Tuesday 31 May 2011

Thought for the day

As we celebrate the good news that the weather is about to turn warm and spring-like again in time for the weekend, why do these happy lads look so very chilly?!

"Three words: Fab - u - lous!"

The lovely Russ got tickets for an unusual and very entertaining little event last night! Part of a series called These Are a Few of My Favourite Songs, which is on every evening this week at the Jermyn Street Theatre, basically the concept is music critic Mark Shenton interviewing guests from Theatreland about their favourite songs (and it is all in aid of supporting the Theatrical Guild). Guests include Bill Kenwright (tonight), Nicholas Hytner, Janie Dee, Sylvia Young and Styles and Drewe - a great line-up!

Last night it was the turn of Craig Revel Horwood. Now, as any of my regular readers will know I am no fan of "reality TV", talent shows or "celebrity" whatevers, so Mr Revell Horwood and his participation in Strictly Come Dancing had completely passed me by - a very good thing, as I had no expectations whatsoever of what the evening would consist of. But what a joy he turned out to be.

One of the campest things on two legs, the ebullient performer arrived on stage in a pink sequinned jacket to die for, and, after a few introductions and some background to his life, proceeded to perform one of his old audition numbers (for the first time in fifteen years apparently) - The Greatest Love Of All. It is a truly awful song, but at least he knew how to inject a little pizazz into it - Mr Revel Horwood used to be a drag queen known as "Lavish" (christened such by none other than Danny LaRue!), after all...

With amazing candidness, "dahling", he let us into all sorts of anecdotes about his childhood and his desperate desire to escape backwoods Australia (first as a musical prodigy, then by becoming a minor chef, a cable puller in a TV studio, and finally a dancer) and his domineering seafaring father (which meant he never had a permanent home for many years); about his teenage years as the "kept boy" of an (as yet) unnamed TV personality; his ill-fated marriage to a woman; and his early entry into showbiz.

Mr Shenton managed to tease some fabulous gossip out of him - such as the individual who was sacked from Miss Saigon because of lascivious and drunken behaviour (which provided an inroad for Mr Revel Horwood into the show), the disaster that was The Beautiful and the Damned, the trials and tribulations of working with everyone from Darren Day to theatre impresario Susan Stroman, and the back (and front) stage conflicts on Strictly.

On his time as a so-called "rent-boy", he certainly seemed to have no regrets: "It was the best thing that ever happened to me. He took me to the opening of Cats in New York; and Dream Girls had just opened on Broadway. I saw very clearly that I wanted to do that, that I wanted to be part of that life, and I'd do anything to get it."

He let us into stories about his worldwide productions, including (among many, many others) Spend, Spend, Spend, Sunset Boulevard, My One And Only (which we went to see in 2002), Hot Mikado, Hans Christian Anderson, Crazy for You, and one of which he was most proud (and proved another in a long line of learning curves in his career) - choreographing the Ballet Boyz in a tango Yumba vs Nonino, originally done in concert when two maestros of the genre Osvaldo Pugliese and Astor Piazzolla did virtual "battle" with their orchestras:

Among the other songs he chose were Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, and something by a bizarre Aussie (I think) evangelist singer - "It taught me all about key changes, daahlings". Songs from shows in which he was directly involved - I'd Give My Life for You from the aforementioned Miss Saigon, and Someone Else's Story from Chess (the currently touring version of which is one of his "babies") - were sung by Caroline Sheen, accompanied by pianist Ben Stock.

He even revealed (and he would know, just having researched and produced a show called Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show, a musical based on the title of Neil Diamond's controversial fourth album of the same name which upset US evangelists) that originally Mr Diamond's famous tear-jerker Love On The Rocks began life as a bluegrass number called Scotch On The Rocks - but the producers made him re-write it, and the rest is history.

But campest by far was this number. It was not about the song at all - we all love Bette Midler's When A Man Loves A Woman from The Rose, after all - but the monologue with which she introduces it. For apparently, a very young Mr Revel Horwood proudly stood up in front of his English class in roughneck Ballarat, Victoria and recited the whole thing off pat - much to the astonishment of his sporty compatriots! He mouthed every word again last night, much to our delight:

I loved this evening - and only wish I could get tickets for any of the other interviews this week!

These Are A Few of My Favourite Songs

The conversation last night was recorded and will be available to hear on Theatrevoice in due course.

Craig Revel Horwood's Chess is on tour now, and his new show with the Ballet Boyz Flamenco Flamen'ka opens at the Lyric Theatre in London on Thursday, 18 September.

Craig Revel Horwood official website

All Balls and Glitter, Mr Revel Horwood's autobiography is out now!

Monday 30 May 2011

Princess points restored...

As we were in Saaarfend on Saturday, and John-John and I went to the marathon CK Sunday drag show (Crystal D'Canter and Kelly Mild, with an interlude for the latest Drag Idol heat, followed by Tanya Hyde) yesterday, I neglected someone rather special.

Our darling Kylie celebrated her 43rd birthday on Saturday!

I almost lost my Princess Points...

