Tuesday, May 27, 2003

It's unlike Big Brother to give us a 100% heterosexual housemate quota, so I'm taking bets on whole will be the first to be outed. Frederico has already "joked" about having a boyfriend called Frank. Apparently they have an open relationship - Frank goes out clubbing, while he stays in and wipes down work surfaces. Or not. Frederico also whispered to Raymundo and Anoushka that he'd like a "menage a trois". However, I think it's all posturing. My money's on Scott who wants to be reincarnated as Kylie's dog and has written a play for Radio 4. He may like football, but 'footie kit' is very fashionable nowadays for gay guys. Failing that, the oldest housemate yet also the ingenue Cameron is probably struggling with queer feelings which his baptist church have firmly quashed. Or maybe Jon, who is apparently a "confirmed bachelor" according to his twin brother has something to share, when he's not describing sub-plots of Lord of the Rings. In fact, I'm sure they're all bisexual, but are a bit too reserved and nice to even think about sex.

On another note, did anyone hear Anoushka's "Purple people" "joke" yesterday. There's a year of my life I'll never get back. I guess that's what taking LSD feels like.

Meanwhile. Bling bling. Do you know how it is when everyone in the world starts using a word and they all forgot to tell you what it means. I surmised it must be something to do with being cool, but it wouldn't be cool to ask what it meant exactly. Still, I never was cool and am far to old to worry about that now, so I asked google. Apparently, bling bling is the imagined sound that sunlight would make when it bounces off diamonds and gold jewellry. It refers to "flash and flair" apparently. And if someone like me has used it in their blog, then I'm sorry kids, but it's already way out of fashion. Better come up with something new again...

Monday, May 19, 2003

Is it time for a new word?

Gay can be a noun "The gays were over there" or an adjective. "The gay men." I think most people agree that the noun use is a bit objectifying - to define someone as just "a gay" is like saying they're "a dog" or "a chair". It's all they are. And people are much more than their sexuality. An adjective allows room for scope. It says, that's one trait a person has, but there could be others.

Si why is lesbian usually only a noun? We don't say "The lesbian ladies" because female is encoded implicitly in "lesbian". I think this shows up a bit of an imbalance. "Gay" is supposed to apply equally to men and women, but in practice it's mostly used on men. So we get acronyms like GLB (Gay, lesbian, bisexual) which really mean "Gay (adjective) men, lesbians (noun) and bisexual (adjective) people".

I think the imbalance stems back to before the 1970s when lesbian and homosexual were the two mainly used terms. Since "gay" was generally adopted in the early 1970s, the word "homosexual" has tended to get used less. But "gay" hasn't replaced "lesbian", because there's still a need to differentiate between men and women.

The switch in terminology in the 1970s was important because on the whole gay describes an identity, whereas homosexual describes a behaviour.

However, for me - neither of these two words are ideal. "Homosexual" is too pre-occupied with sexual acts. You can have a gay identity without having sex.

And the opposite is true of "gay". There are plenty of men who have "gay sex", but don't consider themselves to have a gay identity or live a gay lifestyle. And then there's the implication that there's one way to live a gay life, or "be" gay.

Moving the concept away from behaviour (homosexual) and towards identity (gay) has been useful in terms of giving people a notion of shared community, which has helped us gain acceptance. But "gay" has its limitations too. I keep coming across people who don't want to identify as gay - they don't like the "gay scene" but they fancy men. They want to be open and proud about it, but don't want to change their friends or fashion sense. They feel the concept of "gay" is too narrow for them - has too many identity connotations that put it beyond fancying people, and into areas to do with audience demographics, advertising campaigns, holidays, music, fashion etc.

