ScotsGay Magazine

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Issue 23 __________________________________________________

CONTENTS:

Editorial - prudes & promises
News - reports & investigations
Otton On... - summertime... and the living is sleazy!
Ogg's View - queer street or Compton Street?
International - news from around the world
Reviews - books & festive & film
Music - Joy DJ Alan's latest chart
ScotsDyke - interviewing the Well Oiled Sisters

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John Hein

EDITORIAL

It has not been an encouraging couple of months in the Garden of Gay Liberation.

As we forecast, their Lordships caused our NewLabour government to cave in over 16 without a whimper. Which rather shows just how strongly New Labour are committed to equality as opposed to imposing fees on students.

The NewLabour Home Secretary Jack Straw has promised another vote in the next parliamentary session with a commitment to using the Parliament Act to force things through the Lords. However, in the meantime, he refuses to do what the Tories did in Scotland years ago: to instruct the law officers not to bring prosecutions involving consenting 16 and 17 year olds as such prosecutions would not be in the public interest.

It's a good thing that his son only had a bit of blow rather than blowing a sixteen year old!

The recent Lambeth Conference showed the deeply caring side of the Anglican Communion. Let's not kid ourselves that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland would be any better. And I think we all know by now exactly where the Catholic Pope stands.

On a lighter note, we can watch with some amusement Billy `Liar' Clinton trying to extricate himself from a self inflicted situation. Serves him bloody well right! The sanctimonious old prude has finally been caught with his trousers well and truly down. And thanks for your help over Gays in the Military and Gay Marriages.

What, of course, we'd all like to know is: Not whether the President inhaled, but whether Monica swallowed!

Meanwhile, the American and British public continue to swallow everything they're thrown.

Roll on our own Scottish Parliament where at least the bigots will be OUR bigots.

John Hein

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ScotsGay Logo

NEWS

BIGGER, BOUNCIER, BEEFIER!

Cruise Magazine In our mission to bring you the best community based magazine for lesbians, gays and bisexuals, we at ScotsGay are pleased to announce that, from this issue onwards, we will be combining with Cruise Magazine to bring you a single beefier publication. Under the ScotsGay/InsideOUT banner, we are now including several of the most popular columns from Cruise which will run alongside our usual fare. In effect we will be offering our readers the best lgb publication in Scotland.

As you can see, we have already increased the number of pages in the magazine and have introduced more colour internally. Over the next few months, we will be looking at further ways in which we can improve ScotsGay/InsideOUT: Scotland's only lgb publication run on a non-profit basis and produced by lesbians, gays and bisexuals for our own community.

Unlike other titles who print such large numbers that the scaffies struggle to carry the unwanted piles away a month later, we have always printed a more realistic number of copies which are snapped up quickly by our eager readers. From this month, thanks to the support of our advertisers, there will be a further thousand copies of ScotsGay/InsideOUT available every month free of charge in pubs, clubs and other venues. ScotsGay will of course continue to be distributed every two months through selected newsagents and booksellers.

ScotsGay remains the only Scottish lgb title which takes the Internet seriously - the entire magazine is available both on the World Wide Web at http://www.scotsgay.co.uk/ or in text only format by E-mail (send a `subscribe scotsgay-list' message to listserver@drink.demon.co.uk). We are also pleased to supply copies on computer disc to visually impaired readers who do not have Internet access.

If you would like to help by writing for (or otherwise contributing to) ScotsGay, please contact us by phone on 0131-539 0666, Fax on 0131-539 2999, E-mail: editorial@scotsgay.co.uk or snail-mail: PO Box 666, Edinburgh. EH7 5YW.

PRIDE LOSES ITS WAY IN LONDON

After the debacle of the postponement and subsequent cancellation of the pay-per-view Pride festival in London this year, things seem to be getting worse rather than better in London Pride land.

A closed meeting of "interested parties" on 17th July, which included people such as the Pink Paper and Gay Times, as well as the Pride 98 March Advisory Committee and the lobbying group Stonewall, has decided to let the nation decide the future of the event. Well, to a certain extent anyway.

The march group, rebranding itself as the Pride March Committee (PMC), has taken control of next year's march, but appears not to want anybody to take control of the festival until we've all filled in our questionaires. Naturally, it's the commercial interests of the Pink Paper and Gay Times who are drawing up, collecting and interpreting the questionnaires on our behalf. And the losers here seem to be the team trying to secure Hyde Park for a Europride event in 1999, an event which has been in planning since 1996. This is doubly depressing, since the opportunity to have Pride London in Hyde Park will not occur again until after the millennium. Perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise. The agenda for the so called "friendly discussion" in July included propsals for a "Pride Foundation" to regulate Pride, headed by a £30,000 Chief Executive, and had as its final point "Who here would like to work together to shape Pride next year?" Very accountable!

It seems that the lessons of 1998, clear though they seem to many of us, are lost on the chosen few; rather than embracing an open, voluntary structure as proposed by those who wish to organise Europride in Hyde Park, the PMC wants to work with Kelvin Sollis of the Pink Paper. Sollis, who recently sacked a reporter and junior reporter after they published an article supportive of the Europride bid, is quoted as saying that if anyone organised a Pride without his support "they did so at their own risk". He is, however, being unusually reticent on one point - the fact that he was financially involved in Pride Events UK (PEUK), the company which was set up to make a profit out of Pride 1998, and failed so spectacularly.

No doubt many of the deals being brokered in the smoke-filled rooms of London have the aim of producing a successful Pride event for the whole community. But we have already seen what happens when the festival is organised *for* rather than *by* the community. PEUK's attitude towards the bisexual and transgendered communities was woeful, and if commercial interests again dominate in 1999 we can't expect much improvement on this or many other important issues.

So why should this interest us here in Scotland, with our own successful Pride event which is run on a voluntary, open and accountable basis? Well, let's not forget that only two years ago the same could be said of London. There is always a huge amount of pressure on Pride organisers to go "bigger and better" each year; already our community-led festival, held this year in Glasgow, costs upwards of £60,000 a year to put on. Do we want it to get any bigger? Is bigger really better? Are we prepared to take the consequences?

In London there is still hope: an open meeting is planned for early September, which one hopes will allow everyone to be heard and will reach some sensible conclusions as to how the event can proceed. Unfortunately, for the time being, there is a danger that what we read in the UK's "national lesbian and gay newspaper" may not be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You have been warned...

Duncan Hothersall

[Duncan (Doogie) Hothersall was formerly Chair of Pride Scotland. He is no longer involved in Pride events of any kind. He now lives in Surrey with his wife and two children. Not!]

CAN'T HELP SINGING

On Wednesday 2nd September The Glasgow Gay Men's Chorus will have their relaunch party in the Polo Lounge starting at 7:30. The Chorus, which has sung at Gay related events and "straight" concerts for the past few years has finished their summer break and will be starting rehersals for shows towards the end of the year including a World AIDS day event and their famous Christmas Carol Concerts.

Said Ross Wright, their Chairman, "We're looking forward to welcoming back all the old faces and new ones will be welcome too. There aren't any auditions and you don't even need to read music . All you need is to like to sing and to enjoy a good social night out once a week." So whether you are a training tenor, a budding George Michael or a Karaoke King, get yourself along to the Polo on the 2nd. If you want to find out more call Ross on 0802 627 344 or E-mail: ross350@compuserve.com

GLASGAY! WORKSHOPS

If you are Interested in filming, photography or writing then Glasgay! 98 is the festival for you. Glasgay! 98 is being held from Friday 30 October to Sunday 8 November 1998 in venues in and around Glasgow and includes theatre, film. galleries, discos, discussions and parties.

A major part of Glasgay! 98 are the three community based projects - Little Pink Pictures, Generations of Space and a creative writing course and for each we are looking for participants.

In conjunction with Glasgow Film and Video Workshop, "Little Pink Pictures" is a project which allows individuals to have "hands on" experience of making a short film. Participants would be trained in the planning, filming and editing required to make a short piece on any subject they see fit, culminating in a public performance of their work. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone who is interested in obtaining practical experience in film.

"Generations of Space" is a unique and exciting photography and multimedia exhibition which will capture the changing nature of gay and lesbian space across Glasgow from the 1950s to the 1990s. We are looking for participants to photograph spaces which have a particular meaning to them. Dianne Barry, documentary film maker and photographer will facilitate a series of workshops, enabling people to learn new skills or improve old ones.

Glasgay! 98 is delighted to have secured authors Emma Donahue and Julia Darling to hold workshops designed to develop the skills of anyone who is interested in creative writing. With two separate workshops, one for the complete novice and the other for the more experienced writer, this is an exciting chance to work with and learn from two of the foremost writers in the gay and lesbian literary scone.

