Sunday 31 August 2008

Farewell to a unique talent

Writer, producer and performer Geoffrey Perkins was killed in a road accident on Friday night.

Perhaps we too often neglect the "men behind the scenes", but Geoffrey's list of credits in the world of TV and radio comedy is simply quite staggering. He was not only responsible for the mega-successful Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue on BBC Radio, but he brought to our screens (among others) Spitting Image, Robbie Coltrane, Harry Enfield, Catherine Tate, The Fast Show, Game On, My Family, Benidorm and Father Ted.

Over the years he worked closely with co-writers Ben Elton, Harry Enfield and Angus Deayton, and starred with the latter in Radio Active and its on-screen follow-up KYTV.

He made a brilliant contribution to some of the best comedies ever made. Such a sad loss...

Article in the Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2008


In conversation in a pub in Charlotte Street tonight, this little gem came up. So I just had to share it...

Because I'm a blonde, I don't have to think.
I talk like a baby, and I never pay for drinks.
Don't have to worry 'bout getting a man
If I keep this blonde and I keep these tan,
'Cause I'm a blonde, yeah, yeah, yeah.
'Cause I'm a blonde, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Friday 29 August 2008

Weekend cheese

It's the weekend - and here's something lovely to help us celebrate!

Thursday 28 August 2008

He got Soul

In celebration of the 65th (!) birthday of David Soul, here's a reminder of the man's estimable talents...

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Madonna diva?

As the hoo-ha begins as Madge is on tour again, I thought it timely to remind people of what a true Diva really is... At almost 82 years old (three decades older than Mrs Ritchie), Miss Eartha Kitt still knocks them all dead!

Eartha Kitt official site

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Fun, natural fun

A little something to cheer us up as we reluctantly return to work after the Bank Holiday...

Genius of Love - Tom Tom Club
What you gonna do when you get out of jail?
I'm gonna have some fun
What do you consider fun?
Fun, natural fun

I'm in heaven
With my boyfriend, my laughing boyfriend
There's no beginning and there is no end
Time isn't present in that dimention
He'll take my arm
When we're walkin', rolling and rocking
It's one time I'm glad I'm not a man
Feels like I'm dreaming, but I'm not sleeping

I'm in heaven
With the maven of funk mutation
Clinton's musicians such as Bootsy Collins
Raise expectations to a new intention
No one can sing
Quite like Smokey, Smokey Robinson
Wailin' and shakin' to Bob Marley
Reggae's expanding with Sly and Robbie

All the weekend
Boyfriend was missing
I surely miss him
The way he'd hold me in his warm arms
We went insane when we took cocaine.

Stepping in a rhythm to a Kurtis Blow
Who needs to think when your feet just go
With a hiditihi and a hipitiho
Who needs to think when your feet just go ...Bohannon Bohannon Bohannon Bohannon
Who needs to think when your feet just go ...Bohannon Bohannon Bohannon Bohannon
James Brown, James Brown
James Brown, James Brown

If you see him
Please remind him, unhappy boyfriend
Well he's the genius of love
He's got a greater depth of feeling
Well he's the genius of love
He's so deep.

Monday 25 August 2008

Standing in the door of the Pink Flamingo

We went along to A Club for Lovers & Losers last night - and what a great night it was!

If ever anyone wanted to re-create the slightly sleazy, smoky, naughtiness of a 1980s "one-nighter", than this is most definitely it! The Trash Palace is everything you could wish for - flock wallpaper, mirrors and glitterballs, uncomfortable seating, tiny dancefloor and sticky floors...

And darling Dom Agius served us well with his trademark mix of the weird and the wonderful, from the Tom Tom Club to the Human League, from Goldfrapp to Bowie/Roxy - and we greeted each and every one with a drunken whoop! Admittedly trying to dance when the soles of your feet are stuck to the floor is an Olympic effort, but dance we did.

In the absence of Paul Burston, Dom and hubby shared the DJ duties, and took to the job of choking the punters to death with the cyanide smoke machine with aplomb. A great night, and I can't wait for the next one!

Sunday 24 August 2008

Planes? What planes?

I managed to completely miss the Olympics hoo-ha in the Mall today, including the flypast. I was in town, with every intention of standing gawping at the Red Arrows with the rest of them but was slightly diverted by the vintage clothing shops of Seven Dials.

Then, whoosh...! I hear the roar and missed the damned planes. Never mind, it's a good excuse for more gratuitous shots of "London Olympics bid cheerleader" David Beckham I suppose...