So I'd like to see the invention of a new word which isn't based on what people do in bed, OR in terms of a specific identity (which seems to be based on what they're expected to wear, listen to, and where they go on holiday.) Such a word would acknowledge that the one thing we really have in common, collectively is who we desire - or fancying people of the same sex. It wouldn't be as wide a term as "queer" - which can mean any oppressed group, and wouldn't have the association with the closet as the term MSM seems to have (it generally refers to married men who don't consider themselves gay but have gay sex)

The new word would refer to just the concept of desire. Not sexual behaviour or lifestyle. It would mean men who fancy men or women who fancy women. It would hold no other assumptions, wouldn't sound like a medical condition, and it would have a positive connotation. It would also apply to men and women equally - allowing us to dispense with "lesbian". Any suggestions? I've thought of homodesirable but it sounds too clinical.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

The great thing about Friendly TV is that you can text the presenters with your questions. As so few people are watching, they are desperate for people to contact them and will answer anything. My favourite show so far has been an evening of "girl talk", with Haley (pictured below), two very quiet Dutch women (who were in the UK for 6 weeks) and another girl who was very clearly and aggressively drunk. I'm afraid my curiousity got the better of me and I started texting the programme like mad at 50p a go. The presenters read my questions almost as soon as I sent them and tried their best to answer them. My first question was designed to see if they would break the "no free advertising" rule by saying the name of shops. I asked "Where do you buy all of your fabulous clothes from? Especially Haley." Haley, who had kept up an almost-constant monologue up until that point was lost for words (for once), but one of the Dutch girls said "H&M" before Hale' chastised her for breaking the rules. One Professionalism point for Haley.

Then my boyfriend suggested that I text "What is your favourite? Pie and chips or fish and chips?" We decided that this might be more up Haley's street. And sure enough, this question received more interest. "As a southerner, I have to say good old fish and chips!" said Haley decisively. Unfortunately there was no room for discussion. The Dutch girls weren't interested in the eating habits of the British, and the drunk girl was hissing in a world-of-her-own corner to herself. Yet all of this talk of food was getting the four presenters quite hungry. A take-away curry was called for, and for the next 10 minutes there was very little question-taking as the girls chowed down on their food. This was unfortunate as my next question-cum-statement was "I hope Haley is getting paid more money than the others - she's doing all the work! What are your future ambitions?" This went completely ignored as they were too busy scoffing themselves to answer it.

After that, various people sent in sexual suggestions to the girls, or told them they were rubbish, or amazing. It was getting very late and I realised I had been watching Friendly TV for almost four hours without a break. Trash Addict has found his new spiritual home. And it's Friendly.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Zbornak put me onto the sheer brilliance of Britian's newest TV channel - Friendly TV. I tuned in to see what all of the fuss was all about and was awful glad I did.

The presenters look as if they were "discovered" waiting at a bus stop on a rough council estate somewhere in South London. They act as if they're making a "pretend" tv programme like me and my sister used to do when we were aged 9 and 5 respectively. I'm not sure what the point of the channel is, but it seems to combine a multiple choice quiz where viewers phone in their answers to win prizes, with the constant inane babble of the presenters.

Richard and Haley were this evening's cuh-razy presenters, and I already wish they were my best friends. I've decided I'm not going to stalk the Krankies anymore (sorry Krankies) but stalk Rich' and Hale' instead. Richard is disarmingly "camp", while Haley acts as the "straight man". They are the poor man's "Gimme Gimme Gimme". Here's a sample of their banter:

Richard: "What time is it now?"
Haley: "I don't know darling, it's five to eleven... I keep spitting, it's disgusting! Why do I keep spitting... I'm fucking spitting all over the floor!"
Richard: "Watch ya language gel. Put that in your gob!"
Haley: "I totally apologise to everyone. I'm a bit woo-hoo. I'd love to meet Kathy Burke on a serious note."
Richard: "Hi Ryan. Here's a kiss from me!"

It's a wonderful mishmash of non-sequiters, "hello mum" commentary and wonderfully banal babble. It's the ultimate reality tv. Haley often asks the producer for a "wide shot", and when the programme finished, the sound was cut, but we could still see the presenters as they got up, shook hands, and started wandering round the set. In a few months, if it survives, it will have shed its current presenters (or forced them to be professional) and lost its amatuerishness. And I will be devastated. In the meantime, I'm going to get as many regular fixes as I can.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Who are the spammers?

