(A rushed July update)
Woo. Just got back from Latitude festival in Suffolk where I was working on Jonny Woo's new show (TRANS)former, a high voltage spectacle born out of the Lou Reed songbook. Jonny and his crew absolutely smashed it, the Little House venue (which is actually a large barn) was packed out and the crowd went wild.
I went to the festival with GT's music editor Bob Chicalors, and we decided to make a little holiday of it, camping all four nights. We dragged up of course each night, because why not, and because nothing beats storming around Suffolk in the dark snogging out-of-it public school boys, right?
On the Friday night I channeled a drunk jogging mum, with no-sense-of-direction as a conceptual accessory:
I thought that was a pretty hot look, and on a Primark / Sports Direct budget too. Except for the jock strap which was off Amazon.
On Sunday night I went for a lazy dress-down day as you can see below, a waterproof Courtney Love exterior with a soft porn rugby interior:
What can I say. We were camping next to the spoken word superstar Zia Ahmed, which was kinda cool. We bought him a £5 dress off a festival stall and he wore it out with us one night!
My festival highlights were Lily Allen, Robyn and of course CHRISTEENE, the Texan "terrorist drag" queen that everyone is talking about and who is gracing the homepage of VICE right now. Here we are together:
If you don't know her yet then give her a YouTube whirl. "Tears From My Pussy" is a personal fave, as is "African Mayonnaise" -
We're all sad to say goodbye for now to Aaron Manhattan too. He was part of Jonny Woo's (TRANS)former show and he's an absolute delight. Hailing from Australia, he tore up the London gay scene in his few weeks here - appearing alongside Jonny at Glastonbury in Block 9, at Jonny's night KAFTAN, and also on his own at Sink The Pink and East Bloc. As a leaving present I gave Aaron my copy of Ultra Violet's book from my gay library as he's totally into that scene and period and he hadn't come across it before. Here's Aaron:
Can't wait to see him again when he's back. His routine to Grace Jones's Joy Division cover "I've Lost Control" is just fantastic, and comes with its own bubble-wrap gown. Aaron Manhattan is very garbage couture, as he will happily tell you over the course of an hour packed with endless arthouse references, all in his Australian voice too.
Next week is SUMMER RITES presents "Out On The Dock". Basically a big gay knees up, almost the entire London gay scene is being employed to spin, dance or perform at it. I interviewed 80s celesbian pop star Hazell Dean ahead of it, for Gay Times. It's quite an amusing little interview -
INTERVIEW WITH HAZELL DEAN
I've also been busy working for Paul Foot as always. His new show 'Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon Sharp Major' is currently in its London previews stage and will launch at the Fringe in about ten days.
Paul himself is renting a cottage in Kent where he has been perfecting and learning the show, as well as making some fun little video logs on YouTube using his FootPad. You can watch those on his YouTubular Chandelier.
I'm too hot and sleepy to think of anything else to add to this bizarre little update from me so let's leave it there. Summer road trip in less than two weeks - can't wait!
JC xx @jackcullenuk
P.s. OH YEAH - The podcast is now on Episode 7, due to record at the start of August. You can catch up with episodes 5 and 6 on our SoundCloud page, or find 'Dylan and Jack' on iTunes. A gay underwear label has been in touch to ask about sponsoring the next episode so I'm looking forward to talking about that!
P.p.s. WHO THE FUCK IS SMILEY VYRUS - read that piece!
P.p.s. I saw this cartoon below on the net somewhere and downloaded it but I can't remember where I found it. Any ideas? Tweet me, would love to find out what it was from. Thanks.
That's right, the fourth episode of my podcast is fresh out! We kick off with an exclusive on a new Lord of the Rings TV series, and then go on to talk about shit jobs in Soho, what it's like working at Dazed & Confused magazine, getting trashed at the gay film festival, and we meet gay electro pop star Christianoshi.
Have a listen here: https://soundcloud.com/dylanandjack/dylan-and-jack-episode-4-sex
We've had some really good feedback on the show so far, and although it could be a coincidence,both Matt Lucas and David Walliams have started following us on Twitter!
