Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Goodbye Sleepy Jean



RIP Davy Jones of The Monkees, who died today aged just 66.



Read the article on the BBC

Miss Shore goes into battle



"I never wanted to set the world on fire. So I never had to burn any bridges behind me."
Dinah Shore

Today would have been the 94th birthday of Miss Dinah Shore, American variety show darling, and a fine singer to boot.

She is somewhat drowned out while attempting to do battle with two of the great voices of the 20th century - Ella Fitzgerald and Dame Joan Sutherland!



A bizarre combination...

Speaking of bizarre combinations, Miss Shore was for several years during the 70s in a relationship with none other than Burt Reynolds, who was 20 years her junior. Her various relationships were the tabloids' dream.

She was in fact, despite her "squeaky-clean" TV persona, a bit of a girl!

RIP

Dinah Shore Fan Club

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Historical copulation



Not yet worn out by the last few days' hectic whizz around the country - Essex last week, Steampunk Ball on Friday, Brighton all weekend - we went on a little excursion to the British Museum today.

Surprisingly exhausting in its magnitude, among the treasures I sought out was the fantastic Warren Cup, a two thousand year old paean to gay sex - the latest exhibit in the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp - and we also saw artifacts from the proud reign of the gay Emperor Hadrian, Egyptian phallocentric "Min" statues, and some of the campest jewellery and ornamental artifacts under the sun.

A glittering day, and in many ways an affirmation of the long tradition of gay culture in history...

And I think I have found just the right music to celebrate our day, and to celebrate the end of LGBT History Month:



Add your name to this Hall of Fame, indeed!

The classiest diva



Happy 65th birthday today to the still-gorgeous actress Stephanie Beacham!

Famous for her roles in Dynasty, The Colbys, Tenko, Connie and Bad Girls (and even Corrie) among others, Miss Beacham has always had that certain genteelly British star quality that we love here at Dolores Delargo Towers.

Here's the lovely lady's latest appearance on our screens - alongside her on-screen nemesis Joan Collins...



Facts about Stephanie Beacham:
  • As a baby she was diagnosed as being completely deaf in her right ear, as her mother had contracted chickenpox during her pregnancy. She has about 75% of normal hearing capacity in her left ear.
  • Her first major film role was opposite Marlon Brando in 1971's The Nightcomers directed by Michael Winner, in which she appeared nude in one scene.
  • She is an avid collector of dolls houses and dolls house furniture
  • On her anti-Botox stance, she said: "If you want to inject cow poison in you, that’s perfectly alright...because you might keep your pretty face but your hands and knees are going to go anyway."
Stephanie Beacham on IMDB

Monday, 27 February 2012

Old Broads



Just back from a fabulosa weekend in sunny Brighton (via Halfway to Heaven of course), but two things come to mind - firstly, despite interruptions of service, it is still Tacky Music Monday. Secondly, today would have been Dame Elizabeth Taylor's 80th birthday!

I am aware that Miss Taylor did not sing (despite her efforts in the movie version of A Little Night Music), so let us today feature a magnificent number from one of the last movies in which she appeared, albeit as an observer to the main number as performed by three other magnificent divas Miss Shirley MacLaine, Miss Debbie Reynolds and Miss Joan Collins!



How much more camp can you get?!

These Old Broads - the movie

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Come into my Parlour



To follow on from the slightly seedy "Steampunk" subculture we worked so hard to recreate at last night's Ball, here is a little bizarre something we have discovered...


There's lot's more over at the Peculiana website...

Steampunk, Tango and big wigs





Our gang (Hils, Madam Arcati, Crog, Jim and I) all made a fabulous effort dressing up for the grand "Steampunk"-themed LGBT History Month Ball last night!

And we had a great time - with a cheesy disco and pop DJ, lesbian Tango exhibition, dance classes and a motley crue of similarly attired gayers from Camden and Islington, in the fab Art Deco surroundings of the Islington Assembly Hall (part of the Town Hall, resplendent with its first ever rainbow flag on the roof), how could we not?

In addition to the mayhem, our cabaret for the evening was the marvellous drag queen Miss Hope Springs, described on her website thus:
"Ex Vegas showgirl turned lounge act cocktail pianist Miss Hope Springs is on tour in Europe after the Starlight Lounge at the Pink Pelican Casino, where she had been entertaining since the sixt... I mean seventies... was dynamited and turned into a parking lot.

Having recently become single after her husband Irving ran off with his gym buddy Carlos, Hope is searching for that elusive trio - no... not her musicians, but love, happiness and success.

Currently living in her Winnebago, Miss Hope Springs is available for private parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs."
She was unfortunate in the fact that much of her audience at the Ball were mainly busy chatting at the bar (and some chatting right at the front of the stage - how rude!). But she growled magnificently through three hilarious numbers, before leaving us. Here's the "lady" herself...



It was a superb evening, and a fitting way to round off the events of LGBT History Month, which finishes at the end of February!

