Interview with Andrew Solomon

26 06 2014

far_from_the_treeLaura MacDougall speaks to Andrew Solomon, author of the best-selling and award-winning tree ‘Far from the Tree’. The book is subtitled: Parents, children and the search for identity. In the book Andrew looks at the identity of exceptional children and includes two chapters of memoirs at the beginning and the end. Andrew recalls that an assignment about the deaf community for the New York Times was the beginning of ‘Far from the Tree’. He also explains the difference between horizontal and vertical identities and describes the criteria that made him include certain groups such as the deaf community. They also talk about the nature versus nurture debate and the risks that might occur when developments in medicine could potentially eradicate some of these communities. Andrew also reveals that his next project will be a book about new concepts of parenthood.

Click here to listen to the whole interview

Listen again: 24th June 2014

25 06 2014

Love GameRosie introduces Laura MacDougall‘s interview with Andrew Solomon, author of ‘Far from the Tree’. The book won last year’s Green Carnation Prize and portrays how parents deal with their children who have a different identity to their own. Andrew recalls how he came to write ‘Far from the Tree’ and explains the difference between horizontal and vertical identities. He also describes the criteria that made him include certain groups such as the deaf community. His next project will be a book about new concepts of parenthood.

Elizabeth Wilson presents her book ‘Love Game’, which looks at the history of tennis from Victorian times until today and reveals its subversiveness. Elizabeth first played tennis as a child and was later interested in the sport within the context of the feminist movement in the 1970s. She points out that the book should have rather been called ‘A Queer History of Tennis’ and that tennis was once regarded as a ‘sissy game’. She and Rosie also discuss the BBC 4 documentary ‘The Legend of Billy Jean King’ within the Storyville strand. On Thursday 26th June, Elizabeth reads from ‘Love Game’ at the bookshop ‘Gay’s the Word’.

Musician Janette Mason offers us an insight into her album ‘D’Ranged’, which we featured on the show when it was still in the making. Janette tells us how she chose the songs. She says that some were taken from a previous commitment at Pizza Express, for which she had rearranged well-known titles such as David Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’. She also remembers what it was like in the recording studio and that David McAlmont had suggested the track ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ on which he features. ‘D’Ranged’ is released on 4th August and until then Janette can be heard live at the Hideway in Streatham from 26th to 28th June as well as every Sunday in July at the same venue.

Choreographer Phil Aiden and Theatre Manager Andrew Beckett talk about the musical comedy ‘Bathhouse – The Musical’. It tells the story of Billy who visits the bathhouse for the first time. While he’s looking for love, he discovers that others pursuit something else… Phil and Andrew explain that the musical originated as a song cycle and has already been extended because of its popularity. Together with Rosie they also find out that female saunas are much different – very quiet, for instance. ‘Bathhouse – the Musical’ is directed by Tim McArthur and runs at the Above the Stag Theatre from 18th June to 9th August.

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For rights reasons the music is not on the podcast, but that’s what you could hear on the show:

1) Hercules & Love Affair: ‘I Try to Talk to You’ from the album “The Feast of the Broken Heart”

2) Heidrick: ‘Maria’s Donkey’

3) Janette Mason: ‘You Do Something To Me’ from the album “D’Ranged”

4) Janette Mason: ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ from the album “D’Ranged”

5) Janette Mason: ‘Ashes to Ashes’ from the album “D’Ranged”

Listen again: 17th June 2014

19 06 2014

Moomins Show Image PressRosie welcomes Robyn Exton, founder of lesbian dating app Dattch, which was produced in 2012 in the UK and has recently been launched in the US. Robyn explains that Dattch was designed by women for women. When developing the app, her team thought about what makes one woman want to message another. Different to other apps it is based on the Pinterest model and ensures a safe environment for its users. There’s also an option to connect with women on a basis of a friendship rather to find a partner.

Ruth Calkin gives an insight into the new musical puppetry show ‘Moominsummer Madness’, in which she plays Moominmama. Ruth reveals that she has been a fan of the Moomins since she was a child and shares how she got involved in the project. She and Rosie also discuss the unconventional life of Moomin-creator Tove Jansson. ‘Moominsummer Madness’ coincides with the 100th anniversary of  Tove Jansson and runs at the Polka Theatre from 11th June to 16th August.

