Photography by Iain McKell – British fashion, portrait and social documentary photographer whose work has been published in L’uomo Vogue, i-D and The Face.
After shooting a scene for Manumission the Movie and spending time in The Motel, Iain Mckell asked us if he could photograph us for Italian Vogue. The photographs ended up capturing the last supper of the Manumission crew – after Manumission had been closed out of Privilege forever, by the insane club owner!
The photographs were used here below in an article for The Sunday Times.
On another note, for any of you animal lovers out there. A dear friend of ours sadly passed away earlier this year. He ran a wonderful shelter for animals on his farm in Ibiza. Including protecting endangered species… There is a link at the bottom of this page for those of you who are in a position to help the farm look after their beautiful animals – including Oscar the donkey and Molly the horse.
‘As some of you will know, Ronnie Anderson – the man behind the wonderful organic livestock farm Can P’ere Mussona here on Ibiza, passed away earlier this year. A passionate rare breeds specialist, Ronnie worked with the Department of Genetics at the University of Cordoba and more than doubled the number of Formentera Black Pigs in existence, as well as providing a home for a flock of Ibicenco sheep which has flourished.
The farm also provides refuge for animals who have been mis-treated and seized by the government. It’s currently home to Oscar the donkey, Molly the horse and even to a tortoise.’
After his passing the farm has no income and the animals still need to be fed, cared for and rehoused. Here is a link for a gofundme for the farm animals – if you are in a position to help these beautiful creatures.
Considering the current situation in Ibiza we thought you might enjoy a flashback to one of our favourite summers… 19 years ago – on this date, June 18th 2001, The Fantastic Sea Voyage of the GOODSHIP Manumission began.
Mike & I were introduced to photographer Neil Soni and we commissioned him to follow ourselves, and our crew throughout the summer of 2001. His lens migrated towards the more chaotic side of things. He started shooting from week 3 and on the corresponding week this summer we will be exhibiting a selection of these photographs here at Mission Mansion.
In the words of photographer Neil Soni:
I first met Mike and Claire at the opening party of Manumission during the summer of 98, when Derek Dahlarge introduced me to them in the back room after one of his sets. I was 19 years old, looking for work and Derek was my only contact in Ibiza. They told me to come to the Manumission Motel as they needed help getting it ready to launch – I ended up removing the stones from the roof in the sweltering heat… and going to every single Manumission party that summer!
That year I met Lois, Claire’s younger sister, and we realised we all went to the same high school, although I was a few years below them. Much later on we realised the first ever Manumission poster was shot at my dad’s old studio in Kensington park Road shot by Phil Silcock in the mid nineties!
Lois was becoming a stylist/fashion designer and we ended up meeting on a few shoots in London during 2000. We became good friends and we ended up travelling in India together for a month during the winter of 2001. I was in Kathmandu in May 2001 when I received an email from Lois saying she was going to ibiza to do the costumes for Manumission and they needed a BTS photographer. I jumped on a flight back to London and went off to Ibiza for the summer season.
When I met M&C I showed them my India travel pics and they decided my style was suited to catching the humour and hedonism during after hours at Manumission in the Coco Loco (back room that got going between 6-8 am) and Carry On at Space. My shift started at around 5am Monday morning and finished 4pm after Carry On. Everything was shot on 35mm film in hot and sweaty conditions. I didn’t have the ability to check the images when I was shooting like you can do with digital and had to wait until Thursday to get the results…
I was very much part of the party and tried to capture the wild moments and energy of the after hours. The Coco Loco got going at 6am after the shows and was the time when all the Manumission team and showgirls let loose, dancing on the bars, and Colin Peters was dropping bangers! We jumped on the happy bus at 9am after hanging in the changing rooms and went for breakfast opposite Space, had some beers/shots and went to Carry On where we handed out toys and fancy dress to the up for it crowd.
19 years ago – on this date, June 18th 2001, The Fantastic Sea Voyage of the GOODSHIP Manumission began.
