follow us in feedly
Dirk Bogarde: A Life of Letters
04:45 pm



By 1968, Dirk Bogarde thought his film career was drawing to a close, as his days as a matinee idol were long over, and the offers of work had slowed. With his partner Tony Forwood, he moved to France, and started a second career as a writer. Bogarde proved to be an exceptional writer, producing 15 bestsellers, including volumes of autobiography and fiction. He was also a dedicated correspondent, penning letters to his many friends and fans. Bogarde’s letters are filled with gossip and back-biting, sketches and scintillating tales of his life.

This first letter was written when Bogarde had finished work on Richard Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far, with Sean Connery, Ryan O’Neil and Michael Caine, and was also re-dubbing his voice on Alain Resnais Providence.

Though Bogarde was a prolific writer, he could not spell (ahem…rather like Nigel Molesworth), and the following is presented as was written.

To Bee Gilbert, Clermont, 13 September, 1976

Dearest Sno’

What a lovely long letter to cheer me up on my return, three days ago, from a hellish week of looping in Paris. I got there to find that I had to loop the entire fucking film… 200 loops. The sound engineers were dreadful (from Telly natch) and the birds, dogs and airoplanes which scattered across the locations screwd us up even more. Well… it is done now. Am home again for a couple of weeks before returning to Old Father Attenboroughs Disney-Arnhem. Which I dread. Ah well. It will make a bomb, with all those Stars how can it fail? Adored Sean C and worked very happily indeed with him… and made a surprising new mate in Ryan O’Neil who could not be nicer, jollier and brighter! That WAS a surprise. Tote says it was because he was so bloody respectful to me all the time… but I just liked the bloke. And he’s good too. And THAT was a surprise. Gene Hackman was a bit Methody and got cross if the camera operator was on the set while he was rehearsing… but was very pleasant to me and quite good, not more, when it came to the Acting.

Mike Cain pulled the Movie Star bit a bit much… the big cigar, black glasses and fat Cadillac… but he was pleasant if dull and has to have the ugliest voice in the business… and pop eyes. And that was a surprise too. I dont think I could go through it again for anything. Even the lolly. A woman from The New York Times ruefully mumbled that doing something as crappy for so much loot left ‘a kind of stain.’ I wonder if she was right. Holland was hell. Apart from the van Goghs, Rembrants and the Vermeers it is all a lot of crappy horror… We stayed in a ‘dainty’ little hotel in a wood where dinner started at 6.30pm and was off at 8.45. THAT went down like a cup of cold sick as you may imagine. Especially as the prices were identicle to the Lancaster in Paris! However we had three weeks there and flew back on a beastly Caravelle, which bounced all the way to Nice…

We have had, unlike you, a soaking summer… everything green and lush… while the great trees in the Luxumbourg Gardens are all dead. And now Tote is out mowing acres of white daisies and autumn crocus and I think I’d better go and help him… regretfully. I am so lazy and full of reaction… odd.

God bless you, pretty Sno… all love as ever for ever… as you know.




Bogarde did not have worry too much about his cinematic career, as the 1970s saw him working with Luchino Visconti on Death in Venice, Liliana Cavani on The NIght Porter, with Rainer Werner Fassbinder on Despair and Bertrand Tavernier’s Daddy Nostalgie.

In 1983, Bogarde’s partner Tony Forwood was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and cancer, which led the couple to leave France for England in 1987. Not long after their arrival Bogarde suffered a stroke, and the following year Forwood died. Bogarde was devastated, only his writing kept him from suicide. He maintained his various correspondences, including one to Penelope Mortimer, whom he had written to since 1971.

In this letter from 1991, Bogarde responds to Mortimer’s gentle cajoling, and gives a portrait of his life after Forwood’s death.

To Penelope Mortimer, Cadogan Gardens, 24 September, 1991

Bloody hell, you are difficult. I TOLD you that you would find my letter nausiating, people like you, those who see everything in dusk-tones, would. I AM a sort of Pollyanna… and after years of just keeping away from people on account of millions came to me to watch my cavorting, living a secluded life in my small-holding I suddenly got shoved into FULL LIFE with no protection and in a Foreign Land.

After a time of, shall we say reflection?, I decided that having had one stroke and not much liking the effects, I could very well have another, had to live in filthy UK… had to live in London… where better to be than where I started off at 16 as a Student at Chelsea Poly? Parents had been students there too. And the Slade. I felt ‘right’ in the area. Coming to terms was difficult. To terms with walking quite unprotected in streets jammed with curious people.

‘I think it is. Look!’
‘You ask him. Go on. He cant bite you?’
‘Were you Dirk Bogarde?’
‘Left France, have you?’
‘I remember your face but not the name? Humphry someone… ‘

I ducked into my anorak and tried to walk, as I told you, only at dusk or just when shops had opened. Fewer people. No standing with curious, autograph hunting, housewives in lines at the Check Outs. Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose were soon abandoned. People followed one.

