Wednesday, March 31, 2010

THE "GAY" VS. "HOMOSEXUAL" DEBATE

Thanks to my recent post on True/Slant inspired by Ricky Martin's coming out of the closet, my brother Alexi and I had an interesting conversation yesterday about the semantics of "gay" and "homosexual." I'm not sure if I agree with his point of view, but I like how he thinks.

The point in my post with which Alexi took issue was when I insisted that for both men and women, bisexuality leads to men. Generally, I try to shy away from such sweeping generalizations, and if I had to do it over again, I would explain that while I do believe bisexuality exists (and it is rarer than so-called bisexuals would have us believe, though not as rare as biphobes might want to believe), whether it leads to a life with a man or a woman, there is usually a predilection for men.

When I offered this to one reader, she responded by giving me examples of bisexual men she knows who ended up with women, one of them even previously identified himself as gay. What she doesn't know is what she doesn't know: What are these guys doing when no one they know is looking? If I'm skeptical of any guy who goes from "homosexual" to "heterosexual," or a bisexual man who ends up with a woman, it's because sex clubs, saunas, after-hours parks, public loos and Manhunt are full of such men who settle down with women but constantly, obsessively seek out sex with men.

I suspect that bisexuals who end up with men do not actively pursue sex with women. But that's just my honest opinion.

Anyway, here is the transcript of my Facebook conversation with Alexi.

Alexi: I do not agree that "bisexuality" has any particular direction for any gender.

My thinking is that "you are what you say you are." Sex acts do not determine orientation. If someone says they are straight all the while doing homo on the down low, leave them alone to their straight world. I am 100% for letting furtive homosexuals be as "straight" or as "bi" as they want to be. I like to think that truly gay people are honest and courageously participant in the LGBT movement and not hiding in a sexual-orientation closet somewhere.

Jeremy: Alexi, you and I have discussed this before, and I think your point is a good one. That said, I do believe that sexuality depends on more than admitting it to yourself and to others. You are what you are. Sleeping with women and saying you are straight doesn't make you inherently so. And neither does saying that you just happen to be with someone of the same sex at the moment. I believe that what you are talking about is identity, what you identify with. But think about this: If a black person identifies with whites or vice versa, he or she is still black or vice versa. One point I should have more clearly made in my post is that because of the nature of women -- how for them, sex isn't as intrinsically tied to love as it is for men -- I believe that sexuality is more fluid. 

Alexi: The purpose of labels is that they communicate information. When someone says I am "gay," they are saying that they are receptive to a certain set of relationships that a person who says I am "straight" would not be receptive to. These statements are not dependent on any action subsequently taken by a person.

Imagine a person who is gay but not sexual. Does that mean they are not gay or unsure? The conflict arises when the actions do not fit with the label. Or when communication is cut off by making unconvincing objections to labels. When this happens, one has to ask what's really at stake for the persons involved.

If one is not personally involved, it is best to just stay the heck out of it and be as wary as you would with anyone whose actions do not fit their words. Trying to apply the label "gay" to someone who says they are "straight" or refuses to communicate at all is insulting to those who struggle to live a healthy and open gay life.


Jeremy: I respectfully agree and disagree. I just do not think "gay" and "lesbian" are clubs where the price of admission is simply admitting it to yourself and others. Someone who is married until age 30 and finally comes out at age 35 was gay at 15. It may be unfair to those who come out at 12 and deal with all the strife that follows, but then life is not fair. Sexuality is a biological fact of life that does not depend on whether one embraces one label or another or none at all. Your argument seems to imply that being gay is, ultimately, a choice based on whether you want to admit it or not, which is probably exactly what the right wingers and holy rollers would like for us to believe.

Alexi: I see your point about the 30 year old man married to a woman who says he is gay. I would say that he was "homosexual" from when he was 15 but not "gay." I think homosexuality is inherent to most humans to some degree, but being gay is definitely a social choice.

