Hackney-based The Last Tuesday Society is an eclectic institution. It offers lectures on everything from Christopher Isherwood to healing broken hearts, hosts extravagant masked balls and runs the Little Shop of Horrors in Mare Street (just voted number 59 in Time Out’s countdown of the 100 best shops in London), an emporium of curiosities packed with everything from a golden pig’s snout to a Victorian castration device.
At the core of it all is Viktor Wynd: a dishevelled dandy who sounds like an Old Etonian. You might find him dressed as a faun, a devil or in little more than a fur coat at one of his many soirées, but in person he is unexpectedly understated, combining charm with a morbid sense of humour. Today, he’s done away with the fur coat and is sporting a checked suit and purple socks.
‘I’ve been collecting things since forever and I ran out of space at home,’ he says, twisting awkwardly in his chair and gesturing around the shop’s cramped basement. ‘I’m not a hoarder, but I need to be surrounded by beautiful and interesting things, otherwise I get very depressed. Those are the nails Sebastian Horsley used in his crucifixion,’ he says, pointing to a frame containing the ironmongery that his late artist friend used for his infamous installation in 2000. ‘And that’s a rather lovely clay model of a Caesarean section,’ he smirks, ‘No house is complete without one.’
Twelfth-century Islamic gold rings glint on his fingers – he studied the period at university – as he pats the table’s centrepiece: a giant stuffed tortoise. He defines beauty thus: ‘I have a baby in a bottle in the kitchen – she came from the Dresden Anatomical Museum. You’ve got to admit, that’s really cute. I don’t like to eat alone, so there’s always something to keep me company.’ Wynd lives in a light and airy warehouse conversion that, like his shop, is filled with all manner of things, from antlers to antique medical paraphernalia. At the head of the table is a stuffed lion that is ready to pounce. It’s in this enticing environment he hosts his dinner parties. ‘I loathe London nightlife; there is nothing to do,’ he laments. ‘The most fun parties tend to be private ones at people’s houses, where there is good food and wine.’
Fabulously over the top, Wynd’s parties take door policies to new heights – according to his website, ‘ugly’ and ‘spotty’ revellers are not allowed in. He started a semi-fictional society called The League Against Ugly People and gained notoriety last year by placing a sign in his shop window that stated: ‘No poor people’. Which probably went down a storm with his Hackney neighbours. Viktor Wynd – if that even is his real name –remains an enigma: an artist, a showman, a party connoisseur and a curator all rolled into one, who blurs the line between reality and fiction. ‘I’m like a puppet master, I pull the strings,’ he says. ‘I see the balls as theatre: I create the stage and, to a degree, I create the plot.’ Kate Hutchinson