Same Love Success

It’s not often a rap song carried a message of support for anything gay let alone marriage equality, therefore it came as quite a surprise to many to hear a rap tune supporting gay marriage had snuck into the US top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis released the song Same Love, quite some time ago, February I believe and as the momentum for equal marriage across the US has increased so have sales for the enchanting tune. Last week it sold the most it ever had since it was released, an amazing 110,000 copies, pushing it into the charts.

The song comes from the duo‘s latest album and focuses on Macklemore’s personal experiences, thoughts and feelings around the issue of same-sex relationships and equal marriage. The accompanying video also features the lives of a gay couple, including a happy marriage and can be seen on YouTube.

The lyrics were inspired by Referendum 74, where voters in the US state of Washington voted to uphold a law legalising equal marriage.

Many believe the song, which also features vocalist Mary Lambert, gained an added impetuous recently because of the US Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of same-sex marriage, in two cases recently. It jumped from 28 to 16 in the Hot 100, as well as surging from 23 to 8 on the US Digital chart.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis rose to fame in the UK last year with the song Thrift Shop, which topped the UK chart and the follow up Can’t Hold Us, is currently in the top 20 in the UK, having been on the chart for around 16 weeks.

Same Love is surprisingly evocative and packed with energy, passion and meaning. A worthy addition to any music collection.

Torchwood Star Barrowman Marries

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Top showman, entertainer and actor John Barrowman married his long term partner Scott Gill last week, after a 20-year committed relationship.

The couple had already entered into a civil partnership back in 2006, however following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) recently, Barrowman and his partner Scott Gill were delighted to legally marry in the state of California.

Barrowman himself announced the news via a video clip before posting a photo after their special ceremony. During the short video John can be seen addressing the camera, saying: “It’s five after one and we’ve got our coffee and we’re in the car getting ready to leave, because where are we going, Scott?” The Torchwood star then turned the camera on his partner Gill, who replies: “To get married. Yay!”

He closes the video with a reference to the overturning of DOMA last week, adding: “We’re getting married in the state of California. Thank you Supreme Court, about time you made it legal. See you after we have the ceremony!”

The happy newlyweds later posted a photograph of themselves with their marriage certificate, writing: “We are now legally married. Thanks for all your great wishes. JB and Scott.”

The couple have always been open about their desire to get married telling many in the media they would just as soon as it became legal to do so in the US. They have also indicated in interviews that would like to have children too, when the time was right – “We haven’t ruled out having children ourselves but it depends where my career takes us.” John claimed in an interview in the UK’s Sun newspaper last year.

“We wouldn’t want a baby. We’d look at adopting an older child or teenager who might have been in trouble. We would also look at adopting a gay child, thrown out of their home because of their sexuality.”

We send our love and warmest wishes to John and Scott on their happy news and hope they have a long and happy married life together.

Is there such a thing as a mainstream gay?

Could we be seeing the birth of a long list of mainstream gay’s on the TV sets of the United Kingdom? It certainly seems that way, not only is there the obligatory gay character in every single one of the main soap operas on British television, but also a raft gay people proliferate the schedules elsewhere. No sensible drama is considered complete without a gay or lesbian character, without them, it just does not seem authentic. Light entertainment has always bought gay people to the attention of the mainstream audience, never more so than present times, just look at the success the delightfully camp and savagely witty Graham Norton is having with his BBC One prime time chat show if you want evidence. The equally camp and slightly more risqué Alan Carr wows the younger and considered more edgy audience with another chat show, this time on Channel 4. One of the UK’s most popular and enduring quiz/panel shows, running for eleven series and still going strong is QI is hosted by the openly gay legendary and dare I say ‘national treasure’ Stephen Fry.

Gay and lesbian folk are popping up literally everywhere, each series of talent shows such as Britain’s Got Talent, The X Factor and The Voice all have their fair share of queer folk. We’ve even seen Coronation Street actor Antony Cotton not only appear as a camp campmate in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, but also on Celebrity Mr and Mrs with his husband. Rylan Clark a contestant on The X Factor also went on to win Celebrity Big Brother on Channel Five, which of course is hosted by the vicious flamboyant Brian Dowling, himself a former winner of the show.
Other notable and highly visible figures populating the TV schedule include Channel 4’s king of fashion and now turning his hand to cooking, the charming effervescent Gok Wan. Dragon’s Den and Money Programme’s Evan Davis along with the incredible Clare Balding are perhaps, as The Guardian newspaper rightly points out, are noticeable for the brilliance of what they do rather than for the way they were born.

