Reasons to be alive

"Your body is not a cage. There is no right way to be masculine or feminine, there's only your way. Boy, girl or dolphin, you belong. What's sexier than someone girly and ballsy or blokey and tender? Change tyres in a tutu, pirouette in trainers, choreograph your own ballet, as soft or strong as only you can be. When you tear up the rule book and live in truth and honesty you liberate the world."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

Don't get it right, just get it written

review
Doctor Who - Let's Kill Hitler

L
ike the seemingly inevitable annual threat of a new pandemic, Doctor Who is back on TV again.

As usual, it was hyped as the only thing worth watching between the Royal nuptials and the 2012 Olympics. And like those two events, it promised lots of sentiment and drama. Like that wedding, it was all empty spectacle, and like the Olympics, we're all supposed to cheer and stare, agog, at its brilliance.

Oh, how I despise this modern incarnation of Doctor Who. To label it as smug, overwrought, incestuous fan wank would be too kind. Saying it has no balls is understating the case - this sci-fi soap by focus group wouldn't make a 6-year-old flinch. It's such a nauesating, self-referential shambles that no normal person could follow the green-screen trail of vomit that masquerades as plot. (Plot? Ha! Whatever happened to that?)

Some people will like it - the sort of people who foam at the mouth over the mystery of who Amy Pond's baby is (who cares?), and dress up as their favourite character at conventions. Good luck to them - this dog's dinner has enough regurgitated entrails to keep them hunched over internet fan forums until the crack of doom (Amy Pond's crack of doom, if head "writer" Moffat has anything to do with it).

They'll vibrate with joy at this sick slurry of garbled explanations and neverending merry-go-round of BIG! SECRETS!, fronted by a gormless public school boy who gabbles out Moffat's crap dialogue like an inbred Tory version of one of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (remember them?), some broad who used to be a model and has the acting ability of one, and all overseen by Steven "My-One-Trick-Is-The-Bloke-Falls-For-The-Dominant-Woman" Moffat.

I'm off to watch Celebrity Big Brother - it makes more sense, has better characters, and is certainly better written. And it doesn't have Matt Smith in.

Yet.

*Cathode Ray Tube have a detailed review of the episode.

Civilization is a movement, not a condition; it is a voyage, not a harbour

M A N N E Q U I N
M A N I A
special edition

Reasons to be alive

"The romance you crave is now. You are the leading man or lady in this movie, stop waiting on bouquets and start sending, stop wishing for love letters and start writing, stop dreaming of the grand gesture and make it. Drop everything and grab this chance to appreciate life's staggering beauty, starting with your own. Romance yourself 'til you become a love song and then serenade the world."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

I don't care what you think unless it is about me

R E A L
B O Y S

narcissists & camera whores

Reasons to be alive

"Everything that happens to you - joyous or brutal - is another invitation to an awakening. Each day life reveals itself as a tutor offering another opportunity for you to open your eyes, shake off the sleep of helplessness, reach out to seize the day, and take your turn at the wheel. Use your knowledge. Choose a direction, decide on a destination, delay your adventure no longer; start steering."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

Tired old queen at the movies

review
Giant

C
attle, cowboys and oil run rampant and fill the screen as Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean bring their considerable talents and beauty to George Stevens' huge production of Edna Ferber's Giant.

A family saga covering thirty years, Giant was filmed on location in Texas with a blazing supporting cast that includes Chill Wills, Jane Withers, Carroll Baker, Sal Mineo, Dennis Hopper and Oscar nominee Mercedes McCambridge. Veteran director George Stevens won his second Oscar for bringing Giant to the screen and Rock Hudson and James Dean both received nominations. Dean's nomination was posthumous, as he died in a car accident just two weeks after shooting his final scenes. But it is Liz Taylor, coming into her own as an actress of depth and subtly who grounds and ultimately steals the picture. As big as the subject it deals with, Giant is also a tender love story told against the backdrop of an old fashioned spectacle the likes of which Hollywood seldom attempts anymore, and when it does, never does half as well.

