In case anyone thought I'd forgotten an annual tradition...
Happy Hallowe'en, Hils!
The Return of Count Yorga
Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Whoo-ooo-ooo! It was the "Hallowe'en Special" Polari last night, and John-John, little Tony, Ange, Roland, Emma, Toby and I were waiting to be thrilled...
As ever, Mr Paul Burston opened proceedings at "London's peerless gay literary salon" in a suitably OTT fashion - with borrowed silver lamé wing-cape and Grace Jones-stylee devil horns and mask, he fluttered from the wings to introduce our first guest reader, "Mr Charlie Bauer" (why he'd want to name himself after a dead "ultra-left anarchist sympathiser" beats me). Mr Bauer, a scriptwriter for such hit series as Monarch of the Glen and assistant director of films such as Howard's End and Peter's Friends, read some rather nifty pieces from the superbly titled The Man Who Wanked His Way To Greece (a TV drama series in development with ITV), involving family intrigues and theft at a gay wedding, which warmed us up rather nicely.
Next, tackling a far more serious subject of gender dysphoria and the impact that "coming out" as a trans woman to friends and family has, with its unexpected discoveries, confessions and the impossible-to-recreate memories of past lives, Andie Davidson read a few of her works on the subject. Quite emotional stuff to take on board, but carrying some important messages for our mixed audience nonetheless.
However any feelings of melancholy were swept away with the inimitable arrival of that "Hurricane Sandy of bonk-busters", our favourite Miss Rebecca Chance (aka Lauren Henderson; she answered the question on her publishers' website "What’s your best quality?" with "I'm very modest.")!
Roping in, as is her wont, both her "gay husband" and Mr Burston into her sleazily salacious reading from the forthcoming new book Bad Angels, involving the refrigerated fur closet of a Russian oligarch (of course), a Premier League footballer not-at-all-based-on Wayne Rooney (of course) and his first gay sexual encounter with the apartment's hunky black concierge (of course) - complete with all the actions and groans. Very steamy stuff indeed; I needed some fresh air after that! And a change of pants.
Following the break, it was time for the evening's "big-hitters", starting with the formidable force that is Miss Stella Duffy, prize-winning author, writing in many different literary genres (fourteen books and counting), and all-round fab person.
In keeping with the night's Hallowe'en theme she opened with a chilling tale of a malevolent girl watching her older lover die, then keeping her finger in a box - which made the audience sit up a bit! - before treating us to an extract from her newest work The Purple Shroud, involving the book's heroine the soon-to-be-Empress Theodora witnessing her father being mauled to death by a bear. It sounds more grim than it actually was, for Miss Duffy's tales of Theodora (her first was subtitled "Actress, Empress, Whore") are fascinating and highly entertaining...
From one intelligently-researched and complex storyteller to another, as the superb Mr Jake Arnott - voted "one of Britain's 100 most influential gay and lesbian people" in 2005 - took to the stage.
He, too, is a fabulous reader as well as writer, putting on all the voices as he drew us into the tangled web of his new novel The House of Rumour, with its fascinating interplay between Bond author Ian Fleming, the satanist Aleister Crowley (who was also a central character in Mr Arnott's The Devil's Paintbrush, which he read for us at Polari back in March 2010), Rudolf Hess, a retired spy and a transsexual prostitute. I'm sure it all makes sense in the end - the official website gives little away either - but the extracts were brilliant in themselves. One of my cultural icons Mr Mark Lawson loved the book, which is a good enough recommendation for me!
The evening ended as ever with tumultuous and well-deserved applause for all concerned. But it wasn't quite over, as darling Alex ("journo-slut") Hopkins and Beige magazine were on hand all evening, filming, and I as well as many of the authors (including VG Lee and DJ Connell) and fans present were interviewed for a special feature they will be doing for Polari's fifth birthday next month.
I can't wait to see the (no doubt embarrassing) footage, nor can I wait for the big birthday event on 26th November - with Susie Boyt, Neil Alexander, Jeff Kristian and Cherry Smyth. Fantabulosa...
Polari at the Southbank
Monday, 29 October 2012
Although I am off again on leave - shopping this afternoon, and Polari tonight! - It is another Tacky Music Monday, and I have traditions to adhere to...
In this Hallowe'en week, we travel a little further East than usual for today's OTT song'n'dance number - it has gods and monsters, Raj Kapoor and Nargis, dry ice, glitter, a genie, dancers in the clouds (including the classic dancer Padmini), vocals by the legendary Lata Mangeshkar and a set of which John DeCuir would be proud. What more could you want?
