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.
And there's a very sexy summery video to go with it, featuring this boy doing press-ups:
This hot and flustered tranny housewife giving blow-jobs:
And these beardy types enjoying a cheeky session on a doctor's bed:
Very Bret Easton Ellis / Armand Van Helden / Bel Ami / Karl Lagerfeld / Ru Paul chic. Not much else to say really! Not entirely safe for work, but don't worry, it's cheeky but by no means explicit. I know photo above looks like he's about to rim him, but no it's all done very tastefully. Have a watch:
Just a quick blog post to compile everything that's happened in the last three weeks. It's been hectic what with the BFI's gay film festival, music video shoots, interviews and all sorts of other exciting encounters.
Tomorrow I have a new piece coming out in the Guardian, so that should be cool. As ever, there are bound to be some negative comments "below the line", so I look forward to looking at those with a mug of tea and chocolate Hobnob. It's only a fun little piece though.
Above is a photo of me with Eliza Guroya from yesterday's counter-protest in Trafalgar Square. (one of the few photos where she doesn't have her tits out).
You can read about the protest on my TETU blog, including a scoop on the Hottest Homophobe and the Most Fabulous Homophobe:
I'm thrilled to have received over 200 Facebook shares on that piece in less than a day.
THE GAY FILM FESTIVAL:
So the BFI's gay film festival finished yesterday. A fun ten days of drinking white wine on the Southbank flirting with volunteers and trying to look busy in the press delegates lounge while also taking in some good gay cinema too. This time round I worked on quite a bit of coverage for various titles so was given my own all-access pass (didn't include access to that boy on the coat check though).
The two stand out events for me were an archive screening of The Servant and Ben Walters' night called BURN which was a celebration of the online cabaret scene today. I wrote up both for So So Gay:
Another highlight of the gay film festival was hanging out with young actor Gaetan Vettier, star of Antony Hickling's controversial new short film "Little Gay Boy ChrisT Is Dead" :
Gaetan got in touch via his publicist to say that he would be over from Paris for the today, and would I like to go to the screening of the film as his guest. I met another cast member Amanda Dawson, and also the director himself Antony Hickling.
I'll send a write-up to TETU soon, all about our adventures in the BFI building.
I was pleased to interview Gaetan (his first ever interview in fact!) for GT earlier on this month. That's why he got in touch in the first place you see. The piece is called Blood, Sweat and Twinks:
It was pretty cool messing around with Gaetan in the BFI cafe while there was publicity material from the film everywhere showing him like this. People were looking at him like "Is that, oh my, yes that is.."
One of the most disturbing experiences for me this month was to watch Pasolini's 1975 film Salo on the big screen for the first time. I don't know if you've seen the film, I'd love to know what you made of it.
I wrote this piece about Salo for So So Gay:
Even though my review was quite negative, I had to admit the film made a real impression on me and I've revised my views somewhat since. Definitely a powerful piece of cinema. Still, I'll stick by my guns - it was a bit boring in parts too.
THE ARRON SIMMONDS INTERVIEW:
The boys of Twitter went mad for this one!
A particularly sexy highlight for me this month was interviewing up-and-coming actor Arron Simmonds for Gay Times. The guy is openly gay and he looks like this:
You can read my interview with Arron online. He discusses his passion for prawn cocktail crisps and boys in just socks:
INTERVIEW: Chilling on the Sofa with Arron Simmonds
I was a little saddened to see some negative feedback on Twitter saying that we were only interviewing Arron because he's hot. Like, NO SHIT, he's good looking, and you're only fooling yourself if you think sex appeal and Hollywood and just performing arts in general haven't always been completely entwined. But aside from that, Arron is a good actor - so back off!
I also got a bit pissed off with "Why do you have to mention the fact that he's gay?" type people. Er - because the film industry is still stuffed with selfish multi-millionaire closet cases? Being openly gay, for now, is still news sometimes, and certainly worthy of paying attention to and celebrating. That's what gay media is there for partly.
