This week we have handed over the Boyz editor’s chair to the much loved cabaret superstar Myra DuBois. We asked one of her minions, Gareth Joyner to interview Ms DuBois, but first some words from the lady herself…
Dearest Boyz reader,
June is a very important month on the LGBTQ+ calendar. It’s declared ‘Pride Month’ in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, which happened in the June of 1969, but more importantly than that it’s MY BIRTHDAY! That’s right reader, each year Myra Day (as it’s now known) is celebrated on the 6th of June by AdMyras both nationally and across the globe. Down under in Australia they hold traditional Myra Day BBQs on the beach while in the Netherlands children leave out a large G&T in the hope that I’ll leave them lipsticks in a leopard print sock. How did you celebrate this year? A Myra Day dinner with friends and family perhaps? I ask because 2018 (the year that we’re in now (unless you’re reading this in the future, in the archives of the British Library where this historic issue of an important magazine will no doubt be preserved)) saw a very special Myra Day. It marked the 10th anniversary (or should that be Myraversary?) since I very first stepped foot on a London stage.
On the 6th of June 2008, I spent that year’s birthday very gingerly putting a timid toe (encased in a patent pump) onto the stage of Madame JoJo’s (may she rest in peace) before my very first London audience. Many people claim to have been there that night (rumour has it Princess Anne was snuck in disguised as a lumberjack) but only a handful of people actually were. I doubt that any of them could have predicted the tremendous success that lay ahead as that leopard print-clad blonde stood before them rather coyly clutching the microphone with her beautifully manicured claw.
I don’t need to tell you what happened to me next as by now I’m a household name with a career that’s quasi-folklore, but for the sake of modesty let’s say we met someone who’d never heard of me having been raised by wolves in a village unreached by civilisation. Hull, perhaps? They’d be astonished to know that in the years since that humble debut I’ve toured the UK with my hit one-woman show, I’ve filled (geographically) West End theatres, played a command performance before the Saudi Royal Family, taken the Edinburgh Fringe by storm, performed at the personal request of Sir Tim Rice, revolutionised the pub quiz genre and, lest we forget, enjoyed MANY television appearances.
To celebrate this milestone, Boyz magazine have handed over the editorial reins of their publication to me for an entire issue. You’ll find an interview with Her Upstairs, my report on a night out at Beefmince as well as personal top picks from across gay London this week. Perhaps best of all, my archivist and biographer, Gareth Joyner, sits me down for a very probing and honest interview with never before heard stories from my life and career – I can’t wait to read it!
Finally, a word of caution. For reasons that I cannot begin to fathom, they have given the final page of this magazine to the woefully unfunny ‘comedian’ Francis Michael Lavender. I’d skip it if I were you. I only signal this because I don’t want his inclusion in this issue to be perceived to be my own editorial decision.
On that note, grazie, chao, ta-ra!
When Myra met Gareth
We wanted to get to know – to really know – our special guest editor, so who better to question Myra DuBois but
the man who knows all her secrets, her most loyal staff member, Gareth Joyner.
Have you ever seen Myra DuBois up close and in person lit by natural light? It’s quite startling, isn’t it? Myra’s a woman that doesn’t seem to have mastered the art (or even been made aware of the concept) of daytime make up. Her face is caked in a pan-stick so thick that by comparison it makes Baby Jane Hudson look like she favours the natural look. Her eyebrows are painted high over those piercing eyes, their sharpness emphasised with thick black kohl, near a hairline that appears to be constantly fleeing her face; I can’t help but think she looks rather like a gorgon that uses hair relaxer. ‘The gorgon with the bouffant,’ I muse to myself, as Myra staggers into the bright, airy meeting room overlooking Old Compton Street in which we’re to have our interview.
“I’m late!” She exclaims, entering the room a few moments later with no indication of apology or explanation. “I’m absolutely parched.”
Myra’s eyes scan the small counter to the left of the door. I know Myra; she’s looking for booze.
