Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland make movie magic in William Keighley and Michael Curtiz's 1938 spectacular, The Adventures Of Robin Hood.
Sumptuously shot in Technicolor and featuring an unbelievable supporting cast featuring Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone at their villainous best, along with Alan Hale, Eugene Pallette, Una O'Connor and a cast of hundreds, it's the action/adventure epic of a lifetime and a perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving with the whole family! Steve Hayes
(Syndication is with the kind permission of Steve Hayes.)
Suicide is the number one exit strategy for troubled gay teens. It was nearly mine. Looking back, I know what - and who - saved my life.
EARLIER THIS year, I saw a play called Gutted. Twice. And were it not for the burdensome intrusion of work, I'd have seen it a third time. Maybe more. This awesomely hypnotic piece of theatre (about four London Irish brothers facing up to the abuse wrought on them by their now deceased father) starred Louise Jameson, who in 1977 happened to play Leela in Doctor Who. A series of unlikely coincidences - about which I won't bore you - opened up the possibility of meeting Ms. Jameson in the flesh, which led me to think about what I'd actually say to this accomplished actress, for whom Doctor Who was just one small part of her career. Perhaps, "Ms Jameson, I'd just like you to know - it's not a big deal or anything - but you saved my life..."
Perth, Western Australia.
In 1977 I hadn't yet been born, but in 1990 I was a sensitive kid still in single digits, who suddenly found himself transposed from troubled Northern Ireland - with its bombs and barbed wire and rubber bullets - to the wonderful land of Oz. Sounds like a good swap, right? Well, not quite. It was Oz (sort of): somewhere on the bottom flank of planet Earth, arid Western Australia, seething with rabid Aussie nationalism and xenophobia, where the kids my age knew only of surfing, and heavy metal music. To white Australia - and it was white, relentlessly - I was the second most dirtiest thing imaginable: an immigrant. We grew here, you flew here, they said. An IRA terrorist had infiltrated the blond and blonde Aussies; it's a shame I was too naive to understand the significance of the invisible Aborigine, white Australia's most loathsome charge, or the meaning of the words "genocide" and "invasion".
The sense of desolation was crippling. The bullying - and it was bad, me against a whole country - was one thing, but having everything familiar, everything I loved ripped away was something else entirely. Suddenly, the town I grew up in, the family and friends I knew, the food I ate, and TV I watched, were gone, blotted out forever. Oz wasn't a yellow brick road and Munchkins, it was an unforgiving alien landscape under a baking hot sun, blighted by swarms of flies, punctuated by a creepy national anthem. It was like Nazi Germany and the Hitler Youth. Advance Australia fair! Foreigners out! Floundering in the unforgiving Aussie surf, this sensitive queer kid was about to go under.
Then, one day in the winter of 1990, Doctor Who popped up on the television. Doctor Who - on Australian TV! A miracle! Back home in the dying days of the '80s, I had been an avid fan of Doctor Who (it had also been, as I later learned, the dying days of Doctor Who). I had been gripped by adventures of cheetah people, of legendary knights in the present day, and homicidal clowns, where the estates of the National Trust were stalked by Cybermen, a benighted planet of women where you had to be happy or die, and a tower block in the future called Paradise Towers patrolled by murderous cleaning machines... It fired my imagination, and I loved it to bits, even though no one at school did. Doctor Who, at that time, was deeply out of fashion, and brainless American fare like The A Team was in.
Doctor Who in this barren wasteland of suburban Australia was the least likely thing on earth, but suddenly here it was on the ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) at 5.30 p.m., Monday to Thursday, a window to home, if not a way back. It was 1990, before streaming, before set-top boxes, before DVD. There was only VHS, which even then was expensive (for a 10-year-old, at any rate). The first serial was 1977's Image of the Fendahl. This time capsule of a story had metransfixed.It was, I'd later learn, also one of Louise Jameson's earliest shows.
The ABC screened several key seasons of late 1970s Doctor Who, and later most of the 1980s in a graveyard 4.30 a.m. slot. Yeah, I woke up early for those. But right at the beginning, it was Louise Jameson and Tom Baker who were there, when I was most lost, when I really had nothing and no one. Jameson's Leela - the outsider, the alien abroad - came along at exactly the right time. She was everything to that lost queer kid.
Looking back, I can see that those repeats saved me. You might say, "It's just a T.V. show", but it was a drowning man's life raft. When faced with extreme trauma, some of us adapt and conform (my brothers and sister did), and some of us find a temporary escape. Some of us seek out the ultimate exit strategy. Doctor Who was my escape, without it I'd have gone under, just one more gay kid for whom suicide was the only way out. Instead, I found a wonderful fantasy world I could retreat into, and right there on T.V., a character I could truly relate to, Louise Jameson's powerful outsider Leela.
Some twenty-five years later, I found myself watching this wonderful actress on stage in London, a world away from the horrors of Oz, in a play written and directed by the friend of the wonderful friend who finally rescued me from Oz (that's another story). I didn't have the nerve to say anything afterwards; I'm still damaged, still dented by all those ugly years in White Australia. "You haven't changed. Still finding menace in your own shadow," as the second Doctor says in The Five Doctors.
So, Louise Jameson, in the unlikely event you ever read this, I'd like to say thank you for being amazing, in 1977, in 1990, and again in 2013. When you were Leela, you saved this queer kid's life.
I'M NOT A fan of Doctor Who - not the show running under that title since 2005, that is - so The Day of the Doctor, a feature length episode celebrating the series' fiftieth anniversary was never going to satisfy me.
I approached it with a degree of cynicism, a small part of me hoping to be enchanted, but fully expecting the disappointment and frustration that seems to be the show's raison d'être in the twenty-first century.
