Do not mention the word ‘beaver’. The poster is 20 x 13 inches (50 x 33 cm). Now that’s what I call a large one. Based tremendously loosely on a photo session by the Goons, featuring Barbara Goalen, the Goalen role is played by luscious, pouting Kelly St John. The first Radio Stars single ‘Dirty Pictures’ nestled inside a picture sleeve with grubby fingerprints all over it. There was also a huge poster, the hugest poster of all time, even the Chinese say so, which is now available for all animal lovers to admire in the privacy of their own home or cell.
The song itself was listened to by former Sparks manager John Hewlett, who came down to a rehearsal. He saw himself as something of an eminence grise, although some used other terms. His opinion of the tune? “I’d forget about that one, it’s terrible, I wouldn’t record that one if I were you”. He wasn’t. Treating his comment with the respect and deference that it deserved, I ignored it. We recorded the song at Island studios in Hammersmith with Gary Lyons at the controls (he engineered the Jet album, and went on to produce the Rolling Stones et al). Island Records turned it down, Ellison took it to Chiswick Records, who snapped it up and the rest is history.
The idea for the poster was based on a photo session from the 1950s, featuring the Goons and ‘the world’s first supermodel’ Barbara Goalen. Here she talks about her ‘charlies’ in her 2002 obituary (before she died, naturally). I thought we could do a remake. One of the original shots shows Spike Milligan restrained by Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers, Goalen remaining aloof, and this was our starting point. The keen observer will note the similarity to shots in the final Dirty Poster sequence below.
But we didn’t get it right immediately. Here is the first attempt at a depiction of Dirty Pictures. Clearly our minds are not on the job, to coin a phrase. Or perhaps they are, but still…
So we considered other approaches. Do we need beavers, perhaps?
Let us reconsider. We bring in the professionals. Kelly St John was a model of an ‘exotic’ bent. We propose a remake of the original Goon session with Kelly’s participation as Barbara ‘Beaver’ Goalen. The photographer provided by Chiswick Records claimed to be named Hugh Heffer. In he was in reality an American person named Peter Kodik (although he is lately revealed to be one Peter Gravelle). This particular shot below was not used due to concern for the well-being of the beaver, which was struggling for air at this point.
But we were finally on the right track. The front of the single…
And, ermmm, the rear view:Whenever the posters were displayed, they quickly disappeared. Now a limited number can now be yours to hang in your very own garden shed, prison cell, igloo, tree-house or cupboard under the stairs.