Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Sad news of the death of June Havoc, who died on the weekend at the venerable age of 97. June who? you may ask...
Miss Havoc was better-known as "Baby June" during her vaudeville years as the the sister of Gypsy Rose Lee - the inspiration for one of the best musicals of all time, Gypsy. Unaffected by her sister's notoriety, she later went on to appear in a number of movies in the 1940s and 50s such as Four Jacks and a Jill, My Sister Eileen, and Gentleman's Agreement, and on Broadway in Pal Joey.
Here is Miss Havoc herself in a "well-known" role as The Girl With The Big Sombrero:
And here is the trailer for the original and particularly magnificent movie Gypsy:
June Havoc on IMDB
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Monday, 29 March 2010
A message from Mr Ricky Martin:
A few months ago I decided to write my memoirs, a project I knew was going to bring me closer to an amazing turning point in my life. From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside. Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And thisis something worth celebrating.Ricky Martin blog
For many years, there has been only one place where I am in touch with my emotions fearlessly and that's the stage. Being on stage fills my soul in many ways, almost completely. It's my vice. The music, the lights and the roar of the audience are elements that make me feel capable of anything. This rush of adrenaline is incredibly addictive. I don't ever want to stop feeling these emotions. But it is serenity that brings me to where I'm at right now. An amazing emotional place of comprehension, reflection and enlightenment. At this moment I'm feeling the same freedom I usually feel only on stage, without a doubt, I need to share.
Many people told me: "Ricky it's not important", "it's not worth it", "all the years you've worked and everything you've built will collapse", "many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature". Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.
If someone asked me today, "Ricky, what are you afraid of?" I would answer "the blood that runs through the streets of countries at war...child slavery, terrorism...the cynicism of some people in positions of power, the misinterpretation of faith." But fear of my truth? Not at all! On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage. This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things every day. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids where born with. Enough is enough. This has to change. This was not supposed to happen 5 or 10 years ago, it is supposed to happen now. Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment.
These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed.
What will happen from now on? It doesn't matter. I can only focus on what's happening to me in this moment. The word "happiness" takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.
I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.
I have been aching to see the Big Gay Musical for ages now - a formula made in heaven, featuring sluts, telly evangelists, porn stars and camp gay men with angel wings, it just had to be a great experience. Read my previous blogs here and here.
Admittedly none of us were quite sure what to expect, but after all this wait it turned out to be a fantastic film - a story-within-a-story revolving around a cheap off-Broadway musical “Adam & Steve, Just the Way God Made ‘Em” and the tortuous personal lives of the boys playing the lead roles.
With brilliant song-and-dance numbers (especially the "gay cure" camp, the roller-skating guardian angel "Dorothy" and the campest "God" you could ever imagine) interwoven with the parallel stories about Paul's search for sex and love, and Eddie's crisis as his religious parents head to New York for the opening night of this very anti-religious play.
We laughed out loud as scenes from the “Breeder’s Informational Book of Living Examples” are given a brand new twist, Eve turns out to be right nasty bitch, and the telly evangelists have their own Damascene conversion along the way...
I met Daniel Robinson at a Polari night last year, and what a lovely man he is - I even had my arms round him for a photoshoot (wish it was my legs, but never mind!).
Here is a sample of what the movie has to offer. If you ever get the opportunity to see this film, I highly recommend it - a great pick-me-up and a perfect Sunday treat!
Sunday, 28 March 2010
A little celebration...
Saturday, 27 March 2010
Ten years ago today, the world of music lost a unique talent. Mr Ian Robins Dury was an unexpected arrival on the music scene at the height of the punk era, arriving as he did as a pub singer fresh from art school, with songs with lyrics that actually made sense! Disabled by polio as a child, he struck a distinctively unusual figure, all wobbly and wielding his walking stick as a prop - part Bill Sykes, part decadent dandy.
