‘I can’t deny I still miss the Lounge’: This recently unemployed lizard talks unemployment, addiction, and how art let him take control of his life again

A once-prominent lizard in the Bristol scene, Jones now spends his days as a performance artist.

It is no secret that the closure of Lizard Lounge, one of Bristol’s best loved clubs, has impacted the lives of many. The Whip interviewed one of the pioneers of Lounge, Steve Jones, who was keen to share his story since leaving the Triangle club.

A once-prominent lizard in the Bristol scene, Jones now spends his days as a performance artist.

‘After the Lounge closed, my life was flipped, turned upside down. I was down-and-out and quickly penniless.’

Left unemployed in an unforgiving lizard jobs climate, Jones turned to coffee to help deal with the stress of unemployment. At first, he managed. But after months on benefits, the Australian Frill-neck began to develop a caffeine dependency.

At the peak of his addiction Jones admitted to drinking between 15 and 20 coffees a day.

‘I was in a really tough place. Every thought was just – where is the next hit coming from? Where can I get my next cup of joe? Without it, the headaches, they were just crippling. My life centred around that black nectar, I was a total addict. Woah – it’s weird being able to say that now. Haha.

‘It all changed when I met Trudy.’

After being admitted to hospital for severe heart palpitations Jones was placed on a Coffee Anonymous programme to try and move past his addiction. It was at this point where he was introduced to Trudy Stephens, an aspiring (human) performance artist, who had also been grappling with substance dependency.

‘We were on the same path, it was as if fate had placed her in that meeting.’

After the programme, Trudy and Steve went on to set up ‘The Green Man’ – a performance art ensemble who have been said to ‘push the boundaries of post-modern physical aesthetics’ (Guardian). The Whip spoke to Trudy about their project.

‘Composing physical art with a Lizard obviously sounds like a step outside the rules of our kind of sexual performance physicalism. We encountered problems from all angles, it seemed: exhibits were sceptical about hosting our stuff, the Tate really had to be massaged into give us the six-month grant, and Phillip – our in-house director, who is a common house fly – was terrified that Steve might eat him when the caffeine withdrawals kicked in.

‘But all that tension actually contributed to, and was spiritually purged by, our performance preparation. We’ve all developed so much, so it’s no wonder – in retrospect – that Steve has got over the trauma of being fired from Lounge. I never thought I’d be able to say that! It’s a truly remarkable story of personal redemption. Everyone at The Green Man loves you, Steve. Thank you.’

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