Every day, sometimes every minute of every day, I receive pointless, stupid spam, that nobody in their right mind would reply to. Bogus bank account transfer schemes from Africa, large breasts in Tennessee, Viagara from Australia... Who are the people who are sending these messages? What do they look like? Where do they live? What do their houses look like? What are they wearing? What films do they watch?

I imagine that my Ideal Spam Man is called Keith. He's never really amounted to anything much, but always has a "get rich quick" idea going on. He's had lots of jobs and considers himself a "people person", he's probably been to the "university of life", considers people like Richard Branson to be his hero, believes in "free enterprise" and "market forces" without really understanding what they mean. He's into all the latest fashions and calls his girlfriend "babe". His mobile phone's always going off, and he always answers it, no matter who he's with. It's got one of those annoying ring tones as well, and he speaks loudly and confidentally into it. He loves holidays in Florida, local radio and McDonalds food. And he probably has a small penis.
On 12 March I reported that John Jenkins, Tory candidate for Llanelli had stood down after it was reported that he had made the following comments: "I hold my hands up and admit to being 'homophobic' if you must label me... I cannot convince myself of anything other than homosexuality being a medical mental condition... I would not harm an individual for being gay but just think that they need medical attention rather than their 'fashionable' display of sexual deviancy being pandered to."

Now John has written to me, in order to put the record straight. He was apparently misquoted by the media. At first I felt special, until I read that he'd also written to Welsh Cake with the same email. Still, in the interests of being fair (and also because I was so bitchy about his looks in my original posting), I am reprinting our email exchange for you to make of what you will:

Dear Lubin,

This is the John Jenkins of "homophobia" fame here. Just want to make it clear that the remarks attributed to me are not my personal views.

If you were to look beyond the headlines (which not many people do, they just scream "homophobe" and "nazi" because the BBC and Western Mail tell them to, hence my resignation) you will find that, during a debate on what constitutes left or right wing, how would you classify a working class man who has voted Labour all his life but held right wing views, the like of which I have heard in pubs I repeated on the internet which the Western Mail, and then the BBC, took as my own personal views.

I resigned because the Western Mail and the BBC were using me - and would have continued to use me - as a tool to beat the Welsh Conservative Party with.

I am not a homophobe.

By the way, if you are interested in my REAL personal views on homosexuality, I am a traditional neo-conservative liberal who does not believe that sexuality is the business of the state and that what two (or more) people do in private in no concern of mine or the state.

I think the age of consent should be equal for all people and references to either sexuality should be removed from all legislation. I am in favour of the reform of section 28.

I hope you will give me the space to defend myself.

John Jenkins

Dear John,

thanks for taking the time to reply to me - although it took me a few seconds to remember what that was about, as this all happened a couple of months ago now.

If you like, I will reprint your email to me at my site, with a link back to the original one.

Incidentally, are you saying the quote "I hold my hands up and admit to being 'homophobic' if you must label me..." attributed to you was a misquote, or that you did say it but retract it, or that you were quoted out of context?




Thank you. Yes, I am saying that I was totally quoted out of context. I was a Conservative candidate who stumbled upon an internet debate on what constituted right wing or left wing. I tried to ask how would fellow debaters class a man in a pub who, despite being a working class life-long socialist Labour voter held vehemently right wing views on asylum and homosexuality (hence the quote of the man who said that he didn't approve of homosexuals and that they needed medical attention which was attributed to me as my own views).

I was stupid as it gave the press the chance to say "Tory candidate says gays need medical attention". The quotes they used were very selective and distorted. I never said they were my views, they are not my views and I was totally quoted out of context, maliciously.

Thank you for your reply. It means a lot to me to have to record put straight.


John Jenkins

I guess if there's one thing I dislike almost as much as homophobes it's media types who misquote people. I'm sure the majority of people who work in the media are honest and decent folk who would never bend the truth to sell a story or manipulate public opinion (ha!) so maybe Mr Jenkins has fallen foul of a rogue journalist with no scruples. Anyway, whatever the case, he has denied making the original quotes.