Author Clare Lydon presents her novel ‘London Calling’. Set in modern-day London, it follows the story of 32-year-old Jess Sharp, whose life is in pieces when she meets her true love. Clare points out that the book is not autobiographical although she knows people like her central character. However, she says that the book is the result of a change in her life when she was made redundant and used the money to finish ‘London Calling’, which she was working on already. Clare also talks about the process of self-publishing and the support she received from her friends.

Click here to listen again

For rights reasons the music is not on the podcast, but that’s what you could hear on the show:

1)  Amanda Rheaume: ‘The Strongest Heart’ from the album “Keep a Fire”

2) Andrew M Pisanu: ‘How Do You Feel About Forever’ from the album “Collecting Diseases”

3)  Owen Pallett: ‘I’m Not Afraid’ from the album “In Conflict”

4)  Janette Mason: ‘I Wish’ from the album “D’Ranged”

Polari Magazine becomes media partner of Queer’Say

18 06 2014

-1 Polari Magazine is now media partner of Queer’Say. For Polari, Laura Macdougall offers a series of articles about the popularity of spoken word, spoken word performers and Queer’Say. Her first article is ‘Speaking Words’.

The next Queer’Say performances will be presented on 4th July and 2nd October 2014 at the Canada Water Culture Space.

On 4th July the performers are Jasmine Ann Cooray, Nick Field and Cat Brogan. Tickets can be booked here.

On 2nd October Aoife Mannix, Jack Rooke and Anna Kahn share the stage. Tickets can be booked here.

Both Queer’Say events can be booked for £15 total using the code ‘APPLES’.

Listen again: 10th June 2014

12 06 2014
Matt Tedford's comedy musical  'Margaret Thatcher - Queen of Soho'

Matt Tedford’s comedy musical
‘Margaret Thatcher – Queen of Soho’

Rosie chats to performer Matt Tedford, whose drag comedy musical ‘Margaret Thatcher – Queen of Soho’ presents the former prime minister as a cabaret superstar in 1980s Soho. Matt tells us that the play was commissioned by Theatre 503 when Thatcher died and he wrote it with Jon Brittain as an alternative history as to what would have happened, if Thatcher had been more gay friendly. He also shares that he did the costume himself, where the bra was a special matter… ‘Margaret Thatcher – Queen of Soho’ is part of the Edinburgh Fringe and runs from 31st July to 24th August.

Helene Maloigne from Dyke March London gives us details of what can be expected at this year’s event, which aims at raising lesbian visibility and celebrates lesbian identity. She points out that everybody is welcome and she and Rosie discuss the word ‘dyke’ and the disappearance of ‘women-only’ spaces. On 21st June, the 3rd Dyke March London starts near Hyde Park Corner and ends in Soho Square. The afterparty takes place at the Bar Titania.

Artist Nick Field talks about his recent show ‘Adventure/Misadventure’ and his involvement with ‘Queer’Say’. Nick reveals that his poetry is drawn from personal experience and he recites two poems for us in the studio. One is about a love affair without a happy ending and the other is inspired by him being part of the ‘radical fairy movement’ as he explains. ‘Queer’Say’ at the Canada Water Culture Space on 4th July. (This Queer’Say event, together with one on 2nd October can be booked for £15 total using the code ‘APPLES’).

Click here to listen again

For rights reasons the music is not on the podcast, but that’s what you could hear on the show:

1)    Erasure: ‘A Little Respect’ from the album “The Innocents”

2)    David Bowie: ‘Heroes’ from the album “Heroes”

3)    Nick Field: ‘Nine to Five’ from the show “Adventure / Misadventure”

4)    Heather Peace: ‘We Can Change’ from the album “The Thin Line”

‘David Bowie Is’ in Berlin

10 06 2014
Without Title, 1978, Linocut David Bowie © The David Bowie Archive

Without Title, 1978, Linocut
David Bowie
© The David Bowie Archive

The acclaimed V&A exhibition ‘David Bowie Is’ temporarily set up home in Berlin at the Martin-Gropius-Bau.

