Category Archives: Society

December 16

Denny Fouts – From Escort and Literary Muse to Gay Idol

On the 16th of December 1948, Louis Denham Fouts died in Rome of a heart attack at the young age of 35 after years of excess – drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and a wild and promiscuous lifestyle. In the 1930s and ‘40s, he became notorious as America’s luxury gigolo, socialite and muse to literary greats such […]

November 30

Folies Bergère: Populist Cosmopolitan Hub

On the 30th of November 1886, The Folies Bergère staged its first revue in Paris. Located at 32 rue Richer in the 9th Arrondissement, and called Folies Trévise back then, it was finished as an opera house by the architect Plumeret in 1869. The venue was at the height of its popularity from the 1890’s […]

October 10

Racism in Opera: Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

On the 10th of October 1935, George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess opened in the Alvin Theatre on Broadway, New York. A few years earlier, Singer Al Jolson attempted to musicalise the story starring as a comic blackface Porgy, his minstrel shows, an unacceptable racist concept nowadays. The Broadway opening was unprecedented in U.S. history due to […]

October 08

Can and Should Manners be Taught?

On the 8th of October 1952, American socialite-journalist Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette was first published . Most of us wish to be seen as well-mannered. However, acknowledging the existence of a set of rules which would dictate how to behave has largely become a derided, old-fashioned subject. Things were different in the 1950s. Vanderbilt’s 800-page tome set the standard […]

September 24

Gay Georgian London: Horace Walpole Amongst the ‘Finger-Twirlers’

On the 24th of September 1717, Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whig politician, was born in London. Although the son of the first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, he is largely remembered in our times for Strawberry Hill, the home he built in Twickenham, south-west London, where he […]

September 18

Franco Moschino: Anti-Elitist Haute Couture?

On the 18th of September 1994, Italian fashion designer Franco Moschino died in Annone di Brianza, Italy. He is still seen as “the irreverent enfant terrible of the fashion industry who poked fun at the excesses of the 1980s with his “tongue in chic” designs, most memorably creating suits festooned with cutlery, jackets with faucet handles […]

September 04

Victorian Idyllism and Social Realism in Lionel Smythe’s Art

On the 4th of September 1839, Royal Academician Lionel Percy Smythe, an English artist and etcher, was born in London. Smythe painted rural landscapes, genre and maritime scenes, people and animals in both oils and watercolours. He became associated with a group of artists called The Idyllic school (or the Idyllists), a 19th-century art movement […]