I’ve been in the land of cheese and novelty dildos, a land where a man in a Paisley cotton frock and cardigan can get on a tram, put a plastic colander on his head and attract no attention whatsoever . This is Amsterdam – where anything goes and frequently does. On my first night I go to Drag Central to play Deal or No Deal in a bar. Noel Edmunds is played by a he/she called Amy Housewine. The banker is played by Deirdre Barlow in a peach velour tracksuit complete with some very dodgy padding in the back AND front bottom areas. She’s obviously going for the prolapsed womb look which, I think is quite pioneering in the world of drag actery. Anyway, we play the game for a while and I win some suspicious looking unguent, following which, for no reason whatsoever, I join with a pocket-sized Asian gentleman to sing ‘Climb every mountain’. I’m here to celebrate E’s birthday. He’s got a house full. One small friend, a mother of three, has flown in from Majorca, another, a recently retired trolly dolly (also quite small), has jetted in from Minneapolis and we’ve got a law lecturer lady (of normal size) from Bury St Edmunds to boot. We are very pan-global. Unfortunately, with five people and only one bedroom, we are having to be creative in our sleeping arrangements. We stick the trolley dolly in the big bed while the girls hunker down on the put-me-up. There’s some talk of lying sideways on which means we can toss and turn without losing anyone over the edge but unfortunately, my legs are way too long so we agree to keep all wriggling to a minimum and snuggle up for the tightest night’s sleep ever. Our host offers us the choice of two teddies but we have to say no – like Jesus, there is simply no room in the inn. By contrast, at a recent jazz night in a Brighton basement, there is plenty of room. The night outside is Siberian raw and the performance is by a bunch of wannabees. Consequently, only a handful of peeps have made it to the gig. In the dim light, we huddle around our cups of cocoa while a girl with bed hair scats, ‘dooby, dooby, doo, wah, wah, wah’, accompanied on the double bass by a man in socks and sandals – very impractical footwear considering the weather I think. There’s a woman on a piano freestyling like a good ‘un but her solos seemingly have no end and the languid lady in a mini-dress who’s taken over the mike doesn’t know where to come in. Thankfully, a man from the back comes looking for the sugar bowl and somewhere in the midst of the ensuing kerfuffle, another man with a saxophone jumps on stage and starts hooting. I can’t write anymore, otherwise I will have to kill myself.
Archive for the ‘performance’ Category
Step, step, cha cha cha, step, step, cha, cha, cha. Bear with; just practising my ballroom – for I have been dancing with lesbians. I didn’t mean to – it was an accident. H, who has a Gold Medal in Rumba (from the Gay Olympics in Vancouver) invited me along to see his ‘show dance’ at the Same Sex Ball. ‘Oh, I don’t mind if I do’, says I, thinking I’d be doing a Darcy Bussell on a panel or at least be part of an hysterical audience. But no, I was expected to partake of the quick-step, the Vietnamese Waltz et al. Heaven help the lesbians thought I, glad that I had sensible shoes on and trousers so that I wouldn’t show my knickers when I got thrown between someone’s legs. My first foray under the glitter ball was a fast and furious line dance that involved some quite complex leg wiggling. After that, I was approached by a very stern lady in a three-piece with Brillo Pad hair who kept shouting at me that I was taking too many steps. Just as I was about to punch her, I was rescued by a vertically-challenged Asian lady in an off-the-shoulder spangly confection who tried her best to guide me around the floor but as I was going backwards and she couldn’t see over my shoulder, we kept barging into the other dancers and scuffing up their brogues. After just one circuit of the sprung floor, Madame Butterfly hastily dropped me back at our table and ran off to do an American Smooth with a woman with big boobs. H then came on and did his famous rumba with a man with a shiny head. Dressed in tight black frilly shirts, they strutted around the floor, pouting, squinting and flapping their arms every which way. Oh how the lesbians whooped. Following this, I was approached by an exceptionally tall ‘lady’ who I suspect, by her splayed legs and stoop might have once worked on a building site. In her capable arms and lulled by her throaty whisper, I mastered the cha cha cha. With the spirit of Strictly coursing through my body, I decided to have a stab at Zumba the following week and am proud to say I can now perform a rudimentary Gangnam Style gallop.
