Sunday 31 January 2010

As pure as the driven slush

"My father warned me about men and booze, but he never mentioned a word about women and cocaine."

Having already mentioned her in my earlier blog, I just felt the need to turn my attention to the magnificent Tallulah Bankhead, whose 108th anniversary it is today.

Nowadays Miss Bankhead is better remembered for her scandalous party-going, her alleged affairs with Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo (among others), and of course her excoriating wit. She is less well remembered for her acting skills - she worked with Hitchcock on the (now) cult movie Lifeboat, and on stage she starred in several plays that were later adapted for the big screen (mainly starring Bette Davis in the lead role), Little Foxes, Dark Victory and Jezebel among them.

From limited film success, Miss Bankhead instead turned to the newer media of radio and TV. Largely due to her relentless OTT self-parody, camp bitchiness and wise-cracking hutzpah she was destined to become a gay icon. This was at last a role she could play with relish - and so she did, in numerous guest appearances on shows such as I Love Lucy, and (inevitably) in kitsch classics such as Batman and Hammer Horror films, right up to her untimely death in 1968.

Her one-liners will inevitably out-live the memory of the woman herself:
  • "Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have trouble doing it."
  • "If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
  • "I'd rather be strongly wrong than weakly right."
  • "They used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze. They should photograph me through linoleum."
  • "I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late start without me."
  • "I've been called many things, but never an intellectual."
  • "I'm as pure as the driven slush."
  • "I've tried several varieties of sex. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic and the others give me a stiff neck or lockjaw."
  • "It's the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time."
  • "The less I behave like Whistler's mother the night before, the more I look like her the morning after."
  • "A frozen daiquiri of a scorching afternoon is soothing. It makes living more tolerable."

A few facts about Miss Bankhead:
  • She was named Tallulah for her grandmother, who was named for a waterfall, Tallulah Falls, in Georgia.
  • Her father was Alabama Congressman William Bankhead who was later Speaker of the House in the US government.
  • One of her favourite party tricks was to arrive, knickerless, and cartwheel her way into the room. On other occasions she would simply arrive naked.
  • In the early 1950s, she became the highest-paid performer in Las Vegas with her one-woman show.
  • Her later attempts to return to the dramatic stage, in adaptations of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore were both monumental flops. (The self-parodic image she had created apparently defeated her attempts to "play it straight".)
But how can you fault someone whose screen debut is as atmospheric as this? RIP Tallulah.

Tallulah Bankhead biography

Nothing like an old dame...

Heavens above, Carol Channing is still going at the venerable age of 89! I may have blogged about my love for this remarkable diva before, but why not? She has more talent in her ancient fingers even now than most of the weedy, whiny, talentless trollops of today - Lady Ga-bloody-Ga, Cheryl-fucking-Cole, Mariah-sodding-Carey are you listening?

And our theme tune...

Carol Channing website

Somehow, by some bizarre twist of fate it appears that not one but two of our most adored ladies share the same birthday. The late, great, and unsurpassed Tallulah Bankhead was also born on this date 108 years ago. Here are the grand dames sharing some evidently evil gossip with Gloria Swanson...

Happy Sunday!

Saturday 30 January 2010

Much too young...

Good grief! Can it really be thirty years since this slice of brilliance was at Number 1 in the charts? Look at their baby faces! I (and Terry Hall) feel old...

Friday 29 January 2010

My kind of fitness regime...


Exorcise or exercise?

Happy Friday! Whatever you get up to this weekend, I hope it is as much fun as Exorcist star Linda Blair and her chums appear to be having.

It would seem she was indeed exorcised - by tight shorts, flicks, spangly boob-tubes, bat-wing tops and roller skates...

Roller Boogie on IMDB

Thursday 28 January 2010

Menage a Trois - the musical?

One of my favourite French chanteuses, the beautiful Ysa Ferrer is a versatile lady. I have loved her since my (French) ex introduced me to her fantabulosa single Mes Rêves back in 1997. As well as being a rather quirky singer, her career began as an actress in the French soap Seconde B.

