Sunday, 31 July 2016

Seventies gay earnestness, photo-booth-ready dolls, a new Spanish soap opera, a shortlist, an array of false breasts and a sexy poet



With the mad social whorl of the past few days - the amazing Bowie Prom on Friday rapidly followed by the excesses of my dear sister's fiftieth birthday party last night - it's taken a while to get my head together. However, on Thursday evening I did also troll along to the sunny South Bank for the latest instalment of "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari...

Before opening proceedings, our host Mr Paul Burston had some sad news to impart - his mother-in-law, Paolo's dear mum Heidi (who I first met back in 2013) recently died. Such a lovely woman. RIP.

However, the show - dedicated to her - must go on, and thus Mr B introduced our first guest.



Stevan Alcock, making a very welcome return to Polari, read a rather fab passage from his acclaimed debut novel - and Polari First Book Prize nominee - Blood Relatives, which tells the tale of Ricky, growing up gay in Leeds in the 70s against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders. Although the passage he read (brilliantly) described his teenage protagonist's trepidation as he hovers in a pub prior to attending a typically earnest 70s gay group meeting upstairs, then to his horror encounters by chance a school friend at the bar just as the out-gay punters start arriving, I can't find that extract online. Instead, here is Mr Alcock reading the introductory passage from the novel - written as it is read, in the Yorkshire dialect...




Next up was a Polari "newbie", crime-writer Sarah Hilary, who read (as she had promised) a somewhat chilling scene-setting passage from her new work Tastes Like Fear that described the sinister scenario of a disparate group of young girls, a "family of photo-booth-ready dolls, smooth hair down to their waists, new tits under neat shirts", all of them trapped in the mysterious web of a man called "Harm". What's going on? What is his hold over them? What is going to be their fate? I really should read the novel to find out...



However, all thoughts of crime, murder and mystery evaporated with the arrival on stage of the utterly marvellous Mr James Maker (Polari First Prize winner for his autobiography Autofellatio in 2011)! Heaven knows what his plans are for the story he read for us - my vote would be for a television soap-opera-cum-comedy. Set around a small gated community in Spain (the country where until recently Mr Maker was an ex-pat), he introduced a stream of increasingly uproarious camp characters - from the pretentious gay couple hosting the party at which everyone was gathering, one a hysterical mess, the other a dull lothario, to the demandingly snooty wannabe-matriarch of the estate, to whip-wielding estate agent, to the (inevitable) busy-body gossips and unhappily married couples that always inhabit such spaces. With his customarily droll delivery, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and quite hilarious scenario, and I look forward to finding out where it will lead...

Thus cheered, it was time for a fag and a top-up before making my way back to the Fifth Floor Function Room, for part two.



Before our final acts, it was time for VG (Val) Lee to take to the stage to announce the Polari First Book Prize 2016 shortlist. Now in its sixth year, the Prize is awarded annually to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction. The six shortlisted titles are:
  • Blood Relatives by Stevan Alcock
  • Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin
  • Trans by Juliet Jacques
  • Different for Girls by Jacquie Lawrence
  • Physical by Andrew McMillan
  • The Good Son by Paul McVeigh



As Mr B said, it's a good job two of the night's readers (who were long-listed) made it to the shortlist, otherwise it may well have been embarrassing. Not least Juliet Jacques, opening part two. She was in fine fettle as she read one of her short stories, which focused on the S&M fantasies of a budding trans woman in Brighton, well, "Hove, actually":
The door felt heavy. As he entered he saw hangers of lingerie, red, black, white and soft pink, PVC nurses and maids’ uniforms, a bin full of eyeliner and lipstick. At the counter there were books and magazines: The Tranny Guide and Utterly Fabulous, with impossibly beautiful people on their covers. A middle-aged man stood behind them, his clean-shaven face caked in foundation, brown eyes with a little mascara on the lashes.
“Can I help you?”
“Do you have any tickets for Divinity?”
“We’ve got a few.”
Patrick noticed that the assistant’s hands were also shaved, with clear nail varnish. He moved his gaze to catch the assistant’s eyes. They smiled at each other.
“How many did you want?”
“Just one.”
“£15, please. What are you going to wear?”
“I don’t know . . . I’ve got some heels, tights, a few dresses but I’m not sure they’re right. I was thinking of buying a wig. ”
“We’ve got plenty of those.”


Patrick saw stilettos, a room full of wigs on mannequin heads, some white boxes, open, with an array of false breasts, different sizes but all quite large, a few brown, mostly beige. He wondered if the silicone might feel nicer than cotton wool.
“What style were you after?”
“I don’t know . . . ”
“Hmm . . . I reckon light brown, not too long. Try these.”

Patrick tried a brown wig in front of the mirror.
“I think the blonde highlights brings out your eyes.”
“I love it,”
said Patrick.
“Now you’ll need a dress.” The assistant shot him a smile. “Are you a top or a bottom?”
“Huh?”
“Are you dominant, or submissive?”

Patrick said nothing.
“You look like a sub to me.”
“How can you tell?”
“You’re just a bit coquettish. Not rocket science, I know.”
“But I don’t want to tie myself to anything.”
“No, but you want someone else to tie you to something.”

They laughed awkwardly.
Quite remarkable what happens in Suburbia...



