Tuesday 31 July 2012

Where to go now for showbiz gossip?

The sad death of an icon...

Dress Circle to close after 33 years in the West End!

It is with regret that we announce that on 15th August 2012 the Dress Circle shop in Covent Garden, London will be closing its doors for the very last time.

Over the past months we have tried in vain to negotiate with our landlord to move our shop into smaller and more cost effective premises. The cost of keeping Dress Circle open in the current location is too high, and it has become apparent that we will not be able to dispose of our current lease. The downturn in the economy has also taken its toll on us, as well as the ever changing way that people are buying music. With CD’s becoming relics and downloads being more popular, Dress Circle, the shop, has struggled to keep up for a long time and we have reached the point that we are no longer able to continue.

We were hoping that the 2012 Olympics might bring in some much needed tourism to the Theatre world and bring some customers through our doors, but Monmouth Street is even quieter than usual and so it seems are the rest of the shops in London. It seems that all of the press coverage about the difficulties of travelling during the Olympics has scared many away from visiting the West End.

The public want us to survive, after all how else did we manage to sell out over 1000 seats for the Dress Circle Benefit Gala last August at Her Majesty’s Theatre (we would like to thank the Really Useful Group for donating the use of the Theatre). This event came about because the industry, the stars and our customers care about us, and wanted to help us to survive. The Gala was a fantastic evening, with stunning performances from all of those involved and we are eternally grateful for all of the effort that was put in by everyone to create this magnificent event. The Gala and the publicity surrounding it provided us with a significant though short lived increase in sales. Unfortunately the Gala provided us with little direct financial benefit and the increase in sales was not sustainable through the recession.

The Dress Circle website will continue to trade and supply the very best of Musical Theatre all over the world, as it has always done. We have plans currently underway to improve the website and we hope to be bigger, better and more musical than ever before.

We hope that all of our regular customers and new ones will continue to support us as they have done in the past. Dress Circle will continue online and remain an important part of the Theatre community. We hope to somehow, somewhere, continue with our signings and look forward to meeting our loyal customers once again. For more information please visit www.dresscircle.com.

With thanks to everyone that has supported Dress Circle over the years.


Michael, Richard, John, Andrew, Aggie, Chris, Helen, Mark and Murray.
RIP my favourite shop in the whole world - and the "most homosexual place on earth"...

I am bereft. My trips to the West End will be incomplete without it.

Dress Circle

Back on the rack

Today the guitarist Daniel Ash of the pioneering band Bauhaus celebrates his 55th birthday.

Any excuse, really, for me to play one of the greatest of all "Goth" songs, Bela Lugosi's Dead!

White on white translucent black capes
Back on the rack
Bela Lugosi's dead
The bats have left the bell tower
The victims have been bled
Red velvet lines the black box
Bela Lugosi's dead
Undead undead undead
The virginal brides file past his tomb
Strewn with time's dead flowers
Bereft in deathly bloom
Alone in a darkened room
The count
Bela Lugosi's dead
Undead undead undead

Bauhaus website

Monday 30 July 2012

Queer Things Are Happening To Me

After a few days off, and having completely failed in my attempt to become one of the "100 Instant Millionaires" - as promised by the Euromillions lottery - it's unfortunately back to work for me! Hey ho.

I thought I'd cheer us all up on this Tacky Music Monday with something by Ruth Wallis - that risqué cabaret performer of the 50s and 60s, and a house fave here at Dolores Delargo Towers - but I cannot find any live performances by the lady singing any of her bawdy "classics". Unsurprising, really, as her albums were banned in many countries at the height of her fame - so it's highly unlikely that any television network would have let her appear on camera singing such notorious numbers as Boobs, De Gay Young Lad, The Hawaiian Lei or Johnny Had a Yo-Yo...

Instead I found a gem of a clip from 1994's "Gay answer to 'Ghost'", To Die For (or as it was renamed, Heaven's A Drag) [Camp Movies We Have Never Seen, #432 in a series], which features Miss Wallis's wonderful Queer Things:

Enjoy - and have a great week!

Sunday 29 July 2012

Totty of the Day

Olympic diving hopeful, Tom Daley, of course...

A delight, indeed.

There is nothing quite like a wet boy to cheer one up!

Tom Daley website

Saturday 28 July 2012

A breathtaking spectacle

As any regular reader will know, I am not the World's greatest sports fan. In fact I am no type of sports fan at all.

However, I just had to watch the much-vaunted opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games, just out of curiosity - and we were utterly stunned!

