Thursday, 31 May 2012

413: Michael Trestrail

Something for the Jubilee. Something other than just posting a load of puns involving the word “Queen”, mind you. So something related to her majesty specifically instead – which will mean a few “queen” jokes, I’m afraid, but what can I do about that. I have no time machine to forcibly restrain people from making these slightly lame jokes in the first place.

One of the odder incidents before her children and their marriages became a thriving tabloid feature (toe-sucking, squidgygate, I want to be your tampon, etc.) was the incident in July 1982 when the Queen was visited by an intruder in her bedroom. Michael Fagan climbed over the walls surrounding Buckingham palace, broke into Buckingham Palace undetected, then made his way to the Queen’s bed chamber, where he woke her up and sat on her bed for about 10 minutes.

This was the sixth breach of security at the Queen's London residence that year and there was a clamour to know why the Queen’s security had been breached so many times. On July 19th the Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw announced to a stunned parliament that the Queen’s chief of security, Commander Michael Trestrail had resigned, not because of any failings in his job but because he had been involved in a relationship with a male prostitute.

The 51 year old Trestrail had worked for the Royal Family since 1966, and had become a Member of the Royal Victorian Order in 1978, a personal award of the Queen. It was revealed that several years previously Trestrail had met a couple of times with Michael Rauch, a male prostitute in his 30s. When Rauch had discovered Trestrail’s position he had tried to blackmail him but nothing had come of it. Following the interest in Fagan’s break-in, Rauch tried to sell his story to “The Sun” newspaper, but the tabloid instead passed this information to Scotland Yard.

Trestrail immediately resigned. All of this was not just embarrassing to the palace but also to the government. Trestrail was security checked every couple of years, and his last vetting had only been 3 months previously. Furthermore, Trestrail’s resignation occurred independently of any awareness by the government. Whitelaw was only in the position of announcing what had already happened. Various investigations would follow, which would open up the more private operations of the palace making it more accountable.

Most of the papers and commentators were largely sympathetic to Trestrail. The Attorney General announced: “There should be no general presumption that homosexuality is evidence of inherent personality defects disqualifying the individual from positions of responsibility”. There was an investigation by Lord Bridge, with the report issued in November 1982. Trestrail was exonerated as “no threat to security at the palace”, nor responsible for the Fagan incident, although Bridge remarked on “casual and promiscuous homosexual encounters which (Trestrail) himself recognised as sordid and degrading …[which] still attracts general disapproval”. So if nothing else, an indication of how attitudes have changed in the last 30 years.

All the reports suggest an immensely private man, whose testimony gives the impression of being not entirely comfortable in his sexuality. Headlines and observations were full of the phrase “Secret Double Life”. Developing from the Vassall and Lavender scandals of the early 1960s most of the commentary is still about blackmailing of homosexuals, but now instead of campaigns for purges, the assumption is that honesty really is the best policy.

One good thing in all of the material that follows, almost none of it is directly or personally about Trestrail but only about the mix of homosexuality, royality, policeman, national security, and Fagan’s break-in.

Raymond Jackson
Evening Standard, 21 July 1982
As with almost very other JAK cartoon, if he’s not some effeminate sissy, then a homosexual is a large chap with extravagant facial hair in lady’s evening wear. Pythonesque or just lazy all-poofs-are-transvestite gags? Anyway, here they are infiltrating away like mad.

Michael Heath
Spectator, 24 July 1982
And here’s the first of our queen/ royalty meet’s queen / homosexual puns. Writes itself, wouldn’t you say?

Trog – aka Wally Fawkes
Observer, 25 July 1982
The police officer is Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw. But isn’t that just the mimsiest-looking chap on the step?

Michael Heath
Punch, 28 July 1982
A gay interpretation of the everyday behaviour of policemen. Could almost be a pocket cartoon by Marc Boxer, but none of Boxer’s pieces for “The Times” touch on this story's homosexuality even by allusion.

