Wednesday 30 June 2010

Do you remember? Oh, how you brought me down (down, down)

This year, Pride celebrates 40 years since the founding of the Gay Liberation Front.

This year I also celebrate a milestone - twenty-five years since my first Gay Pride, way back in 1985!

I have (obviously) written about it before, but it is worth reflecting on those far less "free" times for gay people (the age of consent was still 21, and Section 28 had just entered the statute books).

Tom Robinson was the headline act:

Divine floated past the crowd at Jubilee Gardens, belting out her hits on a Thames barge:

And on that date, this slice of campness was Number One in the charts! Happy memories...

Pride London

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Tell them I'm having the same...

We have a centenary to celebrate today, in the middle of my Gay Pride Countdown! Just as well it is Frank Loesser - composer of more than 700 numbers for a variety of musicals, not least was his own masterpiece Guys'n'Dolls.

I have of course blogged about the fabulous Mr Loesser before, on the occasion of the anniversary of his death last July.

However, I can always manage to find some new and unusual things to celebrate such an anniversary, AND tie it in with the gayness of this countdown week...

Here's a bizarre version of one of Mr Loesser's finest works (with all it's gay connotations - very daring for its time), here performed by an Italian travestito by the name of Quince ["Every time I play a female role, my name (half QU-een, half pr-INCE) will be: QUINCE!"]. Whatever. He/she is fab!

Here's a right slapper from the 1940s (well hardly by our standards!) with one of Frank's classically "suggestive" numbers, which, in its many variations, became an early gay classic:

And how about one of Hollywood's "worst kept secrets" Mr Perkins, and his version of the gayest of gay Loesser songs?

Frank Henry Loesser (29th June 1910 – 28th July 1969)

... and let the fun begin!

The countdown to Gay Pride continues, and I always have to play our "anthem" every time.

So this year, I thought I'd feature a version of that very tune, Bring On The Men, as performed by "Miss Burl Esq" at San Fransico's annual "King of Boylesque" pageant. Described as "a no holds barred burlesquing of traditional beauty pageants, bringing together eight of the top male performers from the nation", it sounds like a fantastic event I reckon... Enjoy!

About Boylesque

Monday 28 June 2010

Troubles melt like lemon drops

It is the start of Gay Xmas week, otherwise known as the countdown to Gay Pride on Saturday! As ever, this event is the highlight of the social calendar - our gang starts planning it almost a year in advance, and Madame Acarti and I have our costumes all ready to go.

On this Tacky Music Monday I have a suitably kitsch song that links not one, but two, gay icons together to kick us off - what better than the iconic Amanda Lear singing Judy Garland's classic standard?


Sunday 27 June 2010

Any Which Way

I think Miss Minogue needs no excuses - to perform on the Glastonbury stage with the Scissor Sisters! How brilliant is this???

Glittering diva

On this scorching hot Sunday, I thought I'd cool things down a bit and enter a world occasionally touched upon here at Dolores Delargo Towers - the world of culture (with a capital "K").

On this date 78 years ago the late, sadly lamented and truly beautiful opera diva Anna Moffo was born. Described by critics as "one of the leading lyric-coloratura sopranos of her generation", Miss Moffo never quite reached the levels of fame and adulation reserved for Maria Callas, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf or Joan Sutherland, yet hers was a beautiful voice, and one to be celebrated.

And she wore glittering frocks, jewels and evening gloves with aplomb! Enjoy...

Anna Moffo biography article in Opera News

Saturday 26 June 2010

Now THAT's how it's done!

It's summer at last (with 30 degrees predicted this weekend!), we're off to the magnificence of Kew Gardens, we may have found a house to move to when the landlady sells this one, and it is just one week to Gay Xmas (Pride)!

What better way to celebrate than with a collaboration between two of the most vivacious all-round entertainers ever? Put your hands together for Miss Ball and Miss MacLaine!

Friday 25 June 2010

Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah

The year 1978 was an odd one in music - here in the UK we were all supposed to be "super-cool" cultural revolutionaries, whose Punk music had overthrown the old big-label-driven world of the recording industry, crying "death to Prog Rock", "death to Disco"! Yet in reality, that year was one of the greatest for "old school" music.

