Sunday, 31 October 2010
I'm sitting here drinking my hundredth cup of tea and smoking my thousandth fag - the sign of having had a blinder of a night at John-John's birthday party last night. Suitably themed for Hallowe'en weekend, everyone interpreted "black'n'bling" in their own inimitable way, and we made a most spectacular crowd at the fabulously atmospheric front bar of the George Inn in Southwark, which John had hired for the occasion.
Lots of drinking, dancing and delirium later, we ended up taking over the upstairs function room at the Dog House in Kennington, dancing on tables and singing our heart out (to Oasis, of all things, as I recall - oo-er). We even won the prize for best Hallowe'en costumes, with a bottle of champers from the landlady Camilla. A fab night indeed!
Being Hallowe'en, weird creatures seemed to be everywhere - from the agressive drunk who tried to steal Alistair's hat to the bloodily made-up punter at the Dog House - but nothing quite prepared us for the surprise of getting home at 3am to find some strange woman curled up asleep on our doorstep. I soon shifted her off the premises, despite her hurling insults at me... An odd end to a crazy evening. Great fun nonetheless!
As it is actually Hallowe'en today, here's a little message from Elvira:
Saturday, 30 October 2010
As it is John-John's birthday, we thought we'd put together a little tribute blog to his all-time favourite band - nay, obsession - Abba!
Teamwork between Madame Acarti and I came up with some most unusual stuff...
Let us first feature a long-time favourite of ours here at Dolores Delargo Towers. It is a cover version of Dancing Queen, and there have been many - but when it is sung in Hindi by the fantabulosa Salma and Sabina Agha, how could we resist (ya)?
Sticking rigidly with the queeny favourite, let's have Kylie's triumphant version from the Sydney Olympics closing ceremony in 2000!
Enough of the "dancing queens" - let's try something a little more subtle. How about French icon Mireille Mathieu's tribute to Abba?
From the sublime to the ridiculous...
And to close, we have found something absolutely brilliant... There is always time for a bit of Nina Hagen at Dolores Delargo Towers! Yet who knew she covered Abba as well..?
Happy birthday, dearest!
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Friday at last! We have John-John's "black'n'bling" party to look forward to tomorrow night, and the sun will shine...
Time, methinks for a little bit of the marvellous Melba Moore...
Here she is with her 80s floorfiller:
And let us not forget that Miss Moore brought us this stomper, well before Dannii Minogue had even started with the Mickey Mouse Club. Thank Disco It's Friday!
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
"Not 'arf, pop pickers!"
So we have survived the middle of the week (Wednesday is always the worst of all days), and we've had so much trouble with the cable connection at Dolores Delargo Towers lately (no TV nor internet again for three hours this evening!) I decided to embark on a new(ish) music fest to cheer myself up once I was back online!
It would be rude of me not to share my chosen delicacies...
The ever-reliable Freemasons (here featuring Wynter Gordon) have come up with yet another corker of a new single, Believer:
Despite this being the big summer hit of 2009, not 2010, I am still madly in love with the charms of Romanian megastar (and it's not often you get those two words together in the same sentence) Mr Edward Maya...
I am always cheered up by the news that our beloved Princess Kylie is releasing a new single. The next track chosen from Aphrodite is the fabulously chirpy "Scissor-Sisters-esque" Better Than Today - enjoy the Happy HotDog Remix Edit:
Better Than Today (Happy HotDog Remix Edit) by kyleongwl
Just in case anyone missed it in my blog about the fantabulosa 82-year-old Spanish diva Sara Montiel last week, I remain absolutely fascinated, nay obsessed, with this collaboration with the marvellous Alaska and her band Fangoria!
Finally, here's a real work of art - a recent video by Brooklyn indie band The Drums, that pays a remarkably bizarre homage to another uber-cool band, the Shangri-Las. This is genius!
And here is the original - Out In The Streets by the Shangri-Las:
Twenty years ago, at the grand old age of 90 the world lost one of the last of the great bandleaders, Puerto Rico's finest - Xavier Cugat. Credited with bringing Latin music to the airwaves in America (and thence the rest of the previously unconquered World), he married five times - and his widow is none other than house favourite here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Charo!
On this anniversary, I think we should celebrate with some of his uplifting music...
And some of hers...
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
We trolled along on a sunny Sunday afternoon last weekend to the wonderful "Gay's The Word" bookshop in arty Bloomsbury for a special reading - the launch of Christopher Stevens' definitive masterwork on the life of Kenneth Williams, Born Brilliant.
