Glenda Jackson debunks Thatcher eulogising that’s been going round since the witch died.

Fabulous speech throwing some reality into the faux-sadness that seems to be pervading the reactions to the death of Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher was an evil c*nt. End of story.

Glenda Jackson reminds us why this evil entity should not be remembered with any fondness or respect.


Sydney Drag Shows: THEM in A Fantasy Fable

“In the flower there was a fairy…and the fairy said…three wishes! Mother got a pool. Daddy got a horse. And I got a dress.”

THEM…in A Fantasy Fable, December 4, 1986 at the Newtown Hotel. (THEM – Terror, Horror, Excitement, Mystery – were (in this incarnation) Jay Jay Bailey, Robyn Lee and Tallulah Bright). This video is the first part of the show.

I think A Fantasy Fable might have been a bit too “out there” for most Thursday late-night-shopping punters at the Newtown. I remember quite a mixed crowd reaction to it at the time. A really bizarre mix of song choices and storyline from Jay Jay. Her creativity and wild thinking is quite apparent in this show. And trying to fit all this mayhem on the tiny, tiny Newtown stage was quite a challenge!

By this time I was working behind the scenes as a dresser for THEM. The day of the opening I was helping the girls out with last minute costume preparations by applying feathers to various costumes. Looking back through my old photos I’ve realised the reason I don’t have any of “A Fantasy Fable” is because I was working on the show at the time! Pity.

Jay Jay used two songs from Klaus Sperber, better known as Klaus Nomi, a German countertenor noted for his wide vocal range and an unusual, otherworldly stage persona.

Nomi was known for his bizarrely visionary theatrical live performances, heavy make-up, unusual costumes, and a highly stylized signature hairdo which flaunted a receding hairline. His songs were equally unusual, ranging from synthesizer-laden interpretations of classical music opera to covers of 1960s pop standards like Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” and Lou Christie’s “Lightnin’ Strikes”.

Jay Jay had previously used Klaus’ version of “Falling In Love Again” in an earlier THEM show, “Twisted”.

Two songs from Sid & Marty Kroft’s classic “PufnStuf – The Movie” (1970) were also used – “Different” and “Zap The World”.

A Fantasy Fable featured “Craving For That Kind of Love” which went on to become somewhat of a signature tune/triumph for Tallulah. Interestingly, she didn’t like the song when she first heard it and Jay Jay had to insist that she do it in the show. Her faux-strip tease to the song instantly became a crowd favourite.

A Fantasy Fable is also notable as it was the last show that Tallulah was part of as THEM. Tallulah resigned to move on to other shows and was replaced by Ginger Benson.

My Lost Gay Sydney

For the last couple of months I’ve been posting a lot of photos to the Facebook group called ‘LOST GAY SYDNEY’. Some 5,000+ people are in the group which is all about posting photos, articles and memories from the days when Sydney had a vibrant, living Gay scene and when Oxford Street, Darlinghurst really was ‘the golden mile.’

My era in Gay Sydney dates back to the 80s when I moved up from Adelaide to live and work in Sydney. Discovering the youth group ‘Young Gays’ and Sydney’s vibrant pubs and clubs resulted in a complete lifestyle change for me. I was out on the scene up to five nights a week – mostly seeing my favourite drag shows at venues like Patchs, the Honest Irishman Hotel, the Town Hall Hotel at Balmain as well as the Albury and many others which have now sadly faded into history.

I thought it would be fun to put some of the pictures I’ve scanned and posted into a video/slide show presentation with an appropriate song as the soundtrack. The song I’ve used is ‘Wonderland’ by Alcazar which is wonderfully evocative of someone reflecting back on their years as a young party-party-party boy. In fact, without getting morbid, I actually have told everyone I want ‘Wonderland’ to be the song played at my funeral.

Someof the identities/people in the video are…
Skye Brooks
Maggie Burns
Stefanie Powers
Penny Clifford
Chris Da Bonafin
Tallulah Bright
Dot Dingle/David Wilkins
Fanny Farquhar/Ron Handley
Caroline Clark
Marcia Monterey
Rose Leaf
Cynthia Randall
David ‘Hilda’ Hiscock
Severe Inflation
Doris Fish
Dawn O’Donnell
Judy Glen
Ken ‘Çandy’ Johnson
Don Dailey
Pola Negri
Toni Jay
Trudi Valentine
Rodney Dean
Robyn Lee
Jay Jay Bailey
Ginger Benson
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Tobi Saunders
Christie McNicholl
Miss 3D
Maggie Kirkpatrick

View From A Pig….can’t take anymore!

Suicide? Rape? War? Insanity? Yes please!

Could this be the 6 o’clock news I’m talking about? No?

What about pop music?

Well, if we’re talking Kim Wilde, the answer is most definitely yes!

