ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

AIDS: Is it the end of the world?

No, but its the disease thats serious enough to make a lot of people very very concerned. George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, Boy George and Elton John are just a few who turned out for “The Party”, a concert to raise awareness about AIDS and money for AIDS patients and research.


Just three days ago it all seemed to be heading for certain disaster. Only half the tickets (£25 each) had been sold, the air was thick with rumours that the concert would actually be cancelled and it seemed like “The Party”, as this AIDS Benefit had been named, was going to be an embarrassing flop. Nobody seemed to know anything about it, there were a distinct lack of big “names” to support the main line-up of George Michael, Boy George and Holly Johnson, and it looked as if the whole programme of AIDS benefit concerts was going to set off to a dreadful start. Even as the first group—reggae band Aswadstart up tonight at 7.30 to a less than half-full Wembley Arena, people backstage are running around fearing the worst—it seems as if even the late addition of Elton John to the bill hasnt persuaded people to trek to the outskirts of London one Wednesday evening after all. After all this though, they neednt have worried. Because—hurrah!—four and a half hours later its a packed Wembley Arena thats chanting through a twenty minute “all-star” singalong version of “Stand By Me”.

From the very beginning “The Party” is a very strange concert indeed. For one thing, condoms—usually an “embarrassing” contraceptive that people ask for under their breath in the chemists after theyve bought four tubes of toothpaste—are absolutely everywhere. Helpers are running around, with buckets chock-full of “packets of three”, rattling them in the aisles and asking for donations in exchange. Celebrities—even Mike Smith—are hurling them with gusto off the stage in between acts. And overhead inflated condoms float auditorium. Theres no way that anyone here is going to forget exactly why this is all happening—primarily to raise money for AIDS patients and research work into the virus and also to raise general awareness about AIDS throughout the entire community.


After Aswad comes ‘60s songstress Sandie Shaw. She plays one brilliant song, “Anyone Who Had A Heart”, with the Communards Richard Coles on piano then shes joined by a ten-piece a capella choir shes put together of fellow Buddhists to sing an even more brilliant “Lean On Me”.

Next up are the Communards themselves but before that some “health education” bloke from Londons Capital Radio comes out and, in defiance of stupid myths that you can catch AIDS by holding hands, gets everyone to hold hands. Later on he tells everyone to kiss the person on either side of them. Everyone does!

The Communards are clearly big favourites, whizzing their way triumphantly through six songs including “You Are My World” and a rousing “Dont Leave Me This Way”.

Next is a fleeting glimpse of Kim Wilde with her brother Ricky and father Marti skipping through Elton Johns “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”, then veteran gay rights campaigner Tom Robinson screeches through an updated version of his anthem “(Sing If Youre) Glad To Be Gay” with Level 42s Mike Lindup (who also squeezes in a song of his own). After that, you cant blink lest someone famous scampers through a song or two.

First is—tara tara!—the man who Paula Yates introduces as “so gorgeous and so wicked that everyone here tonight will want to bonk” (hem hem), George Michael, naturellment. The curtains rise, and with his back to us George slowly croons the first lines of “Everything She Wants”. Everybody goes completely bananas! He spins around and off the song starts a-proper. But theres more! Midway through he announces “ladies and gentlemen, a friend of mine!” And it cant be! But it is! Andrew Ridgeley bounds on and for a few wondrous minutes Wham! are together again! Naturally, no-one can quite believe any of this is happening but it turns out that George phoned him last week and he was delighted to come. “For those who paid £25 to see me,” explains George “I thought it would be a nice bonus.” After that George does a duet with his bass player Dion Estus on an old hit “1-2-3" by some bloke called Len Taylor then announces its “time to get a bit serious now.”

“The next song”, he says, “is to reflect how I felt about this evening and word for word it fits perfectly for this occasion” and with that launches into a quite glorious version of a Stevie Wonder ballad called “Loves In Need Of Love Today”. Cripes! Sniffle even!


A programme autographed by all the stars is then raffled by compere Mike Smith for a staggering £6,500, Elton John plays two swoonsome songs at the piano to rapturous applause and then its time for the “supergroup”, a backing band staffed by squillions of famous “rock heroes” like The Whos John Entwistle, The Polices Andy Summers, keyboard legend Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costellos pianist Steve Neive, Ringo Starrs son Zak Starkey and so on. Bob Geldof, the first guest singer, rolls through Bob Marleys “Redemption Song” and a song of his about AIDS called “In The Pouring Rain.”

“This is the first time Ive sang onstage in 2½ years,” says a slightly nervous looking Boy George before sweeping exuberantly into “Everything I Own” and a fast reggae thingie called “Freedom” (possibly his next single). Then comes a surprise to virtually everbody. Literally about 15 minutes ago Boy George had met George Michael in the dressing room and had got chatting about the £50 George Michael owes him, as mentioned recently in Smash Hits much to George Michaels embarrassment. George suggested going onstage during Boy Georges performance to give him the money, they sing “Everything I Own” together downstairs to plan his entrance and then George Michael suggests that instead of that instead they should do an extra song, a Culture Club “oldie” he knows off by heart called “Thats The Way”. Only trouble is no-one can play it on the piano except for Culture Clubs Roy Hay who happens to be in the audience. So, to his surprise, hes whisked onto the stage and they all go through a completely unrehearsed version to thunderous applause.

By now its getting late and things start winding to a close.

(cont.)
Soul singer Bobby Womack sings a couple of songs, Holly Johnson sings an amazingly transcendent “Power Of Love” and a “rip-roaring” “Born To Run” and Meat Loaf entertains the crowd with a rock ‘n roll medley.