‘He’s buying tinned tomatos.’
‘Thinner than I imagined.’
‘And balding… see?’
‘Pity. But after 50, you know… ‘
‘Could you sign this? Not for me, for my neice, grandmother, wife, son, sister, baby-sitter, cousin Agnes, Eileen, with two e’s please, Anne with an “e”...’

No one, ever, in France behaved like this. Not even in Paris… unless they were British. I felt, all the time, as if my cock was hanging out of my pants: I hunched my shoulders, wore a Purdy cap, scuttled (as far as I could scuttle with a wonky leg) and my doctor thought that it might be ‘obesessional’. Might it? I’d never had an obsession before, save for lizards, frogs, birds, and those kinds of things. So I decided to either go mad or face up to it. I faced up to it. Took off the cap… walk INTO the Check out… smile at everyone because they SMILE at me! Memory jogs them… of some time in which I must have figured in their private lives somewhere… at any age from 10 to 70. My films are always on TV on Sunday. I am counted as a friend. OK. I’ll settle for that. It is far better than hiding in this flat wondering what to do, how to die gracefully.

RAGE. Yes. You make the error of thinking that RAGE has to be manifest, that one shouts and screams with what you call ‘fury’. Balls. RAGE is sometimes inside. Heard of a Rage To Live?

You react to one puny sentence in my letter about 50 years and body-bags on a too small stair-case. But RAGE did’nt remotely come NEAR the thing. Acceptance, humility, fear of ‘what now’, relief that three years of almost unendurable suspense, of desperate distress physically, of loss but relief that it was over. Knowing is so much better, I promise you, than wondering: and hope is pretty hollow when it leaves.

No sense of injustice. Helplessness, yes. To a point. But one is forced by distress and need to rally. No fury. At all. Why? It happens; we are born to die. When Anna, the Night Nurse, and I tried to turn the patient [Tony Forwood] he said, and I could only hear by putting my head against his chest and ‘took’ the vibrations, ‘If you did this to a dog they’d arrest you’. Right. He was being ‘jokey’. But he was right. Which is why I am now the Vice President of VES… and sticking my neck out against Catholics and British Manners and Members of the BMA. IN public. But no Rage. I had the most wonderous 50 years of my life. So did my partner. WE both knew that we’d have to pay. And did. OK?

I have come to terms with my life, I only have an active 10 years reasonably left. Christ! Why waste them? I have just written to Radio Drama. TV [sic] and refused, politely, their kind offer to write a play, or a series, for them. I have quoted the things I watched for homework. ‘Tittmuss’, House of Elliot, Trainer and some dire thing, they adored, which starred my (once) deeply respected Tom Courtney. Impossible to believe any of them. Lowest-Common-Watcher. I’d rather stay with my Telegraph Readers. At least they write back intelligently. I’m off to do a bit of Auschwitch again: then there is RAGE. Then, my love.
Will that do? Hope that you are not vexed that I shoved R. Fox the Handle? It’s only a nudge of course. But he’s bright, clever, and very sharp. Also his track record is amazing, and his wife is to die [for,] she is so adorable, tough, beautiful and can act! Wow!



Dirk Bogarde‘s letters are collected in the volume Ever, Dirk, edited by his biographer John Coldstream.
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Dirk Bogarde: Never screened on TV interview from 1975

Dirk Bogarde: Still Cool

HT to the Telegraph

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Notes from the Niallist #6: Happy Birthday Divine!
08:26 am



When it comes to alt-culture icons, they don’t come much bigger or more fabulous than Divine, who was born Glenn Harris Milstead 67 years ago today.

I shouldn’t need to explain to the readers of Dangerous Minds how important a figure Divine was, not just to gay people, drag queens or the plus-sized, but to freaks, misfits and outcasts anywhere and everywhere. I mean, you just gotta love Divine. Anyone who flaunts their flaws that proudly and boldly, turns them into cornerstones of their appearance in fact, should be held up as an inspiration to everyone.

Divine’s legacy has gotten stronger since Milstead’s death in 1988, and in a strange way Divine has come to represent a time when society was both more conservative, but oddly more liberal. What film star would gulp down real, live dog shit on screen these days and be called a hero? I think we need Divine now more than ever, so it’s no surprise to me how truly iconic she has become in recent years.

As today is Divine’s birthday, I contacted Lotti Pharriss Knowles, the producer of the upcoming feature documentary I Am Divine, to discuss the incredible performer, and to get the scoop on their film, which promises to be the definitive document of Divine’s life.


THE NIALLIST: How did this project come about in the first place?

LOTTI PHARRISS KNOWLES: Our director, Jeffrey Schwarz, has been kind of obsessed with Divine and John Waters since he was introduced to their films in college. Many years later Jeffrey interviewed Waters for SPINE TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY, and many other Dreamlanders for the doc YOU CAN’T STOP THE BEAT: THE LONG JOURNEY OF HAIRSPRAY, and became inspired to make a definitive documentary about the immortal star that is Divine.

TN: How is the Kickstarter going? And when is the finished film due?