For example, same-sex penguin pairs are homosexual but only in the most ludicrous way would one say that same-sex penguin pairs are gay. So, yes, to be gay is human, it is socially emergent, and it is a club. One where the price of admission is being authentic with respect to one's homosexuality and the same-sex relationships one is seeking to engage and build one's identity on.

Now, homosexuality -- like skin colour -- is not a choice. I doubt the obligatory nature of homosexuality will change the minds of bigots. Everyone knows that skin colour is obligatory yet racism is rampant.
Jeremy: So this is a very interesting point that you are clarifying now. You are making a distinction between being "gay" and being "homosexual." I've always used and thought of both words interchangeably, the former being less scientific-sounding than the first. I'd never thought about there being a difference between the two, so this is a discussion based on semantics, but we agree. Perhaps your idea is one that I need to explore in a future post. As for the club aspect, the woman I mentioned [editor's note: in the True/Slant post] in the episode of Sex and the City would probably agree with you, but for her, the price of admission would be eating p***y.

Alexi: I think making a difference between "gay" and "homosexual" is important. Man has always been homosexual, but the notion of being "gay" as an identity emerged from the sexual liberation movement of the late '60s, like Stonewall. Before that time, the use of the word "gay" implied any general willingness to disregard conventional or respectable sexual mores.

Conversely, it can be said that "straight" implies orthodoxy or a willingness to embrace conventions or respectable sexual mores. Whether sexual mores are being embraced or disregarded says a lot about a person regardless of what they may do privately in bed.

This is how you can have, say, "straight" conservative politicians often married to women looking for sex with men in airport toilets and gay clubs. One later insisted he was not gay, and you know what? I believe him. Just because he is got caught in a homosexual act does not grant him spiritual or ethical right to consider himself gay.

In sum, all gays are homosexual, but not all homosexuals are gay.
Interesting. Do you agree?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

IS THIS THE FILM THAT FINALLY WILL GET ANNETTE BENING THAT ELUSIVE OSCAR?

Or will Hilary Swank, coming soon in Betty Anne Waters, rain on her parade once again? If she does, I'm through with the Academy for good, and I don't see that happening. Hopefully, Betty Anne Waters will be another Amelia, making 2011 another Hilary-free Oscars.

But here is my other pressing question regarding Mother and Child: How did Naomi Watts get top billing over Annette Bening? Let's size up both actresses: Annette is a three-time Oscar nominee, the wife of Warren Beatty, largely seen as the actress most overdue for an Oscar this side of Julianne Moore, Glenn Close and Sigourney Weaver, and, over the past 20 years, star of such hits as The Grifters, American Beauty and The American President. Naomi Watts has her own Oscar nod, and several critical and commercial hits on her CV (among them, Mulholland Drive, The Ring, King Kong and Eastern Promises).

All that and Liev Schreiber, too. But she is not in Annette's league. Not yet. Not only has Annette been around longer, but if anyone goes to see this movie, it will be because of Annette, to see if she might finally snag an Oscar. Perhaps shifting her name to the left so that it's possibly the first one you read is supposed to be some kind of consolation, but facts are facts: Good as Naomi Watts is (and I do love her), no one goes to see a movie because she's in it.

I wonder what will be the billing order for Annette's other 2011 Oscar hopeful, The Kids Are Alright, her upcoming film with Julianne Moore, the equally Oscar-due star who just might be her 2011 best actress competition. If she couldn't score top billing over Naomi, there's no way she will rise above Julianne Moore -- who, if you recall, was billed in The Hours over Nicole Kidman (an infinitely bigger star than Naomi), who was top-billed in The Interpreter over Sean Penn, who was top-billed over Naomi in 21 Grams -- in the poster credits.

The Hollywood billing system baffles me, but I love dissecting it anyway.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

BOYS WILL BE BOYS ALL OVER THE WORLD


Dear Argentina,

I owe you an apology. For the last few years, I've been painting a quite unflattering portrait of your men as beautiful losers. They love you. They leave you. They love you again. And if you look the other way, maybe they steal from you, too.

Yes, porteños have made my life alternately exiting, exhilarating and exhausting over the last three and a years.

