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45 and feelin' fine....

The United Kingdom as we see it today has not always been as we know it. The eighties were a pivotal time for technology, fashion, music, society, sex, and many more. From the creation of the Walkman to the BBC discovering and creating the first dial-up internet connection. Some look at the 80s with fondness, and some remember it for its darkness. Britain at the time was going through an identity crisis from the conservatism of Margaret Thatcher to the rebellion of the Sex Pistols. Described as the decade of considerable change, long-established industries, street scenes, shops, and ways of living were being challenged. Unions and families that once resided in Britain had to welcome new people, cultures, and religions.


Were the 1980’s all just neon colours, boiler suits, structured shoulder suit jackets, and leg warmers? Where did the LGBTQ+ community fit into this decade of life that was unforgiving? Thankfully, we have someone to help us on this subject.


The 1980s was a period that was drenched in homophobia, sanctioned from the top echelons of society, the government, the church, and the police. The LGBTQ+ community was at war with the conservative party. With Thatcher promoting Victorian and family values, the queer community had no real place in society. Thatcher created Section 28 within the Local Government Act, making it illegal for local authorities to support anything that had an association with the LGBTQ+ community. Was this the start of our community that would set the precedent for years to come? Thankfully, it wasn’t.


In the 90s, the gay community finally felt like it had come out all over again. For the people who lived through the 80s and entered the 90s, it was a pivotal time for a change. For example, in 1982 Channel 4 was birthed which meant Britain now had 4 television channels instead of 3. Many have said this period enabled people to feel inspired, free, and proud of their self-expression but also tragedy descended on the public, with HIV and AIDS ripping through the communities.


As you know, here at Happily Ever Queer, we are on a big mission. That mission is that we want to talk to as many different people in our community and hear their stories. That is why we must talk to people of different ages who have different experiences. This leads us to our next collaborator. We’re so excited to announce this individual because of their unapologetic story. From their obsession with underwear, their fur babies, and Kylie, we are proud to announce the next collaborator is…..


Karlos Fandangoss!


In this exclusive interview, Karlos allows us into his world. From growing up in a family that was alternative to wearing crop tops made from child t-shirts, that were paired with PVC jeans and clubbing with Pete Burns. We are propelled into the 80s and 90s and who better to bring us on that journey than none other than Karlos?


(Reader degression advised, there is a brief talk on trauma and abuse)


Hello Karlos, welcome to the Happily Ever Queer family. We’re so pleased to have you here. So you’re extremely popular on Instagram. If someone didn’t have access to it, what facts about yourself would you tell them?


I've always had a love of fashion, music, and sci-fi. I probably should have been living this life 30 years ago. I think I am slightly out of touch with the world today. I have a terrible sense of humour, and if it's wrong I will probably be laughing. I’d describe myself as an insecure, neurotic, worrier!


In your Instagram bio, you said that you’re on the wrong side of 45 which conveys that you have lived life. Can you tell us about your childhood, and what was it like? Was it a positive experience?


My parents are quite alternative, my father worked within the music industry, and I was taken everywhere. So, my upbringing was a very different experience from my peers at school (and one that I couldn’t talk about). I was weird, femme, and shy and had a hellish time whenever I left the house. I guess it made me stronger and who I am today. I was very lucky to have an amazing best friend who is still today a soul mate, and Kylie - I could shut my bedroom door and dance and sing for hours protected from the world. Both of whom I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't had them and that's a fact.


We think it’s hard to pinpoint an exact time when you know you are gay. Do you agree? Or has being gay always been a part of who you are?


I was told I was before I knew what it was, I liked dolls and dressing up and playing with the girls. When I played Star Wars with the boys, I'd be Princess Leia, they'd be discussing what guns they had, and I would be telling them what Leia I was that day. I always fancied boys/men; I don't ever remember not. And always older boys lol. I am gay to the core.


Can you tell us when you came out? How did you do it and who did you tell? What was their reaction like?


When I was about 15, two girlfriends and I shared our darkest secrets. I told them then, and they acted surprised but later told me they knew. I wish I had had the confidence to come out earlier, but it was a different time. I thought gay men were creepy old guys, at school there didn't seem to be anyone but me. I told my mum at 17 walking around Sainsbury's, as you do...


