Saturday, 31 May 2008

Between a Rock and a hard place...

"It's a gay Pygmalion. My character turns this gasoline attendant into the highest paid movie star on the planet. He takes a callow youth and turns him into Rock Hudson, who was the perfect, ideal man - or so everyone thought."

What a great evening's entertainment Rock turned out to be!

This was not only a rather good play by Tim Fountain about the Machiavellian world of 50s Hollywood - personified in the bravura performance of Bette Bourne as Roy Willson, agent to the stars and supreme influence over the young Rock Hudson, manipulating the closeted gay hick into the macho "straight" star he became - but also a small-theatre extravaganza.

Advertised as a "red carpet event" we all went togged up, to be greeted with a lovely man in a sari, several queens with glitter in their hair, a six-foot drag queen, cute boys with braces - and Fenella Fielding!

Fuelled with complimentary glasses of Kir Royale and copious trays of mini cup-cakes, courtesy of the management of the Oval House Theatre, we and the rest of the audience (including Paul Burston, David McAlmont and other glit-lit-erati of the gay world) adored the play, Bette, and the sexy Michael Xavier (as Rock) in a frequent state of undress...

But it was the epilogue to the evening that provided the most fascinating entertainment.

Inducting Bette Bourne into the "House of Homosexual Culture Hall of Fame", Rupert Smith encouraged Bette to share with us some anecdotes of his extraordinary life - friendships with Ian McKellan and Quentin Crisp, his life in a drag commune ("the second floor was the make-up room - 270 shades of nail varnish"), and as founder of the infamous Bloolips drag theatre troupe. His recollections of a world long gone, of people who really made a difference during the time of the Gay Liberation Front right though to the tabloid-hate-filled AIDS era, provided a magical end to a magical evening!

Read the review in the Evening Standard

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