Monday, February 25, 2008

Oh, Ianto. *swoon*

So in 2006-2007, as regular blog readers would know, my entertainment crush was definitely Captain Jack Harkness, played by John Barrowman, from Dr Who spin-off Torchwood. This year however, thanks to the way his role has developed in the show, I'm definitely falling for the sharply-dressed, sharp-quipping Ianto Jones, played by Welsh actor Gareth David-Lloyd.

Or am I falling for Gareth?

No, I think it's definitely Ianto who I'd like to get into bed - all I'd need is a stopwatch, and perhaps a cute red beret (sorry, those are references which only keen fans of the show will recognise)...

Anyway, you can read an interview with Gareth here, in the online version of SFX magazine, which goes into a little more detail about his role, and the character of Ianto generally; whereas if you want to know more about Gareth himself, then I suggest checking out his official website. Did you know, for instance, that he fronts a rock band called Blue Gillespie? No, I didn't either - and nor do I have any bloody idea what that name means!

But who cares? Isn't he cute?

Martha: So, you and Jack?
Ianto: We.... dabble.
Martha: And how is his... dabbling?
Ianto: Innovative. Bordering on the avant garde. [Gazes into the distance in reminiscence]

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Good times on Gertrude Street

Friday evening saw me dropping in at RRR for a quick drink with Kim Jurick, who's stepping down from the Music Coordinator's position he's held for a year; and receiving the excellent news that the station would like me to host its annual Intrepid Travel trip later this year. It was a huge surprise and an honour to be asked, and also a much-needed morale booster given that I've had the week from hell at work this week.

The country we'll be visiting has yet to be determined, with Egypt, Morocco and Cuba all possible at this stage, as I undestand it. Budgeting and availability of flights and etc will whittle that list down to one country, but any of them would suit me! Any recommendations from you blog readers, please? Which of the three would you visit if you had the chance?

Thereafter I headed back to Fitzroy for the opening night of Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Theatre Collective's The Dirty Mile. This interactive theatrical experience is a historical walking tour of Fitzroy, and marvellously entertaining. As you wend through laneways and back streets, you encounter actors portraying both everyday events and remarkable people from Fitzroy's pre-settlement Woiwurrung origins through to the major cultural landmarks of the 20th century. It was a fantastic night's entertainment, and highly recommended.

Yesterday I also had a fine time on Gertrude Street in the company of some old friends at Añada, a new Tapas bar that's just opened around the corner from my flat at 197 Gertrude Street Fitzroy. Excellent wine paired with very more-ish (and in some cases Moorish) food and good conversation. I'll definitely be going back to work my way through the menu!

Afterwards I came home and started watching the new season of Torchwood. I've already seen the first two episodes, but watched them again anyway, to remind myself of what has come before, and then launched into newer episodes with gusto (and a bottle of wine). Definitely a stronger series than the first season: characters are more fleshed out, interactions between the members of the team are spicier and sharper. And Ianto, my favourite character, remains as dapper and charming as ever.

For once I actually feel like I've had a weekend. Now I have to get some work down: housework, laundry, a grant application, read a stack of job applications for a position at Fringe, check with some referees, have a CD listening section, plan my show for Thursday and much, much more. With luck, I might even be able to fit in a film or two, or even a visit to the museum, but maybe that's being ambitious...

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Kicking off the CUB Malthouse Theatre's 2008 program is Louise Fox's contemporary adaptation of Tartuffe, Moliére's savage satire of faith, power and hypocrisy that scandalised Parisian society when first performed in 1664. Set in the home of the wealthy Orgon and his second wife, Elmire, the play sees the household fighting and falling apart due to the presence of Tartuffe, a seemingly spiritual figure whose devious machinations trick Orgon into banishing his son, Damis; breaking off his daughter Mariane's engagement to young Valère; and handing over control of his assets to the charismatic villain.

Wednesday night's performance of Tartuffe left me cold, indeed bored; at least initially - so much so that I seriously contemplated leaving, as my housemate did, at interval. After interval, however, the production's disparate elements suddenly clicked together, leaving me delighted.

Read on, and I shall explain.