The lovely Marky Marc over at Shine On And On would never forgive me!

Kylie Minogue website

Reine de la Nuit

Once again, a Bank Holiday - and once again, a Tacky Music Monday!

One of our favourite French divas here at Dolores Delargo Towers is the lovely Régine. Famous (if not notorious!) for the invention of the modern-day "discothèque" (with DJs replacing the jukebox), she went on to run a multi-million pound nightclub empire unsurprisingly called Régine's - no wonder her nickname is Reine de la Nuit ("Queen of the Night"). We have several albums of hers, and they are fabulous!

I should really dedicate a whole entry to this fabulously camp woman on my other blog - Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp - but let us just revel in some of her music for the moment...

Régine official website (in French, of course)

Sunday 29 May 2011

My 1970s is dying...

Flick Colby, the dancer and choreographer who helped make Top of the Pops troupe Pan's People a national institution, has died at the age of 65.

Grease star Jeff Conaway, who played Kenickie, died today aged 60, after a long battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

Actress and comic Janet Brown, who was best known for impersonating former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, has died aged 87.

It's all slipping away...


"In 1970, singer Raffaella Carrà debuted a song called Tuca Tuca on Italian television. The song was accompanied by an amorous and provocative dance which involved touching at least one other person."
Sounds like a perfect way to spend a Sunday to me!

Here's Pink Martini doing just that...

I adore Pink Martini! Happy Sunday...


Mudflats, slots, bombers and cockles

Yesterday, we walked (and walked, and walked) - from Shoeburyness to Leigh-on-Sea via Southend, all places neither I nor Madam Arcati had ever been before. How fab! An adventure!

It was very grey and blustery when we arrived at Shoeburyness, and the walk began with the half-mile trek from the station to the sea via some of the least edifying scenery possible (an industrial estate and some bleak housing developments on the site of the former barracks), which was a bit of a miserable way to begin, but once we hit the start of the estuary promenade we knew we had arrived. Tide going out, frozen-looking people, you know the scenario...

Once we got used to the bracing wind, however, we embarked upon the trek with gusto. There's plenty of interesting things to see - tiny windswept plants, marooned boats, eccentric beach huts, the multi-million pound houses dotted all along the coast (some so extravagantly "Southfork-stylee", they could only belong to an Essex footballer and his wife, surely?). But that's Southend ("town, shore and so much more"™) for you!

We arrived at the Essex Riviera with plans to traverse the UK's longest pier (one and a half miles!) and play our traditional sport of "chav-spotting" (which was not difficult, obviously). The pier was, however closed to pedestrians as yesterday was the start of the Southend Air Show and they didn't want crowds gathering on the boardwalk. So with that disappointment out of the way, we did the only thing we could do in the circumstances - go and play the "Penny Fountains", of course!

As the air show is so popular, it was obvious that the prom was going to be rather crowded with toothless chav grannies, tattooed mums and dads, pushchairs and filthy children. However, the rows and rows of stalls and displays by the various branches of the military - and all those hunky men in uniform - made the journey through the crowds rather more, ahem, interesting...

And so, leaving the funfairs, the candy-floss, the slots, the customised cars and live broadcast by BBC Radio Essex behind us we headed onwards into far quieter territory. On the way, we caught quite a bit of the air display, and even as we left the glittering prom behind towards our destination, we saw some dramatic fly-pasts - including a beautiful Vulcan bomber (which was huge!).

Leigh-on-Sea is a picturesque place, in complete contrast to its brassy neighbour - a historic little town, traditionally based on the seafood-fishing (particularly cockles) industry. And it has lots of pubs. Good!

So we had cockles to start, then went for a huge plate of fish'n'chips, and a couple of pints before heading home. After six hours' walking we were all a bit pooped - but what a grand day out, Gromit...



Saturday 28 May 2011

To reach ... the unreachable stars

What do all of these fabulous and talented people have in common?

Kirsty Young, Sheila Hancock, Ronnie Corbett, Maureen Lipman, Paul Gambaccini, Julian Lloyd-Webber, Kerry Ellis, Courtney Pine, Ann Widdicombe, James Pearson, Matt Lucas and Alfie Boe were all on stage at The Mermaid Theatre last night! John-John and I knew we were in for a treat at the live recording of the world's longest-running orchestral live music programme on radio Friday Night Is Music Night, as it hosted a celebration of another BBC gem and the longest-running factual programme in the history of radio, Desert Island Discs - but nothing quite prepared us for this cavalcade of stars...

In addition to the esteemed coterie of famous names above (all in the audience waiting their turn to take the stage), we also spotted Nicholas Parsons two rows away, and in front of him Celia Imrie. We were sat next to Jo Brand, for heaven's sake!

I bumped into Alan Yentob while outside having a fag, and there were many more familiar faces dotted around that I couldn't name (but not Ryan Giggs, surprisingly). But enough about the audience - on with the show!