Steve Hayes

(Syndication is with the kind permission of Steve Hayes.)

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Reasons to be alive

"You don't need everyone's permission or approval. Craving mass acceptance is the enemy of creativity. Pandering to popular taste leads to the death of innovation. Make your contribution to evolution; listen to the murmurs of your rebellious blood and bones and be your bravest and boldest and most beautiful. Dazzle the cynics, inspire the timid, enlighten the indecisive and do your brilliant thing."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

You wanted freedom. I wanted you

out
of
time

I
t came as something of a surprise, last Sunday, to find a certain record sitting pretty at the top of my iTunes playlist.

Somehow, this wonderful pop tune has managed to outstrip (in terms of play counts) many worthier tunes: Alicia Keys Empire State of Mind, Annie Lennox's Why, Mercury Rev's Holes, Shirley Bassey's This Is My Life... Even my beloved, brilliant Nothing Like The Rain, by 2 Unlimited.

This song isn't even a "proper" song; it's a TV theme. Now that's sad. But what's really sad is the story of this record, When You Go Away, the theme to failed BBC soap Eldorado, by EastEnders legend Simon May, and performed by Johnny Griggs.

Oh, poor Eldorado. The BBC's white elephant, the big hit that never was. Telly history is littered with the corpses of failed, eye-wateringly expensive follies, TV that's hyped as the Next Big Thing, only to fall at the ratings hurdle.

Maybe you, dear reader, have a one-season-wonder show that provokes pangs of "What could have been..." Is it MetrosexualityThe Tripods, Savannah, Invasion, or maybe, the most recent, the BBC's Survivors.

Back in 1992 a new soap launched, called Eldorado, set Spain's Costa Del Sol. It didn't work out. It was over-hyped and up against impossible deadlines. There were problems with the actors, the storylines, and even the sound. Its executive producer - EastEnders' creator Julia Smith - had a nervous breakdown. Ratings were low, and the press merciless. And then, just when the endless problems seemed to finally have been ironed out, the grim reaper - in the form of a BBC suit - swung the axe. The epic standing set in "a pine forest on a hillside near Coin" was left to gather dust and the actors went home.

Not only was it a terrible waste (given time, Eldorado could have been a fantastic success), but its failure led to the eventual decimation of TV drama in the UK. The BBC wanted another crowd-pleasing soap, and when Eldorado failed, it looked to existing properties to fill the void. Casualty, hitherto a gritty nighttime drama, was converted into a feeble-minded, pseudo-soap peopled by ex-soap stars and models-turned-actors. ITV followed suit, trashing the formerly brilliant cop drama The Bill, turning it into a tabloid-baiting sleaze-fest. Great shows that were about real people, doing real jobs, played out by real actors, and written by real writers, turned to crap.

Today, British TV is a wasteland, populated by the remnants of those dramas-turned-psueodo-soap (to this day, the BBC churns out year-round episodes of Casualty/Holby City) and so-called reality hell. Let's not talk about the excrement smeared across the once noble Doctor Who. All that's left are the soaps: EastEnders and Coronation Street flourish, beautifully; supposedly mediocre mediums in which great things happen.

As for Eldorado, it bequeathed us this exquisite theme tune: a paean to unrequited love. "You wanted freedom, I wanted you," the lyrics go. Isn't that brilliant? I could listen to this gorgeous, guilty pleasure forever: and in my mind's eye, an empty, dusty mountain village waiting for lights, cameras and action that will never come.

Ah, the stories that could've been told. Not just in Eldorado, but there, everafter.

Download the full MP3 for free, here.

Reasons to be alive

"Creative spirits travel offbeat pilgrim paths; the more ambitious you are, the lonelier you can feel. But there are kindred spirits eager to connect & travel with you - perhaps your paths are already entwined. Don't mask your creativity to blend with the crowd. You will only feel lonelier. If you let your maverick soul run free, the world will respect you, and your kindred will find you. Believe."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

You can fool too many of the people too much of the time

M A N N E Q U I N
M A N I A
men, in pictures

Reasons to be alive

"A day to try something new, a day to conquer a problem, a day to fall short then sit down and work out why. A day to get up with the sun, a day to lie in. A day to call someone you miss - a day to start learning something new that you've always wanted to. A day to replace one bad habit with a good one. A day to create. A day to mourn. A day to finish. A day to begin. A whole day."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

I need you

DISCOGRAPHIC
3T - I Need You (1996)
From the album Brotherhood

IT'S HARD NOT to think about 3T without also recalling their somewhat more famous uncle.

