Monday, 30 June 2008

Marica tu?

As this is the beginning of the week leading up to Gay Pride, I thought I would acknowledge our annual celebrations in an appropriate way...

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Sunday, 29 June 2008

Giving Up? Not these ladies!

Listening to Radio 2 this morning, and a rare gem sparkled out of the wilderness that is Michael Ball's mediocre Sunday Brunch show - which some fool put on in place of Michael Parkinson (as if this mish-mash could ever do the job!).

However, a brilliant song is a brilliant song - laydeez and gentlemen, the one and only Three Degrees!



Superb.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

You’ve been a very naughty boy!



Conversation tonight got round to classic films, and one in particular cropped up - Personal Services starring the magnificent Julie Walters.

Loosely (!) based on the life of the notorious Madam of suburbia Cynthia Payne, this film is a tour-de-force of acting as our Julie, Shirley Stelfox, Alex McCowan and others lift the lid on the kinky underworld of the British establishment and the girls who cater to their every fantasy.

If you've never seen it, shame on you! Here's the trailer to give you a flavour of the brilliance of this all-time favourite...



Personal Services on IMDB

Friday, 27 June 2008

Let the sun shine in

Sun is shining, and the gorgeous Cristiano Ronaldo is swanning around in very few clothes! All is right with the world...



More photos at A Socialite Life

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Alison vs Baccara

Reading the lovely Tony's blog about the Goldfrapp concert at the Royal Albert Hall sent me on a mission to dig out some of their classics on YouTube. Then I came across this one... Love it!!!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Old school eccentricity



"When we are young, we read and believe the most fantastic things.
When we are older, we learn with regret that these things cannot be."

We are quite, quite wrong!


Had a lovely time at the BFI last night, as we went to seen the sublime Noel Coward's classic film Blithe Spirit, as part of the David Lean centenary season.

A real old-school gem of a comedy, the plot revolves around the mayhem that ensues when a seance goes wrong, and a married couple (the very young Rex Harrison and Constance Cummings) are haunted by the mischevious and bitchy ghost of the first wife (Kay Hammond). But the real star turn is the wonderful Margaret Rutherford as the unconventional whimsical medium who can't send the ghosts back, Madam Acarti (namesake of my lovely other half).

The role of Madam Acarti was made for Margaret Rutherford - queen of the quintissentially English eccentrics. Her extreme theatrics when she goes into one of her trances, her joy at the realisation that her powers are not as "fake" as everyone thought, and her increasingly bizarre attempts to return the ghosts to the other side make this film such a masterpiece.



Screenonline - Blithe Spirit

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Too darn hot

As I sit in 31 degree heat in our bloody office, this little number springs to mind:



Miss Miller taps her brains out...

Monday, 23 June 2008

You might not ever get rich, but let me tell you it’s better than digging a ditch...

... there is no tellin' who you might meet, a movie star or maybe even an Indian chief!

Happy (sunny) Monday - here's the brillant Rose Royce:

Sunday, 22 June 2008

But you never cried to them just to your soul



A very happy birthday to the lovely Jimmy Somerville (47 today)!

As gay pop stars go, Jimmy is one of the most ground-breaking and influential of recent generations. In the early 80s, an era when "gender-bending" and innuendo were the norm, out of the blue came this little Scottish boy with a falsetto voice and proudly declaring his gayness to shake us out of our complacency.

He (and his compatriots in Bronski Beat) stood up and made the facts about discrimination against gay people an issue that could not be ignored, brushed over or treated as irrelevant - much to the chagrin of the tabloids, who were used to treating gay people as the subject of ridicule or exploitation. The cover of Bronski Beat's first album The Age of Consent featured all the differing rules that countries across the world applied to gay sex in law.

I adored them, and especially Jimmy - small, not particularly attractive, but spunky in every sense of the word - as their rise to fame, and in particular the supremely brilliant Smalltown Boy coincided quite neatly with my own coming out. I was indeed "pushed around, kicked around, always the lonely boy..." I was "the one that they'd talk about around town, when they put you down..."