But after a month and a half of travelling the globe -- from Rio to New York to DC to London to Istanbul back to London to Brighton and back, one more time, to London, I finally see the light. There are beautiful -- and not-so-beautiful -- losers everywhere.

Although my vacation has been more about spending time with friends and myself and indulging in all the things I miss in Buenos Aires (grape juice, cranberry juice, cashews, decent pizza, English) than looking for man meat, I've had my foreign affairs (all ultimate disappointments) and kissed a few princes and several frogs.

The hard lesson learned: Guys annoy in every country. They're inconsistent, obsessed with sex, penis size and getting fucked. Scared, scary, bored, boring and terrible communicators (even when you are speaking the same language, linguistically speaking). Only in Argentina -- and in Istanbul -- they are generally better looking. And as terms of endearment go, I prefer "hermoso" and "lindo" to the forced casualness of "mate" and "fella."

I'm coming back to you next week, Argentina. Tell the boys to be ready to let the games begin -- again!

With love,

Jeremy

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WOMAN AS VICTIM, VIXEN

Kudos to General Hospital!

Shame on General Hospital!

The daytime soap is in the middle of major umbrella storyline about the very important issue of violence in teen relationships. Yes, it's been done before. But what makes GH's current tale so compelling is that they really went there. Last week, after weeks of smacking Kristina around, Kiefer beat her to a bloody pulp.

The scenes were shocking and superbly shot, and the acting, as usual on General Hospital, was excellent. But then the writers undid all of the good they were doing for the sake of a plot point.

Rather than name Kiefer as her abuser, kicking off a riveting he said, she said storyline, Kristina fingered someone else as her attacker. Whom? Ethan. Why? Because he rejected her.

I love that all of the major characters are involved -- Sonny, Luke, Alexis, Jason, Sam, Carly, Michael, Lucky, Tracy, Lulu as well as the main three players -- but I can't help but be disappointed by the twist that was visible a mile away.

It's one thing that women are still being portrayed as not being able to physically take care of themselves. (I know, this somewhat contradicts the praise that I heaped upon the soap at the beginning of this post, but why couldn't they have shown Kristina fighting back just a little? Even Tina Turner eventually did in What's Love Got To Do With It?.) Here, though, turning victim into villain not only makes her less sympathetic, but it suggests that maybe such a lying bitch deserved what she got.

I know it makes for good drama, and after a few years of not really caring about GH, I'm tuning in again. But I'd like to see Kristina -- and GH -- let Ethan off the hook, and have her face off with her actual attacker and win.

Now that's the story I really want to see.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

BURNING QUESTIONS: THE SANDRA BULLOCK EDITION

It is my firm belief that in order for a relationship to survive into ripe old age, one or both parties involved will have to forgive at least one indiscretion. But if Jesse James did, in fact cheat, on Sandra Bullock with tattoo model and stripper Michelle McGee, why did he have to do it while she was making the film for which she would win what will most likely be her only Oscar? (I wouldn't even bet on a follow-up nomination.)

And why did McGee choose this particular time to tell all? Oh, that one's easy: to guarantee milking her 15 minutes of sordid fame for its maximum potential.

How did Sandra Bullock more or less manage to spend her entire career out of the tabloids until now?

If women cheat just as much as men do, as some forward thinkers now insist, why are male celebrities' female partners in indiscretion more likely to tell all than their male counterparts?
Were Jesse's tears during Sandra's Oscar acceptance speech tears of joy, pride, shame or all of the above?

The Best Actress curse strikes again! Is there really something to this idea that the relationships of Best Actress Oscar winners implode shortly after their wins, or does the jealousy and power struggles inherent in their relationships doom them from the start? Every single Best Actress winner since Jodie Foster for Silence Of The Lambs in 1992 were at the time of their win or are now married to or involved with less-famous people also in the entertainment biz. But do we know anything about the spouses of Forest Whitaker, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jeff Bridges (other than what we've see on the red carpet or in reaction shots during acceptance speeches throughout awards season)?