It was with his lyrical talents however, adeptly served by the uber-talented Chaz Jankel's music, that he rose above the crowd and became the "national treasure" we all remember so fondly. New Boots And Panties is even today (quite rightly) regarded as a masterpiece, and regularly features at the upper end of "all-time best album" ratings. Mr Dury's hits are all instantly familiar - Sex and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll, What A Waste, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Reasons To Be Cheerful, Pt. 3 among them. Whenever they come on the jukebox, generations later even people who weren't around at the height of his success will immediately sing along. How to choose between them, however?
I am particularly fond of this one, with all its subtlety:
However, this is undoubtedly my all time favourite.
You're not Bridget Bardot, I'm not Jack Palance.
I'm not Shirley Temple by any circumstance,
Or Fred Astaire
You're not Sidney Tafler, I'm not Dirk Bogarde.
I'm not very stylish, and you're not avant garde,
Or Lionel Blair
We're as common as muck.
Bon chance, viel glück, good luck
Where bold is beautiful, we don't give a damn
Luvva duck, we're as common as muck.
You're not Victor Hugo, I'm not Patience Strong,
I'm not Rodney Rygate or Yvonne Goolagong.
Shirley Abicair, Oh!
I'm not Nellie Melba, you're not Nellie Dean
We do our best endeavours to keep our doobries clean
Because we care!
We're as common as muck.
Buona fortuna, vayas con Dios, Good luck!
Where bold is beautiful, we don't give a damn.
Luvva duck, We're as common as muck.
We're as common as muck.
Bon chance, viel glück, Good luck!
Where bold is beautiful, we don't give a damn.
Luvva duck! We're as common as muck.
And just by way of a perfect tribute, here is the wonderfully weird Nina Hagen with her version of Mr Dury's most successful number:
Jools Holland's biography of Ian Dury
Friday, 26 March 2010
This, it seems, is mainly because of the completely loopy character that is the studio's artistic director Louie Spence. So incredibly effeminate and outrageous is this man, he makes Graham Norton, Julian Clary and Liberace look like Rugby prop forwards. Here are some clips featuring this incredible man's on-screen shenanigans.
Happy Friday - and viva camp!
Thursday, 25 March 2010
To our delight, the drag show was still in full swing downstairs, with the irrepressible Mrs Moore, the skinniest drag on the scene Tanya Hyde, and the fantabulosa glam rock maven Trindy! Usually on Wednesday it is "Glam Jam" with Lady Imelda and CJ, but they were off in Glasgow apparently, filming the latest Weakest Link Drag Queen Special. I have no problem with either of them, but the format of that particular evening's entertainment veers uncomfortably close to karaoke (featuring as it does some West End players singing their versions of popular standards) and that is a particular genre of entertainment that I cannot bear. Piano bar sing-along, yes. Drag show, yes. Karaoke, never.
So it was worthwhile going down on this occasion, and, as ever, "the girls" didn't disappoint. I was particularly pleased when the lovely Trindy added a new song to her repertoire, and performed Rock'n'Roll Suicide just for me (we had been chatting earlier about favourite Bowie numbers, and I mentioned that this was one of mine). She has a whole "Bowie Special" show coming up, so I must look out for that!
Surprisingly, when you search YouTube for some of our favourite drag acts, there is very little footage available. I posted some that I found in my blog about the Sinders tribute show last October. But I am overjoyed to have found this... Over to Trindy!
PS She normally sings live, by the way...
I managed to get free tickets to see a unique show last night. It's not every day that you get an opportunity to see a real Hollywood legend live on stage...
Shirley Jones (for it is she) has had a seven decade career in film, stage and TV. She was a child prodigy back in Pennsylvania, was lauded by Rodgers and Hammerstein - appearing on stage in South Pacific, and, most famously, on film in both Oklahoma and Carousel - and has played Vegas and Broadway but bizarrely, never London. She is of course more famous to the wider audience as the mother of the divine David Cassidy (her real life step-son) in The Partridge Family. All this, and more, Miss Jones included in the charming anecdotes with which she peppered the performance.