Well-known as a "friend of the gays", it is fitting that Ysa would appear in the 2007 gay comedy musical King Size (a musical about a threesome!), to which I was recently alerted.

I am intrigued now. It certainly looks fab!

Take it away, Mademoiselle Ferrer...

Ysa Ferrer official MySpace page

Wednesday 27 January 2010

"I cook like Betty Crocker and I look like Donna Reed"

Convoluted connections, #274 in a series...

I was fascinated to note a link between two of today's celebrity birthdays. For born on this day were both that surprisingly sexless hunk who starred in A Summer Place Troy Donahue (1936-2001)*, and the doyenne of Hollywood's ideal "American housewives", the actress Donna Reed (1921-1986).

The connection? Both were name-checked in songs of which I am particularly fond... And here are those very songs, from Grease and Little Shop Of Horrors, respectively. Enjoy!

[* Mr Donahue, of course, also appeared in Grease as "Teen Angel"]

Tuesday 26 January 2010

A genius in the family

Time for a bit of class I reckon! Today would have been the 85th birthday of one of the greatest classical performers of all time, the cellist Jacqueline du Pré, OBE.

Hers was indeed a unique talent. A teenage prodigy in an era when the Beatles and the Stones were predominant, and star of the Proms for eight years running, Miss du Pré performed with the very best in that classical world. She collaborated with Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Adrian Boult, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Bernstein, and she married the renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim. Hers might have been the pinnacle of worldwide success in her field.

But it was of course for her sad decline in health due to multiple sclerosis (and eventual death at the tragically young age of 42 in 1987) that she garnered most public attention.

Ten years after after her death a film of her life, Hilary and Jackie (based upon the book A Genius In The Family), starring Emily Watson caused huge controversy as it portrayed the late diva as an adulteress and emotionally (as well as physically) unstable, which her family and ex-husband Barenboim dispute furiously to this day.

Despite all this, her incredible musical talents live on. Enjoy...

Jacqueline du Pré official website

Monday 25 January 2010

"I love you! I want to bear your children!"

It is another Tacky Music Monday, folks! And here is a wonderful slice of campness courtesy of the lovely Lola Heatherton!

Who? I hear you ask...

A combination of kitsch US showbiz favourites Lola Falana and Joey Heatherton, our "Lola" was a regular character on the late 70s/early 80s Canadian comedy program SCTV, which also featured a variety of bizarre impersonations and characters played by the likes of John Candy and Rick Moranis. Catherine O'Hara, who portrays her, is a wonderful character- and voiceover actress who had roles (or voices) in such movies as A Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, Home Alone and Over The Hedge.

Excellent stuff!

Read all about SCTV

Lola Heatherton Wikipedia entry

Sunday 24 January 2010

For The Love Of Opera Gloves

For the lovely blackeyedblonde...

In the Victorian era, it was not exactly proper, as you might imagine, for a lady just to walk up to a gentleman and tell him that she'd like to get to know him better! "Flirtation codes" were developed using a wide variety of objects. The "fan code" is the best-known, but gloves were also used as flirtation signals.

Here are some of the better-known glove signals:
  • Twirling one's gloves around her fingers - We are being watched
  • Holding the tips of the gloves downward - I wish to be acquainted
  • Gently smoothing the gloves - I wish I were with you; I would like to talk with you
  • Holding one's gloves loosely in her right hand - Be contented
  • Holding one's gloves loosely in her left hand - I am satisfied
  • Striking one's gloves over her hands - I am displeased
  • Tossing one's gloves up gently - I am engaged
  • Tapping one's chin with her gloves - I love another
  • Dropping one of her gloves - Yes
  • Dropping both gloves - I love you
  • Turning the wrong side of one's gloves outward - I hate you
Of course, many of the above signals involved having to remove at least one glove, which was not considered proper.

For The Love Of Opera Gloves website

The beauty of the age

RIP Jean Simmons, one of the most beautiful actresses of the 20th century.