We expect there to be a considerable demand for all of the workshops and it may be necessary to limit the places available. For more information on any of these events you can contact Glasgay! on 0141-400 0301 or at the Glasgow Gay and Lesbian Centre, 11 Dixon Street Glasgow.

YES PLEASE!

After four successful nights, Edinburgh's monthly fetish/BDSM night Permission has found a warm place in the hearts of perverts of all sexualities in the Capital. Japanese rope bondage and new uses for clingfilm and duct tape have been demonstrated to an enthusiastic audience while others danced to the industrial, alternative, punk and goth sounds.

Imaginative and beautiful costumes have breathed life into the varied dress code, spanning leather, rubber, PVC, uniform, industrial, fetish, cross-dress, corsetry, lingerie, futuristic, or just impressive (but no Nazi regalia). The venue includes changing space and space to dance as well as to play, and some bondage furniture and toys will be available in a quieter and better lit part of the club. At 4 pounds (or 3 with flyer) it's also markedly less expensive than many fetish events.

Permission will henceforth be on the second Sunday of each month at Shady Lady's (the lower floor of the Rockin' Horse, entrance in Cowgate) from 11pm `till 3am, with a happy hour until midnight.

Permission's web pages are up at http://www.hedonism.demon.co.uk/permission/ or you can mail them at permission@
hedonism.demon.co.uk

THREE NOT OUT!

Thurday 16 July 1998 marked the third anniversary of the Metropolitan Community Church congregation in Edinburgh.

In June 1995, two MCC clergy visited Edinburgh to take part in the first Pride Scotland march and festival. They organised a worship service and made some contacts.

A month later, a meeting was held of those interested which resulted in their first worship service being held on Sunday 16 July. They have worshipped together ever since.

Holy Trinity MCC Edinburgh now worships weekly and has been blessed by many talented and committed individuals who are keen to further the Church's ministry in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, a Scots cleric, the Rev James Gough McManus, has resigned all credentials and membership of the MCC and is expected to appear for trial at Middlesbrough Crown Court in October in connection with alleged fraud involving his former AIDS/HIV work. McManus has recently started his own church, Liberty and Peace, in Brighton which meets at the Unitarian Chapel.

ELLIPTICAL BALLS

Annan Rugby Club have been nursing their egos after a photograph of their team in the bath was posted on the Internet to advertise a soft porn site. The site has now been removed.

CENTRE

The long running saga of Edinburgh Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Centre's sale by OUTRIGHT Scotland to the charity set up to run it seems to be drawing to a close after a meeting with lawyers for both sides. It's hoped that the transfer will take place within the next month.

FILTH

Gay Men's Health in Edinburgh have published the latest edition of their grubby and perverted magazine Spurt! Copies are available, whilst stocks last, in Edinburgh bars and from GMH at 10a Union Street.

FIFE

Fife Friend are holding a Gangster and Molls birthday party and disco on September 6th to celebrate their 9th birthday. Details from Fife Friend or write to: Mr S Ross, PO Box 19, Kirkcaldy. KY1 3JF.

WRIST BANDS

Admission wrist-bands for the Manchester Mardi Gras will be on sale from Clone Zone in Glasgow. The event is expected to be as big as ever with over 300,000 visitors expected over the weekend.

CABARAIDS

AIDS/HIV charity Crusaid is holding a cabaret benefit on Monday 24th August at the Palladium, Broughton Place, Edinburgh. Compere is Scott Capurro and the line up includes Tony Hawks, Ed Byrne, Rabbi Lionel Blue, Hazel O'Connor, Mika and Kit and the Widow.

DIVINE

Women Only Club Divine Devas are having an extra night at Teviot Row House on 27th August as part of the Edinburgh International Club Festival.

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Garry Otton

OTTON ON...

SUMMERTIME... AND THE LIVING IS SLEAZY!

(A History of Outdoor Sex In and Around Glasgow)

Garry Otton continues to rootle about in the bushes, get steamy in the saunas, cavort in the cottages and generally investigate public sex in Glasgow...

KELVINGROVE PARK

One of the most extraordinary responses from Glasgow City Councils to the issue of men seeking contact with other men "in public" is to trim back the bushes to help to make what might be private, more public. In Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow's most notorious "gay haunt," (as the press like to refer to it), cutting back the bushes forces gays to move to another area of the park. Alan, a guest on BBC Radio Scotland's Speakeasy said how he had been attacked four times in Kelvingrove Park. "The attitudes and the moral backlash I got from the police was as bad as the attack itself." Another caller, Stephen, said after being attacked in Kelvingrove Park, all the police appeared to want to know was what he was doing there. They took no action, and left him with the impression that it was entirely his own fault. Not long before this, Robert Jarvis, Chief Superintendent of Strathclyde Police told The Herald: "We are not aware of an identified problem of gay people being assaulted." Police now regularly cruise the park at night in pairs, warning cruising gays of queerbashers. Unfortunately, the police never catch them, but plenty of gay men I spoke to bore a horrible testimony to their presence.

CATHKIN BRAES

A mix of heath and woodland, this is probably the most beautiful of all of Glasgow's gay cruising areas. With panoramic views over Glasgow, it is also one of the most discreet. At night, men cruise up and down in their cars, pulling in at any one of the numerous lay-bys. There is sometimes a coded display of flashing lights at night to signal intent but not much else. John, a middle-aged gay man told me: "In summer, men cruise the braes with occasional disturbances from youths from nearby Castlemilk. No one calls the police. The police sometimes pull up and wait before questioning you when you return to your car. They can be quite aggressive. They want to know everything. What you're doing here. Where you live and where you work..."

STRATHCLYDE PARK

With its close proximity to a fairground and the working class towns of Motherwell and Hamilton, this can be a dangerous place for gay men to meet. Last year, reports of youths ambushing cars were reported in the gay press. James, a middle-aged man told me: "I received 25 stitches to my head after I was beaten up. He ran off with my watch, which was worth about £20. I was too afraid to go to the police and told my family I'd been involved in a car accident." Gays tend to pull in at the car park furthest from the fair and walk down a gravel path leading into a beautifully shaded, wooded area. Where the paths cross, regulars sometimes stop and talk, exchanging gossip about recent conquests. Park wardens sometimes trudge through the undergrowth and plain-clothes police pull into the car park. "In a white Renault," one cruiser advised me. Local councillors earned certain notoriety last year when they refused the distribution of condoms. Many of the men who would have benefited do not identify themselves as gay. They have no access to dedicated safer sex information apart from the `out' gay men they meet cruising. On London's Hampstead Heath, condoms are available from glow-in-the-dark boxes attached to trees and TV and cabaret star Amy Lamé has even entertained late-night cruisers from a temporary stage.

QUEEN'S PARK

The slopes on the south side of the city offer panoramic views over the whole of the city. It can be very popular with gays, laying in the grass on hot summer afternoons. It hardly seems possible that this has been the scene of some of the most vicious attacks and murders of gay men. On the night of 2nd June 1995, a gang of three boys, aged between 18 and 20, and a 14-year-old girl went on a queerbashing rampage. The boys cracked the skull of one and critically injured another before jumping on 35-year-old Michael Doran. He received 83 blows to his body. They stabbed him several times in the groin, stamped on his face until they had broken every bone in his head. They left him in the bushes, choking to death in his own blood. With their clothes still bloodstained, they joined their friends at a nearby party and bragged about what they had done. The last man to be hanged in Scotland at Barlinnie prison was convicted of a similar murder that occurred in the sixties in Queen's Park. Following the press attention to Queen's Park as a gay cruising area after Michael Doran's murder, the number of men cruising almost doubled.

BACKROOMS (PUBS)

Now commonplace in London, pub backrooms, where sex takes place safely, is now spreading to major cities across the UK. It occurred for a short while at the Newtown Bar in Edinburgh until moral policing put paid to the practice. No backroom bars exist yet in Glasgow.

SAUNAS

The spread of gay bathhouses in London, (there are 11 and more are planned), including the £2 million investments into Chariots recreating the hedonistic atmosphere of Ancient Greece has been felt in Glasgow. There are now two, the Centurion and The Lane. The Calder Street baths was once the most popular venue for sauna-going men, despite heavy moral policing. Tom, an old regular here told me, "sex might happen sometimes in the toilets, but otherwise it's virtually non-existent. Furtive, quick and ultimately unsatisfying." Some men-only bathhouses try to scupper sexual negotiation by insisting on the unhealthy practice of wearing swimwear in the sauna.

