Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Walk in the sun once more

From my own post about the lady over at my "regular" blog Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle on the occasion a blue plaque was erected to her in London:
The actress and singer Elisabeth Welch moved away from the racial difficulties of her homeland America in the 1930s and settled in the UK, where she lived for the rest of her life.

A favourite singer of Ivor Novello, Cole Porter and Noel Coward, she was an early pioneer of (then) unusual and difficult cabaret material - she introduced Stormy Weather to British audiences, was the first to popularise As Time Goes By (before Casablanca) and fell foul of censorship when she became associated with the song Love for Sale.

She performed for the British troops during the war and for the Queen at several Royal Variety Performances, and broke new ground by being the first black person to have their own BBC radio show, and by starring with Paul Robeson in some early film roles where black characters were - gasp! - not just "the servants". Robeson, a passionate campaigner for black civil rights, urged her to join the fight. "She said 'Paul, my father was African and native American, my mother was Scottish and Irish, I've got four people within me, I can't make a stand for all of them, you'll have to excuse me.' He roared with laughter and hugged her, and the subject was never mentioned again."...

...Here is a most stunning performance by Miss Welch singing her "signature tune" Stormy Weather in Derek Jarman's The Tempest, a scene described by George Melly as "arguably the campest, most sparkling moment in the history of cinema"...
Now, on the occasion of the 110th anniversary of the great lady's birth, I have no hesitation on featuring this masterpiece of camp, by way of a tribute...


Elisabeth Margaret Welch (27th February 1904 – 15th July 2003)

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Friday, 8 February 2019

It's a look

Introducing... "The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black", aka performance artist Kembrah Pfahler and her cohorts, "a theatrical glam-punk-metal unit who, to match the Rocky Horror-style teased black bouffant wigs, blacked-out teeth, black stiletto boots, black underwear and nude ladies painted blue, pink and yellow, play standard-issue riff'n'roll that nods to everyone from Suzi Quatro to Siouxsie Sioux, Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson."

In addition to the description above of her band, Ms Pfahler herself was reverently characterised by the Guardian as:
"...a musician, actress and multimedia performance artist who as a kid attended a nursery school where there were rumoured to be satanic cults, afterwards confessing that she was pissed off that there actually weren't; who appeared in a Calvin Klein "heroin chic" ad campaign that led to dope dealers on her block in New York naming a strain of junk after her; who has been a wrestler and appeared in numerous Super 8 horror and fetish movies; who was mugged to within an inch of her life but survived; who mimes onstage fornication with a skeleton symbolising her deceased boyfriend and other such transgressive acts including cracking paint-filled eggs on her vulva; who has cavorted in the recording studio with notorious coprophiliac GG Allin; who was into body mutilation and dysmorphia and so wanted to challenge preconceived notions of female sexuality that she SEWED UP HER VAGINA."
A great person to invite to a party - if among the guests at that party were Aleister Crowley, Félicien Rops, Tallulah Bankhead, Gabriele D'Annunzio and Bertolt Brecht, of course...

Read an interview with the eccentric Kembrah Fahler over at the ever-wonderful Dangerous Minds.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Demise of another London landmark

Oh, dear. For the second time in recent years, the venerable music retailer HMV (formerly known as "His Master's Voice") has had to be rescued from going into administration.

The new Canadian owner has announced, however, that 27 stores in the chain will close - including the "granddaddy" of the lot, the Art Deco audiophile emporium on Oxford Street...

It will leave one helluva gap in the history of London's premier shopping street.


Friday, 1 February 2019

'Do of the Day...

...belongs to today's birthday girl the divine La Tebaldi, one of the greatest opera singers of all time, and long-time rival to Callas!

Quite a splendid 'do it was, too, in all its guises:

Her outfits veered on the OTT, too:

...and here is the great diva herself, in a brilliant duet with the "Prince of Tenors":

So, let us join her compatriots Regine Crespin and Rita Reznik - and raise our glasses in a toast: "The higher the hair, the closer to God!"

Renata Ersilia Clotilde Tebaldi (1st February 1922 – 19th December 2004)