Monday, July 09, 2018

JENNY DARREN - BGT, GAYS, JEWS, RINGERS & A HEARTBREAKER


    Astute readers of this blog know JENNY DARREN’s been covered here not once, but TWICE. What an achievement, huh? She was written up in 2009 to call attention to her raw, powerful and sexy 70’s music, and again in 2014, when it looked like she was making a comeback. At her best, she strutted somewhere between Genya Ravan and Pat Benatar, and she had a challenging glare that was sort of challenging and spooky in a Jane Fonda-type way.  Too bad not too many people knew that. And, too bad that when she did get a chance at big-time TV exposure a few months ago (“Britains Got Talent”) she got banished for being anti-Gay and antisemitic.  

     Yeah, antisemitic and anti-Gay, which I guess means she truly hates Harvey Feirstein. It might mean that she was reflecting the small heavy-metal skinhead audience that follow her…the type who like the skinhead look, goose-step in their leather, show off obnoxious tattoos, and love it when Trump validates them as they wave confederate flags and try to intimidate anyone marching for human rights. 


    What a heartbreaker, this Jenny Darren; we all knew Alice Cooper was really a conservative, for example, and many a rock star has said something bizarre (Elvis Costello on Ray Charles) but…in this PC age, you can’t be a douche without getting bagged. Another casualty of “Britains Got Talent” was co-presenter Ant McPartlin. In April, around the same time Jenny was stopped from advancing to the next round, he got into a 3 car collision while driving drunk. He issued a statement: “I am truly sorry for what happened…I’m just thankful nobody was seriously hurt.” Even so, BGT banned him. His partner Dec had to solo through the semi-finals and final broadcast, with almost no reference to the missing Ant. No doubt Ant's traffic accident got just as much attention in the British media as the embarrassing reveal on Jenny Darren: 




      The “Got Talent” shows in England, America and around the world, are like the other “reality” shows on TV — full of lies, distortion and fakery. It’s a bit hypocritical for them to ban Ant for a lapse in sobriety, or even Jenny Darren, when the show (and its owner, Slimy Towel) engage in so much that is crooked and immoral. 


      The show is loaded with faked moments of drama, and pushing dire back-story profiles of some performers while not profiling some who are more talented. Slimy Towel has been known to majestically raise his hand and stop someone’s performance…acting as if he’s pulling the plug. Instead he says, “this isn’t working…sing something else.” Which heightens tension, produces a “wow” moment as the singer nails a far more dramatic number, and is thoroughly unfair, as judges should NOT interfere with what a contestant does. 

    Worse, the show pretends that professionals are amateurs. Since it’s rare to find a Susan Boyle or Janey Cutler who can, if only for a moment, compete with seasoned entertainers, the show relies on people who’ve spent 10, 15, even 25 years working cruise ships, nightclubs and bars. Sometimes the act will admit, for the sake of sympathy, “this is the big break I’ve been hoping for. I’d like to raise a family and make real money.” Sometimes, NOT. Jenny Darren did NOT say she had recorded four albums for Dick James’ DJM label, and another contestant, Father Ray Kelly, did NOT say he had issued two albums for Universal just three years ago. No, for Father Kelly, the panel fawned over how amazing his rendition of “Everybody Hurts” was, despite it being on one of his albums. They acted as if he was just a nobody who appeared, miraculously, out of nowhere to offer heavenly entertainment.


    When Jenny Darren came out and blasted an AC/DC tune, nobody said, “Wow, isn’t that nice, that at 68 you performed a song by a group YOU OPENED FOR IN THE 70’s.” She pulled that stale trick of showing up in dowdy clothes and pulling them off to reveal a much hotter and professional COSTUME underneath.  


    When "Jenny Darren" was announced on episode #2, I was surprised and delighted. I instantly thought, “not THE Jenny Darren?” But yes, I recognized her, even in the dowdy outfit. I was happy for her when she stripped and revealed her rock star voice and wowed the crowd. That she didn’t allude to her past career didn’t bother me, as that’s just typical “Got Talent” truth-fudging. I hoped she’d get to the semi-finals and get the kind of gigs Sonja Kristina and Elkie Brooks do. And then…the headlines came in. Somebody had gone to Jenny’s YouTube account and noticed she had a dirty secret…a custom playlist apparently loaded with edgy racist and homophobic shit she wanted her skinhead pals to chuckle about. 


        If “Britains Got Talent” is less than honest, well, so is the media that supports it. The Daily Mail and a few others (and all the copycat steal-the-news sites that re-write and regurgitate stories) all gave the same information: her “YouTube playlist of videos included offensive remarks about the LGBT community, labeled Jews as a “pest to society” and called on Jewish people to be “hunted down.” 


