Thursday, 31 March 2011

Do it, do it again

I am so excited a little bit of wee came out!

Froggie maestro DJ Bob Sinclar has decided to release a remix of none other than one of our great patron saints, Miss Raffaella Cara...

I couldn't even wait 'till Tacky Music Monday to share this one with you, dear reader - enjoy!

Thought for the day...

Dusty High voltage

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

Lene Lovich

Another birthday today - the original, the best, the madly eccentric Lene Lovich!

Tall and tan and young and lovely

As today is Astrud Gilberto's birthday, there is really only one song I can play...



Astrud Gilberto website

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

"I was never ashamed"

Farley Granger autograph

And so farewell to the actor and former screen heart-throb Farley Granger, whose death has been announced today.

Mr Granger was never a top star in the same way as contemporaries such as Jimmy Stewart (his co-star in Hitchcock's Rope). Many have posited that this may have been due to the fact he was openly bisexual (even before such things were talked about) - he apparently had affairs with Ava Gardner, Roddy McDowell, Arthur Laurents and Leonard Bernstein, among other stars.

Farley Granger and Robert Calhoun

In his memoir Include Me Out, co-written with his long-term partner Robert Calhoun, he observed, "I never have felt the need to belong to any exclusive, self-defining, or special group... I was never ashamed, and I never felt the need to explain or apologise for my relationships to anyone... I have loved men. I have loved women."

Mr Calhoun died in 2008; they had been together since the early 1960s. Mr Granger died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday (27 March 2011). He was 85.

Farley Granger

RIP.

Farley Granger obituary

Let's hear it for them...

Radio 1 Mike Read

I am well overdue a Pick of the Pops selection, and this week it appears to be the turn of the boys!

For a change there are no fierce ruling divas, no bubblegum-pop girlie groups from far-off countries, and no trilling Kate-Bush-wannabees - just testosterone...



Possibly the biggest star in New Zealand at the moment (name another) is a certain Dane Rumble. Yes, he is quite cute in a sheep-shagger sort of way, and no, I don't usually like his kind of music. However this remix of his new single Cruel by Starving DJs (who?) is very catchy indeed!





Blake Lewis was apparently a contender on something called American Idol. Eww! He didn't win. However, this number called Operator is not bad at all...





A bizarre choice for me I know (please excuse the rapping), but I couldn't resist the "hook" on this new one by the West London bad boy calling himself "Example":





The very lovely Baker (what's with these "one-name-artists" these days?) is very much a new discovery - his All I'm Gonna Say is after all only his second single. He's gorgeous. I'll forgive him.



Last - and most definitely not least - a recent discovery all the way from the Ukraine, courtesy of Henry over at Barbarella's Galaxy, Mr Max Barskih! I don't care where he's from, he is mine...



Apparently he makes music too. Enjoy!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Dirk sings



Dear, delicious Dirk Bogarde would have been ninety years old today!

As it is also Tacky Music Monday, to celebrate, here for your delectation is a fascinating compilation of clips from Mr Bogarde's movies, set to the entire album of song-poems he released in 1960 - Lyrics for Lovers (another CD that we proudly hold in our collection here at Dolores Delargo Towers!). Enjoy!



Official Dirk Bogarde website

Buy your copy of Lyrics for Lovers today!

Monday, Blah Blah Blah

A beutifully warm weekend, over and done with. A new week of stress and tedium beckons. Ho Hum.

So, on this Tacky Music Monday, let us escape from such rubbish and wallow in something truly trashy...

Blah Blah Blah indeed!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Oh, Big Daddy...



Today one hundred years ago the gay dramatist and writer, author of many of Elizabeth Taylor's finest screen roles, Tennessee Williams was born!

Over at the Dolores Delargo Museum of Camp, he is our latest exhibit...

As befits a centenary year, Tennessee Williams revivals are popping up on stages across this country (as well as the US) - not least two of his previously never staged works I Never Get Dressed Till After Dark on Sundays and A Cavalier For Milady, both at the tiny Cock Tavern Theatre pub in Kilburn, of all the unlikely places.

Read more in the Evening Standard

It is probably too much to expect a new big London staging of A Streetcar Named Desire, nor Cat On A Hot Tin Roof - and I am not sure the West End is ready for either after Debbie Allen's last attempt at the latter closed prematurely - but we can live in hope!



“It’s not just pork, Gilbert; it’s power”

Betty Blue Eyes

Rounding-off a couple of weeks of planned (and unplanned) theatrical visits, yesterday I was offered a free ticket to go and see the brand new musical based upon Alan Bennett's A Private Function , the much anticipated Betty Blue Eyes at the Novello Theatre.

Who am I to turn down an offer like that?!

I say much-anticipated, for this Stiles and Drewe (the men behind Mary Poppins, Honk! and the "gay scene musical" Soho Cinders, among others) extravaganza, directed by Sir Richard Eyre, is apparently one of the more expensive (£2.5million!) recent musicals to arrive in the West End, and sees the return of impresario Cameron Mackintosh to the role of "Mr Producer" rather than merely the "money-man".

Entering untried and untested waters is always a bit of a thrill, and true, we did not know quite what to expect. But as far as new musicals go, in my opinion this is one of the best I have seen! With a sterling cast including Corrie's "Raquel" Sarah Lancashire, Reece Shearsmith (from The League of Gentlemen), and TV "faces" David Bamber and Adrian Scarborough, and an excellent cast of players and dancers (choreographed by dance wunderkind Stephen Mears), it was a sheer joy to watch from beginning to end.

Set in post-War austerity Britain, with all its queues and rationing and belt-tightening, the only thing people have to look forward to is the forthcoming Royal Wedding of Liz and Phil. This steadfastness in the face of adversity is summed up in the song Fair Shares For All (“Ever since Hitler/Portions are littler”).

