Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Never been to Paradise, Never been to Me

It looks like super-chav Shampayne has been reicarnated as a repressed, middle-class housewife from Quorn in Leicestershire. Elaine, from "A Sorry Existence" is slowly going insane due to sexual frustration and boredom. She's not real but I wish she was. There's a very prim, snobbish WI aspect to her - she worries that newcomers to her village will make judgements based on people's curtains, sneers at Poundstretcher and prints up recipes diligently. When her PC isn't in use she places a tea-towel over it. But during darker moments she surfs the internet looking at harcore porn sites. However, this is all filtered through a slightly disapproving commentary "You should have seen her website, she was doing all sorts of things to herself - and quite how she hasn't ripped her uterus away with those talons on the end of her fingers I will never know." Will she have some sort of dramatic epiphany, or will she slowly spiral into madness? Maybe she should get herself a few copies of Handbag! magazine that I used to write, intended for women exactly like her.

Monday, November 28, 2005

What happened to you people? Lost spoilers (UK viewers only). Highlight to view

Season 2 of Lost is rapidly becoming The Ana Lucia Show. This snarling, feisty, glaring BITCH has kick-assed her way into everyone's bad books with her pistol-whipping, screaming island-rage antics. She is hugely unpopular on the Lost bulletin boards, with people complaining her acting range is limited and she's unlikeable. She also had a trigger-happy moment and killed off one of the major characters by mistake. I started off not liking her, but now I am an Ana Lucia fan. First, there's nothing wrong with being a bitch in my books. Also, the flashbacks have revealed she wasn't always such a bitch. But I guess if someone shoots you and you lose your baby and then your partner walks out on you, then it's not going to put you in the best of moods. Also, her time on the island so far has been pretty much a nightmare compared to the people in Season 1. A superb flashback episode "The other 44 days" detailed just how wrong things went for them. The "Others" decimated their number from 20-something down to only 5 (now 4?), including taking a couple of children (one of whom Ana Lucia saved from drowning on the first day and then promised she'd get her home). Ana Lucia also suffered the paranoid torment of not knowing who had infiltrated her group, getting it wrong and then finally figuring it all out and being attacked by him. She might be angry, but she's got good motivation.
What's your worst Christmas song?

It's almost upon us and soon the shops will all be playing Christmas music. Not hymns any more, or even the kind of 50s Bing Cosby/Perry Como stuff, but anything from the 70s or onward. How many times in the next month will you hear Slade's Merry Christmas Everyone? Or Band Aid's Do They Know it's Christmas? Or Paul MacCartney's Wonderful Christmasstime? It's kind of sweet the first time you hear it, but by the end, I always hate those songs and can't wait to get out of the shops where they're played. What's your worst Christmas song? I think mine is probably the Slade one. The line "look to the future now it's only just begun" always makes me cringe. As does "Everybody's having fun." They should play it ironically over public health announcements that tell you to check up on elderly neighbours over Christmas, as they might have frozen to death or taken an overdose rather than face another Christmas alone. I'm all for inappropriate happy music played over horrible things. Looking at the post below this one, on those naked Royal Marines kicking the shit out of each other, I would love someone to add about a Cliff Richard soundtrack over the video footage: "Congratulations and Celebrations, When I tell everyone that you're in love with me." Or would that actually be oddly appropriate?
The first rule of Naked Royal Marine Fight Club is don't talk about Naked Royal Marine Fight Club

The video footage of Royal Marines, drunk, naked and fighting each other while other (naked) Royal Marines standing around watching them, some wearing St Trinians school uniforms, raises all sorts of questions. Why all the nakedness? This was supposed to be some sort of initiation designed to toughen the men up, but really - there's something rather homoerotic about the whole thing. I get the impression that there are more than a few repressed gay men with an S/M fetish in the Royal Marines, and its silly macho culture is the perfect breeding ground to let them create their own little Disneyland. I'm sure that more than a few people will view the video as porn, despite (or because of) the fact that it ends in such a violent way. Marines are Hot Property in any case, and the well-proportioned bodies on display are only the latest in a canon that acknowledges DH Lawrence and the Ancient Greek Games.

