Wednesday, 27 June 2007

I am distraught

The end of an era!



Veteran broadcaster Michael Parkinson has called time on his distinguished career as a TV chat show host.

"After 25 years of doing my talk show, I have decided that this forthcoming series will be my last," he announced.

Quite simply the most popular and successful of all the chat shows, Parkinson became a national institution across the UK, as he disarmed guest after guest with his quiet charm, veering most away from the inevitable plug for a book or a film into talking frankly and entertainingly about themselves.

Encounters during the series included the cream of top stars like Muhammad Ali, Orson Welles, David Niven, Jack Lemmon, Glenda Jackson, Judi Dench, James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Gene Kelly, Oliver Reed, Liberace, Peter Cook, James Cagney, George Michael, the multiple visits of Kenneth Williams, and the intimidating Rod Hull and Emu in 1976.

Despite his defection to ITV a few years back, which inevitably led to a bit of a half-arsed "dumbing-down" of his show, television will never be the same again without him.

Read Michael Parkinson's potted biography

Monday, 25 June 2007

A Dame in the rain

Just in!

Dame Shirley Bassey, magnificent at 70, braving the elements at a very wet Glastonbury Festival 2007:

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Rubber whales in Wales

Another fabulous Welsh story that tickled me pink today!

A lifesize two-tonne pilot whale, made of rubber, is helping to train groups of marine rescue volunteers in Gwynedd.



Read the full story on the BBC website

Saturday, 23 June 2007

At once fluid and angular



That master of the extravagant dance moves, the ultimate godfather of the kind of show we theatrical queens love today, Bob Fosse would have been 80 years old today.

The talent behind such magnificent shows as Cabaret, Sweet Charity and Chicago, some of our greatest showbiz ladies such as Shirley MacLaine and Liza Minelli owe much of their success to his exquisite eye for a show-stopping number. A magnificent talent, and, even twenty years after his death, still a huge influence on the renaissance of musical theatre today...

In the words of one of his biographers Fernando Zaremba, a major contributor to Bob's tribute website:

"When Bob Fosse died on September 23, 1987, many, many people were saddened by his untimely passing. But few, if any, were surprised by it. Fosse had always been a man who fully embraced life, and his death at the relatively young age of sixty came as a shock to almost no one. Indeed, many of his associates were amazed he lived as long as he did.

"Possessed of both unbridled energy and tremendous artistic gifts, Fosse was one of this century's great choreographers. Though he forged his craft on the Broadway stage and on film, he was as much an artist as Nijinsky, Balanchine, or DeMille.

"He was also one of our era's most indulgent personalities, for he applied the same frenetic pace to his personal life as he did to his artistic efforts. A fan of drink and drugs, Fosse eventually tempered his habits after his first major heart attack in the early 1970s. But he never slowed down when it came to women. Married three times, Fosse had an almost endless list of dalliances.



"As an artist, Fosse was known for his thoroughly modern style, a signature one could never mistake for anyone else's. Snapping fingers are omnipresent, so are rakishly tilted bowler hats. Both hip and shoulder rolls appear frequently, as do backward exits. Swivelling hips and strutting predominate, as do white-gloved, single-handed gestures.

"Fosse himself often called the en masse amalgamation of these moves the "amoeba", and that word as much as any describes his particular style, at once fluid and angular."


Read more on the Fosse website

Friday, 22 June 2007

A bit of a buzz in India



A vibrating condom has apparently sparked a fierce (mass?) debate in India!

Read the full fab story

My favourite quote in the article was "Hindu hardliners have held protests...

Thursday, 21 June 2007

In like Flynn

Notorious for his prolific sex drive and enormous cock, Irish hot-blooded swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn would have been 98 yesterday.



The expression "In like Flynn" just about summed him up - this man would shag anything! Take this extract from a "conversation" between Howard Hughes and Errol Flynn:

HUGHES
So, Errol, you old son of a gun, how are you finding Las Vegas?