And finally, it was time for the very gorgeous John McCullough to round off the evening's entertainment. His first collection of poems The Frost Fairs won the Polari First Book Prize in 2012. His new collection of poems Spacecraft has, as he explained, nothing to do with space or sci-fi, but, according to the blurb "the white space of the page and the distance between people". Several use as their allegory Mr MucCullough's musings on the death of his first partner from an AIDS-related illness, not least this one:
In Minnesota, they reeled a sixty ton house
over ice: a caught fish. The tow truck eased

forward, a steel cable stretched and quivered.
Walls crept. Why it sets me thinking of you

I can’t fathom. Who’d rescue your building –
split gutters, bleedings from oxidized pipes?

Still, I picture it skating, its porch nosing
the air. The house where you swallowed

your diagnosis. Where you phoned from, drunk.
It plunges through ice to the lake’s silty floor.

Brown water discovers its rooms.
Algae furs chairs and bedposts,

traces circles on ceilings – the loft crowded
with minnows, a wandering bass.
And with those emotions ringing in our ears, it was curtain-call time, and the end of the show.



All excellent stuff - we adore Polari!

However, our next outing is not until (bizarrely) 7th October - lord alone knows why the lengthy hiatus - when the winner of the Polari First Book Prize will be announced, Paul himself will be reading from his own new crime novel The Black Path, and also on the bill will be Namita Chakrabarty, Alexis Gregory, North Morgan and Amy Acre.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Who knows? Not me. We never lost control



I sing with impertinence, shading impermanent chords
With my words
I've borrowed your time and I'm sorry I called
But the thought just occurred that we're nobody's children at all, after all

Live your rebirth and do what you will - Oh, by jingo
Forget all I've said, please bear me no ill - Oh, by jingo
After all, after all


The lyrics of David Bowie's nowadays-obscure 1970 album track After All (from The Man Who Sold The World) - done as a "sea-shanty" by the ensemble cast by way of a finale - sort of summed up the artistic endeavour that was the Bowie Prom that Paul and I went to see at the Royal Albert Hall late last night [and it did go on rather late; I didn't get home till 2am!].

Some, indeed, may well have accused the raft of arrangers (including Michel van der Aa, Jherek Bischoff, David Lang, Anna Meredith, Greg Saunier and Josephine Stephenson) who were called upon by the avant garde German ensemble s t a r g a z e [sic] and its artistic director and conductor André de Ridder to re-work and "re-imagine" selections from Bowie's vast and wide-ranging repertoire of such "impertinence" in meddling with a Master. There were definitely many examples of "impermanent chords" in some of the more - ahem - liberal interpretations of his music ["Did you recognise that?", Mr de Ridder said at one point. "That was 'Rebel Rebel'"; the arrangement, of course, bore no resemblance whatsoever to the original, so we were glad to be put out of our misery in that particular "guessing-game".]

Discordant and dissonant moments aside - you knew what you were letting yourself in for when the evening's performances opened with a new version of the already impenetrable scratchiness of Warzawa, upon which the entire string section was let loose with jarring consequences - the Prom was, thankfully, a lot greater than the sum of its parts. What it certainly was not, however, was a conventional panegyric. One suspects, from various opinions being bandied around the interwebs, that this disappointed some fans who had clambered for tickets for a "celebration" in the hope that it would be just that...

What made the evening great was not, perhaps, some of the indulgent orchestrations, but the brilliantly-talented performers.

Mr Neil Hannon (of The Divine Comedy) was very well-chosen for the opening Station to Station; his own vocal style echoing Mr Bowie's so closely at times it was quite scary. His This Is Not America, however, was almost (but not quite) fucked up by the inclusion of a verse done by a rapper...


His partner-in-crime/duettist, arch Bowie-ite and all-round fabulous performer Miss Amanda Palmer (formerly of the Dresden Dolls, who we so enjoyed at Patti Smith's Meltdown Festival tribute to Bertolt Brecht Stand Bravely Brothers way back in 2005) was herself a constant highlight throughout our evening. Indeed, her version of Heroes towards the end of the evening was utter bliss...


Unknown quantity Mr Conor O’Brien gave a rather lovely downbeat take on The Man Who Sold The World, but it was our beloved Marc Almond, the all-round audience-pleaser, who got the heartiest reception for his fine cabaret-tinged interpretations of Life On Mars and (later) Starman, which (despite stumbling over the words several times) were both excellent - in spite of the best efforts of the arrangers to steer the familiar into unfamiliar territory.


Another stunning performer who really made the evening something rather special was Miss Anna Calvi! Another of those artists I really should explore more, yet haven't (yet) - she has energy and power that belies her diminutive stature. This was more then evidenced in her wonderful Lady Grinning Soul, but the moment of all moments - the point at which I was reduced to breathlessness was her duet with the aforementioned Miss Palmer on David's final single while he was still with us - Blackstar:


Paul Buchanan, lead singer with another band of whom I know very little, The Blue Nile, has a beautiful vocal style, and presented a most wonderfully emotional rendition of I Can't Give Everything Away (marred only by the moronic people next to us who I had to "shush" as they were determined to talk or use their phones all through it), as well as a rather interesting take on Ashes to Ashes:


Laura Mvula was effervescent and sassy on Girl Loves Me, and even more so her jolly version of Fame. Counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky, however, brilliant though he may be on Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Bach and Saint-Saëns, would never in a million years have been my choice for Always Crashing In The Same Car. It just made a sinister, deep and dark song sound like a parody.

And then came John Cale. The only man on the entire bill who was there when Bowie emerged, whose work with Velvet Underground David acknowledged in that famous sleeve note on Hunky Dory referring to Queen Bitch: "Some V.U. white light, returned with thanks." He was triumphant - taking Valentine's Day to a hugely synthesised new level, and giving Sorrow (with Anna Calvi again) the treatment it truly deserved in a reverent nod to The Great Man. His Space Oddity (with the lovely House Gospel Choir, members of whom I spoke to much later while we were all waiting for a bus home at Aldwych) was also great, if somewhat drawn-out in its repetition of the "sitting in a tin can..." stanza.


