Lypsinka‘s perfectly groomed persona is light years away from the rough-edged, loud- mouthed Scouse that is Lily Savage. The lurid lass who ‘dragged’ us through a series of Viva Cabaret is about to compere Viva Variety at the Fringe — an experience her audience is unlikely to forget.
Behind the gaudy costumes and make-up, her Liverpudlian creator Paul O’Grady insists drag is just a way to earn a living. There is no philosophy crammed into Lily’s handbag and she chews up and spits out any attempts at critical analysis. O’Grady‘s aim is to be funny. not thought-provoking. not intellectually challengingjust funny. And a little crude.
‘lt‘s not like an alter-ego. just an extension of myself.‘ he says. ‘Sometimes it‘s just me in a wig. But I couldn‘t go on stage as Paul doing comedy. I‘d have nothing to say and I’d be a bit boring to look at.’
Described by O’Grady as an accident. Lily was born in his local Liverpool pub when the drag compere for a regular amateur night opted out. ‘I used to constantly whine I could do it better, so when the guy left, I couldn’t back out.’ he says. O‘Grady was an instant success and shortly after. was poached by a rival pub. Lily was on her way.
The 38-year-old former care officer shares Lily‘s working class roots and social conscience. He describes her as a champion of the underdog, unafraid of authority. but admits he would not dare utter most of what Lily gets away with. She is an ungainly blend of strong female characters who inﬂuenced his childhood — mainly his mother and aunt.
He is the product of a strict Irish Catholic
family, headed by a socialist father who refused to stand for the national anthem and ripped pictures of the Queen from family encyclopaedias. He denies his education in a single sex Christian Brothers school has anything to do with Lily’s conception.
Whatever his motivation. O’Grady has no qualms about sullying his masculine appearance — described as handsome by Epperson — with Lily‘s garish mask. Terence Stamp took a bit more persuading on the set of Priscilla. ‘Terence is a very vain man,‘ says Elliot. the director. ‘He has no reason not to be — he has been brought up being told he was beautiful. My idea was to take a beautiful man and turn him into an ugly old tranny. He had a lot of problems dealing with that.‘
Stamp was forbidden from seeing a single frame of the film before its showing at Cannes, when his delight was delayed by a period of absolute shock. Asked whether he would ever don a frock again, he replied: ‘Within the confines of movie-making, I try not to step into the same river twice.” What a drag. L]
The Fabulous L_vpsinka Show (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3), [2 Aug—3 Sept (not 15, 22, 30 Aug), 7.30pm, £8/£9 (£7/£8).
Viva Varier (Fringe) Edinburgh Playhouse (Venue 59), [9, 24 Aug, llpm, £12 (£10). Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert (Drambuie Edinburgh Film Festival), Opening Gala, ()(leon I, 13 Aug, 7.30pm, £12.50; 10.20pm, £6 (£4). See Film listings.
And if that 's not enough, lnsinuendos Cabaret Club ( Venue 66) has a host of drag acts during the Fringe. Telephone 550 ()4 99 for information.
Hugo Weaving (top) and Terence Stamp (bottom) to Priscilla: Queen 01 The Desert
.'.~' r ', 2/ e " my ’. 3' TI.“
1'; J r; ’ ' (I, I V _’ , l .‘1
‘My idea was to take a beautiful man and turn him into an ugly old tranny.’ Stephan Elliot
The List 12—18 August 199411