From hot men to walk your dogs to explicit badges to pop on your satchel - Anything can be whisked into an online business these days. And who knows, it may be your oneday child's ticket to marrying a prince. My friend just introduced me to a lovely little blog called Fox and Flyte because...
"EVERYONE is talking about Fox and Flyte"
Fox and Flyte is a gorgeous fusion of online curiosity shop and fashion blog, tinged with self-consciously posh notes, equipped with its own queer fashion label offshoots, neatly squashed into a Wordpressy format and published to look like some kind of arthouse Tory manifesto.
Curated by Duncan Campbell, Haeni Kim and Luke Edward Hall, Fox and Flyte has received a nice slice of coverage along the gentler slopes of the British press. Luke designs Frida Kahlo inspired garments for Patrick Wolf occasionally, Kim cooks up exquisite gourmet treats whilst Duncan has done a splash of modelling in gay-but-not-gay-but-so-gay magazines like Another Man.
There are wooden drinks trays, candle snuffers, seafood accessories, stories from Tuscany, photos from Polo Clubs and miscellaneous snaps of Luke in mildly suggestive poses...
Fox and Flyte flirts with its readers, inviting us to taste Kim's hollandaise sauce, daring us not to be jealous of Duncan's glass-in-hand lifestyle and treating us to bizarre wealth-fantasy anecdotes like this:
"We had a go at playing lords of the manor in this splendid Queen Ann house [sic], with its panelled walls, ornate fireplaces and grand sweeping staircases. The weather outside was at points verging on the exceedingly bleak, but our trip was made all the better for it. We had the fires lit, shutters closed, and litres of red wine to keep us going through the long English November nights"
As I read deeper into Fox and Flyte's grotto of possibly-not-ironic snobbery I found something hauntingly familiar... I'd been to this place before. Was it memories from my own prep school days? Or visits to my "hold white wine by the stem, red wine by the bowl" grandparents? Or perhaps the closet - Did Fox and Flyte feel like being back in the closet again? That whole world of "If I shroud myself in enough expensive paraphernalia and wear show-stopping socks then Daddy might not realise I like boys' thumbs up my bum"? Or was it a hybrid of former interests - the Jack Wills handbook as written by David Starkey?
Then it STRUCK me. Fox and Flyte is JUST LIKE NEOPETS!
Well, elements of Neopets.
Most of you won't know what Neopets is/was. That's because I've deliberately cultivated a blog to appeal to people who are either a lot cooler than me, or who were born in the 1990s.
Neopets was a craze in the late 90s. A kids website that was like Pokemon meets Barbie. Basically, a consumerist and overtly aesthetic gaming website for little girls and gays. Basically, Fox and Flyte.
Here is Fox and Flyte's shop:
Note the proud lack of pragmatism and deliberate steering towards mainstream eccentricity.
And here is an example of a Neopets shop:
Ooh look, there's a Snazzy Moon Comb there going for only 220 Neopoints. Bargain.
Of course the curators of Fox and Flyte are an essential part of their brand. Out with the refined days of Bill Blass and Nicole Farhi, we want to see who's selling to us, we want distorted segments from their alter ego lives, we want to be TURNED ON. So here they are. Duncan, Kim and Luke concentrating hard on summoning some serious allure:
(The one on the left, definitely)
And similarly in Neopia, the equally fictitious land in which Neopets is set, it was always important for shop keepers to have a personality and act out a desired persona. Here is Nimmo. He used to run the bookshop in Neopia:
See! Once you've met Nimmo you ain't going to no Waterstones no more. Just look at his gorgeous vintage sleeveless V-neck and those Pringle of Scotland asparagus slacks.
Anyways, my 20 minutes is up. But there we have it. A gorgeous little lifestyle blog / shop (shog? blop?), and a flashback to my own childhood.
Clearly all of us are still collecting, still harbouring for the right aesthetic, still looking for a stamp of approval, still searching for answers that are never going to come.
I was a bit baffled to see this advert in BOYZ for Heaven, Britain's flagship gay club, for their New Year's Eve party. Traditionally the club has scene acts like Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and Madonna taking to the stage for NYE. This year? Two X-Factor drop-outs Stacey Soloman and Kitty Brucknell. And Joey from The Only Way Is Essex...
To put it another way. Two ladies who once entered a glorified karaoke contest and lost, and a man who basically lives in one of the home counties and appeared in a reality TV show, so essentially - just two women and a man, all of whom you couldn't even name this time two years ago.
Tickets for the night cost £12, which is cheap for NYE in London, but quite steep for Heaven considering I saw Sophie Ellis-Bexter for £1 there and Goldfrapp for £4 (any X-Factor fans reading - you might need to Google Goldrapp, they're pretty good, don't be scared by all the "music"). The poster also states that entry is only before midnight - I'm not sure if by entry they mean "entry to the queue" which in itself can take up to two hours because you have to join yards of unimaginative gay cattle. Anyways, "Tickets only valid until midnight" sounds like a fucking nightmare, I can already picture the door staff drama.
Stacey Solomon is billed as "Queen of the Jungle", because after X-Factor she appeared on another ITV show, one in which she sat around in a junglesque TV set for a few weeks - riveting. Meanwhile Kitty Brucknell is donned "X-Factor Diva", which literally means nothing.
Finally - the night has been called - wait for it - "The Only Way Is 2012" ........ a sad reminder to us all that nobody can turn the clocks back and so we are unlikely to ever see a proper pop star in Heaven again. I don't understand why G-A-Y has subjected us now to three entire years of relentless PAs from reality TV nobodies. The gay community pioneers pop culture, so why does Heaven constantly treat us like sick-sucking thick-as-shit ITV gloats? Give Peaches a call, find Patrick Wolf - he could teach the twinks a thing or two about culture, get Grace Jones' agent on the line. Get some good DJs in the other rooms, like Busy P, Armand Van Helden or Felix Da Housecat. Get some theatrically talented hosts, not a fake-tanned git from "The Only Way Is Essex". There are local gay hosts who are amazing like Lady Imelda, Lizzy Drip and Boogaloo Stu, so why burn cash on Joey fucking Nobody?
.... as much as I'd like to go to Heaven on NYE to see an uneducated talentless man from Essex, a reality TV star singer with no album and an unsigned crackpot Gaga wannabe, not to mention listen to Jeremy Joseph rattling away at thousands of uninterested boys down a microphone, I think we're going to head to France this year for some actual fun.