Ghar Aya Mera Pardesi from the movie Awaara (1951):
Have a good week - and you Yanks, avoid the wrath of Hurricane Sandy...
Sunday, 28 October 2012
Bernard Sumner, Gillian Gilbert, Stephen Morris and Peter Hook by Pete Moss in 1987, not talking even then
The fact that today is the 55th birthday of Stephen Morris - aka "the pretty one" from Joy Division and New Order - gives me an excuse (as if any were needed) to take a trip down memory lane, with some of the classics to which he made such an estimable contribution...
True Faith (New Order):
Transmission (Joy Division):
Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division):
Blue Monday (New Order):
Happy birthday! Happy memories...
New Order online
That marvellous mistress of the smoky vocal, the sultry showtune and the scat jazz styling, Dame Cleo Laine celebrates her 85th birthday today!
Dame Cleo and the late Sir John Dankworth
I have featured the lady here before (of course), notably on her 80th, but by way of a fitting tribute today - and a prime example of why we adore her - here is a selection of the divine Miss Laine's interpretations of the work of house fave Mr Stephen Sondheim (a sublime combination that I first posted back in 2010, but are so good they bear repeating):
Buy Cleo Sings Sondheim on Amazon
And finally... What on earth?
Eartha Kitt, Phyllis Diller and Cleo Laine playing cricket!
Quarternotes - the home of Dame Cleo Laine and the late Sir John Dankworth
Saturday, 27 October 2012
We're back in London today, preparing to celebrate our favourite old queen's birthday with a traditional Hallowee'en-themed party tonight.
So, just as a special treat, here's a mash-up between two faves Blondie and Abba just for him. Happy (early) birthday, John-John!!
Friday, 26 October 2012
We may not be in work (we're actually visiting our friends Baby Steve and his butler Alex at the palatial "Braintree Manor"), but weeks always have to end with a bit of a bop in my world...
In the immortal words of Mr Frankie Knuckles: "Disco never died. It just changed its name to protect the innocent!" And if you needed any proof of that wise fact, here's the immortal combination of the divas Jocelyn Brown and Martha Wash with Todd Terry from 1996, and Something's Goin' On:
Thanks Disco It's Friday!
Have a fantabulosa (pay day and Hallowe'en) weekend!
Thursday, 25 October 2012
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
As if I thought my recent blogs weren't French enough (with Régine, France Gall, Mireille Mathieu and Yves Montand all featured in the last fortnight), today we celebrate what would have been the 85th birthday of one Gilbert Bécaud, often called by the frogs "Monsieur 100,000 Volts" (for some reason best known to themselves).
So what?, you say. Ah, but despite his relative obscurity, we laud this magnificent Gallic crooner for two very important (and camp) reasons. For M Bécaud wrote two of the queeniest dramatic torch songs ever - and needless to say, two house favourites here at Dolores Delargo Towers - that we put on the gramophone whenever we feel like flinging a few hand movements and imagining ourselves sweeping down a glittering staircase on stage at the Paris Lido, Champs Elysées. [Which is often.]
He wrote Et Maintenant...
...which became What Now My Love? for Dame Shirley Bassey:
And Seul sur son Etoile...
...which evolved into another ultimate drag queen number, It Must Be Him by Vikki Carr:
RIP, mon cher.
Gilbert Bécaud (24th October 1927 – 18th December 2001)
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Just enough time left today to remind ourselves Miss Diana Mary Fluck (aka Diana Dors) was born this day 81 years ago...
In tribute, here's Swindon's own Blonde Bombshell with her take on the standard Let There Be Love:
Diana Dors archive and website
It's coming up to calendar-buying time again, and as usual our proud rugby types are keen to take their clothes off for the boys. Thank goodness.
First, the super-hunky Mr Ben Cohen ind his calendar for the "Stand Up" anti-bullying charity:
And secondly, the annual Dieux du Stade naked-stud-muffin-fest:
Do these boys ever play any sport?
Ah, who cares?
Monday, 22 October 2012
It's another Monday. It was a busy weekend and am not yet properly rested. We have lost 60 hours of recorded telly programmes including the whole third series of Downton Abbey - which we were saving up to watch in one go - various choice moments from the Proms, history series, music and drama, thanks to the Virgin Media people.