COTTAGES

Cottages have been struggling to offer gay men a place of refuge for sexual negotiation since Victorian times. They are often at their busiest when straight-identified men call in on the way home from work, referred to in some circles as `happy hour.' Rude-boy graffiti has kept everyone aware of sexual diversity through the worst of two centuries of sexual repression. And it's not over yet. The common assumption is that toilets are for urination. Many are, but for the majority of straight men, the odd doorway or privet hedge better serves their needs. Amsterdam knows this. That's why for the 200,000 people attending this year's Queen's birthday party, the city set up bell-shaped urinals for men to piss up against in full view of the public. Cottages like the ones in St Vincent Street are more popular with male sex workers these days, but usefully serve as a place for men to make contact with other men under the pretext of relieving themselves. Moral policing can be performed with the aid of hidden cameras, routine surveillance or employing a full-time cleaner to peep behind a set of net curtains. In today's moral climate we are fed the mistaken assumption that cottaging is the pursuit of dirty old men. In fact, cottaging is a practice often started in early teens. The fact older men appear more visible is also a symptom of sexual repression. They have started the process of `coming out' much later, so appear to outnumber younger people; they are not likely to risk labelling themselves by walking into a gay bar and are at greater risk of arrest and the inevitable higher profile. In Stirling, police filmed a 13-year-old rent boy having sex with a number of older men before they rounded up the older men and prosecuted them. Older men as victims of the laws of "lewd and libidinous behaviour" are rarely offered sympathetic treatment when thrown into the public arena, and this resulted in two suicides. In 1916, the Bishop of London described the young rent boys around London's Piccadilly, the first stop for thousands of gay Scots fleeing sexual repression during the seventies. "They are the villain more mischievous than German spies who lie in wait to stain the chivalry of our boys, poison their minds and undermine their characters… Shooting is not good enough for them."

© Garry Otton 1996

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Derek Ogg

OGG'S VIEW

NOT SO MUCH QUEER STREET AS COMPTON STREET

Channel Four's current `Queer Street` series (all-night after Tales of the City on Saturday night) is typical of its broad-minded commitment to programming for minority interests and it deserves to be congratulated for the varied, even radical, nature of some of the content. Just as creditable is its financial backing of both `Tales' series, especially the second, `More Tales' which continues the Armistead Maupin saga in spite of the withdrawal of US. major networks from the project after boycott threats by the religious right.

Who'd imagine such obvious attempts at censorship by right wing Christians could happen here? I wouldn't have, until that is, last month's Lambeth Bishops conference, which saw the coming together (if that's the right expression) of the worlds Anglican bishops in a ten-yearly policy-fest. What was billed as an opportunity to get approval for the idea of the Church accepting homosexual love as valid and decent, unexpectedly was highjacked by right wingers from the US allied to fundamentalists from African and Asian branches of the Church. Not only did they refuse even to allow gay clergy to address their meeting (as planned) but they then approved a right wing motion damning all homosexual love (as in sex) as `sin'.

Such a huge reversal for the gay Christian movement underscores my warning in the previous edition of the danger of a backlash against gay rights and gay lifestyles unless a new energy and direction is given to our campaigning.

So what's the connection to Queer Street, I hear you ask? Well the thing about programming for minorities is that the majority can, and surprisingly often, do, tune in as well. So what? Think about it. The output of Queer Street inasmuch as it is about British gays, is actually about London gays, with London salaries and London night life and that unique confidence and invulnerability that being young, good looking and gay in London brings (oh, and the odd `E' into the bargain). That in turn means that those documentaries offer a very skewed and if I may say so, smug view of what being gay in Britain today is all about. That in turn pisses off the straight viewers no end. So stuff them, let them watch their naff sexist programmes and quiz shows, surely this is our space to do in what ever the hell we want? Yes, but up to a point. Either we begin to think politically or we end up forever being puzzled by why sensible nice folk (like your mum and dad) hate us all so much. Thinking politically means targeting some of that programming to the crossover, eavesdropping straight audience. Unconvinced? A while back I took part in the BBC documentary It's Not Unusual. It was screened on BBC2 on a Sunday about 7p.m. I was amazed at the number of straights that watched it, and more to the point so were the Beeb! It turned out to be one of their highest audience Sunday documentaries.

So what's the problem with the current London centred programming? It irritates not just straights but a lot of gays too. No wonder straights think we're a whinging bunch of arty farty pretty boys with more Armani than sense when you look at who speaks for us in those documentaries. It's hard to see where the rights and equality sympathy, or more importantly empathy, is going to come from when gay lifestyles look so, well, fin de siecle f. I wouldn't mind seeing instead some gays from Chester, or Bradford or Dundee talk about what the daily grind is like against callous homophobia, naff clubs and local councils that harass your cruising areas and put you bottom of the housing list.

Even Michaelangelo Singnorile's polemic about gay monogamy, set in London of course, only interviewed London residents, all young, all in fabulous flats and clothes, all talking about monogamy in the context of there being "so many gorgeous guys its like being in a sweet shop" as one guy put it. Oh yeah, like that's the problem with monogamy in Paisley?

The problem with my argument is that it supposes there is one great gay producer in chief who controls all these things, or even one gay activist committee that reads this type of article. There ain't, which is why its up to us to either get out there and actually make the programmes we want, or at least moan to the Channels that commission such well-meaning stuff.

Here's an idea for our home grown activists. Why not a Scottish Broadcasting Bill that enshrines minority access to our local radio and TV stations and then some entertaining, informative, punchy, thought provoking and above all propagandist Scottish gay TV? I want to show us off to straights, in all our diverse, charming decent, funny, put upon and done-down glory. I want gay TV to promote, yes, promote homosexuality as valid, life-enhancing, different (and not so different) but above all a worthy aspect of humanity in this little country of ours. And if you think that's just pandering too much to the straights let me ask you two questions; 1) when was the last time you watched gay TV and you felt a straight friend would now understand you better if they'd seen it too? 2) when was the last time you watched gay TV and felt better about your own gay identity, or even recognised it being represented in the programme? Thought not. So ultimately a little propaganda won't just go a long way in solving our continuing political problems, it might even help with some of our own self esteem and self image problems too.

Derek Ogg

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Rex Wockner (woof!)

INTERNATIONAL

by Rex Wockner

250,000 AT GAY GAMES V

Fifteen thousand participants from 88 countries and more than 250,000 partiers flooded Amsterdam in early August for Gay Games V.

Speaking to 35,000 people at the closing ceremonies at Arena Stadium, Operations Director Niek van der Spek said: "Most important are the experiences of the participants: the woman from Vanuatu, an island where only three women know each other's secret, or the Zimbabwean soccer player and all others who in daily life fear to be out and open about their identity. They all shared for eight days sports and culture, parties and celebration. The friendship they expressed, walking hand-in-hand in an open, accepting city, is what Gay Games is about.

"The international gay and lesbian community has shown its diversity and has been very visible," van der Spek said. "Visibility gives inspiration, breaks down stereotypes, leads to respect, gives us a place in this world and, in the end, will change laws."

Forty-two percent of participants were women and 238 came from non-Western nations. The 29 sports events, 14 artistic workshops, two marching bands and 32 gay choirs filled 56 venues across Amsterdam. Sixty-two employees and 3,042 volunteers kept the massive program running.

Peter Prijdekker from London's Out To Swim broke European Master records in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle for his age category (50-54). More than 100 meet records, national Master records and gay records were broken in swimming and track and field.

The opening ceremonies were viewed on live TV by 1 million Dutch. More than 1,000 media representatives covered the Games, including from such unexpected places as Argentina, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Hungary, Poland and Turkey.

There were a few sour notes. The ice-skating competition was cancelled because of disagreements with the International Skating Union. Several tour operators reported problems with hotel bookings. And as the Games began, the board of directors fired the executive director for financial mismanagement. The Amsterdam City Council came to the rescue with a $2.5 million bailout so the Games would not be disrupted.

FIJI BANS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST GAYS

The new constitution of the South Pacific nation of Fiji bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported last week.

The sexual-orientation clause has raised the hackles of some politicians and church leaders, who say it will increase homosexuality and permit gay marriages. The Methodist Church and the Fiji Council of Churches petitioned Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka to overturn the measure.

Rabuka responded by asking the attorney general to try to amend the clause out of the constitution via action in the Parliamentary Committee on Consequential Legislation.

South Africa is the only other nation that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation via its constitution.

NEW ZEALAND

A Hamilton, New Zealand, lesbian who had three children via artificial insemination while with her ex-lover will receive child-support payments from the woman, the city's Family Court has ruled. The court said the payments are appropriate since the partner is the children's legal step-parent.

VENEZUELA

The head of Caracas, Venezuela's Metropolitan Police has defamed gays. After 11 male students were arrested for marching naked to protest plans to begin charging tuition at universities, Chief Francisco Belisario said: "It is not proper behavior for men to show themselves in the nude before the public. It is more something identified with homosexuals, transsexuals and sexual deviants." The men could be jailed for up to a month on indecency charges. They marched nude because the institution of tuition "will strip bare the educational system."

