Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Another glittering Dowager

Exciting news!

From the BBC:
Oscar-winning US actress Shirley MacLaine is to join the cast of Downton Abbey for its third series as the mother of Lady Grantham.

MacLaine - whose character is named Martha Levinson - will begin filming with the rest of the cast next month.

"It is so exciting to have an actress of Shirley MacLaine's stature joining our brilliant Downton Abbey cast," said Laura Mackie, ITV's director of drama.

"It is a tribute to the show's success on both sides of the Atlantic."

"Julian [Fellowes] has written another brilliant character in Martha Levinson, who will be a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess," said Gareth Neame of Downton producer Carnival Films.
Here is a very short clip of Miss MacLaine playing another fearsome early 20th century character Coco Chanel - a taster for what is to come?

Downton Abbey website

Flags, Closets, Salons, Dukes, Gods - and Steampunk!

Tomorrow marks the start of LGBT History Month, which continues throughout February.

That's yours truly at the back of the above photo - as co-Chair of the LGBT Forum, celebrating the arrival of the very first Rainbow Flag in its history to grace the flagpole above Islington Town Hall!

As ever, London has a fair smattering of events to mark the month, not least the on-going Joe Orton exhibition Malicious Damage. I am particularly looking forward to:
  • The Vinyl Closet this Friday (3rd Feb) - a third outing of the entertaining history evening that uncovers portrayals of LGBT lives in popular music, organised as a fundraiser by the Lesbian and Gay Humanists. Visit the website (and notice where the links to the reviews of their previous shows point!)
  • Our regular monthly highlight, "London's peerless literary salon" Polari on Monday 6th, with readings from Tiffany Murray, Faarea Masud, Catherine Hall, Jack Scott, Vicky Ryder and Max Wallis. Islington should be hosting a local "mini-Polari" as well, if arrangements are ever finalised...
  • On Tuesday, a special lecture on Philippe I, duc d'Orléans (the flamboyant bejewelled brother of Louis XIV, known as "Monsieur") at the Wallace Collection (a museum I have never been to, so double the excitement!)
  • Antinous, Last God of the Ancient World (on Thursday 9th at the marvellous Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology), a "lavishly illustrated lecture" on the legendary youth whose death drove his lover the Emperor Hadrian to create a god-cult in his name.
There are of course many other events that we have yet to decide whether we will go to, including a history of gay people who helped win WW2, Olga Niewert's tribute to Klaus Nomi, a new performance play by La John-Joseph called Boy in a Dress, and a gay history tour of the fabulous Eltham Palace, but we'll see how the month pans out.

The closing gala ball on 24th February at Islington's Art Deco Assembly Hall is taking enough planning/shopping as it is - its dressing-up theme being "Steampunk", a currently trendy style that fascinates me (admirably described by one wit as "What happens when Goths discover brown"). And we all know how much I like dressing-up...

All this, and the beloved other half Madam Arcati's birthday, too! How will we cope?

In the United Kingdom LGBT History Month is observed during February to coincide with the celebration of the 2005 abolition of Section 28. Visit the official website.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Double the fun

Just in case you thought I had neglected the "pick-me-up" element that is so traditional on a Tacky Music Monday here at Dolores Delargo Towers, here's an added bonus, in the form of the fantabulosa house favourites the Kessler Twins!

Lasciati Baciare Col Letkiss

I am practising the dance steps as we speak...


Possibly one of the weirdest videos I have watched in ages - on this Tacky Music Monday, let us just blow our minds and forget about the dreariness that is another week in work.

Here's Mistral with their 1977 Euro-hit Jamie (and for some inexplicable reason, some giant insects...)

Now we know where Goldfrapp got all their inspiration.

Have a good week!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Such a drag

"Adam Sandler's latest comedy is shallow, scatological, lazy, crass and brazenly commercial. That's not news. But Jack and Jill may also mark something more significant: the moment when cinematic cross-dressing officially stops being funny."

And so begins What a drag: the death of the cross-dressing movie, an excellent article from Steve Rose in The Guardian.

I have always loathed Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy and their ilk, and the unfunny "comedies" they appear to prefer starring in, and Mr Rose gives them a deserved kicking.

Well done, that man!

Late, lamented variety

I am having a verrry slow start to the day, as is my wont on the weekend.

Just having listened to Babs Windsor's fab show on BBC Radio 2 (in which she always does a "Music Hall" slot), I am now suitably woken up and in the mood for a couple of extracts from the late, lamented Good Old Days.

