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By The Gay UK, Oct 25 2014 06:47PM

Coffee Jelly with Cream

Serves 8

Prep 5 mins (3 hours minimum chilling)

No Cook

Unusual Dessert / Inexpensive / Quick & Easy / Minimal Ingredients

Coffee lovers and addicts will adore this meeting of dessert and post-dinner coffee. In an unusual twist on a kids party pudding normally served with ice cream comes a surprisingly good and sophisticated version that is perfectly paired with cream. This dessert is not overly sweet and has a distinctively clear taste of coffee. The recipe is easily halved if you would like to make less. Serve in tumblers for pretty presentation.

COFFEE – 1 cup of coffee provides the following of your daily recommended intake; 11% B2, 6% B5, 3% of manganese and potassium, 2% of magnesium & B3. Although these are small amounts, most coffee drinkers are likely to have more than 1 cup a day. Coffee is also a great source of anti-oxidants. Other health concerns coffee is believed to help with are; protection from alzheimer's disease, dementia, lowering risk of Parkinsons, protecting the liver, reduce risk of depression, lowering risk of stroke, and certain cancers.


8 tsp high quality instant coffee

2 sachets gelatine (12g each) – or use 8 gelatine leaves

30g caster sugar

1000ml cold water

230ml hot water

Double cream, to serve.

1. Pour the 230ml hot water into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatine onto the hot water. (it is important that gelatine is added to the water and not the other way around).

2. Stir quickly until mixed thoroughly.

3. In a large bowl combine the instant coffee with some of the cold water from the 1000ml you have measured out. Whisk until the coffee has dissolved entirely.

4. Pour in the remaining cold water whilst stirring.

5. Add the water with the gelatine mix in it to the coffee and stir thoroughly.

*You could at this point add a shot of whisky for another flavour, if you like.

6. Pour into a mould, casserole dish or whatever will accommodate the jelly mix in your fridge. You want to be able to transfer the jelly once set into tumblers so when you pour cream over the top there are various nooks and crannies for the cream to flow down and look pretty on.

7. Chill for at least 3 hours in the fridge.

8. Serve in tumblers with cream poured over the top.

by Jordan Lohan

By The Gay UK, Oct 25 2014 06:37PM

Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4 (can be frozen)

Prep 15 mins

Cook 30 mins

Starter / Inexpensive / Quick & Easy / Antioxidant Rich

I find the process of hollowing out a pumpkin quite tedious, so the last thing I want to be doing afterwards is chopping other vegetables to go in a soup that will just be blended anyway. Take the pressure off and keep this super simple (and cheap!) by using a frozen vegetable mix of carrots, onion, and celery. By using ham stock your tapping into the bacon / pumpkin squash classic flavour combo but saving pennies & calories too by not using any actual meat. This recipe showcases how simplicity really can bring out the best in flavours.

PUMPKIN – 100g of flesh is only 26 calories. Pumpkin is also recommended by dieticians in cholesterol management and for weight loss programs. Also in 100g of pumpkin flesh comes around 246% of your recommended intake of vitamin A. Pumpkins, like carrots contain carotenes and anti-oxidants that help promote good eye sight. B-complex vitamins are also abundant in the pumpkin; folate, niacin, B-6, B-5.

450-500g pumpkin flesh (save the seeds and roast them for 10-15 minutes, lovely!)

250g frozen vegetables (carrot, onion, celery)

1000ml hot water

2 ham stock cubes

1 birds eye chilli

1. Heat a large saucepan and place the frozen vegetables in for 5 mins to defrost and soften.

2. Add the pumpkin, chilli, hot water, and stock cubes and bring to the boil.

3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

4. Take off the heat and use a hand blender to blend until smooth.

5. Serve with freshly grated nutmeg, smoked paprika and some pumpkin seeds scattered on top.

by Jordan Lohan

By The Gay UK, Oct 25 2014 06:30PM

Chicken “Coal”

Serves 4 (or more as finger food for a buffet)

Prep 15 minutes

Cook 25 minutes

Quick & Easy / Minimal Ingredients / Protein Packed

Nuggets. Notoriously loved. Notoriously unhealthy. Not these!