It had everything - a history lesson for stupid people (Britain's progress from rural greenness to the Industrial Revolution and Empire), James Bond and the Queen jumping out of a helicopter, Usain Bolt, Dame Evelyn Glennie, British pop music through the decades, smoke and explosions, Mary Poppins, flags, Sir Simon Rattle, Mr Bean, 5000 performers and dancers, flying bicycles, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, visual effects created from digital lights behind every member of the 60,000 audience, David Beckham driving a speedboat, (a very frail) Muhammed Ali, Glastonbury Tor, horses, Mike Oldfield, massive fireworks, Tom Daley, and the most amazing Olympic flame cauldron I have ever seen...

In all, it was an incredible experience.

Once again, I felt truly proud to be British!

If you can, you really must watch it. You will be impressed. Here are the video highlights on the BBC (not embeddable, and probably not available outside the UK unfortunately)

JUST IN! - The "Children's Nightmares" segment (Voldemort vs Mary Poppins!):

And here, with original music by Underworld, is the Isle of Wonder opening countdown video:

The opening ceremony BBC article

Friday 27 July 2012

Hey, y’all prepare yourself

I have happily taken three days off work this week, basically to take advantage of the rare sunshine in London (although today we are once again under a blanket of cloud).

However, that does not change the fact it is the end of another week in our lives - and weekends are always a cause for celebration!

So, I think it's time to grab some friends - all wearing co-ordinating powder blue suits with appliqué detail, of course - and learn some snazzy dance moves, as perfected by The Detroit Spinners. It's the fab Rubberband Man from the long hot summer of 1976 - Thank Disco It's Friday!

The Detroit Spinners (known as The Spinners in the US)

Thursday 26 July 2012

Back to the future?

Our impression of a 1980s LP cover, at Kew Gardens (in 30C heat, although you'd never guess it :-) yesterday...

Romana is gone

RIP the lovely Mary Tamm, who, as Romana (#1) added a much-needed touch of old-fashioned glamour to Dr Who back in the late 70s.

Mary Tamm obituary on the BBC website

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Island of tropical breezes

Happy 60th birthday to... Puerto Rico!

On 25th July 1952, the island went from being a territory to a "self-governing US commonwealth". Any excuse, really, to play this classic from West Side Story...

A referendum on independence for Puerto Rico will be held on 6th November 2012.

La la la la la!

Puerto Rico

Tuesday 24 July 2012

He doesn't sound fat

As the sunshine has finally hit the UK in spectacular fashion, we can but hope for a prolonged period of sweat and sunbathing - well overdue, I'd say!

Of course, nothing could quite beat the legendary summer of '76, when we had stand-pipes in the streets and months of sunshine. Reflecting that magnificent heatwave, it was in this week 36 years ago that the great Greek Mountain Demis Roussos emerged from obscurity to hit Number 1 with one of the eternal summer anthems...

It always brings back thoughts of Abigail's Party to me!

"Laurence, Angela likes Demis Roussos, Tony likes Demis Roussos, I like Demis Roussos and Sue would like to hear Demis Roussos.

So do you think we could have Demis Roussos on?"

"It's a pity he's so fat.

Yeah, but he doesn't sound it, though, when you hear him."

Demis Roussos

Monday 23 July 2012

Paris when it sizzles

And, so, all good things come to an end. We mourn the demise of another (too short) weekend - and this time, for the first time in months, a sunny one!

To ease us into the ennui of another week in work, behind tinted glass, while the outside world basks, here is a fabulous number from Miss Gloria DeHaven - still with us and celebrating her 87th birthday today.

On this Tacky Music Monday, this is the lady's marvellous scene from the 1955 movie So This is Paris (in which she starred alongside the gorgeous young Tony Curtis):

Have a great week!

Sunday 22 July 2012

The moment you find more of your kind

Just because Russell Davis played it on his show tonight on BBC Radio 2 - an early gay-themed song, Street Of Dreams:

"Midnight, the heart is lighter at midnight
Things will be brighter the moment you find
More of your kind
Smiling on the street of dreams."


Euterpean joys

Time again for another selection of newer choons on the turntable here at Dolores Delargo Towers!

First up, it's weird one. Unfortunately apparently a favourite of that gross waste of human DNA Chris Moyles, nonetheless the bizarre Sam and the Womp and their soon-to-be-chart-topper Bom Bom appeal to my tacky music passions... It's fun! [Eternal thanks to "Houseboy Alex" for this one!]

Courtesy of my fave cult Mancunians Tingle in the Netherlands, here's a new band - their protégés, if one may use that term - it's Fantasy by Factory Acts. Shades of Siouxsie, methinks...

