Saturday 31 October 2015

Monster mash (up)

It's Samhain, Allantide, Hallowe'en, Calan Gaeaf or Hop-tu-Naa...

What better way to celebrate than with a Bauhaus mash-up?

Spooky, indeed.

Watch your goolies, everyone!


Friday 30 October 2015

Let me do it, baby

Not sure what you'd call today - "Hallowe'en e'en", perhaps?

Whatever it may be, there's sure to be some partying going on this weekend - so let's get the blood pumping with this most (ahem) terrifying of dance routines by something called "Ballet Zoom"... and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a spooky one, folks!

Thursday 29 October 2015

The key to another way...

RIP Diane Charlemagne, lead singer with the Urban Cookie Collective.

Here she is [again] with the Collective's massive hit from 1993:

I have many happy memories of dancing the night away to that choon...

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Tweetie Pie on peanut butter

From IMDB:
Her quivery, high-pitched, Southern-cracked tones were once described as sounding like "a Tweetie Pie cartoon bird strangling on peanut butter." Just the absurdity of that description fits comedienne Dody Goodman to a tee. One did not know what to make of her, but she could certainly induce laughter with a mere perplexed look, a spaced-out pause, or by opening her mouth and spouting out a silly malaprop. Her flakiness seemed so real that one wondered if that was the REAL Dody Goodman or just some savvy comedienne who knew exactly how to package herself. Maybe a little of both.
And here she is, with her "classic" I'd Rather Cha-Cha Than Eat...

Dody Goodman Sings? Indeed. We love this album here at Dolores Delargo Towers!

Dody Goodman (28th October 1914 – 22nd June 2008)

Letter of the day

Nuff said.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Wish upon a (Black)star

"If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
David Bowie has confirmed his new album will be called Blackstar and released on his 69th birthday on 8th January.

The singer made the announcement on his official website... adding that Blackstar will also be the title of his forthcoming single.

He said the single, released on 20th November, will not be part of his theatre piece Lazarus.

The album will follow-up 2013's The Next Day, which débuted at number one in the UK.

The Next Day was Bowie's first album release for a decade, and was announced on the singer's 66th birthday.

Bowie is yet to release details regarding the sound and content of the album.
I can't wait!!

A load of pants

It's Hazell Dean's birthday!

What more of an excuse do I need to feature the "AussieBum Edition" of her Hi-NRG classic Searchin (I Gotta Find A Man)?


Hazell Dean (born Hazel Dean Poole, 27th October 1952)

Monday 26 October 2015

Everything that happens in life can happen in a show

It's Monday again (so soon?), but yesterday's demise of British Summer Time has at least given us more morning light (for a while), and it is indeed beautifully sunny out there...

The passing of Maureen O'Hara on the weekend has led to a flurry of interest in the few remaining "Golden Age of Hollywood" stars who are still with us - Miss De Havilland, of course, remains the oldest of the rapidly-diminishing bevy of "classic" leading ladies, but another on the list celebrates her 95th birthday tomorrow...

Miss Nanette Fabray (for it is she) was another "Vaudeville baby"; she overcame her deafness to graduate from theatre school and entered the studio system. On the big screen, she starred alongside Eve Arden, Gladys George and Bette Davis but it was only for one movie she is principally remembered (the rest of her long career largely made up of appearances on US TV shows) - The Band Wagon.

And here, on this Tacky Music Monday, she is - with the rest of the happy band (Fred Astaire, Oscar Levant and Jack Buchanan):

Everything that happens in life
Can happen in a show
You can make 'em laugh
You can make 'em cry
Anything can go...

The clown with his pants falling down
Or the dance that's a dream of romance
Or the scene where the villain is mean
That's entertainment!

The lights on the lady in tights
Or the bride with the guy on the side
Or the ball where she gives him her all
That's entertainment!

The plot and the hot simply teeming with sex
A gay divorcee who is after her ex
It could be Oedipus Rex

Where a chap kills his father
And causes a lot of bother

The clerk who is thrown out of work
By the boss who is thrown for a loss
By the skirt who is doing him dirt

The world is a stage,
The stage is a world of entertainment.
That's entertainment!
That's entertainment!