And so, with After All, and a rather cheesy - for obvious, audience-participation-reasons - Let's Dance to conclude, that was it.

In many way a challenging experience, but the Bowie Prom was one I am very proud to say I was there for...

The Bowie Prom on the BBC website.

The review in The Guardian

Friday, 29 July 2016

Tijd voor een feestje



We are in a very celebratory mood here at Dolores Delargo Towers:
  • It is the weekend, and, as always that is cause for joy in itself - especially since I will not be back in the benighted office for a fortnight!
  • My friend Paul has, as a birthday treat, obtained tickets for he and I to go to the much-vaunted David Bowie Prom at the Royal Albert Hall tonight!
  • It's my dear sister's 50th birthday party tomorrow in the swanky function room of a pub on Fleet Street in the City of London, and the "gathering of the clans" is afoot...
  • And we (Madam Arcati, Baby Steve and Houseboy Alex) are not only going to Amsterdam next weekend but (as, shamefully, none of us had realised before booking the dates) it is also Amsterdam Gay Pride (with all the on-and-off-canal mayhem that entails)!!!
By way of drawing at least a couple of bits of this together to mark an utterly splendid day, here's Holland's finest Queen of Disco herself, Miss Anita Meyer and Why Tell Me Why?:



Dank disco is het vrijdag!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The bank that likes to say "sod off"


Lloyds Bank has disposed of 3,000 local bank workers who started the financial crisis from their roles behind counters.

The bank claims that its provincial staff are the very ones who destabilised the world economy in 2008, and it took eight years to find them hiding in frontline roles in places like Truro.

A Lloyds Bank spokesman said: “These miscreants somehow, while ostensibly serving pensioners who won’t do this computer nonsense, managed to send the nation into crisis while leaving fake evidence trails back to some of our most highly-paid staff.

“Thankfully, they’ve been cleared of any crime and the time has come to purge the bank of rotten apples from the bottom up.”


Fired branch manager Joanna Kramer of Bredbury said: “Nobody talks me in the street now.

“I’ve gone from banker to benefits claimant, and they’re the two people whose fault everything is.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

I'm washing my clothes, but the stain still grows


This is how we used to dress. And, occasionally, still do.

Timeslip moment again... So, with not just my birthday, but my dear sister's fiftieth looming, our trusty TARDIS has deposited us back thirty-five years (gulp!) to the middle of that glorious youthful summer when I had just left school, and everything was new - and mainly all about dressing up...

In the news this week in 1981: more than 700 million people watched the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral; Princess Anne's two-month-old daughter was christened Zara Anne Elizabeth Phillips; the UK was reeling in the wake of a succession of riots across the country, notably the mayhem in Toxteth in Liverpool, Moss Side in Manchester and Brixton in London; IRA "hunger-strike" deaths were being used as a propaganda weapon in the continued stand-off between the government and terrorists in Northern Ireland; there was controversy over the apartheid-embargo-breaking South African rugby tour in New Zealand; in the ascendant were Microsoft (which purchased DOS for $50,000 - and the rest is history!), the Humber Bridge (recently opened by HM the Queen) and British Telecom (born out of an official split from the Royal Mail), but the unfortunate President of the Gambia Dawda Jawara was deposed in a coup while a guest at the Royal Wedding.

In our cinemas were For Your Eyes Only, Excalibur and Raiders of the Lost Ark. On telly: Ken Barlow married Deirdre Langton on Coronation Street (just two days before the Royal Wedding), kids' music show Razzmatazz launched the career of a young Lisa Stansfield, and You're Only Young Twice (starring "house faves" here at Dolores Delargo Towers Peggy Mount, Pat Coombs and Lally Bowers) was in its last series.

In our charts, heading the pack were The Specials with (a song that neatly summed up that riot-hit summer) Ghost Town, and following in their wake a rather eclectic mish-mash including Stars on 45, Bad Manners, Imagination, Motorhead, Abba, Stevie Wonder and Kate Bush. But, heading inexorably up the charts was one of those songs that really captured my mood - all flounce, pose and preening, here's Spandau Ballet and their barn-stormer, Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)!



I checked the time, it was almost time
A curious smell, an intangible crime
I'm washing my clothes, but the stain still grows
Cover your eyes, the stain still shows

I feel the gaze against my skin
I feel the gaze against my skin
I know this feeling is a lie
I know this feeling is a lie

There's a guilt within my mind
There's a guilt within my mind
I know this feeling is a lie
I know this feeling is a lie

I don't need this pressure on
I don't need this pressure on
I don't need this pressure on

I don't need this pressure on
I don't need this pressure on
I don't need this pressure on

Oh I should question not ignore
Oh I should question not ignore
Songs are always buried deep
Songs are always buried deep

There's a lion in my arms
There is a motion in my arm
Oh I should question not ignore
I should believe and not ignore

I don't need this pressure on
I don't need this pressure on
I don't need this pressure on

Ah, happy memories of Hils and I "pointy dancing" to that one...

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Inch by inch, mile by mile...


Caption competition: What happens next?

Dutch men are the tallest in the world, with an average height of 5ft 11.9 inches, according to reports.

In the immortal words of Mae West (well, almost): "Never mind the six feet. Let's talk about the 11.9 inches!"

We're in Amsterdam next week. We really must do some - ahem - scientific analysis...