In London, it made its visitors gasp in sheer awe of it. The article ‘Planet Bowie’ captured my impressions and I now had the privilege of seeing it again, especially because of its extended Berlin section. I remember well how puzzled I was by the small space it was given in London considering the significance, which is attributed to this time in the context of Bowie’s overall work. The albums ‘Low’, ‘Heroes’ and ‘Lodger’ are a product of the years 1976 to 1978 that he spent in Berlin.

Now, it must be quite a challenge for those involved to adapt this huge exhibition conceived for the Victoria and Albert Museum to a new space, particularly since it can be regarded as a piece of art in itself, which resembles an immense and intrinsic installation. Costumes, costumes, costumes, hand-written lyrics and various bits that inspired Bowie to his art. The rooms are smaller here and it slightly loses its theatricality. Also, there is less music. However, there are new things to discover in the two Berlin rooms towards the end: paintings, oil paintings to be precise in an expressionistic style made by Bowie. Two of them show Iggy Pop, with whom he came to Berlin in 1976 to detox from his drugged life in Los Angeles. Through the audio guide he can be heard saying: “When I came to Europe, I wanted to stop thinking about music and performance. I did something I hadn’t done for a long time, which was to paint, which helped me back into music.” The image ‘Berlin Landscape With J.O.’ (James Osterberg, alias Iggy Pop) is particularly powerful. It shows a pensive man, probably not the way many people see him. Another surprise is the lino cut (see image) made during the filming of ‘Just a Gigolo’ in 1978. It perfectly combines Bowie’s interest in Weimar Berlin, (‘Just a Gigolo’ is set in 1920s Berlin), with his passion for German Expressionism, which prevailed in the previous decades. The Brücke Museum featuring German Expressionism was one of his favourite places. I wonder how many Bowie fans have seen these images before, because it is not the first time they are on display.

But it is not only the city’s past that drew him to Berlin. Its present with music makers such as Tangerine Dream attracted him too. Like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream made electronic music and in a way hinted at the future. Again, it is typical for David Bowie to be at the forefront of musical development.

Berlin Section of 'David Bowie Is' in Berlin  © Avantgarde, photo: Thomas Bruns

Berlin Section of ‘David Bowie Is’ in Berlin
© Avantgarde, Photo: Thomas Bruns

Besides being artistically inspired by the past and the future, he engages very much with the present. He hangs out at the clubs SO36, Chez Romy and the Dschungel, which he refers to in the song ‘Where Are We Now’ on his latest album ‘The Next Day’. The song is a love letter to the city, but to those who know the city also to a time gone by. Berlin in 1977 has little to do with the reality of 2014. There’s no Dschungel, no Chez Romy. The SO36 made it through Berlin’s turbulent past. The photo of Chez Romy was provided by Romy Haag, the owner of the club with whom Bowie was very close – much to the dismay Angie Bowie to whom he was still married at the time. She was not alone: Bowie’s promoters weren’t happy either about this liaison, although for slightly different reasons.

There’s a small note from Christopher Isherwood, whom Bowie met in Los Angeles. Bowie had read Isherwood’s classic ‘Goodbye to Berlin’ and Isherwood’s memories were another reason for him to come to Berlin to experience the city himself. Again, taking the time shift between late 1920s and late 1970s into account, there’s another link that bridges these eras: Marlene Dietrich. She lived 1920s Berlin to the full before she emigrated to the US and in 1978 she was part of the film ‘Just a Gigolo’. An exchange of letters between them is on display. These gems were discovered in the Marlene archive, the Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin. David Bowie was keen to meet her, but since she shot her scenes in Paris, where she lived, and he shot his in Berlin, they never met.

'David Bowie Is' at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin Photo: Sabine Schereck

‘David Bowie Is’ at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
Photo: Sabine Schereck

The exhibition also takes a look at Bowie’s brief visit to the city in 1987 when he performed a concert at the Reichstag alongside other stars such as Eurythmics and Genesis to celebrate the city’s 750th anniversary. Its importance lies in the fact that it was close to the wall and attracted young people from East Berlin to listen from eastern side of the wall. During the course of the three-day-long concert, they asked for the wall to be torn down with the result that the police violently put an end to their demands.

