July 14, 2010 — The Literary Death Match launch of Bret Easton Ellis' Imperial Bedrooms was a ridiculous success, as the '80s-themed evening at Concrete ended with a wild game of Guess the Musical Artist that saw novelist Lee Rourke (representing Melville House) narrowly claim victory over poet Clare Pollard (representing Bloodaxe Books) by a final score of 7-6.
But before the first track was ever spun, the night, sponsored by Picador Books, kicked off with i-D Magazine's Milly McMahon telling a story about virginity loss that warmed up the packed crowd in seconds, followed by a masterful three-poem sequence by Pollard that included a '80s-based musings and a literary reaction to the BP oil spill.
After the readings, the mic was handed over to the trio of all-star judges, Trevor & Simon's Simon Hickson, KnockBack's Marie Berry and Sun journalist/stand up comedian Dave Bromage, who bantered back and forth (video to come) before finally announcing Pollard as the night's first finalist.
Following a booze- and pizza-fueled intermission, Quartet Books rep Nikesh Shukla (Coconut Unlimited) led off the second round in grand fashion, mixing in beatbox and reverberating foot stomps smartly into a story about him and his mate Neil listening to Public Enemy and trying to make their own rap/beatbox cassettes — it ended with roars from the audience. Then up stepped Rourke, who read from his new novel The Canal, an excerpt about a battle of two brothers playing Atari's Pong.
The judges again were in the spotlight, and after an argumentative few minutes (and the Ice Ice Baby freestylings of co-host Nicki Le Masurier), Lee Rourke was selected to advance to the finals.
Co-host Todd Zuniga then took center stage, as he explained the finale. First, he split the bar in two: Rourke claiming the left side, Pollard the right. Then, '80s songs were played from the DJ booth (playlist below) and the first person to rush up and tag LDM London Executive Producer Suzanne Azzopardi's hand and declare the correct name of the artist scored their team a point. To celebrate the 7th London LDM, the first to seven points would be the winner. Rourke raged to a 4-1 lead, but then Pollard's bar-half stormed back with four straight points. Rourke's team countered before Pollard took a 6-5 lead. Only one point from victory, Rourke's team answered The Smiths for "Ask Me," setting up a final song to declare the champion. While "I'm Coming Out" played, the anxious teams stood, unsurely listening. Until one man, a hero of literature and song, rushed forward, hand-clapped Azzopardi, and shouted, "Diana Ross!" giving Rourke not only the LDM title, but literary immortality, as well.
LDM Finale Song List
New Sensation (INXS)
Brass Monkey (Beastie Boys)
Relax (Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
Hungry Like the Wolf (Duran Duran)
Sussudio (Phil Collins)
Modern Love (David Bowie)
Cars (Gary Numan)
You Spin Me Right Round (Dead or Alive)
Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads)
Boys Don't Cry (The Cure)
Heaven is a Place on Earth (Belinda Carlisle)
Ask Me (The Smiths)
I'm Coming Out (Diana Ross)