Sunday, 30 May 2010

I see you baby...

Do you believe in Gaydar (and I don't mean the popular hook-up website or its affiliate digital radio station)? I mean the unspoken connection between two gay people that instantly allows them to recognise one another as 'like minded individuals'.

For years, people have struggled to explain what exactly gaydar is. Some people mistakenly mischaracterise it as the fleeting acknowledgment of mutual attraction, but they're missing the point.

The ability to recognise a kindred spirit involves much more than just blind luck or a vigorous libido. It's a heady combination of instantaneous signals and mirrors, almost invisible to the naked eye. Failing that, garish colours and a swishy walk can also be a dead giveaway.

Nonetheless, the unexplained mystery that is 'gaydar' has long perplexed some of our brightest minds. As a result, hundreds of hours that could have been spent getting waxed or crunching abs at the gym, have been frittered away in shapeless lab-coats, by boffins desperate to decipher a code that would even have Robert langdon scratching his head.

Over the years, scientists have looked at ambidextrous ability, finger length, spatial reasoning and even the clockwise swirl of our hair, to try and identify what make someone 'look gay'. It was so much easier back in the day, when all it took was a George Michael earring and a handlebar moustache that you could hide brunch in.

As time marched on the explanations started to get more and more ludicrous, rather like the Rocky sequels. So thank heavens for the Dutch scientists who have managed to reintroduce some logic to their somewhat intangible field of study. Examining how heterosexual and homosexual people focus their attention, they discovered "gays are much more detail-oriented."

In a study that involved pictures of squares and rectangles packed with smaller shapes, the gays answered questions about the shapes slower than their heterosexual counterparts, but with much greater accuracy. Apparently, we're much better at focusing on the minutiae.

OK, that's not, in itself, much of a revelation. After all, gay dating sites have such intensely detailed profile pages, you could apply (and be accepted) for a mortgage in less time than it takes to stick your picture in someone else's inbox. Whereas straight dating sites might ask whether you're old or young, thin or fat, the gay equivalents put applicants through the kind of rigorous profiling that makes the MI5 recruitment process look lackadaisical.

Apparently, gays gone-a-courting want to know everything - height, weight, girth, hair colour, original hair colour, piercings, tattoos, healed-over piercings that seemed like a good idea at the time, bitchy ex-boyfriends, star sign, earning potential and preference regarding Paris vs Nicole. It's a veritable minefield.

So what does this all mean? Well, if gays are able to hone in on the tiniest details, this "could help them to detect others' sexual preferences." According to the Dutch study's somewhat self-evident findings, "people who are naturally more perceptive and detail-oriented may have a greater chance of picking up on subtle clues in other people that they may be homosexual." What a shocker.

Still, it's a shame that these findings are coming to light just as they become utterly redundant. With digital apps like Grindr now installed on every gay iPhone and enabling people to track the movements of complete strangers, the concept of gaydar has become rendered little more than an evolutionary footnote.

Having said that, even with the most up-to-date technology at our disposal, it is possible to occasionally miss the signs. Damn those sneaky gays...

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Time stands still

It might be a perspex double piano but this is not Lady Gaga and Elton John. It's Romania, and they're 'Playing With Fire' apparently. Hope that piano's insured. The two singers look like they should be hosting a daytime talk-show, not belting out a dance ballad in a leather catsuit and bomber jacket combo. That's Eastern Europe for you.

Holy knitwear Batman, it's Russia. Looking like they just rolled out of a trawler net, they're a melancholy bunch and are switching between their native language and English. It's curiously melodic, and is one of the better songs of the evening - even if it makes me want to drink until I forget. Nice falsetto on the lead singer, but that could just be some kickback from the wind machine.

Armenia is represented by a young lady with gargantuan breasts - a smart move given the number of heterosexual men who religiously follow Eurovision. She's got cheap hair extensions, but to be honest, she could shave her head during the key change and nobody would notice. It's not every day you hear a song dedicated to an apricot stone. For which we should all be thankful.

Representing Germany - it's Lena. She's not really singing or dancing - it's like she's invented a new musical form. That's a lovely anchor tattoo on the inside of her bicep - she's officially the world's prettiest Popeye impersonator.

Another pretty lady, this time singing for Portugal. Dull piano ballad. We have a bad case of Evita-arms, like she's trying to read a broadsheet newspaper without smudging her nail varnish. Only two to go, and then Spain will be performing again because their first attempt was interrupted by an unruly audience member.

Our penultimate performance is from Israel, sung by a handsome young man with a very thin head. This is definitely the year of the forgettable ballad. There are a lot of phlegmy sounds, someone should have had a pack of Strepsils in his jacket pocket. Good grief, if you think this is hard to sit through, you should try blogging about it.

Come on Denmark - here's hoping you can end on a high note, and maybe more than about eleven beats-per-minute. This is written by Thomas G:son who is something of a Swedish songwriting legend, so it should be half-decent. The duo singing look like Myleene Klass and Michael Bolton's ghost. It ain't pretty, but it's OK as mid-eighties rock ballads go, like a Berlin b-side.

Well, that's your lot. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Which isn't very much, but what else are you gonna watch on a Saturday night? Ant and Dec? Thanks for sticking with me through that - a problem shared and all that...

Miles to go before we sleep

In a splendid all-white display, here's a bunch of dancers who seem to be accompanying their dad on stage to represent Greece. Somebody needs to act his age and have a nice sit down. I'm sure there's a song in here somewhere, but it just sounds like a lot of erratic beats and Kevin Costner's pudgy brother shouting Opa! a lot.

Quick, go put on the kettle - it's Britain's turn. The song sucks like Gillian Taylforth - ironically entitled 'That Sounds Good To Me' (i.e. it doesn't). Josh is singing pretty well, but the backing singers couldn't carry a tune in a rucksack. They're screeching like freshly-neutered cats on an uncomfortable fence. The last note just breeched the Geneva Convention.

Another ballad. Hurrah. We're already on song 13 - isn't this just flying by? Here's a pretty lady from Georgia accompanied by two more shirtless men in white suits and very heavy guy-liner. This feels like the kind of performance that an over-earnest 14-year old drama student might choreograph, in between bouts of poetry-writing and self-harming. Speaking of which, where's that razor?

Turkey takes to the stage next, with an act that is successful outside of Turkey. That's how Dima Bilan managed to romp to victory a couple of years ago, despite having the worst song of all time. The singer is wearing an odd outfit - he looks like a pilgrim in fetish gear. Oooh, an angle grinder.

You know, you'd never guess that last year's winner was a violinist, given how many string instruments we've seen on stage this year. It's like when Bucks Fizz won in 1981 - for years after the Eurovision was like amateur strip search, with more ripped skirts than a footballer's hotel room. Albania have got a thumping dance number and some big hair. On the scale of awfulness, it's pretty low, therefore this viewer has a new favourite. Unfortunately these are kinds of songs that fall down the back of the sofa when people reach for the phone to cast their vote.

Iceland should do well, the gays have been loving their song for months now. It's like we're back in 1995. Where's that Corona CD? Hera Björk is wearing a big red dress that makes her look like a huge, damp lampshade. Huge key change, arms raised aloft, and a waft of poppers across the auditorium. the audience seemed to enjoy that - could this see a turnaround in the world's perception of Iceland?

