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Dandy in the Underworld

Friday 11 February 2011
Words Spindle

‘Dandy in the Underworld’ the unauthorised autobiography of Sebastian Horsley

First published in Great Britain by Sceptre, paperback 2008. £8.99

It will make you cringe, gag and possibly vomit

Lets judge a book by its cover: ‘Dandy in the Underworld’ glowed tackily amongst other relatively colourless books on an unassuming Waterstones shelf. Garishly embellished in pink and black it screamed out for attention; on closer inspection a childlike scrawl dominated the front page revealing a selection of reviews ranging from the good to the bad to the downright ugly – The Evening Standard advising not to read but instead bin the book in question.

Indeed the contents of the book, much like it’s cover, is garish, tacky, attention seeking and deserved of the suggestion that within the pages lies the most ‘revolting memoirs ever written’, how could they not be when the words retrace the steps of the late Sebastian Horsley; debauched Dandy, aspiring artist, jubilant junkie and overall pretentious fuck wit whose life long dalliance with drugs recently paved the way to a premature grave.

Despite his rancid reputation within the media he is a character I had never come across before, similar to the spoil of watching a film before reading the book, I feel, had I known of his ridiculous exploits, the shock factor would not have been so ‘extravagant’, and extravagance is something Horsley holds in high esteem.

Like all Dandy’s, his eloquence is unfaltering, it is a beautifully written account of a life gone wrong, riddled with witticisms, sexism, racism, snobbery, sodomy, masturbation, faeces, celebrities, alcoholism, drug addiction, family disfunction, porn, music and various attempts at Art (if one can bestow such a label upon Horsley’s ‘creations’). It is a piece of literature not for the faint hearted but for those intrigued about what lengths a rich, precocious and untalented man will go to assure fame does not elude him.  A deliciously uncensored novel, love it or hate it; because apathy will most definitely evade you.

‘Sebastian Horsley is a pervert who stands for everything that is wrong with British society today.'(Jeremy Vine )

‘He is simultaneously enthralling, charming and fantastically annoying.’ (Will Self )

‘A posturing popinjay, a neon narcissist, an incorrigible entertainer’ (Jessica Berens, Observer )

‘Sebastian is an atheist, but the first I’ve ever met whose spiritual tradition doesn’t just come from a lack of imagination. His attempts to become other than he is, are epic.'(Nick Cave )

‘Dandy in the Underworld is immortality for a while (with a dashing immorality)'(Sarah Lucas )