I first fell in love with the big, London-bred Nigerian one, in the late '90s, when his third album, Human Being, was released. That perfect LP - deep and raw, with a coat of gloss - would be his creative high - after that, it was Top 40 pacification, and deadly dull covers, and that tedious German bint (Heidi, of course. Well it would be, wouldn't it?)
I was never a big fan of Kiss From A Rose, but boy, I loved, and love, Bring It On, and Alive, and Newborn Friend. Crazy is still intoxicating, and Killer is as serrating and electrifying as it ever was. And, have you ever heard Come See What Love Has Done, from the Killer EP? Wow... Future Love Paradise, or No Easy Way? Nuff said.
After his third album, there was a drought, punctuated by the unreleased Togetherland, and then Seal IV, which was glossy and box-ticking, but so what? In the years that followed, Seal fans realised, yeah, so what?
These days, according to Wikipedia, he's a judge on The Voice Australia. Oh, no. Not that. Anything but that... It's the final nail in the coffin; after LA, and the gash, and the cheesy ads: it's when artists sell out and fall off, yo...
Seal's last masterstroke, maybe, was 2003's awesome Love's Divine, a truly perfect record, and a perfect video of epic proportions, directed by Sanji Senaka (who also helmed The Pharcyde's Passin' Me By).
As When A Man Is Wrong (my favourite Seal song) goes, "sometimes I get thing wrong to get things right." Maybe we'll get the '90s Seal back. A prayer for the dying, anyone?
John R. Gordon writes exclusively for kaos about effemiphobia. Gordon wrote the screenplay for "Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom" (as well as episodes of the TV series), and the short film "Souljah". His novels include the award-winning "Skin Deep", and "Faggamuffin", and together with Rikki Beadle-Blair he founded Team Angelica Publishing.
LOOKING OVER the parade of cute, mostly younger guys on a recent kaos posting flaunting their physiques in poses and ways that seem to me flamboyantly femme (pouting, sometimes wearing make-up, hyper-extending the back to blazon the booty, wearing skimpy underthings), and yet athletically masculine and certainly hella sexy, I found myself reflecting on that most common of disbarrings on gay dating and hook-up sites: "No femmes". I'm always curious as to what people mean – or think they mean – by that phrase: what they think constitutes effeminacy. And contrariwise, what they mean by "straight-acting".
My own personal (though non-exclusive) preference is for guys who are both flamboyant and athletic. For me such men have the physical appeal of masculinity (by which I mean – for me personally – leanness and muscularity); yet they are untrammelled by conforming to "straight" notions of manliness, and its often-banal constrictions. To me such men don't seem "femme" even though they are certainly not conventionally "manly" – what with shaved bodies ("masculine" or not?), skimpy and/or fetish-fabric costuming and maybe overt make-up and shaped eyebrows.
To what extent is, say, a muscular stripper in a gold lamé thong masculine? - or if he's wearing thigh-high boots that intentionally echo women's suspenders-stockings look: a macho drag. Is he "straight-acting"? If so, in what sense? If not, is he therefore "femme" and not desirable? For that matter, is David Beckham straight-acting? Many – perhaps even most - real-life straight men are not particularly macho, are not particularly muscular (never mind body-built), and even verge (especially when younger) on the fey. Is hyper-macho drag-loving Dennis Rodman straight-acting?
"Straight-acting" isn't usually understood to contain the add-on "like Justin Bieber" or "like Russell Brand". It seems to mean a particular gay performance of a redacted notion of heterosexual maleness, inevitably involving very short hair. Yet I suspect it still has to be a visibly gay performance: for instance, gym body-built, but with a waxed chest, threaded eyebrows, and maybe botox: what I would call (in a friendly way) "butch queen". Is that "straight-acting" in the dating sense? Which here would mean simply, "markedly muscular yet evidently gay". Or do those seeking the straight-acting mean simply "one who passes" rather than a particular erotic form? – i.e. the social convenience (and to be fair, safety) of not being seen as gay on the streets.
Of course there are less pleasing aspects to effeminacy: prissiness, shrillness, an asexual cancelling-out of masculine energies; but the banner dismissal "no femmes" seems rather wider than that, pointing towards dull conservatism, self-dislike, even a sort of timidity. I wonder what its content really is – just as I wonder what that nullity "straight-acting" actually amounts to in the heads of those seeking it.
Inquiring minds need to know...
John R. Gordon's fourth novel, Faggamuffin, is out now.
IT'S THAT TIME of year again: calendar time. Ordinarily, the only one worth considering is the annual Dieux Du Stade offering, and the initial previews were very promising.
François Rousseau is back behind the camera again (he's lensed the last three calendars, plus 2004's) so it should have been shoe-in.
But - no! - what's this? Rousseau has introduced a fish dish to the menu. It instantly shatters the illusion that the rugby hunks are getting it on with each other every chance they get, and let's be real, that's the fantasy the calendar's been selling all these years.
What point is there in splashing gash all over the page? The target audience (women and gay men) don't want to see it; my own excitement over the calendar flopped at the sight of the podgy bint's tits as she emerged from the sea, her featureless cunt advancing menacingly on two of French rugby's finest. They have their backs to the camera, but I'd like to think they were flopping too, their pretty faces in a rictus of horror.