There aren't too many people who can carry off a black hood, flesh-coloured dress and boots that look like they're made out of Lego. And Ukranian singer Alyosha isn't one of them. If you put Shakira, Fergie and Kelly Clarkson in a bag and gave them a good shake, you might get something a bit like this song. Or a bag full of sick. Same difference.

This is odd. French songs are usually as much fun as watching the intermission act, but this is chirpy dance pop. There aren't really any words, just a lot of booty shaking and jumping around. Someone's shirt came off but I missed it because of my dedication to the blog. Take note.

The music never dies

Moldova next, with a spinning electro-fiddle mullet extravaganza. Those are words you don't often see together. The lead singer has very special eye makeup, like she was peeking through someone's letterbox while they were spray-painting their door. They're all dancing like it's happy hour in the local gay bar, throwing the kind of moves not seen since Boyzone first debuted on the Late Late Show.

Here comes Cyprus, represented by a young Welsh man with a very hairy belly - I know because he lifted his shirt (not like that) to show a crudely scribbled message dedicated to his mum. Bless. It's a very soft rock ballad, but pleasant in an inoffensive sort of way. If you heard it in a dentist's waiting room, you wouldn't walk out.

Bosnia now, complete with a strobe lighting warning. The singer isn't very good at 'doing' anger - his forehead is strangely frozen, like he treated himself to a blast of botox before he went on stage. I've already forgotten it and it hasn't even finished yet. The backing singers look like they've got a progressive dinner party to get to.

Belgium must be cutting costs this year, with a man and a guitar. Singing about a man and a guitar. Don't go looking for subtext - this is Eurovision after all. Or did you think that Boom-Bang-A-Bang-Bang was about the Vietnam war. Oh, his trousers don't seem to fit - maybe he's got a job interview after this. Hope he gets it.

Serbia is rocking an awful haircut that wouldn't even be tolerated in Balamory. This is what headaches sound like. Thank God that's over.

It's time for Butterflies from Belarus. We just got a peek backstage and saw up close how much make-up the lead singer is wearing. I guess it's a he, but it's a close call. The women have really odd hair, like the applied their hairspray just as someone tested out the wind machine. Wow, butterfly wings and a key change - this is where the magic happens.

Niamh Kavanagh is back where she belongs, spilling out her dress for Ireland. From some angles she looks as though she's wearing stilts, or maybe it's just the worst-fitting outfit ever seen in HD. At least Ireland are taking it seriously for once - this beats Dustin the turkey puppet from a couple of years ago. If she crams any more key changes into this song, only dogs will be able to hear the ending.

Nul points

I'd like to say that the Eurovision Song Contest is the TV highlight of the year, and that it's all anyone's been talking about for the last eight weeks. But that would be a lie.

As the nation points its apathetic indifference at the gogglebox, we wait to see what sonic joys the Norwegians have in store for us tonight. The bookies' favourite is apparently Azerbaijan, but I'm not sure whether that's because of the song or the fact that a mis-spelled betting slip will be null and void if the punter wins. They'll be quids in.

According to Graham Norton's voiceover, 120 million people are watching right now, although they're probably also scouring pots, tidying the sock drawer and painting the architraves. Anything to distract them from the tuneless screaming, surreal choreography and awkward presenter links.

Alexander Rybak has just reprised his song from last year, complete with fiddle and a troop of chaotic dancers. He looked like a happy little goblin up there, but the song was memorably forgettable. We've got 25 songs to get through, so bite down hard on something and brace yourself for a spectacular of feverish cheese-dream proportions.

Let's kick off with Azerbaijan and their song Drip Drop. The singer looks like Dannii Minogue (original version with her first nose). The vocals are strong but flat, and there are some pretty blue outfits to distract from the random ballet dancer who's just appeared looking like an Italian waiter. Someone just turned on the wind machines - hang on to your false eye-lashes love.

Spain are up next, with a singer who looks like Sideshow Bob in a cheap suit. If you fell asleep on a carousel in a cheap fairground, this might be the music you'd hear as you slipped into REM state. The dancers are dressed like hideous dolls - I'm just waiting for Chucky to arrive and kill them all. A second singer has just arrived - maybe his bus was running late. Punctuality is very important when you're representing your country.

Here comes our host nation, Norway. Hope they haven't put too much effort in, given how much it's cost them to stage this one. Didrik Solli-Tangen is singing about sunsets behind mountains - epic. He's rather handsome in a Hollyoaks sort of way, but the song sounds like something Josh Groban would cough up after a night on the beers. He looks a little pleased with himself, even though his voice is wobbling like Beth Ditto on a treadmill. Key change and lighting effects, but no goosebumps. Maybe I'm dead from the neck down.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Taking a bite out of Apple

Ok, let's call this an experiment. Diligent readers of this blog may have noticed a mysterious absence of posts last night.
That's because I needed an early start this morning so that I could be part of a pop-culture phenom.

This blog is coming to you live from Westfield London where people have been queuing overnight to get their hands on the latest little object of desire. The Apple iPad goes on sale in one minute and excitement outside the Apple store is at fever pitch. Actually, that's a slight exaggeration. To be honest, it all seems rather muted - half of the crowd look like they're only here because their car broke down outside.

It's a very different story inside the Apple store which, until a few moments ago, was hidden mysteriously behind swathes of black paper. The staff are whooping and hollering for their media team like howler monkeys on meow-meow. Still, in times of credit crunchery, it must be heartwarming to work in retail and see customers lining up around the block outside your store. Even if it is strangely reminiscent of the depression-era soup kitchen queues.

A barista from Sacred has just poured me an Americano, courtesy of Apple. Despite the fact that Westfield's coffee shops normally seem like the embodiment of chaos theory, they seem to have a rather well organised system in place. One guy takes your order, writes it on a cup with your name, and by the time you reach the next corner your drink is ready. Not the nicest coffee I've ever had (it's as bitter as Heather Mills) but it's the thought that counts.

All through the queue, balding thirty-something men (cough) are Tweeting their updates, doing time-checks, and trying to work out whether Apple will have enough stock to meet the needs of all the shuffling techno-whores loosely assembled around the atrium. Apple staff are now doing the rounds, handing out bottles of water, presumably to wash away the taste of the coffee. It's a nice thought, but it's not as though the crowd is in danger of collapsing from heat exhaustion.

As the door gets closer, the first few satisfied customers are emerging with drawstring bags over their shoulders. No-one's screaming, crying or waving their new iPad over their heads. But then, it's never really been about the product. Even the journalists who've been filling the papers with breathlessly excitable reviews can't agree what it's for. As they keep saying - you just have to find out for yourself. Today is all about the brand, the experience, being first.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

It's my night to howl

It's not easy being a teenager. Exams, peer pressure, Justin Bieber - sometimes it can all get a bit much. So it's hardly surprising that young adolescents try to forge connections with like-minded people, even if the rest of the world doesn't understand.

In San Antonio, Texas, a group of kids have found an unusual way of bonding. And one thing's for sure, the Twilight series has a lot to answer for.

In the second movie (which was about as entertaining as trying to read a water-damaged Haynes manual), our lip-bitey heroine Bella hooked up with Jacob and his often-shirtless gang. As she eventually discovered (about 90 minutes after everyone else), it turns out that they're not just homoerotically charged pals.

These boys also have lupine tendencies, turning into poorly-rendered werewolves ever time something got their dander up. After several months mooning over a clinically depressed vampire, Bella found a new lease on life with her animalistic chums.

