RuPaul's Drag Race season 8 recaps

The shadiest Drag Race recaps on the web. Get ready to death drop, queens!

The Bachelorette Australia recaps

One woman, 14 desperate men, mucho LOLs. Oh, and Osher Gunsberg.

The Bachelor Australia recaps

Sequins, spray tans and sex - it's season 3 of the world's stupidest dating show.

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 7 recaps

YASS, HUNTIES! Every episode of season seven recapped for your reading pleasure. Let's get sickening!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Incredible Inedibles: Clamato

It's tomato! It's clam! It's... oh my god, there goes my lunch.

Ever since I saw that documentary about that Aussie bloke who lost 600kg (or something) just by drinking juice, I've been really excited about turning vegetables into liquid.

I bought a juicer and have been happily juicing all kinds of crap in it for weeks - celery, apples, carrots, lettuce, spinach. No matter what you put in there it always comes out a lurid green, which really freaks people out when they see you drinking it from a water bottle on the subway.

But the one thing I haven't thought to put through it so far is seafood - I fear it might gum up the blades. SO THANK GOD FOR CLAMATO.


THE ORIGINAL. Because no one else wanted to copy it.


As the name suggests, the other ingredient in this "tomato cocktail" - yes, it's a drink - is clam juice. Yes, juice from a clam. That seafoody thing you make soup out of. THAT CLAM.


THIS clam.


If Clamato were being sold as a soup, I would understand it. It would make sense. But then I remembered I am in America, the international headquarters of odd flavour combinations where a great deal of foods don't make sense.

Like peanut butter flavoured cereal, or fried chicken and waffles, or peanut butter and white chocolate, or the pretzel croissant (actually, this one is delicious).

The bar girl who served me this can of Clamato (OK, so you can assume I was drunk at the time) assured me it was delicious, and barely tasted of clam at all. That's probably because there's hardly any in there:


There is actually more MSG in this thing than clam.


Sadly, she was right - it just tasted like a slightly-more-salty-than-usual tomato juice. In fact if you got a clam to just breathe heavily over a glass of tomato juice for 10 seconds, Clamato is what you'd get.

Sensing my disappointment, she suggested I try it mixed with beer, a traditional Mexican drink called a "Michelada".

Even though a mixture of clam, tomato and beer sounds like what you experience the morning AFTER a night at the pub, I agreed to try one.

And you know what?

IT WAS AMAZING.


Hello, clammy beer cocktail of my dreams.


Who knew that seafood, tomato and beer could coexist so perfectly OUTSIDE of one's stomach? The Michelada is a refreshing alcoholic revelation - light, tangy, spicy, cold and spritzy, it's a great drink for a sunny day. Best of all - it actually REQUIRES shitty beer. The cheaper and shittier the beer (that thin stuff that almost looks like water is perfect), the better.

Plus it's the perfect drink for a hangover. Yes - you can cure a hangover with clam juice and beer. BELIEVE.

MICHELADA RECIPE

- Beer, Mexican preferred, the lighter, cheaper and shittier the better
- Clamato (failing that, plain old tomato juice will do)
- Tabasco sauce
- lime wedge
- salt for rimming (oo-er)
- ice

Rim glass with salt. Half fill glass with ice. Pour beer over, to about two-thirds. Add Clamato/tomato juice to fill, plus a splash of Tabasco and juice from the lime. Now drink, sucker.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The difficulties of being a feminist rap fan

Like Chris Rock said: "I love rap music, but I'm tired of defending it."

In his 2004 HBO stand-up special Never Scared, comedian Chris Rock does a great bit about women who love rap music. No matter how misogynistic or depraved the lyrics are, he says, "if the beat's alright, she will dance all night":


As a feminist, I want to disagree with him, take every Lil Jon CD and burn it in a fire while dancing around it singing Joni Mitchell.

But as a dyed in the wool rap music fan, whose favourite songs include some of the most headbangingly misogynistic lyrics of all time, I have to agree with him. And then I just want to put on this song and dance around my living room shouting "YAWWW SKEET SKEET GOD DAMN!"

To da window,to da wall by Lil Jon Ying Yang Twins on Grooveshark

In all honesty, I probably would dance to "Put A Dick In Her Eye" if it had a fat beat behind it.