We are off to Brighton today for a few days, so "normal service" here at Dolores Delargo Towers may well be subject to further disruption...

Friday, 24 February 2012

Someone's looking for a girl like me, where can she be found?



We're back from Essex tonight, then straight out to Islington's wonderful Art Deco Assembly Room for the closing ball tonight for the end of LGBT History Month, with Tango and cabaret galore!

However we must have a conclusion to a week with something appropriate, so here's Miss Donna Summer's classic Rumour Has It, performed "brilliantly" as always by the masterful Legs & Co...



Thank Disco It's Friday, indeed!!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Thank you for understanding



We are currently ensconced in Essex...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

White shoes after Labour Day?!



Obscure connections in history...

On this day in February 1974, America was gripped by one of the weirdest crimes in its history. Heiress Patty Hearst had been kidnapped by the mysterious Symbionese Liberation Army, and her father William Randolph Hearst had agreed to pay a ransom for her release. However, Miss Hearst was not released and instead took part in armed robbery with her kidnappers the SLA, for which she was later jailed.

John Waters (of course) adored the campness that surrounded this odd story and twenty years later, after Miss Hearst was pardoned by President Jimmy Carter, he went on to cast her in several of his films, including the fabulously sick Serial Mom, a movie we love here at Dolores Delargo Towers.

And so here's a clip of that very classic...



Miss Hearst is the one Miss Kathleen Turner murders for "wearing white shoes after Labour Day"!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Belle of Belem do Para



Today's very British celebration of Pancake Day has completely passed us by here at Dolores Delargo Towers.

In our ideal world, like the Latino countries across the globe, we would all be celebrating Mardi Gras instead! Every day.

In what I suppose was meant to be a nod towards this amazingly sparkling celebration, last week The Guardian featured a certain lady by the name of Gaby Amarantos, the Belle of Belem do Para, in their "New Band of the Day" column.

Hold on, say I - "new music"? "Tecnobrega"?

I don't think so - for I featured this particular Brazilian musical phenomenon, and the fabulous Senorita Amarantos, on this very blog way back in 2009!

Remarkable.

So here, for your delectation, is the lady herself:



We love her!

Gaby Amarantos official website (in Portuguese, of course)

Writing for people like me?


"I read Stephen King and at fourteen I found a friend in ‘Carrie’. She wasn’t like me. I wasn’t like her. I didn’t have a religious maniac for a mother. I didn’t have the power of telekinesis - though for a time I rather wished I did. But like Carrie, I was bullied at school. And like her, I had a secret."
Paul Burston appeared in what looked like a very "official" position last night, as he ventured North of the river for a change, and took pride of place in the opulent surroundings of Islington's Council Chamber.

The occasion was a special LGBT History Month "mini-Polari" event, focussing on gay literature, and what indeed that particular label means today - is there really one genre that appeals to "people like me"? Or you?

As Paul went on to say:
"I’ve always been seen as a gay writer. And whenever people ask me if I’m happy with that, I always tell them that I don’t mind, provided that when I go into a bookshop like Foyles or Waterstone’s, my books are in the general fiction section and not just the gay and lesbian section. Or to put it another way, I’m happy for my books to be read by ‘people like me’. But I don’t want them to be read only by ‘people like me’.

When you write, the question of ‘people like me’ takes on a whole new meaning. A writer doesn’t only write for himself. He also writes for his readers. I don’t mean that I write with a specific reader in mind. But I write knowing - or at least hoping - that there will be readers, and that those readers will be as diverse as possible.

With apologies to Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged by publishers that books by and about heterosexuals are somehow universal in their appeal, while books by and about homosexuals are only ever for the gays. Like many gay authors, I live in hope of proving the publishers wrong. I live in the hope that readers will go where you take them, and that people who love books aren’t only interested in reading about people like themselves.

If readers are willing to surrender to stories about vampires, goblins and serial killers, why should they run from the idea of same sex love? Should it matter whether they’re gay or straight, male or female, black or white?

Way back in the 80s I fell in love with a book called ‘The Color Purple’ by Alice Walker. One of my favourite books of last year was ‘Red Dust Road’ by Jackie Kay. My enjoyment of these books wasn’t hindered by the fact that I am not and have never been a black woman."
This was indeed a fascinating talk - with quotes from such disparate writers as Edmund White, Jean Genet and (my fave) Queens by Pickles, to boot - that engendered a healthy discussion and lots of questions afterwards, as the (unfortunately very small) audience explored his ideas, and picked Paul's brains on the subject.

We debated whether it is right that "erotica" and erotic themes are placed side-by-side (in lists such as on Amazon) with works that just happen to be by a gay author or have a gay theme to their story; and talked about the inevitable struggles gay writers have to go through in this world where Twitter and online forms of authorship (blogs and the like) are increasingly popular.

Paul concluded the debate on that final point, saying that in his opinion, the next few years could prove to be the most exciting for "niche" genres in literature - gay writing especially.