LONDON GAY FILM FESTIVAL 2014
Or "BFI Flare" as its now called! I thought you might like to read this piece I wrote for Gay Times on the 1987 film 'The Lost Boys'. I caught it on the big screen at BFI Flare and learnt some dark secrets behind the film and its cast when doing my research later on that night -
The other stand out film for me this year was The Last Match, or "La Partida". A gripping tale of two Peruvian lovers whose secret gay life is challenged and torn apart by the increasing pressures of arranged marriage, football trials, gay prostitution and tourism -
Well worth giving it a Google and learning more.
Any other news from me? I can't think right now, it's too sunny. I'm in the process of reading all of Patrick Gale's novels too, ahead of an interview in September which is when the uncorrected proofs of his new novel will be sent out.
Later on this month I'm going on a road trip around Eastern Germany and Poland too, so more about that soon.
Episode 2 of our gay London podcast 'Dylan and Jack' went live today. In this episode we discuss scene haunts G-A-Y Late and Escape Bar, we answer a listener's question "What's the best way to end a bad date?", we discuss the business acumen of both Beyonce and Lady Gaga, and then leading on from a dinner party hosted by the author David Plante we talk about bareback sex - and its seemingly increasing popularity within the young gay community.
Also featured are Paris Lees, the drag queen Baga Chipz and part-time pop singer Alexandra Burke. Enjoy!
I was chufffed today to receive the Guardian's "Pick" badge on my comment in response to Rebecca Nicholson's article today - "Could all the Russia is gay jokes do more harm than good?"
And 114 thumbs up so far.
I enjoy Rebecca's work at the Guardian. Our paths collided around about this time last year when I wrote my "Top 10 Cliches of Gay Short Films" feature for the Guardian, and it inspired Rebecca to write a lesbian spin-off piece.
Last month for Gay Times I wrote about the homophobic crisis in Russia, by reviewing the documentary "Young & Gay in Putin's Russia" and adding some of my own thoughts. You can read that piece here:
I've no idea why the article is categorised online under 'GT Music', but I don't suppose it matters too much.
Here it is! The pilot episode of "Dylan and Jack", a new London-based podcast all about the gay scene and our lives on, in and under the spell of it! This first episode pays homage to a host of familiar London personalities including Kate Moss, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and everyone's favourite toilet attendant Mary from cheap and chic week night haunt G-A-Y Late. Take a listen and enter one of our inane competitions:
Discussing our lives here in London as young journalists, our podcast sets out to expose some of the myths of this glorious city, while also offering heartfelt advice to anyone looking to move here as we ourselves did from the provincial sticks of Devon and Melton Mowbray respectively a few years ago.
For a while now Dylan and I have been talking about doing a podcast together. We both met as writers employed by Gay Times magazine, Britain's original gay magazine. After a bit of a teething period, which is quite normal apparently when two writers with similarities cross paths, we went on to form a strong friendship and sail the London scene together. I tend to write mostly about the internet, sex, art and gay literature. Dylan's writing currently resides more within the realms of gay youth culture, pop music and TV.
After Santa Claus bought me a microphone for Christmas, I decided to take it back to the shop and swap it for a different one that would enable Dylan and I to record a podcast together in a relaxed environment and talk to each other in exactly the same conditions in which we talk to each other most evenings. We decided that 2014 would be the year that we finally, definitely, make the podcast idea happen, recording from the centre of my avant garde gin-infused kitchen. This kitchen has seen several momentous events including Bob Henderson's notorious Ke$ha themed party, trans activist Paris Lees's "Most Influential LGBT Person on Earth" party, and comedian Paul Foot's "Night of Madness".
We'd quite like to host our podcast with a magazine, website or publication that fits our interests and our demographic. So if you're a prospective host or sponsor please do get in touch, either by messaging us on SoundCloud or by tweeting us: on @JackCullenUK or @DylanBJones. Enjoy!
Even though it is our personal belief that gay adolescents should be free to learn about the world at large at a pace that suits them in accordance with their own personal development, "Dylan and Jack" is an Over 18s podcast that should only be listened to by adults.
If you are 16-18 and want to listen to our podcast then seek permission first from a parent or adult guardian who has listened to the podcast first and approved it. The podcast is certainly not suitable for anybody under 16 as it casually covers material of an adult nature.