It seems like only yesterday that we were talking about a new Scissor Sisters single Only The Horses, and raving over their Pride anthem Let's Have a Kiki - and now here's another new one! With a spectacular video, the latest release off the Magic Hour album is Baby Come Home. This is quite something...

...as is the fabulous "spoof commercial" for the album - check out the Scissor Sisters website.

Speaking of small gaps between songs, here's the new official release from Pet Shop Boys, an appropriately-titled number for the forthcoming madness that is The Olympics - Winner. [Their recently promoted track Invisible was just a "taster" for the album Elysium apparently].

The Boys are taking part in the Olympics closing ceremony (alongside Queen, Take That, Annie Lennox, Spice Girls, Oasis, George Michael, Ray Davies, Madness, Emeli Sandé, Kaiser Chiefs and One Direction, among many many others), so we should forgive them a little "bandwagon-jumping", I suppose:

A rather fab find is this track by someone calling himself Strip Steve, and featuring Puro Instinct - it's the ethereal Astral Projection:

The star of the week, however, is the latest single from the lovely Little Boots - it's rather disco-tastic! And I am sure I have been to this club... Here's Headphones:

Enjoy the music - and let me know your thoughts!

Saturday 21 July 2012

Pride of Wales

Very sad news of the death at just 63 of the adorable Angharad Rees, one of Britain's most loved actresses - in particular for her role as "Demelza" in Poldark.

The BBC adaptation of Winston Graham's bodice-ripping epic was absolutely massive in the mid 70s. I remember the whole family being glued to every episode. We never missed it!

In "real life" Angharad Rees was the pride of Wales - the "local girl done good" - and she and her husband for many years Christopher Cazenove (most famous worldwide for his part in Dynasty) were truly a "golden couple".

She had faded away from acting of late, devoting her time to her swanky jewellery business and her charitable work. She had apparently been ill for several years with pancreatic cancer. Such a sad loss...


Angharad Rees BBC obituary

Watch the documentary The Cult of Poldark

Will the arrow point my way?

Heavens! Who even knew she was still alive? (#297 in a series...)

Today, the lovely 1950s crooner Miss Kay Starr celebrates her 90th birthday. What better way to pay respects than with Miss Starr's most famous hit Wheel of Fortune, as presented in that most "creative" of styles, a Scopitone clip?!

I dare say that when this song was first written and recorded, no-one could have expected it - or Miss Starr - would ever be accompanied by writhing go-go girls...

And then there's this bizarrely literal interpretation of Around The World:

We love Scopitone! We love Kay Starr!

Facts about Kay Starr:
  • She is part-Iroquois Indian, and was born on a reservation in Oklahoma.
  • Kay was one of the guests who accompanied the manic Spike Jones on his TV series Club Oasis.
  • Count Basie and Kay Starr collaborated on an album in 1968 called How About This; and this rare classic has recently been released on CD.
  • One of her last recordings was a duet with Tony Bennett in 2001, Blue and Sentimental .

Kay Starr fan site

Friday 20 July 2012

Before or after?

"Tonya Ann Fowler, of Commerce, Georgia, dialled 911 to complain about how she looked in her mugshot (left). She spotted the photo on the cover of a local publication called The Bad and Busted. She had been arrested for making alleged terrorist threats, according to police. She was arrested again after calling 911 for a second time asking for a place to keep her bags after being evicted from her home. She was issued with a warrant for unlawful use of 911 before being released. But not before having a new mugshot taken (right). Her opinion on her second appearance has not been recorded." The Daily Telegraph, Pictures of the Day

[I couldn't resist posting this - it made me laugh so much]

We're keepin' it hot

At last, the working week staggers to a close, and we start to turn our thoughts to celebrating the weekend...

All the signs seem to indicate that at last Britain may get some warmer (hopefully sunnier) weather, starting this Sunday - so we have even more excuse for a party! Why not add yards of pastel-coloured satin to your outfit this weekend, squeeze into your tightest white slacks, and boogie down on The Groove Line with the appropriately-named Heatwave..?!

Thank Disco It's Friday!!

Heatwave official website

Thursday 19 July 2012

La Diva Mexicana

Many happy returns today to our eternal favourite Mexican diva Señorita Vikki Carr!

I could wallow in her music for hours...

Feliz Año!

Vikki Carr fan site

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Three little words

Let us enter the time tunnel again...

In the Top Ten of the chart of twenty years ago this week, several choons beloved of the pill-popping rave brigade were experiencing great success - who remembers Sesame's Treet by Smart E's or A Trip To Trumpton by Urban Hype these days, however?