Monday, 25 July 2016

A committee should be organised to honour me



And so, farewell, a superstar. Responsible for myriad songs beloved of us theatrical types light-in-our-loafers, including I Could Have Danced All Night, Getting To Know You, I Feel Pretty, Wouldn't It Be Loverly, Hello Young Lovers and Somewhere, she, remarkably, only ever appeared on screen in one movie - The Sound of Music. As a nun.

The lady is (or rather was as news of her death was announced today), of course, the magnificent Marni Nixon - the behind-the-scenes vocal artiste who dubbed for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, for Natalie Wood (much to her consternation when she found out) in West Side Story and for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

Facts:
  • Miss Nixon (unsurprisingly) was operatically trained, and made her solo debut singing “Carmina Burana” at the Hollywood Bowl in 1947; she returned to classical recordings in the 1980s, winning a Grammy.
  • Her talent for variety led her to be on stage as a frequent guest and side-kick for Liberace and Victor Borge, as well as many stage and television roles.
  • Although she fought for the credit, her name did not appear on the original multi-million selling soundtrack for West Side Story so she did not get the portion of the royalties she would have otherwise; apparently Leonard Bernstein eventually gave up 0.25 percent of his own earnings from the soundtrack to her.
  • In addition to all the famous "leading ladies" above, she also dubbed Marilyn Monroe's high notes in Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
  • Her son was the late, great singer-songwriter Andrew Gold.

Here's a fine example of Marni's talents, on that camp classic I Feel Pretty:



RIP Marni Nixon (born Margaret Nixon McEathron, 22nd February 1930 – 24th July 2016)

Fascinating. Rhythm.



Gosh. Former Miss World contestant, singer and actress - eternally remembered for her role as the original Wonder Woman - the lovely Lynda Carter blew out 65 candles on her cake yesterday!

On this Tacky Music Monday - and after a fab weekend, hosting a visit from our Mother, and making the most of the beautiful sunshine in the garden, lord knows we need some cheering up to compensate for the prospect of returning to the stuffy old office - let us celebrate the lady's glittering talents...

This sequence has feathers, safety gays (in space costumes and wigs!), dry ice, a cod-disco beat, lots of silver and glitter... in fact - EVERYTHING, darlings! It's her 30s Movies Medley:



Campness abounds! Have a good week, peeps.

Many happy returns, Lynda Carter (born Linda Jean Córdova Carter, 24th July 1951)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Float like a feather in a beautiful world


Heralds of summer, "Black-Eyed Susan" (Thunbergia) in the gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers

On such a warm and muggy day, what better experience would there be than to be sat sipping wine in a park somewhere, listening to some jazzy reinterpretations of classic pop numbers from the bandstand?

Courtesy of the rather wonderful Postmodern Jukebox, that fantasy can come a little closer...

Here's just three of their brilliant arrangements:

Creep (Radiohead) featuring Haley Reinhart:



Hey Ya! (Outkast) featuring Sara Niemietz:



Lovefool (Cardigans) featuring Haley Reinhart:



I love, love, love these!

More - much more - is available at Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox site.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Jump up bubble up, what's in store?





Happy 70th birthday today to Mr Andy McKay, the saxophonist and oboist whose sublime talents contributed to the huge success of "the coolest band on the planet" Roxy Music.

By way of a little tribute - and also just because... Here is the classic song that he co-wrote for the group (it was going to be an instrumental "filler" track until Mr Ferry wrote the words for it), and one of their most magnificent - it's Love is the Drug:



T'ain't no big thing
To wait for the bell to ring
T'ain't no big thing
The toll of the bell
Aggravated, spare for days

I troll downtown the red light place
Jump up bubble up, what's in store?
Love is the drug and I need to score
Showing out, showing out, hit and run
Boy meets girl where the beat goes on
Stitched up tight, can't shake free
Love is the drug, got a hook on me

Oh oh catch that buzz
Love is the drug I'm thinking of
Oh oh can't you see
Love is the drug for me
Late that night I park my car
Stake my place in the singles bar
Face to face, toe to toe
Heart to heart as we hit the floor
Lumber up, limbo down

The locked embrace, the stumble round
I say go, she say yes
Dim the lights, you can guess the rest
Oh oh catch that buzz
Love is the drug I'm thinking of
Oh oh can't you see
Love is the drug, got a hook in me
Oh oh catch that buzz
Love is the drug I'm thinking of
Oh oh can't you see
Love is the drug for me


Utterly brilliant. Roxy Music and summer sunshine go together so well, do they not?

Andrew "Andy" Mackay (born 23rd July 1946)

Friday, 22 July 2016

Givin' you more of what you're funkin' for


Just another "Dress-Down Friday" at the office

We have a dual celebration today - it's not just the end of another week, with a sunny weekend (again?) ahead - but it is also the 75th birthday today of (possibly) the last surviving "Godfather of Funk", the wonderfully eccentric Mr George Clinton!

What better way to start the celebrations than (once again) in the company of the divine Legs & Co - who else but these ladies would choose to pay tribute to the great man and his classic One Nation Under A Groove by gyrating around in panties and GI uniforms..?

Thank Funkadelic Disco It's Friday!