The BBC Concert Orchestra opened with the famous Desert Island Discs theme tune The Sleepy Lagoon by Eric Coates (and they provided the magnificent music behind all the performances of the evening). Kirsty Young was mistress of ceremonies, and gave us a little insight into the show's long and esteemed history from its beginnings in 1942, and how it felt for her to be at its helm today, in the shadow of its founder and presenter the late Roy Plumley (and his successors Michael Parkinson and Sue Lawley).

Kerry Ellis sang (brilliantly, I might add) one of the "top 5" requested songs by Desert Island Discs guests over the years, Kander and Ebb's Cabaret, and later returned to perform Rock-a-Bye My Baby (the former made famous by Liza, the latter by mum Judy).

Sheila Hancock reminisced about having been a guest twice (very rare for the programme) and how furious her late husband John Thaw was as she was asked to go on the show before him - but they shared a favourite tune in Elgar's Cello Concerto, which was then superbly played by Mr Lloyd-Webber. It's one of my favourite pieces, too. I could hardly breathe!

Maureen Lipman, after a few anecdotes about her time as a guest, sang two songs from her repertoire of Joyce Grenfell songs, Three Brothers and Stately As A Galleon. Paul Gambaccini introduced a song that reminds him of his home city New York, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, masterfully played by musical director at Ronnie Scott's Club James Pearson. Ann Widdicombe came on stage as (bizarrely) the only guest ever to choose a sound effect as one of her discs - the sound of hippos calling to each other in the African bush...

Amazingly (and only the BBC would dare to do this), "Doris Karloff" was followed by a brilliant live appearance by the maestro of the modern jazz saxophone Courtney Pine, who exploded into the most incredible high-speed, high-energy version of Anita Baker's Sweet Love, which had the audience applauding the roof off!

Ronnie Corbett was hilarious - as always - with his remarkable anecdotes and was deliciously flirtatious with Miss Young, as he proceeded to sing(!) Madam I Love Your Crepe Suzette (from Du Barry Was a Lady) as a serenade. It was a delight to see such a "national treasure" (in Miss Young's words) live on stage!

After another of the most-selected musical choices on Desert Island Discs, John Barry's superb theme from Schindler's List, the show wound to its conclusion with more surprises! We were expecting our neighbour Jo Brand to appear (as was advertised), but it seems she left at half time. Our final act was instead the lovely Matt Lucas, singing(!) Lullaby Of Broadway, and then duetting with none other than the superbly talented tenor Mr Alfie Boe (who is apparently a close friend of Mr Lucas) on The Impossible Dream.

A fitting end to a wonderful evening!

Friday Night Is Music Night

Pop, pop, pop

As we head to Southend for a day by the (windy and grey) seaside, here are a few new musical snippets that have caught my attention lately...

Wow! A new (and quite fabby retro-sounding) single from Blondie! With this very odd zombie video, let's hope that Mother brings Debs and the crew back to the UK charts where they belong...

Next up, a haunting new song from Canadian warbler Austra:

I am so excited! Another new outing for the campest band of the 90s, Alcazar! Here is their new choon, a collaboration with some combo calling themselves Drum Beats - it is fabulous:

And to finish, a little bit of Baltic totty - the lovely Latvian Markus Riva with his forthcoming single How It Feels To Be A Man. I have heard the English version, and I think it sounds better in his native tongue (oo-er missus):


Happy Bank Holiday weekend!

Friday 27 May 2011

Burning love inside

Ah, weekends, how we love them... Especially Bank Holiday ones!

Continuing a hectic week, I have tickets to be part of the audience for Radio 2's Friday Night is Music Night celebration of the almost 70-year-old radio programme Desert Island Discs tonight, which should be fab, and tomorrow we're all off en masse to Shoeburyness, Southend and Leigh-on-Sea for a day at the sea-side.

To celebrate, let us revisit one of the hits from Alistair's very drunken 50th birthday party last Saturday - the Detroit Spinners and Working My Way Back To You. Here, Legs and Co show us exactly how we should have been dancing to it...

Thank Disco It's Friday!!

Thursday 26 May 2011

Miss Lee

All hail! It is the late, great Peggy Lee's birthday!

I am aware I have featured this particular magnificent patron saint many times before - notably here, here, here, here and here, but I don't care!

There is so much beautiful music of Miss Lee's yet to share...

...such as this one from her early days with Benny Goodman - Why Don't You Do Right:

...and this, her enduring classic Fever!

Peggy Lee official website

Culture with a capital "K"

This continues to be a hectic week (or two), as last night I was out again - this time for something really classy. I managed to secure tickets for Alistair, Jim and I to the 90th birthday celebrations of the London Chamber Orchestra at the magnificently baroque St John's, Smith Square - how fab!

The LCO is Britain's longest established professional chamber orchestra, and with its flamboyantly camp conductor Christopher Warren-Green recently played the music at the Royal Wedding. They have a reputation for fun and energy, so we were all looking forward to this concert. And we were not disappointed!

After a little "happy birthday" speech from Julian Lloyd-Webber(!), they opened with the lovely Lady Radnor's Suite by Hubert Parry (a piece with which I am unfamiliar), which was a beautifully English-summery way to start a concert.

