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)