FLYNN
I'm finding Vegas fine, old sport, but for your information, I'm not a son of a gun, I'm the son of a bitch, the son of a whore.

HUGHES
Hey, Errol, that's no way to talk about your mother.

Errol crosses the room, picks up a bottle of vodka and pours himself a huge drink. We see that his hands are shaking.

FLYNN
I'll talk about her any way I damn well please.

HUGHES
So, Errol, did you ever f--k Jane Russell?

FLYNN
No. Did you?

HUGHES
Nah.

FLYNN
How about Ava Gardner?

HUGHES
No, but I sure tried. Did you?

FLYNN
No. I didn't even try.

HUGHES
How about Olivia de Havilland?

FLYNN
Only in my dreams.

HUGHES
How about Marlene Dietrich?

FLYNN
No, but my first wife did.

HUGHES
Ah yes, Lili Damita. She was a little spitfire, wasn't she?

FLYNN
She was a whole squadron of Focke-Wulfs.

The laugh heartily but crudely.

HUGHES
How about Tyrone Power?.

FLYNN
Well sure, everybody's fucked Tyrone Power.

They laugh crudely again.

HUGHES
You like a nice piece of ass, eh Errol?

FLYNN
I sure do, Howard, and frankly I don't mind what sex that ass is.

HUGHES
They tell me you've got a big piece of meat in your pants.

FLYNN
Well, you know, Howard, size is in the eye of the beholder.

HUGHES
In the eye, say, that's a new one.

Hughes then asks Flynn if he is a man who likes to be on the receiving end of anal intercourse, to which Flynn responds no, implying that he is strictly an oral man. Flynn then nonchalantly offers to go down and perform fellatio on Hughes. Hughes, however, declines, saying he'd rather go to the casino and "risk a few bucks at the roulette wheel." Flynn airily wishes him luck, and they each go their way.

Love it!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Let's ban everything, shall we?



So after smoking, the latest deadly awful thing the Government has banned us from having because they say it's not good for us, is... EGGS!

Possibly one of the oldest health foods known to man, the humble egg has fallen fowl (geddit?!) of new advertising laws set up by the Nanny State (TM). The classic ad featuring Tony Hancock was intended to be shown to celebrate 50 years since it was first aired.

But the advert, with its slogan "go to work on an egg" has been banned on the grounds that eating an egg for breakfast every day does not constitute a healthy diet. Whatever next?? I despair of this bloody Government.

Read the full story on the BBC

PS Thought for the day: Although the Pope was responsible for the world's first known public smoking ban in 1590, as he threatened to excommunicate anyone who "took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose". But the first modern, nationwide tobacco ban was imposed by the Nazi Party in 1941 under direct orders from Adolf Hitler himself.

Nice to know that Tony Blair's legacy will be measured in such laudable company.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

I want to live there!

Oh wow! This is the sort of thing we need more of...

Apparently a crazy American artist called Julian Schnabel has painted his entire building shocking pink! And I love it!



Read the whole story

Saturday, 16 June 2007

(The other) Queen's official birthday

Happy (official) birthday, Your Maj...

How wonderful it must be every year to have hundreds of hunky young men in kinky uniforms delivered practically to your doorstep, all parading their talents for you with the cameras focused on them. Woof! And a perfect excuse to wear all your best sparklies and bling, too!



Speaking of which, I am busy getting the last few bits and pieces together for that other spectacular annual event, the Gay Pride parade in London - only two weeks away, and counting. Now imagine if they were to combine the two events...

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

I think I'll book a ticket!

A range of extra-large condoms has been launched in South Africa, to cater for "well-endowed" men.

Suddenly a trip to Cape Town seems all the more appealing...



Read the full story on the BBC

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Bigotry get its just reward

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore"

This is apparently the way that a Hollywood actor demonstrated he is "apologetic" for referring in public to a co-star as a "faggot"...

Isaiah Washington has now apparently been sacked from his role in the top US TV show Gray's Anatomy.