For in the era of Kindles and iPads the major publishers, who in the past had the ultimate control over the market and were responsible for pigeon-holing gay authors and even ignoring their books altogether, have been slow in responding to a new wave of self-published success stories. Nowadays, you do not necessarily need the backing of a big publishing house to become acclaimed or successful, just good writing skills and the guts to go ahead and do it.

In effect, it might become easier rather than harder in the future for us to find stories that are about "people like me".

Great stuff - and you could win a prize, too!


The Polari First Book Prize is for a first book which explores the queer experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction by a writer born or resident in the UK, published in English within the past twelve months.

Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible for submission.

Works must be submitted to The Polari First Book Prize by the publisher.

In the case of self-published works, works must be submitted with a one-page/A4 size letter of support describing why and how the project has been self-published.

The winner of the 2011 Polari First Book Prize was James Maker, for his memoir 'Autofellatio' (BIGFib), which began life as an e-book.

This year’s Prize is for books published between Feb 1, 2011 and Feb 1, 2012.
LGBT History Month continues throughout February 2012.

Monday, 20 February 2012

A far l'Amore



Just because the lovely Thombeau over at The Redundant Variety Hour is on a Raffaella Carra kick today - and as it is still Tacky Music Monday, I make no excuses for playing this fab Bob Sinclar remix from last year again, dear reader!



Mike at Pop Trash Addicts famous tribute to Raffaella Carra (minus the videos unfortunately).

Razzle



I may be on leave for the next fortnight, but as always, it is another Tacky Music Monday here at Dolores Delargo Towers - a chance to marvel at some sparkling dance histrionics, or some OTT wannabee divas of time gone by - or in this case, both at the same time in the tiny personage of our own, dear Lulu!



Razzle dazzle, indeed.

Lulu's official website

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?



In remembrance of Falco (Johann (Hans) Hölzel), who would have celebrated his 55th birthday today (he was killed in a car crash in 1998), here are two of his magnificent musical moments...



Falco on Wikipedia

Saturday, 18 February 2012

It's the only life I know



Many happy returns to the sweet-voiced Miss Randy Crawford - 60 years old today!

Always a greater success here in the UK than she ever was in her native United States, her soulful jazz-funk ballads such as One Day I'll Fly Away, You Might Need Somebody and Almaz secured Miss Crawford a place in that typically 80s "late-night music" genre well before the likes of Sade and M-People. She had a slight renaissance in 2001 when One Day I'll Fly Away was heavily featured in the movie Moulin Rouge, and is apparently still performing and recording today.

However, it was for this brilliant song that we here at Dolores Delargo Towers love her the most - her 1979 hit with the Crusaders, Street Life:


I play the street life
Because there's no place I can go
Street life
It's the only life I know
Street life
And there's a thousand cards to play
Street life
Until you play your life away

You never people see
Just who you wanna be
And every night you shine
Just like a superstar
The type of life that's played
A temptin' masquerade
You dress you walk you talk
You're who you think you are

Street life
You can run away from time
Street life
For a nickel, for a dime
Street life
But you better not get old
Street life
Or you're gonna feel the cold

There's always love for sale
A grown up fairy tale
Prince charming always smiles
Behind a silver spoon
And if you keep it young
Your song is always sung
Your love will pay your way beneath the silver moon

Street life, street life, street life, oh street life
Hmm, Yeah


Sublime.

Read an interview with Randy Crawford in The Telegraph from 2008

Friday, 17 February 2012

Feel the Force



It's the weekend again - but a special one for us. From 5pm tonight I will be on holiday for a fortnight, and thank heavens for that! Unfortunately the continued situation here at Dolores Delargo Towers being impecunious, we won't be travelling to the sunshine (only Essex and Brighton - hardly tropical).

Never mind, we can dream - and in the estimable space-age madness world that The Real Thing inhabits, that dream is all the more sparkly...



Let the Force Be With You - and Thank Disco It's Friday!!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Oh my gawd..



Many happy returns to the lovely June Brown (aka Dot Cotton), who celebrates her 85th birthday today!



A phenomenal actress, with a long and varied career before Eastenders - read my previous blog about her BAFTA nomination - we adored her on Who Do You Think You Are, her many guest appearances on chat shows, and best of all, her turn as a "burlesque stripper" on The Lily Savage Show!

Unfortunately there is no footage available of that one online, so we'll have to make do with this classic scene from a very early episode of 'stenders (when it still had a sense of humour)...


Gawd bless, ya, ma'am!

June Brown on IMDB

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Pop-a-licious



It's that time again, when I feel the need to share some of the newer music that I have picked up on recently...