Jimmy went on to produce a wealth of wonderful commercial and not-so-commercial pop hits from the early 80s through to the mid 90s, and, still recording, he continues to trawl the Gay Prides of this world performing to this day. I have bumped into him on many occasions on London's gay scene - and notably cruising around Islington on his push-bike.

The significance of Jimmy Somerville's influence upon the gay politics and freedoms of today must never be forgotten. Happy birthday, darling!

Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy:
Communards - Never Can Say Goodbye: Jimmy Somerville - From This Moment On: Bronski Beat - It Ain't Necessarily So: Jimmy Somerville on MySpace

Is there anyone here for love?



Miss Jane Russell - one of those rare creatures, a survivor from the golden age of Hollywood - celebrates her 87th birthday today!

One of the most celebrated "sweater girls" of the 40s, and "discovered" by Howard Hughes, Jane starred with many of the great stars of the era - Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, Victor Mature, and of course Marilyn Monroe. It was for her wonderful performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that she is best remembered, and for which I salute her most of all...



Jane Russell on Wikipedia

Friday, 20 June 2008

My kind of shop!

As regular readers will know, I don't generally need much of an excuse to post gratuitous pictures of David Beckham in pants, so the unveiling of his latest billboard at Macy's in San Fransisco is merely just another opportunity...



Wow.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

We’re neither of us free to love each other - there’s too much in the way



Dr. Alec Harvey: "I love you. I love you. You love me too. It's no use pretending it hasn't happened 'cause it has."

Laura Jesson: "Yes it has. I don't want to pretend anything either to you or to anyone else. But from now on, I shall have to. That's what's wrong. Don't you see? That's what spoils everything. That's why we must stop, here and now, talking like this. We're neither of us free to love each other. There's too much in the way. There's still time, if we control ourselves and behave like sensible human beings. There's still time."

We are such romantic softies. Well, actually we are fans of excellent film-making... That is why we went along to see the newly remastered classic Brief Encounter tonight (part of the David Lean centenary season at the BFI).

What a cinematic giant this film really is! Written in the last months of WW2 and produced by "the Master" Noel Coward, directed in Lean's charismatic "noir" style, and with bravura stiff-upper-lip style performances by its stars Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, there can't be many people who are unfamiliar with this mannered, typically English gem of a tale about restrained infidelity and lost love.

But even if Brief Encounter is one of those familiar films of many a Xmas-at-home, there is nothing that quite compares with indulging yourself in a gorgeous big-screen black & white nostalgic delicacy of this kind every now and then...





Such a classic that even Victoria Wood needed to have a go:



Brief Encounter IMDB entry

David Lean centenary season BFI

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

"She personified dancing sophistication"

Cyd Charisse scarlet

Sad news, indeed. Cyd Charisse, darling of the dance musical is dead.

Born Tula Ellice Finklea in 1922, the exotically-renamed Cyd Charisse was a trained and skilled ballet dancer, and toured with the Ballet Russe in the 1930s.

But it was her emergence onto the silver screen, as dance partner of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, that made Charisse such a stunning star. With those incredible legs (reputedly and famously insured for $5million), to many she was Fred's best pairing, and her effortless grace and athleticism made every routine a magical experience - not least as the star of Silk Stockings, and as lead female dancer in Singing in the Rain.

Here are a couple of magical scenes for which she will be forever remembered. There will never be another Cyd Charisse...!

Dancing in the Dark with Fred Astaire:
Frankie and Johnny: Cyd Charisse obituary, LA Times

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Now you think that I will be something on the side



Congratulations today to the lovely Duffy, winner of the "Song of the Year" award at the Mojos.

Aptly described by the magazine's editor as "a timeless song - it could really have come from any period in time over the last 50 years," Mercy has indeed been one of those songs (like Kylie's Can't Get You Out Of My Head and Scissor Sisters' Comfortably Numb) that once you hear it, seems to follow you around for ever.

A perfect excuse to play it just once more, methinks...



