Saturday, 31 May 2014

A little Elysium









Been busy today in the garden, digging out plants we will be moving to our new abode in a month's time.

Here's something appropriately pastoral, to ease my aching limbs - the Elysian Fields from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice:



Camp? Moi?

Friday, 30 May 2014

Factory boys



I listened last night to a fascinating interview with that marvellous musical maestro Pete Waterman (of Stock Aitken Waterman and PWL fame), as part of BBC Radio 2's Paper Cuts series. Among the gems of gossip, and the insight into a career led hugely in the bitter gaze of the tabloid press, I was reminded that as well as providing a star vehicle for some of our faves - Kylie, Bananarama, Mel and Kim, Hazell Dean, Dead or Alive, Divine and the rest - the boys of The Hit Factory were also accomplished musical performers themselves.

As we lurch, thankfully, towards another weekend, let's get a bit funky with the only solo hit by Stock Aitken Waterman (the original song upon which the more famous Pump Up The Volume by MARRS was based) - Roadblock, and... Thank Disco It's Friday!



Have a good one!

Stock Aitken and Waterman on Wikipedia

PWL official website

Thursday, 29 May 2014

I have nothing to complain about











Lordy. Rupert Everett is 55 years old today.

I had a major crush on him when his career first launched, with Another Country in 1984 - when he and I were both mere babes. I watched with horror how the beauteous ingénue began being subsumed in the morass of Hollywood (with its penchant for Botox and B-movie roles), then breathed a sigh of relief when his savage self-destructiveness propelled him double-quick back out again.

It didn't exactly help matters when he announced on daytime TV in America - land of the hypocritical "new puritans" - how his student days were supplemented by prostitution; nor did his tirade of celebrity slaggings-off in his autobiography Red Carpets And Other Banana Skins assist his safe passage. It was probably unwise to describe former "BFF" Queen Madge as a "whiny old barmaid" who played with her boyfriend's penis in public...

I thought it was brilliant, actually - and I admire Mr Everett for being such a wonderful old-school rebellious bitch.

He's settled more-or-less into a life of stage stardom and cerebral documentary-presenting roles these days, and we certainly don't see enough of him.

And yes. I still would.

But he's still full of surprises - who even knew he sang?!



(...after a fashion.)

"I'm a gay man who came from the last years of illegality. That focused my whole character. I think it focused everyone's character in a way. You saw yourself as outside of the main structure."

"Being gay and being a woman has one big thing in common, which is that we both become invisible after the age of 42. Who wants a gay 50-year-old? No one, let me tell you."

"These awful middle-class queens - which is what the gay movement has become - are so tiresome. It's all Abercrombie & Fitch and strollers."

“I have nothing to complain about... except maybe people wondering if a queen like me can be butch-it-up enough to play a convincing straight man.”

"You're not allowed to be an eccentric in the world, you have to fit in."


Rupert James Hector Everett (born 29th May 1959)

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Gang wars, psychics in Torquay, rubbish lesbians, the Hollywood closet and a mini Joanna Lumley



Paul Burston, our host at "London's leading gay literary salon" wasn't happy when - opening the evening's proceedings dressed as a gangster - he appeared to be "shooting blanks" (his toy gun failed to go pop when it was supposed to - oo-er). However, it didn't dampen the enthusiastic welcome that I, Paul, Little Tony, Emma, Toby, Bryanne, Simon, Sexy Lexi, Val, Jane and a huge crowd of the great and the good of the glitterati gave to the latest outing of our favourite cultural evening - Polari.



First to the lectern was the rather delicious Kevin Franke, runner up in the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook short story competition 2014.



His tale A Visitor was a most bizarre fantasy indeed, involving an unexpected houseguest, in the (remarkably miniaturised) form of one of our national treasures:
And that’s that: Joanna Lumley is living at the bottom of my bed. She’s made her home in the red wicker basket the cat used to sleep in. She says it’s ever so comfortable but I struggle to understand why she would want to live at the bottom of my bed. I can always tell which room she’s in because the cat will be outside the door, squatting, his eyes downcast as if he’s either plotting murder or considering suicide. He has taken to shitting in the bedroom.

You couldn’t wish for anyone more charming to live at the bottom of your bed, however her smoking does bother me. I wake up to smoke-signals rising. ‘This is a non-smoking house,’ I tell her. ‘Of course it is, Darling,’ she says, gently stroking my left cheek with the back of her hand. One of my trainers is now an overflowing ashtray at the side of her basket-home. I empty it when she’s out.

