Saturday 28 February 2009

Tap Your Troubles Away

Happy 70th birthday today to the multi-talented, multi award-winning Tommy Tune.

And what talents! A six-foot-six dancer, singer, choreographer and director, in his four-decade career Tommy has appeared on stage in such spectacular musical productions as SeeSaw, Irma La Douce, My One And Only and Bye Bye Birdie, and his own revues. His big screen credits include Hello Dolly with MegaBabs and, most impressively, The Boyfriend starring alongside Twiggy. He also masterminded the revival of Grease as a stage production, which went on to international success.

Tommy Tune is open about his sexuality, and in his autobiography "Footnotes" he talks about the men in his life, losing friends and lovers to AIDS, and the difficulties of growing up gay in Texas.

And yes, that is his real name - evidently he was destined to go into showbiz...

Tommy Tune biography in the GLBTQ Encyclopedia

Friday 27 February 2009

Some people ain't me

As it is a sunny Friday and everyone is looking forward to a good weekend ahead, here's a little inspirational number that really should get you motivated. It works for me...

Some people can get a thrill
knitting sweaters and sitting still.
That's okay for some people
who don't know they're alive.

Some people can thrive and bloom
living life in the living room.
That's perfect for some people
of one hundred and five.

But I at least gotta try
when I think of all the sights that I gotta see
and all the places I gotta play,
all the things that I gotta be at.
Come on, papa, what do you say?

Some people can be content
playing bingo and paying rent.
That's peachy for some people,
for some hum-drum people to be,
but some people ain't me!

Thursday 26 February 2009

The original "Blonde Bombshell"

Had she lived the lovely Betty Hutton would have been 88 years old today.

Betty was never a conventional singer/actress, having been born into a bit of a wild family, always on the run from police. Eventually her powerful singing voice and comedic acting talents, which had been honed since early childhood from performing in a number of speakeasies and other low dives, were "discovered" in the 1930s by bandleader Vincent Lopez, with whom she sang briefly.

With the support of the eventual co-founder of Capitol Records Buddy DeSylva, she hit the heights of Broadway in Cole Porter's Panama Hattie, and from there was soon propelled to stardom in a number of Hollywood films alongside the likes of Dorothy Lamour, Bob Hope and Mary Martin (usually playing "kooky" off-beat characters). By 1945 she was a top-billing star, outshining Miss Lamour, and her triumphal role as the ballsy Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun made her an international hit.

However, Miss Hutton's star was not destined to shine for long. Known for being "difficult", she crossed swords with the infamous Hollywood "studio system" once too often, and by the early 1950s her film career was effectively over. Ventures into television, even with the backing of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, failed spectacularly, and despite myriad concert appearances including Las Vegas her health began to suffer. Dependent on alcohol and prescribed drugs, she had a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide after losing her voice in 1970.

Eventually, with the support of former Hollywood colleagues she made a recovery but did not return to the stage until 1980, and then only briefly. She died in 2007, but her eternal legacy lives on in our memories for her superb brassy numbers like these...

Betty Hutton on IMDB

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Now that's NOT what I call music...

Horrendous news breaks upon an incredulous world today - a new musical about the origins of Marvel superhero "Spiderman" will come to Broadway next year, with music and lyrics by none other than everyone's least favourite overblown gob-in-shades Bono and fellow U2 member and beanie-hat-wearer The Edge! I feel nauseous already.

Read the full article

On hearing this "wonderful" piece of news, my thoughts turn to the world of truly dreadful musicals. I actually have in my possession a copy of the soundtrack of Silence of the Lambs - the Musical (which I think is a piss-take, but nobody knows for sure), and of course South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone famously came up with Cannibal! The Musical!.

I have amused myself for many years with a drinking game that involves suggesting the cast, set pieces and appropriate numbers to feature in musicals about real-life disasters and atrocities - "Harold Shipman - the Musical", anyone? Or maybe "9/11 - the Musical"? But none of these are likely to be treated seriously.

