Nothing to do with sex, drugs or HIV, this one, it just celebrates rock’n’roll, something my life would have been poorer without…
lazarus 6: do you hate gay music?
Normally my ex-boyfriend Love Rat (more of him another time) is a better dancer than me, but when they put on the Stone Rose's She Bangs the Drum I went crazy, initially swinging from the stair-rails like a demented chimp, then settling into this spastic gurn routine, yelling…
kiss me where the sun don't shine, the past is yours, the future's mine
…while I tried to make my hands and feet shoot off the end of my limbs. I dare say it was quite a sight. Even Love Rat was impressed. "That's the first time I've ever seen you dance properly," he said. It was such a relief being in a gay club and dancing to straight-boy music.
I hate gay music, I hate it with a passion. My taste in popular music is the least gay bit of me and I have never reconciled myself to the stuff you have to endure in faggot bars.
There are two kinds of gay music. One is Pink Pop. This starts with Abba and goes downhill from there, via Hazell Dean and Kylie Minogue, till it reaches bottom-feeders like Steps or...god, I don't know their names, they all sound the same. Pink Pop is the My Little Pony of music. It's coloured rose-and-lemon, it smells like bath salts, it's encrusted with gold-sprayed plastic bits and rhinestones.
We're all supposed to love it because it's "camp". It is not camp. It is the opposite of camp. Quentin Crisp was camp. He was a cuckoo in the nest of England with a self-concept like a bayonet, and went through life using it to puncture his enemies. He had a point of view. If pink pop has a point of view at all it's "Aren't we fun?" OK, we gay boys may do the bum thing, but if like music that convinces you we're fluffier inside than a 12-year-old girl, maybe you'll like us. Maybe we'll like ourselves.
The other kind of music is nosebleed techno. This is worse. It's impossible to hear at all, to even perceive without using drugs to excise your frontal lobes first.
I don't dislike it because it's "characterised by a succession of rhythmic beats" - I love people like Underworld and Massive Attack who use the technology of dance music to create things that speak of yearning, of desolation, of joy. (Eminem too - but he needs a whole column.)
I hate techno because it's contentless, affectless. It is music for people who want to be data. Not Data, the tin man of Star Trek, who has a heart. Data. Bits of information. It is music for gay men whose ideal is to become a function, a machine made from muscle and cum.
There's one gay place in London I've found where you can dance to music that has a point of view, and that's Popstarz. Other clubs like Duckie also play it, but they're too small. You need room if you're going to do the chimp.
So what does it for me? I tell you what. It's music that means what it says. It's music that lacks irony.
Irony, contentless irony, is a deadly epidemic at the moment, ruining people's ability to relate authentically to life. And, like AIDS, gay men are particularly vulnerable to it.
In music, at least, the Domestos for irony seems to be words. Not Eurovision la-la words. Words an artist has made, that you could never have the bravery or the wit to manufacture yourself, that you can bellow on a Saturday night and express your passions.
What passions? Here I'm just going to give in and do a Nick Hornby-style list of the passions that good popular music has helped me to liberate and value.
But one more thing. They're all men. The subtext to the fear-of-meaning problem gay men have is that they fear being men. When I'm responding to this stuff, the truth about myself I'm expressing has a lot to do with maleness. More on this another time. Here's the list:
Anger: the moment in Common People where, the second time round, Jarvis changes the verb in the the chorus to "You'll never FAIL like common people" and the song suddenly drops through into a seething inferno of class hatred.
Arrogance: see the Stone Roses, above
Heartbreak: The Isley Brothers: "I can't let you see All the tears I'm crying. You would pity me, And that would be like dying."
Jealousy: Bill Withers demanding "Who is he and what is he to you?" with a curdled menace that lets you know something very ugly and sad is about to happen.
Longing: Tom Waits singing Somwhere from West Side Story, drunk in the gutter, looking at the stars, the trumpet solo rising above like a flame.
Ruefulness: Smokey Robinson: "I'm only paying the price For a trip I took to paradise, 'Cos I looked into a pair of eyes and what I thought was the look of love - Was only hurt in disguise."
Sadness: Nick Cave singing "People ain't no good" from some tundra of the soul.
Sex: Jimi Hendrix: "Are you experienced? Tell me, have you ever been experienced? (Pause, smile) Well, I have..."
Vulnerability: Sean Ryder of Happy Mondays blowing his 'stupid' image in the first two lines of Kinky Afro: "Son, I'm 30. I only went with your mother 'cos she's dirty. And I don't have an evil bone in me. So come on, see me."
Xlxfjnkl: That is to say, the kind of music that is so Martian you don't know or care what it's saying. You only know its sheer energy takes you out to the place where it's howling, redeyed, at the moon. Roxy Music before the tuxedo era, all leopardskin, fly-eye shades and Eno playing the synth with sparkly gloves. Captain Beefheart doing Big-Eyed Beans from Venus.
You got me?