And what a performance! Opening with a video vignette of excerpts from her finest screen moments, including her Oscar-winning performance in Elmer Gantry, the lady herself appeared looking very well preserved and starry in her sparkly showbiz outfit. Admittedly her voice is not as polished nor as strong as it used to be (but then again, she is 76 years old after all), and on occasions she wobbled around the mellow notes and the quieter end of the register - but bejeezus can she still belt out the semi-operatic high notes! And belt them she did - a marvellous repertoire of songs from her films and shows, including You'll Never Walk Alone, People Will Say We're in Love, If I Loved You, 76 Trombones and much more, plus a well-aimed tribute to Sondheim (on the occasion of his 80th).
This was very much a show about the Cassidy family as well as Miss Jones' career - veering dangerously close to mawkishness on occasion, with tributes to her late husband Jack Cassidy and her sons. All this without a mention of Jack's numerous affairs with men, their divorce way back in the 1970s nor his unfortunate death in a house fire that may have been caused by a drunkenly dropped cigarette or a pan catching fire...
But we forgive her that. Her asides to the audience - particularly about on-screen kisses with a galaxy of Hollywood's greatest leading men, and her regret at never having had an affair with any of them - were delightful.
Speaking of her family, she was ably supported in the show by her lesser-known (but nonetheless very cute) son Patrick. His was a slightly more comedic and occasionally surreal turn, especially when he performed a "duet" with a cardboard mask of his older yet smaller brother David. However his take on his dad's brilliant song My Fortune Is My Face, and his masterful version of Robert Preston's classic Ya Got Trouble (a very complicated patter song from The Music Man that I have never heard anyone else do) more than made up for that.
In a show of almost two hours duration, the time flew by. Yes there are faults - the format is slightly stilted, the backing musicians (particularly the drums) almost drowned out the ageing diva, and the set is bizarrely cluttered - and I don't think I would have been happy to pay £42.50 for the top tickets. However, in all this was a joyful and memorable evening, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Here are some classic moments from Miss Jones' career:
Till There Was You:
Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy on The Diana Dors Show:
You'll Never Walk Alone:
And here's that song (Ya Got Trouble) from The Music Man:
Shirley Jones website
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Last night our friend Russ offered us free tickets to see Shirley Jones in Concert this evening, Madame Acarti may have landed a new job, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor is releasing a new single... All is right with the world!
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
105 years ago today, a certain Miss Joan Crawford was born. Former soft porn star, starlet, vamp, Hollywood luminary and eventually Grand Guignol melodrama star extraordinaire, Miss Crawford was indeed one of those rare individuals worthy of the name "legend".
Yet it comes to pass that we remember her most, not as Lucille LeSueur the dancer, not for her 50+ films before Mildred Pierce, not for her Oscar nominations as an actress, not for her clever command of the Pepsi Cola company after her husband's death, but for this most marvellously camp piece of cinema history...
The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia website
Monday, 22 March 2010
And so, dear friends, it is time to celebrate the 80th birthday today of the world's greatest living musical writer and all-round genius, Mr Stephen Sondheim!
I have espoused my admiration of the great man and his work many, many times (including on the occasion of his birthday two years ago), but there is always room for a little more adulation where Mr Sondheim is concerned.
Indeed, the WhatsOnStage website has (understandably I guess) gone quite overboard, and tributes are popping up everywhere.
We are trying to gather ourselves together to see the current Jermyn Street Theatre production of Anyone Can Whistle (cashflow problems permitting), and we are already booked to see Into The Woods this summer the Regents Park Open Air Theatre. This autumn, the man himself is due to appear in a special "in conversation" event in London, which will be an absolute must.
We treasure our Sondheim autograph (which I had framed for Madame Acarti's 50th last year), and our collection of his works on vinyl and CD.
