Ophelia Bitz’s London To Do List
Queen of London’s sauciest night out, Artwank!, Ophelia Bitz reveals all including her unique secret guide to London and her top bargain haunts…
Tell us about your favourite secret/offbeat places in London (food, going out, entertainment, relaxation)?
I live in Chelsea on a WW2 torpedo boat populated by fellow broke bohemians. My job as a cabaret compere involves a lot of late nights, free booze and socialising so I like to spend my free time in the city gathering inspiration, culture-vulturing and exploring on the cheap.
CYCLING: Battersea Park in the sunshine, canal paths (ring your bell!) and along the river at night are particular favourites. Getting out of my unbelievably expensive neighbourhood is essential to living cheaply, and brilliant exercise.
FOOD: I am a massive foodie so I spend a lot of time stuffing my face all over town. For sushi I recommend lurking at the Japan Centre at the end of the day when everything is half price.
The handmade marshmallows in Rococco; at £1.50 they’re about the only affordable thing in there, although the hand-painted chocolate sardines are utterly delightful! Oysters straight out the crate at Borough Market make me high as a kite, although they’re a false economy because there’s always room for more…The exquisite Italian food at La Famiglia in Chelsea is by no means cheap, but the waiters have learned to tolerate my cheapskate lunchtime presence thanks to some heavy-duty flirting and an unslakable thirst for their Minestra D’Ova.
Alexandra Palace Farmer’s Market is my favourite place to go food shopping; the fresh air and amazing location, the yuppie families chasing errant children and dogs and the endless free samples from the Giggly Pig Sausage Co. all add up to a great Sunday afternoon
I just found a great Moroccan-glitz performance venue in Clapham with a disco stage and late-night pudding bar. It’s so secret they don’t want any press so you’ll have to look out for the red door and stained glass…..
I went to my first Sleaze in Camden Lock a couple of weeks ago, only £3 to get in and loads of friendly faces. Dirty dirty shows and a decent cocktail menu too.
The V&A is my office, my church and my meeting room. That great temple to human endeavour (and imperialist theft, granted) puts me into a trance and feeds my brain every time. I go there about three times a week. Take a packed lunch though, the cafe is expensive!
I love to loll about in a steam room and go most frequently to the Porchester Spa. It’s cheapest to go on Sundays with a friend or partner for £14 a head. Since traveling to Finland for work with The Champagne Circus I have become a bit of a sauna fiend and hear tales of a proper Scandinavian sauna somewhere in Rotherhithe.
What offbeat events are on your To Do List in the next month or so?
I am going to try Lucha Libre Wrestling classes at the Resistance Galleries, Bethnal Green. I’ve picked out my costume and fancy ring entrance already, now I just need to learn to actually wrestle!
I’m really looking forward to the Last Tuesday Society exhibition on Sebastian Horsely, which will be complimented by some very rude drawings by my friend Rubi Cane (aka Ian Bruce of The Correspondents) VERY RUDE INDEED!
For the Jubilee Flotilla I’ll be diving my time between selling flags and deely-boppers on the street, preparing some kind of feast for the shipmates and preparing to moon the Queen in my Beefeater costume.
What’s your ultimate London confession?
I can’t give any spoilers ahead of my sensational, glamorous best-selling autobiography but I was very pleased to hear my former drama tutor report that she’d got busted for trying to steal a butterfly from the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate. It looked particularly bad as she is now an art dealer!
What event or product of your own would you like to pimp on To Do List?
I would very much like to promote my ongoing vintage porn research project and cinematic cabaret ArtWank! It’s been running in London in various locations for over a year and we’re in the process of developing it for the Edinburgh Fringe. Please check the website for details of our crowd-funding campaign to get us there! We need your money for porn and train tickets. Cheers. www.artwank.co.uk
ps. Ophelia Bitz & Myra Dubois will be debuting their new variety night at the Tooting Tram and Social on June 17th. Tickets are free, times TBC
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.