I love you
But I gotta stay true
My moral's got me on my knees
I'm begging please
Stop playing games

I don't know what this is
But you got me good
Just like you knew you would
I don't know what you do
But you do it well
I'm under your spell

You got me begging you for mercy
Why won't you release me
You got me begging you for mercy
Why won't you release me
I said you better release me

Now you think that I
Will be something on the side
But you got to understand
That I need a man
Who can take my hand, yes I do

I don't know what this is
But you got me good
Just like you knew you would
I don't know what you do
But you do it well
I'm under your spell

You got me begging you for mercy
Why won't you release me
You got me begging you for mercy
Why won't you release me
I said you better release me

I'm begging you for mercy
Just why won't you release me
I'm begging you for mercy
You got me begging
You got me begging
You got me begging

Mercy
Why won't you release me
I'm begging you for mercy
Why wont you release me
You got me begging you for mercy
I'm begging you for mercy
I'm begging you for mercy
I'm begging you for mercy
I'm begging you for mercy
Why won't you release me
Bring it on

More about the Mojo Magazine Awards

Monday, 16 June 2008

Do-da-do-da-do-da-da

Ah the joy of Mondays... I was actually off sick for most of last week so it makes it doubly hard to get myself motivated to go to that drab unventilated place I work in, but here's a little 70s kitsch to cheer all of us "drones" up:

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Six degrees of Shirley Bassey



Now here's a wonderful example of "Six Degrees of Separation". How do you work out a path that links Glen Campbell with Shirley Bassey (via Tina Turner)? I did...

I heard Glenn Cambell's original Wichita Lineman playing in our mate Sally's pub the other night, and that got me thinking. Not just how brilliant the song is, but I remembered a version of the song that was recorded in the early 80s by the British Electric Foundation (BEF).

The BEF was a project that emerged from the split of the original Human League, and their album Music of Quality and Distinction was a musical landmark, re-launching the career of none other than Tina Turner in the process (Tina did a cover of Ball of Confusion, and the BEF boys Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh went on to produce her comeback single Let's Stay Together). Together with Glenn Gregory, the BEF became Heaven 17.

Convinced that the vocalist on their version of Wichita Lineman was Billy MacKenzie, I went searching. It turned out that the vocalist was in fact Glenn Gregory on this track, but in the process I managed to get hold of some of the tracks they did with Billy, including Roy Orbison's It's Over, Bowie's Secret Life of Arabia and Deniece Williams' Free.

Now, Billy MacKenzie and his band The Associates were a major influence on my life. I had a huge crush on him, and love his semi-operatic vocals - Party Fears Two remains one of my all-time favourite songs. I was distraught when he took his own life in 1997. Thus stimulated, I went on a search for more stuff about Billy and found out that he had some other interesting collaborations, not least as a songwriter on a couple of albums by that fab electro duo Yello (another fave band of mine).

Among the songs he wrote for Yello (he even sang a version of the song) was the sensational Rhythm Divine - which, of course, became one of the best songs ever recorded by none other than... Shirley Bassey!

Whew! And just to complete the circle, here's the song that began this quest, followed by the one that ended it...


Saturday, 14 June 2008

A right-down regular, regular, regular, regular Royal Queen!



Happy (official) birthday your Madge! How I wish I could have two birthdays, and all those jewels, and all those lovely soldiers to play with...



Oh, 'tis a glorious thing, I ween,
To be a regular Royal Queen!
No half-and-half affair, I mean,
No half-and-half affair,
But a right-down regular, regular, regular, regular Royal Queen!

She'll drive about in a carriage and pair,
With the King on her left-hand side,
And a milk-white horse,
As a matter of course,
Whenever she wants to ride!
With beautiful silver shoes to wear
Upon her dainty feet;
With endless stocks
Of beautiful frocks
And as much as she wants to eat!

Oh, 'tis a glorious thing, I ween,
To be a regular Royal Queen!
No half-and-half affair, I mean,
No half-and-half affair,
But a right-down regular, regular, regular, regular Royal Queen!


Trooping of the Colour footage

See the official flypast for HM The Queen Official Birthday

Friday, 13 June 2008

A Golden moment

A lovely photo of the remaining Golden Girls arriving at something called the TV Land Awards this week. This cheered me up!