Betty Blue Eyes Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith

In this setting, the plot follows mild-mannered chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers (Mr Shearsmith) and his frustrated and ambitious wife Joyce (Miss Lancashire) as they strive towards A Shop on the Parade - that would give them a place in the stiflingly snobbish Yorkshire society in which they live - where Gilbert's Magic Fingers could have a base.

When Joyce discovers that the eminent citizens are holding a "Private Function" for the wedding, she immediately assumes they will be invited, only to discover from the hideous brat to whom she gives piano lessons that the burghers consider her to be a "nobody". That (of course) is the cue for one of the show's most spectacular numbers (Nobody Calls Me A ) Nobody, in which Miss Lancashire's full vocal talents are brought to the fore as she transforms from prim-and-pinnied housewife to sparklingly glamorous showbiz star in a second (and, just as quickly, back again).



Of course, the opportunity for revenge becomes clear once Gilbert and Joyce discover that the townspeople's private function is to be fed by an illegally-held pig! In this era of "Ministry of Food" rules and regulations, an inspector (brilliantly and camply played by Mr Scarborough) is in town, ferreting out black market dealings and closing down butchers with a habit of selling "under-the-counter" meat. His show-stopping number Painting By Heart, in which he enthuses about the joy he finds in painting the illegal meat he condemns with a green "unfit for human consumption" dye, was probably my favourite number in the show!

Gilbert is tasked by Joyce with stealing the illegal pig from its hideaway, not only to ruin the corrupt councillors' plans for the Royal Wedding function, but also to provide him and Joyce (and her wonderfully dotty mother - "She's 84, you know" - played by Ann Emery) with some actual food for a change, rather than the craftily disguised Spam they usually eat.

Joyce and Gilbert's strangely imbalanced relationship forms a back-story throughout the play, with flashbacks to their meeting in the wreckage of a nightclub in the Blitz (with a stunningly brilliant Lindy Hop routine), and every good deed Gilbert does being rewarded with the totally Maggie Smith (Joyce in the movie version) line "I think sexual intercourse may be in order."

And so the farce ensues as we are introduced to said animatronic pig - the "Betty Blue Eyes" of the title - with her flatulent incontinence ruining Joyce's parquet, and her unusual blue eyes that melt the hearts of the men of the town. Described by Cameron Mackintosh as "the most expensive leading lady I’ve ever had and she's worth every penny,” she is indeed an impressive masterpiece of robotics...

True to all farces, all the characters get involved in the hunt for Betty while trying to hide her from the inspector. The comedy routine with "Mother Dear" (Pig, No Pig) is fab. The ladies of the town get their own excellently-stylised song and dance number It's An Ill Wind when the stench of the pig starts to drift through the streets, and there is even a hilarious musical number (A Piss Stained, Piss Poor Country) performed at the pub urinal!

Joyce, of course, saves the day with a triumphal victory over the burghers, and the finale at the Private Function itself is fabulous!

And Betty herself? She survives to live another day - and at the very end even gets to sing a few bars. The big surprise? The pig's voice is provided by none other than Miss Kylie Minogue herself!!

This is an excellent show, and I wish it every success when it finally launches (it is in previews at the mo) on 6th April.

A must see!





Betty Blue Eyes - the Musical

Friday, 25 March 2011

Good for any game at night my boys, who'll come and join me in a spree?



We at Dolores Delargo Towers and our "gang" never like to miss an opportunity to enjoy a little Victorian sing-a-long evening. And so it was that we trotted off to the magnificent Witon's Music Hall last night (Thursday) for just such an extravaganza!

This Evening of Music Hall was part of a week-long celebration of the great George Leybourne, the man who was "Champagne Charlie" (as a new biography of his life, The Heaviest of Swells has just been published). Indeed, the book's author Mr Christopher Beeching was among the players...

With a superb cast including former Crackerjack favourite Jan Hunt, plus Miss Gemma Page and Mr Jim McManus and our host and Master of Ceremonies Mr Robert Meadwell, the audience was treated to the full gamut of rip-roaring classics like Daisy, Daisy, The Boy In The Gallery, My Old Man, How'd You Like To Spoon With Me?, Two Lovely Black Eyes and The Old Bull And Bush - and we sang along like good 'uns!

Miss Page did a very sweet rendition of The Honeysuckle And The Bee and returned later as "Burlington Bertie", and Mr McManus was brilliant with his meandering monologues. His My Old Dutch was sublime...

We've been together now for forty years
An' it don't seem a day too much.
There ain't a lady living in the land
As I'd swap for me dear old Dutch.
No, there ain't a lady living in the land
As I'd swap for me dear old Dutch.


Mr Beeching played the "Champagne Charlie" role with gusto - recreating the very look of the original character as well as treating us to the traditional Oh! The Fairies, The Heavy Swell Of The Sea (with all its double-entendres, the inspiration for the title of the book) and of course the self-titled Champagne Charlie Is My Name.



However, as ever it was the cheeky talents of Miss Jan Hunt (read my previous blog about Miss Hunt and her Music Hall talents) that stole the show - a little Marie Lloyd here, a little coquettishness there - fabulous! And she dealt with the roaming hands of her chosen audience member who she had dragged up on stage hilariously well...

Here's one of the classic Marie Lloyd songs she performed:


I'm one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit,
One of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit.
In the gay old days there used to be something doing
No wonder that the poor old abbey went to ruin.
Those who raise their voices sing and shout of it,
You can bet your life there isn't a doubt of it.
Outside the Oliver Cromwell last Saturday night
I was one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit.


From a review of the book:
"The Heaviest of Swells energetically brings to life the man who was responsible for establishing the artistic and financial power of The Lion Comique, [the Comic Singer] during the formative years of British Music Hall. Leybourne was a man who earned a vast fortune during his career, only to die penniless and exhausted at the early age of 42, leaving a wife and two children destitute.

