Thursday, 25 July 2019

Bloolips


This exhibition brought back some fond memories for me. Bloolips were one of my first utterly gay experiences. And I went back for more whenever they sashayed back into town.


Bloolips were a radical drag theatre group, operating on a shoestring, and all the better for it. Their costumes were imaginative and, sometimes, hilarious. I'm thinking here of the garment I recall as the 'flip-flop frock': a shift with dozens of flip-flops sewn to it.

Sadly, though it clearly made a big impression on a younger me, I haven't been able to find a photo of that frock, though there was a 'rubber glove robe' on display in the exhibition.

Their drag was androgynous, rather than feminine. Costumes were often made from found materials (see above) and the makeup was based on whiteface clown makeup. In fact, Bette Bourne, who started the troupe after working with Hot Peaches, a New York-based gay cabaret group, would speak in rehearsal about 'finding your inner clown'. The idea was to find something fresh, rather than used tired stereotypes.







A few posters:





 

The exhibition ends on Friday 26th July 2019.


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Links:
The Bloolips Archive:
http://www.darc.media/bloolips-archive/

Better Bourne has had an interesting career:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bette_Bourne

https://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/news/heritage/lavinia-co-op-on-how-the-bloolips-brought-radical-drag-to-the-mainstream-and-the-hackney-empire-1-5434369

A search for 'bloolips' on YouTube will find several clips of the troupe in action. This may be a good place to start:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym2IedkyiAY

Wilde Plaque

On Tuesday 23rd July 2019 at 2pm, the UK's second permanent Rainbow Plaque was unveiled on platform 10 at Clapham Junction station.

It was dedicated with words from David Robson, the chair of Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum, and the Mayor of Wandsworth (Councillor Jane Cooper).

While the plaque marks a very unpleasant experience for Wilde, Robson was clear that it is important to remember both the good and the bad in our history.

Actor Russell Tovey read the passage from De Profundis which describes the abuse commemorated by the plaque:
From two o'clock until half-past two I was forced to stand on the middle platform at Clapham Junction, handcuffed and in the prisoner's garb, exposed to the gaze of the crowd. I had been taken from the prison infirmary, just as I was, without warning. Of all the outcasts, I, no doubt, was the most grotesque to look at. The people laughed when they saw me. Every train that arrived increased the curious crowd of spectators. Their mirth was boundless. This was quite natural, before they knew who I was. But when they learned it they laughed still more. There I stood for half an hour in the grey November rain, surrounded by a howling mob. For a whole year afterward I wept bitterly every day at the same hour.

The scene that showed this in the 2018 film The Happy Prince, Rupert Everett's masterful portrayal  of Wilde's declining years, spurred the Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum to campaign for the plaque. Robson described the difficult negotiations the Forum had with Network Rail to realise their goal: "We want to put a plaque up", "OK."



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Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum
Web: wandsworth.lgbt
Twitter: @LGBTQWandsworth

The first permanent Rainbow Plaque marks the moment when Anne Lister 'married' her partner Ann Walker in Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York in 1834.