Posts Tagged ‘Danny La Rue’

Sketch of Musical Comedy Duo Hinge and Bracket

November 27, 2022

The two ladies, Dr. Evadne Hinge and Dame Hilda Bracket, were a drag act, the comic creations of George Logan and Patrick Fyffe. The Wikipedia page on them notes that they started off in the gay clubs before entering the mainstream, and that they differed from other drag acts as the comedy was based far more on character. The section on this on the Wikipedia entry runs

‘Patrick Fyffe and George Logan devised the Hinge and Bracket act after they met performing at the Escort Club in Pimlico, London. Fyffe had already gained experience performing in his cabaret drag act as a glamorous soprano named Perri St Claire, and his character had appeared in small parts on television shows such as Z Cars and Doctor in the House, as well as the 1972 film version of Steptoe and Son.

Fyffe and Logan began to work on a comedy act featuring Fyffe as a retired opera singer who still thinks she can sing, with Logan as her male accompanist. The idea developed into a dual drag act featuring a pair of eccentric old ladies. Their act was distinct from drag queens in that their portrayal was more realistic than exaggerated caricature, allowing them to gain more mainstream appeal beyond gay clubs. Some fans were convinced by their performance and were unaware that the elderly ladies were being acted by two young men, although their act was frequently decorated with double extenders. Hinge and Bracket were portrayed as a pair of elderly spinsters who had spent their lives performing classical music. They frequently indulged in reminiscences of their heyday singing in opera and performing with Ivor Novello and Noël Coward. Their characters evoked a genteel English inter-war world and their stage act was frequently interspersed with performances of popular songs (often Novello or Coward) and light opera numbers, especially pieces by Gilbert and Sullivan. Both were singers, and Dr Hinge usually provided the accompaniment seated at the piano.[2] Writer Gyles Brandreth described Hinge and Bracket as “a drag act with a difference. They offered character and comedy instead of glamour and sex appeal.”[5]

The ladies shared a house (known as The Old Manse or Utopia Ltd) in the fictional village of Stackton Tressel in Suffolk; the name was adapted from Fyffe’s Staffordshire birthplace of Acton Trussell. They employed the services of an eccentric housekeeper, Maud, played in the radio series by English character actress Daphne Heard.’

Apparently, they got their broadcasting breakthrough in 1976 when they appeared on The Good Old Days, following which they had their own series on Radio 4, The Enchanting World of Hinge and Bracket which ran from 1977 to 1979. This was followed three years later by a BBC 2 series, Dear Ladies, which ran from 1982 to 1984. They also had another series on Radio 2, The Random Jottings of Hinge and Bracket, from 1982 to 1989. This was followed by another series, At Home with Hinge and Bracket, in 1990. Wikipedia also notes that they also appeared at the Royal Opera House in a production of the Die Fliedermaus, a West End production of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest, and Peter Shaffer’s Lettice and Lovage, as well as numerous appearances in pantomime and Royal Variety Performances. They also released a record, Hinge and Bracket at Abbey Road, with a cover spoofing the Beatles album. Logan stopped performing as his character after death of Fyffe from cancer in 2002 at the age of 60, but brought her out once more for a performance of the comic opera, The Dowager’s Oyster in 2016.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinge_and_Bracket

I can just about remember them from my childhood in the 1970s but wanted to write about them as they show how TV drag shows have changed between then and now. Hinge and Bracket and Danny La Rue were mainstream evening entertainment. I got the impression that whatever the origin of drag in gay culture, on TV at least it was strongly influenced by Music Hall. There was a joke about La Rue that ‘he wasn’t born, they just found him on Mother’s Kelly’s Doorstep’, referring to one of the old Music Hall songs. And it wasn’t just gay men who performed in drag. Many straight comedians did, including Les Dawson and Ronnies Corbett and Barker. The two were also part of a trend of musical comedy that includes people like Victor Borge, Richard Stillgoe, Kit and the Widow, and Victoria Wood. They’ve been succeeded by the Australian Tim Minchin, while drag returned to television with Paul O’Grady’s creation, Lily Savage and RuPaul’s Drag Race. Minchin’s far edgier than Hinge and Bracket, who were a gentle, genteel form of comedy, while the Drag Race is much more sexualised. This is in line with general changes in sensibility, in which comedy has become more satirical and much more savage and bitter. There’s also an explicit connection to sexual politics through the radical trans movement and the influence of Queer Theory. This would have been extremely difficult in previous decades when homosexuality was illegal, and gays were still extremely unpopular following decriminalisation. But I’ve got considerable nostalgia for the earlier TV drag shows, when it was just about comedy and entertainment. Perhaps this type of distinctly British drag will return in time.

