Thursday 31 May 2007

Another chapter closes

Peculiar irony, this...

I have been avidly watching the fantastic BBC4 "Children's TV on Trial" season all week, from its roots in the Fifties and Sixties, through Oliver Postgate, Magic Roundabout, Crackerjack, Blue Peter and Grange Hill, to the decline of children's broadcasting into the Nineties, when I heard the sad news that earlier this week one of its old stalwarts died.

Tony Bastable, one of the original presenters of Magpie - ITV's answer to Blue Peter in the 70s - was a major TV presence when I was a child. In a similar way to presenters like Michael Aspel, Michael Rodd and Brian Cant, Tony Bastable provided that safe, chummy, well-groomed "older brother" air in anything he presented, and although it seems his career never really made it further than those dim and distant halcyon days he still remains an important part of the very history the BBC has been trying to explore this week.


Such a shame that so few people will remember him. RIP.

Read his obituary in The Guardian

A "repulsive" lifestyle

Gays today said they were "repulsed" by Northern Ireland MP Ian Paisley Jr (and his dad).

Quoted today, a leading gayer said "I don't hate politicians in Ulster - it's just that I hate what they do. With their so-called "pride" parades, dressing up in outlandish orange and bowler hats, they flaunt their lifestyle. I think it is wrong.

"I think that those people harm themselves and - without caring about it - harm society."

Read the real story on the BBC

Tuesday 29 May 2007

Sex bomb?

Apparently, police in Derbyshire were today called in to investigate a suspicious buzzing package by their local post office, and promptly blew it up. It turned out to be a vibrator and some chocolates. Exploding dildo story

That well and truly fucked up HIS birthday surprise!

"Now listen here, you mullet. Why don't you just light your tampon, blow your box apart? Because it's the only bang you're ever gonna get, sweetheart!"

Monday 28 May 2007

Gay Icon!

I couldn't let Kylie Minogue's birthday go without a mention - I'd lose all my "princess points" if I did!! Many happy returns to every gay boy's favourite icon (official) - 39 today!

From her roots in Neighbours and rise to fame during the Stock Aitken & Waterman years, Kylie has made some good and bad choices in her collaborations over the years - working with such diverse artists as Brothers In Rhythm, Heller and Farley, M People, Nick Cave, St.Etienne, Dave Ball, Manic Street Preachers, (the very odd) Towa Tei, and the Scissor Sisters - and still remains right at the top of the pop pantheon with such classics as Can't Get You Out Of My Head, Spinning Around, Breathe, Better The Devil You Know, What Do I Have To Do, and best of all Confide In Me... (phew!)

Her music has formed a back-drop to many notable periods of my life (and I am sure, many others too). Love or hate her, Kylie is indeed "the impossible princess"!

And in case anyone wants to know who exactly Kylie beat in the Top 50 Gay Icons (as voted for in the UK earlier this year):


1. Kylie Minogue
2. Dolly Parton
4. Judy Garland
5. Marilyn Monroe
6. David Beckham
7. Madonna
8. Audrey Hepburn
9. Jordan and Peter Andre
10. Liza Minnelli
11. Cary Grant
12. Victoria Beckham
13. Girls Aloud
14. Barbra Streisand
15. Pink
16. Sharon Osbourne
17. Take That
18. Cher
19. Will Young
20. Elton John
21. Barbie
22. Richard and Judy
23. Cilla Black
24. Simon Cowell
25. Julie Andrews
26. Sister Sledge
27. Wham!
28. Rupert Everett
29. The Cheeky Girls
30. Fern Britton
31. Westlife
32. Beyonce
33. Gwen Stefani
34. Prince
35. Morrissey
36. Blondie
37. Boy George
38. Charlotte Church
39. The Village People
40. Ant and Dec
41. Doris Day
42. Gloria Gaynor
43. Gerri Halliwell
44. Donna Summer
45. Steps
46. The Human League
47. French and Saunders
48. The Scissor Sisters
49. Gavin Henson
50. Gordon Ramsay

From the ridiculous to the...?

