Culture

For the latest on all matters culture related, from high-brow theatre, literature and art news to the pop-culture updates on TV, cinema and music.

Madonna isn’t happy about upcoming biopic ‘Blond Ambition’

    Madonna has taken aim at an upcoming biopic based on the early years of her career.

    The Queen of Pop took to Instagram to blast the film, provisionally titled Blond Ambition, just hours after news broke that Elyse Hollander’s script had been picked up by Universal.

    “Nobody knows what I know and what I have seen. Only I can tell my story,” Madonna wrote. “Anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool.”

    The 58-year-old didn’t mince her words as she added: “Looking for instant gratification without doing the work. This is a disease in our society.”

    Set in New York in the early ’80sBlond Ambition is set to follow Madonna Louise Ciccone as she works on her debut album, 1983’s Madonna, and navigates a notirously sexist industry while juggling her personal life and the early pressures of fame.

    Producers Michael De Luca (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Brett Ratner (Prison Break) are attached to the project, which was voted the most popular unproduced screenplay in Hollywood last year.

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    Royal Shakespeare Company production of ‘Salomé’ to feature male lead

      The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced the cast for a new production of Salomé, which features a man in the lead role.

      Matthew Tennyson, whose past credits include Making Noise Quietly and the BBC One adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, will play the title role in the production of Oscar Wilde’s one-act play.

      In Wilde’s play, Salomé is a powerful and enigmatic figure, both erotic and chaste. The prophet, Iokanaan rejects Salomé’s sexual advances, and when she is compelled to dance by her step-father Herod, Salomé is filled by lust-driven revenge and demands Iokanaan’s head as payment.

      The production marks 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexual sex in England and Wales.

      Owen Horsley will direct the show at The Swan Theatre. “Salomé as a figure continues to fascinate and provoke audiences to this day,” Horsley says. “This production will paint the play afresh by casting a male actor – Matthew Tennyson – in the title role, a part that is usually played by a female actor.

      “This portrayal will explore the ambiguity of gender and sexuality, and the anger, anxiety, mystery and chaos it can cause in the world.

      “Some say this play mirrors Wilde’s own experience and desires as a gay man,” Horsley continues. “It seems interesting and timely on the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality to view this play through a gay lens.”

      The production will use the music of queer artist Perfume Genius. Material from his album, Too Bright, will be performed live by the RSC band.

      Casting also includes: Andro Cowperthwaite (Page of Herodias), Suzanne Burden (Herodias), Ilan Evans (Naaman/Singer), Bally Gill (Jew), Robert Ginty (Soldier), Ben Hall (Soldier), Christopher Middleton (Nazarene), Miles Mitchell (Soldier), Byron Mondahl (Nazarene), Matthew Pidgeon (Herod), Jon Trenchard (Jew), Johnson Willis (Tigellinus), Simon Yadoo (Jew) and Assad Zaman (Young Syrian).

      Salomé will be at The Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from June 2. Get tickets here.

      For more great deals on tickets and shows visit tickets.attitude.co.uk.

      Watch the trailer below:

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      New BBC Three series ‘Queer Britain’ to explore modern gay life in the UK

        Gay life in modern Britain is set to be explored as part of an illuminating new series for BBC Three.

        Presented by Irish YouTube star Riyadh, six-part series Queer Britain is set to explore the reality of life for young LGBT+ people in the UK weekly episodes that promise to get under the skin of queer culture in 2017.

        26-year-old Riyadh is set to address the hot-button issues currently facing the gay community, from religion and homophobia to racism within the gay community and the pressure for gay men to confirm to masculine ideals and pursue ‘perfect’ bodies.

        “I’m incredibly excited for Queer Britain to be released,” says the London-dwelling social media star. “This was a real passion project which has moved, inspired and educated me in more ways than I ever could have imagined.

        (Image: Clodagh Kilcoyne)

        “The series pulls no punches and goes straight to the heart of the issues facing LGBTQ+ people in the UK today. At times it’ll make you feel uncomfortable, shocked and maybe even upset, but overall I think you will see the beauty and diversity of this community in its full glory.

        “This is a raw representation of modern Queer life – the highs, the lows and the high heels!”

