A daily watering/gossip hole at the Edinburgh Fringe this year
At the Edinburgh Fringe this year, I am co-hosting The Grouchy Club with Scotsman comedy reviewer Kate Copstick.
The idea is that it is a daily one-hour watering hole where comedians, other performers and – God forbid – members of the public can just come along and – uncensored – chat and gossip and bitch about their ongoing experiences at the Fringe.
The stories, I hope, will all be true; but some may have been elaborated in the telling.
There is that famous line in John Ford’s movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
Some stories are unverifiable, but are too good not to print. One of the things I studied at college was journalism. Our course tutor was, at that time, Production Editor at the News of The World.
He told us that, when a newspaper – particularly a tabloid – puts a question mark at the end of a headline, it usually means they do not actually believe the story but it is too good not to print. So:
MAN HAS SEX WITH ARMADILLO
is a real, factual story. But
MAN HAS SEX WITH ARMADILLO?
is entertaining but is probably a load of old cobblers.
Russell Brand: did he have a sex shop theme?
I remember the excellent Chortle comedy website once published a story that Russell Brand was considering (note that word) opening a string of comedy clubs which would have a decor theme based on sex shops.
This, I presume was part of an ongoing campaign of a load of old cobblers made up by his publicist to get Russell’s name printed on a regular basis to raise his profile. (It worked) I presume Chortle editor Steve Bennett did not believe it was true, but it was too good a story not to print in his trivia collection. I have never asked Steve about this but – to hell with checking the facts – I will assume what I say about him is true.
In my blog yesterday, I posted comedian Tony Green’s entirely true memories of the Demolition Decorators’ act in the 1970s/1980s.
Tony is also a mine of gossip on the British film industry. Here are two stories he has told me. Both, I think, are true:
Tony Green told me tales of the silver screen & more
“Vincent Price and Christopher Lee,” he told me, “shared the same birthday and Peter Cushing’s was the day before – which was strange, because they all ended up as horror film stars.
“When Peter Cushing’s wife died, he tried to top himself. He tried to drown himself, but he could swim. It is not easy to drown yourself when you can swim. He tried to give himself a heart attack by running up and down the stairs, but he did not have a weak heart.
“So he didn’t have a heart attack, couldn’t drown himself, didn’t really want to take an overdose – this is a few hours after his wife died. Then he reckoned he heard a voice saying: Peter, your time is not yet come. When God says your time has come, we will be re-united in heaven. And it was 23 years later before he died.
“Vincent Price had a sense of humour and occasionally he would phone up Christopher Lee who had no sense of humour and one time he asked: How is Peter?
“Well, said Christopher, as you know, he’s still waiting to go to heaven and meet Helen and, when that day comes Peter will, I think, find the happiness that he craves.
“But what if, said Vincent, when he dies, he knocks on heaven’s door and God says she’s out?
“Christopher said: I don’t understand.
“She could be out doing something else, suggested Vincent.
“I want you to know, Christopher told him, I find that remark extremely tasteless and I can’t believe that you’d make such a crass remark. When I next speak to Peter, I am going to tell him what you said.
“And, when he did, he had to hold the phone about three minutes because Peter Cushing found it so funny he fell off his chair.
“When Peter told Vincent about it, he said: As you know, Vincent, Christopher has never had much of a sense of humour.”
Tony Green, in his character of Sir Gideon Vein, recorded a series of introductions to his favourite horror films. (Sir Gideon Vein Presents)
“I think we did about four,” Tony told me. “They’re all very bitchy, last about five minutes and, considering they were all improvised – there’s no script… Have you seen Life & Death With Gideon Vein?”
It is a 20-minute film made in 1984. It is on YouTube.
“It was particularly difficult,” Tony told me, “because the bloke who made it was a rich gay Australian actor. We met him at the Henley Festival. My wife at the time got the mad hots for him and he got the mad hots for me. So we would all be in the pub and he would be saying to me: Surely you’ve got to be a little bit gay? And she would ask me: Why don’t you sleep with him?
“I would tell her: But I’m not gay! I enjoy having sex with you. He’s not a bad looking bloke, but I’m not a gay man.
“Somebody said to a very camp old actor: You’re a queer! And he replied: It’s not our fault that Nature played a dirty trick on us.
“These days, with Simon Callow and Ian McKellen around, if someone says You’re straight, aren’t you? you could say: Yes. It’s not my fault. Nature played a dirty trick on me. Ian McKellen is going around outing everyone. But not everyone wants to be out.
Eric Portman, UK movie star
“He outed Eric Porter – not to be confused with Eric Portman, who was a nonce. I’ve got nothing against gay people, but being a nonce is a totally different thing. I know Eric Portman was a nonce, because a friend of mine had him fucking him up the arse when he was seven years old.
“My friend told me he remembered being a little seven year old boy and Portman saying: Don’t tell yer dad. This is what happens to all little boys. It happened to me. It probably happened to yer dad. Don’t tell yer dad. It might hurt a little bit but you might like it. Don’t tell him what Uncle Eric did. Never tell anyone.”