VICE party for "The British Wrestler" series

Bethnal Green Working Mens Club was turned into a pop-up fight club last Wednesday with a theatrical wrestling contest and free cider tokens for us press folk as VICE officially launched their new series The British Wrestler.

The new series gives a fascinating insight into the world of British wrestling and some of the challenges faced by Britain's wrestling community today, through the eyes of its biggest fanatics. You can watch the first eight minute episode here. It's interesting to observe the multi-layering of homosocial hero worship, a complete immersion in masculinity and guised homosexual desires that reside within the wrestling community.

BGWMC is a great venue with its old carpets and wood-panelling that someone described as "paedo's retreat chic" (?!). They run a gay night periodically, if you've not been there before then maybe follow them on Facebook for a while, there's bound to be something fun coming up soon. This is the link you need...

Down the road from there you have The Star of Bethnal Green too, a fun gay-friendly bar that is also home to the incredible gay night Shake Your Dicks.


In other news, Nicki Minaj & Cassie...

Goodbye Lady Gaga?

South African art-house rap project Die Antwoord hit out with their latest single Fatty Boom Boom, attacking Lady Gaga and leaving the Huffington Post's blog team spinning...

The much-awaited video opens with a man playing Lady Gaga driving through down-town South Africa where her tour minibus finds itself held up at gunpoint by masked terrorists.

A dishevelled whimpering Gaga manages to flee the violent scene and stumbles through back streets wearing a slice of steak on her head and a flapping meat dress which attracts the attention of a king lion which proceeds to eat Lady Gaga whole.

Meanwhile, the members of Die Antwoord perform their new single Fatty Boom Boom outside a grafitti'd garage, doused in body paint. Yolandi has cats' eyes. The drummer wears an execution mask.

"Hi! My name is Yo-Landi fuckin' Visser Fight Fight Fight! Kick you in the teeth, hit you on the head with the mic" comes the lead-singer's welcome...

It's not the first time the duo Die Antwoord (Afrikaans for "The Answer") have slammed Lady Gaga. They turned down an offer to support her on her latest tour and even called her music "weak superficial shit" in an interview. 

"Oh my GAWD, look at their freaky FASHION..." cooes Gaga as her bus passes Die Antwoord on the street, Yolandi staring death-faced at the passing vehicle, "I should get them to open for meee".

Lady Gaga parodies are nothing new and there are several drag Gaga YouTube channels out there scraping together viewcounts. What makes this parody contro is that is comes from another established artist, seemingly unprovoked, and one on a major label.

The fashion-conscious South African duo have found themselves a snowballing fan base after signing with Interscope Records in 2010 and following the success of their incredible short film "What Are You Looking At?" - an extended music video directed by Harmony Korine (find an extract embedded at the foot of this blog post).

While Lady Gaga's music tends to examine the grip of celebrity culture and how the media harnesses women's perception of themselves, Die Antwoord take on a grittier social agenda with their music - unresolved racial tensions in South Africa, and a governmental neglect for the poor, gun crime and the effects of vast miseducation sit at the centre of their music. Unlike Gaga, Die Antwoord seem less interested in gay rights and the story lines of their videos depict a straight world full of angry frustrated sex, tacky male bravado and confused sluttish teenagers.

Like Gaga, and so many artists who have gone before them, the pair use costume to provoke. In the video to Fatty Boom Boom we see a blacked-up Yolandi and whited-up Ninja, jumping in front of a vivid backdrop that is packed with tongue-in-cheek product placements and South African "zef" counter-culture motifs.

The band have toured with M.I.A. before and are closely aligned with her musically. This new song Fatty Boom Boom draws quite heavily upon some of the percussion and rap formations on M.I.A's 2005 debute album Arular.

More of what we want, or slightly behind the wave? Whether Die Antwoord's music can stand on its own as pure audio we're yet to see. Bars and radio stations over here certainly aren't playing their stuff. And while Die Antwoord are enjoying the global publicity from mocking Lady Gaga with their fantastic videos, while pushing out their own hardline brand of rave-rap, I think I know whose music I'd rather dance to and prefer...

