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logo Quentin Crisp visits Glasgow Gay Centre 1978: LGBT History Scotland
logo Quentin Crisp visits Glasgow Gay Centre 1978: LGBT History Scotland

Quentin Crisp

 On Saturday May 20 [1978] I took the opportunity to spend an evening with Quentin Crisp' along with several hundred others at the Haldane Building in Renfrew Street. Not having seen the television programme on Mr Crisp, 'The Naked Civil Servant', nor having read his book of the same name, I was not quite sure what to expect. Also how much of and what type of an audience would Mr Crisp draw? In the event, the halll was filled some ten minutes before the 'evening' was due to begin, and, surprise, surprise, the audience appeared to be mainly young, married heterosexuals, although a few well—kent faces could be seen.
  What of Mr Crisp himself, the man who had outraged London all those years ago by his flamboyance? The flamboyance was still there, although age had tempered it. He spoke in a voice which he told us the New Statesman had described as a 'tired voice', but which to me evoked images of a kindly elderly relative, a voice to feel. comfortable with. The purpose of the evening was to introduce us to the Crisp philosophy of 'style'. Mr Crisp urged that each individual should live her/his whole life in accordance with the style which she/he had chosen. To obtain the maximum benefit great care had to be taken in choosing the style, and, once chosen, it had to be adhered to completely in all its aspects, despite whatever constraints might try to interpose to cause 'the individual to deviate from it.
  The other potential danger to one's style came from living with another person, in that the almost constant close proximity of another would inhibit and compromise the style. Not that he wished to deprive anyone of sexual relations, Mr Crisp hastened to assure us, lest 'he should lose some converts, but 'suggested other arrangements falling short of cohabitation, which was fatal to style. The philosophical content of the evening was peppered with anecdotes illustrating various aspects of' style, lest the evening should 'become all too serious.
  He closed, the evening by answering written and oral questions from a responsive audience, and answered these' in a manner which highlighted what had come through during his talk, namely his 'humanity and humour, the. latter never becoming the kind of point—scoring humour into which some performers fall in this type of contact with their audience.
  Mr Crisp took up the invitation issued by one of his questioners and came along' to Glasgow Gay Centre afterwards

Quentin did indeed come to the club after the show. He was charged admission, presumably, because whoever was on the door did not recognise him. He was his own in the club and Stewart Nicholson, recognising him, spok to him. (Reported by Stewart Nicholson)

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