However, maybe it is appropriate on this day to post just a gentle piss-take... And who better to undertake such iconoclasm than the superbly talented Kit and the Widow? I love this pair!
Today we have a particularly special entry into this particular category - not only was this song a complete failure in the Song For Europe selection to represent Britain at Eurovision way back in 1982 (unsurprisingly), but it also had the ignominy of being included as one of the songs in the truly cringeworthy movie Girls Just Wanna Have Fun with Sarah Jessica Parker...
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Hey ho. There is always time, however, for one of our favourite exponents of that particular genre Miss Vikki Carr! - here disporting herself and her camp dancers around what looks like some scrapyards in the less salubrious end of Peckham...
Saturday, 20 March 2010
Read an article about the Doctor's new incarnation, Matt Smith.
Now this is (or should I say these are?) what Doctor Who should be like!
Friday, 19 March 2010
Thursday, 18 March 2010
We had another wonderful evening courtesy of Paul Burston's "peerless gay literary salon" Polari last night. In yet another new venue, the lovely Weston Pavilion on the roof of the Royal Festival Hall with its views of Parliament and the London Eye, the scene was set for a very cutural evening. We weren't disappointed!
Our opening reader was a superb new talent, the "performance poet" Keith Jarrett (not to be confused with the jazz pianist), whose reading took us on an author's journey through a series of conjectural scenarios, chracters and relationships that could be part of a fictional work about gay life, ending with the audience being told "this is not my story, it is everyone's. You decide." Difficult to explain in print, but excellent in its effect...
Paul, wearing green in honour of St Paddy's Day - with trousers so tight I had to let him know that we could tell he wasn't Jewish! - read a passage from The Gay Divorcee in which the relief of a Welsh Mam on finding out that her gay son was (unexpectedly) getting married (to a girl!) was brilliantly evoked.
But after the break we had the real treats of the evening! Marcus Reeves is a walking artform - singer, writer, performer and creator of the fantabulosa Postcards from God - The Sister Wendy Musical (which we so enjoyed back in 2007). He sang a couple of his beautiful songs and read a truly wonderful piece on the subject of love surviving through an abusive relationship. Tony was quite stunned when he walked over and sang one of his more emotional songs to him, clasping his hand in the process.
Heart-warming and stunning in turns, Mr Reeves also happens to be a lovely man and a close friend of our Polari pal Celine, and we spent the rest of the evening in their company.
Last and most certainly not least was the star reader of the evening, the award-winning novelist Mr Jake Arnott. Jake read a couple of passages from his new novel The Devil's Paintbrush, a complicated fantasy about the (imagined?) relationship between the disgraced Victorian Major-General Hector McDonald (who in real life was court-marshalled for sodomy with Indian boys at the height of the British Raj) and the infamous aesthete, mystic, alchemist and Satanist Aleister Crowley. My favourite was an early encounter between Crowley (aka "The Beast") and his future lover, the collector and and female impersonator Jerome Pollitt:
"Alchemical elements are sexual: sulphur is male, salt is female."
They can create a trancendent union with philosophical mercury."
"Mercury if the spirit of flux."
"It's the only treatment for syphilis, darling. Nasty though. Turned Oscar's teeth quite black."
"It's a hermaphrodite element."
"Well, I know all about that, dear."
"Do you take anything seriously?"
"Oh yes," Pollitt replied, sonorously.
"My performance," he went on.
"You were very good..." Crowley offered.
"Just my little sacrificial burlesque..."
It seems that Mr Arnott can seamlessly combine campness of the highest order with what may turn out to be quite an intellectual read. We of course purchased copies, which he kindly signed.
Ending on a high note with a couple of songs from Celine (who has just landed a recording deal, and is heavily involved in researching her forthcoming East End musical), the evening came to a logical close. But not for us! Madame Acarti, Tony, Celine, John-John, Marcus and I trolled off to the Retro Bar for a few more bevvies, then ended the evening (very late) at the Players Theatre Piano Bar again...