So, wide can't get around it
So, low you can't get under it
(So, low you can't get under it)
So, high you can't get over it
(So, high you can't get over it)

Da-yee do do do do do do
This is a chance, this is a chance
Dance your way out of your constrictions
(Tell sugah)
Here's a chance to dance our way out of our constrictions
Gonna be freakin', up and down
Hang up alley way with the groove our
Only guide we shall all be moved

Ready or not here we come
Gettin' down on the one which we believe in
One nation under a groove, gettin' down just for the funk
(Can I get it on my good foot)
Gettin' down just for the funk of it
(Good God)

'Bout time I got down one time
One nation and we're on the move
Nothin' can stop us now
(Aye aye aye aye aye)
Feet don't fail me now

Give you more of what you're funkin' for
Feet don't fail me now

Do you promise to funk?
The whole funk, nothin' but the funk

Ready or not here we come
Gettin' down on the one which we believe in
Here's my chance to dance my way
Out of my constrictions
(Do do dee oh doo)
(Do do dee oh doo)
(You can dance away)

Feet don't fail me now
(Ha ha)
Here's a chance to dance
Our way out of our constrictions
Gonna be groovin' up and down
Hang up alley way
The groove our only guide

We shall all be moved
Feet don't fail me now
(Ha ha)
Givin' you more of what you're funkin' for
Feet don't fail me now
Here's my chance to dance my way
Out of my constrictions
Givin' you more of what you're funkin' for


“The great George Clinton is the father of this funk mothership" said Prince.

Indeed, say I.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

It's Happy Hour!



Cocktail, anyone?

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Chain-store chain-smoke



When the combined talents of Miss Eleanor Steber, HM The Queen, Mr Harry Wayne Casey, Messrs Orzabal and Smith, a heatwave, Miss Audrey Landers and Fraulein Marika Rokk together garner no interest, no comments whatsoever, one begins to realise that this blogging world is - as it surely began - indeed a very solitary exercise.

I'd like to imagine everyone is actually out there sipping fine champagne on a yacht with Dames Joan and Shirley and the Aga Khan somewhere off the Costa Smeralda, or lapping up yet another anecdote with Iris Apfel in The Carlyle Hotel in New York... Wouldn't we all?

However, in reality I assume everyone's actually either non-stop staring into their phones for the latest craptastic Tw*tter revelation about - yawn - a Swift, a West or a Kardashian, or else they're busy bragging about their latest gorgeous holiday/meal/car/prostitute [delete as appropriate] to some friend of a cousin-in-law's sister's daughter on F***book...

Hey ho.

Here's a jolly little number from Miss Marianne Joan Elliott-Said (aka the late, lamented Poly Styrene; of course):



Bind me tie me
Chain me to the wall
I want to be a slave
To you all

Oh bondage up yours, oh bondage no more!
Oh bondage up yours, oh bondage no more!

Chain-store chain-smoke
I consume you all
Chain-gang chain-mail
I don't think at all

Oh bondage up yours, oh bondage no more!
Oh bondage up yours, oh bondage no more!


Word to live by, methinks.

Remarkably, Britain is celebrating FORTY YEARS of Punk this year...

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The final frontier



As the British Parliament votes to sustain and renew its nuclear deterrent Trident, so I feel I just have to share this magnificent moment of wonder from the middle of the Cold War era...

We know and adore the "Nazis' favourite screen songbird" Marika Rökk, but, my dears - this clip (from 1958, long after her dodgy reputation had been redeemed) is an absolute joy!

Sit back and enjoy the madness of Mir ist so langweilig ("I'm so bored") - and I can guarantee that you won't be...



Ich liebe es!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Dance Ten, Looks Three?



As we mourn the fact that during this lovely weather - a heatwave is predicted in London this week - we will be sitting, bored and trapped behind our desks, under an inevitably broken-down air-con system, there is still cause to celebrate!

Fortuitously on this Tacky Music Monday, it happens to be the 60th birthday of one Audrey Landers ("Afton Cooper" in Dallas, and "Val" in A Chorus Line - big number: Dance: Ten; Looks: Three, appropriately). So what better to raise our spirits than not one, but two of the lady's joyous pop "hits"?

First up, she smiles through the suitably sunny Playa Blanca (and oh! That Frock)...



...and here, in the company of some very cheesy safety gays (one of whom looks suspiciously like a "resting" Village Person), she mimes - ahem! - brilliantly on Never Wanna Dance (When I'm Blue):



"Never wanna dance"? She certainly doesn't.

Have a great week folks - and grab what sunshine you can while you can!

Audrey Landers (born Audrey Hamburg, 18th July 1956)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

We ought to realise


Crocosmia (montbretia) "Lucifer" in the garden here at Dolores Delargo Towers

Timeslip moment once more, folks - and yes, we're dropping in on the Long Hot Summer of '76 again! As UK temperatures this week are set to rise to 32C, forty years ago the peak had already been reached (with a record of 35.9°C (96.6°F) in Cheltenham on 3rd of the month), but the drought continued - and would do so for weeks yet...

In the news in mid-July 1976: The Montreal Olympics was well underway, somewhat marred by controversy over apartheid and a boycott by several African nations, and made stars of Nadia Comăneci, Bruce Jenner and Ed Moses; the Viking 1 lander successfully landed on Mars; the new leader of the Liberal Party David Steel, the new Ford Fiesta and Democratic Presidential nominee Jimmy Carter were in the ascendant, but the IRA campaign of murder continued with the assassination of British ambassador to the Irish Republic Christopher Ewart-Biggs; and in the aftermath of the Israeli Entebbe airport rescue, diplomatic relations between the UK and Amin's Uganda were about to be suspended. On the big screen: The Omen, Murder by Death and Robin and Marian. On telly: The Bionic Woman, The Old Grey Whistle Test and Tiswas.

