I know some people that think guest list places are a terrible thing that means that musicians are not paid properly for their work. Well, yes, this is at least partly true in the local scene. For bigger bands and artists, less so. On one level, it is a form of promotional spending without spending any money but sometimes you just have a generous friend in the right place.
I was lucky enough to get a “guestie” or “plus one” for Brian Wilson at the Playhouse Theatre. The venue had been changed from the Usher Hall to The Playhouse a few weeks before as the tickets had sold slowly and a different venue was needed. £60 standard. £88 VIP where you are fluffed a bit with a drink on arrival and Brian himself gives you a foot massage or something.
We had secret information that Mr Wilson would be on at 7pm and I had arrived at a nearby bar in plenty time to meet friends beforehand. For those that don’t know Edinburgh, The Playhouse and surrounding bars are pretty Rainbow in nature. Gay bars and beardie indie music scenesters don’t usually mix (I don’t make the rules) and I suppose craft beers and ales were too much to expect but we got a few rounds of straight white male ale in. When we were asked “Are you staying for the UK’s only dwarf drag queen cabaret show starting in an hour or so?”
It was a unanimous yes!
The show was fabulous and in no time we were all up dancing to ABBA and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary and we were all simply the best/dancing queens and so on.
Anyway, Miss DQ, for that was his name, finished the set with a few lines about the difficulties being born small and how he came out as a dwarf quite literally, then came out to his mother as gay and then talked about the most difficult of all – having to come out as a cabaret singer. He finished with I am what I am and I think I shed a tear.
Miss DQ’s dad was a dwarf too and didn’t see any problem with dwarfism as he passed his genes on with the message “at least you will be unique”. So that made me think about labels. Dwarf, Gay, Straight, Non-Binary, Chess Players, Ludo clubs/Ludoists, Village Green Preservation Societies and the LGBTQ+ community which seems to be adding extra letters by the month. Perhaps soon we will all be members in one way and the only rule will be to be nice to each other.
And he also talked about the tape required to keep his penis tucked away in the leotard. He was great Fun Fun Fun to watch.
We went on to the Brian Wilson gig. There was a lot less patter in between songs and Brian’s voice has gone a bit but that’s fine as he is a legend and he wasn’t the Beach Boys’ lead singer anyway. He certainly played the hits as well as the full Pet Sounds album. And what hits!
Towards the end, my friend was ejected for dance dance dancing in front of the stage and I moseyed out with him before the end. Although it is weird to have one person do anything, it is important that they get a first supporter. We do this in medical leadership training. If one person is dancing they are freaky, if hundreds are, then it is a party. As this clip summarises “When you see a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.”
My friend was the lone nut. Reader, I had not the guts to join in and I too left early to join him ** and we entered a neighbouring bar and with a nod to the bouncer went past some velvet ropes to go downstairs to an empty bar within the bar. It was “empty” as in literally not even open and it was a bit weird to be there. After a while we left as my friend fancied a chippy and I waited outside to see if I could find the rest of our group. My friend came out with a sausage supper for me that I never asked for then he said goodbye and he made his way home. I met our friends for a little bit and they made their way home. I made my way home full sausage and some fond memories.
It was a nice and weird night. I like plus one front stall seats and getting fluffed by Brian. I like getting through the velvet ropes into secret underground bars. I want transvestite dwarf cabaret shows. I want dancing in the aisles. I want people playing guitar with their teeth. Duck Walking. Camel Walking. I want to see people who have the balls, taped away or not, to stand up, applaud with gusto or scream like a 60’s teenager. That’s the club for me… get me in!
**I had wanted to stay to the end to check if Brian’s piano was actually plugged in as he had 2 keyboardists on stage with him and… Well I’m pi(ano)-curious.