Saturday, 29 December 2007

RIP 2007



We lost quite a few familiar famous names during 2007, including:

Alan Coren
Nigel Dempster
Lee Hazlewood
Gareth Hunt (Gambit in The New Avengers)
John Inman
Deborah Kerr
Frankie Laine
Verity Lambert
Ronald Magill (Amos Brearly in Emmerdale)
Magnus Magnusson
Bernard Manning
Marcel Marceau
Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny in the Bond movies)
George Melly
Luciano Pavarotti
Mike Reid
Ian Richardson
Ned Sherrin
Anna Nicole Smith
Tony Wilson
Jane Wyman

A list of tributes is found on the BBC website

Friday, 28 December 2007

One’s still acting



"One went to school, one wanted to act, one started to act,and one's still acting."

Multiple Oscar and Bafta award winning actress and national treasure Dame Maggie Smith celebrates her 73rd birthday today.

Like so many theatrical queens, I love this woman, and never tire of her show-stealing performances in such classics as The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, California Suite, Evil Under The Sun, Murder By Death, Gosford Park, Room With A View and Travels With My Aunt - all favourite films of mine. With her quivering, fidgeting dottiness, she makes any film in which she appears that little bit more special.

Happy birthday, Ma'am!



Maggie Smith's illustrious career is listed on IMDB

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Photos of the year

Reuters has posted its selection of photos of the year, and they are fab!

Reuters 2007 1

Reuters 2007 2

Reuters 2007 3

See the whole selection

Monday, 24 December 2007

Face of an angel, body of a goddess



The sultry screen beauty Ava Gardner would have been 85 today.

A stunning, green-eyed brunette, Ava's rise to fame and acclaim began when her portrait appeared in an artist's shop window in New York, and was spotted by a telent scout for MGM. Following screen tests - after which the studio had to pay for voice coaching as her Carolina accent was so impenetrable - she appeared in dozens of films during the 40s and 50s (including DuBarry was a Lady and the Oscar-nominated Mugambo). Her heyday came however in the 1960s, with such classics as The Night of the Iguana and 55 Days at Peking.

En route her beauty also attracted the eye of some of the top stars of her day, and she married both Mickey Rooney and Artie Shaw, and dated Howard Hughes. But it was Frank Sinatra who proved to be the most famous of her relationships - and despite the scandal of him leaving his wife for Ava, their tumultuous marriage and subsequent divorce, he always referred to her as the love of his life and they remained friends until her death.

Indeed, Frank paid for Ava's medical bills when she fell ill, and it is rumoured that he actually attended her funeral in London, viewing the scene from behind tinted windows in his limo. Apparently this song was his lasting tribute to Ava Gardner:



A tribute to Ava Gardner

Sunday, 23 December 2007

The queeniest website ever...

...quite literally! Her Majesty the Queen has launched her own YouTube channel.



Welcome to cyberspace, yer Majesty! Here's an extract (not really):



Visit the real Royal Channel on YouTube

Friday, 21 December 2007

Merry Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last...

All this bullshit in the news about the lyrics of the finest Christmas song ever made is beginning to get on my tits. It just makes me want to sing along even more...



More about Fairytale of New York on the BBC

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Sheer perfection

A little tribute to model Tyson Beckford, 36 yesterday - one of the finest hunks of man flesh to grace our billboards in the last few years...



Gratuitous, moi?

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

La Vie en Rose

92 years ago today a certain Edith Piaf was born (as Edith Giovanna Gassion).



A tragic figure, and a tiny slip of a girl (hence her nickname Little Sparrow), Piaf rose from her incredibly poor background in the backstreets of Paris, mingling with pimps and mobsters, to become the most incredibly popular singer France has ever seen.

Her popularity was largely due to the way she interpreted ballads with her singularly heartbreaking voice, and among the songs for which she is famous are timeless classics like La Vie en Rose, Milord and Je ne Regrette Rien. Along the way to success, Edith was responsible for launching the careers of such French luminaries as Yves Montand and Charles Aznavour, and she grew to become an international star, performing to sell-out audiences across Europe and in the US. She was renowned for her appetite for pleasure - and indeed there were many men in Edith Piaf's life, husbands, lovers and friends.

On her tragic - and early - death in 1963, it is said that the traffic stopped in the city of Paris for only the first time since WW2. An icon, a star, never to be emulated, imitated, or matched...



La Vie en Rose, a biographical account of Edith Piaf's life, was released as a movie in 2007. Order a copy of the DVD on Amazon

Edith Piaf on Wikipedia

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

As good an excuse for a holiday as any



Lack of sunlight may increase the risk of lung cancer, a study suggests.

It is thought vitamin D - generated by exposure to sunlight - can halt tumour growth by promoting the factors responsible for cell death in the body.

