To the Jazz Cafe last night to see Billie Ray Martin in concert. She has somehow become a bit of a gay icon - not among the shiny happy Kylie GAY chickens, but among the sleazier, rougher end of the market - the Marc Almond fans. I rechristened the Jazz Cafe the Jizz Cafe - hell, I knew the guy who does her merchandise, the guy who runs her web site and the guy twiddling the computer on stage. "He's just pretending he's playing stuff," said Jim, "he's really just checking his Gaydar profile!"
Billie Ray has a look, but it's not a look you'd really aspire to: with her shaved eyebrows and her skinhead girl feathered hair, she looks like a cross between Ziggy Stardust and Bob Geldof in The Wall. She was wearing an elasticated top which she kept pulling self-consciously down over her belly.
The reason we love her, of course, is The Voice. OK, she's a bit of a two-note wonder, alternating between barking like a seal and squawking like a seagull. But a very powerful, very teutonic seagull. Each trademark transition between one register and the other brought squeals of delight from the queens. She played most of her new album, 18 Carat Garbage, which is pretty good. The new single, the Motown-meets-Stop-by-the-Spice-Girls Where Fools Rush In, got two plays. She ended with two crowd favourites: 1995's huge hit Your Loving Arms, and Electribe 101's Talking With Myself.
Close your eyes, and you're listening to a black American soul diva. Open them, and you're looking at a German punk rock chick. She's Hamburg meets Memphis, St Pauli meets St Louis.