In 1978, Fleetwood Mac became one of the biggest selling acts on the planet, ever. In the pop charts, Abba had one of their most successful years, and Boney M were predominant.

And as for Disco - Donna Summer ruled the airwaves, Debbie Harry had embraced the funky sound, and some of the genre's greatest classic numbers were released, including Got To Be Real, Boogie Oogie Oogie, Shame, Let's All Chant, Supernature, You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), and several massive hits for this lot...

Thank Disco It's Friday! Enjoy the sunny weekend ahead, in your glittery hotpants and jelly shoes...

Thursday 24 June 2010

What a carry on!

John-John and I went along to see the unveiling of a plaque by Islington Council to one of its greatest sons Kenneth Williams today. His childhood home has obviously long gone, and is replaced by some anonymous sheltered housing in a tragically badly planned council estate off the Caledonian Road (all pit bulls and even fiercer women) - but they had dragged some "old ducks" from the neighbourhood out into the sunshine (none of whom had actually been neighbours of Kenny) so that was OK...

Anyhow, cynicism apart, the greatest joy was the fact that a genuine and long-term friend of Ken's, the lovely and eternally classy Sheila Hancock had been invited along to do the unveiling. I have always loved the passion and glee that Miss Hancock puts into her anecdotes (as well as her performances) - she was always my favourite "Grumpy Old Woman" - and she didn't disappoint!

Telling tales of her younger days with Ken (Sheila lived just down the road in a pub near Kings Cross), she quite rightly pointed out that many people made the mistake of thinking he was lonely and sad, when she remembered the funny, witty man who just happened to prefer his own company. It was indeed true, however, that he loathed his fame as one of the Carry On stars, preferring to be seen as an artist and classically trained actor.

"He would have been chuffed to bits to know he was being recognised by this plaque", she said, "It would have meant he had made it!"

They appeared together in the revue One Over the Eight in the early 1960s, and worked hard at their theatre careers even to the point of apparently missing the "Swinging Sixties" altogether ("only hairdressers seemed to experience it", apparently). On one occasion Ken was riding pillion on Sheila's moped going round Piccadilly Circus and he screamed at a group of "trendies" - "where's the bloody orgies?!"

Renowned for his insulting attitude towards women (he apparently even made the political harridan Barbara Castle cry), Sheila remained steadfast against his tirades, appeared aginst him on Just A Minute and obviously loved the man dearly right to the end (he apparently even proposed marriage at one stage even though she was already happily wed)...

This was a fabulous little event, and I am really pleased to have been there to see it!

That's why i've learnt the way to shout "Olé!"

There are very few redeeming features about the endless coverage of a winter sport (football) in the middle of summer (thanks to the World Cup).

Apart from this marvellously tacky effort from Spanish goddesses (and house favourites here at Dolores Delargo Towers) Las Seventies, of course...

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Glossy Fosse

One of the greatest choreographers the modern world ever saw was born on this date 83 years ago.

Without him, where would the likes of Miss Minnelli, Miss Rivera and Miss MacLaine be?

Bob Fosse produced sassy "jazz hands" dance numbers for just about every musical that is dear to my heart (and much much more) - Cabaret, Sweet Charity, Chicago, Pajama Game, Liza with a Z, Pippin, All That Jazz and even Damn Yankees... His influence is everywhere (most notably in Michael Bennett's A Chorus Line).

Here is Mr Fosse with his former wife and long-term dance partner Gwen Verdon:

This is a spectacular number from the tribute revue Fosse, produced after his untimely death in 1987:

And here is his Tony award-winning ensemble number for the Broadway (flop) musical Big Deal - stunning!

RIP, a spectacular genius!

Take a "step-by-step tour" of the great man's most famous dance poses.

Welcome to my nightmare

On Sunday I rediscovered an old episode of The Snoop Sisters, whose remarkably incongruous guest star was none other than the inventor of "shock rock" Alice Cooper.

Today, I just had to share another classic moment from the weirdly compelling life of Mr Vincent Damon Furnier...

No comment!

