I have never fully understood why revolution is supposed to be so drab. The dictatorship of the proletariat has so often been interpreted as the dictatorship of the ugly and shapeless that it begs the question why glamour is anathema to so many advocates of social upheaval? In all of recent revolutionaries I can remember- Che notwithstanding, who was handsome but also a scruffy bastard- were the drag queens of Stonewall in Greenwich Village who went toe to toe against the homophobia of the NYPD and scored a major victory for gay rights and the crucial liberty of sartorial self-expression. Ever since, I have been with them all the way, a true believer in the legitimacy of fighting the good fight in high heels.
…The left were totally unaware of the great tradition of the English working class dandy. The wideboys of Brighton Rock, the teds of the Fifties and the mods of the Sixties were all progressive versions of what Orwell described as ‘young men trying to brighten their lives by looking like film stars’ and George Melly later called ‘revolt into style’. One of the great attractions if the Blackshirts was that they offered unemployed louts snappy uniforms. The lone Red of my acquaintance who had both an awareness of power through style and the flash that came with it was a self-proclaimed Stalinist who rode a Triumph Bonneville and favoured Jim Morrison-style leathers and a swan-off Levi jacket, with a hammer and sickle in place of the motorcycle club patch. More than once he told me, ‘I’d join the hell’s angels, but it’s the bastards you have to ride with. They don’t have a clue. I mean, how many could I discuss Frantz Fanon and The Wretched of the Earth with?’