A wonderful, knowledgeable and witty reader, Mr Stevens gave us practically chapter-and-verse the story of Kenny's childhood, his acting and dressing-up games and his burgeoning desire to better himself - and that was just for starters! For the next couple of hours, he presented anecdote after anecdote, observation after theory, about this wonderful man (including his conclusion that Kenny's death was not suicide, but an unfortunate reaction between barbiturates and Zantac).
As one of his surviving family friends (who Mr Stevens managed to get to speak publicly for the first time) put it, Kenneth Williams was essentially "afraid of maturity". The well-documented private person behind the hysterically camp public image was in effect a forever stunted pseudo-adolescent, wilfully avoiding grown-up matters such as sex, relationships and responsibility, preferring obsessive cleanliness, solitude and the ultimate expression of "selfishness" - his diary.
Kenny was apparently embarrassed by the fact that he embarked upon his acting career with no formal drama school training behind him. He felt somehow unworthy of the parts he got, yet deserving of better - this was just one of the many contradictions in his life. Despite being wildly popular with the critics and the public alike, a few of the West End productions in which he starred were not a commercial success. This bothered him immensely. He disliked being the pivot upon which any production hinged. He much preferred being a player, part of a company where some other "deserving" star - be it Ingrid Bergman or Maggie Smith, or even Hancock - was the one upon whose head the responsibility for its success or failure rested.
Loathing - whether of self, or (much to many people's surprise and upset once the fuller version of his diaries was published after his death) of fellow actors, colleagues and friends - seems to be the watchword for Kenny's life. He resented his father's bombastic manner, and the mental and physical decline that led the Williams family out of slum poverty into middle-class Bloomsbury and back again into bankruptcy. He loathed the direction that his career had taken him (in particular the eternally popular Carry On films). He loathed the arrogance of Hancock, the sordid commonness of Sid James, the sleaze of Joe Orton, and the downright rudeness of Orson Welles (who, remarkably, offered him the opportunity to launch a career in America, which Kenny turned down). He could be cruel and waspish at the drop of a hat, and cared little who he upset in the process.
However, as Mr Stevens has also found, the mercurial nature of Kenneth Williams meant his life was not all doom-and-gloom. When he did cultivate friendships, they lasted more or less for the rest of his life. He proposed to several female friends, including Sheila Hancock and Joan Sims. He was loved for, and thoroughly enjoyed, being a "national treasure" - queen of the chat shows. He certainly revelled in the sexlessness of his Music Hall style of camp - innuendo without the "messy bits".
And we adored him for it! That is I assume why Mr Stevens embarked on this project. To conduct such careful research into the life of a man about whom millions of words have already been written (many by his own hand, indeed), reading every single one of the great man's diaries (incidentally written longhand in at least twelve different styles of handwriting, depending on Kenneth's mood!), to interview childhood friends previously unknown, to produce a comprehensive biography of this magnitude - it is a labour of love. I have just opened this impressive tome, and look forward to reading it from cover to cover...
Here's the ebullient Mr Williams on the Parkinson show:
...and here, his classic piss-take Ma Crepe Suzette:
Buy your copy of Born Brilliant from Foyles
Gay's the Word bookshop
This morning I have to go to the dentist for root canal work. It is still cold, and it is going to rain this afternoon. I have a busy afternoon ahead of me in work.
None of the above makes me happy. Here's an appropriate number for my mood...
None of the above makes me happy. Here's an appropriate number for my mood...
Monday, 25 October 2010
In a stroke of technological brilliance in the early 1980s, a number of very talented and artistic producers took to the new-fangled idea of "pop videos", and came up with some spectacular pieces of mini-cinema. So much so that MTV was born as a response!
Unfortunately, none of them were employed by this group - sadly named after a chav town in Essex. So on this Tacky Music Monday, I treat you to the delights of Harlow (for it is they), and the incredibly hi-tech promo for their classic Take Off. It was never a hit, apparently...
Sunday, 24 October 2010
One most telling thing about society these days is the "five-second memory" that is encouraged by TV, music videos, video games, and yes, dear readers, social network sites. This "Twitter generation" is actively engaged in snippets of nothingness, and reality matters less and less to some people. In the words of the late, great Dame Joan Sutherland "Them's my sentiments, anyhow..."
And so it seemed to us last night, as the combination of cold damp weather and "more important" stuff such as X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing, or indeed sex'n'drugs'n'rock'n'roll appeared to have reduced the number of people who bothered to come out for the "Say No To Hate Crime" rally and vigil. Ian Baynham's murder in Trafalgar Square was, I suppose, still in the news this time last year when 10,000 people turned up.
This year, the gay press is more interested in Joe McElderry (no disrespect meant to the young man by the way, just he really isn't that important!) and numbers were reduced to around 2,000 at the most - a fairly small gathering given the magnitude of the problem.
