Monday, November 30, 2009
A lot of really fucking amazing people died of A.I..D.S, the kinds of people who made the world as we know it now. And a lot of awful people died of A.I.D.S too, the kind of people who left nothing but scars behind. A lot of unknown people died of A.I.D.S too, died more quietly even than they lived, silently, and with no written obituary. And a lot of people are still dying of A.I.D.S even though it's now terribly unfashionable, and something of an embarrassing soap opera cliche. For sickness, like the rich, is unwavering in its sense of style and does not bend to the faddishness of fashion, rather it sails on, aloof and vaguely condescending.
There is no cure, only prevention (which is to say education) and the capacity, in these days of wildly imbalanced egotistic (a)political thinking, to discern between your bb fantasies and the right to life. This post is a memorial to the undead of A.I.D.S, not a soap box for my views on freedom of expression in pornography, or a a discussion on the conspiracies that surround the A.I.D.S crisis. As such all I can say to you is, "Don't join the list."
Monday, November 23, 2009
Two interesting stories broke recently. One revealed the true identity of Belle du Jour, best-selling author and felow blog sensation. The other reported on James Partridge, founder of Changing Faces, becoming the UK's first facially disfigured newsreader. An interesting juxtaposition, right? Faces being given to causes.
Sex workers now have Dr Brooke Magnanti as a sort of figurehead for just how well adjusted and successful they can be, whilst Partridge's new role provides some much needed representation for the disabled. A debate, relatively small and one-sided was stirred up by the new newsreader, with most people agreeing that by hiring him Channel 5 had taken a positive step. Only a few voices disagreed, accusing the station (unsurprisingly) of using Mr Partridge as a publicity stunt, the usual argument from the usual candidates who find everything this side of Doris Day sensational.
The debate however was puny compared to the cacophony around the artist formerly known as Belle du Jour, who scored front page news on countless papers when she revealed to India Knight that she was, shockingly, a real person. And not just a real person but an attractive one and a research scientist to boot. I expected that perennially popular debate, "Should prostitution be legalized?", to be trotted out but sadly it was not, which is something of an enormous missed opportunity.
Generally the consensus is one of relief. Dr Brooke Magnanti, the woman behind the books, the TV adaptation and the blog is everything she said she was, no-one has been duped! (There's no JT LeRoy fall-out here.) As an added made for TV touch, it transpires that she only did it for cash because she couldn't get Ph.D funding. You couldn't make it up, and she didn't. She doesn't regret it of course, but she doesn't do it anymore, overall quite a dull expose.
The hullabaloo concerning her coming out was really only interesting for the fact that it revealed little to nothing unkown, besides a strange obsession cherished by many. Critics were fixated that BDJ was a man, they saw it as the only logical explanation of her. As India Knight herself put it on Radio 4, "I thought she had to be a man, because the idea of the prostitute who loves her work is such a male fantasy."
Come on India, dear, pull your head out of your Anya Hindamarch handbag for just a second; have you ever met a prostitute before? Out of the several I know, the majority do enjoy their work, and yes, the majority of them are women. The dominatrixes and the craigslist call girls alike, both enjoy the economic freedom and even, dare I say it, having sex with men for money.
The idea that all sex workers are victims is the kind of thing you expect from CSI investigates, but the Sunday Times? I'm not saying, that nobody is ever forced into sex work, repressed by it, trapped in it or hurt by it, of course I'm not. But what I am saying is that the insistence that BDJ was a man writing his sexual fantasies in the form of a female-voiced blog speaks loudly to the attitude that still dominates towards women and sex. It's the same attitude you find in ludicrous books like "Act Like a Lady. Think Like a Man" which advise women to use sex as a business strategy to barter for what they want in a relationship. Both express the dreadfully outdated, and frankly sexphobic, idea that only men want sex, whilst women put out only when they have to, for economic gains.
Amazingly there are women who do enjoy sex, and do it for its own sake even.( My Auntie Dot ran away to Brighton last week to shack up with a toy-boy lover, leaving the husband of 40 years behind, and I doubt it was the promise of higher social status that prompted the move.) Women can enjoy sex, prostitutes can enjoy their jobs, but that's probably a little too much for us just now thank you, so we'll just stick still and all enjoy the fact that Dr Magnanti is a charming, blonde lady whose now seen the light.
There's something dreadfully mercenary about BDJ's new human incarnation, it makes her an entirely loveable, honorable figurine up there on the shelf with culture's most pleasant tart's with hearts (but no cunts). Her gimmick (anonymous former hooker telling almost all) has been refreshed and now, stepping out from the shadows her lovely, throughly acceptable face, tinged only with the slightest glamour of scandal shines brightly on a wealth of magazine covers, a celebrity is born. (Mr James Partridge appears on rather less front pages).
Wouldn't it be marvelous is someone like the Scarlet Harlot became the face on the cover of the broadsheets with her opinions (and considerably wider) experiences for all to read? Someone who actually had interesting things to say on sex? Oh well, one can dream. And here's to Auntie Dot, long may the sun shine in Brighton, here's hoping she starts a blog too.
(Image: Timberlina by David Windmill)
I was musing earlier today about the fabulous creatures who populate the spheres in which I travel. I decided, very wisely ladies and gentlemen, to spend LESS energy on the people whose existences depress me, and MORE on people whose existences thrill me. So, I dedicate this post, number one in an occasional series, to Miss Timberlina.