Neil’s flair, his timing and wicked sense of humour shine through in this collection, more to come…
A Manumission Life: Flashback to 2001 – Tuesday mornings at Manumission, and CARRY ON in Space, caught through the lens of Neil Soni, Loft Studios.
The World Series was a celebration of our world, which we represented by its clubbing capitols. Bringing so many cultures together happily under one roof – in a world full of turmoil was a real joy to us.
THE WORLD SERIES, each week we would recreate one of the worlds clubbing capitols in Manumission.
It was a balancing act to find an appealing City and a great DJ with the right weight and fit to represent their City and Manumission.
Boddingtons played its part in the Manchester story. With Jon Da Silva, Luvdup and The Divine David. The Happy Monday’s crew were to join us later!
We brought in Blake Baxter and Stacey Pullen to represent Detroit…
David Alvarado and gallons of tequila from the City of Angels.
We brought in Le Palace from Paris, with David Guetta, Claude Monet and Tom & Jerry Bouthier… with special guest star Tony de Vit – celebrating his hard house and French ancestry.
And here, the Amsterdam party of the world series… With something traditional to represent the smoking capitol of Europe.
My all time favourite free invite… Happy to have designed it ourselves. Imagine rocking up to the door with this! And getting in for free!
Manumission is a Latin word meaning freedom from slavery – we have always been against slavery of every kind. Freedom to be whoever you wanted to be when you came to Manumission was the essence. All slavery is wrong, including wage slavery, debt bondage. All forms of slavery. The whole idea behind Manumission – the party, was freedom.
Philosophy of Manumission – written by Mike in 1994.
Leaders of tomorrow are going to clubs today.
Pro individual rather than pro society, pro legalisation of drugs, hedonistic – you have one life enjoy it – you might die tomorrow. Encourage people to open their minds, to different races, nationalities, sexuality etc.
Against patriotic beliefs (narrow-minded racism): – pro – world beliefs.
Anti-excess commercialism (70% of stuff people buy is shit). Anti-business set up for purely profit reasons when the product is not helpful to the individual.
Quality of product – things break. More important than quantity is quality. Everywhere these days quality seems to be worse than in the past. – minimum investment for maximum profit – at consumer’s expense. Gradual deterioration in quality. Anti-pretension
–we accept everyone no need to pretend to be something you are not – in order to fit in –encourage letting down of barriers – friendship – through wild parties.
Anti class system – birth should not limit your chances of success – show people how to play to their strengths.
Anarchic – if everybody did what they dreamed of doing they would all be much happier.
No respect for rules which we do not believe in.
High moral standards of friendship.
Anti violence – if all the world partied they could never form army’s to make wars.
Pro – sex – not going to harm anybody (Violence will!).
Mike photographed demonstrating his gymnastic skills and sense of personal freedom. Shot by Ernest Collins. Top Parisian African American Fashion Photographer, sadly recently deceased.
‘Ernest Collins, a makeup artist, hairstylist and photographer who elevated black beauty in elite modeling circles in Chicago, Milan and Paris, has died at 67.’
I was 20 years old when I met Mike on his quest for universal freedom. He had searched for and found the perfect name for his party: Manumission, a Latin word meaning freedom from slavery. Inadvertently I became instrumental in the extreme methods used to achieve and market that goal.
En aquellos años los promotores ingleses ya tenían cogida la medida a la isla y empezaban a hacerse fuertes. En el caso de Manumission no fue menos y no le costo pasar de celebrar un evento en Manchester para 400 personas a las 10.000 que podían pasar una noche por Privilege, o por aquel entonces Ku, el club de Ibiza que fue conocido por todos por ser el club más grande del mundo.
We were in London editing Manumission the Movie and had convinced Telstar that we only ever stayed at The Portobello Hotel, at 22 Stanley Gardens. It was partly true. We stayed there whenever we could. But we had never stayed for two solid months! Like we did in the winter of 99.