Ga-Ga-Ooh-La-La-Fight! Fight! Fight!

Harmony Korine / Die Antwoord :

My gay beef with Dazed And Confused

Congratulations to Owen Myers (^^) the new contributing music editor for prophetic culture bible and factory line of cool - Dazed And Confused. Owen has previously written for Attitude and contributes regularly to PopJustice. He has also written about musicy things at Dazed itself for some time now, beneath timeless deputy editor Tim Noakes who has previously kept the music section close to himself like a well-groomed bonsai for years.

Hopefully this move at Dazed might mean an increase in coverage for the kind of pop stars that I personally like, the kind that Owen has written about for other publications. In other words, a stronger focus on gay culture and the Warholian world of pop for pop's sake that PopJustice so avidly feeds on.

Or am I being narrow-minded and assumptious? There's a bag of stuff Owen's written for other publications like NME that I've not been on the ball with. My coffee table library is a pretty limited canon. Gay Times, Boyz, Teen Vogue, Tatler, that kind of gloss and whatever came in last night's canvas goodie bag (right now "Port" magazine).

So I first looked at Dazed in 2004 when this girl Sophy who I skived chapel with thought I would like it and she gave me one of her old copies along with this jumpy macho mixtape she'd made me (Futureheads/Spoon/Beck/HotHotHeat - !) I felt like she was testing me. What does Jack eat up? The fash mag or the het cassette? Well both initially, but moany old Beck soon fell into the grey matter beneath Meatloaf and Travis in my brain's adolescent landfill site (now has a Mariah mansion built on top of it). Dazed, however, stayed.

I remember the first Dazed issue that I bought myself was from WHSmiths at the train station and had a black and white image of Bjork on the front with her face reproduced atop of itself like a giant fruit sticker. It was this one, and came with a free mini-track preview of Medulla:

That day was actually the break up for half term and I was going to stay with my friend in West London. His mum spotted the mag next to my school satchel on the kitchen table. "What's this?" she said flicking through it, leaving it open a bit awkwardly on a skimpy menswear editorial "Is it a gay magazine?" she enquired softly, re-arranging some items in the fruit bowl with an ever so subtle flare of her nostrils. My friend changed the subject politely and we moved into the living room to play computer games.

With hindsight, she was using Dazed as a fork to encourage me to come out. I was spending a lot of time with her son and so understandably she was interested in whether I was gay or not (and had most probably picked up on it already). Whether she genuinely thought Dazed was a gay magazine I'll never know, but they were quite a sporty newsy straight-forward family, so possibly.

Dazed wasn't a gay magazine but it did offer some kind of escape for me into a gay world. It had racy editorials, acknowledged the existence of gay talent and had Bjork on the bloody cover.

"It's a fashion, music and lifestyle magazine" I would mumble to anyone in Rutland who asked, but for me those things came together to create a patch of grass upon which my gay mind could lie down and rest.

They play an important part in the gay community, magazines like Dazed, and I'm sure other gay kids pick these magazines up and take delight in secretly relishing what few scraps of exposed rib cage and close-ups of stubble they can find.

Of coruse the internet was cranked up and pumping back in 2004, and there were tonnes of gay websites, but somehow I wasn't so interested in gay porn then, I wanted things like Dazed. I wanted the slow leafy fall down the rabbit hole.

With actual gay magazines and gay porn they're more of a product that you sit back and take in. But magazines like Dazed encourage you to think and create. That initial patch of grass that I could lie on, the mental space that Dazed gave me, I then learnt to rip up, dig over, and turn into a new space where ideas could grow.

Then came the lead up to patricide, the adolescent stage of readership in which Dazed used to piss me off. As much as I'd love to pretend I cared about latest news from the rural Japanese graffiti scene, there was nothing so fucking annoying as spending £4 on a new issue of Dazed and there wasn't one faintly cute boy I could blue-tack to the inside of my wardrobe doors. Nothing but page after page of upset looking women on stools covered in self-raising flour and acres of frazzled auburn hair.