Albert Wainwright: Discovering the lost sketchbooks of one of Britain's most talented and controversial water-colourists
Today I mentioned my first New Statesman article "Discovering the lost sketchbooks of Albert Wainwright" in a conversation and I realised that I've never actually shared the piece here on my personal blog.
What's more, following on from the piece I am delighted to hear that the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield have now decided to extend the exhibition due to a little re-surge in attention, and so I am going to write a second piece, a review of the show and some of the new insights it throws on Wainwright.
This short video released by the gallery is brilliant and really demonstrates Wainwright's talent and strength in his chosen field of water colours. The narration by exhibition assistant Holly Grange is splendid too:
You can follow the Hepworth Gallery on Twitter: @HepworthGallery
Today is the anniversary of "The Star-Spangled Banner", the American national anthem (as of 1931) which Francis Scott Key wrote in 1814.
I decided to do a little bit of research into whether the lyricist was gay, not because "star spangled banner" sounds beyond camp and he may as well have called the anthem Vogue, but because, you know, a lot of successful early 19th century lyricists were at least bi.
I found this fascinating little piece written by the American writer Martin Greif (who died in 1996) that links the American national anthem to the pederastic Greek poet Anacreon.
Anacreon and the American National Anthem
By the late Martin Greif
"What does the Greek poet Anacreon have to do with Francis Scott Key? Well, Anacreon's poems (which were largely about boys he diddled, such youths as Smerdus, Leukaspis, Simalus, Euryalus and Bathyllus, to name but a few) had a distinct structure. This poetic structure became known therefore as 'Anacreontics'.
"Several poets imitated the Anacreontic style when Anacreon's poems were rediscovered by English poets. The popularity of Anacreontics culminated in the popular song "Anacreon in Heaven", and, as every schoolboy should know, the music to the song eventually became the tune for the American national anthem.
"The tune itself to 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is positively unsingable. There have been several attempts to convince Congress to seek a new national anthem, but no luck thus far. If you want to accelerate this movement, just let the Moral Majority know that the anthem has everything to do with some foreign fag who used to dip his dork in little Greek boys just like theirs. That oughta do the job!"
- Martin Greif wrote this little piece in the 1980s. Thirty years later America is still stuck with the same terrible national anthem. Still, at least it's interesting to know that the song has its roots in pederastic ancient Greece.
Hungover blog post.
Had a little chat with pig-faced drag sensation Ma Butcher for my Gay Times blog. The 10th anniversary show of Gay Bingo is at Hackney Empire on the 25th of October.
Here's the interview:
Get tickets for Gay Bingo 10th Anniversary here:
The second issue of top-end boy-mad fash mag Fucking Young is out on the shelves!
The theme for this issue is the year 1997. I was ten then, a really absorbent age, and so I was thrilled when the editor Adriano asked me to write an in-depth feature assessing the pop music of that year.
Of course, it was Spice Mania and everyone had their favourite Spice, but it was also Aqua, All Saints, Steps and Hanson. 1997 saw a major image shift for Mariah Carey. There was the death of Notorious B.I.G. It was the first explosion of Daft Punk. And Elton John ruled the charts supreme with his re-dedication of Candle In The Wind to Princess Diana.
My four page feature 'Life In Plastic' analyses these moments while spanning the more obscure chart hits from that year too. Then I look at which block rockin' beats have stood the test of time since 1997, and who's been confined to the back of second-hand Now CDs, all but completely forgotten.
I also reveal who in my opinion the biggest stand out pop star of 1997 is. And it's nobody mentioned in this blog post! Pick up a copy here.
The rest of the magazine is a high quality celebration of the male aesthetic, with a focus on younger male models, and shows off a striking and expansive set of fashion shoots, sexy photos and editorial creativity. Fucking Young is one for the shelf not the coffee table.
My copy arrived today so I've only had time for a quick flick through as yet, but it looks superb!
Thanks again to Adriano for asking me to contribute such a fun feature.
Could Maggie have deliberately planned her funeral to shine a spot light on her favourite grand kids?
As Britain’s chattering classes caught Amanda fever on Wednesday, with bloggers comparing Thatcher’s striking granddaughter "Mini Thatcher" to everything from Pippa Middleton to Tolkien’s elf queen Arwen, gay men were looking one along the pew it seemed.