LPK: Kickstarter is going great—we made our goal of $40,000 earlier this week! But that goal was the bare minimum we needed to raise to help finish this film, so we are setting a new, “unofficial” goal of $50K to see how far we can get by Friday at midnight when the campaign ends.

We don’t have a specific due date, but we are applying to festivals where, if accepted, we’d premiere early next year. So time is definitely of the essence to make sure we polish the edit, get the soundtrack and graphics completed, and legally clear all the photos and footage we’ve included. And none of that comes cheap!

TN: What personally attracts you to the character of Divine?

LPK: I’ve always been an oddball and attracted to others who are, especially people who are fearless about being different. No one embodies that spirit of the in-your-face punk misfit more than Divine. I also love that while Divine was completely subversive, you always felt a tender heart beating underneath the wild persona—I think that combination is ultimately why Divine’s fans love him so fervently.

TN: Divine’s legacy has gotten stronger since her death - why do you think that is?

LPK: Well, we always seem to truly idolized those who leave us too soon: Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, Divine. They go out when they’re still young and beautiful, and they’re forever trapped in time… There’s something sentimental about that, because the fans are left to fill in the blanks of what might have happened had they lived longer. I also think there are always those new fans coming along, the next generation of folks seeing the Waters movies for the first time, and responding to those characteristics I mentioned. There are always going to be misfits and outsiders, and so there will always be a need for a role model like Divine.

Divine in Melbourne, Autralia in 1984, pic by Andrew Curtis

TN: Where do you think Glenn Harris Milstead would be today if he hadn’t died?

LPK: I think he’d be an accomplished actor with a wide variety of roles under his belt. He had so much talent, and was just about to enjoy a breakout role out of drag on “Married With Children” when he passed away. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have seen Divine live to play Edna Turnblad again in the Broadway musical??

TN: Indeed it would!! Do you think modern society/culture could produce another Divine? And who do you think is closest to that mantle now?

LPK: I think it’s possible but tough, because since the 1970s we’ve already kind of seen it all and done it all in our culture, and no one could truly have the shock value that Divine and the Waters movies did at the time that they were made. There is no one even close to Divine who exists now, but I see shades of Divine’s legacy in people from Lady Gaga to Sharon Needles [check out The Niallist’s interview with Sharon Needles here], Sacha Baron Cohen to the “Jackass” crew—I think Divine paved the way for them and others like them.

TN: What’s your favorite Divine song?

LPK: Maybe a cliche, but I gotta go with “You Think You’re A Man.” It’s classic, catchy, and totally fuck you. I love it.

TN: I have to admit I am a huge fan of Divine’s music, from “Born To Be Cheap” to the Bobby O-produced classics, all the way up to the Stock, Aitken and Waterman productions. For a complete non-singer, Divine really knew how to belt out a song, and by compensating for the vocal weaknesses with pure attitude made for a very compelling performer. I also like the music because it’s overtly gay but takes no prisoners, it’s very “fuck you” which “gay” music hasn’t been for a long time. My favorite Divine track is probably “I’m So Beautiful”, which actually IS beautiful, as well as cheap, nasty, funny, filthy, and funky as hell. Anyway, what is your favorite of Divine’s many looks?

LPK: God, there are so many… But I have to pick the one-armed green leopard print mini-dress from “Female Trouble,” just ‘cause I love how she STRUTS down the avenue in Baltimore in it, and the (real!) reactions from people on the street. That’s the spirit of DIVINE in her purest form!

TN: Thanks Lotti!

I really cannot wait to see this film, and judging by the people involved it really will be the tribute that Divine deserves. You can see the trailer in this Dangerous Minds I Am Divine post from a while back.

In the meantime, here’s a PSA on body image and self-esteem from the I Am Divine camp, featuring John Waters, Mink Stole, Sharon Needles and Latrice Royale, all set to the wonderful tune of “I’m So Beautiful”.

We miss you and we love you, Divine!


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Notes from the Niallist #5: An interview with drag sensation Sharon Needles
10:33 am



Sharon Needles campaign for PETA
In the world of drag, no-one is hotter than Sharon Needles right now. In fact, you could say she is the undisputed queen of drag. Granted, this may have a lot to do with her winning season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo TV earlier this year, but, to give her her due, she’s been that show’s biggest break-out star ever, with a legion of adoring fans that have come from far and wide, and not just the gay and drag scenes.

Because, you see, more than just being a drag queen, Sharon Needles is a FREAK. She speaks to everyone who has ever felt outcast, for whatever reason, and in this era of dying conservatism (where anything different is labelled “wrong,”) she does a pretty damn good job of standing up for the outsiders. Her winning of the TV show against some fiercely talented and beautiful contestants felt like a victory for anyone who is different, for the bullied, the awkward, the bizarre and the downtrodden.  

So I just had to interview to her. It took nearly six months, but I was finally granted an email interview with this underground superstar last week, and I’ll be damned if I was gonna waste it on bitching about the other Drag Race queens, or questions about drugs and shoes, or having a kiki with the Scissor Sisters. No, Needles’ is a brilliant, dangerous mind and I wanted to know more about the “serious” stuff.