Read more on the BBC website

I am counting down the days to our next dose of cancer-curing sunshine - it's only five weeks till we are in Spain for a week for our winter holidays... Sod smoking bans, and sod Xmas!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

It’s behind you!!



"A sparkling tale of magic, midnight and mischief: jam-packed with laughter, cross-dressing, singing, shoes, envy, dancing and cake."

We went to see Stephen Fry's Cinderella panto at the Old Vic last night, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it! This is a fabulous spectacle of innuendo, smut, explosions, puppet mice, drag, and hunks. The humour is completely filthy, but we were in stitches...

Stephen has taken the traditional panto and cleverly interpreted it with his trademark cleverness, and I can guarantee most of the dirty jokes will have flown quite successfully over the heads of the children there (and probably many of the adults as well).



The cast were excellent - especially Sandi Toksvig's Narrator, Hal Fowler and Mark Lockyer as the Ugly Sisters (who looked remarkably like Paris Hiton and Nicole Ritchie), the gorgeous Joseph Milson as Prince Charming (look out for his shower scene), and Pauline Collins (doing her best "Nan" from Catherine Tate Show impression) as the Fairy Godmother. And Paul Keating as Buttons was a queeny joy!

[NB- We met Paul in the Arts Theatre bar after his stunning and sexy performance in the Pet Shop Boys' Closer To Heaven in 2001. He is still as cute as he was then...]

Although the show has not received many good reviews in the tabloids ("too gay", apparently!), ignore the critics and try and get to see it before it closes in January.

A fitting end to the year's theatre trips - I recommend it!

Cinderella - Old Vic Theatre website

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Opulence



That Art Deco masterpiece The Savoy hotel in London's Strand is closing for a £100m refurbishment. The makeover promises to "restore" some of its original opulence - and there is an auction at Bonhams of items that are being disposed of as part of the refit.

Your chance to own five hundred soup bowls, eighty ice buckets, or a selection of unusual wardrobes, towel rails and chairs I suppose... This is my favourite of all the items on sale, but where would we put it?



Bonhams

Read about the refurbishment on the BBC

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Something tells me Liza’s tour this year may be off...



Liza Minnelli collapsed on stage during a performance in Sweden and is returning to the US for a medical examination. The cause of the collapse is unknown.

Read the BBC article

Liza's website

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

I like to be in Americaaaa



Ah, Rita Moreno! The queen of Puerto Rican sirens was 76 years old yesterday.

born Rosita Dolores Alverío, Rita has had a long career in movies, starting out as a child actor. But it was her role as Anita in West Side Story that brought her the fame and fortune she deserves.

Notably the only Puerto Rican actress ever to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award, she manages to maintain a magnetic screen presence whether she is dancing, singing or playing a comedy part such as Googie Gomez in The Ritz.

Or indeed as a guest on the Muppet Show...



Rita Moreno on Wikipedia

Monday, 10 December 2007

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Shakin’ bloody Stevens!



The UK Charts have (officially) become a laughing stock this week. As we oldies remember, you used to have to sell a couple of million seven-inchers in Woolies every week to stay at the top, and many thousands to even enter the top 40... Nowadays it takes fifty chavs and a dog to buy it.

This week, due to the effects of the relaxation of the law which means that every download - no matter how weird - counts towards the so-called Top 40, we have a host of rubbish from yesteryear hitting the chart just because people are downloading them (at 50p a pop) for their parties! Just take a look at it and weep...

CHRISTMAS "CLASSICS" IN TOP 40
8 Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You
12 Pogues & Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York
23 Wham! - Last Christmas
25 Andy Williams - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
27 Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
33 Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone
37 Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody
38 Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas?

Does anyone really think that Leona Lewis deserves to be in the chart, let alone Mariah (warbling t**t) Carey, Andy Williams, and bloody Shakin' bloody Stevens??

No wonder EMI and HMV are going down the pan...

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Go for the mystery, the magic and the mood



It's rather gaudy but it's also rather grand.
And while the waiter pads your check he'll kiss your hand.
The clever gigolos romance the wealthy matrons
At La Cage Aux Folles.

It's slightly forties, and a little bit "New Wave".
You may be dancing with a girl who needs a shave.
Where both the riffraff and the royalty are patrons
At La Cage Aux Folles.

La Cage Aux Folles,
The Maitre d' is dashing,
Cage Aux Folles,
The hat check girl is flashing,

It's bad and beautiful,
It's bawdy and bizarre.
I know a Duchess who got pregnant at the bar.
Just who is who and what is what
Is quite a question at La Cage Aux Folles.

Go for the mystery, the magic and the mood.
Avoid the hustlers,
And the men's room,
And the food.
For you get glamour and romance and indigestion
At La Cage Aux Folles.