Of the rave faves, one particular band went on to rule this particular genre, for a couple of years at least - The Shamen! And here's their hit of the Summer of '92 (an immediate predecessor to the monster Ebenezer Goode), it's L.S.I (Love, Sex, Intelligence):

Three fine aspirations in life, methinks...

Shamen web page

Tuesday 17 July 2012

A Hoff milestone

Just time to send our hearty best wishes to that towering talent Mr David Hasselhoff - pivotal influence in the fall of the Berlin Wall, classically-trained actor, talent show judge, panto star and musician par exellence - who celebrated his 60th birthday today!

I make no excuses for featuring this all-time classic again to mark this milestone:

We can only genuflect at the feet of such artistry.

All hail The Hoff!

The HoffSpace website

We gotta have fun - it's all that we do

Hyde Park on Saturday

"Our Glorious Leader" Madonna arrives at Hyde Park tonight for the first of her three UK appearances on the MDNA tour. We keep our fingers crossed that the rain holds off (for the first time in weeks, none is predicted today).

Right on time, the video for her next single Turn Up The Radio has been released - and it is a gorgeous evocation of a lovely summer (in Italy, admittedly). And who wouldn't want to cruise the glorious countryside with Madge, picking up random hunks?

I would...

When the world starts to get you down
And nothing seems to go your way
And the noise of the maddening crowd
Makes you feel like you're going to go insane

There's a glow of a distant light
Calling you to come outside
To feel the wind on your face and your skin
And it's here I begin my story

Turn up the radio
Turn up the radio
Don't ask me where I wanna go
We gotta turn up the radio

It was time that I opened my eyes
I'm leaving the past behind
Nothing's ever what it seems
Including this time and this crazy scene

I'm stuck like a moth to a flame
I'm so tired of playing this game
I don't know how I got to this state
Let me out of my cage cause I'm dying

Turn up the radio
Turn up the radio
Don't ask me where I wanna go
We gotta turn up the radio

Turn up the radio
Turn up the radio
Don't ask me where I wanna go
We gotta turn up the radio

I just wanna get in my car
I wanna go fast and I gotta go far
Don't ask me to explain how I feel
'Cause I don't want to say where I'm going

Turn down the noise and turn up the volume
Don't have a choice cause the temperature's pounding
Leaving this place is the last thing I do
That I want to escape with a person just like you

I'm so sick and tired of playing this game
We gotta have fun - it's all that we do
Gotta shake up the system and break all the rules
Gotta turn up the radio until the speakers blow

Turn up the radio
Turn up the radio
Don't ask me where I wanna go
We gotta turn up the radio

Madonna website

[PS thanks Henry, Kevin and Mike, who all premiered this on their blogs yesterday evening.]

[PPS Nobody mention Marine Le Pen, OK?]

Monday 16 July 2012

Après moi, indeed

Oh, for another day off..! Hey ho.

To ease the pain of preparing for another week in work, on this Tacky Music Monday let's cheer ourselves up with a musical cat-fight - as none other than David Bowie's former lover and acolyte the transsexual dancer, singer, actress and nightclub hostess Romy Haag - what a woman! - and our own "patron saint" Miss Eartha Kitt battle it out for the charms of a rather bemused hunk.

Now that's what I call cabaret...

Have a good week, everyone!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Planet of the Snails

I couldn't resist posting an extract from the latest incisive article by that magnificent columnist Charlie Brooker in The Guardian:
Apologies for swearing in an opening sentence, but have you seen the shitbastard sky we've been having lately? In case you don't recognise it at first glance, it's that bruise-coloured ceiling of floating misery that has been remorselessly flinging cold water over everyone and everything in the nation for weeks now. There's moss growing on the inside of clouds up there. The British summer has long been a work of bleak fiction but this year it morphed into full-blown dystopian satire.

Oh, there are flashes of blue here and there, but they function much like the speedboat prize at the end of a vintage episode of Bullseye: nothing but a cruel reminder of what you could have won. So the weather turns nice for 25 minutes in the late afternoon. You put your sunglasses on and step outside. But by the time you reach the end of the street, the winds are howling, the heavens are weeping, and it's frosted piss city all round.

On and on it goes. It's got to the point where pulling back the curtains each morning feels like waking up in jail. No, worse: like waking up inside a monochrome Czechoslovakian cartoon about waking up in jail. The outdoor world is illuminated by a weak, grey, diseased form of light that has fatally exhausted itself crawling through the gloomy stratospheric miasma before perishing feebly on your retinas. Everything is a water feature. We're on the Planet of the Snails. Cameron's Britain.
Utter genius.