George Leybourne’s songs continue to resonate down through the years. The Man on the Flying Trapeze and Champagne Charlie are among the most famous titles. Another, If Ever I Cease to Love, [a somewhat salacious song!] has been used at New Orleans’ Mardi Gras every year since 1872. Leybourne had a repertoire of over 250 songs, covering a huge range of subjects, from rowdy upper class yobs, to timid heartbroken lovers, to street corner con-men, to wealthy champagne drinking swells."
"George/"Charlie"'s ‘swell’ persona also helped to launch him on a whole new career of celebrity endorsements after Moet commissioned him to write and perform songs extolling the virtues of Champagne as a symbol of taste, affluence, and the good life. He also agreed to drink nothing but Champagne in public. His efforts did much to establish Champagne as an important element in any outward show of conspicuous consumption."
Including, unfortunately, his own.

Champagne Charlie is my name, Champagne Charlie is my name.
Good for any game at night, my boys.
Good for any game at night, my boys,
Champagne Charlie is my name, Champagne Charlie is my name.
Good for any game at night my boys, who'll come and join me in a spree?




A grand night, indeed, and one we all thoroughly enjoyed! Wilton's is truly one of the wonders of theatre - being the oldest Music Hall anywhere in the world - and needs as much support as we can give it!


Wilton's Music Hall

Order your copy of the book The Heaviest Of Swells

Yonder



This poem was read at Dame Elizabeth Taylor's funeral today. A beautiful choice.

The Leaden Echo And The Golden Echo
(Maidens’ song from St. Winefred’s Well)

The Leaden Echo

How to keep — is there any any, is there none such, nowhere known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, lace, latch or catch or key to keep
Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, . . . from vanishing away?
Ó is there no frowning of these wrinkles, ranked wrinkles deep,
Down? no waving off of these most mournful messengers, still messengers, sad and stealing messengers of grey?
No there’s none, there’s none, O no there’s none,
Nor can you long be, what you now are, called fair,
Do what you may do, what, do what you may,
And wisdom is early to despair:
Be beginning; since, no, nothing can be done
To keep at bay
Age and age’s evils, hoar hair,
Ruck and wrinkle, drooping, dying, death’s worst, winding sheets, tombs and worms and tumbling to decay;
So be beginning, be beginning to despair.
O there’s none; no no no there’s none:
Be beginning to despair, to despair,
Despair, despair, despair, despair.

The Golden Echo

Spare!
There is one, yes I have one (Hush there!);
Only not within seeing of the sun,
Not within the singeing of the strong sun,
Tall sun’s tingeing, or treacherous the tainting of the earth’s air,
Somewhere elsewhere there is ah well where! one,
One. Yes I can tell such a key, I do know such a place,
Where whatever’s prized and passes of us, everything that’s fresh and fast flying of us, seems to us sweet of us and swiftly away with, done away with, undone,
Undone, done with, soon done with, and yet dearly and dangerously sweet
Of us, the wimpled-water-dimpled, not-by-morning-matched face,
The flower of beauty, fleece of beauty, too too apt to, ah! to fleet,
Never fleets more, fastened with the tenderest truth
To its own best being and its loveliness of youth: it is an everlastingness of, O it is an all youth!
Come then, your ways and airs and looks, locks, maiden gear, gallantry and gaiety and grace,
Winning ways, airs innocent, maiden manners, sweet looks, loose locks, long locks, lovelocks, gaygear, going gallant, girlgrace —
Resign them, sign them, seal them, send them, motion them with breath,
And with sighs soaring, soaring sighs deliver
Them; beauty-in-the-ghost, deliver it, early now, long before death
Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.
See; not a hair is, not an eyelash, not the least lash lost; every hair
Is, hair of the head, numbered.
Nay, what we had lighthanded left in surly the mere mould
Will have waked and have waxed and have walked with the wind what while we slept,
This side, that side hurling a heavyheaded hundredfold
What while we, while we slumbered.
O then, weary then whý should we tread? O why are we so haggard at the heart, so care-coiled, care-killed, so fagged, so fashed, so cogged, so cumbered,
When the thing we freely forfeit is kept with fonder a care,
Fonder a care kept than we could have kept it, kept
Far with fonder a care (and we, we should have lost it) finer, fonder
A care kept. — Where kept? Do but tell us where kept, where. —
Yonder. — What high as that! We follow, now we follow. — Yonder, yes yonder, yonder,
Yonder.

My kind...

Matt Smith as Christopher Isherwood

The other night we watched what I can honestly say was not just one of the best television dramas, but possibly one of the best films I have seen in a long time!

Christopher And His Kind, starring "Dr Who" Matt Smith as that marvellously waspish old queen Christopher Isherwood (the man whose Berlin Stories eventually evolved into my all-time favourite movie Cabaret), delved into the decadent world of 1930s Weimar Germany with relish, as posh boys satisfy their deepest gay urges against an ever-darkening political background.

"I could say I went because of what was happening politically," he said."But in fact I went because of the boys."
The atmospheric beauty of the city against which this delicious man-seeking-man action takes place is brilliantly described thus by Mark Smith writing in Scottish newspaper The Herald:
"[Berlin is] a city made from shadows and smoke and sex... suddenly, the smoke clears and we see the small print - red lips on a cigarette, thin fingers on a thigh - and the nasty details too - jackboots on cobbles and the pages of books turning black in a fire."
Never shirking from the hedonistic appeal of Berlin to gay men in that era, the sheer delight that crosses Christopher's face when his close friend W.H Auden (the excellently cast Pip Carter) first takes him the wall-to-wall totty club Cosy Corner is a joy to behold, and the enthusiasm with which he embraces his freedom to shag rough trade ("rampant hetters on the make", as Auden cheerfully describes) is suitably demonstrated in some rather tasty bedroom (and outdoor!) scenes. He actually manages to fall in love with some of them...