CANADA

A journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Edmonton, Alberta, won spousal benefits for his lover recently in a ruling by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Lionel Jones. "It's a great victory," said Denis-Martin Chabot, who first filed an arbitration grievance over the matter in 1994. The ruling seemingly removes any doubt that an employer can withhold gay-partner benefits when union agreements ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, activists said.

COSTA RICA

In the U.S., American Airlines is a frequent sponsor and supporter of gay events. But Costa Rica's Pink Triangle Association (PTA) says the airline won't give the group the time of day. "The manager here in San Jose, Rodrigo Troyo, has never returned our phone calls or responded to our [faxed] requests to meet with him," said Pink Triangle Executive Director Francisco Madrigal. "This behavior gives the impression that American Airlines in Costa Rica is homophobic."

Troyo did fax PTA suggesting they contact American's head office in Dallas. "We sent a fax to Dallas and left messages but have never received a response," said Madrigal. "We would like some help from the office here in San Jose as international calls are expensive for us."

ITALY

Italy's biggest Roman Catholic magazine polled Catholics in hopes of finding they disapprove of gay-partnership laws but learned that 72 percent of Italian Catholics believe non-married couples deserve spousal rights. The magazine, Famiglia Cristiana, was less than enthralled with the result. "We are facing a very real breakdown of reason," the editors wrote. "There are not and cannot be couples, and consequently families, that are real and proper outside the marriage between a man and a woman." The national gay group Arcigay called the findings "revolutionary" and demanded a referendum to enact a spousal-rights law for non-married couples. The survey was conducted by the SWG polling agency, querying 800 people.

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ScotsGay Logo

REVIEWS


b o o k s

Queens' Country
By Paul Burston

Paul Burston has always been a purveyor of classily intelligent gay commentary and in this latest book, he does not disappoint. The book is a Brysonesque travelogue that attempts to explore the different flavours of gay experience throughout Britain; from gay Young Conservatives in Derbyshire to the plastic insularity of the London scene by way of stops such as Essex and Edinburgh. The book is definitely Queens' Country; lesbians play a very peripheral role (and seemingly a lot of pool!). However, on the basis that a travel writer should write about what they personally experience, this is understandable. In short, this book is clearly a rallying cry against an obsession with "gorgeous pop, handsome boyz and good times" to the exclusion of the real. It's also very funny. I say read it.

PS. He even has a few good words to say about ScotsGay. Not that we'd let that influence us. Oh no.

Simon James


f e s t i v e

Dick at The Graffiti

One way to survive the Festival for three weeks is to gather together the things you'd like to see at one or several nearby venues. Monday last I saw five of at the Graffiti, ranging from very good to great. First came Mike Hatchard, the very talented jazz pianist in the graveyard slot for what is essentially an evening act - a small but select audience loved him. Next came the extraordinary Herbie Flowers who made £15,000 out of Clive Dunn's Grandad and once accompanied the New Seekers in front of an audience of two in Dubai. Herbie had Mike Hatchard on piano and gave a great set enjoyed by 25 or 30. After enjoying 15-1 and Countdown, it was back for the Sony Award's Jazz Singer of the Year - the amazing Tina May who has the vocal range of Cleo Laine, stunning words and was also accompanied by the ubiquitous Mr Hatchard and Herbie. I then joined fifty or sixty enthusiastic souls for Flamenco Puro Al Andaluza which I think means pure flamenco from Andalucia. Lots of rhythmic wiggling and well-toned and honed bodies with one female and several males in the group. Breathtaking. And then... Fado the Portuguese ballad form sung by the stunning Cristina Branco. Wonderful is an understatement. I could easily spend the whole festival at this venue. They also have some great East European stuff which I have yet to see. Take a look for yourself! All above except Fado run until 31/08; Fado ends 22/08.

Richard Wilson


Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group - Trial By Jury
Bunbury & Co - The Zoo

An interesting production of Trial By Jury set in modern times. A shame that the Tenor didn't do himself (or the production) justice. However, the ensemble singing was tolerable and the Counsel for the Plaintiff (Petrea Cooney) superb. On the other hand, The Zoo, a rarely performed romantic musical folly set between the refreshment stall and the bear pit, was superb throughout in what, despite Bunbury & Co's protestations, amounted to a professional performance under the capable musical direction of Moray Nairn. And make sure that the bears don't steal your buns!

John Hein


Icon Theatre Company
Icon

When I think of Scarborough I think of a resort that for years was boycotted by trade unions and other bodies because of its attitude towards gays. More recently it has got a reputation as a place where the council is more interested in looking at toilets than looking at theatre. In short, it is the last place from where one would expect good theatre to emerge, but it has. It became clear on entering the theatre that this was not going to be a tame performance, as the music was pounding and the actors led the audience to their seats and handed out programmes. As we started reading them so did the actors, looking over people's shoulders. It was soon apparent that this was one performance space and we were part of the performance. And what a performance it was with actors on stage (and everywhere else), video, film, music, and text projected onto the back of the stage. All too often one sees companies who think that technology can be used as a substitute for talent. It can't. What Icon do is show just what can be achieved when people with talent use the technology to the full to provide truly innovative theatre. Even more surprising is that this performance which could put many a professional company to shame is by a student company. Theatre to blow the mind.

ARTTS International
Bi Now,Pay Later

I had some problems with the basic concept of this, which is a man is at the reception desk in purgatory and can't get through the bureaucracy because of his sexuality. However this idea is no sillier that some of the rubbish the world's major religions would like us to believe. The story concerns Michael (David Mildon) who cannot be processed by either the heterosexual or homosexual departments because he is bisexual, and the essential theme is that we should not try to pigeon hole people because of their sexual orientation. The silliness of the story got in the way for me, but there is good acting, particularly by Alex Woodhall who plays a sort of human computer (it works better on stage than in print), and the direction is good and well thought out to make excellent use of the limited space.

Venue 13
Saturday Night Forever

This superb play by Roger Williams tells the story of Lee, the men in his life and his relations with his parents. Lee lives in Europe's fastest growing capital city (Cardiff) and unlike his partner does not have the dance gene in his DNA, which makes the club scene difficult for him. With much humour and a fair deal of tragedy we have a first rate show one often searches so hard to find on the Fringe.

Carolyn Cohagen
No Spleen

Every now and then on the Fringe one needs a break from all the serious stuff, to take time out and have a good laugh. Carolyn Cohagen is someone who can admirably facilitate this. With a show that concentrates on ill health and taking the piss out of the more demented religious freaks we have the perfect way to end a day.

Jo Parkes & Company
Ant Infestation and other Female Concerns

A silly title but superb dance. Split into 8 separate dances and with considerable use of voice this young company excel with a witty and thoroughly enjoyable mix of movement styles.

The Laboratory Ripe

Three women on stage or under a sheet talking or moving about fruit. A man in the audience started eating an apple. It was about as interesting as the things on stage. Luckily this show only lasted 24 minutes. The venue staff seemed surprised that anyone turned up to see the show and looked embarrassed when letting us in. I can well understand why. Rubbish.

Trestle Theatre
Beggars Belief

If one were to draw up a short list of the finest theatre companies in Britain today there is no doubt that Trestle would be on it. They don't disappoint. As usual the characters wear masks, the difference is there is a lot of dialogue. However this is Trestle and as this play was developed with Kherson Theatre of the Ukraine who speak no English and Trestle speak no Russian, the dialogue is in a made up language. Amazingly it works. The story is based on a painting by Breugel showing blind beggars who put on puppet shows and tells of how they came to be blind, and how they live their lives. Who but Trestle could take this material and turn it into comedy? But turn it they do with their usual superb skill and fine sets. 90 minutes of the finest entertainment you will see in Edinburgh.

Pantomime Productions
Chloe Poems is Kinky

The gingham diva is back or is she? This wonderfully witty and original show starts off with Chloe who has had to shed her gay, socialist, transvestite poet image as it just isn't selling tickets. If, like me, you are at a show where there are more empty seats than full ones this works rather well. After a couple of deliberately dreadful alter egos we are back to the Chloe of old. Only Chloe has matured, the gags are better, the poems funnier, and the whole show has a more polished feel. Subjects such as the Vegetarian Vampire of Old Dudley Town show Chloe at her demented best. The tribute to Princess Di (Crash Bang Wallop What a Picture) was too respectful for my liking, but it was clear that we were in for an outrageous end with "I Want to be Fucked by Jesus". Only we weren't, instead we got a poignant tale about a confused gay teenage alter boy who takes the message "Jesus loves you" all too literally. However if it was controversy that was wanted we got it in "I Want to be Fucked by Jesus II". A poem that would have Cllr Moira Knox turning in her grave, which is where she would be after the heart attack she would undoubtedly have if she saw the show.

