J is for Janice

J is for Janice From the day she was born, Janice was given everything she wanted. She didn’t need to cry for too long before either her doting father or loving mother would be at her side, fussing over her with reassuring words of comfort and kisses on her forehead. From this moment on Janice knew that she was a very special person and because of that she could have Read more

I is for Impossible

I is for impossible. Having blown out her one hundred candles, with a slight relieve that her dentures didn’t come flying out covering the butter icing, Alice was quite exhausted and glad to be back in the solitary of her room, where she lit up a stogie and sat back in her chair. As much as everyone had made a great fuss over her centenary birthday, with just as many making Read more

H is for Hipster

H is for Hipster. The reason the new eatery stood out so much to Donald, was its choice of setting up shop in a part of town where the most exotic experience to be had was a mangey charity shop for a local cat charity. But that’s how these Hipster cafe’s start isn’t it, they move into a place with low rent and once they are established others move in. Read more

G is for Glenn

G is for Glenn. I’ve always loved horror stories. Skeletons have been at the forefront. I had a full size paper, glow in the dark skeleton and then a bit later the poster on the opposite side of my bed was of a skeleton on a motorbike, which I thought was great! I think i got it after seeing th esketon riding a motoabike in the Hammer Horror, Doctor, Terrors, Read more

F is for Fur

F is for Fur. Roger lay in bed, every time he opened his eyes the room span madly making him shut his eyes tight again. Downstairs he could hear the others getting on and knew that he too had to get up. Ever so gradually, Roger held both hands tight round his face as he lifted his head off the pillow. With his eyes still tightly shut he made the familiar Read more

blogging

Gay Icons: Saluting the Sissy

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First published in www.gscene.com 01/01/2017:

Happy New Year! If I close my eyes I can take myself right back to living at home with my Nana and Sister, laughing at the campness of the likes of Larry Grayson (Shut that Door) and John Inman (I’m Free!) which we all really loved. As I got a bit older, these two characters where lambasted by right-on gay men, with cries that they did not represent the gay community. My guess was that it was never their intention, they were just being themselves, doing their job. There was further outcry that their characters were deemed safe’ to be on the telly as they were both sexless. I think if anyone bothered to re-watch a few episodes of Larry Grayson’s stand up performances they’d see plenty of sexual innuendo going on with his references to his postman, Pop it In Pete, or his more romantic suggestions with his song, My Friend Everard (get-it?) Is More Then A Friend To Me.th-1
Of course the writers of Our You Being Served and John Inmman both said the character, Mr Humpries wasn’t gay, the gag was the same with Mrs Slocombe was genuinely about her cat each time she mentioned her pussy, to do otherwise was to ruin the magicial nod, nod, wink wink on which the series was famed for. For me, I recognised the gay ellement in John Inman’s character and connected with that. I clearly remember sitting up straight when watching an episode of Are You Being Served, whth-3en John Inman suddenly popped out of a Wendy House, alongside a gorgeous bloke dressed up as a sailor, sporting a black beard…maybe that’s when my fixation with bearded men first began. To me, both these men are gay icons, along with the brilliant Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams aka Julian and Sandy (Ohh, how Bona!)

Sure, it would have been great to have a more diverse set of gay characters on the TV/radio but back then, and for a good while after, camp men where the only visible gays out there; the alternative would be guilt ridden stereotypes, I know which ones I prefer.
Another favourite gay icon of mine is Quentin Crisp. When I was eighteen, I saw Crisp’s autobiography TV drama, The Naked Civil Servant in which Crisp describes how he wanted to make his homosexuality, ‘abundantly clear’, by hennaing his hairand painting his nails red, even though such acts made him the target of homophobia. Crisp’s bravery made me all the more determined to be a happy, out, gay man.

