Tag Archives: gay

Talk Show: The Musical by WILLS MORGAN

2 Aug

IT HAD TRASH TALK performed by opera singers . It had a musical score which boasted some some actual tunes. It had a whole first act and a bit of a second act. And it had a big black man in a clean white nappy. This is the story of how JERRY SPRINGER: THE OPERA became the hit show a decade ago today at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  NOW READ MORE……

IN AUGUST of 2002, a modestly staged entertainment was to become the hit of the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. An indication of what was about to hit the city appeared on the cover of the weekly guide to Fringe events: the LIST magazine.

 

All undressed…and nowhere to go.

 

In small letters: Edinburgh stripped bare. In capital letters and in a larger font: NAPPY DAYS. And the picture? A big and beautiful Black Man. Wearing a Diaper and With a Dummy In his Mouth. And Nothing Else covering his Modesty. Apart from the strategic placing of a TV talk-show cue card which bore the following legend:

 

JERRY SPRINGER: The Opera.

 

Note the title of the Legend. JERRY SPRINGER: a man who has had many careers. A lawyer, politician and an Emmy-Award winning news anchor. And, in 1991, the host of what was called a ‘talk show’ called (naturally enough) The Jerry Springer Show.

This show started in a lower case font. As un-sensational social commentary of the kind that Mr. Springer was already known for. The viewing figures were not good. (This is a polite way of saying those same viewing figures were shit. Really quite shitty.)

A new producer was brought in; his name was Richard Dominick. He’s responsible for Jerry Springer becoming the character that we know we love to hate to love: JERRY SPRINGER.

The new show was pretty much like life itself: full of surprises. Low lives. Unhappy marriages. Perverse behaviour. The Ku Klux Klan. The odd prostitute. God. Romances with animals. You know what I mean. There was heckling. There was fighting. There was people throwing things. There was people throwing up. But most of all…importantly…most especially…there was people having themselves a good, good time. It was trashy. It was ‘bloody funny’. It was made for TV. But equally…it was…and is…opera.

So how did JERRY SPRINGER get attached to The Opera in its lower case sense? Here’s how: with one man with a piano.

Lore Lixenberg. She sings. And then some.

A glamourous, voluptuous mezzo-soprano singer named LORE. A couple of crates of John Smiths bitter. ASDA lager, as well, just for a bit of contrast. In a small studio in Battersea, South London, In England, that itty-bitty island off the coast of Europe.

The Brixton-based composer Richard Thomas’ workshops were called ‘How to write an Opera about Jerry Springer’. The flyer for the show was an apology: ‘Have an idea. Think it’s a shit idea. Despair. Do it anyway’. It was done: and the Legend was born.

In August 2001, Mr. Thomas’ London cabaret group, known as KOMBAT OPERA took to the stage in multiple guises. Serial seducers. Trailer Trash. The Ku Klux Klan. And right in the middle of it all…an anti-chorus every bit as fierce as the crowd of Jews as portrayed by JS Bach in his Matthew and John passions.

The Indepenent on Sunday journalist Anna Picard wrote of ‘the first opera to take television as its subject’. She is 50 percent correct. As I know only too well, the subject matter of JERRY SPRINGER: The Opera is both Tele-Visual and Opera-Tic.

The word was spread that this was a show to see. In January and February of 2002 anybody who was anybody came to the second run of performances. Germaine Greer was there. Nicholas Hytner visited daily. Tim Rice came. Harry Hill, Chris Morris, Mel and Sue, Frank Skinner, Soo from “The Sooty Show” and much of the cream of British comedy saw what had inevitably become JS:TO.

Journalists wrote about it unbidden. Lyn Gardner of the Guardian came, saw half the show and wrote a review of the whole that was not polite. How we in the cast laughed at her. She should have gone to Specsavers, we said.

Fortunately, there was enough good press to secure an investment from TV mogul and celeb hairdresser Allan McKeown for a rewrite: the cast and newly-expanded company of 20 reconvened in Clapham to prepare to take JS:TO to the comedy Mecca that is the Edinburgh fringe.