       Also found on her Facebook page was a poem she wrote that criticized LGBT relationships. Darren’s YouTube playlist has since been deleted.” Since it was “deleted,” nobody seems to have documentary evidence on what exactly these items were about…were they songs, screeds recited by some moron in his basement, or maybe propaganda news clips from Al Jazeera or Fox News?”  

     Considering Darren plays very infrequently, and does so with her "Ladykillers," a band of creepy looking young guys, it isn't a surprise if she pandered to their intolerant and ignorant attitudes...or, that she had them herself. Put it this way, AC/DC fans who actually want to see Angus Young, a ridiculous little Chucky, play headbanger shit while wearing a schoolboy uniform for 40 fucking years, are likely to be far more amused by Nazis than the followers of Flash and the Pan, the art rock band run by little Chucky's older brother George Young. 

    Jenny apologized (apparently to the producers, not to the public or any reporter) but she was gone, just like co-presenter Ant. Nobody at BGT apologized for pretending this woman was merely “retired,” and not saying she was a retired ex-rocker. Nobody mentioned that in 2015 Angel Air, the geezer re-issue label, offered up a compilation of Jenny’s late 70’s songs, and pointed out that “Heartbreaker” was actually written by a Manchester songwriting team for her, but somehow was grabbed by Pat Benatar who had the hit with it. BGT also didn’t mention that in 2015 Father Ray Kelly was still signed to Universal. A spokesperson shrugged: “Father Ray Kelly was signed to Universal International for two albums only. His recording deal with Universal ended in 2015. He is currently a working priest.” 


    The question was whether Jenny would try to explain to her fans what exactly, and in what context, she’d posted the anti-Gay and antisemitic material. Apparently most of her fans didn’t care, and she may have figured that it was better to ignore the scandal and let it fade. Through April, May and June, her Facebook page contained nothing but news about a few gigs she was playing in obscure locations, and that she had parlayed her AC/DC performance on BGT into a new single. Her Facebook page was loaded with pix of herself and her band of skinheads and headbangers happy to be going to hell:




    Does she believe Jews are a “pest to society” and should be “hunted down?” Were those lines buried in some dopey heavy metal song, or had she “liked” some neo-Nazi asshole named Darren sitting in his basement behind a swastika flag, spouting his deranged manifestos? On Facebook, June 4th, she posted a meme “I picked my team for the World Cup: GERMANY.” 


     In May, on her website, she posted an apology...for not being on YouTube much. She blamed it on having so much email from adoring fans, so much to do keeping up with her Facebook posting...and didn't address a) what YouTube pulled or b) how sorry she felt about it. No Roseanne Barr, she. Best to ignore the controversy in case a few of her handful of fans didn't know. How often she banned somebody on Facebook who asked her about it is unknown. 

 

     On June 14th, billing herself as the “Rock Gran from BGT,” she played The Swan Inn, in Stone. Or was it The Stone Inn, in Swan? Her last gig apparently was June 18th, at the Dick Whittington Tavern in Gloucester. And now, in July, Jenny Darren is just another faint name, like Wendy James, getting by with a few hundred gerontophile fanboys. (Yes, and you're thinking, and this ONE blogger who actually remembers a few Jenny Darren songs....)

     On June 30th, Darren once again took to Facebook, promoting herself as ballsy, and talking up her minor single and faint bookings, and again, never apologizing or explaining why she disappeared from BGT: 


    The bottom line is that there are classical music fans who still listen to Wagner, and feel that what he did as an artist should be separate from what he was as a person. Whether BGT should’ve skunked Jenny’s chance to reach the semi-finals is sort of a gray area, because it’s hard to tell just how awful the material on her YouTube playlist was and how actively she endorsed the material. 


     She did not, after all, come out in the kind of neo-Nazi outfits Roger Waters has worn on stage, and has not, unlike Roger Waters, openly stated intolerant and hateful views. The guys from KISS used an “SS” logo design and claimed that they didn’t realize it symbolized the “SS” and that since Gene and Paul are both Jewish, leave ‘em alone and don’t make a big deal out of it. 

      Can those who reject intolerance be tolerant enough to still acknowledge that Jenny Darren recorded some vivid stuff 40 years ago? That she's still capable of entertaining the crowd as a raunchy old broad today? Maybe individuals should be able to make that decision and not have hypocrites at a corrupt TV show do it for them. Maybe the only way to get people to understand what morality and decency is about is to banish them when they lack common sense and flaunt their stupidity in public.

Jenny Darren is a HEARTBREAKER listen or download, no passwords, no being directed to some shitty spyware site, no Paypal tip jar hypocrisy 

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