Punch, 28 July 1982
A Queen gag again. Anthony Blunt for previous secretly gay Royal employee allusion. Quentin Crisp as a default reference for homosexuality. And an ethos of secrecy about being gay.

cover, Private Eye 30 July 1982
A “Hello Sailor” joke. Ho-hum.

David Austin
“Hom Sap” strip in Private Eye, 30 July 1982
Austin is better than a joke whose pay-off is a hand on hip, and a “Haven’t we all, sweeties”? but this is for “Private Eye” in the early 1980s which wasn’t in the market for any subtlety in its jokes about homosexuals.

Michael Heath
“The Gays” strip in Private Eye, 30 July 1982
“It’s wonderful to feel persecuted again”?

David Austin
Spectator, 31 July 1982
An inversion of the whole Trestrail situation. Note the topical homosexual moustaches and realistic early 80s attire in contrast to the character in Trog’s cartoon.

Punch, 4 August 1982.
Listing all the gay signifiers in this would be almost as the piece itself: Cambridge and Foreign Office spies, hairdressers and ballet dancers, Oscar Wilde, leather gear and cottaging. No Jeremy Thorpe reference is surprising, although for those with a particularly good memory, a copy of Baldwin’s novel was involved in Thorpe’s seduction technique. The only other thing missing is some sort of disco reference, but then the audience of “Punch” isn’t hip in anyway.

Cartoon by Geoffrey Dickinson
E.J. Turner
Punch, 4 August 1982
A lengthy piece about the evident failures of the vetting procedure invoking the idea of “effeminate drinks”, James Bond’s odd piece of folklore about homosexuals not being able to whistle, Oxbridge traitors, bachelor holidays to gay venues, interior decorating, handbags, and so on. And a “gay men have handbags” reference in the cartoon too.

Michael Heath
“The Gays” strip in Private Eye, 13 August 1982
Not a bad gag in this context. Although still within general milieu of pity, misery, envy, petty lust, resentment and recrimination of the strip.

Private Eye, 13 August 1982
Easy “hello sailor” cliché aside, this instance looks at the sexual scandal element of the story, in regard to Trestrail’s consorting with prostitutes. The three signatories are all disgraced figures, but the Kincora Boys Homes is a low blow as that was a notorious contemporary paedophile scandal.

Clive Collins
The Sun, 31 August 1982
A camp bitchy gay. Again the idea of being pervasively infiltrated. Although the “I’ll scratch their eyes out” line has probably been a cliché for at least the last 10 years.

Private Eye
3 December 1982
Analysing the Bridge investigation as a cover-up so as not to further embarrass the Palace. Mr Sweeties Roughtrouser is a name revisited from jokes about Thorpe.

After that Trestrail falls out of the public eye. But there is one last reference. The second volume of Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole books, “The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole” (1984) has the following topical entry, in which the events of the outside world are brought within Adrian’s self-obsessed petty orbit:

“MONDAY JULY 19TH “The Queen’s personal detective, Commander Trestrail, has had to resign because the papers have found out that he is a homosexual. I think this is dead unfair. It’s not against the law and I bet the Queen doesn’t mind. Barry Kent calls ME a poofter because I like reading and hate sport. So I understand what it is like to be victimized.”

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

412: Eat, Drink, and Be Mary

by Vahan Shirvanian
Playboy, May 1975

Is this taken from an existing advertisement for a gay bar of the time? Don’t know.

Is it informed by any awareness that one form of casual address between gay men is “Mary”? Don’t know?

Is it maybe the idea that gay men are inveterate transvestites, hence “Be Mary”? Don’t know?

Sometimes a pun is just a pun

Monday, 28 May 2012

411: Gay Bar 12 - Eraser

Eraser, 1996

Directed by Chuck Russell Screenplay by Tony Puryear and Walon Green

Arnold Schwarzenegger as John Kruger Robert Pastorelli as Johnny Casteleone Rick Batalla as Kevin, the Bartender

Kruger, a Witness Protection specialist, goes to see Casteleone, a mob witness who has been given a new identity.

