Saturday, 31 December 2016
I am not speaking here about music. What I know about pop music you could fit into a thimble; my favourite pop composer is Donizetti.
No, I’m talking about sexual politics. David Bowie and Prince may have been great musicians -- and in terms of output and originality they may have towered far above lesser mortals (as I say, I am not one to judge these things!). But when it comes to the representation of their sexuality, Prince and Bowie had no courage -- they merely flirted with gender irregularities and bisexuality from a position of heterosexual privilege to make money. George Michael was the real thing: a slutty fag who -- in later years -- was also relentessly proud of his sexual exploits.
I’m not saying that Bowie and Prince didn’t stretch certain borders and boundaries by wearing makeup and acting girly. But straight men are allowed to do that as long as their fans are assured they are straight. No matter what the antics of these girly heterosexuals they kept their careers; a real gay man can’t do that. The gender irregularities of straight poseurs are just an alluring kink or fascinating blip on the sexuality radar screen -- nothing to be fundamentally bothered about. And the credit that we give them for being brave is largely unjustified. However, even more unjustified is the credit we give ourselves for embracing them. It takes no courage to be a diehard David Bowie fan -- but it takes a huge amount of courage to be a fan of George Michael.
I have to admit that for years I too was influenced by the homophobia surrounding George Michael. And when he died, I was so sad about Carrie Fisher that I didn’t have time to think about him. In fact, I would posit that at this moment there are probably more gay men mourning the death of Debbie Reynolds than the death of George Michael!
I know what’s like, because I was saying “What’s the big deal? George Michael had to be dragged out of the closet, didn’t he? And when they finally dragged him out, wasn’t he kind of ashamed of being sexual guy who cruised toilets? I mean he never really embraced his promiscuity after they caught him in that washroom, did he?”
Well he did.
In 2006 he spoke in The Guardian of the representation of gay people in pop culture: “Gay people in the media are doing what makes straight people comfortable and automatically, my response to that is to say I'm a dirty filthy fucker and you can't deal with that, you can't deal with it.” He was tired of the ‘chatty men’ and ‘loving gay couples’ that dominate television shows. When the police and tabloids followed him into Hampstead Heath he was arrested for a second time for having sex in public. He promptly admitted to lifetime love of cruising, saying “The handful of times a year it's bloody warm enough, I'll do it. I'll do it on a nice summer evening.” He was even honest about having an open relationship with his lover.
When I realized I had been duped into ignoring George Michael by a homophobic media, I finally watched his fabulous video Outside. Outside is an unabashed tribute to non-denominational public sex. George Michael made it soon after his first arrest. The video ends with two male cops sharing a passionate kiss. Nothing could be more honest, more sexual, and more queer than that!
But I don’t remember anyone, anywhere -- in the straight or the gay communities -- praising that video or congratulating George Michael for the courage of his statement at the time. Though the song was somewhat of a hit, it was not featured on any album except a ‘best of’ George Michael. And as far as I can tell, it was not reviewed or spoken of at any length in music magazines in English.
George Michael was the real thing: an out gay sexual man and consummate musician. But he paid a real price. A real man like George Michael can never really make it as a luminous celebrity in the commercial music star system. Only poseurs like Prince and Bowie can achieve the status of pop icons.
Sunday, 25 December 2016
Really, I don’t know what else to call them. They are….hard to describe. They are very long shirts and guys wear them, but they are like….very very long. Not many guys look good in them. I mean I saw this one guy who had huge muscles wearing a skin-tight sort of sweater-shirt that went down to his knees and he sort of looked sexy — but he would have looked good in anything. I mean if you’re going to do it, do it okay? Put on some makeup and go out in drag. In fact, I highly recommend it. But please don’t wear a skirt-shirt.
2. Donald Trump
Need I say more? What’s appalling right now is the way America tries to pretend that Trump’s not so bad, saying ‘We have to respect the election results’ and ‘Let’s give him a chance.’ Well don’t. Just admit: ‘We elected a lecherous, lying, cheating, con man to be the President of the United States. He is going to destroy the country and perhaps the rest of the world.’
3. Truvada Whores
Okay: news flash. There is now a pill that prevents AIDS called PrEP. Except straight people have never heard of it, and gay men hate themselves so much that instead of celebrating, they are calling guys who use the new pill ‘Truvada Whores.’ Crucify me for mentioning the unmentionable, but could it be that some of us don’t want AIDS to go away?
4. Kelly Anne Conway
She is Trump’s new White House Conselor. This Catholic pro-lifer who makes a living apologizing and obfuscating the unforgivable actions of the lecherous, lying cheating con man who is now President makes me want to bring back the word bitch. Are you with me?