Why is Timberlina such a delight? Well, she's involved in everything from Bingo Pub Night at the RVT every week, to high-brow curatorial endeavors at the V&A lover, one of which is coming up on the 27th. There's something very charming, and very her, about an artist who works wherever there is work to be done. Her policy of appearing whenever the bat signal goes up is reflected in her look, "The queen of alternative style" say Time Out. Said style is a mixture of '70s secretary, '80s aerobic instructor and '90s TV personality, often simultaneously, and with a beard.
There's something marvelously flamboyant and spontaneous about Timberlina, but also considered, because girl, believe, she knows what she's about. For another side of the dodecahedron that is Ms T, is the art's council funded, Pride Legacy Project, designed to "provide services and facilities to curate and monitor Lesbian and Gay cultural representation and awareness across the heritage and creative sectors in programming, education, audience development and employees as part of broad diversity best practice in preparation for the Single Equality Act."
I think that's my favourite aspect of her, there are surprisingly few people on the fringes of this cultural outcropping who are as well read as she, and as you must know by now, I doff my pill box to a brainy bitch. So here's to Miss Timberlina!
(Image: Timberlina and Fancy Chance having a picnic.)
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Oh my! It's time for another exclusive episode of "Special Guests", this week with a bona fide Hollywood star. As always, just click below to stream the interview. This week's episode has the premiere of our new jingle by superfan, Jordan Hunt! Thanks for joining us!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Performance idolator Penny Arcade is the subject of a new hardback, containing scripts from three of her hit shows plus an interview and a series of critical essays. Literally mind blowing stuff, semtex for the cultural conscious if you will. You can buy it for me here. Also, why not buy a copy for your nearest and dearest? Sales pitch!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
I saw David Hoyle's Theatre of Therapy at the Chelsea Theatre this weekend. Based very loosely on Freud's discoveries, it was quite the most overwhelming assault on this tatty little flag we wave and call culture. And not just mainstream culture, no, Mrs Hoyle peels the skin off of gay culture too, and anything else that comes his way (including latecomers).
Tales of heroin addicts, the cheese counter at BHS, killing bullies and fucking your relatives flow, they're woven spontaneously into a mesh with audience interactions, the odd bit of flirtation, rants, videos, and four very committed renditions of anthemic songs. Boredom is not possible, because the show is a terrifying spectacle, almost brutal in the demands it makes on the viewer. If your thoughts waver for a moment, you're lost, it's something akin to descriptions of the Last Judgment (although in those retellings the Lord is not tarting up the awaiting with a tube of red Revlon lipgloss). As for honesty, D. Hoyle takes the cake, I don't think I've ever witnessed someone pour themselves out with such dedication and frankness. In the same way, and with the same intensity that he rips everything and everyone else to shreds, he cuts himself up for you. His heart breaking scream, "Who would want ME, eh?" reverberates profoundly.
There's a very pointed moral (for want of a better word) at work, which forces the audience (again for want of a better word) into the most definitely awkward acknowledgement that we're in this together, and if we don't take it upon ourselves to change the way things are, then no one will. That's not to say this was a love-fest, FAR from it. Mr Hoyle paints no pretty pictures, he is unnervingly honest in his vivisection, dismantling the conscious, pulling off the blinkers and letting us, rather forcing us, see the blackness that we're swimming in. Because, you see, we brought it on ourselves, with our very deliberate insistence on ignoring all those awkward topics we didn't have the guts to face up to. Ms Hoyle however, has more than enough courage for us all, and was ready to seize on any topic however controversial and make radical, offensive statements (even if he didn't agree with them himself) for the sake of starting a conversation.
Verbal abuse is not freedom, but let us remember neither is political correctness. Mr Hoyle is some sort of hybrid of Christ and Judy Garland, what he says he martyrs himself too, he's willing to go as far as it takes to provoke you to think, beyond (way beyond) the realms of taste or any of that jazz. Echoing Penny Arcade who announced "Love is the only radical action still possible," Mrs Hoyle tells us that without love we are nothing. At first it might seem odd that such a beautiful sentiment comes amidst stories of executing babies, rape and demands that all LGBT peoples are armed with guns, but you see, take a flight in Jungian dream logic and you see it's a perfectly sensible statement.
Jung writes that Christianity has given us a very brittle, polarity of good and bad, a myth that has stopped developing and is now actually damaging to the human psyche. He tells us that we must instead not see good and bad as opposites but rather as relative and indeed, one as the completion of the other. Morals and ethics are different things lover. Thinking of Ms Hoyle's insistence that we all, "Stop being religious and start being spiritual," it would seem that his work is much more in line with Jung than Freud. (Sigmund of course had little time for the spiritual, reducing it nearly always to the psycho-sexual, whilst Carl lived a life full of visions, ghosts, precognitive dreams and visitations). Maybe her next show will based on Jung's writings on mandalas and other magic circles? Here's hoping.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I'm very happy to announce that I have been recording a series of interviews with some of the most talked about personalities in the UK. My new hit radio series, Special Guests, sees me talking to models, politicians, financiers, artists, celebrities and more! You can listen to the first episode exclusively below. Thanks for joining us!