La Cage Aux Folles,
a Saint Tropez tradition,
Cage Aux Folles
You'll lose each inhibition,

All week long we're wondering who
Left a green Givenchy gown in the loo.
You go alone to have the evening of your life.
You meet your mistress
And your boy-friend and your wife.

It's a bonanza, it's a mad extravaganza,
At La Cage Aux Folles.


Ten of us went to see the new production of La Cage Aux Folles at the Menier Chocolate Factory last night, full of anticipation. The show has seemed ill-fated, with several bouts of illness forcing the previews to be delayed three times - and indeed the intended lead Douglas Hodge is still unwell and was replaced by his understudy. But we were definitely in for a treat!!

Everyone should be familiar with the plot - whether from the original (brilliant) French film, its US remake The Birdcage, or indeed this, the Jerry Herman/Harvey Fierstein musical. Two ageing queens Albin and Georges, who run a drag club on the French Riviera, have their lives turned upside down when "their" son announces his engagement to the daughter of a right-wing politician, and farce follows...

Star of the show at La Cage Aux Folles is Zaza, alter-ego of the ulta camp Albin, who was played to quivering perfection by (the understudy) Spencer Stafford.



Despite a bit of a shaky start, he really came into his own in the first half when Zaza's stage show begins. Spencer commands a breathtaking presence when, during the show's title number, he stands among the troupe stirring a Martini. The faster he stirs, the faster the "Cagelles" spin around him. When he stops stirring they stop twirling. When he eats the olive, they fall to his feet, and he/she stands there, queen of all he surveys. Genius!

The interplay between Albin and Georges (played subtly and skilfully by Philip Quast) provides a wonderful insight into the complexities of relationships, no matter who they are. Torn between his love for his son, and his loyalty and love for Albin, Georges has some of the most emotional and stirring numbers in the show, Song on the Sand and Look Over There - and Philip's beautiful renditions had several of us in tears. Even I welled up...

As the story unfolds, Albin's reaction to being told he is not welcome at the eventual meeting with the prospective in-laws leads him to sing the show's most famous and triumphal number I Am What I Am - revealing with bitterness just how strong and resiliant he is, and providing us with an insight of just why the couple have stayed together so long.

Then the real farce ensues - Albin's attempts to "play it straight" as the boy's "uncle", and the eventual meeting with the girl's nauseating father and his dim wife (played by Una Stubbs), where Albin emerges as "Maman". The interplay between the characters (and their fabulous "maid" Jacob) is hilarious. And the restaurant scene, when Albin sings the show's most brilliant number The Best Of Times Is Now, is an absolute joy!

As in all classic shows there has to be a dazzling denuement, and the closing sequence where the politician father has to escape the paparazzi is played to glittering sequinned perfection. And there is a lovely happy ending...



I cannot fault this show! Every one of us enjoyed it so much - the tears and the laughs, and the sheer feeling of uplifting exuberance it gave us - that we are even talking about going to see it again before it closes in March 2008...

Given the Menier Theatre's record of success - their productions of Little Shop of Horrors and Sunday in the Park with George have both gone on to West End and worldwide acclaim - I sincerely hope that La Cage Aux Folles will see the same level of success. West End - here we come!

Menier Chocolate Factory Footnote: And for the homosexual in your life... Camp Classics Collection: Some Like It Hot, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, La Cage Aux Folles and The Birdcage.

Friday, 7 December 2007

The original Lavender Lady



Yesterday, 107 years ago(!), the wonderful Agnes Moorehead was born. Although she appeared in more than 70 films (including Citizen Kane, Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte and a miscellany of character roles in melodramas and horror films) and on dozens of television shows during a career that spanned more than 30 years, she is probably most widely known to modern audiences for her role as the imperious diva witch Endora, Samantha's mother, in the television series Bewitched.

Rumours abounded about Agnes's lesbian affairs - not least that with Debbie Reynolds during filming of How The West Was Won - and indeed there is anecdotal evidence to back up the "alternative" lifestyle she liked to keep away from the public gaze. However, all that is irrelevant compared to the brilliance of the unique style she brought to every part she payed on the big and small screen, and in her one-woman shows with which she toured theatres and universities across America in the 1960s - a recording of one of which, The Lavender Lady, is a treasured part of my our collection of camp icons. A true star!

Agnes Moorehead's career outlined on IMDB

Agnes Moorehead in the GLBTQ online encyclopedia

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Another victory against bigots

I was so happy to read that the odious homophobic fascist Stephen Green and his band of baying bigots Christian Voice have lost their appeal in their case to sue the BBC for blasphemy over its broadcast of Jerry Springer the Opera!