I use black quinoa in these baked nuggets to simulate a scrunchy batter-like texture but to also add vital nutrients into what would normally be a wasted opportunity to obtain some key vitamins and minerals. Fantastic finger food and your guests will definitely appreciate your healthy approach.

Laced with Italian herbs and gloriously garlicky, these chunky morsels may soon become a favourite to cook in your kitchen. Want these all to yourself? The same method could be applied to a whole chicken breast and served along-side sweet potato chips for a healthy alternative to chicken n chips. For a crowd I serve along side a Red Pepper Dip and call the combination Coal & Fire.

BLACK QUINOA – Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein and is classed as a complete protein, meaning that it contains all 10 essential amino acids which you can normally only find within animal product. As well as providing a good supply of dietary fibre, (1 cup of) black quinoa will also supply 20% of your daily intake of folate (a B-vitamin essential for skin, liver, eyes, and hair), and 15% of Iron (red blood cells need this to carry oxygen around in the body). (SOURCE: )

CHICKEN – About 115g of free-range chicken will provide the following of your recommended daily intake;

97% vitamin B3 (significant protection from heart disease, lowers levels of bad cholesterol, elevates “good” cholesterol HDL).

70% protein.

56% selenium (selenium deficiency, which some people who are HIV positive may have, has implications on immune function, depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, infertility in males).

40% vitamin B6 (can prevent anaemia, and also used to treat heart disease, high cholesterol, cramps, skin conditions, and boosting the immune system).

36% phosphorous.

22% choline (liver protector).

21% vitamin B5 (great for acne and reducing oil production in the skin)

16% vitamin B12.


450-500g free-range / organic chicken breast, chopped roughly into chunks
450-500g free-range / organic chicken breast, chopped roughly into chunks

120g black quinoa

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp garlic granules

½ tsp black pepper

Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200c / 180c (fan) / Gas Mark 6

1. In a sieve, wash the quinoa under the tap to rid their bitter coating.

2. Lay the quinoa out on kitchen towel and press another piece of towel on top to dry thoroughly.

3. On a large baking sheet, line with greaseproof paper and bake the quinoa for 8-10 minutes.

Set aside. Increase oven heat to 220c / 200c (fan) / Gas Mark 7

4. In a bowl, toss the chicken pieces with two tablespoons of olive oil, a shake of salt and a pinch of pepper.

5. Move the “toasted” quinoa to a baking dish where you will now combine with the Italian seasoning, garlic granules, and black pepper.

6. Roll each piece of chicken around in the herby quinoa mix and make sure that it is coated thoroughly. Transfer each coated piece to a baking sheet lined with foil.

7. Once all nuggets are on board the baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive.

8. Bake for 15 minutes.

9. Turn the nuggets over and cook for a further 10 minutes. Serve.

by Jordan Lohan

By The Gay UK, Oct 25 2014 06:20PM

Spider Eggs (Devilled Eggs with Smoked Bacon)

Serves 8 (as canapés)

Prep 30 mins

Cook 10 mins (egg and bacon)

Dinner Party Canapé / Quick & Easy / Inexpensive / Fun Food

These cute n creepy hors d'oeuvres' will definitely put smiles on your guests faces. Simple, inexpensive, and being fun to make add to the delight of this dish. Classic flavour combination of egg and bacon brought into the realm of dinner party by adding wholegrain mustard, spring onions and black olive. You could do a half n half batch by adding some cayenne pepper on top of some of the eggs for variety.

The recipes suits 8 people for canapés (1 egg each), but you may want to make more as they're one bite wonders and extremely more-ish. In the event of leftovers, you've already got breakfast sorted!