What self-respecting son would take his elderly mum to a gay strip joint and get her pissed? Well, in the case of the lovely Zeus (who I featured a few weeks ago before this video was released), when your mother is the gloriously camp diva Sara Montiel, you dare not refuse! If she wants to, she will Sex Dance, and no-one can stop her:


Our favourite Madge impersonator Charlie Hides aka Kandi Kane Baxter has inevitably released his "tribute" to Gimme All Your Luvin':


Time for some Disco madness, as the Noo Yawk collective calling themselves the Phenomenal Handclap Band take a time machine right back to 1978 with their spookily authentic-sounding The Right One:


Closer to home (Manchester actually), here's the very weird We Have Band and their atmospheric Where Are Your People? (with a distinct nod to Tears for Fears methinks):


Brightening up our soundscape as only she can, the marvellous Miss Gloria Estefan has another new single out - and this time she not only has taken a new approach by pastiching a 1920s sound (a la We No Speak Americano), but the video also pays a majorly camp tribute to movies beloved of us gayers like Rocky Horror, The Birdcage, Some Like It Hot and many more... Hotel Nacional is just brilliant!


We can never have enough of the fabulosa Amanda Lear in our lives - and here (at last) is the official video for her most recent delight - La Belle et la Bete (thanks, Henry!). And she looks just fab for a woman in her 60s (or 70s, no-one is quite sure):


And finally, house favourite "Ho" here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Mr Johnny McGovern aka Gay Pimp has a new album out - subtly called The Gayest Of All Time. And from it, a song that tells the story of an affliction that we, dear readers, have all suffered at one time or another - we've been Dickmatized! [The video is NSFW, so exercise caution]:


As always, enjoy!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

La Divina in London



Madam Arcati and I went to a see a real treat last night - the marvellous Tyne Daly (of Cagney and Lacey fame) portraying Maria Callas in Master Class.

"Class" is most definitely the word! In a truly awe-inspiring performance, Miss Daly managed the "suspension of disbelief" and transformed herself into "La Divina" before our eyes, strutting and preening about the stage, in most definite charge of the operatic masterclass of the title, berating and praising her victims - sorry, students [an able supporting cast of young talent including Jeremy Cohen, Naomi O'Connell, Diane Pilkington and Garrett Sorenson] - in turn.

Quite rightly, Miss Daly has received rave reviews and accolades galore for this astounding achievement. Her monologues, as she recalls her stormy (and ultimately doomed) relationship with the brutish Aristotle Onassis, her dreadful younger days in wartime Greece and her estrangement from her mother, and of course her operatic triumphs at La Scala, Covent Garden and the New York Met, were truly breathtaking - to the point that we, the audience, did not know whether to applaud or cry. Madame Callas's constant exhortations to the audience not to applaud - "this is not about me", she kept (un)subtlely reminding us - made that struggle all the more difficult. For this performance is more than worthy of the highest applause.

In ninety minutes, we felt we knew every foible of this extraordinary woman - hard as nails, yet fragile inside; pompous and insufferable, yet a woman driven by her inner demons to become the best; cruel on occasions, yet the survivor of many cruel indignities herself.

Astonishing.

Here's just a brief taster:



Master Class was a smash hit on Broadway, and was written by one of the best - the fabulous out-gay playwright Terrence McNally, who not only wrote one of my all-time fave films The Ritz, but also the "books" for such modern hit shows/films as The Full Monty, Kiss Of the Spiderwoman, Ragtime, and the forthcoming Catch Me If You Can.


Edward Albee, Terrence McNally, Larry Kramer

Apart from Master Class, he has won awards for his plays Corpus Christi and Love! Valour! Compassion!. He remains a staunch gay rights advocate and married his partner Tom Kirdahy in 2010.

It is showing for a strictly limited season until 28th April 2012 at The Vaudeville Theatre. Miss this at your peril!

Visit the official Master Class website for more information and tickets.

And to conclude, let us enjoy a sample of the genius that was La Divina herself. I would have posted her sublime version of Vissi d'Arte, but that would invoke unfair comparisons with the interpretation by Miss Leontyne Pryce that I featured on Saturday. Thus, it is to Bellini's Norma we turn, for her glorious Casta Diva:



Maria Callas on Wikipedia

For beauty we will pay





Time-slip moment...

There has been a lot of coverage in the media - not least the BBC - lately about the fact it is thirty years since Kraftwerk's The Model, a song from five years earlier and originally released as the B-side to Computer Love, hit the top of the UK charts in February 1982.

It is impossible to adequately capture in mere words the incredible influence Kraftwerk's cold, robotic musical style had upon the world since their emergence in the mid-70s. Without them, there would undoubtedly be no John Foxx and Ultravox, no Gary Numan, no OMD, no Spandau Ballet, no Duran Duran and inevitably the era of the Futurists/New Romantics that formed the background of the early 80s might not have happened (or at least happened differently). Truly amazing pioneers!

Here's that fabulous breakthrough hit...



She's a model and she's looking good
I'd like to take her home that's understood
She plays hard to get, she smiles from time to time
It only takes a camera to change her mind

She's going out to nightclubs drinking just champagne
And she has been checking nearly all the men
She's playing her game and you can hear them say
She's looking good for beauty we will pay

She's posing for consumer products now and then
For every camera she gives the best she can
I saw her on the cover of a magazine
Now she's a big success, I want to meet her again




STOP PRESS

Just for the delectation of the lovely Henry, who would like to hear more Kraftwerk...