In the charts, the coveted No 1 slot was held by the unlikeliest of sex symbols Demis Roussos with Forever and Ever, and just about to topple him was that summer's mega-hit Don't Go Breaking My Heart by Elton and Kiki at No 2. Also showing a strong presence were Dr Hook, Candi Staton, The Real Thing, Queen, Manhattans, Bryan Ferry and Dorothy Moore. But just arrived in the far reaches of the chart, and destined to become an anthem for those hot summer nights in the weeks to come - here's Jimmy James and his Vagabonds, and Now Is The Time:



(Now!) Now is the time to set things right
(Now!) Now is the time we should unite
We don't need revolutions
we just need to open our eyes
Revolution is no solution; we ought to realise.


Perfect sentiments for this summer...

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Thought for the day



A song that seems appropriate, from Tears for Fears:



"Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow."

Mad world, indeed.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Don't fight the feeling



Phew. Thank heavens another week is out of the way, and fingers crossed the weather for once doesn't look to bad on the weekend...

To get us into the party mood and to lead us into that two days of freedom (and pottering in the garden, no doubt), here's the faboo KC & the Sunshine Band classic Shake Shake Shake (Shake Your Booty)!

I think I need a pair of bell-bottom embroidered flares like these...



Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great time...

Thursday, 14 July 2016

J'ai cueilli de bien jolies roses dans mon jardin



We need a diversion from the constant news coverage of Theresa May's current round of sackings, the back-stabbing and the surprise appointments, as she forms her new governing clique.

It is, of course Le quatorze juillet, France's own National Celebration (better known to the rest of us as Bastille Day) today - so who better to lighten the mood than the uncrowned Queen of France, Régine (and her hilarious safety gays, d'accord)?

Here she is with the delightful Jamais tra la la (which sounds as if it should be a sing-a-long, but who knows?):



Ça te changera les idées...

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

"Yer usual, Lilibet, luvvie?"



From today's Daily Mirror:
Drinkers in a local pub were amazed when none other than Her Majesty the Queen popped in for a drink and a bite to eat.

The monarch and her companions enjoyed two portions of the £16.50 portion of lamb, a fillet of sea bass, a Martini and half a bottle of wine at the The Sheep Heid Inn in Edinburgh on Friday, it has been reported.

The pub, reputedly Scotland’s oldest, is a short drive from Holyrood Palace where the Queen stayed last week.

Staff were given an hour's notice to prepare for the royal visit, which followed a day at Musselburgh Racecourse.

She sat in the public dining area by a window, reports the Edinburgh Evening News.
I hope she bought a round.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The National Database of Good Citizens


Report to your local registration centre immediately, warns May
Theresa May has warned all citizens that late registration will not be tolerated.

As the walls of 10 Downing Street were painted black ahead of her arrival on Wednesday, the new prime minister stressed that her records would be up to date or there would be consequences.

May said: “It begins.”

The National Database of Good Citizens is expected to be the world’s largest data capture exercise, as the entire country ensures that every detail about their life, including their innermost hopes and fears, is logged by the government.

Citizen Registration Centres have been set up in police stations, libraries and newly-built concrete huts with a single steel door and no windows across the country to ensure maximum compliance.

People will also be able to automatically register their whereabouts via Twitter, Facebook and May’s most recent invention, Pokemon Go.

May said: “I promise you a better Britain and if it isn’t, I shall know precisely which of you are to blame.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

It begins, indeed.

Monday, 11 July 2016

I feel like peckin' and bunny huggin'



Yesterday was the 85th birthday of that immensely talented Great Man of Showbiz, Mr Jerry Herman! He has a special place in our hearts here at Dolores Delargo Towers, being the creator of such faboo musicals as Hello Dolly!, La Cage Aux Folles, Dear World, Mack and Mabel and Mame.

On this Tacky Music Monday, to brighten up the start to another no doubt godawful week in the stuffy office, here's a song from the latter. Usually known for the version by Angela Lansbury, here's not one, but two renditions of That's How Young I Feel - first an unexpected one from Miss Ginger Rogers and her "safety gays":



...outdone and outshone (of course) by this bizarre version, featuring the combination of Miss Carol Channing and Mr Tommy Tune!



I wonder if Mr Herman's singing this to himself?

Jerry Herman (born 10th July 1931)

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Totty of the Day - choices, choices...



...Wimbledon champion Andy Murray...



...or Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

Which would you choose?

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo



Bizarrely, this is by request...

Specifically for my dear sister, who has been dying to hear this - here's Mary Schneider Yodelling the Classics!

As she did.



We actually have her entire album in our collection.

As we do.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Nobody Does It Like Them



It was Friday Night is Music Night on Wednesday night! Confusing though that sounds, Madam Arcati and I were overjoyed once again to get tickets in the BBC draw to be in the audience for a recording of Radio 2's longest-running music show (and, indeed the world's longest-running orchestral music programme on radio) - and all of it in celebration of the composer of many a fave choon here at Dolores Delargo Towers - Mr Cy Coleman!

As I said in my recent blog for the man's birthday, Cy "wrote a whole raft of our favourites from the Great American Songbook - not only those in one of my fave musicals 'Sweet Charity'". His music was beloved of legends such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr, Shirley Bassey and Tony Bennett, and he won five Tony Awards, two Grammys and three Emmys. No wonder the Beeb finds him worth celebrating.

And what a celebration!

In the exemplary company of the BBC Concert Orchestra (conducted by Mike Reed), and hosted by long-serving TV hostess (and former "action woman") Anneka Rice, the evening covered all aspects of Mr Coleman's career, from his time as a jobbing composer mainly working with lyricist Carolyn Leigh out of the legendary Brill Building, to notable Broadway success with writers such as Dorothy Fields, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, to his later success with Barnum and City of Angels. The orchestra, and chorus Capital Voices, indeed had great fun romping through some of his "big music" numbers, not least Come Follow The Band, Hey, Look Me Over, Join the Circus, Big Spender and The Rhythm Of Life.