This was the nearest Dazed came to being what I needed it to be:

And it was probably one of the least Dazed issues of Dazed they made. I still have the cardboard box this particular issue came in.

I was going through a hardcore consumer gay culture phase by now. I tidn't want to toy with the margins and flirt with the forefront. I wanted good solid gay mainstream content. It wasn't that Dazed was the wrong magazine, it was that I was now the wrong reader for it.

There was a time when I used to joke that you could pick up Dazed and not know anyone in it, then three months later if you went back to that same issue you'd know everyone in it - because Dazed was a who's-going-to-be-who list of everything cool. But then the magazine seemed to hit a hard rock, the internet was deciding who was and who wasn't and magazines had to play catch up. I felt like Dazed was going three ways - A) More mainstream, putting obvious stars on its cover, B) more obscure, writing about things that nobody could possibly have heard of, and C) upping the high fashion. The brands were getting bigger and bigger while my personal finances were non-existent. And was I imagining it or had gay content been all but entirely axed?

So I stopped buying Dazed in 2008, partly because I needed desperately to hold onto money too if I was to make a secure move down to London. And when you're saving money glossy magazines are first out of that Tesco Expressco shopping basket.

By the time my financial situation picked up I had moved onto bonafide gay magazines and fully immersed myself into gay culture. I was a much more binary person. I wanted my porn to be porn and my shopping to be shopping. I'd found fulltime employment in digital media and publicity so when I came home I wanted a departure from it - chiefly wine, hot baths and men who talked about coastal erosion.

But then comes the full circle. I think I'm ready to read Dazed again. It's still monthly while its strongest rivals have turned bi-monthly or slipped off the mag rack completely, it has a stronger emphasis on digital and has evolved in other ways since I first picked it up eight years ago.

Now that a gay media personality has joined the Dazed team permanently and Owen is running the music side, perhaps this is a good time for someone like me - a thoroughbred block-colour homosexual, to give the mag a second blast.

Roll on the Galliano Jedward shoot.

- - - - - - - - - -

My other tribulation with Dazed:

In 2008, I wrote an angry letter to Tim Noakes at Dazed after seeing his underwhelmed review of Kelis' Greatest Hits collection.

I was a student at Leeds at the time and spent most of the day spinning in a wheelie chair in the student newspaper office, trying to source free pizza in exchange for quarter-page advertising and trying to strike a balance between filling my section with the best writers (these two fantastically intelligent girls) while giving away my +1s to hot eager fresher boys. It was a moral dilemma and one that taught me a valuable lesson - there will always be more boys, whereas good copy and writers who respect deadlines must be clung to like parachute instructors.

So one day I was in a camp, gushy, acidic mood. I wrote a letter to Walkers Crisps complaining that Walkers Sensations hadn't given me any kind of sensation (I received a £2 voucher), and then I wrote an angry letter to Tim Noakes, deputy editor of Dazed.

To humiliate my 19-year-old self forever, he published the letter on his blog here:

Tim was kind enough to reply to my letter though.

I remember the exciting morning that I came into the student newspaper office to find a metallic bubble-wrap jiffy bag with a retail price of at least £1.49 in Paperchase. Inside was a letter from Tim, somewhat baffled but kind all the same, explaining that he actually liked Kelis and his review was one of disappointment as a result of her potential, not because he felt she was an incompetent popstar.

He included too a back issue of Dazed with Kelis on the cover, one that I wasn't aware of since it had come out when years before when I was still a subscriber to White Dwarf.

The most embarrassing part of my annoying girlish letter to Tim has to be my dollish signature at the end. But it's fantastic that Tim took the time to write back to me. When you're a student little pieces of contact like that with real people in the media make a real difference.

I remember emailing Hadley Freeman as a teenager too, telling her how much I liked her writing style and asking her why the Guardian had listed her as deputy-fashion editor the previous weekend, had she been promoted? I then went a step further and asked for work experience with her (!?!!!?!)