A philosophy that will - if anything can - get us through another week in the distinctly "un-entertaining" office...

Many happy returns, Nanette Fabray (born Ruby Bernadette Nanette Fabares, 27th October 1920)

Sunday 25 October 2015

Breeze blows leaves of a musty-coloured yellow

Floral display at the RHS Lindley Hall

Me among the Nerines

It is officially over. British Summer Time has ended. However, Autumn's not always doom'n'gloom - the RHS "Shades of Autumn" flower show was spectacular, and despite the yellowing foliage, there is still much to enjoy in the garden...

Let's mark the auspicious start of Autumn/Winter with an upbeat number, courtesy of The Kinks - Autumn Almanac!

From the dew-soaked hedge creeps a crawly caterpillar,
When the dawn begins to crack.
It's all part of my autumn almanac.
Breeze blows leaves of a musty-coloured yellow,
So I sweep them in my sack.
Yes, yes, yes, it's my autumn almanac.

Friday evenings, people get together,
Hiding from the weather.
Tea and toasted, buttered currant buns
Can't compensate for lack of sun,
Because the summer's all gone.

Oh, my poor rheumatic back
Yes, yes, yes, it's my autumn almanac.
Oh, my autumn almanac
Yes, yes, yes, it's my autumn almanac.

25 things that happen every time the clocks go back

Saturday 24 October 2015

All the sweet years

Miss Diana Dors - once "Britain's answer to Marilyn Monroe" would have celebrated her (84th) birthday yesterday.

Let's hark back a few years, and join Russell Harty, her houseboys and some chums (including Adam Ant, Tom O'Connor and Olympic swimmer Duncan Goodhew) at her house party...

Where did they go, all the good times?
And the flowers and the wine
The young men who held me
All the lovers who were mine
Where did they go, all the sweet years
Filled with laughter ev'ry day
When time went on forever
Oh, when did they slip away?


RIP, darling.

Diana Dors (born Diana Mary Fluck, 23rd October 1931 – 4th May 1984)

Friday 23 October 2015

Show and tell and show

Whew. The light at the end of the tunnel is showing...

After a particularly draining week (not just the usual office drudgery, but interrupted rather tiresomely by another cross-London trek to suburban Surrey mid-week - two hours there, two hours back; and not even a Tube strike to blame it on - for a meeting), we have the glitter and the sparkle of a weekend to look forward to.

Madam Arcati and I are swanning off to the final RHS Flower Show of the season tomorrow (trugs in hand), and fingers crossed the weather will be dry enough on Sunday to continue tidying up our wilting garden before the real ravages of autumn take hold. [And speaking of "shows" - we are privileged to note that the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers have once more made it into the Fifth Annual Infomaniac Garden Photos Event - check it out if you haven't already!]

In the meantime, let's get into a celebratory party mood with "the world's coolest Flowerpot Man" and the rest of his long-forgotten band (of gnomes?) Rokotto - they want us to Boogie On Up...

...and who are we to resist? Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great one...

Thursday 22 October 2015

Make me sway

Ignoring as I have the hoo-ha over "Back To The Future 2 Day" and all that crap this week, our own little timewarp machine has instead deposited us back in this week in 2000.

Fifteen years ago, our news was occupied with the end of the tyranny of Slobodan Milošević in Serbia, repercussions arising from the Hatfield rail crash, and continued killings in the Israel-Palestine conflict; the UK's wettest autumn in 200 years was underway (with worse to come!); we bade farewell to First Minister of Scotland Donald Dewar, Wembley Stadium and the BBC Nine O'Clock News (which moved to 10pm); and on the big screen were Billy Elliot, Meet the Parents and The Contender.

In the charts? Miss Aguilera, Steps, Macy Gray, Shania Twain, Moby, 911, Chemical Brothers, Ann Lee and ATB were all riding high - but sliding down the charts after a massively successful summer was this one...

It's Shaft and their classy re-working of a Norman Gimbel jazz-pop standard [and not-so-classy video]:

Ah, memories.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

From our sports correspondent...


It's for team players, apparently.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Here as I watch the ships go by


Bruno Martelli appears to have been elected Canadian Prime Minister!