Out there in the real world, however, horrible concepts actually do exist, and even get to the glittering stages of the West End (if only briefly). We have studiously avoided such ill-conceived "gems" as Movin' Out (featuring the songs of Billy Joel), Tonight’s The Night - The Rod Stewart Musical and Daddy Cool: The Boney M Musical, all of which are part of a sick trend started by the likes of We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia - chav theatre for the Jerry Springer/Jeremy Kyle generation. Other grandiose ideas such as Gone With The Wind and Desperately Seeking Susan were incredible flops.

Here, writing for the Telegraph last year, is the personal choice of theatre critic Dominic Cavendish, amongst which are what sound like some real clangers:

1 Carrie (1988)
This atrocious adaptation of Stephen King's novel - taken by the Royal Shakespeare Company to Broadway where it folded after 21 performances - remains the primus inter pares of the musical flop. King's story of a menstruating schoolgirl with telekinetic powers and a mad religious mother was served up with a ghastly gloop of rock-pop and fake blood. It was hailed as "a resounding mistake" in England and duly went on to be ferociously panned in New York, losing a neat $8 million.

Read a hilarious appreciation of this debacle courtesy of West End Whingers blog

2 Which Witch (1992)
The brainchild of Benedicte Adrian and Ingrid Bjornov - members of Norwegian pop group Dollie Deluxe - this "opera-musical" was a cod 16th-century tale of thwarted passion that culminated in the young Italian heroine being burnt at the stake as a witch. King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway visited the Piccadilly Theatre to lend their support to "the most heavily panned London stage musical in a generation" - but it folded after 10 weeks. "Flops don't come much floppier," said the Telegraph. Nul points.

3 Bernadette (1990)
Described as "one of the most bizarre and spectacular failures in London musical theatre history", the show - naively expected to pack out the Dominion - was based on the story of Bernadette Soubirous, a young peasant girl who had visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858. It was written by a piano-tuner and his wife, financed by readers of the Daily Mirror and an ex-chauffeur and, astoundingly, the Pope blessed the cast. To no avail: it lasted three weeks.

4 The Fields of Ambrosia (1996)
A jaunty, taste-free US musical about capital punishment, set in the deep South in 1918. The hero, a state executioner, falls for a German femme fatale he's due to fry - and eventually sings the finale from his own electric chair. The Daily Mail described it as "the biggest turkey, the floppiest flopperoo, the greatest slice of ham to hit the West End stage in years". It didn't last a fortnight.

5 Jeeves (1975)
Even Andrew Lloyd Webber has had his off-days. Riding high after Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph, the composer turned to Alan Ayckbourn to help bring the comic charm of Jeeves and Wooster to the stage, but the "heavy-handed affair" was denounced as "like a dream of all the Wodehouse novels combined in the ultimate ghastly weekend". It lasted 38 performances.

6 Moby Dick (1992)
"Sixth-form girls perform Herman Meville's novel in their school swimming-pool" - doesn't sound like a recipe for success, does it? And it wasn't. Scantily clad females, "Dick" jokes and a swiftly forgettable score saw this Cameron Mackintosh-backed extravangaza being harpooned by the critics. It survived 15 weeks at the Piccadilly Theatre before sinking below the waves.

7 Twang!! (1965)
Lionel Bart gave the world Oliver!. Five years later he also gave the world this troubled "burlesque" version of the Robin Hood legend. Director Joan Littlewood abandoned ship after the first regional try-out and Bart, against the advice of Noël Coward, invested his own fortune in the show. "The worst musical for years," chortled the critics. Bart was left in a state of financial ruin.

8 The Hunting of the Snark (1991)
Mike Batt, the producer of the Wombles records, gambled heavily and lost on his lavish adaptation of Lewis Carroll's nonsense epic poem. Batt wrote the book, music and lyrics and even gave Kenny Everett his West End moment as the Billiard Marker. A reported £2.1 million was spent on the show, which successfully emptied the Prince Edward theatre and bowed out after seven weeks.

9 Children of Eden (1991)
John Caird and composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz (who gave the world Godspell) turned the Old Testament, from the Creation to the Flood, into a biblical concept show and created a holy mess, by most accounts. "Clearly God is miffed/He's left us all adrift" ran one lyric, summing up the ill-fated enterprise, which was cast out of the Prince Edward theatre after 10 weeks.

