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‘Torchwood’ star John Barrowman opens Commonwealth Games with same-sex kiss

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Well done to Torchwood star John Barrowman, who opened the twentieth Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last night with a kiss.

The ceremony, which was held at Celtic Park in the city’s east end, began with a kitsch musical number performed by Barrowman and comedy actress Karen Dunbar celebrating Scotland’s diverse culture and history. In front of an estimated television audience of 1.5 billion, Mr. Barrowman kissed one of the kilted male dancers during a sequence on Gretna Green—the romantic village where eloping couples have traditionally married.

The kiss was accompanied by shouts of “Here’s to equality in Scotland.”

The bill for gay marriage in Scotland received Royal assent in March this year, and the first gay weddings will take place in 2015.

The theme of the opening ceremony was equality for all, and Mr. Barrowman’s kiss highlighted the fact that homosexuality is a prisonable offense in an astonishing 42 of the 54 Commonwealth nations taking part on the games.

Among the other artists taking part in the “Friendly games” opening ceremony were Rod Stewart, Nicola Bendetti, Amy MacDonald, DJ Mylo, Billy Connolly, Susan Boyle, Karen Dunbar, Ewan MacGregor and 41 Scottish Terriers. Read a review here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The most idiotic moment on Fox News so far today


 
Fox and Friends’ resident cheerful idiot Steve Doocy is obviously one of the stupidest people on television. Doocy comes off as so completely brainless that his utterly gormless co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Elisabeth Hasselbeck look good (or at least slightly better) by comparison. One would have to think that Fox News viewers with low to barely average IQs would be perceptive enough to realize that Steve Doocy is an abject buffoon. I don’t think SNL even does Fox and Friends parodies anymore, do they? Why bother?

In any case, this morning Doocy made a game attempt to get a small number of “Fox fans” (as he called them) to react negatively to the new multigender bathroom signage at Illinois State University (This is the latest “outrage” on Fox News, in case you aren’t aware of it, even though they are for single-occupancy restrooms!)

Here’s how it went down, live on Fox News as Chyron captions read: “Bathroom Boondoggle: Are New Gender Signs Just Too Confusing?” and “Gender Bender”!

Doocy: “See, they were designated as ‘family restrooms’ in the past and now, apparently, they’re going to be known as ‘all-gender’ restrooms! Does that make sense?”

Woman: “Restrooms for both genders.”

Doocy: “That’s right. Bathrooms for both genders, or transgenders!”

Man: “Transgender, that’s right.”

Unable to rile up even the slightest bit of “moral” indignation, let alone any anxiety even among these “Fox fans,” the floundering Doocy quickly threw it back to his co-tool Brian Kilmeade in the studio who then, astonishingly, offered up pretty much one of the truest things that I’ve ever heard a Fox anchor say (if only accidently):

“Well, they’re better people than us.”

Yes, indeed they are. Most people are better people than bigoted Fox News morning show hosts, I’d have to agree with that and this segment proved it. In spades!

Just yesterday, Fox News ran a story mocking the University’s attempt to accommodate everyone with equal respect.
 

 

Bonus clip, Steve Doocy before his tenure at Fox and Friends, back when he was a serious journalist…
 
Via Media Matters

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Polari: The secret language of gay men

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“How bona to vada your dolly old eek” may sound like gibberish, but it is in fact a warm greeting often used by gay men in England between the 1930s and early 1970s. It literally means: “How good to see your lovely/pleasant face,” and is a delightful example of the secret language Polari.

Polari comes from the Italian word “pralare” meaning “to talk” and is a mixture of Lingua Franca, Yiddish, Italian, Cockney, and slang and was a common language used by circus performers, actors, sailors, criminals, and prostitutes in the UK and Ireland from the late 16th century on. In the 1930s, Polari became the secret language for gay men to gossip in public, cruise for partners and identify one another. Polari fell out of use in the late sixties, after the UK government decriminalized homosexuality in 1967. It also fell out of favor with the more politically correct gay liberationists who saw Polari as an outdated and unhelpful stratagem.
 