The lead singers included the gorgeous Michael Xavier (who we have seen on stage many times - as "Miss Great Plains" in the faboo drag-queen-talent-competition-musical Pageant at The Vaudeville Theatre in 2000; in 2008 playing Rock Hudson in Rock at the Oval House Theatre; at the Friday Night is Music Night West Side Story special in 2007; and as "The Wolf / Cinderella's Prince" in 2010 in Into The Woods at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre) who sang some splendid solos - including Sinatra's favourite Cy Coleman tune, Witchcraft and the standard It's Not Where You Start (It's Where You Finish) - as well as providing a remarkably harmonic backbone to the ensemble numbers.

Here he is than aforementioned Into The Woods production, duetting with Simon Thomas on Agony:



Mr Xavier also duetted with the other male lead on Wednesday evening Mr Tam Mutu (Les Misérables; Love Never Dies; Dr Zhivago) on You're Nothing Without Me (from City of Angels) - Mr Mutu's "showstopper", however, was his brilliant The Best Is Yet To Come.

Miss Siobhan Dillon, a contender on the reality show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and West End starlet [and real-life girlfriend of Mr Mutu, as Miss Rice revealed] really let loose on the Shirley MacLaine numbers If My Friends Could See Me Now and I'm a Brass Band, as well as a rather fab version of Lost and Found (from City of Angels; lyrics by David Zippel: "If you're not celibate, we could raise hell a bit"). She also did a rather touching duet with Mr Mutu on The Colours of My Life (from Barnum), as well as with Mr Xavier on I Like Your Style from the same show.

Swansea's finest Miss Ria Jones, however, got all the campest showbiz numbers - as she should do, being the understudy who triumphally stole the show in Sunset Boulevard when leading lady Glenn Close went off sick [in fact Ria created the role way back in 1991]; she also starred in Evita, Chess, Les Mis and Victor/Victoria [and she is the sister of famed drag queen Ceri Dupree] - such as Nobody Does It Like Me, Hey, Look Me Over, Big Spender and You Can Always Count On Me (again from City of Angels), as well as the lovely love song (made famous by Blossom Dearie) I Walk A Little Faster.

Here's a mere sample of Miss Jones' talents:



In its entirety - "re-takes" and all - this was another wonderful night out at the glorious Hackney Empire, which we enjoyed immensely. I wonder when it will be broadcast?

Friday Night is Music Night on the BBC.

Cause life is too serious



It's almost the weekend, folks - and it's time for a bop!

Miss Gwen Guthrie, known as "The First Lady of the Paradise Garage" for her barn-storming stage appearances at that legendary New York venue, was a woman in demand in her heyday - she worked with Aretha Franklin, Cissy Houston, Ben E. King, Valerie Simpson, Sister Sledge and Madonna, as well as making an impact as a solo singer. I didn't realise, however, that she departed for Fabulon at the premature age of 48 back in 1999.

She left an unforgettable legacy, and will eternally be remembered for this dance classic - Ain't Nothin Goin On But The Rent!



"‘Cause nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You got to have somethin’ if you wanna be with me
‘Cause life is too serious, love’s too mysterious
A fly girl like me needs security"


Thank Disco(?) It's Friday!

Have a good weekend...

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Peignoir de Jour



Marabou.

Of course.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

So you think you can stop me and spit in my eye



From The Official Charts Company's website:
60 years ago this month saw the birth of the Official Albums Chart – the UK’s official weekly snapshot of popularity dedicated to one of the most influential art forms of our time.

The first ever chart, which was published in Record Mirror on 22 July 1956, saw Frank Sinatra’s Songs For Swingin’ Lovers landing in the coveted Number 1 slot. Now, over half a century of vinyl, cassette, CD and download-purchasing later, nearly 1,100 albums have hit the top spot in the UK.
And here, in celebration of that 60-year milestone, are the 60 best-selling albums of all time in the UK:

