Saturday, July 6, 2013

Reynaldo Hahn

by Lucie Lambert (1907)
Composer, conductor, music critic, diarist, theatre director, and salon singer. Best known as a composer of songs, he wrote in the French classical tradition of the mélodie.

Reynaldo Hahn was born in Caracas, Venezuela, August 9, 1874. His parents were Elena Maria de Echenagucia and Carlos Hahn. At the age of three they moved to Paris. A child prodigy, Reynaldo made his début at the salon of the eccentric Princess Mathilde (Napoleon's niece) accompanying himself on the piano as he sang arias by Jacques Offenbach. At the age of eight, Hahn composed his first songs. At ten years old he entered the Paris Conservatoire. His teachers included Jules Massenet, Charles Gounod, Camille Saint-Saëns and Émile Descombes. Alfred Cortot and Maurice Ravel were fellow students.

In 1888 Reynaldo composed "Si mes vers avaient des ailes" to a poem by Victor Hugo; it was an instant success when published by Le Figaro. From this exposure and publicity, Hahn came into contact with many leading artists in Paris (in addition to the relationships he had cultivated at the Conservatoire). The famed soprano Sybil Sanderson and the writer Alphonse Daudet invited Hahn into their social sphere. Hahn had "a special gift" of attracting "important people to his side".

Marcel Proust

In 1894 Reynaldo met the little known, “highly strung and snobby” writer, Marcel Proust. They became lovers. Proust's unfinished autobiographical novel Jean Santeuil which he began in 1895, is reportedly based on Hahn. Although by 1896 they were no longer lovers, they remained lifelong friends and supporters until Proust's death in 1922.

Hahn volunteered for service in the French Army during World War I. After the war he served as general manager of the Cannes Casino opera house. For many years he was the influential music critic of the leading Paris daily, Le Figaro.

He died January 28, 1947 in Paris, France, of a brain tumor.

A chloris
Piano concerto

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gay Flamingos
Gay flamingos celebrate fifth anniversary with their children
by Benjamin Cohen
4 February 2006, 12:00am
Britain’s only gay flamingos Carlos and Fernando, are celebrating their fifth anniversary together with their adopted children at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire.
The pair surprised staff at the wildlife park after they came out five years ago and began to engage in a series of complex mating rituals. The pink birds have been inseparable ever since and have even raised chicks together after they stole eggs from neighbouring straight couples.

Whilst Flamingos are generally monogamous during the annual breeding periods, they tend to swap partners each year. Therefore, claim the birds’ keepers, their enduring love is somewhat unique.
"They only have eyes for each other," said Nigel Jarrett, a keeper at the nature reserve.
"I have never seen two male flamingos fall for each other before, although homosexuality is not uncommon in the animal kingdom.
"Carlos and Fernando have been together for five years and seem very happy. They will probably stay together for the rest of their lives."
Mr Jarret added that they appear to have been accepted by the other birds in the flock:"‘They are both large adult males, so as a partnership they are quite formidable.
‘They are not picked on by the other birds. If anything, they are afforded more respect They are very good parents and behave just as the heterosexual birds do when rearing their young."
The pair have together raised three chicks.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Lot in Sodom

Lot in Sodom (1933), a short silent experimental film, based on the Biblical tale of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber, starring Friedrich Haak, Hildegarde Watson, Dorothea Haus, and Lewis Whitbeck .


The movie uses experimental techniques, Avant-Garde imagery and strong allusions to sexuality, especially homosexuality.


The story is much closer to the tale than other films. Sodom is a place of sin. An angel appears there and he is welcomed by Lot. The people of Sodom want to have sex with him. Lot refuses; then the angel tells him to escape the city with his wife and daughter. Sodom is then destroyed by the flames. Lot's wife is turned to a pillar of salt for having looked back.
The film can be viewed here:

Download from here:


Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Dumbells

In Uniform

Formed in France in 1917 by members of the Canadian army's Third Division under the direction of Merton Plunkett (a YMCA entertainment director, assigned the rank of captain in the army), the Dumbells was an entertainment group whose purpose was to build the morale of the troops on the front lines. The group took its name from the Third Division's emblem, a red dumbbell that signified strength. After the end of WWI it went on to be a leading Canadian vaudeville troupe. Financial difficulties brought on by the Depression, the introduction of the 'talkies,' and by some poor investments, forced the Dumbells to disband in 1932.

In Costume

Original members were Merton Plunkett, managing director and comedian; his brother Al (Albert), a baritone; Ted Charters, assistant manager and comedian; Ross Hamilton ('Marjorie'), and Allan Murray ('Marie from Montreal'), female impersonators; Jack Ayre, pianist and music director; Bill Tennent, tenor; Bert Langley, bass baritone; and Frank (later Jerry) Brayford and Leonard Young, actors. Shortly after the first show in August 1917 the Dumbells increased to 16. Others included Bill Redpath, Elmer Belding, George Thorne, Andrew Catrano, J. McCormick, and D.L. Michie.

Capt. Merton Plunkett
With a collectively conceived program of songs of the day and skits about life in the trenches, the Dumbells entertained Canadian soldiers - often at the front lines - and played a four-week engagement in 1918 at the Coliseum in London. Highlights of their shows included the songs 'These Wild, Wild Women Are Making a Wild Man of Me' and 'I Know Where the Flies Go' (sung by Al Plunkett), 'Hello My Dearie' (a duet by 'Marjorie' and Tennent) and 'Someday I'll Make You Love Me' ('Marjorie'). Many of their patriotic songs were published and the sheet music to their theme song, Ayre's The Dumbell Rag, sold more than 10,000 copies. During WWI the Dumbells and approximately 30 other comedy-musical troupes entertained the troops in France. Wherever Canadian troops were located, even the front lines, the troupe would carry their curtains, costumes and an upright piano.

