At the U.S. rally to restore sanity…

This is one of a myriad of signs present at the U.S. rally to restory sanity in Washington. I absolutely love it.
No. 1 Threat Sign
I love this sign!
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Eric Saade – It’s Gonna Rain video

Am I spewing I didn’t get to see Eric Saade live when I was in Sweden this year? Am I spewing that my gorgeous friend Patrick got to see him live*?

YES! YES! YES!

And now there’s this video for Eric’s new single which is basically a compilation of bits and pieces of him on tour this year. Arghhh!

Anyway, the excellent “It’s Gonna Rain” is Eric’s new single in Sweden and it is brilliant of course. They’re saying “It’s Gonna Rain” is the best track on the CD but I think there are 4 or 5 others that are just as good. Anyway, the “Masquerade” album is just brilliant.

You can get it from Bengans – there’s a quick link to instantly order the album: https://www.bengans.se/popup/eric_masquerade/int.aspx?language=en

And the regular Bengans online listing for Masquerade is here http://www.bengans.se/product.aspx?Currency=sek&language=en&skivkod=841416&section=music

*At least I got the concert T-Shirt thanks to Patrick – luv ya mate!

Tom Ballard & Acquaintances at the Oxford Art Factory

Waiting for Tom Ballard Et. Al.

My friend James has a theory that today’s crop of young Gay comedians would have been drag queens if they’d been around 20 years earlier. Because that’s what you often did as a young Gay person who desperately needed attention and wanted to be in some kind of show business scenario.

But today, apparently you become an “edgy Gay comic.” Although most of them are neither edgy nor good representations of Gays.

Anyway, the reason I contemplate James’ opinion here is that I am rapidly beginning to worry about the fact that Tom Ballard has chosen the wrong career. I’ve seen him ‘live’ twice now and have come to the awful realisation that he just isn’t funny. As a stand up comic’, he’s a great radio presenter.

Which is probably not a nice thing to say but I wonder if Tom would have been a drag queen had he been born 20 years earlier? He’s very dismissive of drag and of Gay venues generally…as a lot of these “edgy Gay comics” seem to be…but who knows? He’s certainly got the height for it.

James got us tickets to see “Tom Ballard & Acquaintances” at the Oxford Art Factory last night. He wrote a story about it here. It was a bit of smorgasbord of young-ish comedians who, apparently, are friends of Tom Ballard. Plus one absolutely stunning singer.

Tom BallardYou really want Tom Ballard to be funny because you like him so much. You may not agree with some of his attitudes but, as a bloke (for want of a better word), you really like him. And you want him to be successful in his chosen profession. A couple of the other “edgy Gay comics” like Josh Thomas and Rhys Nicholson come across as self-centred wankers…but not Tom. He’s the nice guy everyone loves to like. He’s incredibly personable.

When he made a couple of particularly distasteful and offensive comments about ANZACs that went down like a bowl of cancer with the audience, I just thought “”maaaate, you’re no good at this stuff. stick with TripleJ radio.” Part of me also thought “hey, I should really send this to The Australian and to ABC radio management” too. Because he just doesn’t get it. Time and time again we’ve seen that comments on Twitter, Facebook etc. can destroy a performer’s career in an instant. When you’re 20 years old and you’re looking to have a lifetime career in the public spotlight, you need to know where the line is. There were a series of offensive tweets that Tom retweeted around ANZAC Day earlier this year that I thought perhaps were “one-off” mistakes. But obviously not.

When you combine this with the fact that his comedy material isn’t….well, to be perfectly honest, it just isn’t funny 90% of the time. The audience last night was eager to please but Tom’s material fell flat on its face most of the time.

My conclusion is that Tom should stick to being a radio presenter, a TV host, an occasional newspaper article writer…and maybe a comedy entrepreneur. It was his idea for the gig last night and you could tell he was the driving force behind bringing the night together. Maybe that’s what he should do more of? As long as he doesn’t continue as a stand up comic because he’s really bad at it unfortunately.

