The Velvet Mafia“They’re not only dealing with the stigma of being homosexual but they’re also dealing with rampant anti-Semitism.”

As heard on arena

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The Swinging Sixties conjures up images of bowl cuts, Brylcreem and backcombed bouffants and, most notably, the advent of the Rock Star, as we know it today. And the story of the men behind these stars is the tale Darryl W Bullock sets out to tell, the men he calls The Velvet Mafia. On Monday night’s Arena, Seán Rocks chatted …

Poet Victoria Kennefick“A coming-of-age book about what it means to be a young woman growing up in a world where the world wants to eat you.”

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When poet Victoria Kennefick declares that, as a vegetarian, she doesn’t judge meat-eaters, Arena host Kay Sheehy jumps in, saying, “I think you might.” It’s a fine gotcha moment from the pair’s engaging discussion of Victoria’s début collection, Eat or We Both Starve. And Victoria concedes that maybe she does – but she tries not to. But the book isn’t just about consuming what is commonly regarded as food, but also …

Kazuo Ishiguro“I’ve always liked narrators who have very limited vision.”

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Klara is an AF – or artificial friend – who does everything she can in the service of her human friend, Josie, who inhabits a very stratified society, where the wealthy can advance through the use of new technologies, one of which is the AF. This is the premise of Klara and the Sun, the new novel from Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro, …

Filmmaker Steve McQueen“It was beautiful. We were very fortunate.” 

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“Very often, as a director, you can become an observer, you can become a visitor within a scene. And that was one of them and it was just beautiful to see. You know, that for me is what art and filmmaking is about. Your imagination is limited, I think, but at a certain point, other things come into play that take it to another …

Russell T Davies“It’s full of life, it’s full of joy, it’s full of comedy, actually.” 

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Russell T Davies has a new show on Channel 4 called It’s a Sin. It could be viewed, he told Seán Rocks on Arena, as part of a loose trilogy of dramas about gay men – or even the same gay man – alongside Queer as Folk and Cucumber. It’s just that viewed like that, they’re in the wrong order. But, given that Davies is the man who successfully revived the BBC’s favourite Time Lord, …

Chilly Gonzales on Enya“It took me a while – maybe till my late 20s – till I could really own the fact that I loved music like Enya.” 

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Grammy-winning Canadian pianist Chilly Gonzales went down a lot of wrong paths, taste-wise, in his life, he told Seán Rocks on Arena, but Enya was not one of them. Indeed, as if to prove this, Chilly’s new book is actually called Enya and is subtitled A Treatise on Unguilty Pleasures. When Seán plays a little extract from the Donegal New Age queen’s chart-topping Orinoco Flow, Chilly remembers the young Gonzales being struck …

André Leon Talley“Mrs Vreeland polished the soles of her shoes with a rhinoceros horn.”

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Before he became the king of the front row, before he was the friend and confidante of Karl Lagerfeld, Diana Vreeland and Michelle Obama, André Leon Talley was a young boy being raised by his grandparents in North Carolina, going through the pages of Vogue magazine and dreaming. André told Kay Sheehy on Monday’s Arena what Vogue meant to him …

The Moth at 10“It’s a very important moment in a writer’s life when somebody actually wants to publish a piece of your work.”

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They grow up so fast, don’t they? The Moth, a quarterly arts and literature magazine, featuring poetry, fiction and art by established and up-and-coming writers and artists turns 10 this year and on Monday, Arena threw them a party. Kay Sheehy welcomed editor and co-founder Rebacca O’Connor, as well as contributors June Caldwell, Alan McMonagle and Niamh Boyce. The magazine …