Here for your delectation is a video offering from the lovely Marcus...
Yet another splendiferous evening, and I look forward to the next one on 14 April!
Polari on MySpace
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
And this was at Number 1...
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
We happened to catch a repeat of one of my all-time favourite films tonight on Film Four - All About Eve, starring the incomparable Bette Davis, the smarmily brilliant George Sanders and the sinister Anne Baxter (with able support from the future Mr Bette Davis Gary Merrill, plus Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, Thelma Ritter and even Marilyn Monroe). What a joy!
We were reciting the lines, booing and cheering all the way through. How camp! But when you have lines like these what else can you do?
- "I detest cheap sentiment."Addison DeWitt:
- "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"
- "Nice speech, Eve. But I wouldn't worry too much about your heart. You can always put that award where your heart ought to be."
- "I'll admit I may have seen better days, but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut."
- "The only thing I ordered by mistake is the guests. They're domestic, too, and they don't care what they drink as long as it burns!"
- "Is it possible, is it even conceivable, that you've confused me with that gang of backward children you play tricks on?"Sublime....
- "Look closely, Eve. It's time you did. I am Addison DeWitt. I am nobody's fool, least of all yours."
Monday, 15 March 2010
So it only seems fitting on this Tacky Music Monday to showcase one of PWL's finest discoveries, the sadly Mel-less Kim Appleby... Enjoy!
Saturday, 13 March 2010
We hosted a party last night for the eternally tacky predecessor to Eurovision, "Your Country Needs You" - hosted by Graham Norton, and featuring a scary plastic lipped bint who won it last year and the supposedly straight Bruno, alongside those gods of tacky music Peter Waterman and Mike Stock.
And so the children began their attempts to perform a selcetion of Stock Aitken Waterman numbers with varying levels of ineptitude - each and every one of them about seventeen, we were treated to a sub-sub-sub-Scooch ensemble, a gang of slappers, an Amy Winehouse looky-likey, a Wimpy Bar waitress, and two cute-ish boys who had obviously passed their "auditions" in the dressing-room with flying colours...
We booed, jeered and cheered as the finalists (Esma, Alexis and Josh) performed the new song that is to be our entry in the actual Song Contest in May, That Sounds Good To Me. And the winner is...
Friday, 12 March 2010
I couldn't let the birthday of one of my favourite fragile icons go unnoticed. Kitsch, camp, brassy, mega-talented and downright wonderful - Miss Liza Minnelli is 64 today!!
And from my favourite album of hers Results, this combination of Liza, Sondheim and Pet Shop Boys still sends shivers down my spine...
...or am I losing my mind?
As Mark Owen is all over the headlines for a string of affairs when he was younger (none of which was with me - damn!!), what better way to welcome a Friday than with the gorgeous one's finest video moment?
Mark Owen official website
Thursday, 11 March 2010
Good grief! Now this is one weird artiste... A bastard love-child of Alexei Sale and Leigh Bowery, Hard Ton is a fantabulosa slab of Italo Disco weirdness! My first thought was "now I know where that GaGa woman gets all her inspiration from". My second thought was "I thought Divine was dead". Enjoy...
Check out the rest of "her" repertoire
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Happy 44th birthday today to the Texan chanteuse Edie Brickell, she of the Young Bohemians.
Little known facts about Edie:
- She is in fact Mrs Paul Simon (yes that one!).This year saw the release of the first New Bohemians album for decades. However, it is for this much covered slice of genius from 1989 that we love her the most:
- Her video Good Times was used by Microsoft on their Windows 95 installation disc, ensuring Ms Brickell's music was featured on billions of home computers.
- She has collaborated with Martha Wainwright, Sean Lennon, Lou Reed and with Paul's son Harper.
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
"Controversy" and "figure-skating" are not normally terms that are associated with each other. However, in the "Land of the Free" [sic] one particular flamboyant character has raised a few eyebrows.