Outside the bar we see a fair number of men, some in vests or with arms around each other.

To the strains of the opening to “It’s Raining Men” cuts to three drag queens in the bar miming to the song.

Cuts to dance floor entrance – gym bodies but not overly masculine dancing – some with Arms around one another

Pans across floor to an extravagant pair in in polka dot lycra costume and pink fur stole dancing at one another who separate to let Arnold Schwarzenegger pass.

He makes his way to the bar and speaks to one of the men behind the bar who is Casteleone.

Let’s finish this particular saunter down memory lane with this unexpected appearance in a 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger film. And if it’s surprising to me, then it’s probably equally surprising to the audience of the time. However it fits in, as this is about the time that gay films or films with gay characters go mainstream / inoffensively acceptable with “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (1994), “The Adventures of Priscilla - Queen of the Desert” (1994), “Jeffrey” (1995), “The Birdcage” (1996), “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (1997), “In and Out” (1997). A thriller like “Copy Cat” (1995) can feature a personally pleasant gay character who frequents gay bars if only so he can be killed off.

So this particular scene exemplifies the standard gay bar / disco as it will appear for the next fifteen years to the current day. From being something secretive, faintly grubby, now we have all these gay bars that flatter audiences that gay life is just a little more glamorous and exciting: “Absolutely Fabulous”, ”Sex and the City”, “Will and Grace” , and “Queer as Folk”.

What you get here are as many disparate, but non-controversial aspects of the gay club scene as can be crammed into one scene in as short a time as possible. So you get flamboyant drag queens performing, and also one or two female impersonators in the general audience. The extravagantly dressed pair are not drag queens but instead evocative of the more avant-garde club scene, reminiscent of Leigh Bowery or the Club Kids in the early 90s (and I’m old enough to remember seeing Michael Alig and co on various NYC talk shows when I did homework after school). Otherwise the rest of the clientele are gym-toned and either in revealing or tops or else in waistcoats. What there aren’t are any clones of leather daddies. This isn’t “The Blue Oyster”.

The flipside to this openness is a corresponding ease on the part of the two straight men. This is lightly humorous scene, where the characters are just amused that they are in a gay bar and nothing more. The characters tease each other but aside from the opening “Was it your idea to leave me with the Village People?” line from Pastorelli, they don’t mock the gay men. They’re not uncomfortable being there. There’s no sense of their masculinity being threatened or fear of sexual assault.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

410: Gay Bar 11 - Tough Guys

Tough Guys 1986
Directed by Jeff Kanew
Written by James Cruikshank and James Orr

Harry Doyle (Lancaster)
Archie Long (Douglas)

Harry Doyle and Archie Long are gangsters who have served a 30-year prison sentence. The two are paroled, now in their 70s. Will they be able to rehabilitate, will they team up for one last job, and how will they adapt as fish-out-od-water/time in the changed America of the 1980s? These are the premises from which this genial comedy builds. Since the two actors largely insist upon the dignity of their roles, there isn’t too much of the “rapping grandma” shenanigans which typically make old age / modern lifestyles culture clash comedy such a nightmare – although in this case it’s the La New Wave scene.

Having been released, one of the first things Archie does is visit his old bar, Mickey’s. When he enters everything appears as it should - Glenn Miller-style music is playing, and the bar still seems to be popular.

Douglas looks pleased, approaches the bartender and asks if Mickey is still around but is told Mickey has been dead for the last 20 years. Archie orders a beer, “one of those new light beers”, and downs it, only to observe that it tastes “watery”.

A man sat to his left says the beer “only has 95 calories”, and slides over to Douglas offering to buy him another. Douglas accepts, and the two briefly sit in silence nodding along to the music. The two start talking about how it’s good music.

Some people think it’s out of date.

You kidding? I grew up on that music.

It’s great dance music.

Yeah. (wistfully) I haven’t danced in thirty years.

(slight pause). Shall we?

Shall we what?

Shall we dance?

