Tag Archives: transgender

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.

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

2012 Pride Day Poem by Wills Morgan

7 Jul
ANTHEM

for the children

of our time

Image

HAVE PRIDE IN YOURSELF. This is what I say.
HAVE PRIDE IN YOURSELF each and every day.
HAVE PRIDE IN YOURSELF. Keep your troubles at bay.
Whether straight or bisexual, or if you’re gay


Lesbian or Transgender, this is what I say:
HAVE PRIDE IN YOURSELF each and every day.
At home or your work. When you rest. As you play.
Stay in the right track if you were born that way.


HAVE PRIDE IN YOURSELF.
EACH.
AND.
EVERY.
DAY.

Contributing Artist Wills Morgan is pictured sitting behind the map at the Island bar and restaurant in north west London in 2010. Photo used with kind permission of the photographer, Mr.Tyson Sadlo.

This photograph is one of a series of five portraits entitled A CORNER OF COLLEGE PARK.

TV Spotlight – My Transexual Summer

23 Nov

I’ve recently been watching “My Transexual Summer” on Channel 4.

The show is a documentary about 7 Transsexual people from various walks of life who are attending a summer camp as a way of coming together to help each other out with their shared problems and change people’s perception of what it is to be a Transsexual person.

I believe its been a long time coming that a show like this to appear on television, because it gives the issues of Transgender a much needed shot in the arm. They’re still in the minority, and as a result there is still a level of ignorance and fear where there need not be. Lets hope this show paves the way to greater things in the future.

My Transexual Summer is shown at 10pm Thursdays on Channel 4

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/my-transsexual-summer

Quite Interesting

18 Nov
“I have to do this, Mother, I’m a tax inspector.”
Being incredibly cool, the highlight of my Saturday night was sitting in front of the TV with a happy furball on my lap whilst watching the new QI episode. Who doesn’t love a bit of Stephen Fry? I have so much respect for the research elves and I adore the mix of intelligence, humour and wit that has turned a simple panel show into something unique.Saturday’s episode was entitled Inland Revenue, focusing on all things financially related. Lo and behold, within ten minutes of the programme’s start came a question about Pakistan’s transgender tax collectors.

In Pakistan, transgender people are a cause of great embarrassment to much of the population. They are part of a third gender called hijra, and are the subject of great discrimination and derision. They are often forced to work as wedding dancers, sex workers, or as mentioned in QI, tax collectors. They are harassed, abused and intimidated by both their fellows and the police.

There is a strong tradition of tax evasion in Pakistan, and the government is constantly seeking new ways of forcing or convincing people to pay their tax bills. In this case, a group of transgender women are sent round to the offending shopkeep who is told to cough up or else. The ‘or else’ generally leads to the women singing and dancing around the shop, causing great embarrassment for the shop owner. This, presumably, ensures the swift payment of the tax bill for fear of more embarrassment.

While this is all very interesting, I think QI makes light of a very serious situation. It was only last year that improvements were made in government legislation in Pakistan which discouraged discrimination and ensured that hijras enjoyed the same rights as other Pakistanis in inheritance, employment and election registration. The Guardian covered the story here.

You can watch the QI clip above (the specific segment is from 2:45 – 5:30). I’d love to hear what you all think of this; please leave your comments below!

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/

Sex-change child back in school

28 Sep

As the school terms begun again, a 10 year old boy in Worchester has chosen to return to school dressed as a girl.

Despite having attended the same school in the past as a boy, the child felt like she was not being true to her true self. His mother is supporting his desire to want a sex change operation once the child has reached the legal age of 18.

The school which the child attends held an assembly at the start of term to let all the children and teachers aware of the situation. Despite the honest way the school has dealt with the situation, some of the parents of the children however have still raised concerns.

The issue of  Gender Dysphoria (the feeling of being born the wrong gender) is becoming more commonplace, and this story is just another example of the problems faced by children that suffer from this condition. Fortunately there are a number of organisations that specialise in helping those dealing with Gender Dysphoria cope with the condition, such as the Gender Trust Charity, the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES), PACE and Looking Glass.

What are your thoughts? Should others be more accepting of people who deal with Gender Dysphoria/Identity Disorder? Should there be more education on the condition in schools? We’d like to know what your opinions are on the issue, so please feel free to comment your thoughts and feelings.

Link:
http://www.metro.co.uk/news/875249-child-who-wants-sex-change-goes-back-to-school-as-girl

Organisations that can help with Gender Identity Disorder issues:

http://gendertrust.org.uk/
http://www.gires.org.uk/
http://www.pacehealth.org.uk/
http://www.looking-glass.greenend.org.uk/

Royal College of Psychiatrists, Make A Right Royal Mess Of It!

26 Apr

Well, well. They may have plenty of letters after their names, but sometimes you do have to wonder about their thought processes! Those (seemingly not so enlightened) people at the Royal College of Psychiatry have had to cancel a meeting titled ‘Transgender: Time To Change’.