You were born in the 70s so we can presume that you began socialising and living life in the late 80s and early 90s. What was it like? Is life now as we see it completely different?


It was zero social media and discovering the "scene" through reading magazines and word of mouth. The naivety of looking back sounds nice, but the reality was rather lonely. Although growing up in London, I was in suburbia and always felt like I didn't belong. I met with a lot of abuse from strangers, I have been spat at, and refused service just for being me. I was always on guard, weary of groups and I still am. I would hope that was different for young queer people now, but I know the prejudice will always be there


Did you go gay clubbing? If so, what was your first impression of it?


I have always loved dancing from a kid. Going clubbing was massive for me. I had a magazine called "HIM" which was a soft porn mag, and I can remember it had a photo of this most beautiful male stripper on it. So, I did my homework whilst reading Timeout. I wanted to go to the same events as the ones in the magazines. Therefore, talked my best friend into going. We made up some elaborate story as to where we were and off, we went. We were 17 and managed to get in. On this particular night, it was valentines day. The bass made my chest pound and the smell of sweat and poppers was like nothing I'd ever smelt. But I loved it, the music, the clothes, the boys, we danced till 6 am and I had my first ever kiss lol.


When you used to go clubbing, what kind of clothes did you wear?


The Mid-90s were kind of androgynous and weird. Everything I had hated about myself growing up (skinny femme pretty hair free) made me fashionable. My weekends were spent at Ladbrook grove market and charity shops. Back then I was small enough to get into kid's tees therefore, my outfits consisted of crop tops and PVC jeans lol. I was kind of androgynous/punky/weird. I would dance all night until 6 am, eyes like saucers. It was always about dancing for me back then, the sex side of clubs went completely over my head. I was horrified by a club in Ibiza that was just porn sweat, and sex. I preferred the glamour. There was a small club behind Selfridges called L'equipe Anglaise, they hosted a night called Studio 94 (that ages it for you) think gold palm trees, Saturday night fever dance floor. The place was full of misfits, drag queens, and trendy's. It was my absolute heaven, random celebs pie-eyed with the club kids of London. Lolo Ferrari (Eurotrash fame) used to reveal her boobs over a cheering balcony, and I had Pete Burns hissing at me on the stair "what does it think it is" terrifying lol. Great memories/time.



Can you remember your first love? What were they like? Was it love at first sight?


LOL does that not include boys at school? I fawned over Jason Orange from Take That. I loved him. My first love was my first kiss on my first night out. He had a boyfriend already, and I stupidly thought I was going to take his place. Of course, we would fall in love, it's like the movies, right? He was older, had trendy friends, and had a house share at 17 years old in 1993. To me, this was so cool. But I was one of many boys he was kissing! A proper first heart-breaking moment.


At the time of growing up and living life, were there any first-time experiences that scared you or shaped you into the person you are now?


I was in a 14-year relationship with a mentally and physically abusive guy, that shaped everything. It has taken many years to find out who I am and luckily has a partner now that fills me with confidence.


You mention that you were in an abusive relationship. Can you tell us more about the things that you experienced so it could potentially help someone else?


This is a hard subject and one I won't let myself dwell on or want this to become about being a victim. I think for most that come out of an abusive relationship, it's the realisation that the life you were living wasn't normal. You become conditioned to a way of life that takes years if ever to repair. It may sound bizarre, but I have no regrets or feel no anger. I am sad it was over 14 years and didn't just affect me, but my family and best friend. But it has now made me appreciate my life now, Simon my home, and the cats - our family. I now live with someone that fills me with confidence and love which I might have just taken for granted before.


Moving onto a brighter topic. Living in London and attending the London College of Fashion must have been such a buzz. Did you enjoy it and what area of fashion did you study?


It was the opening of my eyes to a whole new world, I was in central London where nobody knew me. I remember sitting in the bar at college and watching a guy putting on his makeup, I suddenly realised I could be anyone I wanted to be. It was a wasted experience too, as I have never used my skills lol. I studied women's and men's fashion design for 6 years. I just didn't have the drive to push myself at the end, and by that time I was already with my abusive ex - it ended on a low. One of my few regrets.