She’s always perfectly turned out. New outfits appear all the time. A lot of whites, creams, with splashes of colour in the form of expensive-looking scarves. A burnt orange, a sunflower yellow, royal blue. I decide to iron a pile of my own clothes, which have been languishing in a heap on the floor for months, and soon it feels normal again to put on a fresh shirt every day...

...She leaves one day while I’m at work. I find her bedding folded up neatly on top of the bed, the room aired to rid it of any stale smoke, and a note:

Darling Man.
I hope you don’t mind.
JL xxx

An imprint of her red lips. I can smell her perfume. Alongside it a pile of envelopes: red-lettered reminders, long ignored by me, opened by her, a cheque with her signature left on top of them. I sit on the edge of my bed, looking down at the red basket, already reclaimed by the cat, curled up in it, opening his eyes briefly to squint at me knowingly: the intruder gone. For a moment I have an image of a Hello! magazine feature about Joanna Lumley, one of those ‘Stars in their Homes’ pieces. I picture a multi-page spread of her all dolled up, sexy yet classy, holding a glass of champagne, photographed living in some random bloke’s bedroom in an old cat basket at the bottom of his bed.
Impressive.



Following on from the world of fantasy, we traversed to the world of murder mystery (albeit a distinctly off-beat one), courtesy of the utterly adorable Helen Smith (the night's "token heterosexual" according to Mr B).

Reading from her latest hit novel Beyond Belief, her story revolved around the mass gathering of psychics, cult members and spiritualists in the - ahem - exotic climes of Torquay for a conference; and the prediction by one of their notable number that a murder would take place during the event. Hilariously transposing the portentous pronouncements of the future-telling characters with the day-to-day bewilderment of Torquay's assembled hen parties - it's very funny stuff!

Here's Helen herself, magnanimously sharing one of the secrets of literary success:



Putting all tittering aside with a bang, V.A. (Veronica) Fearon launched us into a quite terrifying gang-war chase sequence from her (first) book The Girl with the Treasure Chest.



Thankfully, her second extract introduced us to the woman whose interventions were aimed at breaking this cycle of violence (Dani) and her cheeky way of seduction, of Susanna, at a family wedding. An intriguing insight into the book; it does sound very promising...

A good way to round-up part one, methinks.



Sarah Westwood describes herself as a "Rubbish Lesbian". So much so, she even has her own column of that name in Diva magazine - and now, some of her often hysterically funny musings have been published in book form. Including this one:
I do think it's important to be 'Loud and Proud', but it's possible I might have taken that sentiment too literally. I've just broadcast the fact I'm a lesbian to half of Currys Wembley. I wouldn't mind, but I only went in there to test speakers.

I blame the store assistant. He was the one who instructed me to try the sound of my chosen speakers for size. I plugged my phone in, scrolled down to a random playlist, and hit play. He whacked up the volume and gave me a look as if to say, "Just wait; you're going to be blown away." There was a momentary pause then a woman in a very deep voice came lustily over the speakers saying, "Sapphic Seductions, a collection of erotic short stories…" I'm blown away.

At first I just stare at the dude from Currys and he stares back. I had no idea that this racy little oeuvre was coming from my phone; I thought it must have been a mistake. I was thinking, "Any minute now Rihanna will kick in". But instead it continued, "I could feel the soft silk of my blouse tighten against my chest as I slowly arched my back in…" I glance down and notice my phone is now helpfully displaying an image of a naked woman and the title Sapphic Seductions. Oh hell. I'm wishing I'd gone for the cheaper, less audible speakers, or better still headphones.

I know exactly how this happened. A few years ago I was stuck in a Chicago airport lounge with a lot of stuffy businessmen. A heady mix of boredom and Bloody Marys prompted me to search iTunes for lesbian content and I downloaded this audiobook. It was a bit of fun at the time and I've never listened to it since. In fact I had forgotten about it's existence. This audiobook has been languishing in my iPhone for the last six years like some lesbian curse, just waiting for an opportunity to be heard again publicly. Why now, audiobook? Why Currys Wembley?

Coming out as a lesbian is one thing, but coming out as a lesbian fan of erotic audiobooks in a high street electrical store is unconscionable. I would have some of my guilty pleasure music: Steps, Celine Dion, or even Chris de Burgh. I frantically fumble with my phone in an attempt to silence my Sapphic Seductions, but I'm panicked and fat fingering. I can't make it stop. The couple in the aisle opposite, who have been loudly arguing over extending a television warranty stop what they're doing and listen. Everyone from Home Cinema to Audio falls silent. All that can be heard is the sound of a breathy voiced narrator and her tale of lesbian office 'romance'. Oh God, where the hell's Rihanna when you need her?
We had tears pouring down our faces with that one...



