Saturday 30 November 2013

Beautiful, dammit!

Many happy returns (tomorrow) to another of our beloved Patron Saints...

This is the Divine Miss M
and I'm here to share with you some rare
and stimulating insight into my cosmic fabulosity.
It's really very simple. I simply believe with all my heart:

I'm beautiful, I'm beautiful, I'm beautiful, dammit!
I'm beautiful, I'm beautiful, I'm beautiful, dammit!
I'm beautiful, so beautiful, I'm beautiful, dammit!
I'm beautiful, I'm beautiful, I'm beautiful, dammit!

...and she certainly is!

Bette Midler (born 1st December 1945)

Friday 29 November 2013

The return of the ultimate Patron Saint

From the BBC:
Angela Lansbury is to appear on the London stage for the first time in almost 40 years in a new production of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit.

She will reprise the role of Madame Arcati, which she first played on Broadway in 2009, winning a Tony Award.

The 88-year-old has not appeared in the West End since 1974, when she played the lead role in the Sondheim's Gypsy.

Her return to the West End is limited to 15 weeks, after which she must return to the US for a wedding.
I think we may well be camping out (oo-er) for tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime theatrical spectacular!

I am Angela Lansbury...

Gielgud Theatre

Come on get up, ev'rybody

Thank heavens for that! This has been one of the slowest weeks of my life.

Now it's almost over and - a visit from Mother notwithstanding tomorrow - it is at last time to grab a sparkly kaftan and a scarf, and to boogie on down with Sylvester and his Two Tons'o'Fun...

Thank Disco it's Friday!

Hope you have a fantabulosa weekend, dear reader.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Bodie, RIP

And so, farewell to the ruggedly handsome Lewis Collins (best known as "Bodie" - the butch one - in The Professionals), who died today, aged only 67.

Another bit of my childhood, gone. A sad loss indeed.

Lewis Collins (26th May 1946 - 27th November 2013)

Bedside reading?

Wednesday 27 November 2013

These shoes stay on my feet

Many happy returns to Señor Manolo Blahnik, the man some girls worship...

I'd love to comb your hair
Your hair is such a mess
Just take off that dress
I'd love to comb your hair
I don't like my hair neat
I don't like my hair neat
I don't like my hair neat
I don't like my hair.

Just take off your shoes
Just take off your shoes
You've nothing left to lose
Just take off your shoes
These shoes stay on my feet (on my feet)
These shoes stay on my feet (on my feet)
These shoes stay on my feet (on my feet)
These shoes stay on my feet.

What's that sound?
I like that sound
I love that sound
It's the sound of my shoes

What's that sound?
I like that sound
I love that sound
It's the sound of my shoes

I'd like to hold your hand
Wearing my brand new gloves
This must be real love
I'd love to hold you hand
Those gloves don't touch my skin
Those gloves don't touch my skin
Those gloves don't touch my skin
Those gloves don't touch my skin

I'd love to do your nails
Before someone gets hurt
Don't be such a flirt
I'd love to do those nails
These nails have served me well
These nails have served me well
These nails have served me well
These nails have served me well

What's that sound?
I like that sound
I love that sound
It's the sound of my shoes

What's that sound?
I like that sound
I love that sound
It's the sound of my shoes

The only song I could play on such an occasion.

Manuel "Manolo" Blahnik Rodríguez CBE (born 28th November 1942)

Tuesday 26 November 2013

I know you're antiseptic, your deodorant smells nice

After a weekend with Doctor Who, I suppose another timeslip moment is appropriate.

Can it really be 35 years ago this week since the sadly-missed Miss Poly Styrene and X-Ray Spex took the staid old world of Top of the Pops by storm with this song?

A Germ Free Adolescence? It certainly was for me... Unfortunately.

I know you're antiseptic
Your deodorant smells nice
I'd like to get to know you
You're deep frozen like the ice

He's a germ free adolescent
Cleanliness is her obsession
Cleans her teeth ten times a day
Scrub away, scrub away, scrub away
The S.R. way....

