Buckle up, the bitch is back! Pam Ann’s 20th anniversary show

This Tuesday comedy legend and our favourite non-basic bitch, Pam Ann, begins six weeks of shows at the Leicester Square Theatre. Touch Trolley Run to Galley is a celebration of 20 years of inappropriate behaviour and laugh-out-loud comedy from the world’s greatest layover. Dave Cross had a transatlantic catch up with Caroline Reid, the woman behind Pam, to find out what’s in her safety manual.

Hi Caroline, it’s Pam’s 20th anniversary, does it feel like 20 years? 

Sometimes it feels like I’ve just got it. Like I’ve just figured her out and I’m ‘Oh, this is what I do…’ And then sometimes it’s like when I first started and I’m like ‘Who is she?’

Where did the idea for Pam come from? 

Originally I thought it would be a dramatic piece and not comedy, but that didn’t really work out, did it?! I genuinely wanted to be a serious actress and go down the Dame Judi Dench route, but after I got rejected by every drama school in Australia I thought I better do it myself and everything happened by trial and error. I was winging it as an actress and originally I was doing another character called Tragina, who was a tragic nightclub girl. But then I dressed as an air hostess for my birthday party and she kind of grew out of that. And vodka.

How did she evolve?

Well when you’re surrounded by gays and drag queens things start to change. All of a sudden Pam was wearing long fake nails and big wigs and it was the beginning of cunty Pam. She was teased out of me by those bitchy drag queens in Sydney.

Was there ever a masterplan for world domination?

Ha ha ha ha ha! There was never a plan of any kind. I still don’t have a plan, I’ve been winging it for 20 years.

Why did you leave Australia and come to London?

My mum was from Britain, she was one of the Ten Pound Poms, so it was supposed to be an easy option, although I totally fucked up the paperwork and nearly got deported before I even arrived. But in the end it all worked out and tuned out to be the best thing I ever did.

What were your first gigs here?

My first ever gig in London was the Way Out Club with Steffan and Vicky Lee, then Madame Jojo’s, and then I started at the Two Brewers.

And that was every Sunday?

Yes, and there was Lola Lasagne, Sandra, Dave Lynn, and then Charlie Hides and loads of other fantastic acts. It was great to have a residency but I think I basically did the same script every week for years and people would shout out ‘Do some new material!’ In fact some queens still hold on to that one and they still yell it at me. Hilarious!

You’ve done some amazing things over the years – tell us about Elton John’s private jet…

It was just insane. I used to do Bromptons every Monday night and there was this guy there every week, probably getting his dick sucked, who turned out to be producing David Furnish’s 40th birthday party, and he booked me to host the private jet for the party to Venice. Elton decided to keep the plane at the airport for three days – a Boeing 737 for three fucking days – and they invited me to the actual party as well. All I had to wear was my old Pam Ann white dress, which looked like a wedding dress, so I’m there at a Versace party in a dress I had to steam in the bathroom at the hotel. It was wild and totally unreal.

And what about being the support on the Cher tour? 

Cher’s manager Roger Davis saw my show in Sydney at Mardi Gras and sent me an email asking if I wanted to support Cher on tour. I wrote back asking him if this was a tribute act or Cher Cher, because I didn’t believe it. Of course I said yes, like anyone would, and didn’t really think it through to what it really meant until suddenly I’m there at Wembley Arena. I was so nervous. I was petrified.

Did you actually meet Cher?

All through the tour we kept getting told it was going to happen and then when we were in Glasgow we’d had a really good response to my set, and Roger told me she wanted to meet me. It was just before she went on and she came over and shook my hand and I just went totally blank. I got completely starstruck and couldn’t speak and then as she went off I heard her ask someone ‘Was that Pam Ann?’ I did redeem myself on the last night when I met her again and we actually spoke and she was so lovely.

Last year when I interviewed you, you said that you’d like to see Trump win just to see what kind of mess he makes. So is it all your fault? 

Oh my God, I did kind of see it coming, didn’t I?! He’s just hilarious and it has given all the comedians over here a new lease of life. I mean you want to laugh and then cry, it is the most corrupt government ever.

What do you think of Melania?

I kind of feel sorry for her, but only because she clearly thought she had signed up just to fuck a rich old guy a few times to get the expensive bags and shoes and then live a rich life in Trump Tower. And now she’s the First fucking Lady – she’s as shocked as the rest of the world that he got in. If I was her I wouldn’t move out of Trump Tower either, I’d want to stay as far away from that monster as possible.

What can we expect in the 20th anniversary show? 

It’s going to be a real greatest hits show. I’m bringing back the audience participation, which I haven’t really done for a while. There’s going to be music, loads of favourite things from over the years and lots of current stuff too, plus we’ve made a brand new film for the show, which is our take on a much-loved baking show. So I’ll probably get sued by both the BBC and Channel 4.

What goals or dreams do you still have?

I’d love to make a Pam Ann film. It’s been talked about for ages and it’s definitely a dream. I’d also like to write a book, using things from both Caroline and Pam – all the funny things that have happened to me. A sort of memoir. A memoir of sucking cock.

Photography:  Daniel Lugo and thanks to @calumwinsor @eric_claussen  with CGM – Caroline Gleason Management – Miami. 

Pam Ann: Touch Trolley Run to Galley is at the Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BX.

Book tickets in advance via leicestersquare or 0207 734 2222.

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