Heaven forfend that such a butch sport should be tainted by the presence of someone like Johnny Weir...
Johnny Weir online
Monday, 8 March 2010
I just HAD to share this...!
Chic is not:
An evening dress with long sleeves.
A gay dinner hat.
A man’s black umbrella when it rains.
An accessory that matches your hair.
A trademark too ingenious to be corny.
Flexibility in appearance and attitude.
English, beautifully spoken.
Beautifully matched lingerie.
The absence of a summer tan.
The arts, appreciated.
A bad habit, a stale passion, discarded.
Acting your age.
Diamonds at breakfast.
More than three colours in an ensemble.
White shoes, daytime.
Plastic shoes, anytime.
Being seen in curlers in public.
Sleeveless dresses on overweight women.
Tight pants on anyone.
A strident voice.
A fad that everyone’s adopted.
Playing it safe.
An aggressive manner.
"Always ask a man: The key to femininity" by Arlene Dahl
Sunday, 7 March 2010
Saturday, 6 March 2010
While we were away on holiday, a certain legend called Elkie Brooks celebrated her 65th birthday! Heavens, that makes me feel old...
Still performing and touring as we speak, Miss Brooks began her career much as she does today, as a brassy singer of powerful jazzy numbers and tearful ballads. Her first sniff of success was as part of the band Vinegar Joe with the late, great Robert Palmer. Her commercial success in the 1970s largely hinges around one song, however, for which she will always be remembered - Pearl's A Singer... [please excuse the sound quality - you may need extra volume]
Here is a remarkable early performance of hers, in which she demonstrates the throaty talents that would later bring her success and adulation:
And here she is performing a song from her brand new album Powerless, released this week:
Many happy returns to a mistress of song!
Elkie Brooks offical website
Friday, 5 March 2010
Today we celebrate the birthday of one of those long-lost girlie singers of the 60s and 70s, Miss Clodagh Rodgers. For a while, she really was the toast of the MOR wave - permanent guest star on the Cliff Richard Show, winner of the "Best legs in showbusiness" award in 1969 and an NME award in 1970. Then, of course, came her really big break, and she was forever doomed to be remembered for this slice of inanity... Ah, the delights of Eurovision!
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
We are still unable to get into our flat today as apparently there is still no loo, and the carpets are only being laid this afternoon - sigh. So even though we are finally leaving the kind hospitality of Baby Steve and Houseboy Alex and their lovely caravan in Essex this afternoon, it seems we will be taking up residence for at least one night in another of our landlady's flats in North London. This means no internet (except when I get back to work tomorrow) for a while. *Double sigh.*
Never mind, we'll have a (hopefully) lovely refurbished flat to go back into, it's a another sunny day and the tan isn't fading yet! So today I feel like some mellow music - and as it is the 60th anniversary of the birth of a lady with one of the 20th century's sweetest pop voices, Miss Karen Carpenter, here she is duetting with another of those all-time classic singers, the sublime Miss Ella Fitzgerald... Enjoy!
Monday, 1 March 2010
"Red velvet, crystal chandeliers, whisky. Peacock feathers, smudged mascara, black stockings. A cigarette burning, sequins, lipstick."
Despite not being able to get into our own flat (we are currently kipping down with Baby Steve and Houseboy Alex in their bijou caravan in Essex!) till - hopefully - tonight or tomorrow morning, we are still happily basking in the afterglow of another lovely week in Spain.
They had been suffering weeks of horrible rainy weather over there, but our arrival appeared to signal a change - and although it wasn't consistently sunny we have still managed to come back with a fab tan...
Meanwhile, on this first Tacky Music Monday after our return, what better to post than a little gift from our holidays. Imagine our delight on discovering the marvellous Maria Jimenez, variously described as "an unstoppable force" and "like Bob Dylan singing flamencos"! Enjoy...