Ross Hamilton
Ross Hamilton as Marjorie
Marjorie and the Boys
Merton and the Girls

by Helmut Kallmann & Edward B. Moogk

Albert Carroll

Albert J. Carroll, performer, choreographer, lyricist, dancer.
According to one source (born: circa.1895, Chicago, IL, USA – died: Dec 1, 1956 Chicago, IL, USA )
According to another source (born: March 13, 1989, Chicago IL, USA – died: April 1970, Nassau, NY, USA)

While there seems to be no biographical information available, his work shows that he was more than a “drag queen,” performing in both male and female roles which was quite common in the early days of Broadway.

His earliest known appearance was in Rachel Crothers' 1919 Broadway hit comedy 39 East starring Constance Binney with Carroll as Dr. Hubbard. The following year it was made into a motion picture by the Realart Picture Company (headed by Paramount's Adolph Zukor), and starring Constance Binney reprising her role from the Broadway play. The film was directed by John S. Robertson. Carroll again appeared in the role of Dr. Hubbard.

He continued performing through 1945 appearing in both male and female roles, in musical revues (Ziegfield Follies 1931 among others), comedies, dramas (a couple Shakespeare plays), etc. A listing of his work can be viewed at:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Lost Pardner

The Lost Pardner

I ride alone and hate the boys I meet.
Today, some way, their laughin' hurts me so.
I hate the mockin'-birds in the mesquite--
And yet I liked 'em just a week ago.

I hate the steady sun that glares, and glares!
The bird songs make me sore.
I seem the only thing on earth that cares
'Cause Al ain't here no more!

'Twas just a stumblin' hawse, a tangled spur--
And, when I raised him up so limp and weak,
One look before his eyes begun to blur
And then--the blood that wouldn't let 'im speak!

And him so strong, and yet so quick he died,
And after year on year
When we had always trailed it side by side,
He went--and left me here!

We loved each other in the way men do
And never spoke about it, Al and me,
But we both knowed, and knowin' it so true
Was more than any woman's kiss could be.

We knowed--and if the way was smooth or rough,
The weather shine or pour,
While I had him the rest seemed good enough--
But he ain't here no more!

What is there out beyond the last divide?
Seems like that country must be cold and dim.
He'd miss the sunny range he used to ride,
And he'd miss me, the same as I do him.

It's no use thinkin'--all I'd think or say
Could never make it clear.
Out that dim trail that only leads one way
He's gone--and left me here!

The range is empty and the trails are blind,
And I don't seem but half myself today.
I wait to hear him ridin' up behind
And feel his knee rub mine the good old way

He's dead--and what that means no man kin tell.
Some call it "gone before."
Where? I don't know, but God! I know so well
That he ain't here no more!

By Charles "Badger" Clark, from Sun and Saddle Leather, 1915

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Molly Houses

Margaret Clap, better known as Mother Clap, ran a molly house (an inn or tavern) from 1724 to 1726, in Holborn, London, where the underground gay community, homosexual men from all classes, could find partners or just socialize.  At the time "molly" was slang for a gay man, possible originating from Margaret Clap's house, since Molly is a short name for Margaret.

In 1709, grub street writer, Ned Ward wrote about the molly houses.  While he embellished his facts he didn't invent his material.  He describes the mock lying-in ceremony during which a man pretended to be a woman giving birth to a baby.  A ritual that took place at specific times called "Festival Nights."  This is confirmed by other sources.  Something like a masquerade ball.  The mollies, he wrote, "fancy themselves women, imitating all the little vanities that custom has reconciled to the female sex, affecting to speak, walk, tattle, curtsy, cry, scold, and to mimic all manner of effeminacy...."

In February of 1726, Margaret Clap's molly house was raided by the police; around 40 of its occupants were arrested.  At the same time some 20 other molly houses were also raided.  One agent who had infiltrated the molly houses found men who "sat in one another's lap, talked bawdy, and practiced a great many indecencies."  The men he observed there were feminine and called each other "madam" or "your ladyship."  They took on feminine names like "Princess Seraphina," "Plump Nelly," and "Mary Magdalena.:  Some of the men dressed in drag, and at least one, the Princess Seraphina, dressed in drag most of the time, but cross dressers usually wore women's clothes only within the relative safety of the molly houses.

In one of the raids, the mollies resisted and fought with their arresters, but the constables eventually prevailed.  An early Stonewall?

On 9 May 1726, three men (Gabriel Lawrence, William Griffin, and Thomas Wright) were hanged at Tyburn for buggery following a raid of Margaret Clap's molly house.  Charles Hitchen, the Under City Marshal (and crime lord), was also convicted (in 1727) of attempted buggery at a molly house.  The usual sentence for those caught in the molly house raids was time in the pillory and jail.  Although time in the pillory was an easier sentence than death, the suffering of convicts went well beyond public pain and embarrassment.  One newspaper report describes the procession of mollies who were hauled from the pillory back to jail in an open cart: 

... it is impossible for language to convey an adequate idea of the universal expressions of execration, which accompanied these monsters on their journey ... the wretches were thickly covered with mud that a vestige of the human figure was barely discernible....  Some of them were cut in the head with brickbats and bled profusely.