“Dave, love,” she says to Boyz Head Writer Dave Cross, who, until this point, has been helping our photographer Captain Jack fiddle with his flash. “I’ll ignore that gum chewing if you’ll nip over the road and grab me a little can of G&T, there’s a love. Hello Jack! How was your week? Oh Dave; get three…”
Myra and Jack exchange small talk while Dave nips off to the shop. I’m sat by the window with my notes while my whippet, Vera, today acting as my emotional support dog, snoozes in the sunlight pouring through the window. It’s an extremely pleasant afternoon. Distant live jazz piano drifts in from a nearby bar accompanied by the percussion of gentle chatter from the street below. A group of Spanish (or perhaps Italian) tourists having coffee at the café below notice Myra from our first floor window and begin to point and laugh as they raise their iPhones to take a picture. Myra grins and waves back. She turns to me and makes her first eye contact of the day.
“Fans,” she explains. I give her what I hope seemed like an amused nod but she’s already turned back to Jack. I’ve deduced that she considers me the least important person in the room.
Eventually, and not before Dave Cross has returned from the off licence, I find myself seated by the window opposite the woman who, through my work as her archivist and biographer, has come to define the last 10 years of my life. She removes her gloves and I notice for the first time that, like me, Myra is a nail-biter. She looks at me.
“So,” she says, in my direction (I’ve never once heard her use my name). “Where shall we begin?”
“We’ve got 10 years to look back on, Myra, so why don’t we set the foundations first.” I reply. “Where were you born?”
“Rotherham Doncaster Gate Hospital on the 6th of June in the year 19-Never-You-Mind. I knew I was a showbiz baby because I was born feet-first in the corridor, right there in reception. I think the little foetal Me knew there was an audience and could wait no longer! In fact it’s my belief to this day that I enjoy bursting through the curtains at the Vauxhall Tavern so much because for me it’s a rebirth. It reminds me of the first curtains I ever parted to make my first entrance into this world! I’m talking about Mother’s labia…”
I spit my tea out at this unnecessary clarification and put down my mug.
“Right, OK. Fast-forwarding a bit. Your childhood; how was that?”
“Oh, idyllic – I was the centre of everyone’s attention throughout! Little beauty tip for Boyz readers: nothing brings out your own beauty like a dowdy plain sister. It’s true! I mean there’s a family resemblance between me and our Rose, absolutely, but the pair of us do look rather like the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ photos from a makeover show with a big budget,” says Myra, quite amused with herself. “Bless her,” she adds.
“And your parents? Where are the now?”
“Oh listen.” Myra’s annoyed. I feel that I’ve irked her by asking for her life story. “Here’s the abridged: Daddy left, Mother stayed. Yes, of COURSE I was adored at school, OBVIOUSLY I was in the school plays, NATURALLY I went into the world of amateur dramatics, and it goes without saying I got bored.”
“Yes, bored. Rotherham was too small an audience-pool for me. I needed something bigger, so I hopped on a coach and took off to London. This was 2008. Start from there.”
“Fine. Do you remember your first gig?
“Do I?!” Myra sets down her gin, freeing up her hands to gesture. “Oh it was marvellous, I had them in the palm of my hand. Not the first woman to have them in the palm of her in hand in Soho!” She adds. “That was funny, make sure you put that bit in…” I appeal to her ego.
“Do you think anyone could have known how much of a success your career was going to be based on that performance?”
“Yes,” she answers bluntly. “I did. I knew. I could have told you.” She picks up her gin and tonic. “Of course, all of this will be talked about at the concert.”
“The anniversary concert, at the Clapham Grand? Tell me more about that.”
“Well it’s a concert marking my 10 year anniversary at the Clapham Grand, Gareth. Honestly…” she turns to Dave Cross. “Martin Bashir was busy, I assume?” she snipes, indicating me. “We’ve got T-shirts out, which ARE available to buy on the website, mention that. So we’re doing the concert and there’s an exhibition at The Retro Gallery, which I’m very much looking forward to. It’s called ‘MYRA: Artiste. Woman. Muse!’ which will have lots of archive photos from my career, artworks that I’ve inspired across the years and a few commissioned originals too. And they’re all of ME!”
Myra goes to take a sip from her G&T but the tell-tale noise of a straw sucking at an empty can sounds and she sets down her drink.
“Look,” she says, getting up to leave. “If they want to know more about me they can bloody come to one of my gigs. I’ve always preferred live theatre, I’d rather SEE their reactions to my life story than imagine them reading it in some free magazine in a gay bar while they pass time waiting for a friend to arrive. Now, make sure you print the details of the concert at the end of the interview. The CORRECT details…”