Monday 30 April 2012

Luce del sole

Bloody weather! We've suffered monsoon-like rain and winds all weekend. Now it's time to go back to the grindstone, the sun is blazing and there's not a cloud in the sky... Ho hum.

Luckily on this Tacky Music Monday, we have the lovely Mina (the "Queen of Screamers") and her all-Italian safety gays to cheer us up!

Here's her version of the very catchy Moliendo Cafè:

Have a fabulous week!

Mina Mazzini offical website (in Italian, of course!).

Sunday 29 April 2012

Groovy granny, RIP

Madonna's former mother-in-law (as step-mother to Guy), former model and Tory politician Shireen Ritchie (Baroness Ritchie of Brompton) has died, aged just 66.

From her obituary in the Telegraph:
Shireen Ritchie, a former model, knew very little about the world’s most famous singer until the day when Guy Ritchie rang her up to ask whether he could come over for a bite to eat with a friend. She and her husband John had just come back from holiday and there was nothing in the fridge, so she nipped out to the supermarket and got a couple of packets of fishcakes and peas. When her stepson turned up with Madonna, she recalled that “I was rather embarrassed and said something like: 'Tell me dear, how did you get into the music business?’”

“I knew that she was supposed to be the Queen of Cool but I’d never heard her music. It’s really grown on me”
she told an interviewer diplomatically.

During the media stakeout that preceded Guy Ritchie and Madonna’s wedding at Skibo castle in Sutherland in December 2000, reporters were camped outside the Ritchies’ door in Chelsea, the phone rang non-stop and, at one point, John Ritchie, who made his name in advertising with the Hamlet cigar series, cheerfully admitted that he did not have a suitable kilt for the big event. It turned into a story about him being on his uppers, which was very far from being the case.

None the less, Shireen Ritchie coped valiantly with the press hysteria and had a beady eye for elephant traps. She gave her full backing to the newly-married couple, even to the extent of attending a Madonna concert: “My ears were ringing by the end, but it was fantastic. The best bit was her song 'I Deserve It', which she dedicated to Guy — it brought a lump to my throat.” The two women were said to have found common ground when discussing children, and the Ritchies were said to enjoy babysitting when the celebrity couple were away on business. She was, Shireen Ritchie declared, a “groovy granny”. After the marriage broke down in 2008, she remained determinedly tight-lipped, refusing all requests for interviews.

Shireen Ritchie once observed that Madonna, known for her corsets and conical bras, was the ideal role model for female Conservative MPs, showing that “women have to go out and get what they want and be prepared to reinvent themselves”.

Who wants to wallow in champagne?

Today, one of the great survivors of the classic Hollywood era Celeste Holm celebrates - remarkably - her 95th birthday!

Hers is indeed a remarkable career. She won an Oscar for Gentleman's Agreement (in which she played opposite Gregory Peck), and was nominated for both Come to the Stable (in which she starred with Loretta Young, Hugh Marlowe and Elsa Lanchester) and of course All About Eve (in which she more than held her own against the remarkable Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders and Thelma Ritter). She played opposite Frank Sinatra twice - in High Society and The Tender Trap.

Before her screen success, she was fêted as the original "Ado Annie" in the Broadway smash Oklahoma!, and, after All About Eve she had a long and successful US television career - including a memorably camp and villainous appearance in Falcon Crest.

Facts about Celeste Holm:
  • Apparently Bette Davis said of her: "There was only one bitch in the cast of All About Eve - Celeste Holm." Ouch.
  • At the age of 87, she married opera singer Frank Basile, 46 years her junior. Following their marriage, the couple have had a long and protracted legal battle with Miss Holm's sons over the control of her money (which was held in a trust).
  • Miss Holm successfully sued Pedro Almodóvar for using film footage of her from All About Eve without her permission in his film All About My Mother; her contract from the film stipulated her image could not be used.
  • She still (despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer's) makes occasional cameo performances on stage and screen (including a part in a 2012 movie called College Debts), and continues to act as a spokesperson for UNICEF.
Here is the redoubtable Miss Holm, starring as the Fairy Godmother opposite another house favourite here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Miss Lesley Ann Warren, in a 1965 American TV production of Cinderella. Just right for a Sunday...

But, of course, it is for this classic routine that she is perhaps most fondly remembered...

Who wants to be a Millionaire?

I DO!!!

Celeste Holm official website

Saturday 28 April 2012

Sex Kitten

"I was very flattered by the sex-kitten thing because I never thought of myself as that."

I was going to save this for a Tacky Music Monday, but hey! - it's a miserable wet Saturday and we need some cheering up.

It's the 71st birthday today of that one-woman show-stopper Miss Ann-Margret (possibly Sweden's finest export after Abba), and I found this clip of her in her younger days, doing what she does best - Isn't It Kinda Fun?. Indeed!