I still have some BFI film festival write-ups to do, one for a film I saw called FOUR, and also a review of the gay short films programme that took place over the weekend. So keep an eye out for that!
I've also interviewed some bigger actors, but that stuff won't be published until summer and I'm not allowed to discuss that online yet. Here's a clue:
THAT SPANKING NEW BARBARA BUSH MUSIC VIDEO:
One of the most fun journo gigs this month had to be going backstage for Barbara Bush's latest cheeky electro single called Spank:
Luckily my friend Tom (also known as Vanity Von Glow) was also there, playing one of the backing dancers in the video. I gave Barbara a write up in Gay Times that she was over-the-moon with, called Barbara Bush Is Back Bitches!
This weekend it's Barbara's 30th birthday party. If I can escape lunch with my family up in the midlands in time then I'll definitely be going to that, in drag possibly.
You need to watch the video for Spank, it's relentlessly kitsch and made on a one millionth of Rita Ora's typical video budget:
SKY FERREIRA IN LONDON:
It was Sky Ferreira's first trip over to London a fortnight ago. We went down to XOYO in East London to see her show. Here's my review of that. (I've still had no digital proof that she's seen the review, she's probably too cool to read her own press though)
If you want to stop reading my blog and just play this song on repeat for the rest of today, I understand:
INTRODUCING A GIRL CALLED "TICH":
My friend Bob took me along to Universal Music's HQ to take a look at new pop starlette Tich. I wrote about her for So So Gay here: Introducing... Tich - She's very Cher Lloyd, very Little Mix, very Taylor Swift, so bang on the money basically. If she gets her album out in time.
Then of course there was student pride, so we all went to Brighton and got smashed, while taking in the occasional debate of course. It always feels like a family day out at Student Pride. Everyone knows everyone and "VIP" translates to "All those media gays you see week in week out".
Here's my Gay Times write-up of Student Pride 2013, called Student Pride Uncut. [WARNING: Hot photo of Ben Cohen alert]
While in Brighton a friend gave me a copy of Michael Kirwan's new book called Just So Horny:
His paintings aren't for everyone (give him a Google Image spin) but there's something I find really sexy and compelling about his work. And so it became the basis for my Gay Times discussion-type feature called "When will art be ready for erections again?"
I've only been to see one play this month, called "A Thousand Miles Between Us", but it was wonderful. All about the lives of New York artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, and their professional relationships with Andy Warhol.
I gave the play a lot of praise:
Planet Warhol Comes To Peckham
... I'm still waiting for Simon Ginty to ask me out on a date.
I have some exciting sex features in the pipeline, but one thing related to March, is that I've been having talks with Cocky Boys about working on some interviews and features soon...
It's been a bit of a Paris month for me too...
I helped Paris on her latest photo shoot with photographer Ryan Harding, my friend Dylan and LGBT activist Dan Bunker. It was for her new Radio 1 documentary. Here's my preview piece for that:
Radio 1's First Transgender Presenter
I was lucky enough to interview the wonderful novelist Manil Suri for a future issue of Gay Times. His new novel The City of Devi is smashing and on schedule to be this year's "big gay novel" :
Aside from all of these projects, it's been a fun month for going out in London too. Last night I was at GAY BINGO, the fantastic brainchild of Jonny Woo, John Sizzle and Ma Butcher, currently hosted at Soho Theatre.
I've also enjoyed a few tranny Sundays with the other Soho crowd - Vanity Von Glow, Lady Lloyd, Silver Summers, Mr Mistress, Miss Cairo and Baga Chipz.
We've had various friends visit the city from France, Belgium, Germany and the North of England. So we've been out for some nice meals out and Thames walks.
It would be rude to name any of my own March ventures here, but I do have some hot new French boys lined up for my TETU blog, so look out for those. One looks like this:
And one looks like this:
That's all you're getting for now!
So there we are. I think I've covered most of it. Sorry for the shambolic blog post! Time to start chopping onions and getting some dinner prepared.
