Monday, September 02, 2002

BOY IN THE PAPERS: A WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY SPECIAL: Boy George has never been afraid of catching a downward spiral; having signed up for a chat show on Play UK seconds before the people at Flextech decided to make the station into a 24-hour Kim Wilde gardening network instead, he's also, it appears, carving out a niche for himself as the heir to John Junor, filing a column for the Sunday Express. Boy, how could you? It's hard to know where to start with our disgust at finding the one-time one-man counter-culture working for Richard Desmond, a man who cultivates a friendship with Blair purely to see how far right he can push him; a man who believe Victoria Beckham to be the greatest singer in the world; and a man who owns Express newspapers. It's not just that the paper is vile, vile, vile - laid-out as if a retired hot metal worker has been dragged in from Benidorm and plonked in front of a pirated copy of Microsoft Publisher, and only told half way through they went tabloid a couple of years ago; 'news' written in such a way as to make the half-thoughts of the third string columnists (Feltz, Kilroy-Silk) seem coherent; "full of pornography, the kind that's clean" as John Cooper Clarke said many years ago - still as true now; still a place where "William Hickey meets Michael Caine, again and again and again and again." The real saddness is that George writing for the Express is akin to him giving up, admitting he was a pantomime sideshow all along and, actually, that time Jimmy Saville introduced him on Top of the Pops? He was the more conventional one in that particular cultural-cross meeting.
As if to save his beautifully made-up face, George clearly tosses off the column in five minutes on Friday lunchtime - the only way to explain the poor construction, poor opinions based on misunderstood factlets, and the general air of 'will-this-do' mixed with a desperation to try and convince us - or, more likely, the freewheeling-towards-Valhalla Express reader - that the Boy is still hip.
The fact that the Sunday Express is the only place for him to peddle his wares says it all really - why would an '02 teenager be any more interested in George's opinions on the chart than my generation were with the "and your point is" when Quentin Crisp tut-tutted over rock's habit of getting youth worked up when they had no war to work it out of them again; it's another painted queen from twenty years ago whose time has passed, after all. No, George is not really sharing his view of the cutting edge; however he might describe it, his role at the Sunday Express is of state eunuch; coming back and telling us how shocking all the new things the young people are getting up are.
So, what does he have to say?
I warned you the next musical revolution would be female-led, with the odd quasi-androgynous geezer thrown in for good measure, like Fischer Spooner, reportedly signed to the Ministry of Sound dance label for a couple of million pounds.
Now, we're pretty rip and read here at No Rock and Roll Fun, so we're aware there's motes and beams here, but just where did that sentence end up? It sort of rolled off the point and never came back. Just to make it clear, George, we think you meant Fischerspooner (all one word, but two "geezers" - if you can have geezers from New York) signed to Ministry of Sound for a reported couple of mill. There's no "reportedly" about the signing, young man. They've even had a single fizzle limply into the charts, and been on TOTP and everything. And 'quasi-androgynous'? - we're not sure that you can be a little bit androgynous; that's like being slightly bald or fairly dead, isn't it? And Fischerspooner aren't really androgynous, are they? A little bit tranny in places, maybe, but you'd never look at them and go "... is it a ... or is...?"
However, back to the ladies. Canadian singer Peaches (whom I wrongly called American, which is apparently an insult) gave a superb performance at Pop Stars at London's Scala Club. It was like being 15 all over again. To be an electro superstar, you need your own "gimp".
Eh? Hang about a moment - there's an awful lot of Electro superstars out there, and as far as I know there's only one with a "gimp", with quotation marks or without. Unless Golden Boy actually spends the time between sets bound round and round with rubber? But George remembers we're in the world of the Sunday Express, where gimps are as a rare as a bent High Court Judge, and so feels the need to explain just what he's talking about:
Remember Pulp Fiction, where the scary man in a rubber suit and chains was pulled from a box? Well, Peaches gimp (serville dependent, perhaps?) is called Mignon. Though how she will take to being called a gimp is anyone's guess.
Garble much? This whole sentence is just crying out to be reshuffled into an order that makes sense. And if Mignon is really a gimp, or a serville dependent, how she takes to being called a gimp is surely not an issue at all, is it?
But less of these questions, gentle Express reader, for George is about to tell you 'bout the 'orrors he witnessed:
At a certain point in the show ("Certain point?" Is this a regular thing, then? Does it happen to order? Not very spontaneous, is it? Or did you start to nod off George, and only jerked awake at this point?) Mignon appears with gaffer tape across her mouth and bound in rope, rolling around. Peaches lovingly spits blood all over her as they duet and pogo like leftover punks.
Rather tricky to pogo when you're bound in rope, I seem to recall from experience...
The kids loved it. I haven't seen such an enthusiastic and dressed-up crowd for years. (You'll recall that George has spent the last few months hanging about at the theatre playing his musical, Taboo, so that's probably quite true.) Peaches looks rather like Sandra Bernhard crossed with Jamie Lee Curtis and a dash of Patti Smith. (This is George's way of saying she doesn't actually look pretty). So the big question is, who's a better influence - peaches or Britney Spears in school uniform? I would always opt for the edgy avant guarde over the squeaky Spears.
Um... why precisely is that the big queston, George? Apart from anything, when you talk about "influence", influence on whom, precisely? Do you mean children, old men, music in general? I get the feeling you might be talking about influence on kids, although it's not clear.
Britney did, indeed, make a video where she gyrated about in a fairly chaste way in a school uniform - although this was in 1999, so it's hardly a very current and pressing concern. But since you bring it up, she was seventeen at the time; an age when many young adults in both the US and the UK are still expected to wear uniforms. Now, since I assume you're not suggesting that Brit was a bad influence for encouraging young people to wear uniforms, but rather for trading on their dubious sexual fetish? (Some might wonder if this is the same Boy George whose Karma Chameleon is gracing the uniform-tastic album). But, without wanting to sound like a member of Iain Duncan-Smith's party (or an Express leader), as far as young girls go, I'd be rather more concerned to see ten year olds acting out explicit songs about masturbation wearing stockings and not much else than I would for them to have tied their shirts up to show off their belly buttons and bop about a bit.
Regardless, Britney's next step was to reinvent herself as a PVC clad tease and most recently made a Gimp On A Budget appearance at the MTV Video awards; presumably S&M imagery in the mainstream is somehow less crucial than in the left-field?
You won't hear Peaches on the radio, unless she tones down her language
Erm... she's got her own artist page on the Radio 1 website, has been interviewed by the network and been played a fair bit on Jo Wylie's lunchtime show, George. They're called "radio edits", apparently.
So she remains one of pop's best kept secrets.
George, we don't want to rain on your parade, luv, but she's had a Top 40 hit and recorded stuff for Top of the Pops and everything. She's about as much a secret as the desire to wipe out his father's shame being the spur pushing George Bush to attack Iraq is.
Then you have Miss Kitten - Kittin, surely? - DJs like Jo Jo Le Freak and the Ping Pong Bitches. Um... Ping Pong Bitches aren't actually DJs, are they? Or, indeed, electroclash. And none of these - pace your earlier comments - have gimps, do they? Though we do agree with you when you say
Someone get them on Top of the Pops now.
When will the music industry start being pro-active as opposed to reactive and stop serving up puerile pop?