Mental note to self - you never know who might be reading your web log. Am I creating a secret army of angry celebrities who are going to be incensed at my occasionally throw-away barbs in their direction? If so, I apologise in advance to you all. Especially The Krankies. Who I love. Utterly.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

For American readers of this web log, the Carry On films are a British Institution which never really made it across the Atlantic. Filmed mainly in the 1960s and 1970s they had a small cast of actors who reprised comedy stereotypes: the fat frumpy matron, the likely lad, the dolly bird, the effete homosexual etc. These characters were transported to various workplace and historical settings: Carry on Nurse, Carry on Up the Kyber, Carry on Camping etc, although the central premise rarely changed - the films were a light-hearted "romp", with humour based on innuendo and visual puns. Viewed now from the perspective of our 21st century jaded palettes, they appear utterly tame (although not politically correct - sexism, racial and camp stereotypes were de rigeur). This partially explains why the films lost their popularity by the end of the 1970s. The humour was very much "of its time", and the 1980s saw an explosion of "alternative comedy" in the UK, based around younger, hipper stand-up comedians who raged against Mrs Thatcher and conservative values. Apart from the final gasp of the ill-fated Carry on Columbus, the series was over.

Until now.

There is to be a new Carry-On film called Carry On London. David Jason, Dale Winton and Graham Norton have been touted to appear in it. It will probably also be a huge failure - with people lining up to say the "magic can't be recaptured" etc. And in a way this will be a shame. There's an innocence about the series which reminds me of my childhood. Carry on Screaming was the second non-cartoon film I ever watched all the way through (the first was the Wizard of Oz). I remember being utterly thrilled by it, and the theme music is still one of my favourite ever tunes.

So in order for the new Carry-On film to succeed, it needs to retain the camp humour, yet also update it. Perhaps it should return to its roots - set itself in the late 1960s/early 1970s - parody the mutton-chop sideburns and busty blondes and poke fun at the casual sexism of that period. It worked for Austin Powers and The Brady Bunch Movie. Then the film could have its cake and eat it. The post-modernists could laugh along at the naff jokes, knowing that what they were really laughing at was what people of earlier decades found to be funny. And everyone else could just enjoy it for what it is - gentle, familiar, seaside postcard humour which no longer should have any power to offend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Spent the weekend in Athens (proving that occasionally I do live one of those "beautiful people" Wallpaper existences that the media like to pretend everyone but you is living). Did a tour of three Greek islands, Porous, Hydra and another one that I can't remember or pronounce. It all sounded quite glam, but in theory it involved sitting for most of the day on white plastic garden furniture on a noisy boat as it ferried us from one island to the next. And as we only had a small amount of time in each, there wasn't much to do but buy tourist tat (which I refuse), sit in a seafront cafe laughing at the fashion choices of the other people on the cruise or assiduously put on more sun-tan lotion.

Judging from the number of bored, attractive young men in tight t-shirts hanging around by the road opposite my hotel, I decided that we were staying in Athens' Gay Red Light District, although there was no real evidence to support this. Still, Athens seems to have a lot of men in tight t-shirts hanging around, where-ever you go, so maybe the whole place is a Gay Red Light District. Other notable differences - nobody bothered to queue at the airport in the "queue for a taxi" line. There were no seatbelts in the back of the taxi and the driver was a maniac who lit a cigarette in the taxi and smelled of alcohol. It was like the 1970s all over again. There was a lot of building work going on - Athens is in a permanent state of make-over, like a Trisha show that lasts forever! Chips are freely available in all restaurants. Which gets my vote. Scrawny cats are also available in restaurants - not to eat, but slinking around, begging. The first time it happened it was cute and I enjoyed feeding bits of food to it. But by the fourth time it was just annoying, especially as none of them were neutered.