THE PORTOBELLO HOTEL – NOTTING HILL, W11 LONDON
‘In room 16, Kate Moss and Johnny Depp filled the Victorian bath with champagne; Alice Cooper kept his snakes in it; and Tim Burton flooded the room by leaping from the bed into the bath and back. The Stones, U2, Tina Turner and many other starry names, from music, fashion and show business, also stayed at The Portobello in its heyday.’
I was lounging on the circular bed in Room 16 as Mike wrote the list of great stars he wanted us to work with. It was in no particular order: David Bowie, Van Morrison, Bono, Madonna… After breakfast, we wandered down the colonial stairway. I was talking on the phone and paid no attention to the guy with the umbrella, who was checking in and checking me out. Nor was I paying attention to Mike, who was hiding behind one of the grand columns in the elegant reception.
Van Morrison had been placed in our path.
‘If he is still in the hotel tonight, we will find him in the 24-hour bar.’ Mike assured me as we walked out into the London rain.
Not 100% sure who was with us that particular night. The usual London suspects – Jon Carter, Daniel Peppe aka Agent Dan were definitely there. There’s a strong chance Derek Dahlarge was also part of the posse, there was a gang of us. We had already closed several bars before descending upon the hotel – with our sites on the 24 hour bar.
Mike was smoking a joint out the bedroom window when on the balcony of the room next door he spotted Van’s umbrella.
‘Right, everyone down to the bar.’ We tumbled down the stairs.
Beers, wine, vodka, Jack & Coke ordered and consumed. Once we were in fine spirits, Mike surveyed the room – and sure enough Van the Man was there – quietly enjoying a late night drink in the alcove by the window. Mike approached the musical legend.
‘We are having an interesting conversation over there.’ Mike pointed back to me sitting with the table full of our DJ friends. ‘I thought you might like to join us.’
‘Well what are you talkin’ about!?’ asked Van the Man. Mike paused to consider the question. The beer, the wine, the joints, the stimulants momentarily stumped him.
‘Let me just go back and check.’ When Mike returned, Van and his manager had a better idea.
‘Well why don’t you and your friends join us, over here?’ Once we had squeezed around their table his manager tried to explain to Van who we were.
‘Manumission!’ he exclaimed with glee. Van of course had no idea what Manumission was so the manager went on…
‘Van, you remember when you were the top of the top of the top?’ The manager enthused in his thick Irish accent.
Van growled into his glass.
‘Well that’s where these guys are right now, they are at the top of the top of the top.’
Whiskey, vodka, wine, beer ordered – the conversation went on and on as did the boozing. Mike had always been a big fan of Van Morrison’s music and told him about Brimful of Asha and the Fatboy Slim remix, which had transformed it into a number 1 hit.
‘You know, you know, if like – you know if you take Gloria and if you do, if you do a remix of Gloria you know, it would go straight to Nº1 and loads of people who haven’t heard of you…’
Van slammed his whiskey and eyed Jon Carter’s girlfriend Clare, who was flirting outrageously with the redhead he had eyed earlier at the reception. Van’s manager stepped in.
‘The kids Van, think about the kids.’
Mike took over enthusiastically. ‘A whole new generation would discover you and get into you, and love your music like I do.’ Mike gesticulated wildly. This friendly banter went on for some time, several hours in fact – talking, smoking and drinking in the tucked away basement bar where we had pleasantly ended many a London night.
The session finally concluded with Van proclaiming:
‘I wanna do a remix, I wanna do a remix…’ Occasionally interjected with ‘and I want some pussy!’
We all stumbled off in our own directions. I of course ended up in the bathtub in room 16. But not with Van! Our paths have not crossed since.
‘Very naughty, but very nice!’ The hotel manager tutted at us the following morning.
Mike excitedly called Norman Cook and asked if he wanted to do the remix. However Norman politely declined as he didn’t want to touch a song that was already a hit!