Where else did you live and call home? Do you miss those places?


All my family moved to North Wales, and around 2000 I did too with my shitty ex-partner! Anglesey is probably more home to me than London actually, there is nothing there for me now. I'm a complete tourist when I go back.


Your Instagram is extremely seductive. Is that who you are in real life? Do you think people have misconceptions about you?


LOL!! No! My tongue is always firmly in my cheek when it comes to the more undie -Esq pics. When I started my Instagram page, I never wanted to post pics that didn't look like any thought had been put into them. I wanted it to look polished, it was a creative outlet. So it was something I could create in my downtime. But I know a man of my age and size shouldn't be posting in his pants, it's silly, but some guys like it, and 99.9% of the time I get the sweetest feedback. I've also made so many true friends, something I didn't think would be possible online, but you make a connection, and you see into each other's lives, it's become a huge part of my life. Unfortunately, my sister and best friend have to see it too lol, but they get who my audience is. But no, I don't take myself seriously I can see it for what it is, it's all in good fun


With the above being said; what’s the ideal weekend for Karlos? What things do you like doing in your spare time?


Being with Simon, a good mooch around the charity shops, lunch out, or a drive to the coast to see the sea! That's my heaven


What 3 three things couldn’t live without?

Simon and his humour, the cats, and music.


Lastly, if there is one piece of advice you could give to your younger self and others, what would it be?


Be strong and just come out, believe in yourself. Live the life you are supposed to live, so much I missed out on for fear of what others would say. Go learn to dance, take acting lessons. I grew up feeling like you shouldn't shout about your good qualities like it was showing off. Stop apologising for being you and enjoy it, don't wait till you are on the wrong side of 45 to believe!


For a short moment, I think we all felt like we were at Studio 94 listening to Step Back in Time by Kylie with a Sour Apple Martini. What stands out from Karlos's interview is that we can sense that people who lived in the 80s and 90s truly lived in the moment. Internet was readily available which meant that news about events was through word and mouth or magazines. Karlos has enabled us to picture him walking around the streets of London with hair bigger than life wearing squeaking PVC jeans.


As much as the 80s and 90s in Britain were hard, they helped shape what our country is like today. Whilst some aspects have changed for the better, other areas haven’t. One of them being Homophobia. Homophobia is something to this day that makes no sense to us here at Happily Ever Queer. We cannot seem to understand why a stranger's sexual desire, romantic attraction, and self-portrayal has anything to do with anyone apart from that individual. It is not acceptable for homophobic people to abuse someone physically, mentally, and verbally who is within the LGBTQ+ community, let alone another human being. Karlos briefly described to us how he was treated. Receiving homophobic abuse is something that can be damaging to an individual. I’m sure that you will agree, being spat on for purely being who you are is unacceptable on all accounts and something that we're sure never leaves an individual.


A message to those kinds of people who think calling someone something derogatory in the street is acceptable, get fucking therapy as soon as possible you nutter.


Karlos also tells us that he was in a 14-year abusive relationship. Whilst we do not know the details of what happened to Karlos, it's important to note that under no circumstance should anyone be in that position or made to believe that they deserve it. Some human beings in this world do bad things. Whether it's to show off in front of others, for their twisted self-gratification, or just generally because that’s who they are as an individual. This has no reflection on the victim and if you have ever been in that situation, we are sorry. It took 14 years for Karlos to break free from the toxic environment but at least he did. He is now truly living his best life with his husband which is the most important thing. If some individuals are in the same situation as Karlos, we urge you to contact someone for help. Whether it be a family member or a supporting charity. Details of a few charities will be listed below at the end of the feature. Please contact them.


We enjoyed getting to know Karlos and thank him for allowing us into his world for a brief moment. It seems that the 90s were truly the time to party, so thank you Karlos. It’s been a journey. But the party hasn’t quite finished yet... Part 2 is coming very soon. So make sure you’re looking out for the announcement on our socials.


Until next time, see ya later, alligator.





A few charities if you've ever been affected by the topics we've discussed:

National Domestic Abuse Helpline - www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk

Mind – www.mind.org.uk


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