Or maybe these men had just watched Fight Club a few too many times, not realising that the whole point about the film was that the main character was INSANE. Either way, it's a horribly compelling window on a subculture that really needs a lot more policing than it is already getting. On a lighter note - maybe this could be a way for the Marines to make a bit of extra cash - I'm sure there'd be a market for these sorts of videos.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Who (still) loves Bryanboy?

Bryanboy is a kind of law to himself. On the surface he's a doll-like global hyper-camp bitchy fashion-queen with the skinniest arms in the world (and proud of it). If you look up every stereotype about effeminte homosexuality and then multiply by 100 you have Bryanboy. Despite this, or more likely because of this, his weblog is often incredibly funny, in a kind of laughing with, rather than laughing at way. And like most people whose image and life resembles a cartoon, there is occasionally the hint that there is a lot more going on beneath the surface.

Bryanboy has lots of fans, who he encourages to send in pictures of themselves holding signs that say "I love Byran boy", and he gives his all in that no-internal-censor way that makes a truly good blogger. He is a one-off and if he didn't exist, someone would have to invent him.

However, not all has been well at Bryanboy lately. Since he started publishing pictures of himself wearing real fur, there have been an influx of abusive comments at the site - about half his readers are furious, the other half defensive. I suspect that all this is starting to take its toll as rather than deciding to ignore it all, Bryanboy has posted increasingly unapologetic emails, including some vile pictures of roadkill intended to upset his detractors. It's a debate I would hate to get involved in. I wouldn't wear fur myself, but then I wear leather shoes and have a leather jacket. I've also just started eating meat again (and like it) after 15 years. So I would be in a very precarious position to criticise.

Civil partnership

civil partnerships are allowed in the UK next month and I am getting one. Me and my fella already had a "commitment ceremony" a few years back, with friends and family invited. So we're not going to make a big deal out of it this time. It'll be a quick case of signing a few papers and grabbing a Subway sandwich - how very romantic. But despite the matter-of-factness of the day, this is a potentially huge change to our lives - official recognition of our relationship. I have had two reminders this week of how far we have come. The first involves a book called Rid England of This Plague by Rex Batten. It is a novel, based on real life events of the persecution of gay men in the 1950s. A couple have their relationship put to an extreme test when one of their friends is sent to prison for being gay. They are questioned by the police and end up in a kind of sexless relationship, frightened to touch each other they end up in prison too. It's full of little tips about being gay in the 1950s and earlier - rather than bother with KY Jelly, Bryll-creme was used as lubricant - so men would over-apply it to their hair when out cruising. It's worth reading. The other thing is this short American "Stranger Danger" film from the 50s called Boys Beware. It is incredibly campy in its own way, with lines like "What Jimmy didn't know was that Ralph was sick, a sickness of the mind known as homosexuality". The film equates homosexuality with paedophilia and was probably responsible for making the lives of hundreds of gay 50s teenagers just a little bit more miserable than they already were. Yes, we have come a long way in 50 years. Although there is still a very long way to go.

Friday, November 25, 2005

My friend Laurence (who should really start his own web log) sent me a four hour tape of various US variety acts from the 60s and 70s. I was still getting over my cold so I sat down with a lemsip and watched the whole lot in one night. I'm not sure if it was the lemsip, or the video, but I had the best night's sleep I'd had in ages.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I haven't really been following The X Factor much, but I happened to catch Chico's performance last week - he took the rather risky strategy of performing his own song "It's Chico Time". Simon Cowell described it as horrifically brilliant or something like that. And he was right. I love Chico. He's so cheesy, he could be in a 1950s variety show. His performance also included a complex dance routine involving tricky leg stands, lots of children, and for some reason there was a huge picture of Chico on an electronic screen in the background which had two clock hands whizzing round and round - just so we could LITERALLY see it was Chico Time. It was a masterpiece of showmanship. Look at that last picture - the kids have their mouths wide open like they can hardly believe it either. And Chico is standing there like The Terminator of Pop Music. Terrific.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bitter enemies