 
Yet, Polari persists to be used today, and for anyone who wants to zhoosh up their vocab, then have varder at this beginner’s guide to Polari:

ajax  -  nearby
alamo  -  hot for you/him
aunt nell  -  listen, hear
aunt nells  -  ears
aunt nelly fakes  -  earrings
aunt nell danglers  -  earrings
barney  -  a fight
basket  -  the bulge of male genitals through clothes
batts  -  shoes
bibi  -  bisexual
bitch  -  effeminate or passive gay man
bijou  -  small/little
blag  -  pick up
blue  -  code word for “homosexual”
bod  -  body
bona  -  good
bona nochy  -  goodnight
bonaroo  -  wonderful, excellent
bungery  -  pub
butch  -  masculine; masculine lesbian
buvare  -  a drink
cackle  -  talk/gossip
camp  -  effeminate
capello/capella  -  hat
carsey  -  toilet, also spelt khazi
carts/cartso  -  penis
cats  -  trousers
charper  -  to search
charpering omi  -  policeman
charver  -  to shag/a shag/ have sex
chicken  -  young man
clobber  -  clothes
cod  -  naff, vile
cottage  -  a public lavatory used for sexual encounters
cottaging  -  seeking or obtaining sexual encounters in public lavatories
cove  -  friend
crimper  -  hairdresser
dally  -  sweet, kind
dilly boy  -  a male prostitute
dinari   -  money
dish  -  buttocks/backside
dolly  -  pretty, nice, pleasant
dona  -  woman
dorcas  -  term of endearment, “one who cares”
drag  -  clothes, esp. women’s clothes
doss  -  bed
ecaf  -  face (backslang)
eek  -  face (abbv. of ecaf)
ends  -  hair
esong  -  nose
fantabulosa  -  fabulous/wonderful
feele/freely/filly  -  child/young
fruit  -  queen
funt  -  pound
gelt  -  money
handbag  -  money
hoofer  -  dancer
HP (homy polone)  -  effeminate gay man
jarry  -  food
jubes  -  breasts
kaffies  -  trousers
khazi  -  toilet, also spelt carsey
lacoddy  -  body
lallies  -  legs
lallie tappers  -  feet
latty/lattie  -  room, house or apartment
lills  -  hands
lilly  -  police
lyles  -  legs
lucoddy  -  body
luppers  -  fingers
mangarie  -  food, also jarry
martinis  -  hands
measures  -  money
meese  -  plain, ugly
meshigener  -  nutty, crazy, mental
metzas  -  money
mince  -  walk (affectedly)
naff  -  awful, dull, hetero
nanti  -  not, no, none
National Handbag  -  dole, welfare, government financial assistance
ogle  -  look, admire
ogles  -  eyes
oglefakes  -  glasses
omi  -  man
omi-palone  -  effeminate man, or homosexual
onk  -  nose
orbs  -  eyes
oven  -  mouth
palare pipe  -  telephone
palliass  -  back
park, parker  -  give
plate  -  feet; to fellate
palone  -  woman
palone-omi  -  lesbian
pots  -  teeth
remould  - sex change
riah/riha  -  hair
riah zhoosher  -  hairdresser
rough trade  -  a working class or blue collar sex partner or potential sex partner; a tough, thuggish or potentially violent sex partner
scarper -  to run off
schlumph  -  drink
scotch  -  leg (Scotch egg=leg)
screech  -  mouth, speak
sharpy  -  policeman (from charpering omi)
sharpy polone  -  policewoman
shush  -  steal
shush bag  -  hold-all
shyker/shyckle  -  wig
slap  -  makeup
so  -  homosexual (e.g. “Is he ‘so’?”)
stimps  -  legs
stimpcovers  -  stockings, hosiery
strides -  trousers
strillers  -  piano
switch -  wig
thews  -  thighs
tober  -  road
todd (Sloanne)  -  alone
tootsie trade  - sex between two passive homosexuals
trade  -  sex, sex-partner, potential sex-partner
troll -  to walk about (esp. looking for trade)
vada/varder  -  to see / look
vera (lynn)  -  gin
vogue  -  cigarette
vogueress  -  female smoker
willets  -  breasts
yews  -  eyes
zhoosh  -  style hair, tart up, mince
zhoosh our riah  -  style our hair
zhooshy  -  showy