Oh. Here's another of BOYZ magazine's classic double page spreads taken from the same issue. It's all about Stacey Soloman and domestic violence:
I learnt this morning off Alasdair that Goldfrapp are to release a singles collection in February, containing two new songs including this gem below Yellow Halo. The video just fills me with envy it's so beautiful how Alison and Will have used their talents to just escape the world.
Watch the video to Yellow Halo here:
Goldfrapp's music is important to me because it helped me realise that all that matters in this life is experiencing as much as possible, taking yourself on adventures, investing in friends, and mapping out your life on instinct and feeling, not convention and tuition. Goldfrapp really capture the brevity, insignificance and sheer beauty of life, and at the same time also its longevity and ancestry.
There were a few negative whispers in the gay media's rumour wheel last year about Goldfrapp, because Alison refused to discuss her girlfriend, and so some people saw that as a self-loathing sales-calculating stunted type of coming out, a "Mike Stipe coming out", arguably worse than being in the closet. But whilst Alison may have been a bit short-fused with some journalists, treating them like tabloid sewer rats, I think people also caught hold of the wrong end of the stick. Alison isn't a celesbian. She is a person who has realised that there are no lines.
Goldfrapp's back catelogue really is a journey, and this song Yellow Halo does seem rather like an ending. Let's hope it isn't quite the end though.
Here's a piece I wrote on Goldfrapp last year in which I attempt to paraphrase rather poetically what it is that I like about each of their albums: Goldfrappuccino
Here is my review of Goldfrapp's last album Head First. Clearly I was a bit miffed by it, but I was wrong, and the record has matured magnificently. Head First is a great album.
I wanted to vomit earlier this week when a friend sent me a link to Richard Dennen’s feature for the Evening Standard on “The Gay Tribes of London”. A feature which set out to be a witty round-up of London’s key micro-scenes within the overall gay scene, but one that read like some off-the-mark ramblings of a retired man in Capri who perhaps visited London once at the turn of the century.
Laughably generalised, gapingly incorrect and embarrassingly crass – I worry that gay teenagers around Britain might read Dennen’s piece and think that our scene is a shambolic charm-bracelet of sour clichés. Thankfully few people actually read Dennen’s work here in London other than a handful of watchful media gays and the odd closet-case. In fact it must depress Dennen if he ever takes the Tube to see how people glance for a split second at his often-pointless work before hastily turning the page.
We've spent years praying that if the Evening Standard insist on using Richard Dennen then could they please ask him to change the subject from his own invented social life and shout-outs to his random flatmate. But now I think I preferred his self-obsessed features to this off-key "written during the advert break" drivel.
So, here is a blog post ironing out a few of the many creases in Dennen’s poorly-observed portrayal of the London gay scene. I've tried to be nice because you just know Dennen is one of those journos that relentlessly Googles himself whilst his Mum goes to the toilet in Pizza Express.
"EAST END BOYS"
Dennen’s stinky section heading “East End Boyz” says it all really. He hasn’t got the faintest idea where to find East London’s fashionista gay “tribe”. He mentions the most obvious venues, The George & Dragon, The Joiners and East Bloc, the latter he describes as “The new gay hang out” – if your definition of new is YEARS. East Bloc is a great club but it certainly doesn’t have a “club kids” vibe. The George & Dragon has a decent core of middle-aged regulars too, strong bald-headed blokes who arrive early and fill out the seating booths. Better examples of underground East London gay venues would be The Oval where BUTT magazine recently held a massive party, Backstreet in Mile End, The Macbeth on Hoxton St which is home to Polly Sexual’s annual Tranny Olympics, and of course Dalston – which doesn’t appear anywhere in Dennen’s feature despite it being London’s third largest cluster of gay bars what with places like Dalston Superstore, Vogue Fabrics and Moustache Bar among a myriad of other supergay-friendly joints.
Dennen praises the East End saying “gays can dress how they feel without anyone batting an eye-lid”. I just pray that a provincial gay teenager doesn’t read his feature and turn up at Old Street tube’s myriad of exits wearing a fur jacket and heels. East London is quite dangerous, there is a lot of crime on the streets, violent muggings and stark scenes of poverty. I wouldn’t advise anyone to dress outlandishly in East London unless they are out with a tight group of friends, and take a coat! Yes the occasional gay boy turns up at The Joiners with Mechano on his head, and yes people look trendy but it's not exactly James St. James. Leigh Bowery's London is long gone, today East London is all statement t-shirts and overt skinniness.
“The Lambeth Walkers”
Dennen describes Vauxhall as “the old-school gayhood of the twink and "Muscle Mary type who hit Fire, the club under the arches in Vauxhall on South Lambeth Road, because they think that's what being gay is about”. Overlooking the insulting nuances of his sentence and his almost unreadable clunky syntax, Dennen is wrong. You hardly ever see twinks in Vauxhall. Twinks, incidently, look like this:
Men in Vauxhall tend to look like Francois Sagat:
Lots of muscle, not that much Mary.
Fire is an odd club for Dennen to pick out, because whilst it is obvious and well-known, it is more of an after-hours club for those who have been drinking in Soho and jump on the 88 bus when Heaven closes.
“Land of the sauna” is a bizarre statement to attribute to Vauxhall. There is one gay sauna in Vauxhall and another near Waterloo. London has about ten gay saunas and they are evenly spread around the city, from Limehouse to Fitzrovia to Turnpike Lane. Maybe Dennen should add a bit of variety to his swimming timetable?
“Wearing checked shirts and a fair share of leather tumbling out of the leather clubs. How terribly on-trend” – Have you ever seen someone come out of The Hoist wearing a checked shirt? Me neither. And how weak when Dennen bows down to his ES readers by throwing a “How terribly on trend” jibe. It’s just, I don't know, pointless really?
“The Two Brewers on Clapham High Street might be stronger on the older gay who likes to pretend he's young with a bit of designer stubble and an Abercrombie T-shirt” – A tiny bit rich coming from Dennen, a man whose journalism strives very hard to forge the impression that he is young (he used to have a cap in his Standard mug shot!).
