In Memory of Alan Turing

September 17, 2009

Since I still haven’t finished setting up the Almost Fabulous site, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at this week’s tribute to Alan Turing. You can find the audio version (complete with bonus jokes!) in episode 11 of the radio show, downloadable from iTunes or direct from here.

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When we started the Almost Fabulous project, all those years ago, our goal was to bring attention and love to those potential queer icons who had been left out in the cold. At that time I considered including mathematician and cryptologist Alan Turing, but decided he was already a well-known and celebrated figure. After all, he has been the subject of award-winning plays and documentaries, and in 1999 Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

But since the comments of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown put Turing back in the media this month, I thought it was time to re-acquaint ourselves with this extraordinary gay man.

In the 1930s Turing was a mathematician working at Cambridge and later Princeton University, working on algorithms, theories of computation and – like any uni student – building simple electro-mechanical binary multipliers. Little did he know that years later his work would lead to the personal computer and the most efficient porn delivery system the world has ever known.

But as important as his work on computers is – and seriously, without him we wouldn’t be able to watch footage of cats on treadmills on YouTube, so for that alone, Mr Turing, we salute you – it’s his work during World War II that makes him a bona-fide hero.

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When I Grow Up, I Want To Be Maxime de la Falaise

May 7, 2009

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Maxime de la Falaise is dead.

You may not have absorbed the full impact of that yet. When I read on Tuesday that Maxime de la Falaise had died, I felt empty – after all, I’d never heard of her, so it didn’t have much of an emotional punch. But as I sat in the cafe, sipping my latte and reading her obituary in The Age, I was deeply saddened. Partly because the world is a less interesting place without her – partly because I will never have the chance to meet her – and mostly because I will never get to be her.

And it really is a most arresting obituary. A real-life mix of Holly Golightly and Forest Gump, Maxime de la Falaise connects a startling number of people and places that should never appear in the same sentence. To give you an idea, this is taken from a paragraph near the end: “When her second husband died in 1975, de la Falaise briefly dated John Paul Getty III, whose ear had been cut off by kidnappers in 1973.”

Let’s look at that again, shall we? She “dated John Paul Getty III, whose ear had been cut off by kidnappers in 1973“. I’m fairly certain that should I ever have a fling with a monaural heir to an oil-fortune, on my death the newspapers will say “One-Eared Millionaire’s Bit Of Crumpet Dies – Seriously, It Was Cut Off By Kidnappers“. But de la Falaise‘s life is so interesting that a mutilated billionaire barely makes it as a footnote.

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