Our headliner Matt Cain - cute, in a camp-Max-Headroom-sort-of-way - was formerly culture editor for Channel 4 News (and claims he was the inspiration for a gay character in the BBC piss-take comedy W1A) and since leaving, has turned his hand to writing. His début book Shot Through The Heart is described (by the author) as "a romantic comedy about a Hollywood actress who falls in love with a paparazzi photographer; and as if that situation isn’t tricky enough the pap starts getting jealous about his new girlfriend’s relationship with her handsome co-star, who he doesn’t realise is a closeted gay man."

It was the meanderings of the latter, Billy Spencer, who formed the crux of the extract he read for us; and the arrogant self-love, the playing-up to deluded yet adoring fans, the shallowness of Billy's hiding behind the closet door all rang very true even in today's world - where fame at all costs is all that seems to matter, truth be damned. Very well-observed, very funny and pithy, I think this bodes very well for a first book, and the Polari audience appeared to think so too.

Depressingly, the evening was over all too soon. However, there is some very good news afoot for Polari, as Paul announced - thanks to an Arts Council grant, the "show will be going on the road" this year, with Pop-Up Polari events up and down the country. So look out for the literary gays appearing at a venue near you!

Speaking of which, I am planning to attend the first of these a week on Saturday (7th June), as Paul Burston, VG Lee, Alex Hopkins and Sophia Blackwell turf up at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival (how posh), just down the road from Dolores Delargo Towers!

June's (regular) Polari is on Wednesday 25th June 2014 at the Southbank, and features Julie Bindel, Alexis Gregory, Barbara Marsh, Michele MacFarlane and Rachel Holmes.

Polari website

Princessery



Happy 46th birthday today to Our Princess Kylie!

She's been a bit of a busy girl of late, popping up all over the place - from her stint as a judge and mentor on The Voice (no idea; never watch it), to the Cannes Film Festival, to showing TV irritant Alan Carr how to "Sexercise" in heels, to (bizarrely) presenting a silly contest called "Innuendo Bingo" with the lovely Hugh Jackman on Radio 1...

She hardly has time to promote her new album Kiss Me Once (wink, wink).

Anyhoo - courtesy of Yahoo's Eleanor Cairns, here's five facts about our girl, by way of a birthday celebration:
1. Kylie and Jason go way back

Thought Jason and Kylie first met as Scott and Charlene on Neighbours? Think again, friends.

Both actors came to prominence on the iconic Aussie soap from 1986, but they'd already shared the screen. Back in 1980 a fresh-faced Kylie and a cheeky Jason appeared on screen as brother and sister on Australian airport-set soap Skyways.

Yes, they played siblings, before becoming lovers on Neighbours (and in real life) *shudders*

2. Kylie the boomerang

It's fair to say most of us Brits hadn't heard the name Kylie before Ms Minogue came into our lives.

However, in her native land of Australia, the name has another meaning; boomerang.

Kylie is an Aboriginal word for the iconic hunting stick, but rather than following the curved line that we most associate with boomerangs, these larger kylies go in straight lines when thrown and can kill.

You have been warned.

3. Kylie the poet

Kylie isn't just a talented singer; she can also recite words without a tune.

She took part in a Poetry Jam at the Royal Albert Hall in 1995, reading her I Should Be So Lucky lyrics out as a poem. How on earth did this come about?

Well, it was all down to Nick Cave. After singing their Where The Wild Roses Grow duet, Nick encouraged her to take part in the poetry shindig, which Kylie described as "a most cathartic moment."

4. The Kylie Effect

Kylie's well-publicised breast cancer battle had a big effect on other Australian women.

Researcher Simon Chapman published findings of his study in the Medical Journal of Australia, which included the amazing figure that requests for breast screening rose by 40% following Kylie's diagnosis.

The phenomenon became known as the "Kylie effect".

5. Kylie has an honorary degree

Kylie earned an OBE in 2008 for services to music, but it wasn't music that got her an honorary degree.

In 2011, Anglia Ruskin University awarded the singer with an honorary Doctor of Health Science degree (D.H.Sc.) for raising awareness of breast cancer. She wore the fabulous hat at the ceremony.

For her contribution to enriching French culture, Kylie was also appointed as a Chevalier (knight) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France's highest cultural honour. Fancy.
Just this month, the divine Miss M has realeased a second single from Kiss Me Once - the Chic-influenced collaboration with that ubiquitous hat-wearer Pharrell Williams - I Was Gonna Cancel:



It is catchy, and very much in the retro-Disco zeitgeist, but I was rather disappointed with that song when I heard it on the album, and I can't say it has evolved into a favourite (after multiple listens). Even Kylie in the video looks bored.