How does Dennen want middle-aged gay men to dress? Perhaps in statement blazers and sunglasses? The Two Brewers is a fantastic gay pub visited by young, middle-aged and old men alike. I first set foot in there when I was 18 and I certainly didn’t feel too young for it, there are loads of gay kids there, Boogaloo Stu the gay scene's honorary kids TV presenter used to run a night there. Also – lumping Clapham and Vauxhall together is clumsy. They’re both beneath the Thames but completely different parts of London.
I don’t like it how Dennen doubts the team at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern when he writes “whose organisers describe themselves as purveyors of progressive working class entertainment”. THEY ARE purveyors of progressive working class entertainment! Also, David Hoyle doesn’t receive any Arts Council funding, it was denied this year - so that's wrong too. Dennen rounds off his misjudged portrait Vauxhall with the hilarious (pass me a bucket) observation “How Establishment can you get?” – as if we should all ridicule Amy Lame for her constant community endeavours and David Hoyle’s tireless campaigning for Shelter, MenCap and the Elton John Aids Foundation.
Finally, Vauxhall isn't "old school". It attracts an older crowd but strictly speaking, and perhaps interestingly to Evening Standard commuters, it is a much younger scene than Soho, originally a deliberate alternative to Soho, hence its nickname Voho - a word which is completely absent from Dennen's piece. Molly Mogs is OLD SCHOOL, not Barcode where they play modern-to-the-minute house.
“The Camden Kids”
“The north London scene revolves around Camden where the gays are talking about music and whoever is playing later that night at KoKo or the Roundhouse...Main interests include hitting the skate parks, playing with their bands or discussing the new shades of illamasqua make-up or nail varnish”.
This is totally fictitious and sounds to me more like a personal fantasy. A skating gay tribe who hang out in Camden? The truth is North London doesn’t really have a gay scene, everyone travels into Soho or heads East. Yes, Camden has a gay-friendly vibe and is very studenty - but it’s no gay scene. The Black Cap is constantly struggling to fill its bar stools, The King William in Hampstead has been all but dispossessed by the gay community, whilst The Green in Angel doesn’t feature anywhere in Dennen’s piece, probably because lesbians drink there. In fact lesbians have been completely excluded from Dennen’s feature. A more interesting feature might be ‘Why Is London’s Lesbian Scene Being Systematically Shut Down In Front Of Our Eyes’?
“The West End Gays”
“Conversation is film and TV with arguments about Madonna or Gaga on the tip of the tongue. It is here that one can also find an unusually high number of guys who take their dogs to work”. I have no idea what Dennen is describing here, it certainly isn’t the West End. And Madonna? Nobody except the odd YouTube vlogger has uttered a word about Madonna since 2006. The West End’s gay scene is Soho, it includes G-A-Y, G-A-Y Late, Ku Bar, The Edge, Green Carnation, Lo Profile, Freedom, Escape, Village, The Admiral Duncan, Comptons, The Yard and other venues. None of them hold anyone remotely like the imagined character in Dennen’s feature. People take their dogs to work at Vanity Fair and World of Interiors, fair enough, but that's not the gay scene is it?
It’s as if Dennen has met one man in Soho ten years ago and is using his faded memory as a blue print for one of the world’s largest and most famous gay scenes. Not happy.
“By the weekend they've fled Soho with their other-half to the country, the dog and the wi-fi” – What the fuck? This is just sounds like drivel now stirred with the cynical leer of an ageing singleton.
Dennen cites Lady Lloyd as the tranny to know for the West End. Well, kind of, but she DJs around the entire city and has a resident slot at Mission in Leeds where she hails from.
London’s gay scene is ever-changing, galactic and complex. There are no “tribes” but merely trends and hubs of commonality that layer themselves like paint. London's gay scene is interchangeable and overlapping, it is complex, which is why penning it all down in a paraphrasal feature for a commuter paper is a task befitting for an accomplished gay writer, say Richard Gray or Alex Needham.
I just wish Dennen would use his generously given platform with the Evening Standard to write insightful, hearty features that add something to our community, rather than constantly holding up his smeared mirror to the gay community with that creepy insecure smirk of his. It's not our fault that you're gay Richard.
"Is There A Point To Richard Dennen?" on Drowned In Sound.
"Richard Dennen: The Worst Columnist in London" by Scott Bryan.
"Richard Dennen: The Standard's New Gay Columnist" by Caspar Aremi for SoSoGay
"Richard Dennen: The Single Worst Thing Written by Anyone Ever" by The Urban Woo
Richard Dennen's Work on the Evening Standard website
I have started a collaborative blog-post series with Emma Gannon, a wonderful heterosexual female (form a cue Adam) who writes for the Huffington Post (aren't they just totally everywhere right now).
The series is called "Online Dating Gripes". We both realised, Emma and I, that we spend a lot of time ridiculing how bad so many men are when it comes to writing profiles on dating websites. I obviously use gay ones like GAYdar and GAYromeo and fitLADS. Emma prefers ethereal ones for ladies, so stuff like eHarmony, PlentyOfFish (eeew) and Naked Candlelit Dinners.
Here is a photo of what Emma Gannon looks like, as I know some of my readers have never met a woman before (she's on the right):
Emma looks a little non-plussed in that photo, and I totally know how she feels, when Z-list former girlband nothings keep harrassing journalists to have their photo taken with them. Here is Emma looking more like her usual self:
Anyway. Enough photographs of Emma. Let's get on with this new blog series "Online Dating Gripes". The first post is on Emma's blog and you can read it HERE!
(photo credit: Gene Kiegel via Homotography)
I've no idea what 'Strap It On' is, but the female character in this billboard image reminds me of Caitlin Moran. I don't have a computer games console so I don't really know what's going on here, but it looks like a more camp version of Tekken, if that's possible.
Also - what was that music video with the guy with really large hands / white gloves. I think it was directed by Chris Cunningham or Sophie Muller?
My feature in this issue is “Best British Gay Clubs of All Time”, one of several celebratory lists in this exciting issue. I included a broad array of gay clubs in my feature, from funky dirty stop-outs like the New Penny in Leeds all the way up to the highest echelon of gay partying like TRADE (which used to be at the superclub Turnmills). The list is past as well as present you see, so I spoke to some older guys for ideas and even checked up on a few gay celebrities like Gok Wan, Alan Carr and Brendan from Coach Trip to see where they used to take their glad rags on a Friday.