From a classical acting background, Miss Simmons' graceful screen presence made her an obvious hit in 1950s Hollywood, including in the incredibly popular The Robe, famous as the first film released in Cinemascope.

She married actor Stewart Granger, and later director Richard Brooks, starred alongside great stars such as Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier, received several Oscar nominations, and later returned to the stage as Madam Armfeldt in Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Transferring to TV, she won awards for her role in The Thorn Birds, and starred in North & South.

An amazing career - and she sang too!

RIP Jean Merilyn Simmons (31st January 1929 - 22nd January 2010)

Saturday 23 January 2010

Diva melodramática

With exactly four weeks to go till we are in Spain, I owe a debt of gratitude to Madam Arcati for alerting me to this wonderfully OTT Spanish wannabee diva!

María Laura Corradini Falomir, known to her fans as Chenoa, was born in Argentina but brought up in Majorca. She hit the top via Spain's equivalent of X-Factor in 2001, and since then has sold millions across the Spanish-speaking world. In common with so many of our burgeoning collection of Spanish/Latin female artists, she certainly has an instinct for melodrama...

Chenoa on MySpace

Friday 22 January 2010

The fashion pack

As the Couture Season launches itself upon Paris this week, showcasing the looks no-one would really dare to wear this Spring and Summer, it is worth noting that two of the greatest couturiers of all time were both born on 21st January (yesterday), a mere ten years apart.

For it is 115 years since the birth of Cristobal Balenciaga, the Spanish couturier celebrated for his "classic design elegance and dramatic simplicity".

It is also 105 years ago that Christian Dior, the most influential of all fashion designers of the mid 20th century and creator of the revolutionary "New Look", was born.

There is only one way to celebrate this fashionable coincidence surely?

Happy Friday! Enjoy...

Mode a la Paris Fashion Shows

Esquire on the Milan and Paris Men's Fashion Weeks

Thursday 21 January 2010

Tu vuo' fa' ll'americano

Born in Rimini 90 years ago yesterday, Federico Fellini was indeed one of the most influential film directors in European movie history. A pioneer of the so-called "neo-realist" style, he collaborated with Ingrid Bergman's hubbie Roberto Rossellini, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren and her husband Carlo Ponti, Anna Magnani, Anita Ekberg and even Goldie Hawn. His film Le Notti di Cabiria was later adapted by Neil Simon, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields as the musical Sweet Charity.

Even today, his film , having been adapted as a musical in the 80s, has become a big hit in its film version Nine. A good enough excuse, really to post this (again)... Be Italian, indeed!

Similarities, anyone?

Federico Fellini on IMDB

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Colgando en tus manos

Just 28 days till our next Spanish holiday, and of course my thoughts turn to all things from that fabulous country - none more so than this little gem.

Marta Sanchez is a phenomenon in the Spanish-speaking world, selling millions of records - remarkably she has collaborated with Slash from Guns N' Roses and Nile Rodgers from Chic (on one album back in 1997), and duetted with Andrea Bocelli! Her mega-hit single Superstar became such a gay anthem that she was guest of honour at Europride in Madrid in 2007.

The beautiful Carlos Baute is a bit of a celebrity in his native Venezuela, and with his good looks and fit body has apparently made a successful transition to the mother country España, appearing on various cheapo TV shows and inevitably in the tabloids.

But who cares about the lives of B-list Spanish celebs, when together they can produce something as fab as this...?

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Legally Blonde

Happy birthday to the star of Hitchcock's The Birds and Melanie Griffith's mum, Tippi Hedren, 80 years old today!

Perhaps the most iconic of "Hitchcock's Blondes" (she also starred in Marnie), Nathalie Kay Hedren began her career as a model. With her icy cool Nordic looks and her association with the great director, she was often referred to as "the new Grace Kelly", and indeed found it difficult to follow in that lady's footsteps to achieve lasting success in movies or on TV, but with the help of her daughter she has co-produced a number of films over the years including Pacific Heights.