Here as I watch the ships go by
I'm rooted to my shore
I keep asking myself why
And if there's more on the other side
Here as I see the friends I thought I made
A little bit crazed and knowing now
We've outgrown one another

Star maker
Dream breaker
Soul taker
We're happy now

Now when I see the things I want
I can take the things I see
But I keep asking myself why
And if there ain't just a little bit more for me
Here when it's time to count the cost
I keep measuring what I've lost
And wondering if you knew
It would all end up with you

Star maker
Dream breaker
Soul taker
We're happy now
Here as I watch the time go by
How I'd like to sail away
Leaving all my past behind
But I know I'd only last for a couple of days
Here stands everything I thought I made
It's the only life I know
And I can't even call it my own
I've got no hope, I belong to you

My star maker
Dream breaker
Soul taker
We're happy now
We're so happy now

I am sure the Canadian people are!

Canada's Liberal landslide victory

Monday 19 October 2015

Hey, Macarena!

As we stagger out into the gloom on our way to work, our thoughts are turning to holidays in Spain (fingers crossed we may get there again in February, finances permitting).

Just in time to rescue the mood, I have made yet another joyful discovery of a hereto unknown-to-us wannabe-diva from that very country, Señorita Marujita Díaz! [A little too late, admittedly; she sadly died this June, aged 83.]

However, to cheer us up on this Tacky Music Monday, here's a double-bill of the lady in her heyday. First up, the best mauve mantilla a girl could ever want, and a song called La Macarena that is definitely not associated with a 90s dance craze...

Next up, a bizarre snippet reminiscent of that Björk video (or more likely Miss Dawn French's hilarious piss-take), here the divine Señorita Díaz appears to be floating above the traffic while warbling a song to her city:


Marujita Díaz (born María del Dulce Nombre Díaz Ruiz, 27th April 1932 – 23rd June 2015)

Sunday 18 October 2015

Makin' Whoopie!

Sunday Blues? Well, why not try a little Sugar Pie De Santo...

Miss De Santo - a new discovery here at Dolores Delargo Towers - was born Umpeylia Marsema Balinton. It's no wonder she changed her name. A ballsy yet much overlooked singer, her career overlapped with the (much more famous) likes of Etta James, Koko Taylor and Dinah Washington.

Yet, fortuitously, she has outlived them all - and celebrated her 80th birthday on Friday!

Her tumultuous life story - her difficulties as a mixed-race (Filipino/African-American) girl in segregated America, jailed as a teen gang member, her battles with her record company, the ups-and-downs of her marriage (she wed the same man twice) and then the loss of her husband in a devastating fire - is soon to be the subject of a film documentary, and, remarkably, she's still touring!

Here's the lady herself - with some fancy footwork by the Nicholas Brothers in this fan-made video - with Do The Whoopie:

And again - in a barn-storming performance in glittering London in 1964 - with Rock Me Baby:

Sugar Pie De Santo (born 16th November 1935)

Saturday 17 October 2015

The Dale Winton of banging house

Over at the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp our latest "exhibit" features the legendary Laurence Malice and his notorious gay nightclub 'Trade'.

Laurence Malice with curator Anne Marie Garbutt in front of the tribute to Tony De Vit at Islington Museum

I was pleased to be invited on Thursday to attend the preview/launch of a new exhibition Trade - often copied, never equalled at Islington Museum, celebrating 25 years since the "mother of all super-clubs" opened its doors - which coincides with the club's very last ever outing next week. One of its centrepieces is a tribute to one of the individuals without whom 'Trade' would not have been so successful...

Among the hordes of DJs who graced the decks of 'Trade', one name stands out above all others - that of Tony De Vit, a man for whose innovative mixes and ineffable ability to whip a dancefloor into a frenzy many who followed in his wake have paid due homage. After his death, Carl Cox dedicated a DJ award he was given to Tony as a tribute.

Famously described as "the Michael Barrymore of techno, the Dale Winton of banging house" (for his perma-tan and his self-deprecating wit), Mr De Vit (pronounced "de vee") in his day was ranked 5th in DJ magazine’s "Top 100 DJs In The World", 2nd in Mixmag’s "Best DJ Of The Year 1996", "Best New DJ" in Muzik magazine, "Dance DJ Of The Year" at the Molsen BEDA Awards and "Best DJ" at the International Music Awards. He also earned Music Week’s vote for "The Groundbreaking Mix of 1996" with his remix of Louise’s Naked.