The Berlin section is a joint effort between the V&A curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, who created the exhibition in the first place, and Christine Heidemann, the curator of the new Berlin section. The exhibition was made possible thanks to Broakes and Marsh’s access to The Bowie Archive, which was revisited for the extension. 60 items have been added to the retrospective.

These two rooms are like a time capsule and offer a glimpse of Bowie the person, and his life during that time, as opposed to Bowie the artist, which is pre-dominant in the other parts of the exhibition.

It goes beyond the albums ‘Low’, ‘Heroes’, ‘Lodger’, which are known as the Berlin Trilogy and are always referred to when it comes to Berlin. Yet, it is only Heroes, which was completely recorded at the Hansa Studios in Berlin. Not to forget: Iggy Pop’s albums ‘The Idiot’ and ‘Lust for Life’, which Bowie produced, were also recorded there during that time. Interestingly, the Hansa Studios are only a short stroll away from the Martin-Gropius-Bau, where the exhibition runs until 10th August 2014.

Afterwards the exhibition tours to Chicago (20 September 2014 to January 2015), Paris (2 March to 31 May 2015) and Groningen in the Netherlands (15 December 2015 to 15 March 2016).

By Sabine Schereck

Listen again: 3rd June 2014

6 06 2014
Collage of press cuttings and photo from the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive Images: LAGNA

Collage of press cuttings and photo from the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive
Images: LAGNA

Rosie speaks to culture reporter Laura Macdougall about the film ‘Concussion’ by Stacie Passon. It tells the story of a lesbian, whose unfulfilled relationship to her wife led her to become a prostitute for other women. Laura enjoyed the film but questions its credibility and felt that critical moments such as the discovery of her unfaithfulness by her wife lacked in drama. Concussion was part of this year’s Flare Film Festival and is now released in cinemas in the UK. Besides this film, Laura also recommends two books, one of them is Sarah Water‘s new novel ‘The Paying Guests’, which will be out in September.

On the phone from Berlin, tour guide Brendan Nash tells us about the altered David Bowie exhibition ‘David Bowie is…’ from the V&A, which is currently in Berlin. Brendan was impressed by the level of detail of the exhibition as well as the audio guide, which is different to the ones commonly used in museums. Here it picks up the sound automatically from various sections of the exhibition. He points out that Weimar Berlin played an important role for Bowie and gives us an insight into the Berlin section, which has been extended due to Bowie’s strong relationship to that city. It shows how he was influenced by expressionistic paintings there and includes oil paintings by him, photographs and a correspondence between him and Christopher Isherwood as well as Marlene Dietrich with whom he worked on the film ‘Just a Gigolo’. ‘David Bowie is…’ is at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin until 10th August 2014.

Writer Thomas Hescott presents his new project ‘Outings’, a devised piece about coming out. Thomas explains that this project was a result of his previous piece ‘The Act’, which dealt with the Sexual Offences Act from 1967. ‘Outings’ looks at coming out stories from different eras as well as countries around the world. They also include stories from the public, which can still be submitted on the website of the project. He and Rosie also discuss the relationship to one’s parents when coming out and the matter of being made to come out which can put people’s lives at risk. He highlights the change from a political statement to a social one. ‘Outings’ is at the Edinburgh Fringe from 30th July to 25th August.

Library Manager Stefan Dickers offers an insight into the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive (LAGNA), a national archive of press cuttings, campaigning material and other resources relating to LGBT communities. Stefan reveals that the collection of press cutting began in the 1970s, although some cuttings go back to the 1930s. These cuttings are all taken from the straight press and he highlights that it can be quite tricky to find them as in 1950s the word ‘gay’ would not have been used and the LGBT context would only be implied. LAGNA is housed at the Bishopsgate Institute and also offers talks, the next one is ‘Keep it Clean: Lesbian and Gay Characters in British Soap Operas’ on 21st June.

Click here to listen again

For rights reasons the music is not on the podcast, but that’s what you could hear on the show:

1) David Bowie: ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ from the album “Hunky Dory”

2) David Bowie: ‘Life on Mars?’ from the album “Hunky Dory”

3) I Break Horses: ‘Weigh True Words’ from the album “Chiaroscuro”

4) Nils Frahm: ‘Hammers’ from the album “Spaces”

5) David Bowie: ‘Changes’ from the album “Hunky Dory”


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