EDIJester Explains the Difference Between Drag and Drag Queen Story Hour

October 22, 2022

This is another excursion into the issue of the trans ideology and specifically that of Drag Queen Story Hour. There have been many protests against it both here and in America. This has largely been done by right-wingers deeply concerned that the drag queens reading the stories are paedophiles seeking to groom children. Unfortunately, in some cases that seems to be very plausible, as when young children have been taken to drag performances in bars and encouraged to dance with the performers or in drag themselves, with the gay clientele throwing money at them. There is, however, an ideological angle to Drag Queen Story Hour that is significant, but rarely discussed. According to mathematician and staunch critic of postmodernism, James Lindsey, at least some of the drag queens involved in this are supporters of Queer Theory, a postmodern doctrine that seeks to exploit and promote people’s unhappiness with their gender identity or sexuality to create a mentally unstable cadre ready for Marxist revolution. It has absolutely nothing to do with, and indeed is deeply hostile to, the idea of creating a more tolerant society towards gay people, and gay youngsters comfortable with their sexuality/sexual identity and respected, functional members of society. This would be supporting a bourgeois order that the people who promote Queer Theory are pledged to destroy.

EDIJester is another gay critic of the trans ideology. He runs a warrior teachers programme training people from all walks of life in how recognise and combat the trans ideology. I’m not in agreement with all his pronouncements, as he has told people to vote Conservative in a recent video. This is presumably due to Keir Starmer and Labour defending the trans movement, refusing to give the LGB Alliance, a group of gay men and women to seek to promote gay rights without the inclusion of trans people, a place at the Labour party conference and the party’s stated intention of banning all conversion therapies. It is feared that this will mean that only treatments for trans people that affirm their condition will be legal, even if this is inappropriate and harmful. I profoundly disagree with Labour’s policy on the trans issue but feel that at the moment Labour is the best option for defending working people and the NHS from privatisation, welfare cuts, poverty and starvation. More Conservative government will be utterly disastrous for these issues.

I’m putting this video, ‘Let’s Talk about Drag and Queer Performativity – Drag Part One’ up here because it tackles Drag Queen Story Hour from a fresh perspective. This differentiates sharply between traditional drag and Drag Queen Story Hour. He begins by drawing a sharp distinction between British and American drag, as in RuPaul’s Drag Race. British drag was mainstream and not completely gay – straight men often did it, like the Bernard Breslaw in one of the Carry On films and the late, great Les Dawson. There was also the camp humour from gay men, who were forced into show business because of society’s intolerance. This created Kenneth Williams and the Polari language in Round the Horne, Larry Grayson and John Inman, for example. He states that there were no ideological motives behind traditional drag – all they wanted to do was to separate you from as much of your money as possible by the time you staggered out drunk. They also raise money for charity. He knows a number of drag performers himself, having carried one of them back to the performer’s own house at the end of an evening of alcoholic and chemical refreshment. He mentions approvingly a traditional drag act oop north somewhere, Funny Girls. He states that American drag has a heterosexual bias, in that in Mrs Doubtfire the hero cross-dresses so he can see his wife and children.

Drag Queen Story Hour is different. And it isn’t about paedophiles preying on young children either. It’s about promoting Queer Theory, often mixed with Critical Race Theory by reading children’s books written from these standpoints. Like retellings of the Three Little Pigs where the pigs are black, brown and pink for gay, and the wolf is white. It’s this highly ideological, genuinely subversive literature he warns people about, not drag or drag queens themselves.