Thomas and Lee in 2002

Stewart Lee became director of JS:TO as well as co-writer. This was to be both a happy and unhappy accident for him. Richard Thomas continued to de-compose. International ABBA expert Martin Lowe urged and inspired us on. Dance expert Jenny Arnold helped to cover cracks that were still evident in the concept.

Day one of rehearsals was a bit nervy. Mr. McKeown came to the first sing-through with his wife, the artist formerly known as Tracey Ullman. We were a cast member down, as Andrew Bevis (a talented Australian singer) was voiceless. I was given the job of filling in Andrew’s part whilst Andrew had to endure listening to me rip his role to shreds!

Mr. Auf Wiedersehn, Pet with Miss ‘I had “The Simpsons” in my show first’

Allan McKeown takes up the tale: “In the car on the way to the first ever sing through of JERRY SPRINGER: The Opera my wife asked me how much money I had invested in the show. I told her. ‘You must have loved the script’ she said. I told her I hadn’t read it. ‘Oh you loved the music?’ I said I hadn’t heard it. ‘You idiot’ she said. Half way through the sing-through she whispers to me ‘How much of the show do we own?’ ‘50%’ I told her. ‘You idiot you should have bought the lot.’”

There were two major additions to the cast. I had played Dwight, the serial seducer who was always ‘seeing someone else’. I exchanged that for the role of Jesus (a higher calling) whilst Benjamin Lake took the role of Dwight. Richard Thomas was so impressed with Ben that he wrote in an extra role for him: that part was the biggie… that of God Almighty himself.

from Rocky to Satan: David Bedella.

But the major find was David Bedella. David had scored major theatre credits which included singing Fran-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show alongside Meatloaf, La Cage Aux Folles with Gene Barry and Caiaphas In Jesus Christ Superstar with Ted Neely and Carl Anderson. Credentials enough for the dual roles of Devil and Warm-up Guy.

Returning members of KOMBAT Opera were Valda Aviks in a myriad of roles, including a Superior Mother: also Lore Lixenberg as Valda’s vocal and comedic foil…and of course the play friend of Diaper Man. I was Montel, the guy revealed to be the Man of Diaper, who was to return as Jesus in the second act.

this is a wierd pic. get over it. talk to the haynd.


The Canadian funny-guy Rick Bland reassumed his true characterization of ‘The Springer’. Andrew Bevis played Tremont, the Chick with a Dick. The distinguished actress Beverley Klein had a go at being a pole dancer. David Birrell was Klein’s Hillbilly husband.


To say the casting was ideal was not completely true: but enough of the pieces were there for the show to succeed up north. Most importantly, the writers insisted on colour-blind casting in all areas of the company. Later…much much later…the entire chorus of our little show was to win an Olivier Award for their outstanding contribution to a Musical.

JERRY SPRINGER: The Opera wasn’t the only thing happening at the 2002 Fringe Festival. The other big ticket was for Derevo, the theatre ensemble from St Petersburg. Omid Djalili and Ross Noble made the cover of the List magazine alongside that picture of me in the nappy. But there was only one show that had low lives, unhappy marriages, perverse behaviour, the Ku Klux Klan, The odd prostitute and God in it. You know the one I’m talking about.


Word spread that this was a musical event that should be seen. Many, many people saw it. Including the man himself: Jerry Springer. On a lovely Saturday afternoon. ”The Theatre was packed. The producers didn’t want to scare the cast, so they didn’t tell them which day I was coming – that was the plan at least. When I walked into the theatre though, everyone started chanting ‘Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry!’ I think the cast caught on pretty quickly.’”

his middle name is norman

Afterwards Jerry met the cast and shook my hand. He admitted he wasn’t sure he should shake it, given my casting as the Diaper Man.

I said ‘It all right, I’ve wiped my hands.’

(c) Wills Morgan 2012: published first in CCK.

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We Are: Proud/Bourne Free/Ready to Party!

13 Jul
we are proud

College Green is the place where we are: proud

The highpoint of the largest Pride event in the South West of England is the annual parade in College Green, right in the heart of Bristol.

