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?
GT400 is out – Gay Times’ 400th Issue !!!
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”
So…there’s quite a lot to hang hope off here: “Loud and lively, a real softie”, Bryn has a dog, he is one of many siblings and he quit football for acting. Surely therefore a chance therefore that he’s gay? Also – whoever wrote this summary of Bryn has littered the passage with close pairings of suggestive words - “reveals his party tricks”, “lips – firmly”, “hides a darker side” - ???
Beneath the video there are facts about Bryn too, including this:
““He once got a warning for stealing a life size cardboard cut-out of Ginger Spice from Woolworths in Kidderminster”
One final word: FIT!
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.
Bryn got in touch with me on Twitter to confirm that he is a happy heterosexual man. Also, he doesn't Tweet much so he would rather fans found him on Facebook here.
We don't know if you've noticed but posters for gay nights are stuck in a rut of mind-numbing flesh and pointless add-ons. My friend Dylan B Jones here has picked out two from one of the free gay rags this week, and here's what we have to say:
“Hallosexualween” is an AWFUL name for a gay night. Hallosexual would be bad, so would Sexualween, but Hallo-Sexual-Ween. The W is so incongruous, as Dylan points out – “There is no way this can be successful”
In the centre of the poster there is ALWAYS a generic rock-hard torso – it just doesn’t sell the night to us. Like, we know what a man’s body looks like, we both have them and so do most of the men we know. Except our torsos aren’t hard shiny plastic orange ones. Basically, anyone who is attracted to a night-out on the basis of there being a man’s torso on the poster is going to look like an RAC van.
Some sort of Explosion
Microsoft Paint pyrotechnics – Ooh, that looks like an exciting night out - there are orange flames in the poster. I’d rather see a middle-aged woman lighting her cigarette off a gas hob to be honest. If you MUST have flames then be creative with it, use a Stabilo highlighter set to shade them in. You're selling culture here, not microwaveable cheese burgers.
Because angels are the height of bodily perfection, and it’s like so fucking tongue-in-cheek because, you know, we’re like gay – and so really we should all be having our skin grated in hell. We think angels are an overrepresented element of the Bible when it comes to gay night flyers. We want to see more donkeys, disciples and wise men. And shepherds. Shepherds could totally be a thing.
Because devils are the height of carnal pleasure, and it’s like so fucking tongue-in-cheek because, you know, we’re like gay – and so we’re all being a little bit naughty what with rimming each other on our block colour IKEA sofas.
Random mention of Social Media
Like "LOOK!!! WE KNOW WHAT FACEBOOK IS!!! WE’VE GOT IT!!!" - Don't even get us started on nightclubs who Tweet...
Pointless tokens of grandeur
In the example above it’s lions. Sometimes it’s eagles. At other times it’s Corinthian pillars and embossed shields. What with being gay and all, we’re attracted to anything that is emblematic of history, power and sucking a Centurion’s feet. Really it should be backgrounds filled with MDF bookshelves, smashed bottles of Vladivar and fake tan.
Fair enough, dark smoky backgrounds are an accurate reflection of the stank misery that groups around the corners of most gay venues. We’re just saying what’s wrong with a countryside backdrop, or, I don’t know, pasta twirls?
We could go on, but it’s getting late.
Below is a poster of a gay night that’s getting it right:
This poster for Halloween at the Vault ticks all the boxes for us.
Firstly, it knows it’s a bit shit. And it illustrates the following:
Rather than trying to look glossy and decadent and getting it horrifically wrong with a generic torso shot of a semi-retired P.E. teacher, The Vault aim low and end high with this catastrophic cut-out of a cartoon pumpkin superimposed onto a photo they’ve probably stolen from another advert in a 2004 copy of Boyz.
Crowded text with underwear
Where Hallosexualween went wrong with fire graphics, The Vault succeeds by filling the page with unnecessary details and revealing the models tepid underwear.
No sense of composition
Much better than a centred image where everything is layered and flowing-forth with a sense of movement, we much prefer random things clumped around each other demonstrating a sexily absent grasp of composition. Basically – as village hall jumble-sale as possible please. The more your poster looks well put together, the less it looks like you’ll find real sex there.
Honest puns that do their job
Whilst “Hallowsexualween” sounds like the results of a group discussion in the smoking area out the back of a more provincial branch of Nandos, the Vault poster has winning puns almost as if the proprietor has sat their gran down on a Sunday and asked her to put her Take-A-Break hat on. “Night of the Giving Head” is genius, and “Cock Zombie” is so blunt and stupid it would take Saatchi & Saatchi two decades to come up with something that good.
Back of the magazine
Whereas G-A-Y and KU Bar always hog the front page slots at the start of Boyz, we’re much more interested by the less touristy club nights who can only afford page 78, almost as if they’ve had to have a whip round and start a Just Give page to put their hapless ideas on the map.
So, that’s enough for now on the Do’s & Don’ts of gay club night posters.
We’d like to point out that we’ve been to both The Yard and The Vault and that they’re both great venues – so if you’re new to London check them out. The Yard offers refined balcony views across fake fabric flames and as promised – a yard. Go there to meet drunk city boys splashing their cash on Coronas and Burton-winter-coat-flavoured cocks. The Vault is a sex club, one of London’s few, in fact possibly the only one in central London, not including the changing rooms in Topman or bushes behind the American ambassadors house in Regent's Park.
This blog post does not reflect the views of Gay Times.
I’m off to bed now.
Dylan is off to research a potential book called ‘What Was Jodie Clutching Last Night?’ Here below you can see her clutching a J cloth. Perhaps she's bringing her own range out, we can't keep up.