And finally, if Annette Bening finally wins the Oscar next year for either of her 2010 films -- Mother And Child and The Kids Are Alright -- will the dissolution of her marriage to Warren Beatty be a foregone conclusion? Who thought it would last this long?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

IN AND OUT OF LOVE

What happened to Aretha Franklin's A Woman Falling Out Of Love project. Though I have never been one to eagerly anticipate a new Aretha Franklin album, this one's excellent title had me intrigued. Would its contents be as stellar? I first heard about it years ago, and it's been delayed and delayed to the point where I wonder if it ever actually existed.

But according to Aretha's Wikipedia page, it does indeed exist. It will feature a duet with Faith Hill and will now be released in 201o. I'll believe it when I hear it. In the meantime, here are six great songs about women falling out of love.

"When You Get Right Down To It" by Phyllis Hyman My favorite song by one of the criminally underrated artists of modern times. So elegant, so assured and so heartbreaking -- even though it's about a heart on the mend.

"I Used To Love Him" by Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige "Lost Ones" aside, this was the highlight from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It still gives me goosebumps. Hill's and Blige's voices fit so well together -- at times I can't even tell which is which. They should consider recording an entire duet album if Hill can ever pull herself together again.

"Believe" by Cher No list of songs about life after love would be complete without the one that put Cher permanently back on the map in the late '90s. Without it, would we even still care about her today?

"Nah!" by Shania Twain When I first heard this song from Shania's Up CD, I secretly wanted someone to love me and leave me just so I could sing "Nah!" right in his face a few months later.

"Delayed Devotion" by Duffy She who laughs last laughs hardest. He who cries last... well, misses his chance. One of my favorite tracks from Rockferry.

"Up Out My Face" by Mariah Carey The kiss off of the century! Read all about it here.

OH, DORIAN LORD! THE THINGS YOU SAY!

A scene from yesterday's episode of One Life To Live.

Place:
La Boulaise
Characters: Dorian Lord and Kelly Cramer
Burning Question: What can Kelly do to fill her time if she decides to stay in Llanview, Pennsylvania, instead of going back to London to be with her boarding-schooled son, Zane?

Dorian: You could write.
Kelly: I am writing.
Dorian: That blog? That's not writing. That's typing.

Uh Uh, Dorian! You did not just say that!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SHARLEEN'S TOO-PREDICTABLE "SONGBOOK"

I adore Sharleen Spiteri, and I love that the Texas frontwoman has the musical taste of a gay man. But I wish that she'd man up and go way out on a limb more often.

Her predilection toward safeness is especially problematic on her second solo album, The Movie Songbook, a concept that already has been done to death (excellent cover, though). I've always said that covers albums need to be extra original, even more so than albums with all new material, lest they come across as redundant and superfluous.

Why go for the obvious when the obscure will take you so much farther creatively? Annie Lennox toyed with our expectations so well on Medusa, her 1995 album of remakes, and the result was one of my favorite -- if not my favorite -- covers albums ever.

With a few exceptions -- "Take Me With You" from Purple Rain, "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" from Cat People, and an Elliott Smith song from Good Will Hunting -- Sharleen, played it mostly safe in her song choices. Luckily, her always-stellar vocals elevate the material as do the occasionally fresh arrangements. But If I were her adviser, I'd have let her stick with the same movies while picking different songs. Here are a few of my ideas.

Song Xanadu
Film Xanada
Not only is Olivia Newton-John's version iconic, but she had the added benefit of ELO as her backing band. Without them, Sharleen's version falls a bit flat. She should have gone with "All Over the World," an ELO Xanadu track that may have been a Top 10 hit, but it's also a forgotten one. Not enough contemporary musicians cover ELO.

Song "If I Can't Have You"
Film Saturday Night Fever
Question: Chartwise, what was the biggest hit single from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack? Not "Staying Alive." Not "How Deep Is Your Love." If you guessed the title cut, "Night Fever" by Bee Gees, which spent eight weeks at No. 1, you would be right. But amazingly, my favorite hit from the album is probably also the one with the lowest profile, and only a voice as elastic as Sharleen's could fully do it justice.