The rights and the wrongs of this particular sacking are neither here nor there, but I am certain that Isaiah would indeed be "as mad as hell" if someone called him a "nigger".

It is about time that people realise that discrimination is discrimination is discrimination, regardless of any amount of counselling or half-arsed apologies.

Read the story on the BBC (without the "f-word")

Friday, 8 June 2007

Happy birthday, old acid tongue!

"I don't exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor."

Celebrating her birthday today is the acid-tongued grande dame of the chat show, Joan Rivers!

She has often been compared (unfavourably) to that other wild, brash comedienne Phyllis Diller, but our Joan carved herself a bit of a cult following all her own when her one-woman show came to British screens in the 1980s, and she's been up there at the top ever since - now in her 70s, she even made a spectacular appearance the other week on stage at G.A.Y with Erasure!



Despite with that god-awful plastic surgery, Joan is, and will always be, a classy funny lady and gay idol - I love her!

Joan Rivers on Wikipedia

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Ministers proposing 'Britain Day'

A national day to promote a stronger sense of British identity and prevent communities from becoming more divided has been suggested by two ministers.



Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne say it could be a new bank holiday.

Spot the "Britishness" in the following...

"A Britain Day would recognise the "local focus" of people's contribution to society in particular. It might be, for instance, that local areas come together, they decide for themselves about the contribution that they might make." Ruth Kelly MP, Communities Minister
BBC Online News

Ruth Kelly's grandfather Philip Murphy was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) officer interned in 1922 by the Government of Northern Ireland. Kelly is a practising Roman Catholic, a member of Opus Dei and regular attendee at their meetings and events. Her brother, Ronan Kelly, is a supernumerary in the Opus Dei organisation. Wikipedia

"We want people with skills and talents we can use to come in a managed way and contribute to our economy. We want people to be able to visit this country and feel welcome and secure."
Liam Byrne MP, Minister for Immigration
Employing Immigrant Workers

In December 2006, twenty year old gay Nigerian asylum seeker Emmanuel Obahiaghbon was deported back to Nigeria on Monday 4 December 2006, on the orders of the Immigration Minister, Liam Byrne MP. Peter Tatchell Website

Sunday, 3 June 2007

There never was a golden age of English decency, civility and manners

Just watched the most fantastic programme called England's Seven Sins tonight on - of all places - More4.

The programme featured real-life hoodies, binge-drinkers and chavs delivering the authentic words of 11th century binge-drinkers, Edwardian yobs, Elizabethan xenophobes and 17th-century hooligans to illustrate the fact, contrary to contemporary political and tabloid views on our 21st century society, that the English have been violent, binge-drinking hooligans for more than a thousand years.



Director Joe Bullman reveals the English in all their beer-soaked glory and argues that our lack of respect, lust for violence and love of drink have fuelled our democratic spirit and made us what we are today.
"As I delved into the archives I identified what I came to think of as England's oldest tradition of all – the tendency for people of a certain age to complain that the young people are out of control and that the country has gone to the dogs. Whenever I came across a sentiment like this, I would try to go back the 40 or 50 years or so, to the time when the chronicler of our national malaise had been young. But when I got back there, I found that people were saying exactly the same thing: English manners had disintegrated. The country had gone to the dogs... It's a complaint as old as England itself.

"In 1860 the English press was in the grip of one of its periodic moral panics, brought on by a wave of juvenile delinquency. Gangs of youths, dressed in intimidating street-uniforms, were waging territorial street-battles and threatening respectable people. People were living in fear, and the streets weren't safe to walk on.

"The word "hooligan" was believed to have first emerged on the streets a couple of decades later and to have found its way into the newspapers in the late 1890s...

"But in an obscure manuscript, I found a much earlier appearance – as a resident of 1650's Turnmill Street (which is still there, on the edge of the City) complained of "gangs of hooligans who demand money with menaces from the poor washerwomen who wassh their clothes and do other thynges for theyre owne needs." (London: The Synfulle City – E.J. Burford, Robert Hale, 1990).