Clare Summerskill
What Lesbians Do on Stage

What lesbians do on stage if Clare Summerskill is anything to judge by, is entertain wonderfully. With a surprisingly mixed audience I laughed throughout and it was clear that there were some jokes that went well over my head. Particularly good was the lesbian shop sketch based on a car showroom, but the whole show was well put together and was just the thing to round off the night. Wonderful.

Tim Bray
Me and My Vice

Tim Bray is a gay man from New Zealand. What is his vice? I think it is chocolate. This is a show with a series of well thought out, well crafted, and well performed sketches. The problem is that most of them were not very funny.

OUThouse Theatre Company
Contracts

There are shows that as you go into the theatre you go "Wow". This was one of them. This collaborative work by 17 young gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered members of Stonewall Youth Project had clearly given a lot of thought to the way into Theatre Workshop with someone dying in a hospital bed right in front of you before you reach your seat. As you do reach your seat projected onto a huge screen are actors talking about love. Can they keep up this high standard for 90 minutes? Frankly, no. According to the programme "`Contracts' is a view of what it is to be a gay teenager in Scotland". This appears to mean that you become HIV positive and die. Is this the central message they wanted to convey? Clearly not, and there was much that was admirable in the play. I particularly liked the intelligent use of video in the scene where Luke (Chico Kumar) comes out to his parents. There are also some fine songs by Jake Tatton, unfortunately I can't be quite as positive about the quality of some of the singing. So does it work? On balance, just, and for good use of space it can't be faulted.

1157 Performance Group
Transmission - Part 1

This was certainly different. A 15 minute introduction to the rules by the moderator. 5 people seated round a table, one in a wheelchair for no apparent reason. A woman with a blender at another table blending fruit and veg into a drink during the show. She would occasionally utter a single word. The rules: a statement about AIDS was made, a gun fired, and the panel had 4 minutes to discuss it. Then the audience had 1 minute to comment, then the panel had 1 minute to respond to the audience comments. There was then some music and usually inane dancing by some of the panel before we moved onto the next statement. Could it have worked? Yes. The panel deliberately gave out some controversial ideas and all were presented with equal legitimacy. Given a large audience with a broad cross section of views this could have been fascinating. Did it work? No. There was an audience of 6. One guy responded to the first question and I commented on his reply. This unfortunately shut him up for the rest of the show. All other audience participation consisted of me or another guy feeling that we had to say something about each question and as we didn't disagree about much, this didn't help. I'm told Part 2 is far more conventional and more interesting.

Broken Dream Theatre Company
I Can't Even Think Straight.

I saw this two years ago and was impressed by the quality of Gavin Armstrong's writing. Having seen it once I was reluctant to see it again, but was told it had been significantly reworked and had my arm twisted. The basic story is still the same, Steve who is looking for a guy places a lonely hearts advert which is misunderstood by TC, a woman who replies. Two years ago this was a brilliant play, now additionally it is a work of comic genius with a laugh at almost every line. See it if you possibly can.

Fecund Theatre
Fascinations from the Crowd

At first I thought this was not going to work. Various short scenes featuring assorted individuals with nothing in common but all in their own way with what to them is a sensible lifestyle given their likes and level of income. Then we get to the interesting bit, these people do not live in isolation, they coexist in cities; in the streets, on trains, in shops, in hospitals. Meeting other people as students, workers, lovers. Encountering people of the same or different sexual orientation, in pubs, in clubs, everywhere. Exploring how these interrelationships come together to give much of the chaos and insanity of modern society is what this show is about, and it does it brilliantly. I'm not in the habit of leaving a performance and shouting "sensational" at the first member of the theatre staff I see. I did after this show.

Oxford New Writing Festival
The Square Root of Minus One

This new play by Peter Morris is about 4 sixth formers at an American boarding school . (I didn't think American schools had "sixth forms".) Two of them are bullies who befriend a brilliant mathematician, Dewis (Samual R Crane), but the object of their bullying and SM desires is Wiggins (Dom Treadwell-Collins). Witggins has the hots for Dewis and a confused sexual relationship develops between them. As a result of this he is unable to tell the teachers about the torture Wiggins is being subjected to. The square root of -1 comes into this because Dewis is having problems rationalising what is happening in his life and how rules should be followed, and the parallels he is finding in mathematics where irrational numbers which don't follow rules can still be used. To be honest, I had great difficulties with the scene where a wimp like Dewis stands up to the headmaster (I thought US schools had Principals), but the acting was fine, there were a few good jokes in the script that the entire audience got immediately, and I'm not sure whether it was down to the quality of the writing or the acting but after one scene between a teacher and a pupil where there was nothing overtly sexual I heard someone in the next row whispering to their companion "I reckon he's a poof". Clearly this company are getting a lot right.

Artcore Kvetch

When this started and I saw all the actors with painted faces I thought "Oh no, this is going to be dreadful". It wasn't. This play by Stephen Berkoff cleverly interposes what a group of people are actually saying and what they are really thinking. Most of the action takes place at a dinner where a man who does not get on with his wife or her mother invites a friend from work back for the evening. Rich in humour and with truly memorable sex scenes.

Tooth and Nails Theatre Company
King of the Halls: A Rags to Drag Story

I really had no idea what I was letting myself in for with this one. Two women lying on stage throwing coins into a hat. This looked frighteningly like the worst of student drama. The opening words of "Fuck, wrong play" proved it was not, but this had been a superb piss take of it. This was comedy dressed up as a story about a Victorian music hall male impersonator written by Alison Yates and performed by her and Claire Mace. Yates has quite an exceptional comic writing ability. I particularly liked the way that when one of them went to prison we heard Holloway FM prison radio. The politically incorrect "Street Cries of London 79" which featured the screams of one of Jack the Ripper's victims being murdered was a comic gem, and there were many more. A thoroughly enjoyable 50 minutes.

Martin Powell


Scott Capurro
Brain Soufflé
Pleasance Over the Road Two
August 5th to 31st

Scott's tongue must have been firmly inside his cheek (or some other part of someone else's anatomy) when promoting his latest Fringe outing as being "fun for the whole family"! This excellent play, penned by the irrepressible cutie from San Fran, tells the woeful tale of Tom, a southern Baptist, alcoholic and closeted comedian. Managing to cover the extremes of gay angst with Scott's usual razor-sharp humour, the play also develops into a very dark tale of obsession, sado-masochism and eventually death. On the way we are treated to some hilarious one-liners and frighteningly realistic observations into everyday gay life. Oh yeah, and a couple of really deliciously disgusting gags as well. After last year's slightly disappointing stand-up routine, Scott is right back on faultless form with this year's sit-down-meets-theatre hybrid. And for those in the audience who perhaps hadn't consulted the show's flyer before-hand, the twist at the end is well worth waiting for!

"From Hell She Came"
Pleasance Over the Road
August 6th to 31st (not 11th, 25th)

This devilishly good, black comedy is part fairy-tale, part musical and part '50s B-movie. It's all gloriously OTT stuff, as we witness small-town Charleston Falls descend into a hotbed of devil-worship and promiscuity. Pious and protective mother Demelza Clegg, played brilliantly by prolific stage, radio and TV actor James Biddlecombe, succumbs to the forces of evil after a stranger sets up shop in town. The stranger is, in fact, the devil-in-disguise, determined to seek revenge for Demelza's refusal, 18 years back, to sacrifice her newborn daughter. The character of Frances Clegg, also played by a male actor, Edward Bryant, discovers her true sexuality when a female agent comes to investigate the strange goings-on. But she's not the only bender in town as we gradually discover a little more about Grip Kennedy, the "butt-fucking-closet-case" local cop. From Hell She Came is a fast-paced, wickedly funny piece of theatre, featuring physical performances from all cast members, some pretty slick set-changes and plenty of hamming-it-up campness. No surprise then that it comes to the Fringe following a sell-out season at London's Freedom Theatre. A definite festival must-see.

Donna Jackson in
"Car Maintenance, Explosives and Love (CMXL)"
Pleasance Two
August 7th to 31st

If a feisty female in dirty overalls, explosions and rock'n'roll are your particular scene (and even if they're not) then check out this off-beat production from down under. Donna Jackson is not your average Kwik-Fit fitter, more of a loose spark-plug, as she throws herself around the stage, climbs ropes in frustration and dispenses advice on relationships and love, through the language and culture of car mechanics. Here's one antipodean girl addicted to motors and sex in equal doses, who possesses an unhealthy penchant for fuse-wire and sticks of dynamite. The ultimate orgasm comes, perhaps, from creating the biggest and loudest explosion. The intriguing aspects of Donna's persona are the underlying contrasts. On the one hand she embraces violence, yet she's not a violent person, she may be anarchic, yet enjoys order (she reads car repair manuals for their method and structure). It's also unusual to come across the whole car/sex thing confronted from the opposing gender. Donna Jackson gives a breathtakingly physical performance in CMXL, manages to tackle several salient issues with both humour and originality, and leaves you wondering if it's really possible to repair a relationship like you can an old banger.