Much, much better is the rather faboo single she has released to raise money for the One Note Against Cancer campaign (whereby you can "purchase one note" of the song, by way of a donation to the charity). Here's Crystallize:



Happy birthday, sweetie!

Kylie Ann Minogue, OBE (born 28th May 1968)

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Oh, those Turks



It's raining.

After the Bank Holiday, it's back to the daily grind.

I'm aching from digging up plants and cleaning and packing for the move.

Hey ho - let's take our minds off it with a trip (I wish) once again to the joys of 1960s jet-set glamour, in the company of Our Man in Istanbul!



[Music: Le Ragazze Dell'Arcipelago by Piero Umiliani]

Courtesy of the faboo Soft Tempo Lounge, of course.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Bank holidays are special days



It's another Bank Holiday Monday, and we are very grateful for that - even if it does mean another day of rain. One (yesterday was really sunny) out of three ain't bad, I suppose...

Anyhoo. Let's make the most of it and enjoy our bonus day off with something a bit jolly, from a lady who would have celebrated her 96th birthday today - the ever-delightful Miss Peggy Lee!

On this Tacky Music Monday, here she is with Danny Thomas in the 1952 remake of The Jazz Singer - Its a Very Special Day!



Peggy Lee (born Norma Deloris Egstrom, 26th May 1920 – 21st January 2002)

Sunday, 25 May 2014

That is just so typically me





On this, the 75th birthday for the very lovely Serena (Sir Ian) McKellen, I thought I'd feature a little-known recording of his version of Britney Spears' Oops I Did It Again!


[Needless to say, this is not actually Serena - it is the work of a genius Aussie comedian called Alex Gabbott...]

Many happy returns to to the gayest of our Knights of the Realm!

Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE (born 25th May 1939)

Saturday, 24 May 2014

You offer shelter at a price much too dear



The Bank Holiday weekend has opened just as we might expect - rain, rain, and more rain. Hey ho.

A three-day break gives us a chance to get really started on the big task in hand - for we (through circumstances not of our own making, nor by choice) have to "up sticks" and relocate once more; to a new Dolores Delargo Towers...

Since the news was broken to us (unceremoniously, out of the blue, by our house-sharer - on the morning of the Eurovision party, I might add, in an email), we have been gritting our teeth, and have embarked upon the inevitably tedious task of cleaning down and boxing, bagging or bubble-wrapping our gargantuan collection of CDs, books, pictures and the assembled ephemera that goes with what we call "home". That task continues bit-by-bit for the next few weeks till we move - garden plants and all.

It is tiring, but sometimes surprisingly rewarding - as once more, forgotten memorabilia briefly surfaces from the backs of drawers before being secreted away again, waiting for its next location...

Let us take our minds off all this for a while with another "timeslip moment" back to the carefree days of thirty years ago. From this week in 1984, here's the very calming sounds of Everything But The Girl and the sublime Each and Everyone:



If you ever feel the time
To drop me a loving line
Maybe you should just think twice
I don't wait around on your advice

You tell me I can go this far oh, but no more
Try to show me heaven and then slam the door
You offer shelter at a price much too dear
And your kind of love's the kind that soon disappears

So don't brag how you have changed
And everything's been rearranged
I thought all that was over and done
But I still get the same from each and everyone

Being kind is just a way to keep me under your thumb
And I can cry because that's something we've always done
You tell me I'm free of the past now and all those lies
Then offer me the same thing in a different guise

You tell me I can go this far oh, but no more
Try to show me heaven and then slam the door
You offer shelter at a price much too dear
And your kind of love's the kind that soon disappears


Ah... That's better.

Everything But The Girl official website

Friday, 23 May 2014

So here's to you, Mr Carrington



Ah... Desmond Carrington. The UK's (possibly the World's) oldest DJ/radio presenter - he celebrates his 88th birthday today, and I am listening to his gorgeously nostalgic radio show as we speak...

Here's one from the archives:



Many, many happy returns!

Mr Carrington's show The Music Goes Round is on every Friday evening on BBC Radio 2.

Desmond Carrington (born 23rd May 1926)

God help the man who gets the...



It's almost the end of another gruelling week, and we have our Spring Bank Holiday long weekend to look forward to - roll on 5 o'clock!

