Tag Archive: drugs


Clubs – Ham Yard

Ham Yard, opposite Great Windmill Street in Soho, holds a special place in the history of English club culture. Most famously, it housed the Scene club in the early sixties. The Scene was for many of that generation the Mod club, much written about and still fondly remembered.To a Drinamyl-driven audience, Guy Stevens, the DJ, played the mix of Soul and R&B  that comprised the essential Mod soundtrack and, through his involvement with Sue records (UK),  acted as proselytiser and publicist for the music.  Along with the Flamingo on Wardour Street (blacker, jazzier) and Le Duce on D’Arblay Street (gayer, more Motown-oriented), the Scene was one of those essential spaces that permanently altered the musical and social landscape of post-War England.

However, for all the much vaunted newness of the Modernist movement, the Scene was actually just another phase in Ham Yard’s long connection with clubs, drugs and nocturnal subcultures.In the 1950s, The Scene had been Cy Laurie’s Jazz Club. Although Trad Jazz gets pretty short shrift in most studies of “youth culture”, it was important (Skiffle and the Blues revival came out of it) and Cy Laurie’s club was as Bohemian and free-spirited as you could wish for. This was partly because it was very dancefloor-oriented and partly because of its popularity with St. Martin’s College Art Students. The police saw fit to raid it on a number of occasions.

For more on Cy Laurie see Cy Laurie’s Club

The story goes that both the Scene and Cy Laurie’s were on the same site as the Hambone, which takes us back to Elvira’s era. Here the street numbers become rather confusing.  Ham Yard is always given as the site of the Scene and very often for Cy Laurie’s, but the given address for both clubs was 41 Great Windmill Street , which as Mac’s Rehearsal Rooms and Mac’s Dancing Academy had been around since the 1920s. Curiously, London’s early Modern Jazz venue, Club 11, was in Mac’s Rehearsal Rooms (briefly Moffats Club). Club 11′s existence was short-lived (1948-50)  due to a much-publicised drugs raid. I assume it was the same space but jazz histories give the address as 44 Great Windmill Street. The whole area is so small and a bomb in World War 2 had damaged one side of Ham Yard so we are probably talking about one place –  but it is all a little puzzling.

Club 11 1949

Things get even more complicated when we get back to the 20s and 30s. Ham Yard was apparently  home, simultaneously, to at least ten (!) clubs. Apart from the Hambone (15 Ham Yard) and the Blue Lantern (14), these included  Freddy Ford’s New Avenue, The Pavilion,The Top Hat, Mother Hubbard’s,The Morgue, The Oak ( according to James Laver) The Last Club and the Windmill (according to Horace Wyndham) and, according to one account, Douglas Byng’s The Kinde Dragon.All of these places had live music and most were open all night. Heretical as it might seem to die-hard Mods, the true golden age of Ham Yard night-life appears to be sometime around 1929-1932 – the era of Elvira’s party set.

The Hambone was the earliest, most prestigious and in many ways the  most salubrious of these clubs. Founded in 1922 as a Bohemian cabaret club, its original membership was almost exclusively drawn from the Arts. Founder member and presiding figure was, inevitably, Augustus John. I posted earlier that Freddy Ford was the owner but I don’t now think that is the case – at least not in the club’s halcyon years. An early review characterised it as “a futurist den”  and instead of the usual “Dancing and Cabaret” it advertised itself as offering “Special Artistic Entertainment”.  Dancing there certainly was though, Radclyffe Hall was fond of stepping out there, which must have surely been something to behold. In the latter half of the decade it had fallen into line and had a regular band, Alec Alexander played there before becoming long-term resident at the Gargoyle. Ethel Mannin also danced there and recalled the place as “chronically Bohemian”. She found it hard to believe that the small and densely packed dance-floor had allowed for anything as expansive as the Charleston.

Ethel Mannin

By the mid-twenties the Hambone started to attract writers and journalists as well as a group of heartier, sporty types. Elvira’s fiance, Charles Graves straddled all three categories and it was on his return from a late night drink at the Hambone that the incident with Elvira arrived with the gun (see https://elvirabarney.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/charles-graves/ ) . The De Haviland Aero Club held its annual dinner there and hack-novelist Peter Cheyney made it the base from which he observed the Mayfair-Soho connections that feature in many of his books. The club was now officially “Ye Olde Hambone Club” with suitably retro-furnishings (a mock-Adam fireplace) but it remained known as the Hambone. It still valued its original clientele as, unusually it had a graded membership policy.Artists, authors and journalists paid One Guinea, actors Two and business men Three. There was an entrance fee as well but this was cheap compared to  High Society haunts like The Embassy or Uncles, where membership was Eight Guineas plus entrance fee.

