Monday 31 July 2017

Monday drain

Oh, Mondays...

Today, not only do I have to get up for work but I also have to come back and sit all afternoon waiting for a contractor to come and unblock our drain outside the back door.

It's a glamorous life.

Hey ho, on this Tacky Music Monday, let's venture over to Bollywoodland for an appropriately diverting number!

Fingers crossed a) the workman's gorgeous; and b) he clears it all up successfully and quickly.

I feel like going out for a curry...

Sunday 30 July 2017

Distraction, Italian style

As the grey ominous skies continue to loom, and thundery storms batter the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers, our thoughts are somewhat distracted by dreams of warmer climes.

Let's drop in on the sumptuous lives of impossibly glamorous people, cavorting in exotic locations, once again - courtesy of the fabulous Soft Tempo Lounge!

Ah, that's better.

[Music: Niña No Divagues by Agustin Pereyra Lucena; clip from the film Io la conoscevo bene]

Saturday 29 July 2017

Totty of the Day

Fancy being a "regular Royal Queen"?

Well, young Arthur Chatto (above) is 23rd in line for the throne, so one could be in in with a chance...

I'm measuring up for my tiara (and several other "Crown Jewels") as we speak!

Friday 28 July 2017

A weekend Love Affair

Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)

All this week on Radio 2, the utterly wonderful Scissor Sister Ana Matronic has been covering the flagship evening music show for its regular host Jo Wiley - and, given the celebratory tone of the Beeb's "Gay Britannia" season, she has given centre stage to LGBT artists and "gay icons" on every show.

Last night, she played an old favourite from 2008 - a song that I freaked over at the time - and I whooped to hear it again! Heaven knows, we need something classy to get our weekend party celebrations started..., raise your glasses to Hercules and Love Affair - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

As a child, I knew
That the stars could only get brighter
That we would get closer
Get closer
Leaving this darkness


Have a great weekend, dear reader!

Thursday 27 July 2017

Who was more influential - Wolfenden or his son who wore make-up?

The media has gone mad for gays lately!

Of course, it's all because of a small matter that happened fifty years ago - the (partial) decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. As we are all too well aware, "celebration" is perhaps not necessarily the right way to approach the subject, given the fact that there were many decades of strife to follow that one momentous Act of Parliament, and the fact that this ground-breaking piece of legislation had such a long and drawn-out birth that began a decade earlier...

From a Guardian article by Geraldine Bedell in 2007:
In the mid-1950s, there was an atmosphere of a witch-hunt (probably not unrelated to what was happening in America with McCarthy), with consequent opportunities for blackmail. Leo Abse, who eventually piloted the Sexual Law Reform Act through Parliament, recalls that, as a lawyer in Cardiff, his fees from criminals suddenly all started coming from the account of one man. He investigated and found he was "a poor vicar. The bastards were bleeding him. I sent for one of the criminals and told him if I had another cheque from this man, I'd get him sent down for 10 years. I sent for the vicar and told him to come to me if they approached him again."

MPs on both sides of the House began to demand action. One or two newspapers ran leaders. And then there was another high-profile case in which the police were called on one matter and ended up prosecuting another. Edward Montagu, later Lord Beaulieu, contacted the police over a stolen camera and ended up in prison for a year for gross indecency. Two of his friends, Michael Pitt-Rivers and Peter Wildeblood, got 18 months. Their trial in 1954 probably played into the decision of the Home Secretary, David Maxwell-Fyfe, to establish the Wolfenden Committee to consider whether a change in the law was necessary.

As Lord Kilmuir, Maxwell-Fyfe led the opposition to law reform in the Lords, so it was ironic that he started the process. Perhaps he thought, by handing over to a committee, to shelve the issue. Perhaps he assumed Wolfenden would find against, in which case, he chose a curious chairman, because Wolfenden had a gay son, Jeremy. [Pioneering gay rights activist] Antony Grey told me that when Wolfenden accepted the job, he wrote to Jeremy saying "it would be better if he weren't seen around him too often in lipstick and make-up".

[Fellow pioneer and "founding father" of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality] Allan Horsfall believes homosexuality was tacked on very late in the day to the business of a committee that had already been set up to look into the legal status of prostitution. (Certainly, its remit covered both; its findings were popularly referred to as The Vice Report.) That would make sense of the choice of chairman, although it is also possible that, given the secretive atmosphere of the time, Maxwell-Fyfe didn't know Wolfenden had a son who wore make-up.

The Wolfenden Committee sat for three years and recommended that homosexual acts between consenting adults in private should no longer be illegal. Setting the tone for the discussion about law reform that would follow, it made no attempt to argue that homosexuality wasn't immoral, only that the law was impractical. The age of consent should, in the committee's view, be set at 21 (it was 16 for heterosexuals). The weedy reasoning behind this was that young men left the control of their parents for university or national service. In fact, it seems to have reflected a general prejudice that homosexuals were even more simple-minded than girls.
It took ten years before the findings of the Wolfenden Report were finally passed into law with the Sexual Offences Act of 1967.