Alice Cooper MySpace page

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Can't you see there's so much here to feel?

Oh wow! Thanks to my lovely MySpace chum Marky Marc for this one...

Scissor Sisters' album Night Work is released on 28th June 2010.

Kylie Minogue's Aphrodite album is released on 5th July 2010.

Panic on the streets of Timperley

Sad news about the death of Chris Sievey aka the very strange Frank Sidebottom yesterday. A cult figure of the 80s and 90s - the era of "alternative comedy" - Frank's football-shaped head and Northern patriotism were a sure-fire hit with the Madchester crowd, and eventually with national telly audiences (thanks to Channel 4).

Here's the man's finest hour. RIP.

Frank Sidebottom website

Monday 21 June 2010

I need no excuses... post Happy Birthday greetings to Miss Jane Russell. One of the few Hollywood greats still with us, we salute you!

Jane Russell on IMDB

Hartelijk dank!

As we wave bye-bye to another fab weekend and reflect upon the sad fact that the bloody Lottery balls need shaking up, football has been joined by bloody tennis on the telly, and bloody Cliff Richard is still alive, there are a couple of things that can lift us up.

It is only two weeks to Gay Xmas (Gay Pride!), Miss Jane Russell is still with us and celebrates her 89th birthday today - and we have booked our annual pilgrimage to Amsterdam for my birthday in August!

To mark that last bit of good news on this Tacky Music Monday, our friends in the Dutch bar in Spain have sent us their own country's summer novelty song - and it is a corker of kitsch...

Please put your clogs together for Mr Tom Waes!

Sunday 20 June 2010

Little old ladies vs Glam Rock goth

Here's an obscure one - Miss Mildred Natwick would have been 105 today had she lived.

A little amusement that we and our good friend Alistair have shared over the years is the "Whatever happened to...?" game, whereby we pick some obscure (and often bizarrely-named) actors, actresses or singers and recall what they were famous for, and where they ended up.

One of our favourite names in this was the delightful Mildred Natwick, star of Hitchcock's The Trouble With Harry and John Ford's The Quiet Man in the 1950s. As a child I remember her appearing in one of the many marvellous US "genre detective" series of the 1970s [you know what I mean - we had the bald one (Kojak), the fat one (Cannon), the scruffy one (Columbo), the cowboy one (McCloud), the married couple ones (McMillan & Wife) and so on...].

In The Snoop Sisters Miss Natwick and Miss Helen Hayes (another doyenne of old Hollywood) played "the elderly lady ones" - a sort of Stateside take on Miss Marple in stereo. Remarkably, one of the episodes I remember had a very special guest indeed - none other than the "shock rocker" of the Glam era, Alice Cooper... What a bizarre combination! Now I find someone has found a clip from that particular episode and posted it on YouTube - deep joy!

And the closing titles of The Snoop Sisters just in case anyone remembers them...

And where did Miss Natwick end up? She continued her "professional old lady" supporting actress role well up until she was in her 80s - her last role was as Madame de Rosemonde in Dangerous Liaisons - before ill-health forced her to retire and she died at the grand old age of 89 in 1994.

Mildred Natwick on IMDB

Saturday 19 June 2010

Brecht, piano virtuosity and R&B "Hokey Cokey"

"The witheringly rude answer to Flanders and Swann… literate and sophisticated" - Daily Telegraph

We had a fabulous evening's entertainment at the Hampstead Theatre thanks to the wonderful Kit & the Widow!

We have been to some fantastic shows over the years, and really thought we knew what we were going to expect from an evening with a favourite cabaret act of ours. However we could not have prepared ourselves for this evening... For Friday was their "Gala Night" - and in addition to their own amazing repartee, the boys provided us with a remarkable and fabulous selection of guests to entertain us!

Here is a little sample of Kit & The Widow doing what they do best:

To add to their own magnificent compositions, including their scathing piss-takes of Lord Lloyd-Webber and Stephen Sondheim, the LibDems, the middle classes, Pilates ("turning fatties into farties") and the classic (No! Not) Nando's (to the tune of Abba's Fernando), Kit, Widow and guests entertained us to a sublime Bertold Brecht ensemble number, and some beautiful duets.