And so, in keeping with today's "all things 'Trade'" theme, here are just a few of Mr De Vit's finest moments:

RIP Tony De Vit (12th September 1957 – 2nd July 1998).

Read an interview with Tony De Vit in the 90s.

The exhibition Trade - often copied, never equalled is at Islington Museum until Saturday 16th January 2016.

Friday 16 October 2015

But I can't help myself

Slowly, it nears...

The weekend is almost upon us, and I am counting down the hours - particularly as I went to the swanky launch of a new exhibition about the legendary mega-nightclub and den of debauchery Trade last night (more about that in due course, no doubt) and I am now suffering the consequences of rather too much complimentary wine.

Pre-dating "mega-nightclub all-nighters" by a few decades, but definitely in the spirit of Mr Laurence Malice and his crazy clientèle, here's a celebratory choon to start the party - Thank Disco It's Friday!

[I'm wearing my bat-wing jump-suit as we speak.]

I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself
I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself

I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself
I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself

When I hear those percussions
It gets me into the beat
I feel my body grooving
Just the music and me

I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself
I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself

I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself
I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself

My emotions just run free
When the sounds synthesize me
The pop of the bass starts
From the bottom of my heart

Kick drums loud and clear
Pumping rhythms in my ear
(Just a music) love affair

Slide your fingers down the strings
Guitar makes me do my thing
(Just a music) love affair

I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself
I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself

I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself
I don't wanna be a freak
But I can't help myself

Freaking makes my body move
Freaking makes my body move

Freaking makes my body move
Freaking makes my body move

Freaking makes my body move

Just a lover (A dancing music lover
And I'm getting on)

Have a good one, folks!

Thursday 15 October 2015

The Loudest Silent Movie on Earth?

What do Nina Hagen, Lemmy from Motorhead, Grace Jones, Iggy Pop and Slash from Guns'n'Roses have in common? They - together with a host of "cult" rock musicians (Tom Araya, Henry Rollins, Jesse Hughes, Joshua Homme... nope, me neither) - are the stars of a new (odd-sounding) film-and-live-concert-experience called Gutterdammerung, which threatens to arrive at a venue near you some time in the next twelve months...

Described as "The Loudest Silent Movie on Earth," it is the brainchild of Belgian-Swedish visual artist Bjorn Tagemose. With the combination of his backgrounds, I am not surprised this is all a bit odd. Apparently the film plays on a big screen while the narration and the music (played by a band that contains none of the members of the cast) is on stage. It's all very Spinal Tap.

As for any semblance of "plot", the last time I read a description like this is was for "Queen Musical" We Will Rock You:
The film is set in a world where God has saved the world from sin by taking from mankind the Devil’s ‘Grail of Sin’…..the Evil Guitar. The Earth has now turned into a puritan world where there is no room for sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll.

From up on high in heaven a “punk-angel”, Vicious (portrayed by Iggy Pop), looks upon the world with weary bored eyes. Behind God’s back, Vicious sends the Devil’s guitar back to earth and sin in all its forms returns to mankind.

An evil puritan priest (Henry Rollins) manipulates a naive girl to retrieve the guitar and destroy it. On her quest to find the Devil’s Grail Of Sin, the girl is forced to face the world’s most evil rock and roll bastards. Throughout her journey, she has a rival in the form of a rock chick determined to stop her from destroying the instrument.
On 12th November at the O2 Forum Kentish Town, London, exclusive scenes of the film will be first shown with Henry Rollins and Jesse Hughes live on stage. There will be a Q&A with the film’s creator Tagemose alongside Rollins and Hughes.

I doubt I'll be queuing for a ticket.

Read more on the Gutterdammerung website.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

A word from our sponsor...

I shall be trying this at my desk in the office later.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Look out bro, here it come

Timeslip moment again...

Plonked down in this week twenty years ago in 1995, our TARDIS has placed us in a world where OJ Simpson, war in Bosnia, the introduction of metric weights and measures in the UK and the launch of the Vauxhall Vectra were occupying the headlines, Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) left Coronation Street, and To Die For, Hackers and To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar were on our screens.

