This is not hyperbole. It is true – with all that the title implies.
Last night, I told Sara that her show may not get as many laughs as she may have hoped for, because it is very difficult to laugh when your mouth is almost continually wide open and your jaw is repeatedly hitting the floor.
“That,” I said to her, “was not your original title for the show, was it?”
“No,” she said. “It was originally going to be called From Hollywood To Homeless – but I will save that story for another year.”
“And,” I asked, the title Burt Lancaster Pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11) was suggested by Tinky Winky from Teletubbies?”
“I was dubious about the Burt Lancaster title,” Sara told me. “I was dubious about even doing the story.”
“Even last year,” I said, “you were dubious about telling the story as part of a show.”
During last year’s Fringe, Sara and I shared a flat in Edinburgh.
“Well you,” Sara said to me, “must have been the second person I ever told that story to, the first person being my ex-husband.”
“How did he react?”
“He tried to sell the story to the newspapers.”
“With your knowledge.”
“Why didn’t they pick it up?”
“Because (she named another victim who was sexually attacked by Burt Lancaster) was alive at that time and he didn’t want it printed. He said: This is my life; I don’t want it discussed. He was so violent and vehement about it, so we dropped it.”
“One reason the show is so powerful,” I said, “is because the audience thinks it knows the worst from the title but, in fact you are very graphic about what actually happened – and then there is this extra unexpected thing they get hit with.”
“What inspired me and encouraged me to do it on stage,” explained Sara, “was seeing Chris Dangerfield’s show Sex With Children last year, because I thought Wow! I’ve got an anecdote quite similar to his and mine involves a famous film star.”
“So why were you so worried about telling the story in a show?”
“I was worried about my daughter, apart from anything else.”
“Bisexual,” said Sara. “He had five children and three wives. But he was a paedophile. That’s clear.”
Sara was brought up in Hollywood.
“Some of the child actors,” she said, “have come out now about Hollywood being a hotbed of paedophiles.”
“So this year,” I said, “your show is entirely truthfully called Burt Lancaster pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11). What’s next year?”
“The Beginner’s Guide To Bondage,” Sara told me. “I already have a set all worked out.”
“Why,” I asked, “is it called The Beginner’s Guide To Bondage?”
“Because I’m going to have a cross and I’m going to give a demonstration.”
“Why you?” I asked.
“Why me?” Sara laughed. “Ohhhh! that would be telling! But we all have to have a day job, don’t we?”
Having shared a flat with her last year, I know the Burt Lancaster and Bondage shows are only the tips of a flotilla of icebergs. As I left her last night, she said: “My father was a psychiatrist in Hollywood. He wasn’t allowed by his professional ethics to discuss the stars’ problems with outsiders. But I was his daughter. He told me the stories.”
Sara is by no means a one-shock storyteller. To adapt the most famous quote from All About Eve… Fasten your seatbelts, it’s likely to be a bumpy few years.