Archie looks surprised, looks away from man. Cuts to bartender, who winks rather blatantly at him.

Cuts back to Archie’s wary face. His eyes shift to the left.

Cuts to other end of bar where two couples are dancing to the music.

Cuts back to man who realises nonchantly that his offer is not going to be taken up. Archie collects his hat and coat and leaves. Last shot in bar is of man having a drink.

Cut to street outside as Archie leaves bar, ruefully shaking his head and muttering “I can’t believe it”. Harry appears and Archie advises him “You don't want to go in there.”

This only lasts a minute or two and it’s a relatively underplayed scene. The jokes are about the change in mores, not about homosexuals. The joke has to work as Archie only gradually realises the changes, so these are very straight-seeming gay men. Not straight-seeming for the “relatively normal” arguments of the 1977 episode of Maude, but because if the bar was full of camp queens or leather bears there’d be no drama because Archie wouldn’t enter it. The bartender winking is bit crass. It’s more a wink meant for the audience rather than anyone in the film. The men dancing is a bit of a cheat since we had the full-view shot at the beginning, but since the rest of the scene has been shot to the right, a sudden cut to the left makes it seem as though this dancing has been off the radar in everyway.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

409: Gay Bar 10 - Police Academy

The Police Academy film spanned the summer movie schedules of the 1980s. These popular films were the final drip-drip of the rowdy frat rebellion and party-hard hijinks that first scored big audiences in the late 70s “Animal House” and then numerous bandwagon-jumpers for the next decade or so. A franchise in the same way a Macdonalds is a franchise The somewhat under-achieving “Police Academy” films offered a standardised diet of good-natured misfits and underdogs, bosoms, parties and pranks with the same recurring cast for the better part of the decade to an easily pleased audience. Amidst all the repetitions of characters and situations, one of the gags that would soon become as familiar as a Big Mac was a visit to the Blue Oyster Bar which appeared in the first four Police Academy movies

In each film a straight character, usually some kill-joy petty authority figure, is directed to The Blue Oyster Bar, all unsuspecting of its real nature. Entering they find themselves in a dark bar confronted by a large array of leather-men: burly, hairy-chested, beards, mutton-chops, handle-bar moustaches, biker outfits, leather caps. The rough-sex stereotype of the contemporary gay lifestyle which had become more familiar to the general audience since the Village People and Cruising. The straight character is intimidated by the silent mass of leering gay men. Anxiety, anxiety at this perverse threat. What assaults will they be subject to? Tension builds….and then - just as the straight character is about to flee the bar - they are grabbed by one of the gay patrons. And forced to tango.

Because men dancing together is FUNNY. It disturbs the natural order, for any dancing insinuates sex. Whatever sweaty sexual dancing may happen in a real gay bar or disco, here it’s the highly formalised techniques and roles of tango. Yet the effete regimented nature of formal-dancing with its flamboyant flourishes is in opposition to the gritty roughness of a leather-man. The dancing is sufficient to itself for effeminacy as the leather-man maintain their facades with no mincing, lip pursing, limp wrists or other camp behaviour. Audiences get both the rough-sex stereotype and effeminate traits simultaneously, each in revolving opposition like a cat covered in butter.

Of course after the first film, the audience know what the set-up is. Thereafter no comic surprise, only watching somebosy finding themselves tricked into some embarrassing dancing. A comic interpretation of sexual intimidation
Police Academy (1984)
0.00 – 2.09

Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987)
2.10 – 3.07

Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986)
3.08 – 3.53

Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985)
3.54 -

Monday, 21 May 2012

408: Gay Bar 9 - Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses

"Go West, Young Man"
15 Sep 1981
Writer: John Sullivan

Del Boy: David Jason
Rodney: Nicholas Lyndhurst
Waiter: John Wilmore

Leaping into the 1980s now. This is because the sadomasochistic bar and club tourism of “Cruising” aside, all the interest in the late 70s was to be found in depictions of the disco and bathhouse scenes. The final couple of minutes of the 1980 “Taxi” episode “Elaine’s Strange Triangle” are set in a gay bar which ends in a big disco dance-off - but I’ll get around to covering that instalment for different reasons another time.