Hopefully now the hate crimes legislation is in place, this evil little shit will crawl back under that pulpit where he belongs and keep his narrow minded opinions to himself.



Read about the pathetic Christian Voice's anti-gay activity

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Dollywood Yorkshire style



Oh my goodness! Dolly Parton was (in all places) Rotherham today!

But what was she doing there?

Read the less-than-interesting story

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

You give me Fever



It was with huge excitment that we ventured last night to the Cafe de Paris in Coventry Street. This was, after all, the high society home of the top dance bands of the Twenties and Thirties frequented by the Prince of Wales, Cole Porter and the Aga Khan, and after being destroyed by a WW2 bomb and rebuilt was still the height of fashion for the likes of Princess Margaret in the 50s and 60s, where Frank Sinatra rubbed shoulders with Tony Hancock, Eartha Kitt with Spike Milligan, Grace Kelly with Noel Coward.

Cafe de Paris website

Today the venue is rather sadly wedged between a tacky casino and the KFC, but still retains a faded glamour with its chandelier, gilded balconies and double staircase (which of course we made full use of!). And now it is the home of the annual Scarlet Fever variety show.

Arriving at the head of the queue we got ourselves a nicely placed booth, and the show commenced. Unfortunately our MC for the evening Chris Fitchew got things off to a very uncomfortable start with his manic leaping about and shoutingly unfunny routine - what he was "on", and quite why he seemed to think he was Russell Brand is beyond me, but we cringed. And the first few warm-up singers were just so bad that it began to appear we'd walked into a Croydon karaoke - oh! and a girl climbed up a rope, twirled about a bit, practically fell off it and went off again. She was closely followed by someone called Nick Mohammed, who was billed as a "comedian" but I couldn't quite see it myself...



However, the first half was saved by the effortlessly brilliant Rick Skye, doing his classic turn as Slice O'Minelli. He showed up the previous acts as the absolute amateurs they are - with style, perfect comic timing and by refusing to allow the baying juveniles at the front of the audience to rhythmically clap along and turn his show-stopping numbers into some kind of seal-feeding impression. His/her version of of Charles Aznavour's My Love complete with sign language is an acid parody, and I Love My Rolling Chair (Mein Herr) is just superb! Rick Skye is a comic genius, and one who should be even more well known than he is.



(Met the lovely Rick after the show, and he is exactly as charming as we might have hoped. A star!)

Part two, and perhaps helped by the volume of bloody expensive gin and tonics we sank, even the smarmy Mr Fitchew was not too unbearable as he and his partner in crime in the double act Lick & Chew launched into a fairly funny routine about the tabloid obsession with B-list celebs. Some slightly pointless dancers in burlesque costumes jiggled about a bit to some tunes, and then we were entertained to a really bizarre act...

Now, I have nothing against people - even those who are a bit too old for it - doing a bit of break-dancing, and to be fair we were expecting it from the poster (just one of those points in the show where you plan to get to the bar, really). But Shlomo "The Human Beat-box" was something really weird indeed, and very unexpected - how can you actually be entertained by a man who makes synthesiser house music through his nose and throat? It was rather like watching a mad person sitting next to someone else on a bus, but it was strangely diverting nevertheless.



And then came the lovely Mrs Barbara Nice. Now all I had ever known of Janice Connolly was her part as the barmaid in Phoenix Nights, but I knew she had taken "Mrs Nice" to the Edinburgh festival and had rave reviews. Barbara Nice is a Stockport Mam who doesn't drive and instead travels the country by National Express coach reading Take a Break. Her husband assumes she's at Bingo. And her act is indeed hilarious - everything from Iggy Pop to the news headlines. She ended up stage diving the willing audience, and was carried hand to hand overhead all the way across the theatre to the bar! Fab!

Despite it being a Monday night, the music performed by the remaining acts took a bit of an up-tempo kick from then onwards and we had a bit of a bop for a few hours - admittedly not till the advertised 3am (but there were lots of party poopers there)...

But all in all it was a fabulous night!!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Oh Miss Ross!

Diana Ross has had her ups and downs, but alongside a mixed bag of stars like Aretha Franklin, Martin Scorsese, Steve Martin and Beach Boy Brian Wilson, Miss Ross received a Kennedy Centre Honor for her "contribution to American culture". Congratulations.

But what was that dress all about?!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Bathhouse Betty



Yesterday the queen of all gay icons Bette Midler was (unbelievably) 62 years old!! What can I say about Bette? She, of all the classy divas we adore, has probably had the greatest influence on me and several generations of gay men. (My own nickname is Dolores Delargo, the Toast of Chicago!)