At the airport, there were signs everywhere telling you what to do if you were displaying signs of SARS. As I was in the midst of hayfever, I was terrified that people would think I had SARS, so I spent a lot of time trying to sneak-sneeze while no-one was looking. However, I seemed to be the only one who bothered. Everyone else was hacking up phlegm all over the place like it was a contest. There were also signs at the airport telling you to claim asylym NOW or else face the consequences at a later date.

I also like European holidays because of all the Euro Pop that you hear. Unfortunately, British pop is making in-roads, and I kept hearing Girls Aloud on every street corner. Not their latest song, but the old one. Just as well, as the latest Girls Aloud single sums up every single thing about teenagers that makes you want to go "Bless!" (a word I use here for the first and last time). "I don't need no good advice," the girls trill as one. Well, apart from needing advice about when it's appropriate to use double negatives.

As for the mocking line "Daddy told me look into the future / Sit at your computer, be a good girl" - I'm not even going to try and deconstruct it. They might as well sing "Be a pop star, be famous, don't take your GCSEs. Clever isn't cool. Hard working sucks. Transient fame is the only thing that matters." If there's anyone who really could do with good advice, it's teenagers. However, the irony of advice is that it is frequently pointless - those who listen to it rarely need it, and those who need it rarely listen. So I celebrate Girls ALoud and their silliness while their star shines.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Three cheers for UltraSparky who has paid to have the ever-changing, but always annoying advert at the top of this page removed.

I am not enjoying I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here this time round. They're all boring. Bring back Christine Hamilton and Rhona Cameron. However, I was amused by reports that 1980s husband-and-wife variety act The Krankies (who I have discussed on these pages before) had tried to infiltrate the camp. Apparently, they aren't famous enough to get on the show. How can this be? Any more of this shameless clawing for the limelight and I will be forced to give them their own fan website. Imagine how fascinating it must be to be The Krankies, but then imagine how much more fascinating it must be to be their only stalker!

Monday, May 05, 2003

BBC3's The Bachelor is over - and the final rose was given to the Geordie Psychologist (that's what I was 10 years ago) so I was rather pleased. The rejected girls also got to "have their say" about the whole experience - there was plenty of bitching, recriminations and bitterness-disguised-as-morality on display. The whole format of the show is to encourage a guy to date lots of women at once, so there's not much point in calling him a slapper afterwards if he doesn't pick you. And why did these so-wronged ladies get involved in the show in the first place? The free holiday to Barbados maybe? The chance to get famous? Or to hook an former male model with his own business and defined abs? Not very noble motives.

Speaking of defined abs, I've been ordering films at moviesunlimited.com like they were going out of style. Psycho Beach Party (a camp parody on old 50s beach party movies) had its moments, many of them featuring the rather well-developed Andrew Levitas and Nick Cornish engaged in a lot of not-strictly-necessary homoerotic wrestling.

Hollywood Horror House was another take on the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane/Sunset Boulevard genre - with Miriam Hopkins playing the old movie star hag, holed up in her old mansion with a handful of servants. More nihilistic and rambling than most, the best part was when she crashes a 1970s psychedelic party, complete with a midget drug pusher. But on the whole, this one will be consigned to "What was I thinking?"

Far more interesting was an early Rita Tushingham and Lynne Redgrave film called "The Girl With the Green Eyes". Being a fan of "Smashing Time" - the musical written by George Mellie where the pair take on Swinging 60s London, I wanted to see whether this earlier film bore any resemblance to Smashing Time's camp-fest. However, it turned out to be kitchen-sink rather than kitsch-in-sync (see what I did there!) But once I got past the fake Irish accents, I really enjoyed it - gauche Tushingham has an affair with a cultured older man - while gigantic Redgrave chatters about nothing incessantly in that fascinating way to anyone who'll listen. I want 1960s Lynne Redgrave as my best friend.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Question: What does Muller Yoghurt, the British National Party, The Church and The Mafia all have in common?

Answer: Homosexual Panic!!!

It's been a funny week, when strands of homophobia seem to be coming from all corners at once, making some oddly humorous alliances between dissolute groups.