The one area – or one part of his stand up bit – I was really impressed with was how he handled his break-up with fellow comedian, Josh “I hate being Gay” Thomas. Josh’s show “Surprise Surprise” was like a one-hour self indulgent wankfest, more of a therapy session really – “poor me!”- where Tom was treated as like a punchline to a joke, rather than an ex-lover. Call me old fashioned but I was really offended by that. Josh revealed that Tom had cried extensively when he broke up with him and I started to tear up during the show. I felt awful for Tom at that point – for what happened and also for the fact that Josh felt the need to use it as a joke in a comedy show. On Thursday night, however, Tom knocked the whole subject on the head with a few cutting and very witty one-liners and observations. He showed absolute class in this. He didn’t stick the knife into Josh or reveal anything inappropriately personal about Josh – he didn’t need to. I wanted to give Tom a standing ovation at that point. The guy is a better human being than Josh Thomas could ever hope to be.

Amelia Jane HunterThe rest of the acts on the night were a mixed bag. There were some real revelations – female comic Amelia Jane Hunter was the highlight of the night. She was absolutely hilarious talking about her alcohol problems and attending a wedding drunk and wetting herself. Amelia made the night all by herself. In fact, I would pay to see her in a show just by herself. She was that good.

Elana Stone is a singer who just sings and plays the keyboards. I thought “uh oh, a singer in Elana Stonea comedy show…boring”!”But how wrong I was – by the middle of the first song I was hooked. And by the middle of the second song I thought “I’d buy this if it was on CD.” Elana sings beautiful, melodic almost haunting songs. She has a wonderful voice and a kind of young “Nana Mouskouri” look on stage. It’s the glasses she wears I think. But anyway, she was brilliant. I’m wondering if she will release an album. Her music on CD, produced properly with a full band, would be amazing.

Matt OkineMatt Okine was another highlight. Making fun of the expectations girls have of his penis size because of his colour. He was really funny and likeable – a great combo.

Daniel Townes was also good, bringing a bit of an international perspective with his humour. He’s extensively travelled and is wonderful at putting the boot into Australia’s sometimes xenophobic and insular attitudes.Daniel Townes

Eric Hutton was also fun…James described him as having an intense style.

In fact, tEric Huttonhe only two guests that weren’t that good were Michael Hing and Dave Jory. Michael is an up & coming comic who I suspect will get better with more experience. Dave Jory…well, he seemed like a nice guy but he just wasn’t funny. Maybe his material works better in the outer suburbs or at more blokey RSL clubs?

Rhys Nicholson…or Rhys Witherspoon as I kept accidentally referring to him as last night (WTF!)…what can I say about Rhys? I can’t separate the person from the performer in Rhys’ case so it makes me biased. I think, as a person, Rhys is on the highway to hell and it wouldn’t surprise me if, in years to come, he was found dead in a hotel room, alone, from an overdose of something. He just seems like such a car crash as a person. And a nasty piece of work too. So anyway, that’s where I’m coming from when talking about Rhys.Rhys Nicholson

But his comedy? Well, a lot of it was repeated from before which was disappointing. You knew the punchlines well ahead of time. But there was some new stuff and it was bloody funny. I laughed a lot at the new stuff. I guess if he wasn’t such a c*nt as a person, I’d probably be a big fan.

One thing that struck me overall about “Tom Ballard & Acquaintances” was that the performers weren’t very good at handling audience hecklers. I would have thought that would be a prerequisite for stand up comedians. James wrote on his website about Kelly & Belinda who caused a lot of problems at the beginning of the evening…Belinda more than Kelly really. But Tom just couldn’t deal with it. He tried in a really lame way but Belinda wasn’t having any of it. I wondered if that was a feature amongst Gen-Y comics – that they’re unable to handle the kind of heckling that older stand-up comedians the world over could handle without raising a sweat. Tom looked incredibly nervous and uncomfortable during the K & B episode. I felt sorry for him but wondered why he hadn’t perfected a “bit” to nip these kinds of “audience reactions” in the bud?

Kelly & Belinda were sitting at our table. It was a small venue and you can’t be too precious about who sits with you in these circumstances. And they looked pretty harmless at the beginning. But, as James describes, they turned into a nightmare. Normally I would be the one to rip off their heads and shit down their necks…but I just sat there quietly hoping they would “get the flash” that their talking and interrupting was going down like a lead balloon. James – Mr. Placid, Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. Doesn’t Do Aggression…you know James…well, he TURNED. And I mean T U R N E D! He told them to shut the fuck up and then later gave them a look and a comment that was so pure anger that it frightened me for a second. I’d never seen James like this. I thought he was gonna lose it. In hindsight, it was actually really fun to watch. Who the hell would interject or interrupt a show that James was at? Not me! Thank god he wasn’t carrying a gun! 😉

Overall it was a pretty good show…more hits than misses. I think they’d comped it out a bit, it certainly wasn’t packed but it definitely is an idea that I think Tom should pursue (as promoter and host). It could build quite a good following over time. Particularly with Tom’s high public profile as TripleJ breakfast presenter.