Facts about Ann-Margret:
  • In 1957, she appeared as a contestant on the "Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour", and lost to a man who played Lady of Spain on a leaf.
  • Apparently we have George Burns to thank for helping launch her singing career, when he "discovered" her singing in Las Vegas nightclubs.
  • A terrible fall off stage in 1972 resulted in massive fractures to her face that almost ended her career.
  • Among her rumoured romances were Eddie Fisher, Frankie Avalon and Elvis Presley.
  • In latter years she has tended to collect motorcycles more than men.
  • Only this month, she was subject of a rather sick internet hoax story, when rumours were spread (originating in an "entertainment" site that specialises in made-up stories) that she had died in a cliff fall in New Zealand.
Thankfully the lady is very much alive - and the world of va-va-voom is a better place for that.

Grattis på födelsedagen!

Ann-Margret official website

Friday 27 April 2012

Is it a dream?

Kylie Minogue is to headline the BBC's Proms In The Park concert on 8th September.

"To sing in front of thousands of people whilst being accompanied by the legendary BBC Concert Orchestra in such a special year is truly a dream come true", she said.

And we have our tickets!!

To say I'm excited would be an understatement...

Feel the rhythm, check the ride

Over at the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp, there is a little photographic exhibit in tribute to that ill-fated "superclub" Studio 54, the epitome of the Disco Years, which opened 35 years ago yesterday.

As we trundle gleefully towards another weekend full of partying and jollity, let us grab the Elnett and oh-so-tasteful suits and frocks, and boogie on down with the number that just about sums up the whole era - Le Freak by Chic...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

According to Nile Rodgers, the irony of the song is that he and Bernard Edwards only came up with it after they had been refused entry past the sacred "velvet rope" at Studio 54. Apparently once they had been turned away, they started jamming a song in the street with the lyric "Fuck You" - and eventually it sounded so good, they re-recorded the chant as "Freak Out".

The song went on to be the top dancefloor-filler at the club, the band were never refused entry again - and the rest, they say, is history...

Have a great weekend, folks!

Thursday 26 April 2012

Marching on, now

For some strange reason (I have no idea why), my thoughts today turned to this thirty-two-year-old song.

Back in 1981/82 when I was a budding regular at the "Bowie/Roxy" nights at our local nightclub Lazers in Newport, Wales, I Travel by Simple Minds was always on the playlist (alongside Kraftwerk, Ultravox - the original group with John Foxx of course - Classix Nouveaux, Gina X, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode and the rest), and I loved it then as I do now!

Such a shame Simple Minds went on to become the pompous "stadium band" the world remembers them for today...

Cities, buildings falling down
Ideal homes falling down
These pictures I see on the wall
Timeless leaders stand so tall
Assassin in a hit and run
Asia steals a new born son
Evacuees and refugees
Presidents and monarchies

Travel round
I travel round
Decadence and pleasure towns
Tragedies, luxuries, statues, parks and galleries

Europe has a language problem
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talking on
In central Europe
Men are marching
Marching on and marching on
Love songs playing in the restaurants
Airports playing Brian Eno

Travel round
I travel round
Decadence and pleasure towns
Tragedies,luxuries,statues,parks and galleries

Europe has a language problem

And in central Europe
Men are marching

Simple Minds UK site

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Loose Divas

Fast becoming a regular feature on this blog, here's more genius from Charlie Hides TV...

Loose, indeed.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Mega-Babs is 70!

Today, the unstoppable force that is Barbra Streisand celebrates her 70th birthday.

Actress, singer, hit movie producer, multi-millionaire and philanthropist, Miss Streisand is indeed a one-woman phenomenon. She one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar (twice), Emmy (five times), Grammy (eight times), and Tony Award. With more than 140 million albums sold worldwide, very few artists (male or female) are her serious rivals.

As with all such monumentally prolific artists, she has a bit of a mixed bag of a back catalogue - her choice of sugary-sweet material has sometimes been a bit too much for our tastes here at Dolores Delargo Towers. But with such classics as The Way We Were, Enough is Enough, Papa Can You Hear Me?, Evergreen, Guilty (and many more) under her belt we forgive her. Her 1985 Broadway Album is still one of the best of its kind.

And of course, hers is one of our all-time favourite barnstorming numbers. In the world. Ever! The original and the best, it's Don't Rain On My Parade...

Facts about Mega-Babs:
  • Barbra dropped an 'a' from the original spelling of her name when she was 18. She has admitted that she "hated" the spelling but refused to change her name.
  • Always a stalwart supporter of gay rights, when her son Jason Gould came out as a gay man, Barbra said: "Nobody on this earth has the right to tell anyone that their love for another human being is morally wrong."
  • In America, she is the only artist to have had Number 1 albums in five decades from the sixties to the noughties. She has earned 51 gold, 30 platinum and 18 multi-platinum albums. Her 1964 LP People was the first of her eight to top the charts. She also holds the record for the longest gap between a first and last chart-topping album - which currently stands at 46 years.
  • Streisand was director Ken Russell's first choice to play Eva Peron in 1996 film Evita. She declined the role, which was eventually taken by Madonna.