EGGS – 1 egg provides the following of your recommended daily intake; 22% selenium (selenium deficiency, which some people who are HIV positive may have, has implications on immune function, depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, infertility in males), 15% B2, 9% phosphorous (bones & teeth, digestion, hormones), 9% B12, 7% B5, 6% vitamin A, 5% folate. Although eggs are high in cholesterol they do not adversely affect blood cholesterol. In fact, eggs help raise the “good” cholesterol, HDL. Eggs are also a fab source of protein containing all the essential amino acids in right doses. (SOURCE: )

80g light mayo

8 eggs, hard boiled and halved

3 rashers smoked bacon, cooked until crispy and finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely sliced

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

small bowlful of black olives

1. Carefully scoop the hard-boiled yolks out of the egg halves. I found it easiest to loosen one edge of the yolk with a teaspoon and the whole yolk would follow.

2. In a bowl, mash together with a fork the; yolks, mayo, bacon, spring onions, wholegrain mustard and a little black pepper.

3. Scoop your fluffy egg and bacon mix back into the hollow of the egg halves. You could also pipe the mix back into the hollows if you're feeling pedantic about presentation.

4. At this point you have now made devilled eggs and they can be served straight away or kept in the fridge for a few hours until required.


5. To add a Halloween twist and make them into spider eggs, have your bowlful of black olives and your chopping board out and slice whole olives into halves to create the bodies of the spider. Slice small lengths of olives to create the legs. I found it easiest to place the spider legs on top of the eggs, and then place the spider body on top of the legs to complete the look.

by Jordan Lohan

By The Gay UK, Oct 25 2014 06:12PM

Beef Chilli with Black Rice

Serves 4-6 people

Prep 10 mins

Cook 1-2 hours

Potent in Protein / Fibre Rich / Iron – Packed / Immune Booster

You will have to trust me on the Chinese five spice. It complements the smoky fiery flavour of the beef chilli perfectly. This is probably one of my favourite's to make, my friends love my chilli. You can reduce the cooking time by adding less of the stock but I prefer a long, long cook for this.

If I'm doing this for a crowd I serve a Scotch Bonnet chilli pepper on the side to see who's man enough to give one a go! If you are going to do this, please remind your guests that the Scotch Bonnet ranks in category 4 on the scoville heat measure, and is of similar heat to a habanero, jamaican hot pepper, and the not so comfortingly named, Fatalii. Have plain yogurt / milk on standby!

BLACK RICE- Where has black rice been all my life? After trying this for the first time only recently I can honestly say I will never eat a bowl of the white stuff ever again! A spoonful of black rice contains more antioxidants than that of blueberries. The anthocyanin antioxidants within the rice are linked with memory improvement, protection against heart disease and even cancer. Black rice is a fantastic source of Iron and also vitamin E. I decided to serve my devilish beef chilli with black rice to give a gothic, unusual and nutritious edge to the dish. Black rice is not just for show, it's so good for you!

BEEF- Around 85g of beef provides you with the following of your daily requirements; 50% protein, 39% zinc, 37% B12, 24% selenium, 20% phosphorous, 18% niacin, 16% B6, 14% iron, 12% riboflavin. ( SOURCE: )

KIDNEY BEANS- 177g of kidney beans will provide you with the following of your daily requirements; 57% folate, 45% fibre, 42% copper (great for the immune system), 38% manganese (good for bone production & skin integrity), 34% phosphorous (another one for bones but also digestion), 30% protein, 23% B1, 21% iron.

The kidney bean is a good source of cholesterol-lowering fibre, along with many other beans. When beans are combined with whole grain rice, the kidney beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. Kidney beans can also increase your energy by replenishing iron stores. (SOURCE:

REDUCED SALT & SUGAR BAKED BEANS – It's this kind of cheap, easily accessible food that we can utilise for our health without having to import a wonder herb or grain from the Amazon. Baked beans can help towards achieving 7-a-day along with great fibre and protein benefits. Lycopene within the tomato sauce is a powerful antioxidant that has shown to help prevent heart disease and prostate cancer. (SOURCE ; )

1 dried chipotle chilli, rehydrated, de-seeded and chopped finely

1 ham stock cube, made up with 500ml hot water

2 tsp Chinese five spice

1 400g can kidney beans in a chilli sauce

1 400g can organic chopped tomatoes

1 230g can reduced sugar & salt baked beans

2 onions, chopped roughly

60g smoked chorizo, skin removed and sliced into rounds

1 tbsp carotino oil (or any other healthy cooking oil of your choice)

75g black rice, per person.