In a chart that included such unlikely bedfellows as Suggs, The Rembrandts, Kylie and Nick Cave, Pulp, Jacksons Michael and Janet, Def Leppard, Wet Wet Wet, Michael Bolton, Green Day, hideous wibblers (Ms Dion and Ms Carey), Blur, Oasis, Adiemus and Simply Red, hanging in there were some cracking dance choons - including this one!

Here's the Candy Girls (with Sweet Pussy Pauline, and whatever happened to her?)!

You better walk girls, walk girls, walk girls
Walk girls, walk girls (damn damn damn damn)
Now it was time for me to walk
Ow! Ow!

Boom a-shack-a-lack-a boom boom
Boom a-shack-a-lack-a boom boom
Boom a-shack-a-lack boom a-shack-a-lack
Boom a-shack-a-lack-a boom boom

(Come on baby, come on babe) (4x)
Ow! (Come on baby, come on babe)
Ow! (Come on baby, come on babe)
Ow! (Come on baby, come on babe)
Ow! (Come on babe) Ow! (Come on babe) Ow! (Come on babe) Ow! (Come on babe)

Fee Fi Fo Fum, Fee Fi Fo Fum
Fee Fi Fo Fum, look out bro, here it come
(Ow!) Fee Fi Fo Fum, Fee Fi Fo Fum
Fee Fi Fo Fum, look out bro, here it come
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!

Positively Shakespearian.

Monday 12 October 2015

Fame if you win it, comes and goes in a minute

I had no idea quite who Susan Anton was - on discovering it is her 65th birthday today - until I looked her up.

Oh, I am soooo glad I did!

The living embodiment of a "Barbie Doll" (that hair doesn't move!), Miss Anton appears to have been "famous for being famous"; a sort-of-Kardashian of the 70s, I guess. She appeared in commercials, and in some barrel-scraping films (Goldengirl, anyone? How about Cannonball Run II? She was nominated "Worst Supporting Actress" in the Golden Raspberry Awards for that one.) She was even in a relationship with Dudley Moore in the early 1980s (he seemed to get through a succession of blondes).

And she had her own television show! It lasted exactly four weeks. Here, on this Tacky Music Monday, she gives it her heart and soul on a Make Someone Happy medley...

It's so important to make someone happy.
Make just one someone happy.
Make just one heart to heart you, you sing to

One smile that cheers you.
One face that lights when it nears you.
One girl your - your everything to

Fame, if you win it,
Comes and goes in a minute
Where's the real stuff in life, to cling to?

Love is the answer.
Someone to love is the answer.
Once you've found her,
Build your world around her.

Make someone happy.
Make just one someone happy.
And you will be happy too.

Bless. Have a good week peeps...

Susan Ellen Anton (born 12th October 1950)

Sunday 11 October 2015

Nouvelle musique

It has been a while. However, here's another of my (increasingly irregular) round-ups of some of the newer music that has caught my ear...

Before I start - courtesy of The Quietus, we hear that the saintly David Bowie has permitted the use of a new track of his called Blackstar as title music for a new TV series The Last Panthers. Intriguing, indeed:

And with that interlude, on with the show...

Hallowe'en is mere weeks away now, so how about we open our selection with some costume ideas from the mysterious Swedish duo I Am Karate and their atmospheric Elevate?

Speaking of ghosts, it would appear that someone has been picking up some tips out of the ether from the late, great Marc Bolan... Here's BØRNS and Electric Love. I want his jacket!

Sticking with "70s-grooves-updated", here's house fave band here at Dolores Delargo Towers The Young Professionals, and their version of Abba's S.O.S.:

From 70s sounds to something that more resembles the early 80s - here's the exotically-titled Story of the Running Wolf and Electric:

Oh my. What to say about the fantabulosa Violet Chachki (this year's winner of RuPaul's Drag Race)? Words fail me. Thanks once again to the lovely Henry at Barbarella's Galaxy for introducing me to Bettie. She needs a spank, apparently..

Since we (sob sob) didn't have our usual pilgrimage to Amsterdam this year, here to remind us what we missed is one of the weirder dance hits that's been entertaining the Dutch this year - Lil Kleine and Ronnie Flex, who are on Drank & Drugs. Apparently. So bad, it's addictive!