Barbra Streisand website

Monday 23 April 2012

Misty watercolour memories...

It seems the great "analogue switch-off" and the new, bright digital television future has sparked a bit of a wave of nostalgia in the UK. Not only has the demise of Ceefax generated a flurry of tributes on more modern media (such as Twitter), but The Guardian today has a huge debate going on in its comments columns in response to an article about the famous test card of the girl and the scary clown.

Among the topics unearthed by the myriad commenters - the majority of whom appear to be of my generation - is whether anyone else remembers the colour test films of the late 60s and early 70s. Of course I do!

As a kid we didn't have much, but we did have one of the earliest colour televisions - courtesy of Radio Rentals (renting stuff was very popular back then as I recall; even our washing machine was rented from Servis).

I remember vividly the very early colour programming. My love of Bollywood today stems from the occasional luridly bright clip that they would feature on Nai Zindagi Naya Jeevan, the 60s/70s TV programme for recently arrived Asians. I would get up especially early to watch those twirling, glittering ladies on a Sunday morning. No wonder my mother never expected grandchildren...

The other great fascination - and in complete contrast to everything else on telly (which was all black and white up until Wimbledon 1967, and remained mostly black and white for many years after) - were the "trade test colour films". All fairly short, some merely instructional (how cars are made, the history of plastic, and other dull subjects for a kiddie-winkie), some just weirdly psychedelic, they were entrancing and magical to me!

Like a window on the world, these technicolour marvels seemed to be mainly either silent or foreign. Nothing really happened in any of them. Nothing needed to happen, really, for me as a very small child. Seeing people in colour was enough.

But here we are (scarily) six decades on, dear reader, and I have re-discovered a particular favourite from that era! Of course I never remembered its name at the time but on watching it again, the dim and distant memories started seeping back...

From the YouTube blurb:
Giuseppina is a 1960 short documentary film produced by James Hill. It won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject. Production of the film was sponsored by the British Petroleum company (BP), which also distributes the film. The BP webpage summarizes the film as, "set at an Italian petrol station where various characters pass through on their onward journey, while entertaining and playing with the attendant's daughter, Giuseppina."

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Giuseppina was broadcast 185 times on British television.
And here it is in full:

A comprehensive list of trade test films of that era

For all your television anorak needs, visit Transdiffusion

Like to sup with my baby tonight

Convoluted connections, #789 in a series...

Today is William Shakespeare's 448th birthday.

The musical Kiss Me Kate is vaguely based upon Shakespeare's comedy The Taming of the Shrew.

One of the finest songs Cole Porter wrote for that musical was Too Darn Hot.

So, on this Tacky Music Monday here are Mikhail Baryshnikov and our patron saint Liza Minnelli with their fabulously energetic version!

It's definitely not going to be hot, just wet - but nevertheless, have a great week!

Sunday 22 April 2012

You put the boom boom into my heart

Oh my heavens! Shirlie Holliman (of Wham! and Pepsi and Shirlie fame) celebrated her 50th birthday last week...

To mark this terrifying fact, here are the girls together on their biggest hit Heartache:

Facts about Shirlie:
  • Since 1988 she has been married to Spandau Ballet's Martin Kemp [lucky bitch!].
  • Pepsi and Shirlie provided backing vocals on Geri Halliwell's Number 1 hit Bag It Up.
  • Before Pepsi, Shirlie's partner in the Wham! backing vocal section was Dee C. Lee, who went on to marry Paul Weller and have a solo singing career.
Pepsi and Shirlie are stepping back into the musical spotlight as part of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman Hit Factory Live concert in Hyde Park on 11th July 2012.

I hope they don't creak.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Le pop nouvelle

It's that time again. On this, official Record Store Day, here is another selection of recent musical efforts that have come to my attention...

Now, I have never watched (and probably will never watch) RuPaul's Drag Race, but when the lovely Kevin (aka KDNA) at The Lisp blog posted this video by the very fierce contestant Manila Luzon, I just had to share! Enjoy some Hot Couture:

Shades of vintage Talking Heads permeate the new single from the synth-goddess Little Boots - and the male vocal sounds suspiciously like the lead singer of Azari & III (see my blogs here and here) so she's keeping up with the latest arrivals on the scene as well. The rather wonderful Every Night I Say A Prayer is released on collectable vinyl for Record Store Day (but in the meantime the Tensnake remix is available to download from Soundcloud):

Paying homage to the Goth/avant garde stylings of the likes of Siouxsie and Roisin Murphy, the enigmatic Miss Charlotte Hatherley aka Sylver Tongue (who I featured here only last month) has a new single Creatures coming out later this year...

On a jollier note, here's a catchy little number called Voodoo from a new Aussie diva wannabee called Giulietta (also available to download from Soundcloud - how do these people make any money?):

Like some manic theme tune to a 60s ITC spy show, Paris 2012 by mysterious French band La Femme, and its accompanying video, is rather brilliant:

And finally, I featured the new Scissor Sisters song Only The Horses (from their forthcoming album Magic Hour) in my last musical round-up - and now they have accompanied the single's release on 13th May with this quite stunning video... Breathtaking!