[NB They have no performance videos online, so all these videos are of other orchestras unfortunately.]

After a bit of humping and shifting - to accommodate (tiny) soloist Christia Hudziy and her enormous grand piano - the now larger ensemble embarked upon their double-bill of Mozart compositions, starting with the Piano Concerto 23. And their performance was absolutely fantastic!

After the break, it was the turn of the highlight of the evening! Woody Allen once said that Mozart’s Symphony 41 "proved the existence of God". More popularly known as Jupiter, it certainly is the most magnificent of all his symphonic works, not least for it's finale. Playing it again as an encore, Mr Warren-Green said "It's almost like he was showing off!"

This was a sumptuous feast for the senses, and a brilliant evening. I must look out for more such events...

London Chamber Orchestra website

Wednesday 25 May 2011

"I'm a good girl, I am!"

We went along to see Pygmalion at The Garrick Theatre last night - and it was a remarkably surprising production! For despite the lure of seeing the eternally sexy Rupert Everett and the magnificent Dame Diana Rigg on stage together, it was the (previously unknown to me as I don't watch soaps or reality TV) first-timer Kara Tointon who emerged as a genuine star in the making.

Despite evidently being directed to impersonate Audrey Hepburn rather than actually portray an Edwardian character, Miss Tointon really injected some personality into her Eliza Doolittle - and provided a perfectly feisty foil for Mr Everett's terrifyingly dismissive Professor Higgins and Peter Eyre's aloof Colonel Pickering. Her scene when first introduced to polite society, engaging in ‘small talk’ with the society ladies, was hilarious and impeccably delivered - and her transformation from "squashed cabbage leaf" flower girl to well-spoken lady (without losing her anger) was convincing. Not bad for a West End debut!

Dame Diana was marvellous (as she would be) as Mrs Higgins - holding court in her drawing room - and Roberta Taylor’s Mrs Pearce the housekeeper is perfectly controlled as she seethes quietly about the Professor's callousness. There was only one weak spot - and a rather unfortunate one, given the importance of the character - in the fact that poor Simon Ward is unwell and has had to pull out of the production, leaving an obviously under-rehearsed Michael Feast to carry the part of Alfred Doolittle (who has so many of George Bernard Shaw's best lines in the play). Mr Feast is a good actor, but I felt myself wince several times as he stuttered, trying to get the lines - and losing a little of their emphasis on occasion.

The elegance, charm and wit of GB Shaw's writing shone through beautifully with such a great cast of thespians. Despite the unfortunately widespread set design, which placed Rupert Everett and Kara Tointon out of the eyeline of half the audience in the Circle on several occasions, at least you could always hear the dialogue. I am sure I was not alone in half-expecting them to burst into song ("reminder to self: this is the original, not My Fair Lady"), especially as little bursts of music do permeate the play...

Another joyful evening's entertainment, in celebration of the lovely Paul's birthday - and we managed to get our programmes autographed by a Dame, a queen and a debutante at the Stage Door afterwards!

Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Jaclyn Smith hair, ukelele-playing lesbians and the "Cult of the Clitoris"

Another great time was had by all at Polari last night!

Paul Burston - feeling slightly confused by introducing an evening's entertainment against a backdrop of brilliant sunshine through the panoramic windows of the Festival Hall - promised us a bit of a gender-bending evening, and that is certainly how it began...

Opening the session was the diminutive "faggy genderqueer" Len Lukowska, who regaled us with a rather funny (and very real!) tale of decadent times as the new boy/girl in London:
The morning after the zombie night I overslept. I’d just started a temp job at a library on the other side of London and was meant to be there in half an hour. I had fallen asleep in all my clothes, which was lucky as I had no time to change. I opened Paco’s top drawer, rifled among the condoms and found his deodorant. Lynx Africa. I sprayed it under my armpits, put my shoes on and I was good to go. I still stank of booze.
Familiar stuff.

Next up was the eminent Brighton historian Rose Collis, who is a truly knowledgeable and fascinating writer (her Encyclopaedia of Brighton, full of facts about her beloved city - and a lot of gay history, unsurprisingly - is out now).

Among the tales she recounted was the fascinating life of one Mary Diana Dods, a close friend of Mary Shelley, who decided to fashion an entire life for herself as a man. Calling herself Walter Sholto Douglas (she was not in fact related to the family of Lord Alfred "Bosie" Sholto Douglas, however), she "married" her friend Isabella Robinson, who was pregnant, and with the help of Mary Shelley they moved to France and brought the child up together as "husband" and wife. I was gripped!

Miss Collis is also, as Paul B remarked, the first lesbian historian to read and play the ukulele at Polari! [Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehaving", if you need to know.]

However, even more fabbiness was to follow - in the shape of the magnificent Welsh transgender cognitive behavioural psychotherapist and author Alex Drummond, resplendent with Jaclyn Smith hair and Roger Whittaker beard.