Song "Oh, Pretty Woman"
Film Pretty Woman
I guess it could have been worse. She could have gone for the all too obvious: Roxette's "It Must Have Been Love," which already sort of sounds like a Sharleen song. For the record, I really love Sharleen's sexy, slowburning, Duffy-esque take on the Roy Orbison classic (though Van Halen's 1982 cover remains, for me, the definitive version). But if Sharleen had really wanted to take it to the limit, she would have given Robert Palmer's "Life In Detail" or even Go West's super-dated "King Of Wishful Thinking" a go.

Song "Take My Breath Away"
Film Top Gun
Sharleen's spaghetti western-esque reading of the Berlin hit is certainly not what I expected, but I'd pay money to hear someone, anyone, take on Kenny Loggins's all-but-forgotten "Danger Zone." Takers?

Monday, March 15, 2010

THE ISTANBUL EFFECT: BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED

Up to now, I thought I was indestructible.

I've been around the world, and conquered cities all over it, from the United States to Europe to South America. From Britain to France to Spain to Germany to Italy.

With Istanbul, though, I think I finally may have met my match. Color me daunted and overwhelmed. First, let me clarify that I absolutely adore the city. It's gritty and lovely. The people are fascinating, and the guys are unbelievably hot and sexy.

But everything about it is so over the top. The size. The architecture. The swarms of people in the area around Taksim Square. For the last three days, I've walked around in a daze, marveling at the grandeur of it all, but not quite able to wrap my head around it. I've chucked my map, and just depend on the kindness -- and honesty -- of taxi drivers to get me from point A to point B.

And don't get me started on the language. Most people I've encountered have some very basic knowledge of English -- usually numbers, as in how much money things cost -- but when they start to speak Turkish, they completely lose me. Even written, the language, with syntactic combinations the likes of which I have never seen and squiggly thingies protruding from the top and bottom of letters, confounds me.

The florid manner in which Turks give directions doesn't help matters any. Take the following exchange between me and this guy I was supposed to meet today at the guest house where he works.

Me: where can I find you?
Cute Turkish dude: sahkulu mahallesi serdari ekrem sokak kadir bey ç?kmaz? no :4 kuledibi bey?lu
close to alman lisesi
Me:
that is the address? which is the name of the place and which is the address? turkish is really confusing!!!
Cute Turkish dude: 0090 555 577 18 15 my number
sahkulu mahallesi area name serdari ekrem sokak street name and kadir bey ç?kmaz? apartment 4
there is germany hight school very close-

Me: okay, serdari ekrem sokak is the street name, but is there a street number. i'm not sure what "kadir bey c?kmaz?" means. sorry for all the questions, but i'm afraid of getting lost!
Cute Turkish dude:
if you go etap marmara hotel there is pera taxi if you say eklektik hotel they know here and u can come very easy
only 4 tl taxi :) it is to easy

Me: ok. i am coming now.
area name: sahkulu mahellesi
street: serdari ekrem sokak
place: kadir bey ckmaz
apartment: 4
right?

Cute Turkish dude: yes but if you take to taxi from etap marmara hotel from pera taxi very easy

He dropped so many names that he might as well have been on the moon. What happened to the old-fashioned way of giving directions: street name + street number? Are the cab drivers as clueless as I am, so you have to give them as much information as possible? Maybe. Last night as I was taking a taxi back to my hotel, the cab driver spent the entire ride alternating between looking at the road and staring at the business card for my hotel, whose name I still haven't a clue how to pronounce.

In the back of my mind, I knew there wasn't a chance in hell that I'd get to Cute Turkish dude. But I was willing to give it a try. I got into the cab and handed the driver a piece of paper with the following written on it:
sahkulu mahellesi
serdari ekrem sokak
kadir bey ckmaz
No. 4


He stared at the paper, muttered something in Turkish as if he seriously expected me to understand, and looked at me as if I had three heads. I quickly exited the taxi, ripped up the paper, and moved on to plan B.