One of the longest-running variety shows the BBC ever had, for some bizarre reason it was axed in the early 80s. Such a shame, for during its thirty years at the top of the ratings, compèred by Leonard Sachs, it featured more than 2000 performers - among them the very best of British showbiz talent, including Morecambe and Wise, Bruce Forsyth, Georgia Brown, Roy Castle, Larry Grayson, Dora Bryan, Arthur Askey, Edward Woodward, Les Dawson, Gemma Craven, David Kernan, Beryl Reid, Bernard Cribbins, Barry Cryer, Sheila Steafel, Roy Hudd, June Whitfield, Frankie Vaughan, Hinge and Bracket, Ken Dodd, Ron Moody, Tessie O'Shea and Barbara Windsor herself, and special guests from America like Eartha Kitt and Dolores Gray...

...as well as these two camp favourites - Danny LaRue and John Inman:

The Good Old Days indeed!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

I'd prefer a gay witch to this man...

In his statement decrying the concept of gay marriage today, the unelected Ugandan immigrant Archbishop of York John Sentamu said "only "dictators" tried to overturn history". Oh really?
It is believed that a same-sex union was a socially recognized institution at times in Ancient Greece and Rome, some regions of China, such as Fujian province, and at certain times in ancient European history.

At the end of the 2nd century, Plutarch's "Moralia" included a debate on the merits of Greek pederasty versus heterosexual marriage. The debate points out the good and bad aspects of both forms of love in a debate between proponents of both types of relationships.

At least two of the Roman Emperors were in gay unions. The first Roman emperor to have married a man was Nero, who is reported to have married two other men on different occasions. Nero "married a man named Sporus in a very public ceremony... with all the solemnities of matrimony, and lived with him as his spouse" A friend gave the "bride" away "as required by law." The marriage was celebrated separately in both Greece and Rome in extravagant public ceremonies. The emperor Elagabalus married an athlete named Hierocles in a lavish public ceremony in Rome amidst the rejoicings of the citizens.

In ancient China, a Ming Dynasty rewriting of a very early Zhou Dynasty legend recounts a passionate male relationship between Pan Zhang and Wang Zhongxian which is equated to heterosexual marriage, and which continues even beyond death.

In North America, among the Native Americans societies, same-sex unions have taken the form of Two-Spirit-type relationships, in which some male members of the tribe, from an early age, heed a calling to take on female gender with all its responsibilities. They are prized as wives by the other men in the tribe, who enter into formal marriages with these Two-Spirit men.

In Europe, gay unions continued until Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. A law in the Theodosian Code was issued in 342 AD by the Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans, which prohibited same-sex marriage in ancient Rome and ordered that those who were so married were to be executed.
Whose history, exactly, Mr Bishop? Whose dictat?

Once and for all, why on earth can't we have a government that will finally publicly remove these bloody antedeluvian bishops and their pointless bigotry from the establishment of this supposedly free 21st century country? This is a man who holds a position of some importance in the House of Lords thanks to our anachronistic constitution - and yet believes in witchcraft, for f*ck's sake!

I despair.

Legendary diva

In this world, we can never have enough Sara Montiel...

The unstoppable Thombeau has launched another new blog dedicated to such campness - visit The Forgotten Musical today!!!

Spring fever?

"I feel so gay in a melancholy way, that it might as well be spring"

The daffodils are out in the gardens of Dolores Delargo Towers!

Our favourite season is just around the corner...

Friday, 27 January 2012

You make me feel I'm the Queen of the world

It's been a busy week, and I am looking forward to the weekend like no other - and it's pay day. Time to party!

Blurring the boundaries somewhat between "Tacky Music Monday" and my usual Friday slot in this clip, I'm not sure which I love the most - the "Disco Granny chic" of Miss Celi Bee, or her fabulous pirouetting gay boys...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Kylie's Silver Jubilee year starts here

Kylie for Jean-Paul Gaultier

Just to cheer everyone up, in this, her 25th year in the music business (or "K25" as she and her marketing team would have us call it), Our Princess Miss Kylie Minogue has released the first of what she promises will be a whole album's worth of specially-recorded versions of her classic pop numbers.

Finer Feelings, a relatively unsuccessful single of hers from 1992, is here given the full sumptuous orchestral treatment (courtesy of a 24 piece string orchestra, led by Welsh music maestro Cliff Masterson):

The release of the video (and thus the full version of the song) was subject to a brilliantly novel twist on people power - for until 25,000 people "tweeted" the website it remained stubbornly pixellated and only finally went live earlier today. You can read all about the "great reveal" on uber-fan Marky Marc's site Shine On And On (of course) - and if you read carefully you'll find the download...

But not content with teasing her queeny fans for hours with her music - Kylie has announced she will be at the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras Parade parade on 3rd March! (Her first since 1998). Pause for screams from down under.

This could be the start of a great year for Kylie - and I can't wait to hear the rest of her orchestrally-arranged music in the coming months!