THANKS YOU LOT:
But while the kettle is boiling for the pan water, some brief March thanks:
Brian Robinson and Paul Smith at the BFI
Caspar Aremi at So So Gay
Louis Delafon at TETU
Darren Scott and Paris Lees at Gay Times
Dylan B Jones at 1883
The Student Pride team
To coincide with London Fashion Week, curtains will part for Toby Rose's brand new, much-awaited electro musical Fashion Victim... But it's only on for two nights!
On February the 15th and 16th the Roxy Bar on Borough High Street will stage the first two ever performances of Fashion Victim: The Musical. I managed to catch Toby for a quick chat about what we can expect, and as I'm sure you'll agree, it sounds brilliant:
Jack: Hey Toby! It's called Fashion Victim: The Musical. Is it going to be like the Devil Wears Prada with songs?
Toby: This show is more Zoolander with added Chicago. But in case your worried it's not camp - it's very camp!
Jack: Is the music poppy and electro like fashion shows, or should we expect piano ballads and what not?
Toby: We have gone right up electro pop boulevard. The soundtrack is a blend of Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys and I even sense a sprinkling of Gary Numan. Think Orchestral manoeuvres on the catwalk
Jack: This is sounding superb already. Will the fashion industry like this musical or will they rabbit on about inaccurate a portrayal it gives?
Toby: The fashion crowd is not always into self parody so I imagine that there will be elements who see something off trend. But the aim is not to trash fashion folk it is to ponder the age old question .....who do you crunch under your heel to get to the top.
Jack: It's not important, but, are you gay by any chance? Tell us about that.
Toby: I am pretty much gay gay gay. And after a few drinks this is even more obvious...
Jack: We hear that scene icon Jonny Woo is going to be in the show. Can you give us some hints over what to expect?
Toby: Of course! Mr Woo plays fashionista Jake Spangle who is this acid tongue who unmasks a girl on the make. As you can imagine this is going to be a direct duet conflict full of fireworks. Mimi Steele is our thrusting arriviste who is basically not playing straight with his best pal (and hunk) Cedric. Handbags at dawn!
Jack: There are only a few dates, so we have to book now. But do you think it'll transfer? It sounds very feasible for somewhere like the Menier Chocolate Factory theatre in London Bridge.
Toby: Our show is on for two dates only. So you get the chance to come to either the opening night or the closing night! Either way you will make fashion musical history. There are some plans to bring this Pop Up show back in the autumn bigger and better with more sass!
Jack: Do you have a favourite supermodel?
Toby: My fave supermodel is Naomi as she kindly did a show for my ex in his tiny Paris boutique. And there were no scr eaming fits when the railing collapsed backstage.
Jack: Are male models hot or annoying?
Toby: In my experience male models are hot and annoyingly straight or,at least, that is what they let me know in no uncertain terms.
Jack: What are you wearing right now?
Toby: A pair of jeans and a cow parsley long sleeved t-shirt and slingbacks. One item is fictitious.
Jack: What's your favourite Madonna song and why? Oh, and given our subject you can't say Vogue.
Toby: La Isla Bonita is my favourite Madonna song. I remember arriving fashionably late at one of her Wembley Stadium gigs and it was just wafting through the air.
Fashion Victim: The Musical is selling fast, so grab your seats now from here: FASHION VICTIM TICKETS!
Tonight it's bloody windy and outside TV masts and tarpaulin are flapping in circling shrieks of wind. Behind this chaos I can see The Shard on the other side of the river, and I wondered... Does it rock?
I've been up Centre Point a few times to get various documents stamped, and it sways ever so slightly.
The Shard is much taller, but it's also much newer. I Googled "Does The Shard Rock?" and it took me a while to find any useful information.
Then I found one article on a blog called Arstechnica which told me that yes, The Shard can rock up to 20 inches in high winds. It also seemed to suggest that in very, very strong "1 in 50 years" wind, The Shard could be in danger...