You may get to touch her
If your gloves are sterilised
Rinse your mouth with Listerine
Blow disinfectant in your eyes

He's a germ free adolescent
Cleanliness is her obsession
Cleans her teeth ten times a day
Scrub away, scrub away, scrub away
The S.R. way....

Her phobia is infection
She needs one to survive
It's her built-in protection
Without fear she'd give up and die

He's a germ free adolescent
Cleanliness is her obsession
Cleans her teeth ten times a day
Scrub away, scrub away, scrub away
The S.R. way....

X-Ray Spex official website

Monday 25 November 2013

Shake your music makers!

It's Monday morning - after a week off for study and an exam on Friday, it is a bit of a jolt, to say the least, getting up to head back to the soulless office.

Still, it is a Tacky Music Monday, and in honour of the 74th birthday this week of Annie May Bullock aka our Patron Saint Miss Tina Turner - and of course, in honour of the fact that another Patron Saint Cher is still going strong - here are the two unstoppable ladies together!

How about that for a wake-up?

Sunday 24 November 2013

The King of Ragtime

To celebrate the birthday today [possibly...he may have been born in 1867 or 1868, maybe on 24th November, or June, or even April; no-one is quite sure - but we have to celebrate some time!] of Mr Scott Joplin - ragtime maestro and creator of a sound that inspired more than a century of jazz and swing music - I have found this rare (but fab) clip from the 1977 film biography of his life, starring Billy Dee Williams...


Scott Joplin biography

Saturday 23 November 2013

Friday 22 November 2013

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good

We're almost there... I have my final exam of this blasted vocational qualification this morning, but after that - it is officially the weekend. Yay!

To celebrate, let's get our clapping gear in order, attempt to groom our facial hair in perfect mid-70s-mid-European-stylee, and bop along with Mr Leroy Gomez aka Santa Esmeralda and the eternally cheesy classic Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood. Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, whatever you do, dear reader!

Thursday 21 November 2013

If there's a wrong bell, I ring it

Many happy returns to the ever-youthful bundle of energy that is Miss Goldie Hawn - remarkably, she blows out 68 candles on her cake today!

Here she is with a typically self-deprecating number, but plenty of va-va-voom!

If there's a wrong way say it
And a right way to play it
Nobody does it like me

If there's a wrong way to do it
A right way to screw it up, ha
Nobody does it like me

I've got a big loud mouth
I'm always talking much too free
If you go for tact and manners
Better stay away from me

If there's a wrong way to keep it cool
A right way to be a fool
Nobody does it like me

I hear a love song or ballad
I toss like a salad
Nobody tosses like me

And when my evenings get tougher
I just take to bufferin'
And drink a hot cup of tea

Last night, I met an old acquaintance
At a fancy corner pub,
He said 'come on let's have some supper'
Then he used my credit club

If there's a wrong way take a guy
The worst way to make a guy
Nobody does it like me

If there's a wrong bell, I ring it
A wrong note I sing it
Nobody does it like me

If there's a problem, I duck it
I don't solve it I just muck it up
Nobody does it like me

And so try to be a lady
I'm no lady I'm a fraud
And when I talk like I'm a lady
What I sound like is a broad

If there's a wrong way to get a guy
the right way to lose a guy
Nobody does it like me!

Indeed they do not. We adore Miss Hawn.

Goldie Jeanne Hawn (born 21st November 1945)

Wednesday 20 November 2013

The Ozark Nightingale

We have another centenary to mark today - admittedly an obscure one (at least to those of us on this side of the pond) - Miss Judy Canova.

Wildly popular in her heyday in the 40s and 50s for her madcap comedy and songs, she starred in more than two dozen Hollywood films and had huge success with her own radio programme The Judy Canova Show.

I knew very little about her before, but when I found this clip I just had to share... Here she is, exercising her formidable vocal gymnastics on that old Sophie Tucker standard, Some of These Days:

They don't make 'em like that any more!