And what of the guests? Sheer class! The beautiful Sam Barnett (of The History Boys), West End stalwart Claire Moore (the vocal coach on BBC1's Over the Rainbow apparently), Fascinating Aida's Issy van Randwyck [who happens to be married to Sir Peter Hall's son Edward, who is the new boss of the theatre], "Harry the Piano", and the superstar of the evening's entertainment, Ida Barr... Here's a taster of the talents on show:

Sam Barnett sang a gay anthem:

Harry the Piano is a maestro of merging different composers' styles with some unexpected tunes:

Chris Green - creator of the fabulous Tina C - has taken a step across musical boundaries with his character Ida Barr, a former music hall star who has taken to urban music with a vengeance. Here's her own brand of "Artificial Hip Hop":

Ida managed to get a healthy portion of the audience up on stage for her R&B version of The Hokey Cokey(!), which ended with a conga line right out of the theatre, round the lobby, round backstage and back to their seats... It has to be seen to be believed!

I haven't laughed so much in ages - what a tonic!

Kit & The Widow

Friday 18 June 2010

Ain't nothing left in this whole world I care about

We are off to Belsize Park tonight to see Kit & the Widow, avoiding the footie as we do. Baby Steve and Alex are coming down for shopping tomorrow. All we need is some sunshine! No chance.

Ah well, Thank Disco it's Friday!

Thursday 17 June 2010

Marc, Otis, Ozzy, glam and avant-garde

A great time was had by all at last night's Polari Goes Pop night last night - including Paul Burston's mother-in-law Heidi, seated proudly with Paulo in the front row!

As befits an evening focussing on the pop music world (a nod in the direction of the Meltdown Festival), Paul was resplendent in Bowie t-shirt (and later glasses and a boa!), I dug out my hand-made Debbie Harry "punk" t-shirt, and the place filled with its usual eclectic mixture of faded gentry and enthusiastic homosexualist aesthetes...

Opening the show, John Lucas read his amusing short story about Being Marc Almond - a modern-day fable of one man's obsession that overshadows the hum-drum reality of his boring real life - fab stuff!

Next up was a really bizarre performance - in video and live reading - by Polari regular Joe Storey-Scott, who in turn baffled and amused the audience with his eclectic avant-garde modern poetry. Gauge for yourself...

A little light relief was needed at this stage, and that was provided by the charming Nick Field, whose chirpy campness made a pleasant contrast. He is currently working on a major piece called Cosmos and Cosmetics, and the title alone should give an idea of what the man is about...

There are few adjectives that could describe the presence that is Laura Dockrill - effervescent, wild and slightly mad, a mate of Kate Nash and a headliner at the "Latitude" festival, she performed a few extracts from her new anthology Mistakes in the Background. Her ode to the "try-hard middle class mums" (who desperately want to be streetwise and youthful again) was particularly hilarious! John-John purchased a copy of the book - with its doodles and handwritten texts, cartoons and cuttings - and I may have to borrow it when he has finished it.

Almost the headline reader of our evening was Tiffany Murray, described by The Guardian as "the glam-rock Dodie Smith". Her new book Diamond Star Halo is Miss Murray's semi-fictional account of her own bizarre childhood at rural Monmouth recording studio Rockfield.

Appropriately for the occasion, not only did she do a couple of (very funny) readings from the book, but she brought along her own musician who set some of her words to his own music! I was enthralled and bemused by her anecdotes about praying to Otis Redding, her nonchalance at being surrounded by the great and the good of the music world, and her beautiful adopted brother who fulfils the dream and becomes a rock star himself. Enthralling and beautifully written - I loved her performance!

Last but by no means least, Steven Machat was another great coup for Paul. The legendary son of the legendary manager of Sam Cooke and James Brown, he was destined to enter the legal management of rock stars - but, as his convoluted and wonderful monologue uncovered, he soon discovered that behind the glitter and the glam was a world full of no-hopers, back-stabbers and bastards.