In today's Guardian, our esteemed pal and "gay rights spokesman", Polari host Paul Burston takes up the baton - from the perspective of someone who, like me, came out in the mid-80s when things were still far from "reformed":
There was a lot to be angry about in the mid-80s. The age of consent for gay men was 21, which meant the law was being broken on a regular basis. Section 28, with which the Thatcher government outlawed the promotion of homosexuality in schools, was just around the corner. And soon a big disease with a little name would claim the lives of many of my closest friends.

Around this time I had a friend called Tom, who was in his 60s and who would often tell me tales of life before the 1967 act. He and his partner had been together for many years but slept in two separate single beds. As he told me, “You could be put in prison just for loving someone.” The day the act was passed he and his partner went out and bought a double bed. Every time he told me this story, my eyes would fill with tears.

It’s a commonly held misconception that the 1967 act legalised male homosexuality. It didn’t. It partially decriminalised it under certain conditions. In the years that followed, gay sexuality was policed more aggressively than before and the number of men arrested for breaching those conditions actually rose considerably. As research conducted by Peter Tatchell recently found, in 1966 some 420 men were convicted of the gay crime of gross indecency. By 1974, that number had soared by more than 300% to over 1,700 convictions.

Policing in the 80s and early 90s was virulently homophobic, whipped up by hysteria around AIDS and gay-baiting newspapers such as the Sun, Daily Mail and News of the World. Manchester’s police chief, James Anderton, penned a tabloid column about AIDS in which he described gay men as “swirling in a human cesspit of their own making”. Gay saunas were raided. “Disorderly house” charges were pressed against gay bars and nightclubs. At the Royal Vauxhall Tavern one night there was a raid by police wearing rubber gloves. The drag queen Lily Savage – also known as Paul O’Grady – encouraged everyone to resist arrest.

I’m not saying that the 1967 Act wasn’t revolutionary. In many ways it was. For men such as my old friend Tom, it meant a change of life. Finally he got to sleep with his partner in a double bed!

But it was also very limited. It allowed the law to go on punishing us for things heterosexuals took for granted – the freedom to have sex at 16, the freedom to express our love in public, the freedom to be ourselves.
Regardless of hindsight, July 1967 was a momentous moment in time for our gay forefathers in the UK half a century ago, and to that I raise a toast!

But what else was in the news at the time? The Vietnam War (of course) continued to occupy the headlines, as did the Cold War (with worsening relations between Russia and China); the first UK colour television broadcasts begin on BBC2; the Nigerian civil war led to dreadful famine in its formerly secessionist state of Biafra; British Steel was nationalised; and race riots swept across the USA, leaving hundreds dead or wounded.

This was (apparently) "The Summer of Love", and the music scene was dominated by the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper, The Doors and myriad "hippie" tunes. In the UK charts this very week in 1967, All You Need is Love was at #1, and Scott MacKenzie, Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, The Turtles and Small Faces were all present and correct; also in the running were more "mainstream" artists such as Lulu, Engelbert Humperdinck, Sandie Shaw and the Johnny Mann Singers.

But, held off the top only by the Fab Four was this unabashedly camp number (which I imagine loads of gay boys were singing as they toasted the Sexual Offences Act with several large glasses of Blue Nun) - it's house fave here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Miss Vikki Carr!

I tell myself what's done is done
I tell myself don't be a fool
Play the field have a lot of fun
It's easy when you play it cool

I tell myself don't be a chump
Who cares, let him stay away
That's when the phone rings and I jump
And as I grab the phone I pray

Let it please be him, oh dear God
It must be him or I shall die
Or I shall die
Oh hello, hello my dear God
It must be him but it's not him
And then I die
That's when I die

After a while, I'm myself again
I take the pieces off the floor
Put my heart on the shelf again
You'll never hurt me any more

I'm not a puppet on a string
I'll find somebody else someday
That's when the phone rings, and once again
I start to pray

Let it please be him, oh dear God
It must be him , it must be him
or I shall die, Or I shall die
Oh hello, hello my dear God
It must be him but it's not him
And then I die
That's when I die

Wednesday 26 July 2017


It’s not a takeaway when we do it, say middle class people
The middle classes have confirmed that they do not eat takeaways, even when buying food at an establishment and removing it to consume elsewhere.

Responding to concerns that the increase in fast food shops is fuelling an obesity epidemic, middle class people have explained that the Thai, Korean and street food outlets near them are different because they are fancier.

Museum curator Helen Archer said: “The news about these awful diets is so sad. I’m just glad it’s something that I’m able to avoid.

“I’m super busy so I’m always on Deliveroo – usually Szechuan, pan-Indian, or Five Guys – but it’s not really comparable, because when it arrives I put it on plates.

“It’s a simple matter of making healthy choices. Why let your children go to Pizza Hut when Pizza Express is available, and their pizzas have Italian names?