And equally hard not to wonder just what the Jackson family were thinking when they decided on the marketing strategy for 3T?

At a time when gangsta drag was the standard uniform issue for male singing groups - Jodeci were the boys you couldn't take home to Mama - 3T set their stall out as the go to guys for half naked, barely legal boy candy. No one embraced the brand more than lead singer TJ Jackson: he had the face of an angel and the body of a whore, coupled with a little boy lost Peter Pan routine (Uncle Michael must have been very impressed) that even put said uncle in the shade; barefoot in his pyjamas, with a see-through shirt hanging off his nubile frame, and apparently contemplating some deep loss (possibly his virginity - to whom, I couldn't possibly say...) But this performance is nothing compared to the lingering close-ups and exposed nipples we see in the video for
Why.

This isn't the best 3T video.
Why is luxurious, and quite beautiful; their debut Anything is a sweet, mid-90s joy. I'm told (by someone concerned with technique) that I Need You is badly sung. But it's got a choir, an orchestra and a beautiful fem boy. It's big and way over the top.

What more could you want?

Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only

M A N N E Q U I N
M A N I A
men, in pictures

Paris is burning


A
s anyone who has seen it will attest, Paris Is Burning is one of the most important gay films ever made.

It's glittering, beautiful, laugh out loud funny... and very, very haunting. As Kele Okereke said in Attitude last year, "I watched it again a few years ago... As soon as it finished I started crying. You go to Wikipedia and all bar one are dead. And they died in such sad circumstances. But you watch the film and they all have so much love."

I hope the two unidentified street kids who appear in the film (they're aged just 13 and 15) aren't among those gone. Does anyone know who they are or what happened to them?


Happily, one of my favourites, Freddie Pendavis (pictured left, with the twin towers of the World Trade Center behind him), is still going strong - or was in 2007 when he was interviewed in the video below...

Reasons to be alive

"No matter what you tell yourself, this day belongs to you. You've cultivated this routine and are able to step out of it any time. True liberation lies in allowing yourself to see that you're exactly where you choose to be and this life is yours to maintain or change. You can relax and accept, bide your time and make plans or rise up right now and rebel. Your day, your life, your choice."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

Tell me how long the train's been gone

M A N N E Q U I N
M A N I A
men, in pictures

Ten

don't
die
before
you've
lived

Just days after the murder of 17-year-old Kelvin Chibueze on Monday, another London teenager is dead.

14-year-old Leroy James (left), from Edmonton, east London, was found stabbed to death in a park in Enfield.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative government is closing projects designed to prevent young people joining gangs, The Guardian reports.

Note: Don't Die Before You've Lived is a series of ongoing entries recording the murders of teenagers in London. Although not necessarily GBLT-related, the desperately premature loss of these young boys deserves our full attention. Please remember the names and faces you see here, and spare a thought for kids who really did die before they lived.

ka-os|theory is a London-based blog.

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity

M A N N E Q U I N
M A N I A
special edition

Nine

don't
die
before
you've
lived

Another death. 17-year-old Kelvin Chibueze was stabbed to death in Ilford, east London, in the early hours of Monday.

Chibueze is the ninth London teenager to die violently this year. It is alleged he was a member of the Dagenham Boys gang, and friends with 17-year-old Olukorede Fajinmi, who was stabbed in the heart last year.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative government is closing projects designed to prevent young people joining gangs, The Guardian reports.

Note: Don't Die Before You've Lived is a series of ongoing entries recording the murders of teenagers in London. Although not necessarily GBLT-related, the desperately premature loss of these young boys deserves our full attention. Please remember the names and faces you see here, and spare a thought for kids who really did die before they lived.

ka-os|theory is a London-based blog.