10 Oscar Wilde (2005)
Former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read's bio-musical account of the life of Oscar Wilde achieved special notoriety for surviving just one proper performance - press night - at the Shaw Theatre. Read, the Telegraph concluded, "passes golden genius through the filter of presumptuous mediocrity and produces over two hours of leaden dross".

Now, do we have any further nominations?

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Memories, like the corners of my mind

My MySpace friend DJDaddums set an interesting challenge this morning. Apparently there is a new Radio 2 show, presented by the gorgeous Dermot O'Leary, called Time Capsules coming to the airwaves, and it sounds like a trendier version of Desert Island Discs. Guests are invited to submit ten songs, in the following strict categories: “Family Favourite”, “Teenage Kicks”, “Tearjerker (aka “our song")”, “Ultimate Time Capsule Song”, “Funeral Song”, and FIVE free choices.

So, rising to the challenge, here's mine...

Family Favourite - Given that my closest family member is my sister, I would have to feature this classic number we used to dance to at the "Bowie/Roxy" nights at "Lasers" club in Newport way back in the early 1980s. The Cure still make a regular re-appearance at every house party, and Hils and I still dance to it - albeit a bit more wheezily these days...

Teenage Kicks - Ah, this one is a given. My obsession with Blondie as a young closet queen is well-documented, and this song above all others was a personal obsession of mine when I was a teenager...

Tearjerker - A much more difficult one, this - for many of the songs I would class as "tearjerkers" (Wild is the Wind, Somewhere (A Place For Us)) stem from times way before I met Madam Acarti. However, this song (on the sand) is indeed one of "ours":

Free choice #1 - Now we're really into indulgence... First up, one of the best Disco songs ever recorded. RIP, Sylvester:

Free choice #2 - From one of the most influential gay pop stars of the late 20th century Mr Tom Robinson, here's a most beautifully crafted song that has had a lasting influence on my life...

Free choice #3 - Speaking of huge influences, here's my theme tune Queen Bitch by the greatest of all artists, ever, Mr David Bowie:

Free choice #4 - I really don't need any excuse at all to include this work of genius by Neneh Cherry and Youssou N'Dour on the list!

Free choice #5 - Now here's a close-run contender for the "Family Favourite" entry, from one of my all-time favourite artists - an absolute classic. Just thinking of the first time I saw Marc singing Tainted Love on Top Of The Pops sends shivers down my spine...

Ultimate Time Capsule Song - Difficult, very difficult - there are so many of them! However, since You Spin Me Round was one of the very earliest records that sums up my coming out, and the "Tunnel" club in Cardiff in 1984,here's the top memory-jerker in my collection. I can actually smell the poppers as we speak...

And, finally, the Funeral Song - Now I was toying with the idea of Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead!, or more seriously Pet Shop Boys' Being Boring. But in the end, there is only one winner in this category - it is, after all, a cabaret, old chum!

Now it's over to you...

If you, if you could return, don't let it burn, don't let it fade

It is amazingly fifteen years since the phenomenon that is The Cranberries launched into the charts in the UK with Linger. Originally named The Cranberry Saw Us, it was not until they recruited the remarkable vocal talents of Dolores O'Riordan that the Cranberries' sound became fully formed, and instantly recognisable today, with her trademark "ultra-Oirish" twang.

So armed, they went on to become one of the most successful rock acts of the '90s and sold over 14.5 million albums in the United States alone. But this chart success was not destined to last, and although the band is not officially "dead", the major players including Dolores have of late been working on their own solo projects.

Still, it is for the sheer power and impact their music had that we remember them. I can recall hearing them for the first time in 1994, and being simply blown away! Enjoy...

If you, if you could return, don't let it burn, don't let it fade.

I'm sure I'm not being rude, but it's just your attitude,
It's tearing me apart, It's ruining everything.

I swore, I swore I would be true, and honey, so did you.
So why were you holding her hand? Is that the way we stand?
Were you lying all the time? Was it just a game to you?