As ever, enjoy! Let me know your thoughts...

Friday 20 April 2012

Searching, for so long

Thank heavens! Another week draws to a close...

Despite the fact that this miserable rain shows no sign of stopping all over the weekend, there really is no excuse not to put on your funky fetish maid's outfit and cowboy boots, and wiggle about a bit like Legs & Co - here dancing to the fabulous Searching by Change...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

PS the lead singer on this hit was none other than the late Luther Vandross, whose 61st birthday it would have been today.

Have a great weekend, and party on!

Thursday 19 April 2012

Miss M

Today would have been the 79th birthday of the 50s "va-va-voom" girl and camp icon, Miss Jayne Mansfield.

I have (of course) featured the wonderful lady before - here, here, and here, but there is always space at Dolores Delargo Towers for more...

Here's Jayne, well - being Jayne!!

Another icon lost too soon.

Jayne Mansfield website

Wednesday 18 April 2012

The demise of an old friend...

Another death is announced...
Before Twitter. Before the internet. Even before 24-hour news channels, there was a place you could turn to for (almost) up to the minute breaking news stories.

It was called Ceefax. Plus, it had the added advantage of loading on to your television screen rather quicker than some of its digital "red button" equivalents.

Not any more. At least, not if you live in London, where the analogue TV signal was switched off on Wednesday and Ceefax – born in 1974 and a phonetic take on "see facts" – disappeared with it.

Originally devised as a subtitle service (page 888, as if you didn't know) and transmitted via unused bits of broadcast spectrum, the world's first teletext service provided millions of people with the latest news, sport and weather, along with reviews, quizzes, a children's section and the latest TV and radio listings.
Read more on The Guardian website

And, finally...

24-hour online porn, 70s style.


Madonna Dearest

I couldn't resist posting the latest from Charlie Hides! Domestic bliss at the Ciccone household..?

More genius at Charlie Hides TV

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Too sexy?

It's a timeslip moment again!

Can two decades really pass so quickly? Twenty years ago today, this cheerful little ditty gave an out-gay band their first (and only) Number 1 in the UK...

Right Said Fred (led by brothers Richard and Fred Fairbrass) leapt into our collective conscience with the phenomenally camp I'm Too Sexy - which many people fondly remember as also being a chart-topper, but was in fact one of the many songs to flounder against the unstoppable force of Bryan Adams' (Everything I Do) I Do It for You [sixteen consecutive weeks at number one] in 1991 - and on the back of it, became massively successful across the world.

Of course, the "novelty band" bubble burst fairly rapidly after their first clutch of hits. But for lead singer Richard - the gay one - a television presenting career beckoned. He also, admirably, lent his fame to supporting the struggle for gay rights in Russia, and he and his brother were injured in scuffles with anti-gay neo-Nazis at a rights rally in Red Square in 2007.

Right Said Fred are still together and performing - mainly at those "nostalgia" concerts admittedly. I saw them live (they were awful) at G.A.Y. in 2002. However it seems highly unlikely they will ever again secure the massive success of their past...

Right Said Fred official website

Monday 16 April 2012

When I open them, you're still here

Today Miss Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien OBE would have been 73 years old.

Suffice to say, I love her and miss her.

Let us wallow in the magnificence that was Dusty Springfield, singing my all-time favourite of hers - against a backdrop of some magnificently bleak council estate in somewhere that could be Croydon, or so it seems.

Excuse the irritating sod speaking over the beginning of this video. He's French. They do this.

More Dusty over at the Dolores Delargo Museum of Camp

Even more Dusty here, here and here.

La Tigresa

As regular readers will know, here at Dolores Delargo Towers, the discovery of a new exotic "diva" sends us into paroxysms of joy.

And so it came to pass when, after I featured her album among my "On the Jukebox" selection over at the Dolores Delargo Museum of Camp recently, the erstwhile Madam Arcati was immediately on Google to find out more about the sultry sex kitten that is Irma Serrano. He found the music, and the fact she is scarily still alive. I investigated the lady's outrageous life story...

Senorita Serrano - according to her own autobiography - was allegedly kidnapped at the age of 13 or 14 from her ranch home in rural Mexico, and ended up entering the burgeoning Mexican cinematic industry. In truth the teenage Irma Cielo Consuelo Serrano Castro Domínguez had run away with an older lover, and this early rebellious streak set the scene for a long and controversial life.

Her screen career actually began in 1962 in a trashy movie called Santo vs. the Zombies alongside several Mexican wrestling superstars. Presumably this was a precursor of how she would become regarded throughout her acting career, for it seems that in all her roles she played some kind of "man-eater". It was inevitable she would become known as "La Tigresa".