Something in that turgid movie must have struck a chord with the kids in San Antonio, as they've established their very own wolf-pack.

At first glance they look like any other group of badly-dressed emo kids with too much guyliner and lank hair. But on closer inspection, you notice their contact lenses, pointy teeth and wagging tails. OK, the lenses and teeth aren't too bad, but the tails are ridiculous, looking like they've stuffed Basil Brush down the back of their Diesels.

Oh, and they sometimes howl. Seriously. Thankfully, the kids' mums don't seem too concerned by their lycanthropic larks, and even the school counsellor reckons it's all just a healthy form of social expression. Then again, their worst crimes seem to be an astonishing lack of self-awareness and a propensity for hanging out at the mall.

If nothing else, this news story will at least give the writers of the new Teen Wolf remake plenty of useful reference material. Van-surfing is so twenty years ago.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Another one bites the pillow

Well, it looks like the PR has paid off for Kendra Wilkinson, as her sex tape has become a smash hit before it's even released. When it was first announced that Vivid Entertainment was planning to release 'Kendra Exposed', Wilkinson went public to try and block its distribution.

Outraged by this invasion of her privacy, Kendra did her best to prevent its release. Which is funny, since she's apparently made a number of similar movies, including one girl-on-girl epic. And this one was filmed in a room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas during the annual porn industry awards. Oh, and she spent a while sharing a mailbox with six or seven other Playboy bunnies at Hugh Hefner's mansion. But perhaps this was just one exposure too many for the platinum-haired pin-up.

Not so much, it turns out. Since this isn't so much an invasion as an open house. Shortly after she filed her lawsuit, it emerged that Kendra was behind the film's release, and stands to pocket $680,000, plus 50% of the profits for her efforts. Still, nothing sells like controversy, and Kendra's home movie is now set to beat even Pamela Anderson's best-selling grumble-flick.

These days, anyone who's anyone has their name on a grainy, poorly filmed porn film. Onanists around the world seem to be spending most of their hard-earned money on films that look like the Blair Witch Project with extra genitals.

Thankfully, there's one 'unauthorised' DIY grotbuster that we've been spared, featuring a most unlikely star. According to a story in the Washington Post, those sly spooks at the CIA planned to discredit none other than Saddam Hussein by staging a fake sex tape.

During the planning stages of the Iraq invasion, "the CIA's Iraq Operations Group kicked around a number of ideas for discrediting Saddam Hussein in the eyes of his people. One was to create a video purporting to show the Iraqi dictator having sex with a teenage boy."

The idea was to manipulate perceived Muslim bias against homosexuality to turn Saddam's people against him. "It would look like it was taken by a hidden camera. Very grainy, like it was a secret videotaping of a sex session." And you thought Ron Jeremy was an unlikely porn star.

The Post's source also claims that the reason the idea was jettisoned was because "Saddam playing with boys would have no resonance in the Middle East - nobody cares. Trying to mount such a campaign would show a total misunderstanding of the target. We always mistake our own taboos as universal when, in fact, they are just our taboos."

Presumably, genocide, torture and military invasion weren't considered 'taboo' enough.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Saturday Night's Alright for Mincing

Next time you feel like popping down to your local pub for a pint of Ruddles and a bag of pork scratchings, best be sure that you've got your macho swagger on. Gays will be tolerated, but only if they're willing to play it straight.

The Mirror ran a story yesterday about a village pub in Bedworth, Warwickshire, that advertised a forthcoming Elton John act with a less-than-complimentary billboard that read "This Saturday!! Elton John (tribute). Gay's welcome but no mincing."

Understandably, there's been something of an outcry, not least because it looks as though the sign writer learned his punctuation from Katie Price's Twitter feed.

The pub's landlord was quick to respond to the controversy, arguing "Our bar manager is gay and he was the one who did the sign. If we've offended anyone then we're sorry."

Fair play to the sign's creator, he did helpfully point out that this was a tribute act and not the original 'tantrums and tiaras' megastar. You know, just in case anyone turned up expecting the real thing.

Besides, it's not as though gays are banned - as the sign says, they're quite welcome. They're just asked to refrain from any outward displays of gayness. Presumably this was simply so as not to overshadow the star turn.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Lost without you

Well, it's finally here. After six years, 114 episodes and more flashbacks than Lindsay Lohan after a bank holiday weekend, Lost is finally coming to an end.

When it first started, confused audiences thought they were getting a remake of Gilligan's Island but with better effects and a hotter cast. Then we caught sight of the smoke monster, the shark with a Dharma Initiative tattoo and a rogue polar bear, not to mention ghosts, galleons and a hatch that seemed to lead to the centre of the Earth. Clearly, this was not the further adventures of the crew of the SS Minnow.

Part of the show's unique appeal was its time-bending structure. Taking its cue from 'grown-up' shows like The Sopranos on HBO, ABC's daring new timeline-jumping thriller challenged audiences to sit up, pay attention, and sometimes refer to Wikipedia for an explanation of consequentialism and temporal displacement. You never got any of that in Manimal.

What none of us realised at the time, was the fact that the flashbacks were more than just a way of padding out every episode (there are only so many arguments about "beach vs cave" that audiences can reasonably be expected to sit through). In fact, the entire show has always been about the flexible nature of time and the philosophy of predestination.

Of course, it didn't help matters that halfway through the show's run, the format changed and we jumped forward in time, instead of back. By this point, half the audience was scratching its head so often that there was a global outbreak of alopecia.

Now in its final season, the producers have pushed audience comprehension to its limit with an alternate reality timeline running alongside the on-island adventures. Having said that, the writers have kept a tight hold of the reigns and confidently disproved the early theory that they were making it up as they went along.

Obviously, there were elements that were improvised on the spot, but it's clear that from day one, the creative team knew where they were going. Even if most of the audience were as clueless as Paris Hilton reading 'A Brief History of Time'.

Although many fans dropped out at the mid-point of the show's run (five episodes set in an abandoned zoo pushed viewers' patience to the limit), the die-hard devotees have stuck with it throughout, and are now hoping that the climax will deliver the answers they so desperately need. Chances are, they're going to be disappointed, since Lost threw out more questions than a three-year old with ADD.

Here in the UK, the show will be broadcast 'live' at 5am tomorrow morning, coinciding with its West Coast debut. That way, they can avoid any unwanted spoilers or revelatory reveals, as well as pissing off those prodigious pirates.

It remains to be seen what the enduring legacy of Lost will be. Long-running narratives, complicated timelines and morally conflicted characters are now all far more commonplace on network TV than they were before 'the island'. But more importantly, the show managed to find a way to give viewers a regular dose of shirtless action in pretty much every episode. No complaints here.

In celebration of the most innovative American TV programme of the noughties, here's Lost's best bits (don't worry, Hurley kept his XXXXXL shirt on throughout the show's run)...

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Strangers in the night

Ever since they first burst onto the scene in 2005, the Jonas Brothers have been the puritanical poster boys for pubescent pop-fans. The three siblings, Joe, Kevin and Nick, have made a fairly big deal out of their wholesome, family-friendly image, even winning the scorn of Russell Brand who joked about their pledge to stay virginal.

Their father is a former Assemblies of God pastor, and they were homeschooled by their mother, so it shouldn't really come as a surprise that the boys agreed to wear purity rings as "a promise to ourselves and to God that we'll stay pure till marriage."