Hadley kindly emailed back saying "Work experience? You mean following me between the bedroom and the coffee machine? And jeez - I thought only my mum paid attention to bylines!" But even a short coquettish reply like that gave me some insight into life as a writer: 1) You work alone, 2) Your parents won't go away, and 3) Peaders don't care about title and position, they just want to be either educated, enlightened or (my section) mildly entertained.

Anyway, I've forgotten what I'm writing about. Here's a song by Kelis:


"NO HOMO": Is the homophobic slur word a subconscious admission from closet-gays?

Have you seen this online project called No Homophobes? It's a piece of software that tallies the usage of Faggot, Dyke, No Homo and So Gay on Twitter:

It also reports a live feed of the tweets just below the tally. (So there's me on the left seconds after posting a tweet that contained the words "No Homo")
If you can't be bothered to read this blog post (basically it looks into the homophobic phrase "No Homo" ) then there's a brilliant video embedded at the end, so make sure to scroll down to that before you head off.

Many of the tweets clocked by the No Homophobes robot are actually posted by gay teenagers on Twitter who have re-possessed (perhaps consciously, perhaps unwittingly, perhaps somewhere inbetween) the pieces of homophobic phraseology in question.

Evidently quite a few lesbians use the word dyke and are happy with using it. (London has a lesbian group on the website Meet-Up called Dykes On Bikes). Meanwhile "so gay" is used in conversation by tonnes of gay people and for all manner of purposes. (There's even a gay opinion website called So So Gay )

I'm culpable of it too. My friends throw "so gay" around my lounge like a packet of menthol cigarettes. More recently I've adopted the Level 2 version of "so gay" which is "supagay" (Level 3 is "Megagay", Level 4 is "Ubergay", Level 5 is "Gayocity", Nintendo are brining Level 6 out in February)

I'm going to write a blog post about faggot (don't click) at some stage in the future, but for now let's focus on this:


The fourth phrase tracked by the No Homophobe project No Homo is the one that interested me most because I'd never come across the phrase No Homo, so I gave it a Google. Turns out the phrase No Homo is "a slang term that parenthetically asserts that the speaker does not have any homosexual intent, usually given after an utterance that may have led to that impression"

For example a straight boy might say to his male friend who has just got changed for a night out "You're looking hot, no homo", or a straight boy might say "Ronaldo is a fucking God! No homo."

It's more of an American thing and its origins lie in the early 1990s rap scene. (Which doesn't surprise me because rappers and urban musical artists are the biggest bunch of high-fashion show-stopping closet cases after the football industry. They love to wax lyrical about how un-gay they are in order to keep selling records to a mainstream fanbase. But believe me, behind those baggy trousers and advertising contract baseball caps are talented gay musicians who are sadly prelonging the pain of the closet and pushing hatred onto their juniors purely for their own pecuniary advance. But you knew that already).

The phrase No Homo is an interesting one because is it:

A) Homophobia repackaged? Suggestive of a belief that being gay is horrible and undesirable
B) Lightly affectionate? As if to say "I don't mind gay people man, it's just I'm not one of them so don't come kissing me boy"
C) A closet-case confession? A way of following up a vaguely homoerotic statement with a verbal indicator towards homosexuality - consequently making the phrase a gay one and bringing a homosexual oppurtunity into the mind.
D) Just catchy? Rhythmic and easy to rhyme with things so has become a popular mouth-hold for the less imaginative lyricist. "No-Ho-Mo", it's a catchy repetitive vowel sound etc.

Even though it's an American phrase, the boys of my glorious middle-class upbringing in rural England had effective counterparts to No Homo, such as "Mate, I'm not gay but..", and "I would be gay for him" (said as a joke to connote hero worship or admiration, albeit a thinly disiguised Freudian feast)

Then I found this FANTASTIC parody song on YouTube called "No Homo" by the The Lonely Island. It basically de-mystifies and rips the shit out of the phrase No Homo. The lyrics become increasingly homosexual throughout the song and each line is followed with the chant of "No Homo". I found it very amusing and think you'll like it too:

You've been reading Jack of Hearts, the personal blog of Jack Cullen. On Twitter: @jackcullenuk