Who’s Who: Hampstead Village Voice editor Sebastian Wocker celebrates magazine’s 12th birthday

Sebastian Wocker at his desk in his home in Arkwright Road. Picture: Sebastian Wocker

Sebastian Wocker at his desk in his home in Arkwright Road. Picture: Sebastian Wocker - Credit: Archant

You could never accuse Hampstead Village Voice editor Sebastian Wocker of not standing out.

Whether as founder of the satirical magazine which celebrates its 12th birthday this month, frontman of a handful of bands, or as the 6ft 7ins man who is instantly recognisable in the streets of "Hampstonia," he's never been one to shy away.

But he's been missing from the village recently - as he's been busy putting together the autumn version of the magazine.

Sebastian, who moved to Well Walk with his German parents aged one in 1966, set up the Village Voice in response to the changing face of Hampstead.

"I got the idea when I was this grumpy old man seeing that they are closing all the pubs," he said. "The same applied to the construction work on houses to boost developers' coffers."

After hawking the idea around businesses to get advertising, a launch bash was held in the Tabby Cat Lounge (previously Maxwell's). The first run sold 1,500 copies.

The magazine has been called "required breakfast reading" by the New York Times.

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He said: "There have been some achievements. The G4S security truck used to park on the pavement outside HSBC every day. It was making people with buggies go onto the road. We published a big picture and it wasn't there any more." He then turns his fire on a big bugbear. "I am looking forward to when the BID is no longer there. It's holding people to ransom."

Asked how the area has changed since the mag's launch, he said it had lost its "joie de vivre".

He adds: "It's much more staid. It used to be more normal and rough in places. I got beaten up outside what is now Café Rouge by a group of skinheads in broad daylight when I was a teenager.

"Hampstead's always had famous people and its fair share of characters, but much of the council housing in the High Street and back streets has been sold off. There are still a lot of great people and good characters, but the bohemian vibe has been eroded."

The 12th anniversary edition is in newsagents from Sunday.