So, if you still need more of an introduction to Sharon Needles, then read the post I wrote about her back in April, but If not, let’s take it away:

THE NIALLIST: Something tells me you won’t be voting for Mitt Romney this year. Do you mind telling us how you will be voting? And how are you finding the political discourse in America in the run up this election?

SHARON NEEDLES: There’s definitely a severe polarization in politics these days. I blame this on the media, and big money. I find politics to be something quite personal, and something that I keep to myself. But as Snoop Dogg, now known as Snoop Lion, has recently said in an interview, you can either vote for Lucifer or Satan. He is choosing neither. True change comes from within, not a 3 piece suit.

TN: As a performer, I sense your work draws a lot from non-typical drag influences, ie a lot of stuff outside the world of drag. You’ve been forthcoming about your love of Marilyn Manson, and most of the interviews I have read with you tend to focus on your drag-spirations, but what non-drag artists have had an impact/influence on you?

SN: Willam S. Burroughs, Andy Warhol, serial killers, under-appreciated horror films, transsexuals, politics, rock ‘n’ roll, and an all around distaste for organized religion.

Photo by Austin Young
TN: Are you going to any of the “Twins Of Evil” tour? And what is your opinion of Marilyn Manson’s most recent work? Do you think there are any cultural figures from the last 5 years that could claim his level of influence and/or subversion?

SN: Marilyn Manson was my Backstreet Boys growing up. Though I’ve felt a disconnect with his body of work in the last decade or so, he was an inspiration to me in my developmental years. Anything after Mechanical Animals, I unfortunately think is downgraded… what went wrong?

TN: Guest question from Mark @ Tranarchy - what would you be doing if you hadn’t discovered drag?

SN: First of all, I’d like to say I love Tranarchy, I’ve been following their work. And if wasn’t doing drag I’d probably be writing, traveling, painting, or dead.

TN: Guest question from Lady Munter @ Menergy - how relevant do you think RuPaul really is to our generation (late 20s-early 30s)? Before Drag Race, he was out of the limelight for quite some time and was seen to be a bit of a naff 90s memory.

SN: So many people hold the responsibility for social relevancy. Pop culture took a much more boring twist in the early 2000’s, with such safe creations as ‘N Sync and Britney Spears. They left no room for the genius that is RuPaul. But unlike so many who have gone to the wasteland of reclusion, RuPaul has proved to be a true pop icon and underground survivor.

TN: After a recent mis-identification involving a dildo, Joshua Grannel described Peaches Christ as being “sex-negative”. Would you say Sharon Needles is sex-negative or sex-positive, and why?

SN: Sharon Needles is an example of American, consumeristic, exaggerated, inflatable beauty. She is designed to be considered sexy, but should never be considered as being fucked. So many drag queens use sexuality as a way of describing their characters, I distance myself from that, there are bigger fish to fry. But in terms of one’s personal sexuality, I’m game for anything.  No one should be judged for something that no one sees, we tend to be publicly scrutinized for something that is the most private thing in our lives, our sex lives. Dead girls never say no.

TN: How was it working with Peaches Christ on Silence Of The Trans? If you two re-teamed to do a different movie and had an unlimited budget and a cast of thousands at your beck and call, what would you like to do?

SN: Working with Peaches Christ was a nightmare come true. It’s very refreshing to work with entertainers that have like-minded concept on drag performing, someone who prefers to frighten and enlighten people, before titillating them. Me and Peaches have discussed working on film projects, though I would prefer our film to have a low budget. Big budgets ruin horror film. If we were to make a film, I would call it “Methamphetamine Zombies.” If Meth can wake the living, then Meth can wake the dead. I smell a sequel.

TN: Speaking of the word “trans,” what is your view on the controversy that flared up a few years ago about the use of the word “tranny” on Glee, and the ownership/use of that word by different communities?

SN: There are real dangerous people doing real dangerous things in this big dangerous world to hurt people. Words only carry the merit that you give them. Intent trumps language. In my culture, language is twenty-six consonants and vowels swirled around to create dialog. Dialog can also be misinterpreted, but I’m the wrong person to ask. I love foul language, I love pushing barriers with my tongue. No one is safe. And I’m a tranny.

TN: You are no stranger to controversy yourself, in particular an incident involving the word “n****r” from earlier on this year. How has winning RuPaul’s Drag Race affected your performance, and have the reactions to, or the expectations of, your work changed since that particular incident?

SN: No. No one controls my art, and no one, and I mean no one, can say I have ever acted out, spoken out, or performed out of hatred. Do yourself some good, do some research, research Patti Smith, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Marilyn Manson, and William S. Burroughs on this very controversial word. Is it shocking? Yes. Have I ever used it without thought? No.