From politicians to pioneers, from Amy Lamé to Harvey Milk's nephew Stuart (founder of the Milk Foundation), we had speakers from all backgrounds and interest groups - Ian Baynham's sister Diana, Rikki Beadle-Blair, Paul Burston, Lynne Featherstone MP (Minister for Equalities), Peter Tatchell, gay Deputy Mayor of London Richard Barnes, Sue Sanders (Schools Out) and many others gave heartfelt speeches.
A gay brass band tootled from the back of the crowd, (almost inaudible to anyone near the speakers' stage incidentally), and an assembled gay chorus sang some songs of hope and sadness. We all had glow-sticks, some people lit candles. Yet despite messages of support from David Cameron and Ed Milliband, there were no front-benchers or leaders of political parties.
It is sad to say that this felt like a message of hope speaking out to only an interested few. The facts are terrifying. Hate crime is evidently on the increase:
- 1,192 homophobic offences were reported in London in the year to September, up from 1,008 the previous year, a rise of 18.3%
- 1 in 5 gay and lesbian people have experienced a homophobic hate crime or incident in the last three years
- 3 in 4 did not report them to the police. Only 6% reported them to third parties
- 7 in 10 did not report hate crime and incidents to anyone.
A list of hundreds of names of people who have been murdered because of hatred against their "difference" was read out after the silence at 8pm.
One speaker told possibly the most emotional story of all. Artist Paul Harfleet decided to instigate the "Pansy Project" in 2005, to plant a pansy at the site of each reported site of such a hate crime. Since his project began he has planted 10,000. That is five times the number of people who bothered to turn up last night, murdered because they were gay.
I sometimes feel ashamed of what passes for the gay "scene". I am really proud of everyone involved in organising this important event, and everyone who showed up.
Today marks the 106th anniversary of the birth of Moss Hart, writer, director, and the virtuoso behind many a classic story, some of which became musicals beloved of the habitués of Dolores Delargo Towers.
Mr Hart was a strange and contradictory character. More or less an out gay man in the theatrical world of the 1930s, he nevertheless married the glamorous fashionista and actress Kitty Carlisle (what gay man wouldn't?), and they had two children together.
It was for his writing genius, however, that he will be most remembered. Collaborating with George Kaufman, he wrote The Man Who Came To Dinner (later a star vehicle for Bette Davis and the outrageously camp Monty Woolley). With Woolley's friend and lover Cole Porter (with whom Mr Hart spent a four and a half month luxury cruise in 1935!) he produced the musical Jubilee! (from which came such standards as Begin the Beguine and Just One Of Those Things). He collaborated with Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart (no relation), Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin.
But his crowning glory was another collaboration, this time with Alan Jay Lerner and Fredick Loewe, on an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. In their hands it became one of the best-loved musicals of them all... And so we laud the magnificence that was Moss Hart:
Moss Hart on IBDB
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Today, I am proud to announce the inaugural blog of the much-anticipated Museum of Camp!
Of course you only have to look back through the annals [sic] of the evolution of Dolores Delargo Towers to find that it already exists in reality - but over in the Museum, I plan to create a more permanent home for our more cherished icons. It is merely a "work in progress" as we speak (many articles are just "parked" there at present), but with luck, determination and good old British spunk [!], this is the start of something fantabulosa...
And so I am proud to introduce my salivating reader [sic] to the wondrous world of Mr Zeki Müren, "The Turkish Liberace"!
Friday, 22 October 2010
This week has roared on by, thank heavens! So here we are again, squeezing into our skin-tight lamé trousers and bat-wing chiffon, accompanied by the addictive sound of Belle Epoque... Thank Disco It's Friday!
Thursday, 21 October 2010
"Cabaret is one-to-one, like a party, and you're the hostess who wants to please. Most of all you have to have a good time and hope your audience joins in the fun."
This is turning into a day for Divas! Thanks to another of my favourite bloggers, TJB at Stirred, Straight Up, With A Twist, I am reminded that it is the 86th birthday today of Miss Julie Wilson - actress, singer, and beacon of fabulousness!
Miss Wilson famously arrived in London from Nebraska via Noo Yawk to appear in the West End debut of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate in 1951. She liked it so much she stayed far longer than that show's run, and enrolled in RADA (while still gracing London's stages in productions such as South Pacific).
With that prestigious learning under her belt, she returned to her homeland to wow Broadway as well, before drifting inexorably (as so many before her) onto television. Evidently tired of this limiting medium, she announced her retirement during the 70s "to spend more time with her family".