What's hard and sticky and sweet, and we can't get enough of it? Yes! It's our scrumptious houseboys Kazaky - and their delicious Milk Choc!

One of the "summer club hits" that passed me by until recently, here's the maestro DJ Bob Sinclar with the joyful vocals of Miss Dawn Tallman and Feel The Vibe:

And finally, no it's not "Jelly Time". It's DJ Jellyfish and the dance craze you are never going to get right this year - Boom Boom Jellyfish! [Featuring my favourite camp dance instructor, ever]:

As ever, enjoy! And let me know what you think...

Saturday 10 October 2015

Don't let me out of here

Another piece of our early years has gone - following close on the heels of "household names" here in the UK Gordon Honeycombe and Hugh Scully - with news of the death of Jim Diamond.

Mr Diamond may not have been on our telly screens for decades like the other two, but his music was around at the cusp of my "leaving school/going to clubs/starting work/coming-out" years, mainly memorable for two songs...

...first, with his band PhD way back in 1982 (with one of the cheesiest videos ever!):

...and the solo one that had the whole country sobbing at Xmas 1984:

Cheerful soul, wasn't he?

RIP James "Jim" Diamond (28th September 1951 – 10th October 2015)

Friday 9 October 2015

Claquons des doigts et frappons du pieds

The end of the week is nigh, and fingers crossed it's a sunny one. We need as much light as we can get before the clocks go back in two weeks' time...

Notable birthdays today (a right mixed bag!) include John Lennon (who would have been 75), Jacques Tati, Camille Saint-Saëns, Alastair Sim, Scott Bakula, Olympian Steve Ovett, Sir Donald Sinden, Nona Hendryx, Sharon Osbourne, Brian Blessed, PM David Cameron and jazz legend Lee Wiley. However, this being party time, it is to an eternal favourite France Gall (68 today) to whom we turn in order to close-off our week in an appropriately upbeat fashion!

I would never suggest anyone dress like some cheesy kids' telly presenter to head to a party this (or any) weekend, but we'll forgive Mlle Gall - just this once. Merci Disco C'est Vendredi!

Déposons nos armes а nos pieds
Renvoyons chez elles nos armées
Jetons а terre nos boucliers
Claquons des doigts et frappons du pieds
(Un, deux, trois quatre)

Douce, douce, douce, douce, douce musique
Douce, douce, douce, douce, douce musique

Whatever that means - have a good one!

Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne "France" Gall (born 9th October 1947)

Thursday 8 October 2015

Down with this sort of thing! Careful now!

Happy 50th birthday to the fab comedian Ardal O'Hanlon, eternally beloved of audiences everywhere as the hapless Father Dougal in one of the funniest comedy series ever written, Father Ted.
Father Dougal: "God Ted, I’ve heard about those cults. Everyone dressing in black and saying our Lord’s going to come back and judge us all."
Father Ted: "No…no Dougal, that’s us. That’s Catholicism you’re talking about there."
Despite his career in stand-up, and numerous TV series since the demise of the show following the death of its star Dermot Morgan in February 1998, it is for the lovable Dougal that we still love him, twenty years on.

Here are a few of Dougal's finest moments, for your delectation...


Father Ted's legacy

Wednesday 7 October 2015

A Lesbian Pam Ayres, Bang-Bang, sex in the corridor, a prize, a perfect black dress and a parental nightmare


On a dismal wet Monday, I was the only one of our "gang" to venture out to the latest instalment of "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari - it may have been dreary outside, but in the confines of the Level 5 Function Room at the Royal Festival Hall, there's always a warm welcome!

And so it was, as our top-hatted hostess-with-the-mostest Paul Burston opened proceedings - with a very welcome return for poet, entertainer and Polari regular Anny Knight. We love Anny - once described, I recall, as "the Lesbian world's answer to Pam Ayres"; no bad thing, given that lady's enduring popularity and success.