It’s an excellent perspective which draws a needed distinction between drag as a traditional form of entertainment, which boasted great and much-loved performers as Danny La Rue, the Two Ronnies, Lily Savage, and Les Dawson, and its contemporary abuse as a form of ideological propaganda.

James Lindsay on the Queer Marxist Ideology Behind Drag Queen Story Hour

July 12, 2022

This month, I understand, is the British Pride Month, and either this weekend or last there were a number of Pride marches and events all across the country. Bristol had one in which the local constituency Labour parties marched to show their support, followed by a music festival in the evening. The weather back then was very nice and sunny, rather than today in Bristol, where it’s still hot but overcast. I hope everything went well and that everybody who went had a great time.

Increasing Opposition to Pride and Drag Events

There’s been increasing opposition in America to Pride marches, largely because of concerns over kink and nudity. These events have been promoted as child friendly, but some of the highly sexual displays during these marches really aren’t suitable for children. A number of gays are also put off by them, both in Britain and America. They feel that the concern for promoting trans rights has taken over from the marches’ original focus and purpose of promoting tolerance and acceptance for gays. And the trans focus has also caused concerns about children’s safety. At one of the American marches, the organisers were giving out binders, or stated they were prepared to give out binders, to girls as young as twelve. Binders are extremely tight bands placed around girls’ chests to prevent the breasts developing as part of the attempt to halt puberty in trans identified girls. Apart from the question of whether a pre-adolescent child has the wisdom and maturity to know if they genuinely are trans or not, when they can’t legally buy alcohol or tobacco, there are the health issues of the binders themselves. They’re so tight that they can cause a range of physiological damage, including to the spine and ribs.

There have also been attacks on drag events being promoted to children. This includes drag queen story hour, in which drag performers come into libraries to read or tell stories to young children. This has been explained as an initiative to combat homophobia and instil proper acceptance of gays to children. The right, on the other hand, suspect that it is really a form of grooming. Some of this criticism is is correct, and the performer has put on a display that it very definitely and obviously not suitable for children. Like the drag artiste hired by Reading Library a few months ago, who turned up with a d**do hanging from its crotch and a bare behind, dressed as a monkey. More recently, in the past few weeks there has been outcries as parents have taken children to gay and drag clubs to watch drag queens and trans strippers perform highly sexualised routines, some even stuffing money into their g strings or whatever. These displays have also upset individual members of the gay and drag communities. One drag queen, whose video was widely reposted on conservative YouTube channels, stated that drag shows were not suitable for children because of their highly sexual content. The artiste stated that children shouldn’t be taken to them. If children were going to turn out gay, then they could learn about their sexuality the way the drag queen and other gays had always done, back in their own rooms at home.

British Prime Time Drag Shows of the 70s and the British Music Hall

Now I have to say that I find drag queen story hour a little odd. I think it started in California, in either Los Angeles or San Francisco, cities which have very strong gay communities. I understand the purpose behind them of teaching children to accept gays naturally, as well as encouraging them to read. With the latter, I would have thought it more appropriate to have drag queens as one of a number of different, colourful performers appealing to children, such as clowns that aren’t scary, if there are such things, stage conjurers or puppeteers and so on. And I don’t think there’d be such questions about it if the drag queens were more like the drag acts on TV when I was a child. I was a junior kid in the 1970s, and I remember that Danny La Rue was one of the major hits of week day evening television. La Rue’s act was basically a continuation of the old music hall tradition, complete with songs. La Rue died a few years ago, and there has been nothing scandalous about him that has been published as some kind of revelation of his secret private life. I think it came out that he was gay, which I don’t think surprised or shocked anyone. As for his act, the worst I’ve heard about it is the joke that he wasn’t born, but found ‘on mother Kelly’s doorstep’, referring to one of the Music Hall songs he used to sing. Other drag acts of the ’70s included Hinge and Bracket, two musical ladies of a certain age who mixed songs at the piano with witty repartee. They’re long gone, but their programmes were repeated a few years ago on BBC Radio 4 Extra. As far as I know, no-one objected to their act all. More recently, back in the 90s there was Lily Savage, who was far less genteel than the previous two performers, but nevertheless a comedy favourite on British TV.