De nouvelles chansons

Time for another selection of recent choons that have entered my consciousness lately...

Let's open the shebang with a healthy slice of kitsch, courtesy of X-Factor finalists 2 Shoes with their campy take on the Kathy Brown house classic Turn Me On (Turn Me Out). Hilarious! A rather good video too:

In complete contrast, here's an ultra-cool new song by London duo Avec Sans. It's called Heartbreak Hi, and I love it:

If we ever get a summer here in the UK, I reckon this track - from an old favourite Melody Gardot - would be a contender for "summer anthem". From her current album The Absence, here's the joyful Mira:

Only last week I wished Miss Róisín Murphy a very happy birthday - and now here is her latest collaboration with DJ David Morales, Golden Era - fab video, fab song!

As we are still heading for clubland, we celebrate the return of Libya's finest export and former Iio vocalist, the lovely Nadia Ali (partnered with EDX) with the stomping This Is Your Life:

Presenting a "look" reminiscent of Klaus Nomi or perhaps Jobriath, here's the Canadian artist known as Diamond Rings with his rather wonderful new single I'm Just Me:

And finally, saving the very best to last - it's the new single from house favourite here at Dolores Delargo Towers, the fantabulosa Ysa Ferrer! Once again aiming squarely at her core camp gay audience with an outrageous video - here's Pom Pom Girl... J'adore Ysa Ferrer!

Enjoy, folks!

Saturday 14 July 2012

Baby doll dresses, twee voices, false eyelashes, oversized eyewear, excess lipstick

Bastille Day, Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1936, photo by Andre de Diene

Today is Le quatorze juillet, the French National Day (or Bastille Day, if you are feeling particularly revolutionary).

To mark this eminent day for our Gallic chums, I thought I'd focus on the quintessentially French musical style - yé-yé!

As Rohin Guha writes for the website Crushable:
It’s a fad that many of us would be hard-pressed to term, but many of us recognize: The baby doll dresses. The twee voices. The false eyelashes, oversized eyewear, excess lipstick. The two-and-a-half minute jingles. Though it was dominated primarily by French, Quebecois, and Spanish popstrels who were easily interchangeable, yé-yé performers’ hallmarks seeped through the ages. Everyone from Baby Spice to Ke$ha have co-opted some element - affected naïveté, hemlines, bubbly hooks - from the yé-yé girls. During the height of its success, Susan Sontag wrote of the movement in her essay Notes On Camp:

"In the last two years, popular music (post rock-’n'-roll, what the French call yé-yé) has been annexed into the camp sensibility."

The movement takes its name from the yells of “Yeah! Yeah!” that peppered the movement’s hits. Yé-yé songs, though explicit by nature, still opted for more subtlety. It was an era when mankind on the whole wasn’t so desensitized to sex that we needed a musician to hammer us over the head with sex and booze. Fans made do with France Gall’s Les sucettes, or “Lollipops” which at once managed to be subtle and profane - clearly an allusion to oral sex.
Without further ado, here is Mademoiselle Gall herself (read my previous tribute to her), not with the "Lollipops" song [check the link above for that], but with another, groovier hit Cet air-là:

Next up is that most beautiful of the yé-yé artistes, Mlle Françoise Hardy, with a classic (later covered by - of course - Jimmy Somerville):

A lesser-known name among the singers of this genre, here is Marie Laforet with the rather fab Ivan, Boris et Moi (the dancers are Jean Yanne, Sacha Distel and Serge Gainsbourg!):

In a very weird live appearance indeed, here's another groovy Gallic chick Annie Phillippe - we really should make an effort to learn the dance steps!

And finally, the lovely (and not very French-sounding) Gillian Hills with the classic Zou bisou bisou (which was covered by, among others, Sophia Loren):

Oui, baby, oui!

Friday 13 July 2012

Phew! Glad that drought's over!

As Britain - already suffering under one of the worst summers on record - braces itself for another few more weeks of torrential rain, so the water companies have finally declared that the hosepipe ban (still in place because this was "the wrong kind of rain" apparently) is lifted.

Leave it to The Daily Mash to mark this auspicious occasion as only it can:
Thousands of relieved gardeners are finally able to water the swamp-like areas attached to their houses, as the hosepipe ban is lifted.

Many homeowners had been concerned that, unless the ban was lifted soon, they would be unable to keep their lawns submerged to the depth required to support larger marine life like catfish and snapping turtles.