Abstinence is a big deal in the States, despite all the evidence that it actually encourages teenage sexual irresponsibility, rather than curbing it. Even Bristol Palin is coining it in, touring schools and lecturing on 'abstinence, pro-life and womens' issues'. Because, you know, it worked out so well for her.

When oldest brother Kevin got married in December 2009, speculation was rife about how quickly the wedding reception would be wrapped up so that Kevin could finally catch up on what he'd missed out on. Since two of the boys' albums had been titled 'A Little Bit Longer' and 'It's About Time', it seems that they were pretty preoccupied with it too. The wedding planner told press at the time that "Kevin couldn't stop smiling". Hardly surprising, given the circumstances.

Sadly for Kevin and Danielle, things haven't been running too smoothly since they got hitched. According to In Touch Weekly, the newly-weds are already sleeping in separate beds as a consequence of Kevin's nocturnal habits.

Don't worry, there's no sordid secret hiding out in Kevin's closet - he just has a snoring problem. A friend of the couple told the magazine that Danielle “loves her husband, but now she sleeps in a guest room when he gets too noisy. They are still crazy about each other, but the snoring has become a big joke for their friends.”

The magazine's indiscreet informer correctly points out that “Kevin and Danielle had never spent a night together until their wedding night, so she had no clue that he snores so loudly.” Kevin and his siblings were so busy focusing on their protecting their chastity, they overlooked some of the other issues thrown up by 'sleeping together'.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Here come the girls

When the first Sex and the City movie came out, the movie industry was left scratching its head about how they didn't see this one coming. Here was a movie aimed at women, based on a TV-show, about a fickle footwear-fetishist dithering over whether or not to get married, and it made over $400 million dollars at the global box office.

After a performance like that, it's safe to say that expectations for the sequel are higher than the heels on one of Sarah Jessica Parker's ridiculous shoes. The buzz has been building for months, with the film being pitched as ideal counter-programming for World Cup widows, and gays with nothing better to do for a couple of hours.

The movie's trailer gave audiences a pretty comprehensive peek into what the movie has to offer - lots of female bonding over pink drinks, Carrie and her pals dressing like a group of clowns who charge by the hour, and a whole lot of camel toe. I'm not being disgusting there, they actually go to Dubai and ride camels.

Well, the movie might be set in Dubai but it was filmed in Morocco, which was a little more welcoming to a film about four sexually promiscuous Cosmo-quaffers. Put off by the UAE's somewhat conservative views on women and alcohol consumption, director Michael Patrick King thought that the North African country would be a more workable location, sensitively describing it as "Muslim light".

Not that we should expect a thorough examination of the role of women in contemporary Muslim culture from a film in which Carrie describes the girls' Middle-Eastern jaunt as being "just like Jasmine [the Disney princess from Aladdin] but with cocktails." Judging by the sneak peaks released so far, Sex and the City 2 looks set to make Carry On Up The Khyber seem like the height of anthropological veracity.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh here. After all, this is a film about sex, shopping and slingbacks. Audiences will be far more interested in seeing how extreme the fab foursome's outfits can get without one of them being sectioned. There's a reason why the film's costume budget has been rumoured to be as much as $10 million.

More importantly, the real question on fans' minds is whether or not Carrie will succumb to hunky carpenter Aiden's charms and cheat on husband Mr. Big. The trailer tries hard to give nothing away, but eagle-eyed viewers have noticed that there are other clues pointing towards Carrie's penchant for infidelity.

Carrie's ever-present Macbook is as central to her character as a closet full of Manolos. OK, I never said this was deep. And from the pilot episode, right through to the last movie, we've always seen our heroine sitting in the window, tapping out her thoughts in the glow of little white Apple. But not anymore.

She's done the dirty on her beloved laptop, and picked up an HP instead. Which I'm sure has everything to do with consistent character development, and nothing to do with the fact the PC giant signed a massive product placement deal with the film's producers.

Even the Guardian has weighed in on this important subject, with Zoe Williams arguing that "Macs were invented for [people like Carrie], people without IT support, with no skills or office training, with very little likelihood of ever accruing any knowledge or expertise, with no backbone or basic housekeeping procedures."

More importantly, the Macbook is the Louis Vuitton holdall of the computer world. Depicting Carrie working on a generic laptop is like expecting her to go swinging down the street in a pair of Hi-Tec trainers, with a Lidl carrier bag over her arm.

This is one franchise that owes Mac a little loyalty. After all, it must have taken a whole warehouse full of them to muster the necessary computing power needed to generate the poster artwork for the new sequel.

Testament to the power of Photoshop, the posters have been rightly slated for making the girls look about as realistic as Jessica Rabbit. In particular, Kim Catrall is completely unrecognisable, almost as though she's undergone an experimental facial treatment using a PedEgg and a bottle of Tipp-Ex.

So much for the female empowerment and sisterhood that the series always prided itself on.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The morning after the night before

As we sit in the hotel waiting for our transfer to the airport, I'm tempted to have one last drink to toast my holiday. But my liver has other ideas, since I've treated it with about as much consideration as Bernard Matthews has for poultry.

Despite the excessive alcohol consumption during this particular holiday, I'm happy to report that I've managed to avoid the sensation of drinker's remorse - localised amnesia and a head that feels like it's filled with wet sand.

To be fair, it's taken years of practice to get to this point, something that 18-year old Jessica Falter will eventually find out.

She's been in the news this week because her high school prom got a little out of control. Actually, the prom was fine, it was Jessica that went off the rails, with a meltdown that made Carrie White look like the perfect prom date.

For American teens, the prom is an important rite of passage - a night of gaudy gowns, rented limos, wilting corsages and spiked punch. But going by the police reports posted on Smoking Gun, it looks as though Jessica went straight from the hair salon to the punchbowl.

Police in North Ridgeville, Ohio were called after several people had complained about Jessica's inebriated state. When they asked Jessica how much she'd had to drink, she gave the least convincing denial since Shaggy, yelling "You are fucking bitches, this is my prom, I'm not drunk."

Perhaps sensing that the impending Breathalyzer test might prove otherwise, the prom princess picked up a chair and began swinging it defensively, only to smash it into her own face. In the end, the police had to carry the blood-soaked, obscenity-yelling mess out to their car. That's when she "cleared her throat and spit a bloody ball of spit" at Officer Kyle Gelenius.

Her classmates' lasting memory of the night will no doubt be the sight of her sitting in the back of a police cruiser, kicking at the windows and spitting blood all over the place. Still, at least she had her magical evening immortalised in a lovely photo showcasing her triumphant hair-do. Although I'm not sure that a mugshot was quite what she'd had in mind.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

It must be something in the Perrier

After two weeks in the biggest gay resort in Europe, it's tempting to believe that the whole world has added Dorothy on Facebook.

Thousands of underdressed homosexuals hanging off luridly coloured pride floats. Drag queens in every shape, size and colour - the good, the bad, and the 'hand me the Optrex'. Not one, but two Scott-Lee siblings on the main stage. Pick up a conch shell here, and rather than the sounds of the ocean you'll hear the Electrolightz remix of Telephone.

It's all too much for one small island to contain. And looking at some of the stories making the news this week, it seems as though the concentrated explosion of gay on Gran Canaria is taking to the air like volcanic ash.