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions over a medium heat for 10 minutes until they are translucent.

2. Add in the beef, Chinese five spice, chorizo, chipotle and cook until the meat is no longer pink.

3. Tip in the tomatoes, mix and let them cook out for a couple of minutes.

4. Add both kidney and baked beans to the pan, along with the stock.

5. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 1-2 hours dependant on how much stock you want to use. I use all the stock and simmer for 1.5.

6. Start cooking your rice in boiling water half an hour before you want to serve.

By The Gay UK, Oct 25 2014 03:58PM

If you don’t know who Paul Burston is, you’ve clearly been living under a rock. Stalwart of the gay scene, ACTUP activist, one time editor of TimeOut’s LGBT Section, writer for multiple magazines and newspapers including the Guardian and author of 4 best selling novels.

Photos: Krystyna FitzGerald-Morris
Photos: Krystyna FitzGerald-Morris

In your time you must have had some incredible brushes with the rich and famous - who has been your favourite?

I've been a journalist for 25 years and I've been lucky enough to meet a great many famous people I admire, including Debbie Harry, Victoria Wood and Princess Diana. But if I had to pick one, I'd say Elizabeth Taylor. I met her at London Lighthouse in the mid 90s. She was so tiny - and every inch a star. I'd always loved her, and she didn't disappoint. She was one of the first stars to speak out about AIDS and a true original. Watching Helen Bonham-Carter play her in that TV drama recently only highlighted just how unique she was. Nobody does Liz Taylor like Liz Taylor.

We love that you call her Liz, like totally on first name terms. Bravo Gay stripes.

Finish this sentence: Champagne is…

...Great fun while it lasts, not so much fun the following day. Champagne hangovers are the worst!

We hear you Paul, we hear you!

Ultimate girl band: Rihanna, Katy Perry and Miley or Kylie, Madonna and Belinda Carlisle?

I'd have to go with Kylie, Madonna and Belinda. But only because Kate Bush, Debbie Harry and Stevie Nicks weren't an option.

Ooo you’re ultra old skool, (and you’ve made us spell School in that kooky way...) Excellent.

The campest moment of your life?

Introducing Celia Imrie at Polari last year. We managed to keep her surprise guest appearance a tightly guarded secret, although a few of the regulars had their suspicions. As soon as I announced her, there was pandemonium! If you'd asked me before then, I'd have said it was introducing Fenella Fielding - also at Polari. Both are fabulously camp women, beloved by gay audiences. And both are great supporters of the LGBT community. It was a privilege to introduce them.

You are kind of like Cilla Black, matchmaking the gays with their icons. We love it.

What do other people think your most attractive feature is?

I'd like to say it was my cheeky smile and sparkling personality, but it's probably my legs. I was a keen cyclist for years, so I have well developed leg muscles. And yes, I'm familiar with the saying, "nice legs, shame about the face!"

Ooo He’s got footballers legs and self effacing. Are you single by any chance?

If you were PM for a day what would be your first ruling…

I'd bestow honours on Bette Bourne and David Hoyle. Dame-hoods, naturally.


What are the two things you couldn’t live without?

My husband. He's the love of my life and I can't imagine life without him.

My iPhone. I've written most of my new novel on it. I no longer carry a notebook everywhere. Everything is written in Notes on my phone and backed up onto my desktop. Now I can actually read my own notes!

You are ridiculously modern. Furthermore you managed to plug the fact you’re working on a new novel. The man is a professional.

Most embarrassing drunken moment?

Meeting David Bowie at an after show party. I'm a massive fan and got hideously drunk on free Champagne. When he arrived, I launched myself at him and announced that when I was 15, he saved my life. He smiled knowingly and said, 'really?' 'Yes,' I replied. 'And you're still the man!'

I couldn't believe the crap coming out of my mouth. I mean, 'you're the man!' Who says that? He must get it a lot. He's David Bowie, after all. But he was very gracious, a perfect gentleman.