"As far back as the early 1600s, the streets of London were terrorised by a succession of organised gangs – with names like The Dead Boys, the Roaring Boys, The Bravadoes and the Mohocks. They amused themselves by breaking windows, demolishing taverns, assaulting Night Watchmen, rolling old ladies in barrels and slitting the noses of their victims with swords...

"And so it goes. Back through time. An endless succession of English ignorance and thuggery. The idea behind this film is not to imply that anti-social behaviour is not a problem – it is. It's turned our towns and cities into the vilest, ugliest, most barbaric places in the developed world.

"No, the real point is to put the current debate about anti-social behaviour into its historical context. Once we and Tony Blair realise that there never was a golden age of English decency, civility and manners, we can begin to have an intelligent debate about what to do".
England's Seven Sins on IMDB

The most sensational woman anyone ever saw

An often unheralded champion of human rights during the 20th century, and one of the most exotic, glamorous, powerful and beautiful women in entertainment history, Josephine Baker would have been 101 years old today!



In her heyday as the predominant star of the Folies Bergere in Paris, she rivalled Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford as the most photographed woman in the world, and by 1927 she earned more than any entertainer in Europe. Ernest Hemingway described her as "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw."

On her early attempts to return to the stage in her homeland of the USA, Josephine was initially rejected by the bigots in the audience and the media. But she vigorously campaigned throughout the 50s and 60s to fight racism. When New York's popular Stork Club refused her service, she engaged a head-on media battle with pro-segregation columnist Walter Winchell. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) named May 20 Josephine Baker Day in honour of her efforts.

In her own words: "You've got to fight every single day. When I see a roach, I step on it."

When she died in 1975, more than 20,000 people crowded the streets of Paris to watch the funeral procession on its way to the Church of the Madeleine. The French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making Josephine Baker the first American woman buried in France with military honors.

A true star!

Josephine Baker biography on Wikipedia

Saturday, 2 June 2007

The Government says you should be...



Yet more tiresome blather from the Nanny State. this time from some over-fed creature called a "respect czar"...

Apparently, we're all too rude and disrespectful, and should mind our manners.


Read the article


Why don't these twerps in Government just do something, instead of proselytising about such rubbish as "public service responsibility to try to uphold certain standards of decency"?

We live in such a hypocritical society - I can sit in a bar where in a few weeks' time I will be a criminal for lighting a fag, and through the window a group of street scum cluster in a doorway to light a crack pipe and nobody does anything!

There are too few police on the streets, yobs who beat someone senseless get away with community service orders, the government sends troops to the Middle East and ignores human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Russia and Poland, and all this overpaid "church-going and neighbourly" political adviser can focus on is dropping litter?

Friday, 1 June 2007

I wanna be loved by you...

What is there to say about Marilyn Monroe that has not been said a million times before? The former Norma Jean Baker, sultry screen idol and surprisingly great actress, would have been 81 today, and I am certain that the column inches dedicated to her life and sad lonely death will far outweigh anything I could blog here...

So I'll just post a picture and wallow in the many many happy memories Marilyn Monroe gave to me, and to the world.



Marilyn on IMDB

Another chapter closes

Peculiar irony, this...

I have been avidly watching the fantastic BBC4 "Children's TV on Trial" season all week, from its roots in the Fifties and Sixties, through Oliver Postgate, Magic Roundabout, Crackerjack, Blue Peter and Grange Hill, to the decline of children's broadcasting into the Nineties, when I heard the sad news that earlier this week one of its old stalwarts died.

Tony Bastable, one of the original presenters of Magpie - ITV's answer to Blue Peter in the 70s - was a major TV presence when I was a child. In a similar way to presenters like Michael Aspel, Michael Rodd and Brian Cant, Tony Bastable provided that safe, chummy, well-groomed "older brother" air in anything he presented, and although it seems his career never really made it further than those dim and distant halcyon days he still remains an important part of the very history the BBC has been trying to explore this week.

>

Such a shame that so few people will remember him. RIP.

Read his obituary in The Guardian