Wednesday, 25 October 2017

"At fifteen, I was a pony in burlesque..."



Today would have marked the 90th birthday of the immortal Barbara Cook, song stylist supreme.

And, my honeys, to mark this prestigious occasion, I have a real treat in store! A breathtaking and poignant snapshot of a sadly lost world - that of gay life in 1970s New York, and in particular its legendary gay cabaret club Reno Sweeney's (here focusing on its latest guest star performer Miss Cook). How optimistic everyone seemed in those heady days of the late 70s...


I adore everything about this featurette - from the cute Emerald TV presenter Frank O'Dowd, to the camp-as-tits ads for long-gone resorts, bars and book-stores, to Miss Cook's adorable presence. This a gem of gay history, Manhattan Cable-stylee!

Read an equally fascinating insight into the 70s resurgence of cabaret among largely gay audiences from The Advocate, October 1977.

Barbara Cook (25th October 1927 – 8th August 2017)

13 comments:

  1. Treasures! And me without a minute 'til the weekend. I'll be back...

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    1. As soon as I found it, I thought of you. (And of Thombeau, and TJB too. Wherever they are these days...)

      Jx

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  2. What is this off? Did they have cable TV in the seventies in America? (Didn't have it in Britain til the early nineties)

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    1. It would appear that the collective "public access TV weirdness" that you and I so fondly remember from the early 90s (as presented on Channel 4 by the sardonic Laurie Pike, and which gave the world RuPaul and Margarita Pracatan, among others) has a history that goes way back into the mists of time... Jx

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  3. As a child I was jealous of Americans having so many channels that sentiment seems so long ago

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    1. Who would ever have imagined where cable TV would take us? Endless antiques, puerile pseudo-documentaries, house makeovers, exploitative "reality" shows, karaoke-masquerading-as-talent-contests, conspiracy theories, airhead non-celebrities and shouty "zany" presenters. Hardly the golden age of television. As Jack Dee once wryly observed: I now know more than I ever needed to about sharks and Nazis." Jx

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  4. BBC, ITV and Channel Four, that is all anyone ever needs.

    If you don't like what's on TV, it's obviously someone else's turn to watch TV.

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    1. Of the three, there's only really one channel that consistently has the best programming. ITV has always been too geared towards the superficial [read: cheap'n'nasty] (despite huge "hits" like Brideshead Revisited or Downton Abbey), and Channel 4 has sunk to the point where it's not even a stale parody of itself, rather a vehicle for "freak show telly" like The Undateables and Gogglebox. Jx

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  5. True but you don't want anyone to have a monopoly on broadcasting, whether they're publicly or privately owned.

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    1. I wouldn't countenance such a thing, but if too much competition leads to an ever-spiralling "race to the bottom" on quality, then I am wary of where it will all lead... Jx

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  6. Absolutely, that's why those three were all we ever needed. One public service broadcaster, one commercial and one strange hybrid of the two.

    Also, would the BBC's output be any good if it had a monopoly? Would it have got round to acknowledging jazz or rock n roll? Would it have made Doctor Who, EastEnders, Til Death Do Us Part, Steptoe and Son, the Young Ones?

    Other than that I'm completely with Mitch Benn.

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    1. No idea who Mitch Benn is.

      However, if mega-rich showbiz maestros such as Sidney Bernstein or Lew Grade hadn't bought their way into ITV, the network probably would have been a very different beast - Mr Bernstein launched Coronation Street and Mr Grade was behind ITC (home of Gerry Anderson's "Supermarionation" series like Thunderbirds, adventure series such as The Avengers, and The Muppet Show).

      The Beeb, on the other hand, should never need to "chase" audiences [why is EastEnders so crassly melodramatic?], and yes, it would (as it is now) always be the home of "niche" broadcasting such as the Proms, Eurovision, jazz, arts and nature programming as long as its Reithian constitution ("educate, inform and entertain") remains. Jx

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  7. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=p3q2iZuU5WM
    đŸŽ„ MITCH BENN - I'M PROUD OF THE BBC - YouTube

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