As a feminist I realise that this puts me in something of a difficult position. Trying to defend misogynistic rap lyrics is a pointless exercise; they're indefensible. Referring to women as "bitches and hoes" who "ain't shit" but a receptacle for a rapper's penis is, obviously, offensive in the extreme.

And yet, as Rock says, if the beat is right...

What I'm saying, reader, is I CAN'T HELP LOVING DIRTY RAP MUSIC, EVEN IF IT GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING I STAND FOR. In the words of Gloria Estefan: "I just can't control my feet when I hear the beat." (And in the words of Gloria Steinem (probably): "Are you fucking kidding me?")

But Ms Estefan raises a crucial point - the beat. If the beat's no good, what's the difference between a misogynistic rap song and that crazy guy who shouts on the subway?

Which brings me to this song I discovered yesterday, Snitches Ain't by YG, which sounds EXACTLY like that crazy guy on the subway ranting over the top of a mobile phone ringtone. This, apparently, is what modern hip-hop has become (BTW, NSFW):

Snitches Ain't... (Feat. Tyga, Snoop Dogg & Nipsey Hussle) by YG on Grooveshark

I might point out that I found this charming song in a "Mainstream Top 100 Chart" playlist on Spotify, so it's not some niche track no one is listening to. This is mainstream, modern rap music. And it's utter crap.

After smacking you in the head with 30 seconds of monotonous "bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks" chanting (great for family sing-alongs, this one), you get to fun lyrics such as:

Got this bitch named Britney, with big-ass titties,
But bitches ain't shit, cuz bitches act Mickey, ughhhhh


and then:

Take a bitch life, now it's my life.
Need a bitch that can fuck, cook, clean right


Now, when I was first discovering my love for hip-hop in my early teens, Snoop Dogg's Ain't No Fun - which basically posits that women are nothing but sexual objects to be shared around amongst friends - was pretty much the zenith of misogynistic lyrics for me (also NSFW):

Aint No Fun by Snoop Dogg on Grooveshark

But while lyrics like:

I know the pussy's mine, I'ma fuck a couple more times
And then I'm through with it, there's nothing else to do with it
Pass it to the homie, now you hit it


are hardly any better than YG's rap about his bitch Britney, to me there's something about Snoop's song itself - a spoof of those cheesy "I'll Make Love To You" R&B ballads that were so popular in the early 1990s - that elevates it from being just another depraved rap tune. Maybe it's just nostalgia speaking, but I like to think that Ain't No Fun is more funny than shocking. There's something humorous about juxtaposing such sexual lyrics with such a happy, dinky tune. It's saucy, rude and baudy. And crucially, it's pretty groovy, musically speaking.

But Snitches Ain't is just... depressing. It's like someone just turned on the drum machine, fired up the first three second synth loop they could find on royaltyfreeloops.com and then took a lyrical dump all over humanity while giving everyone the finger.

It's not only indefensible from a feminist perspective, you can't even defend it musically. I defy anyone to dance to Snitches Ain't without looking like a dementia sufferer.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is if you're going to indulge in dirty, depraved, misogynistic rap music, at least make sure you can dance to it. Otherwise just go and hang out in the subway.

(For the record: Yes, I'm aware that Snoop is the one singing the elegant opening lines on YG's track. The man will do practically anything for money these days. Now who's the ho?)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Incredible Inedibles: Twinkies

I roadtest the quintessential American snack, and try to avoid instant heart failure.

Six years ago on this blog (christ) I started a thing called Incredible Inedibles, in which I would subject myself to eating weird foods, usually sourced from my local Asian supermarket, after which I would try not to die and then write about the experience for your reading pleasure.

Past Inedibles included the horribly named but inexplicably popular drink Pocari Sweat, American "cereal" and Christian mind control substance Lucky Charms, and Japanese turdy stumps, all of which were marginally more tolerable than setting oneself on fire.

But since I'm now living in the land of the free, home of the brave and nation of the unnecessary foodstuff (that's how the American anthem goes, right?) I've decided, despite my better judgement, to resurrect Incredible Inedibles.