Meanwhile, it is the birthday today of none other than the incomparable Miss Joan Collins, so we really should charge our glasses with the finest Krug, and begin our party celebrations with a couple of numbers from the movies that re-launched the lady's career in those hedonistic days of the late 70s...

...and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Here (with extensive footage from the film, featuring the luscious Oliver Tobias) is Biddu's The Stud:



And here's the sequel's theme tune by The Olympic Runners, The Bitch:



Hope your weekend's full of bitches and studs!

Joan Henrietta Collins OBE (born 23rd May 1933)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The why and wherefore I'm alive







Nicknamed the "French Frank Sinatra", at only 5' 3", luxuriously-eyebrowed and a bit craggy, Monsieur Charles Aznavour was always an unlikely sex symbol. Yet, in a similar vein to other confusing objects of female passion such as Demis Roussos and Barry White, M Aznavour's chants d'amour made him an internationally-adored superstar.

Today, the last of the great French chansonniers (although he is actually Armenian) celebrates his 90th birthday - and here are just a few examples of the great man's genius, by way of a celebration...

How about this for a slice of fabulousity? Here's the man himself duetting with his former lover, protégé and lifelong friend Liza Minnelli - Le Temps (There is a Time):



Marc Almond - no stranger to a chanson or two in his time - pays fitting tribute with his sublime version of one of my favourites What Makes A Man A Man:



Shirley Bassey (of course) performs the possibly definitive rendition of Yesterday When I Was Young (another cherished song here at Dolores Delargo Towers):



And finally, here's his classic song that launched a thousand British romantic movies, She. [Forgive the Xmas trees!]



Facts about M Aznavour:
  • He has written over a thousand songs, many of which have have been recorded by an astonishing array of performers such as Edith Piaf, Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli, Fred Astaire, Bob Dylan, Bing Crosby, Sting and Elvis Costello.
  • His most famous song (over here, anyway) She was a million-seller in Britain in 1974 but apparently failed to sell at all in France.
  • As well as myriad duets through the years with the likes of Nana Mouskouri, Liza Minnelli, Line Renaud, Elton John, Carole King and Julio Iglesias, in 1987 he embarked upon an immensely successful American tour with none other than Pia Zadora(!).
  • After trying his hand at operettas in the 60s, the singer wrote a musical about the life of French painter Toulouse-Lautrec, which premiered at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London in April 2000.
  • In 1998 CNN and readers of Time magazine chose Aznavour as the entertainer of the century, ahead of Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.
  • Despite embarking on a "farewell tour" in the 90s, he is still performing; just last October he sang at the Royal Albert Hall and his performance earned outstanding reviews.
  • He is one of the few writers whose songs can make me cry.
Joyeux anniversaire!

Charles Aznavour (born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian, 22nd May 1924)

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Go-Go-Go



Time, methinks, for a little musical interlude...

A recent discovery by the ever-lovely Donna Lethal, let's all Dancy Go Go!



Now, that should make us all feel better...

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Well, it ain't that Barbie doll



Miss Cherilyn Sarkisian, who celebrates her 68th birthday today (and shares it with that other outré Patron Saint, Miss Grace Jones, who is 66), has done many a duet with other divas and wannabees over the years.

But few were as unlikely - or as downright odd - as this.

From Cher's TV show way back in 1975, her she is... with David Bowie!



Happy birthday, indeed!

Cher (born 20th May 1946)

Monday, 19 May 2014

King of the Sequins



A beautiful sunny weekend has passed too soon, and we shriek with horror at the prospect of being trapped in a stuffy office staring at the sunshine through tinted glass for the next five days.

Never mind, on this Tacky Music Monday I have a sequin-filled treat to take our minds off it, courtesy of the completely OTT Liberace - who would have celebrated his 95th birthday on Saturday - and his little tribute to the island of Aruba.

It doesn't get much camper than this...



Have a glittering week, peeps!

Władziu Valentino Liberace (16th May 1919 – 4th February 1987)

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Very, Very Much



Today is IDAHo (or IDAHoT, as it is now known) - the International Day Against Homophobia (and Transphobia).

Every year, we in the West can see more and more enlightenment among governments in Europe and the Americas (equal marriage legislation is rapidly becoming the "norm", or so it seems; despite the best efforts of loonies standing for local council elections), yet the picture worldwide - the medieval fundamentalism rife in Islamic countries, the fomenting of hatred by Evangelical churches in Africa (and elsewhere) and, most worryingly, the rise of right-wing tyranny and thuggery in the countries of Eastern Europe (in which we held such hope when the iron grip of the Soviets was toppled) - our gay brethren still face a daily struggle just to survive.