Reasons to be alive

"There are angels everywhere, in everything, in everyone. The best way to see one is to be one. It's the same with devils. When we acknowledge our own demons, we shed light on the Hell that others live in and the gates to humanity swing open. We don't have to condone, we don't have to forgive. But the power is there to extend a hand and lead the world to freedom."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

Tired old queen at the movies

review
Caged

E
motions run riot as Eleanor Parker and a superb cast of actresses fight for their rights and freedom in John Cromwell's tale of women behind bars, Caged (1950).

Parker, earning the first of three Oscar nominations, plays Mary, a pregnant girl of nineteen, tried, convicted and "sent up the river" for one to five years on a first offense. Despite the kindness and guidance of Agnes Moorehead as the kindly warden, Parker learns how to survive in a cage filled with ruthless women who'll stop at nothing and have nothing to lose. She's joined by talented array of some of the best character actresses in the business, including; Jan Sterling, Betty Garde, Ellen Corby, Lee Patrick, and fellow Oscar nominee Hope Emerson as Harper, the unforgettably evil and gargantuan prison matron. It's a riveting drama, filled with superb performances, raw emotions and heartbreaking moments that will stay with you long after "lights out."

Steve Hayes

(Syndication is with the kind permission of Steve Hayes.)

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I don't care what you think unless it is about me

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B O Y S

narcissists & camera whores

What I learned today...


"You are the universe - Your experience of existence. You're the landscape & the weather, you decide if it's a good day or if you're wasting time, kill the vibe or start the party, you decree if you are lovable, If there is an enemy - it's you. Deceivers? All you. Whenever there's a problem it's you - and you are the solution. You're everything from the epic to the incidental. You are God."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

London's burning

I have lived in London for the past nine and a half years, and I've only once been genuinely scared living in the capital. That, of course, was during and after July 7 2005. The fear of being blown up by Islamic terrorists on a Tube soon dissipated, however; normality quickly returned.

The events of the past few days - riots, looting, savage mobs of youths roaming the streets in their hundreds destroying businesses and homes alike with impunity - are unprecedented, unparalleled, surreal, game-changing, but above all else, truly terrifying.

Minutes from where I live shops were raided, and restaurants invaded as guests dined; just a little further away, in Ealing, buildings were torched.

Had you asked me a week ago if I thought "this sort of thing" could happen in the capital city of the United Kingdom, without hesitation I'd have have said no. The police would undoubtedly clamp down on criminal activity within minutes, especially with less than a year to the Olympics, I'd have said.

But when it came to it, the police were overstretched, overwhelmed and outnumbered. The mob was free to do what it wanted: brazenly carry big screen TVs and trolleys loaded with goods out of big name retailers, torch department stores, attack journalists... One particularly sickening video shows an injured boy on the ground in a pool of blood. A gang of youths come to his aid, and at first appear to help him. Then they rob him and leave him to bleed.


Buses on fire. Terrified locals driven from their homes as fires engulf the buildings where they live. And in all the pictures and video you will find online, there's often no police or fire brigade in sight. That's what's really frightening. When it comes to it, you're on your own.

The perpetrators of these horrors are mostly kids - the youngest reported, an 11-year-old - and there's plenty of girls joining in the mayhem. Scenes of young women looting are plentiful. Apparently, the majority are black, but again, there's plenty of white kids and others. There's more on their make-up at The Guardian: Who are the rioters? Young men from poor areas ... but that's not the full story. The crowds involved in violence and looting are drawn from a complex mix of social and racial backgrounds.

Poverty is the key here. But I believe it's a case of how much others have, rather than what they don't have. We are witnessing the consequences of extreme wealth, privilege and rampant consumerism juxtaposed with poverty, under-privilege, and the demonisation of the working class - or, as certain segments of society would have it - the underclass. Rikki Beadle-Blair puts that argument forward here: "If I was a kid now, I would be the 'chav scum' that I keep reading and hearing about today."