But I'm in so deep. You know I'm such a fool for you.
You got me wrapped around your finger, ah, ha, ha.
Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to, do you have to,
Do you have to let it linger?

Oh, I thought the world of you.
I thought nothing could go wrong,
But I was wrong. I was wrong.
If you, if you could get by, trying not to lie,
Things wouldn't be so confused and I wouldn't feel so used,
But you always really knew, I just wanna be with you.

But I'm in so deep. You know I'm such a fool for you.
You got me wrapped around your finger, ah, ha, ha.
Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to, do you have to,
Do you have to let it linger?

And I'm in so deep. You know I'm such a fool for you.
You got me wrapped around your finger, ah, ha, ha.
Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to, do you have to,
Do you have to let it linger?

You know I'm such a fool for you.
You got me wrapped around your finger, ah, ha, ha.
Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to, do you have to,
Do you have to let it linger?

The Cranberries official website

Monday 23 February 2009

People just want more and more

As it is a Monday, and traditionally the time for me to post some tacky music, here's that lovely 90s lesbian pin-up Gala to entertain the troops...

Sunday 22 February 2009

Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight

"Somewhere in Des Moines or San Antonio, there is a young gay person who all of a sudden realises that she or he is gay. Knows that if the parents find out they’ll be tossed out of the house. The classmates will taunt the child and the Anita Bryants and John Briggs are doing their bit on TV, and that child has several options: staying in the closet, suicide... and then one day that child might open up the paper and it says, “Homosexual elected in San Francisco,” and there are two new options. One option is to go to California... OR stay in San Antonio and fight.

"You’ve got to elect gay people so that that young child and the thousands upon thousands like that child know that there’s hope for a better world. There’s hope for a better tomorrow."
Harvey Milk
As we await with predictable boredom the announcement of the Oscars tonight, with the inevitable feeling that the judges will go for the "safe option" in most of the categories, it will be interesting to see whether Milk gets any of the awards for which it has been nominated.

We are planning to go and see the film next week, so I cannot comment on how it works on screen, but the story of assassinated San Francisco politician Harvey Milk is (and should be) legendary.

Many years ago, I watched the documentary film The Times of Harvey Milk. I had not long come out when it was released, and the battles this heroic man undertook on his journey to election made a huge impact on me, in an era of Reaganite/Thatcherite politics and the looming backlash of tabloid opinion about gay people in the wake of AIDS.

Thirty years on from Milk's election and subsequent murder, and twenty years on from Reagan and Thatcher, the homophobia is still there - think of recent tabloid coverage of George Michael or Boy George (to name just the most prominent anti-gay reporting) - and in the recent US elections the euphoria over the election of a black President was clouded by the passing of homophobic laws in California, Florida and Arizona.

So this man's legacy remains vitally important today. And in a fascinating essay, written as an introduction to a book about his story, screenwriter and Oscar nominee Lance Black explains why we should never forget Harvey Milk.

If you read nothing else today, read this.

Harvey Milk's famous "Give them Hope" speech, read by Sir Ian McKellen:

Harvey Milk on Wikipedia

Saturday 21 February 2009

Drunk and nude

Apparently Hugh Jackman will be presenting the Oscars tomorrow "drunk and nude".

"That's our new fresh approach. It's the Australian way," he says.

I wish! Still a good enough excuse to post a reminder of why, if he keeps his promise, that might be a very good thing indeed ...

Read more on the BBC

Friday 20 February 2009

I'm like a pie made for hungry guys

It is 25 years since that most singular of music styles Hi-NRG first hurtled in its poppers-crazed frenzy into the clubs and the charts across the globe.

In an era of optimism - post-Disco, pre-House and pre-Techno - when AIDS was just "something that happened to someone else", this hyper-charged 125 to 127bpm gay-gay-gay music launched a million fan-dances, made "stars" out of long-lost Northern Soul singers like Evelyn Thomas and Pearly Gates (largely thanks to the "conversion" of DJ Ian Levine from that genre to Hi-NRG at that time), rejuvenated the careers of disco stars such as Sylvester, Martha Wash and [former "Harlette" with Bette Midler] Sharon Redd, and made the ears of soon-to-be pop supremos Stock Aitken & Waterman really prick up.