People often said we should have been filming the making of the movie. Behind the scenes was as much fun as what went on in front of the camera. Sometimes more! Including a pressing slow-dance with a red-suited, white haired cabaret host in Paris on a night out with the art director of Paris Vogue – Donald Schneider, to an encounter with Keanu Reeves and our little Ibiza street dogs at the Chateaux Marmont in LA. But those are other stories…
Manumission means freedom from slavery, and once in our party you were free to do whatever you pleased as long as you didn’t harm anyone else. One midsummers night completely unannounced P.Diddy stepped onto the Manumission stage as part of the nights performance. Much to the delight of the 50 fabulous Manumission Girls, and the audience.
We were also extremely lucky to learn set design working with the great Mark Fisher, who designed this stage based on our original concept. After the birth of our children there was a transformation in our work which reflected our love of the big Hollywood musicals. We replaced the more scandalous performance with aerial acrobatics and opulent stage shows, inspired by different controversies. Stories told by new performers; Cuban dancers and acrobats – hand selected in dusty gymnasiums on the outskirts of Havana, where a young acrobat would be launched high into the air, and as he yelled ‘voy!’ his compatriot would fling a mattress into the anticipated spot for his landing. We also bought in half the De La Guarda team from the London Round House show. We introduced the island to The Manumission Girls. On the once iconic fountain where we had scuffed our knees and dented our flesh now stood the DJ, dwarfed by the gargantuan stage where we played out The Phantasmagorical Manumission Mystery.
Mike was consumed with thoughts about cause and effect. ‘How even things that didn’t seem to be connected, one action would cause an effect in a seemingly unrelated area. How you couldn’t do anything without effecting everything’. A theory that led us on a search of bookstores. ‘I am looking for a book on the interconnectedness of everything. Y’know how you can’t make a move, anything you do effects everything else’. Unfortunately, there were no books on the subject, until we reached the top floor of Foyles, on the Charing Cross Road. ‘I do have this little book, that you might be interested in.’ With that he dug around and found a small blue paperback, ‘The Little Earth Book’ by James Bruges, that would become the source material for the seasons concept.
The Little Earth Book planted the seeds in our brains and became:
The Phantasmagorical Manumission Mystery. A shadowy Hitchcockian thriller… An Hilarious Benny Hill whodunit… A Helmut Newtonesque Scandal on the brink of exposure. A breathtakingly twisted adventure, based on a true story. Crimes against humanity were investigated, given a quasi-sexual twist. And they were all blamed on one man: Vile Tificceaapoli 2nd. Whose name was an anagram for Evil 2 faced politician.
And through the Manumission doors stepped Puff Daddy. Introduced to Ibiza by the legend Fab 5 Freddy who called him from Carry On one Tuesday morning whilst shooting a scene for Manumission the Movie in the summer of 1997. But that’s another story…
Sean Combs aka P. Diddy alighting the Manumission stage and taking his stand.
Vile Tificceaapoli 2nd. Whose name was an anagram for Evil 2 faced politician.
As a girl growing up in Harrow, my Dad was a fireman and moonlit to pay the bills, a quart of cider to cure the blues – 17 years on the fire brigade, and on special occasions a visit to a tropical island via a bottle of Malibu for mum. As a family we were solid, we were happy, weekend trips to the countryside, holidays in a caravan in Felixstowe, family parties where everyone drank, the Welsh contingent sang and we all danced. I started dancing at the age of three, and found escapism in the characters I created, the costumes I designed, stitched together and wore to the nightclubs, I found I could get into from the age of thirteen, with my best friend a 5ft 10 Irish girl called Jacqui. There was no money for the drama school Dad wanted to send me to. The education I got on my adventures on the dance floor, the sex, the drama, the drugs, the music all proved to be the perfect training for meeting Mike, and what would become the role of a lifetime.
The below text is taken from one of Mike’s early journals, written before he started Manumission in Manchester. It is a little insight into his philosophy and the spirit that became Manumission.
