The all-new Allusionist live show, No Title, is on tour in New Zealand and Australia! We just added extra shows in Christchurch and Melbourne; so hurry and get your tickets for those, plus Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin, from theallusionist.org/events.
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When there were no safe spaces to be gay, Polari allowed gay men to identify and communicate with each other, and to keep things secret from outsiders.
Professor Paul Baker, author of the Polari dictionary and the upcoming book Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language, explains how Polari emerged from criminal cant and London’s theatres and docks to be used a code language for gay men in the oppressive 1950s - and then, not long after, it entered the slang lexicons of the general public, via popular sketch comedy and the mouth of an annoyed princess.
Learn Polari and add to the language with the Polari app.
Princess Anne may have said something stronger than “naff off”??
Thanks to this year’s Met Gala theme there has been a lot of discussion of ‘camp’ this week, and what constitutes camp. Here’s Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay ‘Notes on Camp’ that inspired the Met, and a rebuttal; attempts to define camp from Teen Vogue, Vox, W and the New York Times; exhausted and exhaustive Met Gala camp assessments from Tom and Lorenzo; and if that’s all too much, a fugue on camp.
What’s the Future of Gay Slang? ‘It Will Probably (Continue To) Be Used To Sell Us Stuff.’
A mean but linguistically interesting prank, hacking Tinder.
The transcript of this episode is at theallusionist.org/transcripts/polari.
Several other Allusionists relate to this one: LGBTQ history in Queer and Pride; Soho, about the London district where a lot of Polari-speaking would have been taking place; on the topic of language of online dating, there’s WLTM part 2 and Hey.
The Allusionist’s 100th episode impends! If you’d like to celebrate this landmark with me, use phone voice memo or something record yourself saying the best thing you’ve learned about language from the Allusionist. Then email the recording to email@example.com by 15 May. Thank you!
I’m on a couple of new episodes of Potterless podcast, examining chapters 23 and 24 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in detail. DETAILED detail. Caution: these episodes are, somehow, only suitable for adults; and they contain spoilers for the Harry Potter books up to that point.
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Paul Baker is a professor of English language at Lancaster University. His new book, Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language, is extremely interesting about slang and LGBT history, and goes into a lot more detail about what you hear in the episode. Preorder it now, and follow Paul on Twitter @_paulbaker_. Information about his other articles and papers is here.
This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Martin Austwick makes the music that you hear in every episode. Download his songs at palebirdmusic.com and listen to his new podcast Year of the Bird about the songs he writes.
The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.
In May 2019, the Allusionist is sponsored by:
• Squarespace, your one-stop shop for creating and running a good-looking and well-working website. Go to squarespace.com/allusion for a free trial, and use the code ALLUSION to get 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.
• Bombas, socks that won’t let you - or themselves - down. Buy your expertly engineered socks at bombas.com/allusionist and get 20% off your first purchase.
• Babbel, the app that teaches you a new language with confidence. If you’re in the USA, text ALLUSIONIST to 484848 to try a Babbel lesson for free. Elsewhere? Check out the courses at babbel.com and on the Babbel app.
• Beer52, the craft beer discovery club. Each month they’ll deliver to you eight different craft beers, PLUS a snack, PLUS a copy of the award-winning Ferment magazine. If you’re in the UK, Beer52 will give you your first case for free; you just need to pay the £5.95 postage. Claim your free case today at beer52.com/allusionist.