Screwed out of a fortune by Leonard Cohen, present at the hospital when Ozzy Osbourne was receiving rabies shots after eating a live bat on stage, messed around by the mob and the "mental midgets with an MBA mentality" who run the major record labels - he has seen it all! And was more than prepared to talk about it... Figuring that this could be like a modern day Hollywood Babylon I just had to buy a copy of his memoir Gods, Gangsters and Honour, which Mr Machat kindly signed for me.

Another bloody brilliant night, with our friend Paul (who is himself becoming a bit of a regular), the lovely Jeannie (who sacrificed Ascot Ladies' Day to be there!) and of course Paul B's extended family... I am going to miss the fact that there is no Polari next month!


Wednesday 16 June 2010

Like the mountains I'm blue

Today we celebrate the 120th anniversary of the birth in Ulverston, Lancashire, of one Arthur Stanley Jefferson - best known to the world as Stan Laurel.

There is only one way to celebrate, surely? This song was (for some incomprehensible reason) a huge hit in the charts of 1975, held off the Number 1 slot only by the predominance in that year of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. It still brings a smile to the face today. Enjoy!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

I'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree

A double anniversary today - on this date 89 years ago the late Erroll Garner, jazz pianist and composer was born, and sadly in 1996 we lost one of the greatest singers in the world ever, Miss Ella Fitzgerald.

So what is the connection? It is this beautiful piece - Mr Garner's finest hour, and his most famous song; that provided Miss Fitzgerald's golden tonsils with another enduring standard to perform to perfection (as only she could)...

Look at me,
I'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree
And I feel like I'm clinging to a cloud
I can't understand,
I get misty just holding your hand

Walk my way,
And a thousand violins begin to play
Or it might be the sound of your hello
That music I hear,
I get misty the moment you're near

You can say that you're leading me on
But it's just what I want you to do
Don't you notice how hopelessly I'm lost
That's why I'm following you

On my own,
Would I wander through this wonderland alone
Never knowing my right foot from my left
My hat from my glove
I'm too misty, and too much in love

Monday 14 June 2010

Uranus, and other double entendres

It is still Tacky Music Monday, and I think I have just watched possibly the most outrageously gay video of the past several years!

Laydeez'n'gentlemen - it's the triumphal return of the eternally kitsch Vengaboys, with not just one camp icon guest star (gossip queen Perez Hilton) but two!

Miss Burns, what were you thinking of?

Sex Bomb

Another great weekend is over far too quickly - and now the sun decides to shine, just as we all trot off despondent to another week in work.

Thank heavens, on another Tacky Music Monday, for 60s sex-bomb Joey Heatherton!

Sunday 13 June 2010

Spirit of Las Vegas

While at the theatre in Croydon for Stepping Out on Friday, I spotted among the flyers and posters for tribute bands, comedy nights, faux Proms, stage versions of Hi de Hi and Fireman Sam and the touring production of Joseph, a poster for an evening with Buddy Greco and his Swinging Las Vegas Show!

To me the Fairfield Halls seems a slightly incongruous venue for such a legendary figure in swing music - it being, as we discussed on the evening, a sort of combination of old NHS hospital, cross-channel ferry and regional airport lounge.

For Snr Greco was one of the many musicians who played with the Rat Pack back in their heyday, and hob-nobbed with the greats such as Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis and Shirley MacLaine. Indeed none other than Frank Sinatra took Buddy under his (considerably influential) wing back in the 50s, got him a recording contract and supported his career as a band-leader and singer. He even had a major hit with a version of Frank's standard The Lady Is A Tramp.

Buddy Greco is a rare thing these days - alongside the likes of Tony Bennett - a genuine survivor of those heady days of US post-war musical decadence among the glittering lights and Mafia-influenced casinos of Las Vegas. His musical career spans seven decades, with hundreds of hits and awards to show for it. It is fab to find that at the age of 84 he is still performing (even if it is in Croydon) - and in the true spirit of "Sunday Music", Viva Buddy Greco!

Buddy Greco website

Saturday 12 June 2010

The Mavis Turner Tappers - in Croydon

And so it came to pass that I found myself in the salubrious surroundings of Croydon last night - a place so soulless that it makes Birmingham seem like Paris in comparison... What on earth could have drawn us to travel via the dreadful Thameslink to the grey concrete hell-hole that dubs itself "London's Third City" (if London had been rebuilt by Novosibirsk's municipal architect, that is) on a sultry Friday evening?

