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!

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