Then its the finale. Jillions of people, including Curiosity Killed The Cat and Shirlie and Pepsi, sing a literally never-ending version of “Stand By Me”, led by Boy George and Bobby Womack. As usual, Ben Volauvent-Terrine does his “inspired” dance routine and generally hogs the attention but nobody cares by this stage and anyway, theres still another 15 minutes of “Stand By Me” to go, with various stops, restarts and finally, a full stop. Even then, nobodys had enough so Boy George conducts the crowd through an a capella version until finally everyone else has slipped off the stage.

Five hours ago most people had expected a rather dodgy evenings entertainment for a “good cause”. In fact it turned out to be exactly “the party” the organisers promised. Hurrah!


RICHARD COLES (THE COMMUNARDS):

“Its important that everyones aware of the dangers and how to avoid contracting the disease, but its also important to remember that 90% of the people whove died so far are gay men. And theyre the victims, not the cause and thats crucial. People must remember that AIDS is a disease, its not the Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers. Its not The Plague. Its not the hand of God. Its just a disease—a horrible disease.”

HOLLY JOHNSON:

“The main point for me is to raise money to find a cure and also to take away some of the gloomndoom from the image of AIDS. The government campaign has been so maudlin; depressing as hell. As for myself Im into monogamy—whether its gay monogamy or straight monogamy.”

BOB GELDOF:

“Its critical to influence people who are just beginning to grope their way into their own sexuality and to rid them of the notions that my generation imbued them with—the idea that sex is OK, the idea that you shouldnt feel guilty, just rid yourself of all your inhibitions and enjoy yourself. Its a wonderful notion but unfortunately its no longer acceptable. You have to take on the responsibility yourself not to harm other people otherwise theyre going to die.

“The other danger is that what is a physical evil becomes a moral evil so its important to talk about AIDS without implying that people affected by it are intrinsically evil. I did a couple of ads myself for The Terence Higgins Trust (AIDS helpline organisation). One of them simply said ‘stick one of thesea rubber johnny—‘on your dick; the other said ‘some people say these things (i.e. condoms) will kill your sex life—when your sex life is killing you what choice do you have?.”

ANDREW RIDGELEY:

“People have said to me that the promotion of awareness of AIDS over the last few months has been over-the-top but its got to be rammed down peoples throats because its an evil disease. I was thinking this evening that its important to get rid of it so that my children will have a feeling of choice on their part. Though some people may think that sleeping with lots of people is not right I think a lot of people go through it. I certainly found it character building in many ways. And now AIDS is taking away our freedom of choice.”

BOY GEORGE:

“Im here because I sleep with men and I enjoy doing it. Ive never made any bones about that. Obviously its also a problem for heterosexuals now too, but not such a big one. Ive had the same lover for three years now so Im happy but if I was going to go to bed with someone different now Id make sure theyd had the AIDS test—if I cared enough to give my gorgeous body to them then I think thats fair enough!

(cont.)
Ive taken it three times—I knew I hadnt got it but I did it more as a social statement.”

“Its difficult though knowing that it can kill you. I still look at people in the street and think ‘cor! theyre really gorgeous! And I dont know about this ‘safe sex thing—condoms. Ive never used one myself. But I think theres a few things people should realise. You cant get AIDS from kissing. I know several people—really close friends—here tonight whove got AIDS and I kiss them quite freely. It doesnt frighten me. Also, you cant catch AIDS by giving people love and consideration and being caring.”

“Still, obviously people wont stick to cuddling. Its a bit like war. Until the bomb lands on your doorstep you dont take any notice. But I think one thing that should definitely happen is Margaret Thatcher should give a lot of money to AIDS research. Im sure she gets horny. She has a sex life. Shes got children hasnt she?”

JIMMY SOMERVILLE (THE COMMUNARDS):

“Apart from Tom Robinson were the only two outspokenly gay men up on stage tonight singing songs about love. Love songs between two men etc etc. And at a time like this when everyones hearing about the crisis and how its affecting people weve got to realise that we must never forget love and desire. Theyre the most important things in gay mens lives, and though theyre trying to take everything away from us theyll never take that away.”

Special thanks to: Jaqui Doyle, Tom Hibbert, Derrin Schlesinger, Barry McIlheney, Brett Grange, Gary Perry, Mike Putland and Rex.

AIDS: The facts

What is AIDS?

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a virus that attacks the bodys immune system—the thing that helps you fight all diseases from colds to cancer or whatever. Without your immune system functioning, you become extremely susceptible to all sorts of diseases and will usually die within a matter of months.

However, if you are carrying the AIDS virus, it does not necessarily mean you are going to die immediately for the virus may remain latent for years.

How do you get AIDS?

The virus is only found in blood, in male semen (white fluid that comes out of the willie and makes babies), and in female vaginal fluid (stuff that helps semen swim up a woman and meet an egg and make babies). Thus you can catch it by sharing injecting needles with someone whos got the virus (because the needle might have infected blood on it) or by having sex with an infected person. The virus is particularly easily transmitted through anal sex (i.e. putting a willie up someones bottom—a love-making technique particulary common amongst gay men). There have been NO cases of people catching AIDS by snogging, sharing cups or face flannels etc. etc, though sharing toothbrushes is inadvisable because gums bleed easily.

How can you avoid getting AIDS?

Firstly, if you must inject drugs, never share a needle. Secondly, when it comes to sex, a man should always wear a condom (or a rubber johnny, to give it its slang name: its a thin rubber contraceptive thing that completely covers the willie and keeps the semen in. These are openly available over the counter at the chemists) during sex whether with a woman or another bloke. Thirdly, best limit the number of people you have sex with because, obviously, the more different people you “do it” with, the greater the chance youll catch the virus.