Airspace over the blogosphere is heavy with innuendo and speculation as a series of high profile male celebrities find themselves in the pink spotlight. For instance, Daniel Craig set tongues (and other body parts) wagging when he put in an appearance at a Los Angeles gay bar called Roosterfish.

Although he was there to check out the 80s cover-band, eyewitnesses are inferring that he found more than a quantum of solace in the arms of his male friend. Spare a thought for poor stretchy-faced Rupert Everett, whose dreams of being the first gay James Bond look set to crash and burn like a henchman's helicopter.

James Franco has also been making himself comfortable in the company of men, taking to the stage at a Campari party to sing a duet about bad men with a sort-of drag performer called Kalup Linzy. Not too much a surprise, given that he's tackled more gay parts than Jeff Stryker, and made a student film at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts that "featured a boy dreaming in graphic detail about the jocks on the basketball court".

It's not so long ago that even a whiff of this kind of behaviour could kill an actor's career. Nowadays, it simply makes them a little more enigmatic. As long as people are guessing, it means they're still interested in you.

Speaking of which, Johnny Galecki and Chace Crawford have both been interrogated about gay rumours this week, and handled the enquiries with similar good taste. When asked by Whoopi Goldberg whether he was gay, Big Bang Theory star Galecki said "I've never really addressed those rumors because I always figured why defend yourself against something that's not offensive?"

Likewise, Chace was asked about the speculation around his relationship with Gossip Girl co-star Ed Westwick (the exact same question he'd been asked two years before) and commented "I just throw my head back and laugh. It’s not hard to deal with when there’s no truth to it. Just ignore it and it’ll go away." Although maybe it was the way he throws his head back that got those rumours started in the first place.

Even the animal kingdom is proudly hoisting a rainbow flag, with an article in today's Mail discovering with dismay that incidents of homosexuality have been documented in over 450 species.

Accompanied by a series of photos depicting spooning pandas, skipping penguins and a particularly mincing pair of giraffes, the feature makes the point that "Gay-rights campaigners have seized on evidence of animal homosexuality as proof that same-sex couples are a natural occurrence." There's even a book on the subject, amusingly titled 'Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality And Natural Diversity'.

After a fortnight of biological exuberance, I'm looking forward to getting back to normal. Whatever that is...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

On the scrounge

The Daily Mail has been waging a war on benefits for years now, using broad brushstrokes to portray anyone receiving any kind of government hand-outs as worthless, lazy and ignorant. According to the Mail, innocent hard-working middle class people are toiling away so that families on council estates can buy plasma TVs and Playstations.

So it's hard to know what they were thinking by publishing Liz Jones latest self-indulgent and staggeringly ironic column. You remember Liz - she moved to Somerset and wrote a book about how all the villagers were toothless, banjo-plucking inbreeds then wondered why no-one liked her.

Liz's other main claim to fame, other than have a writing style that makes the Peppa Pig books look like Tolstoy, is the fact that she blew over half a million pounds on clothes when working as an editor with Marie Claire.

Since admitting that she was in debt last November, her articles have become a weekly confessional, allowing her to gripe about unscrupulous banks and money lenders.

A heartless pragmatist might suggest that Liz should cut her cocktail gown according to her cloth, and perhaps downsize some of the extravagances in her life - when money's tight do you really need a gardener? And perhaps a train ticket might have made more sense when traveling into London, since Liz says "The poorer you are, the more day-to-day life costs a fortune, the harder it becomes to claw your way out – last Tuesday, I didn’t have £8 for the Congestion Charge, and so I now owe Transport for London £60."

Last week, Liz wrote in You Magazine that she felt close to suicide, "I was in despair. I had no one to turn to. I won’t go into why I found myself unable to afford food, heating, petrol. I can only say I was landed with a huge project with no warning, and stupidly continued it so as not to throw a dozen or so people out of work." That's Liz, always thinking of others.

In the days that followed, Liz found her bullet-riddled mailbox (like I said, her neighbours aren't fans) filled with envelopes from concerned Mail readers. They contained touching personal notes, cheques, offers of donations, and lots of lottery tickets.

One woman wrote "I’m a 77-year-old widow on a state pension, but I’d do anything for my cat, Josh. I’ve won £50 on Premium bonds and I want you to have it, so how can I get it to you?" Another £50 came from a 56-year-old disabled woman whose husband had given up work to care for her.

Liz ends her column by saying "We’re always being told we live in a broken society. That we’re greedy. My faith in human nature has been restored." The problem is, it's the Daily Mail that invented the concept of Broken Britain. And the venal greed she refers to is the grotesque consumption that got her into this mess in the first place.

How lovely that it took the foolish generosity of idiotic pensioners to make her feel positively about her fellow man. Like the credulous fools who send their life savings to preachers and televangelists, these people can't see the awful hypocrisy that's staring them in the face.

Liz may have a renewed faith in human nature, but mine has taken a serious hit.

Friday, 14 May 2010

From boys to men

Boybands are a dying breed. Sure, JLS have had considerable (some might say disproportionate) success with their neutered RnB stylings, but they're practically the Omega Men of pop. Where once the musical landscape was abundantly blessed with close harmonies, baggy jeans and random piercings, it's now more of a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Take That might still be big news, but the term boyband hardly seems appropriate - their next tour bus may well be a Saga coach. Boyzone have also enjoyed a pretty successful resurgence of popularity, although given the amount of time they spend talking about Stephen Gately it's more of an extended wake than a comeback.

And then there's Westlife - the ones who never went away. They've been consistently churning out albums, year after year, for over a decade now and show no signs of stopping. Their songs might all be about passions of the heart, but the albums are clinical, cynical affairs, delivered with all the excitement of a trip to the chiropodist.

As it happens, the boys themselves are more than aware of their own shortcomings, admitting in an interview this week that "We've certainly made a lot of mistakes. We've recorded songs that we should never have recorded. We look back on some of them and think, 'Oh God, that was terrible'." They're not alone in their assessment.

Believing that they've "become men over the last few years", the guys are putting their foot down and making more decisions about what goes on their next album. Better lock up your daughters, 'cos it's getting hot in here.

Inspired by the filthy signage being waved by their rapidly aging fanbase, the 'Lifers hope that their next CD will be "one for the bedroom with lots of juicy and sensual tracks". As Nicky told the Daily Star, "the banners have become raunchier and most don’t leave anything to the imagination." That thudding, tumbling sound you can hear is Barry White spinning.

So far, it sounds about as sexy as a bed bath in a rest-home, but Mark Feehily claims "You can listen to it while you're conceiving." Well, if that doesn't make you horny you must be dead from the waist down.

As much as the boys might want to talk up their hot new angle, there's a danger in being too honest about who they were in the past. Their fans aren't stupid, and they know what they like.

Selling substandard products is one thing, but admitting it is something else entirely. Just ask Gerald Ratner.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Got an itch that needs scratching?

According to the old saying, everything is for sale, if the price is right. And a couple of stories making the news today suggest that there may be some truth in that old adage.

Over in Australia, reality TV has a less than stellar reputation, since the 2006 incident when two men had to be ejected from the Big Brother house for giving a turkey slap to a female housemate. But now TV producers are taking things to extremes with the announcement that a new show is being filmed in which virgins will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Fledgling fornicators were recruited using posters depicting the Virgin Mary, with the caption reading 'Virgins Wanted', and the contestants will be paid $20,000 plus 90 percent of the winning bid. Best of all, lucky TV viewers will be able to watch the deflowering since "the virgins' first sexual experience will be filmed for viewers".