I’ve always had a love of drama in pop music. Songs that tell a story – quite often a depressing story – in 3 1/2 minutes. The amazing Cher did it in 2 1/2 minutes in the early 70s – Dark Lady, Gypsies Tramps & Thieves, Half Breed, Carousel Man, I Saw A Man And He Danced With His Wife…in fact Cher’s original Greatest Hits is wall to wall high-drama!

But in the early 80s there was another artist who excelled in this regard. Kim Wilde. Kim’s early 80s career, with hits written by her brother and father, was awash with 3 1/2 minute pop dramas. And I bought all these classic singles back then. Couldn’t get enough of them!

My good friend John McKechnie always refers to “View From A Bridge” as “View From A Pig” because that’s what he really thought the song was called back then. Talk about misheard lyrics!

Wikipedia succinctly talks about this song thusly: “The song told the story of a girl committing suicide by jumping off a bridge”

Hardly Top 10 pop fodder you’d think. And yet, like all of Kim’s early classics, the pop sensibilities of the song were beyond reproach. Stunning music, confronting lyrics and Kim’s unique vocal styles all wrapped up in 3 /12 minutes of pop perfection.

“Child Come Away” was hardly a “I love you love me” typical pop lyric…..

“I read the story ’bout a week ago
They found her on the beach that night.
They said the light had gone out of her eyes
And no-one thinks she’ll ever be right.”

I could only conclude way back then that the girl had been raped and bashed by an ex-boyfriend. No sunshine, lollypops and rainbows in this little ditty! The video for the song only seems to emphasize the drama…police, witnesses, curious onlookers…it’s all there!

These songs were just perfect for gay boys with a flair for the dramatic. You didn’t so much LISTEN to Kim Wilde’s hits as IMMERSE yourself in them – they fired the imagination. You made up the visuals in your head and cast yourself as the lead in the story!

Of “Cambodia”, Wikipedia tells us “The lyrics, telling the story of the wife of a Thailand-based RAF, whose husband mysteriously disappears after flying out to Cambodia and never returns, are inspired by some of the tragedies that occurred in South Vietnam. In writing the lyrics, Marty Wilde imagined an American pilot flying in a F-4 Phantom II and getting shot down by a surface-to-air missile.”

Um, okay. So we’re not doing “I love you love me” this time either? No, apparently not!

He used to cry some nights as though he lived a dream.
And as she held him close he used to search her face
As though she knew the truth – lost inside Cambodia.
But then a call came through
they said he’d soon be home.
She had to pack a case and they would make a rendezvous.
But now a year has passed and not a single word
And all the love she knew
Has disappeared out in the haze.

Again, the video for the song adds to the drama….jungles, screaming soldiers, writhing snakes…

So um, yeah, you can see why I might have trouble with today’s mega chart hits that have lyrics like…

“Yeah, yeah
When I walk on by, girls be looking like damn he fly
I pimp to the beat, walking on the street in my new lafreak, yeah
This is how I roll, animal print, pants outta control,
It’s Red-Fu with the big ass fro
And like Bruce Leroy I got the glow”

Today, we’re all living in a dumbed-down world with dumbed-down music for dumbed-down people: everyone knows the cost of an iPhone but the value of nothing.

So, when the emptiness gets a bit too much, go back and rediscover the exquisite drama of Kim Wilde in the early 80s…

Very Best of Kim Wilde

Maxine: Case 1352

I received a tweet from Gen Z Gay-schlock comedian,  the out-of-control Rhys Nicholson last night. James & I are both convinced Rhys’s future concerns having his body found washed up on a riverbank somewhere or in a hotel room with a needle sticking out of his arm.

Thinking about him again this morning, “Maxine” came into my mind…and I couldn’t get the song out of my head. Maybe Rhys is 2011’s “Maxine”? Anyway, it is an absolute classic song and video.

My heart goes bang bang, bang bang

Phil Harding's insider view of PWL

I’m going through somewhat of a large Stock/Aitken/Waterman resurgence at the moment. Partially because of new CD reissues of classic SAW artists like Sonia, Big Fun & Boy Krazy. But also because of new book I’m reading by PWL (Pete Waterman Ltd) mixer Phil Harding. The book is called “PWL from the Factory Floor” and is an inside account of those crazy SAW years in the 80s/very early 90s.

Phil Harding along with his partner Ian Curnow did all those fantastic HARDING/CURNOW remixes for SAW songs. Phil describes Mike Stock and Matt Aitken as the “A” Team at the studio and he and Ian as the “B” team. If you think about some of those wonderful 12″ mixes like Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” Murder Mix and the 12″ mix of “Venus” by Bananarama…well, Phil’s work speaks for itself.