Accountant and keen gardener Nathan Muir said: “With only 38 inches of rainfall since January, the mangrove region of our garden, which I navigate with a type of one-man hovercraft, was beginning to dry out very slightly and the alligators which arrived in February were getting a little bit irritable."
Read more.

An appropriate song, methinks:

Ann Peebles

Shine your heavenly body tonight

It's the end of another miserable wet week, yet even in this post-Pride gloom that has overtaken us, we should still make our plans to party this weekend!

Given that "Our Glorious Leader" is arriving in London next Tuesday (providing the powers-that-be can sort out the quagmire conditions in Hyde Park that led to the cancellation of the PWL-Kylie'n'Jason-fest this week!), let's squeeze into our leg-warmers and tattered skirt, tie a ribbon in our hair, and bop around to the one and only Madonna!

On this superstitious day, what better way to celebrate than with Lucky Star?

Thank Disco It's Friday (the Thirteenth)!!

Madonna MDNA Tour

Thursday 12 July 2012

Purple willies, homo-friendly youths, a haunted foster-child and stiletto heels on cobbles

We braved the elements last night to get to our beloved Polari ("London's peerless literary salon") for the last outing before its summer break (there isn't one in August), and were treated to a fine and varied evening again!

Paul Burston, master of the quick-change ("the Grace Jones of literary events" indeed!), started as he meant to go on - in "50 Shades of Grey" (not the book, the outfits) to suit the weather - before introducing the first of our guests, Vicky Ryder.

One of no fewer than three nominees for the Polari First Book Prize 2012 [more later], to read for us, Ms Ryder's tale of a strange childhood in sunny Nuneaton Ey up and Away provided a much-needed slice of jollity to open the evening. Including this piece:
The shopping bags landed with a thump on the kitchen floor and she raced past me to the toilet.
"I've done a bit in my pants", she shouted, as I timed her wee with the red second hand of my new Timex watch.
Fifty four seconds. Disgusting.
I hoped it would never happen to me.

"Tea up, Mother" shouted my mother towards the back toilet, and my nan emerged blowing her relief into the air like cigar smoke.

She looked down at me disapprovingly.
"Jack Moss showed himself off on the bus and Madam here sat staring at him, as bold as you like".
"It was purple, Mother", I ventured.
"You should have seen it".

My mother shook her head, looking at me as though there might have been a mix up at the hospital.
"Dirty beggar", said my nan. "He wants locking up".

I yearned to be dangerous and to this end had forced the boys in my street to have a look at my own private parts, even to touch them.
But they had not been frightened.
Merely bored and obedient.

"You've got to feel sorry for the family, though, haven't you?" said Nan. "She's a lovely girl. She works in the hairdresser's on the corner of Pool Bank and Abbey Green."

"It's awful".
I tried desperately to feel sorry for the family but could only see them surrounded in glory.

The glory of their tragedy.
They were like the Kennedys.
They would salute and lose both legs to cancer.
Their eyes would shine with a shared sadness and they would be beautiful.
All because of one small, purple piece of flesh that should have stayed nestled inside a pair of Co-op pants.

"Why didn't you tell the bus driver?" my mother asked.

"What, and have to change hairdressers?" said my nan.
"Don't be daft"

"How do you follow that?" was the question our next speaker Mark McCormack asked. "With some dull, dry statistics, of course!" However, the research that he has painstakingly put together is very much more than that.

Mr McCormack's study of adolescent boys in three senior schools in the UK provides a positive message to counter all the media-grabbing horror stories about anti-gay bullying in our schools. In the interviews he conducted for his book The Declining Significance of Homophobia he finds evidence of how heterosexual male students are inclusive of their gay peers and proud of their pro-gay attitudes. He finds that being gay does not negatively affect a boy’s popularity, but being homophobic does. Not dry. Not dull - very uplifting, actually!

Closing the triple-bill for the first half was a last-minute substitution. Michael Wynne was due to read from his Confessions of a Sex Addict, but could not attend [one wonders what had distracted him...] so former Literary Editor at The Independent on Sunday and stalwart "friend of Polari" Suzi Feay stepped into the breach. Paul had apparently asked her to "be filthy", and some of the pieces were mildly near the knuckle - but in the main they were very accomplished, sometimes almost Gothic in their impact! An interesting turnaround ("poacher turned game-keeper"?) for a journalist to enter the world of fiction, and we wish her every success with it.