When it was all over, the sense I was left with was of having seen a compilation of bits of different episodes, fused with various Comic Relief sketches. There's even a T.V. comedian playing a comedy scientist in a Tom Baker scarf.
The return of the Zygons, a much-loved monster last seen in 1975, was a criminal waste. They barely registered in a disjointed, shopping list plot that ticked off various unrelated elements that included a pointless motorbike stunt, various London tourist attractions, the Daleks, Queen Elizabeth, and that f**king stupid fez.
Particularly grating were the risible comedy performances - Joanna Page's Queen Elizabeth was a joke, and not the kind that made me laugh. John Hurt tries to inject some gravitas, but he's struggling against an idiotic script, and the, frankly, stupid larking about by Smith and Tennant. Matt Smith, as ever, left me cold, a miscast, kiddie Junior Dr. Who, and David Tennant's worst traits were (puerile shenanigans with the Queen) were eagerly signposted for the "casual" viewer: look, Doctor Who is f**king the Queen! What a hoot! Clara, the companion with no personality (a good friend always refers to her as "just some girl"), barely registers. One of the few good things in it was Billie Piper.
There's no sense of drama or danger. The infamous Time War is depicted as extras running around amidst dry ice, no one actually dies on screen. War is hell - for f**k sake, show it. But no, this is the BBC in compliance mode, joyless and soulless, its balls lopped off by focus group. The only monsters are the accountants calculating the megabucks the show will generate.
This is Doctor Who emasculated, a sickly canapé served up for people who enjoy Strictly Come Dancing and Downton Abbey.
The Day of the Doctor was, in the end, simply a massive corporate circle jerk; regurgitated, high calorie, low nutrition swill for the publicity machine, all hype and no delivery. I don't know what it was I just watched, but like much of the last eight years of noise, it wasn't Doctor Who.
< Remembering the worst mass murder of gay people in U.S. history. "Forty years ago, dozens of people were trapped inside a New Orleans gay bar as it burned down. Now a new book, two films, an art installation, and a musical revisit the tragedy."
> Joe Bell decided to walk from coast to coast in memory of his gay son Jadin, who hanged himself after a campaign of anti-gay bullying. But the grieving father was hit by a truck and killed one month ago, and individuals in his community decided to complete the walk and share his message.
< RUSSIA: Last week (THE KAOS THEORYIssue 164) we heard about a gay South African student who was kidnapped by a neo-Nazi gang and tortured. In fact, he was from Swaziland, and has returned home, understandably traumatised.
||| RUSSIA: Maxim Martsinkevich, the anti-gay neo-Nazi leader of the group Occupy Pedophilia, has fled Russia to escape extremism charges.
> RUSSIA: Officials bugged a meeting convened by gay activists (and four major international human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch).
< RUSSIA: Shots fired in gay Moscow nightclub Central Station.
||| RUSSIA: Gays are to blame for falling meteorites, according to T.V. host Arkady Mamontov.
||| RUSSIA: Alexander Suturin, chief editor of a Khabarovsk newspaper, arrested for printing "being gay is normal".
||| JAMAICA: Police continue harassing homeless gay youths living in the sewers and gullies of New Kingston.
||| JAMAICA: The Constitutional Court rules Jamaican TV channels can refuse to screen gay equality public service announcement. Lawyer and Jamaican activist Maurice Tomlinson starred in the PSA, and brought the law suit against the stations.
> Maurice Tomlinson challenges anti-gay laws of Trinidad and Tobago, and Belize.
< UGANDA: Activists protest arrest of Samuel K Ganafa, director of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives, and Board Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda.
> UGANDA: Gay Briton and Ugandan partner face jail over private sex images on stolen laptop.
||| ZAMBIA: Judge refuses to grant bail to Phillip Mubiana and James Mwape, who have languished for six months without a conviction on charges of homosexual activity.
> Talking to Thomas Glave ("perhaps the most respected gay male Caribbean author") about his new collection of essays, Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh.
< Gore Vidal on James Baldwin: "A black writer who then turns out to be a queen and also a preacher of the Lord; it was one of the reasons he was so often hysterical and very often made no sense at all, because he was living too many contradictions."
< Celebrate Bent-Con with seven gay graphic novels.
> Protest planned for The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, the "story of Adam and Steve, who leave the Garden of Eden to encounter the Earth's first inhabitants, a pair of lesbians named Jane and Mabel".
> There's less than two weeks to go to fund Elegance Bratton's film Pier Kids: The Life, a documentary about the homeless gay and transgender youth who call the Christopher Street Pier home. Make a difference, pledge.
||| James Franco blasts Michael Fassbender character in Shame and movie's depiction of gay sex. "That scene where he's at his lowest point and wants to fuck and goes into a gay club, and it's depicted like the seventh level of hell. I mean, it goes back to the horrible representations of gays in the '70s, where the gay club is meant to signify everything dark and depraved. Then the guy gets a minor blowjob, from, Oh no, a man! The horror!"
< Film review: Snails in the Rain "...treads ground ever more familiar in LGBT cinema, it does so from an intriguing starting point, even as it avoids dealing with any religious or cultural issues that might seem integral to the setting."
||| HBO developingCurb Your Enthusiasm-style comedy with Black Hollywood as the backdrop.
< Just in time for Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary, the son of the man who came up with the idea of the TARDIS police box disguise is challenging BBC over breach of copyright. Stef Coburn wants the BBC to stop using the police box, or pay for every appearance it makes.
||| David Tennant tops the poll for the nation's favourite Doctor, with incumbent Matt Smith managing a paltry fifteen percent of the vote.
"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."