The Oxford Art Factory is a funny little venue. I couldn’t help thinking “this is where I used to spend a significant portion of my salary on import CDs when it was Central Station Records.” The layout for the evening, with tables & chairs, benches and even sofas was good. Bar service was slow but not appallingly so. I’m glad I went and thanks to James for the ticket.

An absolute blast at the Midnight Shift

DJ Frankie Shin

Simply the best...DJ Frankie Shin

Who would have thought Thursday night at the Midnight Shift would be such a blast? James & I had an absolutely terrific time there last night, arriving at about 11pm and not leaving until 2am or whenever they stopped serving 😉

I thought I’d landed back in Oxford Street in the 80s. When Gay venues were Gay venues and Gay people went to Gay venues to drink and pick up! Now everyone seems to prowl Manhunt and Gaydar and then meet for coffee. Erghhh!

But last night at the Shift, it was a classic Gay venue vibe. A mixed crowd of slightly/incredibly intoxicated people, many obviously there to find “Mr. Tonight” (not Mr. Right) and the absolute best music by DJ Frankie Shin.

Whatever assumptions I’d had about Frankie were blown out of the water last night. He looks about 12 but is, in fact, 40 and has been DJing for 22 years! He’s incredibly passionate about all sorts of music but he doesn’t have a huge ego like…well, every other DJ in Oxford Street! He’s actually a really lovely guy and he’s like a Duracell Bunny full of energy….he’s here, there and everywhere at the Midnight Shift.

James and I had a really nice chat with him after James had requested Frankie to play a Robyn song. Frankie actually gave us a suite of Robyn songs and then also played Alcazar for us as well. To top it all off, he gave us a free drink voucher each. Now look, I’ve been going to the Midnight Shift since nineteeneightyf…. (let’s not go there!) and had never had such a lovely experience.

Frankie has his own website http://www.frankieshin.com/ and, you might think from the website and the photo I’ve included with this blog entry, that he’s a kind of “uber too cool for school” kind of guy – but he’s not. He’s really lovely, friendly and down to earth.

Although the Shift was nowhere near packed, the collection of characters there was wonderful. A couple of very drunk shirtless guys, a couple of long pash sessions happening, stools falling over due to some over-enthusiastic intoxicated soon-to-be couples. And there was even a half-decent drag show as well.

I remembered how I used to go out to Gay pubs 4-5 nights a week in the late 80s/early 90s. There was always something happening between the Newtown Hotel, Town Hall Hotel Balmain, the Albury, the Flinders (and many others) etc. Sadly none of those exist as Gay venues anymore. Last night I reflected at how small Sydney’s true Gay scene has become. To people overseas Sydney is still seen as some kind of Gay Mecca due to the annual Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. But that’s no longer the case.

The number of dedicated Gay venues continues to decrease and the number of patrons at those venues also continues to decrease. A combination of venue owners who have no idea combined with the “Cafe Latte” set are combining to make Sydney a bit of a “has been” as far as Gay cities are concerned.

So that’s why last night was so refreshing. When James and I normally go to the Shift on Sunday nights, the atmosphere recently has been rather tragic. It is very difficult to find a normal Gay “pub” to have a drink in these days. They’re either full of pretentious and unfriendly Gen-Yers or they’ve gone “upmarket” and lost the very atmosphere that made them crowd-pleasers in the first place.

What parts of the Gay community are crying out for is a couple of traditional “Gay pubs” where you can go and relax with some camp music, reasonable drink prices and friendly bar staff. Well, at least the first two! There’s a large component of the community that would love to go somewhere Gay that they feel comfortable in. Somewhere that doesn’t hold 1,000 people and has a $20 cover charge! And the crazy thing is that these people actually buy drinks…they don’t (as a rule) take drugs and then go out and drink water all night. That no Gay entrepreneurs have exploited this profitable segment of the community is just bizarre.

