27. Lesbians

Jim Shelley thrills to lesbians and trogs

Tapehead no 27

Swoon. Dusty Springfield’s significance as an exquisite icon in the wold of white soul and pure pop in the sixties and seventies was, it goes without saying, peerless.
But Dusty: Full Circle not only chronicles the smoky-voiced siren’s life and career, but reveals her influence in several less acknowledged areas.
Archive footage shows her performing with Hendrix (teaching Jimi a thing or two about blues), and advertising Mother’s Pride; while the likes of Martha Reeves, Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach all join in unison for a chorus of “we are not worthy.”
The Dusty eyelashes, boot-polish eye make-up, and beehives are all showcased, not to mention latterday examples of Scary Hair (The Sheepdog Years), illustrating her importance to third division footballers everywhere, and her previously unheralded influence over Coronation Street: Alma’s eye shadow, Raquel’s Beehive, Rita’s distinguished glamour.
Favourite colour ?
“Vodka” says The Dust, unhesitatingly. And we know how she feels.
A definition of joy: watching her belting out Heatwave.
Lesbians Unclothed (as opposed to Lesbians Unplugged) probably unsurprisingly, offers rather less exotic fare, although, admittedly, the theme tune, “Les-bian,/any wom-an can be /A les-bian” (flute solo) does grow on you.
Shrinking violet and arch lesbian, Camille Paglia barks her way through an assessment of contemporary lesbianism (no impact on the general culture… sheer tedium etc), over quirky archive footage of naked lesbians frolicking through the ages.
Other lesbian experts (expert lesbians?) counteract her arguments by barking in favour of The Lipstick Lesbian, although one fat old dyke warns that any lesbians living in a small town in Wales who try to come out “will have their kittens drowned.” (And Tapehead’s never heard it called THAT before.)
Champions: Battle Of The Bikers charts the rivalry between Chris Boardman, the man who transformed cycle pursuit racing at the last Olympics, and his maverick challenger, Graeme Obree.
Boardman, smug and bitter by turn, represents The Appliance of Science and the face of sponsorship. Obree, meanwhile is on the dole, pedalling away in the back yard on a frame with no wheels, and a race bike made of bits from the back of an old washing machine.
Needless to say, the film picks up pace in the straight. Wait till Obree puts the wheels on.
More eccentrics on Subterranea Britannica. This lot love to be underground and spend their lives in medieval stone quarries, the catacombs in Kensal Green cemetery, fermenting their own coal pits, or exploring flood tunnels.
The improbably named Patrick Fetherstonehaugh, says of his passion for badly lit car parks:
“When your enter the environment of an underground car park, it’s like the sensation of being on drugs,” which begs the question: which drugs ? Or, more to the point, which car parks ?
The mystery appeal of potholing is never explained. When they climb/crawl/fall down there, there’s never anything to see anyway: it’s dark.
The last adventurous explorer-cum-maverick of the week is (improbably) J R Hartley (improbable because he does not exist), who on this week’s The Great Outdoors gets out his flies and shows us his tackle. (J R Hartley Unclothed.) No, actually he goes fishing. The old trout even catches (guess what?) an old trout.
Conveniently, he has a (middle-aged) fishing expert to wade into the water to pick the fish out.
The fish, however, has other ideas: it wriggles cunningly out of the man’s grasp and swims away to freedom, away to watch TV and listen to Dusty.


Dusty – Full Circle: Mon, 10.10pm-11.10pm, BBC1.
Champions – Battle Of The Bikes: Mon, 9pm-10pm, C4.
Subterranea Britannica – Going Underground: Mon, 6.25pm – 7.15pm, BBC2.
Without Walls – Lesbians Unclothed: Tue, 9.30pm-10pm, C4
The Great Outdoors: Thu, 8.30pm-9pm, C4