Around this time, early 1980’s, there came a new influx of ballsie gay/bi men via the music scene, including: Marc Almond, Boy George, Marilyn, Pete Burns; these guys where ‘out there’ with their looks, but I was really drawn to the likes of Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and theth-5 trio from Bronski Beat, Jimmy Someville, Larry Stienbachek and Steve Bronski. Frankie for their sexually explicit lyrics and video for Relax and Bronski Beat for their many unashamedly political gay songs, from Small Town Boy, Why and It Ain’t Necessarily So.th-6 th-7

These musicians may name check, David Bowie as a major influence, but it is the likes of Grayson, Inmanand Crisp who way before them were shaking up the norm, paving the way for other peacocks to shine. However, there’s a section of society both LGBT and straight who find camp men offensive. I recently saw the Play, Boys in The Band  (see clips from the movie) that shows that although we can all be a bit camp, it is very easy to turn on the sissy. I personally salute the sissy, the camp man, the queer. What isn’t right is that there is still very little acknowledgement for these camp men’s (as Ru Paul would say) “Charisma, uniqueness, th-8nerve and talent”. They may not have seen themselves as queer pioneers but without them this world would most certainly be a much less interesting place.

for more camp:The Queens of Camp Comedy

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Love your Library

For many people who have not visited their local library for a long time, they may still have memories of places steeped in silence that should it be broken a stern librarian, wearing tweed and half rimmed glasses dishes out a severe, “SSSHHH!”th

 

 

 

 

The truth is many libraries are now far removed from this past image, anyone who visits Jubilee Library, Brighton (just up from the road from the Dome) will quickly realise just how much things have changed.

The award winning building, was built with energy efficiency in mind. As well as the building itself, Jubilee library’s collection of books are also diverse; from their rare books to the wide range of fiction and non fiction collections. You will find everything there from Africa, Animals, Anne Boleyn to Zombies, Zorro, to Zadie Smith.

As well as the physical books, there are also plenty of online material to get stuck into. All you need to do is to become a library member, which is free and then log into the Brighton and Hove Library website to have a plethora of information at your finger tips. What is your interest, newspapers, magazines, biographies, career help, Which magazine, (in libraries only), UK citizenship information, Academic research, it is all there waiting for you to discover it.
Fan of the graphic novel? not only is there a large collection of all your favourites along with a few hidden gems at Jubilee and Hove Library, but there are literally thousands of  comics and graphic novesl to download for free on to your device for you to view 24/7.

Libraries are all about diversity, In a town like Brighton, it would have been expected that such books would have always been on offer to the public, but it has only been in the last six years that this collection has . Of course, there have been LGBT themed novels available on the shelf, with the likes of Lesbian/gay classics, Radcliffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness and E.M. Forster’s Maurice, but now there are now a wide range of fiction, non fiction and a great collection of DVD’s aimed at the wide range of personalities that make up the LGBT communityth

There had been a consultation on whether in the 21 century if such book should just be absorbed within the libraries collection. I personally feel, that although we are living in a very forward thinking city, there is still a need for a dedicated LGBT collection that can be accessed easily.

In our city of Brighton it may be too easy to think that those within the LGBT community live their lives as if every day was a Pride celebration, but the fact is any one of us will at some point have to face up to any number of obstacles that can have an effect on our mental or physical health. Again, Jubilee and Hove Library, along with smaller collections in the branch libraries, have a fantastic collection of books shelved under, Books On Prescription.

th-3Books On Prescription are a carefully selected set of books, covering a wide range of health topics, including: anxiety, depression, phobias, eating/drinking/smoking addictions, sleep problems, dementia, that you can either access via the library or have recommended to you by your GP.
I’m guessing for those who have not been to their local library, be it Jubilee, Hove, Coldean, Hangleton, Hollingbury, Mile Oak, Moulscoomb, Patcham, Portslade, Rottingdean, Westdean Saltdean, Woodingdean and Whitehawk.

In a time when Libraries are closing across the country, Brighton and hove libraries are going from strength to strength, so go on, do yourself a favour and pop into your local library today to see what’s on offer.

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To Be Frank

CREATING FRANK.

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When I was a teenager I devoured the Pan Books of Horror series, loving the lurid covers as much as the stories inside. Back then I dreamed of writing my own horror stories, I had a couple of goes at school, but never really had the confidence to really go for it.

Fast forward to 2003 when I enrolled at Brighton City College and so begun my creative writing journey. the other day I dug out my work file and realised that it was then I wrote the first draft for my short story, Frank. My tutor, the brilliant Maria Ragusa set a task for us to create a character based on a part of the body; I was given a rotting tooth.Almost from the start, the character of Frank came to mind. His name was there from the start, a no nonsense man who believed his way was the only way and like the tooth he was rotten to the core.