A few weeks ago, at about 4am, something landed on my head. It was lighter than a hamster but heavier than a sequin. Still half asleep, I batted if off and returned to my dream where I was making chelsea buns with Kevin Costner in the celebrity version of the Great British Bake Off. In the morning, I found a small green stick on my pillow that on closer inspection, looked suspiciously like the LEG OF AN INSECT. Ages after, I was rummaging in my pant drawer and found a ruddy great cricket nestled in among the gussets and yes, it was one leg down. All of which posed the question, don’t insects who’ve sustained massive injuries such as loss of limbs bleed to death? Also, what was sustaining the cricket in my pant drawer? Later that week, I was in France at a drama workshop, killing time before the cheese market opened. There were 15 Sarah Bernhardt wanna be’s and a couple of Maurice Chevalier’s but there’d been a mix up with the rooms which meant the philosophy debating society had taken the big room and we were relegated to a walk-in wardrobe. Having endured a near-death experience in an Icelandic sweat lodge, my present predicament, being sandwiched between a rotund individual called Florence, an industrial sized filing cabinet and a sloping ceiling all felt perfectly fine. Even when we were invited to do something spontaneous with a feather boa and a cricket bat, I somehow managed to be creative without taking anyone’s eye out. However, after an hour or so of some very energetic improvisation, the lack of air had catapulted some of us into giddy hysteria. Sebastien, a slip of a lad with a pigeon chest and Chinese slippers, started singing ‘Fly me to the Moon’ at the top of his voice and when we played blink murder, my screams and the ensuing kerfuffle almost caused a stacked chair tsunami, at which point the head of the philosophy debating society burst in, complaining that they weren’t able to hear themselves think. Talking about disturbances, I went to see the very French film, Rust and Bone at the cinema the other night and during some post-coital murmurings between a woman who’d had her legs bitten off by a killer whale and a man who punched gypsies for a living, a lady in the row in front trumped loudly. Well that makes a refreshing change.
After the tear-jerking and pant-wetting that was the opening ceremony I popped down to Horse Guards for some beach ball action. Top tip: do not put your dirty knickers in your mini manicure bag because a small soldier with pimples will want to examine them in case they contain a bomb. I have never had a bomb in my pants but I guess I could have hurtled down the grandstand onto the court and stabbed one of the volleyballers with my tweezers. It’s funny because I did get the urge to stab someone with my tweezers when I was queueing at the portaloo prior to going into the arena. Why do some women take so long to have a Jimmy Riddle? A wee is something you do chop chop - in fact if you push hard enough you can get it all out double time. It didn’t help that some Japanese ladies had got berserk with the toilet paper and created a big blockage. Once inside the arena, we were entertained by a bunch of orange dancing nymphettes and a very shouty man on a mike who kept urging us to do Mexican waves and perform complex clapping routines. I complied but then my buttocks lost contact with my pop-up seat and I fell on my arse. Meanwhile, in between games, for some inexplicable reasons they played Benny Hill’s theme tune while a group of young lovelies chased a man in Bermuda shorts up and down the aisles. Oh yeah and then there was an incident over by the Post Office tower involving a lot of black smoke – probably someone else’s pants had exploded.
I do love a Prom and last week it was Daniel Barenboim’s turn to wow me with the fabulously-titled West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Ooh, thought I, men in silky turbans casually strumming their instruments while lying down and quite possibly smoking opium. Instead, it was banging Beethoven and everyone was suited and booted. Meanwhile, in the second tier, box number 50, I sat with two poofs and an insipid French man who frowned when I took my shoes off and refused my offer of a fruit pastille. I tried to explain I had blisters owing to my toes swelling to the size of chipolatas in my peep toe Crocs but he wasn’t interested or didn’t understand a word I was blethering on about. Talking of Daniel Barenboim, I was most impressed that he had a hand in carrying the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony. Shame his lovely conductor arms were swamped by the flapping arms of his white two piece. All that money – you’d think he’d have an unpick. Overall, I loved the opening ceremony but a few things I would have changed: Evelyn Glennie on the plinky plonky – she looked a bit demented in that wig. And that shot of the Queen picking her nails – unfortunate. And Jacques Rogge, quite possibly the most miserable man in the world. Will someone please give him an eye lift. I’ve got to go now, the men’s gymnast team is pommelling and they need me to scream.
Yesterday, I went to greet the Olympic torch as it arrived at Brighton’s cricket ground. Note to self: do not wear skinny jeans in raging precipitation while peddling a sit up and beg; chafing will ensue. I’d taken a detour to drop an old, ravaged bra into the bra bank (someone in Africa is itching to get their brown baps into my balconnette, I’m sure) on the Level which meant, by the time I reached Hove, my legs were sodden and the water was running down into my shoes to boot, so to speak. Anyway, the queue outside the gate for this momentous occasion was a bit piddly, probably owing to said precipitation. In fact, the men selling whistles and wristbands and other cheap tat almost outnumbered the ‘crowd’ who mostly consisted of young families and gangs of surly boys waddling like penguins in their lunge gusset jeans. Everyone being wet and shivery, we weren’t in the mood for buying anything, especially chilled carbonated drinks; one girl dressed in a large plastic bag with false eyelashes tried to flog us bottles of pop (‘anyone want anyfink to drink?’ she whined, a wet fag stuck to her bottom lip. We didn’t. But then, the rain stopped and the gates opened and in we piled, grabbing the free muesli bar and tambourine en route before making a dash for the stage. There then followed two hours of what I’m going to call brand engagement: a fizzy drink, a bank, and a mobile phone company took it in turns to seduce us with an oil slick of motivational nonsense involving a gaggle of fit birds and blokes dressed in corporate colours doing streetdance, acrobatics and lots of smiling. We were invited to shake our tambourines and ribbons and ‘yo, make some noise BrighTONNNN’. I desisted but screamed when Sally Gunnell came on. Oh yeah, and the torch, when it arrived from behind the burger van, was a bit of an anti-climax. Ribbons were limp and the tambourines had cracked under pressure, physical and mental.