Never mind, on this Tacky Music Monday (and to mark what would have been the Cuban diva extraordinaire's 87th birthday yesterday) here is the one, the only “Gran Señora” Celia Cruz to cheer us up as only she can - Mi Vida Es Cantar, indeed:
Sunday, 21 October 2012
John-John, little Tony and I were up and about especially early yesterday (early for a Saturday!), in order to spend an entire day exploring the delights of The Big Gay Lifestyle exhibition - better known by its nickname "The Ideal Homo Show". I went to a couple of these many years ago in the much larger venue of Olympia Exhibition Halls (where I met, among others, the legendary Jeff Stryker!). Now the concept has been revived, and the show is hosted in the rather swanky Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden.
It seems like an unlikely choice for me - having lived a perfectly satisfactory gay lifestyle for many years - and indeed this is the first of the re-vamped events I have been drawn to attend. However among the stalls flogging clothes, properties, sports, art, photography, beauty products, nick-nacks, fertility advice or health checks for trans-women, there were a number of acts on stage this year that we all wanted to see.
The first of these was the very lovely Rose Collis, Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe performer and historian - who we enjoyed at Polari in May 2011 and again in April 2012 - with her banjolele 'Bud'. She was on top form again, regaling us with tales of the lesbian journalist and TV presenter Nancy Spain and her dalliances with Lena Horne and Marlene Dietrich, and songs such as The Boys in the Backroom and Masculine Women, Feminine Men, all from her successful one-woman show Trouser-Wearing Characters.
We caught up with Miss Collis after her slot, and she informed us she is taking the show not only around the UK, but also to New Zealand and Sydney Mardi-Gras! Have banjolele, will travel, it seems...
I hope to catch the whole show sometime soon...
An unexpected joy were the ebullient Pink Singers, who gathered quite a crowd quite early on on the prioceedings with their synchronised dancing as they harmonised on a variety of classics, including Brecht, African traditional music, Richard Genee's Italian Salad - and this one, Mas Que Nada:
[This is my recording - shame about the bloody kids playing with balloons next to the stage!]
One of our absolute favourite cabaret entertainers is Mr Marcus Reeves, the genius behind Postcards from God - the Sister Wendy Musical, stalwart of many a season at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern and Polari too - here, here and here.
He really grabbed the audience's attention with his silver glitter maquillage and melodramatic selection of songs from his forthcoming album Quicksilver - The Masquerade Macabre, including this one - the magnificent Mad, Bad World:
I really cannot wait for the album!
After a little interlude, it was time for an selection of our favourite literary types to take the stage - with a "pop-up version" of "London's peerless gay literary salon", Polari! Introduced by the faboo Paul Burston, first to the mike was our chum the stiletto-wearing journo-slut Alex Hopkins, who entertained us to a couple of salacious episodes from what we came to the conclusion (later, over drinks) should be deemed his "Sauna Chronicles" - close encounters of the bodily fluids kind, in the glamorous surroundings of Pleasuredrome sauna under the railway arches at Waterloo. Fab stuff!
Next to the stand was the adorable DJ Connell, who read a passage from her masterwork Julian Corkle is a Filthy Liar, recounting the early sexual awakening of the eponymous character as a young lad in, of all places, the medical dictionary section of the local library. It's a hilarious tale - and a highly-recommended read!
Literature's answer to Robbie Williams, the handsome Mr Kristian Johns (aka the blogger "Guy Interrupted" and AIDS-awareness campaign poster boy) read next from his fascinating fable Dying, And Other Superpowers. Recently filmed and featured in the London Gay Film Festival, it's an intense tale of the balance between a boy's burgeoning telekenetic abilities and his HIV diagnosis, and gripped our attention from the outset. Here's a trailer for the film short:
Mr Johns' and Mr Hopkins' writings are featured in the anthology Boys & Girls, edited by Mr Burston.
To conclude our little dose of cerebral stimulation, the fantabulosa VG (Val) Lee - nominated for "Writer of the Year" in the Stonewall Awards 2012 (which I will be attending again) - read from her acclaimed Always You, Edina. Her extract, about the recollections of a grandmother to her granddaughter about the mysterious relationship between the girl's father and her "glamorous, charismatic Aunt Ed, who could light up a room - if there was a man in that room", was in turn touching, humorous and enchanting. As ever, we love Val's writing - and so did the audience.
Finally, from the sublime to the semi-ridiculous, we watched a fun and boisterous preview of the panto Snow White and the Seven Poofs (which we saw in 2011, and returns this season in a new venue The Green Carnation), with the camp-as-tits Mrs Moore and Tanya Hyde!
After that, it was time for a bit more of a wander around the exhibition space - a short wander, obviously, as the bar beckoned! We spent some time mingling and chatting with the Polari-ites, with Marcus, with Tony's friend Roland, and then "our Paul" arrived and we met up with some of his friends too. A proper gay family gathering!