Above is a photograph of Heaven in the 1980s, published here with kind permission from Gay Times. Look at all the shirts, and all that healthy and conditioned hair! The whole affair looks very village hall, no outrageous Single Ladies routines or boys scratching clumps of brick off the walls giving their Britney impressions. No it all looks very sombre and autumnal, you can just hear Kraftwerk’s keyboard riffs steadily plonking along. Although I’m sure if something off Madonna's Immaculate Collection was playing we’d see a very different image!
I do have one partial regret with my feature, however, which is the inclusion of G-A-Y Late:
I put G-A-Y Late in my list of Best Ever Gay Clubs for its solid presence and affordability, writing “In a constantly pressurised Soho, challenged by the internet and alternative London scenes, G-A-Y Late delivers consistency, reliability and lots of hot boys”.
BUT... recently I’ve heard reports of completely sober people being refused admission at G-A-Y Late on the grounds that they look too drunk, and then told to try Heaven (which weirdly is linked to G-A-Y Late so seems a bit of an inappropriate recommendation if the door staff really do believe the person to be unsuitable for entry?).
Furthermore, I recently heard a bouncer myself stood outside G-A-Y Late saying to a group of boys “You three can come in, but he can’t”. It was astonishing to watch this man playing God, trying to fork a group of young friends apart and inflict an onus of contempt onto one innocent individual - shocking. None of them looked drunk to me, they were all nicely dressed and glowing with composure, whilst some of the boys in the smoking area looked paralytic pissing against a neighbouring builders’ site. Anyway, what would that singled-out boy do – just roam around London on his own? Thankfully they had the sense to take their party elsewhere, but it did leave me wondering – how often do door staff fracture groups of friends for no apparent reason?
Besides, even if boys are drunk, is that not the point of being out in Soho at midnight and turning up at a gay dive like G-A-Y Late? We’re all adults here. I don’t want a gay scene that is overly-surveilled, high security and nouveau-puritan. Don't even get me started on toilet security staff, sorry, I mean "perfume assistants" or whatever the fuck they're fobbed off as. I'd like to see what a Tom of Finland character would do to a security guard in a gay club toilet holding out a can of cheap deodarant...
I don’t want to single G-A-Y Late out. I’m sure they do a fantastic job generally, and we’ve all had fun nights in there. The bar certainly deserves its place in my feature – simply for existing! I don’t know if anyone else has noticed but the Soho gay scene is receding? – Like, where can you go after midnight on a Friday in Soho? Three places? Four maybe? Some say it's a hush-hush knock-knock inside job type thing, but I highly doubt it. If you own a gay bar in Soho then the last thing you want is no other gay bars nearby - the choice attracts people to the area. That's the secret of Vauxhall - you never plan what to do in Vauxhall, you just turn up with your credit card and bounce around.
But yes – I wish gay clubs would just chill out a bit on the door. You’re not the Groucho or Shoreditch House, you’re four walls, cheap vodka and a Rihanna song. The men who run these joints seem to have forgotten their own youths - we're a community of lovers, not a cattleshed of idiots. Well...
So. Got all that off my chest. You can now read my feature "Best British Gay Clubs of All Time" - and marvel at just how many wonderful gay clubs there are in Britain.
And like I said, this month’s Gay Times is “GT400” - the 400th issue. It’s great to think just how long the magazine has been around, starting out at as HIM Magazine decades before I was even born. Before the internet Gay Times was the only place men could find listings of gay bars and clubs. During the outbreak of HIV Gay Times was one of the few publications that wrote accurately and helpfully on the topic amidst an ocean of tabloid scare stories, falsity and sensation. I always like to ask older gay guys when they first bought Gay Times. 9 times out of 10 they'll have a rich and colourful story about pinching it from a newsagents in Wiltshire or stashing it in a cushion cover so Mum wouldn't notice. And here we are today – still chatting, still joking, still loving, still healthy and still strong - you see people reading GT on the tube. Fantastic.
If it wasn’t for the long hard slog of Gay Times, and their decades-long battle against institutionally homophobic advertising agencies, then we would be in the position we are today – with a range of gay magazines in Britain, both the free ones packed with club promotions and the pricier ones with their articles on gay farmers and lovely selection of Topman sweaters. I'm so indebted to a long line of serious gay journalists who stamped out a firm territory so that today, in 2011, people like me have the acceptance and creative space to blabber on about any old tit-for-tat.
GT400 comes in four different covers: Lady Gaga, Sir Ian McKellan, sexy gay diver Matthew Mitcham and openly gay X-Factor contesant Joe McElddery. All of these smashing people feature in the mag too.
My favourite features in this issue are Jamie Tabberer’s interview with Paul O’Grady, and the list of “40 Best Ever Gay Songs” compiled by gay DJ duo Hits & Mrs.
BUY YOUR COPY OF GT400 HERE NOW!
The Big Knit is back on!
That's right - Innocent Smoothies are back in Sainsbury's and Boots outlets wearing their adorable tiny knitted hats. 25p from each bottle goes straight to Age UK who give hot meals, blankets and company to the neglected and elderly folks in our atomicised community.
I bought three just now, selecting ones with hats that spoke to me. I really wouldn't want to inflict the rest of this blog post on anybody. it's literally me rambling for therapy on my lunch break. So please do stop reading now. The basic message of this blog post is "LOOK!" "INNOCENT SMOOTHIES!" "CHARITY!" "CUTE KNITTED HATS!" "GET SOME!" - But if you insist on reading more:
Here is a story based around the characters in the picture above:
I've named the mangoes and passion fruits smoothie Faye, inspired by Faye Dunaway as Milady de Winter in The Three Muskateers in which she thrusts her bosoms before a young Michael York. Faye lives in a quiet English village, and she spends her time sitting by the river painting in watercolours and playing pooh sticks, guarding her secret. However, this afternoon she will not be alone...
I've called the kiwis, apples and limes smoothie Michael. He is an attractive English Literature enthusiast who lives with his parents in the village rectory. Michael goes for long introspective walks along snowy river banks, pondering over a recent realisation that is very dear to him, knowledge of a natural and powerful order that remains a secret to his parents...
I've named the pomegranates, blueberries and acai smoothie Jamie. He collects football stickers and lives in the same village as Michael. He often sees Michael plodding off down the road in his wellies during the Christmas holidays as he embarks on one of his wintery walks. Today Jamie is going to come to terms with his feelings for Michael, so he pops on his orange knitted hat that his nan knitted for him and follows Michael into the woods...