 

 
For those who wish to learn more, then have varder at Paul Baker’s Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang, which should improve your cackle over a few veras down the bungery.

But Polari wasn’t always kept a secret, in the 1960s, comedy writers Marty Feldman and Barry Took subversively brought Polari into every British household with their hit BBC radio series Round the Horne. Through their characters “Julian” and “Sandy,” as played by Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick, Feldman and Took were able to use Polari to get many an innuendo and double entendre-laden sketch past the BBC’s censors.

Here’s your host Kenneth Horne visiting Julian and Sandy’s “Bona Books”:
 

 
Mr. Horne visits Julian and Sandy’s “Bona Suits’:
 

 

 
Morrissey’s Bona Drag (“Nice outfit” in Polari) album and the single “Piccadilly Palare” (about male prostitutes working London’s Piccadilly Circus) brought Polari into the 1990s.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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There’s an Iranian imitation of ‘Modern Family,’ but it’s minus Cam and Mitchell
07.02.2014
10:47 am

Topics:
Belief
Queer
Television

Tags:
Modern Family


 
When I first stumbled upon Haft Sang (translation: Seven Stones)—the Iranian version of ABC’s Modern Family—I was excited to see just how the gay characters Mitchell and Cam would be portrayed in this Iranian version of a “modern family.” Sadly, both important characters—who make the show, IMO—have been replaced with hetrosexual characters. 

In Haft Sang, an unauthorized remake of the show, their parts have either been written out or given a heterosexual makeover as Iranian TV tries to translate the appeal of the ABC hit show within the strict religious guidelines of an Iranian theocratic state.

Other characters have also had their genders changed to avoid depicting pre-marital mixing of men and women to Iranian audiences.

Not very modern now, is it?

Below, a side-by-side comparison of Haft Sang and Modern Family:

 
Via Gay Star News

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground’: The best book yet on the dawn of punk rock

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Early band shot of Blondie

In the now long line of endless punk rock history cash-in books being pumped out from every corner of the world it’s shocking to find the one book that’s not like the others. Paul Zone’s Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground published by Glitterati Inc. is a coffee table book brimming with amazing, unseen photos and the life story of Paul and his brothers Miki Zone and Mandy Zone and their bands The Fast and later, Man 2 Man. What makes this book different is its author and the time frame it takes place in.

There was a short moment when everything was happening at once, no one knew or cared and the only band that had an audience or a record deal was the New York Dolls. As early as 1974 Patti Smith was playing, as was Television, Wayne County, Suicide and Blondie. The Ramones were starting to play at CBGB (opening for a drag show that starred Tomata du Plenty later of Screamers fame), KISS was pretty much in this same scene playing to about five people with many bands like The Planets And Paul’s brothers The Fast were playing alongside of them. At one point, sub-culturally speaking, all the cards were thrown up in the air and no one knew where they were going to land. It was a very small group of friends almost all of whom would, in a few short years, become icons of pop culture,
 
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Johnny Thunders, early 70’s

At the time, Paul Zone was very young. Too young to be in a band, but not too young to see a band or be snuck into the back room at Max’s Kansas City. And not too young to document this exciting time in his life by photographing everything. There are very few photos of this period when punk rock was actually occurring in the midst of the glitter rock scene. When the up and down escalators of rock ‘n’ roll infinity met and EVERYONE was hungry on the way up AND on the way down. There was change in the air, excitement and confusion.