I first encountered this sassy lady when I happened to catch a late-night showing of her classic (and currently still deleted) show Art or Bust in the 1980s - and to this day the opening routine Lovely Legs and Great Big Knockers, and the spectacle of that formation Busby Berkely routine, in mermaid fishtails and in electric wheelchairs, remains indelibly imprinted in my brain! I recently managed to get a copy of the video, and I have to say that watching it even today makes my heart cheer...

"I'm still proud of those days. I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward. So, I kind of wear the label of 'Bathhouse Betty' with pride."

As is well documented, The Divine Miss M began her fabulous career as a singer in gay New York bathhouses, alongside Barry Manilow on the piano. On the video of Art or Bust there is even some footage of her shows - Googie Gomez eat your heart out! Even from such relatively lowly beginnings she was always a brilliant performer, and with a pair of lungs(!) like that she was destined for the big time.

With several hit albums and rave concert reviews under her belt, Bette gained huge international success with her performance as the Janis Joplin-esque lead character in the movie The Rose in 1979. And inevitably, with her bawdy sense of humour and almost inexhaustable energy, she re-launched herself in the 80s as a favourite comedic actress in a series of wildly popular comedies such as Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ruthless People, Outrageous Fortune, The First Wives Club and Hocus Pocus.

But it was Beaches that sent her to the top of the heap. A sad "girly" film it may be, but Bette's torch song Wind Beneath My Wings from that movie remains one of the most successful songs of the late 20th century (it is still apparently one of the top choices to play at funerals to this day). Personally I think the song has become more of an albatross round Bette's neck - she must be sick of it - and I prefer her in films like the Oscar-nominated For the Boys.

However, Bette Midler is - and always will be - the gayest of the top female performers. Recent hit albums include songbooks of two of the top gay icons of the 50s Peggy Lee and Rosie Clooney, and her 1998 album Bathhouse Betty was released as a specific tribute to her early career on the gay scene. That girl knows her audience - Happy Birthday Bette!



The official Bette Midler website

Saturday, 1 December 2007

All the seats were free, and she comes and sits right next to me



Knowing how much I love gossip and overheard conversations, I was overjoyed to discover this fabulous website the other day.

Tube Gossip is just a list of quotes from a master eavesdropper on the London Underground - and some of them are just classic! Some examples:

  • "He woke up one morning and his toes had fallen off in the night."
  • "Brian, did you put my other hair extension in your bag?"
  • "Have I ever told you about the time I nearly choked on a carrot in a falafel shop in Amsterdam?"
  • "I mean, she lives in Chiswick. That's worse than France!"
  • "They say blind people never actually fall asleep."
  • "Yeah, she looks like Kylie. If Kylie is a 6 foot bearded transvestite."

Visit Tube Gossip and join in the fun!

Friday, 30 November 2007

Puttin’ on The Ritz



Wow! Just discovered the fact that a production of Terrence McNally's fabulous comedy The Ritz has been revived on Broadway...

A camp classic (and the movie is one of my favourite films), The Ritz is the story of Carmine, a member of a mob family who, on the run from hitmen ordered by his own dying father-in-law, takes refuge in the one place he thinks the killers will never find him - a New York gay bath house!

Inside, the interplay between the characters is one long farcical (and hilarious) romp of innuendo and mistaken identities. The lead gay character is the uber-camp Chris, whose one-liners I still quote today:

  • (Bumping into a big butch queen in the lift) "Margaret Dumont, we thought you were dead!"
  • ("Well, if there's one thing I can't stand, it's a queen without a sense of humor. You can die with your secrets, honey!"
  • ("There will be an orgy in Room 340 in approximately four minutes! Orgy in 340, four minutes!"

But among the eccentric mix of characters in The Ritz , the star of them all has to be that epitome of all dire cabaret acts, Miss Googie Gomez! Played in the movie by the supremely talented Rita Moreno, Googie Gomez is anything but... Her hilarious "tribute" to Cole Porter, her violence when someone thinks she is "tacky drag", her pursuit of Carmine when she thinks he is a music producer - all priceless!



And so Terrence McNally's play returns to the stage, and hope one day the producers will have the good sense to bring it over here - I will be first in the queue for tickets!

Read all about the Broadway production at Studio 54

Footnote: And for any of you bizarre people out there who have never even seen The Ritz there is the perfect opportunity coming up, as the DVD is (finally) released in the US in January! No sign of a UK release as yet, but I wait with bated breath...

Order your copy from Amazon

Thursday, 29 November 2007

For us, stars will stop where they are

Tonight, tonight
Won't be just any night
Tonight there will be no morning star.
Tonight, tonight
I'll see my love tonight,
And for us, stars will stop
Where they are.

Today
The minutes seem like hours,
The hours go so slowly,
And still the sky is light…
Oh moon, grow bright,
And make this endless day endless night!