Tom Oakley, a part-time writer and digital detective, used the internet tool Storify to track a frenzy of tweets from gay men crushing out on 24-year-old Michael Thatcher yesterday. While some tweeters cautiously highlighted Michael’s good looks, aware of the sensitive context, others were surprisingly blunt and candid.
For some the objectification of Michael became a slanted form or protest against the late Iron Lady, with one user saying “This is a fitting rebellion, finding Thatcher’s grandson attractive!”
Sadly, however, it seems the man is not for turning. Although little is known about the private life of Texas-dwelling Michael (beyond the Christmas-letter-esque facts that he was a high school football star and that he grew up in some kind of luxurious Cape Town mansion) he is believed to be heterosexual.
Hopefully if Michael Thatcher learns about this social media storm he won’t be too perturbed. He might even find it all a bit flattering and choose to view his new gay pin-up status as an eccentric keepsake from his trip to England, a touch of fun amid the overpowering cyclone of yesterday’s events.
If he does intend to enter politics then he should certainly know that having the gay gaze behind you is always a help not a hindrance, as Thatcher’s old buddy Reagan probably found out at a young age when starring in those awful cowboy movies.
The Michael-snatcher game raises two bigger questions though. Firstly, is it ok to letch on a mourner at their grandmother’s funeral? And secondly, is it hypocritical of the gay community, who are often very vocal in their support for feminism and objection against sexism, to then happily sexualise and objectify straight men?
The 2005 film Wedding Crashers brought funeral flirting into mainstream pop culture as the leading characters played by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan start checking out a widow at a wake, but it’s actually nothing new. The refined beauty and dignity that attaches itself to mourners is well-documented in literature and is a repeated motif that we’re used to seeing in period dramas: the handsome new bachelor in town throws a dazzling smile at the recently-made widow as her veiled eyes meet his across the sunlit aisle, organ pumping away.
It’s no surprise either that during a high-profile televised funeral bored viewers are going to start scanning the screen for eye-candy. We’ve become quite greedy with our BBC funerals. If there’s no Elton John smashing out a tune then we at least want a close-up of Victoria Beckham trying not to shed any Rimmel tears.
Poor Amanda and Michael were hands-down the best-looking attendees in the televised editions of Wednesday’s service. Not that competition was tough with the likes of John Major and a puffy-eyed Sam Cam lining the second row, not to mention those intermittent shots of Cherie Blair singing, looking like St. Paul’s was at risk of being swallowed by her. Panning shots of the congregation at Thatcher's funeral reminded me of the geriatric banquet scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I think John Sergeant probably qualified for the first time in his life as one of the most glamorous guests.
As for the second question, man-on-man sexism, we can look to Germaine Greer for some kind of answer. I took away from her 2003 book The Boy that we should celebrate male beauty more in mainstream culture and that for now pointing at boys and saying “Yeah. I’d do him” is still fine. You see the objectification of men is a way of disrobing the still existent sense of superiority that men as a group unduly award themselves.
And so yes, perhaps eyeing-up Michael is a protest.
In making Michael Thatcher a gaudy gay sex icon the gay community are celebrating their on-going quest for equality, and within that their victory in completely unpinning the lurid straight-jacket of Thatcher’s Section 28.
But as everyone has been saying of late, we think we’re free of Thatcher now but we are in fact of her design. One cannot help but wonder whether this sudden leap in profile for Thatcher’s grandkids was a deliberate move on the late Baroness’ part?
In asking her grandchildren to take the leading roles in her funeral, it’s as if Thatcher was promoting them from beyond the grave. Her carefully designed funeral orders trained a global spotlight on her spawn that will now enable them to open political doors. Along with the rackety pearls and shoulder pads Thatcher’s grandkids are inheriting some priceless heirlooms and that includes her most prized-possession: an all-encompassing media magnetism that took her decades to develop into a fine art.
There’s no smoke without fire, and so the gay community’s social media Twitter titters in fact point towards a bigger machine that is now at work, the emergence of Thatcher’s pedigree grandchildren. Roses that are growing all but literally from her ashes.