The Blue Lantern opened next door in the late twenties (1929?), perhaps to woo some of the younger element away from what was in danger of  becoming a rather masculine venue. It seems to have pitched itself as quintessenially “Modern”, being one of the first clubs to install Thonet steel tubular furniture. It also very quickly got a reputation as catering for the “more dissolute” elements among the Bright Young People. This meant, as it usually did, Elizabeth Ponsonby and her pals, one of whom was the club’s pianist, Hugh Wade.

Breur Thonet Chair 1929

Barbara Ker-Seymer, Freddie Ashton and Billy Chappell were regulars, Eddy Gathorne-Hardy seems to have spent part of most nights there, Tom Driberg loved the place (incidentally,he too refers to Hugh Wade as Hetty Wade), Jocelyn Brooke, Brian Howard, Terence Skeffington-Smythe and Arthur Jeffress were all members. Elvira and Michael were often seen there. Hutch’s lover  Zena  Naylor brought along Evelyn Waugh one night (“very squalid” he wrote in his diary) and Anthony Powell met Tallulah Bankhead (briefly) at the club. All in all, it does seem to merit the status that D.J.Taylor gives it in “Bright Young People” as one of the key hedonistic spaces of the era.Furthermore, given the inter-changeability of the clientele, I’m sure the Blue Angel was in some way an offshoot of the Blue Lantern.

But what of the other establishments in Ham Yard?

Firstly, although Roger Gardiner recalls seeing Hutch perform at the “Kind Dragon in Ham Yard”, this club, run by Douglas Byng, was almost certainly in St Martin’s Lane.” – I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a guest spot at the Blue Lantern he was referring to. Like Hutch, Byng was a favourite of the BYP and may also have had a residency or played in Ham Yard.

But probably not at The Morgue.  According to Jerry White, this was a venture run by “Dalton Murray” after Murray’s club on Beak Street closed temporarily. The owners of Murray’s were Percival “Pops” Murray and Jack May so I’m not sure about “Dalton”. Kate Meyrick’s first club was Dalton’s on Tottenham Court Road so there may be some collapsing of names here. White also mentions a club in Great Windmill Street, The Blue Peter, decked out like a battleship. (White London in the 20th Century). The Morgue sounds even more startling the with the receptionist dressed as a nun, coffins for tables and the waiters sporting devils’ horns. All very proto-Goth and disappointingly tacky – I’d like to think Elvira and her crowd stayed well clear.

Of the rest, Freddy Ford’s New Avenue Club was the most notorious. Known as the Havinoo  to its patrons, it was essentially a hang-out for Soho’s army of criminals, prostitutes and wide boys. The club and its owner feature regularly in court cases throughout  the period – fights and the contravention of licensing laws being the norm. Ford, depending on which account you read, was either an affable rogue or a putative “King of the Underworld”. His long career included convictions for  burglary and receiving stolen goods, but it was as a club-owner and a renter of rooms for prostitution that he made his fortune. At some time or other, he had a share in all the clubs around Ham Yard and may have owned The New Hambones, as the Hambone became in the Second World War.  Significantly, the club was found to be breaking licensing laws in that period.

Racetrack Gang including various Sabinis, Billy Kimber and the MacDonalds

The fact is that Ham Yard generally was a centre of villainy. Throughout the 1920s a series of fights took place there. These, all known as “The Battle of Ham Yard” were to settle disputes between which London gang would have first pickings of the many illegal and semi-legal businesses that bloomed in Soho, not least because of the plethora of night-clubs. Various Sabinis and Cortesis, Billy Kimber’s Brummagem Boys, gangs from Hackney, Kings Cross, Paddington, Hoxton and Elephant and Castle all settled scores with coshes and razors in Ham Yard.