Facts about Judy Canova:
  • None other than Busby Berkeley gave Miss Canova her first screen role in In Caliente in 1935.
  • Her radio show ran for twelve years in the US, and her co-stars included Mel Blanc ("Bugs Bunny"), Gale Gordon (The Lucy Show) and Hans Conried (The 5000 Fingers of Doctor T).
  • Specialising in "zany hillbilly" characters, among her nicknames was "The Ozark Nightingale"; and her popularity influenced the likes of Red Ingle to produce his own hillbilly spoof records such as Cigareets and Whuskey.
  • Her daughter Diana is most famous for playing "Corinne Tate" in the long-running 70s comedy series Soap.
Judy Canova (born Juliette Canova, 20th November 1913 – 5th August 1983)

Heaven and Hull

From Crap Towns, in which Hull was named #1 in 2003:
“The silent threat of violence hangs in the air, along with the smell from the chocolate factory. Chocolate factories, by the way, don’t smell of chocolate, they smell of death. If the wind comes from the southeast, the smell of Grimsby docks adds a fishy staleness to the odour. If it comes from the other direction it brings the smell of the tanning factory ... rotting carcasses and rancid flesh.”
From an article by George Marshall in BMX magazine:
Let’s get one thing straight – people hate Hull. It’s understandable. The city’s bleak reputation precedes itself. An ageing fish town on the Yorkshire coast, Hull is widely laughed off as isolated and cut off, a dead end, void of opportunity and appeal, where teenage pregnancies outnumber jobs and the best source of income is salvaging copper pipes from the abandoned homes of laid off dock workers. Once the beating heart of British shipping, a vast industrial port and whaling goldmine, the nautical trades on which the city was built have long since rusted away, only to be replaced by drug trafficking from Holland and import of STDs. With a list of grim accolades as long as the queue outside the post office on dole collection day, it’s no wonder the town has such a bad reputation. It’s claimed the city boasts the highest drug related death rate, lowest GCSE pass rate, highest suicide rate, lowest wages, highest unemployment rate, suffered the worst bombing of any UK city in WW2, was described by the Observer as ‘Britain’s drug capital’, it ranked No.1 in the book “Crap Towns” and one in three residents has Chlamydia. Get the picture?
From the BBC today:
Hull has been named the UK's next City of Culture, beating Leicester, Dundee and Swansea Bay to the right to hold the title in 2017.

Hull, known for being the home of poet Philip Larkin, the Ferens gallery and the Truck theatre, will follow the 2013 City of Culture, Londonderry.

The UK government chooses a new destination every four years, with the aim of helping tourism and the economy.
I have visited Hull, as a friend from Wales now lives there. Of its relative merits, all I can say is that the bits the Luftwaffe did not bomb to smithereens (and there aren't a lot) were OK. It left little other impression.

Here's an aptly bleak poem (read by another of Hull's famous sons Tom Courtenay) by Philip Larkin himself, who no doubt would have raised a wry smile at the news:

Philip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL (9th August 1922 – 2nd December 1985)

Tuesday 19 November 2013

It's the grooviest thing, it's the perfect dream

Timeslip moment again...

Terrifyingly, it is thirty years since my sister and I and all the "cool kids" of the "Bowie/Roxy Nights" in Lazers nightclub in Newport (one-time haunt of Steve Strange, Spandau Ballet, Adam Ant, The Slits, Siouxsie and Simple Minds in its heyday when it held its "Speakeasy" nights) used to bop our tits off to this song...

In the Top Ten this week in 1983, it's The Cure and The Love Cats:

We move like cagey tigers
We couldn't get closer than this
The way we walk
The way we talk
The way we stalk
The way we kiss
We slip through the streets
While everyone sleeps
Getting bigger and sleeker
And wider and brighter
We bite and scratch and scream all night
Let's go and throw
All the songs we know

Into the sea
You and me
All these years and no one heard
I'll show you in spring
It's a treacherous thing
We missed you hissed the lovecats

We're so wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully
Wonderfully pretty!
Oh you know that I'd do anything for you
We should have each other to tea
We should have each other with cream
Then curl up by the fire
And sleep for a while
It's the grooviest thing
It's the perfect dream

Hand in hand
Is the only way to land
And always the right way round
Not broken in pieces
Like hated little meeces
How could we miss
Someone as dumb as this?

