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