5. Screaming Girls
Basically I have no problem with screaming girls, unless they scream in gay bars. It’s not their fault, they’re dragged in by young gay men who scream just as much as they do. Really, do you guys have to scream? Is it that much fun being in a gay bar?
6. Bad movies
I used to like going to the movies but there just are no good movies anymore. Oh Gosh — Harry Potter and the Dreadful Dustbin sold more tickets last weekend than the screen adaptation of Sartre’s No Exit starring Marianne Cotillard and John Malkovitch? Uh….Duh. How tough is that to understand that?
7. Trans Politics
Trans politics has turned into a pompous, politically correct, finger pointing, no fun shitshow. Yes I know your pain is much more than mine and I’m not calling you the right thing. But shut up already! Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are trans people and they agree with me! And besides I’m a drag queen, which means I’m trans too!
8. The Modern Digital World
Arizona is licensing driverless Uber cars, and certain bars have managed to figure out how to serve drinks without a bartender, and you might as well do all your shopping online. But what about us lonely people? The best friends I ever had were taxi drivers, bartenders, and store clerks. Does that mean now I have to make real friends? Ugh.
9. Donald Trump
President Obama seemed pleased to discover that Trump was ‘not an ideologue.’ But believe me this is not a good thing. Trump is capitalism! This means he is simply amoral. Like capitalism, Trump approves of anything that you do or say that makes money. Period. A president who is capitalism is much more dangerous than an ideologue! Watch out!
10. The Continued Lack of Recognition for the Pursuit of Brilliance
They’ve officially ignored this song since 1949 when it was cut from In The Good Old Summertime. If the fact that I ponder this means that I’m a sad old faggot; so be it. It’s Judy at her best, and even now, 67 years later, nobody cares.
Friday, 2 December 2016
There are no more bars in Toronto.
I know this might be somewhat of an exaggeration, but let me tell my story.
I was trudging up Yonge Street with a friend. Because her car was parked near Yonge and Wellesley, and we were down by College, we were looking for a bar there.
We couldn’t find a single one.
Pardon me - there was an establishment that featuring a flashing light that said LCBO in the window, but the place was called, I think, Fry.
The name suggested it was something more of a restaurant than purely a drinking establishment.
You see, I remember a day when if you walked up Yonge Street from College to Wellesley you would find a number of bars.
Let me make it clear; I am not including in my category of bar a licensed restaurant. A licensed restaurant is something else entirely. I do not wish to go out for a drink and find myself surrounded with parties of any kind. I use the term party in both senses; quite literally a celebration, as well as a large group of people. Families, for instance. All celebrating Aunt Maisie’s birthday and eating chicken wings. Or a bunch of guys pinching waitresses and watching a ball game. That is not what I consider to be a bar.
Where have all the bars gone?
My suspicion is that it is a sign of the times. First of all, nobody goes out anymore, now that there’s Netflix. And secondly, condos are not conducive to bars. They are considered noisy by condo dwellers who also suspect that they have the capacity to attract the ‘wrong’ crowd.
The concept of a bar— for those young-un’s who may never experienced one - is most cannily described by Ernest Hemingway in his short story A Clean, Well Lighted Place. This story offers a great way to get a down and dirty introduction to Ernest Hemingway’s oeuvre — if you would rather skip his more ponderous macho masterpieces.
In A Clean Well-Lighted Place a lonely man explains his reason for looking for a bar: he quite simply needs a refuge from the overwhelming ‘nothingness’ of life.
This is exactly what I imagine a bar to be.
In my imagination, this is a bar.
There is a woman on a barstool, a bit frowzy — she’s certainly been around the block. She’s easy — or was easy — in better days. The bartender — there’s something welcoming about him; you long to tell him your problems. There is a man sitting at the other end of the bar, all by himself. He is talking very obsessively and semi-philosophically with the bartender about something — the bartender is only half listening. The man appears to be quite thoughtful but perhaps also somewhere on the autism scale. (I sat next to a man like this in a bar in Hamilton the other day —yes, they still have bars in Hamilton — and he kept talking about his dog — ‘I loved that dog,” he would say and then, after a short pause “I mean I really loved that dog.”) Off in the corner somewhere would be a young man, with a guitar, rolling a cigarette. He would have long hair and be darkly handsome. He would be lonely, and be looking for someone to talk to or— (best case scenario) whatever.
That’s my idea of a bar.
And nobody would ever ask you —“Would you like some wings with that?”