While one more rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” might be enough to drive one to Queen overload (as if that is humanly possibly), when we remember that “Western Music” is forbidden in Iran, and homosexuality is punishable by death, the sight of Iranian men and women (badly) singing a Queen song takes on new meaning.
In 1979, the Islamic Revolution spurred a rejection of all things “Western,” and rock ‘n’ roll was one of its causalities. Until the 90’s, all rock music was banned. Today most Iranian rock bands operate underground or flee to other countries to play (like New York’s own The Yellow Dogs). Some rockers skirt the rules by placing traditional Persian poetry over classic rock melodies. Others play instrumental music (metal is big), or write fairly “safe” lyrics in Farsi and submit them for approval from the Ministry of Culture.
So why were the Iranian representatives for the World Choir Games able to perform Queen? Well, Freddie Mercury, also known as Farrokh Bulsara, was Parsi, a Persian ethnic group that commonly practices Zoroastrianism. Growing up in India and Zanzibar, Mercury’s Zoroastrian funeral was noted after his death, but his ethnic identity was never a secret. Illegal Queen bootlegs have been floating around Iran forever, but in 2004, the first legal classic rock album was released, Queen’s Greatest Hits.
There were even translations of the songs in the liner notes, though “Bohemian Rhapsody” already had the Arabic word for God (“Bismillah”) proclaimed by the protagonist in a plea for redemption. Love songs (and presumably “Fat-Bottomed Girls”) were cut, but Mercury’s heritage and underground Queen fans greased the wheels for the Ministry of Culture. With a bisexual frontman and a sound steeped in American rock ‘n’ roll, Queen’s connection to the Persian world has been lauded by Iranian rockers since the beginning.
We couldn’t let the occasion of Lady Bunny’s birthday pass without doing a post to mark it (even if it was yesterday.) She ain’t no spring chicken, but she’s as rulin’ as ever.
And here’s the proof, some seldom-seen footage of Lady Bunny performing in 1986, filmed by New York nightlife chronicler, and friend of DM, Nelson Sullivan. The “psychedelic disco” act is called SHAZORK and also features Sister Dimension and DJ Dmitry (later of Deee-Lite.) Who knew Bunny could sing this well? And I love Sister Dimension’s smurf-like outfit!
Covergirl are part of a new wave of politically-minded, queer/gay/femme/whatever-core bands that are popping up all over the UK (and the world, in fact) and sowing the seeds of a new, healthy, d.i.y. underground scene.
Covergirl take their musical cues in part from post-punk and post-disco, mixing up raw guitars and wailing synths with insistent, driving rhythms. Their outlook comes from Riot Grrrl, punk 7"s and zine-culture, but by way of the no-budget-yet-glamorous catwalking of RuPaul and the queens of Paris Is Burning. Their name, in fact, comes from a RuPaul song, but don’t let that fool you. The band has more in common with the ripped-up-punk-drag of RuPaul 25 years ago than it does with today’s polished TV host.
I was lucky enough to catch Covergirl live in London a few months ago (when they bizarrely asked Joyce D’Vision to open for them) and can report back that they are blinding. Now Dangerous Minds is lucky enough to get a world exclusive from the band, the premiere of their new video “Ice Father Nation”. On top of which, I sent Covergirl’s co-leader Andrew Milk some questions to get his head around for our readers:
Describe Covergirl to me in a dozen words or less:
A post-punk-party band. Serious about having fun.
What was the inspiration to form the band and when did you start?
I think we started in 2010, I guess spurred on by our other bands having recently broken up or being on hiatus at the time and wanting to do something new.
Can you tell me a bit more about Tuff Enuff, the label this is coming out on?
‘Tuff Enuff Records’ has appeared out of the Riots Not Diets collective in Brighton. Our friend Toby runs it and puts on awesome gigs/film screenings and more! ‘Ice Father Nation’ is taken from their first ever release, “Why Diet When You Can Riot”, a compilation 12”. I’m sure they have plans to release more. their website says ‘descended from Irrk’ - which is a legendary, but little known queer/feminist record label some amazing people ran in the early/mid-Noughties. Serious pedigree!
Who else is featured on the release?
Halo Halo, Ste McCabe, Skinny Girl Diet - so many amazing bands, you can check them all out on the bandcamp page.
I’ve heard a lot about Power Lunches, the venue featured in the video - can you tell me more about it?
It’s an independent venue in East London, run by a pal of ours. She’s a musician and wanted a space that worked as an affordable practice room/gig venue where you could get great and healthy food instead of the usual things you’d eat as a cash strapped musician (crisps and a Tesco sandwich.) A pretty specific dream, but what’s the point of putting the hard slog in if it’s not for something you’d really want for yourself? it’s a cafe/bar upstairs and an ‘intimate’ sweat box of a venue downstairs. Lots of bands and promoters have got behind it which is great. it’s our home away from home.