Upon entering the theatre, the first thing one sees is Anna Tregloan's superb set, which instantly evokes the Palace of Versailles, with its lawns and balconies and reflective pools. Versailles was both a palace and a secret setting for Louis XIV's amorous trysts - an important reference to keep in mind given the direction Tartuffe's relationship with Elmire (Alison Whyte) the lady of the house, takes as the play unfolds. Simultaneously, the set reminds us of the wrought-iron lacework of Victorian Melbourne's grand terrace houses, in their day the palaces of the rich and powerful - at least until the depression years of the late 19th century.

This production of Tartuffe however is set firmly in the modern day - which too many ham-fisted references to Facebook, etc, painfully reminded us.

As if it were a Bell Shakespeare production, Fox's Tartuffe hammers its contemporary references home with all the subtlety of a Ray Martin interview. Whether it's a ham-fisted rap sequence performed in exagerated wog-lish by Exekial Ox as a Muslim Valère; or dated references to a 'non-core promise' by Orgon (Barry Otto), Fox's adaptation took every chance to remind us that it was too, too modern. In doing so, it felt trite, strident and simplistic.

This painfully earnest aspect of the production wasn't helped by some of the performances. Speaking with an extravagantly exaggerated accent, Rebecca Massey as the servant girl Dorine delivered her lines so rapidly they were sometimes difficult to decypher; while Laura Brent as Orgon's daughter, Mariane, lacked projection.

On the positive side, Tregloan's costumes instantly gave us a sense of who these characters are. In their tight, white, minimal garb, aided by their fashionistic introduction, we instantly saw that these people were as shallow as the catwalk styles they aped; inhabitants of a transient world in which today's high ideals are tomorrow's pop culture detrius.

Adding to this impression were the array of trapdoors around the set: a physical reminder of the shallow, gossip-riddled world our rich and idle characters inhabit.

Of the central performances, Barry Otto's Orgon was both audible and almost three dimensional, no mean feat given the exaggerations inherrent in Fox's script; while Marcus Graham's corrupt Tartuffe was well-cast physically - giving evil a handsome face - though unconvincing both emotionally and spiritually. At no time could I believe his character's Rasputin-like qualities, for good or ill. He was pretty; and toned; but he displayed no depth - none of the apparent spirituality that in the play wrongly convinces Orgon of Tartuffe's higher calling; while his villainy seemed cartoonish.

Like Bratt Pitt in Thelma and Louise, Graham appeared to have been cast because of the way he looks - including his ability to attract middle-aged heterosexual women to the production, judging from a discussion I eavesdropped on at interval: not because of his dramatic abilities.

Yet somehow, despite all these flaws, post-interval I found myself enjoying Tartuffe immensely. I finally started laughing, instead of wincing.

Perhaps the first night nerves had settled, because performances seemed sharper; more intuitive and less contrived (although I am still suspicious of any production that demands Tartuffe reveal his true villainy by reverting to an Ocker accent, while the exaggerated wog-lish of Valère is played so obviously and patronisingly for laughs); while Matthew Lutton's direction seemed more confident, and more in keeping with the play's farcical nature.

Further enriching the production is the ambiguous presentation of Tartuffe, whose actions when we first meet him recall Peter Sellers' final film, Being There; an impression enriched by the play's final moments; while the deus ex machina ending is both hilarious and fittingly enigmatic. Has Tartuffe truly been punished, or is he inflicting a Job-like test upon Orgon and his clan?

Ultimately, however, this Tartuffe struck me as a stablemate of the Malthouse's Sleeping Beauty of last year: potentially great, but ultimately unfulfiling; let down by its performances and its direction; a blunt object which could have been sharp and deadly. Perhaps with time it will improve. For its cast's sake, I certainly hope so.

At the Malthouse Theatre until March 8.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Smut Meme.

OK, so I've been tagged by Gempires with this saucy little meme, which means it's time to cast my mind back through the dry and dusty months of late to more fertile days of yore, when I actually had a sex life. You're welcome to post it on your blogs. You must call it the Smut Meme, you must link to me in the beginning paragraph, and you must tag two people, and link to them as well. Oh, and you must post this little blurb of instructions at the beginning, as has been done here.

Which reminds me. If you've come here for the first time in search of arts criticism and theatre reviews? This may not be the best post for you...

As for the rest of you, oh brave readers? Onwards!

1. Chocolate or Whipped Cream?

To be honest, neither have a place in my menu of carnal activities, though I'm quite fond of slurping alcohol out of a man's belly button or from between his pectorals, or swapped in a kiss, it should be said. And of course, a mouthful of champagne adds pleasure to a blow job if you're going down on an especially sensitive man due to the combination of a mouth full of cold liquid when he's expecting enveloping warmth; and the bubbles.