“Go West, Young Man” is the second episode of the first series of “Only Fools and Horses”. The sitcom, written by John Sullivan, followed the lives and exploits of cockney market trader Del Boy and his younger brother Rodney and their incessant abortive get-rich-quick-schemes. Del Boy’s ambition and pretensions play off Rodney’s combination of more education but greater naïvite.

This very early episode before the programme had any reputation is mostly just a sequence of assorted funny scenes which don’t have much greater coherence. It’s the scene where the pair visit a supposedly upmarket bar with hilarious consequences that we’re interested in. The gay interest here falls into two halves.

The first is Del’s interaction with the obviously gay waiter. The spindly snootiness of the waiter (nose cast high in the air and pursed lips) is compounded by his homosexuality, producing a performance that is supercilious and camply insinuating. This play’s off Del’s unfounded sense of sophistication and also the general British inability to deal with service staff. So Del’s frustration at being humiliated raises Del’s hackles. However the lines about the waiter being an (arse) “bandit” and “backs to the walls” probably have no greater satirical import at Del’s expense. These are the sort of things men of the time would say, and these lines get a fairly round, and I think unironical, laugh from the audience.

Having established the darkness of the club this is the set-up for the second gay gag, where the two are appalled to discover that the two women they to chat-up are women. So it’s yet another gay bar with transvestites. From the back they’re plausible, but from the front they are obviously just some blokes. Part of the jokes is the undermining of Del’s unfounded confidence in his deductive technique and mastery of any situation. Del’s and Rodney’s subsequent horror and frenzied escape is the comic equivalent of “gay panic”.

The epilogue in the disco show the sort of references the audience would be expected to recognise: The Naked Civil Servant and the humorous drag act Hing and Brackett.


D and R have gone out for a classy night out. Both are dressed well. They are now sat in a bar with very subdued lighting. D and R speak in subdued tones appropriate to a nightclub, not playing broadly to the audience. They are in middle of set, with bar dimly behind them.

D: Is it always as dark as this in ‘ere? Or are they holding a dummy run for a coal miner’s convention?

R: Dunno.

D: What d’you you don’t know? I thought you said this was one of your regular clubs.

R: Well I might have exaggerated a bit when I said ‘regular’.

D: mmm. How many time you been ‘ere then?

R: Never.

D: Never! What you bring us in ‘ere for then ?

R: It looked alright from the outside.

D: ‘It looked alright from the outside’! That’s what the Christians said about the coliseum. You berk!

R: Not much action for a nightclub, is there?

D: Probably something to do with the fact that it’s only (struggles to look at watch) half past seven. Last time I come out with you Rodney.

R: Is that a promise, you moaning git!

D: Oy, watch it you! (spies around) Ah Garsson! (waving him across) La petit pois!

W: Ooooh! Parlez-vous francais?

D: Ja-vohl.

W: Yeees. What can I get for You?

D: Erm. I’d like a Caribbean stallion.

W: (said casually over shoulder) Wouldn’t we all, dear. (purses lip) What is it?

D: Well, er, it’s an exotic cocktail, innit? Created for the discerning palate of the international jetset. Roger Moore drunk one in ‘Live and Let Die’.

(haughty) I wouldn’t put anything past Her.

D: (disconcerted) Eh? Well, you’d better write this down, intya?. What you want is, er, a shot of tequila, and a shot of coconut rum, and one of crème de menff. Then you want a smidgeon, just a smidgeon, of Campari, wiv just the merest suggestion of Angostura bitters. Right, you top that up with fresh grapefruit juice. And you shake it. Do not stir. Pour that slowly over broken ice, garnish wiv a slice of orange, slice of lime, your occasional seasonal fruits, top that off wiv a decorative plastic umbrella, two translucent straws, and wolla!

Riiight. (to Rodney) And for you

R: Half a lager, please.