But it was European music - a type of Disco still fondly referred to as "Italo" to this day - that really made the big difference in the development of Hi-NRG. For despite the effervescent productions of Patrick Cowley and Bobby "O" arising from the San Francisco and New York gay club scenes, the real inspiration remained that seminal producer Giorgio Moroder, whose I Feel Love for Donna Summer had already changed the face of Disco forever.

Hence the huge underground success of synth-driven Euro-dance [in tandem with the far cooler synth sounds of the New Romantics, and eventually Pet Shop Boys and Erasure] gave birth to what became - in one form or another - the true sound of the 1980s nightclubs.

Alongside such brilliantly tacky European artists as Fun Fun, Modern Talking and Lime, one of my personal favourites of that era was the German former monk who went by the name of Fancy. If ever there is a song that can truly sum up a whole era, it is this one...

My body's burning like a flame that's blue
It's time for action and I want it from you
Slice me nice, slice me nice

My heart is beating to the rhythm of love
I need you baby like cold hands need a glove
Slice me nice, slice me nice

I'm like a cake that wants to be baked
I'm like a pie made for hungry guys
My body's burning like a flame that's blue
It's time for action baby, cut me in two
Slice me nice, slice me nice

S L I C E, slice me nice
S L I C E, slice me nice
S L I C E, slice me nice
S L I C E, slice me nice
(Slice me nice)

Read more about Manfred Alois Perilano aka Fancy

Thursday 19 February 2009

Oh, dem ruby slippers

We had another fantastic time at Polari Dorothy Night last night - cocktails, Dave Ball of Soft Cell, and Judy Garland's hat! What more could a queen ask for?

Celine was fabulous as ever, singing a couple of her bawdy music hall numbers, including a new one Boys of Soho. She told us she is excited, if not a little nervous, about singing with the aforementioned Mr Ball (as "Nite Wreckage") at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern next Tuesday as part of one of their variety evenings.

She introduced us to Dave, and he shook my hand - an experience I never thought would happen after all these years of idolising Soft Cell...

The headline attraction of the evening however, was the lovely Susie Boyt, who not only entertained us to some readings from her brilliant book My Judy Garland Life ("For anyone who's ever held a candle to a star" - buy it from Amazon).

Recounting her bitter disappointment at not becoming a musical star like her idol Judy, she read this hilarious piece:
Last year a friend of mine tells me that his cousin puts on musicals in women's prisons. She's planning to stage "Chicago" in our local women's jail in the coming year! I had seen, that day, a beautiful and capacious red patent handbag in a department store window for eight hundred pounds and, next to it, a stunning navy blue silk faille evening trench coat for twice that proce. The two items would lend my lacklustre autumn an intrepid Parisian flair. I instantly hatch a plan to smash into the store that night and steal the goods, thus ensuring I either have a highly glamorous season or I land a plum role in the forthcoming prison production, perhaps the only way it could ever happen to me, I explain.

"Thing is," my friend says, sucking in his breath with faux tact (why is the economy of sympathy so hard for most to master?), "in the prisons where my cousin works, the standard's usually really, really high, so you know..."
Not only did Susie sign a copy of her book for us, but - honour of honours - we were allowed to try on one of the ionic Judy Garland's hats! I shall never wash my hair again. I would have tried the shoes as well, but I think they were about eight sizes too small...

After a little impasse, Paul located our finale performer Michael Twaits ("Post drag. Post gender. Post giving a shit"), who performed an absolutely brilliant number from his new show Icons (at the Oval House Theatre in March) all about the link between the death of Judy Garland and the outbreak of the Stonewall riots: "Some say it was the bull dykes who started it, others say the leather boys. I rather like to believe it was the drag queens..."

Paul finished up DJ-ing with a few more of his (and Polari's) trademark mash-ups (who would ever think we would hear Perfidia and Grace Jones in one DJ set?), and the now traditional pole-dance...

Suitably impressed, the crowd dispersed (and not a bad crowd at all, bearing in mind we were up against both The Brits and The House of Homosexual Culture April Ashley event on the South Bank).