All of which begs the question as to what overlap was there between the louche but largely Upper Class Overground world of the Bohemians and the real Working Class Criminal Underworld? By and large, the two groups would have kept to separate venues but the proximity is interesting. Some of the predilections of the Smart Set would have been of advantage to the Soho gangs. Most forms of betting were then illegal and we know that Michael Stephen was a heavy gambler (and he was surely not the only one). Cocaine and other drug use might also have been a point of crossover. Homosexuality (and its concomitant terror, blackmail) would have played a part.  As far as Soho’s most famous vice is concerned, perhaps he “Piccadilly tart” who arrived with Elizabeth Ponsonby for a drunken weekend at her parent’s house was first encountered in Ham Yard.

Elizabeth Ponsonby and husband

Then there was the “Arminian”  cafe,  a Bohemian haunt on the corner of Great Windmill Street (Epstein dined there) which was also used by gangsters and prostitutes. The same was true of the “Harmony” (the same place, I’m guessing) in the 50s. Modernists and Trad Jazzers argued the respective merits of Dizzy Gillespie and Kid Oliver while the dangerous Jack Spot looked on. Clubland and Criminality have never exactly been strangers so it seems not unreasonable to assume more than a passing glance  took place between the wilder young things and the extensive Wide  community that dwelled in, if not the same precise space, then the club next door. Kate Meyrick boasted that gangsters and lords sat next each other at her clubs. She exaggerated – but not perhaps by much.

Advertisements

Napper at the Fitzroy Tavern

In my post on Anna Wickham, I was a little skeptical of Peter Cotes’ claim that she spent a lot of time with Elvira, post-trial ( see https://elvirabarney.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/anna-wickham/) .What I may have missed is the fact that Anna Wickham knew Napper Dean Paul, the two having met in the Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street. If there was a relationship between the two women, Napper may well be the link.

Fitzroy Tavern

The Fitzroy was the pub that bequeathed the name to the geographical and ideological space that was previously known as “North Soho”.  Although there were plenty of artists knocking around,It was predominantly a literary pub and drinking club culture, very different to Chelsea or the “raffish pseudo-smart Bohemia” of Elvira’s friends. Its most famous resident figure was Dylan Thomas, the most representative female denizens were Betty May and Nina Hamnett, its great chronicler was Julian MacLaren Ross and its highpoint was probably the years of the Second World War. Like many sub-cultural spaces, it was not hermetically sealed and the overlaps between Cafe Royal Bohemia,Fitzrovia, Soho Proper, Chelsea, Bloomsbury and the remnants of the Bright Young People are many and various.

According to Hugh David, in The Fitzrovians, the impulse which created “Fitzrovia” (the name came later; ironically it was coined by Tom Driberg , a prominent Bright Young Person) was the the invasion, by Smart Society, of previous Bohemian haunts such as the Eiffel Tower Restaurant in Soho. Genuine Bohemians, principally Augustus John and Nina Hamnett, turned to certain pubs which they thought would not appeal to the fashionable and frivolous. This may well be true but the example David gives is unfortunate.

He states “By 1927 the Eiffel had become just another place to eat.” and then proceeds to illustrate this by quoting Nina Hamnett’s listing of some of those “ordinary” diners.Included in this list are some of Elvira’s cocktail guests,

“At the Eiffel Tower one evening I met Ruth Baldwin, whom I had known sometime before. She shared a house with Jo Carstairs, the motor-boat racing girl.”

Now, if Hugh David thinks that Ruth and Jo represent mainstream smart society , then he just hasn’t done his homework. To me, the quote actually illustrates an even more complex relationship between the different strands of “alternative” London in the period than generally assumed. Nonetheless, it is true that a section of (largely male) artists and writers deliberately distanced themselves ( publicly at least) from the more “Mayfair” aspects of the High Bohemia of the twenties.

William Roberts’s portrait of the Eiffel Tower in its Vorticist heyday

Part  of impulse for this move was down to an overt rejection of  the decidedly upper-class ambience of both Bloomsbury and Mayfair, part of it was simply a shift in cultural mood between the 1920s and 1930s. In some cases, it was purely economic, pub life being somewhat cheaper than the life on the salon and night-club circuit. For Napper, it was probably the latter, as these were very lean years for him.

Brenda and Brian

Although the newspapers of the 1930s focussed on Brenda’s exploits, Brian Dean Paul’s tribulations were every bit as dramatic and his decline every bit as steep.Never in possession of much money, he was now reduced to borrowing from his dwindling band of friends, shoplifting and stealing objects from the homes of anyone foolish enough to let him stay with them.Many found him an unsavoury figure some were sorry for him (the phrase “poor Napper” crops up frequently) . One or two people do appear to have genuinely liked him.