This story is influenced by a whole host of books and films, including Pan Books of horror collection about a man who had died and gone to hell and was expecting an eternity of untold fear and punishment in the shape of fire and brimstone. Instead he was stuck in a windowless room, a bookshelf filled with outdated copies of Readers digest and a record-player,with one record playing several hours of Terry Wogan telling jokes, that was to be his hell. The Devil also appears as a really camp character who wipes his three prong folk with a silk hanky and calls the man “Ducky”, Christopher Fowler’s brilliant Faust based tale, Spanky which drove me on to write my own Faust type tale in which someone (usually a man), gives up his soul in exchange for his greatest desires and the segment from the Twilight Zone movie about a bigoted man who hates everythingth

 

With all these things in mind I created Frank, a bigoted skinhead who hates his wife kids, neighbours, Norwich football supporters and everybody else who steps into his path. The basic bones of the story wrote itself, with Frank being lured to a meeting place after reading a personal ad in the newspaper, by a man called Christopher.

“Are you a meathead? Tough-nut? Sadist?
Do you enjoy blood sports? Cruelty? Carnage?
Get in touch, let us make your favourite nightmares
a reality.
Box number 19120114.”

The box numbers, 19,1,14,1,14 I put in to give a clue to who Christopher really was: 19 = S and so on. Throughout the tales in Blanche Street, other neighbours pop up in each other’s stories. In “Frank’ there’s a nod to Nettie, he’s nosey neighbour and also one of his magazines is written about Jed Savage, from the short story, The Nightmare.
“In the past he had been rewarded by obscure subscriptions to magazines such as, The Nightmare: Jed Savage, Alien Possession.
More about that story later.

I also wanted to play on Frank’s weaknesses, where as Frank wants the meeting place to be a war bunker, he is faced with something far more disturbing to him.

“ Instead of a castle or war bunker there stood a ridiculously pretty country cottage: complete with red roses around the door.”

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As with all the tales in this book, there are some very disturbing horrors behind call the closed doors.

Also whereas Frank uses brawn and brawl to help him beat his victim, Christopher uses fancy words to disarm his victim.

“He then waved his hand at the cottage and said, “Don’t be put off by the quaint abode, it’s a short lease.”

From here I wanted to take the reader into Frank’s perverse world of celebrating all things Nazi. In the beginning Frank is thrilled to see objects from the Holocaust, but as the reality of the objects become more real, Frank begins to feel more and more uncomfortable, but because Frank is rotten to the core (the rotten tooth remember), he quickly pushes such thoughts to one side as if closing a book. And so it was important for the horror to be ranked up, which I won’t go into here as it will spoil the story. Some feedback has said this story made uncomfortble raeding dur to it’s subject matter, but that really is what horror is all about, to take the reader to dark places. At the time of writing this tale there was a cleraer voice about homosexual men who had been sent to the death camps, but for many years after the WW2 when being gay was still a criminal offence these victims voise was left unheard, somthing Christopher picks up on when he says to Frank,“This one is covered in many different stains. I always think it is nice to have the emblem intact, the pink ones are so often more faded.”

To find out Frank’s outcome pop on over to Amazon.co.uk

Blanche Street can be downloaded to your iphone, ipad and computer from Amazon for the great price of £3.08.

Paper back copy will be out in the New Year.

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Have a Word Summer Special

Founder of Have A Word

Founder of Have A Word

Ellis Collins, the brainchild behind Brighton literary event, Have a Word, returns for a summer special on 27th August, at the Latest Music Bar, Manchester Street. An all male line-up promises to be an exciting and diverse range of poetry, story telling and music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

poet

poet

Nicolas Collins first collection of poetry, Washing the Duvet, spanned the life of a gay man exploring subjects: love, lust and loss with equal amounts of soul searching and humour through personal experience and wry observations of the world around him with a panache of exploring the world of cats! For the Have a Word Summer Special, Nicolas will be reading from his new collection of poetry.
Nicolas’s first book, Washing the Duvet will be on sale on the evening and from amazon.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

Where all the neighbours are a nightmare.