Some stayed on for Trannyshack, which has taken up residence at Freedom every Wednesday.

Absolutely brilliant fun - and I look forward to next month's Polari Boyz Night, with Adam Mars-Jones and Drew Gummerson!

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more

I am looking forward to Polari tonight - apparently it's Dorothy Night, so I fully expect flying monkeys, Miss Gulch and a few Totos...

And to mark this occasion here are a few appropriate little gems.

First up, a version of the Wizard of Oz in Turkish...

...and a hilarious camp alternative ending courtesy of Mad TV...

And to finish, a bizarre combination of a sexy Dorothy and really terrible rapping - and all of this in Hebrew!

Tuesday 17 February 2009

"My maisonette backs onto a cake factory, so I’m dusting my knick-knacks all the day long"

Happy 80th birthday today to the magnificent and multi-talented Patricia Routledge, one of my favourite actresses, and "national treasure".

Born in Birkenhead, Ms Routledge made her stage debut in 1952, and went on to a long and illustrious career in the West End and international theatre, appearing in productions of plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Wilde and Sheridan, among many others. She demonstrated a brilliant singing voice in such musicals and operettas as The Beggars Opera, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Candide and The Pirates of Penzance.

Such a prestigious talent also transferred her to the big screen, mainly in character roles, until mainstream success came in the 1980s when she made such a huge comedic impact as the fabulous "Kitty" on the Victoria Wood show - one of my favourite comedy characters of all time...
  • "She chomps down the last of me Bourbons, and says 'Kitty - I'm leaving Bill. We're not compatible.' They never were - he loves opera, and she can't follow the plot of the 'Teddy Bears' Picnic'. She only married him because he was pally with a man who made chocolate mis-shapes."
  • "If I were Prime Minister... and thank goodness I'm not because I've been the length and breadth of Downing Street and never spotted a decent wool shop!..."
  • "She said 'I'm a radical post-feminist lesbian!'. And I thought; 'What would the Queen Mum do?' so I just smiled and said; 'We shall have fog by tea-time!' She said 'are you intimidated by my sexual preferences?', I said; 'No, and I'm not too struck with your donkey jacket either!'"
From this success she was massively in demand, and portrayed such diverse screen roles as Hildegard of Bingen and Queen Victoria, made hit radio series such as Ladies of Letters with Prunella Scales, and was lauded for her appearances in three episodes of Alan Bennett's brilliant Talking Heads. It is of course for her role as uber-snob Hyacinth Buckett in Keeping up Appearances that she became a household name, and this series is still incredibly popular across the globe to this day. Here are just a few examples of the sheer diversity of the wonderful talents of Patricia Routledge:

Patricia Routledge CBE (born 17th February 1929)

Monday 16 February 2009

Can't Shake The Feeling

Monday arrives again, and who better to cheer it up with a truly tacky number than the "not gay at all" Big Fun...?

Oh, that brings back memories of travelling down from Wales to Studlands Bay in Bournemouth with our large friend Fifi, singing along to a collection of Stock Aitken & Waterman classics for the whole journey. Bliss.

Sunday 15 February 2009

Going, going gone - a weird life for sale

Items include "a pair of trousers so studded with diamanté that they feel as heavy as chain mail"...

I think I should bid for some of these fabulous items in the great Michael Jackson clear-out sale. Having never returned to his fantasy world at "Neverland" after all the scandals, and rumoured to have defaulted on several debts, a huge array of the contents of that theme park dedicated to himself are being auctioned in April by Julien's auctioneers in LA.

Even his socks are covered in diamanté!

Other things that caught my eye include one of his trademark gloves, several crowns and robes, a model of Frankenstein's Castle - made of mirror tiles - and a fully jointed robotic head of the great weirdo himself...

More pictures

Read the article by Chris Campion in the Guardian

Tacky techno

"The secrets are the beats which drive people crazy."

Reading a fascinating article on the BBC this morning about the booming "Tecnobrega" music scene in Brazil, my attention was well and truly piqued. A whole pirate music industry, based around the fusion of techno beats and tacky 80s Latin music - sounds fabulous!

