tenderises the heart, apparently. The heart is not deceitful but tough above all things. My Fray Bentos jewels contained in one body both denotations of the homonym faggot, at one remove. Via processed meat, Fray Bentos signified faggot signified homo. That’s what the 1980s and ’90s were like, brimming with subversive subtexts. All of us were all the time scanning the world for subversive subtexts. Ours was a queer semiotics, dragged down to the level of DIY jewellery. But the heart is not tough but tender above all things. Offal is literally “off fall”, what falls off a butchered carcass. Owing to my personal tenderheart, I have yet fully to process Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s In einem Jahr mit 13 Monden (1978), the West German drama film. One of the key scenes takes place in an abattoir. The scene features carcasses, entrails, offal, and the rest. I watched the VHS alone in a red-wine-soaked kitchen in Primrose Hill in 2004. [read more]