Where all the neighbours are a nightmare.

Glenn Stevens passion is the short story, taking great pleasure in dissecting the world of suburban gothic in his collection of stories, Blanche Street: where all the neighbours are a nightmare, available on the night to download as an ebook. He will be reading the Brighton based tale, Dead Famous.

During a ghost walk in Brighton’s Lanes, Bryan bumps into Janice and Nick. As a new boy in town, Bryan is pleased to meet such a nice couple. Even better, Janice loves the fact that Bryan longs to be a writer, an actor or someone famous. With their help he will be, but at what cost?
www.blanchestreet.co.uk (website coming very soon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Novelist

Novelist

Liam Murray Bell who will be reading second novel,The Busker, published by Myriad in May 2014 and Scottish Book Trust 2014 Pick of the Year.

“A modern-day ballad set across three cities and two years, The Busker is a richly comic exposé of the music industry, the occupy movement, homelessness, squatting — and failing to live up to the name you (almost) share with your hero. It is also the story of what survives when the flimsy dreams of fame fall apart.”
www.liammurraybell.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singer, song writer.

Singer, song writer.

Paul Diello is a Brighton based singer songwriter and it is a real treat that he will be bringing his soul drenched songs to Have a Word Summer Special, singing songs from his second album, Looking Glass, including new double side single, (I am) a Voodoo Doll, reminiscent of Soft Cell’s Marc Almond in both sound an dark lyrics, with the flip side bringing Paul’s soulful sound to the Bronski Beat/Jimmy Somerville classic, Small Town Boy

www.pauldiello.com

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The Power of a Kiss

thSince time began the emotive power of a kiss has been well documented, from Judas’s betrayal kiss to Jesus, to the emotional pull of Rodin’s world famous sculpture, The Kiss. This simple show of affection continues to be extremely powerful when shared with the wider public, particularly if the kiss is between a couple of the same sex and even more so if the same sex are male. One just has to take a look at the furore caused by the chaste kiss between the two Eastender characters, Colin (Michael Cashman) and Barry (Gary Hailes). This gay kiss was a first for any UK soap opera and caused equal amounts of praise and homophobic abuse from fans of the show. The red top tabloids went into meltdown with headlines like Eastbenders. Since then all the major soaps have included gay characters, reflecting the majority of the public opinion that being gay and showing affection through a kiss is not something to be ashamed of. However, there is still a section of the community who are literally repulsed by the sight of two men kissing; rather predictably two lesbians kissing receives a more titillating response from the tabloids and the majority of those (mostly male) homophobic complainers. Most recently Eastenders introduced a new gay character’s, Danny Pennant and Johnny Carter (played by Gary Lucy and Sam Strike) and once again complaints from viewers came in, however, the amount of complaints was dramatically smaller to those received back in the 1980’s. What is interesting to note is there has apparently been no complaints from viewers of Hollyoaks when they aired there own gay storylines. This has been put down to Hollyoaks having a younger, and perhaps a more enlightened audience fan base. Away from the soaps, John Barrowman’s man on man kiss at the opening of the Commonwealth Games got many of the social media sites buzzing with many people congratulating organisers for including the kiss, which helped highlight the fact that gay marriage is illegal in 42 of the 53 commonwealth counties taking part in the games. Even The Mirror congratulated the games with their online page showing “14 more amazing gay and lesbian snogs” Of course there was the usual backlash from others who were so disgusted that they had turn the television off and go and sit in their shed and fume. Living in Brighton it is easy to forget that there is still so much prevalent homophobia across the UK, and worse anti-gay legisation in the other countries across the world. For this reason alone it is all the more important that high profile, out gay men like Barrowman, show the world the power of the kiss, giving hope to all those who fear to share this simple act of love. John Barrowman’s Commonwealth Kiss

 

 

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Positive Nation, World AIDS Day (2013) Piece.

Please click the link below for my piece for Positive Nation, World AIDS Day, 2013.

 

http://issuu.com/talentmedia/docs/winter2013/13?e=1363912/6713304

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What Do the BrightonWriter and Miley Cyrus Have in Common?