All this horizontal shenanigans is complemented by the array of divinely odd characters Christopher encounters during his time at the boarding-house-cum-bordello run by dotty old Fraulein Thurau (Facinating Aida's Issy van Randwick). These include the wonderfully pervy bewigged Mr Hamilton (Toby Jones), various prostitutes and, best of all, the tarty posh-girl-gone-bad nightclub singer Jean Ross (brilliantly portrayed by Imogen Poots, right down to her cracked Judi Dench-style singing voice) - with her doomed attempts to make it big in Hollywood, and of course the inevitable abortion, the blueprint for Sally Bowles.

Imogen Poots as Jean Ross

Inevitably all these characters find themselves, as they did when fleeing their cold unemotional families to embrace the fleshly delights of Berlin, once more on the run (this time from the horrifyingly speedy rise of Nazi brutality). Christopher, as the last to leave, witnesses the demonisation of the Jews and the burning of the books, yet only slowly realises that the finger is begining to point at him and "his kind".

Only when his attempt to extricate his lover Heinz from this stiflingly threatening situation fails does he begin to realise that his own selfishness and detachment from everything that is happening around him has taken a potentially deadly toll...


Auden and Isherwood in Berlin

This play/film is a tour-de-force of acting. I revelled in every little nuance of Christopher's soi disant pretence to be merely an "observer" rather than participant, Jean's rejection of conventional society and revulsion at what she sees happening to her adopted country (and her later appearance as a luvvie Communist leafletting the teashops of Kensington), and Auden's world-weariness as he witnesses his former lover clashing headlong into the dangerously hedonistic world he himself had grown out of: "The only cause you really care about, Christopher, is yourself." Christopher's dreadful mother (played with excoriating relish by Lindsay Duncan) and over-protected brother are superbly portrayed as the evidence of why he really needed to escape.

The story leaves us - as of course Isherwood's own Berlin Stories do - with a lot of "unfinished business". The sad (much later) reconciliation, and ultimate rejection, of Heinz is served up as a final example of just why Christopher Isherwood remains a largely unsympathetic character in the annals of gay history. [Yet in truth the real-life Heinz (by the 1950s already married with a family) was so shocked that his part in the most poignant gay love story of pre-war Germany was revealed in such detail in Christopher's books that he cut all ties with the author forever.]

You will enjoy this! I know you will...



Christopher And His Kind on the BBC website

To be continued..?
You can read more about what happened next in Christopher Isherwood's life as he is featured as the latest exhibit in the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp!

Get Down...

A Taste Of Honey

Its a sunny weekend in prospect!

Get your best satin jumpsuit and your "Fuck me heels" on, and let's BOOGIE! Thank Disco It's Friday!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Just when I'd stopped opening doors



Mr Stephen Sondheim celebrated his 81st birthday on Tuesday.

Dame Liz Taylor died yesterday.

Here's a little tribute to them both...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Dame Elizabeth Taylor RIP

The most beautiful, the most glamorous, the greatest star the world ever knew is no more. I am very sad.



Dame Elizabeth Taylor obituary on the BBC

"With your suede blue eyes"

Happy birthday to Mr Rik Ocasek, former lead singer with The Cars, who famously featured in a cameo role (with Miss Pia Zadora) in the John Waters film Hairspray.

Mr Ocasek may have had many and varied diversions in his long career but some things do stick in the memory. This one is firmly embedded in mine...

It's Joan Crawford's birthday, bitches...

... so smile!

Joan Crawford smiles

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Just say No!



A study published today using their local census data shows that religion in nine countries is set for extinction.

The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. In all the countries, the indications were a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

"In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%," according to one of the researchers Dr Richard Wiener.

Read about the study

Here in the UK, nearly two-thirds of people do not regard themselves as "religious", according to a new survey.

The British Humanist Association (BHA), which commissioned the poll, said people often identified themselves as religious for cultural reasons.

Read about the findings

For only the second time, the UK census this year will include an optional question about religious belief.

Yet as BHA chief Executive Andrew Copson says, "Instead of asking, 'Do you have a religion and if so, what is it?', the question asks 'What is your religion?', a closed question that funnels people into giving a religious response, even if they don't go to a church or a mosque, even if they don't believe in God."

Mr Copson also says that the placing of the religious question close to other questions about ethnicity encourages white British householders - even those who never go to church - to tick "Christian" because they believe it is part of their overall cultural identity. "If the number of religious people is artificially inflated in the census, then public policy in matters of religion and belief will unduly favour religious lobbies and discriminate against people who do not live their lives under religion."

Read more

In effect, if people identify themselves as belonging to a particular religion merely by accident of birth or cultural identity, this could directly impinge upon everyone's lives despite the increasing trend in this country towards a secular society.

Already the legacy of years of pro-religious legislation has allowed for the rise of "faith schools", and currently permits religious organisations to exempt themselves from anti-discrimination legislation with regard to the rights of gay and lesbian people.

Anglican Bishops still sit in the House of Lords and pass judgement upon the laws of the land that affect everyone, regardless whether they share their belief. The church is still allowed to form part of our (unwritten) constitution.

These abhorrent situations can and will never change unless they are seen for what they are - an increasingly marginalised and irrelevant minority.

The short answer is simple. If you’re not religious, then answer “No Religion” on the census. I support the Census Campaign wholeheartedly!

Read more about the Census Campaign

Farewell to the BIGGEST voice!



And so dear friends, we wave farewell to one of the all-time greatest vocal stylists in the history of pop music. For one of our patron saints here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Miss Loleatta Holloway is dead!

Miss Holloway was always undersold. Throughout her long and illustrious career, hers was the voice that "carried" star vehicle after star vehicle for other artists.