Thursday 21 August 2008

RIP Leo Abse - a pioneer

"Leo had the satisfaction of outliving most of his enemies. He heroically challenged the accepted stereotypes of the companions of the ageing process.
His second marriage was to a young woman when he was in his eighties. He worked with the enthusiasm, energy and chutzpah of an enfant terrible until his final days."

Paul Flynn MP

And so farewell then Leo Abse, one of the most significant politicians in our history, who died this week.

Leo Abse was a backbench Labour MP for thirty-nine years, and an admired lawyer and author. He famously got more legislation on to the statute book than any other backbencher, and most important of all he was the man who drafted and championed the act that brought us the legalisation of homosexuality in the UK.

His achievements include not only the Homosexual Law Reform Bill in 1967, but the 1975 Children's Act, the Divorce Reform Act of 1969 (that for the first time allowed divorce on the grounds of breakdown of a marriage) and the ending of barristers' monopoly of the High Courts.

A dramatic, flamboyant and outspoken character, Leo was born into a family of Polish Jews who had settled in Wales (his grandfather was reputedly the first Jew to speak Welsh with a Yiddish accent and Yiddish with a Welsh one).

His clothes - designed by his first wife - were a welcome splash of colour in a world of the pinstripe suited, Eton-tie-wearing establishment of Westminster, and his extravagant fabrics and bouffant hair caught the attention of the media - in particular on Budget day, for which he reserved his most elaborate and eye-catching outfits.

Unabashed in his choice of topics on which he would write, in 2000 he published the wonderfully-titled Fellatio, Masochism, Politics and Love, apparently "an analysis of the repressed homosexual components of the relationship between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair"; and in 2006 The Bisexuality of Daniel Defoe: a psychoanalytic survey of the man and his works.

A pioneer - we owe Leo Abse a massive debt, and we should remember his achievements with pride.

Read his obituary in the Daily Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Self-destructiveness, bitch-slapping, hints of lesbianism

"Gay people have to stay in touch with their roots. And those roots are old Hollywood movies and books like 'Valley of the Dolls' - whether they realise it or not."
- Glenn Belverio (Glennda Orgasm)

"Valley of the Dolls may seem extreme and extravagant, but it's actually a window into the modern Western soul."
- Camille Paglia

Ninety years ago today, that glorious pioneer of an entire genre of kitschy campy glossy novels Jacqueline Susann was born.

Her part in paving the way for the success of authors such as Jackie Collins and Danielle Steele may be sadly under-recognised, but Jacqueline found fame and fortune with her ground-breaking and shocking (at the time) saga of the decline and fall of a group of very bitchy society women, Valley of the Dolls.

Many critics, notably Gore Vidal, dismissed Jacqueline's style of writing - the ever-catty Vidal said "she doesn't write, she types" - and in a famous spat with Truman Capote he described her as "a truck driver in drag".

Yet Valley of the Dolls ("dolls" refers to the drugs that contribute so much to the characters' downfall) is officially one of the best-selling novels by a female author of all time, selling more than 30 million copies worldwide. It was made into a hugely successful film in 1967, starring Barbara Parkins, Sharon Tate, Patty Duke and Susan Hayward.

The character of Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke) is said to be based upon Judy Garland. Judy herself was originally cast as the character Helen Lawson, but she was replaced by Susan Hayward. She even recorded one song, I'll Plant My Own Tree but it was Margaret Whiting's rendition (dubbing for Ms Hayward) not Judy's that was eventually used in the film.

Self-destructiveness, bitch-slapping, hints of lesbianism, deaths, cancer, addiction and abusive relationships are what make this book and film so fabulously camp, and an obvious precursor of the type of OTT soaps of which we are so fond today.

Yet many of the plotlines are assumed to be autobiographical. Jacqueline Susann was herself a failing Broadway actress when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and famously made a deal with God to give her ten more years to live and make a success of her career. (This scene is one of the most memorable in the 2000 film version of the life of Jacqueline Susann, Isn't She Great?, starring Bette Midler.) It is also hinted that Susann had many lesbian affairs, and her rocky love-life was filled with infidelities.

Jacqueline's other less famous novels include Dolores - the story of Dolores Cortez Ryan, the fashion-plate widow of an assassinated President of the United States (obviously inspired by Jackie Onassis), and other salacious novels such as The Love Machine and Every Night Josephine!. She died in 1973, more than a decade after her "deal with God".

"The Sixties will go down in history for three things - Andy Warhol, the Beatles, and Jacqueline Susann."
- Jacqueline Susann (20th August 1918 – 21st September 1974)

Valley of the Dolls on Amazon

Isn't She Great? on Amazon

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Why remake a classic?