Now raising that visibility to ‘in your face’ level is a new prime time situational comedy called ‘Vicious’ that centres around the domestic life of a endearingly camp older gay couple who fire ferocious barbs and patulous putdowns at each other at the end of every sentence. ‘Vicious’ stars Frances de la Tour, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi so it packs a punch no other sitcom could ever hope to achieve and, so early audience figures would suggest, has a mainstream audience in the palm of its hand.

I personally found the first episode to be well judged, beautifully timed, absurdly sharp and the perfect pastiche of a classic domestic sitcom. Although I can quite easily see how some could be offended by the portrayal of the older gay gentlemen, gentle doesn’t come into it! Indeed, there are some in the traditional ’queer activists’ brigade gunning for the show because of these characters or caricatures, perhaps they have a point, but thankfully the gay characters of ‘Vicious’ are not the only ones on telly these days.

No Need For Marriage Say Gay Pop Star

UK openly gay pop star Marc Almond has caused some controversy with an interview in the London evening newspaper the Evening Standard questioning why gay people want to get married in a church that hates them. He also believes that its wrong to expect religious organisations to modernise.

During the Evening Standard interview, the singer that first found fame with 80’s pop combo Soft Cell claimed he did not feel the “need” to enter into a civil partnership or marriage with his lover. “I think a civil partnership or a register office marriage is a modern, sensible thing to do,” he said, “So you have something in law that means that when you die some greedy relative doesn’t come out of the woodwork and grab your chattels. But I’m not an advocate of marriage. I grew up as a child of an unhappy marriage so I know it is not always best for children.”

“And why, as a gay man, would you want to get married in the house of a religion that doesn’t welcome you with open arms, that thinks you are a sinner? To be blessed by a supernatural deity?”

The entertainer now in his mid-fifties and still producing enchanting albums also said it was a mistake to expect religion to modernise: “It is what it is, a set of rules, and you either adhere to it or you don’t. You can’t say, ‘Well, I want to invent a new kind of Christianity where you invite all sorts of other people in’: that’s a different sort of cult.”

Of course, religion itself is difficult to modernise, but religious organisations, the churches themselves can, do and should change, modernise and progress, albeit at a much slower pace than that of society.

The last few years have been a rather difficult for the singer, at least health wise, during 2004 he almost died in motorcycle accident, “I have a liver disease, a progressive sclerosis, which I usually keep controlled.”

“I had to have a spleenectomy and my gall bladder removed over the course of last year, which put me out of action for about three months. I had been ill before that. My health was quite depleted and I was kind of swollen. I was very tired and anaemic. The past few years have been a bit of a struggle but I have never stopped working. I’m a great believer in getting on with things.”

Jay Brannan On The Road Again

The wonderfully talented and dashingly handsome actor, musician and all round nice guy Jay Brannan is on the road again with the next update of his tour schedule.  It seems this boy is always off on some leg of some tour or other,  last year he played various dates in many European cities, including my home town of Brighton, England.  I caught up with him back then and was surprised at not only how intimate a night with Jay is, but also how much effort and passion he packs into his performances on stage.    There is no big production,  no cast of hundreds,  first there is often an opening act,  but then it’s just Jay, a guitar and a mic and a who room full of happy and thoroughly entertained music fans.

Here’s the dates and details of Jay’s latest tour,  I’m sure he’d love it if you pop along and say hello,   just tell him Jason Shaw sent you!