Quiet star

Eighty-five years ago today, the "father of Bossa Nova" Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida (Tom) Jobim was born.

To commemorate, I am definitely in a sultry samba mode, so here are some of his classics...

Antonio Carlos Jobim (January 25, 1927 – December 8, 1994) on Wikipedia

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Is it in your genes? I don't know

Good grief - is it really fifteen years since this 4 minutes of magnificence was at Number 1?

I absolutely adore it...

Just tell me what you've got to say to me,
I've been waiting for so long to hear the truth,
It comes as no surprise at all you see,
So cut the crap and tell me that we're through.

Now I know your heart, I know your mind,
You don't even know you're being unkind,
So much for all your high brow Marxist ways,
Just use me up and then you walk away.
Boy, you can't play me that way.

Well I guess what you say is true,
I could never be the right kind of girl for you,
I could never be your woman.

I could never be your woman,
I could never be your woman,
I could never be your woman.

When I saw my best friend yesterday,
She said she never liked you from the start,
Well me, I wish that I could claim the same,
But you always knew you held my heart.

And you're such a charming, handsome man,
Now I think I finally understand,
Is it in your genes? I don't know,
But I'll soon find out, that's for sure,
Why did you play me this way?

Well I guess what you say is true,
I could never be the right kind of girl for you,
I could never be your woman.

I could never be your woman,
I could never be your woman,
I could never be your woman.

Well I guess what they say is true,
I could never spend my life with a man like you.
I could never be your woman.

I could never be your woman,
I could never be your woman,
I could never be your woman.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Enter the Dragon

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon!

And what better way to see in the Chinese New Year than with the utterly stunning Thousand Hand Guan Yin?

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Every street's a highway of your dreams

photo by Laura Marie Duncan

So where did that weekend go, exactly?

Never mind, it's another day, another diva's birthday to salute! As rumours abound that Miss Chita Rivera - who celebrates her 79th birthday today - will appear at an all-star charity gala this April (duetting with either Miss Minnelli or Miss Reinking, depending on which article you read), so on this Tacky Music Monday let us enjoy her remarkable showbiz talents.

Here is the lady herself - and her collected gays - with Every Street's A Boulevard!

Miss Rivera is quite a frequent visitor to this regular Monday celebration of razzamatazz, understandably - you can find more Chita here, here, here, here and indeed here.

We love Chita Rivera!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Queen of Tap

In memory of Miss Ann Miller, who died eight years ago today, I have created her a brand new "exhibit" in the Dolores Delargo Towers - Museum of Camp.

Over here I feel like sharing some more of my favourite performances of hers...

A magnificent 1989 performance of 42nd Street:

Her last stage appearance, aged 75, in Follies (1998):

And finally - I really can't believe I have never featured this, possibly my favourite piece of kitsch TV EVER, the "Love Boat Follies" (in which she does diva battle with Ethel Merman, Della Reese and Carol Channing!)...

Magnificently camp!

RIP, Miss Miller.

Modish musicality

It is time, dear reader, for the very first pick in 2012 of the newer sounds that have caught my ear. Not the best time of year for decent new music, admittedly - the record companies are still basking in the sales, accolades and awards that 2011 and the Xmas rush brought.

However the new remix of a track first aired in November, Desire by a strangely named duo calling themselves Woman E has a rather catchy early Kylie feel to it, so things look promising:

With a bit of a "cutesy" video, the artist known as Dev has a new single Dancing Shoes. It is really rather good:

Let's change the mood a bit and hit the clubs, courtesy of Swedish House Mafia vs Knife Party, with Antidote. Fab!

But enough of all that, let's get to the boys..!

This exotically camp little number rather perked me up, largely thanks to its video that features the gay porn star Arpad Miklos, albeit in a far less - ahem! - active role than his usual on-screen appearances... Here's Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, with Hood:

Off to the sizzling heat of Spain, and a brand new totty discovery, whose clothes just keep falling off (thankfully)!

Zeus Tous (for it is he) is none other than the son of one of our house favourite divas, Sara Montiel! [Read previous blogs about this fabulous diva here, here, here and here.] He has recently changed his musical direction away from sub-Iglesias crooner territory towards clubland, with his new single Sex Dance, and if those photos are anything to go by I can't wait to see the video:

So let us finish with a corker! Making a very welcome return are Russia's bendiest of boybands, Kazaky with Dance and Change. I love our houseboys - gorgeously toned, fabulously camp, they dance better than Beyoncé - and in bigger heels!

Once again, enjoy...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sexy redheads, Restoration grimacing, Viv Stanishall's sausages and a Ferret

It was the first Polari of 2012 on Thursday, and yet again our host (and sometime semi-nude photographic poseur) Mr Paul Burston pulled out all the stops to give us a wonderful evening of literary high camp!