The Robots:


Autobahn:


Neon Lights:


Enjoy!

Monday, 13 February 2012

The Novak-McGuire conundrum



It's been a while since I played the "connections" game!

So what possible connection could there be between today's birthday girls the fantabulosa Miss Kim Novak (79 today) and Dorothy McGuire of the wonderful McGuire Sisters (84 today)?

Miss Novak, ultra-cool and glamorous screen presence that she was (and is), played the ditzy chorus girl in Pal Joey, the dual-role mysterious blonde in Hitchcock's Vertigo, the witch in Bell, Book and Candle, and many other movie roles before her star faded. She later played upon her position as a cult camp icon by hamming it up in one of my favourite roles of hers, in The Mirror Crack'd, and indeed she is a new "exhibit" in the Dolores Delargo Towers - Museum of Camp for very good reason:



The McGuire Sisters (all three of them still alive) were the darlings of the American variety show circuit in the 1950s - as well as their numerous live performances for presidents and dignatories, they appeared on the Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, Andy Williams, Perry Como and Red Skelton shows. They officially retired in 1968, and their own "cult" status was thus assured. Here's one of their classic TV moments:



And the connection? One of the McGuire Sisters' biggest hits was the theme song of the movie that catapulted Miss Novak to fame, Picnic. Given this sultry scene (opposite a very gorgeous William Holden), I am not surprised people sat up and took notice of her:



And here's the song that completes the circle:



Phew!

Heartfilling?



I think Tacky Music Mondays have been far too tasteful of late.

After all, even a two-bit Jayne Mansfield impersonator like Mamie Van Doren is out-classed in the tackiness stakes by Dutch model-turned singer Vanessa with her "classic" Upside Down (Dizzy Does It Make Me)" Tasteful video, too:



According to her Discogs page:
Vanessa became a singer almost by accident when a demo she recorded for a friend landed on the desk of Dutch Recording Company DURECO. She released her first single in 1981, by 1987 she married her third husband, Free Record Shop boss Harry Breukhoven and retired from showbiz. In 1995 she released a new album, but when the second single flopped she quit again.

In August 2005 she did a blitz performance at the Gay Pride in Amsterdam after a friend asked to perform once again. The success was so heartfilling she considers a comeback.
A suitably badly-worded tribute, methinks...

Sunday, 12 February 2012

If I Had Plenty of Money and You



Having failed miserably again to win the Lottery, I thought this might be an appropriate choice of "Sunday music"...

It's the lovely Virginia Mayo as "Hot Garters Gertie", Working Her Way Through College apparently (ahem!):



Indeed.

RIP the Wibble



Good grief!

Whitney Houston - the one-woman pharmaceutical experiment, the arch-"wibbler" singularly responsible for the current proliferation of women who sing too high and can't hit the notes - is dead, aged 48 (the same age as me, gulp)!

Read more

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Vissi d’amore



It was the 85th birthday yesterday of the great diva Leontyne Price, a pioneer by dint of being the first major black operatic singer in history.

Hers is the most remarkable voice - memorably described by Time magazine as "Rich, supple and shining, it was in its prime capable of effortlessly soaring from a smoky mezzo to the pure soprano gold of a perfectly spun high C."

Here she is demonstrating that effortlessness, as she performs the classic aria Vissi D'Arte from Tosca:


Sublime.

Read my blog about the lady in 2010

Leontyne Price on Wikipedia

Bonobo sex in the Brockway Room



Rounding up a week of academic gay historical lectures - first "Monsieur", then Antinous - rather well, I thought, Jim and I returned to the austere Conway Hall (we were there en masse for the previous GALHA event The Vinyl Closet last week) for Against Nature? - Homosexuality and evolution, presented by Professor Volker Sommer.

Evidently Professor Sommer is exceptionally popular as the event was well over-subscribed, and the hall's Brockway Room was absolutely packed to the gunnels with an eclectic mix of radical fairies, student types, posh and not-so-posh, old and young, gay and straight alike. I got there early, and bagged seats near a radiator on this exceptionally freezing night, for which we were very grateful.

And what a lecture it was, too - who would have thought the male-to-male and female-to-female encounters of bonobo, dolphins or sheep would be so fascinating?
"Same-sex sexual behaviour is often condemned on the grounds that it is "against nature". Indeed, biology tells us that selection favours those who leave more offspring. But then, homosexual behaviour is widespread - not only amongst humans, but other animals alike, be they flamingos, gorillas, dolphins or bisons. Doesn't this constitute a paradox for Darwinian theory? And is there a connection between what goes on in nature and what is morally desirable? "
We were captivated. Inevitably there were dozens of questions, which always makes for a vibrant occasion. There is no need for me to go into any further detail, for you can watch this video presentation of the whole thing and see what I mean:



LGBT History Month continues throughout February 2012.