I love you, let's go
Oh, solid gone
How could we miss
Someone as dumb as this?

[Last featured here way back in 2009 as a part of my blog about Time Capsules]

The Cure

Monday 18 November 2013

Home of the Stars

It has turned quite wintry, cold and damp out there. I am sheltering from it, trying to get my head around studying for an exam on Friday.

To lift the spirits this Tacky Music Monday, let us escape the gloom and visit the ever-classy Hollywood Palace, here featuring the fab combination of Dyan Cannon, Lola Falana, Jo Anne Worley and Lulu with Anthony Newley on What A Man (with a bonus word from our sponsor featuring today's birthday girl Brenda Vaccaro, to boot!).

How much more camp do you want it?

Have a good week, folks!

Sunday 17 November 2013

Xmas is coming...

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Whether it's just that there is a sudden crop of interesting music around, or perhaps I have merely been in the mood for traversing the interwebs for exotica on these dark, dank autumn days, but... here's another round-up of recent choons that have caught my ear, shared for your delectation.

Let us open with a firm favourite - the Swedish artist occasionally known as Bimbo Boy, Dennis Alexis Hellström, whose new duo Eurotix has released I Plead Insanity as its new single. Shades of Vince Clarke-era Depeche Mode or Yazoo, methinks:

Speaking of regularly-featured artists, Aussie duo Parralox has a great new single out - a cover of an old hit by Alan Parsons Project - it's Eye In The Sky:

An electronic band from Scotland, Chvrches has released a sublimely-crafted new single (and video) Lies. I really like this...

In complete contrast, the band behind one of this year's runaway successes I Don't Care (I Love It) Icona Pop's new single is altogether a more poppy, shouty affair - with a terrifically camp video as well. It's All Night:

With an infectious riff that harks back to the classic early 90s house sound of artists like the Nightcrawlers (and a fab video to boot), here's Storm Queen and Look Right Through:

It has sassy ladies dancing in unfeasibly high heels, several exotic costume changes, semi-naked male totty - it's the video for the title song from a new Bollywood block-buster starring Aamir Khan, of course! Dhoom Machale Dhoom is performed by Katrina Kaif, but in true Bollywood style is actually sung by Aditi Singh Sharma:

Speaking of camp - here's a collaboration of fantabulosa fierceness! Thanks (yet again) to the lovely Henry at Barbarella's Galaxy, our lives have been enriched by the marvellous Gomi & Mila Jam. They are indeed Masters Of the Universe:

That track also features contributions from someone by the name of Kayvon Zand. Fearing this might be some "urban" rapper, I investigated. I could not have been more wrong if I tried! Sample for yourself the delights of this magnificent creature, as he takes you on the most incredible One Way Flight...

Finally, another marvellous discovery. Pentatonix is a combo of supremely talented singers, whose acapella versions of modern pop tunes won them all the accolades on American talent show The Sing-Off in 2011. [Shamefully, although their chosen charity on the show was the gay youth crisis support organisation The Trevor Project, the broadcaster NBC chose to edit out any reference to LBGTQ people when the appeal was shown. Piss-poor treatment of a group, two of whose members are gay!] Here they are with their magnificent tribute to synth-dance maestros Daft Punk, entirely without synths:

As always, enjoy - and let me know what you think!

Saturday 16 November 2013

Can't you make the music easy and sad

Many happy returns today to the theatrical singer, dancer and actress Miss Donna McKechnie - the original "Cassie" in A Chorus Line and long-time stalwart of the Broadway stage, working with the likes of Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon, Stephen Sondheim, and her one-time husband the late Michael Bennett.

In a special appearance at the at the 2002 MAC Awards, here she is singing a house favourite at Dolores Delargo Towers...