Arriving on stage fully clothed (and sickeningly tanned) with a tack-o-rama souvenir brolly from his recent holiday in Brazil with hubby Paulo, we knew it wouldn't be long before he could no longer resist the temptation to strip for our star-studded audience. However, there was another "peerless gay literary salon" to introduce first...

Our opening speaker was the lovely Anthony McDonald, author of the books Adam and Blue Sky Adam (extracts from which he read for us at Polari back in June 2009). His new book emerged out of a real-life obsession with a redhead stranger on a train, and the passage he read involved the burgeoning relationship between such strangers - the older (slightly autobiographical) Oliver and the younger, ostensibly straight Orlando - and their adventures in Malaga. It seems like a great story! Getting Orlando is available from BigFib books.

The ebullient Mr Rikki Beadle-Blair is a true drama queen - the man responsible for Stonewall - The Musical (which we went to see at the Pleasance Theatre back in 2007), the TV series Metrosexuality and numerous theatrical productions, in many of which he starred as well as produced. As well as having a long history in drama and gay activism, he is also an avid poster of "Things I Learned Today" on Facebook, which apparently have become so popular he has collected them all into a "self-help" book of the same name. It was this he decided to focus his reading on - and encouraged a lively and interesting audience debate session in the process! I found it fascinating (if a little reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver's cameo role in Jeffrey).

"Pox, say I, upon the insolent crackfarts, the impudent numps, the tawdry morts!" These are just some of the shocking expletives that our next reader the actress and author Fidelis Morgan uses - regularly by all accounts. An expert in the wild, weird and wacky world of the 60s - the 1760s, that is! - Miss Morgan is a fantastic and mesmerising reader and performer. In her scarlet velvet jacket and pearls, she gave us an extract from her "Countess Ashby de la Zouche" period crime novels involving the purchase of a dildo, and an insight into attitudes to homosexuality and sex two hundred and fifty years ago - and not content with all that she dragged some willing victims out of the audience for a Restoration-era lesson in acting expressions as well...

"I have three passions: larger-than-life people, structure and smut. It was therefore inevitable that I would write whodunits set in Restoration London. Everything is waiting there for me: actresses, stalkers, prostitutes, street hoodlums, footpads, extortionists, rapists and, inevitably, murderers. A quick glimpse through the 1690s Accounts of the London Sessions or the Newgate Calendar is not unlike spending a Sunday with the red tops. Human desires and foibles roll on without ever really changing. I have found neighbours squabbling about noise or smells from next door, wife-beaters, husband-beaters, drunks, peers who think themselves above the law, fraudsters, child molesters, child thieves and children who murdered.
Marvellous stuff! Download an extract of her Unnatural Fire [pdf].

It is very difficult to follow an act like that, but Miss Rosie Wilby certainly leapt to the stage with aplomb! From her roots as a singer with a band back in the 90s, Miss W has developed her career into journalism and latterly stand-up comedy. Recently she has combined all three into a new show based upon her Pop Diaries from the dearly-departed Melody Maker. Here are a couple of samples of the lady's superb talents...

Rounding off the evening, his clothes having unsurprisingly fallen off by this stage, Mr B introduced Polari First Book Prize winner Mr James Maker, who treated us to some of his often hilarious reminisces from his memoir Autofellatio. On this occasion he entertained us with the often bizarre experience of filming Middleton's Changeling alongside an array of eccentric characters including Billy Connolly, Ian Dury, John Cooper-Clarke and Viv Stanishall (who appeared in the kitchen in the middle of the night to announce to the startled young Mr Maker "The Cumberland sausages are mine!" before disappearing again). Read in James' typically droll "throwaway" style, the experience seemed all the more amazing...

And so it was unfortunate that another great evening's entertainment had to close - just sufficient time for me to get a photograph taken with two of my favourite entertainers, Miss Adele Anderson (who we saw only recently on stage with her group Fascinating Aida) and Miss Eve Ferret (whose one-woman show we saw in June last year), who I had been raving about meeting all evening!

Utterly charming and delightful company they were, too.

J'adore Polari! Our next is on 6th February, and Tiffany Murray and Faarea Masud are already announced - but I have no doubt there will be much much more.

Polari is at the Southbank Centre

Friday, 20 January 2012

I don't wanna watch you leave me, baby

RIP Miss Etta James, soul and jazz legend, and rightful claimant to the title "diva".

Very sad news indeed. Nobody had a voice like Etta's...

Etta James obituary in The Guardian

Everything I touch turns to gold

Still coming down to earth after a fantabulosa evening at Polari last night, and looking forward to 5 o'clock to see the back of another week in work...