Among the horror stories of just how far down the backward trail Russia is going, with apparent establishment support for homophobic violence in Moscow, this story raised a smile today.

Apparently a gay bar in Melbourne, Australia has been allowed to ban heterosexuals (groups of hen and stag parties) from its premises!

Read more about this story

Now, let me guess. Which story will get more coverage in the Daily Mail - the terrible descent of Eastern European countries into fascism, or an accusation that the Aussies are being "heterophobic"? I wonder...

Sunday 27 May 2007

Give me fever!

The awesomely talented Miss Peggy Lee would have been 84 today...

Born Norma Dolores Egstrom, the lovely Peggy had a fantastic musical career as a singer-songwriter, from her early debut with Benny Goodman, to fame and fortune with songs like Fever, A Good Day and the soundtrack of Disney's Lady and the Tramp.

There aren't many queens even today who cannot sing along to at least one Peggy Lee number, not least thanks to the fact that her songs, or her versions of songs, have been covered by artists as diverse as Debbie Harry, Nancy Sinatra, Rita Moreno, Petula Clark, Bea Arthur, Sarah Vaughan, Elvis Presley, Bette Midler and Madonna!

But somehow, I think her rendition of this superbly sardonic Lieber and Stoller classic remains my all-time favourite:

Friday 25 May 2007

Elton John in "good taste" shock!

Accepting an award for his collaboration with the Scissor Sisters on Don't Feel Like Dancing at the Ivor Novello awards, Dame Elton was last night seen flirting with the lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner. Apparently he offered the pop muppet "a ride" in his helicopter...

Saucy old queen! But at least he has good taste I suppose...

Read the report on the BBC website

Wednesday 23 May 2007

The Bitch?

"Age is just a number. It's totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine."

Well, she would say that wouldn't she? Happy birthday today to Joan Collins, that icon of tight-lipped screen bitchery, and inspiration for a thousand drag queens over the years...

Never one to take herself too seriously, our Joan's dubious acting credentials range from her time as what was so sneeringly referred to by Liz Taylor as "a Rank starlet" in cheap and nasty Steve Reeves movies, to shlock soft-core porn films such as The Bitch and The Stud, to Cinzano ads with Leonard Rossiter.

But her most impressive role, and the one that really engraved her in our hearts forever, was as Alexis, the ultimate in glamorous high camp in Dynasty! God, how we loved that show - the shoulder pads, the hats, the bitchiness, the wooden characters and plots...

"I loathe conflict, and I loathe not getting along well with people, so I always try very hard to be on the best terms with the people I work with."

And now, as Joan Collins OBE celebrates her 74th birthday, the tabloids slaver over her supposed real-life feud with former Dynasty co-star Linda Evans (who played the ultimate dull bland blonde, Krystle Carrington).

Lawsuits and lip-gloss are apparently flying as Joan accuses Linda of leaving her "bruised and beaten", and Linda accuses Joan of being "unprofessional". I love it! Read more about the on- and off-stage battle and more bitchiness here.

I hope Joan wins (as always happened in Dynasty) - you just can't keep an old trouper down!

Tuesday 22 May 2007

Deadly Chihuahua

This story made me hoot with laughter!

Paula Abdul breaks nose in dog mishap
American Idol judge Paula Abdul has broken her nose while trying to avoid standing on her pet Chihuahua.

Read more of the story on the BBC and see if you can keep a straight face...

Of course, it couldn't possibly be a way to cover up some more plastic surgery, now could it?

Monday 21 May 2007

If it was good enough for Marlene...

As the dreaded smoking ban looms nearer, we await with horror the prospect of tumbleweed blowing down Compton Street when the weather turns colder and the smokers (the majority of punters on the Soho scene without a doubt) stay at home.

I can just sense the bigots of Westminster Council rubbing their hands with glee, proud of their investment in hordes of sanctimonious anti-smoking inspectors who will bring the mentality of the traffic warden into our places of entertainment, threatening fines or closure on venues who have a smell of tobacco anywhere within their premises. There is even a threat that the council will impose a ban on smoking in the streets outside pubs!