I shan't reveal how the story progresses. You'll have to imagine the rest in your head. But I'll tell you this much... it ends with Faye Dunaway cooking up a hearty breakfast whilst Michael and Jamie wake up to the smell of bacon on her pull-out sofa bed. And although the boys have come a long way together in one night, are they ready to learn Faye's secret?
Now go and buy some Innocent smoothies and think-up your own cosy gay soap opera pilot.
This is possibly the worst blog post I've ever written on Jack of Hearts. I just caught up in a fluster over how adorable the little knitted hats are. And I like to imagine teenage boys courting each other in their Christmas holidays.
Whilst reading the blog post did you scroll up to remind yourself what Michael looked like? Ok phew, you're as insane as me.
You can find out more about Innocent smoothies and The Big Knit on their Facebook page here:
What is this man Alan Craig so ANGRY about? His blog post “Confronting The Gaystapo” is just so embarrassing, especially with that awful photo of himself reclining against the side of a sofa – JESUS CHRIST it’s just awful. To think Andy Warhol died over 20 years ago, Oscar Wilde 100 and this old creep seems to think he’s the voice of convention?
My Dad told me never to trust a man with two first names, and my Mum thinks that Alan Craig’s clashing cushion covers are sickening. That’s right, I’m talking about my Mum and Dad here – because you know what – it so happens that I have a family and despite being gay, I didn’t grow on a tree like most gays, I’m the child of two people. We love each other, we’re a happy family, and we don’t argue anywhere near as much as some of our overtly Christian friends.
Both of my parents go to church (not that I'm proud of that fact), the same Church of England that Alan Craig here has made himself the self-elected spokesperson for. I don’t go to church. I left home to go to Leeds in 2006 and now I live in Hampstead and spend my Sunday mornings cuddling up in bed with a nice boy or watching E4. I lost faith in the church after a vicar wanted to wash me once during Sunday school, also I found the hymns dragged ON and ONNN and when they ditched those nice dusty hymnbooks for some tacky overhead projector – well that was the last straw. Charles Wesley didn't spend entire evenings penning his musical genius by candlelight so that we could stand in front of a wobbly pull-down screen with a little karaoke ball bouncing along the Comic fucking Sans.
I still go to church occasionally but only because I admire the architecture, music and paintings that adorn ecclesiastical buildings, many of which are the results of gay men’s handiwork over the years. And sometimes there are new gay guys in the congregation and we chat over weak lemon squash and stale biscuits at the post-service refreshments and then meet up a few days later to have sex. But generally speaking, the Church of England is a piss-stinking shambles these days. Oh how Christopher Wren would weep if he saw the broken hand-dryers and clumps of urine-soaked tissues on the floor in St. Paul’s. Sorry - I know I'm generalising here, but so is our friend Alan Craig when he compares GAY PEOPLE .... to .... NAZIS. (Incidentally, there were actually a lot of gay senior Nazis, what with Hitler shacking up with men in prison between the wars, but that's another story. Alan Craig here isn't talking about Ernst Rohm and the Pink Swastika, no, he's just being a tool).
Alan Craig is three times my age and he writes like a village idiot. His opening paragraph contains a machine-gun-like firing line of random hyperlinks, all labelled as “HERE”, “HERE”, “HERE” (he does know you can drag a hyperlink across text right ?) He comes across like some kind of frothing-at-the-mouth lunatic in an episode of Midsomer Murders.
On his deliberately belligerent and inexcusably horrid and insensitive comparison between gay rights activists and Hitler’s expansionist foreign policy, I will say only this:
The defeat of Hitler was a colossal worldwide collaborative effort. Amongst the millions who fought and died fighting against his dictatorship there were thousands of gay men, gay men who were fighting and dying for the freedom of a country that at that time didn’t even acknowledge who they were. Alan Craig’s pathetic blog post is an insult to the stolen young lives of those men. There might have been millions of other deaths too if it wasn’t for the brilliant mind of one man – Alan Turing – a homosexual who cracked the Nazis’ code, and how was he thanked? By being chemically castrated and driven into suicide.
Alan Craig praises Winston Churchill in his blogpost, holding him up as an emblem of individual thought and resistance. Of course some of Winston Churchill’s closest friends were gay, and his pal Robin Maugham (the far-too-often overlooked nephew of a less-good closet-gay playwright Somerset Maugham) even writes in his fantastic autobiography Escape The Shadows of secret meetings in which Churchill consulted homosexual friends and relations. Incidentally Robin Maugham once wrote a fantastic allegorical novel called The Sign which illustrated how “Jesus” was a political PR ploy masterminded by two gay men. Anyway, it was banned of course and now we’ve got Mel Gibson. It's a shame though as the gay Jesus sex scene is quite beautifully written. Long live Somerset and all the Maughams.
I'm trying to show you how laughably simplistic Alan Craig's blog post is. British politics, British religon, both are ram-jammed with gay contributors past and present. As much as he hates it, Alan Craig's career and entire life is nothing but a brief guest slot slid into a middling bookshelf of a gigantic gay library. If Alan Craig really believed that the gay community were like Nazis then he wouldn't publish his tacky blog post, because he'd have a knock on the door at 3 o'clock in the morning. He has written it in the safe knowledge that nobody in the gay community is going to hurt him, and ooh - he might get some traffic to his shit website - and ooh ooh ooh - win the support of some local bigoted coffin dodgers.
Meanwhile, I don’t think many seniors in the Church of England will admire Alan Craig’s lowly article, because his church is actually defined by progression and change. The Church of England is a pick-n-mix church built on populism and inability. Looking at the photo of Alan Craig’s blonde wife and daughter that he has chosen to publish on his website (a glowing portrait of his heteronormative credentials no doubt), I would hazard a guess that he has been married before and divorced, I may be wrong, but if he has then that is an example of how he himself has benefited from the Church of England’s ever-changing ways.
Like the gifted comedian Glenn Wool says – “Why do some religious people insist on making everything into a polar argument? Like you have to choose between liking gay people or liking religious people? It’s a bad line to take because we all know who we’d rather have at our dinner party – our gay friends – because the religious – well – let’s be honest, they’re FUCKING BORING”
It interests me that oddballs like Alan Craig are so keen to open up an argument between the church and the gay community. Why DOES he dislike gays so much? Is it really because of the stories in that old book of his, the Bible, that in his heart he knows is mainly all bollocks? It's strange to think how this book from the Middle East written 2,000 years ago plays such a big part in his life spent within the lonely walls of Newham Borough Council. Or is it because he doesn't like the idea of young gay people having confidence and leading their own lives?