So, to prepare ourselves for the weekend ahead, let us apply the "super-gloss" hair gel, dig out our best padded shoulder floral print jackets (with clashing shirts, of course) and a little touch of diamanté, and boogie on down with Midnight Star (whatever happened to them?). Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good one!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Backwoods Barbie

While looking forward to tonight's first Polari of 2012 (featuring James Maker, Rosie Wilby, Fidelis Morgan, Anthony McDonald and Rikki Beadle-Blair), we at Dolores Delargo Towers wish a big happy 66th birthday today to one of our favourite triumphs of art over nature Miss Dolly Parton - the outrageous bewigged and sequinned diva of the West!

Eartha, Ethel, Shirley, Betty, Dolly - why is it that so many of our patron saints were born in January..?

I paid due deference to the original "Trashville Tennessee" belle on her 65th last year with a few of her classics. This year, I thought I'd feature a couple of her more recent choons.

Here's a track from Dolly's recent album, the title track Together You and I:

And here's her hilarious self-pisstake Backwoods Barbie from 2009, which is crying out for a drag queen act, really...


Dolly Parton website

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Downton Abbey effect?

"It is universally acknowledged this is a formal occasion and not an occasion where you might dress as you would at a nightclub."

- Ascot Racecourse bans fascinators in favour of proper hats

Run for the sun, little one

As we look out upon one of the most miserable days of the year so far, all grey and drizzly and dark, let our minds drift back thirty years to a time when Bucks Fizz ruled the world with this cheerful song...

Stars in your eyes, little one
Where do you go to dream
To a place, we all know
The land of make believe

Shadows, tapping at your window
Ghostly voices whisper will you come and play
Not for all the tea in China
Or the corn in Carolina
Never, never ever
They're running after you babe

Run for the sun, little one
You're an outlaw once again
Time to change, Superman
He'll be with us while he can
In the land of make believe

Something nasty in your garden's waiting
Patiently, till it can have your heart
Try to go but it won't let you
Don't you know it's out to get you running
Keep on running
They're running after you babe

Run for the sun, little one
You're an outlaw once again
Time to change, Superman
He'll be with us while he can
In the land of make believe

Your world is turning
From night to day
Your dream is burning far, far away

Into the blue
You and I
To the circus in the sky
Captain Kids
On the sand
With the treasure close at hand
In the land of make believe

In the land of make believe

Run for the sun, little one
You're an outlaw once again
Time to change, Superman
He'll be with us while he can
In the land of make believe

Run for the sun, little one
You're an outlaw once again
Time to change, Superman
He'll be with us while he can
In the land of make believe

I've got a friend who comes to tea
And no-one else can see but me
He came today
But had to go
To visit you
You never know

Land Of Make Believe indeed... I suppose there's always the Lottery tonight to look forward to!

My new fitness regime

My thoughts turn to Cary Grant (in trunks) on what would have been his birthday today.

[Previous thoughts on Mr Grant.]

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Betty, Betty, Betty!

It's (another) Betty White Day!

The most fabulous person on American television, Betty celebrates her 90th birthday today!!!

Many happy returns to our cuddliest patron saint - she also features as our latest exhibit in the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp.

The last word on the Golden Globes

Of course...

Charlie Hides TV

Monday, 16 January 2012

The land of the Pharaohs?

Monday blues again?

Well, on this Tacky Music Monday - just when you thought we couldn't possibly get more campness into one place - here's Miss Mitzi Gaynor, apparently trapped in an Egyptian discotheque!

Now that ought to cheer you up...

[Thanks, Thombeau]

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Thought for the day

Dame Judi Dench was crossing Shaftesbury Ave on her way to rehearsal and was almost run down by a speeding taxi. The taxi driver shouted to her out of the window, "You stupid cunt!"

Dame Judi's fast reply - "That's Dame Cunt to you!"

Queen of all things tacky and camp

Many happy returns to the effervescent Charo, who is 71, or 61, years old today - depending on who you believe...

A regularly featured favourite on the turntables here at Dolores Delargo Towers, it doesn't really matter how old this lady really is - she is the Queen of all things tacky and camp, and we love her!

Yes I know I have featured this "triumph of art over nature" many, many times before, but I can never get enough...

Charo official website

Saturday, 14 January 2012

You do something to me

Madame Arcati and I went to the swanky Pheasantry in Chelsea last night (well, it is actually a posh Pizza Express, but lovely all the same) to see the venerable actor John Standing in cabaret, with his tribute to one of the world's greatest ever songwriters Cole Porter. It was fabulous!

Here's the review by Charles Spencer in The Telegraph:
It’s not every day that one has the pleasure of seeing a septuagenarian hereditary baronet singing Cole Porter’s greatest hits in a Pizza Express, but that is the delightful, delicious and de-lovely experience on offer in John Standing Swings Cole Porter.