Postmodernist Marxism and Drag Queen Story Hour as a Tool of Indoctrination

But there does seem to be a sinister ideological component to drag queen story hour. James Lindsay in one of his videos on his New Discourses YouTube channel read out and critiqued an academic paper written by a drag queen, Lil Miss Hot Mess, and a transwoman called Harper Keenan,” Drag pedagogy: The playful practice of queer imagination in early childhood”. Hot Mess is the author of a children’s book, The Drag Performer’s Hips Go Swish-Swish-Swish. The article was published in an education periodical, and takes a postmodernist Marxist view of drag queen story hour. This goes far beyond using such performers as a way getting children used to gay people so as not to regard them as strange or an automatic threat. Rather, as Lindsay shows, the authors of this paper view it as a means of destroying the constraints on children’s minds and identities imposed by conventional society. Lindsay states that it follows the Marxist strategy, now a century old, of sexualising children in order to alienate them from their parents and the more conservative morals in wider society. The goal isn’t to produce psychologically stable and well-adjusted gay young people, who are accepted into society. Rather its goal is to produce unstable personalities so that the indoctrinated children ‘live queerly’ and reject conventional society and its institutions, including the family. This is attacked as a repressive institution, through which children are socialised into being conventional members of society who grow up, settle down and have families of their own, reproducing oppressive capitalist society while doing so. Instead the authority of their parents is to be underlined with the glitter drag queens spread, so that they grow up gay and connect instead with an alternative, real family in the drag culture.

Lindsay is an academic and a very powerful critic of the recent rise of radical postmodern ideologies such as Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory and Post-Colonial Theory, which appear to have ostensibly liberal goals, such as combating racism, homophobia and allowing the historical experience of persecuted ethnic minorities and colonised peoples to be heard. In fact these ideologies have a far more radical agenda of promoting Marxism and creating an intersectional radical milieu ready to rise up against normal, capitalist society. Lindsay compares this with the educational programme pushed through by Mao in Communist China. His video on drag queen story hour is one of a number of videos on ‘groomer schools’, in which he discusses the way some schools, including elite private schools, have adopted these ideologies in order to indoctrinate their students.

This is contentious, provocative stuff, which is why I’ve delayed blogging about it. I really didn’t want to post it on British Pride weekend because it would be too much like a gratuitous insult to ordinary gay people and their friends and supporters. Especially as Lindsay makes it very clear what he thinks about the pair of authors and their ideological Marxist fellows. He calls them groomers and states very clearly several times that they ought to be banged up in jail. And if they are using drag queen story hour to push an extremist political ideology through creating a queer revolutionary consciousness, which Queer Theorists differentiate from ‘gay’, then such people definitely shouldn’t be in schools. This is extremist politics, not a case of promoting gay or trans acceptance or encouraging kids to enjoy reading.

Queer Theory Attitude close to Parodies of Conspiracy Theories and Homophobia

But it’s also highly bizarre. So bizarre, in fact, that it seems like a caricature of some of the bonkers rubbish rags like The Scum were pushing in the early eighties. You know the rubbish – all that stuff about kids in Brent being told to sing ‘Ba Ba Green Sheep’ by anti-racist activists in schools, ’cause Bernie Grant or somebody thought the original lyrics were racist. It sounds like something just one step less ridiculous than the plot of Carry On Spying, in which the Carry On team were pitched against a Bond-type supervillain/villainess. This person was a hermaphrodite, both male and female, and was plotting to turn the world’s population into similar beings like him/herself. It’s also too close to a skit on Alas Smith and Jones, where the pair lampooned such prejudice in a spoof gameshow about finding ‘Bigot of the Year’. One of the rounds was entitled ‘Just A Bigot’, and asked the howlingly bigoted contestants the question ‘They’re evil, sick and shouldn’t be allowed. Who are they?’ The answers barked back included ‘bisexual social workers indoctrinating kids’. The question master then responds with ‘No, they’re all excellent demonstrations of bigotry, but the real answer is ‘Everyone except from me’. If this story was carried by the Heil, Depress, Scum or the Star, I’d honestly think their journalist had finally gone totally bonkers. You could imagine one of their hacks having strange, paranoid suspicions about Danny La Rue or RuPaul being some kind of Marxist criminal masterminds instead of performers. Pretty much like MI 5 when they investigated ‘Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men’ because somebody thought the nonsense language these beloved children’s characters spoke may have been coded Communist messages.