Just today comes the announcement that a parade in Russia to celebrate the victory of Conchita Wurst in Eurovision has been banned.

The Guardian, admirably (it has always been a bit of a "friend of the gays"), has published a rather fascinating set of stats:
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is illegal in almost 80 countries, and in at least five of them is still punishable by death. [On] the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, explore the legal situation for LGBT people around sex, marriage or civil partnerships, adoption, workplace discrimination and hate crime by region, country and overall population.

Read and absorb the facts
I shan't upset myself, or you, dear reader, with my usual list of examples of the homophobic crimes that are being committed on a daily basis in such benighted regimes as Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, Belarus, Malaysia and Jamaica (and the rest) against our peers. That remarkable campaigner, drag queen Panti Bliss sums it up so much more succinctly:



Instead, I shall rely - as I always do on this day - upon the otherwise un-admirable Lily Allen (and, of course, the myriad contributors to this video that uses her song as its rallying cry) to send out a message to homophobes the world over.

Fuck You (Very, Very Much)!



International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Friday, 16 May 2014

Make me queen for a night



It's a brilliant sunny morning - and all the forecasts suggest the looming weekend will be glorious.

Plenty to celebrate there - so let us grab the bubble machine, get our glitteriest make-up and our jump-suits on, jiggle onto the under-lit dancefloor, and start the party!

In the company of the fabulous Miss Claudja Barry - and her Boogie Woogie Dancing Shoes - we can do little else...

Thank Disco It's Friday!



Such excellent dancers.

Have a great weekend, whatever you do!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

I had to interrupt and stop this conversation



News today that the conglomerate of Dixons, Currys and PC World has agreed a merger with fellow retailer Carphone Warehouse to create a new one-stop-shop for smartphones, computers and - ahem - washing machines prompts me to re-visit a classic (and appropriate) mash-up.

Also continuing our celebrations of forty years of both Abba at Eurovision and the birth of Blondie, here they are together (again), in the brilliant mix by Matt Pop - it's Hanging on the Ring Ring!



Ringing in the ears...

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

I've got no defence



FORTY YEARS? Heavens...

From Out magazine:
Blondie formed on New York City’s Lower East Side in 1974, a foursome led by Harry and her boyfriend, guitarist Chris Stein, after Harry did time as a secretary and Playboy Bunny.

Their first album, Blondie, was a brilliant straddle of pop and parody, a tough, ironic update of ’60s girl groups, featuring Harry singing from the perspective of a street hooker trying to seduce the cop who busted her (on X Offender), telling a lover “I could give you some head / And shoulders to lie on” (on Look Good in Blue), and celebrating Kung Fu and monster movies. It all was arch, uncommonly smart, and incredibly catchy.

The band was aware that they had a significant gay audience “from the very beginning,” says Harry proudly, recalling how they played one of the early Gay Pride events in New York City.
Indeed, one particular budding queen languishing in out-of-the-way Wales first encountered Miss Harry on the sadly-missed The Old Grey Whistle Test thirty-six years ago - and fell truly, madly, deeply in love with her style and sassiness! I have adored her, and the band, ever since.

And, from that very same ground-breaking 1978 TV appearance, here's Debs and the boys with I Am Always Touched By Your Presence Dear:



Was it destiny?
I don't know yet
Was it just by chance? Could this be Kismet?
Something in my consciousness told me you'd appear
Now I'm always touched by your presence dear

When we play at cards you use an extra sense (it's really not cheating)
You can read my hand, I've got no defence
When you sent your messages whispered loud and clear
I am always touched by your presence dear

Floating past the evidence of possibilities
We could navigate together, psychic frequencies
Coming into contact with outer entities
We could entertain each one with our theosophies

Stay awake at night and count your R.E.M.'s
When you're talking with your super friends
Levitating lovers in the secret stratosphere
I am still in touch with your presence dear
I am still in touch with your presence dear
I am still in touch with your presence dear, dear, dear, dear, dear


To celebrate Blondie's 40th anniversary, BBC Radio 2 will broadcast a documentary dedicated to the band tonight at 10pm - and I shall be listening!

Blondie is releasing a special 40th anniversary album featuring a new collection of songs entitled Ghosts of Download and an album entitled Deluxe Redux: Greatest Hits, featuring brand new studio recordings of the band’s biggest songs. Read more on the Blondie official website.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Fierce rulin' Diva



It's Bea Arthur's birthday!

Say "cheers", or she will kill you.

Here is the magnificent lady herself, belting the hell out of Hard Hearted Hannah - go, girl!