Earl Okin Earl Okin in
"Musical Genius - Sex Symbol!"
Southside Courtyard
August 7th to 30th

The first part of Earl's show title I'd have to agree with, the second boast I'm not so sure about! But then I guess the dapper chappy is after an altogether different sort of partner: "I'm not married, I'm not gay, I'm available." For 75 minutes this Fringe stalwart entertains all with his combination of subtle, though perceptive, humour and unique musical talents. With a raise of an eyebrow and an occasional pout of the lips Earl transports the audience on an aural journey from jazz to Bossonova. On the way the blandness of country and western is touched upon - all the female exponents apparently resemble the "Queen Mother with a stetson on" - and there's a biting observation on the work of a certain West End-musical writer. Whether he's playing the guitar or keyboard, or simply getting cosy and anecdotal, Earl Okin's deadpan delivery is fabulously funny. A straight act that's likely to appeal to a wide-ranging audience. True class indeed.

Absolute Banana Theatre Company
"Beautiful Thing"
South Bridge Resource Centre
August 9th to 22nd (not 16th)

Most people are probably pretty familiar with this urban tale of love between two teenage boys. Jonathan Harvey's play was successfully translated into a hit film a couple of years ago (OK, has anyone not seen it?) and this new, upbeat stage production brings a fresh look to what has quickly become something of a contemporary classic. For the odd reader who hasn't seen the movie, the basic plot is simple enough: boy number one (Jamie, played here by the gorgeous Benjamin Trumper) falls for boy number two (his next-door neighbour, Ste, played by the equally-gorgeous James Forshaw). Besides their initial fumblings, the interest lies in the lads' differing reactions to their queerness, and from their relationships and interaction with the other characters. Jo Larkin, playing the Mama Cass-obsessed, antagonistic slapper Leah, deserves particular merit for her spirited performance. Inevitably, comparisons are constantly drawn with the celluloid version, but this production by the Absolute Banana Theatre Company from Birmingham, with its enthusiastic young cast, makes a compelling variation (and includes some additional one-liners). And did I already mention the oh-so-huggable two male leads?

Broken Dream Theatre Company
"Drag King"
C too
August 6th to 31st

"Women love me. Men love me. Even I love me". Sarah-Louise Young, as the sophisticated and seductive Drag King, manages to question not only notions of sexuality, but also gender distinctions. Between some relaxing numbers, she (he?) recalls tales of ex-lovers and past sexual conquests - both male and female. This is a calming, intimate one-person show, well suited to both the cosy atmosphere of the venue and the late hour. The lighting is moody, and the alluring Sarah-Louise possesses a wonderful, mesmerizing singing voice. A '90s interpretation of '20s decadence, Drag King is cutting edge cabaret. Please give us some more.

ABLAZE Theatre Company
"Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club"
Bedlam Theatre
August 10th to 22nd

Jonathan Harvey, best known for hit-play and hit-film Beautiful Thing (also staged at this year's Fringe), offers up something altogether different with "Rupert Street". At root level, the play is a simple fly-on-the-wall - a window to the lives of five diverse characters. On a more cerebral plane, Harvey manages to touch upon prickly issues such as the limits of brotherly love, and although the play is quite lengthy, the timing and the acting are both beyond reproach. A real rollercoaster ride through the emotions, set against the frequent bouts of belly-aching - finding out tranny Fifi (aka Dean) flips burgers at McD's by day - Rupert Street also contains a sizeable slice of twenty-something anguish. Unfortunately, despite its many positive attributes, the play is rather ineffective and ultimately unfulfilling. I know gay life is not always full of carefree socializing and hedonistic encounters, but now and then it's reassuring to come across gay leading characters who are less angst-ridden or intent on visiting martyrdom.

In Your Space Productions
"Last Night A Boy Band Saved My Life"
Old St. Paul's Church & Hall
August 10th to 22nd

Billed rather grandly as being a "rock opera", this In Your Space Productions musical is actually a cheesy, very much tongue-in-cheek look at that scourge of '90s popular music - the boy band. With their exaggerated pelvic thrusts and Calvs yanked up uncomfortably high, the fictitious "Thrust" are a wily parody of this particular genre. Perhaps there's some hidden irony in the fact that neither lad is outstandingly handsome (in the Boyzone/Backstreet meaning of the word), although the legions of young female `fans' in the audience may disagree! The fairy-tale plot centres around teeny-bopper Lucy's infatuation with the boys, and how seductive and (putting on the cynic's hat for a second) possibly even corruptive their style of music can be. The musical numbers are punctuated with Shakespearean-like stanza, in a droll fashion, by the narrator, and part-time janitor, Dan Haythorn. `Last Night' is loud, brash and colourful, has some pretty fair singing in it, plus more than a few amusing moments. There isn't much in the way of gay interest here (depending on your taste, of course) - we're told the boys are after "money and muff". But, like a vibrant and smutty edition of Eurotrash, the show begs to be loved.

LADS present:
"Death" by Woody Allen
Bedlam Theatre
August 10th to 15th

I suppose you either love or hate the work of the prolific, bespectacled one, but this production of Woody Allen's "Death" would probably fail to register a hit even with his most ardent of fans. The short play did contain some laudable elements, like when the central character Kleinman confronts a lesbian lady of the night on his nocturnal journey through the ominous city streets. Toss in an entertaining case of mistaken identity, a highly-fanciable bungling police officer and some superior choreography, and you have several reasons for success. Unfortunately, these are rather outweighed by the opposing facets, including a cacophony of disparate accents, a firm lack of general funniness, and a burdensome performance by Vince Spangenberg playing Kleinman - a definite case of him trying just a little too hard to mimic the inimitable Mr. Allen. No need for Woody aficionados to rush out and make their own minds up though, Death gave its terminal Fringe performance on August the 15th.

Broken Dream Theatre Company
"Torch Song Trilogy"
C too
August 6th to 31st

I really cannot heap sufficient praise upon The Broken Dream Theatre Company at this year's Edinburgh Fringe - "Torch Song Trilogy" being the middle play of their three must-see productions. Where on earth do the actor and actress who've just finished in the first show, "I Can't Even Think Straight", find the stamina to then appear in Torch Song for 90-odd minutes? Especially under the stage-lights of the unbearably hot C-too loft. Somehow they, and the four other cast members, manage to hold the attention of everyone in the tightly-packed audience, with some exemplary, genuinely beguiling performances. Harvey Fierstein's familiar play deals with Arnold Beckoff, an earthy New York drag queen, and the trio of loves in his life. In addition, many gay issues are brought under the spotlight, such as the hang-ups associated with bisexuality and the erotic anonymity of backroom encounters. There are some wonderful set-tos in the play: a marvellously bitchy telephone conversation between Arnold and lover Ed, and a final showdown confrontation when Arnold's mother comes to visit - discovering that her son's adopted a 15 year old delinquent. Raw nerves are frequently exposed, the humour is often pointed, but at no time is anything forced upon us. All the performances appear so natural. Definite five star stuff.

"The Lady Boys of Bangkok"
Theatre Big-Top
The Meadows
August 14th to 29th

"Lady Boys" is an incomparable, much-talked-about show, to be missed at your peril. Most members of the twenty-strong troupe are transvestites, while a handful describe themselves as transsexuals. However, hard as it is to believe after watching them, all have male stamped upon their passports, and because some choose to remain in female clothes offstage, they have encountered just a little immigration consternation in the past. Inevitably, the Lady Boys do attract voyeuristic speculation (the hettie couple beside me were transfixed by the boys nether-regions), and, of course, some transformations are more convincing than others. Try to ignore the obvious though, and what you have is a lavish, big-top extravaganza -just check out those costumes! Traditional Thai and Japanese music merge with contemporary western dance sounds, in an exotic, multi-coloured spectacle. There are some raunchier, solo routines, the predictable "I Am What I Am" and "My Way" numbers, as well as a passable Spice Girls rendition. Proving that they're not freaks in frocks, the Lady Boys are unique, talented artists who set out to entertain, and that they do with style. Another, slightly more off-beat, '98 highlight then.