Seeing Alan Vega of Suicide performing in a loft in 1973 with a huge blonde wig and a gold painted face is unbelievable. The years the photos in the book span are 1971 to 1978. Most are snapshots of friends hanging out when everyone was still on the starting line. The Fast were one of the more popular of these bands who let their new friends Blondie and The Ramones open for them in small New York clubs.

Early photos of The Fast show them amazingly in full glitter regalia with KISS-like make up (Miki Zone has a heart painted over one eye, etc.) but this was before KISS! There are a few photos of icons of the time like Alice Cooper (watching cartoons in his hotel room), Marc Bolan, The Stooges, etc. (a good one of KISS with about three people in the audience, as mentioned above). Most are of friends just hanging out, having a ball, not knowing or caring about the future and without that dividing line in music history called “punk rock.” It is truly a treasure to see something this rare, and even better, 99% of these photos have never been seen before.
 
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Wayne County long before becoming Jayne County

By 1976 Paul Zone was old enough to join his brothers and became the lead singer of the version of The Fast that made records. Sadly due to poor management decisions The Fast got left behind that first punk wave and watched as almost all of their buddies become some of the most famous faces in music history. How amazing that all of these people were friends just hanging out, broke and creative going to see each other play, talking shit and influencing each other in ways they didn’t even realize?
 
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Joey Ramone eating dessert at Paul Zone’s parents house at 5 am

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Linda Ramone, future design icon Anna Sui, Nick Berlin and me, Howie Pyro (The Blessed) at Coney Island 1978

After a few years of struggling, The Fast trimmed down to just brothers Miki and Paul Zone and some early electronic equipment. They finally let go of the name The Fast and became Man to Man, one of the first Hi-NRG electro dance music groups, recording with the likes of Bobby Orlando and Man Parrish. They had huge hits worldwide and here in dance clubs like “Male Stripper” and “Energy Is Eurobeat,”
 
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Suicide’s Alan Vega, early 70’s

This book is three quarters a photo book and one quarter autobiography, cutting to the point and perfect for this modern, short attention span world. It is packed with so much amazing first hand information in such a short amount of text that no one will be disappointed. Playground was co-written by Jake Austen of Roctober Magazine, with a foreword by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. The book is available here
 
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If you are in the Los Angeles area this Saturday, June 28th, there will be a book release party and photo exhibit (with many of these photos printed HUGE) at Lethal Amounts Gallery at 8 pm.
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
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An Old Punk Kicks New Ass: The Bob Mould interview
06.25.2014
10:49 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Queer

Tags:
Boing Boing
Bob Mould


 
bOING bOING’s David Pescovitz got a chance to interview one of his musical heroes—and that would be none other than Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü fame. They talk guitar gear, gay life, story-telling through music, what inspired his new album and the DIY spirit of punk rock. There are also several musical performances.

For 35 years, Bob Mould has been an icon of punk culture. In 1979, he and Hüsker Dü played their first show, paving the way for Nirvana, The Pixes, Foo Fighters, and really the entire realm of alternative rock. Hüsker Dü burned out in 1987, but Bob kept his creative fire burning, releasing more than a dozen albums as a solo artist and with his beloved 1990s band Sugar. Bob has always followed his own path, taking a brief detour as a writer for World Championship Wrestling, embracing his life as a gay man outed later in life, penning a funny and moving memoir titled See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, playing in the house band for the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and supporting numerous righteous causes at every turn. Everything Bob does, he does on his own terms. He is humble, yet takes his legacy very seriously. He is warm, funny, earnest, and wise and continues to inspire young musicians and artists pushing the limits of independent culture.

On the occasion of this month’s release of his latest album, the majestic Beauty & Ruin, Bob Mould kindly spent a day with Boing Boing to share his songs and stories. We are honored to bring that singular experience to you.