On this day in 1981, Natalie Wood drowned in a mysterious accident. The actress, husband Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken were aboard their yacht off California that November night. Natalie's body was found floating off shore the next day.

For years, speculation was rife in the tabloids about exactly what happened. By all accounts, there was a lot of drinking and arguing that night, and it was evident the Wood-Wagner marriage was a rocky affair. The Los Angeles Coroner decided that Wood had died accidentally, "possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face." Still, the rumours continued: Was it murder? We will never really know.

Natalie Wood was one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood, yet very temperamental. She was a child star in the 1940s, but her rise to fame really began when she starred alongside James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause in 1955.

But it was surely for her role as the innocent Maria in West Side Story that Natalie Wood really became an icon - despite her singing voice being dubbed by the ubiquitous Marni Nixon. One of the greatest musicals ever, the film brought her the type of fame already enjoyed by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, and affairs with Elvis Presley, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Michael Caine.

Her long acting career never really hit those dizzy heights again, but she and Robert Wagner remained a favourite celebrity couple until her sad death. To celebrate this wonderful woman, here's a clip from her finest screen appearance.



Natalie Wood on IMDB

West Side Story website

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

I smell a compensation scam...

As many as 15 art lovers have been injured at London's Tate Modern since the opening of an installation which features a large crack in the floor, according to a report in the Times.



In this American-style "compensation culture", where people sue tobacco companies for not telling them that smoking can cause chest problems and fat people can sue McDonalds for not telling them that fried cow innards are bad for your waistline, I am not surprised! It makes me sick that the public are so greedy and so transparent in their motives that they seize any opportunity to sue rather than be able to behave like a responsible adult nowadays.

I blame the Government, Watchdog, Oprah Winfrey and lawyers. I think I'll sue!

Read the full story on the BBC

Monday, 26 November 2007

Simply the Best



Wow! That diva of ballsy rock and soul Tina Turner is 68 today.

Tina (born Anna Mae Bullock) is one of music's truly great survivors. She went from her bluesy roots with abusive husband Ike - with whom she created such classics as Nutbush City Limits and River Deep, Mountain High - through a very lean period in the 1970s, to become the legend she is today.

One of the biggest-selling female artists of all time, Tina recovered her musical credibilty in the 80s with the help of those supremely talented British producers Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, founders of the Human League and later Heaven 17, who on their British Electric Foundation (BEF) album Music of Quality and Distinction gave Tina the break she deserved with her brilliant rendition of Ball Of Confusion. From that came massive international success with her cover of Let's Stay Together (also with the BEF boys), and the subsequent album Private Dancer.

And the rest is history - biggest ever audience for a single performer (over 184,000 fans at the Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro), record sales in excess of 180 million, and numerous awards including Grammys (mainly for What's Love Got to Do With It), the French Lègion d'Honneur, and MTV, Rolling Stone,VH1 and Billboard Lifetime awards. What a trouper!



Tina Turner official website

Sunday, 25 November 2007

You can’t stop the music, unfortunately



A slightly dubious excuse for a post - it is THIRTY YEARS since the Village People were created by the late Jacques Morali, and launched a string of mega-hits that form the staple of hen parties and chav wedding receptions to this day.

I cringe every time I hear YMCA, and see people still doing "those" hand movements. However to be fair, their silliness and parody did (in some shape or form) bring gay men into the spotlight long before the likes of Boy George and Pete Burns...

To celebrate the tacky phenomenon that was the Village People, here is a tribute to their feature film You Can't Stop The Music, directed (unbelievably!) by the brilliant Nancy Walker (Broadway diva and TV favourite in shows such as Rhoda and MacMillan & Wife). The movie "won" the Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay prizes at the 1980 Golden Raspberry Awards in March 1981 and was nominated in almost all the other categories. Enjoy...



Official Village People website

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Naked and vulnerable



That very cute little Scottish actor James McAvoy has revealed that he really enjoys acting without any clothes on.

The star of films such as Atonement, Wimbledon and The Chronicles of Narnia, and Channel 4's Shameless, says that he enjoys the feeling of being "completely vulnerable" once he is naked in front of an audience.

McAvoy told the Daily Star: "I like to get naked.

"Naked on film is not that much fun, but naked on stage is really quite freeing because there's nowhere to hide, you're completely vulnerable.

"When you're completely vulnerable, it can't get any worse, can it?"

All I can say is - when's his next appearance?



James McAvoy on Wikipedia

Friday, 23 November 2007

Hey Mr DJ, take a record off!

I have decided exactly which DJ I would like to play at my next party...



DJ Brett Henrichsen (aka Masterbeat) is apparently very talented...

