Death Of Quentin Crisp Scuppers Tour PlansDate: 22 November 1999
The many admirers of Quentin Crisp, who died suddenly on Sunday, aged 90, were left shocked and saddened, not least because they will be denied the chance of seeing him in person in his scheduled one-man show, due to open in Manchester today (Monday).
Despite his friends' reservations, Crisp had been determined to go ahead with the whistle-stop tour of six British cities. Even the show's producer, Mark Ball, gave him the opportunity to cancel as recently as four weeks ago, but the self-styled 'stately homo of England' was determined to visit his mother country one last time.
The fact that he died at a friend's house in a Manchester suburb, not long after flying in from New York, where he had lived since 1981, has an ironic twist he would have enjoyed. Born Denis Pratt in the ultra-suburban Sutton in 1908, Crisp rejected his conventional roots to become a metropolitan eccentric and gay icon.
Decades before anyone was glad to be gay, Crisp flaunted his homosexuality with brave abandon, appearing on the streets of the West End with make-up, dyed hair and exotic dress. He regularly suffered beatings and verbal abuse for the privilege of being himself.
His life changed in 1968 with the publication of his brilliant autobiography The Naked Civil Servant, later made into an equally brilliant TV film, starring John Hurt in the role for which he will always be best remembered. Overnight the world was utterly enchanted by this original, witty and courageous character.
The real Quentin Crisp may be gone, but the fictional one, currently played by Bette Bourne in Tim Fountain's homage, Resident Alien, intends to keep the legend alive at the Bush Theatre until 18 December. Bette Bourne was a close friend of Crisp's and the two were due to meet up for tea this week.
Fiona Clark, executive producer of the Bush, said she felt Crisp would have 'wholeheartedly supported the notion that the show must go on,' especially since he had given it his 'full support and blessing' since the idea was first mooted.