Drag Queens Can’t All be Revolutionary Marxists

But from the evidence of this paper, and Lindsay adds that there are many others, including one that tells readers how to organise a story hour in schools, there really is an extremist ideological programme behind them. This does raise questions about their suitability for young children in schools. But there are also other reasonable questions that can be asked about the supposed ideological dimension to drag queen story hours. First off, we don’t know how widespread this attitude to drag queen story hour is. Most of the people staging them, I should hazard a guess, probably aren’t ideologically committed Marxists or Marxians. They’re probably just ‘woke’ peeps who genuinely believe that they’re helping gay and trans people gain acceptance, rather than have any ulterior motive of creating the queer intersectional revolutionary class called for by Queer Theorists. I also don’t know how many drag performers actually share this ideology. The majority are probably just performers like the old style drag acts, who want to put on a show rather than push any kind of radical political agenda. Some do, like the group who sent their drag monkey to Reading Library, but not all. I did hear that there was a radical section of the gay community who didn’t want gay people to marry, because this was the gay community taking on the family values and morals of bourgeois society. But the number of gay men and women who are tying the knot suggests that this radical part of the gay community were probably no more than an unrepresentative fringe. My guess is that many of the drag queens going into schools to read probably see it as another job or performance without necessarily there being a further dimension beyond it.

And I note the article doesn’t say anything about the motives of the drag queens who first started the story hour across the Pond. We’re not told if they intended it to be part of some covert programme of Marxist indoctrination. The article declares that it is, simply because of what drag performers do during the story hour as part of their performance, answering questions from pupils about sexuality and gender and so on. But that simply could be a case of how they wish to see the drag performances in story hours, rather than what they are or were intended to be.

Criticism of Marxist Attacks on the Marriage and the Family

As for Marxist opposition to the family, this goes all the way back to the Communist Manifesto of 1848. Marx and Engels objected to marriage on feminist grounds, believing that it enslaved women and reduced them to the level of prostitutes. This was at a time when, under German and English law, a woman’s property automatically became that of her husband and women were very definitely social inferiors under the control of their husbands and fathers. I think as late as the ’60s and ’70s married women weren’t able to open bank accounts on their own without their husband’s consent. Lindsay has argued in other videos and podcasts that the radical opposition to the family and reorientation to include the gay community came from Herbert Marcuse, who founded intersectional Marxism in the 1960s. It was also part of a general radical movement for sexual liberation celebrating free love as well as different sexual orientations. But French postmodernist Marxists like Althusser also condemned the family as part of the institutions which supported first feudalism and then capitalism.

Society and the institution of marriage has changed in the past half century. Marriage has become far more egalitarian, and the Marxist historical critique of the development of marriage from the earliest beginnings of human society has been discredited. Engels, in his book, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, followed the anthropological ideas of the German author Backhofen in the latter’s book, Das Mutterrecht. Mutterrecht in German means ‘mother right’, and seems to have been the term Backhofen used for matriarchy. He believed that humanity had passed through a period of three stages in the development of the family. One was a period of general promiscuity, followed by a stage of matriarchal, female rule, which was finally superseded by contemporary patriarchy. This has been overturned by contemporary archaeological and palaeoarchaeological research. The pair also believed that marriage was withering away amongst the working class in their time. But this came from a very selective study of a local section of the working class in one of the British cities. In fact, marriage in general remained strong amongst the working class as it did in other ranks of society. And from what I’ve heard and read, the working class Communists in France and England were conventionally married men, who had no time for free love. Well, as the Joan Sim character says in Carry On – Don’t Lose Your Head, ‘I don’t mind the fraternity and equality, but I’m not having any of the liberties!’ The concern with sexual liberation is very much a development of 60s radicalism, though with roots in the calls for gay tolerance by earlier writers like the Edwardian sexologist Havelock Ellis in Britain and Richard Krafft-Ebbing, the author of Psychopathia Sexualis of 1886 in Germany.