        Max Gogarty, Executive Producer at BBC Three adds: “This is a really exciting series that offers a distinctive, contemporary and colourful look at what it means to be young and queer in Britain today.

        “Launching formidable new talent in Riyadh, a diverse and young team behind the camera, plus brilliant short form for social around each ep, I’m sure it will have real impact with audiences and the wider community.”

        Episode 1 of Queer Britain will be available to watch on BBC Three’s iPlayer and YouTube channels from Sunday 7 May.

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        Author Tim Murphy on his heartbreaking new tale about gay life and the AIDS crisis

          Tim Murphy’s new novel is a multi-layered, multi-generational story about a family of characters whose lives intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village; the Christodora.

          Opening in New York in the early 1980s and moving forward in time to the near future, it is an energetic and compelling novel about AIDS, activism, addiction and art.

          The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged artistic young couple. Downstairs their neighbour, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man and former AIDS activist, now exists as a lonely addict. Milly and Jared have an adopted son, Mateo, who grows up yearning to know more of his birth mother while flirting with the opportunities for both self-realisation and oblivion that New York offers.

          A story very much located in the heart of the early AIDS epidemic, Christodora is a fictional exploration of how the health crisis impacted on individual people’s lives.

          Tim Murphy is a journalist for the New York Times and Conde Nast Traveller and has reported on HIV/AIDS for twenty years.

          Attitude book reviewer Uli Lenart spoke with Tim and asked him about writing the novel and his own background in activism.

          Christadora House in New York City’s East Village.

          So the Christodora – can you tell us a little about the history of the building itself?

          It was built for $1 million by reformists as working-class housing in the late 1920s, sank into dereliction with the rest of the Lower East Side in the 1960s and 1970s and was sold for a stunningly low $60,000, then came bounding back as trendy condos during the yuppie resurgence of the 1980s. It became a huge flashpoint for gentrification in the neighborhood. It was rioted upon. And now in 2017, apartments there sell for between $1 and $2 million. In other words, it’s the story of the rise, fall and rise of the city itself the past several decades, in which AIDS happened smack in the middle.

          What are the major themes of Christodora as you see them?

          The book is about gay life and the AIDS epidemic in NYC and its aftermath, about sex and drugs and clubs, addiction and recovery, love and family and friendship and community. But to me the book is really about the slippage of time, how yesterday haunts today, especially in a big city. Or, as Edie Beale says in Grey Gardens, “It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present.”

          How did you manage to write a book about AIDS, sickness and addiction that still has whole chapters that are really sexy and funny and joyous? 

          I really wanted to capture the fact that, even at the height of the epidemic, gay people still partied, went to clubs, had sex, had fun, wore fashion, made art, made music. All of that. There were survival and coping mechanisms, showing that life and fabulousness go on in the midst of trauma. Look at how glamorous and decadent the 1980s were. All of that was going on amid illness and death. So I really wanted the two to coexist alongside each other, where you would have characters literally dancing and fucking one day and then mourning someone the next. I wanted to capture the crazy schizoid quality of the times.

          Why did you want to write this story?

          The whole sweep of AIDS in New York, from the earliest days to the worst days, to the activism and the big treatment turnaround in 1996, and then the aftermath for the survivors, has never been dramatized. I wanted to tell it as an homage to friends older than I who survived that period, and also for younger people who really have no idea of everything that went down, how dark the era was but also how fiercely and brilliantly queer people mobilized against power structures that saw their lives as expendable. It’s an amazing, epic story.

          Tim Murphy

          Were some characters easier to write than others?

          All the characters are blends of people I know – some intimately, some hardly at all – with big pieces of myself in all the characters. So they all came fairly naturally. I think the hardest was Issy Mendes, who is the working-class Latina from Queens who finds out she is HIV+. I didn’t want to take a slightly cheeky hand with her like I do with some of the other characters, so I had to work harder at making her funny and quirky and real without being too satirical about her.

          And do you have a favourite?

          I don’t have a favorite among the main characters; I feel really close to them all because they remind me of myself or of people I’m close to. I have some favorites among the minor characters, especially because I think they appear as jerks early on in the book and then you see other sides of them as it goes on, which I think is very much how life is, especially in a big city where you are meeting new people all the time.