Scott J. Reid


Arguably the best production I've seen this Fringe is Death and Dancing on at St. Columba's by the Castle (C too) by Byte 2 Infinity. I've always liked Claire Dowie's work and this is certainly no exception. The premise is fairly simple: two students, one gay, one lesbian, share a flat. However, they start to get into arguments about sexuality, gender roles and stereotypes. What makes this work is the sheer range of the arguments and the areas they cover. It might sound all rather serious and they do indeed cover some very important points about what it actually means to be male and female, lesbian and gay, aiming for success and aiming for self-fulfilment. Most importantly it talks a whole lot about the sometimes very troubled relationships between gay men and lesbians who ought to be natural partners but who tend to end up and enemies. A great plus of this play is the way it manages to deal with serious issues in significant depth and yet manages to do so with a great deal of humour, "Sometimes I have a burrito for dinner, doesn't make me a Mexican". I particularly like the way that both the characters need each other to understand themselves. The staging, in the mezzanine theatre of C Too, is an excellent choice. It provides a small, intimate space that makes the small shared space of the characters flat come to life. The claustrophobia and sheer pace of the production help to bring out the depth of power of the arguments as the characters explore what is meant by love and what they both want out of life and love. The two actors, Alice Bartlett and Phil Yarrow, put in excellent performances that bring the play to life in a fast, action packed, funny, moving and thought provoking piece.

Claire Dowie herself appears in another of her plays, Easy Access. She has slightly rewritten her own work to make it a solo performance with pre-recorded scenes on video forming part of a `video diary'. This is a very dark work, dealing with childhood sexual abuse. Claire plays Michael, a rent boy. It starts out with Michael saying that he'd hate to fall out with his father over "something as meaningless as sex". However, as the play develops it becomes clearer that there's a lot more to it than this. Through the video diaries and Michael's reaction to them on stage we discover how he really feels about things. Early on we also find that Michael's father, Ed, has stolen the videos and watched them. As they're Michael's personal diaries he feels this is a gross invasion of his personal space. The video diaries continue and build up an ever more disturbing picture of what actually happened and how the various characters feel about it. Michael then discovers that his father now has a new live-in help at his bar and she has a child. Fearing for the child, Michael decides he must confront his father and his live-on help. This builds to a surprising and very shocking climax. Claire manages to perform very well as Michael and the actors who only appear on video also put in good performances. This is a very intense and frightening work, not in any way pleasant but contemporary, very hard hitting drama.

Mack the Knife is back in The Threepenny Opera (Southside Courtyard). This musical tells of arch-villan Mack the Knife and his attempts to stay ahead of the law whilst cheating on various `wives'. Meanwhile all the poor are being controlled and are only allowed to beg where they're told they can. Will love save the day? Can the coronation happen without the queen being upset at all of London's poor? Who is in the right and what is the solution to all of London's problems? This is a fine musical, well performed and sung by the Z Theatre Company.

Don Juan at the Bedlam is Edinburgh University Theatre Group's adaptation of the classic story. A dying Don Juan is led through the history of life and each of his villainies is described and re-enacted. Don Juan is perhaps the ultimate con-man of old Spain, his silver tongue and cunning allowing him to charm women of their virginity and men of their fortunes and lives. Well staged and acted this is an interesting piece of theatre.

David Benson (Assembly Rooms) returns after last year's success of Think no evil of us with a new work With Great Pleasure. This, in addition to the usual wonderful digressions, is his interpretation of the life and death of Diana. His mother comes on stage beforehand to reassure the audience that although some people may find parts of the performance in bad taste he really is a very nice boy! This sums up a lot about David, he manages to point out the absurdities of life, sometimes not quite following the path of pure acceptability, but ultimately he is a very nice boy. Take special note of his own conspiracy theory on the death!

Every year I make the trip to go and see Kit and the Widow on at the Cafe Royal. They were, as ever, wonderful. This year's performance is set in a lay-by as they head on up to Edinburgh for the Fringe. Many songs are performed, many wrongs righted and a fun time is had by all. Of particular interest to ScotsGay readers is their excellent parody of the House of Lords debate' on the age on consent. However, nobody is safe and soon the pro-hunting lobby are also castigated. Their range of targets is extensive and well deserved and they hit with deadly accuracy.

After several year's absence, Ennio Marchetto returns at the Pleasance. For those who haven't seen him before its a pretty hard act to describe. Using a series of paper costumes he works his way through a wide variety of music performing caricatures of the performers. These are always spot on and the costumes themselves are a major part of the fun. Particularly fine are his Madonna and the Mona Lisa.

Morgan's Boy's, on at Garage Theatre, is a tale of male prostitution. Which is odd as both of the characters, buyer and seller, are heterosexual. So just what is going on? Nothing is quite what it seems and no-one is quite who they appear to be. The play explores both of the character's needs and just how they relate. There are many unexpected twists and turns to the plot leading to a very dramatic and surprising conclusion. This is well performed and startling work all the more impressive for being the author's first work.

Doctor Faustus on at the Viewforth Centre, is a production of Marlow's play by Absolute Banana Theatre company. The setting is transformed from the great doctor's study into a student flat with Faustus himself a student. I don't feel this works quite as well as it might because Faustus's fall occurs because he's reached the pinnacle of his success and yet still yearns for more. It doesn't quite ring true that he's a student looking for more; at least not without more of a re-write. However, the play is reasonably well performed by a young cast who shed some new light on the classic play.

Jim Darby


f i l m

This month it takes Spain to come up with sexual dialogue to surprise or shock. "Caresses" (PG) has a guy of mature vintage arriving at the flat of a dishy young man in his early twenties commanding him: "Give me a blow job" which be immediately does - even if we only see the back of his head doing it.

Another scene between a straight couple after their affair has ended has the most insulting sexual dialogue I've ever heard onscreen. A scene of domestic violence will also stun many with a woman retaliating by punching and kicking her lover on the floor. However, much of all this is compulsively watchable.

The plotline would sound ridiculous if there was space to detail it. Suffice to say there are some very plain and very attractive people in dramatic situations. If only director Ventura Pons realizes in future audiences are rarely entertained by watching very plain or elderly people suffering. Nevertheless I will watch out for anything he does in future.

The gay undertones in "Haman - The Turkish Bath" take a while to develop and then are far too underplayed. Allessandro Gassman and Francesca d'Aloja are a married couple running a successful interior design business in Rome. He inherits property in Istanbul and flies to Turkey with plans to sell it, but finds his aunt has left him a rundown turkish bath that has appeal. The custodians of it are a middle-aged couple with a son and daughter in their latter teens.

Allessandro has been growing apart from his wife and she had started an affair with their business partner. When weeks pass during which her husband says he is redecorating the turkish bath Marta flies to Istanbul wondering if he could have formed a relationship with the daughter of the family. But one night she finds him in the hamam with the son, Mehmet, wearing small towels and kissing.

It is the first feature film written and directed by Ferzen Ozpetek who is Turkish, but spent years studying cinema in Rome before making TV commercials. He has made three quarters of an engrossing film and his very pleasing leading man inherited his good looks from his father, Vittorio Gassman, an Italian matinee idol of the fifties and sixties.

But the last five minutes are not likely to satisfy British and American audiences. Other countries don't seem to mind unresolved stories or crimes that are not paid for. Nevertheless, I am grateful to Mr Ozpetek for making me aware of Allessandro Gassman.

The late Francis Bacon has a reputation of being one of Britain's greatest artists, but it was a very peculiar decision to make a film about him for in "Love Is The Devil" (18) very little of his paintings are ever seen. The meticulous research Derek Jacobi puts into everything means he makes Bacon amusingly arrogant. But the only plotline is the devastatingly attractive Daniel Craig playing a burglar who lowers himself into the artist's flat from a skylight to find the gay Francis studying him approvingly and saying: "You can take anything you want if you stay the rest of the night."

Director John Maybury couldn't explore the bacon masochistic obsessions in much detail. The desperate lack of plot is almost made up for by Daniel Craig's very attractive presence. If only the British Film industry was organised we would be seeing a lot more of him.

If you are wondering whether it is worth saving the money for a South American holiday the ideal way to help make up your mind is tracking down the Ninth Latin American Film Festival between 4th and 17th September. The Glasgow Film Theatre in Rose Street plus the Metro cinema In London's West End will have a dazzling array of movie product from the world where Carmen Miranda originated.

The choice is over 30 contemporary feature films and fifteen documentaries. There is the UK premiere of "Men With Guns" by John Sayles that wont be released here till next year. "Boleiros" is a collection of stories that pay homage to soccer and the myth of wealth and celebrity status that surrounds top Brazilian football players.

"Nobody's Woman" made in 1937 by Adela Sequeyro, was the first ever sound film directed by a Latin American woman. Or, for those of us looking for young romance, there is "How To Be Single In Rio De Janeiro". I'm already saving for my first visit there.

You will know Kelsey Grammer from TV's "Frasier" and "Cheers" as the psychiatrist Frasier Crane. In a hilarious new comedy "The Real Howard Spitz" (PG) he plays a very unsuccessful detective novelist whose publisher has just rejected his latest novel. His ex-wife to threatening to have him thrown into jail for not making her alimony payments. By chance he picks up a children's book in a shop and finds that best sellers only contain 200 words. With advice from 7 year old Genevieve Tessier on what children really want to read he creates Crafty Cow, the cow detective, and his first book does so well that many follow.