Her poetry is always wryly humorous, and never fails to lift the spirits - a perfect opener, methinks:

Next up was successful crime writer (and "adviser on terrorism and extremism to certain departments and think tanks") Charlie Flowers - author of a series of books featuring protagonists Riz Sabir, a former Jihadi now working for the Ministry of Defence, and his wife Bang-Bang. [Yes, "Bang-Bang". Okay...] The extract he read for us was from his newest in the series Murder Most Rural, where these suave urbanites gatecrash a yokels' pub in deepest, darkest Mummersetshire [or somewhere] on some bizarre mission to recruit local anglers to trawl a river for a lost "drone" [are you following this?], and it turns out they are not only spies and former Jihadis, but also a card-sharp and an expert pool player. Of course. They win the games, win over the locals, don't get beaten up, and [I suppose] everything works out fine in the end...

You can read extracts from the book on Amazon. I didn't buy a copy.

Sunny Singh's Hotel Arcadia was described by The Independent as "not only a page-turning thriller. It is far more than that." The piece she read featured the steamy encounter between closeted gay Abhi (one of the story's narrators) and a German tourist Dieter, in the sinister environs of the eponymous hotel during a terrorist incursion. I reckon that would have been a bit of a passion-killer, myself, but...

Here's the book trailer:

Anyway, with part one done and dusted, having replaced the pint of beer that one of the Polari punters had silently kicked over under my chair halfway through - just when I was in need of a drink - and having topped-up my nicotine levels, it was time to return to the packed house for the second half. Thankfully, it was worth the wait...

...there was a very special announcement to make, for a start! Paul introduced one of the panel judges, literary critic Suzi Feay to announce the winner of the Polari First Book Prize 2015. With many of the short-listers (including LaJohn Joseph) in attendance, it was a shame that the winner had to send her publishing agent to accept the prize.

Congratulations this year go to Kirsty Logan, for her début The Rental Heart - which the panel recommended thus: "[Kisrty] writes from a variety of queer perspectives, showing us a range of outsider’s viewpoints. Her characters are compelling, alienated, and trying to find a place themselves in a world with which they are at odds. For a first book 'The Rental Heart and Other Fairy Tales' is remarkably assured. Each tale feels like a work of art in miniature, a controlled experiment in transformative storytelling."

Drinks all round!


The last time that Juliet Jacques - trans writer, cultural critic and journalist - appeared at Polari, she was very angry. Thankfully, this time around, she promised that out of ten chapters in her Trans - a Memoir, she would "read an up-beat bit". And the piece she chose was fab - as the young Juliet goes charity-shopping with her close friend, finds the "perfect little black dress" and ventures out on the trans-friendly scene in Brighton for the very first time: worried about whether she'll "pass", why she's the youngest person there, and how to deal with the "tranny-chasers", the drag queens and the boys hanging round on street corners on her way to the taxi rank...

This was fabulous stuff - and Ms Jacques really charmed the audience; her reading ended with rousing applause.

And so it was the turn of our headliner Tom Rob Smith - wearing possibly the ghastliest Pringle tank-top I have ever seen, but I forgive him; he's very cute - author of the internationally acclaimed novel Child 44. Before getting down to literature, he began by expressing how proud he was that his drama television miniseries London Spy, starring Ben Whishaw, with Jim Broadbent, Adrian Lester, Mark Gatiss and Charlotte Rampling (what a bizarre combination), is being broadcast by the BBC later this month. One to look out for!

However, it was to his semi-autobiographical book The Farm that he turned for his reading. A dark tale, its gay narrator Daniel finds himself caught in a nightmarish situation as his mother - who, he has been told by his father, is suffering from a psychiatric disorder - turns up in London with what she says is chilling evidence that his father is involved in a conspiracy back in the family's native Sweden to cover up the circumstances of the disappearance (and possible murder) of a local girl... As a review in the Guardian put it: Who would you believe in a crisis, your mother or your father?

Brief, but thrilling and intriguing, indeed...

Thus, another eclectic and varied evening of literary entertainment drew to a close, with the customary "curtain call".


Jackie Collins's natural successor Rebecca Chance aka Lauren Henderson, et moi...

Our next outing for Polari - wouldya believe, celebrating its eighth birthday? (I've been there for seven of them) - is on 28th November 2015 and is part of the Being A Man Festival, featuring Bernardine Evaristo ('Mr Loverman'), Keith Jarrett, Neil Spring and trans man Len Lukowski. Award-winning author Diana Souhami completes the line-up.

