MAORI TATTOOS MEET POP DIVA MAKE-UP. Turkish transvestites in Berlin share the screen with butch dykes and femmesfarales. Glam rockers belt out the tunes while moody photographs investigate sexual identity and the girl on the ﬂying trapeze works out her relationship with her gay brother. Try as you might, Glasgay! is not a festival that’s easy to pigeonhole.
The country‘s biggest gay and lesbian arts festival is reaching out into new areas for its fifth incarnation. On top of its well established programme of plays. exhibitions and club events. Glasgay! 99 aims to set The 13th Note rocking and have The Arches in stitches with a series of live music gigs and comedy nights.
‘We’re reaching out to a younger audience, to gays and lesbians whose idea of entertainment doesn‘t begin and end with Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand,‘ says Robert Thomson, Glasgayl’s Programme Co- ordinator. ‘The festival really does cover the whole spectrum of interest. This year we‘re looking in particular at the enduring legacy of the drag diva. but showing that it’s more than a pub cabaret act, that often there’s something darker and more serious beneath the flamboyant surface.’
In a similar way, there’s plenty of depth and diversity to be found under the festival’s party atmosphere. There‘s a strong international feel to the programme, with Edinburgh Festival Fringe favourite Mika travelling from New Zealand to make his Glasgow debut, the work of a group of Canadian artists filling the Gordon‘s Glasgay! Gallery at GOMA, and theatre performers dropping in from Portugal and Ireland. That said, the local lights are shining just as brightly thanks to the support of Glasgow’s arts organisations and venues.
‘Although performers are coming from across the world, it’s the people of Glasgow who are the heart of the festival,‘ stresses Thomson. ‘Glasgay! has its own unique vibe, but that probably comes from the entire
18 THE LIST 21 Oct—4 Nov 1999
city and its pub and club scene. as much as from the gay and lesbian community itself.‘
While the related themes running through various strands of the programme give Glasgay! 99 a more coherent shape than its predecessors, its sense of being an honest-to- goodness festival can be found both in its interactive events and in the introduction of a daily Festival Club at the Polo Lounge. Literary workshops. pool competitions and karaoke sessions encourage everyone to make a contribution to the proceedings. while the Festival Club allows audiences to rub shoulders with performers until well into the night.
‘Most festivals that work well have somewhere that acts as a hub.‘ reckons Thomson. ‘lt‘s the first time Glasgay! has had its own club. so hopefully that will help everyone feel part of what‘s going on — and encourage them to really make a night of it.‘
Glasgay! runs from Fri 22-Sun 31 Oct.
Glasgay! music Glasgow 13th Note Cafe, Thu 28—Sat 30 Oct.
Glasgayl’s musical menu is as diverse a feast as you coold hope for. Live percussion meets gunars, vocals and electronic drum samples in the subtle fusion of Canto Hondo, performed by all-woman outfit Marimacha (Thu 28), the Helen Reeves Band sWings all the way from shuffle to country waltz (Fri 29); and London rockers Vago make an unholy alliance of BOWie and the Sex Pistols, With likeminded support from Glasgow’s Blonde Bit On The Side (Sat 30).
The undoubted highlight, though, Will be Valuta (Fri 29), whose blood-red showtunes and flair for the dramatic have won them a devoted foIIOWing in one short year together. 'lt's an eclectic form of mangled cabaret,’ says band member Raymy, Citing Tom Waits and Kurt Weill as influences and admitting that live shows tend to be 'qune theatrical'. That has more than a little to do With the dynamic stage presence of singer Eva, a born diva suffused With the decadent spirit of Weimar cabaret. ’We met at a bus stop,’ Raymy claims — and for once you can bet the reality's more glamorous than the myth
Valuta’s debut album Songs From The Red Burlesque has now sold out completely, but Will be followed shortly by an EP, 'The Bedlam Quickstep' — and those titles should tell you everything you need to know. So, Why Glasgay!? ’We played at Pride in Edinburgh in the Summer, and the Glasgay! organisers were rather tickled by our performance,’ says Raymy. That’s tickled as in handcuffs, feather boas and no mercy. (Hannah McGill)