“I suppose there are surface similarities, but it’s like saying our summer travels around Moorish Andalusia are like a package holiday in Spain. Not the same thing at all.”

Archer also confirmed she has banned unhealthy crisps and fizzy pop from her home in favour of vegetable chips and smoothies which contain the exact same amount of salt and sugar but incur considerably less judgement.
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Defects of spermatic humidity

New discoveries from a Medieval treatise The Trotula on the subject of infertility have been discovered:
“Defect of spermatic humidity”, or men with “excessively cold and dry testicles” could be the problem, and the Trotula included a test, reproduced by many later writers, to check whether the difficulty lay with the man or the woman. Both should urinate into separate pots of bran, which were then left for up to 10 days: the one in which the worms appeared indicated the infertile partner. If worms appeared in neither pot, neither was infertile and the couple could be helped by medicine.

Gilbert the Englishman, in his Compendium of Medicine complied in the the 1250s, considered “a defect in the operation of the generative members for the natural operation of the generative organs is lacking when the penis does not become erect or the seed is not emitted.” Three virtues were needed for the man’s organs to work properly, Gilbert explained: heat from the liver, spirit from the heart and moisture from the brain. “We have found others who have desire in the liver. These neither erect the penis nor emit seed.”
So now you know: don't eat liver, and watch out if you have a spirited heart, a wet brain or cold and dry testicles...

It could seriously affect your sex life!

The final word goes to Bernard of Gordon, who suggested an alarming remedy for a man with a short penis: “it should be beaten gently with rods, and plastered with pitch”.

Read the full article in The Guardian

Monday 24 July 2017

Crooners, Turks and a swinging pirate

Today happens to be the 101st anniversary [I managed to completely miss his centenary!] of the birth of one Bob Eberly, Big Band crooner and dilettante performer of such romantic classics as Amapola, Green Eyes and Tangerine - mainly with the orchestras of the Dorsey Brothers, principally that of Jimmy Dorsey.

To ease our way out of bed and into work, here's his classic performance of the latter song (alongside the faboo Helen O'Connell):

However, while we're on the subject of Jimmy Dorsey, and it being a Tacky Music Monday and all...'s Jimmy and the boys incongruously dressed in cod-"Turkish" get-up [it's from an Abbot & Costello movie Lost In A Harem, apparently] playing a swing number about a pirate! Most odd.

If that doesn't wake you, nothing will!

Bob Eberly (24th July 1916 – 17th November 1981)

Sunday 23 July 2017

Golden boy

Our new garden ornament

Congratulations to the ever-gorgeous Tom Daley on winning gold for Britain at the World Aquatics Championships!

[Any excuse, really for more "Tom shots".]

Saturday 22 July 2017


Who Do You Think You Are? Barbara Brownskirt - the debut solo appearance by our favourite "manifestation of bitterness, anger and lesbian cliché, railing against her lot through poetry" - was a marvellous evening out. But what of the question raised by the title itself?

Let's let the "poet laureate of Penge" do the introductions...
I am poet-in-residence at the 197 bus stop on Croydon Road, Penge, which is the epicentre between Peckham and Croydon. I have written 21 volumes of poetry mostly at and around the bus stop or on the bus. So far all the publishers have been ignoring my work, but not for long.

Every day is inspiring and thought-provoking in Penge, usually there's a row in the street outside the Conservative Club or some kind of casual racism down the Wetherspoons, but mostly it's just like any small hamlet of London, there's art being made and discount shopping taking place. Usually someone makes an installation piece outside the Travelodge from found objects which I like to look at when going home to my lodgings.

Is this art? Photo by Barbara Brownskirt.

People say Penge is on the up, but they've been saying this to my mother, Mrs Brownskirt, who was an unfulfilled actress cum lollipop lady, since the famous gold rush in the 1980s. We like it as it is: multi-lingual, multi-sexual, working class and real.

I have noticed people with money want to live here, but I'd rather they just stay up the hill in Crystal Palace, because if they move here where will all us poets of the people go next?

Vive la poetry!
The indefatigable Barbara is, of course, the comic creation of the multi-talented Ms Karen McLeod, former air stewardess, former female drag queen(!), stand-up comedienne, author and Polari stalwart. Through her be-cagouled, uptight, Judi Dench-obsessed eyes, however, a whole new world of pithy (and extremely funny) angst is channelled, to perfect effect, complete with her "Womb Words" and in her "safe spaces".

