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29 October 2014

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Julian Clary interview
Julian Clary
National comic treasure, Julian Clary
BBC Newcastle's Yve Ngoo attempts to keep a straight face whilst interviewing comedy's first gay pin-up and national treasure, Julian Clary.
Going Out
Legend of Leigh Bowery
Julian Clary website Taboo website
Culture Club
Leigh Bowery

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Julian attending Ealing Abbey School where he was taught by Benedictine Monks.

Julian shot to fame on the cabaret circuit with his act The Joan Collins Fan Club. He was joined on stage by canine impressionist Fanny the Wonderdog.

Julian went onto host the outrageous Channel 4 game-show Sticky Moments as well as the much missed soapy bubble Terry and Julian.

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It's a joy to have you back in the region. I remember the first time I ever saw you, as The Joan Collins Fan Club with the late great Fanny the Wonderdog. Was Joan actually a fan of yours?

I don't think so. I don't think she ever saw my act. She was busy doing Dynasty at the time.

Did she agree that you could use her name?

No, she objected to me using her name. So I stopped using it.

In the late 80's, your act was something very different - there have always been gay entertainers and celebrities with ambiguous sexuality, but you were different. You were 'Out'. What inspired you to go on stage as an openly gay, sexuality active (and very attractive) young man?

Nothing inspired me. I knew that this was what I wanted to talk about on stage. There was no point being coy about it, or pretending that I wasn't gay. That was the substance of my whole act. If you took that away, there would be nothing left.

None of this stopped you becoming a household name and fully fledged celebrity. Why do you think the public took you to their hearts?

You ought to ask the public really. I suppose they've always had affection for gay entertainers. It's just that the time was right for an out gay entertainer.

You are undoubtedly a purveyor of the double entendre. A French name for something very English. Is it an art or a science?

I think it's an art really, in the loose sense of the word. One of the joys of the English language is that you can play around with the meaning of words. I don't think it works so well in Spanish.

Do you lie awake at night thinking of new entendres?

No, I think of them all the time. It's just the way my brain works.

You even have a few entendres attributed to you. It's commonly known you like a warm hand on your entrance. Have you ever tried a triple entendre; is there such a thing?

There is a single entendre, but I don't know about a triple one.

So what's a single one?

Well. It's a single entendre. Can't you translate it?

(Julian then gives me an example of a single entendre. It's exactly what it says on the tin; straight to the point. No double meaning. Non broadcastable!)

You're currently appearing in the Boy George musical Taboo, as the late, great Leigh Bowery. There's been a lot of critical interest in Leigh since he died. What do you think he would make of your portrayal?

I'd like to think that he'd enjoy it. I'm not in anyway doing an impersonation of Leigh; I'm just performing in the spirit of Leigh. I think he'd be chuffed to know he's living on night after night on stage. It must be quite gratifying.

Most accounts of Leigh and his life have not seen him as one of the most pleasant people you could meet. Did you ever meet him?

Yes I did. I met him several times in the 80s, and he interviewed me on a cable television show. He seemed very nice to me, but I think he was a bit of a complicated person.

Leigh Bowery
Leigh Bowery: Taking grotesque to excess

Was he 'Leigh' all the time, as we have been led to believe, or did he have many other facets?

I think he was an intelligent, fairly shy person, until he dressed up. And then he became something of a monster.

I was an original new Romantic in the 80's, and even though I thoroughly enjoyed myself - unlike punk, it wasn't really saying anything political, contentious or even relevant. Do you think New Romanticism will ever enjoy historical recognition as a true movement?

Well, it was a very brief movement, if movements can be brief! I think what is enduring is the music from that era, which was rather good actually. But I don't think it will come back. Though, it does have its place in history.

What happens to old New Romantics?

A lot of them become heroin addicts. Apart from you, obviously! Everyone evolves and moves onto something else. It was of its time, but it rather lends itself to a musical, as there was a lot of dressing up and a lot of good music.

What do you intend to do during your visit to Newcastle?

I understand Newcastle has discovered culture. It's always been a handsome city. It will be lovely to see it, especially in the summer sunshine

And it will be lovely to see you and Taboo, Julian.


Theatre Royal Newcastle
21 - 26 June 2004

Tickets £7.50 - £24.50
Box Office: 0870 905 5060


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