Julian and Sandy

(Some coarse sexual slang, so it might not be to everyone’s taste.)

From the August issue (pp. 37-39) of The Advocate, “Speaking Lavender” by Chadwick Moore, about Bill Leap and the Lavender Languages and Linguistics Conferences (Lav Lgs 23 in February 2016 at American University, Washington DC; Lav Lgs 24 in April 2017 at the University of Nottingham (UK)), with the subtitle: “From Regency England to 1920s Harlem to Miss Piggy, gay vernacular has given voice to homosexual identity and desire in a hostile world. It still does.” and a section on Polari (and its scholar and champiom Paul Baker). Eventually the story leads us to the campy queens Julian and Sandy, and from there by sound associations to the remarkable entertainment (also campy) Façade, uniting the playful poetry of Edith Sitwell and the music of William Walton, notably in the “Valse” / “Waltz” movement beginning “Daisy and Lily”.

But first a brief digression on another piece in the August Advocate:  p. 40, Armond White’s movie column on The Maltese Falcon: “Upon the 75th anniversary of The Maltese Falcon’s release, it’s time to look at the gay myths contained in the Hollywood perennial”, concluding that “Gayness is more than subtext in The Maltese Falcon; it’s what energizes the film’s high erotic current.”

Then, from Wikipedia:

Polari (or alternatively Parlare, Parlary, Palare, Palarie, Palari; from Italian parlare, “to talk”) is a form of cant slang used in Britain by actors, circus and fairground showmen, merchant navy sailors, criminals, prostitutes, and the gay subculture. There is some debate about its origins, but it can be traced back to at least the nineteenth century and possibly the sixteenth century. There is a long-standing connection with Punch and Judy street puppet performers who traditionally used Polari to converse.

Polari is a mixture of Romance (Italian or Mediterranean Lingua Franca), Romani, London slang, backslang, rhyming slang, sailor slang, and thieves’ cant. Later it expanded to contain words from the Yiddish language and from 1960s drug subculture slang. It was a constantly developing form of language, with a small core lexicon of about 20 words, including: bona (good), ajax (nearby), eek (face), cod (bad, in the sense of tacky or vile), naff (bad, in the sense of drab or dull, though borrowed into mainstream British English with the sense of the aforementioned cod), lattie (room, house, flat, i.e. room to let), nanti (not, no), omi (man), palone (woman), riah (hair), zhoosh or tjuz (smarten up, stylize), TBH (‘to be had’, sexually accessible), trade (sex), and vada (see), and over 500 other lesser-known words.

… Polari was used in London fishmarkets, the theatre, fairgrounds and circuses, hence the many borrowings from Romani. As many homosexual men worked in theatrical entertainment it was also used among the gay subculture, at a time when homosexual activity was illegal, to disguise homosexuals from hostile outsiders and undercover policemen. It was also used extensively in the British Merchant Navy, where many gay men joined ocean liners and cruise ships as waiters, stewards and entertainers. On one hand, it would be used as a means of cover to allow gay subjects to be discussed aloud without being understood; on the other hand, it was also used by some, particularly the most visibly camp and effeminate, as a further way of asserting their identity.

… Polari was popularised in the 1960s on the popular BBC radio show Round the Horne starring Kenneth Horne. Camp Polari-speaking characters Julian and Sandy were played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams.

(The Wikipedia piece has a pretty good sampling of Polari items.)

A book of stuff from the show:


Paul Baker’s books: Fantabulosa: The Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang (2002), Polari – The Lost Language of Gay Men (2003):


That’s Julian and Sandy. Now back many years to the Sitwell/Walton Façade, covered in some detail in a 1/15/15 posting of mine, and its “Valse” / “Waltz” movement, which begins:

Daisy and Lily,
Lazy and silly,
Walk by the shore of the wan grassy sea—
Talking once more ‘neath a swan-bosomed tree.

And then it gets wilder, as the waves of words break on the shore of that sea.

In any case,  “Julian and Sandy” led me, by sound associations, to “Daisy and Lily”, and I was moved to do a Polari burlesque of Sitwell’s words:

Julian and Sandy,
Campy and randy,
Mince to the cottage with the horny polones
Palare once more, to plate the hot omies

The boldfaced items  are those that have been suggested as coming to general gay slang from Polari (camp, mince, cottage) or are straightforwardly Polari (the rest).

The first group, with glosses of the Polari: camp ‘effeminate’, mince ‘walk affectedly’, cottage ‘public lavatory used for sex’ — cf. chicken ‘young man’, trade ‘sex, sex partner’, troll ‘walk about (esp. looking for trade)’. (The origins in Polari are not always clear.)

The second group, again with glosses: horny polone ‘effeminate gay man’ (with polone [rhymes with baloney] ‘woman; queen’), palare ‘talk’, plate ‘fellate, blow, suck off’, omi ‘man’.

Well, yes, I ended up settling for a half rhyme: polonies / omies. A small sacrifice.

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