Why, the lovely Anita Harris, of course!

When our friend Maria suggested going along to see the touring production of Stepping Out (a play based on the 1991 film that starred Liza Minnelli and Julie Walters), how could I resist? The Madam unfortunately had to work, but John-John and I decided it was an absolute must-see, even if it was at the Fairfield Halls! And we were definitely in for a treat...

Set almost entirely in the confines of a shabby church hall rehearsal room, the story (or stories) revolves around the aspirations and banter of a group of misfits who are brought together every week for a tap class. Led by their marvellously brittle teacher Mavis (played to perfection by Lucy Williamson stepping into the indomitable shoes of Liza, who played the part in the movie), the ensemble of no-hopers are cajoled, encouraged and cosseted into varying degrees of rhythmic movement.

In the process the hidden secrets, dashed ambitions, relationship problems and nervous tics of the group come to the fore, bit by bit. It all sounds very grim, but actually the badinage between the characters is hilarious - I described it as like Dinnerladies with tap shoes!

It is a little misleading in the publicity to assume that Anita Harris (playing the cleaning-obsessed Vera, Julie Walters' part in the film) or the token male Brian Capron (aka Corrie's serial killer Richard Hillman) are actually the lead characters in the production, as the whole cast is absolutely superb - from the enormous Rose to the mousy Andy, the squeaky Dorothy to the grumpy pianist Mrs Fraser.

Together they made what could sometimes seem like a slightly strained set of stereotypes into a truly believable and likeable group of characters. The audience really warmed to these people, and by the end we were whooping with joy at the way their efforts and struggles all come together for the dreaded charity show performance as the "Mavis Turner Tappers".

This was a truly uplifting, funny and delightful show - and I really hope someone snaps it up for the West End!

A review in the Stage

And here is the trailer for the classic movie version:


Friday 11 June 2010

Ooo and it's alright and it's comin' 'long

I am off to see the lovely Anita Harris(!) in a production of Steppin' Out tonight (in unlovely Croydon, of all places), and I can't wait!

Meanwhile as we head towards another sunny weekend, let us turn our attention to Miss Maxine Nightingale and her oft-forgotten contribution to the sounds of summer - Thank Disco it's Friday!

Thursday 10 June 2010

Bim bom bim bim bom bom

Feliz aniversário, João Gilberto!

Known as the "Father of Bossa Nova", Snr Gilberto was hugely influential on musical tastes not just in South and North America, but worldwide - providing a boost to 60s jazz, bebop and beatnik styles, and he was the catalyst for a renewed interest in all types of Latin rhythms which in turn influenced revolutions in dance music. He collaborated with some of the top musicians of all styles and genres, including Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, and has sold millions of records over six decades.

Despite his massive popularity, Gilberto prefers to live the quiet life away from the spotlight in his native Rio de Janeiro. His innovative and influential music, however, is still as wonderful as when it was first heard all those years ago...

Here's his lovely missus (at the time) Astrud, with his first Bossa Nova hit:

And here is his early (original) version of the classic Girl From Ipanema:

João Gilberto, The Man Who Invented Bossa Nova

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Not while she's around

For his birthday last month, we burned our friend Alistair a copy of the fantastic album Cleo Laine Sings Sondheim, much to his delight! So much has he enthused about it in the weeks since then, I felt I had to head out on a journey across YouTube to find these extracts. Simply sublime! Enjoy...

Buy Cleo Sings Sondheim on Amazon

Tuesday 8 June 2010

All we need is a little bit of bread and circus

I went to see the lovely Marc Almond again at HMV, along with the most loyal bunch of fans (the "Almondettes") that you could wish for - including Tony, Yvonne, Eleanor, Lydia and Gabi.

This time around, Marc sang a few numbers from the new album Varieté before signing copies for the huge and burgeoning crowd. To the dismay of the fans, he announced that this would be his last studio album of his original material (at least for a "long while") as he was exhausted by the songwriting process and enjoyed covering other artists' work...