Alan Craig has to accept the fact that gay people exist, they always have and they always will. It's sexuality. It's impermeable. Which is why it's so bizarre having a society that still persecutes people on account of their sexuality. Whereas religions, despite their many attributes, are undeniably invented in their entirety, and they come and go like gadgets. Venus anyone? Thor?
Personally I like the idea of gay teenagers being themselves, meeting others like themselves, and writing their own lives. It seems the church want something different – they’d rather a world of hush-hush, shame, suppression, darkness and dependence.
I’ll leave you on this video that writer Graham Lineham shared on his blog a little while ago:
My New Random Channel 5 Presenter Crush: Bryn Lucas - Presenter of Super Casino and *Fingers Crossed* Partial to a bit of Gayness
Pictured above: Bryn Lucas, live presenter of Super Casino on Channel 5 - far too attractive to be presenting this kind of subterranean money-making smut, get him on Shameless and get him in the shower sharpish.
I was watching Channel 5 by mistake last night and like everytime I accidentally tune-in to the channel I ended up with a new Random Channel Five TV Personality Crush. My first ever RC5TVPC was an innocent fixation with Melinda Messenger in 2001 as she hopped up and down Fort Boyard killing paisley personal trainers from Kent with her globular knockers and blinding French seals with her titanium grin.
After Melinda there was Alex Lovell, a haplessly beautiful presenter on Brain Teaser who looked a bit like Bugs Bunny's bitch, which I watched during the school holidays at midday. Now, as a proper adult, and one who's decided to be gay, it's only late night TV that I get the chance to watch, usually with a slice of toast whilst a one-night-stand is "quickly using the bathroom", but Channel 5 still deliver - that's right, even in the dead of night their live TV studios are packed with attractive lantern-jawed men in tight-fitting silver suits.
So. Roll on THIS dude (above) who presents Super Casino, an interactive phone-in roulette show, like Red & Black but without dragged-out bollocks and plaice-faced plebs. On Super Casino all you do is watch the Roulette wheel spin whilst listening to the presenter's futile attempts at conversation whilst imagining him crouched over a laptop in his Elstree Studios hotel towelling robe when his shift is over later.
I Googled "Presenters on Super Casino" on my phone - desperate to learn more about this attractive chappy and came across this little bio - turns out he's called Bryn Lucas:
“With early dreams of being a professional footballer we’re thankful Bryn turned to acting and presenting in his early twenties. Easy on the eye, Byrn’s is described by his friends as loud and lively, with an army of brothers and sisters Bryn has a total of six siblings. Bryn adores Mexican food but you will have to go for dinner with him before he reveals his party trick, his lips are firmly stealed as not to spoil any surprise. A real softy, Ben enjoys nothing more than playing with his border colly Jamie, but don’t be fooled as he hides a darker side – he once owned a snake called Killer and fronted his own rock band”
One final word: FIT!
You can follow Bryn on Twitter @BrynLucas - personally I'm scared to in case it confirms my worst fears - that Bryn is massively heterosexual. Still, even if he is, there is still the possibility of a same-sex liaison - who knows - what with trying football, acting, rocking and now presenting - Bryn is clearly eager for fame and so perhaps, like so many Channel 5 presenters before him, he would widen the goal posts of his sexual appetite if it meant getting a few rungs higher.
Fuck ME this blog post has turned into a mess. I should probably finish by saying to Bryn, if you're reading this - "Hello" - and "Don't worry" - I am not going to stalk you. And then I should apologise to everyone else for this blog post. Where most would just say "He's pretty fit", whilst watching their television, I have gone and dragged the very same sentiment into about 800 words, and achieved nothing.
P.s. Yes, that IN Bryn in the shower with a dog tattoo. It's a screengrab from his promotional video on the Channel 5 website. I know.
So, that’s enough for now on the Do’s & Don’ts of gay club night posters.
Yesterday we were sitting in the garden enjoying some gin and discussing Colonel Gaddafi’s son and how he was basically once my neighbour (according to my friend Sam, Colonel Gaddafi’s son used to live around the corner from me, but according to Hamish he lived much nearer to Jonathon Ross, but according to a boy that Hamish slept with he lived in hiding in the basement of the derelict Heath House which was by far the most exciting idea but unlikely as we all know Colonel Gaddafi’s son was hardly a stowaway, he hired Beyoncé to sing at his birthday party for fuck sake. Or was that Mugabe’s son? There really should be a section in Hello! for all this, it's almost as if someone doesn't want us to know that dictators' families spend the summer season soaking up West End shows and dining in Jamie's Italian in safe-as-houses London, and so we reached an agreement that the late Colonel Gaddafi’s son once lived in North London somewhere) because the Evening Standard said so.
Then the conversation moved briefly onto erotic cushion covers by Trademark and then SUDDENLY Emma starts talking about this openly gay pop star that she likes who is like “Meatloaf meets P!nk” (I swear a lobbyist pays Emma to drop these topics into conversations with gay men)
“Sorry, go back” I say, trying to breed Meatloaf with P!nk in my tired head. “Who are you talking about?”
“Adam...?” says Hamish, frowning.
“Lambert!” says Emma, ignoring the cloud of indelible cynicism slowly grouping in the air around the four of us.
I look at Sam who looks at Hamish. “Yeah I think we saw him at Heaven once?”
“I didn’t see him at Heaven once” I say immediately. But I did, and I do know who he is, obviously. It’s just I’ve forgotten because nobody EVER plays his songs (does he even have songs?).
“Oh. Did you go with Sam?” asks Hamish.
“You ALL know who Adam Lambert is” says Emma, tears welling realising she’s backed the wrong horse this time..
“Maybe” allows Hamish, fiddling with his cuff.
“He’s been on BOYZ magazine!” cries Emma.
“Well!” claps Sam. “That narrows it down to ANY MAN who has EVER sung a song or taken their shirt off in the last two decades” [I should point out here that we always read BOYZ and adore it]
And so out comes the laptop onto the garden table and there goes “Adam Lambert” into the Google search bar and up pops his evil camp face.