Nowadays she is more lauded for her work with endangered big cats, and the reserve she founded recently gave a new home to Michael Jackson's pet Bengal tigers. Many happy returns to a beautiful lady - and who knew she sang?!

Monday 18 January 2010

Why the parrot?

It's Tacky Music Monday again - and here's a fabby contribution to the genre. Back in the 1970s Julio Iglesias was the all-conquering idol of the Spanish-speaking world. Needless to say he had his own television show, and this is merely the opening credits!

Imagine what the rest of the show would be like...

Sunday 17 January 2010

Lydia, oh Lydia

Amazingly, the lovely Debbie Allen ("Lydia" the dance teacher in the TV series Kids from Fame) celebrates her 60th birthday today!

I loved this show back in the 80s - gawd only knows how embarrassing it would be to watch it nowadays, but I still get a tingle when I hear the theme tune...

Saturday 16 January 2010

Like no business I know!

Today we celebrate Ethel Merman's 102nd birthday! Suffice to say, my great love and admiration for the lady knows no bounds.

Read my blog on the occasion of the great Dame's centenary.

So imagine my joy on discovering this particular battle of the belters. Take it away, Miss Zimmerman, Miss Gumm and Miss Streisand!

Friday 15 January 2010

Please don't stop the music?

Many happy returns today to the ultimate Queen of Tacky Music (and former wife of band-leader Xavier Cugat) Charo!

Official documents in Spain and the United States indicate she was born in 1941, but Charo insists she actually was born in 1951. We (of course) believe that this cannot really be a woman who is almost seventy years old still performing the "Cutchi Cutchi"... Here she is in 2009 - you can make your own minds up. Happy Friday!!

PS Who knew that Jerry Lewis was still (barely) alive?!

Thursday 14 January 2010

I have just cum, sorry, fainted!

Cristiano Ronaldo is the new Armani underpants model:

"Out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry"

Well, what an evening I had at Polari "at the Pavilon" last night! We've not only relocated to a swanky new penthouse venue on the roof of the Royal Festival Hall, but also had four readers to boot...

The evening started somewhat bizarrely, as I waited in line at the only kiosk open in the whole complex for a ticket (for a free event, mind you) that wasn't even there (disorganisation is the name of the game on the South Bank, in my experience).

I was entertained by the spectacle of three wonderful fur-clad queens seeking out the venue for Polari, as one of their number was due to be on as the first reader... Hilariously, I kept seeing them pop up like characters in a French & Saunders sketch on every floor of the complex as I made my way up in the glass lift to check with our host Paul Burston whether or not I could gain entry to the event after all. As it happens I was OK, the dishevelled drama queens arrived in a flurry of fake fur, and the show began.

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, the leader of the erstwhile lost queens Zack Holland led us through a selection of his observational poems - from youthful experiences to Cornish fishing fleets - which were excellent. Considering he is merely a "new starter" at this game (apparently Paul came across his poems on the site that shall never be mentioned, i.e. Facebook), this lad deserves a publisher!

Next up was the the lovely Sophia Blackwell ("performance poet, cabaret vamp, burlesque wannabe, feminist lesbian warrior princess and Italian pasta-momma"), whose poetry is more of the emotional and subtle (at times) bent - her poem Wilderness Years, in which she explains to her Granny about why she is enjoying her life of unconventionality was particularly brilliant. I was so impressed that I did indeed purchase a copy of her new anthology Into Temptation, which she kindly signed.

After the "comfort break" it was time for a change of tempo, with the upbeat style of Mr Dean ("Spirit of London") Atta - whose work was recently featured as part of the Gay Icons season at the the National Portrait Gallery. With his semi-autobiographical, semi-rap tone, he explored family relationships and Morning Sex with consummate ease - brilliant! For a sample of the man's work, visit

Now! How can I possibly put into words the experience that completed the circle of readings on this poetic night? There are very few adjectives I can conjure up that could adequately summarise the singular performance that was Jeremy Reed and The Ginger Light...