(D looks at him slightly appalled at his lack of aspiration.)

W: Half a lager (is about to leave then turns back to D) Reg Varney drunk one of them in ‘Holiday on the Buses”.


D: (nods head back at departing W) Is he a bit …funny (imperceptibly waggles head)

R: I dunno

D: Yeah, he is, definitely a bandit, that one. Tonight we dance wiv our backs to the wall, Rodney.

(discuss why R broke up with last girlfriend, turns out she was turned off by his policewoman fetish)

A half a lager for sir. And a Caribbean Stallion for Mandingo. That’ll be seven pounds.

D: (handing over ten pound note) Seven quid?! Blimey, I can get that for three quid where I come from.

W: Oh you’re from Jersey are you? (puts D’s change in his coat pocket, light patting it and momentarily leaning in) Enjoy your stay.

D: (as W moves away, mutters to R ) What’s he on about - Jersey?

W: (turns around to lean near D) By the way, the barman said, would you like some evaporated milk with that?

D: (cheerily waves waiter closer, then face goes harsh) Tell the barman to go and get stuffed (takes money off waiter’s tray)

W: Thank you. Sir! (stalks off)

D: (mutters) Thank you Sir.

R: (looking behind D) Del. Del!

D: What?

(nods head behind D. D swivels around. Sees the back of two women with long cascading hair at the bar. D turns with pleased expression to speak to R)

D: No. Not now (checks watch) it’s only twenty to eight. If we pull ‘em now we gotta buy ‘em drinks all night.

R: We could take ‘em back to the flat!

D: That’s an idea! We can have ourselves a little party.

R: Yeah (really excited) Go on Del! You can charm a tortoise out of a shell, you can.

D: Now you! (gets up, adjusts tie, pulls at watch, gets out cigar) Look, learn, and listen!

Swaggers up behind girls, turns around once towards R to show he is master of situation. We see this from R’s p.o.v. D leans his head in between the two women clasping a hand across each of their shoulders. We hear nothing, but R’s head is conversation turning from one to the other. He steps away. Takes cigar out of his mouth, walks back to R, coughs slightly.

D: Drink up. we’re leaving

R is ecstatic, slapping thighs. R sucks his cocktail down

R: You’re great. You’re the last miracle left on this earth (slaps D on back)

D: Shut up! And drink up, will ya!

R: Yeah, yeah. Are they a couple of ravers?

D: (said almost to chime with R’s last line) They’re a couple of geezers.

The two women suddenly swivel around their seats, to reveal two men. They have heavy stubble, and heavy make-up around the eyes. From the front the long wigs are fairly bad, and the dresses hang poorly on what are quite masculine physiques. They smile ingratiatingly at the two.

D gets up almost weak at the knees and steps backwards to the stairs out of the night club. The two men in drag make a moue. D bolts up the stairs. They now look at R.
R rises out of his chair, shoulders hunched, and makes his way awkwardly to the stairs with his back almost pressed against the far wall of the club, since there is no way of being further away from them. Enjoying themselves, they pucker their lips at R, wink at him, and one runs tongue around lips.
R shoots up stairs. They turn to each other. Cuts to loud, noisy straight nightclub, evident from lots of boys and girls dancing. D and R, in shock having a drink. R apologies profusely)

R: I didn’t know it was that sort of place!

D: Right blinding night I’ve had! I’ve become a member of a gay club, discovered me brother’s a pervo, and had a close encounter with two dockers in drag! (takes drink) You better not tell anybody about this, Rodney. I’ve got my macho reputation to uphold

(realises he is pointing with pink drink’s umbrella, throws it down) to uphold! I’m warning you! One person, just one, calls me The Naked Civil Servant, and I’ll kill you!

R: Don’t be Silly, Del! I’m hardly going to go around bragging that I saw my own brother trying to date a couple of transvestites.