Today the part of my stomach will be played by Steve Carell.


And what better weird food to kick things off than that quintessential Americana snack - the Twinkie.


Looks harmless enough...


The side of the box describes the Twinkie as a "golden sponge cake with creamy filling". This is entirely correct, if your understanding of "sponge cake" is "a collection of chemicals" and you define "creamy filling" as "squishy white stuff that has nothing whatsoever to do with cream".

There are in fact 37 ingredients in a Twinkie, most with appealing names such as "Calcium sulfate" and "Polysorbate 60". Despite the promise of "creamy filling", there is no dairy in a Twinkie, which is why it can stay fresh on the shelf without refrigeration for 26 days.

YES, THIS SHIT STAYS PERKY FOR TWENTY SIX DAYS. How are stomach acids even a match for this thing? It is basically the food equivalent of the Terminator. There is a distinct possibility it may reform post-digestion and rise up out of the toilet bowl to kill me.

Which brings me to the eating part.

Biting into a Twinkie is rather like giving up on life. As you put the sugary, slightly stale finger on your tongue and taste the odd, fake-butter flavour you're basically sending a message to your brain that you no longer care about sustaining it, or any of the other useless lumps of meat inside you that supposedly "keep you alive".


Take THAT, body!


The snack's ludicrously white filling also ensures you will be blinded - if not by eventual diabetes, than by the light which reflects off it with the force of a million suns.


Little known fact: Stevie Wonder used to be a huge Twinkies fan. USED to be.


I guess what I'm saying is, Twinkies taste a bit like death. But not the pretty come-to-the-light, surrounded-by-angels death. It's more like this:


It's a very specific vision I have.


In summary: Twinkies are frightening. Also: I need some broccoli, stat.

New York subway strippers [VIDEO]

People say the New York subway is dirty. It's not just dirty, it's FILTHY.

Check it:


I for one applaud what is obviously a Bloomberg initiative to boost public transport usage.

Keys to the city for everyone involved, I say.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Celebrity APP-rentice goes mobile interactive

It's not often that I pay attention to what Donald Trump has to say on Twitter (sample: “Obamacare is a disaster” followed by “It was great seeing Miss Universe yesterday!”), but last Sunday night something he wrote grabbed my attention.

“Be sure to download my new Celebrity Apprentice app to begin interacting with tonight's episode,” he tweeted, along with a web link.

Given that I already watch almost everything on television with one hand on the remote and the other on my iPhone (tweeting, Facebooking, playing Draw Something) (yes, I AM addicted thanks, and no, I'm not aware of any support groups, sorry) this was too enticing an invitation to ignore.

I tapped the link, downloaded the app to my phone and immediately discovered a whole new way to watch television – by barely watching it at all.

Built by Californian tech company ACTV8, the free Celebrity Apprentice app turns the live TV show (which screens on NBC on Sunday nights in America) into a game by posing trivia questions and viewer polls every 30 to 60 seconds as it airs.

Players accrue points for correct answers and compete with friends and strangers across the country to top the virtual leaderboard, and win prizes.

Like something out of a science fiction novel, the app stays in sync with the live show by “listening” to it. I held my phone up near the television and fired up the app and it instantly worked out what part of the episode I was watching by what it heard – the background music, the dialogue.

It's similar technology to that used in popular app “Shazam”, which can identify any commercially recorded song just by being held near the tune when it's playing.

This way, the Celebrity Apprentice app was able to tailor quiz questions based on what I was seeing on screen, like “What colour is Mr Trump's tie?” or “Take a bet: How many times will Lisa Lampanelli say the F word in the next scene?” (For the record, it was six.)


Never. Stops. Swearing. Except to cry.


But the ad break is where the app really shows its worth to the TV networks. Just as it can detect the start of an episode, it can also detect, say, a General Motors commercial and launch a special deal or car-themed “bonus game”. And getting viewers to play games with the ads is better than having people skip past them on their TiVos.

With advertising dollars in mind the Celebrity Apprentice app is clearly designed to be used in conjunction with the live TV screenings, but I've found it also works with recordings of past episodes and highlight clips on YouTube. And the app is available in the Australian app store, so Aussie fans watching the new series online can join in the fun, albeit a few days late.

