Our move date from city to country coincided with tickets to see Armistead Maupin’s one-man show at Norwich’s Theatre Royal. Maupin is the author of the Tales of the City series of novels set in San Francisco which chronicle the lives and times of an eclectic group of residents passing through the Barbary Lane boarding house turned apartments owned by Anna Madrigal. We love the books (and subsequent TV serialisations) so it was with heavy hearts we had to give Maupin a miss.
Liam was determined not to miss the next big thing – gay
icon-wise – to come along. And they don’t get bigger than the late, great Judy
Garland. Liam is a BIG fan and was virtually hyperventilating as we took our
seats at Norwich’s Cinema City for ‘Judy’, staring the wonderful Renée
Zellweger in the title role. Liam loves a dead diva.
Covering the brief period when the down-at-heel legend arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of last-chance concerts, ‘Judy’ is not exactly a feel-good film. We all know what happens in the end and watching Judy’s descent into drug and drink-fuelled hell makes grim viewing. But the film is strangely compelling and Ms Zellweger is mesmerising – interpreting rather than parodying Judy’s magical stage presence – and all in her own voice. No miming needed. I hear Oscar knocking.
When I first started this blogging lark way back in 2010, I began to attract cyber-friends from across the blogosphere. Yankee repat, Charles Ayres, was one of them. Right from the off, Charles was a great supporter of my literary pretensions (blog and book) and was one of the first to review Perking the Pansies. He’s one of those virtual pals I know I would enjoy getting drunk with in the real world.
Charles published his own expat story, Impossibly Glamorous in 2013 and has now followed this up with a sequel, ‘San Francisco Daddy’ under the name Charles St Anthony (he thinks it sounds like a posh Yves Saint Laurent scent; it reminds me of a cheap hairdresser I once dallied with). Here’s what I made of it…
Charles St Anthony used to be big in Japan. That was until that earthquake in 2011 which proved that Mother Nature was the bigger bitch. So what did Charles do? Kicked off his heels and chucked himself down the evacuation slide. Inexplicably drawn to tectonic faults, he parachuted into San Francisco. While waiting for the Next Big One, he wrote his brilliant autobiography, Impossibly Glamorous, keeping the wolves from the door with a series of less than glamorous dead end jobs. Gay men never grow old they just grow body hair and Charles joined the party by ditching the waxing and growing the whiskers. Transformed into a ‘bear’, he embarked on a series of romantic liaisons as dead end as the dead end jobs. San Francisco Daddy: One Gay Man’s Chronicle of His Adventures in Life and Love, is Charles’ brutally honest account of his tales of the city. Charles has lost none of his well-honed observational skills or self-deprecating caustic wit. The book is a delight to read. Did Charles land the dream job and the dream man in the end? You’ll have to download San Francisco Daddy to find out.
Beards are back. I don’t mean the little goatees of the early Noughties or the close-cut five o-clock shadow of yesteryear. This time they’re big, really big. We’re talking twisted whiskers of ZZ Top proportions. Sales of razor blades and shaving foam have dropped through the floor causing consternation in the boardrooms of Gillette and Wilkinson Sword. You can hardly turn on the TV without a Bin Laden lookie-likey looking back. Everyone’s at it. A case in point is the comedian, Alex Horne. He’s gone from clean-cut to shag pile, ageing 10 years overnight. Of course the truth is I’m jealous. My own facial growth has always been a tad patchy and a bit wispy, more Catweazle than Clooney. Back in the Village People day, the Frisco look was the only show in town – plunging check shirts, tight Levi 501s, chest rugs and bushy Tom Selleck tashes. Everyone looked butch, as long as they didn’t move and didn’t speak. And clones only danced with clones. Pretty little things like me didn’t get a look in. No fuzz, no way. These days all the old clones still breathing have morphed into ‘bears.’ Essentially, this just means they’ve gone to fat.
I’d like to introduce American Expat returnee, Charles Ayres. Charles is funny and talented, and quite famous in his own lunchtime. He’s written for Harper’s Bazaar and Metropolis, handled the international PR for Tokyo FM’s annual Earth Day concert and popped up the big and small screen, most notably on the Japanese TV show “It’s OK to Laugh” (Waratte ii Tomo) and film “The Billion Yen Jackpot!” (Juoku-en Kasegu!)
Charles lived in the Land of the Rising Sun for 12 years and left after the 2011 earthquake. After experiencing the Big One, he moved to San Francisco to wait for the next Big One. He’s released his autobiography, Impossibly Glamorous, “The rudest book you’ll ever love,” detailing his life growing up as a raver in the American Midwest and taking over New York and Japan.
Charles has been a great supporter of Perking the Pansies, virtually from the beginning, and jumped in to help with promoting the book. He was one of the first to review Perking the Pansies