Tag Archives: Admiral Duncan

Bras, a drag king, lesbians and the IRA

A bag of bras - Charmian Hughes

A bag of bras

Just after twilight yesterday, I was rushing to catch a train and was carrying a bag of bras destined for, in my imagination, bemused bosomy women in Kenya.

If you don’t know why, you should have read my blog three days ago.

Crossing a busy road in Borehamwood, I bumped into a lady about my age or older and knocked her over. I didn’t see her; she didn’t see me. Queues of cars in both directions had their bright white headlights on in the black air. She ended on the ground; I dropped my bag. Fortunately the cars were not close enough or travelling fast enough to hit her or the plastic bag.

I would not have liked to explain why I was carrying a plastic bag of bras, though I do try to be supportive in general.

Especially as, after delivering the bras to the Mama Biashara charity shop in Shepherd’s Bush, I was then going to the Admiral Duncan gay bar in Soho.

LoUis CYfer performed to dancing men last night at the Admiral Duncan

LoUis CYfer had the Admiral Duncan crowd dancing last night

I am not gay. This blog’s South Coast correspondent Sandra Smith had persuaded me to go along with her to see drag king LoUis CYfer host and perform her (LoUis CYfer’s) regular Wednesday night act there. Well, OK, I did not need any persuasion, having met and blogged about LoUIs CYfer just over a a month ago.

I don’t know why I have never gone to gay clubs, as I do like a bit of OTT kitsch and camp.

In the mid-1980s, when I was researching TV shows, I did go a few times to a lesbian cabaret at Oval House in South London, but it was all a bit too cliquey for peaktime Saturday night television.

IRA songs and lesbian cabaret seemed to share something

IRA songs and lesbian cabaret seemed to share something…

In Dublin, in the 1990s, I bought a collection of IRA songs to see what they were like and was surprised because so many of them were obviously designed to reassure their listeners that they were not losing.

The Oval House lesbian cabaret seemed ro me to have much the same psychology – inward-looking – We are not alone. We are a marginalised, prejudiced-against group and we should huddle together for reassurance. We are not losing! A sort of covered-wagons-in-a-defensive-ring mind-set. Everything was self-referential and inward-looking to try to build up reassuring self-esteem.

LoUis’ support act last night - Elvis in a cardigan

Elvis in a cardigan – LoUis’ support act last night

So the Admiral Duncan last night was a very enjoyable surprise. Not an enclave. Not a meat market. Relaxed. I guess (I hope) it is a sign that gay times have moved on since the 1980s.

LoUis CYfer had to battle slightly against a distracted Christmas pub audience. But that is normal in any British pub and club. And she succeeded.

So I guess things are progressing OK.

CYfer so good.

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Changing worlds: Drugs confusion in Canada. Amazing gay night in London.

Anna Smith last night, "after three days of sleeping on a psychiatrist’s couch"

Anna Smith, woman with her finger on pulse of Vancouver

Two days ago, I got a message from this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith, who lives on a river in Vancouver. The message said:

Having an oil spill in Vancouver right now!

Everybody here is furious about it. The oil is on the beaches. I am too disgusted to even look at it. It hasn’t arrived in the river yet but it will. Vancouver likes to call itself The World’s Greenest City. Now there is an oil spill in our water. We are dirtier than we think.

In New Westminster, the movies have been replaced by strippers. Cinemas that once screened Cleopatra and Cecil B. DeMille movies have been supplanted by 2 FOR 1 DANCES SUNDAY ALL NIGHT.

Anna also sent me a photo of what she described as “a bear dressed as a rabbit standing very close to a chicken laying marijuana eggs across the street from a 24 hour drugstore, which is not to be confused with the ubiquitous weed dispensaries which have been popping up like mushrooms all over town,” and added:

Bear dressed as rabbit standing by a chicken laying marijuana eggs

Bear dressed as rabbit standing by a chicken laying some marijuana eggs

There are now at least eighty storefront dope dispensaries in Vancouver and new ones are opening every week. None of them have business licences because the city council can’t make up their minds what to license them as.