This top toff actor, whose mother was the actress Kay Hammond and whose stepfather was the actor Sir John Clements, has long been one of my favourites, with his mixture of wry old-school English charm and a delicious hint of the louche about him. And after success with an earlier Noël Coward compilation – his mother played Elvira in the premiere production of Blithe Spirit – Standing now turns to the even greater songs of Cole Porter.

With his lined, hangdog face, dashing co-respondent shoes, and wary, weary eyes that have clearly seen a lot over the years, Standing cuts a striking and charismatic figure. Better yet, his lived-in voice and air of casual sophistication are beautifully suited to the mixture of wry wit and aching romanticism of Porter’s American songbook classics. And yes, backed by a terrific pianist (Will Stuart) and a sexy, jazzy female double-bass player (Jo Carter), Standing really does swing.

The songs range from famous hits like I Get a Kick out of You, Anything Goes and Night and Day to the less familiar – I particularly liked You Do Something to Me with its effortlessly brilliant triple rhyme – “Do do that voodoo that you do so well”.
I couldn't have put it better myself...

There are no videos out there yet of Mr Standing's Cole Porter performance, but here are a couple of him doing his much-admired Noel Coward tribute (which we missed when it was on):

And, partly to illustrate the brilliance of the late great Cole Porter, and also to mark the 104th anniversary of the birth of our patron saint Miss Ethel Merman on Monday, here's the great lady's own Porter medley... The Pheasantry

Friday, 13 January 2012

It's the new black!

I love blogging!

I know I have said it many times before, but blogging keeps me sane. How else could I off-load the maelstrom of ideas that occupies my ever-inquisitive mind, how could I satisfy my desire to write stuff down for posterity, and how else could I share (and store) this cornucopia of junk than with a blog?

I know sometimes it seems like a lonely business, when you can see statistics that show that there are people who read your stuff but nobody has left a comment. If you are bothered, of course. I know that compared to, say, Facebook, the interaction is not constant and some people don't like it like that.

But that is exactly the point, dear reader. The main reason I do not entertain something as trivial as Facebook (nor indeed MySpace anymore - where at one stage I felt a sense of a community of artistic interests until one day someone turned it into a tragic "FB-lite" shell of pointlessness) is that I like structure. I like constructing my own environment, one that I can populate or "decorate" to my heart's content. I like creative space. I hate random, pointless, compulsively streaming chit-chat with people I don't know or, more importantly, don't care about. I have even less time for the pea-brained "let's precis everything" mentality that gave the world Twitter. I'm sure all these sites have their uses, but...

I chose Blogger completely at random when trying to find a solution to my attempt to move my blog away from MySpazz. Of the two main contenders - WordPress and this one, I reasoned that I preferred the stability of something that already belonged to a giant such as Google. At least it might not just "disappear" overnight as did Geocities when it was trampled on by Yahoo. [I hope that my gamble was correct, given the "Big G"'s recent attempt to piss on FB's fireworks with Google+, and its closure of several services such as Sidewiki and Google Labs, but I digress]. I know there are others, including Tumblr, that purport to offer "blogging" but to me they just look like sexy Noticeboards.

Anyway - the point of all this?

I want to share with you some of the delights and joys of other brilliant minds out there in (the tackily-named) "Blogosphere", with a series that focuses on the best of the best blogs/bloggers I regularly visit, and who have provided me with the ammunition and inspiration to carry on.

Today's chosen ones, in no particular order...

1) Thombeau is possibly the most prolific blogger I have ever encountered. From my first discovery of the rarified delights of the now defunct Planet Fabulon, and the more recently closed Chateau Thombeau, I realised I was not alone in my obsession with Hollywood and showbiz divas, vintage photography, peculiar foreign television programmes, bizarre artworks, gay history and hats! Latterly the Queen of Bloggers has unleashed a couple more projects, roughly divided between the esoteric at form is void, the surreal at Wunderkammer, and the glitteringly whimsical world of TV song and dance spectaculars at The Redundant Variety Hour. He is an inspiration to us all!

2) Deep Dish - groovy gay pop culture (to give it its full title) is a real joy to visit. Its curator Marc is not merely a "man-flesh addict" (which is always joyful), but also a theatrical, cultural and musical afficianado. He regularly hosts competitions - I recently won a copy of MegaBabs' new album in one of his prize draws - votes (for "Dish of the Day", "fantasy dinner party" guests or favourite obscure songs from the Hit Parade) and other interactive gems. I love my daily dose of Dish!

3) Post-Apocalyptic Bohemian is a lovely trip into the world of Stephen, his husband and dogs, in the wilds of the American Northwest. If you like antiques, interior design, flea-markets and occasional tid-bits of theatrical gossip, as well as comprehensive biographies of famous gay people, all written in a laid-back conversational style - then why not pay a visit?