2. Leather or PVC

Again, neither. I don't really have a fetish for any particular garments or fabrics, save for ripping them off in a lustful frenzy, or peeling them away slowly and seductively while showering the newly exposed skin beneath with a madness of kisses.

3. Outdoor Sex or Indoor Sex

Oh, definitely outdoors: an alleyway, a park, pulled over at the side of the road on the way to Newcastle; wherever the moment takes you. The risk of discovery adds thrill; the spontaneity of such raw need so expressed adds passion. That said, one of the most best times I've made love (because that's what it was: rich and slow and sensual) was indoors, in front of a gas fire in the loungeroom on a cold winter's night in Northcote. Mmmmm.

4. In the Jacuzzi or In Bed?

Both have their pleasures. A jacuzzi supports, but the wrinkling factor if you're a long time lover can be slightly offputting, as can the fact that I don't actually have access to a jacuzzi (or a spa bath, as we'd call it here in Australia - you can tell that an American wrote these questions, can't you?) except somewhere far too public. That said, the covert stroking and touching beneath obscuring bubbles when those nearby have (hopefully) no idea of what you're up to can be quite a thrill...

5. Bad Sex or No Sex

No sex, definitely. Bad sex is the reason masturbation was invented; having a wank is definitely more satisfying and less complicated than an unsatisfying roll in the hay.

6. Dominate or Be Dominated

Both, please. Sometimes I want to be held gently but firmly down while I strain and struggle and gasp beneath a lover as he laughs, and thrusts and teasingly licks the tip of my nose. At other times I want to feel the muscles in his shoulders rolling beneath my hands as he struggles beneath me. Sex is like food: the same diet of even the finest dishes grows wearying after time.

7. Thigh highs or Bodystocking

Neither. Who do you think I am, Jane Fonda in Barbarella or something?

8. Fast or Slow

Oh. Ohhhhhhh. Definitely both, please. Sometimes alternating, at other times one or the other, depending on the man and the mood. You know how I said sex is like food? It's also like music. Sometimes I want punk rock, at other times a ballad. There's times when it's lust, pure and simple, with an equally simple and urgent tempo. Then there's romantic; when I want languid, considered and sensual. At other times I want a mix tape that segues from one to the other and back again over the running time of a C90...

9. Rough or Gentle

Didn't I just answer this question?

10. Bite or Suck

I couldn't have put it better than Gempires on this one:

"You idiot, there is no OR here. There are things to bite and there are things to suck and sometimes each is both and sometimes both are each."

Hear hear.

11. Role play or Reality

Reality, please. It's one of the bonuses of being single, I suspect. If I want to be fucked by a fireman I'll bloody well go out and try and find one. It's also, paradoxically, probably the reason I am single...

12. Dirty Talking or Dirty Talking To

There's a time and a place for both; which is probably not when your mum is sleeping in the next room. Provided you don't talk to me in the banal text of bad porn films, then you can say pretty much whatever you want; and being someone who (hopefully) knows the value of a well-chosen word, I'll endevour to do the same. You handsome brute.

13. Edible panties or No Panties

In my experience, gay and bisexual men generally don't wear panties (although there was that young bloke just out of jail, who I fucked that time at the Kingsgate Hotel, now you mention it...). Watching a guy strip, or helping divest him of his clothes, and discovering he's going commando can certainly be fun; but there's also an added pleasure in momentarily delaying the grand unveiling...

14. Spanking paddle or Bare-handed

Neither do it for me. In gay terms, I'm kinda vanilla.

15. Landing Strip or Kojak

I've never understood this contemporary mania for divesting oneself of your pubes; it strikes me as symptomatic of our culture's mania for youthfullness taken to an unhealthy degree. Give me a man au naturel, thanks very much; pulling the occasional short and curly out of your mouth is the price we pay for puberty.

16. Multiple Sessions or One Good Fuck


17. Moaning or Screaming

Moaning, groaning, gasping, thrashing around in ecstasy; yes. Screams sound too much like pain for my liking.

18. Older (Wo)men or Young (Wo)men

Younger men. I've always dated men who are 5-10 years younger than myself for some reason. Why? Psychological evaluations on the back of a postcard/in the comments section, please.