But Genevieve puts a price on her advice. Rearing that Kelsey had been a detective once she pleads with him to track down her father who hasn't been heard of for years.

British director Vadim Jean (whose "Leon The Pig Farmer" was quite a hit) has assembled a witty and very entertaining movie. The soundtrack includes cleverly edited segments of songs of the past and present that fit brilliantly with the mood of each scene. I will look forward to Mr Jean's future plans.

From France we have "Secret Defense" (PG) and director Jacques Rivette knows what he in doing by casting Sandrine Bonnaire as his leading lady, an actress with great style. Her younger brother suddenly informs her he needs a gun to revenge their father who died, supposedly by accident, five years before.

He is convinced their father was murdered by his business partner to gain control of their company. I would have appreciated at least half an hour less than its two hours and 50 minutes.

From Russia we have possibly the most uncommercial film over put together, "Hands" (PG), which was made by a director obsessed with filming beggars in appalling plights. It has brought Artur Aristakisyan several awards for originality. There is no dialogue - just his voice on the soundtrack. It is only relieved with some enchanting shots of poverty stricken children which made me wonder why the vast number of Russian orphans is not a subject that appeals to him.

Current Releases

With a similar plot to "Deep Impact" we have "Armageddon" (12). A vast meteor is heading for earth through space and Bruce Willis is sent out there with his team to divert it. Easy enough to send up these films, but young audiences love them. The eminently desirable Ben Affleck, playing a young man engaged to Bruce's daughter, made it very easy viewing for me. It cost a fortune to make and looks it.

For those of us who don't demand chase sequences and prefer Victorian romantic drama "Firelight" (15) is a joy. In 1837 a Swiss governess, Sophie Marceau, accepts a financial proposition from an English aristocrat, Stephen Dillane, in order to release her father from debt. The man insists on concealing his identity from her. She travels to a hotel on the Normandy coast where, in utmost secrecy, the man joins her and they spend three nights together.

A business transaction transforms into a revelatory experience for both of them. But he has family obligations and insists they never meet again. Nine months later she gives birth to a baby girl, but under the terms of her financial agreement the child is immediately taken away from her.

Seven years pass and she travels to an opulent house in Sussex to become governess to Louisa, a notoriously rebellious 7 year old. Stephen, the owner, to horrified to recognise the women with whom he spent three life changing nights eight years ago. "Firelight" is a time trip to another world we only know through books. I loved it.

"Eve's Bayou" (15), set in a small backwater Louisiana community, shows the world from the point of view of 10 year old Eve, and an interesting world it is. Lust in the long grass and liberal dashes of voodoo kept my interest going. First time director and writer Kasi Lemmons can be well pleased.

"Metroland", (18) brings a greater sexual frankness to the screen than you will find in most of our scripts. Londoner Christian Bale is in Paris as a struggling photographer sowing his wild oats with the lovely Elsa Zylberstein when the equally lovely British Emily Watson comes into his life whom he eventually marries. Coming home and settling down to a job with wife and child is satisfying. But old schoolfriend Lee Ross, who has been travelling the world, turns up and suggests they explore the world together as he is in a rut.

Malcolm Epstein

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MUSIC

Alan's Chart


1. Greece 2000 - Three Drives (Olav Basoski "Work `M To Death Funkmeister Dub") (Massive Drive)

2. Mrs Wood - 1234 (Whitewood Mix / Mark Nrg Remix) (React)

3. Social Security - Heaven I Need (Johan S Detox Dub Mix) (Diverse)

4. Tin Tin Out With Shelley Nelson - Sometimes (Baby Blue Remix / Camisra Remix) (:VC:)

5. Sash! Featuring Tina Cousins - Mysterious Times (Tin Tin Out Mix) (Multiply)

6. Storm - Storm (Man With No Name Remix) (Positiva)

7. Steve Morley - Reincarnations / Shadow Of Life (Jinx)

8. Channel Tribe 2 - Neuro Disco (Clockwork)

9. Andy Jarrod - Storm Cycle (Dub Mix) (Generis)

10. Moby - Honey (Sharram Jey's Sweet Honey Mix) (Mute)

11. T-Total - Don'tchoowanna (99*)

12. Amorph - Haraciri (Jan Driver Remix) (Formaldehyd)

13. Alda - Real Good Time (Stonebridge's Stoney-Boy Volcanic Dub) (Wildstar)

14. Algebraic - Burning Up (TP Club Mix) (Caged)

15. ATGOC - Repeated Love (Da Houseman Remix) (Wonderboy)

16. Tall Paul vs Billie - (Because We Want To) (Innocent)

17. Trilby - Home (KLM Dub) (Paral.lel)

18. Faithless - God Is A DJ (Serious Danger Mix) (Cheeky)

19. Taiko - Echo Drop (The KGB On A Bender Mix) (Southeast)

20. Universal - Just Too Scared (Pete Bones Green Card Remix) (Red Ant)

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Well Oiled Sisters

SCOTSDYKE

THE WELL OILED SISTERS

The Well Oiled Sisters' two CDs of "nosebleed-drunk country with a twist of maudlin' cry in your beer", `Alcohol and Tears' and `Mad Girls Do Better', have received critical acclaim and frequent comparisons with k.d.lang. Favourites at Pride festivals around the world, the band is playing throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and ScotsDyke caught up with two of them, Lucy and Angie, in the Spiegeltent after a performance of Lucy's other band, Three Piece Sweet

First, Lucy explained how the band came together:


We met at various places and times. There's a hardcore of three of us - me and the bass player Alex met in Edinburgh and Aley on drums now runs the Blue Moon Cafe - all you need is a name beginning with A! I've been playing with the bass player for ten years but the band has been in its present form for a couple of years."

So what about the name?

"It has three meanings - one meaning `efficient', one meaning `lubricated' and one meaning `pissed up'."

The Sisters were thrust into the spotlight when Morrissey spotted them and promptly signed them up for his "Up Yer Arsenal European Tour". The sudden move from playing pubs to 20,000-seat arenas was an educational experience.

"It was fucking terrifying and there were more than 20,000, but it was good for us. We went down really well - Morrissey and his band are really nice. We had to pull our socks up - the band is much tighter now. It aged us about 14 years."

The band has played some interesting venues, including Kensington Palace.

"How did you know about that? Over the years we've attracted various benefactors. This was some wedding reception for someone no stranger to the House of Lords and public toilets! Princess Margaret was at home at the time and she requested we turn it down.

"One of the best gigs we played was in the last town before the outback - Pimba, population 36. We got a train there, and when we got off the train we found the stage was on the back of a cattle truck. We had Aborigines and miners all dancing together. We had 4,000 people there."

Three Piece Sweet, on the other hand, just play the occasional gig in London for the love of it. "We usually play to screaming homosexual men who admire it `cos it's all camp, kitsch rubbish!"

Lucy and Angie have their route to World Domination well mapped out:

"We'll be recording , as soon as possible. We're going to Spain and Australia and we'll get very, very rich and live in Tahiti - The End! And drink Tahitian Tingles till we're sick."

The Tahitian Tingle is apparently a special secret recipe involving a bottle of Brasso.

Heather White and Feòrag NicBhrìde

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CREDITS

ScotsGay: a bi-monthly magazine for lesbians, gays and bisexuals edited, printed and published in Scotland. ISSN: 1357-0595. © Pageprint Publishing Limited, August 1998. Non profit use by the lesbigay community of material in the magazine will normally be permitted free of charge — but contact us first for permission. We haven't had sex with most of the people who appear in the magazine so we don't actually know what their sexuality is.

Editor: John Hein. Production: Seumas Macmhicean. Assistance: Simon James. Contributors in this issue: Garry Otton & Derek Ogg (Features), Granny Spice, Dawn Davenport, Liquid Silk, Martin Walker, Minerva, Calmac, MorayBitch & Gus (Scene), Rex Wockner (International), Martin Walker (The Nice Bit), Simon James, Martin Powell, Scott J. Reid, John Hein, Richard Wilson, Jim Darby, Heather White, Malcolm Epstien (Reviews), Alan Nicholls (Music), Heather White & Feòrag NicBhrìde (ScotsDyke)

Editorial Enquiries: Write to: ScotsGay, Pageprint Limited, PO Box 666, Edinburgh. EH7 5YW. Telephone: 0131-539 0666. Fax: 0131-539 2999. E-mail: scotsgay@drink.demon.co.uk We welcome news, articles, photos, cartoons, etc. — especially lesbian and bisexual material.

Advertising Enquiries: Telephone: 0131-558 1279. Fax: 0131-539 2999.

World-Wide-Web: http://www.scotsgay.co.uk/

Subscribing by Internet: Send a 'subscribe scotsgay-list' message to listserver@drink.demon.co.uk and the text files of future editions will be delivered to you by e-mail.

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