Date City Venue / Tickets More Info
Apr 29, 2013   Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel Facebook Event Page opener: Justin Trawick
Apr 30, 2013   Philadelphia, PA World Café Live (Upstairs) Facebook Event Page opener: Josh Schurr
May 01, 2013   Boston, MA Middle East (Upstairs) Facebook Event Page **EARLY SHOW**
May 03, 2013   New York, NY Joe’s Pub Facebook Event Page *sold out* / no opener!
May 06, 2013   Chicago, IL Schuba’s Tavern Facebook Event Page *sold out*
opener: julie meckler
May 08, 2013   Austin, TX Lambert’s Facebook Event Page no opener!
May 10, 2013   Los Angeles, CA Hotel Café Facebook Event Page opener: Terra Naomi
May 11, 2013   San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill Facebook Event Page openers: Rin Tin Tiger & The Plastic Arts

More details on Jay’s own website


If you want to read my review of his show at the rather oddly named venue ‘Sticky Mikes Frog Bar’ click here.


UK’s Most Influential GLBT Celebrities

A leading UK Sunday newspaper conducted a poll among its readers to find the gay great and good of the UK. Last weekend the Independent on Sunday published a comprehensive listing of in influential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have in some way made Great Britain a safer, fairer, better and more entertaining society.

There were quite a few surprises in the informed list with a number of sports men and women entering the poll, which is perhaps unsurprisingly considering the capital hosting the Olympic games this summer.

Topping the list and a new entry for the poll was Nicola Adams who really did punched her way into the listing as well as into the history books when she become the first woman ever to win an Olympic medal in boxing. Since this constantly smiling 30-year-old athlete won gold at the Olympics, she has become an inspiring role model for young people throughout the UK and and around the world. Adams who is bisexual said “It’s amazing to be on top of a list of such inspiring and influential people,” Adding “Thanks to everyone for their continued support.”

Coming in a close second is television presenter, Clare Balding, whose unflappable enthusiastic style earned her an army of fans during the Olympics and it could be said this champion of women’s sport helped make horse racing sexy. A couple of years ago Clare took to task Murdoch’s Sunday Times newspaper over labelling her just a ‘Dyke on a bike’. Despite all expectations her complaint was upheld, the newspaper apologised and it was seen as a major achievement against the newspapers repeated attacks on lesbian and gay people.

The veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was awarded third place on the poll whilst the forth slot was awarded to multi medal winning Paralympics equestrian Lee Pearson. Fellow Olympic equestrian Carl Hester, one of the most established dressage riders in the UK took on firth place in the poll of influential gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people.

It wasn’t just sports personality that entered the poll, some politicians also ranked high according to the Independent on Sunday readers, Conservative MP and climate change minister Greg Barker was placed sixth, whilst placed ninth came the disgraced cabinet Minster David Laws, who was reinstated to Government in September this year after being forced to resign over his expenses in 2010, which he defrauded the tax payer out of tens of thousands of pounds.

Here’s the rest of the top 60 list

7 Heather Peace – Actress
8 Nick Grimshaw – Radio One DJ
9 David Laws – Politician (mentioned above)
10 Luke Anderson – Winner, Big Brother 13
11 Phyll Opoku-Gyimah – UK Black Pride Director
12 Evan Davis – TV and radio presenter
13 Sue Perkins – Comedian and TV presenter (won this years Stonewall entertainer of the year)
14 Stephen Twigg – Labour MP
15 Charlie Condou – Actor
16 Iain Dale – Publisher and blogger
17 Sir Paul Jenkins – Treasury Solicitor ( UK’s most senior openly gay civil servant)
18 Jessie J – Pop Star
19 Gareth Thomas – Retired International rugby player
20 James Wharton – Soldier (Served in Iraq, escorted the Queen during Will and Kate’s wedding, first openly gay man to appear on the cover of Soldier magazine.)
21 Chris Bryant – Labour MP
22 John Partridge – Actor
23 Henry Holland – Fashion designer
24 Nick Boles – Conservative MP
25 Carol Ann Duffy – Poet Laureate
26 Derren Brown – Illusionist/Hypnotist
27 Mary Portas – TV presenter
28 Pratibha Parmar – Film maker
29 Alan Carr – Comedian and chat show host
30 Sir Terence Etherton – Court of Appeal Judge
31 Simon Hughes – Lib Dem MP
32 Gok Wan – TV presenter
33 Antony Cotton – Actor
34 Sarah Brown – Councillor in Cambridge
35 Will Young – Musician, actor, memoirist
36 Steve Reed – Labour politician
37 John Barrowman – Actor, musician and writer
38 Val McDermid – Crime writer
39 Sir Nicholas Hytner – Theatre director
40 Jane Hill – Newsreader (One of the main BBC News anchors)
41 Stella Duffy – Novelist
42 Christine Burns – Transgender activist
43 Jonny Oates – Chief of staff to Nick Clegg
44 Dr Ashley Steel – Vice chairman, KPMG
45 ohn Amaechi – Retired UK basketball player
46 Sir Adrian Fulford – Judge
47 Jonathan Harvey – Writer
48 April Ashley MBE – Model and campaigner
49 Jennifer Fear – CEO, Step Forward charity
50 Casey Stoney – Footballler (She led Team GB during Olympics)
51 Dr Christian Jessen – Doctor and TV personality
52 Eddie Mair – Broadcaster
53 Mark Gatiss – Actor and writer
54 Guy Black – Media chief
55 Sue Sanders and Tony Fenwick – Co chair of SchoolsOUT/LGBT History Month
56 Russell T Davies – TV producer and writer
57 Alan Davey – CEO, Arts Council
58 David Allen Green -Lawyer
59 Michael Salter – Media Head for David Cameron
60 Anthony Watson – Chief information officer, Barclays



