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

Brighton

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.

Posted on by admin in Brighton, Brighton & Hove, Brighton and Hove Libraries, Gay, QueenSpark Books Leave a comment

Remembering the importance of the play/Film: The Boys in the Band.

I couldn’t care less what people do, as long as they don’t do it in public or try and force their ways on the whole dam world.

Alan, The Boys in the Band.

The comment above was taken from the 1968 play, The Boys in the Band. To put the era in perspective, the play was conceived a year before the Stonewall Riots in New York and a year after the passing of the The Sexual Offences Act 1967 in the UK which decriminalised homosexuality.

 

While interviewing a group of older gay men for an upcoming project by QueenSpark Books and this year’s Brighton; ‘City Reads’ My Policeman by Bethan Roberts, I was reminded of just how difficult it was for gay men to be open about their sexuality outside of the their homes or the gay bars that were hidden from public view, during the 1950’s/60’s. The play and film Boys in the Band was ground breaking as it gave gay men an unapologetic view about the lives they led, the men they loved to a wider audience outside the gay ghetto.

 

Although the play garnered favourable reviews, when the film was released two years later the Gay Liberation Movement that had formed after the Stonewall Riots, were extremely critical of the characters in The Boys in the Band. Rather surprisingly the GLM thought the characters where little more than stereotypes that did nothing to help the ‘gay cause ’. These comments went some way in helping bury the film, until it was revived again in 1996. One New York reviewer wrote, “ It’s okay to like Boys in the Band Once more”.

So what about the play and film? What were its origins? How did it all begin?

 

Mart Crowley found himself on hard times, to the point that he had to rent out his own apartment to survive. At the same time Crowley got a call from his actress friend, Diana Lynn who said she needed someone to house-sit her Mansion in Beverley Hills. Crowley snapped up her offer and found himself surrounded by luxury, but without a penny to his name. It was here that he put pen to paper and began to write the ground breaking play, The Boys in the Band.

Back in 1968 Homosexuality was still a taboo subject and many of Crowley’s friends said he was crazy for even thinking he could get a play about nine men, eight of whom were out as gay, ever produced, let alone find an audience at the time who would even care about these characters.

Unperturbed, Crowley finished the draft and asked around about getting help to get the project off the ground and asked his friend Natalie Wood who was married at the time to British producer Richard Gregson. Gregson in turn set up a meeting with an associate from his company, London International, in New York, who promptly said that they couldn’t possibly send that type ofplay out with their letterhead on it. Crowley response was to ask if they had heard of Richard Barr who had recently produced the Broadway production of, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. When the response was, ‘Of course’, Crowely said that perhaps Barr wouldn’t be afraid of his script that also tackled some heavy subjects. The agent duly sent the script and a meeting was organised the next day for Crowley to meet with Barr.

 

From this meeting nine actors where gathered, (with most of them losing their agents who believed that the actors would be tainted by acting in a play predominantly about gay men’s relationships). A workshop was put together, off, off Broadway and ran for five nights. Every night was a sell-out with the one hundred seat theatre being packed out by an all male gay audience. Encouraged by the positive response Crowley and the producers took a gamble and raised the funds needed to take the play to a bigger theatre and audience. The play ran, off Broadway for a very successful one thousand and one performances.  Despite the cries from all the doubters, the play quickly became the hot ticket in town with major celebrities of the time, including Jackie Kennedy, Groucho Marks, Marlene Dietrich and Carol Channing all coming to see the show.

To everyone’s amazment the play moved from New York to London and was then translated and played to packed audiences around the world. The cast included: Emory (Cliff Gorman), the effeminate interior designer, Michael (Kenneth Nelson) the lapsed Roman Catholic, alcoholic, Larry (Keith Prentice), and Hank (Laurence Luckinbill) a couple who disagree over the importance of monogamy, the morose, and at the same time acid tongued queen Harold (Leonard Frey), who’s birthday everybody is celebrating, as well as Donald (Frederick Combs), Bernard(Reuben Greene)  and the young, dumb, prostitute cowboy, Tex,(Robert La Tourneaux) who becomes the butt of everybody’s jokes, and finally, Alan (Peter White) who may or may not be gay. With the passing of time each of these characters are still recognisable not because they are stereotypes, but because they represent a part of human nature that exists in many of us today, regardless of sexuality or gender. 

 

The Boys in the Band went on to be made into a film, using the same Broadway cast which Crowley (who produced and wrote the film) insisted was part of the deal, even though it meant he lost out on more lucrative deals from film companies who wanted to hire more well known actors for the parts.

Crowley was also keen for Robert Moore, who had directed the play to be part of teh production, but was told that a more experienced directed was required.

William Friedkin (who went on to direct the French Connection) was brought on board and helped create a brilliant film that begins with so much light and laughter and then gradually descends into a much darker piece as truth, pain and heartache is brought to the fore.

Forty-four years have passed since the play was first shown, yet the message of love, friendship, secrets and lies are as strong today as they were back then, but perhaps more importantly the films historical and political place and the fact it opened the doors to Queer Theater should not be underestimated. http://youtu.be/zOakue0MiZs

A new production of The Boys in the Band is presently playing at Brighton’s Theater Royal, staring amoung others, Dave Lynn, Stephen Richards and Jason Sutton. a review of the show can be read at blog.zhooshbrighton.co.uk

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David Raven, AKA Maisie Trollette.