Interactivity is certainly a huge part of the future of television, and we can probably expect to see more apps like this developed for other shows.

But while the Celebrity Apprentice app was novel, even a seasoned TV/phone/laptop multitasker like me found that, after a while, it was just exhausting. After half an hour of feverishly trying to answer quiz questions, vote in polls and keep an eye on the action I abandoned it, and ditched my phone for a cup of tea and a biscuit instead.

Ultimately television shows are made to be watched, right?

---

This article was first published in the Sunday Mail TV Guide on April 8, 2012.

A beauty treatment straight from Dr Who

I think it was Einstein that said: “Wherever there are stupid, rich, pretty people, expensive and ridiculous beauty treatments will follow.”

Actually maybe it was Newton who said that, but in any case it explains why New York – home to some of the world's wealthiest and most beautiful people - is also home to some of the world's stupidest beauty treatments.

This, after all, is the city that popularised the "Geisha facial" - in which bird poo is spread on your face - and the infamous "vajazzle". You can Google that one for yourself. (Tip: don't do it on a work computer.).

With their promises of skin rejuvenation and cell detoxification and instant weight loss, it can be quite difficult not to get sucked in. Plus Manhattan salons always look so clean and relaxing, and everyone wears white coats and carries clipboards, and the creams and gels all smell so good...

I guess what I'm saying is: I spent $99 last week to get slathered in cooking oil, wrapped in plastic and shoved inside a bad Doctor Who prop.


A relaxation device, or a Dalek control centre?


Of course, that's not what the brochure said. It described the treatment as a “Full Pod Spa Package Including Oxygen Facial, Body Wrap, Oil Rub, Collagen Treatment and Oxygen-Inhalation Therapy Worth $450”.

Looking back, the irregular use of capitalisation should have been a red flag.

So should the fact that the “spa” was located in what looked like a former accountant's office, with a water-stained foam ceiling and grey walls full of empty power points. In one corner was an empty desk with a single chair behind it, and in the other was the “Pod” – a giant fibreglass egg, glowing with coloured lights and humming like a broken fridge.

It was about this time that I began to suspect this might not have been a wise use of my $99.

But soon I was lying on a table in nothing but a pair of ill-fitting paper underpants being sprayed with what felt like liquefied Meadow Lea, and it was rather too late to ask for a refund.

The “body wrap” which had conjured up ideas of organic seaweed and purified mud turned out to be plain old Glad Wrap, slapped around my oiled-up thighs, upper arms and stomach. If you ever want to know what a packed lunch feels like, I highly recommend trying this.


Not quite like this, but just as weird.


Then I was laid down in the Pod with tubes shoved up my nose (apparently this was the “oxygen inhalation therapy” but you can easily recreate the effect at home by admitting yourself to hospital for major surgery) before the whole thing started vibrating, glowing red and heating up.

I spent half an hour naked, wrapped in cling film, sweating in a Lady Gaga costume reject that felt like West Tce on an Adelaide January day.

Needless to say when I emerged I did not feel beautiful or slimmer. I was lighter though – by exactly $99.

---

This article was first published in the City and Eastern Courier Messengers on April 5, 2012.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Behind the scenes with Rachael Taylor

Inside my recent interview with Aussie actress Rachael Taylor.

Last month I was commissioned to interview Australian actress and model Rachael Taylor by the Sunday Telegraph/Sunday Herald Sun's Sunday Magazine.

You know Ray-Tay - she's the pretty blonde from Launceston who was in Transformers and Grey's Anatomy and that Charlie's Angels remake that lasted about five minutes, and who advertises Bonds.

You may know her best as the woman who took out an AVO on Matthew Newton after being reportedly beaten by him in a Rome hotel room. I think that story got a little bit of press.

The magazine had organised a Sunday morning fashion shoot at the ultra-hip Maritime Hotel in Chelsea, a 1960s styled celebrity and hipster hangout that looks like a background setting from a Roger Moore-era Bond film. It's the kind of hotel that good looking, tanned, trendy people look right at home in and that slightly geeky, unfit people like me immediately feel hugely uncool in.