I am enjoying the long-running feud between Eileen and Gail in Coronation Street. It is a conflict of stellar proportions, involving numerous "mucky looks", street fights played out on uneven cobbles and catty exchanges in the Rovers Return. Eileen is a somewhat frumsy (mumsy and frumpy) taxi firm operator. She has a laid-back, down to earth approach to life that makes her immediately likeable, despite the fact that her life is going nowhere. Gail, on the other hand resembles a constantly thwarted hamster, brimming over with repressed sexuality and misdirected rage. Her last relationship to a serial killer didn't really work out too well (as they tend not to), and since then she's been a right bitch. Both women are snobs in their own way. Gail thinks she's the Bees Knees because she lives in a mock-tudor semi-detached nightmare, where she can twiddle her net curtains at the depravity going on in the should-be-condemned terrace home that Eileen rents. But Eileen on the other hand has one son (Todd) who's a homosexual intellectual (he almost sat A Levels for goodness sake) and the other (Jason) who should really be in gay porn. Both sons have become somewhat involved with Gail's single-parent drone daughter Sarah-Louise, and Eileen knows that Sarah-Louise isn't good enough for either of them.

And to make matters worse, Gail and Eileen are currently waging a war over a scantily available resource (unmarried heterosexual men with speaking roles who are over the age of 45 and are NOT serial killers). Enter Phil - a rather weathered Scot and let battle commence. Gail is currently winning - she allowed Phil to "study" her for his dissertation on serial killers and one thing naturally led to another. But I suspect that Eileen has a few tricks up her ample sleeves. Ann Summers had better watch out because I suspect Eileen be making an emergency visit to stock up on black lacy things (size XXL) some time soon.

Monday, November 21, 2005

This test on whether or not you know where it's appropriate to stand in various crowded and non-crowded urinals, is very funny (via Reluctant Nomad.) I only scored 20 out of 60, which is "piss" poor. Although I actually disagree with a lot of the "ideal answers" - for example, if someone is at one side of the urinal - say position 1, isn't it bad manners to stand right on the other side, miles away - at position 6. It's like inferring they have BO or something. Wouldn't it be better to stand at position 4 or 5, which is still far enough away, but not insulting? And are all the rules automatically reversed or void if you're gay? I think a proper statistical survey should be carried out.

I am loving living in Clifton/Bristol. Every day I find some new little restaurant or shop or cool street that I didn't know about. I'm 33 and this is my first experience of life in a city (as opposed to the slightly unreal feeling you get as a tourist). I don't know if I want to go back. The weekly commuting is still a bitch though - this is time #8.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have brought you here to charge you with the following crimes...

I've written about this before on here, but And Then There Were None is my favourite Agatha Christie book - and one of the first "grown-up" books I ever read. An early precursor to Big Brother, it involves 10 strangers, summoned to an island, who are then bumped off one by one, along the lines of the nursery rhyme Ten Little Indians (now updated as Ten Little Soliders). Unlike the other Agatha Christie books, there is no detetctive who solves the case, no hero and no happy ending. Just a growing sense of terror and a practically impossible-to-solve mystery. Christie herself was the most proud of the book, saying that it had been a bit of a bitch to work out the mechanics of it all. There have been several very hokey film versions, and a play, all of which copped out, giving it a cheesy happy ending. Despite the fact that I love the 1974 version, which has an international cast, great music and Elke Sommer pushing her ENTIRE fist into her mouth and Oliver Reed doing amazing things with his chin during the climatic accusation scene, the ending kinds of spoils it.

(Elke shows off a very special talent. I think this is about the campest moment in a film ever, even beating Mae West's performance of "You Gotta Taste All the Fruit" in Myra Breckinridge)

So I was interested to hear that there is a new play of And Then There Were None at the Geilgud in London, which remains faithful to the book and has been updated to suit the gory tastes of modern audiences. And despite the fact that the genre has practically played itself out, it was actually pretty good. The set is wonderfully designed - very art deco mansion with big windows, pillars and glam white sofas. The murders are rather graphic - including the first victim projectile vomitting all over the stage, and it manages to stay on the right side of camp, just. The play also goes back to its frightfully British roots, with various jibes at social class and Englishness. Tara Fitzgerald as a posh governess and Anthony Howell as the manly "dashing" captain are the pretty people who provide sex appeal. Unfortunately, after they've had sex, they discover a severed head, so it kind of kills the moment...

I love how everyone freaks out every time they realise that one more of the little solider figurines in the living room have gone missing - because that means someone else has been killed. And I loved how the audience good-naturedly booed the murderer at the curtain call.

