Last month, John, my eldest brother and his missus came to visit. He’s the eldest of five and would be the first to admit that when I trampolined out of the closet at the tender age of 16, he was none too pleased. In those far-flung days, only the likes of sexually ambivalent Larry Grayson, Kenneth Williams and John Inman were in the public consciousness and they all kept a foot firmly in the closet door. Most people thought all queers were predatory child abusers recruiting for the cause (some pond life still does, of course). Ironic, now that the Jimmy Savile scandal from that very era has now hit the fan. As the years rolled by, my brother’s views mellowed and moderated. I see his altered image as a metaphor for society as a whole. On the evening of our 5th wedding anniversary, John and his wife treated us to a slap-up meal at Jamie’s Italian. Thanks bro!
I’ve always had a soft spot for Julian Clary. Britain has a glorious tradition of camp comedians tripping out bawdy innuendos with mincing aplomb – Larry Grayson, John Inman and Frankie Howerd to name but three – but Julian was the first to place his sexuality at the very heart of his act. Sexual ambiguity and suggestive salvos from the back of the closet are not Julian’s style. He slaps it on with a shovel, love it or hate it. The verdict from the predominately straight, middle class, middle aged audience at Norwich’s Theatre Royal was unanimous. They loved it. I’m glad to report that Blighty’s continued pre-occupation with the lewd, the rude and the crude is alive and giggling. We loved it too. Julian provided an unexpected bonus, a marriage proposal live on stage from audience member Samantha to her partner Bonny. A ‘yes’ from Bonny was rewarded with a lively ovation all round. Julian ended his glittering passage with a nod to his more thoughtful side by speak-singing “It’s not yet cool to be queer,” a moving political broadcast for those poor souls living in less tolerant parts of our rainbow world. Julian’s show does exactly what it says on the glittery tin. He may be a one-joke comic but, blimey, what a joke.
We’ve been watching a lot more British TV these dark and damp evenings. We became a bit bored with Patsy Kensit’s woodentop acting on a continuous loop courtesy of Auntie Beeb’s international offering. This was one reason for dumping Digiturk (that, and buggering off back to Blighty). We recently caught Dancing on Ice, ITV’s trashy and less cool answer to the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. The friends of Dorothy have always loomed large on the entertainment payroll but none so obviously as Louie Spence, the campy Gatling gun judge and leading dancing queen. Louie lispily declared to one of the Z-list contestants attempting to revive their dead-as-a-dodo careers:
“You made a short but perfectly formed homosexual very happy.”
Remember, this is prime-time terrestrial TV with the little-uns watching. While I generally find Louie a bit too much of a stereotype, this short but perfectly formed homosexual loved the fact that nobody battered a moral eyelid. Larry Grayson must be turning in his grave.