Allegedly blacklisted for her affair with Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, Mexico’s president, she hit the headlines in the 1970s after she published several books about it. Her flamboyant appearance and tempestuous personality brought her renewed fame on stage and screen.

In the 1990s, she became a businesswoman and launched a political career, running successfully for Congress on the ticket of the leftist PRD, serving initially in the lower house and later in the Senate.

"La Tigresa" remained a popular television personality, too - most probably for her freaky appearance as much as anything - but just could not keep out of trouble. She scandalised the Mexican tabloids at the age of 71 by marrying a man of 29! She seems to specialise in telling tales about her many affairs with younger men (some were true, most were denied), and conducting public spats with a few of them. She has hit the headlines for claiming to be a witch, a Satanist, and being pregnant - in her seventies!

To top it all, in 2009 she was arrested immediately after a TV appearance and placed under house arrest, charged with forcibly evicting tenants (at gunpoint allegedly!) from a building she owned, despite their having a valid lease.

I wouldn't mess with her!

This Tacky Music Monday let us celebrate the stunning musical talents of "La Tigresa"...

Ay caramba!

Sunday 15 April 2012

Goodbye Adrella

From the Royal Vauxhall Tavern website:
There were so many tears of laughter when Adrella (Peter Searle) performed Sunday School for over a decade at the RVT, these tears of laughter are now tears of sorrow as Peter passed away peacefully in his sleep a short time ago after a battle with cancer. Let us remember him for the great performer he was and the joy and laughter he bought to many - Goodbye, Adrella. The memories and laughter live on.
Here's a fitting tribute from Sebastian Sandys, gay rights campaigner and one-time member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Adrella was a stalwart of the gay drag scene for many years. He performed a double-act called "High Society" with Lily Savage, and held court at the RVT and many other venues with his impeccable lip-synching act, in a similar vein to another long-time friend the late HIH Regina Fong. He will be missed.

Here are a couple of fan videos of the Mistress in action:

RIP a legend.

Saturday 14 April 2012

The revenge of the Queen of Soaps

On this day in 1985, we lost the fantabulosa Noele Gordon - pioneering TV entertainer and broadcaster, and matriarch of the Crossroads Motel (Meg Mortimer) from the beginning of that soap in 1964 until her untimely and unwarranted sacking by Central Television's Head of Programmes Charles Denton in 1981.

A classy lady to the end, here she is performing that very same year at the staff party for ATV, the company that made Crossroads (and had also just lost the franchise for the Midlands independent television region).

Now, THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is how you get revenge!

[Thanks to Madam Arcati for finding this delicious video!]

Facts about Noele:
  • She was the first woman to be seen on colour television sets, when the BBC was testing colour in the 1940s.
  • Noele never married, and rumours circulated for many years that she was a lesbian.
  • Her lifelong friends included the uber-camp Larry Grayson - as part of a hoax, in 1973 the press reported the engagement between Larry and "Nolly" - and, to his own death in 1995, he sent a bunch of flowers to be placed on her grave in Ross-on-Wye.
  • After her sacking, Noele returned to the stage (she had been a theatre actor before her TV debut), and played starring roles in Gypsy, Call Me Madam and The Boy Friend. It was during the latter appearance, in Plymouth Theatre Royal, that she finally succumbed to cancer in 1985.
  • Crossroads - renowned for its actors stumbling over cues and lines, and its shaky sets - was of course the inspiration for Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques.
Here at Dolores Delargo Towers we have a treasured copy of Noele Gordon's (bitter) final single on vinyl, signed by the lady herself, called After All These Years:

A legend of soap opera to the end.

About Noele Gordon

Friday 13 April 2012

Demanding answers to the questions that just don’t matter

"Can you believe that Ian McKellen bought me a library in India? It was in a card I got in the post that said, 'Dear Frances, Sir Ian McKellen has pledged x amount of money - I won't say how much - to build a library in your name to help the underprivileged children of the region.' It's an amazing present isn't it?"
That was one of the more tame revelations that one of my favourite actresses Miss Frances Barber gave us at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern last night....

The occasion was a new cabaret night starring David Mills and Myra Dubois called Mouthing Off!, billed as "a brand new panel show for the Twitter and Facebook generation" (whatever that means - even Myra was at a loss to explain!). Part musical revue, part chat show, part piss-take ("demanding answers to the questions that just don’t matter"), it was a brilliantly entertaining and anarchic evening indeed.

As well as wanting to see (and possibly to meet) Miss Barber, I couldn't miss this event for another very good reason - the fantabulosa Clayton Littlewood was the other guest.

Clay is a great writer - his Dirty White Boy from a few years back (a book that began life as a blog on MySpace, where I first encountered him) is a bloody good read, and we went to see the stage adaptation of it not once, but twice! He is also charm personified, and I would always pass the time of day with him and his hubby Jorge when they still had their boutique of the same name in Soho.

His long-awaited follow-up to DWB, Goodbye to Soho, is having its official launch (in conjunction with the fab Maggie and Martin's new album Union) at Madam JoJo's in (of course) Soho on 10th May - read more about the event.