So when the very room you're in causes you to have a small self-esteem crash, sitting down with a pretty, famous person and having to ask them questions about being beaten up by their ex-boyfriend is not all beer and skittles. Particularly when you also have a hangover, from too much beer and skittles the night before. Or actually, six hours before. (Note to self: Do not do that again.) (Also: Do not schedule any more 7.30am interviews.)


Rachael Taylor at The Maritime Hotel. Source: Sunday Magazine.


It's the biggest cliche of them all, but the first thing I noticed about Taylor was how tiny she was. Not in stature - she's about 173cm tall - but in size. It's a tired old trope of celebrity features writing to describe someone as "birdlike", but Taylor really is. When she turned side-on she virtually disappeared. If she hadn't been wearing a huge fur coat I might have lost her altogether.

She's also about as ocker as a pie smeared with Vegemite dunked in a pint of VB. She speaks with a thick Aussie accent and swears like a sailor - I think she said "fuck" at least six times during our half hour interview - and from that refreshing aspect is completely likeable. She seems like the kind of chick you'd enjoy having a beer with.

"Every time I read about an actor in a magazine who's like 'oh I eat organic tomatoes and I do pilates and I meditate' I just go 'seriously, fuck off'," she told me.

"I respond to realness. I go to the grocery store, I do a bit of working out, I sit in my trackpants, I watch tv - sometimes it's reality TV, it's not always worthy - and hang out with friends. Sometimes you just need to watch a bit of Khloe and Lamar. Trackpants, peanut butter, Kardashians – thank you, great."

Taylor talked about this "realness" a number of times during our interview.

"I have very little patience these days for people that are 'gifted' but are fucking difficult," she told me.

"Some of the people you encounter in this industry, it's like 'the tortured artist' - yawn. No investment in that whatsoever."

It's another great cliche of celebrity feature stories to describe said celeb as "down to earth" but in this sense, Taylor actually was. I don't think she was consciously trying to get the idea across, hoping I would write about it - I think she's genuinely an unaffected person just trying to get along in her chosen industry.

The way she spoke about her upbringing in Tasmania certainly reinforced that idea.

"I understand how people get out of control," she told me, when I asked about the celebrity lifestyle.

"I've never done it but I understand it because it's quite weird to have people fawning over you for 18 hours and then it goes away. It's never been a problem for me because basically I've got really good normal parents that don't care.

"I'm like 'Hey mum, I'm shooting a pilot' and she's like 'What's a pilot? A plane? A what? Do you get paid?'. They have no idea and they also don't really care. I'm not plastered all over the fridge from a bunch of magazines, they just don't really care. I get my 'telling it like it is' from my mother, she's a funny lady."

But as with all celebrity interviews, just as you're starting to think how cool they are and how well you're getting along they start promoting their "brand message" and you snap back to reality. You're not mates having a chat, you're an interviewer trying to get something interesting out of a subject in between advertisements for Bonds and their new movie.

At this, Taylor is real professional. She sneaked a look at my question list before we even sat down, cheekily reading one out (I didn't ask it in the end), and launched into a spiel about Bonds jumpers before I'd even opened my mouth.

My questions about her new TV pilot 666 Park Avenue, which she is currently filming in New York, were deftly avoided - contractual restrictions, apparently.

But she was surprisingly willing to discuss her now infamous relationship with ex-boyfriend Matthew Newton, even if her manager wasn't.

"That's SUCH old news," he groaned from the sidelines as I asked Taylor if she still thinks about what happened.

"I think about it all the time, I just don't talk about it all the time," she said, before very elegantly explaining why she will never "sell" the story of what happened that night.

"There are certain types of grief that shouldn't be for sale and I'm not sure when it ever became for sale," she told me.

"I really always felt, and I still feel, that the best way to set any kind of example is to show that I am living my life positively and holding my head high with a degree of dignity. That is the message that I want to send – that it can be done and life moves forward spectacularly, magically fast and I'm really lucky and grateful.

"You can't place a value on things that are truly life changing, or on trauma. And I think ... if I make [that experience] about 'celebrity' that is wrong and that's an insult to a bunch of people including myself. You don't get paid for stuff like that."

You can read my Sunday Magazine article here.