“Turns out only 3 of his 8 singles actually charted in the UK and he’s never had a number one ANYWHERE” says Hamish, suddenly interested.
“Which is quite embarrassing when you think about it - even Diana Vickers can wrangle a number 1 these days” I say, still hating her since she got to fuck George Craig.
“If you’re a gay pop star in studded shoulders pads and the British aren’t buying your records then who the fuck will?” says Sam, right as ever.
“Guys I think you’re all being mean” says Emma. “You’re all gay, you should be supporting him, it’s tough enough already with psychos in America leaving him hateful comments all the time”
So we made it a task for the day to make ourselves more aware of Adam Lambert’s pop efforts and get to know his songs, because it’s about the music right and the bigger message?
Here are the three songs by Adam Lambert that have made it across the Atlantic to England:
A shaky song that sounds like Evanescence ten years ago. Whereas stars like Beyonce know how far to take a preachy Baptist sound (Smash Into You and Halo), Adam Lambert’s team take it toooo far. The lyrics are painfully simplified - “With every step you climb another mountain”. Sick in my mouth.
For Your Entertainment:
If only. This one is straight out of a musical episode of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. It’s as if Womanizer had an interlude written by car park attendants on Prozac and you were listening to it through a bag.
Disappointingly Adam’s dancing is nauseatingly static. He sort of lunges himself up and down like a steam engine and whenever the opportunity for a literal dance move pops up – that opportunity is SEIZED with all the imagination of Anusol. It’s all a bit Peter Kay. The clothes aren’t great either, like, asymmetrical studs. It’s as if Fisherprice abducted Patrick Wolf and forced him to design a clothes range, and here is his deliberately feigned result.
Whataya Want From Me:
In his third real song Whataya Want From Me Adam ups his game a bit musically, “Ooh” said Hamish, and this video has enjoyed over 23 million views on YouTube, dizzy figures that Shania Twain or Jennifer Paige can only dream of. It’s a bit Foo Fighters this song, which is a MASSIVE compliment heading Adam Lambert’s way. He looks like Dawn French playing Julian Clary though, which could be a compliment if Adam Lambert was a Barcelonan street act.
Talk about being a gay role model, this video is MISERABLE, Adam Lambert just sits around on empty sofas or sits in bed WITH ALL OF HIS CLOTHES ON, brooding over the song’s recipient who is presumably someone who didn’t reciprocate the Flame button on Gaydar. I’m not saying gay pop stars have to dress like Red Indians and clap for their dinner but let’s not convince youngsters that all we do is cry against IKEA book cases and wait for terminal illness to take its toll. Compared to The Pet Shop Boys, Erasure and Soft Cell this is a hefty step backwards.
It is clear from the YouTube comments on Adam Lambert’s channel that he has a sizeable fan base, in all senses. Sadly a lot of the comments follow this damp line of gay rights rhetoric, stuff like “Look people. He’s gay – so get over it Girlz – he Ain’t EVER gonna marry you because he’s a GAY MAN and we LOVE Adam forever and his hair is BETTER than Bieber’s” – that kind of gay message, written by girls who in four years time will be suing Claire’s Accessories because they got their tit stuck in a hand dryer, the type of girls who sort their Haribo into colour piles whilst their toenails dry because they’re allergic to yellow.
SO. Adam Lambert. Who knew icing your face in mascara, wearing two rings on each finger and wingeing about life’s difficulties could get you a Number 4 hit in Finland? Oh actually, his boyfriend is a Finnish TV presenter, my bad.
To some Adam Lambert is a role model, an openly gay pop star who gay kids can identify with because – no wait – he was BORN IN 1982? He turns THIRTY soon? Holy shit, do his fans' parents know this?
To me, Adam Lambert looks like a dancer from a budget cruise line’s repertory theatre group, his songs are either dull ballads or lacklustre pop scrapings and anyone who dons him “one of the few openly gay pop stars” is insulting the plethora of ignored talent that is, has, and will always be out there.
If anything, Adam Lambert is a role model to young gays because he demonstrates the fact that the gay card isn’t enough in the world of pop, and that’s the way it should be. You have to be good at what you do too.
So, well done Adam Lambert, I’m sure there’s a bunch of people out there who need you, but I’ll stick to my Peaches getting-ready playlist and Patrick Wolf evenings, thanks.
* * *
Sam just read this blog post whilst I walked away for a minute and he added the following paragraph:
BASICALLY this blog post boils down to me wanting to say the following: “Look at MEE I live in Hampstead and I don’t give a shit about Adam Lambert and I want to say he’s fat but know better coz I is a gay journo.”
JESUS CHRIST SAM! You’ve effortlessly paraphrased my entire post down to 140 characters exactly. There should be a website for this kind of succinct genius...
“Oh my God, have I just written a perfect Tweet?!!” says Sam, who is an engineer, trying to suppress an orgasm of cocksure glee.
“Not really because you haven’t left any room for a link”
We still don’t know anything about Adam Lambert, and I can’t even recall the three songs that we just watched at least three times each. Perhaps the problem is us.
This tall guy with cool hair was at last night’s Firetrap party and I REALLY recognised him from somewhere, not in a 'shagged-him-last-winter' way or a 'looks-like-a-minor-celebrity way', but in a slightly haunting way like perhaps he was in my swimming class in 1993 and I subsconsciously recognised him?
After watching him out of the corner of my eye a bit too much the lady I was officially chatting to had to tell me to stop staring, I get really bothered by familiar face conundrums. Thankfully though an hour or so later I was walking up the stairs between the smoking area and the bar and said boy was blocking my way. As he turned I snatched the oppurtunity to do that whole quizzical ‘Do I know you?’ thing (where you're privately PRAYING they're not a complete tit, or you know them because you broke their parents' Grayson Perry vase at an after-party once).
Turns out he’s called Mat and we actually went to boarding school together. It's quite unusual to meet someone from the same boarding school and not be 100% sure who they are, because boarding school is such an intense and close-knit ennvironment, it's like having several hundred fathers, brothers and children.
We worked out that the reason we didn’t properly know each other was probably due to a combination of the following:
a) We were in rival boys houses
b) We are two years apart
c) He left aged 16
d) He spent most of his time playing his guitar in his dorm
e) He has asymmetrical hair now and a trendy coat. I have yellow hair and have grown by about three feet since school.
