interaction with the public that’s his me’tier. The new show is. he says. far less rigidly scripted than any previous tours. allowing him to improvise with the audience and put them in their place like a more benign and cuddly Dame Edna. The scene is set. then. for a return to triumphs like the great and largely unscripted game show Stiekv Moments. co-created by Clary and Paul Merton. where he made up the rules as he went along. As if he would ever abide by anyone else‘s.
Clary has just finished the pilot of a new TV show. due to be screened on BBC2 in September. and is under strict instructions from the Beeb not to breathe a word about it until its big unveiling at Montreux. The only titbit he‘s prepared to drop is that ‘it‘s not a sitcom. it‘s not a game show. it‘s a punter-based show.‘
Whatever it turns out to be. the show marks the end of his years in the televisual wilderness to which he was banished alter his ‘red box‘ quip at Norman Lamont‘s expense at the Comedy Awards. ‘You get on some blacklist. don‘t you.‘ he muses. ‘of being unsuitable for broadcast.‘
Surely. though. he must ranklc at the severity of this unofficial ban‘.’ After all. this was Norman Lamont — already savaged by press. public and politicians long before Clary got around to him. It‘s not as if he was boasting of unnatural congress with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Or even Michael Jackson. ‘Mmm. Well. they like to control everything. and if you‘re considered dangerous in that way then it’s a worry to them. the powers that be. ljust got on with other things. I went off to Australia. and they couldn‘t understand what all the fuss was about at all over there because they have a very earthy sense of humour. I just took my services elsewhere.’
lndeed. Clary‘s been spreading himself about a bit. Earlier this month. he made his Lloyd Webber debut. speak-singing ‘Herod‘s Song‘ a la ‘Leader Of The Pack‘ on a radio broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar alongside Roger Daltrey (Judas) and Tony Hadley (The Big C). And last summer he tried his hand at. if you‘ll pardon the expression. straight acting in a previously unperformed Jean Genet play. Splendid is. at the Lyric. Hammersmith. 'Like a lot of Genet‘s plays. it was about people coming to terms with imminent death.‘ This was. he says. a nice break from having to make people laugh. but we‘d be ill—advised to hold our breath waiting for a follow-up.
Because his public image is stereotypically camp and unapologetically mincing. it‘s always been circulated that Clary is a hate-figure to certain sections of the gay community that have been trying to bury that stereotype for years. But Clary insists it‘s a media myth. just one of those things ‘that journalists bring up‘. ‘Certainly nowadays.‘ he adds. ‘the gay community is made up of all kinds of diverse people. and just ’cause you’re a well-known homosexual doesn’t mean you‘re representing everybody. You can’t do that.‘
But it seems as though he was expected to do just that on the first edition of Nicky Campbell‘s current BBC Scotland series. when he was pressed to justify his support of outing closet gays in an interview that started out at cross purposes and got progressively more awkward. By the end. you could have been forgiven for thinking that Clary advocated the sexual scrutiny of everyone in the country. which wasn’t what he was saying at all.
‘I think outing is acceptable because I don‘t think sexuality is private — that‘s the point I was trying to make —— I think your sex life is private. and there‘s a big difference. I‘m not saying that newspapers should print everything about what people‘s private lives are. just if someone is being hypocritical — it’s a different matter. It‘s a
‘For things like the age of consent, it
just seems common sense to me that
everyone should be equal. I think it’s difficult enough being gay without being criminalised along the way.’
subject people do get quite worked up about. I think they confuse the News Of The World exposes of vicars and things like that with what I‘m saying. but it‘s not the same thing.‘
One gets the feeling he‘s always being manoeuver into these subjects. although he does do benefits for organisations like Stonewall. and happily lent his support to the campaign to reduce the homosexual age of consent to sixteen. But. as a comedian. he prefers to leave the campaigning to those who‘ve made it their life. like members of Stonewall or Outrage. ‘They both contribute a great deal. and they‘re much better informed and much more interested in it than l am. I find myself asked about it because I‘m a gay entertainer and you get drawn into the fray. But for things like the age of consent. it just seems
JULIAN CLARY FEATURE
Julian Clary: Bare-Faced In A Lycra-Free Zone
common sense to me that everyone should be equal. 1 think it‘s difficult enough being gay without being criminalised along the way.’
He‘s happy to talk about his pri me life in the new show. because it‘s under his control for a change. Clary was furious when one of the tabloids ran a sensationalised story about how he watched his lover die of Aids. and is famously guarded about his privacy. Since then. the gentlemen of the gutter press have largely left him alone. Not that Clary reads them anyway. ‘They‘re not that bothered about printing the truth. l don‘t bother about speaking it. either. when I‘m talking to them.’
Well. yes. we‘d sort of gathered that. How often does he make things up for journalists? ‘All the time.‘ That he‘d been crucified in a past life? ‘Oh. have I said that? Well. you do try and make yourself sound more interesting than you are. ‘cause that‘s what they want. really. And I do get a kick out of reading that I’m 28 when in fact I‘m 36.‘ And how about the tale that his worried parents left military recruitment pamphlets under the teenage Clary‘s pillow? ‘Ooh. yes. Well. that‘s not true either.’
Julian Clary is 36. His first taste of show business was as a Gay Tarzan telegram at a tenner a time. Apparently. this is true. He likes gardening and wiping down surfaces. That we can safely believe. He was never cruciﬁed in a previous life. But there‘s time yet.
Julian Clary plays The Pavilion, Glasgow on 'l‘liarsdav 28 March and Edinburgh Festival Theatre on Sunday 3 / Marc/1.
The List 22 Mar-4 Apr 1996 7