TN: Guest question from Gregor @ Mutate Design - on RuPaul’s Drag Race you were quick to point out you weren’t a “singer,” and struggled with that challenge. What then was the motivation for making a Sharon Needles album? And what can you tell us about your album (which I hope is called “Punk Rock Sex Clown”)  - what are your main musical influences?

SN: I’ve never considered myself a singer, though others have told me otherwise. I’m currently playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, and have since been applauded for my vocal range and talent. My “album”, set to be released at the end of January, is a total example of compromise. A compromise between me and the industry, a compromise between underground and pop culture, and definitely a compromise within myself.  That is why this album is entitled PG-13. All PG-13 films are compromised R-Rated films, and I’ve learned in this roller coaster of a year that happiness and success come with a compromise between you and your detractor.

[The album also features] Jayne County from Jayne County & The Electric Chairs, she was a 1970’s New York Punk Trans goddess ,completely underestimated and underappreciated, but I’ve devoted much of my spare time promoting her past, present, and future.  She will be a guest on one of the tracks of my upcoming album.

Happy Halloween, Hail Satan, kill your parents, and steal everything.

TN: Thanks Sharon!

In this brilliant interview from The Daily Freak Show, James St James interviews Sharon Needles (as Aaron) and the legendary Jayne County:

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Dangerous Minds fully endorses Sharon Needles

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Notes from the Niallist #3: go see SSION live, immediately!
03:36 pm



SSION in Bullett magazine
Surely you’ll know by now that we’re big fans of SSION at Dangerous Minds. The album Bent (which was originally released as a limited edition free download last year) was one of my favorites of 2011. It’s the kind of artful, emotional, electronic dance music that I always wished the Scissor Sisters sounded like, or that Madonna would make instead of chasing Lady Gaga’s crown.

Well, Bent has now been given the full, physical release treatment by Dovecote Records, and SSION are out on tour to promote it this autumn. That means they will soon be coming to a town near YOU and, godammit, I wish I lived in the States so I could catch one of these shows!

As someone whose music I greatly respect and admire, for the third Notes From The Niallist column I caught up with Cody Critcheloe (who, for all intents and purposes, is SSION), to ask him what he has in store for this tour, and how the album promotion is going:

The Niallist: You’ve stated that you plan on producing a video for each track on your album Bent - how is that going? Is there a narrative thread between these videos? I have noticed some slight stylistic similarities.

Cody Critcheloe: That is true, we’ve completed 5 of the 10 videos so far. We’re still waiting to release a few while we are on tour. The wait is killing me! Yes, there is a narrative thread between all of the videos… I’m not sure if everyone will pick up on it and i don’t know if it’s really important that they do… We will see, I guess.

TN: You put out Bent as a limited edition free download last year, and now it is being re-released physically. How do you feel the free download worked in your favor? Or did it?

CC: Well a lot of people are familiar with the songs, they come to shows and sing a long, and that’s cool. I think it worked in my favor for sure. I mean, do people even buy records anymore? i do sometimes but not like i did when i was a kid… I feel like things are on the uprise though, but then again I don’t have anything to compare it to. This is just they way it turned out.

TN: You put a lot of effort into your stage shows - what can we expect from Ssion on this tour? Any secrets you might be willing to give away?

CC: I think a lot of people have seen photos from shows we did 5 or 6 years ago and assume that they are going to get that, or they see the “Clown” video and think that’s who i am and what we do. That’s not the case. iId need some insane funding and the audience to put on shows that big! When we get the opportunity to do a lavish pop show I go all out, but when you’re touring in a van and sometimes playing to 100 people in a basement or dive bar you can’t really do that! And i actually sort of like stripping it down, i like forcing people to have to deal with it on a strictly musical level… For this tour it’s me and a live band, some visual elements but nothing really over the top. It doesn’t seem to bother people who come to the shows either. It’s still good. I’m a good performer and the band is tight. Also, we have House of Ladosha supporting us on the tour, they are my favorite band in NYC. Check them out!

TN: Who are your primary influences as a live performer? And musically and more generally, in terms of art and style which you poses a lot of, who has influenced you to do what you do?

CC: Courtney Love, The Cramps, Prince, Little Richard, Iggy Pop, Madonna, Queen, Sonic Youth, Darby Crash, the B-52s, and a lot more.

TN: Thanks, Cody!

Here’s the latest SSION video, an interview about the upcoming Live & Wet tour:

And here, for your diary, is the full SSION tour date schedule:

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

‘My Love Grows In The Dark’: SSION’s springtime pop perfection

SSION’s ‘Earthquake’ will rock your world

Feeling good 4-evr, it’s another great SSION promo

Getting ‘Bent’ with SSION: an interview with Cody Critcheloe


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Notes from the Niallist #2: Tranarchy in the UK
09:52 am



I ended my first Notes from the Niallist column by mentioning the collective I am a co-founder of, and performer with, called Tranarchy.

Frankly, it’s Tranarchy that has been taking up most of time, and distracting me from mining the cultural coal face for Dangerous Minds. But that’s the trade-off I guess, as Tranarchy is helping to create the diamonds people discover under all that dust.