Like something from your worst nightmare, the presence that is Mr Reed began by flinging sequins around while he wailed his bizarrely inconsequential verse to a backdrop of thrumming electro-ambient music and what was meant to be a visual montage (which promptly fizzed out and got stuck, so was rather more manqué).

Missing the point of the evening completely, in that he didn't even notice let alone acknowledge that he had an audience (most of whom left not long after his third interminable monotone rendition), he ploughed on and on and on with more and more depressing and self-indulgent monologues about people he had known who had died, or fleeting potential loves lost on the Tube network. Half an hour of my life flitted away.

I was sat at a table with two very lovely, erudite and enthusiastic (straight) people who had never been to Polari before. I tried to assure them that this was not what the evenings were usually like, but I fear we may never see them (nor 90% of the people who were there tonight) again, thanks to this extreme avant-garde performance. Perhaps if the audience had been imbibing as many chemicals as the performer (sorry - he "had the flu"); perhaps if he had been appearing at Duckie or some godawful "alternative experience" it might have been different. Hey ho.

Anyhow, I had a (mostly) interesting, educational and enlightening evening as always, and I look forward to the next "peerless literary salon" on 10th February!


Wednesday 13 January 2010

It HAD to happen...

To cheer us up on this horrible snowy Wednesday, as I contemplate leaving my bunker to go to work, here's the collaboration of the century...

Tuesday 12 January 2010

A Lavender Lady

Today marks the centenary of the birth of one of Hollywood's lesser-known characters, the late, great comedienne Patsy Kelly. Why bother to feature such an obscure lady, you may ask?

I admire Miss Kelly mainly for one key aspect that has emerged over the years - her surprisingly candid "out" lesbianism, a lifestyle that was very difficult to maintain in the moralistic society of the 1930s and 40s. At a time when all the major closeted stars in the Hollywood system (such as Barbara Stanwyck, Agnes Moorehead and Marjorie Main) were being "married-off", she proclaimed to anyone who would listen that she was a "dyke" and had a long-term affair with none other than Tallulah Bankhead. Of course, the "scandal" meant she never achieved any top-billing parts in films of the Golden Era - she must have played the maid in more films than anyone else!

However Patsy Kelly went on to earn a healthy living as a character actress and in comedy roles on radio in The Bob Hope Show and on TV in series such as Bonanza and The Untouchables, and later in life returned to the big screen in Rosemary's Baby and Freaky Friday, and to the stage in No, No Nanette.

A bold lady and pioneer...

Here she is extolling the virtues of the "Vibrato", which I am certain has more tongue-in-cheek meaning than anyone at the time would have liked to admit:

Read a fascinating article on the subject: Hollywood's golden age of lesbian 'glam'.

Patsy Kelly official website

Monday 11 January 2010

Just another day at the office...

In a previous life I was Maria Montez in Cobra Woman! I think I'll dig the outfit out for Pride this year...

Two of charts?

Here at Dolores Delargo Towers there is always a place on a Tacky Music Monday for a faded Eurobeat diva. And none would appear to be as faded as Stacey Q! Or so you might think, as this long-forgotten doyenne of poppers pop is apparently attempting a comeback. Why? you may well ask...

Here she is with her ultimate one-hit-wonder record Two of Hearts from 1986:

And here she is again (in audio only) with her latest, entitled Trip, which is apparently due out in February 2010. I wait with bated breath to see if she can make it to hit #2 after twenty four years...

Stacey Q official MySpace page

Hope springs

As the milder weather brings more misery in the form of rain, our thoughts are drawn to little signs of hope - it is light before 8am now, in the garden the daffs are poking through, the honeysuckle needs pruning, and Spring is not that far away...

Cheering thoughts - for "in the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of..."

That clip made me smile, anyway!

Sunday 10 January 2010

Perfectly Frank

What can one say about a musical in which Julie Andrews tells the chorus to "fuck off" and sings a song about gay rights while wearing a fetish rubber outfit and a harness? An epic journey where "the golden cape of Agnetha" is the ultimate goal for our hero?

