July is a very busy time of year. It is the usual time for Finncon; the last weekend of the month is reserved for Trans Pride in Brighton; but the second weekend is a bit crazy. It sounds like there was a really great little convention happening in Derby. Manchester’s Sparkle looks like it is turning into a really great trans event. My first priority, however, was Bristol Pride.
I must admit that the clash with Sparkle makes it a very difficult choice for me. Bristol Pride’s organizers are very supportive of trans folks. In particular Jayne Graham-Cummings has put together some great trans-themed programming for the Queer Vision film festival, and I’m seriously bummed not to have been able to see any of it. Trans presence at Pride itself is another matter. There are a couple of trans stalls, and a great number of people saying LGBT when they mean LG. Lots of trans people attend, not many actually do anything.
Part of this is due to the success of the event. I interviewed Daryn Carter on the radio during the afternoon and he said that at the time the venue was operating a strict one-in-one-out policy because it was near to capacity. By no means all of those people were LGBT-identified. Pride is, after all, a very good deal as far as a day out goes. If you keep it cheap so that underprivileged folk (like trans people) can attend then inevitably lots of other people will tale advantage. I confess that one of the reasons I spend my time in the Shout Out mobile studio is that if I’m behind a stall I would have to put up with being stared at all day, and occasionally “complimented” on how “convincing” I look. Being a zoo animal is no fun.
On the other hand, doing radio is great fun. I had a great day.
I’ve spent a lot of time with fairly famous writers, all of whom are lovely people. Pop stars are another breed entirely. Some of them have minders to protect them. Blue played Pride a couple of years ago, and were basically whisked in and whisked out again. This year’s lineup was much more friendly.
The star of the show was Heather Small (formerly of M People and also ex-wife of Welsh rugby’s defense coach, Shaun Edwards). She turned up to do a sound check early in the morning, noticed the radio studio, and did an impromptu live interview there and then. That’s pretty much unheard of. She did a post-gig interview as well.
Another star act was a group featuring Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Ashton, three of the original members of Bucks Fizz. There’s no space here to go into the complicated legal dispute over the name, but with the aid of new recruit Bobby McVay they do a remarkably convincing impression of themselves. You might almost think you were listening to the original band. Not only that, but they did a wonderful medley of 80s pop hits that had everyone up and dancing. And yes, they still do the skirt thing. Allegedly is it in the contract.
I was backstage during their gig, but wasn’t on air at the time so didn’t get to participate in the interview. Photos were taken, and at some point you may get to see the group one which includes me trying not to look too stupidly happy about being stood next to Cheryl Baker. That woman still has one of the best smiles in show business. Here’s hoping some of that glory make me look not too bad.
The band stayed around for ages, talking to fans and the show organizers. They seemed to be lovely people. As indeed were all of the acts I met.
The day’s coverage was organized by Shout Out (with sponsorship from the Queen’s Shilling nightclub). Many thanks to Mary Milton and the rest of the crew for doing such a great job and allowing me to be involved. Ujima took the live feed between 6:00pm and 8:00pm, and for the first hour the show was hosted by me, Tommy Popcorn and Jasmine.
Hosting the show is challenging. You can’t quite be sure in advance how much of a show you’ll need to do. Much of the time you simply take the live feed from the main stage. That’s especially the case with someone like former X-Factor star, Amelia Lily, who got through her set very efficiently. Sometimes, however, there is a break between acts, or you get an artist who feels the need to engage in banter with the audience between every song, and then you have to cover. Plus you get to interview people as they come off stage.
My interview ended up being with Tina Cousins, whom I knew very little about in advance. Thankfully I had Andy Thomas running the desk for me, and he happens to be a huge fan of Tina’s. Also I did my research, and we ended up conducting the interview partly in English, partly in Australian and partly in Finnish. Thanks for being so easy to interview, Tina, and best of luck with the acting debut.
From my point of view, the main attraction of the day was Helen Marnie, formerly of Ladytron, whose work I love dearly. Witching Hour is a favorite album of mine. The band is currently on hiatus and Helen has a new project called Marnie, which is actually a band because while Helen handles lead vocals and some keyboards there’s also a lead keyboard / back-up vocals performer, and an actual, non-electronic drummer. The new album, Crystal World, was produced in Reykjavik, and I wish I had been in on the interview as I would have asked if K.K. had been involved in any way (any excuse to mention Sense8).
Anyway, I’ve bought the album. It is less poppy than a Ladytron album, but that might mean I end up playing it more while I am working.
Running a live stage at Pride is clearly an interesting challenge. Most of the acts were vocalists who sang over backing tracks. The reason for that is that a real band needs to set up their instruments. Marnie were late starting because you can’t get a real band up and running as quickly as a vocalist. Personally I love hearing musicians play their instruments, but I quite understand the temptation to move people on and off quickly.
Anyway, it was a lovely, if very tiring day. My thanks to everyone, especially the Shout Out crew, and Tommy & Jasmine. Thanks also to Kym Mazelle, Tina Cousins, Amelia Lily, La Voix, Not Quite Bucks Fizz and Marnie who were all awesome. Special thanks to Brighton’s Boogaloo Stu for being a wonderful host for the stage. And of course to Daryn Carter and the Pride team for all of their hard work.