Our friends at Scotland's Herald newspaper and Freedom2Choose hit the nail on the head by keeping up their exposes of the hypocrisy that surrounds the ban.

Read columnist Finelma Cook's article on the Freedom2Choose blog.

Sunday 20 May 2007

Cher - still sassy at 61

A double celebration today! Not only is the former Cherilyn Sarkisian - known worldwide simply as Cher - 61 years old today, but she has signed a contract with Caesar's Palace Las Vegas to replace the loathsome Celine Dion as the resident concert act in 2008. Good on you, girl!

One of my favourite sassy ladies, Cher's contribution to music has spanned five decades, from Phil Spector in the early sixties, through "Gypsies Tramps and Thieves" in the 70s, "Dead Ringer for Love" with Meatloaf in the 80s, to the 90s gay anthems "Believe" and "Was He Worth It". She not only rose to fame as half of Sonny & Cher, but also provided backing vocals for such massive songs as the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feeling", and recorded the original (and best) version of "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)".

But the biggest surprise of all came in the 80s when she revealed her superb acting skills, and was nominated for awards for Silkwood, Mask, Witches of Eastwick (my favourite), and finally won the Oscar for Moonstruck.

Cher continues to amaze, and with her shocking outfits and camp perfomances is an inspiration to queens everywhere! Happy Birthday!

Read all about Cher

Saturday 19 May 2007

Cuban sex god


Just watched a repeat of the BBC's Culture Show, and I was about to switch off having had just about enough of the tiresome girl presenter with her comedy Northern accent, when she introduced a feature on the new star of the ballet world Carlos Acosta. And I fell immediately in lust.

Style, grace, power, and a magnificent pair of buns!

Acosta, described on the Sadlers Wells website as "the greatest ballet dancer of his generation", is a national hero in his homeland of Cuba. He is also notable as one of the first black dancers to reach the dizzy heights of principal dancer in the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, and will headline the new five-week spring dance season starting next year at the London Coliseum, as a collaboration between Sadlers Wells and impresario Raymond Gubbay.

I think I might just book a ticket (and take my opera glasses for a close-up of that perfect tush...)

Wednesday 16 May 2007

Good news! Tinky Winky's tormenter is dead

Although it may seem churlish to be absolutely ecstatic when someone dies, in this case I make an exception.

Jerry Falwell's polemical bigotry as the idol of the evangelical right-wing fascists of America became a shining example of everything wrong in our benighted ally in the aftermath of 11th September 2001.

After the attacks that brought down the World Trade Centre twin towers, he said that gays, atheists, civil-rights activists and legal abortions in the US had "angered God and helped this happen".

Now he is dead. This evil man has finally met what he so fondly called "his maker", and I sincerely hope that all the neo-Nazis who adored his every word follow him.

Unfortunately it seems his malign influence carries on - Senator John McCain, a Republican contender for US president, describes him as "a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country".

Nice to know that the "land of the free" continues its decline into a political situation that is anything but.

Ridiculously, Falwell's greatest media legacy remains the occasion in 1999 when he denounced the BBC TV children's show Teletubbies because he believed one character, Tinky Winky, was homosexual.

Read more

Tuesday 15 May 2007

Brideshead Revisited revisited?

Watching a repeat of the world's most magnificent TV series EVER "Brideshead Revisted" last night, I was dismayed to read that the story is apparently in pre-production for a film adaptation...

Read more on IMDB

Emma Thompson as Lady Marchmain?! Ben Whishaw (who he?) as Sebastian? I keep my fingers crossed they don't cast Julian Clary as Anthony Blanche, or Billie Piper as Cordelia...

Watch the original Granada series, folks - it is unbeatable!

Monday 14 May 2007

An honorary gay man

"After being in the business for such a long time, I've done everything but rodeo and porno."

A living legend celebrated her birthday yesterday. The lovely Bea Arthur, wicked wit and all, still looks great at the grand old age of 84, and we love her!