After the break it was the turn of the rather sexy Mr Stuart Wakefield. His novel Body of Water appears to be unsettling stuff, even from the early passage he read to us. The story - of a very odd, disturbed boy fostered by well-meaning middle-class parents - gave only the merest hint that there is something deeper, darker to come, but was gripping and absorbing nonetheless.
Three months into my placement with them and they still hadn't cracked. I knew I should ease up but my compulsion to misbehave, to find out how much they were prepared to live with, was too strong.

I spat in my dinner if I didn't like it, then I spat in theirs. I lashed out at them when they reprimanded me. Most nights I sneaked out of my room to hang out with the rough kids on Primrose Hill.

But Ruth seemed impervious to my wrongdoing. She regularly picked me up from the local police station, oozing charm and issuing apologies to all concerned. A quiet word with the sergeant and everyone would be smiling. We were usually on our way within a few minutes.

"What did you say to them?" I said the last time, my feet up on the dashboard of the car.
"I tell them what you're really doing".
"What's that?"
"You know what; now put your feet down"

How could she know me so well? We drove in silence but she caught me looking at her a few times. She smiled at me and patted me on the leg. We didn't need to speak...

...I, by the time I started secondary school, became Leven, a nickname representing the eleventh child they had fostered."
Of course, one of Leven's secrets emerges as he comes to the realisation that he is gay. His infatuation with the rugby-boy son of the equally fractured family next door is obviously just the beginning of his adventures...

Fab stuff, indeed! John-John bought a copy of the book, which Mr Wakefield duly signed.

And so it was time for our "star turn" - the fabulous and fascinating Alex Drummond! We had a reading from the immaculately coiffured transgender role model Alex at a previous Polari, and once again we were treated to an intimate revelation about the experience of stepping out - for the first time - in female garb; an extract from his/her new book Grrl Alex (parts of which were previously collected together under the title Queering the Tranny).

And here is Alex reading that very piece - wonderful!

As the hairspray and stilettos faded off stage, it was time for Paul to announce the long-list for this year's Polari First Book Prize. He was joined by two of the judges - Suzi Feay (again) and Joe Storey-Scott, of Prowler Soho, who read the rules of the prize:
The Polari Prize is for a first book which explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in the UK in English within the twelve months of the deadline for submissions (this year 1st February, 2012). Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible for submission.
The ten long listed books are:
  • Rory's Boys by Alan Clark (Bliss/Arcadia Books)
  • Pennance by Claire Ashton (self published on Kindle)
  • The Frost Fairs by John McCullogh (Salt)
  • Becoming Nancy by Terry Ronald (Transworld)
  • Exit Through The Wound by North Morgan (Limehouse Books)
  • Body of Water by Stuart Wakefield (self published)
  • Modern Love by Max Wallis (Flap)
  • Ey Up and Away by Vicky Ryder (Wandering Star Press)
  • Grrl Alex by Alex Drummond, (self published)
  • Perking The Pansies by Jack Scott (Summertime Publishing)
All good! [Although I must admit to being absolutely entranced by Becoming Nancy] Anyway, the short list will be announced in September. The winner will be announced at the Polari 5th Birthday on Monday 26th November - and for the first time this year, there is a prize of £1000 (courtesy of Square Peg Media, publishers of G3 and Out In The City).

What a fab evening!

Our next Polari is not until 24th September (how will we cope?) - but it's back with a bang, with none other than the genius Jonathan Harvey, the man behind house favourites here at Dolores Delargo Towers: the play and movie Beautiful Thing, the wonderful TV series Beautiful People and the Pet Shop Boys musical Closer to Heaven (as well as Kathy Burke's Gimme Gimme Gimme, Dawn French's Murder Most Horrid and episodes of Coronation Street)!

Also on the bill are the Warhol-ite performance artiste Penny Arcade, plus authors Adam Lowe and Adrian Dalton.

We love Polari!

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Especially (not) for you

And so our bloody awful British summer has ripped the fun out of another major event - the great "Hit Factory Live" concert to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Stock Aitken and Waterman has been cancelled!

Most anticipated for the well-overdue reunion of Kylie and Jason to duet on stage for the first time in two decades, this extravaganza was also to include other greats from the PWL stable such as Bananarama, Sinitta, Dead or Alive, 2 Unlimited, Steps, Sonia, Rick Astley, Pepsi and Shirlie and Brother Beyond. Another world-class event ruined...

Here's a most appropriate song from Our Princess - No More Rain [please!!!]:

Have you ever thought that the sky was just endlessly dark
And then look up and see a million stars?
Have you ever been scared of the water and stuck on the edge,
And then you dive in?
how quickly you'll forget you fears that kept you awake at night
Now that I'm back in the light, so warm
I feel it like a...