Hot on the heels of the slew of remakes of classic children's programmes such as the CGI Bill & Ben, Andy Pandy, Postman Pat, Noddy and Pingu (a sure fire sign of the mid-life crisis amongst commissioning editors) comes the sad news that a remake of the anarchy that was The Banana Splits is due to hit the screens.

Why can't they leave them alone? There is nothing quite like the original...

Read the article

Monday 18 August 2008

Princess Points

Today is the 56th birthday of the lovely Patrick Swayze. A poignant one, I suppose, as Patrick was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year.

But as he seems to be doing fairly well according to recent reports, it is a chance to celebrate a couple of my personal favourite points from his career:

Sunday 17 August 2008

Dancing in the streets, 2008

We had a fab day at Soho Pride! Despite a bit of a quiet start, the whole of Soho soon filled up with chemically-enhanced queens all desperate for a party.

We staked our ground as usual outside the shoe shop in Rupert Street, and danced ourselves dizzy. Another "Gay Easter" is over and done with, but hoorah for the DJs and the dancing boys!

Saturday 16 August 2008

Anyone would think it was the Queen’s birthday...

Across the gay world today, you can't go into a bar or turn on the radio without a Madonna song playing. For of course, it is Our Glorious Leader's 50th birthday!

Madonna's music has always featured significantly in the course of my own gay life - Like a Virgin was out when I had up until recently still been one (!), Vogue was released at the point at which I left a bad relationship and rediscovered my life, Another Suitcase Another Hall coincided with another period of rediscovery when I left Wales for good, and Ray of Light was when I just met Madam Arcati...

And Madge is still around churning out great music (even if it is bit more hit and miss recently) today! Gawd bless ya ma'am!

Friday 15 August 2008

Wink Wink Nudge Nudge say no more...

We went en masse to Wilton's Music Hall last night to see Wink The Other Eye, a sort-of-play about the music hall itself, but in reality a thinly-veiled showcase for all the rip-roaring smutty songs of that era.

I have always loved music hall numbers - I was a huge fan of The Good Old Days (shamefully never repeated by the BBC!) and our collection includes albums of classics in that genre by Nellie Wallace, Roy Hudd, Sheila Steafel and Beryl Reid. And this production did not disappoint.

We exercised our lungs singing along to numbers like My Old Man Said Follow The Van, Oh Mr Porter and A Little Of What You Fancy Does You Good - every one of them laced with healthy dollops of innuendo and hutzpah. And with two intervals, and drinking healthily encouraged, the sing-a-longs just got louder and more raucous! Well our lot did, but some of the elderly audience just seemed to sit there a bit dazed (or maybe they just dropped off - the show is 2½ hours long after all...)

The players were all very good - not your top West End stars admittedly, but enthusiastic and genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves. Star of the show had to be the enormously busty 'Ria (Miss Suzie Chard), who threw herself (almost literally) into some of the bawdier numbers, even turning the innocent Come Into The Garden Maud into a filthy seduction song. She gave a near-perfect impression of Miss Marie Lloyd; and other "characters" in the play included Mr Wilton himself, Burlington Bertie and the infamous Champagne Charlie.

Highly recommended, and the crumbly atmosphere of Wiltons alone makes a visit worthwhile. All together now..!

Wiltons website

Thursday 14 August 2008

Wrap Your Arms Around Me

Apparently Michael Phelps is now officially the world's greatest athlete, or something like that... Anyhow, who cares when the papers are full of pics of semi-clad gorgeous men? I like the Olympics.

Michael Phelps has a body particularly suited to swimming, 6ft 4in tall with an arm span that is wider than he is tall (6ft 7in!), and has size 14 feet with double-jointed ankles. He can extend his ankle beyond the point of a ballet dancer. This enables him to whip his feet for maximum thrust.

I am in love...

Tuesday 12 August 2008

And there’s a weepy ol’ willow - he really knows how to cry

Today we celebrate the 89th birthday of a true giant of the music industry, Mr George Shearing OBE.

I have been a longtime fan of George's beautiful piano skills, and his contribution to many of the greatest jazz/swing songs of the last century are legend, but there are things many people don't know about this genius of a man.

Although he is lauded as one of the finest of all jazz musicians - a truly all-American musical genre - George was actually born into humble beginnings in Battersea, south London.

Despite being the composer of, or key player in, classic Blues songs such as Lullaby of Birdland (a standard adopted by artistes of the calibre of Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Eartha Kitt as a staple of their own repertoire) and September in the Rain, George is in fact a blind white man.