“We Are: Proud”  is  the theme of the day on Saturday, July 14 and at the end of the night Pride will take over the O2 Academy.

Organisers of  the event are once again looking forward to welcoming crowds from all over the UK and beyond who will come from across the world to enjoy Pride.

Daryn Carter, one of the organisers of the festival has  said: “As one of the only free Prides in the UK, We Are: Proud promises to be bigger and better than ever.

let's partay

it’s raining men…hallelujah!

“We Are: Proud is a chance for people to stand up and declare that they are proud of who they are, for friends and families to show how proud they are of their loved ones and for the city to not just have a gay Pride but to be truly proud of its LGBT community.

“We are unfunded and will be asking for donations which not only help make Pride happen but will also go to support Freedom Youth, Bristol’s dedicated LGBT Youth Service.”

And guess what? The incoming Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Peter Main is the first openly gay Lord Mayor of Bristol. He’ll be at the parade, no doubt.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *
Meanwhile in Bournemouth, they will be having a right royal knees-up in honour of the Jubilee. Their parade leaves West Cliff, Monkey Island at noon tomorrow…and finishes  at the Triangle at 1pm.

During the afternoon there will be a great family entertainment in the Lower Gardens, at the Bandstand, with stalls, live music and comedy hosted by Sally Vate and Lucinda Lashes.

From 1pm-6pm artists appearing include: All About GaGa, Lady James, Benjii, Jazz Blaack, Tammy Twinkle, Nicolette Street, Michael Hinch, Wilma Fingadoo, the winner of Bourne Free’s Got Talent, Cindy Hollingsworth and Sheila and the Monster Boys.

this is wright...jess wright

that’s wright…jessie wright

From 6pm-11pm artists appearing include: Jessica Wright (The Only Way is Essex), Rogue Minogue, Envy, Miss Jason, Butchesque, James Bedford, Sandra and X Factor finalists, 2 Shoes who will bring the evening to a close.

Then…on Sunday, The Triangle Tour features a Metropolitan Community Church Service in the Triangle Arena at noon. Miss Jason does her Bingo at DMYK at 3pm. There is a cabaret tea party at 2930 at 6pm followed by Wilmas Mad House at The Branksome at 8pm. At 11pm Sheilas cabaret show & stripper is at XChange. The Bakers Arms is open all day for Bourne Free After party drinks.

WEB.378.Bourne_Pride.jpg

Unhook Yourself with Marc Almond

9 Jul

So. It’s No Bra Day today. It’s up to social enterprises like CCK to rise to the occasion and say something (ahem) uplifting. Fingers at the ready…

icon at 55

chest a song at twiliiiiiiiiight…..

Marc Almond returns to the O2 Shepherds Bush (fnar fnar!) Empire five years after his triumphant gig for his fiftieth birthday. I guess that would make him fifty-five then. Anyway, the show’s at 8pm; doors open at 7: and it should be a good place to unhook your bra whilst nobody is looking. (best to do it in the ladies loos…don’t tell anybody it’s my idea!)

Ticket prices are 19:50/27:50 plus the usuals. You can pay in cash at the door from 4pm. Or online at www.ticketweb.co.uk

MARC ALMOND at the O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE

Shepherds Bush Green, London W12 8TT  tube: Shepherds Bush bus: lots of them

Parking: between 6pm and 12 midnight at Westfield Shopping Centre…just £3 for O2 customers. Check for entry and exit points and read up on the rules..

Drinking: 21 and over. Bring and ID.

day on bra

surely you can see this is a responsible adult

Younger ones welcome, but bring a responsible adult. Like what you see pictured above. You know it makes sense…don’t you?

Not just a pretty face

15 Mar

After a two-year hiatus, the long-standing gay men’s beauty contest Mr Gay UK has crowned its newest winner. Samuel Kneen, a 22-year-old hairdresser, won the competion final on the 10th December at Club Mission in Leeds having beaten some stiff competition.