It hasn't all been plain sailing for the plucky production team though - they've had to film the documentary in Nevada, since the virgins could be charged with prostitution if the transaction took place in Australia.

Of course, the contestants see things rather differently, with one virgin claiming "Technically I'm selling my virginity for money, technically that would be classified as prostitution, but it's not going to be a regular thing, so in my head I can justify that I'm not going to be a prostitute." Well, you certainly can't say she hasn't thought this through.

However, it's not guaranteed that their maiden voyage on the Good Ship Cherrypop will be the magical experience they're hoping for. So the contestants might like to know that an innovative British business is offering just what they need to leave their first sexual partner with a lasting memory of the occasion.

The unambiguously named offers a resaonably priced vial of pubic lice for 'novelty purposes' and seems to be particularly popular with people going through a difficult break-up. The homepage of the site features the disturbingly misogynistic strapline "Make that bitch itch" although, presumably, women can buy the lice too.

I guess stitching mackerel into someone's curtain lining or taking photos of a rectal exam using a toothbrush are just so last season.

The people who run the business claim "We sell you crabs to give to your ex-girlfriend or whoever has pissed you off enough to make you seek revenge on them.. If you want a method of revenge that doesn’t involve permanent damage, risk of personal injury or jail time, you have come to the right place."

For the bargain price of £34.99, you can buy the deluxe red package which features "Shampoo Resistant F strain Crabs. These crabs are almost impossible to get rid of and have been through over a year of selective lab breeding to be the most aggressive and most reproductive species on the planet! This species can take up to two weeks to get rid of and apparently bite so much they cause the victim to scratch themselves raw..."

Sex may sell, but in this brave new world of ours, everyone pays for it.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Call waiting

So, Pickfords have dropped David Cameron's bike-rack off at Number 10, Nick Clegg's in the shower wondering why the stains won't come off, and the whole country is waiting expectantly for a miracle to occur. They could be in for a long wait.

The much promised economic recovery is still as distant as Paris Hilton's facial expression, and we're all under pressure to make ends meet. The wolf's at the door, and he's got a Betterware catalogue in his paw.

During the election campaign, jobs were a major issue for the electorate, with faceless swathes of 'immigrants' being blamed for taking all the jobs. It didn't seem to matter that in many instances, those jobs that were advertised received no applications from British workers.

As a story in today's Daily Mail shows, there's work out there, but no-one wants to do it. Jobcentre Plus offices in Birmingham, Warwickshire and Shropshire are currently recruiting for a company called Faceclick which offers a rather specialist form of interpersonal consultancy. OK, basically they're looking for people to work on the phone sex lines.

You know the type - "Naughty housewife can't find her crevice nozzle", "Sexy schoolgirl needs help with Pythagorus theorum" - they usually conjure up images of a call centre full of chain-smoking Pat Butchers, all talking dirty whilst pretending to be nineteen year-old nymphomaniacs.

The conversational topics to be covered include fetishes, role-play and domination, which, let's be honest, has to be more fun that encouraging the person on the end of the line to switch their gas and electricity supplier.

Perhaps concerned about the Trades Descriptions Act, Faceclick are also keen to make their hot, sexy operatives visible by offering a webcam service. But that will depend upon their new recruits being willing to perform 'nude or semi-nude' online.

As for the filming, that all sounds pretty low impact too. According to the Mail's article, applicants are encouraged to perform "activities that you feel comfortable with" - which might mean flicking through TV Quick and devouring half a pack of chocolate HobNobs.

Still, these saucy shenanigans came as a bit of a shock to the jobseekers of Nuneaton who were looking for light clerical work. One 19-year old applicant said "I am absolutely desperate for work. But I'm not desperate that I'm prepared to perform disgusting acts on an internet sex line."

The ads are offering up to £100 per day for "a job with a difference", but specify that they're looking for people who are bubbly, confident and have their own internet connection. It doesn't sound as though dongles will be provided, at least not by the Faceclick management.

Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood has also weighed in on the issue, demanding an enquiry and commenting "I am absolutely flabbergasted... To now discover job centres are encouraging unemployed people to get into this is almost beyond belief."

Unfortunately, subjective morality is more important to some people than making an honest living. There aren't too many well paying jobs out there that allow you to work from home and require no training or investment to get you up and running.

It's just a shame that the people behind this outcry are so short-sighted. And you know what causes that condition, boys and girls...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Anything she can do...

With his ex-wife Kerry Katona dominating the red-tops in a PR campaign that would have Max Clifford touching himself inappropriately, it's easy to forget about Brian McFadden. Although, if I'm completely honest, it's never been particularly easy to remember him either.

As part of the world's most popular boyband, he did little more than stand left-of-centre to stop his smaller bandmates from falling over. Perhaps inspired by Kerry's own career-sabotaging decision to leave Atomic Kitten right before they hit the big time, Brian walked away from Westlife to focus on his family. But within six months he was walking again, this time away from his wife.

What Brian had actually meant by 'focus on his family' was 'focus on his solo career' - and he got off to a great start with a number one single he cowrote with Guy Chambers. But public interest faded pretty quickly, and by the time his debut album's campaign was finished, so too was his relationship with Sony BMG.

Ever the optimist, Brian trotted out the age-old euphemism for 'I was dropped by my label' by claiming that they had simply parted ways because he wanted to have creative control over his music.

Since then, he's been based down under where he's continued plugging away at his music career and singer-songwriter Delta Goodrem. Now, with his third album on the horizon, he's hoping to take the world by storm.

With a cool new 'electropop' sound, and an appalingly naff title, Wall Of Soundz could be Brian's ticket back to the top. After all, as he says "People are loving the music... and they're thinking 'This doesn't really sound like Brian McFadden'." Which is probably a good thing for everyone concerned.

Although his sophomore release was limited to Australia (since Brian 'chose' not to release the record in Ireland or across Europe where people might have some fleeting familiarity with him), Brian thinks this one could be big: "My last album suited certain places. This is the first time I feel like I can take a record everywhere because it suits radio everywhere in the world at the moment."

It's easy to scoff at such blind self-belief, but as his ex-wife's media transformation has proved, there's no limit to the amount of successful comebacks that one person can enjoy.

Monday, 10 May 2010

He shoots, he scores

With the UK football season pretty much over, the players will be wondering what to do with their summer. Obviously there's the small matter of the World Cup for many of them to contend with. Others will be looking at transfer options or heading down to Carphone Warehouse in search of an all-inclusive SMS package.

Over in Barcelona, however, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gerard Pique may be more interested in convincing the world of their potent heterosexuality. Having been papped in a 'clinch' that seemed a little too 'up close and personal' the rumour-mill has gone into overdrive suggesting that the players might be striking in each other's box.

There have been a number of high profile 'coming out' stories in the last year from the world of sport. Hurling goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack struck a blow for gay visibility in Ireland, followed soon after by Gareth Thomas, who was pleasantly surprised by the encouragement and support he received from his rugby teammates.

At the time, people wondered whether we might see a professional footballer off the bench and out of the closet, but that looks pretty doubtful for now.

As speculation mounts about the connection between Ibrahimovic and Pique, reporters have begun questioning the Swedish star about his new striking partnership. And he's not too happy about it.

One TV reporter managed to corner Zlatan and asked outright whether he was gay. His response was "Come to my house with your sister and see if I'm a queer."