Playing the Starring Role –
– Is about remembering that you count in the world. What you do or say is important. Remembering to say ‘thank you’ and ‘praising’ people for their efforts – makes people feel good, thanks to you – and that happiness spreads. I often like to think of a ‘viscous circle’ of happiness that I start every moment of every day when I am in contact with other people – when I smile at them, greet them or thank them. – and they go on to smile, thank or greet someone else – who in turn goes on… I’m sure that this happens. I like to think that sometimes when someone smiles at me, that it might be part of the cycle that I started earlier on that day.
– Playing the starring role – I count, I’m not invisible
– People say ‘No one is indispensable’ – but I say bollocks to that ‘everyone is indispensable’, everyone has their own special part to play in the world – and this is much bigger than their jobs – sure you can get someone else to do the same official things in a job. But man is not a machine, man has feeling, personality. There is so much more to a job than the ‘job’. I worked as an architectural assistant once, in a large office. I was one of many – each of us doing the same or similar ‘jobs’ but each of us gave different important things to the office environment – none of us could be replaced in terms of our effect on the others in the office – the fact that we could make them laugh or angry or frustrated – show them different ways of looking at life. Everyone has something to teach.
Everyone can help to change someone else’s life for the better. Yet all of us could be replaced as ‘architectural assistants’ – without a second thought.
– I count – I can stand in the high street and scream – people turn around and look at me – I’m in this movie – in everyone’s movie. I am the shining star in my movie, screaming co-star in a friend’s movie – and the screaming extra for half the town. Just think, wherever you are right now look who is around you in the office, on the train, in the park wherever you are even if you are on your own in your room – you can make some noise – scream, shout, smash things – ‘I’m here, I exist – I effect the world around me, each and every one of you, I count!’ – and its exactly the same with smiles and thank you’s – they show you you exist, that you count, people see what you do, listen to what you say. And what’s even better is the fact that they’re infectious – when you smile, you are smiled at, the more you smile the more people smile at you. Laughter too is infectious. Unfortunately, anger and hatred are infectious too. And they too do a ‘viscous cycle’ type of thing. I see it as my duty whenever I find myself being part of this cycle to stop the flow, and even change it to a happy loving cycle instead.
A shadowy Hitchcockian thriller… An Hilarious Benny Hill whodunit… A Helmut Newtonesque Scandal on the brink of exposure. A breathtakingly twisted adventure, based on a true story.
THE PHANTASMAGORICAL MANUMISSION MYSTERY – where we investigated such terrifying and mind twisting subjects such as cloning, which became the subject matter for the opening party – Case No1: The Blue Gene Mystery. Cloned beauty sold into porn. A girl walks into a beauty parlour for free treatment. Unbeknownst to her she is signing up for a free haircut she is signing away the rights to her genetic code. Samples of her hair are taken and used to clone 50 real life porn dolls to be sold for $1million each… Meanwhile a penis is successfully grown on a pig’s ear and with the use of successful xenotransplantation the villain transforms himself so he can perform in blue movies with Natalia and become the world’s most infamous porn star.
Everything was translated into Spanish, French and Italian, no-body else did that, but we wanted everyone to understand the story: BELEZA CLONADA VENDIDA AL PORNO. Other case’s covered issues such as male fish being feminised by river pollution in the Thames in Case No2: SEX CHANGE EXCHANGE. Our villain encouraged the use of plastics, believing it was to blame for the oestrogen in effluent discharges found in rivers which were feminising fish and lowering male sperm count. Living an organic lifestyle himself his aim was to damage the sperm of all other men thus perversely raising the value of his own uncontaminated stock.
The hole in the ozone with Case No3: HOLY SMOKE. Ravished as temperatures rise. Widespread hole in hotbed of vice…
Laced with double entendre – having grown up on a staple diet of Benny Hill and Carry On films. Plus, we truly believed that using our position to highlight important social issues was one of the reasons we enjoyed such levels of success. All the problems were given a quasi-sexual twist, and blamed on one man – Vile Tifficeaopoli 2nd, which was an anagram for Evil 2 faced politician.
‘I’m trusting you Claire!’ Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim said looking me right in the eye as I held his hand and lead him through the back-stage door, ‘this isn’t like the old days!’ He pleaded with his crooked smile… It was Norman’s birthday and we had a surprise waiting for him on stage and I was the one elected to get him there.