Yet without her tremendous tonsils, where would such classics as Relight My Fire (by Dan Hartman), Runaway (by Salsoul Orchestra), and of course Black Box's Ride on Time be?



Eternally sampled and remixed, her solo classics include the mega-tastic Love Sensation, Crash Goes Love, Hit and Run and Dreaming, yet surprisingly her biggest US chart success was with a ballad Cry To Me.



I have blogged about my love for Lolly and her Love Sensation before, so I thought I would treat us to something a little different, and appropriate, on this sad day - The Greatest Performance Of My Life. RIP, sweetheart...




And, not to make it too maudlin, here's another rarity - a less famous collaboration between Miss Holloway and Dan Hartman. This track, Keep The Fires Burning, obviously showcases the groundwork of the incredibly powerful vocal gymnastics for which she became so admired:



Loleatta Holloway obituary

More about Loleatta Holloway at Disco-Disco

To boldly go where no man has gone before

William Shatner and Joan Collins

Many happy returns today to that marvel of the modern age, that walking send-up, Mr William Shatner - who is 80 years old today!

Here's a little message from the former Captain Kirk to all his fans out there...



I know I have blogged about him before, but I just can't help it!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Don't be frightened to give me a little bit more

No sooner have I recovered from the news that Kylie actually recorded a version of All The Lovers in Spanish, but I find this rather titillating cover version...

Take it away, Ximo!



Phwoooaaarrrgh!

If Tom ruled the world...



Today is the Spring Equinox! Some might describe it as the first day of Spring - indeed, blossoms, bulbs and bees are all around us and it certainly feels like winter is over at last.

Let us celebrate with Tom Jones and his incredible performing trousers...


If I ruled the world
Every day would be
The first day of spring
Every heart would have
A new song to sing
And we'd sing of the joy
Every morning would bring

If I ruled the world
Every man would be
As free as a bird
Every voice would be
A voice to be heard
Take my word
We would treasure each day
That occurred

My world would be
A beautiful place
Where we would weave
Such a wonderful dream
My world would wear
A smile on its face
Like the man in the moon
When the moon beams

If I ruled the world
Every man would say
The world was his friend
There'd be happiness
That no man could end
No my friend
Not if I ruled the world
Every head
Would be held up high
There'd be sunshine
In everyone's sky
If day ever dawned
When I ruled the world
If I ruled the world

Monday pick-me-up

Oh, how I love my Tacky Music Mondays!

I was feeling all depressed about going back to work after a fantabulosa weekend, and then this song popped up out of the ether...

So let us wallow in the sheer pop-tastic naffness that was The Dooleys. I guarantee you will feel better instantly! I did.

All together now - "Boy you're everything I ever wanted. Living in the shadow of your love."

Sunday, 20 March 2011

ReJoyce!



Having spent the day (as is my habit) basking in the plethora of wonderful music that is played by Radio 2 on Sunday, among the delights that tickled me pink was this one, which Alan Titchmarsh played.

Well, actually he played the original of Joyce the Librarian by the song's creators Richard Stilgoe and Peter Skellern, but Miss Liz Ryan does a marvellous job with it.

Enjoy!



Joyce the librarian
Strict vegetarian
Forty and living with mum.
Wears sandals and glasses
Attends evening classes
And wonders if romance will come.
Though she'd never been kissed
It's not something she'd missed
Until some weeks before;
When George, a rotarian,
Handsome lotharian,
Walked through the library door.

George was unmarried
And the torch that Joyce carried
Was burning a hole in her heart
She wanted to show him
But didn't yet know him
She didn't know where to start
So with growing abhorrance
She read D.H. Lawrence
To glean a few ideas . . .
Which she turned down flat
She couldn't do that
Not in a million years!!

Joyce the librarian
Strict vegetarian
Was burning with animal lust
Alarming sensations
Strange palpatations
A mix of delight and disgust
So she busied herself
Rearranging the shelf
To try to control her dreams.
Joyce the librarian
The disciplinarian
Was falling apart at the seams.

The very next day
She kept out of the way
When George returned his books
But with growing conviction
She wandered through "Fiction"
And threw him some longing looks.
And when George joined the queue
She knew just what to do,
She smiled and removed her specs . .
Then looked in horror
'Cause he'd come to borrow "
The Further Joy of Sex".

Perhaps because latterly
She'd read "Lady Chatterley"
Something just snapped in her head;
She gave herself gladly,
Wildly, madly,
To George that night in his bed.
But then just as she'd feared
George disappeared
Some other librarian to woo.
Now there's a sob in her voice
As both book and Joyce
Are a fortnight over due.

Debussy to a Disco beat



What can I say about the new Pet Shop Boys ballet, other than its title is so appropriate?!

For The Most Incredible Thing was exactly that! Incredible!

With its utterly stunning visuals, superbly orchestrated music from the Boys, and exhaustingly brilliant choreography by Javier De Frutos, this was a sensory and emotional feast.

Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, the story is set in a mystical kingdom where the (brilliantly synchronised) workers work and the royals don't, where revolution is never far away, and the King (Michael Camp) has plans to make his people happy. He announces a contest, the prize being half his kingdom and his daughter's hand in marriage, for anyone who can present him with the eponymous "Most Incredible Thing".

We are treated to the back-story (in dance) of the relationships between the bored Princess (Clemmie Sveaas), the ambitious inventor Leo (Aaron Sillis), and the villainous military leader Karl (Ivan Putrov) as the competition gets underway. The contest is (hilariously) staged as a sort of "Mystical Kingdom's Got Talent"-type show, with a succession of typically inept entrants. Until, that is, our hero Leo presents his little invention (built with the assistance of three Muses, en point of course, who perform a beautiful "pas de quatre" with him, if such a thing exists) - a pocket watch. Not much of an "incredible thing" one might think...