But you can't keep a true grande dame of showbiz down for long. Julie Wilson was "rediscovered" as a camp icon in the 1980s, and continues to perform to this day as a much-loved popular cabaret artiste at various venues across the States. Here is a most appropriate song that she loves to perform these days...
And here's the lady still being "bad" in her 80s...
Happy birthday to a real old broad!
Julie Wilson official website
Here at Dolores Delargo Towers, there is little we like better than discovering a new Diva!
Courtesy of a girl I work with, my eyes and ears have been opened to the delights of Spain's eternal favourite, the living legend that is Sara Montiel.
At the venerable age of 82, with a seven-decade career as an international movie, TV and recording mega-star behind her, she shows no sign of stopping! Senorita Montiel in her heyday co-starred with the likes of Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Joan Fontaine, Charles Bronson, Mario Lanza and Rod Steiger before retiring from movies in 1974 to concentrate on her television career.
Her private life is a feast for the gossip columns - she married four times, divorcing twice (outraging the deeply conservative Catholic country under Franco's dictatorship in the process), and carried on a long affair with Italian actor Giancarlo del Duca for 40 years. To top it all, husband number four (who she married when she was 74) was a Cuban videotape operator 36 years her junior!
La Leyenda's flamboyant image is legendary - she is famous for her scarlet talons and for puffing Havana cigars - and her music is embedded in Spanish culture. Her biggest hit Fumando Espero ["While smoking, I wait"] is apparently instantly recognisable to young and old alike.
A bar in Barcelona called "La Concha" is dedicated to Sara Montiel and has vintage photos of her on all the walls. A restored 16th Century windmill located close to Sara Montiel's birthplace in the La Mancha region of Spain has been officially turned into a museum of the star, housing memorabilia, gowns and many other items connected with her and her career.
Now that's a Diva!
Here she is as a young actress, playing the vamp in Carmen la Ronda...
And the vamp role persists - Alma Mia!
That classic Fumando Espero:
Just this year, Sara Montiel was invited to co-star in the latest magnificent production of Dolores Delargo Towers favourite Spanish band Fangoria - how fabulous is this?! Absolutamente!
Of course any diva worth her salt will always be clasped to the hearts of queens, and drag queens in particular... Here's the glittering Manuel Arte paying La Leyenda due homage:
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
"Any healthy man can go without food for two days - but not without poetry." Baudelaire
John-John, Paul(ine) and I had another interesting and entertaining evening thanks to the lovely Paul Burston and his fantabulosa Polari gay literary salon! Even if this specially-themed "Polari goes Poetry" night did expose the fact that maybe, just sometimes, poets should let other people read their poetry...
Case in point was our opening reader Peter Daniels. His poetry is incisive, but short. And he rather befogged the audience by not indicating when each of these little thoughtful pieces was finished, so it was rather embarrassing not knowing when (or if) to clap at the appropriate moments. Some of his poems are brilliant, however! I particularly loved this lascivious little fantasy:
One golden glazed bun, sliced open.
One scoop of custardy ice cream, speckled
with chips of fruit and chocolate. Sandwich them lavishly.
To be eaten in uniform by a young soldier,
with one careless hand, espresso in the other.
At the chrome bar, more coffee is hissing.
Sunshine slants in early, yellow.
Not a speck on his trousers.
[James McKay, Peter Daniels, Dean Atta, Sophia Blackwell, Keith Jarrett, Mark Wallis, Paul Burston]
Mr Daniels was followed (in complete contrast) by a rather more savvy performer - the musician and poet James McKay. Anyone who can open a set with the line "in the beginning was the word and the word was probably obscene but no-one was quite awake enough to properly hear it so I guess that makes it all right!" has my vote, anyhow. And, Geordie hunk that he is, he caused a bit of a frisson with John-John and Paul...
Hilariously, he got us all up out of our seats for a moment's contemplation, as he called us to a "prayer" - then proceeded to solemnly recite the opening lines from Bagpuss! Marvellous stuff. Read more about James at his "Make Poetry History" page.
Polari favourite the very lovely Dean Atta is always a joy - we love his enthusiasm for language, and his staunch attitude towards being gay in a hostile urban world. He read a new very poignant poem about an abusive relationship, which silenced the audience somewhat, but bounced back to the eternal crowd-pleaser - shagging!
Mr Atta's poem Morning Sex is one of my favourites from the past year or so of readings, and it went down just as well last night with the assembled Polari-ites. You can download Dean's latest compilation album of poetry free at http://www.deanatta.co.uk/ - you know you want to...
Keith Jarrett opened the proceedings after the break (during which we took in the beautiful view from the rooftop St Pauls Pavilion), with a few of his youthful and energetic writings, which were fun and uplifting. But my dears - our next turn was one major mind-fuck!