          Do you think there is anything, other than the choice of setting, which characterises a New York novel?

          I think maybe that there is a sense of speed and movement and crowdedness and public space and social jockeying around a New York story. It is less inclined toward being a very interior, claustrophobic book because characters are always at large events or in the streets, negotiating their relationships to one another for money, power, sex or prestige. Very much in the Balzac or the Edith Wharton tradition. In Christodora, my favorite scenes are those that happen in meetings or at parties where you really see the city buzzing along in all its ambitions and its variations.

          How is the novel structured and why did you choose the form you did?

          It starts the weekend before 9/11 with this young, bobo couple named Milly and Jared who have adopted this little boy, this AIDS orphan, named Mateo, and then you have two timelines. One goes forward from there as Mateo grows up and you kind of see this family unravel like a time bomb, but it alternates with another timeline that starts in 1981 and is about his birth mother, Issy, and how she gets AIDS and joins a community of activists, especially this very charismatic gay guy, Hector Villanueva. I mixed up periods like that because time is so fluid in New York. You are walking down a street, fully in the present, and then you pass an apartment or a building or something that you once had a relationship to, and suddenly it’s 1984 or 1993 or 2002 again, just like a time capsule. You can taste and smell that moment in your life. The city is so dense with these markers of time. It’s full of ghosts of amazing characters who have left, either the city literally or life on earth.

          The AIDS activism elements of the novel reveal the role women played in the crisis. Can you tell us a little more about this?

          Reporting about HIV/AIDS since the early 1990s, I’ve always been aware of how women were affected by it and also the role they played in activism. One of the first stories I ever wrote was on Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ Lesbian AIDS Program in 1994, before they even had a so-called women’s program! But gay men have captured the AIDS story, both because of their numbers affected and their power as men. Lesbians played a huge role in AIDS activism, even if few of them were HIV+ themselves. They still do. And not that there weren’t tensions, but the epidemic was an incredible picture of gay men and women working together for something, which paved the way for the marriage movement.

          With the current political climate in the States do you think there are lessons that can be learned from AIDS activism?

          Absolutely. The first lesson is, don’t sit back and take it! Your ability to change the political picture is limited only by your energy and your imagination and your willingness to work with others. Look at what AIDS activists did in the 1980s. They realized eventually that all the protests in the world wouldn’t work if they didn’t crack the science and policy and beat the health establishment at their own game, becoming experts along the way. And they did, pooling their minds and resources. That initial layer of street resistance is important, but it’s also important to dig deeper and really strategize about what you want and how to get there.

          You write very directly and what feels like very authentically about drug use. Did you have anxieties about depicting this?

          Some, not all, of that is based on my own struggles several years ago with crystal meth use. There is a lot of heroin use in the book as well and that I had to try to recreate without having gone there myself. There are some very graphic passages of drug use in the book and I did wonder if the book would get any traction with those sections, but I strongly feel that we read and we write, fiction or nonfiction, to relay or to understand experiences foreign from our own, so I just sort of forged on.  I wanted to try to depict in real time the 360-degree experience of drug use, from the love affair and the euphoria to the terrifying chaos and its toll on others, and then also the incredible ambivalence you can feel about stopping.

          Tim (r) with Attitude book reviewer Uli Lenart.

          In Christodora you envisage Manhattan’s near future, the storyline projecting forward to 2021. In light of Trump, do you think that vision now looks different?

          Writing that 2021 section back in 2012 or whatever, I did not assume we would have a proto-fascist president like Trump by now, I thought we’d probably have a liberal corporate Democrat like Obama or Hillary Clinton. I did think it was highly likely we, meaning the U.S., would have more privatized systems of school, public works, etc. by the 2020s and I do think we are going in that general direction regardless of the president unless the Democratic Party truly rediscovers its roots in labor and wealth redistribution. Which I don’t see happening yet, despite Trump. But I did just find out that his shitty, cruel health bill just tanked in Congress, so I’m happy about that. Fuck Trump!

          I’d like to take about your own involvement in activism and social justice. Tell us about Rise & Resist.