Muller Yoghurt have another "episode" in their Gay Fear ad campaign. If you remember, in the first one a lovely young heterosexual couple are on a plane (possibly going on their honeymoon). Naturally those red-blooded normals can't keep their hands off each other (how lovely and sweet) so decide to pop into the loo to make love. While the boyfriend's taking off his clothes, the girlfriend gets waylaid by a Muller Yoghurt so she never shows up (in reality they take 3 seconds to eat but we'll let that pass as I have bigger fish to fry). So when boyfriend hears a knock on the door, he opens it and pulls in the waiting person outside. But *gasp* it's a man. And by the look of anticipation and approval on this stranger's face he must be gay. Ohmigod! Someone call a priest! Or a nurse! The plane will have to be diverted and escorted by the Air Force until SWAT troops can surround it!

In episode 2 of the Muller Yoghurt Panic saga, our lovely young couple have arrived at their hotel. Girlfriend sends out the boyfriend to get ice, which he does (completely naked of course - how very hilarious etc). But the door locks and he's stuck in the corridor with just the ice-bucket. And oh no! Who should come waltzing past but the gay guy from last time who now gets a good eyeful of our heterosexual man's bits and bobs, and smiles appreciatively. Crikey!

Incase Muller are running out of ideas for where this little "story" can go - can I suggest two scenarios for episode 3. In the first one, the couple are driving through town and their car breaks down - it needs an oil change. The young man goes into a nearby building to ask for oil, but it turns out to be a gay sauna! How hilarious etc, packed with about 50 simpering queens who are all played by the same guy from the previous two ads. "We haven't got any oil, but we find Muller Yoghurt makes a splendid anal lubricant" says one of them, "Would you like to try?" The heterosexual man is shocked, but oddly aroused - after all - who can resist Muller yoghurt? So he spends the rest of his life being fucked up the ass by a line of eager gay studs. The end. Or if that's too shocking for you - and I'm guessing ad campaigners won't be able to cope with that happy resolution, how about this one - The happy heterosexual couple are in a restaurant. They order a big vat of Muller Yoghurt for their meal as it's so delicious. But when it arrives, who should pop out of it, but the gay guy, who's naked. He drags the heterosexual man into the vat of Muller Yoghurt with him, drowning him in Yoghurt while raping him at the same time. I think the ad execs might go for that one. What do you think?

Meanwhile, on another planet altogether, the British Nazi, sorry National Party have made a few gains in the local elections. Nick Griffin was interviewed on local tv last night and declared that the other parties were full of "padeophiles and crooks". The interviewer said "Does your party have any paedophiles and crooks in it?" "We have NO paedophiles," said Nick with certainty. Then he fell silent. Ah, but what about those crooks Nick? Afer one election result, we were told the BNP slid off into the night making Nazi salutes and shouting Seig Heil etc. How lovely for them. They've been harrassing a gay pub near where I live over the last week - despite their attempts to appear concerned with "what the people want" - they can't help but show themselves up for the nasty, evil bigots that they are.

And a further two stories in the Guardian today, demonstrate how homophobia gets in all those difficult nooks and crannies... The Church are trying to get out of the Amsterdam treaty which makes it illegal to employ someone on the grounds of their sexuality. Here's a couple of facts they might want to consider a) God doesn't exist so you may as well all go home and b) the Church is full of gay people anyway. If they were banned, it'd all go to pieces.

And finally, Mafia members have assassinated one of their own because he was a (and I quote directly) a "homosexual gay man" (the mind boggles doesn't it). Those poor Mafia guys - sitting round, wringing their hands and worrying that "the neighbours might find out." It's another case of "Oh my god - what will people SAY? Oh no! I care so much about other people's opinions." Yeah, so real tough behaviour there then. Lots of bada-bing or bling or whatever stupid nonsense word the media would have us believe they're all saying now.

Why are they all so scared of gay men? It's not like we care about them at all. Do they have so little confidence in their own sexual identities that they have to dump on someone else? Get over it bitches, or I'll be round with my Muller Yoghurt.