Such is the magic of the marvellous Frank's Closet, which we went to see in icy Hoxton last night. It is a truly wonderful show!

A tale of a young gay man (the eponymous Frank, played by the gorgeous Gary Amers) on the eve of his wedding, dealing with the melancholy task of disposing of his priceless collection of costumes (to the V&A) that were once owned by camp icons through the generations - Marie Lloyd, Ethel Merman, Karen Carpenter, Julie Andrews, Judy Garland and Agnetha Faltskog.

As he tells the tale of each acquisition, so each of the stars appear in person (so to speak) and sing to him, with the admirable backing of The Gaiety Girls (who provide the "Greek chorus" that holds the show together).

When I say "in person" I mean "person" - for all these grandes dames are indeed played to brilliant perfection by one man, the multi-talented and awe inspiring Russell Whitehead... With songs such as The Boys of London Town (Marie Lloyd), A Mister and a Mister (Ethel Merman), Let's Do The Show Right Here (Judy Garland) and (of course) Abba Made Me Gay (Agnetha), he exquisitely captures the hilarious visual tics, vocal nuances and stage presence of each and every one!

From the opening sequence (in which Lee Greenaway as Music Hall tart "Sheila Blige" entertains the audience in the bar before we even enter the theatre), through the ups and downs of Frank's journey and pre-nuptial jitters, to the final wedding scene, we were enraptured. Frank's Closet exudes class, humour and polish, and is one of the best and most original shows I have seen in years! It closes today at the Hoxton Hall, but I am certain this is not the last we hear of it.

If this doesn't get a West End transfer there is simply no justice in the world...

An interview with Frank's Closet creator Stuart Wood

Like no tattoo I know

As we hurtle into the first full working week of the year with a mixture of boredom and resignation, here's a little something for a Tacky Music Monday that is sure to cheer us up! Enjoy the spectacle as two of our showbiz diva patron saints collaborate on this camp little number from the movie There's No Business Like Show Business...

Saturday 9 January 2010

Kate, Joan, Tallulah and Bette

The late, great Charles Pierce in person(s).

A fabulous impersonator and entertainer, Ms Pierce made too few appearances on our screens - most notable was his part in Torch Song Trilogy.

However, he left a greater legacy in his "live" archives - entertaining the audience in his one-man woman show...

Read a fabulous article about Charles Pierce

Let's celebrate the fall of another bigot

As we rejoice today in the misery of homophobic Ulster MP Iris Robinson - whose condemnation of the "sins" of homosexuality [we are "an abomination" according to this sainted bigot] was made at the same time she was shagging a lad half her age and not declaring the amount of money and influence she used to set him up in his own business - I thought I'd share this wonderful piece of tackiness...

Read more about Iris Robinson on the BBC

Iris Robinson - Bigot of the Year award

Friday 8 January 2010

An enigma wrapped in a Chanel inside a mink

"Royce Reed and Marilyn Hoggatt are emissaries from a more refined time, women who do not end their sentences with prepositions, nor with the declarative question mark that is the California style. They are ladies who appreciate the snug fit of custom-made gloves, who know the difference between a cocktail ring and a solitaire -- and wince whenever their club sandwiches arrive with crusts untrimmed."

These two fabulous, faded elegant ladies live (or lived - I have no idea whether either or both are still with us) in a slum Los Angeles single room occupancy hotel drinking Chardonnay and dressing up.

Theirs is a bittersweet tale - Miss Reed rails loudly against the modern world, lapsing into fantasy and dreaming of her former life: "I'm used to New York, I'm used to elegant places, elegant food. We had the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the Luau Room owned by Steve Crane, Scandia. LaRue? We lived in those places day and night. Now we have nothing."

Miss Hoggatt quietly appears to accept her fate, having sampled the high life in a far less salubrious manner as a former teacher, housekeeper to the stars, budding author and social butterfly. Her treasures include 75 scrapbooks of photos, letters and assorted memorabilia and stuffed toys.

