Monday, October 10, 2005


Monday 10 October C4 11.00pm.

"Whatever Happened To The Gender Benders?"

Though I have the nasty feeling that the programme's been switched to the Minipops, due to Mr O' Dowd's unfortunate news. Weren't they the lot on Junior Showtime?

Personally I blame the whole New Romantic business for my years of hoping to be 'discovered' on a night on the tiles, instead of just shagged. Probably why I'm still alive. As you can see by my profile pic, I take my make up tips from my hero the "Divine David," who, I was very saddened to hear only very recently, has passed away. Seems like only yesterday I wore that tutu on my head down the Camden Palace.


Well aside from the obviously [self?] medicated Marilyn and Steve Strange, it felt as if the programme had been cut down from a wider-reaching brief. Why else include interviews with Marc Almond and Pete Burns? Despite the title, it seemed to have got stuck on the London New Romantic scene with clips from John Maybury's home movies. The makers hadn't left themselves room to cover the fact that the New Romantic ethos played with images of class as well as gender. In the early eighties any kind of formal clothes for men could only be found secondhand. I remember being the first kid at school with a short back and sides. I kept being asked if I was in a play! Of course it all just degenerated into suits at 'Next.'

The metaphor of masquerade at a time of social decline has always been potent. Theatricality transcending social class and material standing, [remember Venice.] The paradox of fellowship/competition in the gay community/scene, was co-opted for a while by the New Romantic scene, but the whole point of theatre is the artifice. You may dress as a star, without being one. [My gay brother's always shagging professional men, expecting them to get serious, despite only having sexual orientation in common.]

The whole point of the programme seemed to be to gauge how well these kids in costume had managed to go legit. If this process failed, drugs seemed to get the blame. Isn't it really about how much substance was there under the surface, and how empty the pose is without real art. That's not to dismiss the real pain these people have suffered. Steve Strange, the boy from Wales was now the boy back in Wales.

With all spirit of community evapourated, the competiveness was left exposed, in the programme we had Boy George bitching about Marilyn's costume on Top of the Pops and how jealous he was of Steve Strange's early success. Marilyn and Steve Strange seemed too out of it to really return the favour.

Anyway, the achievement of these surfers of the zeitgeist cannot be underestimated, and it was telling how much Visage achieved and pioneered with their £5000 video for 'Fade to Grey.' There have been more tragic figures and worse records since then.

Phew, got that off my chest, and no I didn't copy an old essay on Queer theory.

ps. the signs were there

1 comment:

Trashbinder said...

Damn and blast, I cannot believe I missed that programme.

Mind you, I keep missing television programmes because I can never bring myself to study the TV listings for more than 30 seconds, without an insatiable desire to do something less mind-numbing instead.

Have you seen the documentary that accompanied the 'Taboo' musical. The footage of Marilyn, Phillip Salon and Princess Julia was fantastic.

Loving the 'official' Marilyn website, for not posting a single image beyond 1985 and for all of the typographical errors. You have to love him really, he is so flawed.

PS Gutted about The Divine David, had no idea he was ill.