His prizes include £2000 and a photo shoot in Morocco, but Mr Kneen has used his victory for more than just publicity for his modelling career. The Cardiff-born lad has told the press that he will be giving a portion of his winnings to the Terence Higgins Trust, an HIV & AIDS charity, in support of a friend  who contracted HIV. Speaking to WalesOnline, he said, “I told them when I entered the contest that I know somebody who has got HIV and I want to support him. It is something I feel strongly about.”

Mr Kneen hopes to raise awareness about the disease. After walking around Cardiff on World AIDS Day, he was shocked when shops didn’t carry ribbons and were unaware of the date’s significance.

The THT is a wonderful charity with clinics stationed nationwide. Same-day diagnosis, treatment and legal advice is only the beginning of what the charity offers. There are plenty of services apart from those linked to HIV at these clinics; you can expect the same help for any worries you would have from THT as you would from any other sexual health clinic.

Alternatively, you can visit their website to find a clinic near you.

Who’s Mum?

18 Jan
Florida has been the source of contention in the past few weeks thanks to an unprecedented case. It seems that American law regarding the custody of children will have to be re-written, and new attitudes adopted in a great many courtrooms.This over-due change is thanks to a lesbian couple who are in disagreement over their daughter’s custody. The unnamed couple were in a committed relationship for eleven years before seeking counselling and medical advice in preparation for adding a child to their family dynamic.

However, upon discovering that the 39-year-old woman was infertile, her 34-year-old partner donated one of her own eggs, to be implanted into the 39-year-old who then carried the baby to term. For ease of reading, let’s refer to the 39-year-old as the Child-Bearer and the 34 year old as the Egg-Donor. The father was an anonymous donor who waived all rights to the child.

Their child bears both women’s names, though the birth certificate named only the Bearer as the mother. This, then, is the source of all their problems. The couple raised the child in a joint effort until their daughter was two; upon splitting, the Child-Bearer moved to Australia with the child, and the Egg-Donor remained in America. In a bid to gain custody, the Egg-Donor found her former partner in Queensland and both have returned to America for the duration of the custody battle.

However, according to the current legal system, the woman who bore the child is the child’s mother. There is no other case where the woman bearing the child had an egg donated to her by her partner. There are no guidelines; there are no previous rulings. The Child-Bearer claims that she is the mother, due to the fact that she gave birth to the child. The Egg-Donor claims that she is the true mother as she is the girl’s biological parent.

No clear mention has been made as to whether the two women are suing for sole custody. To me, it would make complete sense to treat this as any other divorce between a heterosexual couple who have had children together. While yes, one woman carried the child for nine months and gave birth to her, the other woman gave a part of herself to make this possible. The man does not carry the child for nine months, but he is just as responsible for the child’s creation. How does this differ? They are both parents. They are both mothers in their own rights. The only thing throwing perception is that both parties are women.

Surely, in this situation, due regard should be given to whoever can provide for the child in a more complete fashion. Is the child better cared for by the Child-Bearer? Would the Egg-Donor be in a better position to provide for her? How has the move to Australia changed the situation between the two – would there be arrangements for the child to visit both her Antipodean and her American family? These questions seem to be more pressing than identifying who is the ‘real’ mother; surely the debate centres on intention and the ability to provide for the child? Without a doubt, the question of who deserves the title of ‘true’ motherhood is exceptionally important, though I think a little bit of focus has been lost on some of the large issues here thanks to the unusual circumstance providing a great deal of excitement. Personally, I feel that those viewing this as a purely cerebral argument are conveniently forgetting that this is a real family that’s being discussed.

On Dec. 23, 2011 a Daytona County judge ruled that the Child-Bearer was in fact the ‘true’ mother, as the law states that the person who gave birth to the child is the child’s mother. There was no allowance for the Egg-Donor in the place of her child’s creation. He stated that it ‘broke his heart’ to rule this, but that the law provided no other alternative. I count this rubbish. So did the lawyers in D.C. In the 5th District Court of Appeal, the courts later gave both women custody to the child, stating that Florida law was ‘outdated and violated the Constitution’.