Miss/Mr Drummond read us a fabulous tale of his/her adventures as a "trans-grrl" making a first visit to Newport ("New-putt", the roughest place on earth - and my home town!). A brave move indeed, and brilliantly told. His/her book Queering the Tranny is out next month, and promises to be a cracking read! Download an extract and/or pre-order your copy at: http://www.queeringthetranny.com/

In a tribute to Miss/Mr Drummond, Paul Burston also decided to "dress to impress":

After the break came a real treat - the excellent and learned Philip Hoare, biographer of the early decadent dandies Noël Coward and Stephen Tennant and all-round expert in the gay history of the early 20th century.

Introducing his book Wilde's Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy and the First World War, he told us the enthralling true story of the scandalous libel trial of Maud Allen vs Noel Pemberton-Billing (right-wing MP and predecessor of Mosley). From the Good Reads website:
The Billing trial's beginnings can be traced to the moment British authorities finally permitted a staging of Wilde's play Salome. American beauty Maud Allan was to dance the lead. So outraged was Noel Pemberton Billing, a member of Parliament and self-appointed guardian of family values, that he denounced Allan in the right-wing newspaper Vigilante as a member of the "Cult of the Clitoris." Billing was convinced that the "Cult of Wilde" - a catch-all for anyone guilty of degeneracy and perversion, in his eyes - had infected the land. Of that, Billing maintained, he had proof: a black book containing the names of 47,000 members of the British establishment who without doubt were members of the Cult of Wilde was in the hands of the Germans. Threat of exposure was costing England the war. Maud Allan sued Billing for libel, and the trial that followed held the world in thrall. Was there or was there not a black book? What names did it contain? The Billing trial was both hugely entertaining - never had scandal and social prominence been so deliciously juxtaposed - and deadly serious. As in Oscar Wilde's own trial in 1895 (which also took place at the Old Bailey), libel was hardly the issue; the fight was for control over the country's moral compass. In Oscar Wilde's Last Stand, biographer and historian Philip Hoare gives us the full drama of the Billing trial, gavel to gavel, and brings to life this unique, bizarre, and spell-binding event.
I can't wait to read this...

Our finale was provided by musical genius Terry Ronald (who has worked with Kylie and Dannii Minogue, Geri Halliwell and Sheena Easton!), reading from his fabulously camp first novel Becoming Nancy [Kylie described it thus: "I laughed out loud! Terry’s humour translates perfectly to the page and his book is a joy!"].

The story is set in South London in 1979, and centres around David, a 15-year-old Debbie Harry-obsessed boy growing up and coming to terms with his sexuality. The extract he read focused on David and his boyfriend Maxie as they manage to sneak into their first gay club with the help of a sassy old drag queen, and was hilarious!

Read an excellent review of Mr Ronald's book on FizzyPop! blog.

John-John, Paul, Jim and I had a wonderful time as ever! Our next "fix" will be Polari Goes Pop on 22 June, as our "peerless gay literary salon" celebrates the Meltdown Festival 2011 with James Maker, Bugger Chops aka Daniel Haynes, Sophia Blackwell, Ernesto Sarezale, Paul Hickey and Michael Alago, and promises "a very special guest". I can't wait!!

Polari at the Southbank

Monday 23 May 2011

One of these days these boots are gonna...

I am back to work today after a rather fab week off (despite an exam) - sunshine, friends, gardening, Eurovision, Cleveland Street musical, Kew Gardens, a piano sing-a-long, Alistair's 50th birthday party and general self-indulgence...

Hey ho, never mind - it's Tacky Music Monday again!

So here, to cheer us all up as we dream of that big Lottery win, is a remarkably frenetic singer (to date unknown, possibly Lou Christie) and his paean to High Boots...


Scopitone website

Sunday 22 May 2011

Thought for the day...


Saturday 21 May 2011

Let me go, lover

RIP Miss Kathy Kirby, the UK's highest paid girl singer of the swinging sixties, who died today aged 72.

In her long career - from performing with Ambrose and his Orchestra, through coming second in Eurovision, to a rather sad episode with a nervous breakdown and bankruptcy in the 70s - Miss Kirby never quite hit the international scene in the same way as British rivals like Petula Clark, nor similar US vocal stylists like Doris Day, but nevertheless always has a place in our hearts here at Dolores Delargo Towers...

RIP, a lovely lady.

BBC article

Kathy Kirby official website

Where does it go from here? Is it down to the lake I fear?

Can it really be true? The object of my youthful lust, the uber-cute Nick Heyward of Haircut 100 is actually fifty years old??

Oh no.

Haircut 100 on Wikipedia

Friday 20 May 2011

Doin' the do

Almost forgot - Thank Disco It's Friday!!!

Betty Boo, doing-the-doing what she does best - sparkle, my sweeties, sparkle!

If she could turn back time...

Happy 65th birthday today to that triumph of art over nature, Cherilyn Sarkisian - better known as the mega-fantastic Cher!

