Sunday, 28 June 2020

A tits-and-feathers man

...It was showbiz rather than acting that had the greater appeal for him. "I'm a tits-and-feathers man really," he explained. He loved the Tiller Girls, who were his idea of glamour, and blamed the Beatles for making show-business less glamorous."
The marvellous John Inman would have been 85 years old today.

All together, now... "I'm Free!"

Frederick John Inman (28th June 1935 – 8th March 2007)

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

A woman without the fear of failure

"She never lets the words or melody get in her way. She is us, without the fear of failure."

"Margarita gives everything she's got, every time. If she forgets the words, she sings something else. She never stops."

And so, farewell then, Margarita Pracatan - whose rise to fame here in the UK, where she was a massive "cult" success, was all down to one man's delightfully tongue-in-cheek admiration of her; Mr Clive James {whose quotes are above].

From her early days as a refugee from Castro's revolution in Cuba, Margarita aspired to become a cabaret singer. Only one thing potentially served to hold her back; a complete lack of talent. But did that stop her? No way!

Described in his tribute to her by Kenneth Walsh (aka Kenneth in the 212) as "Charo on a bender", the great lady found her outlet thanks to the innovative Manhattan Cable access TV [which also brought the world self-made chat shows, panel shows, gay shows, porn stars, assorted weirdos including "Jews for Jesus", "Ugly George", "Coco Crystal", stripper Robin Byrd, "Rapid T. Rabbit" and the legendary "Mrs. Mouth", the Beastie Boys... and RuPaul!], extracts from which were shown weekly on the embryonic Channel 4, presented by the dry-as-dust Laurie Pike. Presumably, it was here that Mr James and his team first encountered her, brought her to Britain - and the rest, they say, is history.

Remarkably, Señorita Pracatan went on to sell out venues such as G.A.Y. at The Astoria, Edinburgh Festival and even The London Palladium, and went on to a great cabaret career back in her home city New York. I was granted free access to one of her shows, back in Wales in the 90s while I was fundraising in the venue's foyer, but I am ashamed to admit that a couple of her "songs" was quite enough, so I left.

I leave you to make up your own mind...

RIP Margarita Pracatan (born Margarita Figueroa, 11th June 1931 – 23rd June 2020)

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Uma mulher revolucionária

There must have been something in the water around this time of year - for, in the run-up to what would have been Gay Pride this weekend, today's birthdays include computer scientist and icon Alan Turing, bisexual sexologist Alfred Kinsey, lesbian actress and campaigner Miriam Karlin, bisexual singer Jason Mraz and allegedly lesbian stage actress Irene Worth; and also "Mr Jazz Hands" Bob Fosse...

...and this remarkable lady!

Another diva previously unknown to us here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Senhora Dercy Gonçalves (for it is she) was a very popular Brazilian comedienne (and gay icon), whose record-breaking 86-year career began when, at the age of fifteen, she ran away from home and joined a travelling theatre; she went on to become a huge success on stage, on television and in film. Her final appearance was in 2008 when she starred in the film Nossa vida nao cabe num opala at the age of 101; she died not long afterwards.

During that impressive career, her overwhelming candour secured her "icon" status in the eyes of the Brazilian public. Despite being just 4ft 11' in height she had a reputation for causing a big scene - she was as renowned for swearing and using vulgar comedy (and consequently became a chat show "must-have" guest), as much as for her flamboyance. So popular was she that whole segments of the Rio Carnival were often dedicated to her and, notoriously, in 1991 (at the age of 83) she caused a sensation by appearing bare-breasted on one of the floats!

She even has a museum dedicated to her life.

When she finally passed over to Fabulon - after a funeral service at which thousands turned up, including the President of Brazil - she was interred, standing up, in a mausoleum (of her own design) made of glass and in the shape of a pyramid. Presumably so she could perpetually keep an eye on what's going on...

"I am very impudent, very naughty. I am really daring, you know? I don't take any insults from anyone. With my mouth, I don't need to slap."

"I am an independent woman, I never needed money from a man. I win, solve my problems, decide my life, I don't like advice... If I don't like it, fuck it!"

Here's a sample of the great lady in "action" - being photographed by a French artist:

How utterly fabulous [even if I don't understand either French or Portuguese...]!

Dercy Gonçalves (born Dolores Gonçalves Costa, 23rd June 1907 – 19th July 2008)

Saturday, 20 June 2020

The year's threshold

"This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year's threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath." - Margaret Atwood

Celebrate the light, dear reader - for tomorrow, the nights start drawing in again...

Summer solstice/Mid-Summer

Sunday, 14 June 2020

I think today should be...

...a "Say Something" Merry Widow Hat day, don't you..?

From the Edwardian Promenade website:
The Edwardian era was home to many fads and fashions which harkened to bygone days, and the Merry Widow hat craze was no exception. The hat was just another part of the costume designed by Lucile for statuesque English theatre star Lily Elsie, who was to play the main character, Hanna Glawari, in the 1907 English adaptation of Franz Lehár’s operetta, Die lustige Witwe. The play was an immediate sensation, and its wonderful, frothy signature tune, the Merry Widow Waltz, became the craze of the Season. However, it was the hat worn by Elsie, that black, wide-brimmed, hat covered with filmy chiffon and festooned with piles of feathers, became the look for fashionable women over the next three years.

The hat, reaching such widths as eighteen inches, and topped with all kinds of trimmings (even whole stuffed birds!), was a direct descendant of the “Gainsborough” hat worn by the Duchess of Devonshire in that artist’s portrait of the famed Georgian beauty. It’s resurgence was quite timely, as the silhouette of the Edwardian lady moved away from the languid, S-curve of the early 1900s to the streamlined, athletic look of the late 18th century/early 19th century. Predictably, the increasing fashion for this hat resulted in endless jokes in popular magazines like Punch, whose issues frequently poked fun at the difficulties one could get into when wearing a Merry Widow hat or being near a lady wearing one.

The House of Lucile was the brainchild of leading British fashion designer, socialite, survivor of the Titanic disaster, fashion columnist and critic, and yesterday's birthday girl Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff-Gordon (13th June 1863 – 20th April 1935)