I think it is incredibly important for the law -and those who enforce and represent it- to keep up with the changing technology in reproductive medicine and the evolution of modern-day family structure. Things are not so black and white anymore; as society grows, we find ourselves with new situations. We need our laws to reflect and protect what we hold dear as a society. Whatever shape our families or our relationships take, we need the flexibility shown in everyday social regards to be reflected in our law practitioners’ attitudes, the laws and their interpretation. Thank goodness this case proved a catalyst to make the necessary changes to outdated systems.  A family is not a simple construct, and as such, it should not be restricted by simple ideas.

Gay characters on the rise in comic books

16 Nov

For the longest time, comic book heroes have been the pedestal of heterosexual white males in print since their creation in the 1930s. It has been a struggle to even include female heroes in comics and have them achieve equal standing to them, let alone ethnic minorities.

Fortunately with time, the comic publishers like DC and Marvel have evolved their characters in keeping with the ever changing times of society. The current and possibly last demographic to get their moment in the spotlight is the LGBT community.

Still hurting for recognition Gay characters in comics are still few and far between, but they are growing.

The 1990s saw the rise of one of the first openly gay mainstream superheroes: Northstar, from Marvel’s Alpha Flight team. DC comics to a bit longer, but they too produced two noteworthy gay heroes in their stable: Midnighter and Apollo, who were effectively alternate universe versions of Batman and Superman respectively. These characters were so well written and fleshed out as characters, the comic received an award from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Deformation organisation.

Marvel continued its evolution of its universe with the creation of the “Ultimate” series, which saw a number of its trademark heroes changed radically form their original iterations, seeing characters like Nick Fury changed from a “mature white dude” to someone who looks a lot like Samuel L Jackson (a role he was happy to reprise in the life action films), a younger version of Colossus from the X-men is now gay, and a mixed race Spiderman.

And with the recent addition of a new Lesbian Batwoman as the first gay female mainstream superhero, you could say the future looks bright for the LGBT community in comics.

http://sosogay.org/2011/an-alternative-universe-gay-characters-on-the-rise-in-comic-books/

Community Event – The Stonewall Awards 2011

2 Nov

The 6th Annual Stonewall Awards 2011 is taking place on Thursday 3rd November to celebrate the contributions made by organisations and individuals to the Gay, Lesbian and bisexual community in the UK. Categories include Politician, Writer and Entertainer of the Year Awards.

This year is being hosted by Stephen K Amos, and judges will include Gok Wan, Maureen Chadwick, Hope Powell MBE and Eddie Mair.

The event is being held at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

http://www.timeout.com/london/gay-lesbian/event/241594/the-stonewall-awards-2011

National Coming Out Day

12 Oct

Due to our recent beavering away with big projects, we unfortunately missed out on this year’s National Coming Out Day on October 11th.

Since its founding in 1988, National Coming Out Day has been an internationally marked annual event where anyone can take that final big step and “come out”, be they Gay or Lesbian, Bisexual, Transexual and everyone in between.

We’d love to hear any stories of your experiences if you attended yesterday’s coming out! Any really good ones might make it onto our new website when it launches!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Coming_Out_Day

http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/national-coming-out-day/

Gays allowed to give Blood

13 Sep

In recent news the UK government has lifted the lifetime ban on homosexuals to give blood. Coming into force on November 7th, a one year waiting period will instead be used.

This change in the rules on blood donation brings the UK in line with current EU rulings. Sexual health charities such as GMFA, The Terrence Higgins Trust and the National Aids Trust are generally in approval of this change.

What do you think? Is this about time? Do you think this change in the rules doesn’t go far enough? Please comment and give us your opinion on the matter.

News report sourced from sosogay.org website.

http://sosogay.org/2011/government-announces-end-of-lifetime-ban-on-gay-blood-donation/

Folsom Europe – 8-12th Sept 2011

24 Aug

Just a quick heads up, the Folsom Europe event is taking place from the 8th to 12th of September in Berlin, Germany. Held every year since 2003, Folsom Europe is the biggest annual Rubber, Fetish and BDSM fair.

And on a similar note, the Folsom Street Fair will be happening on the 25th September.

http://www.folsom-europe.info/index.php?lang=en

http://folsomstreetfair.org/index.php