Now, this may be due to poor ticket sales, as they claim, or may be to do with the outrage voiced by, and proposed demonstration organised by, trans* people that was to happen if it went ahead.

With an amazing lack of insight, the Royal College of Psychiatry were going to hold a meeting that was, to quote them:

‘exploring the most recent academic, clinical and contemporary thinking on transgender issues, for all people interested in this field.’

with speakers to include every transperson’s bete noir Julie Bindel!! Oh dear!

The Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital had decided to pull out of the meeting, having been aware of the disquiet Bindel’s appearance was causing in the trans* community. Let’s hope the next time the R.C.P decide to talk about transfolk, they actually engage with us first.

 

‘Dude’- Trans Male Zine

20 Apr

Well, I was distracted for rather a long while (!) checking out the blog for the new trans male zine ‘Dude’. Launched in February this year in Australia (which, from the U.K., is a mighty long way to go to pick up a printed copy. So yay to them that it should soon be available on download!), those hot off the press Antipodean folk are hoping to keep up the printed version as well as making it available to us Northern hemisphere types on download.

The blog page for ‘Dude’ will help to keep you informed of all the latest news on the zine. It also features a picture of the cover of the first edition, how to get hold of a copy, and how you can help to keep it as good as it, so clearly, is. Originally intended as a ‘How to play with transguys guide’, it hopes to open up to cover more info, help, advice, relevant articles and hot, hot pics for future issues.

Judging by the cover (my, some of us transguys are well fit!), and what’s inside, we can only hope it’s a success. Zines on transmasculinity, that are not afraid to cover our sexuality, are a much needed resource. The more widely this zine is seen the better for our community, our understanding and, let’s face it, our libidos. (Really, the cover pics are very sexy..am I stressing that enough??)

Dude cover by Sam Orchard

From Birth To Chosen

5 Apr

A vibrant treasure of a collection of short films was shown at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. ‘From Birth To Chosen’  had eight films that explored the areas of gender and family, both born and chosen. With a mix of documentary, drama and comedy, this group of films delighted the audience and left all who saw them contemplating issues of gender identity and what family is all about.

The programme started with a U.S. documentary, ‘The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children’, which interviewed various family members from several families about the issues that both they,  and their children,  faced in society and amongst friends and peers. This touching, candid film was very moving. It was refreshing to see the family love and support that was given to the children concerned. With a wealth of different experiences and emotions felt between the interviewees, this film provided a sense of hope and recognition to many.

Another short film from the U.S., ‘Loop Plane’ was a gem of a film. With a fictional story set in an amusement park, following a day in the life of a transgender teen who lives and works there with his supportive father, this wonderful short took you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Beautifully acted and directed, and with some quite stunning cinematography, this film is definitely worth looking out for.

Nominated by the LLGFF for the Iris Short Film Prize (which is one of, if not the, gay and lesbian short film awards), ‘James Dean’ was a smart, funny short set in Scotland. Perfectly capturing the way families behave, argue and relate, all whilst waiting in a car ready for a family outing, this amusing film pleased the audience no end. Everyone could relate to the way families bicker, support or disagree, and the ‘punchline’ towards the end of the film was fabulous.

‘Spiral transition’ was a personal exploration of the development of relations between a mother and her trans son, from the moment when he first finds out her feelings about his transitioning. ‘Absence’ was an artily crafted short about gender fluidity, and the way some have to navigate between identities, in order to relate to family members. ‘Living Room: Bar Wotever 2008-2009’ is the first installment of an ongoing project by Dr Jane, about the people who go to the fantastic Bar Wotever, and what the space means to them. It gave a real sense of why Bar Wotever is cherished by so many and incorporated some of Dr Jane’s stunning photographs as well.

Filmed as a pilot for a possible series, ‘Traverse City’ followed the adventures of a woman and her trans boyfriend as they cross the U.S. to meet her gay male parents. Much comedy was had from the reactions of the gay father, the seperate sexual adventures of the non-monogomous central couple, and the awkwardness of having a partner meet the parents for the first time, which most can relate to. Incorporating comedy, drama, animation and fantasy, this had the audience laughing out loud and waiting for the next installment.

The final film in the selection was ‘Bella Maddo’. This fantastic comic melodrama was about a self-obsessed pregnant wife and mother, and the hell she brings on most of her loved ones. Although none of the characters in the story were transgendered, all the actors in the film were. Co-writer, director and amazing star of the film, Janice Danielle, wanted to make a film that showcased talented trans performers, in roles they may usually not be considered for. This hilarious film had a great sense of heightened drama (in the best possible way!) and was shot, written, directed and acted to a very high standard. It made ‘Mommie Dearest’ seem tame by comparison, and was extremely well received by the audience.

Hopefully you will all get the chance to see this great collection of films. You will be amused, enlightened and have your heart touched by the films.