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Read this months Gscene column from the

BrightonWriter to find out…

http://issuu.com/gscene/docs/gscene_jan14 (page 49)

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Born on This Day: Joe Orton

Joe Orton

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On this day, John Kingsley Orton, (better known as the brilliant playwright, Joe Orton) was born in Leicestershire 1933 and at a meer thirty-four years old, would die a brutal death at the hands of his lover, Kenneth Hallliwell.

During his short life, Orton would write some of the most iconic and scandalous plays of their time, including, Entertaining Mr Sloan, Loot  and What the Butler Saw.

Orton’s plays broke the mould and dared to question authority figures, from policemen to middle class couples, twitching their nets. Although Orton’s work shocked, it also gave the theatre a much needed kick into reality. Entertaining Mr Sloan, Loot and What The Butler Saw, where all made into successful films too.

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As well as Orton’s plays having overtly gay overtones, at a time when homosexuality was illegal, Orton himself was open about his own sexuality, was a rampant cottager (seeking sex with other men in public toilets) as well as having a long standing relationship with Halliwell. Together they revelled in sticking two fingers up at established authorities; most famously when then defaced 72 library books in protest about the “endless rows of rubbish” at their local Islington library, in Essex Road. The two men managed to avoid being caught for some months. Such is Orton’s and Halliwell’s place in history, that the book where recreated at Islington Library in all their defacement back in 2011 and put on display.

Orton wrote about all of his exploites, highs an flows in his diary, which would also become the catalyst which would drive Halliway to bludgeon to death his lover with a hammer.

Although a tragic end to an extremely talented writer, Orton’s work continues to be as popular now as when it was written way back in the 60’s.

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If you have never explored his work, now is as good a time as any.

Entertaining Mr. Sloan trailer: http://youtu.be/Y0C7jgJnJfk

Loot, Trailer: http://youtu.be/oqOZz0te0Js

Joe Orton: The Orton Diaries. 

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Brighton: The Graphic Novel, Part Two

 

Th eBrighton Writer's story board

Th eBrighton Writer’s story boardQueenSpark Books: Graphic Novel. (A shameless post Christmas plug).

Brighton: a Graphic Novel is turning out to be one of QueenSpark Books best sellers of 2013 and looks to continue to do so as we enter 2014.PTDC0002

With this in mind, The Brighton Writer invites you to take another peep behind his involvement in the process along with the extremely talented artists, Emilie Majarian  and Collette Tarbuck.

Having interviewed the main drag artists David Raven, aka Maisie Trollette Dave Lynn and Stephen Richards aka Lola Lasagne (see previous blog)  The Brighton Writer set about interviewing other key players who would become part of the projects storyline.

As HIV and AIDS has had such a devastating effect on many of those within the LGBT community, The Brighton writer felt it important to include this era within the storyline. With this in mind, The Brighton writer got in touch with local artist/sculpture, Romany Mark Bruce, James Ledward (Gscene) and Paul Elgood (Rainbow Fund); who collectively enabled the development and construction of Brighton’s AIDS memorial. From their feedback The Brighton writer was able to find out that the AIDS memorial project faced a fair few hurdles, including protests that fundraising for the project would take away funds from other local HIV health care. This issue was quickly resolved by Paul Elgood and James Ledward’s reassurance that all fundraising for the AIDS memorial would be raised through individual and business private backers.) Romany also worked for two years on the project free of charge, allowing all funds raised to go towards the completion of the AIDS memorial project.

One of the other major problems Romany faced was having the 11ft clay structure collapse while he was working on it, forcing him to begin the project all over again. This storyline gave The Brighton Writer the perfect opportunity to combine the ‘Brighton Angels’ alongside Romany’s journey in the construction and unveiling of the AIDS memorial By David Furnish.

Part way through, the clay structure collapsed on top of Romany mark Bruce

Part way through, the clay structure collapsed on top of Romany mark Bruce

 

Romany Mark Bruce

 

The middle section of my storyline was used as a vehicle to not only to introduce some of the other well-known faces from the Brighton scene but also allowing me to promote some of the LGBT projects they have been involved in. The main bases of the storyline was to introduce James Ledward and The Golden Handbag Awards; a project that give the LGBT community an opportunity to celebrate individuals and groups achievements from the previous 12 months. Within the storyline I also included Stephanie Starlet, who had led the march for Stomp out Stigma campaign, as part of LGBT mental health group, MindOut. Unfortunately this piece of information hit the editing floor, so I have included it here.