Brenda and Brian Dean Paul

One of those, improbable as it may seem, was Dylan Thomas, another associate of Anna Wickham and himself not always the most gracious of house guests. The following anecdote, from Andrew Lycett’s biography of Thomas, illustrates something of the chaos of Dylan and Napper’s existence. It takes place at the beginning of the War in the London home of the South African writer, Lorna Wilmot.

“Having unfettered access to a handsome mansion block property went to Dylan’s head. Unhinged by drink and depression he invited two low-life friends to join him. The upshot was that several of Wilmot’s prized possessions, including silver, furs, a gramophone and a typewriter, went missing. When she returned home, she was incensed to find not only had these items disappeared, but also her flat was strewn with half-eaten meals, and with love-letters belonging to one of Dylan’s friends, a Fitzroy denizen known as Mab Farrogate, and the clothing and make-up of another, the cross-dressing Brian Dean Paul.”

Brian and Brenda in more opulent times

Lycett continues

“Over the previous three years there had been strong indications that Dylan had been taking drugs. His paranoia following his trip to London in December 1938 strongly suggests a reaction to a bad drug experience. His association with Napper Dean Paul confirms his involvement with London’s prevalent drug sub-culture.”  – which was news to me but does make sense.

All this took place after Elvira’s death but if Napper, Anna and Dylan had all met prior to 1936 (which is likely) then Elvira might also have been around. I still can’t see her sitting comfortably in the Wheatsheaf or the Fitzroy but their clientele included familiar faces such as John Banting, Barbara Ker-Seymer and, occasionally, Brian Howard, which might have made her feel more at home.Remember, Elvira post-trial was something of an outcast herself and the louche and the liquor-fuelled were never exactly anathema to her.

Dylan Thomas

Curiously, during his Fitzrovia period Napper married (disastrously, I imagine) Muriel Lillie. Muriel was the elder sister of comedienne and cabaret star Beatrice Lillie, who though now Lady Peel, had her own history of association with drug scandals. Early in her career she had been a close friend of Billie Carleton, whose death by overdose after the 1918 Victory Ball had triggered the first great “moral panic” over women and cocaine use. The ghost of Billie Carleton hovered over the whole inter-war drug scene, the scandal inspired Coward’s play “The Vortex” and her name cropped up in many a discussion about the presumed imminent demise of the wayward Brenda.

Billie Carleton

 

Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson

I’ll leave Charlotte Breese’s “Hutch” alone after this post but I do recommend it to anyone interested in the racial and sexual politics of the inter-war years – or anyone who wants to acquaint themselves with one of the true stars of British popular music in the sadly ignored decades preceding the rise of the Beatles. However there is a section on Elvira that is too tantalising to ignore.

“Typical of Hutch’s clients and/or lovers was Elvira Mullens, daughter of Lord and Lady Mullens. Three pianists – Hutch, Billy Milton and Carroll Gibbons – all played at one of her parties, which always featured modish theatricals. Appearing the same night was a close-harmony turn, The Three New Yorkers. Elvira was briefly married to one of them, a Mr.Barney. The marriage ended, and scandal erupted, when Elvira took a lover and shot him dead. Elvira was arrested and confined to the infirmary of Holloway prison, where, to keep up her spirits, she displayed a photograph of Tallulah Bankhead. At the same time, Mr. Barney tried to blackmail her father by threatening to expose details of her private life, including her cocaine habit. In the event, Elvira was acquitted. To celebrate she threw a huge party at the Berkeley. People were horrified and soon afterwards she committed suicide in Paris.”

There are some errors in this account, which is taken largely from Billy Milton’s “Paradise Mislaid” – is is doubtful that it was suicide, for example. However it is the “clients and/or lovers” that makes me wonder. Is this just a general statement about Elvira’s “typicality”  or is something more being implied? Why choose Elvira as an example, anyway?

