Marginalized communities throughout history have had ways of communicating that are proof of clanship. But did you know the street slang used by queens the world over is at least two centuries old, and that you already know a few words of it?
There is disagreement about the exact origins of the gay ghetto slang known as Polari, but it rose in popularity during the 19th century in London's East End, and shares words with other street vernaculars like Cockney rhyming slang and Yiddsh. The language was common in professions that employed traveling male tradesmen, like the merchant marines and the theater. Gay men adopted it as a way to have sexual conversations safely and in secret.
If you feel ignorant, don't. You're already speaking Polari when you use words like butch, camp, and drag — and if you're paying attention, chicken, cottaging and zhoosh. Theater slang that is part of the lexicon, such as referring to dancers as "hoofers," also comes from Polari.
But if you hear someone say, "Vada the eek on that naff omi-palone," ask your local queen for a translation. And pray they aren't talking about you.
Acclaimed TV drama ER faces more cast changes as the NBC hospital series wraps up its eighth season in May. Although the show's fans will miss the exiting cast members, critics agree the change will be a welcomed facelift for the aging show.
Eriq La Salle, the fervent Dr. Peter Benton who has been on the show since its inception in 1994, will make his last appearance on Thursday night. The story will revolve around Benton's custody battle over his son. Resident pediatrician Dr. Cleo Finch, Benton's onscreen love interest played by Michael Michele, will also leave the show after a three-year stint.
As two of television's most prominent black actors, La Salle and Michele will undoubtedly leave a void behind. ER's executive producer John Wells called La Salle an integral part of the show's success and was disappointed when the actor decided to move on, Reuters reports.
In May, Anthony Edwards' character Dr. Mark Greene will be written off the series. Greene, the chief attending physician, will probably succumb to brain cancer, which he was diagnosed with last season.
Many people, however, agree that Edwards' character was played out. Green has gone through marital problems, emotional turmoil following a physical attack, the death of his parents, a battle with cancer and the difficulty of fatherhood.
Neither NBC nor the show's producers have commented on who would fill the latest vacancies at the fictional County General Hospital.
The departure of La Salle and Edwards leaves Noah Wyle, who plays Dr. John Carter, as the lone remaining star from the series' first episode. Their exits follows that of other high profile stars who have left the show in the past, including George Clooney, Julianna Margulies and Gloria Reuben. Sherry Stringfield and Ming-Na both left the show in its early stages but have since returned.
Robert Thomas, head of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television, told Reuters that ER's revolving door of characters is like a series of life extending transplants that keep the show fresh.
"The only way you can keep from wearing out a drama like this is to keep replacing it, organ by organ, by organ," Thomas said. "It's defying age by reinventing itself, but never all at once. Do it all at once and you destroy the series."