TV Land is a retro TV station in the US apparently.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

I’m undecided...

I haven't decided which "look" I should go for for Gay Pride this year...

How about this?



Or maybe this?



Or perhaps...



Then there's this understated little number:



However I am strangely drawn by this look - subtle, yet somehow apposite:

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Talkin’ ’bout Menergy

Madame Arcati kindly forwarded this little gem from Divine:

Divine Drag Disco:


Of course, revisiting this kind of music always sets me off on a Hi-NRG kick, and so here are few other gems from the heady gay music era of the 1980s. First up the brilliant Lime, with a video evidently filmed in November somewhere in Norfolk:

Unexpected Lovers:


Next, a pair of uber-butch queens, Patrick Cowley and Paul Parker:

Megatron Man:


Right On Target:


And, finally, winning the award for possibly the worst mime by badly made up trannies ever, here's the superb Flirts!



Whew...

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Funboys!

A highly appropriate song methinks, looking at this beautiful morning...

Is this the most beautiful man in the world?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address...

Sunday, 8 June 2008

It’s divine decadence, darling!

A wonderful slice of decadent camp - the new Marc Almond video for his song Lonely Go Go Dancer has been released today.

Originally the backdrop for Marc's recent concerts at Wilton's Music Hall, it captivated us then, and captivates me now... Enjoy!



The video is a creation of visual artist and producer SCREAN, photographer Jamie McLeod and stylist Gozra.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Volare - oh oh oh oh



Today that fabulous comic and crooner Dean Martin would have been 91 years old...

Always the butt of the jokes in the Rat Pack with Sammy Davis Jr and Frank Sinatra, Dean was probably every bit as gifted a singer as Frank, and other contemporaries such as Tony Bennett and Frankie Laine took their lead from Dean's easy-going flair for swing and lounge numbers.

Dean was a phenomenal success for several decades, his Italian good looks making him equally popular as a film star and a showman, and even today his music still strikes a chord with a raft of crooners and big band revivalists such as Michael Buble, Matt Dusk and Harry Conick Jr selling millions of records based on the style he pioneered. A wonderful performer!









Friday, 6 June 2008

Something for the weekend

So apparently Jake Gyllenhaal has come first (oo-er missus) again in the annual list of "Hot 100″ gay icons, narrowly beating John Barrowman.

I can understand their thinking...



The poll was conducted by gossip website AfterElton.com

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The original heart-throb



It's the 83rd birthday today of Tony Curtis.

A gorgeous heart-throb in his younger days, he was adored by hordes of female fans (and vast numbers of queens, no doubt), and gained a reputation as a ladies' man - he was married five times.



An unintentionally hilarious magazine article from the 1950s that I recently discovered relied heavily on the good looks and sex appeal of Tony Curtis and his "chum" Rock Hudson, (and the lesser-known Hugh O'Brien, Scott Brady and John Bromfield) to appeal to women readers. However, its homoerotic subject matter and pictures (to modern cynical eyes at least) give completely the opposite impression...

Take a look at it on the Bijou Follies website!

Curtis was always more than just a pin-up however, and was nominated for several acting awards over the years, appearing in classics such as Sweet Smell of Success, The Defiant Ones and Spartacus.

It was his sublime and comic double act with Jack Lemmon in one of my all-time favourite films Some Like It Hot (in which they famously spend most of the film in drag) that brought him the most lasting fame, and for very good reason - he was brilliant! happy Birthday, Josephine...



Tony Curtis on IMDB

Monday, 2 June 2008

"The sight of you makes me weak...

...There are no words I can speak"

Another fantastic piece of cheesy pop to bring a little light into a muggy Monday morning - here's the Boystown Gang with their inimitable interpretation of Can't Take My Eyes Off You:

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Do you mind if I smoke?



I was overjoyed to see the simply marvellous Fenella Fielding at the Bette Bourne event on Friday - madder than a box of frogs, but still exuding that sultry charm every time she spoke...

It was her delicious smoky voice that made Fenella such a camp icon, as well as her exotic looks, and who can forget her genius performance in Carry on Screaming?