Mark Wallis - who usually goes by the nom-de-plume of "I Am Cereal Killer" - with his bizarre face-paint is a performance artist and published poet. Although I don't think he was too well for last night's "performance", as he stumbled and slurred his way through some of his pithy autobiographical poetry about emotions, homosexuality, AIDS and his native Cornwall.
We were left feeling a little uncomfortable after that, so it was just as well we had the lovely and gorgeous lady lesbian poetess and glam diva of the poetry world Sophia Blackwell to finish off proceedings with a bang! Part burlesque, part drama queen and wholly brilliant! You can listen to some of Sophia's work on her MySpace profile page.
Another fabulous night - can it really be Polari's third birthday next month? How time flies... An unmissable event, and one I always really look forward to! We have our tickets booked already.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Today we celebrate the 65th anniversary of the birth of one Harris Glenn Milstead, infamously better known as Divine - monster-drag icon, John Waters muse and collaborator, growling Hi-NRG megastar and all-round legend...
Remember, "no woman's worth crawling on the Earth! So walk like a man (in a frock), my son..."
Monday, 18 October 2010
Another weekend is over, too soon. The weather is turning wintry - with temperatures of 2C predicted at night. Winter is depressing...
Thankfully, on this Tacky Music Monday we have the lovely and eternally glamorous Line Renaud and a group of semi-naked queens doing Le Hully Gully to bring a little sunshine into our lives!
Enjoy - and why not practice that wiggle on your way to work?
Line Renaud on Wikipedia
Sunday, 17 October 2010
And so farewell to Simon McCorkindale, who has died of cancer aged 58.
A classy, handsome man, Mr McCorkindale made a good living playing upper-crust totty roles, notably in Death on the Nile, Dynasty and Falcon Crest. He was also one of those rare stars who had a stable home life - married to actress Susan George since 1984. I had a major teenage crush on him ever since seeing him as "Lucius" in I, Claudius...
Such a sad loss. RIP.
"Sondheim in Conversation" last night was every bit as brilliant as we might have expected. In a cleverly constructed discussion with Jude Kelly, artistic director at the Royal Festival Hall, the great man himself gave a sometimes wicked insight into his long career as the primo lyricist and musical legend of Broadway.
At 80, Stephen Sondheim looks many decades younger, and is as sharp as a knife in his observations. As recently reported by the British press in "outraged" tones, he considers Sir Noel Coward an "unemotional" lyricist, and W.S. Gilbert (of "and Sullivan" fame) to only have written lyrics that mattered to himself, not the audience. His waspish criticism of lyric-writers even extends to his own mentor and father-figure, Oscar Hammerstein. However Cole Porter, Yip Harburg, Dorothy Fields, Frank Loesser and Irving Berlin escaped with far more praise...
He was a little less candid - as might have been expected - about his personal life, but his emotional attachment to teaching others his craft shone through. Some of his wry anecdotes were very funny - in particular his recollections of Ethel Merman (not known for being "Brains Trust"), and his resignedness about his general lack of commercial (as opposed to critical) success.
Mr Sondheim has recently produced a weighty tome - his first book - of his own collected lyrics and analysis of others'. Titled Finishing the Hat (itself a lyric from Sunday in the Park with George about the elation the artist feels creating art), the book opens in 1954 with Saturday Night and ends in 1981 with Merrily We Roll Along, encompassing the likes of West Side Story (1957), Company (1970), Follies (1971) and A Little Night Music (1973) along the way. An incredible track record of musical supremacy, and this is only book one (the second volume is promised for this time next year!). We could have queued for signed copies at the Royal Festival Hall, but at £30 a pop it can wait...
A once-in-a-lifetime experience (which we shared with the likes of Sir Tim Rice, Julia McKenzie, Eileen Atkins, former MP Chris Smith, and a host of other thesps, and major and minor celebs), this was a fabulously entertaining evening! So, to celebrate here are just a few of Mr S's greatest moments:
Saturday, 16 October 2010
Friday, 15 October 2010
Thursday, 14 October 2010
I have an early meeting this morning so it's the first one when I have got up in the dark, and I feel like crap... However, there are always good things that can cheer me up:
A good news story - 33 men have been rescued from a hole in the ground in Chile today.
I may well be going to see Sondheim in conversation at the South Bank on Saturday.
And I have found this video from Peggy Lee and Judy Garland...
Some things always lift the spirits, and that duet is one of them!
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
I studiously ignored the fact that earlier this week was something called "International Coming Out Day" - which to me sounds like (yawn) yet another American construct and and excuse for the greetings card industry to go into overdrive...