Full list available on Independent On Sunday

Brandon Anderson Interview

You may not know his name, at least not yet, but Brandon Anderson is already setting many hearts on fire with his edgy folk rock sound. The handsome young from Wisconsin is already an award winning singer/songwriter and has just released a new single, called I’ll Keep Driving.   Jason Shaw takes a look at the man who creatively blends folk with piano rock with just a pinch of other alternative influences to create an  ‘edgy folk rock’ protest sound.    

He was born and raised in a Mormon family from Kenosha, a medium sized city on the western shores of Lake Michigan, Wisconsin, USA.  Music was a key background ingredient to life in Brandon’s home during his early years, yet there was always something creative hiding under the surface and Brandon got involved with school plays and school musicals as a kid.  It was during his early teenage years when his family situation changed that Brandon began to have questions not only about his own Mormon faith but also about his sexuality. There were questions he needed answers to, but at the time answers seemed few and far between. However it wasn’t long before the young adolescent found the perfect outlet for his creative desires and ideas which was putting pen to paper and writing songs.

Brandon is now a resident of New York and regularly plays gigs at many of the Big Apples premier singer/songwriter hotspots as well as touring across America.   It is along these travels that he picks up stories, ideas and inspirations that form the basis for many of his songs.  Indeed his latest album, Guitars and Grievances, is largely inspired by the stories of hardship, human spirit and grievances he picked up along the way.  

His latest single is a perfect example of just that, taken from Guitars and Grievances,  I’ll Keep Driving is a moving, evolving story inspired by a young gay fan’s sense of despondency, isolation and the desire of seeking out a better place to be.  Brandon’s effervescent voice delicately conveys the emotion with surprising depth echoing feelings that we can all identify with at some stage during our lives, at least to some degree. 

Listening to this single and the Guitars and Grievances album you quickly realise that there is far more to this young singer songwriter from the US Midwest than meets the eye.   With that in mind, I caught up with him to find out more about his music, his influences and his life,  including what it was like to grow up in a Mormon family in Wisconsin. 

“It’s weird to look back on, because when I was living it, it was all I knew.  There didn’t seem to be anything strange about the church or their beliefs and I truly believed everything that they taught.”  

“It wasn’t till my parents got a divorced and my mom left the church that I started having questions about my faith.  That was quickly followed by my own questions about my sexuality, which really brought me to a crisis of conscious.  I remember when I was about 13, my dad lived on a horse farm in the county and I was kind of at a breaking point.”

“I ran out into a field that night and kind of had an argument with God, asking him to prove that he existed.  I stayed out in the corn field for a long time thinking I never got an answer, but the next morning I was looking through my song book and realized that music was my connection.  I had just recently started writing, and the realization that writing was my connection to something bigger really helped me let go of having to have some formalized relationship with a higher power that was dictated by rules and dogma.”

So, would you consider yourself to be religious, spiritual or atheist these days?

“Definitely spiritual.” 

Can you pinpoint a time when you first started getting into music? 

