We asked our guest editor Myra DuBois who she would like to interview from the scene and she chose the lovely George Anthony from Her Upstairs, the Boyz Award-winning Camden venue that is home to Myra’s weekly pub quiz and her upcoming summer panto, Peter Pansexual – in which she stars, obviously…
Hello George, first thing’s first: tell us who you are and what you do at Her Upstairs.
I am to Her Upstairs what Joan Crawford was to Pepsi. Or perhaps, more accurately, one of the part owners, directors, bar manager, tech, counsellor, probation officer, drink dispenser, toilet unblocker, heckler and drunk aunt. We are a family and we do everything we can to make Her Upstairs work.
So what, or perhaps ‘who’, is Her Upstairs?
It is, as you famously say, a loft conversion in Camden that just happens to sell booze and be full of queers. It is our entire family. All of us. Our incredible children, our dear friends, our darling staff, all the performers that put up with our dressing rooms and put on the incredible shows here, Edna, our ray of sunshine Frances, our writer in residence Gareth Joyner, our artist in residence Herr and of course everyone that comes and puts money behind the bar.
How did Her Upstairs happen? For example, if Her Upstairs were a character from, say, the Marvel Universe, what would the origins story be?
I don’t really know the Marvel Universe. I think of Her Upstairs more as one of the Golden Girls than a superhero. Camp, bitchy, worn round the edges, decked out in poly blend fabrics, kitschy decor, a dependency on booze, and old-looking but glamorous. I do know that there wouldn’t be a Her Upstairs if there hadn’t been such a strong family at the Black Cap, if it wasn’t for Wayne Shires giving us a home with Bloc Bar, or people like Edna, Dan and everyone else who helped us literally build the place from the balcony it originally was. We actually decided to do this nonsense the day after Pride 2016, so another reminder not to make life changing decisions hungover or on a comedown.
You’ve had some pretty big names perform at Her Upstairs, care to drop any?
Other than the obvious – you, Myra DuBois – we have had the pleasure of working with Amanda Palmer, who was a total gem and played for hours and hours, and some of those folk from that there Drag Race telly show. Oh and Nicola Roberts sang after hours once, but we don’t quite know if we can talk about that.
Describe an average Her Upstairs punter to me, if there is such a thing?
I don’t think I can. It really is a complete mix of people and as long as you aren’t an utter arsehole there’s a home for you here.
What’s your wildest memory at Her Upstairs?
I do sometimes struggle to work out what’s reality and what is utter fiction. I know there was an imaginary art show at one point, where Holestar brought a glass of water vapour from a melted imaginary ice sculpture. There was a Scooby Doo show that was simply absurd, Pride last year was pretty insane, and then that New Year’s Eve when we nearly burnt the place down. And of course there’s stuff that happens after the doors close that I simply can’t speak about for numerous libellous reasons *eyes emoji*
Many people remember where they were when Kennedy was assassinated or when the Twin Towers were hit. Describe your excitement when you first heard that television’s Myra DuBois would be hosting a weekly Tuesday pub quiz at Her Upstairs. Where were you? How did it feel?
I was in the meeting with you. It was a mixture of emotions; the only way to describe it was as a form of spiritual transcendence, a religious experience, if you will. I am still not sure it actually happened or if it was a fantastical fever dream, but I shall cling on to it for dear life.
How are rehearsals for the upcoming summer panto, Peter Pansexual, starring Myra DuBois – me – going? No really, how are they going? I’ve yet to turn up to one…
Even in your absence it looks like it is going to be the best show we have ever done. The script is hilarious, the cast is amazing and the whole thing just seems to be going well, even after only a week. Watching rehearsals is like watching a low budget Netflix version of Mean Girls – Sooz Kempner vs Kitty Scott Claus and Ophelia Love is quite something.
You had the great privilege of receiving the first Boyz Innovation Award presented to you by none other than me – Myra DuBois, off the telly – earlier this year. That must have felt very special, both winning the award and having me give it to you. What do you remember about the night?
It was a great honour, but I missed the ceremony as I was being innovative at the bar working The Cocoa Butter Club with one of my best friends, Sadie Sinner.
And finally, gazing into the cauldron for a moment (the crystal ball needs charging), can you tell us what’s in store for Her Upstairs’ future?
It’s a cliche, but, bigger and brighter things. We’ve only been open a year and half and we just have so much more we want to do and create. Our fabulous family gets bigger all the time and is full of ridiculous ideas and so much talent. Oh, and inevitably more social media drama, more competitions and more camp.