Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Unlikely conversations, # 361 in a series

Sylvia Sidney and Hermione Gingold

Andy Warhol and Tennessee Williams

Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett

Marilyn Monroe and Karen Blixen

Oh, to be a fly on the wall...

Monday, 28 April 2014

Friday, 25 April 2014

Meanwhile, at the Petting Zoo...

...they're having a party.

Whatever you get up to this weekend, enjoy!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

He created the 70s

"Halston. Gucci. Fiorucci." Names indelibly associated with Studio 54 and the last, riotously decadent days of Disco; in particular, the first name - the man who made the scene so much of a magnet for the "beautiful people" - Liza, Liz, The Warhol-ites and the pop divas. Halston. So good they named him once.

"You're only as good as the people you dress."

One of the most successful fashion entrepreneurs in history, without his designs (jumpsuits as evening-wear, maxi and midi skirts, kaftans, flowing blouses, bibbity-bobbity hats - couture and off-the-peg), the 1970s would have looked very different. And without Halston's business (and his influential friends), it would be hard to imagine how certain New York night-spots would have survived.

Facts about Halston:
  • He designed Jackie Kennedy's pill-box hat for her husband's presidential inauguration in 1961.
  • So associated did his brand become with the fabric called Ultrasuede, that it was also used as the title of the biographical movie about Halston.
  • His uniforms for Braniff International Airways staff revolutionised the "look" of the airline industry in the age of the "jet-set".
  • In an extraordinary move, in 1984, he was fired from his own company (after his drug use began to affect his work) and lost the right to design and sell clothes under his own name
  • Even during his final months travelling to and from hospital (he died with AIDS-related Kaposi's Sarcoma), he retained his flamboyance - he purchased a chauffeured $200,000 Rolls-Royce Corniche to transport him and his family around, and instructed them to auction the car after his death for AIDS research.

Roy Halston Frowick (23rd April 1932 – 26th March 1990)

Sunday, 20 April 2014

He did nothing else except dance

On the occasion of the death of ballet genius William Dollar in 1986, in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Though his family plans no funeral or memorial service, Mr. Dollar's brother John said yesterday that the family was making plans for a "cocktail party for dancers - maybe in New York, or one here and one in New York."

The party will be a kind of retrospective, perhaps with dancers performing selections from Mr. Dollar's works, his brother said.

"It'll be something wonderful for his spirit - outdoors, because that's what he loved," his wife, Yvonne, said yesterday.

That is just what William Dollar would have wanted, his brother said. "He's up in heaven teaching the angels - putting them in shape.

"He did nothing else except dance."
We can all identify with that.

William Henry Dollar (20th April 1907 - 28th February 1986)

Friday, 18 April 2014


Dorothy Sebastian

Irish McCalla

Michèle Morgan

Happy Easter - a long weekend, and a chance to give your ears a rest...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Philately or Fellatio?

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.

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.
Read more in The Guardian

Monday, 14 April 2014

Dear Johnny...

...typecast again.

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

La Superba

“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

I can think of nothing more kinky than a prince chasing a swan around all night

"[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 of the Ballet:

Our previous entry for the great man.