There is also a computer game of the book now, which is maybe de trop, even for me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

..."these people are fascinated by TV and only happy being filmed - but even sadder is the fact that television is fascinated by them and people like them, which is why it keeps returning to them year after year."

Run don't walk to your nearest DVD store. The remarkable documentary Little Lady Fauntleroy is finally available to buy. There's too much back-story to this to do it justice. But I will try. In the 1980s, the country was shocked by James Harries, a child prodigy who looked and talked like an (adult) Dickens character, and was an antiques "expert". He had mad curly hair and was precociously annoying. Then a few years ago, James turned up on tv again, but under much changed circumstances. James was now Lauren - having recently had a sex-change.

The documentary Little Lady Fauntleroy has Keith Allen at his most cynical and jaded, turning up at Lauren's South Wales family home, to spend a few days with them. It quickly transpires that all is not what it seems and that Lauren's family are a Modern Day Adams Family. The father went to jail after apparently burning down his fancy dress shop (but not before trying to sue the government unsuccessfully for a million pounds). The whole family have dozens of degrees, which they apparently bought off the internet. They have set up their own college (their own house) awarded themselves more degrees and engage in counselling/private detective work for the hapless of Cardiff. Lauren apparently has degrees in "dramaturgy" and "metaphysics" and holds scary drama classes which usually end in her screaming and throwing her shoes at people. The family live on the edge of a council estate and are regularly harrassed and abused . Indeed, in July their home was broken into and Lauren was attacked (the family were accused of turning the attack into a media circus, milking the publicity for all they could get).

According to a recent programme on The Curse of Child Stars, the Harries family have created their own reality tv show (like the Osbournes), but it has yet to be picked up. Such a shame. Until then, we have this DVD to get our Lauren fixes. And the documentary contains dozens of classic moments - from mother mis-pronouncing "vagina", the weird freeze-frames which show contorted facial expressions, Lauren's unusual karaoke in a Cardiff pub, her terrifying acting class and best of all, Keith Allen's denoument, when he attempts to expose the families many lies - and then storms out of this own show in a huff.

I'm sure that the Harries family trawl the internet looking for references to themselves. So if you're reading this, - and looking for a biographer - I'm your man.

And it looks like Lauren's recently had more surgery, this time on her face. The result is oddly eerie, a bit Lord of the Rings don't you think?

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Oh, for the days when simply stringing together a string of nonsense syllables and dressing up as a school boy could make you famous! Do you remember The Krankies? When I lived in Peterlee Co. Durham there was a rumour going round that they used to live a few streets away from me in a council house. I'm sure it was just made up though.

In preparation for Panto season, I have been looking at their fabulous website. It's kind of retro - just like them. Imagine they had a time machine, went back to 1971 and then built their website there. You get the idea. An annoying theme tune that starts playing right away, animated gifs, an aol email address and shameless mis-use of the apostrophe and caps-lock: "MUM'S, DAD'S... DO YOU HAVE KIDS..."

In their biography page the narrative breathlessly begins: "Yes, the Krankies are back. In fact, they never went away." There are also excited reviews from The Northern Echo "anarchic humour", the Evening Echo Bournemouth "extraordinary" and The Glasgow Herald "unstinting energy".

However, the Krankies are so famous that they warrant not one website but two! Over at under the heading "Janettes Terrible Accident" (what's with the missing apostrophe) we are told "As you probably have heard Janette had a terrible accident on the 15th December 2004 resulting in the both of us withdrawing from the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow Pantomime "Jack And The Beanstalk"." The site doesn't go into the gory details but there are a few links to news websites where you can find out the horrible truth for yourself. And it's a gory affair. Apparently, during a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk, the beanstalk collapsed (while she was up it), sending her plummeting 20ft and resulting in a perforating ear drum among other injuries. Poor Janette. Who knew that performing in Panto was so dangerous!
I am in London for a few days and yesterday met Tom from the perennially popular Plastic Bag. Somehow we ended up stumbling around the Trocedaro (which is a kind of awful indoor fun palace), playing a range of arcade games (I was useless at all of them except for the one where you have to hit things that come out of holes as quickly as possible). Tom (who's very male) was good at everything. There was a point though, where the enjoyment of it all, stopped being "ironic" and just for-the-hell-of-it fun.

