Interviews

Me, myself and I: Jonny Woo

Jonny Woo, the purveyor of alternative drag and co-owner of notorious East London fun den The Glory eats out for every meal but is yet to visit Barcelona.

Where are you from originally? 

I was actually born in Camberwell. My mum always told me it was Dulwich so imagine my disappointment when I saw my birth certificate. I grew up in a village called Hoo. Jonny Woo from Hoo! There you go. It’s in Kent near the Medway Towns.

And where do you live now? 

I live in Kennington or Elephant and Castle, depending on who I’m talking to on Scruff. I live with my my best pal.

What do you love about London and why? 

I love its diversity, in every sense. Its a melting point of culture, class, people, arts – everything! It’s always stimulating. It has wonderful parks too, the best in the world. It’s my home, it has a sense of community, which is being tested – but it’s everywhere.

What was the first gay venue you visited? 

In Chatham, The Ship, when I was about 16 with my friend Claire McGee. It’s a tiny pub and when you go in everyone looks at you. There I downed a pint of cider and smoked my first menthol fag, I think to get over the nerves. In London my first gay bar was Brief Encounter and the first club was Heaven, on Fridays. Garage!

Favourite club/bar/venue in London and why? 

Well I co-own The Glory and it’s definitely the best bar in town. We do more shows than any other bar and I bet we have the most varied programme. I save all my dance moves for the festival circuit these days and probably let my hair down more abroad. I sometimes find myself at Horse Meat Disco too. I love the Soho Theatre. It’s not gay but has a strong queer programme. I also like Hoi Polloi for coffee, lunch, breakfast and meetings.

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

Dreamgirls. I saw it twice. First time it was really good but the two female leads were off sick so I booked again and they were back and it was AMAZING! I got better seats too. The lead man is super hot and fantastic too! I’m seeing Imelda Staunton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? soon too – I can’t wait!

What is your guilty pleasure and why? 

Jungle Juice. Old skool poppers. I like them because I have to get them from overseas and store them in my fridge. I’m not sure what to do with them though. Any suggestions. I’m dying to know.

Biggest extravagance? 

I eat out almost every meal. All my money goes on eating out. Hoi Polloi gets most of my money. Working at The Glory we snatch any excuse for a lunch meeting in Tonkotsu, or we go to By The Bridge cafe, a bit like in The Apprentice, and shout “Why hasn’t it sold out?!” at each other. Now I’m living with my pal I’m hoping not to spend so much on food. It really is excessive!

Best gift you’ve ever received and why? 

The gift of life from my mother. Without it I wouldn’t be here today.

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

The Un-Royal Variety was pretty spectacular! Every new show or event becomes a highlight. The Un-Royal Variety is the show I always wanted to create and it will be even bigger this year. And so many things at The Glory. Lovebox was always amazing. NYC Downlow at Glastonbury, The Royal Opera House… It goes on!

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

I think New York City in the late 60s would be fun, to knock around Max’s Kansas City. I’m not sure if I would have been cool enough so it comes with the caveat that I would have been really cool – perhaps some amazing underground rockstar or drag queen. I would have probably died pretty quickly though; I bet the drugs were ace…

What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good? 

My 40th birthday party was amazing. Everyone dressed as characters from musicals. Luckily I have photos of everyone as I don’t remember a lot. The 150th Louis Vuitton party in Paris was pretty spectacular. Me and my chum Richardette played Bucks Fizz to the couture fashion crowd. And my buddy Mariano got married in Seville last year, that party was pretty awesome too. There was so much love in the place, it was so lovely. I was sober and had a wonderful time.

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

You came here to be an artist, so be one. Seen on a Post-it on a friend’s fridge.

Who is your LGBT hero and why? 

Lucy Fizz because she is amazing! Check out the movie Lucy all about her life!

Who are the most entertaining people you follow on Twitter? 

Max Allen – well, he is on Facebook – is the best person to follow. He is so angry, sometimes he is wonderful! George Bourgeois is also really stupid.

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

I still haven’t been to Barcelona! I know, right?! I love Spanish men! I bet the city is amazing. And I’d really like to go to Lisbon again; I went briefly and it was stunning.

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

That no one else’s opinion is actually that important and always do what you want or what feels right. Oh and nothing and no one is actually cool. Except Lou Reed!

The Glory will take over the bandstand at Mighty Hoopla in Victoria Park on 4 June. Book tickets via mightyhoopla.com.

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