Take it away Pesco and Bob Mould…
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Bijou’: Wakefield Poole’s pioneering gay art film, a sensual and sensory experience
06.24.2014
05:18 pm

Topics:
Movies
Queer
Sex

Tags:
Wakefield Poole

Montage in Wakefield Poole's Bijou
 
The early 1970s was an electric time to be an artist. All of the currents of change and cultural revolution were crackling, helping create a creative atmosphere that was the perfect hothouse to challenge and re-route convention. A filmmaker that emerged in this era that broke ground both for the LGBT community as well as the cinematic community was Wakefield Poole. He’s a southern boy with an enviable resume in the theatre, including working with the Ballet Russe before becoming both a respected choreographer and Theatre director. By 1971, he broke new ground with his film Boys in the Sand, a pioneering explicit gay film that achieved mainstream crossover success and was positively reviewed in Variety. Following up the huge success of Boys, Poole created something truly unexpected, unique and dreamlike. He made Bijou.

Bijou is less of a structured, narrative film and more of a living, breathing sensual and sensory experience. The human center of the film is a young construction worker (Bill Harrison), who looks both masculine and boyish. He finishes his shift and starts to head home. On the way, he ends up seeing a lanky woman (Cassandra Hart) getting hit by a car. Her purse ends up flying in the air near him and impulsively, he grabs it, but not quite for the reasons one would think.
 
An invitation to Bijou
 
Instead of dashing for the cash, once home, he examines the contents, all basic items like lipstick and keys, almost like a curious child. Curious is the right word for it since the one unique item he finds is an invitation to a place called “Bijou.” He showers up and heads to this mysterious place. As soon as he arrives, the starkness of the concrete jungle on the outside, not to mention the muted tones of his teensy apartment are replaced with bright, vivid, Italian-style lighting set against black walls. He hands his invite over to a ticket-taker worthy of a Fellini film. He enters the main area.
 
Get your ticket here
 
Lit up theatrical style signs instruct him to remove his shoes, then clothing. He is flanked by a Dan Flavin-inspired lighting design, then descends deeper into a surrealistic landscape where sculptures and objects are framed in a way that makes them transformatively huge and take on a new life. He then stumbles upon a nude man, lying face down and supine on the ground. They start to make love. More men enter and instead of the aggressive, slap and tickle orgy antics that such a scenario would normally entail, especially in explicit film, what follows is a sweet, intimate and yet, a 100% artsy experience.

Poole’s theatrical directing background shines sweet and strong. He frames the human body like a trained painter or sculptor. Every physical act is there not so much to arouse pure pleasure, but more to invoke a quizzical but sweet mood. Our protagonist is basically cocooned in a languid landscape of love. Like any proper dream, there are hints of darkness, including one gorgeous, but troubled looking Steve Reeves look-a-like who wanders around brandishing a whip like Chekhov’s gun that never, ever goes off. He never gets directly involved, except at one point loosely wrapping the whip around the lead’s neck. But that never quite goes anywhere, as if the affection of the other men exorcises the violent threat away before it can bloom into anything truly sinister.
 
Angst with the muscleman.
 
Poole has very carefully weaved everything together here, with every element, whether it is the lighting, composition, the use of audio (including one of the best incorporation of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” ever) or even the dearth of dialogue, which is basically relegated to the tiny handful of lines the human pastiche ticket taker utters, creating an experience like no other. Even more important, though, is is his body of work, with Bijou being a huge part of the picture. This film was a revelation for the gay community. Gone are the stereotypes, especially the “self-loathing” homosexual and in its place are human beings of different physicalities being expressive in a way that conveys the message that hey, not only is it okay that you are gay but in fact, it is beautiful. This is some life altering and occasionally, life saving, stuff, especially when your realize that the specter of the Stonewall riots were only three years behind the film. Even more importantly is that Bijou was made the year before the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
 
Reflection and Self Love in Bijou
 
Luckily, Bijou has recently gotten a very nice DVD release courtesy of the great folks over at Vinegar Syndrome. The print looks lovely and there are some terrific extras, with the absolute highlight being a director’s commentary with Poole himself. He reveals himself to be incredibly sharp, funny and quite warm. Hearing him talk about how he intentionally crafted Bijou to be obtuse, leaving everything wide open for any and all interpretation, is a gem. There are no right and wrong answers, granting all the power to the viewer. Which is a ballsy move, all the more fitting for such a bold movie.
 