As the name would suggest, Tranarchy is a drag-and-trans-heavy collective interested in subverting, and commenting on, normative gender roles. I know that all sounds very serious, but Tranarchy is dedicated to putting the fun first, and letting people discover the message for themselves, without having it rammed down their throats. There’s just too much hectoring in this world already, and not enough people willing to lead by example, i.e. living the life they want to live regardless of what society says. Sniff all you like at the supposed frivolity of drag queens and the “feminine” aesthetic, as historically has been the case with male-dominated, straight society, but always remember how much guts it takes to flaunt your otherness in public.

Besides the political aspect, however, there’s something almost magical going on with Tranarchy. And I mean “magical” in terms of seeing dreams and desires become a reality. We started the collective just over a year ago, and as we have grown at a surprising rate, we have managed to put on events and happenings that, just 18 months ago, we (literally) could only have dreamed of.

So far, we have hosted Manchester’s first ever vogue ball, called Vogue Brawl (now into its second year.) We’ve held a number of interactive film screenings in the style of the legendary Peaches Christ’s Midnight Mass in San Francisco (Showgirls, Zoolander, Mad Max: The Road Warrior with Empire Drive-In and Abandon Normal Devices.) We have created promo videos and photos shoots for our events that show off much of Manchester’s untapped talent, and these are beginning to get attention in the States and further beyond. Our most popular film so far is the promo for Vogue Brawl 2: Pride Is Burning, which can be basically summed up as “The Warriors in drag.”

The collective is very aware of gay and trans history and we want to celebrate that. We’ve held a few outlaw parties inspired by the original New York club kids James St James and Michael Alig, and documented them in the style of the sadly-missed pioneering NYC videographer Nelson Sullivan.

This is where it gets interesting, though. Our first outlaw party was a reclaiming of the Manchester tram system, which, as anyone who has ever used public transport will know, can get pretty hairy if you stand out in any way. Our last outlaw party was even bigger, in terms of execution and impact. It was an invasion of, and statement about, Manchester’s annual “Pride” festival of gay culture and awareness.

Every year, Manchester Pride is held in the city’s Gay Village and attracts up to 40,000 people, making it one of the flagship gay Pride festivals in the UK. However, the amount of money raised for charity as opposed to the amount of money raised for personal profit has been a major, running issue for a while, as has the fact that a festival celebrating gay visibility, and interaction with the wider, local community, is held in a walled-off compound that charges people to enter.

However, the one thing the Manchester Pride organizers don’t have control over is the large canal that runs right through the Gay Village, and along side Canal St, where much of the festivities take place. So, as a bit of a lark, Tranarchy took a barge down to the Village this year, and crashed the Pride party to perform a few numbers and make a basic point.

We have issued an official Tranarchy statement detailing some of the problems with Manchester Pride to accompany the YouTube video, and here is an extract from that:

Freeing Pride is not an attack on Pride as a party, and it is not just about the fences and the ticket prices. Its about setting Pride free from the businesses and individuals who seek profit before the well-being of our community. It’s about asking what the event is really about, who benefits from it who should pay for it, and remembering why we do it in the first place! Its about asking whats more important; extra cash for an organization reaching out to the most vulnerable among us, or getting to see Steps [90s pop band] one last time before they slip into room 101?

In short, we were all incredibly nervous about pulling this stunt, but it turned out better than we could have hoped. Check out the old voguing queen we encountered at the end of the video, in the Piccadilly basin, which is a well-known cruising ground:

Our YouTube video channel is here, and for regular news updates, subscribe to Tranarchy on Facebook.

For more info on Tranarchy, and past event pics, visit

A much longer piece, detailing the objections to how Manchester Pride is run, can be found at Manchester Pride Investigation.

You can find the Niallist at and on Facebook.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Notes from the Niallist #1: an introduction
06:06 pm



The truth is, I haven’t been posting as much on Dangerous Minds lately as I would like to. And why, you might ask? Well, because my extra-curricular activities have been getting in the way. Music, performance and film-making are all beginning to take up a lot more of my time, and while this is not a bad thing in itself, I feel I have been neglecting my duties here on the cultural vanguard.

To remedy this sorry situation, I have decided to start keeping an update of my work outside of Dangerous Minds, for Dangerous Minds. So welcome to a new, regular series of posts (a “column” if you will) called Notes From The Niallist.

These columns are a chance for me to talk about my work (ok, and maybe also show off a wee bit) but it’s is also a chance for me to explore, in more depth than usual, some of the themes, works, artists, scenes, politics and people that inspire and influence me. These includes some of topics I post about already, and I have been pleasantly surprised how well people have reacted to them in the past.