It is not far-fetched at all to speculate  that Elvira could have had a fling with Hutch. So it seems did half of West End society, male and female. Elvira’s idol Tallulah certainly did and Zena Naylor (a friend of Brenda Dean Paul and Olivia Wyndham, if not Elvira herself) had quite a long-lasting affair with the singer. At one party, Brenda Dean Paul actually won Hutch in an auction. Another ex-Deb, Elizabeth Corbett (nee Sperling) was about the same age as Elvira and said to be the leader of “a smart set”. She gave birth to a child by Hutch in 1930. Hutch’s most famous relationship was with Lady Edwina Mountbatten, a somewhat less than clandestine romance and one which Elvira would have known all about. Edwina was drawing press attention at the same time Elvira was on trial. The People had hinted at an affair between Lady Mountbatten and a “coloured” entertainer. Fortunately for the Mountbattens, they picked on Paul Robeson as the likely candidate and Lord Mountbatten sued and won substantial damages. The unsuccessful defence case was conducted by none other than Sir Patrick Hastings, fresh from his  triumphant handling of Elvira’s murder charge.

Edwina Mountbatten

Although Hutch continued to be a cabaret favourite there was an undoubted behind the scenes campaign against him.After the abdication of friend and enthusiast Edward the Eighth he was rarely heard on the BBC and the Society invitations tailed off. He remained incredibly popular with female audiences throughout the country  and staged a triumphant “Society” comeback as part of the nostalgia for the 20s that hit the upper-classes in the mid-fifties. His last years though were ones of absolute decline and make for very sad and somewhat disquieting reading.

Breese’s commentary on the motivations of those women who threw themselves at Hutch in the golden years, from 1927 to the mid-thirties, rather misses some obvious points, explored at length elsewhere in the book,  but as an analysis of Elvira is worthy of consideration,

“Many of Hutch’s female lovers were rich and had nothing to do, and had little or no self-esteem.Desperate for affection, and attention, they lived in gilded misery, drifting from party to party and, inevitably, attracting men who despised, exploited and discarded them.”

Freda Roberts

About the time that Michael moved into 21William Mews another ill-fated match was taking place in London, this time between the singer Al Bowlly and the night-club hostess Freda Roberts. Al Bowlly was starting to make a name for himself through his recordings with Ray Noble and his work with Roy Fox at the Monseigneur restaurant, a favourite haunt of Elvira’s.

Freda Roberts was working at the Bag O’Nails, 9 Kingly Street, and other clubs. She had a “wild” reputation and, according to one source, was introduced to Bowlly at the Lyons Corner House ( where Hugh Wade ended up most nights). Trumpeter Nat Gonella made the introduction, describing Freda as “the hostess with the mostest”. She was red-haired and beautiful and something of a legend among the dance-band musicians (nearly 60 years later Gonella remembered her as “a really tasty bird”). Bowlly may in fact have already known her from the Bag O’Nails as he preferred the “jazzier” after-hours vibe of the place to the standard West End clubs. Some of the surviving Bright Young Things also found the club to their liking and Anthony Powell included it in his novel “Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant”.

The marriage did not begin auspiciously, as, in an echo of Elvira’s honeymoon, Bowlly found Freda in bed with another man on their wedding night. Within two weeks the relationship was over.

Bowlly went on to become the vocalist of the Dance Band era and a star performer at the Cafe De Paris.He had been sitting in with Ken “Snakehips” Johnson  in the weeks prior to the bombing that killed the bandleader and put the final full stop on that venue’s inter-war reign as the premier meeting place for the upper-class “out on the town”, of whom Elvira had been the most notorious example. Bowlly himself was another Blitz victim when his apartment was also hit shortly afterwards.

Freda’s subsequent career involved a descent into drug addiction and some fame as the media’s “working-class” version of Brenda Dean Paul. Her rueful confessions appeared in the press and in books like J.A. Buckwalter’s sensationalist but once influential “Merchants of Misery” (1956).

There is perhaps a closer connection to Elvira’s world in Freda’s story than simply a metaphorical reminder that not only rich girls strayed from the path of morality and acceptable social behaviour in the 1930s. In Charlotte Bresse’s biography of Hutch, she quotes John Gardiner, a “rich young man” and almost certainly an associate of the “fast set” at the time of the trial. On his, seemingly, nightly round of clubs and restaurants such as Romano’s and the Blue Train, Gardiner accompanies Hutch to the Kind Dragon in Ham Yard – “and from the club next door we used to collect Freda Roberts, a beautiful hostess who married Al Bowlly, the renowned singer, who was bisexual of course.”