Darwin Day is 12th February

God = Boy



Continuing our busy week of LGBT History Month events, on Thursday evening Madam Arcati and I braved the looming blizzard to go to the wonderful Petrie Museum for a "lavishly illustrated lecture" by academic and Egyptologist John J Johnston, all about the legendary gay boy-god Antinous, lover of the Emperor Hadrian.


Petrie Museum

Mr Johnston is a fascinating and erudite speaker, and with consummate ease encapsulated not just the story of Antinous and his sad death, but his legacy in myriad works of statuary and art, and his continued camp cult status even today.

Visit Dolores Delargo Towers - Museum of Camp for the remarkable story of Antinous.

This particular god was the last to be created in the Roman epoch (an unprecedented act of hysterical campness by his lover the Emperor) - and suited the mood of those decadent times very well. His image appeared everywhere across the Empire, from his birthplace in Greek-speaking Asia Minor, to the memorial city established after his death Antinoopolis in Egypt, to such far-flung lands as Spain, North Africa and even Britain. Antinous came to represent the eternal beauty of desired male youth (and his fabulous arse!).


[left] Gay historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann with a picture of Antinous; [right] gay adherents of the cult of Antinous

His legend captured the hearts and minds (and more no doubt) of successive generations of aesthetes, romantics and chicken-loving homosexuals, with numerous reproductions of his image, poems and prose dedicated to his story, and the adoption of Hadrian and Antinous as symbols of often persecuted gay love.

This lecture was brilliantly told, brilliantly researched, beautifully illustrated, and utterly, totally enthralling...

LGBT History Month continues throughout February 2012.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Sexy (And They Know It)



We went to a most fascinating lecture last night, all about the beautifully sexy Antinous, "favorite" of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and possessor of the best buttocks in antiquity - a true twink superhero, on his death he was created a God by his older lover and was idolised as such in iconic imagery across the Empire, and for millennia to come in art.

More on that later, no doubt. However, in an exceptionally tenuous link indeed, here's a perfect way to start your weekends off in a certain fashion...

Here are two interpretations of the party song of last year, first courtesy of the sexiest Olympic athlete of them all, diver Tom Daley (and friends):



And here are two (more) very sexy boys. I don't care what anyone says about them. Yes, they are mad, and irritating, and manic, and whatever - but my heavens, Jedward are Sexy And They Know It:



The screens, nurse! The screens!

African Queens?



It's the end of a long, freezing cold week, and for that we are grateful - although the big chill does look to haunt us all weekend...

What better way to keep warm than in some extravagantly OTT "African Queen" costumes? The eternally tacky Ritchie Family (who look more like bargain basement drag queens than Nefertiti, Cleopatra And The Queen Of Sheba, inevitably) seem to approve.

Thank Disco It's Friday!



Keep Warm!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The last Princess



"I'm no angel, but I'm no Bo-Peep either."
Princess Margaret

Ten years ago today, Great Britain lost its last true Princess...

Margaret Rose was not born of the modern school of royalty - all sporty like Anne, environmentally conscious like Charles, or - heaven forfend - a be-jumpered bicyclist like the Dutch or Scandinavians. Hers was a more glittering, ultra-regal world of balls, parties, society functions and lots and lots of tours of duty (opening things, awarding things, attending things).

Her education was mainly supervised by her mother, who in the words of Randolph Churchill "never aimed at bringing her daughters up to be more than nicely behaved young ladies". Margaret took to fashion in a way her sister, as Monarch, could not, and as a consequence she was noted as one of the most glamorous, well-dressed women in the world. She obviously adored her role as Princess, and in the eyes of the media she was everything they could have hoped for - seemingly permanently in diamonds, and always photographed in the most enchanting company at all the best clubs and parties.

Unfortunately her prominent profile and constitutional role meant she was not permitted to be so free and easy in her choice of suitors (in public at least). Famously the pillars of the establishment prevented her from marrying her choice of man, the handsome but divorced Captain Peter Townsend, a decision she was upset by for the rest of her life.



Her eventual approved relationship, with spouse Lord Snowdon, was a rocky one. The couple argued frequently (and occasionally in public). Eventually, inevitably, it all fizzled to a halt with the first Royal divorce of the 20th century in 1978. However, Margaret's many close male "friends" were readily talked about even during her marriage - Mick Jagger, David Niven, cricketer Keith Miller, wine producer Anthony Barton, the notoriously well-hung gangster John Bindon, and of course Roddy Llewellyn.

As she grew older, the Princess's partying became more "jet-set" than dutiful - a large proportion of this magnificently dissolute life taking place on her beloved island of Mustique, where she resided much of the year on an estate gifted to her by Colin Tennant, later Lord Glenconner (nephew of the decadent "Bright Young Thing" and favourite of the Queen Mother Stephen Tennant). Until her later illness (that led to her untimely death) this was where she preferred to be, and where she would always say she had her happiest times.

One of her close male "friends" Peter Sellers even involved the Princess in one of his famous video projects...