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PTDC0037The other well-known face on the scene I included was Ant Howells; partly for his longstanding involvement with the Sussex Beacon fundraising/social group, Bear-Patrol, as well as his involvement with HIV groups like Act-Up who were an extremely important campaign group who helped bring the plight of those living with HIV/dying from AIDS.

Jason Sutton aka Miss Jason and Poo-la-May also appear allowing me to mention one of Brighton’s oldest and perhaps most infamous gay pubs, The Bulldog and Club Revenge; both venues would be instrumental in development of the Gay Village in Brighton as we know it today.

The final story from the trilogy tells the story of Brighton’s Hankie Quilt Project. At the time of researching varies ideas for the final tale, I was introduced to Maurice Mchale Parry, who along with Peter Moxom, revived the idea of the the Names Quilt Project, through the Hankie Quilt Project, inspired by the 25th anniversary of the Names Quilt Project. Both projects have great strength in their simplicity by inviting people who had lost friends, loveres, family members to AIDS, to sew their name onto a piece of fabric, which in turn made up a quilt of many names, memories and love.

 

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The piece couldn’t be finish without a mention of Brighton’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Pride. From a few of us gathering in Queens Park to protest about the Consecrative Parties legislation, Clause 28, which effectively stopped school teachers discussing homosexuality with their pupils, leaving many young LGBTQ people unsure about how they were feeling, and without any knowledge of who to turn to for help. Since then, Brighton Pride has become an extremely important date in many LGBTQ people’s diaries, not only as time to celebrate, but to also remember their are still many counties whose anti-LGBTQ laws are causing misery and oppression and that will always be the main driving force for the visibility of Brighton Pride as we all protest and celebrate and party on down for future generations to come who will in turn leave their own mark and become part of Brighton’s unique history. The final panel had originally been designed with a host of volunteer groups from the LGBT community being represented. It was with regret that this grand scene was also to hit the editing floor, but the prominence of the AIDS quilt, the main players and one of Brighton’s most iconic tourists attractions, The Royal Pavilion helped frame this important slice of Brighton’s history.Final splash page, all the main players come together.

 

 

 

 

One more thing, check out the brilliant animation from Angie Thomas, who has brought the whole project to life.

http://www.angiethomas.co.uk/portfolio/brighton-the-graphic-novel

queensparkbooks.org.uk

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Life is a Pantomime Old Chum.

Okay, first up I’m going to refrain from saying any of those well worn phrases from pantomime land  and just get on with the blog.

(reader’s voice) “Oh no you won’t”

Peter Pan Panto

Oh Yes I will!…Bugger!…..It’s that time of year again where men dress and women, women dress as men and someone warning that ‘It’s behind you”, nope not a regular Saturday night out in Brighton, but Pantomime season is upon us once again. With this in Mind, the Brighton Writer invites you to peep behind the curtain on a couple of the characters that have become two of the mainstays in pantomimes, the Dame and the Fairy Godmother (in a variety of guises) and to see where they are playing over the next few weeks across the South.

 

Every year there is reports of the decline of the pantomime. This year is no different with reports suggesting there is a decline in women taking on the role of the principle boy. In reality, pantomime has always been an evolving production, adjusting to the trends and fads of the day, but always keeping an eye on the traditions of pantomime, including: gender swaps, good battering evil and a rapturous group sing-a-long at the end of the show. Although some characters may come and go, for now the two cornerstones of this years show are the Fairy Godmother and Dame.

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There is nothing like a dame, and in particular a pantomime dame. For years the pantomime dame, played mainly by a man, has been a dominate figure, maximising the role through outrageous dresses, extravagant expressions of emotions along with having some of the best lines in the show. When you learn that before the pantomime dame, the main role was taken by the harlequin and then the clown, such attributes make perfect sense that they should be the show stealers. However, the other main character vying for our attention in many of this years pantomimes is the fairy princess, (which traditionally is played by a woman) whose main weapon of mass “look at me look at me”, comes down to her super sweet attitude,  a heart bigger than a shed load of care bears and customs so glittery that even Sindy would get glitter envy, Hey! What’s not to like?

