Monday, March 31, 2008

Follow the Glitter

On the Thursday night of the Bank Holiday I met up with a few friends for some civilised drinks. Rapidly the hour of civilisation came and went, and before I knew it I was perched elegantly on a bar stool in Freedom Bar with Luke, sipping deftly at a gin and tonic. A few more of those and some always-ill-advised tequilas later and we were weaving our way down the stairs in search of the dance floor. Above us hundreds of disco balls of various sizes winked and glittered invitingly, twisting their bright spots all over the dark room. Two silver poles stood proudly on the dance floor, and were being twisted around enthusiastically by happy-looking wannabe pole-dancers.

Looking around the crowd I suddenly felt a jolt of recognition. I elbowed Luke, whose feet had already started involuntarily twitching to the electrifying keening of Gloria Gaynor. "Hey" I shouted over the sound of a room full of men gearing up to full Liza mode. "Isn't that Miss Kimberley?". Luke looked, and agreed that, yes, it was. Miss Kimberley, a drag queen with whom I had sung my heart out a few years ago in The Edge bar. Who I then blogged about. After a bit of nudging from Luke I walked over to where she was leaning, feline, by the bar.

"Um. Hello! Remember me? We met at The Edge? A couple of years ago."

She looked at me and I felt my cheeks begin to flush.

"I sang Big Spender with you?"

A smile began to dawn on her face.

"Remember you? Of COURSE I remember you! I told you to come back and you never did! Why didn't you come back?!"

I didn't go back because I assumed that, when she had extracted the promise from me to come back, she had just been being nice. That as soon as I had walked out and got on the bus that night she had forgotten me, that girls with dubiously-dyed hair and holes in their tights always command the microphone to belt out Shirley Bassey classics on Wednesday evenings in gay bars.

I explained, and she waved my excuses away.

"Right. I am doing cabaret here now. On Thursdays. You MUST come down and sing with me. Promise, this time?"

She looked down at me from her much superior height, hand on hip and eyebrows raised.

I was a little taken aback, I must say. I didn't expect her to remember me, and I certainly didn't expect to be invited for a repeat performance. I love drag acts. I adore the unashamed glamour, the make up and the glitz. I find the drama and confidence exciting and inspiring. I don't have much experience of female-to-male drag acts, but the idea of creating oneself in the whatever image one desires is wonderful to me. Gender and sexuality are not a fixed givens, but ideas to be played with and sculpted, and there is something incredibly powerful about self-creating. Personally, I am happy being a woman on stage (and off), but I still feel that when I perform I am a version of myself that I have made, and drag is just an extension of that.

I looked back up at Miss Kimberley.

"Are you kidding? That would be brilliant! I'd LOVE to!"

We exchanged numbers. According to Luke, having a straight woman as part of a drag cabaret is fairly common practice. Deferring to the queen, but fabulous in her own right. I could, I believe, do that. Wonderful. I will you let know if it happens.

The following night I was on stage in the Two Brewers bar, a gay bar/club on Clapham High Street, singing with another drag act, this time named Lola. I sang a bit, and did not have to buy another drink for the rest of the night. I was made such a fuss of, I felt as though I was Judy Garland, back from the dead for one last wild night out.

Other news I shall sum up in bullet points (the lazy blogger's friend).

- Yesterday was Impish Little Sister's birthday. I couldn't call her as her phone number has recently started going through to a French lady who explains politely that nobody owns this phone, and in fact it is not even a phone number. I get the impression that she judges me for even trying. I'm sure Sophie had a very Parisian birthday, full of absinthe and nonchalance, but I would have loved to spoken to her. I emailed, even using a fancy font and different colours, but it's not the same.

- You should read this blog! It's one of those ones that has a point, as opposed to, say, one of those ones for which the only motivation is rampant narcissism and not having any real friends (ahem). As a person Ben is, like, super-dreamy, and as a poet, performer and person-who-really-cares-about-the-environment-as-opposed-to-just-feeling-mildly-guilty-for-getting-a-carrier-bag-in-Sainsbury's he is, well, also super-dreamy but also excessively talented and clever. When I have been going Up North recently it has often been to see him.

- My friend Chris came back from New York! We all had a marvellous weekend to celebrate, with partying, a roast dinner and many congratulations for making it back to London. It was thrilling. Two days later he was called into his boss's office and told they were sending him back over the Altantic for another six months, this time to Washington. All "Welcome Home!" celebrations quickly turned into "Fine, Piss Off Back To America Then" ones, which take considerably more sign-writing skills.

- I am ready for summer now. By 'summer' I mean, of course 'British summer', so I therefore mean half a day of sun in August, during which I will sustain horrific sunburn and eight people will be taken ill on the tube from heat exhaustion. The next day the papers will be teeming with pictures of half-naked girls on Brighton beach, who, judging from their even tans and devil-my-care attitudes, will Not Be British. Whatever. I am ready for it.

This has become a long post of irrelevant twittering. Tomorrow I am going to start saving the planet and writing about that, but for now I must satisfy myself with hanging out with transvestites and then trying to capture it in long-winded and overly-flowery prose. Then I will just click the 'Publish Post' button and hope that the post doesn't end too sudde


Blogger Benjamin Mellor said...

as-opposed-to-just-feeling... what?! your use of hyphen-age has obscured my attempts at boosting my self-esteem by narcisistically reading your unwarranted compliments about me! Though it could become an interesting 'fill in the blank' exercise ie: as-opposed-to-just-feeling... a bit guilty about those biannual whale-harpooning holidays.
Thanks for the mention though x

1:00 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

I think you are my favoritest brit ever. Yes.. and I've been too wrapped up in myself lately to read any blogs for ages and I've missed all your funny and your adventures! Singing w/ drag queens sounds incredibly fun and of course they should fawn all over you! That's the best isn't it? I love gay men. I never get so many compliments as when I go out dancing in a gay bar. Brit summers sound like Seattle ones.. doesn't get warm til the fifth of July and then starts to rain til August. Hope you'll be out singing every Thursday. Can't wait to read about that! xo

3:36 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha ha. Chris x

4:48 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love reading your "twittering".... dont stop!!

9:07 am

Blogger Ritergal said...

Dang! The Freedom Bar link doesn't work, and it's going to take some work to learn where to come hear you! Love the blog. Be sure you keep backup copies for your grandkids, or the memoir you'll write when you are rich and famous.

5:42 pm

Blogger Badass Geek said...

I hate it when things end abru

2:05 am

Blogger Curly said...

That is some awesome use of the hyphen, you've clearly learnt from the master. Have we also covered semi-colons?

Summer is going to be a lot longer this year, but don't just take my word for it - the Chinese girl in my office says so.

1:16 pm


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