The Straightness of George Michael

Back in the early 1980s, I was one of those annoying “alternative” British teens who, when pressed, would admit they quite liked “Wham Rap!,” which extolled the freedoms of unemployment (“I’m a soul boy! – I’m a dole boy!”), and acknowledged he was “really talented,” but essentially dismissed George Michael as “too commercial.” Which in the inverted snobbery of the era essentially meant “uncool.” And also – you may find this rather difficult to believe – “too straight.” Me on the straightness – and subversive […]

Top Gun Turns Thirty – How Did It Get So Gay?

by Mark Simpson (Originally published in the Daily Telegraph May 12, 2016) 30-years ago today, the stars of Top Gun were taxiing  the red carpet at the premiere in New York. The film, which features Tom Cruise’s ‘Maverick’ and Val Kilmer’s ‘Iceman’ wrestling in the air for Alpha male supremacy, was abou t to ‘go ballistic’ and smash multiple box office records. In doing so, the Tony Scott piloted blockbuster would make A-listers out of its two preening male stars, and become perhaps the definitive 80s film. But it has also become a […]

Straight Down the Hatch

As the 80s boy racer dreamboat the Peugeot 205 GTI turns 30 Mark Simpson remembers stroking its stick-shift Hot. Hatch. In the world of car porn there is no other conjugation that raises the punter’s pulse more than that one – evoking as it does fuel injection, tight handling, firm suspension, snug interiors and accommodating rears. And amongst hot hatches, the Peugeot 205 GTI is the ultimate car porn star. This year the French stunner, launched back in 1984, when the miners were on strike and Frankie […]

Long Hot Punter: Paul Weller’s Topless Video Revisited

Scourge of The Eton Rifles Paul Weller was sending out quite a statement to his die hard Jam fans in this video for his 1983 Style Council single ‘Long Hot Summer’, shot on the River Cam in Cambridge. Acting the big posh pooftah in a punt. Like almost everyone in the UK in the early 80s the young Modfather had fallen madly in love with the beautifully-shot 1981 ITV adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited – much like today’s Downton Abbey, but with believable, interesting […]

Morrissey Hasn’t Changed – We Have

Morrissey is always going to disappoint those who want him to be some kind of ‘singing Stephen Fry with a quiff’, argues Mark Simpson  Originally appeared on The Spectator Arts Blog Because the 80s is the decade that actually ended the 20th Century – the 90s was just an after-party clean-up operation – it’s also the decade that never came to an end itself. In fact, the 80s is the decade that just won’t die. Economy in (‘Big Bang’) recession. Tories in power. Cuts on the table. […]

Decadence in the dole queue: Leigh Bowery Looks

by Mark Simpson (Independent on Sunday, May 5, 2002) Thanks largely to a new crowd-pleasing musical, the crowd-panicking Mr Bowery’s name is forever linked in the public mind with Taboo, the fin-de-siecle drugs, sex, and dressing-up club in Leicester Square he captained in the 1980s – the decade in which the 20th century and possibly Western civilisation actually ended. I however, will always associate him with a club called The Asylum, Heaven’s “alternative” night, where I often used to glimpse – in teenage terror – his […]