Clayton told us he was a bit nervous of taking to the stage, not knowing quite what to expect - but as it seemed that no-one else had a clue either, it looked likely he was safe. And a very adept conversationalist he is, too - reminiscing about Soho's "village" atmosphere, about the business going bust and their move out to Holland Park, about the rivalry between Soho and Vauxhall gay scenes, and of course about the eccentric characters he encountered over the years.

On that note, he read a dedication written by the late Sebastian Horsley, who was one of his very good friends. And here - a few years ago at Polari - Clayton and Sebastian play out their first meeting...

And after the break it was Miss Barber's turn! An actress we have always adored here at Dolores Delargo Towers - we went to see her on stage as "Billie Trix" in the Pet Shop Boys musical Closer To Heaven (for which she won WhatsOnStage Best Actress in a Musical), and again as Ian McKellen/Widow Twankey's sidekick in Aladdin; and among many other roles she played Joe Orton (Gary Oldman)'s sister in Prick Up Your Ears, and she was a remarkable guest star in the wondrous Beautiful People :

Miss Barber is a genuine insider to the "luvvie" world of acting and actors. Among the guests she brought with her to the RVT was Sir Derek Jacobi's husband, for heaven's sake...

As such, she has loads of gossip to hand - and my heavens, did she share it! Surreptitious back-stage blowjobs, Serena McKellen and his wicked sense of humour, on-stage balls-ups, indiscretions, working with Louis Spence, terrifying theatrical stars, and of being probably the only classical British actor working today who isn't in Harry Potter... She was candid, funny, and fabulous - our hosts David and Myra could hardly keep up.

Despite a slight mishap while trying to climb down the precipitous stairs from the stage, Miss Barber was utterly charming when we asked her to sign her autograph, and to have our photos taken with her (even when quite a crowd gathered around her). Such a class act:

An unforgettable night, indeed - little Tony, Emma, Toby and I loved it!

Mouthing Off! at the RVT

Boom! Boom!

After what feels like another long, busy week (despite the Bank Holiday), it's time to boogie!

And so let's make our party plans, in the admirable company of Scotland's very own "disco diva" Miss Kelly Marie and her fabulous inch-thick eyeshadow - here pretending to flirt half-heartedly with two heavily made-up "safety gays" whose interest in "making love" appears to be directed anywhere but with her... Hilarious.

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good one!

Thursday 12 April 2012

Her life's a gas, she loves the trash

Many happy returns to the lovely Sarah Cracknell of St Etienne, 45 years young today...

And to celebrate, here's something old and something new (their current single - the first in seven years! - which seems to have slipped off my radar) from the moody lovelies:

He's on the phone, and she wants to go home;

shoes in hand, don't make a sound, it's time to go
Someday (someday), someday

He's on the phone, doesn't want to go home
The hotel life - forget your wife, you're on your own
Academia girl;
Her life's a gas, she loves the trash inside his world
Can't find his way there,
got the cash, feeling flash in Leicester Square


She never meant to call, she did anyway,
and now he's trying to find the words to say
Someday (someday), someday (someday)
She never meant to call, she did anyway,
and now he's trying to find the words to say
Someday (someday), someday

It's five to twelve and she's nervous as hell,
with nothing to lose, it's hard to choose it's hard to tell


She never meant to call, she did anyway,
and now he's trying to find the words to say
Someday (someday), someday (someday)
Yes (Ooh-ooh)
She never meant to call, she did anyway,
and now he's trying to find the words to say
Someday (someday), someday (someday)

St Etienne official website

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Dougie Byng and banjoleles, Nancy and masturbation, lynch mobs, drag and a helicopter crash

Mr Paul Burston, impresario of "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari, certainly knows how to throw a party! With no less than four costume changes during the evening - Victorian military fetish, twisted evening wear, a Debbie Harry t-shirt, and even full drag(!). His selection of guest spécialistes des Belles Lettres gave us a wide and varied evening's entertainment last night - and once more, little Tony, John-John and I had a great time!

Opening the show was the (unpublished) "writer and psychotherapist" Chris Payne, reading some rather smutty extracts from one of his gay-themed works - I guess his forays into the literary world are very fresh indeed, as there is absolutely nothing about him on the web... Entertaining, nonetheless.

Our second reader, the rather buff Mr Chris Chalmers recently won a debut novel competition run by e-publishers Wink Publishing and as a consequence has actually won a publishing deal. His novel Five to One is apparently "coming to a Kindle near you" at the moment. The story is an intriguing one, judging form the taster extract he read. The blurb alone says it all - "Four lives that collide at 12.55 one sunny afternoon, when a helicopter crashes on Clapham Common. It’s a day that changes them all forever - and for one of them, it’s also their last." Leaving us hanging - literally - in mid-air, I am intrigued to find out what happens next...

