The inspiration for the night came from a scene in the movie Scarface! The scene that caught my imagination is where Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino are in the glamorous Babylon Club and they’re both sipping cocktails as a sultry jazz singer performs in the background.
I suddenly thought: "There’s nowhere in London where you could do that, where pleasure-seeking Londoners could be in a sophisticated setting and enjoy live entertainment of that calibre. All the best live entertainment is either in spit-and-sawdust pubs in Camden or the east-end but there’s so many people that would never go to the places where these guys perform."
I felt there was a real opportunity to bring all this talent together into one show at a stylish and central venue. So, on the back of that, I decided to set up my own company and host my own monthly show featuring a range of performance art, such as burlesque, cabaret, circus, jazz, poetry and comedy.
The name Bonobo refers to an ape found in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are renowned for regularly engaging in sex. They also retain many juvenile traits into adulthood. They’re sexy and playful, which is the spirit of our entertainment.
The shows all take place at Cafe Royal on Regent Street by Piccadilly and last 90 minutes, with an average audience size of 120. It’s a great venue for us because it’s also a supper club, so the food there is very good. We offer a three-course meal with good wines to accompany the show, which costs £65. The show on its own costs £25. Cafe Royal handles the catering side of it, so it’s a kind of a joint venture in that sense. We share the revenue generated but Bonobo Presents keeps the majority. We’ve put on 16 shows since I founded the company in May 2006.
We’ll be publishing more about Bonobo in the next edition of Real Business magazine.