However, in the second part (this ballet, unusually, has three sections and two intervals), the true nature of Leo's creation is revealed in a series of increasingly spectacular choreographed fantasy scenes - one for every hour on the clock. Where the opening segment was beautiful and funny in turn, this sequence was just breath-taking! Sr De Frutos pays homage to fellow dance maestros Fosse, Ashton and even Busby Berkeley(!), and lets his imagination run riot. To accompany this brilliance, the visual spectacle goes into overdrive, and Mr Tennant and Mr Lowe's music shows its true breadth and variety. I was exhausted!

Of course, true to all fairy tales, the villain has to have his moment, and Karl's comes right at the close of the fantasy sequence when he brutally crushes and destroys the watch, claiming this instead to be "The Most Incredible Thing" and usurping the prize. So close was this to pantomime, we almost hissed and booed...

So we witness the unhappy preparations for the nuptials between the Princess and the villain - cleverly staged all in black and white - and poor Leo languishing in jail. But all is not lost (of course), as to the rescue come the Muses, and the rebuilt clock miraculously swallows up the malevolent Karl, freeing the Princess and Leo to renew their love. Their joy is encapsulated in a (rather clumsy I thought) duet, but this is immediately followed by the ensemble number (that returns us cleverly to the synchronicity of the opening "workers" number) at their wedding feast. So all is right once more.

And, in the end "the most incredible thing is: no-one is jealous"!

Bloody magnificent, and thanks to our friend Paul who managed to get me, John-John and Julie tickets for this now sold-out event! This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will never forget.

The Most Incredible Thing music preview:



Sadlers Wells trailer:



The Most Incredible Thing is at Sadlers Wells until 26th March 2011.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Equality in partnership



My admiration for Peter Tatchell knows no bounds! Anyone who can steadfastly stand up for the rights of (often ungrateful) complete strangers against injustice, bigotry, tyranny and prejudice the way he has for decades - often to his own detriment, being beaten up by Mugabe's guards, and violently assaulted by Polish police - can only be worthy of the accolade of a "hero". How many of us would ever be so much of a thorn in the side of the establishment?

And so it was that I had to go and see him deliver his talk Equal Rights: Are we there yet? to the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) at the terribly twee Conway Hall yesterday (Friday) night.

The theme of his speech was about the current "Equal Love" campaign, whereby Mr Tatchell, two gay couples and two straight ones have mounted a legal challenge to overturn the twin bans on same-sex civil marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships. Their raison d'etre is that there should be equality for all, gay and straight.

He addressed multiple well-reasoned arguments why the situation is so incongruous in the UK, not least the fact that in law the two institutions (marriage and civil partnership) are so intrinsically similar - other than the fact that the sexuality of the parties involved is different in each Act of Parliament - that there is no reason why they should exist as separate entities. As he argued, if there were a piece of legislation that barred, say, Jewish or black people from entering one legal arrangement in favour of another seperately legislated one, there would be a huge outcry!

Supporting him in the legal challenge, he introduced one of the straight couples who eloquently added their personal perspective to the debate.

To resounding applause, he concluded: “The bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid – one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right. In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law.”



Excellent, as always. And in the question and answer session - facilitated by the rather scrummy Adam Knowles, GALHA Chair - several more revelations were made about the way the British establishment continues to marginalise gay issues. For example, our beloved HM The Queen - I didn't realise that she (nor any member of the Royal Family) has ever mentioned the words "gay", "lesbian" or "homosexuality", even when introducing the various Bills that refer specifically to us (age of consent, sexual offences etc) to Parliament. When three people were killed, and countless others were severely injured in the Admiral Duncan bombing, Her Majesty never even sent a word of condolence (as she has in just about every other similar situation involving a tragedy on that scale)! Shocking.

Referring to the recent controversial attempt to stage an "East London Pride" (in response to the gay hate stickers that have started appearing near gay venues) by a group that turned out to have dodgy links to the right-wing English Defence League, Mr Tatchell reiterated his dismay, and said that Muslim organisations and speakers should be invited to participate in any rescheduled Pride in the area. However, he was very revealing in his exposé of the double-standards that the police exercise when it comes to the different ways it deals with anti-Muslim hate and anti-gay behaviour, "for fear of upsetting the Muslim community". The Met apparently know exactly who is involved in the stickering campaign but have refused to do anything about it.

This was a brilliant evening, and one not to be missed for the world...

OutRage's "Equal Love" campaign received its press launch at none other than Halfway to Heaven (remarkably, as I heard nothing about this at the time, despite being a regular there):



Read all about the "Equal Love" campaign

Friday, 18 March 2011

All I can manage to push from my lips is a scream of absurdity

Another weekend arrives at last - and I have a couple of interesting events to look forward to.

Tonight, the gay superhero that is Peter Tatchell is addressing a meeting of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) on the subject "Equal Rights"-are we there yet?, which should be fascinating. Then tomorrow we are trolling off to Sadlers Wells for the much-anticipated ballet The Most Beautiful Thing, with music especially written by Pet Shop Boys - whew!



But at some stage I am just going to have to make time to don my best tuille ra-ra and padded shoulders and pay a dance-tastic tribute to Miss Ruth Pointer, who is 65 years old tomorrow!

I love, love, love The Pointer Sisters - Thank Disco It's Friday!



http://www.thepointersisters.com/

A spark, to light the dark



Lest we forget my weekly round-up of new and/or interesting choons for your delectation, this week appears mostly (once again) to focus upon the Electro end of the musical spectrum - and why, indeed, not?!

Always very welcome here at Dolores Delargo Towers, the fantabulosa Human League have another new song out (despite making no dent whatsoever with their last one, Night People, in what passes for the current music scene in the UK. Not being adept at singing R'n'B, and thankfully not featuring Rhianna, GaGa or Katy Perry, I suppose they have no chance with the morons who buy records these days).