“Music has really always been a part of my life.  My parents always had music playing in the house and when I was a kid I got involved in musicals and played musical instruments in school.  From there it grew to writing when I met my friend Carmel Mikol, who became one of my biggest influences and the person who started me writing.  I first saw her perform a song she wrote in a middle school talent show and I knew immediately that that was what I wanted to do.  We became friends and started a kind of music workshop where we would play songs for each other and bounce ideas back and forth.  She in now an award winning artist in Canada and you should definitely check her out.”

 Ok,  other than Carmel Mikol,  who were other early influences on you?   

“My first influences definitely came from what my parents were listening to while I was growing up.  My mom listened to a lot of singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carol King, and Carly Simon, but also rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, and Heart.”

“On my dads side, it was all country and folk music, which I also loved.  I grew up with a pretty wide appreciation, but when I started writing it was definitely Tori Amos and Ben Folds. Piano was my first writing instrument so I was really drawn to their sounds and lyrics.”

How about now,  what artists influence you these days?

“As I have grown in my writing, I have become really influenced by artists who are storytellers and have strong social commentary in their work.    My go to’s these days are Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin, Ray Lamontagne, and Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails.”

I’m going to put you on the spot here,  if you could only take one album with you to a deserted desert island,  which one would it be?

“Blue by Joni Mitchell.”

An excellent choice and I can definitely hear some Joni Mitchell echo’s in your work and I wonder what the mechanics of creating a song are for you, I mean what comes first – the music or the lyrics?

“It happens a lot of ways, but the best songs usually come out in one burst with music and lyrics at the same time.  When that happens it feels more like channeling and less like writing.  However, most of the time it’s just hard work and craft.”

“With my more political songs, the lyric usually comes first and then the music fits on top.  I also am really drawn to rhythm and I sometimes start with a rhythmic idea that informs the lyrical form and then the music after that.  It all really depends on the song.”

How would you classify your sound?

“Edgy Folk Rock.”

You’ve played a number of gigs in New York and toured around America, what do you enjoy most, performing live, writing songs or recording them?

“I would have to say performing, because that is when the songs really become what they are meant to be.  A song is never truly finished until it has been performed and you see how it affects people.  I also love the energy I get from an audience and that feeling of community.  That exchange is what gives me the fuel to go back and dig through my psyche for more songs.”

Are you surprised at how some of your songs really do effect and seep into the hearts and souls of your audience. 

“Anytime I get feedback from fans, it is amazing.  These songs mean so much to me and come from such deep places, that when people tell me that they have been affected it really makes me feel like I’m not alone in this world feeling these things.  I think it reinforces the universality of the human experience and how we are all really looking for connection and understanding.  I love writing and performing music because it makes me feel connected and when that is reciprocated it is the best feeling in the world.” 

Do you think you are a sensitive and creative person in general?

“I definitely think I am.  Sadly, I’m the guy who cries at cotton commercials.  I have always been drawn to creative outlets, from theatre, to music, to dance and its definitely my driving force in life.”

That neatly brings us on to your latest single, I’ll Keep Driving,  which is out now, please tell me a little about it?

“I’ll Keep Driving is really the heart of my album Guitars & Grievances if I had to boil it down to one song.  I actually was inspired to write it by a young fan who is growing up gay in a small town in Pennsylvania.  One day I saw he had posted on his Facebook that he wanted to “steal a car and drive far away, maybe California.”  

“I was really struck by the sentiment and how I think we all have those moments of just wanting to start over again, hit the reset button.  I had just been touring across the country and was fascinated by how there really isn’t any unexplored land left to run to.      You used to be able to head to the frontier or wild west if you wanted to break from the life you had.  We don’t really have that anymore.  This idea really connected with the protest album feel I was writing and helped to ground the whole thing in a very personal place.  Of all my songs, I would have to say it is one of my favourites.”

How important do you feel it is for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans youth to have positive role models as they grow up?

“I think it is so critical as we move forward as a culture.  Growing up in Wisconsin, I was not exposed to any gay role models until college.  There weren’t really any openly gay role models in music or TV until later in my youth and that definitely would have helped me to see a positive reflection of myself.”

