Momma D: Dionne Warwick, the Grande Dame of Divas

September 11, 2010

She learnt her stagecraft from Marlene Dietrich; 50 years on, she’s mentor to Whitney Houston and P. Diddy

Dionne Warwick opens up her arms in a stage bow: “I’m looking pretty good, don’t you think,” she says. The singer seems slightly surprised to be turning 70, and, with pearly white teeth and chiselled cheekbones, she is indeed looking good. Warwick is one of the great divas of her generation, with a multiple Grammy award-winning career spanning 50 years and a personal orbit that encompasses everyone from Burt Bacharach to Marlene Dietrich, Beyoncé and Barack Obama. But on a sunny morning in early September she is in work, rather than diva, mode; turning up, without entourage, at the Apollo Theatre in London, where her 70th birthday gala will be held in honour of World Hunger Day on January 9.

She is petite in jeans, trainers, and a green sweatshirt bearing the emblem of her old sch… [more]

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Susie Bright's State of The Nation

July 26, 2010

Susie Bright has spent decades campaigning for a woman’s right to orgasm. Now she is analysing Britain’s sexual issues

Susie Bright is talking about sex. For 30 years she has done little else. America’s most controversial feminist is holding court on a gold throne under a curtain of bondage ropes in a packed room at Coco de Mer, an exclusive sex shop owned by Samantha Roddick. Before her in the audience is an old friend — let’s call her Jane. The two women are discussing Bright’s review of the Sexual State of the Nation, a UK version of her original Sexual State of the Union address, which was targeted at Americans.

Jane is nearly 70, and yearns for the kind of feminist community that existed in the old days. Also, she can’t get any sex. “What am I going to do, go to a lesbian nightclub?” she pleads to the audience. “Should I do it on my own? That’s fine, I love it. But what am I going to do politi… [more]

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A Rich Mix of politics in East London

February 20, 2010

It seemed like such a good idea: an arts centre in the heart of vibrantly multicultural East London. But two years after its doors opened, Rich Mix in Bethnal Green still awaits its official opening, its short history tainted by infighting and financial problems. This week, Patience Wheatcroft, the former Business Editor of The Times and more recently Editor of The Sunday Telegraph, will present a report to the London Assembly which is expected to be highly critical of the way the London Development Agency (LDA) selected, funded and oversaw flagship projects championed by the former Mayor, Ken Livingstone. Those projects include Rich Mix, the Bernie Grant Centre in Tottenham and Caribbean Showcase, which is the subject of a police investigation into the management of its funds.

The Rich Mix Cultural Centre has cost in excess of £27 million of public money – nearly £13 million over budget, according… [more]

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The Vagina Monologues turns ten

February 13, 2010

Eve Ensler transformed the New Orleans Superdome into ‘Superlove’ for a celebrity-studded event to campaign against violence towards women

Few people know that New Orleans is the vagina of America. Few would suggest it. “It is fertile. It’s a delta. And everyone wants to party there,” explains Eve Ensler, activist, feminist icon – and the author of The Vagina Monologues. Never one to act on a small stage when a bigger one would do, last weekend she turned the New Orleans Superdome into the Superlove – a two-day global event to mark the tenth anniversary of her V-Day movement, the campaign to stop violence against women which she founded on the back of her play.

Not everyone got it. “When Eve told me New Orleans was the vagina of America, I was like, oh sweet Jesus,” says the actress Kerry Washington, putting her head in her hands. “Sometimes I think, Eve, do you really want to go there. Really? But … [more]

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