It's quarter to three, there's no one in the place
Except you and me
So set 'em' up Joe, I got a little story
I think you should know
We're drinking my friend, to the end
Of a brief episode
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

I know the routine, put another nickel
In the machine
I feel kind of bad, can't you make the music
Easy and sad
I could tell you a lot, but you've got
To be true to your code
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

You'd never know it, but buddy I'm a kind of poet
And I got a lot of things to say
And when I'm gloomy, you simply gotta listen to me
Till it's all talked away

Well that's how it goes, and Joe I know your gettin'
Anxious to close
Thanks for the cheer
I hope you didn't mind
My bending your ear

But this torch that I found, It's gotta be drowned
Or it's gonna explode
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road


Donna McKechnie (born 16th November 1940)

Friday 15 November 2013

You light up my world like nobody else

Thank heavens for the BBC!

Only our own august broadcaster could have pulled together the resources and the innovation to come up with a remix of One Direction's What Makes You Beautiful with Giuseppe Verdi's The Anvil Chorus..!

This recording by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra with singers Robin Tritschler, Jonathan McGovern, Benjamin Appl, Tim Mead and Nick Pritchard is (of course) all in aid of char-i-dee - it, and the "rival" remix of Wings by girl-band Little Mix with Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries [not only is this being promoted as a boy-band vs girl-band contest, but also a way to highlight the bicentenary of both composers] - is in aid of this year's Children in Need appeal.

And here it is!

[Apologies to our readers "across the pond" if this video is not available outside the UK.]

Read more

Folks were screamin' - out of control

It's the end of another busy week, and although we probably need a break from all these nights out, we probably won't - it's time to party!

Let's pour ourselves into the tightest white flares humanly possible (forget that "Eleganza" shirt!), grab a medallion and a back-comb, and boogie on down with the Trammps - and their classic Disco Inferno.

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, peeps.

Trammps official website

Thursday 14 November 2013

A murderous lion, a transsexual diva, the N-word, tuberose, evening wear and Miss Lederer

We decided that on such a noteworthy occasion as the sixth anniversary of "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari - for one night only relocated to the prestigious (if a bit soulless) Purcell Room for the occasion - and the announcement of the winner of the Polari First Book Prize, we would dress up a bit. We all (Madam Arcati, Paul, little Tony, Jim, Wayne and a host of regulars including Alex, Paulo, Lauren/Rebecca, Diane, Val, Peter, Emma, Toby, Anni and the rest, and non regulars including Mzz Kimberley) looked very smart indeed, I thought!

Paul Burston appeared as proud as punch at the turnout, and with good reason - in six years, Polari has risen from "just another" author evening in a bar in Soho to one of the most respected regular literary events that the Southbank Centre has! Always brilliant, always entertaining, and a firmly-established part of London's premier artistic showcase. Tonight's line-up was certainly something rather special...

Opening the show was the marvellous Ms Rosie Garland - in another life she is known as "Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen, cabaret chanteuse and mistress of ceremonies" - whose estimable talents have turned of late to writing. Indeed her first novel Palace of Curiosities, from which she read us an extract, was only published earlier this year.

It seems a quirky, sinister, brilliantly-written tale - the piece she read graphically described the moment when the mangy and tortured lion ("Jambo") in a Victorian circus finally turns and rips his tormentor the trainer's throat out (before itself being killed) in front of a horrified audience. Well, almost all horrified. The narrator of the book just happened to be conceived that very night, as her mother, evidently consumed with perverse passion at the carnage, takes the opportunity to consummate her relationship down an alleyway...with the lion's blood still dripping from her clothes. What the resulting freak-child is like and how her subsequent life story unfolds is for us to discover in the rest of the book, methinks... Here is Ms Garland (with short snippet from the book) at a recent spooky “Crime & Fear“ event at Staffordshire University:

As Mr Patrick Flanery quite rightly said, "How do you follow that?" An American ex-pat resident of London, Mr Flanery has two well-received novels under his belt - and a third on its way - and he read first from one of those Fallen Land, a convoluted tale of the paranoia that engulfs a selection of haunted characters tainted by their doomed pursuit of the "American Dream". It was difficult to get the measure of this complex story, as it was with the taster he gave us of his next novel that features the agonies faced by a closeted gay actor in the midst of the "studio system" that ruled the Golden Age of Hollywood - whether it was the pace of the reading itself, the acoustics of the cavernous hall, or merely the multitude of interwoven conversations between Mr Flanery's characters, I don't know. Maybe a more leisurely read of the books might unravel the threads, but we were exhausted.