After that bombshell, he launched into fab acoustic versions of Bread & Circus, Njinsky Heart and Cabaret Clown (to whom is that bitchy number dedicated? I want to know), plus Kiss the Ghost from the bonus disc in the special edition CD. All excellent stuff.

We queued respectfully for Marc to sign our copies. Yvonne had done him another picture and was delighted that Marc told her that the last one was on his wall at home. I complimented him on his "ostentatious bling" (it's a line from Bread & Circus) and he laughed and thanked me. Then, excited and chatty, the Almondettes retired to the pub, dodging the horrendous weather as we went.

A great evening, and now it's time to give the album a good listen...

Monday 7 June 2010

Gee, Lulu - wish I could dress like you!

The sunny weather is apparently going to turn to showers from today, and we're all back to work - yuk. On this Tacky Music Monday, who better than Lulu - in her ill-fated Disco Years - to entertain us out of the gloom?!


Sunday 6 June 2010

Nice Pina

My MySpace friend Henry alerted me today to this magnificently camp slice of tack-o-rama - I love it!!!

Sparkle dust

Had a fabulous time in the sunshine this weekend - Regents Park on Friday and Kennington Park yesterday - and I am suitable browned and tingling. Shame about the torrential rain last night! I got drenched...

Anyhow on Friday, winding my way down on Baker Street, light in my head and dead on my feet, I happened upon a lighting shop near Selfridges and immediately fell in love with this exquisite object:

A must for every dream home, I reckon - and a snip at five grand! I can dream, can't I? If only those six little numbers would come up.

Then my life would forever be chandeliers, sweeping staircases, Busby Berkeley, evening gloves, Dimitri Chiparus, sparkle dust, bugle beads, ostrich plumes, ankle straps, Maribou, Shalimar - oh, and dance spectaculars featuring Mitzi Gaynor, Chita Rivera, Raffaella Carra, or indeed Sylvie Vartan...

Happy Sunday!

Saturday 5 June 2010

Now is the time to see the light

Being the eternal "cock-eyed optimist", I rather hope that this glorious sunshine will last from now until September. Unfortunately, in true UK-style we are due more rain tomorrow and next week...

So my memories turn once again to that long, hot summer of '76. I would have played the number one hit of this week in that year, but even I can't bring myself to post J.J. Barrie's No Charge! So instead, here are some of the other songs that rocked our boats while the stand-pipes were in the street and the tarmac melted... Enjoy!

The sounds of summer...

Friday 4 June 2010

I'm as jumpy as a virgin at a prison rodeo

Rue McClanahan is dead, and I am wearing a black armband...

As the man-hungry Blanche Devereaux in Golden Girls, she was an inspiration and often the character with the best lines in the show. How we loved her constant quest for the next man, and failing that, banana cream pie... The "slut style" she created pre-dated Sex In The City by fifteen years and yet, unlike that series, The Golden Girls never seems to date and is always fabulous to watch.

Here are some of Blanche's finest moments. RIP, darling...
Blanche: [after being awakened by the ringing phone] "I'm as jumpy as a virgin at a prison rodeo!"
Dorothy: "Boy, that's pretty jumpy."

Blanche: "When Blanche Devereaux goes after a man, she doesn't stand on ceremony!"
Sophia: "Or the floor."

Blanche: "What do you think of my new dress? Is it me?"
Sophia: "It's too tight, it's too short and shows too much cleavage for a woman your age."
Dorothy: "Yes, Blanche. It's you."

Blanche: "I treat my body like a temple."
Sophia: "Yeah, open to everyone, day or night."

Blanche: [to Sophia] "My mistake. I thought since you look like Yoda you were also wise."

Blanche: [explaining why she wore red at her wedding instead of white] "Oh please, it's bad enough hearing all those snickers as you walk down the aisle, but me in white, even I couldn't keep a straight face."

Blanche: "You know what I hate doing most after a party?"
Rose: "Trying to find your underwear in the big pile?"

Rue McClanahan BBC obituary

Thursday 3 June 2010

One thrilling combination, every move that he makes

We celebrated the 66th birthday yesterday of Barbra Streisand's former pianist and collaborator with the stars, the multi-talented and downright wonderful Mr Marvin Hamlisch!

