Since winning the Perrier Best Newcomer Award in 1994, gay stand-up Scott Capurro has spent a year winding up British straights and waiting for the Hollywood hotline to ring, discovers Eddie Gibb.
‘ very titne I did stand-up my best friend would be like. “Ooh. Scott” [he pronounces it ‘scaaht’l. “Pur- lease don’t do it — it’s such an awful business”.’ She may well have been right. but after several false starts as a straight actor. in both senses. Scott Capurro: Stand-Up Comic came out and came into his own.
‘I tried stand-up when l was in high school and at college. ljust hated it because I was closeted but I didn’t realise that was why I hated it. right.’ explains Capurro in a stream of camp consciousness. ‘and then when I started doing it as a gay person it was fun. but even then it was a casual talent —I never took it very seriously.’
He does now. Capurro’s talent as a comic was refined in a gay San Francisco comedy
‘Straight critics think they can do that because I’m a gay man. Suddenly they start talking about my appearance which they would never do if I was a straight comic.’
club called Josie’s. a friendly environment where he could develop his style without being barracked for telling fag jokes. ‘Without Josie’s I couldn‘t have done it.’ he says. ‘Openly gay performers don’t happen that often because there’s nowhere for them to perform.’ Now the technique is honed and the talons sharpened. Capurro plays mainly straight venues where he bitches right back to even the rowdiest crowd. His mixture of disarming. self-deprecating camp. coupled with an endless stream ofbarbed put-downs aimed at straight men makes it hard for a have-a-go heckler to score many points. Yelling ‘ya poof’ at this guy is hardly going have much effect.
When Capurro came to Britain he was booked almost exclusively into straight clubs. which he says he now prefers. This gives plenty of chances to take the rise out of straight boys about their dress sense and lack of sexual candour. Occasionally they snap. On more than one occasion a straight male who felt his heterosexuality under threat in front of his girlfriend has risen. seething, from his seat in an ‘l’ll ’ave you’ manner. So far it has never come to blows (snigger).
lnevitably. Capurro says he doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a ‘gay performer’, but there’s little getting away from the fact that his sexuality is the thrust (settle down at the back) of his shows. If Capurro didn’t already exist. Armistead Maupin would probably have created Capurro as a character for one of his
Tales of the City cycle set in the dizzy spin of
San Francisco’s gay scene. Off-stage he’s just as camp and just as funny. When we meet Capurro talks entertainingly about how he dumped the preppy look for designer clothes. It’s a good bet linen dominates in his wardrobe, but he won’t thank me for mentioning it.
‘C‘ritics write that l have meticulous hair and a pressed shirt [he does] but I don’t want to be objectified like I’m a woman.’ he says. ‘Straight critics think they can do that because I‘m a gay man [I don’t]. Suddenly they start talking about my appearance. which they would never do if I was a straight comic.’
This isn’t entirely true. of course. and it could be a sign that Capurro is worried that his campness could be mistaken for a lack of serious intent — and boy. does he have ambitions. After a small part in the Robin Williams drag film Mrs Doubt/Ire. Hollywood looked like a serious possibility. But since winning the Perrier Best Newcomer Award in 1994. Capurro has spent much ofthe last year in Britain playing the club circuit. It’s been fun. he says. but hasn’t done much to further his movie career.
‘l’m still a nobody in LA.’ says Capurro. ‘I showed this guy the Perrier award and he said “that’s nice. did you make it?” and I’m like. I guess I did in a spiritual kind of way! They have no idea where Scotland is. They just want to know the last time you played LA — that’s all they think about. If they’re going to suffer the hell that is LA. they want everyone else to suffer
SCOTT CAPURRO FEATURE
Capurro is convinced. and there’s no reason to doubt him. that television opportunities have failed to materialise not because he’s gay. but because he’s so out. His comedy shows suggest playfully that gays have more fun than straights. but off stage Capurro admits that homophobia could be hurting his career. ‘ln American TV and film I run into this thing where people say. “uh. you’re openly gay - always?" Agents won’t approach me because they’re gay themselves and don’t want to be outed.’
Little of this sense of injustice creeps into his shows - Capurro isn’t a whiner and certainly doesn’t regard himself as a gay spokesman - but there’s a brittleness about some of his humour which hints at the difficulties of being a gay man in a straight society. He wrote last year’s show Risk Gay. which was part stand-up and part autobiographical one-man show. for the owner ofJosie’s who was ill. ‘He’s still alive — some of these queens will not die.’ he quips. During the interview. Capurro refers to dead and dying friends with a matter-of-factness that demonstrates how much a part of the grain of life AIDS has become for gay men. Capurro is just not one to chain himself to railings over it.
Seat! Capurmis Love and Affection Tour is at The Pleasanee (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 2 Sept, 6.50pm, £6.50/f7.50 (£6.5()/£5.5()).
Scott Capurro: lust looklng tor some love and aﬂoctlon
The List 11—17 Aug 199519