I got stuck in the London to Brighton bike ride last weekend. I had a car load of design gurus making a pilgrimage to some Arts and Craftsy, National Trust pile just south of East Grinstead, quite close to where I’d once spotted Tom Cruise filling up at the Texaco garage and then been invited to an orgy by a farmer called David. You couldn’t make it up. Anyway, back in the car, one minute we were playing i-spy a groovy typeface, the next, we were surrounded by swarms of chunky buns in Lycra. We were helpless to resist – like an injured praying mantis being swept along a jungle path by thousands of impatient ants, we endured mile after mile of their cheery free-wheeling and uphill grimacing. Finally, we chucked up a side road and I pulled out the throttle. Two hours late, we reached our destination where we ooooed and aaaahhhd at a lovely wardrobe and a nice row of carrots. So glad we made the effort. Later in the week I went to a jazz session at the very hip Green Door in Brighton. This is the sort of place where a man can wear a beret and not get laughed at. When I walked in, a man, wearing a beret, was shouting into a microphone while another man played discordant notes on a clarinet. I asked the man on the door when the performance was starting which was obviously the wrong question because it already had. This was Dada. Then a man called Oxymoron came on and played a homemade xylophone on the floor to rapturous acclaim. During this I ate a packet of nuts which I figured was also quite Dada. Then Lena Lovich (who still wears a silly bonnet with stick on plaits) and a man that looked like a slightly slimmer version of Timothy Spall came on and murdered some Kurt Weill songs while a black man with a white goatee (very jazzzzzz) played a Heath Robinson double bass and a man with a cordoroy jacket mucked about on a trumpet while another grizzled old man with adenoid trouble recited a poem. This being jazz, periodically, it went all scatty and everyone did their own tedious solo, after which the audience politely clapped and gave out a few feeble whoops. On the way home I fell off my bike into a hedge. The End.
Of late, I have been learning some fascinating facts. For example, last week I took a trundle down to Virginia Woolf’s house in Rodmell where I met a Polish man sitting in the corner of Ginny’s crib, by the washstand. He had floppy hair and kept crossing and uncrossing his legs, so much so that I couldn’t concentrate on the Japanese version of ‘To the lighthouse’ which I’d picked up, and found myself wondering about the state of his testicles. Anyway, Stanilaus told me that Ginny was not only bi-polar but also a bit anorexic and that Leonard kept records of what she ate for breakfast and when she had her periods. Interesting! In another room, I discovered that Leonard used to rescue off-colour fish from his pond and nurse them back to rude health in a goldfish bowl that he kept in the living room. How you can tell a fish is a bit off-colour, I don’t know but obviously, Leonard was at one with nature. A couple of days later, I discovered that Roedean School for girls is awash with Chinese lesbians. And yes, it’s true, they do have a tunnel that runs from the school down to the beach to preserve the modesty of the gels when they are sea bathing. This knowledge sent me off into a nostalgic reverie involving Enid Blyton, lacrosse fields and mardy-arse girls called Gwendoline getting spanked with a hairbrush – although not wielded by a Chinese lesbian because they didn’t exist in the 1950s!
I have also been ‘acting’ again – helping train civil servants in the art of dealing with hysterical women in sweaty Middle Eastern enclaves where there’s a bit of a rumpus going on. This time, I was playing Jenny who had a fiancee called Jez who had crashed his helicopter into a mountain and was potentially dead. Stretching my acting skills to their utmost, I ran in and out of the delegates’ camps being all shouty and demanding to know what had happened to ‘my poor Jeremy’. Unfortunately, no-one could tell me if Jez had perished or was lying mortally wounded in a ditch having his eyes pecked out by ravenous desert crows. Then I ran into Bob, my boss, who I think I may have snogged at the ex-pats’ golf club Christmas party and held some residual lust for but who was now being hunted by the local militia and would, at some point, be forced to pull his trousers down and have an AK47 rough up his vitals. At the ‘morgue’ – an army tent full of shop dummies in body bags – manned by an individual of non-specific sex dressed in a burkha and Doctor Marten’s, I had a blazing row with a man purporting to be Jez’s son and then forced my way past the male/female mortician into the tent where my poor Jeremy lay with his eyes intact but missing everything past his belly button. I wailed at his truncated corpse and kissed his plastic head over and over. This, I now realise would not have happened in reality as in the blistering heat, he would have stunk to high heaven and I would have been gagging for England. With full-blown civil war only a whisper away, I then had to get out of the country. This involved more running into camps, falling over guy ropes and generally being a bit off my head. Finally, the head of the secret police shut me up with his truncheon and I fell over for the final time – never to get up no more……
If I was a boy I would be Bear Grylls but with a slightly smaller nose. He and I share a love for going off-piste although I don’t fancy killing a dog, slicing it down the middle with my Swiss Army knife and waggling my hands around in its hot organs to keep my fingers from dropping off in the Yukon.