19. Threeway or No Way

Provided I fancy both the men in a threeway equally, no worries. Although there was that fivesome with me, three guys (one gay, one bi, one 'straight') and a woman in a toilet at The Peel that time...

20. Swing or No Swinging

You have to have a partner to swing, don't you? And having experienced the complexity of negotiating an open relationship once previously, I'll pass on swinging, thank you - unless we both really, really want it.

And now we're done. I tag Yarraville Paul and Ms Fits: you're it!

The only good thing about summer... that hot (in both senses of the word) boys wear fewer clothes. Treasure trails and sun-kissed shoulders are a much-needed distraction from sweaty, irritable, crowded summer tram trips and uncomfortable walks home.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Such splendid sounds: Explosions in the Sky

It's hard to believe that a four-piece band from Texas can create such thundrous, rolling, crashing seas of sound as were generated last night at the Corner Hotel by Explosions in the Sky. God, they were amazing. Just jaw-droppingly good. No more needs to be said.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Review: Keating!

I've now seen this show three times in two different incarnations: the original Drowsy Drivers incarnation (well, not the original - sadly I missed it in its very first production at the 2005 Comedy Festival; I mean the original version before it became a fully fledged wizz-bang stage show with a predominantly new band, The Belvoirs, and mostly new cast) and the Neil Armfield-directed large scale production, which is the version I saw again last night at its (re)opening at the Comedy Theatre.

Yes, three times. It's that fucking good.

That said, I do think the first half of the show as it now stands, pre-interval, is still a little light-on substance-wise, though still very good; but any such qualms are abandoned in the flurry of the second act, which takes the momentum of the first half and charges helterskelter towards the home straight, taking no prisoners and delighting all the way.

Mike McLeish is a dapper, debonair, devilish Paul Keating; a tap-dancing, reggae-singing marvel of a man. His 'Ruler of the Land' song in the first half of the show is endlessly delightful, while in 'Light on the Hill' he drips pathos mixed with passion.

Songwise, Keating! is simply remarkable. Casey Bennetto's magpie-like homage to almost every musical genre under the sun is paired with an enviable gift for lyrical hilarity, evidenced at every turn: from a hip-hop battle in act one to the Cheryl Kernot-Gareth Evans love song in act two.

Terry Serio's Bob Hawke is instantly recogniseable (yes Terry, I think it is the hair; which last night well deserved the round of applause it received); while his take on John Howard captures the thankfully ex-Prime Minister's poisonous ability to be everything to everyone, thanks to a virtuoso sequence assisted by swift and note-perfect costume changes; while simultaneously presenting him as a blustering, pompous, cultural vaccum of a man.

For this latest tour of the musical we had to have that will not die, we have a new John Hewson/Alexander Downer. Previously played by Eddie Perfect, now Brendan Coustley takes on the role, and while lacking Perfect's bite, still brings a camp joy to the latter role.

Evidence of the show's success is that the friend I saw the show with last night, despite not knowing a lot about Australian politics of the early to mid 1990s (having only lived here for some five years or so) still enjoyed himself immensely.

Keating! remains a delight; a wickedly entertaining night out, and a playfully, cheerfully biased romp that satisfies both politically and theatrically. And now that Howard and co are out of office, what more could you ask from a night's entertainment?

Keating! @ The Comedy Theatre Strictly limited season from 13 February - March 8 Bookings: Ticketek 132 849

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sorry - and here's why

This post was originally written as a response to a comment made on my blog yesterday, but after this morning, and the pride and joy and sorrow I felt at Federation Square, gathered with so many people and listening to the Prime Minister's apology, I thought it deserved a post of its own.

Anonymous said...

Loved the symbolism of the opening of parliament and really pleased that this will occur from now on.

On the other hand i just don't see why the government should apologise for past matters that i or most Australians today are just not responsible for.

Will the current intervention in the NT - will we be asked in years to come for an apology, i sure hope not.. The dispaire that many aboriginal kids face in those communities has got to stop.

I am sorry but i can't feel a sence of guilt for something i was not responsible for.

12/2/08 20:27
richardwatts said...

Ant - for me, it's not about 'a sense of guilt for something I was not responsible for'. It's about recognising the pain that others have suffered - in the same way we say 'sorry' to a friend who has lost a loved one. In this case however, it's the pain of several generations of people who were wrenched away, without consent in the majority of cases, from their families - invariably not because of the conditions in which they lived, but because of their race.