Brighton publishing group, QueenSpark Books’ latest project is a graphic novel based on the history of Brighton and Hove and the people who have helped put the city on the map. My story revolves around David Raven (Maisie Trollette), Dave Lynn (Dave Lynn) and Stephen Richards (Lola Lasagne) as Brighton Angels; (think 1970’s Charlie’s Angels, but with bigger hair and a hell of lot more make up). The script takes the reader through three different tales of the city, which will be brought to life by graphic artist, Emilie Rose, more of which to follow. In the meantime I’d like to shine a spot light on the three protagonists, first up, David Raven.

Read more

Posted on by admin in Brighton & Hove, LGBT, QueenSpark Books 6 Comments

Sequential Art: From Bosch to the Beano.

At the beginning of 2012 QueenSpark Books ran a competition (Alt Brighton) asking writers to send in a short story based around Brighton’s history; from the hundreds of entries, thirteen stories were picked to be developed into a graphic novel later in 2013. My own story, Dead Famous was one those chosen, but during the first meeting I opted to develop a new story centred around some of the key moments in Brighton’s LGBT history, more of that later. As part of my research I have looked into the history of sequential art.

Part one: in the beginning…. Read more

Posted on by admin in Brighton & Hove, Fiction & Books, Gothic horror, Leisure, LGBT, Literature, QueenSpark Books Leave a comment

Brighton: A City to Visit, a Place to Call Home

From the moment Prince Regent drew up plans for his infamous weekend palace, The Royal Pavilion, and it’s surrounding gardenin the heart of Brighton, the city has gained itself a known as the place to go for a cheeky weekend away. However, since its promotion from a town to a city, its reputation as the place you must visit has lifted the city of Brighton above all other UK cities with many a tourists realising there is more to this little city then a stick of rock and a stroll along the prom. In fact a recent survey showed that a whopping 94% of Brighton residents live in a happy home, which reflects just what a great place Brighton is to live.

So what makes Brighton such a special place? For the people who live in Brighton and the vast amount of tourists alike, when it comes to shopping Brighton has the whole range covered. For the traditionalist, there’s Church Hill Square, and Western Road for a whole range of popular high street brands; but don’t be fooled into thinking that Brighton is just another identikit city, far from it. Just like the little islands that populate Venice, one just has to take a step to left or a jump to the right and suddenly you find yourself surrounded in a very different place. For example, there are Brighton’s famous lanes, a part of town that what many people regard as ‘the soul of the city’.

Here you will find narrow winding alleyways, with the old fisherman cottages turned into an array of outstanding quirky shops, selling everything from souvenir shops, military related paraphernalia, traditional and alternative jewellery to suit every taste. Mingled around are also a host of pubs and eateries for every occasions, from a quick bite and pint to something a little more special. Across the road there are even more to discover in the North Laine, where pop art, vintage clothes, and the alternative theatre, Komedia, merge into the legendary Kensington Gardens were everything and anything can be found; from herbal remedies, vintage clothes as well as a multitude of hidden gems under the roof of Snooper’s Paradise.

But perhaps the most important aspect of Brighton City has always been the way it welcomes everybody, regardless of race, creed, religion or sexual orientation. For those who come and visit Brighton they quickly realise there is something special going on 365 days a year covering all bases. From the Brighton festival, children’s parade, LGBT pride, traditional, alternative and street theatres, famous bands, up and coming bands and food fares galore. And unlike many a seaside town that closes when winter sets in, Brighton still has a few surprises. From the ‘ghost’ and ‘infamous murders’ walks, World Book Night, winter solstice Burning of the Clocks and there’s now even a Zombie March so even the undead don’t feel left out from this very special city we call Brighton.

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Fiction & Books, Flash Blogs, Gothic horror, Leisure, LGBT, Literature, Outdoors, Plants and Gardens, QueenSpark Books, Zhoosh 2 Comments

Gays Gone By….

When Madonna sang “Time goes by, so slowly” she really wasn’t telling the truth. Time flies by, but within that time there are hundreds of special Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender moments that we have all captured on an electronic device or even on an old Box Brownie (ask you your elders to explain that one). From club night, beach days, Pride and World AIDS day there are so many memories that the good people at QueenSpark Books would like you to share with the rest of the world. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Leisure, LGBT, QueenSpark Books, Zhoosh Leave a comment

QueenSpark Books

Brighton is famed for being unconventional with its melting pot of people of all ages, backgrounds, faiths and sexualities, reflected back to us through the various mix of architecture, tourists attractions and shops. Brighton has long been known as a place to nurture new talent, explore new ideas and allow people to express who they are. Another Brighton trait is for its residents to stand up and be counted when it matters. One such group did that way back in 1972 when those living in the Queens Park area ran a campaign to stop developers turning the Royal Spa Buildings into a Casino and into a nursery school instead. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Fiction & Books, Leisure, QueenSpark Books Leave a comment

Brighton Ourstory: The lavender Lounge.

Brighton Ourstory: The lavender Lounge. How bona it was to take a troll into town last Friday night to the Lavender Lounge and varda all those fantabulosa omi-polones and natter to a host of gorgeous dykes, glammed up trannies and bona Bi’s… Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Human Rights, Leisure, LGBT, QueenSpark Books, Zhoosh Leave a comment

A Single Man: Another Dead Gay Lover Film:

A Single Man: Another Dead Gay Lover Film:

My partner persuaded me to see A Single Man. For a review of how wonderful the film is, please follow this link: asingleman-movie.com. You see, I walked out after fifteen minutes.  The reason? I’d like to see/ hear something positively gay in the main stream for a change. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Fiction & Books, film, Leisure, Literature, QueenSpark Books, Zhoosh Leave a comment