Wave of love coming over me
Got a glitter drop fall and I’m on my knees
Got the sound of you ringing in my ears
Sun coming up on another day
Got a second hand chance gonna do it again
Got rainbow colours and no more rain

No more (rain)
no more (rain),
no more (rain),
no more.

[Thanks to the lovely Marky Marc for breaking the news to me]

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Life's a drag?

From the BBC website:
The life of variety show entertainer Danny La Rue is to be dramatised in a new film.

The BFI-funded screenplay has been written by Martyn Hesford, who created the BBC Four biopic Fantabulosa, about Carry On actor Kenneth Williams.

It will examine La Rue's "complex web of relationships" with his manager and partner Jack Hanson and close companion and costume designer Annie Galbraith.

Renowned as a female impersonator, La Rue died of cancer in 2009, aged 81.

Born Daniel Patrick Carroll, the performer was once described by Bob Hope as "the most glamorous woman in the world".

He was hailed as a ground-breaking star as he took his drag act into the mainstream and was the first female impersonator to perform for the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance.
But who on earth will they get to play Danny?

He was fond of playing on his butch Cockney upbringing, so what about Ross Kemp?

He was a tall, commanding figure, so maybe Clive Owen?

Of course, he was a consummate female impersonator - so what about Sean Bean?!

I wait with bated breath...

Danny La Rue website

If I’m in the country for more than three weeks I turn feral

John-John and I went to see Julian Clary live on stage At the Arts Theatre in Soho last night, in conversation about his life and his new book. It was a fab way to end a Gay Pride weekend...

Briefs Encountered is described by one reviewer thus:
"...a deft mash-up of fact and fiction, a spectral love story that commutes between Noël Coward’s life in 1930s Kent and that of a contemporary film star who has bought the Master’s house years later.

Drenched in cod Coward epigrams and seasoned with a dash of Stephen King, it’s essentially Blithe Spirit on acid.

Which is not that much of a surprise in that it was written in the same house in which Noël created Madam Arcati."
And indeed that is the case - for back in 2006 (on the suggestion of Paul O'Grady, who lives nearby) Julian bought The Master's old rural retreat Goldenhurst, and has spent an absolute fortune restoring it to its former glory.

The house, purchased by Noel Coward as a young man around the same time as he began his first long-term affair (with Jack Wilson), evidently "called out" to our fave “annoying camp comic and renowned homosexual” [© Julian Clary]. For despite the dreadful state of the building when he moved in, the reputed ghosts and the muck and mud of the countryside, he's still there.

Remarkably, for someone who is evidently part of the "sophisticated set", the "glitterati", or however the public chooses to perceive celebrities these days, he seems to enjoy the rustic life of gardening and village fetes as much as he does the whirlwind social life of London and the stage. Although his rural idyll is ripe for humour:
“If I’m in the country for more than three weeks I turn feral. I stop washing ... and I’ve even been known to drink tap water!”
In truth he explained how much he appreciates spending much of the year in relative solitude, concentrating on his writing and his domestic situation, but after that he craves the attention of being in front of a ribald audience - he adores his panto stints, and will be embarking on another stand-up tour this autumn.

In one of the more revealing anecdotes last night, it was in fact the shaky situation of being apart from his partner (who was until recently working in America for almost eighteen months) that inspired some of the themes within Briefs Encountered, as well as the title of his new show - Position Vacant, Apply Within (which, he says, was conceived at a point when he thought the relationship was going to end).

Julian Clary is a charming man, and last night's audience - true to form, mainly gay men and old ladies - loved his candid discussions about his early years, his family's reaction to his outrageous persona (his grandmother came to see one of his blue shows, but switched her hearing aid off for the occasion), his famous friends (he has made up with Joan Collins after a legal challenge meant he had to change the name of his act from "The Joan Collins Fan Club" in the 80s, and they stay at each other's houses), his dogs (the late "Fanny the Wonderdog", and his current sidekick Valerie: "She has no talent. She's the Claire Sweeney of the dog world", were his words) and his new-found career as a bestselling author.

Indeed, he does have a way with words, so it isn't surprising he has taken to writing. I loved his autobiography A Young Man's Passage, which I read a couple of years ago. “I’m thinking of writing a sequel called Further Up My Passage,” he informed the punters last night. I have yet to read any of his fiction works, but by the sound of Briefs Encountered (a copy of which John-John kindly bought me, and the lovely Julian duly signed at the theatre) I am in for a treat!

Briefs Encountered is available from Amazon.

Julian Clary official website.