Brian Fin­negan on Milk, the fes­ti­val show­cas­ing gay mu­sic

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

AT FIRST glance the line-up for out­door les­bian and gay mu­sic fes­ti­val Milk seems eclec­tic in the ex­treme. From 1980s bub­blegum-pop di­vas Bana­narama to con­tem­po­rary in­die chicks Heathers, and from for­mer page-three pin-up Sa­man­tha Fox to queen of post-mod­ern club­bing Róisín Mur­phy (see right), the range of en­ter­tain­ment Milk will be trot­ting out for the gay masses is as di­verse as it is nu­mer­ous.

The one-day line-up which, at last check, fea­tures 51 acts and DJ sets, has been the sub­ject of much heated de­bate with Ire­land’s gay hoi pol­loi, who will need to turn out in their droves if Milk is to live to see an­other year. Barely a din­ner party or a pub con­ver­sa­tion goes by these days with­out var­i­ous, con­flict­ing opin­ions be­ing ex­er­cised and dis­agree­ments be­ing reached.

Are Right Said Fred still too sexy for their shirts? Does So­phie El­lis-Bex­tor still in­cite murder on the dance floor? Is X Fac­tor win­ner Alexan­dra Burke a gay icon in the mak­ing or is her man­age­ment cyn­i­cally corner­ing a mar­ket? What makes one act rise above an­other when it comes to stag­ing a fes­ti­val for such a spe­cific tar­get mar­ket?

Milk’s head­line star, Róisín Mur­phy, re­cently told me her mas­sive gay fol­low­ing is rooted in glam­our and at­ti­tude, and she hit a prover­bial nail on the head. From Bar­bra Streisand to Cher, Madonna to Kylie, Dolly Par­ton to Shirley Bassey, there has al­ways been a spe­cial place in the gay psy­che for strong women sing­ing their larger-than-life hearts out.

Gay men in par­tic­u­lar grav­i­tate to­wards these kinds of icon, pos­si­bly be­cause they spent hours with a hair­brush in front of their bed­room mir­rors imag­in­ing they were these icons. Gay boys in their bed­rooms these days are lip-synch­ing to Leona Lewis, Ch­eryl Cole and Alexan­dra Burke. Now – so long as they’re over 18 – they can sing along with Burke, live in the com­pany of 5,000 other gay fans, in a West­meath field come Au­gust 14th.

Still, for ev­ery Leona there’s a Michelle McManus, for ev­ery Madonna a Geri Hal­li­well – a fe­male pop star who courted gay pop­u­lar­ity but wasn’t quite able to hang on to it. With that in mind, here are a few handy tips not only for corner­ing the gay mar­ket, but en­sur­ing longevity therein . . .

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