From Wikipedia:
Referred to as the Goddess of Pop, Cher has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globes and a Cannes Film Festival Award among others for her work in film, music and television. She is the only person in history to have received all of these awards.
With a five-decade career, from Sonny and Cher to her most recent appearance as a grande dame mentoring the unlovely Christina Aquilera in Burlesque and sell-out shows in Las Vegas, the lady has provided a musical and/or cinematic backdrop to several generations of queens, and remains top of the pantheon of Gay Icons.

Many happy returns to one of the world's greatest stars, here appearing alongside another beloved icon, Our Cyndi...

Cher official website

Thursday 19 May 2011

There's nothing like a lad

"You can frolic with a sailor,
Fantasise over a gaoler,
Imagine yourself between the thighs of a big Norwegian whaler.
But there's nothing like a lad,
A youth who'll come and go,
There's nothing like a lad
Lettered GPO!"

John-John and I went to the tiny "Over the Stag" Theatre last night (Wednesday) - literally, upstairs in The Stag gay pub in Victoria - to see the much-anticipated musical about a great Victorian sex scandal, Cleveland Street. A little gem of a production it was too!

With its Music Hall/Gilbert & Sullivan-style musical numbers, the tale is all about the procurement of post boys to satisfy the lusts of a succession of "respectable gentlemen" of the time.

Among of the clients who regularly visited the male brothel at 19 Cleveland Street were Lord Arthur Somerset (son of the Duke of Beaufort and equerry to the Prince of Wales), the Earl of Euston (William FitzRoy, heir to the Duchy of Grafton), and a Colonel Jervoise from Winchester - otherwise known as "Mr Black", "Mr Green" and "Mr Brown". Another alleged visitor was Queen Victoria's grandson, Prince Albert Edward Victor (known more popularly as Prince Eddy).

As the story unfolds it reveals the true exent of Victorian hypocrisy, and how the establishment always looks after its own. Despite a high-level police raid none of the clients of the brothel were ever charged, even though homosexuality was illegal at the time. At the subsequent trial, two of the boys Henry Newlove and George Veck were found guilty of procurement but received light sentences of less than a year. Lord Arthur Somerset escaped to Vienna and resigned from the Guards and the royal household. He died in France in 1926. Prince Eddy was sent off to India on a lengthy tour of duty.

During a second trial, Lord Euston claimed in the box that he had attended the house in the belief that he was going to watch heterosexual poses plastiques, or the Victorian version of a strip show. Ironically, the only person sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence was the proprietor of a local London newspaper who had dared to print the truth but was sued for libel by the Earl. In effect, the scandal was "brushed under the carpet" by high society.

The ribald songs, including There Ought To Be A Law Against It, Nothing Like A Lad, Rum, Buggery And The Lash and Climbing The Ladder, Passing The Buck, take the tale from the beginnings of the brothel and the initial procurement of fresh boys and new clients (mainly by the story's narrator, the real-life gay rogue John Saul) through to the police raid, the escape of the brothel's "Madam" Charles Hammond to France, and the consequences afterwards.

Cleveland Street the Musical avoids too much in the way of tawdriness and serious social commentary, rather it celebrates the enjoyment that the naughtiness brought to all concerned, until its collapse under the weight of prudish hypocritical "morality" of society at the time.

Yes, you do get to see some cock, and the players are rather cute - which also makes for an enjoyable evening's entertainment - but the whole in this case is more than just a sum of its parts. It is a bloody good night out - but it's only booking to the end of May so you'd better be quick!

Cleveland Street - The Musical

Wednesday 18 May 2011

"Hey, Mr Beaver..."

That most lovely of screen and stage actresses, and fabulous lady lesbian (she's been with her girlfriend for 40 years), Miriam Margolyes is 70 years old today.

Whenever we see Miss Margolyes on chat shows or in interviews, she always appears a genuinely charming person - and what a versatile career she has had too!

She voiced all the female characters in those classic Chinese romps so beloved of my childhood, The Water Margin and Monkey!, was the voice of the Cadbury's Caramel rabbit, appeared in the comedy sketch show A Kick Up The 80s alongside Tracey Ullman and Rik Mayall, guest starred in Blackadder, was Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach, and played to type as Julie T Walters' lesbian lover in the fabulous Life and Loves of a She-Devil. She specialises in character roles, particularly in Shakespeare and in Dickens adaptations, was the Cornish housekeeper in Ladies in Lavender, and is probably most famous internationally as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter - phew!

Miss Margolyes' biggest selling-point over the years has been her mellifluous voice - not only has she made a good living from voice-overs, but she also dedicates a lot of her time to reading audio-books for the visually impaired, as well as for the commercial market. Most successful of these was her Dickens' Women, which she did for the BBC (as well as on stage across the world). My mother loved it.

In celebration of this most marvellous lady, here are some clips...

Many happy returns to a great British treasure!

Miriam Margolyes online

Miriam Margolyes on IMDB

How does it feel?

And I thought hearing Adam Ant again made me nostalgic... Then, on one of my meandering forays across the interweb I came across a series of mash-ups of old Hi-NRG tunes by German DJ Joerg Schweinberger (calling himself JoS-Mix)!