Born Bernice Frankel, Bea began her sparkling career in the company of such luminaries as Lotte Lenya, Shirley MacLaine, Sid Caesar and Angela Lansbury. A singer of slightly rasping showbiz numbers, and a fine actress, she is obviously most loved for her seven year stint as the ascerbic Dorothy in "Golden Girls".

I saw Bea live in the West End in her one-woman show a couple of years ago, and her performance and anecdotes were wonderful!

A camp icon, and an honorary gay man - Bea Arthur, we salute you!

Saturday 12 May 2007

We wuz robbed! (again...)

So once more the inevitable Balkan/Scandinavian countries' habit of only ever voting for each other in the Eurovision Song Contest means that a half-baked effort wins, and the UK's "Flying the Flag for You" came second from last in the final!

The trend became more and more blatant - as Romania gave 12 points to Moldova, Moldova gave twelve points to Romania, Cyprus gave twelve points to Greece, Greece did the same in return, etc etc. Even Terry Wogan's customary wit and humour began to fail him. At one stage there were no Western European countries with any votes at all, and he commented "Somehow, it's just not as much fun any more.."

Friends at our party cheered as plucky little Malta gave Scooch our only "douze points", but to no avail...

Scooch was robbed, and deserved a lot more points than some of the rubbish that ended up in the top ten! Serbian lesbian music won out in the end - not a bad song, but even so it was not a true winner.

And to think, the UK continues to bankroll this Eastern European back-slapping charade...

We "burned" the European flag in disgust.

Still, the Eurovision Song Contest is always worth a watch for its breathtaking camp value and I'm sure we'll host another party - same time, same place next year!

View from an expert: "The worst Eurovision in living memory":
Tim Moore, the author of "Nul Points", a book about Eurovision's great losers, said of the contest:

"As far as the voting is concerned, maybe there should be two separate Eurovisions, which are screened in the west and the east, with a sing-off for the top finishers in each one at a united competition.

"Maybe you should go back to a jury system and not have telephone voting because it's not a poll on the songs any more - it's very political, and more like a poll on how many aunties you happen to have in Montenegro."
Hear! Hear!

Read more

Friday 11 May 2007

It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim

"I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget." - McCoy (Space Seed)

Sick humour rules in the odd world that American Trekkies occupy. Not only was it considered a fitting tribute to the actor who played Scottie to jet his ashes off into space, but now they've gone and lost them!

"To boldly go where no man has gone before", indeed! Hilarious...

Wednesday 9 May 2007

Britannia waives the rules

As much as we love Eurovision, cheap flights and holidays, the European Union has always been a bureaucratic nightmare! And we in the UK seem to be a nation of bureaucrats, so our government has always been first to adopt such stupid regulations as banning things on health grounds, killing every creature on our farms because of a local outbreak of disease, identity cards - and of course, metrication.

Now we hear that the EU itself has apparently confirmed that Britain can "keep imperial measurements as it would make it easier for firms to sell to the US".

Read the story

Claiming this as a victory for the so-called "Metric Martyrs", the Tories are hailing this landmark for Britain's influence in Europe as a monumental U-turn.

Thank heavens! I can still measure the distance between towns in miles, my weight in stones, and cocks in inches!

And mine's still a pint - CHEERS!

Makes you wonder why we embraced it so enthusiastically in the first place, doesn't it?

Tuesday 8 May 2007

An eccentric life in hats

Such sad news today, as I learned about the mysterious death of Isabella Blow, eccentric style icon and living embodiment of how Philip Treacy hats SHOULD be worn!

I still have an enduring image of when we saw Isabella at Paddington station, surrounded by trunks, hat boxes and flustered porters, on her way to her train. She looked every inch the glamorous star - a little more steam and whistles and you would have sworn it was Marlene Dietrich in "Shanghai Express"...

The world is a little less stylish, just a little less fun without her.

Read her obituary in the Guardian

Sunday 6 May 2007

Love bites?

Eurggh! The latest research into therapies for impotence has found that the bite of the Brazilian wandering spider causes erections...

Personally I reckon the bite of a Brazilian boy would work better, and probably less painfully!

Saturday 5 May 2007

Caption this!

Just a fabulous photo, that is crying out for some kind of caption competition!