I tied the blindfold tight and made sure he couldn’t peak as I lead him onto the stage, the club was full to capacity. It was historically the busiest night of the season, and the thousands were excited as we stopped the music and the whole club turned to look at Fatboy Slim – their favourite DJ. He squeezed my hand, and I removed the blindfold – he found himself confronted by a giant birthday cake, out of which burst an attractive blond showgirl dressed as a sailor. For a moment he was transfixed by the vision and thought to himself – she’s lovely! Then he caught himself realising that lovely sailor was in fact his wife, Zoe Ball, who had utterly surprised her husband – jumping out of the big cake on the Manumission stage in front of thousands of people all of which sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him. Here he is, photographed below, still slightly unnerved – post cake with Manumission Girls, Olivia and Sharmila wearing Australian hats to represent ‘Trouble Down Under’ our Australian leg of the fantastic sea voyage of The Goodship Manumission.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the fantastic sea voyage of ‘THE GOODSHIP MANUMISSION’ which followed my Dad’s maiden sea voyage around the world – he left home at 17 and joined the merchant navy, his first port of call happened to be Ibiza, where he drank a sickly sweet liquor (Hierbas Ibicencas we presume) – which he drank so much of that it had a dire consequences on his sensitive stomach and his sailors collar which was used in lieu of toilet paper! Our sea voyage followed his exact course, each week’s party representing a different port of call. Searching for paradise to find some natural disaster in each place only to find on the final week of the summer when we got back to Ibiza that paradise was there all around us – all along. It was also a comment on the music press always searching for the new Ibiza.
Every Monday we would set sail from Ibiza Town, with our crew of Manumission Girls – all dressed in white 1950s bikinis’ and vintage sailor’s hats – on board a real sailing ship, with giant masts.
Together we would take the two-hour journey by sea to Salinas, where the theatre would begin as we were attacked by clown pirates from another boat – with a black mast that read Manumission Pirates, after winning the battle Mike did the guest list as me and The Manumission Girls gave out cava and a picnic – which was for everyone on the beach, young and old, a gift from Manumission, to get everybody in the right mood for the party as Jonathon Sa Trinxa played ‘Love Is In The Air’.
Playing Manumission, staying at The Motel – ‘a real eye-opener’!!!
MC Otter had gone back to the States so we had a stand in called Gram’ma Funk. One of the lines she would say to our dancers was ‘I See You Baby, Shakin’ that Ass, Shakin’ that Ass…’
We asked Groove Armada to make a track for Manumission The Movie soundtrack, staying at the Motel for the week, playing every night in the Pink Pussy – they came back with a track called ‘I See You Baby’, inspired by their time.
Below is Gram’ma Funk on the mic, on stage in the Pink Pussy.
When did Groove Armada first play on the island? – DJ Magazine interview. Tom Findlay: “The first time we played would have been Manumission Motel, which was also my first experience of the island — and it was a real eye-opener. I came more from the soul and funk backbone, so I was playing smaller basement parties before then. It was an amazing time — surrounded by strippers and kind of mad sexuality that was completely normalised living in that house.” Andy: “That was a real peak of what people think of Ibiza — the best part of Ibiza — it actually happened then. You were resident at Manumission for a week and you’d play the club at the bottom of the Motel every night. I can’t even begin to describe some of the characters in that place. As we left, the next people who were residents were Primal Scream. They turned up to do the same thing that we’d just done and they rolled in like, ‘Ah, fucking hell, I forgot all my record boxes!’ and Mike [McKay] from Manumission was like ‘Ah, doesn’t fucking matter’. Another — totally forgotten — memorable week.”
I remember the day that young Andy first walked into our Motel bedroom with Trombone in hand. I also remember breaking into Tom and Andy’s bedroom and making them drink shots of Hierbas for breakfast, and dragging them back down the graffiti stained corridors to get back on the decks! I was a very naughty hostess!