Conclusion: Question the Ideology, But Don’t Attack Gay People

I think Lindsay’s right, and this paper should raise important questions regarding the suitability of drag queen story hour, but I believe it should be kept in proportion and should not become part of an all-out attack on the LGBTQ+ community in general. I am particularly aware that there is the danger of trans people being subject to abuse and attack, as described by some of the great commenters on this blog. I am also aware that conservatives like Matt Walsh are using the concerns about Pride and the trans ideology as a stick with which to beat the left. Over here, I found a video by Laurence Fox, the head honcho of Reclaim on how ‘woke’ schools are grooming children. At the end, Fox presents his programme for ending it. I intend to go through it very carefully and critique it at a later date.

In short, I believe Lindsay is right in that very serious questions have to made about the ideology, content and suitability of drag queen story hour. But this may mean no more than reforming it to prevent it being used as a guise for political activists to sneak their message into schools.

And reasonable concerns about the suitability of drag queen story hour shouldn’t be used to demonise gays or trans people.

I’m not posting the video as it’s long at about 2hrs 32 minutes, and I also didn’t want to upset people on here with the strength of Lindsay’s condemnations. If you want to watch it for yourself, it’s at Lindsay’s New Discourses YouTube channel, and is entitled Groomer Schools & Drag Queen Story Hour. The number for it is https://youtube.com/watch?v=aBv19E-fF7w&t=371s.

Clive Simpson Attacks Anti-Gay Backlash over Teacher’s Drag Performance in America

April 14, 2022

Clive Simpson is a gender critical YouTuber, who posts videos critiquing and attacking the trans ideology and the considerable dangers it poses. As a gay man, he is particularly concerned that the emphasis the established gay organisations, like Stonewall, are placing on the trans movement will lead to a general backlash against gay people in general. He isn’t alone in this. I’ve heard similar fears expressed by Graham Linehan and his guests and conversationalists on his YouTube channel, The Mess We’re In.

In this very short text video, Simpson discusses the right-wing rage being whooped up by Conservative commenters and pundits like Matt Walsh about a drag performance by a teacher in an America school. It was done for the entertainment of the school pupils. The teacher doesn’t appear to trans, but Simpson speculates that he’s probably gay. The performance has been predictably attacked for degeneracy. Simpson is afraid that this is the beginning of the backlash that will see the return of the vicious homophobia openly gay men like himself had to live through in the ’70s and ’80s.

I’m getting nostalgic here for some of the drag performances on British TV in the 1970s. One of the star performers on British TV in that decades was Danny La Rue. The Two Ronnies regularly appeared in drag in their show, singing various comedic parodies of classical songs, and then there was the late, great Les Dawson with his comic female persona. This kind of drag act was based in British musical hall and pantomime. And part of the fun with the Ugly Sisters in pantomime performances of Cinderella are that they’re usually played by very masculine men, who don’t look remotely like women. As for Danny La Rue, I believe it came out after his death that he was gay, but there was, as far as I’m aware, never any scandal about him. Quite the opposite. I can remember an interview with him on British television, which impressed my parents with the way he didn’t sneer at anyone or try and put them down. The worst I’ve heard about him since then was the joke, ‘Danny La Rue wasn’t born. He was left on Mother Kelly’s Doorstep’. Which refers to a music hall song he used to perform.

I appreciate feminists objecting to drag as ‘womanface’, but when I was a child in the ’70s and ’80s it was regarded as just good, clean fun. There was a distinction made between the act and the performer, which was unfortunately often maintained in order to protect some gay celebrities from abuse and hatred if they made their sexual orientation public.

I hope that the backlash gay people like Simpson fear isn’t going to happen. And I’d also like the drag acts to become rather more like they were when I was a lad. When it was all innocent fun, and you couldn’t care less whether the artiste was gay, straight or whatever.