“I think it is awesome that now people are coming out and being accepted in pop culture.  I think for a kid to be able to look on TV and see a reflection of themselves, or listen to a musician who is singing directly to what they are feeling is so key, especially for people growing up in more rural and less accepting places in our country.”

Same sex marriage is much in the media at the moment, do you think that full marriage equality will ever be achieved?

“I do, and I think it will be sooner than later.  I think we will get the laws squared away within a few years, but battling intolerance is going to be the real work of the equality movement.  I think the only way we do that is by being visible and living our lives to the fullest.  The more we can show ourselves for who we really are the easier it is for people to get to know us look past the intolerance they have inherited.”

Talking of being visible,  I think the video for I’ll Keep Driving looks absolutely amazing and packed with visible meanings, what was that like to make?

“Thank you! Making this video was an incredible experience.  I filmed it in and around my hometown while I was on tour this last summer with fellow songwriters Jeremiah Clark, and Rachel Epp, who both make cameos in the video.”

“It was filmed by Firmament Films, who is run by friends of mine from when I lived in Kenosha and they are just an incredibly talented group of people who are a joy to work with.  We filmed it all in one day, because that was all the time I had while on tour.  We had  played a show the night before and had to be up before dawn to film the last shots on the beach, but the scenery totally made it worth it.  All in all, it was a 15 hour day for me and probably much longer for the crew, who were unbelievable.  The greatest part about working with friends is that we just laughed the whole time and really had a great rapport to get exactly what we wanted out of the video.  I really can’t thank then enough for all the work they put into it to make it what it is.”


I always finish an interview with the request for a secret,  for example, Christopher Dallman told me that Lindsay Lohan told him he was hot and Jake Walden informed me he started going grey at 20 and now uses hair dye,  so now it’s your turn Brandon,  tell us a little secret?

“I had a day job at a clothing store in Chelsea and Jennifer Coolidge lived above the store while she was in a show on Broadway.  I am a huge fan of her work and was a bit star struck when she first walked in but she kept coming into the store and we became buddies and one day before Christmas she needed help wrapping her gifts, so I went to the basement of the store with her and wrapped gifts for a few hours.  It was surreal, but she is even funnier in person.”


Brandon is an intelligent engaging and enthusiastic man with an effervescent  voice that is as warming as a hot blanket on a coldest winters night,  whilst his poignant lyrics attach themselves to your consciousness with delicate ease.  His latest single I’ll Keep Driving is available to download now from iTunes and Bandcamp or you can watch the video on YouTube.   The track is taken from his album Guitars and Grievances,  which is also available to download on iTunesAmazon and Bandcamp.

You can keep upto date with Brandon at his website or on twitter.

My thanks to Brandon for taking so much time out for this interview, it really is appreciated and was a joy to get to know in more depth the person behind the music.

Mika Comes Out.

There can be few who knew his music that were surprised by the stunning revelation recently from singer Mika, that he was in fact one of our gang, a happy homosexual!

Ok, so perhaps previously he self identified himself as a bisexual, however many saw this as just either a passing phase or a record company imposed condition in order to sell more records.

The attractive 28 year old made the revelatory announcement in an interview with Instinct Magazine in which he also confirmed some of the songs on his new album were inspired by his relations and love affairs with men. Ok, so he’s got a new album out, so that’s why there is a lot of publicity about him at the moment. Cynical me? Well perhaps just a little.

During the interview the handsome golden voiced star said “If you ask me am I gay, I say yeah. Are these songs about my relationship with a man? I say yeah. It’s only through my music that I’ve found the strength to come to terms with my sexuality beyond the context of just my lyrics. This is my real life.”

Mika has always added an air of mystery to his sexual identity over the years, for example in an interview with Dutch magazine three years ago he proffered “I’ve never limited my life. I’ve never limited who I sleep with…Call me whatever you want. Call me bisexual, if you need a term for me.”

He considered himself a label-less person, say he could fall in love with anybody, a sentiment that I can applaud and agree with to some degree, after all we fall in love with a person, not a sexuality, however that doesn’t mean I’m a closet straight or a secret bisexual, but then again, I’m not trying to sell records and get people talking about me!

Mika, I salute you, welcome on to the gay bus!