“No one knew what a sense of humour - real sense of humour - Bea Arthur had. They always think of her as very fierce and austere and she did give that image. She could be tough, she could be really tough, but she had a funny sense of humour and she could tell a joke like nobody else.” - Betty White

Beatrice "Bea" Arthur (13th May 1922 – 25th April 2009)

Monday, 12 May 2014

Mitzi's Wild!



After a fabulous party this weekend for Eurovision, and a well-needed day of recovery, it's all over and back to reality...

However, we can always rely upon the boundless energy of Miss Mitzi Gaynor to lift our spirits on a Tacky Music Monday.

Here she is in her inimitable tribute to the 1920s - She's Running Wild!



Have a good week...

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Seeking rather than vengeance, retribution



For once, I am not shouting "we wuz robbed" after the results of the Eurovision Song Contest last night.

Unlike previous years, our gang had made very little connection with the UK's entrant Molly Smitten-Downes or her forgettable "anthem" Children of the Universe. In truth she, and it, had little charisma, and instead - unanimously - all twelve of us were rooting for the lovely Conchita Wurst and her sub-James-Bond-theme Rise Like A Phoenix.

And our girl won it! The cheering here at Dolores Delargo Towers was deafening, needless to say.



Every year we always do the full shebang - dressing up (Hils was our own "bearded lady"; Sally was our Agnetha), booze and food from countries across Eurovisionland, and fill in our scorecards (in between excessive bouts of drinking, of course).



And here are the Top 5 from our jury:

Austria
Greece
Germany
Italy
United Kingdom

Compared to the real final five:

Austria
Netherlands
Sweden
Armenia
Hungary

There were some real differences (apart from Conchita). Nobody liked the Dutch one (a direct rip-off of Every Step You Take by The Police); The Swedish entry was OK, but just not good enough for us; Armenia was a Celine Dion song in the making (and no-one likes her!); and everyone absolutely despised the Hungarian child-abuse song.

There were, inevitably, a clutch of bizarre and bewildering songs and performances (it just wouldn't be Eurovsion without them!), including the French song about growing a moustache (which came last), a man on a hamster wheel, a trapeze artist, some hunky boys on a trampoline and (from Poland) several large-breasted young "ladies" jiggling over milk churns - in an effort to detract attention from the execrable mess of a song, no doubt. Russia was booed at every opportunity (which was unfortunate for the plucky 17-year-old twins who had to represent that benighted regime); Graham Norton made bitchy comments (on San Marino: "The population is 31,000. Obviously they've clubbed together to buy her a pair of ruche curtains"); Belarus gave douze points to Russia, Moldova gave twelve to Romania, and Georgia twelve to Armenia. Business as usual...



As all such events at ours inevitably do, the melée went on - messily - into the wee small hours. I finally bagged and binned all the empty bottles, abandoned glasses and munched morsels and got to bed at 4.30am, not rising again (like a phoenix) till 2 this afternoon(!).



It was a marvellous party, indeed.

And here's our Conchita!


Waking in the rubble
Walking over glass
Neighbours say we’re trouble
Well that time has passed

Peering from the mirror
No, that isn’t me
Stranger getting nearer
Who can this person be

You wouldn’t know me at all today
From the fading light I fly

Rise like a phoenix
Out of the ashes
Seeking rather than vengeance
Retribution
You were warned
Once I’m transformed
Once I’m reborn
You know I will rise like a phoenix
But you’re my flame

Go about your business
Act as if you’re free
No one could have witnessed
What you did to me

Cause you wouldn’t know me today
And you have got to see
To believe
From the fading light I fly

Rise like a phoenix
Out of the ashes
Seeking rather than vengeance
Retribution
You were warned
Once I’m transformed
Once I’m reborn

I rise up to the sky
You threw me down but
I’m gonna fly

And rise like a phoenix
Out of the ashes
Seeking rather than vengeance
Retribution
You were warned
Once I’m transformed
Once I’m reborn
You know I will rise like a phoenix
But you’re my flame


Post-Eurovison analysis sarcasm courtesy of Euan Ferguson in The Guardian.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

She's got her lipstick on; here I come, da da dum



I have been preparing for the grand Dolores Delargo Towers Eurovision Party since first thing this morning (well, it was early for me anyway!). I am knackered, but the place looks fab, and very brightly coloured indeed (flags everywhere!).

Time for a sit down, a glass of cider, a fag... and JEDWARD!!!



More than you ever need to know about this song is on Wikipedia.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Step four: Larger than life is just the right size*



Once again - even with Monday's Bank Holiday - this week has dragged. But we're almost there. Salvation is just around the corner...