Pass the poppers, someone...

Suddenly I am back in "The Tunnel" club in Cardiff in 1984 - heaven!

Tuesday 17 May 2011

"So sick and tired of all the hatred you harbour"

Today marks the seventh International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

The event has been held every year since 2005 to raise awareness of discrimination and harassment of LGBT people around the globe.

Although I know of nothing that is happening in our borough (Haringey), a conference on LGBT rights and faith featuring Peter Tatchell, communities minister Andrew Stunell and the mayor Lutfur Rahmanis is to be held in Tower Hamlets following upset over anti-gay stickers posted around the area.

Bigotry amongst Islamists (who are believed to be behind the East End stickers) and Islamic countries is nothing new - and just as the UN has produced its first-ever brochure (to coincide with IDAHO) highlighting its official position on sexual orientation and gender identity human rights, so the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and some African countries have organised vocal opposition to it. Their agenda is to redefine human rights - permitting religion to exclude not just homosexuality but some women's rights issues.

In that most homophobic society Uganda, IDAHO campaigners have organised a conference titled "Sexuality, Orientation, Gender Identity and Health", a brave move considering that only last week there was still a threat that the Ugandan parliament was considering passing an Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Thankfully, Uganda has at last been directly threatened with having its aid withdrawn by numerous countries, including the US, which said it would use its leverage in places like the World Bank.

In Malawi the picture is just as bad - the British ambassador was expelled in April following his leaked diplomatic criticism of the president, after which their local press once more put the blame on gay people! However, arrests for homosexuality and a new law criminalising lesbians have contributed to the withdrawal of some international aid, and to other aid being renegotiated.

Read more in the Guardian

Even in the so-called "civilised world", religious fundamentalism still espouses hate against us - in the Australian city of Adelaide only yesterday, a gang of fascist "God Hates Gays" protestors violently attacked a rally against homophobia. Great news in the country that produced Priscilla Queen of the Desert...

All this is depressing stuff, but must yet again serve to remind the complacent public - gay and straight - that some of the battles (perhaps here and in other European countries) may have been fought and won, but we are a long way away from being accepted, tolerated or even decriminalised - we can be imprisoned or face corporal punishment in 76 countries across the world, and the death penalty for homosexual activity still exists in five countries and parts of Nigeria and Somalia.

Download a copy of the International Gay Rights Map (PDF)

The date of IDAHO marks the day when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders - only 21 years ago. Coincidentally, and almost as depressing, Lady Gaga is apparently the self-proclaimed "spokesperson" for IDAHO...

Never mind her - this is what I inevitably want to play:

International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia website

I spend my cash on looking flash

I sat an exam this morning - the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, level 3 if you need to know - and I feel I need some cheering up after that! [I'm too old and too bloody cynical to be a student...]

And this is just the thing. Thirty years ago a certain gorgeous man by the name of Adam (and his Ants) ruled our world - and here is what they were ruling with this week...

Stand and Deliver indeed! I remember it well - their album Kings of the Wild Frontier was hardly off my Dansette.

Oh, memories of being a teenager again...

Monday 16 May 2011

My kind of advertising campaign!

For the opening of their Paris store, Abercrombie and Fitch had a hundred semi-naked male models parade around the city...

And why not, I say?

Abercrombie & Fitch website

Nouvelle musique

After all that Eurovision frenzy on the weekend, I think we are due a little exploration of the newer music that I have enjoyed over the past week...

First up, a slice of gorgeousness in the form of Danish chanteuse Medina and her fab new single Gutter - a survival anthem in the making if ever I heard one (if anthems do indeed come in a style reminiscent of Everything But The Girl)...

Next, the magnificent Grace Jones once more provides a brilliant foil for the sultry musical stylings of Mlle Brigitte Fontaine (read my blog featuring a previous collaboration between these two musical giants) - and this time they want us to hit the Dancefloor!

Fancy a bit of Greek?

The very sexy Kostas Martakis - one of the 25 most beautiful men on the planet according to E! Entertainment TV channel - (who himself tried to represent his home country at Eurovision in 2008, coming second in the Greece selection) has teamed up with Russian singer Diana Diez on this fabby electro-pop number, provocatively titled Sex Indigo. Can't wait for the actual video!

Next, a rather haunting little number by the former jazz singer and remarkably big-lipped Lana Del Rey:

Here is a fabulous video for a fabulously catchy choon - Aussie duo Bag Raiders with their their latest single (it was actually released in Oz in October, but these things take time!):

And last but not least, the lovely Henry over at Barbarella's Galaxy has alerted me to a new choon by that rather ballsy young lady from Solihull by the name of Clare Maguire - her excellent new single The Shield and the Sword. And so I top and tail this blog with anthems...


I spend it all*

It has been a fantabulosa weekend here at Dolores Delargo Towers - as Eurovision/"Gay World Cup" weekends inevitably are!

The campness of the moment when our patron saint Raffaella Carrà appeared to present the votes from newly-rejoined Italy (they had withdrawn from the contest for years - and came second this year) was the icing on the cake...