I also think that it's appropriate that the Government apologise for its past actions, because those actions were deliberate: the stealing away of half-caste children while the 'darker' children were left with their parents.

It was a deliberate attempt to 'breed aboriginality' out of existence.

To quote A.O. Neville, WA's 'Chief Protector of Aborigines' from a 1937 conference of Aboriginal Administators:

"Are we going to have a population of one million blacks in the Commonwealth or are we going to merge them into our white community and eventually forget that there were any Aborigines in Australia?"

Saying sorry for the forcible removal of Indigenous children from their parents, who were stolen from their families for the specified purpose of ensuring the eventual destruction of the very concept of Aboriginality, seems only fair and just to me - not to mention long overdue, given that the 'Bringing Them Home' report into the stolen generations was released in April 1997.

The full text of the Prime Minister's apology to the Stolen Generations

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

Well done, KRudd. You didn't fuck it up. Aww, I think I'm gonna start crying again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Briefly, in other news...

Yes, I saw Rufus Wainwright performing at Hamer Hall - twice - and yes, he was definitely swoonsome. I just wish I'd been slightly more sober when I ran into him at Miss Libertine the second night.

I also interviewed him again, which you might have heard on RRR last week. If not, never fear; you can read a transcript of the interview in The Trip magazine if you're a subscriber next month.

Yes, I went to northern Victoria to visit my mum, and no, this time, unlike my visit a year ago, I didn't try and pick up anyone. I did, however, go for a long walk by the river and see a goanna. A very large goanna. Half an hour later I dropped into the top pub (Numurkah has three pubs, unlike the small country town Trafalgar where I went to high school, which has only one) and encountered a large reptile of a different kind - a bilious, bloated man sitting at the bar, whose first words, declared to his equally repugnant friends as I walked in, were "fucken abos fuken lying around everywhere". I decided to leave immediately.

Oh yeah, lots of cockatoos, too.

That's about it really. I've been putting 'the arts' on the back burner for a couple of weeks. Taking a break. Cathing up with a few friends, feeling older (but not mature or grown up or anything of that nature. Just, not exactly young any more.). Winning a trivia run run by the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives on a team of queer media people that made me realise I know way too much about GLBT Australian history. Drinking. Playing fantasy roleplaying games with old mates.

You know, the usual. The usual sans lots of theatre, cinema and exhibitions, that is. All this will change. I think.

Happy year of the Rat, by the way. Hugs.

A step in the right direction.

Federal Parliament opened in Canberra today with its first ever Welcome to Country by an elder of the Ngunnawal people, the traditional owners of the land on which Parliament House stands. Yes, it's symbolic; a gesture only, but what an important symbol it is.

Mr Rudd said indigenous people had occupied the land for thousands of generations but Europeans only for five, six or seven.

''Despite this antiquity among us, despite the fact that parliaments have been meeting here for the better part of a century, today is the first time in our history that as we open the Parliament of the nation, that we are officially welcomed to country by the first Australians of this nation,'' he said to applause.

Mr Rudd said he celebrated that indigenous Australia was alive, well and with us for the future.

''Today we begin with one small step, to set right the wrongs of the past, and in this ceremonial way it is a significant and symbolic step.''

Mr Rudd said the ceremony should become a permanent practice for future governments.

''Let this become a permanent part of our ceremonial celebration of the Australian democracy.''

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said the opening of Parliament would never be the same again.

''On behalf of the alternative government and supporting the Prime Miister, whatever happens in future parliaments so long as I have anything to do with it we will have a welcome from Ngunnawal and their descendants,'' he said.

Dr Nelson said the coalition, whether in government or opposition, was committed to improving the situation for indigenous Australians.

''We go forward determined, no withstanding our inadequacies as human beings and at times as representatives, to ensure that the mistakes that we have made in the past that we will not ever make again,'' he said.

''And we respect the dignity of humankind, of racial background and of difference but determined to be a better people and a better nation.''

Bring on tomorrow, and saying sorry. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go have a little quiet, happy cry.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Welcome to sunny Numurkah

I'm up at my mum's place in the small country town of Numurkah, in northern Victoria, about a half hour drive from the Murray River. I'm perving on cute country boys and catching up on some reading. I'll post a proper update when I get home tomorrow night.