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the article seems to be telling me that the kind of strong winds experienced in other parts of the world would be enough to cause serious problems, but because The Shard is in England it's fine because such winds are never experienced here.
But can't weather patterns change, and, aren't we living in a time of major climate change?
Wind or no wind, I still don't understand millionaires who enjoy living in what is effectively the middle of the sky. I'd sooner take a country mansion with a weeded-over lake any day. I suppose these sorts of people have it all though don't they.
We discovered this intriguing derelict building just a stone's throw from the Tower of London...
To clear our hangovers Dylan and I decided to take a walk around The City. For those of you not in London, "The City" refers to a major financial district within London that is very central. "The City" area actually holds its own city status within the city of London and Greater London.
Anyway. At weekends The City is empty because the office workers aren't there, so it's great for walking around and the area boasts a colossal wealth of no-expenses-spared architecture.
Walking along Eastcheap towards the Tower of London from Monument we passed this alleyway called "Fowkes' Bldg's" (Fowkes' Buildings). By chance I glanced down and was surprised to catch a glimpse of what I think is a Brutalist stairwell...
Taking a few steps down the alley I saw that the staircase was bigger than I thought...
Continuing along, we found ourselves in a tiny courtyard. On the left we could see into nicely furnished offices and living quarters. On the right there was a derelict office space. Yep, that's me caught in the reflection, and a snatch of Dylan walking around...
The staircase that had first attracted our interest was really quite impressive, especially considering it runs up the entire height of a tiny secluded courtyard that nobody seems to use.
I love how the horizontal and vertical lines of the tiles continue regardless of the stairs' diagonal design, as if it's been cut from a sheet of graph paper. And look how the darker spaces between each flight correspond with the darker windows of the adjacent office block...
I took these snaps of the second floor of the derelict office block. The metal-looking building...
So walking around, we tried to figure which building these stairs belonged to. We'd by this point assumed they were a fire escape.
Down Great Tower Street, behind the courtyard, there were several other courtyards, including this one...
The metal building matched the metal of the derelict offices, and that tiny Ladbrokes back door correlated with a Ladbrokes that we'd seen back on Eastcheap...
Therefore, walking a little further, we found what we were looking for...
It matches the staircase in the hidden "Fowkes Buildings" courtyard. And the tiles are the same. It's called 28 Great Tower Street. In fact, it seems the derelict metallic office block and the stairwell are both part of the same building, despite looking so different.
I also love the combination of 70s tiles, metal and blacked-out windows. I want terms for all this. Is it all just brutalism? Or futurism maybe?
We couldn't work out if it was residential, an office space, or both. Google isn't very forthcoming either, what with Great Tower Street being such generic words, and the internet being packed with old lettings info with very little meat on the bone. But it's in this court called Bakers Hall Court...
The quad also features this building Bakers Hall that we thought might be a niche church...
However, there was no CCTV, so we concluded it wasn't menacing enough to be a house of God. And our suspicions were confirmed by Google. It's actually a Guild building for the baking industry!
The Worshipful Company of Bakers: http://www.bakers.co.uk/A-Brief-History.aspx
Wonder if Mary Berry's been there?
So back on Eastcheap we decided this must be the front door of the derelict offices...
22-23 Eastchheap. And pushing the camera against the dirty black glass on a very slow shutter speed we found our evidence...
You can even see Bakers Hall Court through the other side.
If you're reading this post, thanks for putting up with my amateur architectural ramblings. But I'd love to know who designed the staircase, and if by any chance it might have been Neave Brown who designed the Alexandra Road council estate?
Also nearby in this area, is the shell of St. Dunstan in the East church...
You can walk around inside it, there's a commemorative pond and a handful of hot builders eating their lunch. If if you're into that sort of thing, well worth a little visit. But go on a weekend when nobody's around.
Oh, and one more thing. If you scroll up to the top picture there's a metal plaque that says "Laing Interiors". I can't find anything online about this either, although there was an interior designer in the late 1800s called Laing. Could it be a sign from his old business?