Mr Hamlisch is is one of only two people to have been awarded Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, a Tony and the Pulitzer Prize for his song-writing and composing (the other is Richard Rodgers).

His is the genius responsible for some of the biggest, campest numbers of the twentieth century, such as The Way We Were, Nobody Does It Better, What I Did For Love and Life's What You Make It, and the musical scores and arrangements for dozens of films including The Sting, Funny Lady, Ordinary People and Shirley Valentine and shows such as Liza With a Z.

His crowning glory is, of course, the classic stage and film musical A Chorus Line. A glittering, emotional roller-coaster of a show, it is also one of my favourite musical scores - not least for this number. Now why has this not seen a West End revival?

Marvin Hamlisch website

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Sweet like Chocolat...

We trolled off to the South Bank again last night for "The Musical Type", one of the esteemed House of Homosexual Culture events - and had a spectacular time! It was fairly obvious that any event that describes itself as "a celebration of girl groups and chorus boys, showtunes and chart-toppers, all from a uniquely queer perspective" was bound to be right up our street, and indeed it was...

Our impresario the fantabulosa Rupert Smith always manages to put on a good show, but to open with the magnificent baritone of the outrageous Le Gateau Chocolat was treat that we could never have expected - for what could be better than a booming deep operatic voice belting out The Man That Got Away, Maybe This Time and Don't Rain On My Parade while flicking "her" wig and swooshing her frock around the audience? Paradise!

It must have been rather difficult for the esteemed Vanity Fair editor David Benedict to follow that kind of a performance, but he did a magnificent job of restoring some order to the proceedings. His talk was about the impact that musicals and musical cinema have on the gay world, and on gay men in particular throughout history. With clips such as Is There Anyone Here For Love? (Jane Russell's beefcake scene from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), Doris Day singing Secret Love (an absolute gay anthem) and Judy Garland's The Man That Got Away (which David quite righly observed is a song that empowers the soul, rather than being a song about loss), we were enthralled. Many a mouth in the audience was miming to each of them, including ours...

After the brief break, it was the turn of Simon Watney, AIDS activist, writer and afficionado of 1960s girlie groups and divas, to give us his take on how the sparkling world of artistes such as the Ronnettes, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin and Millie lifted him out of what sounded like a dreadful childhood into fully-formed gayness! Fascinating stuff, and Mr Watney painted many a scenario with which we all could identify - at some stage in every queen's childhood there was one song to which we mimed or danced, and it was at that stage that our mothers, too, realised there was little point in hoping for grandchildren...

Madame Chocolat took to the stage once more in a most sparkly skin-tight outfit for the finale. In his words, "imagine growing up in Nigeria dressing like this!" With more diva numbers, including a sing-a-long of Hopelessly Devoted To You, he wowed the audience again, closing with a spine-tingling rendition of Make Our Garden Grow from Candide.

A very special evening's entertainment and enlightenment once again...

Here is Le Gateaux Chocolat's scene-stealing appearance on the Paul O'Grady Show...

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Can't you see that this is getting higher, higher, higher, higher?

Following my last post, there really is only ONE summer anthem!

Enter the all-conquering Miss Kylie Minogue (with a fabulous new video)!!

Huge choons for summer

As the glitter of the weekend's Eurovision party, Drag Idol at The Black Cap on Sunday and disappointing Bank Holiday Monday fades away and we start another (albeit shortened) working week, I thought I'd post a few more modern choons that have caught my ear lately. These should provide a decent backdrop to a good summer (if we ever get one)...

First up is a big surprise for me, as the Aussie brat child (she of the hen party chant anthem Sweet About Me) Gabriella Cilmi seems to have gone all grown-up and glamorous with her latest single Hearts Don't Lie. A very catchy number it is, too!

Next, a distinctly glammed-up Kelis (she of that rather annoying song Milkshake from 2003) returns with a much more sophisticated sound and look (and some fab outfits) in this video for Acapella...

I am particularly happy for the return of Infernal...

And finally, summer wouldn't be summer without some Whores!