We miss her!

Monsieur, Wallace and Rose



It's turning into a busy week!

On Tuesday, Alistair, Madam Arcati and I went to the fantabulosa Wallace Collection museum for a very special LGBT History Month lecture about the outrageously camp "Monsieur" - Philippe, Duc d'Orleans, brother of Louis XIV of France.

Read the story of the life of Monsieur, the latest "exhibit" in the Dolores Delargo Towers - Museum of Camp

The lecture was indeed fascinating - as is its subject - delivered by the museum's new Curator of pre-1800 Pictures Christoph Vogtherr. Despite some obvious peculiarities of his use of English, he nevertheless delivered a very comprehensive and informative discourse on the behaviour of this extraordinary Duke. Opening with a series of pictures from the Collection - official and those from private collections - he tied together neatly the concepts of how official marriage and the pleasures of the flesh were kept entirely separate in the Royal Courts of Europe in the 17th century, and the way that this provided evident freedoms to those of higher breeding to indulge in affairs with "mistresses" of both sexes without reproach.
"Without being really fond of any woman, Monsieur used to amuse himself all day in the company of old and young ladies to please the King: in order not to be out of the Court fashion, he even pretended to be amorous; but he could not keep up a deception so contrary to his natural inclination. Madame de Fiennes said to him one day, "You are in much more danger from the ladies you visit, than they are from you."
Every bit as intriguing as the outrageously gay character of Monsieur was that of his second wife Lieselotte, a sturdy German no-nonsense princess with a penchant for letter-writing. It is thanks to her remarkably comprehensive - and brilliantly written - accounts of the gossip and scandals of the court that we have such a clear idea of what exactly went on in the corridors of Versailles and the other Royal Palaces.

We were enthralled - despite the very elderly audience, whose shuffling, apoplectic coughing and fidgeting were a bit of a distraction to say the least...

Then it was on to the collection itself, one I had never visited before - and you would be hard pushed to find a grander assemblage of examples of the opulent living of the European aristocracy anywhere in the UK. From their website: "The wonderful works of art were collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard's widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897. Displayed at Hertford House, the main London townhouse of its former owners, the Wallace Collection presents its outstanding collections in a sumptuous but approachable manner which is an essential part of its charm."

Among the displays are magnificent paintings by Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Velàzquez, Poussin, Canaletto, Gainsborough and the world famous Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals, beautiful sculptures (including the classic bust of Dante), militaria, ceramics, ornaments and possibly the most gilded and extravagant furniture ever commissioned (whole rooms full of grand Rococo pieces formerly owned by Louis XV, Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette).

I loved it. Being free to enter, and conveniently situated in the tranquil Manchester Square just off the madness of Oxford Street, I can see me popping in again in the future.

The Wallace Collection

From the sublime to the ridiculous, we of course ended up at Halfway to Heaven for the rest of the evening, topped off with a cabaret by the hilarious Rose Garden - talk about a contrast between cultures!

LGBT History Month continues throughout February 2012. Tonight Madam Arcati and I are off the the quaint Petrie Museum for a lecture about Antinous, the boy beloved of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and on whose death was created a God by his lover. Should be intriguing...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Lassi lesbians, sexy poets, gay Turks, sheep-shearing and a Halo



Once more, Mr Paul Burston and his "peerless gay literary salon" Polari came up trumps on Monday, with a fun-packed evening of intellectual stimulus second to none!



Opening the show Mr Hugh Mulhall, accompanied by an on-screen presentation from the world-class artist Maggi Hambling, spoke emotively of his support for the ongoing campaign to secure the commission of a permanent sculptural memorial to the gay manager of The Beatles, Brian Epstein. The planned monument, designed by Ms Hamblin, would, he argued, make up for the complete omission of any mention of Mr Epstein's cultural legacy in the recent "Liverpool - City of Culture" celebrations, and in other tributes to the Fab Four. Passionately put, we wish the project well.

Moving swiftly on, and in complete contrast Miss Faarea Masud, broadcaster and writer, enthralled the audience with her hilarious descriptions of the South Asian lesbian world, reading from her as yet unpublished book Lassi Lesbians. Her accounts of the interplay between the girls of different cultures (and their various attitudes to sex and the topiary of the downstairs lady bits) were fabulous - can't wait to hear more!



Suddenly my attention perked up even more, as the stunning presence of model and poet Mr Max Wallis took to the podium, cheekbones to the fore... [And he's not a shy boy, I have discovered, having posed seductively across Coleridge's bed for a charity fundraising calendar!]