However, while skimming through the hits of the 80s (as is my wont every now and then) I rediscovered this song. And on realising that it was at number one this week in 1984 I suddenly realised that this, of all weeks, is the 26th anniversary of that tremulous moment when I did indeed "come out" - much to the astonishment (not!) of friends, fellow journalism students and (least of all) family!
It's official! Dusseldorf will host next year's Eurovision Song Contest following Germany's victory in Oslo this year with the godawful Satellite by Lena Meyer-Landrut.
The Contest will take place at football team Fortuna Düsseldorf's arena, which has a maximum seating capacity of 54,400 people. Due to the required space for the stage and technical facilities, the capacity for the Eurovision Song Contest will be lower - approximately 24,000 spectators can attend each of the three live shows and some of the Dress Rehearals. The arena is located within five kilometers from both Düsseldorf's international airport as well as the city centre
Here is a little guide to that city, courtesy of the wonderful Boom-Bang-a-Blog:
"Dusseldorf is the centre of Germany's fashion and advertising industries, making it the ideal place for an entrant to pick out a new outfit if the dayglo/tinfoil number they've brought with them from home flares too much in front of the camera.The blog goes on:
"The city has also been found to have the best quality of life for its inhabitants in all of Germany - and the sixth best in the whole wide world. Internationally, it only lags behind Vienna (the tops), Zurich, Geneva, Vancouver and Auckland.
"Eurovision fans are known to consume a fair whack of booze on their trips to the Contest of Song. If Dusseldorf does host then they might like to try the hoppy Altbier, the city's very own lager which sounds a bit more like real ale when you read the description.
"If all that Altbier gives you the post-bierkeller munchies, then the two dishes you're likely to find in Dusseldorf's more traditional restaurants are Sauerbraten, a beef roast marinated in vinegar and spicy stuff for a fair while, or the far-more-interestingly titled Heaven and Hell (Himmel und Ad in German) which, while sharing the title of the 1998 Dutch entry, is in fact a mixture of black pudding, stewed apple and mashed potato. That actually sounds rather tasty and something to drown sorrows with after the inevitable crash and burn of the UK entry on the night of the Eurovision final.
"This year's champ, Lena is (apparently) defending her title on home turf in 2011, which means that Dusseldorf's greatest contribution to the world of pop, Kraftwerk, won't be getting a look-in as Germany's entry next year. Wouldn't have thought they'd be all that bothered at missing out, to be honest..."
"Some are already decrying the choice of host city for next year as this still leaves Berlin as the only major European capital never to have hosted the Contest. There are also claims that the 'Dorf (which I probably won't be calling it as the months roll on) is a bit too creaky and antiquated to host a Eurovision party - but surely wherever you host a Song Contest, a party will naturally form around it?"
Whatever happens, here at Dolores Delargo Towers we certainly will be partying! Semi-finals are scheduled to take place on 10 and 12 May and the final on 14 May, 2011. Mark it in your diaries, now...
Here are some of the horrors and the more palatable entries Germany has given us over the years:
Official Eurovision Song Contest Site
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
On this autumnal grey morning, I figured a brief visit to Spain might be in order. (I wish!)
Well, the sort of Spain that exists in a young Pedro Almodovar's mind, maybe, in this fabulous clip of the man himself - in drag!
Labyrinth of Passion
Well, the sort of Spain that exists in a young Pedro Almodovar's mind, maybe, in this fabulous clip of the man himself - in drag!
Labyrinth of Passion
Monday, 11 October 2010
"La Stupenda" Dame Joan Sutherland is dead, and we at Dolores Delargo Towers are in mourning.
The leading soprano of the bel canto style for many decades, she worked with all the best orchestras and conductors (not least her husband Richard Bonynge), performed duets with major operatic superstars like Luciano Pavarotti and Marilyn Horne, and was famously directed in an on-screen version of Lucia de Lammamoor by none other than Franco Zefferelli.
We loved our Joan! It was only yesterday after all that I posted her supreme rendition of The Flower Duet. We love her Suor Angelica, her Tosca, her Die Fledermaus, her Norma and her Lucia di Lammermoor. We particularly treasure a vinyl album rarity of Miss Sutherland performing Noel Coward songs with the Master himself!
As down-to-earth as a sheep-shearer from the outback of Oz, Dame Joan was never known for her refinement in real life - she famously said "If I weren`t reasonably placid, I don`t think I could cope with this sort of life. To be a diva, you`ve got to be absolutely like a horse."