But some of this will also be fresh territory for Dangerous Minds. There is definitely going to be heavy queer-slant to my content, and opinions that might be in direct contrast to views expressed elsewhere on the website. Musically, what I want to focus on has not been covered much on Dangerous Minds, if at all. Under-reported, underground dance cultures of the past and the present, the crossroads of black and gay culture from disco and Hi-NRG up to the modern ballroom, bounce and homo-hop scenes. In terms of the people I will be interviewing, you’ve had a good glimpse at some of those folks already: gender-bending performance artists, extreme drag queens, fearless comics and characters whose work, and very existence, push at the boundaries of what is acceptable to “polite” society. In fact, anything that falls outside the remit of “good taste” is fair game. As is anything that that defies accepted notions of what makes a person “beautiful” or “sexy”. Being a sexually active fat gay guy, body-image, self-esteem and self-acceptance are all important to me, and areas that I feel we need more discussion of in general, regardless of gender or orientation.

I’m not too worried about the difference in content, though. I think, after writing here for well over a year and a half, I have a pretty good grasp of what you folks appreciate, and in return, I think you’ve got a pretty good appreciation of what I have to offer. Anyway, I will still keep posting snarky film reviews, ridiculous videos and facehugger bong pics, as well as interesting new music that falls outside the remit of The Niallist—what I was originally hired to do for Dangerous Minds—so there’s not that much to worry about.

My aim is for this column to run once a week, but sometimes more, and sometimes less, depending on the content. Be prepared for a follow-up to this post early next week, though, when I will be introducing what has become the number one focus of my time and energy, and what has been creating a real buzz in the people and places around me, our drag-performance collective Tranarchy.

But to kick things off, here’s a new(ish) video from my album AKA, an ode to outsider, out-size desire over a P-Funk hip-hop beat that’s, well, pretty fat:
The Niallist “Like Em Fat”

AKA is available to download, in full, on Bandcamp.


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Dilemma for Dumbshits: If Chick-fil-A stops anti-gay donations, will there be a right-wing backlash?

Rumors have been floating about for a few weeks now that Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy has been interested in wiping the shit he stepped in earlier this year—when he declared himself “Guilty as charged” for supporting anti-LGBT political groups like Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage, including some that heave been called “hate groups”—off his corporate shoes.

Although I commend Mr. Cathy for stopping his multi-million dollar donations to anti-gay groups—if this rumor is in fact true and doesn’t turn out to be a Yes Men-style prank aiming to “punk” the delicious fast food chicken sandwich chain preferred by bigots, homophobic Christians, Fox News viewers, Drudge and Breitbart readers and talk radio fans—I can’t help but wonder how this news will play in red states and in the far right blogosphere.

The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois’ leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, has learned that Alderman Moreno has finalized his negotiations with Chick-Fil-A.  Alderman Moreno has confirmed that Chick-fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations and that they have clarified in an internal document that the company will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation. The Civil Rights Agenda worked closely with the Alderman in an advisory role as he negotiated these concessions with the executives at Chick-fil-A.  Additionally, members of TCRA spoke directly with executives at Chick-fil-A during negotiations to aid in educating their decision makers about anti-discrimination policies and issues affecting the LGBT community.


Additionally, they have sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that states that as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.”  This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.

Last Friday, Tara and I went to see Aziz Ansari’s wicked good stand-up show at the Orpheum Theater in downton Los Angeles. At one point, he was riffing on the whole Chick-fil-A controversy and lamenting that he could no longer, in good faith, eat there and indirectly support bigoted organizations that oppose full civil rights for his LGBT friends. Many of you reading this feel his pain.

As he did the bit—I’m embarrassed to admit to this, but it’s true—I did the mental calculation in my head of how much of the price of a single peach milkshake would end up going into the coffers of an anti-gay group and debated on whether or not it was okay if I had one, just one, on the way home (My beautiful wife nixed this idea before it even got all the way out of my mouth, incidentally).

So if this new news is true, then Aziz Ansari and I can eat at Chick-fil-A again with clear consciences. Bearing this in mind, the flipside of feeling GOOD about the today’s announcement, or the widely-reported rumor I should say, that Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to anti-LGBT groups, is how this information might be processed by the far reich crowd?

Tell me that the likes of Dana Loesch, or Michelle Malkin won’t feel BETRAYED and FIRE-SPITTING FURIOUS by the fast food chain COWARDLY WITHDRAWING FROM THE FIGHT FOR ‘TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN VALUES.’ It’s gonna happen.

All the assholes who giddily participated in the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, waiting hours in line to stuff their faces full of fried chicken sandwiches to stick it to them uppity gays (and in support of “free speech” and Jeebus of course) are going to feel, well, butthurt by the news. Can a Sarah Palin-led Chick-fil-A backlash be far behind?

I hope Palin goes for the (fool’s) gold. It’s probably her very, very last chance to be relevant again. Her fifteen minutes of fame has about five seconds left, but leading a populist revolt against Chick-fil-A could re-start the clock for the fading celebrity of the half-term Alaska governor. Glenn Beck is probably wondering how he can hop on this train himself. Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain, Rush Limbaugh, Rep. Allen West, Michael Savage… who will be the first one of them to go there and accuse Chick-fil-A of cowardly betraying Christian Conservatives?