The 12″ Murder Mix of  “You Spin Me Round” didn’t leave my turntable much for about 9 months in 1985. And the 12″ of “Venus” was magic – to see the look on the faces of people when DJs would play this at – for example – the Newtown Hotel – was incredible. The mood of the place changed instantly. It was as if everyone had suddenly taken an “upper”! 😉 And then it was a rush to the dance floor. Even people (like me) who wouldn’t normally dance.

Phil Harding’s book is a great read if you’re interested in the history around SAW & PWL. And it is written without a lot of ego and big-noting which makes it different from other books written about the same subject matter.

The whole SAW/PWL era had such a profound influence on me – I couldn’t even calculate how much money I spent on their records (and still am with all these CD special edition reissues!) I am always eager to hear stories of what really went on behind the scenes and all the characters who made up the PWL team back then.

The SAW/PWL wasn’t as much of a phenomenon in Australia as it was in the U.K. It has been difficult, over the years, to have anyone understand what I’m talking about when discuss my enthusiasm/obsession with Stock/Aitken/Waterman. Yeah they know Kylie and they know Jason and they maybe know Dead or Alive…but they don’t have any idea how all these iconic records came together or why. If I said “Today’s Sound, Tomorrow’s Technology” or “The Sound of a Bright Young Britain” to someone here, they’d think I was nuts.

So that makes “PWL From the Factory Floor” even more special to read. Someone who was a key part of the whole thing telling the story – and someone who gets it, someone who REALLY gets it!

Phil talks about how a lot of the iconic songs were created originally as 12″ versions and then cut down for the 7″ single/radio versions. This makes perfect sense to me because some of the 12″ versions just seem so perfect and complete. “Venus”, “You Spin Me Round” and “You Think You’re A Man” being excellent examples of this. I always think of the 12″ versions when I remember them. “Venus” even had a 12″ film clip (video) which was quite revolutionary at the time.

Dead or Alive were an early act to come under the SAW umbrella. The classic “Youthquake” LP produced “You Spin Me Round”, “Lover Come Back To Me”, “In Too Deep” and, of course, “My Heart Goes Bang Bang”….

(links below may require you to click through to YouTube depending on where you are in the world)

Thank you Phil Harding (& Ian Curnow) for being such an essential part of this magic era and helping produce this music that has stayed with me for the last 25 years. And thank you Phil for writing the book and giving the view from the Hit Factory floor!

Would you give a little bit of Attention To Me?

I’m having a “Nolans” moment earlier today. Last night it was a “Mamma Cass” moment and I’m morphing into having a “Kim Wilde” moment right now.

It’s been a strange few days. I’ve been sick with a cold, had a day off work, had a day at work feeling like a zombie and now have an unbearably painful toe. Possibly due to some kind of arthritis. Or something else.

Yesterday Yoda and I checked a flat available for rent in his block. The rent seemed cheaper than the current marketplace where all flats are offensively priced by greedy landlords and greedier real estate agents.

This one was being let by Richardson & Wrench and was open for inspection for 15 minutes. Yes, that’s all you get thesedays – 15 minutes. And people were lining up to see it.

It was disgusting. Filthy. Disgusting. Damaged. Worn. Dirty. And many other similar words. The landlord had no intention of fixing or cleaning anything – the Richardson & Wrench representative said “what you see is what you get”.

I just think it should be against the law for a flat to be advertised at over $300 per week when it is a hovel. It is 2010 and we are in New South Wales, not the third world. There should be legislation forcing real estate agents and landlords to make sure premises are in reasonable condition BEFORE being able to rent them out.

Yoda and I wandered from room to room a number of times. Since I have to move, we’re looking at all options. I’m not particularly demanding when it comes to somewhere to live. I don’t have high expectations. But this place was really awful. There was mould on the walls, the enamel on the bath was significantly damaged, walls were yellow with age and dirt. Yucky, yucky, yucky.

So I crossed that one off the list and Yoda and I went on a bus ride to Leichhardt and Annandale, coming back via Officeworks at Glebe and JB HiFi at Leichhardt. He bought the 2010 Eurovision double-CD and I bought Season 8 of “Family Guy” for a good price. I needed some indoor entertainment since the weather had turned (again) and I wasn’t feeling all that great.

I got a six pack of something called Tasman Gold mid-strength beer. It was only $8.99 compared to $13 for anything else I wanted. It tasted okay actually. I don’t normally drink at home but the combination of the weather, feeling off-colour and having an excruciatingly painful toe all combined to make me buy a 6-pack and a DVD! 😉

Today has been a bust as well. Apart from the Nolans and Kim Wilde, I’ve managed to put a load of washing on…and forget to turn the power on the washing machine. And not much else.

Unless you count surfing the web in my pyjamas and eating junk food.

This will not go down as one of my “classic” weekends.