CategorySouthampton

A Meeting with Jackie Hilkene

During May I was lucky enough to have a meeting with Jackie Hilkene during one of her visits to the UK – from her new life in Canada.

In many ways “same old Jackie” apart from a mix of Canadian and Gloucester dialect. Still a caring bubbly person, and a joy to be with.

We talked about her first foray on stage at Cheltenham when she was 14 years old, and a vocalist with her father`s big band. When she had all the attributes of an attractive young lady, except ………

“Don`t worry”, said mum – as she stuffed tissues into the vital area of Jackie`s halter neck evening gown. “No-one with know”.

Later that night Jackie appeared on stage, not only looking the part – but also feeling the part. Infact so into the part that her new role completely engulfed her – especially with her ample new bosom. So for her first number she appeared with her back to the audience, arms raised Shirley Bassey style, ready to belt into the new number.

And I worked – but only until a cavalcade of tissues rained down onto the stage.

Character building or what! – she powered out her song and just got on with things.

Because that`s just how Jackie is!

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Later she joined a group called “Travelling Band”, and entered the world of old vans, humping equipment, and an eclectic mix of gigs. She also spent time at the National Youth Theatre, and then worked with various bands – such as Zucchi, Elite and China Dolls.

Mecca and Top Rank work came along at Bristol Tiffanys, Gloucester Tiffanys, Coventry Tiffanys, Top Rank Birmingham, and Top Rank Southampton.

One of her fondest memories was of the the night they were snowed in at Bath Tiffanys – when manager Andy Younger brought in wheelbarrows of snow – for a snowball fight.

Whilst working at the Top Rank Suite she met deputy manager Mike Hilkene (her maiden name was Malpass). She married Mike around the time she sang “The Lady is a Tramp” to Margaret Thatcher.

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Both Jackie and Mike became well known within the industry, but when they moved to Isabella`s Leicester – the relationship began to falter – and Mike banned her from the club.

But the living accommodation was above – with its only exit being through  the club – so she was well and truly grounded.

Isabella`s was a great success. Gary Lineker`s held his stag night  there – and his wife`s her hen night

It was also the time that began Jackie her foray into healthclub and nightclub management.

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She was so successful in management, that her story is well known. Her final club was Shanghai Sam`s Peterborough, where she took the business through the roof, met an ice-hockey player who made her into Mrs Jacqui Kaese -and now has two grown up sons.

The end of Jackie`s story?

Not likely!

She went on to form the Spotlight stage school. To work with Nicole Kidman, Jason Statham, Robert De Nero, Colin Ford and Justin Chatwin, and to make her way onto the big screen herself.

Her debut is in the forthcoming JK Rowling biopic – when Jacqui plays the book store owner where JK Rowling does her first “Harry Potter” reading.

And the rest of her story……….

We must wait and see …. but one thing is for sure……. in will certainly be interesting!

Great to meet you Jackie after all these years.

 

 

 

 

“Are you sure about that?”

I hope they have changed the road signs in Southampton now, because the last time I went there I found umpteen pointing towards the “city centre”, but I always ended up in the same place.

I systematically tried every possible option to no avail, so after travelling miles and miles, but getting nowhere – I decided to seek help. Eventually I found a young lady, so I pulled over, lowered the passenger side window and asked –

“Excuse me, could you tell me the way to the Queensway?”

“Are you sure about that?” Came the reply.

She was very pretty, and wearing a red leather jacket. She leaned in through the open window.

“Yes. I`ve been driving round and round, looking for …………” Then it all became clear. Think it was the red leather jacket that gave it away. Well – it gave everything away. It was unzipped – and I had the top half of a very pretty topless prostitute in my car!

After a strange conversation during which I insisted on finding the Queensway, and she insisted that I was shy and wanted to do “business” but wouldn`t admit it. I was also trying to figure out which was worse – a visit from a pimp or a visit from the vice-squad.

Eventually she decided that I was a time waster, and removed herself out of the car. I raced away, still no wiser as to where the Queensway was.

The following week I got lost in the outskirts of Sheffield – but I drove, and drove, and drove…….

 

Image from scrapetv.com

 

 

Excitement, Originality and pure Showmanship; a Lesson in Nightclub Management

One my most exciting club visits was to the Ikon/Diva/Jumpin Jaks complex in Southampton.

Rank Leisure was up for sale. The industry had entered a dismal period, seemingly bereft of ideas. It was late and I was tired. So I only went out for a quick beer.

Or so I thought!

The second I entered the main room I was wide awake.

It was a dance night. The room was full; not only of people, but also colour, excitement, originality and pure showmanship; a lesson in nightclub management.

The entertainment team certainly knew their stuff. Everyone was dancing, with the lighting perfectly synchronised to the music.

Then a quick black out after which only a raised area on the dance floor was flooded with white light, illuminating a podium filled with dancers wearing a spectacular assortment of silver costumes. Another blackout and back to the dance floor scene.

After a while; another quick blackout after which two spotlights flashed across the room to illuminate a two acrobatic dancers way up high to my left.

Back to the dance floor scene, then another blackout, and this time a sound cut out as another podium was flooded with white light. This time illuminating a second podium full of musicians in gold outfits who kept the excitement pounding via a mass of percussion instruments.

Back to the dance floor scene and the introduction of ultra violet lighting as a flock of huge spectacular blue birds and butterflies flew high above the dance floor, choreographed by stilt walkers intermingling with the dancers.

This was not only a night for the customers, it was also an exercise in presentation and showmanship for entertainers and management.

I spoke with one of the junior management who explained that the only cost was the two “high level” acrobatic dancers. Those wearing the gold and silver outfits were admitted free, and the bluebirds and butterflies were created by art students as projects at the local college.

After this I visited Jumping Jacks.

I think you know what I discovered.

It was packed full of people, atmosphere and showmanship.

Last customer out of the building?

You bet!

Image from acpassion.net

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