OK, a couple of issues here. Firstly, it's a little weird that a reportedly happily married man's first response to this kind of question would be to invite a female reporter to take part in an incestuous threesome.

Couldn't he just have mentioned his wife? Or are double-enders now as integral to the world of football as oranges at half time?

Then again, maybe his blunt response proves nothing at all. It's only our dirty minds that assume that Zlatan was proposing anything untoward. Perhaps he was suggesting a good old-fashioned girly sleepover. You know the sort of thing - cosmopolitans, Ben & Jerry's and a sneak preview of Sex and the City 2.

In which case, he really needs to work on his denial strategy.

Dressed for success

Oh dear, they're on the warpath again. The same news media that publishes trashy magazines full of celebrity diets ("for a treat, try a handful of limestone chippings or smear some swarfega on a crackerbread") is pointing an underweight finger at the fashion industry for causing eating disorders.

This time though, it's the boys that they're concerned about. A mannequin manufacturer has started producing a new line of male dummies with a 27in waist which, according to the Daily Mail, is 11in smaller than the average British male.

Rather than question how we reached a point where the average man now casts the same silhouette as Les Dawson, the Mail's article expresses concern that these slender "waxworks" (when have mannequins ever been made from wax?) will drive thousands of young men to a life of starvation or binge 'n' purge dieting.

Apparently, "the company insists they are modelled on healthy teenage boys and will be dressed in skinny jeans and tailoring made popular by celebrities such as Russell Brand." So we're going to be over-run by a generation of pointy-toed dandies with big hair. Great news all round.

Speaking to the Guardian, a spokesperson for Beat, a charity that works with eating disorder sufferers, said "unrealistic images in the fashion world - such as these mannequins - and in the media still abound and the pressures they bring can lead to low self-esteem in often young and vulnerable people."

Although I can appreciate their concern, the fact is, this isn't actually an unrealistic image of young men's body image. Gran Canaria, where your hard-working correspondent is currently residing, is overrun with young men in their early twenties who, between them, are carrying about as much fat as a Muller Fruit Corner.

The big shock isn't that these young people are trying to achieve an unattainable body image. It's the fact that none of them realise that it won't always be quite so easy to wriggle into those teeny-weeny camouflage shorts.

Rather than freaking out about an outbreak of male bulimia, we should be telling them to enjoy it while it lasts.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Animals in the Zoo

If you have a problem, and no-one else can help, you have two choices: call the A-Team (if you can find them) or fire off a letter to an Agony Aunt.

For decades, people have been writing to Miriam Stoppard, Denise Roberts and Deidre Sanders for advice in matters of the heart. Most of the time, these matronly know-it-alls trot out the same unimaginative platitudes - try sexy lingerie, don't have threesomes and here's the number for Relate.

That's fine for 'Unhappily married in Middlesborough', but don't young men also deserve access to the same kind of high quality, empathetic guidance?

Possibly, but something tells me that, when they asked Danny Dyer to act as an Agony Uncle in his regular column, Zoo Magazine weren't taking the whole thing too seriously. For a start, the only advice Danny Dyer would be able to offer is how to spin an irritating one-note persona into a sustained acting career.

But clearly there are some people out there who can't conceive of any kind of support system that isn't delivered by the least believable cockney since Dick Van Dyke assembled a chimney brush. So they write to Danny for advice, knowing that he'll address the subject with tact and sensitivity.

Alex from Manchester was one such reader, and wanted to know how to get over a recent split from his ex-girlfriend. Danny's advice was "I'd suggest going out on a rampage with the boys, getting on the booze and smashing anything that moves. Then, when some bird falls for you, you can turn the tables and break her heart. Of course, the other option is to cut your ex's face, and then no one will want her."

It's possible that, inspired by Neil LaBute's seminal expose of modern day misogyny 'In The Company of Men', Danny was aiming for a satirical critique of gender roles and the psychological devastation caused by a difficult break-up. Or maybe he just thought cutting a bird's face was funny.

Of course, everyone's in a rush to blame somebody else. Since Danny didn't technically write the column, he's saying that it was dictated and he was misquoted. Meanwhile, the magazine's blaming it on a 'regrettable production error'. But someone, somewhere thought it was funny, and the editor happily approved it.

Perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised that a magazine which runs a regular feature called "The Week In Boobs", and once offered readers the chance to win an all-expenses paid divorce, so that they could "unleash themselves back to bachelorhood", has an ugly view of women. Dyer's comment might have been more explicitly upsetting, but there's a good reason why no-one on the editorial team spotted the potential for controversy.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Where the sun don't shine

For almost forty years, Donnie Osmond has been an ever-grinning vision of antiseptic niceness and extensive orthodontic work. Together with his brothers, and later with his sister Marie, Donnie did it all - records, concerts, broadway, chat shows and reality TV.

Somehow he even found the time to regularly cross the Atlantic for some hopelessly uncomfortable flirting with an endless parade of female chat-show presenters. To this day, he's still responsible for the only expression that wasn't an inscrutible frown to cross Fiona Phillips' face.

But despite being more 'middle-of-the-road' than a crash-safety barrier, Donnie is currently in the news for a rather unsavoury reason.

Thanks to a new BBC show called Bizarre ER (proof that we will watch absolutely anything), the internet is currently abuzz with the news that clean-cut Donnie may pose a viable threat to your vaginal integrity.

To be fair to Donnie, he wasn't present at the time of the incident, but the rolled-up poster that was inserted into the unnamed woman's Mormon-munching mimsy did bear his toothy likeness.

Apparently the patient had been rushed to hospital complaining of pain 'down there', only for surprised medical professionals to fish out a poster of Donnie in all his big-haired seventies glory.

Who knows what was going through this poor woman's mind? Perhaps she was having a clear-out but couldn't be bothered driving to Staples to buy a shredder. Or maybe the Daily Mail's regular scare stories about the 'recycling Nazis' left her clueless as to how to dispose of glossy colour-prints.

Donnie may reach the parts that other teen-idols can't reach, but it just goes to show that masturbation isn't always the safest form of sex.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Lift with your knees

You may not realise it, but p0pvulture is currently on holiday in the Canaries. However, my commitment to my loyal readers (both of you) means that a regular service will be maintained throughout the duration of my stay. Hurrahs all round, and a vodka/diet Coke please.

Last night, as we disembarked the plane and stood by the baggage carousel marveling at the size of 21st century pushchairs (airbags, ABS and four-wheel drive as standard) it occurred to us that our luggage was rather heavy. If only we had a strapping young señor to assist us with our crippling cases. No impropriety mind, just a smooth young man to handle our overburdened bags.

I got the idea from George Alan Rekers, a founding member of the Family Research Council and owner of the finest facial hair since Thomas Sullivan Magnum spent eight years house-sitting in Hawaii.

Rekers has just returned to the States after a ten-day trip to Europe, condemning homosexuals to an eternity of flaming (and not the good kind). In particular, Rekers likes produce teen-oriented literature that portrays the gay community as being obsessed with group coprophilia.

But Rekers is now in the middle of a shit-storm of his own, given that he was photographed leaving Miami International Airport with a young traveling companion who can be hired by the hour from

As soon as the story broke, Rekers needed to come up with a plausible excuse. Instead, he issued a statement that read "I had surgery, and I can't lift luggage. That's why I hired him." I wonder how many businessmen in the 1960s claimed that they hired Cynthia Payne for a birthday party, simply because they were asthmatic and needed someone to blow up the balloons.