I’m also counting down the seconds before I get an “email alert” from wingnut central, WorldNetDaily, asking (because they always phrase things in the form of a question there, just like I did with the title here, in their honor): “GUESS WHO is no longer supporting the traditional Christian marriage definition of “one man, one woman”? The answer will SHOCK YOU” and then you’ll have to link to their website for the answer.

Five, four, three, two, one…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Divine & Holly Woodlawn discuss ‘The Neon Woman’, 1979
10:10 am



Here’s something to make up for that Divine interview on The Tube I posted on Monday - a whole thirty minutes of Genn Harris Milstead discussing Divine’s role in the 1979 theater production of The Neon Woman.

The interview is hosted by TV personality Tom Snyder, and also on hand are The Neon Woman‘s director Ron Link and Divine’s co-star (and another stone cold legend of drag/gender-bending and Warhol’s Factory scene) Holly Woodlawn.

There’s still a bit of a naff “wtf?” tone to Snyder’s questioning, but it’s nowhere near as bad as Muriel Grey’s Divine inquisition on The Tube. In fact, Snyder does a decent enough job of eventually getting past his own preconceptions and treating Divine and Woodlawn not as freaks, but as human beings with something interesting and intelligent to say.

This interview was taped for NBC’s Tomorrow show in 1979, and appears on YouTube in three parts. The quality isn’t immaculate, but it’s not terrible either, and it’s just a joy to see these people in the same room together hanging out and shooting the shit:

Divine and Holly Woodlawn on Tomorrow, 1979, part one:

After the jump, parts two and three…
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Divine in highlights form ‘The Neon Woman’ from 1978
Awkward interview with Divine on ‘The Tube’, 1983

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Awkward interview with Divine on ‘The Tube’, 1983
03:34 pm



Glenn Harris Milstead, aka Divine
Or to be more precise, here’s a very awkward interview with an out-of-drag Glenn Harris Milstead on the British music television show The Tube, from 1983, which is followed by an excellent performance by Divine of her club hit “Shake It Up.”

While it’s understandable that straight-laced, square TV presenters might not know what to make of Divine (whose very raison d’être was to make people laugh by overturning preconceptions of gender and beauty), you would expect the producers of a supposedly hip, youth-oriented TV show like The Tube to be a bit more switched on.

Instead we get an interview by the bumbling Muriel Grey in which she suggests that Divine is insecure, repulsive, and somehow an affront to women. The hapless Grey comes across as the dullest of squares in this clip, which I guess is a danger to be considered when you go up against a glamor icon like Divine, but unfortunately Grey has previous form in conducting cringe-worthy interviews.

Thankfully, Milstead takes it all in his rather large stride, and reacts with the grace befitting a true star:


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Derek Jarman: Interviewed on Spanish TV from 1989
08:29 pm



When asked how he felt about the fact he’d received £400,000 to make Caravaggio in 1986, and the director of Chariots of Fire, Hugh Hudson had received 4 million to make his film, Derek Jarman replied, ‘Fortunately, I’m one hundred times more intelligent than Hugh Hudson, so it doesn’t matter.’

It certainly didn’t matter as Jarman’s output, during his 20-year career, pisses from a great height on Hudson’s work. What Jarman would have made of this year’s London Olympics, with its recurring reference to Chariots of Fire, would certainly have been interesting. Yet, Jarman was never fooled by his position as an outsider, he was well aware that there ‘is a complicity between the avant-garde and the establishment, it’s symbiotic, they need each other,’ as he explained to Peter Culshaw in the NME, April, 1986.

‘..all avant-garde gestures have been appropriated by just those people they sought to undermine. Dada was conceived as a full-scale assault and now Dada sells for millions. But what people never point out about me is that I’m probably the most conservative film-maker in the country. I’m not talking about Thatcherite-radical conservatives, who are anti-traditional and destructive, and who see progress as heaven, I mean more like the conservatism of groups like the Green Party.’

The artist Caravaggio fascinated Jarman, because ‘he was the most inspired religious painter of the Middle Ages and was also a murderer.’

‘Imagine if Shakespeare had been a murderer - it would completely alter the way we see his plays. [Caravaggio] was particularly taken to heart by the Romans because he painted real people. The girl next door was Mary Magdalen. Or in Death of a Virgin he painted a well-known prostitute as a virgin. It was the equivalent of Christine Keeler being put up over the high altar at Westminster Abbey.’

Jarman felt a tremendous parallel between Caravaggio and his own life, and he believed that ‘the cinema of the product precludes individual voices…’

‘...and I think unless one can put one’s own voice into a film, then there’s an element of dishonesty in it.’

In this short interview Derek Jarman talks about his life and films, Caravaggio, The Last of England and War Requiem,  taken from Spanish TV’s Metropolis from 1989.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘Glitterbug’: Derek Jarman’s final film

Photo-spread of Derek Jarman’s ‘Jubilee’, from 1978

Bonus interview of Jarman talking about ‘Caravaggio’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Page 25 of 48 ‹ First  < 23 24 25 26 27 >  Last ›