A question ponder indeed. Maybe when compilations of eighties hits stop selling, and package acts of bands like Culture Club keep providing the industry with a quick fix of cash for limited investment and the labels are forced to come up with something a bit more challenging?
Anyway, I have always found myself drawn to ball-busting chicks...
This may come as news to Helen Terry. And Jon Moss.
... and I say, bring on the girls - or is it ghouls?
No, stop it, George - really, you're killing us with your witty wordplay. Though we're not sure what's in anyway ghoulish about the idea of a strong female figure? Not the tunnels with teeth, surely? But then why otherwise would you choose to describe someone like Peaches as "ball-busting" - why in terms of the male genitals? I think you'll find that Peaches has no interest in attacking male gender roles; for her, the whole point is that they're obsolete, meaningless; as old fashioned as the chorus to Time (Clock of the Heart). For all your talk of androgyny, Boy, you never were able to get past the pants as being the place where gender-play had to stop.
Perhaps Blur were on to something with their rousing chorus 'Girls who are boys, who like boys to be girls, who do boys like they're girls'
Yes, maybe they were, but it was something else entirely - ladettes rather than women who deliberately prowled round the central reservation of gender.
Or Garbage chanting 'Boys in the girls' room, girls in the boys' room" on their hit single androgyny
Good choice, George. Mind you, that charted at 24, which allows us to calculate the difference between a Hit Single and A Pop Secret must lay somewhere between the numbers 25 and 35 on the chart, then.
Clearly it doesn't pay to be ahead of your time but at least this new (you know what I mean) sound has not been swallowed up by the corporate fatcats.
Ping Pong Bitches are on Poptones, whose shareholders include the Queen and Sony enriched Alan McGee. Peaches rather-fine Set It Off came out on Epic, part of the Sony empire; another wing of Sony put out Rippin Kittin. Not only do you not know what you're talking about, george, but the very record labels who you're shaking and telling to wake-up were out of bed and waving chequebooks before you'd even set your alarm clock.
I keep reading dance mags dissing Fischer Spooner because of his high-camp visuals and Electro beat...
Really? You read them close enough to see the attacks, but not to find out that he is a they? Curious. Anyway, complaining that dance magazines are rubbishing Fischerspooner is on a par with moaning that Kerrang have given Atomic Kitten a bum steer, isn't it?
... but it's fine for every band on the planet to constantly reference the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Eh? Presumably Muzik and Seven aren't praising Oasis for anything, much less their knee-bow to the works of Lennon. Or does he mean generally? And if he means generally, surely the reason that bands like Oasis have been beaten to critical death has been mainly for their simple-minded rehashing of Beatles tunes?
Get over it, drag's back. Fight it at your peril
Jesus, what drugs have you been on? Drag's never gone away, from Ian Mac as Judy Garland, through Kurt in a skirt to Nicky Wire's girl-attire, even the grungiest of the grunge have resorted to a quick trip to Miss Selfridge to restore a blunted cutting edge. What Fischerspooner do is use a bit of slap instead of writing some songs. And therein lays their problem.
See, we agree with the basic fact of this article - Kittin, Peaches and Bitches are amongst the great musical joys of our age. But you'll notice that in his directionless stride, George summoned up not a single word about the brilliant, muscular, funny music they make.

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