The lovely Rose Collis is a real treat - we saw her at Polari in May last year, and indeed that performance inspired the lady so much she is now taking her banjoleles 'Bud' and 'Alvin' to the Brighton Fringe. As she says on her website "though it was a short set, the combination of comedy, history and song was a hit with the audience — and it was one of the easiest and best ideas I’ve ever had to develop a full-length show."

The extracts she gave us from the revue Trouser-Wearing Characters were indeed fantastic - she specialises in biographical reminisces of famous gay and lesbian (or just camp) figures such as the journalist and broadcaster Nancy Spain and the marvellous Coral Browne, while performing old Music Hall numbers such as Masculine Women, Feminine Men. Genius! Particularly excellent was her focus on one of our own camp icons here at Dolores Delargo Towers, the "Bawdy But British" drag artiste Douglas Byng.

There is no actual video of Rose performing, unfortunately, but here's Dougie himself:

After the break - and in complete contrast - it was the turn of John R Gordon, reading from his novel Faggamuffin. Set in Jamaica - dubbed the most homophobic country in the world by human rights groups - the passage he read set the scene for the story, as the book's hero the reggae DJ 'Cutty' is discovered in flagrante delecto with another man, and has to flee for his life from a rampaging homophobic lynch mob.

Terrifying stuff, and very near to the bone given the current continued rise of homophobic murders in the Caribbean, Africa and beyond. Mr Gordon is co-founder of the publishing company Team Angelica with Rikki Beadle-Blair, and together they help promote the issues that black gay people face. Read more about John and Fagamuffin in this excellent article from The Voice.

And finally we came to the star performer of the evening, Mr Terry Ronald - friend of Princess Kylie and all-round camp writing genius (who we last saw at the self-same Polari with Ms Collis last May). Reading once again from his 'magnum opus' Becoming Nancy, we were in hysterics at the tale of the young hero David, with his obsession with Debbie Harry and sexual fixation on a shirtless Paul Michael Glaser (even while being - ahem! - relieved by a girl friend of his sister), as he proudly announces to his family that he has landed the part of 'Nancy' in Oliver... John-John kindly purchased a copy of the book for me, which Mr Ronald duly signed - what a lovely man he is.

And to prove it, here he reads another passage from the novel:

Over too soon, and it was just time for a curtain call and to chat with some of the fab regulars (DJ Connell, Val Lee [who is reading for us next month], Alex Hopkins et al) before we were off back to Halfway for the formidable duo of Miss Rose Garden and Mrs Moore in cabaret to finish off the night.

As ever, this was a remarkable and fab night out - it is no wonder we always look forward to Polari every month!

Next month looks very special indeed - for not only does Val have a new book out (which promises to be excellent as always), but we also have a reading from none other than that star of 80s "mock-soap" Brass Miss Barbara Ewing. Also on the bill on 8th May (so far) are Danuta Kean, book editor of Mslexia, and Peter Daniels.

Polari at the Southbank Centre

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Doncaster's Diva

Back to work today, ewwww...

Never mind, we celebrate the birthday today of the "Diva from Doncaster" Miss Lesley Garrett - the first modern opera diva to do "the crossover", landing her own BBC television show in the late 80s in which she gave the audience a potted history of certain pieces of classical music, then sang them, alongside myriad special guests as diverse as Elaine Paige, Renee Fleming, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Marti Pellow, Michel Legrand, Alison Moyet, Michael Ball, Maxim Vengerov and Ian Bostridge.

Gifted with a natural Yorkshire "down-to-earth" manner as well as a beautiful vocal tone, Miss Garrett is rightly regarded as a "national treasure", and lauded for her place in taking opera to the masses (a trend that has continued ever since with the likes of Katherine Jenkins and Russell Watson, and of course Classic FM today).

Here are some clips of the lady herself, firstly with two very special guests...

Before she discovered grooming, here she holds her own alongside mezzo-soprano Ann Murray singing the traditional Rule Britannia at the Last Night of the Proms in 1990:

And finally, her solo version of Handel's Tornami a Vagheggiar:

Happy Birthday, pet!

Lesley Garrett official website

Monday 9 April 2012

Happy Birthday Mr President...

Significant milestones are always worth celebrating - and as one of the "Friends of Dolores Delargo Towers", Miss Minogue's Number One Fan Marky Marc celebrates his 50th birthday today, I thought I'd post this gem of a mash-up (hot off the presses!).

Kylie's Slow vs Kraftwerk's The Model works like a charm:

Visit Marky's blog Shine On And On for all your Kylie needs!

Music and Lights

In a further attempt to cheer us up as the rain pisses down on another Bank Holiday, it's time again for another selection of newer choons I have picked up on lately...