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
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CIA facial recognition software identifies pic of ‘unknown woman’ as Francis Bacon in drag
06.19.2014
08:47 am

Topics:
Art
Queer
Science/Tech

Tags:
Francis Bacon
John Deakin

Francis Bacon?
“Unknown woman, 1930s” (detail)—is this Francis Bacon in drag?
 
In April of this year, the British newspaper The Guardian ran a gallery of photos by John Deakin, a well-known British photographer from the postwar era who was part of the Soho circle of artists and writers centered around the Colony Room, a private drinking club, that included Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and J.P. Donleavy. Deakin worked on and off for Vogue, but his alcoholism and tempestuous personality ruled out sustained employment. Deakin had aspirations to be a painter, like Freud and Bacon, but his most resonant work came as a photographer; he died in near-obscurity in 1972, but his reputation has blossomed since then. The Guardian ran the gallery as a tie-in to a retrospective of Deakin’s work, “John Deakin and the Lure of Soho,” at the Photographers’ Gallery in London that will be on through July 20.
 
John Deakin
“Unknown woman, 1930s”
 
The final picture of the Guardian’s gallery of 12 pictures was titled “Unknown woman, 1930s.” Commenter bullshotcrummond pointed out that a press release had identified the image as “Transvestite, 1950s.” In response, another commenter, congokid, replied, “Or is it Bacon in drag?” At this point, Paul Rousseau, collection manager of the John Deakin Archive, decided to give the image a second look. He quickly determined that congokid’s remark might have merit. “I’d never considered it before, annoyingly,” he said.

As The Guardian reported:
 

Searching through the archive, he was able to establish that the photo was one of a set dated 1945 (making them some of the oldest in the Deakin collection), possibly taken for Lilliput magazine, a publication with a reputation for risque photography. There were 15 images in all, and Rousseau immediately set about establishing who the models might be. “I quickly landed on his closest friends Denis Wirth-Miller and Richard (Dickie) Chopping. Denis was a painter and Dickie was semi-famous for designing the original dustjackets for the James Bond books.”

“Dickie was known to love dragging up; he was dame every year at the RCA when he became a lecturer there in 1962. And there are many references to Bacon’s interest in drag, his wearing of women’s knickers and stockings.”

Using facial recognition software developed by the CIA, Rousseau produced videos which show that the similarity between Deakin’s cross-dressing sitters and these men is, if not conclusive, then certainly startling.

 
The question of the identity of the photograph’s subject touches on issues of taboo and criminality of the era. Before the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which decriminalized homosexuality in the UK, pictures of men in drag were used in prosecutions against gay men. As a results, Deakin’s vague labeling of the photo and the fact that he never published the photo in his lifetime may relate to the important ramifications that distributing it might have incurred. As the Guardian notes, “By never publishing the photos, Deakin may have posthumously undermined his reputation as the nastiest man in Soho.”
 
Francis Bacon
 
The similarity in the facial structure is compelling, to be sure, but there is a picture of a bare-chested Bacon dating from 1952 in the same Guardian gallery in which “Unknown woman, 1930s” appears. In that picture, he looks, to my eye, a good deal younger than the person in the “drag” picture, which Rousseau has dated as 1945.

There is also the question the Guardian brings up, namely that of “cleavage”:
 

While the face is very much like Bacon’s and the mole on the model’s chest closely matches that which can be seen in the famous picture of Bacon holding two sides of meat, it is impossible to ignore the substantial cleavage.”