Never Let Me Go is from their new studio album Credo (their first since 2001) which is released on Monday 21st March. I love it!


Next up a song that sounds like it should be a tribute to our own, our very own Depeche Mode by an ensemble by the name of Parralox:


A very sweet number by the very sweet-sounding Purity Ring. Until you realise the title of the song is Ungirthed, of course.


From "ungirthed" to the charmingly-named "Suck Shaft"... I'm getting a bit hot under the collar here!


And finally some pretty boy singer in a band called Diagram Of The Heart, who have released a most lavish video for their newest single If I Were You (which is extremely catchy indeed!):

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Lipstick and mirrors and hairspray

"I find it a great antidote... lipstick and mirrors and hairspray."
Joanna Lumley

Happy Paddy's Day to all our Irish chums!

To celebrate, here's the awesomely talented Jedward - ahem! - with the Emerald Isle's entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

Mummy I'm scared...

I'm laughing at clouds



It's a grey an grizzly morning, and what better to cheer up the day than another visit to the magnificent "Tired Old Queen At The Movies"?



Appropriately, today Steve Hayes tackles Singing In The Rain from his own singular perspective as always!

Enjoy...



More of Steve Hayes' genius reviews are on his YouTube channel.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Byzantine orgies, hot water bottles, punks and fairy tales...



Paul Burston's 'peerless gay literary salon' always manages to pull out the stops in first-class entertainment! Last night's Polari was not "officially" themed, but there was definitely a thread of smuttiness going on (thank heavens!)...

Our opening reader was newcomer Achilleas Mavrellis, a scholar of ancient history (in particular the decadent Byzantine epoch), who has only recently tried his hand at fiction rather than his usual non-fictional works. His piece - about the burgeoning love between two male heroes in the turbulent 9th century - was a fascinating read. In his own words:
"King of Lies covers the drama behind real events in which a bisexual Macedonian peasant became Emperor Basil I. This is one of the largely forgotten turning points in European history where, in the space of a few decades, the Slavic tribes emerged from pre-literacy, the Moslem invasion of Europe was averted, the Church split and the Pope cemented his primacy through falsehood."
Mr Mavrellis' fabulous website is called Empire Forever.

Taking a leap from the depths of obscure historical queeniness to more recent times, the rather cute (in a "Noah Claypole" sort of way) Nathan Evans (who is the man behind some of David Hoyle's shows at the Vauxhall Tavern as well as being a writer) related his tale of a naive gay lad and his unrequited passion (in all senses) for a punk eco-warrior during the riots around Parliament. Stirring stuff! You can read the entire story on his website.



Mitzi Szereto is a very inventive writer indeed... Not for her the grey world of reality - oh no, she turns beloved fairy tales into randy filth! In her fertile imagination, "The Giant Turnip" is certainly no vegetable, and princesses are required to scrub each other's lady gardens in the bath... In Sleeping Beauty's Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales is available from Foyles.

After the break it was time for a couple of the "regulars" to take a turn. First off was the lovely Nick Alexander, reading from his brand new novel The Case of the Missing Boyfriend. This is a marvellous story, told (disconcertingly for a male reader) in the first person perspective by a female advertising executive, and features her gay best friend and their adventures in the snooty, queeny, bitchy world of art exhibitions - fabulous! Buy it today!

One of our favourite readers V.G. (Val) Lee didn't disappoint us again last night - starting as she did by admitting she finds it difficult to write about sex ("I prefer to tell stories about hot water bottles"). Yet her story A Slice of Melon is certainly lesbian erotica - even if in a typically unconventional tone:
"When Kelly said, “Fancy a shag?” Laura replied, “Don’t mind if I do,” which seemed to satisfy Kelly, although Laura wasn’t too happy with her own choice of words. "Don’t mind if I do" was what Norma Next Door said to offers of tea, cake, Pringles, and Bacardi and Coke. Fortunately Kelly didn’t know Norma Next Door."


We love Val, and her anthology of short stories (from whence this one comes) As You Step Outside is excellent, and highly recommended!

Headlining this event was the erudite and eloquent Michael Arditti, making a most welcome return visit. He read a passage from his tour-de-force novel Pagan and her Parents - a stirring account of the court battle between the grandparents of the eponymous child Pagan and the gay man who was designated by her deceased mother to be the child's guardian.

I was gripped - and I really must get hold of a copy of the book at some stage just to see how the story ends up! Read more (and order a copy) via Michael's website.



A cracker of an evening - and once again we had a "Polari virgin" with us in the shape of our friend Maria, who thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the experience as much as Paul, Jim, John-John and I!

Roll on the next one - and hopefully the first of Paul B's promised "surprise readers" - on Monday 11 April, with (so far announced) Adam Mars-Jones, Issy Festing, Michael Menzies, Timothy Blackwell, Dmitry Kuzmin and Paul Bailey.

http://www.myspace.com/polarigaysalon

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to do it



Ninety-five years ago today, a certain Henry Haag James was born (in a trunk?) into a family of circus musicians.

It would seem he was destined to find fame and fortune as a musician from a very early age - and true enough, Harry James (as he became known) became one of the most successful bandleaders to emerge out of the Golden Age of swing.

Among his accolades, Mr James:
- outsold even Glenn Miller in the early 1940s.
- was the first big band-leader to employ a little-known crooner by the name of Francis Albert Sinatra.
- went on to marry one of America's sweethearts Miss Betty Grable!

Originally a player in the Benny Goodman orchestra, Harry James hit the big time with his own big band with the massive hit You Made Me Love You, and it was his trumpet playing that was featured in the Bix Biederbecke biographical movie Young Man With A Horn (a magnificent film featuring Kirk Douglas, Doris Day, and Lauren Bacall playing a very early screen lesbian(!)).