He also maintains that he only found out about Amandi Nicholi Jr's primary source of income halfway through the trip. Probably about the same time that he found the change on his bedside table.

With his reputation in tatters (much like his... no, I'm not going to go there), a full rebuttal has been posted on his website claiming "There was nothing inappropriate with this relationship. Professor Rekers was not involved in any illegal or sexual behavior with his travel assistant."

But I'm not sure anyone's going to believe him, especially since the organisation he founded has also responded to the story with a statement that reads "While we are extremely disappointed when any Christian leader engages in the very activities that they "preach" against, it is not surprising. The Scriptures clearly teach the fallen nature of all people."

It remains to be seen whether or not Rekers can salvage his career. Whatever went on (and only he, Nicholi and the bed-linen-washers of Europe know the truth) he made a stupid mistake. Everybody knows it's cheaper to pick up bargains when you get to your destination, rather than buying them first and taking them with you.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Britain, let's take a look at your best bits

Well, the time has come. After weeks and weeks of tedious analysis and more inarticulate vox-pops that you could shake a junior researcher at, the election is finally here.

According to the experts, this one is really too close to call. David Cameron's probably slightly ahead, but Nick Clegg surprised everyone in the televised debates by being more than just the nice bloke in the middle. Occasionally, his repeated 'I'm not like the other guys' mantra started to sound like he was going to burst into a rendition of Thriller, but on the whole he equipped himself surprisingly well.

Gordon Brown stalked around the country like an angry thundercloud, with fists clenched and a smile of sorts, that hung permanently at half-mast. That left David Cameron to try and convince the world that the Conservatives are the only ones we can trust to look after education, the environment and the NHS. Which is a bit like recruiting a nanny from the sex offenders register.

There's little more that any of them can to to persuade those stubbornly non-committal floating voters. So it's now in the hands of the gods, and Simon Cowell, to tell us which box to cross.

As the unofficial barometer of public preference, Cowell has written exclusively in The Sun that Cameron is, like Obi-Wan Kenobi before him, our only hope: "David Cameron is the prime minister Britain needs at this time. He has the substance and the stomach to navigate us through difficult times."

Cowell has clearly been scrutinising the candidates' policies very closely in order to fully inform his decision: "I have always trusted my gut instinct - and this was a guy who I thought would do the right things for this country." This is the same gut instinct that gave the world Eoghan Quigg.

Although he's careful not to criticise Gordon Brown too much (Gillian Duffy took care of that), he pulls no punches when it comes to Clegg. Ironically, the man whose influence is directly responsible for turning this election into the X-Factor with colour-coded neckties, argues "We are not talent show judges picking pretty-sounding contestants now. The future government of our country is so much more important than that."

Simon Cowell has an uncanny knack for manipulating the will of the British people. If his preferred act is off to an early lead, he savages them in order to encourage the fans to vote. If they're falling behind he uses tactical praise to pick off the weaker contestants. But every once in a while, he misreads public sentiment.

Sites like 'votefortheworst' function solely to irritate Simon, creating communities of fans who'll vote for the underdog on any talent show just to piss him off. It'll be interesting to see whether Cowell's decision to back a favourite triggers a similar backlash.

Now, go exercise your democratic right...

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Sympathy for the devil

It's a little depressing when our favourite trouble-makers lose the ability to shock. Once the the rowdy, anarchic yang to the Beatles clean-cut yin, the Rolling Stones have, over the years, grown into rock music's elder statesmen. These days, the only thing remotely upsetting thing about them is when one of them forgets to put on a shirt.

The rock 'n' roll ethos might be 'live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse', but that doesn't hold any sway with the Stones. At this rate they'd even survive a nuclear holocaust, along with the cockroaches and Twinkies.

But after half a century of strutting angrily around a stage, it seems as though Sir Mick Jagger might finally be losing his edge. Speaking to Absolute Radio this week, he found himself reminiscing about the good old days (presumably when the Earth was just a single land-mass).

In a surprising interview, Mick admitted that the group had written some of their biggest hits while 'under the influence of drugs'. I know, shocking isn't it? It's hard to know what to believe after a revelation like that. Next you'll be telling me that Jodie Marsh isn't good dating material.

"That was a period of time when everyone took loads of drugs, it was very fashionable, but I mean, we did a lot of hard work as well, so it was a bit of a party atmosphere, loads of visitors, you know, there was a lot of drugs floating around."

Whilst I'm sure that the world of music journalism is rocking on its heels at this news, it's probably worth remembering that it's almost forty three years to the day that Mick and Keith were first arrested on drugs charges. Or that Keith went on to become a heroin addict. Or that Mick has regularly spoken out about his past dalliances with illegal pharmaceuticals.

The worst thing about ageing rock stars is that they start to repeat themselves. First it's a lyric or two, then a guitar riff or melodic hook.

But when they start telling the world things that everyone's known for forty-odd years, it's time to start thinking about hanging up the skinny t-shirt and trading it in for a nice aran-knit cardigan. There's no shame in getting old - only in pretending you're not.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Doing the Wright thing

Shocking news - someone you've never heard of is a lesbian.

When it was first announced that People Magazine would be running a front cover outing story this week, speculation ran through the internet like an undercooked chicken fajita. Were we finally about to find out the truth about Tom Cruise's 25-year mission impossible?

No, I guess not. Instead, it turned out the closet opening celeb is a country singer called Chely Wright. The world greeted this Earth-shattering revelation with a collective 'meh' and went back about its business.

The two most common responses were 'Who?' and 'How convenient, coming out the same week as your new album and autobiography'. Gosh, we're a cynical bunch.

Chely Wright was, for a while at least, flavour of the month in Nashville. Her fourth album 'Single White Female' (maybe time to add another adjective there) was a big hit, shifting 500,000 copies back in 2000. Subsequent albums failed to live up to that early promise and she parted ways with her label MCA Nashville in 2003.

The following year she independently released a song about the armed forces called 'Bumper of my SUV', inspired by a real-life incident when a passerby gave her a mouthful of abuse for having a 'US Marines' sticker on her car. Although the song wasn't anywhere near her best work, it became a sizeable hit thanks to its politically-charged message.

Those same right-wingers who rushed to support Chely back in 2004 may well find themselves somewhat conflicted by this new twist in her tale. After all, announcing you're gay in Nashville is a little like turning up to a Bar Mitzvah with a tray of Scotch eggs.

Snippets of the People magazine story feature Chely saying she had no intention of being the first country music star to come out of the closet, nothing in her life "has been more magical" than the moment she decided to reveal her sexuality. Of course, many people rushed to name k.d. lang as the first true cowgirl-on-girl pioneer. But k.d. was never really a mainstream country artist - hell, she even shunned capitalisation.

Gossip fans may scoff at what they see as a lazy attempt to drum up some publicity for Chely's forthcoming CD and book. But it's rather naive to assume that the singer's traditional fan-base will be motivated to snap up her latest CD on the grounds that she's striking a blow for gay visibility.

It'll be interesting to see what impact Chely's interview will have on her standing in the industry. When one-time Nashville darlings the Dixie Chicks spoke out against George Bush, they received death threats from the hardcore country fans, but saw their music embraced by the mainstream instead. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that Chely experiences a similar upswing.