Dream Girls, the Nightmare

We were hauled off to see a drag show in Gümbet. ‘You’ll love it,’ we were told. We didn’t. If every sequin tells a story then this was a Greek tragedy. We survived the show – just. It was truly dreadful and I’ve seen some dreadful drag acts in my time. We endured tired old routines that I first saw in the Green Room at the Wheatsheaf, Shepherds Bush circa 1977.  We’re not talking about the superb Lily Savage or the sublime Dame Edna or even the multi-talented Dame Edna Experience (resident Sunday afternoon cabaret at the Vauxhall Tavern in South London). It was about as funny as toothache. This may have had ‘em rolling in the aisles on Seaside Special but that was forty years ago. It was no surprise that the act was a couple of rough old queens from Blackpool. Still, the (almost exclusively straight) punters lapped it up. We ate chicken in a basket.

9 thoughts on “Dream Girls, the Nightmare

  1. I love your blog! I’m curious, if you know of Zeki Muren? (speaking of Drag). His house was in Bodrum, and I think it’s been turned into a museum. Here’s a link to a video of one of his youthful performances: http://youtu.be/-o9zho6pMHw

    and a later one (where he wears what has become his customary attire: http://youtu.be/ePzm5yBpCyQ

    There’s a terrific book called “The Republic of Love” by Martin Stokes that talks about the culture and history of Turkey by looking at the music of Zeki Muren, Orhan Gencbay and Sezen Aksu.

    Zeki Muren was really respected by all musicians, he has a true Turkish “Art” style that was extremely sophisticated, and he was able to be who he was in spite of a repressive climate.

    Thanks for your blog, I look forward to every post!


  2. Hi Kelly. Thanks for the complement. Yes, we know of Zeki Muran him and I’ve read quite alot about him. It’s funny how some artists can rise above the soffocating oppression of buttoned up societies. Liberace and Danny la Rue are two further examples. My theory is they do so by presenting as asexual and so non-threatening. Zeki’s house is a museum but I’m embarrassed to admit we haven’t visited it yet. We will trot along at some point during the Summer.


  3. My rule of thumb? Politely decline any invitation with “Gümbet” in it, especially when it’s accompanied by a positive assertion of “you’ll love it” “it’s great” “you can’t miss this”. We were recently invited to a Tuesday karaoke night in Gümbet. Our hosts were taking the Dolmus from the Gumuskaya area of the peninsula — so not a straight route to get to the night’s festivities — so we decided, wisely, to decline.

    I’m sure there’s nice area’s of Gümbet – I just haven’t discovered them yet.


  4. Hi Jack,
    We went and saw the Dreamgirls show many years ago in Gumbet and at that time they were really good, there was five of them. I dare say that it has gone downhill of recent years, much as everything has in Gumbet. If you still havn’t been to Zeki Muren’s house, it is well worth a visit, the costumes alone are quite fantastic.


    1. An then there were two. Sounds like they’re flogging a dead horse. It’s not that they aren’t talented. It’s just the show looks tired and old hat. We will try and get to see Zeki’s house soon.


  5. Fancy you mentioning the Vauxhall Tavern. My Mum and my Aunt used to take me there to see the drag show.I was only 15 at the time ( also the White Bear !! Not sure where that was exactly) so around about 1978.

    The lead in the show was a fella called Dave who looked much better in a frock than I’ve ever looked and was pretty tasty as a bloke too.
    He must have made an impression if I still remember his name !!!!

    And talking of Zeki Moran, I’d not been here long when he died and didn’t speak the language.
    I sat for ages wondering why the TV news was showing this ‘mature’ woman ( full make-up,big hair and long frock) collapsing during a live interview and then showing old black and white clips of a young actor !!!!

    Love the blog- keep up the good work.
    Bev Ç


    1. The Vauxhall has been rebranded as ‘The RVT’ and is still going strong. It’s a bit of a dump and looks very different from your visit where there were three separate bars and a central bar that the turns used to mince up and down knocking off the pints. It’s one big space now and packs ’em in. I don’t remember a drag queen called Dave but then my first visit wasn’t until about 1979.


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