And how is the East London scene in general at the moment? How are the Olympics going down there?
The Olympics are weirdly not affecting us that much, it does feel a little quiet but i think that always happens this time of year, people stay out, drinking in parks, not putting on or going to gigs. Also i think the same amount of people left London as have come in… So if you’re not in the vicinity of the Olympic Village or whatever, it’s pretty empty. The weirdest thing is being able to see this nuclear glow covering Stratford from the balcony of my flat.
Andrew also runs the rather fine Milk Records, who have released music by Woolf, Trash Kit, Ultimate Thrush and the mighty Divorce. You can check Milk Records here, but in the meantime, here’s the video for Covergirl’s “Ice Father Nation”:
“5 years ago, I was disowned via letter when I came out to my father. This is how hate sounds.”
If you’re having trouble reading the letter, you can find a larger version here.
The most popular response came from the father of an adopted gay son, who goes by the handle, newvideoaz, apparently his first post on reddit. I think you’ll agree that it’s a pretty remarkable retort:
I’m the adoptive dad of a kid who came out when he was about 15. Yeah it’s sometimes difficult when this happens because no parent wants to see a kid we love get hurt - and like it or not - being gay can mean some people will wish you ill simply for who you are.
And that’s hard for any parent. But it’s no excuse.
As an adoptive parent, I’m not my kids “father.” That’s biological. But I am his Dad. Because “Dad” isn’t something that’s actually biological, it’s something you have to earn.
With my son , I started to earn it the day he was born, but it was pretty easy until his second year when he had an accident and got hurt. The doctor in the ER strapped him to the “papoose board” to immobilize him and was about to start stitching up his head when he told me it was time for me to let go of his little hand. He looked up at me and whatever he saw in my face, he instantly said “or you can stay I guess.” I have no clue what he saw, except the fact that getting me to let go of that tiny hand was about as possible one of us jumping up through the ceiling to the moon.
The lesson for me that day is that any idiot can be a father (and clearly many are) but you’ve got to EARN being a Dad.
When my son came out to us, same deal. I was concerned, because I never had to deal with it before in someone I love. But we simply hooked him up with 1 in 10 and went on with our lives.
So here’s the opinion of someone who’s been in your dad’s shoes, but didn’t have his sad mental baggage.
Your dad failed a really huge parenting test. Period.
So now he’s self selected to be your father, but not to be your Dad. That sucks. And the really sad thing is that he has absolutely no freaking clue about the real value of what he’s tossed away.
He’ll always be your father. That’s biology. But biology is fickle. We know this because while he has perhaps passed a lot to you via DNA, he did NOT pass along intolerance or stupidity. He can “disown” you in his brain all he likes, but that doesn’t mean much because he’s already proved that whatever his strengths might be, he’s allowed his thought processes and natural instincts to become seriously flawed. How you feel about him. Hurt, sad, angry, disappointed, that’s yours to shuffle as you see fit.
But trust me, this is about him, not you. I actually hope that someday he gets a change to look deeply in his heart and comes to understand how horribly, terribly he screwed this up. If so, he’ll maybe have a chance to start some personal redemption and healing. But he needs that. You don’t.
Cuz there’s nothing wrong with you. At all.
Stay strong. Take care. The world is changing fast. And for more people than ever, gay and straight, it’s changing more toward love and away from fear - at least in this particular area.
As they say on the Internet: ONIONS!
Of course, reddit being reddit, a couple of quipsters threw in some zingers:
“You should to his funeral and read that letter as your speech.”
“This would be the greatest ‘fuck you’ ever. Oh my god I’m so giddy right now.”
“And have it buried with him.”
“Burn it. And while it’s on fire, throw it in his casket. That guy doesn’t deserve the casket he’s in.”
Can’t say I disagree. What a fucking small-minded dickhead. I sincerely hope that he is made aware of how he’s being ridiculed. He, at the very, very least deserves that knowledge.
Yes, you read that correctly: A fucking idiot in a pink shirt who closely resembles a young Rip Taylor decided to protest marriage equality and the General Mills corporation’s support of gay rights by attempting to burn some Cheerios… before it all goes horribly wrong.
As one commentor wrote:
“He had to buy those Cheerios first, before torching them… I wonder if it occurred to him that in doing that he was supporting the company he was protesting against.”
I don’t really think much of anything ever occurs to goofy cereal arsonist Colonel Manboobs here…
People turned out to support Chic-fil-A this week because of their principles and beliefs, that much should be obvious by now. Less obvious is just what those principles and beliefs are, exactly.
Well, here’s our chance to find out, thanks to YouTube uploader Liberalegg. She describes this video in her own words:
I ask people at Chick-fil-A some simple questions. At least… I thought they were simple enough, until they tried to answer.