The best known club with hostesses in Ham Yard was the Blue Lantern, resident pianist Hugh Wade with members and regulars that included Terence Skeffington-Smythe, Eddie Gathorne-Hardy, Arthur Jeffress and Elvira Barney.All in all, Freda’s world of night-clubs, drugs, promiscuity and bisexual men does not sound a million miles away from the lifestyle of 21 William Mews.

It is worth noting that the Bag O’Nails was a jazz club in Soho and not to be confused with the pub of the same name near Buckingham Palace. The latter would have been more familiar to many of the male “members” of Elvira’s circle as it was the premier place for the picking up, by rich homosexuals, of Guardsmen, much favoured for their availability and discretion. The Soho Bag O’Nails, a key part of British jazz history, is now best remembered for its sixties’ connection with Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones et al, who probably thought they were pioneers in the fields of excess and decadence but were in fact merely continuing a well-established tradition.

 

 

“Mauve” Waterhouse

Charlotte Breese’s  biography of Leslie Hutchinson, “Hutch“, apart from being a moving and rather sad portrayal of the Bright Young Thing’s favourite cabaret performer, is a mine of information and, sometimes slightly scurrilous, revelations about the antics of  the “faster” crowd between the Wars. One anecdote in particular caught my eye.

Hutch 1928

In a section of the book that begins with the statement, “While most of the parties that Hutch attended were fairly decorous, some were scenes of open debauch.”, the following is given as an example –

“The wife of Sir Nicholas Hildersley, Audrey, known as “Mauve”, used to entertain her decadent friends at their home in Swan Walk, Chelsea. While her husband, often with his fellow philatelist George V, worked on his stamp collection in the basement, the guests, stimulated by drink and cocaine at his expense, used to chant “Hey, Hey, Let Nicky Pay!” Hutch and Mauve, armed with a musical saw, used to sing and vigorously enact “Let’s Do It”.”

“Mauve was a vain woman, in a cloud of Turkish cigarettes and Chanel No. 5, who avoided having children for fear of losing her beautiful figure . Although Hutch probably tried various drugs – Billy Milton, a rival pianist, claimed he took cocaine – he did not become dependent on the stimuli of the very fast set, limiting himself to being a lifelong heavy smoker and drinker.”

So, we find another seemingly respectable Chelsea household where drug-taking and sexual shenanigans are the order of the day. As a bonus, we also have a mention of Elvira’s friend, Billy Milton.

Now, I have no wish to contravene the libel laws or to offend anybody related to the Hildersleys  and the story, presumably related by one of that ilk, cannot be independently verified, but it does seem worth pointing out the following facts.

There is no record of anyone called Hildersley residing in Swan Walk in the relevant years (1928-30, I’d guess). However Sir Nicholas Edwin Waterhouse, senior partner in the already powerful accountancy firm Price-Waterhouse, lived at No.2 with his wife Audrey, known as “Mauve” to her friends. Sir Nicholas was a keen philatelist, his book on American postage stamps can still be found. Conspicuously wealthy, the couple were both keen patrons of the arts.

Swan Walk, Chelsea

One artist who benefitted especially from their support was the great “lost Modernist”,  the maverick and irascible Wyndham Lewis. By the late 1920s, having alienated most of literary and artistic London, Lewis was in need of sympathetic patronage. The Waterhouses funded his journal The Enemy and helped him financially during the writing of The Apes of God (a novel which lambasted everyone Lewis knew, thus ensuring his further isolation.)

Wyndham Lewis was connected to Elvira’s world through Marjorie Firminger’s unfortunate infatuation with the artist  (see https://elvirabarney.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/mary-ashliman-heather-pilkington-and-the-blue-angel/ ). It just possible that Firminger and her friends  met Lewis at Swan Walk. Firminger’s narcotically-inclined co-host at many a Chelsea bash,Olivia Wyndham,was distantly related to Lewis (but then again so was she to almost everybody.)

Audrey Waterhouse was much older than Elvira and I think it is unlikely that they were acquainted. However, if true, the presence of yet another Chelsea residence where cocaine was freely available would not have escaped the notice of the circles Mrs.Barney inhabited. As to Hutch, there might be – according to Charlotte Breese – an even closer connection to Elvira than simply a shared fondness for “decadent” parties – and that will be dealt with shortly.