Yum yum...

Friday 4 May 2007

I'm serious as cancer when I say Rhythm Is A Dancer

BBC Radio 6 has been running a poll on the worst song lyrics ever! The shortlist is below.

My choice has to be a toss-up between Des'ree and Snap!... aargh!

ABC - That Was Then But This Is Now
More Sacrifices than an Aztec priest,
Standing here straining at that leash,
All fall down,
Can't complain, mustn't grumble,
Help yourself to another piece of apple crumble

Snap - Rhythm Is A Dancer
I'm as serious as cancer,
When I say Rhythm is a Dancer.

Human League - The Lebanon
Before he leaves the camp he stops,
He scans the world outside,
And where there used to be some shops,
Is where the snipers sometimes hide.

Razorlight - Somewhere Else
And I met a girl,
she asked me my name,
I told her what it was.

Duran Duran - Is There Something I Should Know?
And firey demons all dance when you walk through that door,
Don't say you're easy on me you're about as easy as a nuclear war.
Oasis - Champagne Supernova
Slowly walking down the hall,
Faster than a cannonball,
Where were you when we were getting high?

Des'ree - Life
I don't want to see a ghost,
It's the sight that I fear most,
I'd rather have a piece of toast,
Watch the evening news.

Black Sabbath - War Pigs
Generals gathered in their masses,
Just like witches at black masses.
Toto - Africa
The wild dogs cry out in the night,
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company,
I know that I must do what's right,
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.
U2 - Elevation
I've got no self control,
Been living like a mole now,
Going down, excavation,
High and high in the sky,
You make me feel like I can fly,
So high,

The winner will be announced in Marc Riley's Brain Surgery on BBC Radio 6 between 7pm - 9pm on Friday 4 May. Unlistenable, I'd imagine...

Thursday 3 May 2007

Dumb musicals overload

Why is mainstream entertainment so lacking in imagination and creativity these days? Are we suffering the result of a generation brought up on MTV, whose idea of "epic" is a television series starring Kiefer Sutherland, whose idea of "diva" is Beyonce Knowles, and genuinely does not know that the DaVinci Code is not a true story...?

My greatest bugbear at the moment is the increasingly banal state of theatre - in particular the concept of what exactly constitutes a "musical". Lightweight dross like "We Will Rock You" and "Mamma Mia" are international success stories, and lately we have had musicals based upon the dubious talents of Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, and (gulp) Boney M!

Now I read with horror of plans for "Shrek - the musical", following hard on the heels of "Lord Of The Rings - the musical", and even "Legally Blonde - the musical" (which was universally panned even in the culturally light USA):


Legally Blonde

Lord of the Rings

Is nothing sacred any more? Why can't we find writers these days of the calibre of Cole Porter, Gershwin, Bernstein or Sondheim...

And what next? "The Queen - the musical"? "Laurence of Arabia - the musical"? "Guantanamo - the musical"?

Wednesday 2 May 2007

Mein Kampf is still published

If there is one thing I loathe more than anything else (as a former journalist) it is a sanctimonious right-wing newspaper with a captive audience of small-minded people. And of course there cannot be another more reprehensible example of this than the Daily/Sunday Mail.

The Mail has a long history (mainly under the mad Lord Beaverbrook) of Nazi-loving self righteousness, and it is the ultimate beloved read of all those hideous bigots out there - in the church, the BNP and the far reaches of the high Tory hereditary Lords. Its writers to a person are completely clueless - and the constant anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-urbanite, anti-luvvie, pro-hunting, pro-home-owning upper middle class scaremongering tone of the paper loves nothing less than scoring a new scalp.

Recently George Michael and (inevitably) the BBC suffered the wrath of the Mail's vultures. Today's scalp is Lord Browne of BP, who admittedly is a deeply unpleasant character in charge of a hideous company, but has now been publicly been strung up by the fact that (shock horror!) he is GAY and happened to try and cover up his relationship with a money grubbing little shit of a boyfriend who has decided to sell his soul to this devil of a "newspaper".

Read more

It almost makes you want to agree with Ken Livingstone!