4) Stirred, Straight Up, With a Twist was one of my favourite blogs for a long while (and a serious competitor to Thombeau), but has been scarily quiet of late. I hope everything is OK. However, in his magnificent heyday curator TJB entertained the unworthy masses with his own particular obsessions - photos of screen beauties of the 30s, 40s and 50s, quotes, fashion, gossip, bitchiness and major campery of the highest order. Although the blog as it exists is one of the finest archives on the interweb, I sincerely hope he swooshes back in with some more soon...

I will be highlighting many more of my favourite blogs over the coming weeks (months?), a few at a time.

And why not?

Cole and Boogie

At last, this week drags itself to an end - at times I felt this would never happen...

We're off to the rather swanky Pheasantry in Chelsea tonight to see the venerable actor John Standing (Sir John Ronald Leon Standing, 4th Baronet, no less), performing his one-man tribute to Cole Porter, which should be rather fabulous.

In the meantime, I suggest we all don our afro wigs, our tightest satin trousers and platform shoes and funk along with Kool and the Gang and Jungle Boogie - Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, whatever you do!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Honey bring it close to my lips

Time-slip moment...

Can it really be fifteen years since this natty Armand Van Helden remix of a Tori Amos album track was at Number 1?


It's gotta be big, indeed...

Tori Amos website

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


It's the 75th birthday today of the Addams Family's Cousin Itt and Buck Rogers' Twiki - both played by the same diminutive actor, Felix Silla.

More about Felix

Any excuse really for a little trip down memory lane...

And why not?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Caeteris paribus

Thanks once again to the fantabulosa Henry over at Barbarella's Galaxy.

Shivers went down my spine...

Let's hear it for the Boys

Bloggers are collectors by nature. As you are no doubt aware, dear reader, I collect the weird, the musical, the camp, and occasionally the fruitier material from across the interweb.

Marc over at the fabulous Deep Dish blog collects MEN. And I am very grateful to him for his exceptionally rewarding hobby!

I almost fell off my chair when I discovered that the exceedingly delicious singer and actor Daniel Boys (latterly the star of Avenue Q and duettist with John Barrowman) was one of his latest semi-naked "acquisitions", in this fab video...

So... So... cute!

We have actually had the pleasure of seeing Mr Boys in the flesh (oo-er), at a BBC Radio 2 Friday Night is Music Night back in 2008, and he is every bit as gorgeous. Clothed, unfortunately, on that occasion.

You can buy Daniel's album So Close from Dress Circle (where else?).

Daniel Boys website

Monday, 9 January 2012

You mixed up Siciliano

After a great chill-out weekend, it is time to gird our loins for the first full week's work of the year, with another two whole weeks to go before pay day - gulp!

Never mind, on this Tacky Music Monday I have crossed over to France to find just the thing to cheer us all up. It's Gallic actor Gerard Darmon, singing with a gang of virtual Muppets - Hey, Mambo (Italiano) indeed!

Hope it's a good one!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

They'll never clone ya

Just when you thought it was all over...

On the great man's 65th birthday, having already covered his early works that influenced me so much and remain among my favourites, I continue the journey into the world of that musical genius David Bowie.

Well, ain't that poster love?

Released on 7th March 1975, the album Young Americans signalled David's cementing of his relationship with his newly-adopted home and, more importantly, the black dance/Soul music that was in its evolution from 60s Motown towards the all-encompassing "Disco" music that would obsess the rest of the decade. Suddenly, once again Mr Bowie signified all that was "cool"...

They pulled in just behind the fridge
He laid her down - he frowns
"Gee my life's a funny thing
Am I still too young"
He kissed then and there
She took his ring, took his babies
It took him minutes, took her nowhere
Heaven knows she'd've taken anything

All night - she wants the young American
It's all right - but she wants the young American

Scanning life through the picture window
She finds the slinky vagabond
He coughs as he passes her Ford Mustang
Heaven forbid she'll take anything
But the freak and his type - all for nothing
He misses a step and cuts his hand
Showing nothing he swoops like a song
She cries "Where have all papa's heroes gone?"

All night - she wants the young American
It's all right - but she wants the young American

All the way from Washington
Her breadwinner begs of the bathroom floor
"We live for just these twenty years
Do we have to die for the fifty more"

All night - he wants the young American
It's all right - but he wants the young American

Do you remember president Nixon
Do you remember the bills you have to pay
Or even yesterday

But you ain't a pimp and you ain't a hustler
Pimps got a Caddy - lady got a Chrysler
Black got respect - white got his soul train
Mama's got cramps and look at your hands
I heard the news today oh boy
I got a suite and you got defeat
Ain't there a man - who can say no more
Ain't there a woman - I can sock in the jaw
Ain't there a child - I can hold without judging
Ain't there a pen - that will write before they die
Ain't you proud - that you've still got faces
And ain't there one damn song that can make me
Break down and cry

All night - I want the young American
It's all right - but I want the young American.
However cool he became though, his latest emerging persona of "The Thin White Duke" was to lead him inexorably away from the glittering heights of Soul Train and LA towards a very much darker period, in a geographical location that couldn't be more different - Berlin.