We know exactly what you mean, we did that with Kelly Osborne once. Well, we think it was Kelly Osborne. It was dark.

Is there a gay Mafia?

Not really. But some of us like to dress the part.


Liza needs to do… next?

I love Liza. She's been written off so many times, but she's still here.

She's a living legend. She just needs to keep on living. That's enough for me.

Gotch ya, long live Liza. May she stumble from party to party forever.

Check out Paul Burston’s monthly Polari Literary Salon at:

By The Gay UK, Oct 25 2014 09:28AM

Drivers will save up to £150 million over the next ten years as the cost of getting a driving licence is slashed, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Transport Minister Claire Perry announced today.

Driving licence fees will fall by up to 32% as part of the government's commitment to deliver savings to the taxpayer.

The changes, which follow a recent public consultation, come into force from 31 October 2014. Drivers applying online will see the fee for a provisional driving licence fall from £50 to £34 and online renewals after ten years fall from £20 to £14. The fee for driver tachograph cards – used by businesses to record how far their staff are driving – will fall from £38 to £32.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said:

“Giving savings back to the taxpayer is a key element in this government's drive for a stronger economy and a fairer society. That's why we're slashing the cost of getting a driving licence and giving it straight back to young people and businesses, saving £150 million over ten years.”

Transport Minister Claire Perry said:

“The cost of driving, especially for young drivers, can be significant and we are committed to cutting costs where we can. Thanks to DVLA making large scale savings to their running costs, we have been able to cut the cost of the driving licence which will save drivers and businesses £150 million over the next ten years.”

DVLA is reviewing all fees and the reduction in driving licence fees is a result of the first part of this ongoing review. Other fees being considered in the review include vehicle first registrations and duplicate registration certificates.

A million 'first licence' applications are processed every year and the fees drop will save new drivers £82.2 million over ten years. Over 77% of these applications are made by 17-24 year olds. In addition 2.1 million photocard licences are renewed every year and the changes will save motorists £61.3 million over a decade.

Businesses make another 85,500 renewals a year and will save £2.44 million over ten years while the cost savings to tachographs will save another £3.58 million over the decade.

By The Gay UK, Oct 24 2014 08:32PM

During the week commencing 13th October, GBK launched it's speedy 15 minute lunch menu guaranteeing your burger on your table within 15 minutes, or your next lunch is on them!

I visited their Waterloo branch where they were coinciding the launch with a rather fabulous lunch-time treat for 1 week only, of a 15 minute performance titled, Burger : The Opera. I asked GBK's CEO, Alasdair, why Opera?

“We see a lot of retailers and restauranteurs having DJs to launch their latest offers, we thought why not Opera. What better way to describe our passion? People come to GBK for fantastic burgers but also to have a great time, so we wanted to go one stage further and really entertain them. At the end of the day it is good fun and we do like having a bit of a laugh”.

I have a magnetic pull towards the weird and wonderful and was so excited to see how well the marriage of meat & melody would be.

Secret Opera told the story of a controlling father, and his fussy daughter (who ends up falling in love with a GBK employee). Instantly captivating their audience, I was blown away by the talent of this group.

Cleverly written and beautifully sung, Burger : The Opera was laced with comical menu and app references, and modern sayings like “FYI”, “bitchin” etc. Using instantly recognisable pieces of classical / operatic music and laying down a 2014 dialogue on top brought this into the realm of Popera. Pitch perfect and script cute, this felt almost deliciously Disney.

My friend ordered off the main menu and had the almighty “Mighty”- two 6oz patties, mature cheddar, crispy bacon, garlic mayo, relish, dill pickle, salad. For myself, I ordered off the 15 minute menu, which comprises of four core burgers in their simplistic form; beef, cheese, chicken, veggie, and chose the beef. GBK CEO Alasdair said, “Currently, my favourite is The Blazing Sombrero, good crunch, texture, flavour and a hint of spice, try it, you will not be disappointed”.

GBK kept to their word bringing in fact both meals at the same time to our table within the 15 minutes. It was great to see that the quality of the burgers was still intact and not been compromised by the short time-frame they have to cook and create.