And indeed, it is an immensely catchy dance style - used to good effect by last year's Spanish Eurovision entry Baila El Chiki Chiki by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre. Here are a couple of Brazilian artists who epitomise the style - and you can see what they mean when they say tacky!

First up here's the lovely Chilli featuring Carrapicho with their version of that well-known "classic" Tic Tic Tac:

And next up, the emerging superstar of Tecnobrega Gaby Amarantos - firstly in a live performance with her band Tecno Show - as camp as a row of tents!

And here's a fantastic video to accompany the band's song Fica Loca, filmed at a Brazilian Gay Pride...

Read the BBC article

Friday 13 February 2009

I’ve got to do some living, 'cos I've had enough of dying

Apparently it is Jerry Springer's 65th birthday today. Now I do not rate the man that greatly, despite having seen his human side as he explored his traumatic past in the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? , which was quite a revelation. His on-screen persona as host of what can only be best described as a televisual equivalent of the Roman Coliseum was reprehensible, and he has made a significant contribution to the (loathe though I am to use the phrase) "dumbing down" of TV.

I don't even like the pastiche Jerry Springer The Opera that much.

Except perhaps for this track! Thank heavens for the Dutch video artist who constructed this genius of a video to accompany what is without a doubt a fantabulosa number, sung by diva extraordinaire Alison Jiear...

Thursday 12 February 2009

Ah Ah Armani

Just for the sake of it, I thought I would draw people's attention to the Spring 2009 photoshoot for Armani Exchange.

I feel quite warm already...

More photos on A Socialite Life blog

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Lost inside adorable illusion

Remarkably it is thirty years ago that the best "post-Punk" band ever, Blondie was at Number 1 with Heart of Glass! Now that really does make me feel old...

I was an absolute Blondie fanatic when I was a teen, ever since I spotted Debs and the boys on The Old Grey Whistle Test. I bought every single, 7" and 12" versions - even though I had the albums - and joined their fan club. I even saved up for the picture disc version of Parallel Lines, the last one in our local record shop...

Like most teenage boys I had a poster of Debbie Harry on my wall (the very one below actually), but although that gave some comfort to my mother - who must have been worried about her "fey" son - my sexual interest was by that stage actually more into (ahem) Sting than the great lady...

Parallel Lines remains one of the greatest albums of all time - classic after classic after classic track, it generated four hugely successful singles (including my personal favourite Picture This), and is a masterpiece of pop. No wonder really, as mega producer Mike Chapman (who had almost single-handedly created some of the biggest hits of the Glam era for Sweet, Suzi Quattro, Smokie and Mud) was brought in to add some commercial appeal to the already brilliant post-punk pop the group had launched in their first two albums, and top quality gloss was applied. Even the legendary guitarist Robert Fripp agreed to play on the album.

But nothing quite broke new territory like Heart of Glass. Originally a bit of a half-hearted attempt at a pastiche "disco song", in the hands of the maestro Chapman it became the crossover disco hit of the age. Purists considered disco a dead duck, and hardcore fans of the band's new wave/CBGBs Club roots loathed the idea of them "selling out". But "sell" was the word! It became the second biggest single in the UK that year [after, unbelievably, Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes], and brought the band the world-conquering commercial success they deserved.

Parallel Lines, with its iconic cover imagery, was a permanent fixture in Britain in the late 70s. It went to No. 1 in the chart on 17th February 1979 and remained there for four weeks, staying on the listings for 106 weeks in total.


Monday 9 February 2009

A star cha-a-aser

As it is such a miserable Monday, I firmly believe that what the world needs is a little bit of Sheila, here with Mika in tow, to cheer us all up...

Sunday 8 February 2009

And since we've no place to go, let it snow!

Back from holiday, and it has been a slow process adjusting to the bitter cold and melodrama of Britain when it has experienced some snow. On our week away Spain had some thunderstorms, tornados(!) and lashing rain - but by heaven I am glad we were in España during what London had!

Anyway, for your delectation here is a sample of the sunny and dreadful music we were enjoying during our week away from snow:

And just to gloat here's a pic of us in a beach bar while northern Europe froze...