Let's open with the return of an old favourite. Produced by Calvin Harris, it's the Scissor Sisters' new single, Only The Horses (released on 16th April from the album Magic Hour, due in May). This will probably take a few more listens before it can in any way compare to their brilliant back catalogue, but it is rather catchy - at least it's better than their last effort, Shady Love (which I really did not like!). See what you think:

Speaking of blasts from the past, who remembers Martika? Yes indeed, the Toy Soldier popstress has broken her twenty year silence with a corker of a comeback! Looking rather fab for a woman of almost 43, here's the dance-tastic Flow With The Go (from her forthcoming album Mirror Ball):

It seems hardly a week goes by without another 80s-influenced floppy-haired electro duo arriving on the scene - and here for your delectation are Tenerife's finest Glasherz with one track called Cellophane Sea from their forthcoming album. Shades of Ultravox and The Hurts here, methinks - and no bad thing for that:

Possibly the only Estonian act I have ever featured, here's the exotic creature known as Kerli - with a hundred costume changes in one video - and her rather addictive Zero Gravity:

Mr Martin Solveig's fave band (before he went off to do the bidding of Queen Madge) Dragonette also have a new single out. The original is OK, but the remix of Let it Go by Laidback Luke is simply phantasmagorical!

And to close, here's a boppy Garage-influenced little number from the Welsh artist known as Bright Light Bright Light (whose Disco Moment I raved about last July) - it's his catchy new single Waiting for the Feeling:

As ever, enjoy - and I look forward to hearing your views!

Suddenly I felt like dancing

It's Easter Bank Holiday, and of course millions of Brits are heading out for a miserable day in the rain at the seaside.

Time was when this particular British pastime was somewhat brightened by the prospect of the arrival at your chosen resort of the cheesiest of all 70s BBC variety shows - Seaside Special!

Alongside the likes of Little and Large, Keith Harris and Orville, Lena Zavaroni, Bernie Clifton, Showaddywaddy, The Wurzels, Sacha Distel, Peters and Lee, Val Doonican, Ronnie Corbett and Brotherhood of Man, they occasionally managed to entice some true talents to that draughty Big Top.

Amazingly, one of them was one of our patron saints here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Miss Amanda Lear! So, on this Tacky Music Monday, I'll let the performance speak for itself...


It was night and suddenly I felt like dancing.
I took a cab to show me to the disco scene.

He said: "OK, you wanna see those crazy people,
hustling at the door to get into Studio 54?!"

When I was in, everybody was Travolting!
The fashion queens, the models and the movie stars.
Andy snapping, Margeaux dancing with Scavullo.
Liza dancing on the floor and Bianca walking through the door.

Who is in?
Who is out?
Tell me, tell me, tell me!

Who is in?
Who is out?
Famous and trendy?!

"In-People" always have to smile in "Vogue".
They only travel by Concorde.
Doing things YOU can´t afford!

They are the fashion pack.
The people you see in the magazines.
They are the fashion pack.
They are always smiling in their limousines.

They only come out after dark, got to keep on their trendy tracks.
They are the fashion pack.

Rockstars sniffing, while Marisa is posing.
Bianca counting her paintings, the models of Zoli´s flirting...

Hey! what's your name?
Didn't I see you in "Interview" last month, or was it the "Ritz"?
Gee, You're so famous!
May I have your autograph?
Thanks! I will keep it forever!

Sunday 8 April 2012

Fire On Ice

It's another centenary - the sparkling doyenne of the silver skates, Miss Sonja Henie!

Born in Oslo one hundred years ago today, young Sonja and her family were very ambitious, and she was groomed for competitive sports - tennis, skiing, horse-riding, and finally ice-skating - from a very early age. She entered her first Olympics (in 1924) at the age of eleven, and won her first Olympic gold medal at fifteen. She went on to win gold again in the 1932 and the controversial 1936 Olympics, and won no less than ten consecutive World Figure Skating Championships.

But Miss Henie had her sights set upon even greater fame - Hollywood, and in 1936 she signed to 20th Century Fox for a lucrative contract. In all she made fifteen movies, of varying degrees of quality and commercial success, while still performing her glittering ice revues across the globe. However in the mid-50s her heavy drinking forced an early retirement. In the 1960s she was diagnosed with leukaemia, and in 1969 she died, on a flight from Paris to Oslo, aged just 57.

Facts about Sonja Henie:
  • She was the first to adopt the short skirt costume in figure skating, wear white boots, and make use of dance choreography.
  • During WW2 her apparent friendship towards the Nazis in the 30s backfired on her reputation, and she was denounced as a quisling by many Norwegians.
  • However, as a naturalised US citizen and Hollywood star, her ice shows earned her up to $2million a year in the late 40s and early 50s - one of the wealthiest women in the world for the time.
  • She had affairs with Joe Louis, Tyrone Power and Van Johnson and, laughably, Liberace claimed they were planning to get engaged but "work pressures" meant it never happened...

Waiters in the St. Moritz Grand Hotel Dining Room watching Sonja Henie ice skating. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1932

Despite her reputation as being "difficult", those allegations of Nazi sympathies and even of cheating in various championships, Sonja Henie was a true star - and has left us a camp legacy with her movies...


Sonja Henie obituary in the New York Times