The laws about dope are so complicated that most people are totally confused and have to smoke a joint to relax and get over the confusion. Different provinces deal with it differently. I think the Federal government has tried to keep it illegal but grows it for people who require it during chemotherapy. This is known as chemo weed.

A pizzeria in Vancouver is now serving slices with marijuana in them for $10 extra – provided you are over 18 and have been prescribed marijuana by a doctor.

A former British Columbia Solicitor General has predicted that Canada will make marijuana totally legal within five years.

And 24 Hours has a picture of a pregnant woman smoking a joint with the headline: Is Pot Safe For Pregnant Women? The article inside says that pot advocates claim it helps reduce nausea and morning sickness.

Neon marijuana leaf advertising a " clinic " on Granville Street

Neon marijuana leaf advertising a ‘clinic’ on Granville St, Vancouver

This morning on the radio I heard a man saying that women should be put on a pedestal because they have to endure things such as childbirth and morning sickness and I thought WHAT? The worst morning sickness experience I ever had was having to throw up out of the window of a bus.

Nauseating, yes. But it’s not as if morning sickness is an actual illness. It’s not a reason to take drugs when pregnant.

There will be more weed news from here on the 20th of this month when the pot heads have a huge festival at the art gallery and there will be a plaza of official booths where helpful young people selling it will suggest which strain is most suitable for you.

Gareth (left in sunglasses) outside shop with tourist & confectionary materials and Thai Sauna

Ellis (left in sunglasses) outside shop mixing tourist and confectionary merchandise and a Thai massage

Meanwhile, back in London, I met comedy performer and stuntmeister

Ellis at Soho Theatre for a blog about a stunt which I posted two days ago. As we walked along Oxford Street towards Tottenham Court Road station, two new confectionary shops appeared to have opened up, both offering massage parlours in their basements. This seems a new development in retail on Oxford Street.

Also, in England this week, I was sent the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series of communiqués from this blog’s new South Coast correspondent Sandra Smith. (No relation to Anna Smith). She too had paid a visit to Soho in London:

Sandy Mac - So It Goes’ new South Coast woman of mystery

Sandra Smith – So It Goes’ new Englishwoman of mystery

I have just seen LoUis CYfer, the only ‘drag king’ in the UK, at the Admiral Duncan pub. She won the title in June. I thought she was male. But she is, in fact, female. I thought she was fabulous. She used to work behind the bar at the Admiral Duncan.

There was also an Elvis, in a cardigan and a dreadful wig, who even at my advanced age seemed very old indeed. He had quite a powerful voice though – so much so that I thought he was miming. But I was told he wasn’t.

There was also a girl. Well, looked like a girl – could’ve been a fella – who knows? Did a number and a duet with Louis.

There is a clip on YouTube of LoUis CYfer performing at the Admiral Duncan.

And I met a man with an amazing quiff, who was in the Admiral Duncan at the time of the nail bomb in 1999.

He pointed to where he was sitting at the time, which was along the right wall at the very back of the bar. Unusually for me, I did not ask him more about it. It would have been interesting to have heard his experience of the event. I must have been distracted by something else. The front of his white blond hair was pointing skywards, so less of a quiff, but amazing hair nonetheless.

There were a nice bunch in last night, though I did have to try and persuade a couple of them that dancing with me was not a good idea.

LoUis CYfer as she wants to be seen: Facebook profile picture

LoUis CYfer as she wants to be seen: Facebook profile picture

They were filming for a documentary called Queens & Kings, due for release in 2016. (Well, there was a man with a camera anyway). They are following LoUis CYfer in the lead-up to her visit to the International Drag Festival in Austin, Texas, at the beginning of May. I should have asked her more, but didn’t, as I was just enjoying the experience. It was an interesting evening.

LoUis CYfer asked if me and the lady sitting next to me were together.

“Oh yes,” I replied, “we’ve known each other since we were fourteen.” 

There was a collective Aaaah… from the room, and even Paulo the barman from Brazil, stretched across the bar, beaming encouragingly.

I thought to myself: That’s not what I meant at all.

Returning to Canadian drug affairs, there is a clip on YouTube of a Russian newsreader failing several times to keep a straight face while reporting a particularly detailed story from Canada.

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