Afterwards, I got back to the hotel and immediately came down with a cold (I haven't kissed anyone, so how is that supposed to be fair?). So I've got this new thing from the chemist called First Defence. It's a nasal spray that's supposed to flood the cold germs before they have a chance to multiply. But it's like spraying acid up your nose. It bloody stings. If I keep using this, I'll end up looking like Daniella Westbrooke.

The hotel only has the usual 4 tv channels, and as usual I am horrified at the crap that goes out on broadcast tv. Channel 4 actually showed an hour of the Simpsons last night. I had no idea they were still making episodes. It was funny for about five minutes in the early 90s, but hasn't changed since then. Please, someone, put them out of their misery. That rather nasty sitcom (which I still find funny), Peepshow is back for a third series. If you take away the jokes about threesomes, strap on dildos and gay panic, it is basically a typical 1970s British sitcom about the comedy of failure, along the lines of Steptoe and Son. I like Mark, the one who looks like "a member of the Shadow Cabinet" the best. Like me, he should have been born in a simpler, less brash time.

Friday, November 11, 2005

In remembrance, Phil Starr. 1932-2005.

Phil was a female impersonator who was well-known in the 1960s, performing at the famous Black Cap in north London, and part of a set of people who included Lee Sutton, Marc Flemying and Mrs Shufflewick - names that probably don't mean a lot to most people these days - but they were all stars of their day.

I interviewed Phil a few years ago, regarding some academic research I was doing, and he was amazingly helpful. He died last month, aged 73.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Wandering around Weston Super Mare (my new local seaside dive), I came across this poster for the Panto Season.

Guess which bit of this poster I love the most?

Yes, that's right. There's something about ageing, badly made-up drag queens that says "It's Nearly Christmas!"

I love collecting pictures of panto/cabaret drag queens (but only if they're over 50 and pulling some sort of contorted smile). That picture is absolutely perfect. The DQ face on the left is the best I think (although the over-applied fake tan on the DQ on the right also scores highly).

The poster is from Jimmy Cricket's personal website. Jimmy is an entertainer who specialises in being an "Irish Idiot". His catch-phrase is "And there's more!" The website has a photo diary which goes into great detail about all of Jimmy's public appearances at places like Clacton-On-Sea, Bodelwyllan Castle (North Wales) and Bolton. Truly amazing. On his guestbook someone has written "Your one, if not the the greatest comedian of all time (excluding Janette Krankie!) The doctors should prescribe your jokes on the NHS."

I love British light entertainment. It's the best in the world.
Hello Titus

I Claudius is one of my favourite shows. All of that backstabbing (literally), gratuitous sex and random madness (Caligua making a horse a senator springs to mind) makes it the ultimate soap opera. So I was interested in seeing what HBO's Rome was going to be like.

And I like it. Here's why.

He's called Titus Pullo and is played by Ray Stevenson. Mrs Stevenson (if there is one) is a lucky woman.
They're Mod! They're a Squad!

Do any American readers (of a certain age) remember a late 60s/early 70s tv show called The Mod Squad? It was Aaron Spelling's "breakthrough" show, so without it, we wouldn't have Dynasty, Melrose Place, BH90210 etc.

The Mod Squad was about a bunch of groovy cops - there was a cool dude with sideburns and outre fashion sense (Pete), a guy with a huge affro (Linc) and a blonde hippie chick (Julie). They were three basically good kids who'd dropped out of society and had various run-ins with the law. There was also an older gentlemen (who didn't get to be on many of the publicity shots - he was the Aunt Sassy of his day). He created the Mod Squad so they could infiltrate the counter-culture and catch crime-lords who preyed on younger kids.

But in general, the Mod Squad drove around in cars and looked fabulous. The premise is so outrageous is looks like it should be a parody of a 60s tv show, starring Parker Posey and Freddie Prinze Jr. But it's real. They actually made 5 seasons and a reunion special. (There was also a 1999 film remake starring Claire Danes, but let's not go into that).

Anyway, the programme has one of the grooviest theme tunes every created for a tv show. I haven't been able to stop playing it since I got it. It was used once in an episode of Friends when Chandler was chasing some girl down a busy street. And it can be downloaded for your pleasure here.

Although the show's long over, I think it could do with being revived (without Claire Danes). Anyone fancy getting a long blonde wig, \ lime green flower-print mini-skirt and taking the role of Julie?