Hundreds of top-selling records and film appearances ensured Mr James' star always shone, and he was performing right up to his untimely death in 1983. His music lives on in the form of the "Harry James Orchestra" led by trumpeter Fred Radke, which continues to tour today.

RIP a musical genius.





Harry James Orchestra website

Monday, 14 March 2011

"Across my mind a thousand times, in my mind confusion"

Where do these weekends go?!

Anyhow to cheer our weary souls as we trudge back to work on this Tacky Music Monday, I have some Taffy music for you...

Enjoy!



I can't wait another day
without you I'm crazy
In the morning I can't work,
in the night I can't sleep

Now my life is in the dark
deep inside I'm sighing
On my bed, I hear a song
playing on the radio.

And now the radio is my mind's new video
Because your memories are revived there only so.
And now the radio is a film of my life's show
My mind goes back to all the good times I recall.

Whoa-oh, My guy
the deejay after midnight
Whoa-oh, My guy
on the midnight radio

Whoa-oh, My guy
the deejay after midnight
I love my radio,
The midnight radio

Radio plays another song
and your voice reminds me.
Across my mind a thousand times
in my mind confusion

And now the radio is my mind's new video
Because your memories are revived there only so.
And now the radio is a film of my life's show
My mind goes back to all the good times I recall.

Whoa-oh, My guy
the deejay after midnight
Whoa-oh, My guy
on the midnight radio

Whoa-oh, My guy
the deejay after midnight
I love my radio,
The midnight radio

Radio plays another song
and your voice reminds me.
Across my mind a thousand times
in my mind confusion

Whoa-oh, My guy
the deejay after midnight
Whoa-oh, My guy
on the midnight radio

Whoa-oh, My guy
the deejay after midnight
I love my radio,
The midnight radio

Sunday, 13 March 2011

There’ll be pilgrims come to stare...



The gardens at Dolores Delargo Towers are showing signs of Spring...



Quiet please! Kindly don’t impede my concentration
I am sitting in the garden thinking thoughts of propagation
Of sowing and of nurturing the fruits my work will bear
And the place won’t know what’s hit it
Once I get up from me chair.

I’m at the planning stages now, if you should need to ask
And if I’m looking weary, it’s the rigours of the task
While the creation of a garden is a strain, as you can guess
So if my eyes should close, it isn’t sleep of course, it’s stress.

Oh, the mower I will cherish, and the tools I will oil
The dark, nutritious compost I will stroke into the soil
My sacrifice, devotion and heroic aftercare
Will leave you green with envy
Once I get up from me chair.

I’ve got lots of leeks to dibble and my runner beans to stake
And I want everything hung up – the garden hoe, the garden rake
I’ll disinfect the green house, when I’ve finished in the shed
Then, beside my faded roses, I will snip off every head.

I will excavate the bindweed, treat the moss upon the lawn
That hairy bittercress will curse the day that it was born
I will rise against the foe, and in the fight we will be matched
And the cabbage caterpillars they will curse the day they hatched.

Oh the branches I will layer and the cuttings I will take
Let other fellows dig a pond, I shall dig a LAKE

My garden – what a showpiece!
There’ll be pilgrims come to stare
And I’ll bow and take the credit
Once I get up from me chair.


Pam Ayres

"I'm a hero wid coward's legs"

Puckoon the play

On Wednesday we trouped off to the Leicester Square Theatre to see the new stage adaptation of Spike Milligan's Puckoon.

This has always been a favourite book of mine. I was a great fan of the mad Mr Milligan from an early age - I loved his poetry collection A Little Pot-Boiler, his war memoirs (Hitler - My Part in his Downfall et al) and his truly off-the-wall comedy series Q (especially Q8 in 1978).

But Puckoon was something else! Spike's first (and only) novel, it is a madcap account of the chaos that ensues in a small Irish village - where the chuch clock has been stuck at twenty past four for ever, so at least it's right twice a day! - during the partition in 1924, when the new border between North and South cuts right through the community.

In the ensuing anarchy, Mr Milligan's bizarre collection of characters - Father Rudden, Foggerty, Rafferty, Mrs O'Toole, Dr Goldstein, Sgt. McGillikuddie and the rest - exercise what little remains of their wits in a series of plots to outfox the incompetent border patrols.

In this stage version, the mass of characters is played brilliantly by a cast of only six actors, whose quck-change transformations between roles is hilarious. Their obvious glee in playing up to the shambolic feel of the story - "bickering" over whose turn it is to play what character, leaving the narrator alone on stage on occasions having to play two roles, the nods to the audience - is a joy to behold.

Increasingly tangled webs unfold - booze is now thirty percent cheaper in the corner of the pub that is now in the North so everyone is crowded into a two-foot square space, the church is separated from its own graveyard so burials have to be clandestinely organised, and the IRA has spotted an opportunity to smuggle bombs - and throughout it all our lead protagonist Dan Milligan tries to avoid trouble, work, and everything else (including a runaway black panther from the local circus)...

"With a roof over his head he had ceased to work, living off his pension and his wits, both hopelessly inadequate."

"The Lord said: 'Six days shalt thou labour and on the seventh thou shalt rest.' He hadn't reckoned wid the unions. Forty-eight hours a week shalt thou labour and on the seventh thou shalt get double time. Ha. It was more profitable to be in the unions.

This is a show that appeals on many levels. People familiar with the story of Puckoon (like me) will be delighted at the way its anarchic qualities are brought to the stage; people not so familiar with it will nonetheless have a great and very entertaining night out; and the visual humour of the show means that even kids can enjoy it.

I highly recommend this show (currently only on a short run in Leicester Square) wherever it pops up!

Big Telly Theatre Company's Puckoon website

Puckoon the book

If you have never read the book, Puckoon is available on Amazon