Monday, 6 November 2017

Beyond the Street

“Beyond the street, the city jungle waits, love’s exploited, there for hire, buy and get what you desire, help the devil burn his fire beyond the street” wrote Cliff Twemlow in the song Beyond the Street, one of umpteen songs Twemlow penned for the DeWolfe music company under the name Peter Reno (you can hear the song intacto here). Chances are the streets Twemlow had in mind when he wrote those lyrics were those of his hometown Manchester, a consistent muse of his and whose violent netherworld Twemlow knew well. Twemlow returned to the role of documentarian of the sordid side of life (with an equal mixture of tut tut moralising and carny barker enthusiasm) in his book ‘The Tuxedo Warrior’ where he writes of the 1970s "Homosexuals and bisexuals could finally let their hair and trousers down. Pornography could now be purchased from the many devious seedy establishments lying in solitary seclusion in and around our cities, where patrons could be observed entering and leaving, their features concealed behind dark glasses and large hats- mysterious anonymous collectors of sensual hard core literature and film."


Of course its unlikely that Twemlow would even recognise the Manchester City Centre of today, which has undergone a massive facelift since his death in the 1990s. However, unlike London's Soho district which has largely kissed goodbye to smut now, pockets of the sleaze which Twemlow brings to life in that song can still be found down the crumbling backstreets of Manchester. In an age when people are turning to the discretion of the Internet for their porno its likely that time will be soon called on some of these places as well. Since this photo shoot of Mancunian fleshpots took place the Shudehill Book Centre (whose 2nd floor was once rumoured to have been a ‘knocking shop’) has gone the way of many a soho sex shop and been renovated into a wine bar, but for now (and for whatever future document exists) here are some of the sights you can encounter.... beyond the street.

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