          Well, it is a group we formed here in NYC after the election to sort of fight back against various Trump attacks and also to push for a more truly progressive New York State and New York City. It is very much modeled after the 1980s AIDS group ACT UP with its loosely participatory, horizontal structure and a lot of the best talent in the group is from the ACT UP veterans in their fifties and sixties. They know how to pull off a civil disobedience, negotiate with the police, provide legal backup, etc. We staged a “cough-in” in the restaurants in Trump’s hotel where we all started coughing like crazy and marching around with signs saying “We need Obamacare, Trumpcare makes us sick!” Total disruption of the brunch crowd and lots of media attention. It was great.

          Christodora by Tim Murphy is available on Amazon now.

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          Mark Gatiss leads new BBC series charting 100 years of being gay in Britain

            As the UK prepares to celebrate 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, Sherlock star Mark Gatiss is set to lead a new BBC series charting 100 years of being gay in Britain.

            The 50-year-old actor and screenwriter, who plays Mycroft Holmes in the hit BBC drama series and also serves as a writer, has curated eight original dramatic shorts set to air on BBC Four in July, shortly after being staged at the Old Vic Theatre in London.

            Grouped under the title Queers, each standalone monologues has been penned by a different writer, with the aim of exploring different aspect of gay life in Britain throughout the 20th and early 21st century.

            According to BBC Four, they will “mark and celebrate some of the most poignant, funny, entertaining, tragic and riotous moments of British gay history and the very personal rites of passage of gay Britons through the last 100 years.”

            The series will kick off with ‘The Man on the Platform’, written by Gatiss himself. Set in 1917, the short follows the story of a young man returning from the trenches of the First World War and reflecting on his attraction for another man.

            Other instalments in the series will address the Wolfenden Report of 1957, which recommended that homosexuality should not longer be a crime; the 1967 Sexual Offences Act,which decriminalised gay relationships in private for men over the age of 21, and the HIV crisis that of the 1980s.

            The writers include singer and actress Jackie Clune, An Englishman in New York star Brian Fillis, Guardian journalist Gareth McLean, and poet Keith Jarrett, as well as Jon Bradfield, Matthew Baldwin and Michael Dennis.

            w said: “I’m thrilled and delighted to have been asked to curate this exciting series from both established LGBT writers and a whole host of new talent fresh to the screen. It’s a privilege to be working with such brilliant writers and actors.

            “At this challenging and fluid time, it’s a marvellous opportunity to celebrate LGBT life and culture, to see how far we have come and how far we still have to go.”

            As well as his work on Queers, Gatiss also features in Against the Law, a new docudrama based on the 1954 trial of Conservative English politician Lord Montagu for gay sex offences set to air on BBC Two this summer.

            Queers will premiere in the UK on BBC Four in July.

            The Spring issue of Winq is out now. Buy in print, subscribe or download.

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            Elton John: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

              One of the biggest musical legends of all time turns 70 this month. But these days, Elton John is more Captain Fantastic than Madman Across the Water, because as well as rocking the world,
              he’s changing it. 

              Winq’s brand new columnist Matthew Todd is a longtime friend of the singer and wrote a heartfelt profile of the Rocket man for the just-launched Spring issue.

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              Inspirational trans man shares his incredible story on social media

                A transgender man has shared his story on social media in a bid to inspire others just like him.

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                24/03/17 | Posted in Articles, Culture

                Years & Years to perform at Brighton Pride 2017

                  Winq Men of the Year Music Award winners Years & Years will perform at Brighton Pride’s Summer Of Love Festival this summer, in the band’s only UK Pride appearance this year.

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                  The xx celebrate same-sex love in new video for ‘Say Something Loving’

                    The xx have unveiled the video for brand new single ‘Say Something Loving’, which features a series of touching depictions of same-sex love as well as footage from the British indie group’s hometown of London.

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                    Dustin Lance Black’s ‘When We Rise’ moves viewers to tears as first episode hits screens

                      After months of anticipation, Dustin Lance Black’s When We Rise debuted on US TV last night (February 27) – and judging by the reaction of viewers, we were all right to be excited by the landmark drama documenting the history of the American gay rights struggle.

                      » Read more

                      Winq Magazine


                      Winq magazine

                      SPRING 2017

                      The latest issue of the newly relaunched Winq features an exclusive interview with AFC Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, the first Premier League manager to go on the record and say he’d be happy to have a gay footballer in his team.

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