Hermine - 'Too Many Men In My Life'
Now considered something of a New Wave diva, Hermine Demoriane is a singer, writer, actress, comedian and tightrope walker. Her unique brand of singing, which, dare I say, is something of an acquired taste, is best encapsulated on her somewhat lost debut mini-album from 1982, 'The World On My Plates'. A six track collection of intriguing vaudeville torch songs, the LP owes much of it’s cult reputation to the fabulous, iconic cover photo, which shows Hermine loading 7” records into a dishwasher, as you do, dolled up in her best polka-dot frock. I am so much in love with this sleeve image that I had it blown up and printed onto canvas, and it now proudly hangs in my kitchen. Born in Paris, in 1942, Hermine moved to London in 1964, where she met and married a poet, had a daughter and published a journal of her pregnancy, ‘Lifestar’, in 1969. She also contributed to International Times and The London Magazine before taking up tightrope walking, which would become her obsession for the next five years, and the subject of her next book, 'The Tightrope Walker'. She made an appearance in Derek Jarman's proto-punk flick, 'Jubilee', in 1977, in which she played the mute au pair Chaos. She also sings a version of the Edith Piaf classic, 'Je Ne Regrette Rien' on the film’s soundtrack. Hermine is also captured performing live around this period in Andrew Logan's camp documentary film, 'The Alternative Miss World' in 1978, along side Little Nell and Divine. She returned to writing in the late ’70s, producing three plays between 1978-80, bringing her strange charms to the attention of David Cunningham, A.K.A The Flying Lizards. With a taste for deadpan female vocalists, Cunningham worked with Hermine on a one-off single, a wonky cover of 'Torture', originally made famous by The Everly Brothers in 1964. Virgin Records refused to release the record, however and instead, Hermine independently pressed 2,000 copies on her own Salomé Disc imprint, released in August 1980 and distributed by Rough Trade and Fresh. She was soon picking up favourable column inches in the music press, usually garnering comparisons with Nico, Françoise Hardy or Marlene Dietrich. After ‘Torture’ sold out, Hermine issued a 4 track EP on Human Records, which appeared in March 1981. Meanwhile, she had begun performing during the intervals at The Comic Strip, the infamous alternative comedy club in Soho, and home to future British comedic talents Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Keith Allen, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Another single appeared in July 1981, 'Valley Of The Dolls', but getting a subsequent album deal wasn’t easy, until the Brussels-based independent label, Crammed Discs agreed to release a mini-album in 1982. Comprising of minimalistic versions of 'Blue Angel' (Roy Orbison), 'Too Many Men In My Life' (Ruth Wallis), ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ (Henderson & Brown) and ‘I Won’t Make It Without You’ (Nick Lowe), together with two originals, ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Waiting’, the release appeared in April. Proving quite popular with both music press and the audiences at her live dates in support of the release, the next Hermine record would not appear until 1984. Plans to release a follow-up once more via Crammed fell through, which meant delays while a new deal was sought. The ten track 'Lonely At The Top' was eventually released through a reactivated Salomé Disc when none of the 40 labels approached were interested, and distributed again by Rough Trade. The album sold out of it’s pressing of 2,500 copies, but was destined to be the last Hermine record for some time. Despite the absence of any new records, television viewers will have heard Hermine Demoriane singing more recently. She provided the distinctive femme fatale Nico-esque vocals for a Velvet Underground pastiche in a Andy Warhol sketch in series three of 'French & Saunders' in 1990. She also makes an appearance in 'Absolutely Fabulous', singing a French version of the theme tune at the end of the episode 'Paris', in 2001. In the mid-1990s Hermine returned to France, having inherited her family home, which she has since developed into an arts centre. All of Hermine's recordings, including some unreleased tracks, were reissued on CD by the LTM label in 2006 and a new album, 'Who'll Come Walking', appeared on Salomé Disc in 2008.