“Deakin was known to fiddle about with photos using basic overpainting techniques,” says Rousseau. “Or did Bacon learn to manipulate his ‘moobs’ like that from his years in Weimar Berlin?”

 
Francis Bacon
 
Here are four brief videos by YouTube user jerseyrousseau, who is presumably Paul Rousseau, comparing “Unknown Woman, 1930” to various photographs of Bacon.
 

 
More videos after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Fanny and Stella: The two Victorian gentlemen who shocked England
06.18.2014
07:52 am

Topics:
History
Queer

Tags:
Victorian
Neil McKenna
Fanny and Stella

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Victorian England is sometimes thought a stuffy, sexually oppressive, puritanical world, where one did one’s duty, where children were seen and not heard, and table legs were covered to prevent lustful thoughts. But in truth, Victorian England was a world full of hypocrisy, where sex, poverty and crime were rampant.

The great parliamentarian and Liberal politician William Gladstone was notorious for his visits to brothels where he claimed he was attempting to “rescue” fallen women. Gladstone had been an habitue of London’s bordellos since he was in his twenties with his visits to prostitutes creating feelings of guilt and remorse which he expunged by flogging himself. When Gladstone became the British Prime Minister, he was known to have invited prostitutes back to number 10 Downing Street for a cup of tea and a reading of some uplifting passage from the Bible. Happily married and a father of eight children, Gladstone kept visiting brothels until he was 82 years of age, but by then he was just watching the young girls at work.

Though it was the Protestant work ethic that was outwardly promoted, Victorian Britain was obsessed with sex. In a survey of prostitution made in 1838, James Beard Talbot noted that there were 219 brothels in Edinburgh, 770 in Liverpool, 308 in Manchester, 175 in Leeds and 194 in Norwich. In London there were 5,000 brothels. To give an idea of scale, there were only 2,150 schools, churches and charitable institutions in the great metropolis at the time. If all Europeans are supposedly related by bloodline to Charlemagne, perhaps it could be argued that most Brits alive today are related to a Victorian prostitute.

Of course not all Victorians relied on prostitutes for sexual pleasure, some, as Nigel Cawthorne describes in his book The Sex Secrets of Old England, achieved considerable gratification through the use of dildos (or “dil-dols”).

Advanced varieties were on the market in Victorian England. There were double-ended dildos that could be used by two women at the same time. Others had two prongs that penetrated vagina and anus simultaneously. Another had an attachment for the chin. There was also an astonishing amount of literature advising young ladies on the correct usage.

Those who couldn’t afford a dildo were encouraged to carve a penis-shape out of a candle, but not to use a carrot (because of its hardness) or an eau-de-cologne bottle (because of the damage it could inflict). Bananas (if available) were okay.

Queen Victoria could just about believe that homosexual men existed, but didn’t believe there could ever be lesbians, as “Women do not do such things.” Of course, there was considerable sapphic sex in the olde queen’s day and long before, with women living together as couples. The most famous was John Ferren and Deborah Nolan, two women who married in 1747 and lived disguised as man and wife until Nolan died, and husband Ferren was revealed to be a woman. Many other women disguised themselves as boys and successfully served in the British army and navy, for example Hannah Snell (1723-92), Phoebe Hessel (1713-1821) and Mary Anne Talbot (1778-1808), who went from drummer boy to powder monkey.

But in Victorian times, one of the most infamous cases was that of “Miss Fanny Park” and “Miss Stella Boulton,” whose arrest and trial became one of the era’s most shocking episodes.
 
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Misses Park and Boulton had been seen attending the Strand Theater in London, where they flirted with the men in the balcony. This pair of seemingly attractive Victorian women were in fact two men, Thomas Ernest Boulton (Fanny) and Frederick William Park (Stella).