In terms of the name calling, this video was not intended as hard-hitting journalism. It was just something funny for my friends, I never expected so many people to see it. I think the video would have been more effective had I allowed them to speak for themselves.
I apologize for the background noise; captions are available (just press the little cc button at the bottom right of the player).
Indeed, this video IS better with captions, as the sound is slightly off in parts. And also, because it means we get to hear and see the COMPLETE IDIOCY of the people involved in this “movement.”
There’s not much more to be said, as these people are saying it all themselves. Just sit back and have a good laugh:
Pussy Riot fans, check this out - Divorce have just released a three track teaser for their upcoming, self-titled debut album, and damn, it’s good!
If you don’t know Divorce, then let me direct you to the links at the bottom of this post for some introductions. In a nutshell, this majority-female band make a ferocious racket that takes all the best bits of experimental music, noise-rock, thrash and doom and blends it into a unique, powerful sound that is guaranteed to blast the cobwebs out of your ears.
Divorce will be released on vinyl and download through Night School label on September 17th, and the limited edition records run will be printed half on purple vinyl, and half on green vinyl. The label says:
“Divorce” is the culmination of four years of uncompromising noise-rock brutality. Long-time friends of ours, it is an honour to be releasing the debut full-length statement from a band who have set new standards in underground extremity. Since their formation in 2008 they have progressed from no wave dirge practitioners to an unique cult that blurs the boundaries of what ‘punk’, ‘noise-rock’ or ‘metal’ are presumed to sound like. Remaining slippery in definition but relentlessly focused, Divorce have evolved into a singular, incomparable unit.
Recorded by Ali Walker at Glasgow’s Arc Studio & Devil’s Own Studio, “Divorce” finds the band pushing their furious sound further than ever before; a torrent of pummeling rhythms and serrated, overdriven riffs, extended freak outs and ecstatic push and pull dynamics. They have also explored their experimental tendencies more, incorporating power-electronics, white noise and, on the track “Stabby (Stabby) Stab”, free-jazz saxophone (courtesy of guest musician James Swinburne). All this, combined with an over-arching determination to take their music to new limits structurally and sonically, makes “Divorce” a unified audio experience. Divorce are Jennie Fulk (vocals), Vickie McDonald (guitars), VSO (bass) and Andy Brown (drums).
Divorce are one of the best live acts in the UK just now, and if there is any justice in the world, they will make their way Stateside to slay you guys pretty soon. These debut album recordings have done the trick of capturing a great band’s live energy, which is no mean feat. You can pre-order Divorcefrom here, and in the meantime, here’s some tracks to whet your appetite:
Scottee’s a bit of a legend in British performance art and cabaret circles, even though he’d hate to admit it himself. The 26-year-old writer/performer/director has already worked with some of the biggest names in this field and won a host of prestigious awards, not to mention a bunch of notoriety and some serious critical acclaim.
While there’s more than a hint of Leigh Bowery to Scottee’s persona, he denies seeing himself as a “drag queen,” even if that’s how the staff at Marks & Spencer refer to him. What Scottee Scottee is, beyond the messed-up make up and torn stockings, is a performer, as his involvement with London’s Duckie collective, and his own Eat Your Heart Out troupe, proves. From his own website:
He has broken limbs, been questioned by Police and lost 100’s of pairs of high heels in his determination to please and challenge his audiences. Scottee has been critically compared to variety and music hall greats with his unique practice of light entertainment.
His brash, clumsy and obnoxious approach to performance has left audiences confused, annoyed & covered in glitter. Whatever you think of Scottee - he probably won’t care.
But still, all this is not enough. Scottee wants more.
His latest project is called Follow and traces his efforts to attract more followers to his Twitter account. The end goal is for Scottee to have more followers on that social network than the British TV psychic Russell Grant, tho whom Scottee bares a passing resemblance, and often gets compared (it’s those sweaters, dear).
So far, so self-indulgent, I can hear you thinking. Well, yeah. All performance art is self-indulgent. What’s more important is what the viewer takes from the experience, and what light the artist can shed on cultural, and political, phenomena. And surprisingly, a project about attracting more Twitter followers is actually pretty good in that respect.
Who is real? What is real? Why should that really matter? Are online relationships as valid as real-world contact? Even if it’s with a robot? If they’re not as valid, then why not?
Scottee is open in proclaiming that social networking is the best invention in the history of humankind, and he makes for a compelling voice on our journey through Twitter’s seamy underbelly. Here is part two of the ongoing Follow video series, but if you’d rather watch Follow chronologically, part one is here:
*There are, of course, exceptions to this. I would be remiss in not mentioning that my very own parents, who are super religious, do in fact run a soup kitchen. (Having said that, I have no doubt that they probably ate at Chick-fil-A yesterday if they were anywhere near one).