(when R shortly draws R’s attention to two women at a table)

D: A couple of birds? Probably Hinge and Brackett out having a pint.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

407: Gay Bar 8 - The Pink Panther Strikes Again

The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) Directed by Blake Edwards
screenplay by Frank Waldman and Blake Edwards

Peter Sellers - Chief Inspector Clouseau
Michael Robbins - Jarvis
John Clive - Chuck

This fourth outing for Sellers as Inspector Clouseau has him investigating a kidnapping. Having visited the manor home of the kidnapped scientist, Clouseau follows the butler Anisley Jarvis when he leaves the manor. The butler arrives outside a Soho club - The Queen of Hearts – from the outside of which we can hear cabaret/ bar noises. The leather-jacketed butler arrives on motorcycle, parks his bike and enters.

It’s probably too brief for audiences watching at the time to make out, but on re-watching you can make out two men on the far right in overly fashionable clothes and somewhat model-like stances. This is subliminal scene-setting. As soon as Clouseau follows Jarvis in, we cut to a bar scene with men, colourfully dressed, neckerchiefs. In the foreshot one man lights a coloured cigarette (not very butch) for his younger companion, which in its chicken connations is either daring, provocative or thoughtless.

As Clouseau walks further into the club, a tall man walks past with a parrot on his shoulder, and the parrot says to Clouseau “Hello sailor”. As Clouseau as he walks around, men eye him up, preening, simpering, and making fluttering/gesturing towards him.

By this time we’ve seen enough of the club to see that its flamboyant décor is more appropriate to a tart’s boudoir décor, very heavy on the pink. Clouseau is then greeted by Chuck, the maitre’d who wears a fuschia velour suit with open nipple who directs him to table as the cabaret act is about to begin.

Chuck, who has only a couple of line, is played by John Clive, an English character actor who had a line in fey, camp, fussy, even prissy roles. He plays an explicitly gay character in “Carry On Abroad” (1972) and has an appearance in the comic satire of fashionable London “Smashing Time” (19767), films which I may or not got around to at some point.

Then to our and Clouseau’s surprise the cabaret singer appears – Jarvis in drag. Jarvis is a drag act in the Danny La rue style, in blazing evening gown, an appearance in stark contrast to his earlier professional brusque manner. Apparently according to the internet, and who should know better, the song he sings is actually performed by Julie Andrews, the director’s wife. The song starts with some heavy emphasises on the word “queen” (ha-ha-ha).

While he performs we get several shots of the attentive audience. At certain time they touch each other’s shoulders, but there are definitely no kisses. (The two burly men in the middle are assassins and not clientele).

At first Clouseau is puzzled trying to figure out what’s happening. The performance ends with Jarvis singing his torch song to Clouseau, to his barely masked discomfort.

While Clouseau interrogates Jarvis the tall man from earlier appears. However he is now revealed to in fact be a woman dressed as a man, Bruno who has a dubbed masculine voice. So some further gender-bending there.

Meanwhile there several middle-aged couples dancing in background, their hands held highly, prissily about each other. Because men dancing is automatically funny because it’s abnormal. Just wait until we get to the Police Academy films. Then Jervis drags Clouseau into dancing with him to Clouseau’s further embarrassment. A fight breaks out when kidnappers approach. It is at least a proper fight, - there are no sissy flapping hands beating ineffectually. These two guys get knocked on top of each other.

So a gay club, eh? Pink, lots and lots of pink. Drag queen too, yep. Fashions which although 70sish – collars and colours - are stereotypically flamboyant, okay.

When you think as to what the gay bar scene was turning into in the mid-70s, this is very much a straight person’s idea of a gay bar, denatured and sexless, yet still creepily flirtatious. In its weird way this is a rerun of the unexpected drag queen in a flamboyant bar scenario in Walter Huston’s 1970 “The Kremlin Letter”. This isn’t offensive, but it isn’t realistically typical at all, and at a time when gay men were looking for positive representations this fell far short, earning some criticism in the gay press.

It’s in contrast to this sort of representation, that you get the ostentatiously normal gay bar in the 1997 episode of “Maude”