TITLE ARTIST YEAR HIGH POSN
1 GREATEST HITS QUEEN 1981 1
2 GOLD - GREATEST HITS ABBA 1992 1
3 SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND BEATLES 1967 1
4 21 ADELE 2011 1
5 WHAT'S THE STORY MORNING GLORY OASIS 1995 1
6 THRILLER MICHAEL JACKSON 1982 1
7 THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON PINK FLOYD 1973 2
8 BROTHERS IN ARMS DIRE STRAITS 1985 1
9 BAD MICHAEL JACKSON 1987 1
10 GREATEST HITS II QUEEN 1991 1
11 RUMOURS FLEETWOOD MAC 1977 1
12 THE IMMACULATE COLLECTION MADONNA 1990 1
13 BACK TO BLACK AMY WINEHOUSE 2006 1
14 STARS SIMPLY RED 1991 1
15 COME ON OVER SHANIA TWAIN 1997 1
16 LEGEND BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS 1984 1
17 BACK TO BEDLAM JAMES BLUNT 2004 1
18 URBAN HYMNS VERVE 1997 1
19 BAT OUT OF HELL MEAT LOAF 1977 9
20 1 BEATLES 2000 1
21 BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER SIMON & GARFUNKEL 1970 1
22 DIRTY DANCING ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK 1987 4
23 SPIRIT LEONA LEWIS 2007 1
24 CRAZY LOVE MICHAEL BUBLE 2009 1
25 NO ANGEL DIDO 2000 1
26 WHITE LADDER DAVID GRAY 1998 1
27 25 ADELE 2015 1
28 TALK ON CORNERS CORRS 1997 1
29 SPICE SPICE GIRLS 1996 1
30 THE FAME LADY GAGA 2008 1
31 A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD COLDPLAY 2002 1
32 LIFE FOR RENT DIDO 2003 1
33 ONLY BY THE NIGHT KINGS OF LEON 2008 1
34 BEAUTIFUL WORLD TAKE THAT 2006 1
35 HOPES AND FEARS KEANE 2004 1
36 THE JOSHUA TREE U2 1987 1
37 THE WAR OF THE WORLDS JEFF WAYNE 1978 5
38 SCISSOR SISTERS SCISSOR SISTERS 2004 1
39 BUT SERIOUSLY PHIL COLLINS 1989 1
40 X&Y COLDPLAY 2005 1
41 JAGGED LITTLE PILL ALANIS MORISSETTE 1995 1
42 TUBULAR BELLS MIKE OLDFIELD 1973 1
43 THE MAN WHO TRAVIS 1999 1
44 TRACY CHAPMAN TRACY CHAPMAN 1988 1
45 PARACHUTES COLDPLAY 2000 1
46 GREATEST HITS ABBA 1975 1
47 GREASE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK 1977 1
48 I'VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU ROBBIE WILLIAMS 1998 1
49 X ED SHEERAN 2014 1
50 COME AWAY WITH ME NORAH JONES 2002 1
51 GRACELAND PAUL SIMON 1986 1
52 THE SOUND OF MUSIC ORIGINAL CAST RECORDING 1965 1
53 LADIES & GENTLEMEN - THE BEST OF GEORGE MICHAEL 1998 1
54 TANGO IN THE NIGHT FLEETWOOD MAC 1987 1
55 THE MARSHALL MATHERS LP EMINEM 2000 1
56 SWING WHEN YOU'RE WINNING ROBBIE WILLIAMS 2001 1
57 PROGRESS TAKE THAT 2010 1
58 EYES OPEN SNOW PATROL 2006 1
59 NEVER FORGET - THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION TAKE THAT 2005 2
60 AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE REM 1992 1

"The most popular album? Well, I always thought the band showed promise, but this is beyond our boyhood dreams! Thanks folks!" - Brian May

To celebrate this momentous achievement, here is Bryan (and Freddie and Roger and John)'s band Queen, and their most momentous achievement (quite possibly one of the most momentous achievements in popular music ever) - Bohemian Rhapsody...



"Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango?"

Indeed.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The thru’penny bit and the half-crown


The UK’s exit from the EU means the welcome return of the thru’penny bit and the half-crown, it has been confirmed.

Since 1971 Britain has laboured with a hateful foreign currency system the population has never fully understood. But that will all be forgotten next year when Britain returns to pounds, shillings and pence.

Roy Hobbs, 62, from Plaistow, said: “I can’t wait to get back to the simple old system of having twelve pennies to the shilling, twenty shillings to the pound, two groats to the farthing and six guineas to the Fahrenheit.

“Like most people I have spent four decades being utterly baffled by the European madness of decimalisation. It flies in the face of common sense and resulted in everything costing far more than it should.

“No wonder milkmen no longer whistle like they used to.”


Mary Fisher, 77, said: “At last my grandson will be able to go out on Saturday mornings with a silver florin in his pocket and buy a furlong of liquorice and a quart of sherbet dabs for tuppence ha’penny.

“However despite leaving Europe last week we have not yet seen the return of Opal Mints, which is hugely disappointing.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Monday, 4 July 2016

La Lollo



"I am often late for planes. The airlines know me now, they call at home and ask, 'How much later will you be today?'"

Among the famous names "born on 4th July": Gertrude Lawrence, President Calvin Coolidge, Angela Baddeley, Colin Welland, Eva Marie Saint, Prince Michael of Kent, Neil Simon, David "Kid" Jensen, Bill Withers, Neil Morrissey and Pam Shriver...

...and also "The World's Most Beautiful Woman", Signorina Gina Lollobrigida!

On this Tacky Music Monday, here she is with La Spagnola:



As good a way to start a week as any, I'd say!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Sunday shopping









Eminently useful, all...

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Half the world away







2016 is turning into a bit of a bad year for losing beloved British stars. So far, we've lost Bowie, Victoria Wood, Ed "Stewpot" Stewart, Paul Daniels, Terry Wogan, Ronnie Corbett - and now we have the sad news that Caroline Aherne has died, aged just 52.

She created the original "spoof chat-show host" in Mrs Merton - ostensibly a sweet little old lady, her acid tongue regularly tore strips off her guests...



...as well as one of the best comedies of the 90s, The Royle Family (co-starring Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson):



With her "cool" credentials (she was married to Peter Hook of Joy Division/New Order, until that ended badly, and the Royle Family theme was recorded especially by none other than Oasis) and her shit-hot observational comedy skills, Miss Aherne was a bit of a legend; a one-off. There'll never be another...

RIP Caroline Mary Aherne (24th December 1963 – 2nd July 2016)

Friday, 1 July 2016

Seemed like the real thing but I was so blind



A double celebration.

It's almost the weekend, and today is our Patron Saint of Pouting Miss Debbie Harry's birthday!

You'd have to have lived your entire life under a rock if you've never heard Debs'n'Blondie's (controversial at the time) dance classic Heart of Glass...

...but rather than the lady herself, how about the inimitable finger-pointing, glittering Top of the Pops version featuring Legs & Co?



Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good one, folks...