Polari website

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Thought for the Day, UK special edition



More rain.

"Good for the gardens."


Eight reasons to hate Autumn.

Monday 5 October 2015

Quel domage

Autumn or no Autumn, our Cobaea scandens is almost reaching the gutter at Dolores Delargo Towers

Here we go... Monday again. Time to face the grey autumnal gloom, and off to work we go.

At least I have "Polari at the Lit Fest" to look forward to this evening - and, on this Tacky Music Monday, today's birthday girl the cool-as-ice Mlle Marie Laforêt (again) with her jolly little ditty Ivan, Boris et Moi to cheer things along!

The male dancers (if you can actually make them out in this aged clip) - are (remarkably) "Mr Smooth" himself Sacha Distel, actor and director Jean Yanne and the legendary Serge Gainsbourg...


Have a good week, folks!

Marie Laforêt (born Maïténa Marie Brigitte Doumenach, 5th October 1939)

Sunday 4 October 2015

Life’s a bitch… why not become one?

Our friend Alexis Gregory is a man of many talents. We first met him as one of the hot barmen at our long-gone favourite gay haunt BarCode Soho and have followed his progress ever since; his performance as go-go dancer for Stewart Who's faboo "anthem" Bitch; and the fruition of his career as an actor - we saw him in the play Stonewall back in 2007; he has since appeared in the gay-themed films Kick Off and Fit (and he has had bit-parts in Casualty and The Bill, to boot).

We always thought he was male model material

Now he has turned his hand to play-writing, and it was to the début of his first play Slap that John-John and I ventured to sunny Stratford (home of the 2012 Olympics) last night - it was a tour-de-force!

Unusually for a drama, we were actually seated within the set itself - the "Hollywood-meets-Stepney" flat of pre-op trans call-girl Dominique (Lexi himself, in basque, fishnets and dangerously high heels throughout). And, at various times through the story, Dominique plonks herself down next to or drapes herself over the startled audience...

On reading the synopsis - "Life’s a bitch… why not become one? Welcome to the world of Dominique, a glamorous transsexual hooker in the throes of an emotional meltdown, caught between a rock and hard face, juggling a stalker client with a crush and her cute, chavved out, drugged up boyf who hasn’t got out the bath in a week." - one might have been forgiven for thinking this might be an exercise in high camp satire or a bit of soap-opera, but, despite its moments of humour (and indeed the bitchy flouncing of Dominique), Slap is a deep and though-provoking piece, full of delicious convolutions between the present and past and the real back-stories of the three main characters. Indeed, the big "twist" near the end, and the play's eventual shocking denouement had the whole audience - us included - gasping!

All three actors are utterly superb. Lexi's Dominique, all strut and swagger, gives over an air of being completely in control - but the cracks begin to show as the truth begins to unravel. Former Eastenders child actor Frankie Fitzgerald is convincingly dodgy and vulnerable in turn as the druggy, fucked-up "boyfriend" Danny - but just why is he permanently in that bath?; all becomes clear eventually... And the marvellous Nigel Fairs - whose own one-man bravura performance in Didn't You Used To Be Derek Jacobi? we loved so much last year - as the poor, put-upon "posh punter" John is a perfect foil for the domestic drama going on in front of him (and turns out to be the only one to see through all the role-playing in the end).

For a début play as a writer, Lexi deserves every award going for this - and I sincerely hope it is eventually made into a film (Channel 4 has already hosted a "workshop" performance at its studios, but the cameras weren't rolling at the time). Slap's director Rikki Beadle-Blair has had past success in this area (his original - and according to critics, superior to the recent Roland Emmerich film - Stonewall movie was a hit back in 1995), after all.

It was an experience I will remember for a very long time...

Slap is only on until Saturday 10th October at the Theatre Royal Stratford East - so you'd better be quick! It's definitely worth it.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Totty of the Day

Many happy returns, Mr Jason F. Sellards - better known as Jake Shears. Of course.

Any excuse to play again (as if I need one) this year's barn-stormer collaboration (Jake, Kylie and Nile Rodgers with Nervo) - The Other Boys!

More Jake pics