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Jets are hot!

A photo taken from the new revival of West Side Story in Paris - all in the interests of news, you understand, nothing to do with gratuitous shots of gorgeous tight buns...

West Side Story Paris 2007

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Congratulations, Ma’am

Congratulations today to HM The Queen and Prince Philip, celebrating their Diamond (60th) wedding anniversary today...



"During an hour-long service to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary, in the same Westminster Abbey in which they were married amid the grey, postwar austerity of 1947, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh did not look at each other; there was no exchange of surprised, "Crikey, we've made it" glances."

She deserves a medal.

Read more in The Times online

Monday, 19 November 2007

She transcended the cliché



Today, that most magnificent of Middle Eastern divas Ofra Haza would have been 50 years old. It is impossible to realise what an incredible influence this woman had as a singer throughout the troubles of the Arab-Israeli conflicts - she was (quite rightly) adored by both sides, yet was resolutely (despite her Yemeni origins) a Jewish patriot.

I first encountered her luscious voice on a remixed house track called Wish Me Luck in the early 1990s, but got to know her and to love her music more than a decade after that - her albums Kirya and Yemenite Songs are still favourites today!

Here is just a snippet from a tribute written by journalist Eric Silver at the time of her death in 2000: "With her striking, Middle Eastern beauty, she was the sister every Israeli would like to have had: talented, warm, spontaneous, unspoiled. She was a cliché - the ninth child of poor Yemenite immigrants, a star who made it from the back streets of South Tel Aviv to Hollywood, then came home. But she transcended the cliché.

"Ofra was Israel's pop star laureate. Her fans spanned generations and ethnic divides. She was chosen to sing in Oslo when Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize. She sang again at the memorial concert after Rabin's assassination. Ehud Barak and Bibi Netanyahu paid public tribute after her death. Peres eulogized her at the graveside.

"Her 13 days in intensive care were a national drama. Television cameras hovered at the Tel-Hashomer hospital. Every change (or non-change) in her condition was reported on the hour. Admirers recited psalms. A bearded elder delivered an herbal cure. A Yemenite rabbi changed the mezuzah on the door of the emergency ward. Channel 1 television broke into an international basketball match to announce her death."


Such was the impressive respect that Ofra Haza had! - and for very good reason. She was indeed a sublime talent, and one the like of which we will never see again... Rest in peace.





The orginal Eric Silver article

Ofra Haza on Wikipedia

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Don’t mess with my Tutu!

"It is a perversion if you say to me that a person chooses to be homosexual. It's like saying you choose to be black in a race-infected society." Desmond Tutu



I love this man! South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called the Anglican Church and its leadership "homophobic" for its attitudes towards gay people in an interview with BBC Radio 4.

He said that the Church was "obsessed" with the issue of gay priests.

Read the article

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous



Happy birthday today to the spectacular RuPaul!

Statuesque, ground-breaking diva that she is, RuPaul hit our screens in the early 90s as a "star" of the weirdo Public Access TV show Manhattan Cable - a weekly freakshow that made compulsive viewing, and also launched the careers of such luminaries as Margarita Pracatan...

But chart success with Supermodel (You Better Work) changed RuPaul from cult status to an outrageous disco diva, idolised by queens on both sides of the channel! Her success since then has been intermittent, but her version of It's Raining Men with Martha Wash in 1997, and the club successes Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous in 2004, and People are People in 2006, stand out as gay classics.

RuPaul's icon status has led to some strange collaborations indeed, including Elton John, and the divine Miss Ross herself...



Happy birthday, fierce ruling diva!

RuPaul on Wikipedia

Friday, 16 November 2007

Suddenly I understand the joys of rugby...

I went along last night with a friend to the Prowler store in Soho to get copies of his fundraising calendar signed by the lovely Ben Cohen, former England rugby player.

I have never been much of a sports fan, but seeing this cute hunk of a man in the flesh, I suddenly understood the appeal of a scrum...



Ben may be straight, but he so appreciates his gay fans that he has announced plans for some kind of special gay event in the New Year in aid of his testicular cancer awareness campaign. What a man!

Ben Cohen website

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Do you really want to hurt me?



General tabloid frenzy as per usual as poor mad old Auntie Boy George is arrested for allegedly chaining up a rent boy... But just read part of the article and see if you sniff a gold-digger:

"Mr Carlsen claimed he met the former Culture Club star on the website Gaydar, and agreed to go to his flat at midnight as a £400 photographic model. He denied he was working as an escort."


Hmmm...

Read more about it

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Swimming with sharks

Many commentators may observe that the grande dame of cinema Dame Elizabeth Taylor has been doing just that for years, but at the age of 74, Liz recently went swimming with sharks!