The audience at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern was (as were Paul, John-John, Madam Arcati and I) in stitches, as she mercilessly sent-up po-faced feminists and talentless "performance poets" alike. Many of her familiar (unpublished) poems were present and correct, including Fabergé Eggs (Between Your Legs), The Publishers Are All Bent (But Not In A Good Way) and her excoriation of "her ex Susan" Cruelty-Free Shoes, plus [after a slideshow paean to her icon] the half-chanted Judi ["from volume 3, Furry Purses"]:

Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Dench!
10 hours I stood there
You walked past me (on the red carpet)
I was on the pavement not red but grey
I watched you go by with yet another sigh

Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Dench!
Your smile and crinkly twinkly eyes
Your little hairstyle, high on your head
Sexy Grandma
To me you are wife material

Denchy Denchy Denchy Denchy Denchy Jud-ie
How you make me want to clenchy
And I would like to travel my hand
Over your wobbly belly
To cup the young Denchy, Thirsty Drenchy
A cup full of Dench quenched. Time all spent.

Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Judi Dench!

Here she is at Polari back in 2013 [with at least one familiar face in the audience...]:

This was a superb show - and it seems that from Penge the world is now Barbara Brownskirt's oyster...

Friday 21 July 2017

Is it Sex? Or is it Love?

It's been a loooonnnng week!

Now we're here, with a party weekend in prospect - we're off to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern for an evening of low culture, courtesy of the lovely Polari regular Karen McLeod's comic creation "Barbara Brownskirt", and the weekend may be a bit stormy but (for London) is looks likely to stay dry and warm.

So what we need right now is something funky to get us in the mood. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder behemoth I Feel Love. Today, we have a more recent similarly-titled creation by a certain DJ Pierre to start our shimmying off in an appropriate manner - complete with an amusing [likely more so than watching the actual film, or indeed any film with Will Ferrell in it] clip from A Night At The Roxbury...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good weekend, dear reader.

Thursday 20 July 2017

Meanwhile, in Michigan...

From the BBC:
A woman has been found guilty of shooting her husband five times in a Michigan murder case apparently witnessed by a parrot.

Glenna Duram shot her husband, Martin, in front of the couple's pet in 2015, before turning the gun on herself in a failed suicide attempt.

The parrot later repeated the words "Don't shoot!" in the victim's voice, according to Mr Duram's ex-wife.

The parrot, an African Grey named Bud, was not used in the court proceedings.
Not revealed in the article is when Bud will get his own television show as the world's first psittacine detective.

"Hercule Parrot", perhaps?

Wednesday 19 July 2017

The man who pixelates the breasts

After revelations by the BBC about how much its "top" presenters earn, including Chris Evans (pay bracket: £2,200,000 - £2,249,999 - though what the hell he does to justify that is questionable!), Gary Lineker (£1,750,000 - £1,799,999), Graham Norton (£850,000 - £899,999), Jeremy Vine (£700,000 - £749,999), John Humphrys (£600,000 - £649,000), Steve Wright (£500,000 - £549,999) and Fiona Bruce (£350,000 - £399,999), this:
Channel Five has revealed the salaries of the woman who chooses the programmes and the man who pixelates the breasts.

The broadcaster said it was revealing the salaries of both its staff members because it wanted to demonstrate transparency and prove that the BBC is a total waste of time and money.

Programme chooser Emma Bradshaw, who is on £53,000 a year, said: “Half the greedy bastards at the BBC are on more than the prime minister of the UK. I get paid slightly more than the prime minister of one of the countries where the documentaries about stag parties are filmed.

“And more people want to watch shows about stuff getting repossessed than yet another costume drama about a bunch of ponces.”

Breast pixelater Wayne Hayes, who is on £39,000 a year, added: “I’m doing the job of 10 men. We like to show as many breasts as possible during the day, but because of the ‘rules’ I have to make them a bit blurry. It’s an awful lot of work.

“We used to have a guy who pixelated fannies, but now if a programme’s got fannies we just wait until after five o’clock to show it.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Gilding the Lily

“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.”

- William Shakespeare, King John

Oh, the Lilies here at Dolores Delargo Towers (in pots, just outside the back door) have been such a joy of late...

I think these majestic purveyors of the most heavenly scent deserve a beautiful piece of music to accompany them.

How fitting that today would have been the 90th birthday of the great conductor Kurt Masur - and here he is conducting a sublime piece from Antonin Dvořák to soothe our troubled minds:

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, cond. Kurt Masur - Dvořák: 8 Slavonic Dances, Op.72, No.2 in E Minor (Allegretto grazioso)

Kurt Masur (18th July 1927 – 19th December 2015)

Monday 17 July 2017

Feel like running and dancing for joy

It's another Monday - and the weather, as is its wont, is the best we have had for a few days. Just in time to sit behind acres of glass under strip lighting in the office. Groan...

...but we do have a centenary to celebrate!

On this Tacky Music Monday, let's wallow in the "zany" talents of the wonderful Miss Phyllis Diller, and take our minds off things. She's Feeling Pretty:

Loved her.

Phyllis Ada Driver (17th July 1917 – 20th August 2012)

Sunday 16 July 2017

Who's that Girl?

"I've reversed the polarity of the Neutron flow." - Third Doctor


...the new Doctor Who is a woman!!

Controversial decision, some might say - but nevertheless, welcome to the TARDIS, Ms Jodie Whittaker...

