Obviously, with the kind of profile I have in my professional life - slutty, immoral, polymorphous sexual libertine and valueless psychopathic anti-social pervert etc (and believe me - I'm one of the *nice* guys in show business!) - it's easy to confuse the man/love object you see on your screen with the person underneath. I can't complain, really, I suppose. After all, it goes with the territory in this game - the light entertainment business being as it is fairly liberally sprinkled with the kind of people described above, as anyone who's ever had to sit through twenty minutes of Celebrity Squares will I'm sure agree. So I'll make no bones about the fact that, having cultivated the persona of a ruthless, physically improbable sex god/dess with the morals of a depraved waffen SS officer on shore leave in the Gambia, I have to live with the consequences.
But that doesn't mean it isn't hurtful when people assume from the outrageous opinions and controversial stances one is often obliged to put out into the public realm, that one necessarily holds those views or wants the world to be the way one reflects it as being in one's work. Oftentimes, the offence can be put down to a straightforward misunderstanding. For example, I was genuinely convinced, at the time, when I admitted to pederasty that I was confessing to no more than being a stickler for good grammar and somewhat picky about matters of acuracy and decorum in general; not some ruddy kiddy fiddler. I trust that since that dismal episode, I have more than made up for it with my abundant charitable efforts on behalf of abused children in South East Asia. The valuable work we do, helping them off the streets and into dimly lit factories where they can work 24 hour shifts sewing sequins onto leotards is not something I want to bring too much attention to, obviously. But to my mind, it seems simple - if the poor wretches *have* to be abused, then at least let it happen in a safe environment with a 5 minute water break every 11 hours and help keep the price of a glamorous all-in-one dance outfit within the reach of the humble Essex house wife into the bargain.
But for all those discreet and unhearlded efforts to do my bit for the greater good, I'm still seen in most quarters as some awful amalgam of Rasputin and Unity Mitford (with a bit of Larry Grayson on the side, most probably...) So it's no surprise that one can, on occasion feel like a terrible perversion of humanity; a horribly distorted version of a human being, the worried and haunted outsider condemned by public opinion to lurk around the darkest and seediest corners of society in ill fitting assortment of hosiery (and a bipperty-bopperty hat); a hideous freak; a terrible monster. But then, one thinks; "well, it could be worse, I suppose - I could be David Cameron..."
Given this, it was no surprise that when I was offered the opportunity to play the lead role in the Broadway production of The Elephant Man in 1980, I jumped at it. Anyone familiar with the tragic story of 19th century circus freak Joseph (John) Merrick who is not moved by his story has a cold and sterile heart if you ask me. There's a full account of Merrick's story here, for those who aren't familiar with him. I must say that, researching the role, I began to feel a quite shocking empathy with the guy. It was a very special moment, each night in the claustrophobic arena of the theatre, fending off genuine tears as I re-enacted the part where Merrick bit his mother's ink pen broke it in two and then turned blue. So, as a special treat, here's a youtube clip of me in action in what, I suppose, was probably my most successful acting role...
L.U.V. on ya,