It's a shame, because the rest of the photos are beautiful. Maybe a few Post-it notes could censor the unwarranted intrusion.
TWO OF MY favourite movies are The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974); on the surface, disaster porn, but on closer inspection, films which seek to highlight humanity's better qualities. They were directed by Irwin Allen (who also gave us TV's Lost In Space and Land of the Giants).
Also released in 1974 was Earthquake, a nasty, mean-spirited film that borrows many of the elements of those superior pictures, but none of their virtues.
Look, the depiction of a cataclysmic 'quake in LA oughtn't be a walk in the park, but this is just grim. Earthquake revels in suffering and gratuitous violence (as if the natural disaster wasn't bad enough, everyone is a complete cunt to everyone else), putting instances of body horror and trauma centre-stage for our viewing pleasure; often, in a weird comic-strip style that feels almost like spoof. But it ain't that. The characters are largely charmless - Charlton Heston looks bored, George Kennedy is unpleasant, and an aging Ava Gardner embarassing. Richard Roundtree (yes - Shaft!) is here too, and then he just isn't. The whole sorry enterprise is steeped in desperation and Schadenfreude.
Unlike the relatively sophisticated Poseidon, or Inferno (yes, really - Earthquake makes me want to attach the S word to those pictures), Earthquake wasn't directed by Irwin Allen, but by Mark Robson, who also directed Val Lewton's Isle of the Dead and Bedlam, as well as Ingrid Bergman's The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Go figure.
Immediately after my evening in mid-70s hell, I was so sickened and dispirited that I had to watch several episodes of another '70s stalwart, the feel-good sitcom The Good Life, just to cleanse myself of the knawing sense of despair Robson's film left me with.
Watch it once, to see for yourself how it shouldn't be done.
DALLAS - THE 1980s night-time soap juggernaut - is back on TV, and despite an absence of some twenty years (the show ended in 1991) surprisingly little has changed.
Neither has the tired media reportage, with "glamour and back-stabbing" the favourite clichés being trotted out by hacks who probably never watched the show (I did. Although it was before my time, the commercial-free blessing of the DVD box-set has allowed me to catch up on all 14 seasons).
What those tired hacks don't mention are all those young, male cast members who died from AIDS: beautiful Dack Rambo, who played Jack Ewing, and whose twin brother Dirk Rambo died young in a car accident, or Tom Fuccello, who played Senator Dave Culver, and, perhaps most tragically of all, Timothy Patrick Murphy, who died aged just 29.
Robert La Tourneaux
Recently, I watched The Boys In The Band. I'm ashamed to say it was only my second time, having stumbled on this brilliant cornerstone of gay cinema through Crayton Robey's excellent (and award-winning) documentary Making The Boys (which I caught at the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival last year). On this viewing I watched it with my BFF, Oura, and he loved it. Oura was born in 1986, the same year Boys cast member Robert La Tourneaux died of AIDS.
La Tourneaux wasn't the only Boys In The Band cast member to succumb to AIDS. Most of the cast, and some of the crew, were wiped out by the virus by the early 1990s, something Robey's documentary shows to devastating effect in a stunning montage (at the 1.19 mark in the film). Of them all, La Tourneaux's tragic story is perhaps the most affecting; an incredibly beautiful boy discovered by writer Mart Crowley on Fire Island, he played the hot escort in the play and the film. But his association with the "queer" film destroyed his career. Addicted to drugs, he spent time in jail, asked his old cast-mates for money, and prostituted himself, before finally dying of AIDS. "He was enraged that he had AIDS - enraged - because he had so much more to do in his life," Boys executive producer Dominick Dunne says in Robey's documentary. And we see old footage of La Tourneaux on a talk show in 1980, still looking beautiful, talking about his fall from grace; it's heartbreaking.
Irving Allen Lee
All these brilliant, gifted, gay men wiped out long before their time, fallen soldiers in war. So many of the boys in Paris Is Burning died young from AIDS. Fame's Gene Anthony Ray. And less well known names: Irving Allen Lee. Robert Reed. Michael Sundin. Kenny Greene. Jerry Smith. Kuwasi Balagoon. And Kenny Everett and Rock Hudson and Robert Mapplethorpe and Marlon Riggs... And so many more.
So next time you watch your favourite soap, or baseball game, or take a picture, remember our fallen soldiers. Back then, they didn't stand a chance. Robert La Tourneax was "enraged" at his life being cut short by the virus. You should feel fucking enraged that he's not here now.
Gregory Peck stars with Ava Gardner, Hildegarde Knef and the incomparable Susan Hayward in Henry King's adaptation of Hemingway's The Snows Of Kilimanjaro (1952).
Peck plays an author searching the world for subjects to write about while ignoring the fact that they're right in front of him. This eventually leads him to Africa, where an accident forces him to review his life and see where he lived, who he loved and where he lost out. Shot in Technicolor, it's a big adventure, with big stars and big ambitions. It's also a great ride!Steve Hayes
(Syndication is with the kind permission of Steve Hayes.)
"I would also like to take this opportunity to squash the persistent rumours about mysterious 'disappearances' and emphasize that rural and urban areas are now enjoying a life of harmony and peace. I'm sure you're glad to hear this. And I'm happy you're glad."