Friday, 18 April 2014
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
A nipple, shapely buttocks and a muscular, moustachioed man smoking a cigarette – a new set of three stamps, to be issued in Finland in September, are among the most daring ever seen in the philatelic world. The images are by Tom of Finland, the legendary artist who was born in south-west Finland in 1920, and died in 1991. He created an archive of erotica with a distinct aesthetic – vast-shouldered men in leather, denim and knee-high boots – that is said to have influenced figures including Robert Mapplethorpe, Freddie Mercury and the Village People.Read more in The Guardian
The male portraits on the Finnish stamps aren't the most explicit of the artist's work. His art very often pays tribute to a tumescence absent in the images chosen for these stamps. The Tom of Finland Foundation has said his early process often involved "locking himself in his room, stripping naked, and stroking himself with one hand while the other hand created on paper what he could seldom find on the streets".
Even so, they are considerably more erotic than those usually seen on any nation's envelopes. Dean Shepherd, editor of Gibbons Stamp Monthly, says that he has never seen homoerotic art on stamps before. Erotic art more generally? "No, it tends to be nude paintings reproduced on stamps, but as far as actual erotic art is concerned, I think this is the first time." There was a bit of a storm in the early 1930s, he says, when the Spanish Postal Authority approved some stamps featuring Goya's The Nude Maja – a woman reclining naked. The US government apparently barred and returned any mail that bore it.
Stamps represent a country, and are the most public of media, so they rarely feature strongly sexual subjects, says Matt Hill, editor of Stamp and Coin Mart. When paying tribute to LGBT culture, it's more usual for stamps to depict gay heroes.
Monday, 14 April 2014
Here, Dear Johnny and Dear Larry have tea:
"The joke is that people think of me as an intellectual actor. Yet I have always trusted almost entirely to observation, emotion and instinct."
"Acting is half shame, half glory. Shame at exhibiting yourself, glory when you can forget yourself."
Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH (14th April 1904 – 21st May 2000)
Saturday, 12 April 2014
“No amount of advance publicity could have foretold the extraordinary impact that this stately Goya-esque woman would have on an audience already spoiled by the likes of Callas and Sutherland. When Caballé began her first aria, there was a perceptible change in the atmosphere. It seemed for a moment that everyone had stopped breathing”. - New York Herald Tribune, 1965.
Montserrat Caballé, whose birthday it is today, is a rare beast in the operatic world. Not a diva known for hissy fits and impossible demands, she is loved as much for her warm personality as she is for her beautiful bel canto vocals - performing over the years possibly the definitive versions of works by Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi.
Unfortunately forever nowadays associated with one song - Barcelona with Freddie Mercury - despite a six-decade career at the top of the classical pantheon, she is still active in the operatic world as founder of a major vocal festival and competition in the Principality of Andorra, the Concurs Internacional de Cant Montserrat Caballé.
Here she is in an utterly sublime moment, with her flawless rendition of Casta Diva (from Bellini's Norma):
Feliz cumpleaños, Señorita Maria de Montserrat Viviana Concepción Caballé i Folch (born 12th April 1933)
Friday, 11 April 2014
Wednesday, 9 April 2014
"[He is] talented, enthusiastic, extremely intelligent... witty, cute as a monkey, quick as a squirrel, has a sense of theatre and his own possible achievements therein... academically technically weak, lacking in concentration, too fond of a good time and too busy having it." - Dame Ninette De Valois
"Aren't all ballets sexy? I think they should be. I can think of nothing more kinky than a prince chasing a swan around all night."
"Theatre remains the only thing I understand. It is in the community of the theatre that I have my being. In spite of jealousies and fear, emotional conflicts and human tensions; in spite of the penalty; in spite of tears and feverish gaiety - this is the only life I know. It is the life I love."
"The trouble with nude dancing is that not everything stops when the music does."
Sir Robert Helpmann CBE (9th April 1909 – 28th September 1986)
And here, for your delectation is his masterclass Steps to the Ballet:
Our previous entry for the great man.
Sunday, 6 April 2014
Saturday, 5 April 2014
From a classic interview with the icon by Jim Emerson:
Bette Davis must have a cigarette.Shove that in your pipe and smoke it, Jane Ellison.
For without a smoke, she cannot entirely be Bette Davis. The iconographic image is incomplete, like a bareheaded Gloria Swanson, an unarmed John Wayne, or a clean-shaven Bogart.
In her elegant fourth-floor apartment, just off Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Miss Davis (she prefers the courtesy title) chain-smokes Vantage filters and, with stubborn ferocity, grinds her butts into the ashtray. Once snuffed by Miss Davis, those crooked stubs would not dare to continue smoldering.
She lights into the current nationwide anti-smoking movement with a mixture of glee and withering disdain, almost as if defending her legend against unruly hordes of nosy tobacco-haters.
"I Resent It More Than I Can Tell You!" she says at a rapid clip, delivering every word distinctly and discretely, as though each one were capitalized. "I Do Not Wish To Be Told What To Do!
"I wish to have my own life. All this whole thing has to do with people who gave up smoking and can't stand it! I think it's a big farce myself. And I think it's our own business what we do. Who has the right to say 'You can't smoke'? Makes me smoke MORE! Ha-HA-ha. No. I don't like it."
Miss Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis (5th April 1908 – 6th October 1989)
Friday, 4 April 2014
With his avant-garde fashion creations and cutting-edge designs, [Jean-Paul] Gaultier has shaped the look of fashion over the last 40 years. His reputation for witty and daring designs and a ceaseless interest in society, identity and a beauty borne of difference has earned him a place in fashion history.
Gaultier is fascinated by world cultures and countercultures, conceiving a new kind of fashion in both the way it is made and worn. Through twists, transformations, transgressions and reinterpretations, he not only erases the boundaries between cultures but also the sexes, redefining the idea of androgyny or subverting fashion codes.
This theatrically-staged exhibition brings together more than 165 cutting-edge couture and ready-to-wear garments including iconic costumes for film and performance from the early 1970s to the present day. The infamous conical bra and corsets Madonna wore during her 1990 Blonde Ambition World Tour are showcased alongside stage costumes designed for Kylie Minogue as well as pieces created for the films of Pedro Almodóvar, among others.
Gaultier’s rich collaborations with renowned artists and photographers such as Miles Aldridge, David LaChapelle, Pierre et Gilles, Peter Lindbergh, Herb Ritts, Stéphane Sednaoui, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol are also shown together with footage of catwalk presentations, concerts, music videos, films and dance performances.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is in London from 9th April 2014 to 25th August 2014 at the gallery in the Barbican Centre.
Thursday, 3 April 2014
"I like joy. I want to be joyous. I want to have fun on the set; I want to wear beautiful clothes and look pretty. I want to smile, and I want to make people laugh. And that's all I want. I like it. I like being happy. I want to make others happy."
"I've never met an animal I didn't like, and I can't say the same thing about people."
"Wrinkles are hereditary. Parents get them from their children."
"The really frightening thing about middle age is the knowledge that you'll grow out of it."
“Any girl can look glamorous... just stand there and look stupid”
She's 90 today. Celebrate!
Doris Day (born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, 3rd April 1922)