But what a singer! She was lauded by her contemporaries - Luciano Pavarotti described her as having "the voice of the century", and Monserrat Caballe once said her voice was "like heaven". Joan's was the voice that opened the Sydney Opera House in 1973, and it was from that stage that she announced her retirement in 1990. That alone was a huge loss to music, but in her death there is now a gaping hole in the operatic firmament.
There will certainly never be another Dame Joan Sutherland. RIP...
And here, Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne sing the duet Mira o Norma:
Dame Joan Sutherland obituary
This week's Tacky Music Monday entertainment is brought to you courtesy of a really obscure "one-hit-wonder".
The girlie group Company B were an early example of a manufactured pop vehicle (a forerunner to the boy-band, girl-band craze of the 90s). Despite some dance chart success in the US (in particular their native Miami), this is the only notable song that made it across the water to Europe - oh, the wigs, oh, the rictus grins! Enjoy...
Sunday, 10 October 2010
It's been a gardening weekend here at Dolores Delargo Towers... Our friend Al kindly bought us a big bag of bulbs from Kew as a housewarming prezzie. I had already planted some red tulips and golden daffs with wallflowers in the little bed out the front a few weeks ago, but then the weather turned shit and so the back garden had to wait.
Yesterday I planted up two tubs - one with three enormous bulbs of the magnificent Lilium regale (above) that we purchased at the RHS Autumn Show last week. In the other I planted a layered mix of these beauties...
That's Tulip "Ronaldo" (named after my favourite sexy footballer, perhaps?) and Narcissus "Thalia" - which should be stunning together!
In the garden itself, we now have a drift of English bluebells, Anemone "du Caen", and Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), which should be joyful:
All this, and it is warm enough to sit out in shorts, sipping Rosé - not bad for mid-October!
To finish the glorious weekend off in a fitting manner, here's dear Dame Joan Sutherland with an appropriate aria - enjoy!
Continuing my obsession with Italian television singing superstars from yesterday's blog, one who stands out for her sheer ballsiness (and the longevity of her career) as much as anything else is the magnificent Mina!
A pioneer in many ways, Signorina Mina Mazzini escaped the poverty and conventional society of her native Cremona in the late 50s to become a rock'n'roll singer, touring Italy and the Mediterranean. In a scandalous media frenzy for its day, Mina's attempt to hit the big time on TV was almost scuppered by conservative Catholic outrage at her unmarried pregnancy, and for a while she was banished from the screens. But you can't keep a good diva down for long, and by the mid-1960s the "Queen of Screamers", as she was known, became a chart-topping phenomenon.
Mina's songs were hugely significant in European pop - she pioneered several of Bacharach & David's numbers (translated into Italian, natch), becoming an equivalent of Dionne Warwick in her homeland as a consequence. Even Dusty Springfield acknowledged her as one of her influences!
Her Grande grande grande became Shirley Bassey's anthemic Never Never Never, Piano became Softly As I Leave You and was a hit for both Matt Monro and Frank Sinatra, and Dalida (no less!) scored a massive hit when she recorded a French version of Mina's Paroles, Paroles with Alain Delon...
Having retired from hosting and appearing on numerous Italian TV shows, Mina is currently living out her retirement in Switzerland. She remains adored in Italy, and her music is widely used in film soundtracks to this day.
Here is a selection of this lovely lady's work - sublime. Enjoy!
Grande, Grande, Grande:
Mina Mazzini on MySpace
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Sad news. MGM Studios has filed for bankruptcy...
Founded in 1924, Metro Goldwyn Mayer was one of the original members of that clique known as the "studio system" in Hollywood, and was responsible for some of the most wonderful musicals ever made. Including these...
Admittedly since the death of Louie B Mayer in 1957, the demise of the original company was palpable - with a number of buy-outs, reshuffles and bits sold off to the likes of Ted Turner, the involvement of dodgy businessmen and accusations of illegal operations. Apparently the studio is going to be "saved", with a buy-out by another production company, but it is a shame nonetheless...
Read more on the BBC
Here at Dolores Delargo Towers we never tire of that delightful and unique source of "entertainment", the Italian TV spectacular!
Why ask for quality primetime weekend television when you can have sweatbands, instantly forgettable music, leggings, spangles, boobs, lycra and frenetic dancing? Just don't mention the clowns, OK?
Friday, 8 October 2010
As we are greeted by a bit of a grey morning, I remain optimistic that the weather this weekend will be sunny and warm as forecast. We have gardening to do here at Dolores Delargo Towers!
To make sure Mother Nature sits up and takes notice, here's Grace Jones with a set of instructions. Thank Disco It's Friday!
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Now here is an oddity...
"Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations" was an inspired "Swinging Sixties" creation of Messrs Cook and Moore. Does anyone else think this may have been an influence on Mr Neil Tennant?