Let's look at that glittering treasure trove Westfield - Europe's biggest shopping centre - an obscene cathedral of consumerism, shoehorned into Shepherd's Bush, an area riddled with deprivation. The poor can pour in from the nearby council estates and grimey terraces to press their noses up against the windows of Prada and D&G, gazing at all the things they can't have. Those pretty things are for the billionaire Russians and Arabs who call London (one of their) home(s), and the wealthier upwards of middle-class residents of nicer areas.

And let's not pretend this isn't anything to do with David Cameron's government of millionaire public schoolboys, lecturing us on making necessary cutbacks to fix the mess their banker chums made of the economy. The massive shutdown of youth schemes as part of those government cutbacks is key to this.

Cameron's bluechip white collar pals looted the economy, giving Cameron the opportunity to implement Tory ideology (CUT, CUT, CUT). Now, the kids at the bottom of the pile, faced with being left further and further behind as that rich/poor divide becomes a yawning chasm, are rampaging. They have no future, no hope, and don't care. London is a big playground, and the kids who have been told they can't do this and can't do that, are now doing it, and no one is stopping them.

Join the dots. In the recent past, MPs have been caught looting the public purse in an orgy of greed-fueled expenses claims. The News International saga uncovered a corrupt rot that ran through the Prime Minister, the police and journalists. No one has a hope in hell of owning their own home - or increasingly, even renting a home - unless they're reasonably wealthy. The Olympics - supposedly a leg-up for a deprived part of London and for youth in particular - is increasingly seen as exclusive, tickets going to corporate sponsors and foreigners. Trust in the institutions that are supposed to be the glue that holds society together has evaporated.

I'm afraid. I'm terrified that come Friday - as is rumoured - things are going to erupt in a big way, and that mass home invasions will be next. Is a firebomb going to come in my front window? Will a gang force their way into my home? It's far from impossible. But even with that threat hanging over my head, even with London now transformed into some extreme, lawless live action version of Grand Theft Auto, I know where the blame for all of this lies.

Do you?

London's burning

I am sorry to see and hear the furious words on Facebook and the internet last night and this morning. People are pissed off when I insist that we are all responsible, I am called a wet liberal.

Perhaps I am. Perhaps I choose my approach because I myself was born to a 17yr old single mother, my schoolfriends and I were raised by people who 'couldn't keep their knees together' on the council estates of South London, who were ground down by poverty and the dismissal of society and the culture of greed and avarice and selfishness. If I was a kid now, I would be the 'chav scum' that I keep reading and hearing about today. I was saved by being taught by liberal hippies at the Bermondsey Free School and, despite gaining no formal qualifications, being treated as an intelligent, creative worthwhile to society, made me a proud, creative, hardworking, passionate contributor to society.

As horrified as I am, and empathic with the fear and frustration that so many of us feel today, I refuse to take sides in a war between the overwhelmed police and the misguided youth of our cities. I think that we need to look at the big picture - why both our middle-class and working class youth have taken to violence and looting this year as the financial meltdown intensifies. The depressing racism and snobbery and unwillingness to take group responsibility is not helping. We don't know whether the shooting last week was justified, there was no trial, the investigation is pending. Meanwhile our youth believe that their lives have no value in society and so they are returning the favour in the most appalling, mindless way. I refuse to be mindlesss and destructive in return.

This is more than just delinquency. This is a sign of our times. I want change not blame. I want understanding not judgement. I want progress not name-calling and bigoted labelling. That's what my energy is for. That's what my life is for. And that what I am going to do with it. And if that makes me wet, (as some have called me today) let me be an ocean.

Rikki Beadle-Blair

What I learned today...


"Every day teaches something new - if you're willing to learn. It always comes down to the same thing: You create Heaven and Hell. Hell hides in making others responsible for your story, Heaven lies in honest ownership of your life. No one else can make you happy, beautiful or valuable. If there's a problem - it's you. If there's a solution, it's you. You have total power. Use it wisely."

Rikki Beadle-Blair

Machines r us

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