The announcement on the BBC

Saturday 15 July 2017

Daylight robbery and Go-Go girls

Oh dear. Corporate greed abounds again.

Yesterday, Madam Arcati discovered that every photo he had ever posted to his rather lovely blog diary of our gardens had been replaced by a threatening graphic by our chosen host site for photo albums, Photobucket. It seems that, without any warning at all, from now on users cannot link from that site to Blogger or anywhere else - until or unless one pays them the princely sum of $399 (over £300) per year!!!!!

Needless to say, we will never fork out that kind of money - ransom threats or no ransom threats - just to see our own photos on a blog. So now I have an unenviable task ahead - to "repair" six years' worth of The Madam's blogs by painstakingly replacing Photobucket links with directly uploaded photos (thankfully Blogger lets users do that for free - at the moment). Thank heavens he's not such a prolific blogger as I.

Bigger, yet, however, is the task I have to do here - to go back over TEN YEARS of my own blogs (both here and over at the Museum of Camp - there are thousands!) and check to which ones I have embedded photos from our albums, then replace them. Then close my Photobucket account for good, and tell them where they can shove their blackmail.

I foresee much cursing and drinking. ["No change there", I hear you cry!]

To calm the jangling nerves somewhat, here's an old fave and a "Go-Go" classic from The Eliminators:

Keep shimmying!

Friday 14 July 2017

How do I look?

As we hurtle (well, crawl slowly) towards another weekend - with the afterglow of Saturday's Gay Pride [our photos are still popping up all over the interwebs], and the good news that I got the job for which I was interviewed last week to lighten the mood even more - let us pop over the water (virtually; unfortunately) to join our leetle French chums, whose own party is in full swing for their Quatorze Juillet celebrations.

And with house fave Dimitri From Paris to lead the way, it'll be one helluva party!

Merci Disco il ç'est Vendredi! [Thank Disco it's Friday!]

Thursday 13 July 2017


Just because it happens to be Benny Benassi's birthday - here's an old fave, for your delectation...

Wobble it!

Marco "Benny" Benassi (born 13th July 1967)

Wednesday 12 July 2017

Soon found out had a heart of (Philip) Glass

Oh, my dears.

Thanks to our lovely reader Julius Maloney, I was pointed in the direction of this work of genius - a most unexpected "mash-up" of two of our favourites here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Blondie's eternal Heart of Glass and Philip Glass's sublime Violin Concerto II:

Simply divine...

[And before you ask, no, I have never watched The Handmaid's Tale, in which this was featured.]

Tuesday 11 July 2017

You're simply not in the pink my dear

It was my first day back in the office after a prolonged, fantabulosa Pride Weekend - and it's all been "a bit Freddie"...

Now it's over, thankfully, the mood has changed somewhat!

Sainsbury's is never like this.

Monday 10 July 2017

Love Happens Here, part 2 - "At the Copa"

Many and varied were the joys of Saturday's Gay Pride - the "gathering of the clans" (including my sister and hubbie and Madam Arcati's sister and niece, as well as our nearest and dearest friends Baby Steve, Alex, John-John, Sally, Lou, Julie, Mark and Jim) at Sal's pub for our traditional breakfast (bacon and champers!), the fact that we all had wristbands in advance of the day to actually get onto the march, and getting to watch an hour or so of the colourful parade before joining in the throng - but among the spectacle and the hoo-hah, the infinite variety of participants and the endless flags and banners, came this lot...

...none other than the Welsh Guards marching band, entertaining the crowds with their tribute to - ahem - Barry Manilow!

And speaking of Copacabana - this is, after all, a Tacky Music Monday (despite the fact I am still on leave) - so how about Carmen Miranda's similarly-titled Let's Do The Copacabana to end this party weekend with a bang?!

Have a great week, peeps!

PS We are here, marching, at 48 minutes in:

Sunday 9 July 2017

Love Happens Here

Twenty-six thousand participants. An estimated one million people amassed to watch the parade or celebrate at one of the party stages. And - mainly thanks to a long, hard-fought campaign involving me and my sister - "our gang" was able to march as a group of individuals (in "Art Deco" style!) on this, one of the biggest Gay Prides ever!

Yesterday's event was indeed spectacular. Armed forces, charities, corporates and shopping chains; trannies, dykes-on-bikes, fetishists and Muscle Marys; Bhangra dancers, steel drummers and drag lip-synchers; Tom Daley, soap stars, Sadiq Khan and Sinitta (even "royalty") - everybody who is anybody was there!

Colourful to say the least...

...a FANTABULOSA day!!

Pride in London

Saturday 8 July 2017

Thought for the Day

So lets bring on the men
And let the fun begin
A little touch of sin
Why wait another minute

Step this way it's time for us to play
They say we may not pass this way again
So let's waste no more time
Bring on the men!

[2019 UPDATE: Dusty Limits - Bring on the Men video has gone from YouTube, unfortunately]

Happy Pride!

Friday 7 July 2017

It's your life - whatcha gonna do?

