The weekly residency sold out for the best part of five years and there was no better place to be if you fancied a boogie. Now 60, Nigel Fraser Wanless, to give Brutus his real name, recalls how his cult Newcastle club event arrived in the Capital, ensuring all roads led to the West End at the end of the week.
“I created Brutus Gold in 1989 and named the character after a high-waisted jean with a golden ingot on the back. I always wanted a pair but couldn’t afford them, so I created this alter ego instead,” he laughs.
“One night, the then owner of the Rutland stumbled across us in Newcastle. I remember just seeing this old guy in among all the students. At the end he came over and asked if we’d come to his place in Edinburgh. He paid us an absolute fortune.”
He continues, “We brought The Love Train up there every Sunday for four or five years. It was absolutely incredible. It was rammed to the rafters from day one. People were looking for something different at the time and there was a huge revival in disco.”
An “interactive character based comedy act that uses disco music”, The Love Train introduced regulars at The Rutland to characters like Disco Dick, an under the counter movie star and the Scottish trainspotter in an anorak Timmy Shunter, the locomotive hunter.
"There was also Clarence Hamilton Jr, from New York, a high rise guy but not as in apartment, he was a big, tall sexy black guy and is still in the show, and Ricardo Tavares. They were the main characters,” adds Nigel.
"The audience thought they were hilarious. The bar would be 10 deep with people virtually touching the stage and when we did some of the sketches people’s beer would come flying out their mouths horizontally as they burst out laughing. We called that the T.W.A.S. factor - there was ale spilt.
“We had a dance contest, the crowd would choose the winner, and we also had a T-shirt and a bottle of Denim aftershave for the Saddest Dresser in Town. We called it The Peter Polyester Award. That wasn't for guys in 70’s fancy dress, we’d invite three guys in the crowd, who looked like they could never pull a woman, up on stage and let the audience choose the saddest dresser. The winner had to take their shirt off and wear the T-shirt for the rest of the night – we kept their clothes until the end of the night.
"They really looked after us in Edinburgh, it was a really enjoyable place to go.”
Half Scottish on his mother's side, Nigel's love of the country has been reinforced recently by the national football team's impromptu rendition of Baccara's 70's disco classic Yes Sir, I Can Boogie as they qualified for the Euros - by sheer chance, Nigel and his 23-year-old son Rocco licenced the 'Yes Sir, I Can Boogie' brand earlier this year after the pandemic devastated his entertainment business.
As sales of their branded T-shirt went through the roof north of the border on the back of the win, it has provided a windfall for the new venture, a 70's retro clothing brand called the Brutus Gold Boutique, which was set up in July.“I can't describe the reaction we’ve had so far, it's off the scale,” he exclaims, insisting, “But this is what we want to emphasise, we’re not jumping on a bandwagon."
He explains, “The boutique was started during lockdown. After 30 years, my live entertainment business collapsed in February due to the pandemic. I had no money. It was a really bad time for the family and I was down in the dumps. Then my son came up with an idea to use my Brutus Gold legacy, he wanted to start an ethical online clothing company; non-toxic, no sweat shops, and vegan friendly.
“We knew there was nothing that represented the disco era and portrayed it in a beautiful artistic way, people think it's naff, so I tapped into my disco head and we used the Brutus name to create a range of designs.
“We launched in July with £500, all we could muster, and immediately were getting sales without losing money... that first design, which we actually created in May, was Yes Sir, I Can Boogie.”
He's also keen to point out that a portion of sales go to the widows of the song's writers, Frank Dostal and Rolf Soja, who have endorsed the project and the Brutus Gold Boutique has also now introduced an officially licensed Scottish football-themed range of ethically made products.
There's also good news if you were one of those who queued to hop on board The Love Train back in the 90’s, Brutus Gold is set to take The Love Train online, in December. The Love Train Virtual Disco Ball will be streamed live on Friday December 18 as a pay per view event with tickets priced at £9.99.
During the interactive broadcast which will boast “all the usual comedy and slapstick”, Nigel promises that Brutus and his dance troupe will teach everyone their very own ‘DIY’ Yes Sir, I Can Boogie dance routine.
“There are 25 people involved in this virtual event, it’s a huge thing, imagine Noel’s House Party married with The Love Train show, it’s going to be nuts. We’ll have the Brutus Gold Affair dancers performing Yes Sir I Can Boogie in Scotland’s colours and people will be able to interact through out social media channels and get shout outs on the night.”Its’ time to get down and boogie.Buy tickets to join the fun of The Love Train Virtual Disco Ball here