However there was a more serious event taking place yesterday, that I also had to attend - the annual "No to Hate Crime" vigil in Trafalgar Square, so it was time to move on. John-John, Paul and Tony all had pre-booked events to go to so couldn't stay long at Halfway to Heaven (our "local"; it is very close to the square) nor make the vigil.
Organised by a group called 17-24-30 (the name represents the dates in 1999 that the three London nail bombs were planted: 17th April - Brixton Market; 24th April – Brick Lane; and 30th April - the Admiral Duncan, Soho) and MC-ed by Mr Marcus Reeves (again, but without the makeup), this event is (obviously) a solemn affair, with speakers representing the communities affected by hate crime, messages of support from politicians and religious groups (except, notably this year, anyone from any Islamic organisation), and music from the LGBT brass band.
It was - shockingly - sparsely attended, again. Once again I am ashamed - as I was last year and the year before - at the ignorance and apathy of our fellow gay people. Yes, it pissed down. Yes, we were drenched, our feet were cold and our bladders were full. But I, Alex Hopkins, Russ, Joe and a few hundred others persisted through it, stood in silence for two minutes at 8pm, and listened in quiet horror at the roll-call of names of the victims of mindless hatred, murdered merely for being who they were.
A sombre conclusion to a day of celebration of gayness, admittedly, but a vital show of support nonetheless...
While the internet was down for the last four days here at Dolores Delargo Towers - courtesy of the inept gnomes at Virgin Media - there were inevitably a few things I missed blogging about, such as...
We waved goodbye to Mistress MJ's soul mother, Miss Sylvia Kristel, esteemed star of many an "art-house" movie such as Emmanuelle, Private Lessons and Lady Chatterley's Lover. She had considerable talents...
...and she sang, too!
The fact that it was the 40th birthday on Wednesday of the gorgeous Turkish singer (and house favourite) and oh-so-not-gay-at-all Tarkan affords me the opportunity to post a "Totty of the Day" photo, even if a little late:
Kiss, Kiss, indeed.
Speaking of birthdays, one of our fave Tacky Music Monday exotic divas Veronica Castro ("Mexico's answer to Joan Collins", apparently) celebrated her 60th birthday on Friday. Any excuse, really, to celebrate the glittering flair of this lady!
The hilarious news that Miss Sarah Brightman is apparently intending to be the first professional "musician" in space left an entire nation hoping it was a one-way ticket. In any instance, what on earth will happen to all that dreadful plastic filler she's had injected into her face when they take off?
[And as I have also missed one of my traditional "Thank Disco It's Friday" slots, this will do nicely...]
Finally, that fashion goddess 91-year-old Miss Iris Apfel was featured on the cover of trendy yoof-orientated "style magazine" Dazed and Confused - but you need to check out the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp for that one...
It's good to be back.
Thursday, 18 October 2012
Virgin Media has decided we can live without television or internet at Dolores Delargo Towers. Bastards. I am posting this in haste, in work.
"Normal" service may be resumed some time in this millennium. If the Virgin engineers can be bothered.
Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.
Meanwhile here are some gratuitous pictures of Hugh Jackman with his shirt off...
...because I love you.
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Today is the 87th birthday of a truly wonderful icon - an inspiration for showbiz queens everywhere, Miss Angela Brigid Lansbury!
Quite rightly, we have Miss Lansbury in the top row of our pantheon of patron saints, and I have paid tribute to the lady on many occasions before - and will do again, no doubt.
Complimenting her screen roles/vocal characterisation in Gaslight, The Manchurian Candidate, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Beauty and the Beast and of course Murder She Wrote, Miss Lansbury is THE star of Broadway - Gypsy, Mame, Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music being her triumphs. We love her, and hope her much-anticipated final West End stage appearance does indeed take place, so we can finally see the grande dame in the flesh...
Here she is in glittering form, performing her show-stopper Mame at the 1975 Tony awards:
Here, she tackles one of our eternal theme tunes here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Everything's Coming Up Roses:
...and after that, it's time for some gentle exercise:
I'm exhausted! Yet she's 87!
Angela Lansbury on Wikipedia
Monday, 15 October 2012
Genuine spoof stickers - convincing to the point of using the company's exact font and style - that have started appearing lately on the London Underground: a new trend, it seems...
I find these quite funny - and in the daily grind of commuting, it beats either trying to avoid the eye of the strange staring person on the opposite seat or desperately trying to find the one "news" item in The Metro that isn't related to Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, or one article that does not contain the words "viral", "celebrity", "hero", "X-Factor", "Jimmy Savile" or "sport".
More Stickers on the Line