I asked Alasdair if they had any plans to extend these unique and quirky dining experiences to other GBK outlets who said, “Well as this is proving so successful we thought we might take it to the West End or maybe even Broadway...we’ll just have to wait and see, but expect more fun. We might well take it on tour to other cities”.

I spoke further with Alasdair and asked him to describe the ultimate burger;

“The meat and bun are critical, our burgers are made from 100% prime beef, hand selected and traditionally reared on independent farms across the South West counties. We only select meat from the top two grades of beef and then we simply add a bit of salt and pepper. It has to be medium rare, you need the juiciness. The bun is so important as well. We’ve spent years refining the bun recipe, it is an endless quest but again, it has to be “clean deck” i.e. absolutely nothing artificial at all in it”.

GBK has been going strong since 2001, but I wondered what Alasdair's first experience or memory was of being so passionate about food.

“In the mid 70s, yes I am that old, supermarket food was pretty uninspiring but as a treat each week my Mum would buy us all (I am the youngest of 6) a Petit Suisse, a yoghurt brand that’s still going strong. To my mind that was the height of absolute bliss and luxury, I had never been abroad so it was taking me too far off places. It was wrapped in paper in the pot, you would unroll it, I would then cover it in sugar and OMG…I cannot eat one now as that would ruin it all for me!”.

Clearly GBK and their employees are passionate about food and the food that they create. Alasdair felt opera was the perfect vehicle of entertainment to get that across to diners intertwined with a romance storyline. I asked Alasdair what his favourite love story was;

“I am an absolute softie despite having spent 6 years in The Army, so hate violent or scary films, I used to cower to Doctor Who! So I like anything with a happy ending. One place I really enjoy is meeting loved ones at the airport and seeing the bliss and happiness on faces when people are reunited”.

Get yourselves down to GBK to try their new 15 minute lunch menu and keep an eye out for even more unique dining experiences in the future!

By The Gay UK, Oct 24 2014 06:47PM

Double Duchess Release Free Remixes of Their Trippy Electro-hop Duet, “Good Girl Freak Out”

This weekend, the queer electro-hop duo Double Duchess will release remixes of their Future-Twerk dance smash, Good Girl Freak Out, to fans free of charge. The complimentary package features brand new club tracks by three of today’s leading underground producers. Good Girl Freak (feat Future People): The Remixes is available for free download now on Soundcloud at

Good Girl Freak (feat Future People): The Remixes leads with the Normaling Remix, a collaboration of two Baltimore area DJ/producers, Lemz and Rar Kelly. The pair produced “Loosie”, a track from Double Duchess’ Nocturnal EP. They bring their ghettotech sound to the song with elements of Baltimore club interspersed with a psychedelic techno twist. “The Normaling remix is the banger in the collection,” says davO from Double Duchess. “Every remix collection has to have one.”

The second remix in the package is by ballroom house producer Divoli S’Vere. By blending samples from classic vogue tracks with the song’s original edit, S’Vere brings a raw, genuine, ballroom flavor to Good Girl Freak Out. “Vogue culture is a prominent feature in our live performances and music videos,” says Krylon Superstar, the other half of Double Duchess. “It's important that we give the kids something to vogue down to in the clubs.”

The final track Good Girl Freak (feat Future People): The Remixes is by NoSoul. It differentiates itself from the others by offering a creative, more relaxed vibe. “The NoSoul remix changes the overall feel of the original, bringing a wild card element we think fans will dig,” says davO.

Good Girl Freak Out was written by davO and Chris Cosgrove of Future People. The original version has the beat of twerk, but with a more indie, melodic, pop feel. Its music video that stars Kelly Osbourne of E!’s Fashion Police as a holographic purple character, has become an internet sensation.

Double Duchess has been heating up the national queer scene since 2012, delivering a raw and campy electronic sound. They’ve become known for their big beats and playful narratives, as well as Krylon Superstar’s mesmerizing voice and performance art and davO’s emceeing and production deftness. Their musical influences include Baltimore club, booty breaks, and ballroom house, all wrapped in a world of couture fashion.

