So I was talking to Miss Behave, who bills herself “a facilitator of people’s good times, a crowd dominatrix with a friendly twinkle and the perfect Mistress of Ceremonies,” about the acts we should book to appear in the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show this August at the Edinburgh Fringe. She will be the compere.
It was the first time I had met up with Miss Behave since she came back to the UK a few weeks ago after a few months in New Zealand.
“What were you doing in New Zealand?” I asked.
“I was working in a small tent,” she said, “with the Daredevil Chicken Club, who do all manner of wrong things.”
“Such as?” I prompted.
“Well, one of the things they do,” she told me, “is banana-juggling with their mouths – very funny.”
“Oh,” I said.
“…into each other’s mouths, obviously,” she added. “Svetlana is a mail order bride for Mark. They’ve been happily together – or unhappily, depending on who you talk to, for…
“Genuinely a mail order bride?” I asked.
“Yes,” Miss Behave replied, shaking her head. “But they’ve genuinely been married for fifteen years. One of them’s from the States and one of them – obviously – is from Russia.”
“Obviously,” I said.
“They’re fucking brilliant,” Miss Behave told me. “I’m looking forward to working with them and we’re just trying to figure out how, because they’re just about to open a season in New York.
“One of the things I’ve been puzzling about is What’s the point of being authentic when the world is selling out? I don’t get it. It’s weird. One night when I was doing the Friday Night Freakshow at the Udderbelly on the South Bank, it was all getting a bit flat and so I just went Oh, fuck it! and this big-titted woman was heckling. So I went up and had a word with her.
“I asked her what her name was. She said Which name would you like? and I said Obviously, your stripper name and her reply was Not stripper, darling – Porn.
“It turned out she was Holly Halston, retired. Google her. She’s big. So I got her to do a little striptease for me and it all ended up with me sucking one of her tits.”
“In public?” I asked.
“Oh, of course, darling,” Miss Behave replied. “Oh my gosh, one doesn’t want to waste these things. It’s that sense of spontaneity that’s normally missing from shows nowadays. Everything’s terribly slick and terribly… Well, it’s like a photocopier that’s running out of ink.”
“And you hope to bring this to Edinburgh?” I asked.
“I hope to bring this sense of chaos to Edinburgh and I’m hopefully going to be compering a couple of Late ‘n’ Lives and…”
“I’ve lost track,” I said. “What else are you doing up there in August?”
“I’m doing a show called Not Another Fucking Variety Show.”
I laughed: “I bet it’s not going to be printed as that in the Fringe Programme!”
“No, in the Fringe Programme it’s billed as Not Another F*cking Variety Show. It’s Lili La Scala and The Boy With Tape On His Face doing a variety show. And I’m probably also doing compilation-type shows and I’m doing the street. I wanted to work on some new material.”
“You’re walking the streets again?” I asked.
“I’m walking the streets again, John.”
“Doing what?” I asked.
“Well, there’s a couple of new routines I want to work out and Edinburgh audiences are the best for the street.”
“Which streets will you be walking?”
“I will be walking the Royal Mile and The Mound… Me and The Mound get on very well.”
“And you’ll be compering the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show on the final Friday of the Fringe. So tell me why you want to do the Malcolm show.”
“I want to do the Malcolm show because the stuff I like watching the most is when you get really, really funny people flying away from their material. Malcolm, of course, never had any material. But he was really, really funny and I missed seeing him because I am too young. I missed all of that time and I am very bored with ‘now’.
“It’s great that variety’s back. I’ve really enjoyed being part of that, but I want the chaos. There has to be an element of order with chaos, but it’s getting the balance right and, at the moment, it’s just order. And I am bored with it. So I am compering the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show because it’s an honour and because, hopefully, we can bring a shitload of chaos to the last weekend of the Edinburgh Fringe.”