Cute Turkish guy would have to wait until another day. I was going shopping.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

FILE IT UNDER FOREIGN AFFAIR

Here we go again!

Ladies and gentlemen, a word from the wise to your foolish foolish heart: If you think you've fallen for someone, but you suspect he or she might not be that into you, he or she probably isn't. Always go with your instincts.

Another lesson learned that the romantically inclined would all be wise to follow: Vacations mess with your head. If you think you've met the boy or girl of your dreams under the Tuscan, or Rio, sun, proceed with caution. Chances are that when you both return to reality, one of you will start second guessing, and things will not end well.

To ensure that your holiday "dream" doesn't turn into a nightmare, leave it behind when you get on the plane back home. Don't exchange phone numbers, email addresses, or mailing addreses (not that anyone even exchanges those anymore). And for God's sake, no Facebooking. If you are anything like me, there is nothing more frustrating than the forced casualness of a string of correspondence between holiday lovers that never betrays the roots of their relationship. I am also of the firm belief that Facebook and MSN should be kept out of relationships until they reach the commitment stage.

So when you part ways with your vacation fling, and you get the urge to see what the future might hold, don't. As Tina Turner once so eloquently sang, "File it under foreign affair."

Case closed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'M NOT IN LOVE

What my friend had to tell me was disconcerting. To say the least.

He told me that he's not in love. Not with his boyfriend of several years, the guy he lives with, the one with whom he's raising two young daughters. He loves him, but he's not in love. His boyfriend simply is not The One. That would be another guy, someone with whom he's been broken up for more than 10 years. He was the love of his life. And now, my friend is more or less going through the motions, feeling nothing.

I listened with undivided attention, sympathizing and empathizing with my friend, understanding exactly where he was coming from. I've been there, done and felt that, though on a smaller scale, with fewer years and without kids being involved. I wondered if I'd someday be unlucky enough to end up with someone who feels the same way about me. I wondered how many people in long-term relationships would say pretty much the same thing about their partner.

What is this crazy little thing called love? Is it even based in reality? I told my friend that I want to feel like the protagonist in the Savage Garden song "Truly Madly Deeply." He wants that, too. Years ago, while having dinner with Darren Hayes, Savage Garden's lead singer, in New York City, I told him the same thing. He was certain that one day I would. I seriously doubted it. He bet me that he'd run into me in a few years, and I'd tell him how in love I was, truly, madly, deeply.

Several years later, when I ran into Darren at a Grammy party, I had to break it to him that I still hadn't fallen in love, truly, madly, or deeply. And I still haven't. I'm not sure if it's them (the boys I generally meet, who are so not worth plunging for), if it's me, or if it's love, which might be merely an illusion we create to get us through the night.

After revealing that he's not in love and that he fools around on his boyfriend from time to time, my friend told me that he doesn't believe humans are built for monogamy. It seems everyone has been saying this to me lately. And I don't think I disagree.

But I do know that a relationship without monogamy is not one that I'd want to be in. I guess you could call me an idealist, a fool holding out for butterflies, hoping to find a guy who has eyes only for me and who will never tell his friends that he loves me, but he's not in love.

Monday, March 8, 2010

IF YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE...

Oscar Wilde apparently always had the perfect words on the tip of his tongue. "If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me," he once said. I laughed the first time I read that, and I immediately knew what person living or dead would be at the top of my dinner guest list if I could indeed invite the deceased as well as those still among us.

If I could invite fictional characters as well, cutdown queen Karen Walker on Will & Grace would be No. 2 with a bullet.

But as much as I appreciate a witty cutting comment, and have made more than a few in my time, I do have my limits.

The other night I had an interesting conversation with my friend Andrew about blunt honesty and social obligation. He made some exellent points, but I'm not sure that I agreed with anything he said.

