Me, myself and I: Cabaret star Dame Julie Paid

Cabaret star Dame Julie Paid was also the guv’nor at Molly Moggs for 16 years, would love to be Marlene Dietrich’s dresser and is at CMYK in Wimbledon on Easter Sunday.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Plymouth, where my father was at Bible college training to be a minister after being discharged from the Royal Navy Submariners for being a drunkard lout. My mother was a schizophrenic so you never knew which version of herself was going to be around on any particular day. Still, there where plenty of seamen to occupy my time as a youngster! 

And where do you live now?

I now live in lovely Belgravia on my own. I’ve recently said goodnight to my long suffering Westies, Jelly and Jester, who were a big part of my life and I miss them enormously.

What do you love about London and why?

I adore living in the centre of London and can’t imagine being anywhere else. I’ve travelled the world with my job, but good old Blighty is by far the best. It’s a wonderful mixture of madness and mayhem and is constantly changing, so there’s always something to marvel at. I’m a huge fan of the theatre, darling, and I go with my bestie Steve who is a dreadful version of a throwback to the 80s, camp in the best possible taste. I adore him.

What was the first gay venue you visited?

The first gay venue I ever dared enter was in 1984, the now long gone, Brief Encounter on St Martin’s Lane and it’s strange to think I was running the gaff some 25 years later for a short while before it was turned into The Gymbox.

Can you tell us the story of Dame Julie Paid?

Since the closure of Molly Moggs in Old Compton Street, which I adored and loved so much, I’ve done very little as it’s taken all of that time to get my energy back after living and working at Molly’s seven days a week for 16 years. Julie Paid owes her misfortune to the wonderful talents of Jeff Kristian who asked me to join him on stage one night at the famous Father Red Cap, while he was doing his quick-change-on-stage show and I was his unhelpful sidekick, complete with a black satin Maid’s uniform. Beautiful! We were very popular back then, believe it or not, and I did my apprenticeship under Ms Kristian. Bless him. It was the best grounding to have him as my teacher and I’m eternally grateful for all his effort, time and patience.  We got Molly Moggs shortly after and that’s where I thrived and honed my act with the wonderful people who came to see the fabulous Molly girls, being Jeff Kristian, Cookie Monstar, Diamond Pearl, Dave Dale, Crystal D’Canter, Liza Sharp, Dave Bunce and Tiffany Wells, to name but a few. Brilliant days.

What gigs do you have on at Easter?

I’m making a rare appearance at the new CMYK Bar in Wimbledon on Easter Sunday evening so I’ll be hoping to snare myself a yummy bunny! Any takers, come on down…

Best gift you’ve ever received and why?

The greatest gift I’ve ever been given is pure and honest love, you know who you are! It’s my greatest extravagance too. It comes at a price. But there’s another way of looking at it, which is, as the great RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?

It has to be the wonderful Sunday afternoon marathon shows at Molly’s. The amazing number of people I had the greatest pleasure to meet and the odd lunatic I got to throw out in the street, with me shouting “Get out of my pub!” in full drag, are all so fondly remembered. I made some friends for life. We had the best parties at Molly’s as well. I’d decorate the hell out of the place at Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and Pride was epic.

What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?

A Simple Space at the Underbelly Festival on The Southbank. They’re an unbelievable group of seven gravity-defying acrobats from Down Under who are just staggeringly beautiful and jaw-droppingly marvellous to behold. Catch it if you can.

If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?

I’d love to go back in time just to be Marlene Dietrich’s dresser. The days of the old Hollywood stars are gone because the mystery has vanished. They were beautifully staged snapshots of other worldly gorgeousness in their day.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

The best piece of advice I was ever given was, “There’s always someone far worse off than yourself, so just remember to appreciate each day” given to me by Liza. I try my best to.

Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?

There are so many famous faces in the LGBT community I could name, but honestly, it’s the unsung heroes who do the smallest but most heartfelt things who I admire and respect the most. You all work so tirelessly and not wanting thanks for all the crap you endure. Thank you.

Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?

I’ve had the most wonderful opportunities to visit everywhere I’ve ever wanted to go, but I’d love to go back to Dartmoor and ride the greatest horse I ever had, King William. Carefree days.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

If I met the younger version of myself today I’d tell him not to rush about so hard and take time to enjoy this amazing gift of life we’re given. It’s over before it’s begun.

You can see Dame Julie Paid on Easter Sunday (21 Apr) at CMYK Bar in Wimbledon.

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