And in honour of that moment, on this Tacky Music Monday we once more open our hearts to the multi-talented Miss Carrà and her dancing gays!

Have a fab week!

[* Mi spendo tutto = "I spend it all" in Italian]

Sunday 15 May 2011

Blue, dab-a-dee

Blue tried their best...

But we wuz robbed again! Once more, the voting system of the Eurovision Song Contest was exposed as a succession of countries voting for their neighbours rather than for the genuinely decent songs.

Our "house scores" ended up with a top five of UK, Sweden, Ireland, Spain and Serbia. But what actually won? The anti-gay country of Azerbaijan. The song was crap, but got 12 votes from guess where? Russia and Turkey, and ten points from Croatia, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. Bloc voting? Never!

Admittedly, our beloved Blue boys did very well in comparison to previous years, coming in eleventh with 100 points. At an early stage we were top of the list, which prompted BBC host Graham Norton to ask someone to take a picture! Others in our top five didn't do too badly either - the lovely Eric Saade came in third for Sweden, and the hyperactive twins Jedward came eighth for Ireland.

Our party was a blast, no matter what the scores! Among our guests were "plucky Leif Ericsson", several Gypsies, "La Saraghina", "Josephine Baker", an East German General and "Lozana the lusty Andalusian Woman"... The kitchen table was heaving with the food of all nations (we still have enough various cheeses to stock a shop!), and the booze flowed healthily enough to keep us going long after the disappointing vote 'till the wee small hours.

Once again, a brilliant evening - and despite everything I have no doubt we will be doing it all again this time next year!

Here are some highlights from the Gay World Cup, starting with our "Top Five".






Now the actual winner, Azerbaijan:

And a couple of fave moments:

Funniest moment? When the pretty lead singer of the Denmark entry mouthed "I love you. I want to fuck you." at the camera.

Best surprise? Seeing Raffaella Carra presenting the scores from the Italian jury.

Roll on Eurovision 2012!

Eurovision Song Contest on the BBC

Saturday 14 May 2011

I Can, I Will!

We have bunting, fairy lights, flags, crates of booze and a buffet of food from all nations ready here at Dolores Delargo Towers - for tonight we celebrate the Gay World Cup!

As we prepare to receive our fabulously attired guests for the Party of the Year that is the Eurovision Song Contest, and wonder how we are going to fit all thirteen of us into our front room without a shoe-horn, our hopes rest on the lovely Blue boys to get us to the top this year. Or at least to score a few points.

At this point it is probably worth cogitating on the last decade's choice of acts (minus little Josh from last year, who is probably appearing in the touring version of Grease in Cleckheaton as we speak...) that represented the UK at the great contest. Judging by some of them, I'm not surprised we are not that well regarded in Europe...

This year, at least we have a big-name act on our team - come on Blue! You can do it!

Friday 13 May 2011


I wondered why my Thursday blog had disappeared! Well, it is Friday 13th...

An update from the boffins at Blogger:
What a frustrating day. We’re very sorry that you’ve been unable to publish to Blogger for the past 20.5 hours. We’re nearly back to normal — you can publish again, and in the coming hours posts and comments that were temporarily removed should be restored. Thank you for your patience while we fix this situation. We use Blogger for our own blogs, so we’ve also felt your pain.

Here’s what happened: during scheduled maintenance work Wednesday night, we experienced some data corruption that impacted Blogger’s behaviour. Since then, bloggers and readers may have experienced a variety of anomalies including intermittent outages, disappearing posts, and arriving at unintended blogs or error pages. A small subset of Blogger users (we estimate 0.16%) may have encountered additional problems specific to their accounts. Yesterday we returned Blogger to a pre-maintenance state and placed the service in read-only mode while we worked on restoring all content: that’s why you haven’t been able to publish. We rolled back to a version of Blogger as of Wednesday May 11th, so your posts since then were temporarily removed. Those are the posts that we’re in the progress of restoring.

Again, we are very sorry for the impact to our authors and readers. We try hard to ensure Blogger is always available for you to share your thoughts and opinions with the world, and we’ll do our best to prevent this from happening again.

Posted by Eddie Kessler, Tech Lead/Manager, Blogger
Luckily we have a spy-cam on the back-of-house operations at Blogger. This serves to illustrate the complexity of their operating system...

No wonder it went down...

Show 'em how we do it now...

So the second Gay World Cup semi-final is over, and we wave adieu to the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovakia, Cyprus (with Turkey out as well there will be some long faces here in Green Lanes!), Bulgaria, FYR Macedonia, Israel (Dana International is out!), Belarus and Latvia.

However, two of our totty fave acts here at Dolores Delargo Towers - Ireland and Sweden - are through to the Eurovision final, along with Estonia, Romania, Moldova, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Denmark, Austria, Ukraine and Slovenia.

With all that Euro-tackiness abounding, I think it's time to don some pink'n'glitter combo from the back of the wardrobe and get into the groove with something a bit more classy...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Whatever happened to Peaches and Herb, anyway?