In his view, we owe it to our friends to point out warts and all to save them from themselves and a lifetime of embarrassment. That argument might hold more weight if we are talking about chronic bad breath. Now I don't really understand how anyone can have horrible breath and not know it (it is my greatest fear, and I'm always fully aware of whatever odor is coming from my mouth -- maybe they just don't care), but I'd prefer to be subtley handed a breath mint under the table than be told to get thee to a toothbrush and toothpaste pronto. I suppose, though, if I were oblivious to being one bad sniff away from a halitosis diagnosis, I'd want someone to speak up.

But what if I'm wearing something that you don't particularly care for? Is it really necessary to let me know that you've seen me in better? What exactly are you saving me from? Your own ridicule? Just because you don't care for the orange-and-green combo doesn't mean the rest of the world sees it that way. Though I'm not condoning talking behind my back, I'd rather you voice your displeasure elsewhere, while I sashay about town totally misguided -- if, indeed, I look as awful as everyone wants to say I do.

At the end of the day, it comes down to cultural differences. Andrew is a Londoner, and here taking the piss out of your friends -- lovingly cutting them down to size -- is a national sport second only to football. In the U.S., we tend to skew a bit more hypoctrical. "Wow, you look beautiful," we say to someone's face while taking internal notes on how we can rip them apart most effectively as soon as they are out of earshot.

Andrew, my other British friend who currently lives in Sydney, Australia, and whom I met in Rio last month, had the first tiff of our vacation romance over a related topic. His straight shooting came a little too close to bullseye for my comfort, and I took offense. He explained that Aussies are even worse than Londoners when it comes to telling it like it is. He had a lot of trouble with it when he first moved to Syndey but has since become accustomed to it.

I'm not sure why he felt the need to sharpen his tongue on me, someone who obviously is not accustomed to it, but I explained to him that the risk of pulling such stunts on me is that I give as good as I get. And I usually make it personal. In a nutshell: It'll end in tears.

Yes, I can be a rhymes with witch. My friends say I'm as direct and blunt as anyone they know. If only they realized how much I keep to myself. At the end of the day, I don't think it's my business to make people feel any worse about themselves than they probably already do. And if the breath is kicking, I grin, hold mine, turn my head and tell them they've never looked better.

That's what friends are for, right?

TONIGHT WE'RE GONNA PARTY LIKE IT'S 1991!

The '80s are so last year.

Long live the '90s!

That seemed to be the unofficial musical mandate last night at Eagle in Vauxhall, South London. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much when I arrived at the dark, dingy, divey joint with my friend Andrew. His pal Jeffrey was DJing, and he put us on the guest list, so if nothing else, I'd do a few tequila shots, have a good laugh and go home solo.

At first, I was unimpressed by what I saw and heard. I told Andrew to ask Jeffrey to play something by La Roux. "I don't think that's the kind of stuff he plays," Andrew offered before approaching the DJ booth anyway. I rolled my eyes, swallowed my tequila and prayed for a miracle.

If God is a DJ and life is a dancefloor, He delivered almost immediately. A great familiar beat kicked in, and I heard something I hadn't heard in nearly 20 years. It was Lisa Fischer singing her 1992 non-hit. "Oh oh oh oh oh, won't you save me?"

What the...?!?! Who even knows that song?

My interest was officially piqued, and from that point on, Jeffrey's playlist -- mostly early '90s dance music -- didn't disappoint: "Give It To Me" by Martha Wash. "Dirty Cash (Money Talks)" by the Adventures of Stevie V. "Uh-Uh Ooh-Ooh Look Out (Here It Comes)" by Roberta Flack. "Dreamer" by Livin' Joy. "Too Blind To See It" by Kym Sims. The sole dud: a really bad remix of "(I Wanna Give You) Devotion" by Nomad. The only thing missing was "Finally" by CeCe Peniston. But then, considering how eclectic Jeffrey's song choices were, that would have been entirely too obvious.

Though I ended up being distracted by an interesting bloke called Vaughan (you just don't get names like that anywhere but here in the UK), I did notice that I didn't hear a single Lady Gaga song all night.

And she most certainly was not missed.