But back to the Midnight Shift, late on a Thursday night…James and I had intended to pop in for one drink after seeing “Tom Ballard and Acquaintances” at the Oxford Art Factory.  But we stayed until the end because it was such a good atmosphere. If only I didn’t face a $30 cab fare home from these nights, I’d try and do a few more of them. It turned out to be quite an expensive night but, at one point I simply decided that I was having such a good time I didn’t care.

Thanks James, Midnight Shift and Frankie Shin….oh and thanks to the beer as well 😉

See Me / Show Me

Last year I went to Sweden for the first time in maybe 8 years. It was a fantastic trip and centred around Stockholm Pride 2009. In fact, it was such a good holiday that I went back again this year for Stockholm Pride 2010! 😉

I saw a lot of performers and performances at Pride Park in 2009 including Magnus Carlsson, ex-Alcazar, ex-Barbados. I’d never liked Barbados but I loved Alcazar. I liked Magnus as an individual singer but I wasn’t a huge fan like my friend James O’Brien. That all changed last year at Pride Park. I saw Magnus perform twice…the first time in a little intimate afternoon performance on the small stage. I was blown away…both by his voice and performance but also by his geniuneness. It radiated from the stage. He was humble. I had my photo taken with him – I became a fan!

One of the songs he did – he did a combination of Barbados / Alcazar and his own hits – was called “Se Mig”. Now every Swede knows this song – it was a Barbados entry in Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s national contest to choose an entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. But I didn’t know it. By the second time I saw Magnus perform it, I was quite choked up. I’m not sure why – there’s just something about the music and the vocals that speaks to me. Of course I knew the title translated as “See Me” but that’s about all. I’ve since seen a rough Google Translation so I now know what the song is about. Nothing earth-shatteringly profound, but still…a beautiful song.

Then tonight, while I’m having a Magnus Carlsson-Youtube fest, I discover there’s an English version of “Se Mig” called “Show Me”. The only version I can find has an awful TV announcer speaking over part of it – but still, it was an amazing find and great to compare it to the Swedish version.

And not only is there an English version, there is apparently a Spanish version. Someone on Youtube has mixed all three versions together as one song. It was quite bizarre to listen to. Suddenly this little song I heard at Stockholm Pride 2009 for the first time pops up in three different languages!

I’ve put two clips below…one of Magnus & Barbados doing Se Mig at Melodifestivalen…and then them performing the English version, Show Me on Swedish TV. Apologies for the bad picture quality of the first clip and the TV announcer speaking over the second clip!

Barrack Obama supporting Gay teens: Skanky Steph Rice should watch this!

A U.S. President saying something pro-Gay, being supportive of Gay teens…..well I never!!!! Barrack Obama, I salute you!

This is brilliant stuff. Someone should force Skanky (ex?) swimmer Stephanie “Suck on that faggots” Rice to watch this a hundred times.

The other side of the coin…

Some Gay teens may have committed suicide but at least Stephanie “Suck on that faggots” Rice still has her lucrative sponsorship contracts…

Stephanie Rice, suck on that faggots!

She ain't no Barrack Obama

 

Suck on that Faggots...Miss Stephanie Rice

Stale Rice

You’ve got a friend…unappreciated classic

When I look back, it seems like a hundred years ago that Sonia & Big Fun got together to record a single for the UK’s Childline charity.

Yoda tells me that it was supposed to be a recording of “You’ve Got a Friend”, the ancient Carole King classic. They even recorded it. But whatever happened, there was a change of mind at Stock/Aitken/Waterman headquarters and an original song was penned for release. Not that most people would really recognise it as an SAW composition – it’s a lovely ballad with a gorgeous saxaphone featured, played by Gary Barnacle.

I remember paying a shitload for the 12″ import of this single…as was usual for a lot of my SAW collection. Still, the covers were beautiful from the UK – top quality cardboard and printing. It was worth it. Not like the shitty Australian releases. Anyway, that’s an altogether different subject. “A horse of an entirely different feather,” as Dorrie Evans used to say.

The studio part of this film clip is classic SAW – a total budget of about 50 pence (including VAT)! But you know what, it actually works for this song. Just having the Big Fun boys and Sonia sitting in a circle singing the song suits it. The real story of course is the black & white footage of the kid leaving home and wandering the streets until he decides to ring “Childline” for help.

All in all, it’s a really lovely song with a nice video.

Happily, Big Fun’s original SAW album “Pocketful of Miracles” album has been remastered featuring bonus tracks and 12″ versions (…and, funnily enough, it’s my next mail order purchase!