ANYWAY. We had a nice little chat about London, sex, Sunday Girl and the monotony of fashion parties*, and Mat told me he's in band called The Special Ks. Here’s their single Crystal Fields:
And here’s a sexy little acoustic version in which Mat shows a lot of ARM:
So. A standard Wednesday night really - got drunk, saw Diana Vickers sitting on her own stirring a drink somewhere, made a prat out of myself in front of my editor, sucked rum out of a hollowed-out coconut shell and met a boy in a band. But with a twist, as this time weirdly the boy went to the same school as me AND his band are actually worth listening to.
Fingers crossed the Special Ks will make it big time. You heard it here first bitch.
- - -
*My friend who goes by the alias Shirley Not just texted me having read this blog post saying " 'the monotony of fashion parties?' - you're Jack Cullen not Peaches Geldof"
Torres is an odd one in the hot footballer charts. He's clearly a piece of twinky football man candy, yet he hasn't sought recognition from the fashion industry particularly, courted the paparazzi or acquired a gay fanbase in the way that David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo have. I think Torres is just one of those hot footballers that straight men have a soft spot for, they don't fancy him or anything gay like that, but if they were cell mates and times got tough then, you know, the goal posts might be widened a little and Fernando's rosy face would get to know the pillow quite well whilst his oily tax-fraud dorm pal clutches onto those long blond locks.
Presumably he dyes his hair blond, because he's supposed to be a Spaniard right?
Other stories in today's Metro included:
- A publicity stunt conducted by Monster Slippers
- A girl was crushed to death in a Northampton nightclub (an unlikely place for such an occurence - I wouldn't have thought more than six people go out on a Wednesday night in Northampton?)
- Westlife are breaking up (this better not mean the gay one is going to inflict us all with a solo career attempt)
- There's something on television later
At the very end of last month I spent the night with Pete Maciejowski, interviewing him for Gay Times. We spent the evening drinking white wine and gin on his Earl’s Court balcony, discussing a wide range of adult topics, until we both passed out and the next day interrupted us.
Pete Maciejowski is the star of the 2012 BUTT calendar, as well as the poster boy for some of Amsterdam’s biggest gay nights. Most recently he has been featured in an exhibition in Berlin. When he's not busy he holds intimate evenings of male indulgence, evenings at which sometimes he takes photos and at other times he simply sits in a chair wearing a mask and pouring more drinks.
My interview with Pete isn’t yet published, alas it is sitting in my iTunes library like a symphony of sordid soirées, but you can view a preview piece on my Gay Times blog, and you can take a look at a couple of snaps on Pete’s site The Homosocial (including a rare photo of ME! (before you get too excited, it's not naked but simply of me storming down an urban path)).
SO. Here are your links you sexy chicken face Jack of Hearts readers:
Finally... you can follow Pete on Twitter @TheHomosocialAbove: a snap that Pete took of me collapsing onto the steps of his Earl's Court pad.
Anastasia's is Cromer's only nightclub. It's a basement club built into the depths of the sea defense wall and it is only open at the weekend. Locals call it 'The Pits', and usually give it a miss preferring to travel into nearby Norwich if they fancy a boogie.
Nautical themed light displays line the upper coastal paths around Cromer. This particular design is a shrimp. A bit creepy if you ask me. Very Studio Ghibli.
Part of the upper coastal path at night. It's really dramatic with the rolling waves to the right, and as your eyes adjust to the darkness - the Norfolk coastline stretching out for miles.
This photo from the 1870s shows a very similar seafront to the Cromer that is there today. This collier ship was bringing coal in from Sunderland. Children used to play around the stern at low tide and look for a dropped pieces of coal which they would hide in their clothing and take back to their grateful parents. The introduction of railways to Norfolk brought about the end of this business.
The Hotel de Paris is the most famous hotel in Cromer, once visited by Oscar Wilde, the place was built by Lord Suffield. Stephen Fry once did a stint there as a waiter too, no doubt chasing the footsteps of his idol. Sadly it's nearly impossible to stay at the Hotel de Paris as they have a handcuff deal with a coach tour company (and so the place is packed with pensioners). I popped into to ask about the stained glass images of Cromer in their restaurant windows, the man on reception told me they knew nothing about them and all historical items had been sent to head office. I can't imagine where or what their head office is?!
If you Google "Cromer Gay Scene" then all you get is a few notes on Squirt.Org mentioning this public toilet on the seafront, next to Dunes Arcade (just a little way along from the pier front). I went along to check out what was going down. Nothing.
During my stay the Pavilion theatre on the pier had a Raymond Froggatt show on. £17 seemed a bit steep for someone I've never ever heard of. A Wikipedia paddle taught me that he was a singer in the 60s and has written hits for The Dave Clark 5 and Cliff Richard. A lot of pensioners turned up to watch him.
These two adult men were on the promenade every day playing with a remote controlled car. It was kind of sweet.
Cromer Lighthouse. It used to be operated by an all-female staff. You can hire the place for holidays.
Cromer enjoys a wonderful twilight period, during October between 4.30 and 7. The light is magnificent and the sky is very imposing, especially from the pier where you are effectively out at sea.
It never fails to stun and sadden me just how many boys fought and died in the World Wars. This memorial is for a tiny, tiny village called Runton, and yet look how many young men were killed horribly abroad. Some families lost five men, whilst others lost men in both wars. Terrible.
Surfing and body boarding is a popular pastime in Cromer. It's quite a common sight to see boys sprinting down from the north of the town in their wet suits with boards under arm in order to catch the waves in time. Elderly folk stand and watch from the promenade with faint admiring smiles. It's great to see the town's teenagers making the most of Cromer's mercurial seascape.
This boy was body boarding when his board's lead came loose. He ran up to the promenade and asked if he could borrow a key to prize it back together. I thought he was going to yap at me for taking photos. Always happy to help.
I was a little scared to see a newsagent so solidly affiliated with the Daily Mail, so neat and tidy, and to double up as a tearoom! However, I popped in for a cup of tea and the local Norfolk girls who worked there were lovely and good fun to chat to.
A pair of fisherman's thigh-high leather sea boots. Despite their weight adding to the risk of drowning, these huge leather items were popular in the fishing community for centuries. I rather like them. Also - that stuffed crab is an example of the type you see crawling around on the beach in Cromer. Terrifying. And to think those boys dart about barefoot with their body boards!