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Copyrighted & Taken from Arlene Phillips’ Hot Gossip magazine All text is copyrighted of their respective owners – and in reproducing them on my website I infer no copyright whatsoever.
Arlene Phillips’ Hot Gossip – late 1970s – early 1980s
Hot gossip is the name and undoubtedly they’re the most talked about group in the dance world today. The Black guys and the white girls’ who despite being fully clothed sparked off controversy and gossip on an unprecedented scale.
The national press acclaimed them for their 1980’s feel for dance, for their image and of course for their vivid, glamorous whirlpool of explosive sexy rhythm and movement. Hot Gossip began five years ago when Arlene Phillips Gathered together the best pupils she could find from the dance centre – where she was teaching her own style of American jazz, and formed a group unlike any Other dance group before.
Arlene was determined to ignore all other preconceptions of dancers as the ‘chorus’ or the ‘fill in’, and set out to combine the best technique and strongest abilities – with the visual style and appearance of the eighties.
For two years the group appeared in night clubs in London, building up a reputation amongst London’s avant garde set. However, it seemed that nobody would give hot gossip an opportunity to appear on national television. Arlene and her dancers were almost at the point of folding the group up when, the now famous TV director David Mallett telephoned Arlene and invited her to discuss the possibility of using hot gossip in a new TV show with Kenny Everett – to be produced in a completely new format!
The rest seems to be history. From the moment hot gossip first appeared on Thames Television, under David Mallett’s direction, and with Arlene’s choreography and design, television dancing has never been the same. Of course since then other groups have tried to copy and emulate hot gossip, but none have managed to capture the style and sensuality that have become Hot Gossip’s trademark. The Kenny Everett video show became a number one show in England, winning numerous awards both here and abroad.
Hot gossip’s fist record ‘I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper’ (lead vocals by Sarah Brightman) shot straight into the charts and sold over half a million copies – going gold.
The group recently recorded an album which is released on dindisc records – part of the virgin records group of companies. It was produced by Ian Craig-Marsh and Martin Ware under their production identity ‘British Electric Foundation’. Their names have been associated with hit acts, Heaven 17 and the Human League. At the same time the group are busy working on a new fifty minute video cassette for home use only – which will be a Hot Gossip special, using the tracks from their new album and re-using some of the best numbers and sets that the group have previously used. This project in essence will be the best of hot gossip and will be launched by thorn EMI at Christmas ’81. It will feature apart from the new album, classic Hot Gossip numbers such as ‘walk on the wild side’ by Lou Reed, Trans Europe Express’ by Kraftwerk and many other Hot Gossip favourites. Look out for it in any video store, or fill in the enclosed coupon for an immediate response. Arlene Phillips has once again teamed up with David Mallett to produce what the press are already calling the ultimate video album’ by an act tailor made for the video age. Meanwhile, the group are continuing to tour the U.K. breaking records nearly everywhere they appear – and stunning people with their rock dance presentation which is both musically and visually stimulating! Hot gossip have recently visited Mexico, appearing live and on television, Switzerland and Italy, and next year will be off to America, Australia and the far east. As the press themselves have said Hot Gossip is a unique pop rock dance act who are carving themselves a unique position in all forms of entertainment and media’ – a multi faceted group of the ’80s!
Members of Hot Gossip
Arlene Phillips began dancing in Manchester at 2½ years of age. She trained as a ballet dancer and like all little girls, set her heart on becoming a prima ballerina. In her mid-teens she visited London and attended class of the then new American jazz’ style at Covent Garden’s dance centre. She immediately became hooked on modern jazz dancing – and has lived in London ever since – and since that time she has become the most talked about and most respected choreographer and teacher both in Britain and in the United States.
Arlene began her career by developing her own special style of dancing which she taught in London, and it was through these classes that she first gathered together her best pupils and formed the most successful group ever of its kind – Hot Gossip.
Arlene’s style of dance, and apparent knack of getting the best out of people encouraged many international names to ask her for private tuition including Bianca Jagger, Olivia Newton John, Twiggy and many more, and it was not long before Arlene was choreographing some of the more avant garde commercials such as Berlei Secrets, and a series of Dr. Peppers commercials for America. These commercials brought her to the attention of Alan Carr, famous for ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’, who promptly imported Arlene to Hollywood to choreograph and stage the musical sequences for the blockbuster musical ‘Can’t Stop The Music’. It was during the actual filming of ‘Cant Stop The Music’ that Arlene had two weeks off and became the proud mother of her first baby daughter – Alana -completing the film (with the aid of her assistant Heather Seymour) from a wheel chair.
Arlene had previously choreographed and staged musical sequences for a number of British films including ‘Escape To Athena’, the Bitch’ and The World Is Full Of Married Men’, (Incidentally Sarah Brightman sang Madam Hyde in this film in 1979). and as a performer she danced the pas de deux in the, at the time scandalous, ‘oh! Calcutta’, and was featured in Lindsay Kemp’s ‘Flowers’, a highly successful show, both here and in America. Recently Arlene was privileged to choreograph Lauren Bacall in the movie The Fan’ – which fulfilled a long ambition to work with such a great actress. However, Arlene’s choreographic triumph to date must surely have taken place in 1981 – when the legendary Hollywood film producer ray stark invited Arlene to choreograph and stage the musical sequences for his new fifty million dollar film of the blockbusting hit musical ‘Annie’ directed by the legendary John Huston. This kept Arlene completely occupied in New York and Hollywood for the best part of nine months, communicating daily by telephone with London in order to keep a check on Hot Gossip – and choreographing Hot Gossip’s TV and live appearances by frequently flying her assistant to Los Angeles and New York, routineing the shows which were then faithfully reproduced in London.