Through their music, Double Duchess encourages fans to be and tell their truth regardless of sexuality, gender, or race. “We don’t want any beautiful faces hidden from the world,” says Krylon Superstar.

Double Duchess’ next full-length release is tentatively scheduled for March/April 2015. The album will cover a wide range of sounds and include collaborations with fellow queer artists Nicky da B and TT the Artist.

Good Girl Freak (feat Future People): The Remixes is available this weekend as a free download on soundcloud at For more information on Double Duchess, visit

By The Gay UK, Oct 24 2014 05:00PM

Gracie Otto's affectionate documentary on the charismatic and adventurous English theater and film producer Michael White is a movie long overdue. Despite his enormous contribution in a prolific career that spanned three decades he is as Anna Wintour succinctly put it, 'the most famous person that you've never heard'. Ms Wintour also so accurately summed up his rich and tumultuous career by describing him as 'a true Renaissance man'.


Michael 'Chalky' White was born in Glasgow in 1936 to wealthy immigrant Jewish parents who packed him off to Boarding School in Switzerland at the tender age of 7. This small shy boy who suffered from asthma and couldn't speak a word of French was something of a loner and although fiercely independent developed a skill in befriending everyone, a character trait that would end up changing his life.

From Switzerland he went to study at the Sorbonne which was followed by a stint as a Wall Street runner in the 1950s. Somewhere along the line this well-travelled young man discovered a passion for the theatre and landed himself a job with the impresario Peter Daubney in London producing international theatre seasons. At the ripe age of 25 White produced his first play in the West End. It was not a conventional drama but a production of Jack Gelber's Living Theatre group called 'The Connection' and it depicted the life of drug-addicted jazz musicians. It had a mixed reception with its detractors up in arms about the debauchery on stage which showed men shooting up, something totally unheard of back in 1959 when every play was still censored by the Lord Chamberlain's Office.

It was however not the last time that White would break all the rules as he pursued anything avant-garde and different than the norm in a career in which he mounted 101 stage productions and produced 27 films.

He introduced London to art 'happenings' with Yoko Ono, contemporary dance with Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch, discovered the ground-breaking 'The Rocky Horror Show', joined forces with Kenneth Tynan to produce the all-nude review Oh Calcutta', gave Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna Everage his first big break. Then as his career moved into movies he produced 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', John Water's 'Polyester', and the classic 'My Dinner with Andre'.

Otto starts her movie almost at the end when after casually meeting White at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010 she is intrigued about this charming septuagenarian who literally knows everybody worth knowing. And what's more, they all totally adore him. From British royalty to the Hollywood A list via mega-rock stars to model superstars, White has hung out with them all, and many of them, including ex-wives and girlfriends, eagerly line up to give witness to althe joyous times they have spent together. Even Wintour the Ice Queen cracks a rare smile on her face when she talks about her times with White.

White's professional success (and sometimes failure) is because he is a gambler. Unlike any of his peers he is happy to take a chance on people and their productions simply if he believes in them, almost in the same way that he bets on horses too. His personal 'sucess' is because he is an optimist and believes that everyone is his friend. 'Some people have cheated me, but I have no enemies at all.'

Now after a couple of strokes, although White refuses to acknowledge the aging process, he is obviously not in a good shape physically or financially. Whilst he is happy to talk about his life (with the rare exception such as losing the lucrative rights to The Rocky Horror Show) he adamantly refuses to let Otto in to find out much about him as a man. Several colleagues drop very broad hints that part of his present demise is due to not just the excessive partying but the use of recreational drugs, but Otto chooses not to pursue any of this.

His legacy will not just be all the thousands of photographs he took to chronicle his life with a whole galaxy or stars, or the correspendece with the rich anf famous that he had hoarded for decades. It will be the way that his approach of leading with his heart and not his head completely propelled London into being a true world-class stage and discovering and giving a voice to such a remarkable array of talent. It also helped that he was also a professional charmer.

The world is definitely a better place because of Michael White, the like of whom we will never see again.

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REVIEW: The Secret Path