When the two ladies first met they had both fallen on harder times than they were used to, and after a failed attempt to leave LA and tour the West Coast (like an elderly Thelma and Louise) they ended up in the rooms at the wrong end of town with nothing much except their memories, and each other.

It is quite remarkable to discover marvellously eccentric ladies like this, and even better the fact that someone captured them on film for the delectation of the rest of the world... Thank the heavens! - all together now, "You know NOTHING!".

Read this marvellous article about Marilyn and Royce from 1999

Thursday 7 January 2010

A message from my personal trainer

Miss Nicholas Gorham, if you please.

Musique étrange

We are well overdue a bit of a weird and obscure music video, and so I was overjoyed when a friend of mine emailed me this bizarre effort.

It is by a group with the unusual name of "Grand Popo Football Club", and I must admit I was immediately hooked!

People know me very well...

Wednesday 6 January 2010

"Beauty is how you feel inside"

Had she lived, the extraordinary beauty that was Capucine would have been 82 years old today.

Born Germaine Lefebvre, she was discovered by a photographer while riding a carriage through Paris, and was soon modelling for top fashion houses Givenchy and Christian Dior. After a brief career in French movies, she decided to move to America - apparently because "she felt bored". In fact her charming good looks and her lifelong friendship with Audrey Hepburn had drawn her to Hollywood, where she learned English and had some success in such films as Song Without End (the story of Franz Liszt, alongside Dirk Bogarde) and the star-studded melodrama Walk On The Wild Side.

It was when she had moved back to Europe (bored again?), however, that she made the films for which we remember her most - The Pink Panther and What's New Pussycat?, both with Peter Sellers (who famously "collected" beautiful women, although there is no evidence they did have an affair - Capucine was famously the "other woman" in William Holden's life at the time).

Despite her apparently effortless glamour, beauty, sense of humour and exoticism (she was rumoured to be bisexual, and her name has been linked with Barbara Stanwyck), Capucine in fact suffered with manic depression throughout her life and attempted suicide several times (apparently Audrey Hepburn managed to talk her down more than once). In 1990 she tragically succeeded, and killed herself in Lausanne, Switzerland by jumping from her 8th-floor apartment window. Some say her only known survivors were her three cats. A tragic end to a beautiful life...

Capucine's film career on IMDB

Tuesday 5 January 2010

RIP - The Argentine Elvis

I read today about the death of Argentina's top superstar Sandro. Having never heard of him before, I just had to investigate...

So for your delectation here are a couple of tunes I have found from the man who was at one time known as "The Argentine Elvis" [more like Tom Jones in those tight trousers, I reckon!]. RIP.


Billboard article on the death of Sandro

So just let me be myself. That's all I ask of you

Happy birthday today to the lovely actress, director, and producer Diane Keaton! You've come a long way, baby...

Starting out as an actress nude on stage in Hair, Miss Keaton made her breakthrough when she was cast alongside Al Pacino in The Godfather back in 1972. Her romantic and professional relationship with Woody Allen, however, made her massively popular and she won an Oscar for her role in Annie Hall. From that point on she was hugely in demand, with dramatic roles in movies such as Reds and Marvin's Room, and more "light comedy" roles in Father of the Bride, Something's Gotta Give and Baby Boom.

Today Diane Keaton remains one of Hollywood's most respected actresses, and of course a gay icon - not least for her part in First Wives' Club (needless to say, one of my favourites):

Diane Keaton on IMDB

Monday 4 January 2010

Zilveren regeringsjubileum van de koningin

This year, one of our favourite tacky artists Gerard Joling [founder member of the fab supergroup De Toppers - read my blog last year about them - and back with the group in 2010] celebrates 25 years in showbiz!

This fills me with great excitement as it gives me an excuse to celebrate too, on this first Tacky Music Monday of the year, with a selection of fabulousness by the true Queen of the Netherlands...

...and, of course, our favourite!