It's Gay Xmas Eve, peeps!

As is my wont at this time of year, I think back to all the many, many years I have taken part in this, the biggest date in the gay (indeed our entire social) calendar. As my regular reader may know (not least from yesterday's photo caption), I first came to Gay Pride in London way back in 1985, then attended every year from 1991 to date.

A particularly memorable occasion was the Pride March and Festival twenty years ago. I and a gang of friends from Plymouth travelled up (and slept) in a van, parked up in Streatham, before we headed into the centre of town for the march - then, armed with booze and poppers, it was back South to Clapham Common for the (then traditional) party in the park - and what a party!

On stage that memorable day (the last free Pride party for many years) were Sharleen from Texas, Dannii Minogue, Adeva, Peter Andre, Olive, the Shamen, Boy George, Gina G, Heaven 17, Erasure, Holly Johnson and the Pet Shop Boys!

And this lady. Here's the utterly faboo Ultra Naté and her enduring "gay anthem" - Free:

When you're down and you're feeling bad
Everybody has left you sad
Feels like no one will pull you through
It's your life - whatcha gonna do?
Make that change, let's start today
Get outta bed, get on your way
Don't be scared your dream's right there
You want it (you want it), reach for it

'Cause you're free
To do what you want to do
You've got to live your life
Do what you want to do!

Thank Disco It's Gay Xmas Eve Friday!!

Thursday 6 July 2017

Unnatural offences

Gay Pride '85 - I was there!

From The Independent:
“It was a famous gay pub,” says [activist and writer] Andrew Lumsden. “It was a place that made money out of gay customers and had declared a policy that no one in drag would be served, probably at the request of local police.

“About 20 of us went in, many of us dressed in drag. The landlord told us to get out and we refused so he called the police. In the end the police carried us out.”
The group were charged with disorderly conduct.

To happily add salt to the wound, members of the group attended their date at the Magistrates' Court dressed in their finest gowns.

“The Radical Queens arrived in beautiful drag. The magistrate was quite put out. There was no pretence that they were women. They were in hats, and frocks. Indeed immensely hairy chests surrounded by frills and furbelows was one of the great sights of the movement. We wanted to show that we were free to dress as we liked.

If we want to be camp, we will. It was breaking down the stereotypes of what a man must be like."
It is fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. It was a landmark ruling, but deeply flawed. Trust the saintly Peter Tatchell to provide an in-depth analysis of what was the reality after the passing of The Sexual Offences Act 1967:
...research reveals that an estimated 15,000-plus gay men were convicted in the decades that followed the 1967 liberalisation. Not only was homosexuality only partly decriminalised by the 1967 act, but the remaining anti-gay laws were policed more aggressively than before by a state that opposed gay acceptance and equality.

The 1967 legislation repealed the maximum penalty of life imprisonment for anal sex. But it still discriminated. The age of consent was set at 21 for sex between men, compared with 16 for sex between men and women; a decision that pandered to the homophobic notion that young men are seduced and corrupted by older men. The punishment for a man over 21 having non-anal sex with a man aged 16-21 was increased from two to five years.

Gay sex remained prosecutable unless it took place in strict privacy, which meant in a person’s own home, behind locked doors and windows, with the curtains drawn and with no other person present in any part of the house. It continued to be a crime if more than two men had sex together or if they were filmed or photographed having sex by another person. Seven men in Bolton were convicted of these offences and two were given suspended jail terms – in 1998.

The 1967 reform applied to only England and Wales, not being extended to Scotland until 1980 and to Northern Ireland until 1982. It did not include the armed forces or merchant navy, where sex between men remained a criminal offence. Gay military personnel and merchant seamen could still be jailed until 1994, for behaviour that was no longer a crime between gay civilians. Legislation authorising the sacking of seafarers for homosexual acts on UK merchant ships was repealed only last month.

Centuries-old anti-gay laws remained on the statute book long after 1967 as “unnatural offences”. The two main gay crimes continued to be anal sex, known in law as buggery; and gross indecency, which was any sexual contact between men including mere touching and kissing. There was also the offence of procuring – the inviting or facilitating of gay sex. The law against soliciting and importuning criminalised men chatting up men or loitering in public places with homosexual intent, even if no sexual act took place.

Men were convicted under this law, before and after 1967, for merely smiling and winking at other men in the street.

...There were police stake-outs in parks and toilets, sometimes using “pretty police” as bait to lure gay men to commit sex offences. Gay saunas were raided. “Disorderly house” charges were pressed against gay clubs that allowed same-sex couples to dance cheek to cheek. Gay and bisexual men, and some lesbians, continued to be arrested until the 1990s for public displays of affection, such as kissing and cuddling, under public order and breach of the peace laws.

In 1966, the year before partial decriminalisation, some 420 men were convicted of gross indecency. But by 1974, my research shows, the annual number of convictions had soared by more than 300% to 1,711 in that year...

