Holly Penfield talks to us before her show at the RVT this Wednesday

This coming Wednesday, cabaret chanteuse Holly Penfield is making a welcome return to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern with her pre-Halloween show called Spooky Little Girl. Dave Cross had a chat with Holly about her recent X Factor appearances and to find out what frights she has in store for the RVT crowd.

Hi Holly, are you looking forward to your Royal Vauxhall Tavern show next week?

YES! I am very excited to do some of my favourite spooky songs and introduce some equally spooky and maybe even disturbing guests. We’ll have some neck biting, skin licking, bone chilling, spine tingling moments!

What is it about the RVT that makes you keep coming back? 

The free spirit vibe that permeates from every corner of the room, and the history of the venue with all its wonderful ghosts. You can feel the character oozing from the walls and the eternal heart beating from the stage.

The show, Spooky Little Girl is going to be a ‘pre-Halloween special’, so what can we expect?

My aim is to captivate the audience using ‘magic and madness’, which is a love potion I have been mixing up for a long time. Halloween is my favourite holiday and I try spiritually and musically to get close to the porthole where spirits crossover with ease and I can then absorb mortality meeting immortality. Hopefully there will be lots of smiling skeletons and spirits applauding amongst the fabulous flesh and blood bodies.

Can you give us a couple of examples of the songs you’ll be doing?

OK just a few: Tainted Love, Witchcraft, Can’t Have the Beauty Without the Beast, I Put a Spell on You, Black Magic Woman, People are Strange and many more…

We are expecting you to be in a glamorous Halloween outfit. Are you more Morticia Addams, the Wicked Witch or the Evil Queen? 

All of those wrapped up inside a Salvador Dali ‘Holly’ painting, and I hope any like-minded souls will join in and come along dressed for the occasion.

We have to ask you about The X Factor – why did you decide to audition?

That’s like when they asked Marlene Dietrich why she made love to so many men, to which her reply was, “Because they asked me.” The truth of the audition (even though it was lost in the edit) is that the judges gave me four yeses. It may look as if it was all about the whip and the shoe hat but that was just a small part of my overall multi-dimensional, performance. Sadly TV audiences didn’t get to see it, but the judges saw it.

So you found the performance part positive?

I was thrilled when Simon Cowell turned to the other judges and said “Here is an example of someone who knows exactly what they are doing.” He then turned to me and said I was like “David Bowie meets Liza Minnelli”, so bingo! Sharon Osborne said I was “mesmerising” and asked why I wasn’t famous? With much humility, I must say, I gave them an electrifying performance, but sadly it was then edited into something very different for the TV show.

You, Dr Woof and Ginny Lemon are all very different acts and all brilliant in your own way but they lumped you all in together – do you think that was fair?

I fell in love with Ginny and Dr Woof right off the bat. We found each other quite quickly before they even linked us, we immediately connected in our hearts. I think The X Factor is all about giving good TV so the show and the judges perhaps looked at us and felt unsure how to show us off to prime time audiences. I guess maybe The Addams Family concept worked for them and helped promote Thorpe Park’s spooky new Ghost Train ride. I also think The X Factor is a safe telly experience and not really interested in supporting our kind of evolution and creativity as performers. I was also told I could do my own original songs, which was an intoxicating concept, but my X Factor journey didn’t go that far. Of course, they would say they gave us great exposure and we should be grateful, and in a bittersweet way I am. I am making an X Factor discussion part of my show alongside Andy and Ginny where you may even see a re-enactment of the Ghost Train.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

What I always do – work hard and play hard! I am excited to be recording an album of my own original songs and ‘occasionally’ drinking some lovely wine while doing it…

Holly Enfield is at the RVT on Wednesday 18 October, 7pm – midnight

Tickets from £10 via

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 372 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, SE11. 

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