I wasn’t exactly in peril last weekend but I did go to Nyman’s Gardens and get a bit lost with Mr Tye the DIY. It started innocently enough; we admired a few big trees, I took pictures of wild garlic and Mr Tye, still in recovery from last night’s bean stew, let rip with some industrial strength trumps. Then I suggested we add a bit of spice into our ramble by leaving the track and striking off into a bush. Naturally, my big hair got caught up in some very angry brambles and I ripped the back of my jeans while hurdling a barbed wire fence. Following this, tempted by a plantation of giant cabbages. I tried to vault a stream but tripped, skidded through the mud and slid into the water. That’s when it got a bit Deliverance. Somehow, we’d wandered into some sort of game reserve complete with makeshift dens, tree viewing platforms, electric fences and men in black with guns. Tye, fearful of having his dark interior plundered by man flesh, quivered behind a tree. I took the hysterical route. Anyway, the upshot was, we were ‘rescued’ by two Chinese photographers who put us on the right track back to the grounds of the house where a couple called Richard and Alison were celebrating their wedding with a bouncy castle and the Buena Vista Social Club.
The next day, I went to a tango class in the Pavilion Gardens with a load of middle aged women and a teacher called Kirsty who had enormous knockers and very thin legs. There were way too many of us for the size of the tent plus there was a ruddy great sofa in the middle which meant we had to mince around in a circle to avoid treading on each other or falling over the furnishings. As per, I was playing the man but then, after we’d learnt a basic promenade, I got flung up against the real article, a midget of a man called Darren who had to take a very firm grip of me to stop me whizzing him off. The idea in tango is to lean in with your head at an angle while keeping your body away from your partner – easy if you’re both the same height but if you’re dancing with a circus freak, you’re prone to toppling. Next up was ‘Miguel’ who told me he was Brazilian but then his accent slipped and he turned out to be Michael from Portslade. Michael had the misfortune of clammy hands and an excess of saliva. Needless to say, I didn’t lock heads with him for fear of an invasion of his oral fluids.
It’s festival time in Brighton which means a whole lot of showing off, and drawing attention to oneself. These are not necessarily the same thing. For example, when I went to see the Gay Men’s Chorus in a church the other night, the highlight wasn’t ‘I am what I am’ but all the traffic to the vestry toilet. God knows what was going on in there but it was a big crowd pleaser; indeed, one Oriental ‘lady’ (this being the month of the Lady Boy, one never knows for sure) tottered along three times in her high heels – never once trying to muffle her clacking, even during the tender yet miserable rendition of Michael Buble’s ‘Home’. Talking of disrespectful audiences, last night, I went to see some modern dance at the Dome. First of all, we were confronted by a small pocket of Pro-Palestinian supporters outside who were protesting at the Israeli fiddlers playing in the Corn Exchange. Then, we were just settling down to some plinky plonky legs akimbo, decidedly non-Nijinsky moves when a family of four featuring a topless 10 year old boy – slumped down behind us and proceeded to chew, burp and slurp their way through the performance while simultaneously smelling of wee. After a sort of avant garde Gay Gordons where the dancers kept launching themselves, foetal-like off each other’s thighs, our aromatically challenged neighbours were moved to the back of the auditorium where they could reek and rustle to their heart’s content. Then, during a totally silent piece, someone’s mobile went off and four people stomped out. We later found out that there’d been a bit of a rumpus in the Jerusalem Quartet involving the same shouty people we’d seen at the entrance. Some old people in the audience cried while others tried to wrestle the protesters to the ground. And all the while, like the Titanic, the band played on. Talking of live performance, I went for a walk on the normally peaceful South Downs the other night and, on returning to Ditchling Beacon car park, found a man standing by his open-doored camper van playing a saxophone willy nilly. OK, so he wanted to share his jazz warbling with us but we didn’t need the bloody Hammond organ backing track. I mean, there’s a time and place. Talking of which, half naked man over the road has recently taken to going the whole hog and removing his underpants around tea-time and standing, quite casually, hands on hip at his front window. I did wonder if his was an Open House and he was doing a bit of performance art but then the police came and took him away so maybe not.