by Spencer Bright
There are some people who just lift your spirits sharing the same oxygen with them. Eve Ferret is one of those for me, and I know many others who remember her irrepressible life force when she was part of a cabaret duo in the early eighties called Biddie and Eve.
You’d catch their performances at the Blitz (the war-themed Covent Garden wine bar made famous by the New Romantics movement of the early eighties), the more louche and up market Embassy in Bond Street or Richard Branson’s attempt at a music club called The Venue in Victoria.
Eve modelled herself on Miss Kitty, the brassy saloon madam on fifties and sixties TV show Gunsmoke. As she says, ‘I’m no mivvet.’ It’s not a word you’ll find in the dictionary, but you get the idea, she’s no wallflower or pushover. She’s a shapely woman you would not want to cross but she has the biggest of hearts and the sharpest and most original of wits.
She has relaunched herself on the scene with her Fabaret show. ‘I didn’t want to be cabaret with a C because that sounds like a cruise ship liner. And I didn’t want to do kabaret with K because that sounds like I’m burlesque, that I was going to take my clothes off or something. That would be like a nightmare, like a hand grenade going off.
‘A friend suggested fabaret, as opposed to craparet. It’s my modern take on cabaret. I may be at the helm, but it’s about us all being together. I have a conversation with the audience, telling them about different experiences, having a laugh with them, telling them about situations I find myself in.’
It’s comedic and even sad, and in between she sings obscure songs from the twenties to the eighties, like The Specials’ Ghost Town, Sparks’ This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us or Ethel Merman’s Ten Cents A Dance.
After her eighties cabaret work faded Eve became a movie actress appearing in Gene Wilder’s Haunted Honeymoon, Julian Temple’s Absolute Beginners and in the West End musical Yakety Yak. In the nineties a crooked showbiz agent stole her money, it deflated her, she moved into costume and set design for advertising campaigns and devoted herself to raising her son.
She is too big a talent not to share it with us on stage. ‘For the last 15 years I had this voice over my shoulder. I thought oh my God I don’t know where to sing.’
Then two years ago thanks to her friend Barb Jungr, herself a cabaret singer of renown, she was cajoled into performing for a campaign to save her beloved working class community in Pimlico. That was followed by an invitation to sing at the Avalon Cafe at the Glastonbury Festival.
She’s since performed at the swish new Crazy Coqs room at Brasserie Zédel and is happily perplexed to find even teenagers enjoying the act. At one performance to a posh set in Newbury, after a standing ovation, an audience member came up to her and said: ‘Whatever you’ve got going on in your head, can I have some?’ I know what he means.
‘I never wished for money. I wanted happiness. I wanted to have a laugh,’ says Eve. ‘I wanted there to be a party. I had this filmic fantasy of how life should be. Like a New Year’s Eve party where you’d see all the streamers and balloons and everyone happy.
‘I’m trying to be brave as a performer. Whereas a lot of people are like, we’ve had our time. I don’t think like that. I don’t feel I’ve started. I feel it’s the beginning.’
Eve Ferret’s Fabaret is at the Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street W1B 5NF on Friday, November 30 at 8 pm. Tickets £8.00 from www.wegottickets.com