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
It's Wednesday, it's miserable out there, I am back at work after a nice day off visiting the RHS Autumn Show and I am not best pleased, so it's time for some weird stuff, I reckon...
How about a little bit of Barbra Streisand? Not...
Or some Frank Sinatra? Definitely not (it's the wonderful Miss Kittin & the Hacker!)...
Or maybe some acrobatic Muscle Marys, courtesy of El Perro del Mar?
And finally a band that I am never quite sure whether it's a piss-take or not, Noo Yawk's finest - SSION!
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
As the Autumn/Winter Fashion season madness is upon us (last week London, this week Paris), what could be better for me to post than this work of wonder?
Click "full screen" and indulge yourself in eleven minutes of sheer artistic fabulousness, courtesy of Welsh couture wunderkind Gareth Pugh!
Click "full screen" and indulge yourself in eleven minutes of sheer artistic fabulousness, courtesy of Welsh couture wunderkind Gareth Pugh!
Monday, 4 October 2010
Today is the 72nd birthday of that "Lucky Bitch" Jackie Collins, pioneer of leopardskin print trouser suts, sister of Joan and multi-million-selling author of such high-brow novels as The Bitch, The Stud and The World Is Full of Married Men.
To celebrate this auspicious Tacky Music Monday, here is a selection of appropriately-themed tacky numbers...
Sunday, 3 October 2010
On this lazy Sunday, it is too wet to plant the bulbs or to do the laundry, so instead I thought we'd cross over to the Low Countries for some musical treats today...
First up is a lady who has scored a record-breaking 27 weeks at the top of the Dutch charts so far this year! Described by Mark Savage of the BBC as "like a modern version of Jane Russell or Bettie Page, sultry eyed and bedecked in elaborate antique jewellery", Miss Caro Emerald was turned down by all the major record companies in her attempt to launch her career, so she did all the marketing herself. It paid off in spades, and her album Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor is released next week in the UK. One to look out for, I'd say...
Next up, a song from the year 2000 that I had never heard before our French friend Thierry ("Kylie") sent a link. Hooverphonic were at one stage one of Belgium's biggest pop bands, and their song 2Wicky was used on the soundtrack of the hit 90s movie Stealing Beauty. Their jazzy, trippy sound was originally influenced by artists like Massive Attack and St Etienne, but on this single they appeared to veer towards a more soulful style (more recently adopted by the likes of Duffy). It's beautiful - enjoy!
I really struggled to find any music of any merit from the third of the Low Countries, Luxembourg... So I fall back upon that staple fodder of the Grand Duchy - Eurovision! Winners many times, the little country has had a knack of producing perfect songs for the contest, not least this fabulous ditty. Enjoy Mmme Anne-Marie David!
Friday, 1 October 2010
Happy 75th birthday (yesterday) to that shining icon of Britishness, Dame Julie Andrews.
Possibly our best-loved singer-actress, everyone has fond memories of at least one movie or song by Julie - whether it be The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie or Victor Victoria. Fewer people may recall that she worked with none other than Alfred Hitchcock in Torn Curtain, or was a Broadway star alongside Richard Burton in Camelot as well as Eliza in the original stage production of My Fair Lady.
She got a bittersweet revenge when Warner Brothers overlooked her for the film production of My Fair Lady in favour of Audrey Hepburn - Miss Andrews got the Oscar for Mary Poppins, and poor Miss Hepburn was not even nominated!
In her sixty-year career in music hall, theatre, film and TV, our Julie has won an Oscar, five Golden Globes, two Emmys, a Grammy and a BAFTA (among numerous nominations), as well as People's Choice Award, Theatre World Award, Screen Actors Guild and other notable awards across the world.
Facts about Dame Julie Andrews:
- she was born of an affair between her mother and a family friend, while she was still married to her first husband.
- her big break was due to theatre impresario Val Parnell, who cast her in his revues at the London Palladium, and she became the youngest performer at a Royal Variety Performance in 1948.
- she appeared regularly on American TV specials with lifelong friend Carol Burnett years before she got her big-screen success.
- Julie has starred in no less than seven films directed by her husband Blake Edwards (not all of them successful - notably Star!, and S.O.B. in which she famously whopped her tits out!).
- she apparently won her battle with the surgeons whose botched surgery on her vocal cords cost her her wonderful voice to the tune of £21 million!
A Spoonful of Sugar:
Le Jazz Hot:
The Yiddish Wedding scene from Thoroughly Modern Millie:
The Hills Are Alive:
Dame Julie Elizabeth Andrews, DBE (born 1st October 1935)