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These main characters continues dominate many pantomimes as there role is to act as the glue for the whole production, standing as they do between the goodies and the baddies and are given equal pegging in this years round upon pantomimes on show throughout out the south coast in the coming weeks.

This year we have a fair few familiar favourites popping up, including the most well known dame in panto-land, Widow Twankey, in Shoreham-by-Sea’s production of Aladdin. This particular dame first hit the stage in Convent Garden’s 1813 under the name Widow Ching Mustapha. Gradually the name evolved into the more familiar Widow Twanky, which itself comes from the Chinese province of Tuan Ky (or Twan Kay). her original role was as a taylor, but that role changed to a washer woman, given the charter lots of scope to get a bit messy with soap and suds, and one made popular in the past by many including, Les Dawson, Danny La Rue and John Iman.

Worthing are rolling out the Pantomime favourite, Jack and the Beanstalk, where the traditional dame is John Imna as widow twangynamed, Dame Trot. way back when this dame was known as Dame Durden, Mrs Simpson and even Mrs Halleybutt, but in most productions the name Dame Trot is the one most used. Now, there are times when you think, do I really need to know this, but here goes. The word trot comes from the 18th-century slang word for vagina, which somehow or other then got turned to mean ‘old hag’. Don’t have a go at me, i’m just reporting the historical facts.

Close to the knuckle humour has always been part of the pantomime, allowing the adults to get into the fun, while such naughtiness goes over their siblings head. That is unless you are going to Brighton’s alternative pantomime, Cock Robin and his Very Merry Men, produced by the brilliant Brian Ralfe, (who has been producing Brighton’s Alternative Panto for the past 11 years), while Andrew Stark returns to writing/producer duties in this years pant. The other great thing about this particual production is you get Maid Marion played by Lee Tracy, a nurse (Phil Harlequeen) and Wesley Sebastian in the duel role of Fairy godmother and fortune teller. If you think you have grown out of pantomimes, this is one to get you back in the mood.


1476584_10202845181760777_155006876_nElsewhere, Cinderella is playing in both Crawley, Working and Brighton. Crawley has Stephen Mulhern dominating all of the publicity, with little said about the supporting cast, and Working has the brilliant Dave Lynn and Miss Jason as the ugly sisters, while the Brighton’s version which, unusual for pantomimes, has a near all female cast in their production of Cinderella. In this production, as in the original Brother Grimm tale of the same name, it is the fairy godmother who steps into the role of the pantomime dame, although early pantomimes of Cinderella only had the wicked step mother and not the now traditional ugly sisters in place. According to Peter Lathan’s book, “It’s Behind You, The Story of Panto” the (un-ugly) sisters made their first appearance in Rossini’s opera, Le Cenerentola (1817) under the names Clorinda and Tisbe. Since then they have been a mainstay in the Cinderella story and are always known to the cast and crew as “The Uglies” with topical names of the time, which in the past have included, Pearl and Dean (1970’s cinema fans will get that one), Posh and Scary (girl power!) and most recently the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury has caused outrage by having their ugly sisters named, Beatrice and Eugenie… I wonder if those sisters will be wearing ‘that’ fascinator?

Cinderella, Brighton

Back to the Brighton production at the Emporium their ugly sisters are names the less contentious names, Init and Thou (which the Brighton Writer rather likes!). Lucy Bundy, better known on the Brighton Fridge scene as Fake Bush, appears (in a flash of glitter perhaps?) as the Fairy Godmother at the Emporium, Brighton, Charlie Dimmock is appearing at the Worthing Theatre production of Jack and the Beanstalk as Fairy Organic (What is the betting that get’s mispronounced before the pantomime season is over?) Meanwhile over in Hastings, Sheila Reid, (aka ‘Madge’ in the ITV sitcom Benidorm), stars as Fairy Bowbells in the White Rock Theatre’s pantomime, Dick Whittington.

So there you have it. In no time it will be 2014 and before you know it, it will be pantomime time all over again.
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“Oh no it won’t!”
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