That nice Mr. Burston’s new book’s on its way… and it’s good!
He’s the editor of the gay bit in Time Out, a celebrity journalist who’s hung out with the best and a novelist of very fine novels. In the build-up to probably his biggest yet – Lovers & Losers, a tale of pop, passion and, erm, other ‘p’ things in the swinging 80s – we talk to him about a whole bunch o’ stuff…
Why did you want to set a book in the 80s?
I think the 80s gets a bad rap but there was a real queer moment there that was amazing while it lasted. I remember being a kid and watching Top of the Pops between 1980 and 1983 and every week your parents would be going, ‘Is that a boy or a girl?’ I remember the first time Marc Almond appeared and being absolutely terrified and hiding behind the sofa.
There were no sexy gays, were there?
It was a real time of bring out the freaks. I do remember Pete Burns’ packet on Top of the Pops, wearing an outrageous leotard. I think they had a record number of complaints. Sexy came with Wham! this was more queer freaks. By the mid-80s it had all gone a bit wrong: Eurythmics went from being a great band to doing stadium rock for Americans.
Are you one of those old granddads who says, ‘It’ll never be the same again’?
Yeah. Now you get Scissor Sisters who take an old Elton John record and put it in the mixer, although I do love them.
Give the Richard and Judy Book Club pitch for Lovers & Losers.
I think it’s probably a bit lurid for Richard and Judy. It’s about a synth pop duo – a gay guy and a straight girl – and the dream of being famous and being someone else. It’s about how gay people run away to London and become someone else and how that dream can turn sour. I’ve read the biogs of -and have interviewed – all the big 80s pop stars: Marc Almond, Boy George, Holly Johnson, Pete Burns, Steve Strange so there are bits of those biogs woven in. Especially Steve – there’s something so loveable about the tragedy of his story. There are also deliberate bits picking up on George being terrified about Jon Moss sleeping with girls behind his back and Angie Bowie finding David in bed with Mick Jagger.
So, it’s a bit Jackie Collins Hollywood Wives, trying to guess who everyone’s supposed to be…
It is in a way. The irony with this book is that usually when you do your first book it’s autobiographical whereas for me Shameless was about me observing and afterwards my life became a bit like that. But this book is quite autobiographical in a lot of ways.
Would this book work very well on a beach, do you think?
I think it would be a very good beach read, yeah. All my books are beachy reads. I don’t kid myself they’re literature: they’re easily digestible and page-turny but hopefully there’s a bit more to them than that. On the surface this is frothy about 80s pop but it goes a bit deeper than that.
Come and celebrate the publication of Lovers & Losers at Prowler Soho in London’s glittering 5-7 Brewer Street on 3rd April at 7pm.