Meanwhile, Arlene continues to teach her classes at London’s Pineapple dance centre, and will early next year be releasing a teaching video cassette enabling anyone to begin learning the elementaries of dance or to use it as a ‘keep fit and supple’ exercise plan within the privacy of their own home.
Arlene’s ambitions for the future are to continue her teaching and expand her influence in that area through records, cassettes and videos. And of course to continue to build Hot Gossip into the biggest rock dance group in America and Europe. Since this has been written Arlene Philips has gone from strength to strength. Amongst the shows Arlene has worked on We Will Rock You, Saturday Night Fever, Starlight Express, Time, Matador and Grease. She’s also choreographed fourteen films including Annie and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. Arlene has also worked on many pop videos for artists including The Bee Gees, Duran Duran, Erasure, Aretha Franklin, Boy George, Whitney Houston, and Elton John. Arlene was also the Head Judge on Strictly Dance Fever.
Arlene’s Film Works
Pet Shop Boys: Pop Art – The Videos (2003) (V) (choreographer)
Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration (1998) (TV) (special thanks) … aka Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday (Australia: cable TV title)
The Wind in the Willows (1996/I) (choreographer) … aka Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (USA: video title)
White Hunter Black Heart (1990) (choreographer)
Salome’s Last Dance (1988) (choreographer)
It Couldn’t Happen Here (1987) (choreographer)
Legend (1985) (choreographer) … aka Legend: Ultimate Edition (USA: reissue title (video title))
Arena (1985) (V) (choreographer)
Olivia Newton-John: Twist of Fate (1984) (V) (choreographer: clip “Livin’ in Desperate Times”)
The Meaning of Life (1983) (choreographer) … aka Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (UK: complete title)
Digital Dreams (1983) (TV) (choreographer)
Annie (1982) (musical choreographer) (musical staging)
“The Kenny Everett Television Show” (1981) TV Series (choreographer)
The Fan (1981) (choreographer)
Can’t Stop the Music (1980) (choreographer)
Escape to Athena (1979) (choreographer)
“The Kenny Everett Video Show” (1978) TV Series (choreographer: Hot Gossip)
“The Benny Hill Show” (1969) TV Series (choreographer: Love Machine) (1976-1977)
Hot Gossip Dancers are . . .
RICHARD LLOYD KING – Age Twenty-One From Halifax. Experience: – started dancing at three. trained at Italia Conti Stage School, has been working for about six years, with second generation for two years, then in chorus line taking over when colleague Roy left. Style. – married to a model, he’s known as the ‘group jester’, and in May this year became a proud father of Katie. Doesn’t wear much make up when he is working as ‘”I sweat it all off”. Likes keeping fit with a spot of weightlifting. Has a passion for bright shoes.
FLOYD – Age Twenty-One From Carshalton Experience: – national youth theatre, ballet Rambert, appeared on top of the pops with Ruby Flipper and Pan’s People. Style: – says he’s ‘just outrageous’, a true !Aquarian, ‘always in the middle of a scandal! I used to skip school for ballet classes, then I walked out and joined Pans People’. At school he pulled his hip out and was told he’d never walk properly again, but dancing was in his blood. ‘from funk to punk to classic’. He has always had a weight problem, ‘if I stop dancing I blow up: I’m addicted to chips and bakewell tart!
ROY GAYLF – Age 26 Experience: – describes himself as the old man of the group’, since he has been in the group from the beginning. Was in ‘Billie’ then ‘Chorus Line’. Style: – likes doing press-ups and a little weightlifting, preferably with a girl on his back. Has just bought a new house in Barnes, big enough to house his huge record and t-shirt collections.
ALISON HIERLEHY-Age 19 From Twickenham Experience: — went to arts educational school and straight into Hot Gossip. Style: – known as the legs of the group’. Keeping fit means snatching the odd game of tennis, but she’s not really interested in food. Out of hours, Alison is constantly searching for the newest in clothes, make-up and style.
JANE NEWMAN – Age 25 From Felixstowe Experience: – Bush Davies ballet school, dancer in a film for Jethro Tull. For four years was with the Love Machine. Style: – through being with Hot Gossip she has gradually collected outrageous clothes that have ‘taken over my wardrobe’. Lives in Muswell Hill in her own house and has built her own rehearsal studio in London.
KIM LEESON – Age 18 From Putney Experience: – Royal Ballet School, then arts educational. Style: – joined Hot Gossip as the lead vocalist and remembers not having a clue about make-up. She is constantly on a diet ‘because I stuff myself for weeks’. Jeans, dungarees and t-shirts with shoes as flat as possible are her favourite attire, whenever given the chance to climb down from her 6 inch spikes.
LAURA JAMES – Age 16 From Stockwell Experience: – the youngest member of the group. Laura trained at Italia Conti Stage School. Style: – she still lives with her mum and dad in Stockwell and has ‘danced her heart out’ since she was 5 years old. Likes to wear as many different colour clothes as possible at the same time, hair and make-up also bright and wild.
HEATHER ALEXANDER – Age 19 From Maida Vale Experience: — heather trained at Italia Conti and the dance centre before joining Hot Gossip. Style: – she has performed in pantomime and summer shows, but took a full six months to completely change her wardrobe from the girl next door to Hot Gossip.
DONNA FIELDING – Age 21 From Manchester Experience: – was with Hot Gossip when it started. Left for a short period then joined again. Style: – Donna likes to keep her private life private, but always performs like a true gossiper. Has become famous through Hot Gossip and the many TV commercials she has made.