It's the eve of the "Gay World Cup" aka the Eurovision Song Contest (yay!), and this evening I will be transforming Dolores Delargo Towers (a la To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar) into even more of a glitter-and-tinsel extravaganza than usual - in preparation for the Party Of The Year tomorrow night.

[We will, of course - cough, cough! - be cheering for the UK entry Molly and her - ahem - fabulous Children of the Universe, and not, of course, for Conchita Wurst. At all.]

To mark the start of the celebrations, here's the unsuccessful attempt to get nominated (at Melodifestivalen 2014) for this year's Swedish entry (typically, a cod-"power-ballad" was chosen instead) by the camp-tastic Alcazar:



Blame it on the Disco, indeed. In fact, Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a particularly sparkly weekend, dears...

[* If you didn't get the reference - and if not, shame on you - it's a quote from the aforementioned "To Wong Foo".]

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Espionage never looked so cool


House fave film "Another Country", a fictional account of the life of the young Guy Burgess

With Alan Bennett in the news (on the eve of his 80th birthday - more about that later, no doubt), reportedly getting right up the noses of Mein Kampf (aka the Daily Mail) again with his comments about the 60s Guy Burgess-Kim Philby-Donald Maclean spy scandal, I think it's time for an appropriately-themed musical interlude.

From the utterly groovy Soft Tempo Lounge, here's "Our Man in London"...



Music: One Note Samba (Samba De Uma Nota So) by The Brass Choir Conducted By Warren Kime

The great educator



It is the birthday of the greatest of all British televisual icons, Sir David Attenborough (88 today!).

Oh, how we love him - he can make even the most mundane of creatures infinitely fascinating. Even a caterpillar!



It will be a very, very sad day when he goes...

Many happy returns!

Sir David Frederick Attenborough, OM CH CVO CBE FRS FZS FSA (born 8th May 1926)

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

I can't get off my high horse



Timeslip moment again - and it's a corker!

An under-rated diva of our age had her greatest (and biggest selling solo) hit this week in 1984.

Thirty years ago, queens like us were all doing the arm-movements while miming along to this one (and some of us still do) - it's Jocelyn Brown and Somebody Else's Guy!



I-I-I-I.....can´t get off my high horse
And I can´t let you go
You are the one who
You are the one who makes me feel
So real
Yeah yeah yeah
Oh! What am I supposed to do
Oh! What am I supposed to do baby
When I'm so hooked up on you
Then I realise
Oh I realise
That you are somebody else´s guy

Oh yeah
Why you wanna do this to me boy?

Can you remember the times we spent together
Sharing our days in the sun
Then I found out that you were somebody else´s
lover
After all the plans we made, now were shattered

Still I can´t get off my high horse
I can´t let go
You are the one who makes me feel so real
Ooh what am I supposed to do
When I'm hooked so on you
Then I realise that you´re somebody else´s guy

That day in September, I'm sure you can remember
That´s when all the stuff hit the fan
You told me a lie and you didn't have an alibi
But baby yet I still cared

You know I loved you so baby that I can´t let go
no, no
You are the one who makes me feel so real
Ooh what am I supposed to do
When I'm hooked so on you
And realise you´re somebody else´s guy

You know I loved you so baby that I can´t let go
You are the one who makes me feel so real
Ooh what am I supposed to do
When I'm so hooked on you
And then I realise that you´re somebody else´s guy


Phew!

Jocelyn Brown official website

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Wakey, Wakey!



As I awake once again (after a fab long weekend) to the uncomfortable reality that we didn't win the Lottery and (with all that stress over the past couple of weeks worrying about redundancy) I do still have to get up for work, I think it's time for something cheerful.

On the 105th birthday of the ebullient Mr Billy Cotton, here he is with his band - many years before he/they became a mainstay of British light entertainment, and he coined his catchphrase "Wakey, Wakey!" - with a rather smutty little ditty, I Lost My Little Yo-yo:



Have a good week, my pretties...

Billy Cotton (6th May 1899 - 25th March 1969)

NB His son Bill Cotton went on to be the saviour of light entertainment at the BBC - read more.

Monday, 5 May 2014

A Sunny Faye


Anemone du Caen in the gardens at Dolores Delargo Towers

It is another Bank Holiday here in the UK, and potentially a sunny one - yay!

Speaking of sunny, it's not just Tacky Music Monday but also the birthday of Miss Alice Faye (who would have been 99 years old today) - so here, to jolly things along, is the lovely lady herself on the Dean Martin Show:



Have a great May Day, dears...

Alice Faye (5th May 1915 - 9th May 1998)