Another Saturday night in, I feel positively middle-aged. Oh well, Duckie next Saturday and both nights of the Big Bexhill Valentine's Weekend. Outfit crises a-brewing.
And it's not like this week has been a solid run of abstemious school nights. Wednesday was the Peter Tatchell fundraiser cabaret event at the Phoenix Artists Club. I'm not quite sure why Tatchell needs funds at the moment - maybe he's saving up to punch the Pope or something - but no-one could argue with the line-up of fabulous gay artistes, many of them familiar from the Axis of Duckie.
Bit of a last minute decision on our part but me and TSB hung around in Soho after work for a few hours before toddling along to the Phoenix, where everything is setting up. Coincidentally, I'd seen the venue only a week earlier when Mel took us there, and I'd liked it so much I'd joined up on the spot. £120 a year isn't bad for a quiet(ish) spot in Soho where one can be guaranteed a seat of a Friday. And I like the general atmosphere, the clutter of theatrical bric-a-brac.
On Wednesday, there was a clutter of theatrical queens. Having lived a while in London, with its large-enough-to-self-segregate gay scene, I don't tend to come across that particular subgroup of Gay Men Of A Certain Age very often. When I lived in Scotland, the scene was much smaller, so bars and clubs and "gay events" were more diverse, in terms of age range. Here, the likes of Duckie (with its "playgroup for the over-30s" vibe) are more varied than most, but one would have to venture to the Quebec to see the sixtysomethings at play.
Chatting with DawnRightNasty, we agreed that it was refreshing to see so many of this older demographic: it bolstered one's confidence that queer social life doesn't end at thirty, or forty, or sixty, or whenever. Lots of nice cashmere coats and a sprinkling of growing-old-disgracefully leather. If I'm as attractively dapper in my sixties as these guys, I'll be very happy indeed.
Oh, speaking of sexy older men, Brian Paddick was there for a little while, looking very fanciable. I think I'm developing a bit of a crush on him...
And so, on with the show! We parked ourselves in the Members Bar at the back and watched the main area become progressively busier. Nathan Evans, David Hoyle and DawnRightNasty were sitting nearby, and were later joined by Fred Bear - all very Vauxhallville. My eye was caught by a rather dashing (and oddly familiar-looking) chap in distinctly Victorian white tie and tails. Turned out he was one of the MCs, Mr Meredith (Luke? I didn't catch his first name). The acts were introduced, the first being Earl Grey reprising his Queen's Speech. Clever, funny stuff, but I rather missed his Vivien Leigh. Caught him afterwards:
I missed a few of the following acts, having become engrossed in conversation with the ever-fascinating TSB. There was a poet called Ernesto Somethingorother, a striking latex geisha Miss Akimbo, QBoy and the very lovely Le Gateau Chocolat. I'd seen the latter (very deservedly) win one of the voguing categories at Liverpool Is Burning but it was a bit of a revelation to hear him sing. I liked his version of The Man That Got Away. Here he is with Miss Akimbo:
I pushed through the crowded main bar to grab a photo of Dickie Beau then retreated to a more comfortable spot to enjoy his extraordinary Judy Garland monologue. Despite having seen it before, this was just as emotionally engaging, holding the audience spellbound. Where I was standing, people were making little gasps at points of particular intensity.
I briefly chatted to Dickie Beau afterwards and drunkenly gushed at him a bit. As I do.
An angelic-looking David Hoyle was introduced as the last act. I think I liked him; he's so out of the ordinary that sometimes it's hard to tell...
Fred Bear had got togged up in a very cute outfit (I got to feel his scut!) and I was initially disappointed that they'd run out of time for him to perform. David Hoyle brought him up on stage, though.
How does he get his facial hair to look so immaculately handlebartastic? I have moustache envy.
He finished off with a spot of bearbacking:
We drank far too much wine for a school night and indulged in the traditional-but-ill-advised ritual of popping into filthy, seedy ol' 79CXR for a final one for the road. Boozehounds.