Stella Hotel

A tale from the psychedelic flophouse by Denis Browne.

We have a great session by Denis Browne on this weeks Radio Joy. Taking a break from his day job writing for online fanzine Mudkiss, Den takes us back to Paris, Summer 1970. In amongst all the alternative vibes, there are a few big themes – growing up and being away from home and family, the strange mix of arrogance and insecurity that comes with being 18 and hopefully a bit of humour too.


“Over the years my friends would sometimes tell me that I should write down the stories of some of the scenes & people I was involved in during the late 60s & the 70s. For a long time I wasn’t too keen, as I don’t really have much time for nostalgia or name-dropping – and I really hate the well-worn set-piece anecdote that everyone’s heard too many times.

But I did have some pretty cool adventures then & managed to meet some extraordinary people along the way. It was really when I started writing my book about the friendships I had with Sid Vicious, Nancy Spungen & Alexander Trocchi that I “found my voice.” Once I stopped trying to write a “proper” biography it all started to happen.

When I write its about detail, atmosphere, changes of pace & mood, & trying to fully re-engage with whatever I’m writing about, whether its comfortable or not. Also, as time’s gone on, I’ve become dissatisfied with the lazy 2-dimensional way many writers approach the 60s & 70s, so its all a simplistic “Peace & Love” scene when there was so much else going on. Same thing with punk later. My writing tries to get in close with marginal scenes & people.

In many ways “Hotel Stella” is a prequel to “Dreamecho”, which will be a close examination of the psychedelic scene, through stories, reflections, dreams & trips. I’m really looking forward to doing that on MFG next month. “Hotel Stella” is a fairly soft-edged look at some themes like leaving home, growing up & away from your family, & thinking you know a lot when you don’t actually have much experience to base it on.

There’s probably a bit more humour in Hotel Stella than usual. Its a bit like a day off compared to writing the Sid & Nancy story – I really have to be in the right mood to do that. It gets depressing writing a story where everyone apart from me is dead. Some of these chapters have appeared on Mining for Gold last year, & in an extraordinary mixed media Exotic Pylon show in August.

Since I’ve been doing live readings over the past couple of years, my writing’s been transformed. Knowing you have to read something out loud is the best editor I know. It really makes you cut out any flab. I want to get published, like any writer, but for now its all about performance & collaboration.

Otherwise, I really enjoy writing/reviewing/interviewing for Mudkiss online fanzine – recent topics include the Slits, the Germs & US hardcore punk, Tony Wilson/Factory Records, & dancehall reggae.”


5 Responses to Stella Hotel

  1. BONNY says:

    Love this journey back in time to a place and frame of mind that has woven its way into all of us whether we know it or not. Thanks Den, Inga and Johny. Love you madly. xoxo

  2. stevphen says:

    This is a lovely episode! Thanks very much for it.

  3. As usual Den shows us his brilliant writing skills, we are so lucky to have him on board the good ship Mudkiss.

    Thanks Den


  4. beautiful wish i could travel back in time and book a room at the hotel stella loved the musical back ground as well, really atmospheric !

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