"A plea to come back to Europe for me"

Having just completed his starring role in The Man Who Fell To Earth, Mr B was halfway through a second bad (possibly drug-induced) breakdown when he recorded the synth masterpiece Station to Station (still one of my favourite albums), released on 23rd January 1976. It is a most remarkable combination of his newly-discovered dance rhythms (as in Golden Years), his love of "Soul" (as in my fave Wild Is The Wind) and a much more experimental electronic sound, influenced by the European pioneers Kraftwerk and Eno (especially evident on the title track).

Low was known as the first of his "Berlin Trilogy", despite having been recorded largely in France

Having cut his ties with the US for a while, Low - his first collaboration with Brian Eno, released 35 years ago on 14th January 1977 - was surprisingly poorly received by critics, despite spawning two great hits.

Cover photography inspired by the expressionist painter Erich Heckel's work "Roquairol"

And so it came to pass that Bowie bounced back, in his customary fashion, with the ground-breaking Cold War-inspired album Heroes, released on 14th October 1977 - at last, an Eno album that people liked, and it spawned an anthem at the same time! I adore this album (and especially Secret Life of Arabia).

Originally "The Lodger" was to be titled either "Planned Accidents" or "Despite Straight Lines"

As the winds of musical change were yet again in the air (punk had shaken up the musical scene quite significantly), it became evident in their third collaboration that Bowie and Eno were not destined to work together again (at least for a while). However, the third part of the "trilogy" The Lodger (released on 18th May 1979) did contain two of the most influential Bowie tracks that I heard when I was just getting into the maestro's work (and struggling with my own sexuality):

Heaven loves ya, the clouds part for ya
Nothing stands in your way When you're a boy
Clothes always fit ya
Life is a pop of the cherry
When you're a boy
(When you're a boy)
You can wear a uniform
(When you're a boy)
Other boys check you out
(You get a girl)
These are your favourite things
(When you're a boy)

Boys Boys Boys keep swinging
Boys always work it out

Un-cage the colours, unfurl the flag
Luck just kissed you hello
When you're a boy
They'll never clone ya
You're always first on the line
When you're a boy
(When you're a boy)
You can buy a home of your own
(When you're a boy)
Learn to drive and everything
(You'll get your share)
You'll get your share
When you're a boy

Boys Boys Boys keep swinging
Boys always work it out

Many commentators consider Scary Monsters to be "his last great album"

And suddenly it happened! A new Bowie album was released (on 12th September 1980) right in the middle of my entry into the wonderful dressing-up world of the New Romantics. Scary Monsters and Super Creeps was everything I wanted from an album - I raved about it; it was hardly off my radiogram! My absolute obsession with David Bowie had begun in earnest.

Bowie's first album for EMI records with whom he had signed for a reported $17.5m

And to conclude - because I have to conclude somewhere - Let's Dance, released on 14 April 1983, was the album that David Bowie was promoting when I went to see him on his "Serious Moonlight Tour" in Milton Keynes Bowl that summer.

Disappointing though it is to say it, and if truth be told, Mr Bowie's albums over the last couple of decades have not been overly impressive (like the Curate's Egg, "good in parts"). An awful lot of material my beloved David has done, apart from perhaps Absolute Beginners, Buddah of Suburbia and Nature Boy has completely faded out of my consciousness very quickly. He hasn't made an album since 2003.

And of course, his heart scare in 2004 hasn't exactly helped him remain in the spotlight.

Commenting on his continued absence, Rolling Stone magazine said:
In May of 2006, Bowie announced that was going to curate the inaugural "High Line Festival" in New York. "It will culminate in an enormous outdoor David Bowie concert," said a press release. "His first full show in New York City since the Reality Tour hit Madison Square Garden on December 15, 2003." A few months later, the bad news hit. "Due to ongoing work on a new project, David Bowie has announced that it will not be possible for him to perform," said a press release. That "new project" hasn't seen the light of day. Instead, Bowie retreated almost completely from the public view – popping up only occasionally at a public event.
And according to his biographer Paul Trynka, David Bowie has “retired”. He says he believes it would be “a miracle” if Bowie returned to the frontline of music.

It would be an incredible shame if he did not.

Happy Birthday, sweetie!

David Bowie official website