From an early age, Boulton had identified as female and was encouraged to wear dresses. He formed a friendship with Park and the two became a theatrical double act, touring as Stella Clinton (or Mrs Graham) and Fanny Winifred Park to mainly favorable reviews. They also began frequenting houses and theaters while dressed in women’s clothing. A third man, Lord Arthur Clinton, a respected Liberal politician and godson to PM William Gladstone, became a lover/husband to Stella.
 
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Boulton, Park and Clinton (seated).
 
In April 1870, Boulton and Park attended the Strand Theater dressed as men, there they changed their clothes, and re-appeared as the glamorous Fanny and Stella. Their flirtatious behavior attracted considerable male attention, as their biographer Neil McKenna explains Fanny and Stella: The Two Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England:

Fanny and Stella were hard to fathom. They had behaved with such lewdness in their box in the stalls as to leave not the faintest shred of doubt in even the most disinterested observer that they were a pair of hardened and shameless whores. And yet, close up, Stella was revealed as a beautiful, almost aristocratic, young woman who showed flashes of an innate, and most decidedly un-whorelike, dignity and grace.

One newspaper said later that she was ‘charming as a star’, another christened her ‘Stella, Star of the Strand’. And despite all the opprobrium that would later be heaped upon her, despite all the mud that would be slung at her and all the mud that would stick to her, she never lost the mysterious aura of a great and stellar beauty.

Mrs Fanny Graham, too, was clearly a woman of some education and breeding, and was certainly very far removed from your common-or-garden whore. Here in the saloon bar, it seemed harder to reconcile their obvious quality with the ogling, tongue-waggling, chirruping lasciviousness of the stalls. They spent half an hour or so in the refreshment bar.

Before they left, Mrs Fanny Graham, unaware that she was being watched, betook herself to the Ladies’ Retiring Room and asked the attendant there to pin the lace back to the hem of her crinoline where she had trodden on it. At a quarter past ten, Mr Hugh Mundell had been despatched in ringing tones by Mrs Graham to go and call for her carriage and soon afterwards the remainder of the party made a leisurely progress to the foyer and pushed their way through the noise and confusion of an emptying theatre to the waiting conveyance.

Just as the carriage was about to depart, one of the men who had been shadowing them all that evening jumped up and swung himself in through the door.

‘I’m a police officer from Bow Street,’ he said, producing his warrant card, ‘and I have every reason to believe that you are men in female attire and you will have to come to Bow Street with me now.’

These two young ladies were arrested and charged with “conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence.”
 
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Clinton was named in the subpoena but it is believed he committed suicide rather than face the scandal, though it has also been suggested that he fled the country to live in exile. Fanny and Stella went to trial in 1871 (along with six others) and after a long, sensational trial, all were eventually found not guilty.

Neil McKenna’s biography on Fanny and Stella is published by Faber & Faber.
 
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Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Divine takes the UK: Two Hacienda shows and ‘Top of the Pops’
06.13.2014
10:02 am

Topics:
Music
Queer

Tags:
Divine
Top of the Pops
Hacienda


 
Divine’s music career was perhaps less well-known than his career acting in John Waters’ films, but his discography contains plenty of music that’ll appeal to fans of Hi-NRG, ‘80s Eurodisco, and good old sleaze. In 1983, he appeared not once, but twice, in that ‘80s dance Mecca, Manchester’s Hacienda.

No expense was disbursed for these shows—Divine was clearly singing along with his records, like karaoke, but with the original vocals still present. I assume the idea must have been for Divine’s planet-sized personality to overcome the performances’ showmanship deficiencies. And such is the nature of Divine’s cult that even half-ass productions like that were recorded for release on CD as Born to Be Cheap, and on DVD as Live at the Hacienda/Shoot Your Shot. However, the between-song banter IS absolutely worthy of Divine’s trash-diva rep.

Here’s footage from both performances:
 

 
And in the spirit of trying to keep everyone happy, here’s a better, if mimed, performance, but what you gain in production value you lose in raunchy banter. It’s Divine on Top of the Pops, lip-synching what may be his best known single, “You Think You’re A Man.”
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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