Read the amazing story


Pictured at the recent launch of the Elizabeth Taylor jewellery line, she looks fabulous despite all her problems.

Monday, 12 November 2007

America’s most versatile singer



Often called "America's Most Versatile Singer" for the wide range of material she performed, the lovely Jo Stafford is (unbelievably) 89 years old today!

Jo was indeed versatile, as her singing career stretched across genres, from her early beginnings in vocal harmony groups such as The Pied Pipers in the 1930s, to big band fame with Tommy Dorsey, and later with her soon-to-become husband Paul Weston. She was one of the darlings of the forces during WW2, and eventually hit TV success in the 1950s with her own variety show, singing with guests such as Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland.

Jo and Paul had a long and happy personal and professional partnership, but to my mind their greatest creation was the parody of all things "lounge", the amazing Jonathan and Darlene Edwards. First created as a party piece for friends, the enfants terrible of bad vocals and bad musical arrangements gained a cult "life" of their own, with several hugely successful albums, even winning a Grammy for Best Comedy Album in the 1960s.

Just in case anyone fails to understand their unique magic, here's a sample of their classic style:



And if anyone thinks that is is the sum total of the lovely Jo Stafford's talents, here's an appearance from one of her shows that demonstrates what a great singer she really was:



Jo Stafford on Wikipedia

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Don’t Tell Mama

Two bits of showbiz news have filled me with excitement today - not only is Liza Minelli coming to tour the UK next year, but the incredibly talented Rick Skye is returning to London this December for something called The Scarlet Fever Christmas Spectacular at the Cafe De Paris on December 3rd...

For those of you who aren't familiar with his/her repertoire, or why the connection, you evidently missed the fabulous Slice O'Minelli show that rocked the West End last year. Shame on you!

Here's a hilarious reminder of the stupendous talents of Rick Skye:



And more from Rick's award-winning show (at the Dublin Theatre festival - winner "Best Performance"):



Saturday, 10 November 2007

Oh what a show

We went to see the Soho Divas revue last night - and what a fantastic show!!



Never having been to the Soho Revue Bar (formerly Raymond's Revue Bar, famous for several decades as a strip joint) we weren't sure what to expect. But the venue has absolutely no hint of seediness, and is in fact an extremely glamorous old-fashioned cabaret club, with individual tables and banquettes arranged in tiers from the floor next to the stage. Remnants of the past remain however, at either side of the seating area, where tables on raised platforms are arranged around the stripper poles...

Our host and MC for the evening was the fantastic Lea deLaria. Bold, brassy and outrageously butch lesbian diva that she is, she held the proceedings together magnificently with lewd humour - even flirting with the Polish waitresses!

First on stage was jazz singer and Ronnie Scott's stalwart Natalie Williams, who, despite a bit of a shaky start, wowed the audience with smoky renditions of familar favourites including an excellent version of I Will Survive. She was followed by former Shakespear's Sister vocalist Marcella Detroit - such a sublime voice! Marcella has evidently taken to the cabaret/lounge type of singing with a vengeance and she gave us brilliant interpretations of numbers by Cole Porter and the like, as well as superb renditions of more modern classics including Nothing Compares 2 U and her own song Stay.

But the treat of the evening came after the interval with the first ever London appearance of the superb vocal impressionist Jimmy James. With uncanny skill, he brought a selection of divas such as Eartha Kitt, Cher, Billie Holiday and Judy Garland to the stage. But it was his brilliant Bette Davis that brought the house down. Flouting the smoking ban to the full, it was almost as if the bitter old icon was actually in the room!



Headline diva, the supremely talented West End star Caroline O'Connor (who we saw most recently in On The Town), had a hard act to follow. But she rose to the challenge, belting out her repertoire of Judy Garland numbers from her recent success in Edinburgh, the hit show End of the Rainbow. A superb end to a superb show.

But even after the show we were treated to a marvellous late night in the green room bar upstairs. Not only were Caroline O'Connor and the players still around, but at their table was none other than the cute Will Young and his pretty boyfriend! But best of all, we were joined on the banquette next to the star table by none other than those lovely ladies The Puppini Sisters, and they told us all about the evening they'd had.

The girls had been invited by drag hostess Jodie Harsh to play a guest DJ slot at Circus, the gay "burlesque" night that followed our revue in the main room downstairs. It hadn't gone entirely to their liking, but they seemed chipper and very chatty. The Puppini Sisters are genuinely lovely, friendly people - how rare among the stars of the music world.

What an absolutely brilliant night!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Basket balls indeed

This beautiful man DeMarco Majors (who??) has made it to the American Out magazine awards for the most influential gay people list this year. He is certainly recognised for his talents...

Photobucket

PS he's a basket-baller apparently!!