Gerard Joling website (in Dutch)

Sunday 3 January 2010

I think tomorrow should be a "say something hat day"

Hedy Lamarr

Hat by Adrian

Tilly Losch, Countess of Caernarvon


The Rhythm Of Life

As the post-party season starts and the gloom that is January sets in, our gang did what we usually do at this time of year - go and see something sparkly and musical to cheer us up. And so it was that we went to the wonderful Menier Chocolate Factory to see the new Matthew White production of Sweet Charity last night, and had a blast!

This being one of my favourite musicals (well, the film adaptation anyhow) I was full of anticipation - how would they treat the big dance numbers on such a small stage? How would a former Eastender fit into the part played to Oscar-winning glory by Shirley MacLaine? Where in London could they find truly trashy dance-hall whores? (Actually that one should be fairly easy!). With the able assistance of the best musical choreographer around, Stephen Mears, the Menier managed all this very well indeed, actually...

Although slightly too chirpy in what is essentially a tragic role, Tamsin Outhwaite is a surprisingly energetic and brassy Charity Hope Valentine, the "tart with a heart", shimmying her tits off to cover the pain of her failure to find true love.

Playing all of the various "love rats" in her life - including the ham actor and lothario Vittorio Vidal and the troubled Oscar Lindquist - the lovely Mark Umbers was simply superb. And as for the girls, they were indeed convincingly hard-bitten tarts, and brilliant dancers and singers (every one)!

Several scenes stand out in this production - in particular If They Could See Me Now in Mr Vidal's apartment, where much of Charity's action takes place inside the wardrobe, and the trapped-in-an-elevator scenario (I'm The Bravest Individual) - both capturing the humour and naivete of "Sweet" Charity to perfection.

The wonderfully OTT Rhythm of Life hippy "church" number was excellent - featuring another former Eastender Paul J Medford as "Daddy". The Rich Man's Frug was superbly done. The big second half number I'm A Brass Band was actually done better than in the film (which was always a weak spot for me), bringing on the girls as backing dancers rather than a marching band.

However, it is the BIG numbers we all want to see! The classic Hey Big Spender was outstanding - the girls capture that terrifying air of desperation and boredom as they try and entice their punters with an attitude that Bob Fosse would be proud of! And my favourite of all the show's routines, There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This was just a joy...

All in all, this version of Sweet Charity is excellent. How it will translate to a bigger West End stage is another question. Miss Outhwaite is very good at what she does, but will need to do a bit more emoting to truly capture the part if the show is going to hit the heights - or else the producers need to get someone with a bit more pathos to fill the role. That said, if you need a really entertaining pick-me-up at this time of year, you really should try this one!

Here's the original film version of Rhythm Of Life, featuring Sammy Davis Jr. Enjoy!

Menier Chocolate Factory

Saturday 2 January 2010

Bébé Requin

For no other reason than I rather like her, today I am in the mood for one of France's most popular chanteuses of the "yé-yé" style of the early 1960s. This style of music (described by Susan Sontag as "an example of an entire genre being annexed by the camp sensibility") became a symbol of a resurgent chic Paris, and many girl singers emerged at the time to varying degrees of subsequent success - Sylvie Vartan, Françoise Hardy, Nicole Paquin, Sheila (of "B Devotion" fame) - but the eternally coquettish France Gall seems to most epitomise the era.

With songs written for her by such luminaries as Serge Gainsbourg, including the 1965 Eurovision-winner Poupée de cire, poupée de son, she became a national treasure to the French, and despite drug problems and the death of her husband and producer Michel Berger, is still massively popular today. She lives in semi-retirement in Paris, but a documentary about her life broadcast in 2001 received nine million viewers!

Here's the lady herself...

In 1983, Mademoiselle Gall made a brief reappearance in the charts on this side of the pond with her sultry tribute to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald. I love this...

France Gall
France Gall biography on RFI

Friday 1 January 2010

Happy Bollywood!

Happy 2010, everyone! What better way to start a new year than with some tackiness from the wonderful world of Bollywood? Here, for your delectation, is a bizarre number from a long-lost movie called Disco Dancer, starring a semi-catatonic fella by the name of Jimmy Adja...

Disco Dancer