Rape and The Royal Academy Of Art

I talk about the Reno in the most prestigious arts institution in the UK unaware that our Facebook group is on fire with rape accusations.

I’ve had an incredible day. I’m sat in my king size bed now, in Mayfair around the corner from the Ritz. Following on from Whitworth AD Alistair’s gracious acceptance of a huge award the Whitworth has just received, which is part about their collaboration with us, I've smashed it on stage in The Royal Academy of Art, possibly the most prestigious arts institution in the whole of the UK, talking about our Reno residency.

I read out the Maxine Bellini blog. Everyone laughs. Including the funders, they’re all saying after, we want to be in your gang.  I answer the question someone asks about me being controlled by the Whitworth, by detailing the fight me and the curator Sam had in the Whitworth café. That brings the house down. And all Sam was trying to do was spend money on us. But I am determined nobody is gonna control this but us. Luckily she spent the money anyway.  

All day I have been me. Just little Moss Side me without ramping it up. I have also been a politician. At lunch in the room pictured above I listen, I’m honest, I’m clever, and I leave with great funding contacts, and offers.

I am high as a kite when I leave the champagne reception under the famous Last Supper, and I haven’t drank a drop, when I ring Phil Collins who has been trying to reach me all day.  

Mandy Hughes has shared our Fountain of Youth Invite. Tagged me in. And wrote below it. 

The Reno was NOT started for Mixed Race People! It was started for the local Black Community. When they gonna show the dark side of the Reno? the REAL truth, about the pimps, prostitution, the beatings the drugs the kidnappings, the stabbings, the abuse of young women in this club. I know women (best friends) who were groomed kidnapped beaten put on the streets from the The Reno Club - Manchester ive seen it with my own eyes!! ive been part of it and many of my friends. yet i see photos of them very same PIMPS being glorified on the Reno site!! If you gonna tell a story tell the WHOLE story. Ive seen photos of men on here that i know have raped and beaten young women and they still living every day lives in society.  

"What was your club called?? the one where you went to test your personality"!!!??? where you found out if you were gonna get pimped or not or robbed or beaten or not!.. ours was called THE RENO.

The back and fourth between her, and Excavating The Reno FB group, who have been sincerely wonderful, honourable, and fair in their replies, true ambassadors, has been raging all day. There are at least 40 in depth comments, way too many for me to cut and paste here. You’ll have to join Excavating FB Group and read the thread if you want to know the extent of the back and fourth. Rome has been burning.

I would rather have gone to the Reno than all the rest of the shit: than be desiccated and dried up at 60; to be vibrant, wearing denim like I mean it. I remember the 2016 Reno Xmas party in the park. Looking at a gang of Reno males in the corner, they looked wonderful for their age. ‘The devil takes care of his own’ my mum would say. They are really vibrant. They’re having a laugh. I want to be with them and not the boney people I am sat with, funders and the JCB driver who has done the test dig for free. Lovely guy, but they might as well be dead. They are so dried up. Desiccated. I wonder how our lot have not dried up. We were all brutalised at that time. A lot of them guys were in them homes too. They were vulnerable in their own way. Of course you don’t rape women. But maybe it was a better option than asking a girl out and getting rejected. Maybe they are just beasts? Maybe they did take advantage of the girl’s vulnerability. But I’ve done that. I’ve never raped anyone. But I have known when a woman is crying inside and hungry for love. I treated her like a cunt. Because I could. Because I was the person in a postion of power this time. I am wearing the iron glove this time. The iron glove I am gonna bring down on your head. I can hear you saying there are no excuses.

Dog-eat-dog. I think it is Gail Allott who says we lived dog-eat-dog. We definitely ate dog all of us. And we survived. I don’t mean we survived eating dog. I mean we were literally surviving. Nothing was right in our life. We didn’t have shoes waiting at the bottom of the three storey stairs, and beautiful kitchen tables, and kale in the fridge or quinoa. We didn’t even know what quinoa was. I remember eating sugar butties. And lunch was a myth. No, you got it at school. And Xmas was terrible cheap cardboard compendiums, terrible wallpaper, and mums that looked 100 when they were only 40. We wanted more. So you pimped. Again, there are no excuses. I’ve lived off a lady. She wasn’t on the streets. She had more and she looked after me cos I had less because she loved me. A lot of the pimping was in loving relationships. In fact, I struggle to remember one that was like a Blaxploitation. The women I knew that was prostitutes in the Reno were doing it for their man, their kids, and their own kit: so they looked wonderful each night like Eartha Kitt, or a Bet Davis, or a Marlene Dietrich.

None of us wanted a normal life. Which brings me back to the project. When I was in Contact Theatre in 2001, and I used to look round at the fake cool kids the teenagers, not the bad glitter hand kids, the ones who were willing to be assimilated, when I was 42, and they were playing their music which sampled our music. I’d think: we were the originals. It has taken me 20 years to bring us on stage to show our play. And I don’t care if we are a bit moth-eaten, a bit of a vulture. I really don’t. We’ve all done things. And what any of us did is between us, and our deathbed. You can’t take it back, none of it. The project is about giving us a chance now. Our kids a chance. Fuck being good. I’ve had more honesty, more theatrics, more laughing, seen more stardom, never felt more belonging than in the Reno.

You should absolutely not rape but some did. I have absolutely no idea what was in their head at the time but I would like to know. It is too fucking simple just to close the gate. That was always me. I’ve always found it hard to write anyone off. It almost happened to me with a Reno guy.  I was just saved in the nick of time by my ex husband, that’s how he became my husband. And yes I might have a different story to tell if I had. But, it did happen to me when I was 13. 5 white lads in a bombed house on a dirty mattress. 2 of them follow the project on Facebook. The loveliest half-caste couple you could ever meet with their lovely kids, used to drop his wife off and take me to the park when I was 13. About 5 years ago I saw him in town. I didn’t say anything I could see in his eyes he knew what he did. We still said hello. And once when my dad threw me out when I was 14, my older white half sister told me to get in bed with her cos it was cold and her Jamaican husband shagged me. And I didn’t say anything, till this moment, cos I needed the bed for the next few weeks till I found a hostel.

Mandy Hughes: ‘So yeah everything you have said about the Reno is truth just not the whole truth.’ well said...but giving a voice means giving a voice to all...those girls including myself didnt have much of a voice back then....no one listened not the authorities not the police and definitely not our moss side "family" .but i NEVER forgot and i WILL use my voice now. The oppressed will no longer be oppressed...we will have our voice and use it..even if its not what the majority want to hear, it is a fact it is real and it will be known.'

This is a public invite to you Mandy Hughes to come on and tell your story. Do a memoir. Tell the whole truth. Have your say. Use your voice now.

We occupy our Whitworth space for the first time tomorrow March 15th 11am. Hope to see you then. Having trouble commenting below try a different browser.  #excavatingthereno #therenolive

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