George worked with many of the greats over the years - in his teens he was a regular performer in jazz bands with Stephane Grappelli, and in his heyday of the 1950s and 1960s he worked with artists such as Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Nancy Wilson and Mel Tormé, among others.

Words cannot really express the contribution this man has made to the musical world!

About George Shearing

Love me love me love me

In a remarkably strange bit of marketing non-savvy, the people at Kylie-land have finally got around to releasing this superb video for The One, just as the song itself has plummeted out of the Top 40 in the UK... This is fab!

Monday 11 August 2008

Niet Roken!

Well, our annual pilgrimage to Amsterdam for my birthday is over, and another lovely time was had by all. But this time there was quite a strange change afoot.

For Amsterdam, home of the happy cafe, the king-size spliff, the herbal whiff in the air, has introduced a smoking ban!

Not just any old smoking ban, either, not a British-style smoking ban where every busybody is poised on the edge of their seat just to shop you, nor a Spanish style ban where all the signs are up but everyone carries on smoking regardless. No, this is a smoking ban where it is illegal to consume tobacco in a licensed premises, but not marijuana... Apparently, officials have the right to test your joint to make sure it is pure weed - bureaucracy beyond Kafka's dreams!

So imagine the scene as the hairy baggy student types with badly-rolled homegrowns in their hands stare glassy-eyed at you through the windows, and all the polite queens huddle together outside trying to light their Dunhill or Superkings. The locals were thoroughly pissed off, as you might imagine.

Amsterdam prides itself on its laid-back attitudes. Traditional Dutch gay bars are used to building up an atmosphere through their happy hours and oom-pah music sing-alongs. But this is obviously difficult to achieve once sixty percent of the punters are actually outside - less dancing, less singing, and generally less drinking too (well if you're not sat at the bar, you aren't buying drinks!).

Nevertheless, being used to Nanny State Britain we didn't let it spoil our fun! People-watching at the canal bars by day, enjoying the camp music in the bars every evening, and the cruisy late nights - bliss!!

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd live there...

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Met U onder een paraplu

Apparently it might rain while we're in Amsterdam next weekend, but who cares? - I guess we'll just have to sing, sing, sing...

Ja Zuster, Nee Zuster

Sunday 3 August 2008


Amazing news! The 87-year-old Carol Channing will appear in concert again this September. The event in San Francisco - with special guests Carole Cook and Rita Moreno - is being held to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition about Miss Channing's life and long career in showbiz.

The exhibition will include original costumes ranging from her original 1964 Hello Dolly! dress to one-of-a-kind outfits created by Bob Mackie, rare photographs, video and audio clips, original drawings by Al Hirschfeld, her Tony and Golden Globe Awards, and other items. How camp... I'd love to go, but I think it might be a bit far.

A true showbiz legend and all-round eccentric, Carol's biggest theatrical break was as the original "Lorelei Lee" in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (later played by Marilyn Monroe in the film), and she progressed from Broadway to the big screen (despite losing the title role in the film of Hello Dolly! to MegaBabs) via numerous classic television appearances with stars such as George Burns, Dean Martin, Red Skelton, Spike Jones, Dinah Shore, Andy Williams and Carol Burnett, and on her own shows.

It was as "Muzzy" in Thoroughly Modern Mille that many film-goers best remember her - and she hammed the part up beautifully, stealing every scene, even from Julie Andrews! But always the theatrical legend, Carol also appeared in some milestone stage performances - notably with Pearl Bailey, and at various Tony and Oscar award ceremonies and Royal Variety performances over the years.

We love Carol Channing!!

Carol Channing on IMDB

Saturday 2 August 2008

I caaaan’t stan’ him!

"People! I ain't people!
I'm a shimmering glowing star in the cinema firm-a-mint!"

This weekend would have been the 85th birthday of Jean Hagen - Jean who? I hear you say... Well, this rather fab Oscar-nominated actress was one of the most enjoyable things in the whole unwieldy conglomeration that was the original movie Singin' in the Rain.

I have always had an uneasy relationship with the film, partly because Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds in this are just so uncharismatic, bland and yawnsome (until Gene dances, of course!), and partly because I think it tries so very hard to be camp (dream sequences, Cyd Charisse, glittery costumes etc) and yet still struggles to be that.

However, the whole is a sum of its parts - and the parts in which the lovely Jean Hagen appear are indeed all-time classics. So let's celebrate:

Jean Hagen on IMDB

Friday 1 August 2008

Get fresh at the weekend

No comment...

Have a good one!!