I wrote my first original gay song in the spring of 1972 We Were in There and ever since then I’ve been writing original material with a variety of composers, some of it about sex and love, some about political issues of the time. I’ve also done parodies, and translations of French songs, especially early Edith Piaf, and the work of the underrated (and unknown in the UK), Boris Vian, who will get a separate section on this site.
Cabaret venues have been clubs, bars, student unions, local LGBT groups, but especially Pride. I first performed at 1978’s Pride, where there wasn’t any stage or even a performance planned. I went along with a guitarist, Andy Rosenthal, and we busked the people milling around at the end of the march on Shepherd’s Bush Green.
I’ve always thought LGBT theatre was integral to the community and a part of LGBT politics, and cabaret particularly so, especially in the years 1975 to 1990. So much so that I was christened the Vera Lynn of the Gay Movement! When I was asked what I did in life, I said, “Entertaining the Troops”.
Items on this website feature Songs which I have written and sung (and other people have sung) over the last 45 plus years.
The song Hotel Homophobia was written by Peter Scott‐Presland following a demonstration outside the Dorchester Hotel in April 2019 against the Sultan of Brunei who has invoked Sharia law to introduce stoning to death for homosexuals and for adultery.
Hotel California ‐ chords and original words
Update June 2019
In response to international outrage, the Sultan of Brunei has lifted the death penalty from homosexual acts, which was the original impetus of this song. However, the elephant in the room on this subject, which nobody seems to be much exercised about, is Saudi Arabia, which still has capital punishment in place for gay men.
The myriad Saudi princes have fingers in many pies, including part‐ownership of hotels and hotel chains.
In particular, Al‐Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud owns the Savoy in London, the Plaza in New York and a share of the Four Seasons hotel chain.
His wife also has fingers in many commercial pies. He has been spectacularly generous in terms of charity, which does not alter the fact that this is blood money, built on this corrupt and barbaric regime.
Saudi Arabia beheaded five gay men as recently as April 2019; their confessions were extracted under torture. Many others have had to face up to 500 lashes flayed on their backs.
This song still stands.
Note: A performance of this song was banned by the Albany, Deptford in September 2019. See The Banning of Hotel Homophobia for the full story.
Like many other people I wrote some Covid Carols to alleviate the dire situation we were in at Christmas 2020, and satirise the ghastly ineptitude and venality of our corrupt government's response to the pandemic.
Despite the difficulty of making music over Zoom, we cheered ourselves up with these at our get-together on 15 December 2020, in a collective sing-song.
Peter Scott Presland