Once the scourge of Kelvinside, now the toast of New York, ALAN CUMMING is the only star of X—Men 2 with a debut novel to his name. We take a dip into his life. ‘.'.’v';fs Mark Fisher
he morning I'm due to talk to .-\lan ('umming I awake
from a dream. 'l'here’s me and there‘s Jane and w e'y'e
forgotten Rob's birthday. It was five days ago and w e'ye quickly to make amends. ()nly Jane isn‘t my wife. she‘s just a friend and Rob . . . well. Rob is my husband. How could I hay e missed my own liusband‘s binhday'.’
l‘or this gender-bending state of mind. I blame Alan ('umming. He spent the past few days reading his debut noy cl. 'lommy'w 'l'u/i'. a gossipy'. semi-autobiographical bisexual romp featuring eyerything from wanking on the top deck of a London bus to slim ing cocaine up a stranger’s arse in a disabled loo. When ’l'ommy has a girlfriend. he has sex with boys; when he has a boyfriend he has sex with girls. .-\nd the whole thing has plainly got under my skin.
‘l’arts of me hayc been him at certain times in my life.‘ ('umming recently said. so for 'l‘ommy. read Alan. This is Alan‘s tale and in that sense. it's the only book l’y'e read with an author who doubles as the subtitle. Alan (‘umming presents Alan ctnnming. Alan cums on ey'ery page.
But once you‘y'e acclimatised yourself. it's funny rather than titillating. This is not sex as a turn—on for the reader. but as a part of the eyeryday fabric of the life of his thirtysomething hero. Really. the book is concerned with belonging. with family. with feeling at home. 'l‘ommy's hedonistic excesses are a smokescreen to obscure his deeper longings for emotional security. His two flatmates are so much a substitute family. for example. that they frequently share bulbs with him.
In fact. there's a lot of bathing all round in 'limmzyk 'ln/e. which makes it all the more appropriate that when (‘umming lihones me from his New York apartment. he's in the bath. Yes. dear reader. I’m intery‘iewing Alan (’umming in the send. lle's lying there surrounded by ‘a massiy'e selection of skin products’ and an assortment of Mardis (iras necklaces. And I thotight my dream was freaking me out. ‘Screen please. l)r lireudl' he deadpans when l accuse him of messing with my mind.
last time ('umming made the front coy'er of The List was in NW when he and liorbes Masson were forging a name for themsely'es as camp Kely'inside comedy duo Victor and Barry. an onstage relationship that ey'entually mutated into the swinging air stewards. Sebastian Flight and Steve .\lc(‘reacken. in BB(‘2's The High Life. 'ln my office he got coy‘ers of maga/ines he been on and the first one I was ey'er on was The List.’ says (‘umming ‘lt's a really good picture. l owe it all to The I.i.y'l. Remember where you read it first.‘
Back then. he recalled the time at the lidinburgh Fringe of
IUSS when the duo had played to a cat. 'lt was fireworks night and nobody came.‘ he said. ‘liy'en the cat left eyentually'.‘ Today
it's a different matter. Since becoming the sensation of
Broadway as the emcee in ('ulmrer. the Sam Mendes prtxluetion espoited from London in the late 90s. he's been a bona fide A- list celebrity. A friend of mine went to meet him backstage in New York only to find Madonna in his changing room.
By that time he‘d already had parts in Circle of l'i‘ivIIt/S. (in/(lenlfy't' and Spice llin‘ltl and was soon to extend his quirky repertoire [0 Eyes Hit/e Shirl. 'I‘ilux and Josie and 1111’ I’uy'y‘y't'uls'. He also wrote. starred in and directed The .'\Illlfl'('l‘.yul'_\' I’urly — frustratingly still to be released in this country < did a camp catneo in Sex and (lie (in and plays Nightcrawler in this summer‘s big blockbuster. .\'-Mwi 2.
Add to this his noy‘el. his penchant for making collages and his own l'S celebrity interyiew series. [faraw/rapping with Alan (winning. and he looks pretty much like the modern
EXHAUSTING TRYING TO PROVE TO PEOPLE THAT YOU'RE NOT A BIG WAN KER'
Renaissance man. ‘I just do what I like.’ he says. 'I don‘t see that tlictes that big a difference between writing a book or acting. It's easy to say when you're successful. bttt l tlnnk you can change your life. .-\nd l atn quite proactiye.‘
But don‘t confuse being proactiye with being oyeily ambitions. Rather. ('umming is motiyated by the pleasure principle. ‘ln America people ask you much more about your career plan and how you‘re perceiyed. but I really don't giye a shit.‘ he says. ‘l‘un is quite high on my list of why I do things. And sometimes I do it for money or if I want to go to a certain country. .-\lso. I do things that I think are going to be real challenges. .»\nd then I do things that are oh. phew a bit of a (ltKltllL‘..
So how good a hedonist is he'.’ If he's anything like l'ommy in the book. for e\ample. he has a yery nice time getting wrecked. ‘l‘m not as good at that as he is.‘ says (‘umming ‘It's harder there’s so much goes on in my life. but I'm good at relaying and letting go. last night I had a great night of unexpected debauchery. l haye a place in the countryside I go to get away I lime to manufacture my easef
.'\s for fame. the boy fac rural l’erllislitrc reckons many of the starry cycesses we read about are nearly always to do with the minders. lint the celebrities. ’ll's like these stories llial you're not allowed to look in 'l'om ('ruise‘s eyes or that .l—l.o wants 75 bottles of l)om l’erignon (i2 l’omegranatef he say s. 'Someone at some point has said that. but /I(‘ hasn't and \/u' hasn't. People want you to beliaye badly. .r\nd it's eyhausting trying to proye to people tltat you're not a big w anker.‘
He doesn‘t go round with a big entourage. but neither does he trayel alone. Is that because he feels in danger? ‘\\'ell. in danger of being bored to dcatltf he laughs. ‘Sometimes l‘ye felt in danger when l'y'e had security issues. but mostly it‘s inst that people want to talk to you all the time and it's hard to go about your business. When I go out socially I don't go on my own either. bttt it's not like I go otit with bodyguards. When I do stuff on Broadway the producers giye me one because of a problem I had lat the time of ('u/iurel one stalker frightened him into changing addressl. If you haye people who are obsessed with you. it‘s much easier for them to find you if you‘re doing a show.
'l'm about to go out now and I know as soon as I go out onto the street [)CtiplL' will be looking at me. I'll haye to talk to countless people before I get to this meeting. But I still liye my life that‘s a decision I tnade. I'm a well brought tip boy and if someone wants to shake your hand and tell you a story about . . . a dream they had. I don‘t like being rude and l don't want them to think ill of me.
‘I was walking my dog the other day and he'd just done a poop. Literally. l was scooping tip the poop and this man came up and said: “Alan. Alan. can I get a photograph with youl’" And I said: “Not right now?" .-\nd so he walked with me to the end of the block where I put the poop in the bin and then he got his photo taken. I couldn't belieye it..
By now. (‘umming has done under his arms and he's out of the bath. ‘l'm ershing my teeth.' he says. "I better go.‘
Tommy’s Tale is published by Michael Joseph priced £9.99 on Thu 3 April. X-Men 2 is released on Thu 1 May.
".'_:' ' .' THE LIST 13