Thankfully, entertainment of a simpler, more musical kind was to follow.

Miss Dee Chanelle, the glamorous trans founder of the annual Miss Diamond Queen contest, sang (beautifully, admittedly) two songs that are not exactly our cup of tea - Luther Vandross' dreadful Dance With My Father and Emeli Sande's Clown - but finished off with the most faboo version of Dame Shirl's eternal classic This Is My Life [please excuse the crappy clip - as with all such hand-held phone videos, the audience "participation" rather ruins the impression one gets of the singer; she was excellent last night!]

And so to the break, the inevitable shitty service at the Queen Elizabeth Hall bar, a little varda at the gorgeous views of the Thames from the terrace, and back to the auditorium, hardly having had a chance to speak to anyone [the consensus from most people was that they missed the milling around and mingling that is possible in our usual function room at the Royal Festival Hall].

Regardless, our opener for the second half, the charming Mr Dean Atta is always welcome - with his "in-yer-face" punk-poetry challenging racism, homophobia and hypocrisy in modern society. He got the biggest cheer for his most famous poem I Am Nobody’s Nigger:

But the anger soon turned to laughter as our adorable special guest star Miss Helen Lederer took to the stage!

Miss L is an absolutely on-the-ball comedienne, playing up to the "ditzy" persona that made us adore her so much in classic series such as Ab Fab and Naked Video, yet always with perfect timing for the punchline. She regaled us with recollections of appearing semi-naked with Tom Daley (lucky cow) in his universally panned reality show Splash, of school-days, auditions and the unexpected complexities of trying to get "crowd-funding" to put together a stage show. Speaking of which, her WTF spoof panel show is on at the St James Theatre on 28th November:

[We would have had some lovely photos of us with Helen, with whom we were chatting after the event - quite impassioned and seriously - for a while, but Jim fucked up and managed to take two of the blurriest images known to man, short of actually smearing the lens with lard. This is the best I could do to actually be able to make out that we were all in it. I know it looks like a crappy old Polaroid, but then again thanks to the oh-so-trendy-bollocks that is Instagram, this is quite the look nowadays. Apparently.]

Miss Lederer having suitably perked us all up, it was time for our headline reader to come to the lectern...

Ms Charlotte Mendelson is an author of some magnitude – she's won the Somerset Maugham Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and has been short-listed for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction, and her latest novel Almost English was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. And it was from this that she read us a truly absorbing piece, a short extract of which is below:
The air stinks of tuberose, caraway and garlic: the universal scent of central European hospitality. But Marina is not hospitable. After only an hour her skin is tender with cheek pinchings; she has been match-made, prodded and instructed beyond endurance, and the night is young.

Soon they will come to find her, to admire the shape of her fingernails, the thickness of her lashes, their eyes peeling back her clothes, weighing her like fruit. This is not new. She has been brought up to accept the questions and kisses as if nothing could please her more, however much lava is boiling inside.

The problem is that Marina has changed. She can bear their scrutiny no longer because her life is a disaster, and it is her fault. She betrayed them and escaped them, and now she wants to come back.

So, finally, we came to the crux of the evening, as Paul B and Val Lee announced the winner of the Polari First Book Prize 2013 - Ms Mari Hannah, for The Murder Wall.

She appeared absolutely overjoyed as Vincent Francois from sponsors Societé Generale presented her with a cheque for £1000. And so another deserving winner was crowned!

Lots of mingling and chatting later (including and especially with the lovely Miss Lederer), and that was another marvellous evening over and done with...

I think many of us will be relieved that the Polari Xmas bash returns to its cosy environs of the 5th Floor Function Room on 9th December - with a line-up that includes our lovely friend Marcus Reeves as well as Philip Hoare, Barbara Brownskirt, Neil Spring and Ann Mann.

I can't wait!