...In the 1980s, the Conservative government’s “family values” campaign whipped up hysterical levels of homophobia, aided by the moral panic over HIV/Aids. At the 1987 Conservative party conference Margaret Thatcher used her keynote speech to attack the notion that people had a right to be gay.

Coinciding with this intolerant atmosphere was a massive rise in arrests of gay men for consenting behaviour. In Home Office archives I found that there were 1,718 convictions and cautions for gross indecency in 1989. The 2,022 recorded offences of gross indecency that year was almost as many as the 2,034 recorded in 1954, when male homosexuality was totally illegal.

Full reform did not happen until 46 years after 1967. The gross indecency law of 1885 had been used to convict the computer genius Alan Turing in 1952 and, before him, to jail the playwright Oscar Wilde in 1895. Together with the criminalisation of anal sex, it was finally repealed by the Sexual Offences Act 2003. As a result, for the first time in 470 years, England and Wales had a criminal code that did not penalise gay sexuality. In Northern Ireland, the ban on anal sex was not finally repealed until 2008. Scotland’s anti-gay laws were repealed in 2009 but, in the case of sodomy, did not take effect until 2013. It seems scarcely credible, but gay sex ceased to be a crime in the UK only four years ago.
Food for thought, indeed.

So, although we celebrate the significant progress that has been made since the Sexual Offences Act fifty years ago, it is worth recognising that what today is a huge, micro-managed, over-regulated "parade" through Central London - Gay Pride - should actually be a prominent acknowledgement of the battles for genuine equality [by the likes of Mr Lumsden and his chums, and generations of feisty and indefatigable campaigners and protesters who followed] that actually took almost 46 years to achieve.

And in our charts this week fifty years ago?

How appropriate - It's Queen Aretha!

Find out what it means to me!


Watch When gay acts were a crime, a vignette from the BBC.

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Zombie Drag Queens

It's another scorcher today! But how did I spend the day? Preparing for, and attending, an interview [for a higher grade post in our team]. Fingers crossed I did OK - despite the beads of sweat trickling off me...

Hey ho.

In the "real" world, we're continuing our countdown to Gay Xmas this weekend!

And what better way to jolly the situation up than to revisit an old favourite here at Dolores Delargo Towers? Before GaGa stole her image, the world of weird dressing-up campery more-or-less belonged to today's birthday girl Miss Róisín Murphy [along with the likes of Miss Grace Jones]. And we love her!

Here's her magnificent Movie Star to keep us in the mood for the impending party - let us hope we don't encounter any zombie drag queens en route:

I'm a trusting soul not ashamed of living dangerously
And I'm a headstrong girl, I'm afraid I won't be told
I feel my destiny is only 'round the corner
Sugar daddy promised me I'll be sitting on top of the world

He saw my naked ambitions said I would leave them wanting more
That could be crazy wishing we could ever have it all
Have it all, have it all

We'll make a movie, we'll break into cinema
You'll be director and I'll be your movie star
We'll make a movie, the darlings of cinema
You'll be director and I'll be your movie star

So he's a headstrong guy and perhaps I shouldn't listen
There's a million girls wanna be in my position
If he tells me lies I'll suspend my disbelieving
I leave it all behind, I ain't asking for permission

Feels like a new beginning and there's so much to explore
It's not so crazy thinking we could really have it all
Have it all, have it all

We'll make a movie, we'll break into cinema
You'll be director and I'll be your movie star
We'll make a movie, the darlings of cinema
You'll be director and I'll be your movie star

Many happy returns, Róisín Marie Murphy (born 5th July 1973)

Tuesday 4 July 2017

Together this is what we'll do

A g'wan then...

Even though it always seems somewhat contrary for a citizen of the British Empire to join in the victory parade of its rebellious colonies, over the pond (due West, indeed) the bunting is out for this year's Fourth of July celebrations.

As it is also the middle of our countdown to Gay Pride in London this weekend, let's combine the two parties by way of one of the US of A's most fab-u-lous exports - the Village People and Go West!

Together we will go our way, together we will leave some day.
Together your hand in my hand, together we will make the plans.
Together we will fly so high, together tell our friends goodbye.
Together we will start life new, together this is what we'll do.

Go west, life is peaceful there.
Go west, lots of open air.
Go west to begin life new.
Go west, this is what we'll do!
Go west, sun in winter time.
Go west, we will do just fine.
Go west where the skies are blue.
Go west, this and more we'll do.

Together we will love the beach, together we will learn and teach.
Together change our pace of life, together we will work and strive.
I love you, I know you love me; I want you happy and carefree.
So that's why I have no protest when you say you want to go west.

Go west, life is peaceful there.
Go west, lots of open air.
Go west to begin life new.
Go west, this is what we'll do!
Go west, sun in winter time.
Go west, we will do just fine.
Go west where the skies are blue.
Go west, this and more we'll do.