Anyway, he is also a talented poet beyond his years, and he read a few of his charming works from his compilation Modern Love, including this particularly breathtaking one:
When A Thief Kisses You, Count Your Teeth
Take my coat and hang it by the door next to others.
Rip my shirt, button by popped button, tie it around your waist.
Pick up the little black things and put them in your pocket.
Undo my belt, wrench it until the loops split, curl it up.
Slide down skinclung trousers. Fumble with my feet and socks.
Cut off my boxers. Naked, take in my scent and shy eyes.
With a razor shave my hair, brows, pubes; store them in a pillowcase.
Use your fingers to peel off the dead skin from my heels.
Tap my head three times to unlock my skull, open the cavity
prise out my brain and let it dry on the windowsill.
Shed off my case and dump it shrivelled by your bed.
Wipe the blood from my musculature and smear it on your clothes.
Use spoons and knives and forks and dismember my limbs.
Put my toes and fingers in your dog’s bowl.
Crack open my ribs, suck the breath from my lungs.
Siphon the wine of me. Decant it with the rest.
Use my tendons as thread, my bones as knitting needles.
Gouge my eyes and add them to the necklace you wear.
Take it all. Everything. Now.
Bare, wordless, prop me up, a model skeleton for your museum.

Wow.



To break the mood nicely, it was the turn of Mr Jack Scott, who gave us a fabulous insight into the complications and intrigues that befall him and his boyfriend as they took the unusual decision to become ex-pats in Bodrum in Turkey - a contradictory cultural mix of tolerance and menace, bitching and back-biting, and very entertaining stuff! Ms Scott's blog - also the title of his book - Perking the Pansies is a cracking read, and it is from this point that the published work began.
"Just imagine the absurdity of two openly gay, recently married, middle-aged, middle class men escaping the liberal sanctuary of anonymous London to relocate to a Muslim country. The country in question is not Iran (we had no desire to be lynched from the nearest olive tree by the Revolutionary Guard) but neighbouring Turkey, a secular nation practising a moderate and state-supervised form of Islam. Even so, Turkey provides a challenge to the free-spirited wishing to live unconventionally. Openly gay Turks in visible same sex relationships are as rare as ginger imams."
Indeed!



After the break, Catherine Hall, recent winner of the Green Carnation Prize for gay literature, read a tantalising extract from her novel The Proof Of Love, featuring the interplay between a closeted intellectual who has arrived to work on a farm in Cumbria and the burly shirtless boy with whom he is learning the art of sheep-shearing (and, he hopes, more). Set in the long hot summer of 1976, this certainly was a bit steamy... Her writing is mesmerising, and from the sound of it a worthy prize-winner.

Here is Miss Hall reading another passage from the book:



And last, and most definitely not least, our headliner was the ebullient Miss Tiffany Murray, who we last saw at Polari back in June 2010.



As on that occasion, she treated us to some extracts from her hit novel Diamond Star Halo. Her semi-autobiographical stories of an upbringing in the midst of a wild recording studio in Wales, her eccentric dad, and the presence of an enticingly gorgeous half-brother were as enthralling now as they were when we first encountered them.

As the review on For Books' Sake website says:
"For those desperate to crack Murray’s brain open and feast on her childhood memories of rock legends, Diamond Star Halo is the book you’ve been waiting for. The story is set in the fictional haven of Rockfarm, in the Welsh countryside.

It’s a picturesque family home that just happens to also be a recording studio for musicians from all over the World. Chickens peck at plectrums in the dust, and the sound of drum solos and playback wash over the rolling hills of brown-sugar cows and the family’s pet horses, Ziggy and Stardust.

This coming-of-age tale is narrated by Halo Llewellyn, so called because she learnt to walk to T-Rex’s Get It On. She is five-years-old when the story begins on a hot evening in 1977, while the family are waiting for the next band to arrive at Rockfarm.

The American eight-piece, Tequila, pull up the drive in a silver tour bus, and Halo is immediately taken with their lead singer, a heavily pregnant young women called Jenny Connor, who wears cowboy boots under her dress and has a voice like ‘chewing dough and toffee at the same time’. If Halo is in awe of Jenny, she is positively star-struck by her unborn baby, the boy that gives her a jolt of electricity every time she touches Jenny’s belly.

When Fred Connor is born, Halo knows right away that he is extraordinary, and when he is left to be raised by the Llewellyn’s on the farm, it is obvious to the whole family that the boy who is “half seal-pup half bloody Heathcliff” is destined for rock ‘n’ roll greatness."
Bloody marvellous...



Another great evening! Roll on next month, when we are joined by none other than the award-winning author Patrick Gale! Completing the line-up are our faves Sophia Blackwell and Nick Field, plus Will Davis, Deborah Levy and Justin Torres.

Polari at the Southbank Centre

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Thought for the Day



Ah, yes...

Monday, 6 February 2012

A goddess arrives



In a simply amazing hit-packed twelve minutes, the artist known as "Our Glorious Leader" proved once more that she is just that!

Performing her much-hyped interval segment for something called the Superbowl (which is apparently popular in America, involves what they call "football" - actually a form of Rugby with crash helmets for boys who don't like being bruised - and was bafflingly shown on BBC1), Madonna pulled out all the stops (and C-Lo Green) for a most brilliant show. Watch the whole thing:



With nods to Kylie, and even Toni Basil, the wait was worth it!

[Thanks, Marky!]