We had an absolutely marvellous American Express party at Turnbull & Asser the other night. Star guest of the evening was the man who ran the legendary Soho after hours bar La Rue’s back in the early 90s. The Yard boys used to live in La Rue’s thanks to their double gin and tonics for a couple of quid.
The bar was named after the late female impersonator Danny La Rue who also lived in the flat upstairs. Considering we lived at La Rue’s it was incredible that we never met Danny. I did see him perform several times at the London Palladium where he made a marvellous Widow Twanky in Aladdin.
Danny was a pioneer and adored by men and women alike. My Grandmother was convinced he wasn’t gay because he always ended his act dressed in a tuxedo singing On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep. Nothing camp about that!
I think there is a biography to be written about Danny La Rue. He was a terrific performer and inspired so many artists including Regina Fong and Lily Savage. One of my favourite Danny stories from last night was the evening Danny La Rue attempted to take his dog into Soho House.
The doorman – poor fool – tried to stop Danny at the door with his no dogs policy. Danny raised himself on his heels, looked the doorman in the eye and said ‘No Dog? No Dan!’ You have to hear Danny’s voice for this story to have its full impact. He had a low, fruity voice that was incredibly flamboyant and show business.
There is a super interview with Danny La Rue and Sue Lawley where he takes her on with spectacular rudeness. I believe it crescendos with ‘thirty-five years in the business, my dear’ and ‘I don’t need your approval, my dear. The audience are my approval’.It was so infamous that Regina Fong sampled the interview as part of his act at The Black Cap.
I had such a lovely time talking about that golden gay era in Soho in the early 90s. We had a lot of fun despite it being pre-Grindr and the decade when AIDS killed thousands of gay men. I am having a lot more sex now than I did in the 1990s so consider myself very fortunate to have survived.
But back to No Dog No Dan. He’d make the best book, television biopic and possibly a stage show. I’d enjoy swapping Savile Row for the world of female impersonators for a year or so. Danny’s brilliance was that even in the later, drinking years when he couldn’t fill a provincial theatre, he tricked himself into seeing a full house. What a trooper!
I am feeling an awful lot better since my last letter. The memories of Toronto are still strong and I am medicating them with Prosecco. But this is going to stop.
My friend Shaun has invited me to spend the weekend with him and a couple of crates of Diet Coke. I did six weeks a month or so ago then celebrated with a bottle of Champagne. I don’t tend to make the same mistakes twice these days…
I am sure this is not the end of my romance with the booze but I think it is time to knock it on the head again or I will never move on. I probably need to get the love quest into perspective as well. If I take a bit more care of myself then perhaps another fellow will want to do similar for me.
Don’t think I can physically smoke more cigarettes than I am at present but they do tend to calm one down and pass the time. But I have given up before and I can do so again. The most important thing now is to get my sleep patterns back to normal … or whatever normal is for a nocturnalist drunken slut with anger management issues.
The one thing I have learned post Toronto is that people are more than willing to help if you ask for it. For example, after the AmEx party at Turnbulls I went for drinks at Dukes Bar and the kind chap who invited me ordered an Uber, took me to his house and bedded me down in the spare room. That was a kindness.
So what will become of this existential problem in Savile Row suits? Apparently I look well. The scars of Toronto are mental not physical. I don’t know which is worse. I suppose looking good is the best revenge as La Farmer often says.
I just have to remember how amazing those six weeks off the bottle were. I felt a million dollars and was so productive. I also had an awful lot more money and time to spend wisely. If I added up my weekly Prosecco bill I suspect I would weep. Then again, I enjoy it.