I know that there are many ways to live there in the sun or shade.
Together we will find a place to settle down and live with the space
without the busy pace back east, the hustling, rustling of the feet,
I know I'm ready to leave too, so this is what we're going to do

Go west, life is peaceful there.
Go west, lots of open air.
Go west to begin life new.
Go west, this is what we'll do!
Go west, sun in winter time.
Go west, we will do just fine.
Go west where the skies are blue.
Go west, this and more we'll do.

I bet they're all singing along at Mar-a-Lago!

Monday 3 July 2017

That old vo-de-o-do

Sharing a birthday today with such disparate names as playwright Sir Tom Stoppard (who is 80), Broadway legend Betty Buckley (70), Laura Branigan (who would have been 60), Tom Cruise, Fontella Bass, Tracey Emin, George Sanders, Franz Kafka, Susan Penhaligon, Judith Durham (of The Seekers), Julian Assange, Vince Clarke and "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the eccentric genius that was Ken Russell would have been ninety years old today.

As the struggle to wake up this morning is upon us, we need the help of one of Mr Russell's completely over-the-top numbers to assist us in our progress towards the joys of work - and what better on this Tacky Music Monday (and the start of our countdown to Gay Pride on Saturday) than a little Charleston..?

Won't you Charleston with me?
Won't you Charleston with me?
And while the band is playing that
Old vo-de-o-do
Around we will go
Together we'll show them
How the Charleston is done
We'll surprise everyone
Just think what Heaven it's going to be
If you will Charleston, Charleston with me
If you will Charleston, Charleston with me

Roger Ebert review of Ken Russell's The Boy Friend.

Henry Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Russell (3rd July 1927 – 27th November 2011)

Sunday 2 July 2017

Ooh, it's so good, it's so good

Listening to Radio 2 (as is my wont on Sundays) I heard a trailer for a show tomorrow that sent a shockwave down my spine.

For, terrifyingly, it is forty years since the release of one of the most influential songs, ever - I Feel Love by Donna Summer!

The brilliant product of a cross-pollination between the mechanised, electronic world of Giorgio Moroder's synths and the sassy, sleazy world of funk-disco vocal styles, I Feel Love was not only the song that encapsulated the global domination of Disco, but also gave birth to the synth-pop era that made the late 70s and early-mid 80s such an era of experimentation and innovation.

As the blurb for the programme The Summer Of "I Feel Love" says:
Exactly 40 years ago, the combination of Donna Summer's beguiling voice and the studio wizardry of writer-producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte created a record that changed the course of dance music. I Feel Love, released on July 2, 1977, was the template for the electronic revolution that followed, inspiring generations of artists with a daringly futuristic sound that reverberates to this day.

To mark this momentous anniversary, Paul Sexton introduces a celebration of a truly groundbreaking record. The Summer Of "I Feel Love" features memories of its creation from Moroder and Bellotte, while superstar DJs Arthur Baker and John Morales talk about its impact on both the dancefloor and on their lives. Martyn Ware, meanwhile, describes the influence that I Feel Love had on his work with the Human League and Heaven 17. Also featured are techno pioneer Derrick May, author Tim Lawrence and Sister Bliss of Faithless, who reveal what it was like to remix the track that became the very pulse of disco.
It also spawned myriad cover versions, not least by Madonna, Kylie, Blondie, Bette Midler, Moby, and...

...the inimitable Klaus Nomi: Irish fiddle-band called Ham Sandwich:

...Blue Man Group featuring Venus Hum [love that dress!]:

...a Turkish singer called Ülkü:

...and, of course, Bronski Beat and Marc Almond!

However, there is only one original, after all...

Happy birthday, I Feel Love!

Postscript - 3 July 2017

A fact I never realised:
I Remember Yesterday was yet another concept album, cooked up by Bellotte and inspired by Anthony Powell’s novel A Dance to The Music Of Time (also the LP’s original title). Each song would evoke a different decade’s mood, from 40s swing to the 1960s with the Shirelles and Supremes, 70s funk and contemporary disco before alighting upon the future with the final track: I Feel Love.
Read Bill Brewster's history of the making of the song in MixMag

Saturday 1 July 2017

Integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity

Don't mess with a post-centenarian, sweeties! From the BBC:
Oscar-winning actress Olivia de Havilland is suing the makers of a television show which she says portrayed her as a "petty gossip".

De Havilland, who turns 101, filed a lawsuit against FX Networks and producer Ryan Murphy over the miniseries Feud: Bette and Joan.

The drama explored the bad blood between the Hollywood screen legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.

The actress, who appeared in 50 films, was played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

In papers filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court, de Havilland - who was made a dame in the Queen's birthday honours in June - said the show's characterisation of her damaged her "professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity".

The Gone With The Wind star is asking a jury to consider the emotional distress caused by the show, as well as potential financial losses and the profits made from using her identity.
Many happy returns, Miss de Havilland - and you keep giving those whipper-snappers what for!!!

Dame Olivia Mary de Havilland, DBE (born 1st July 1916)