Oliver has just moved from the Admiral Duncan to become General manager at the Duke of Wellington in Soho. He loves Calvin & Hobbes and his new Paul Smith suit but does not miss his daily Proud Mary!
Where are you from originally?
The city of Steel. I’m a northern Monkey from Sheffield in South Yorkshire or for the Londoners ‘outside the M25’.
And where do you live now?
I live above the Duke of Wellington with my partner Matthew, a cat and three life-size Kylie cardboard cut-outs. I just love the serenity of Soho and the 4am drunken girl screeching Celine Dion, it’s the perfect lullaby to send me to sleep at night.
What do you love about London and why?
I am, truly, one of those ‘Liberals in London’ and love being around like minded people, with what’s been happening with our country and the world I’m still hoping that petition to make London our own country and still part of the EU is still going.
What was the first gay venue you visited?
Queens Court. I was living in Leeds (during my straight years) and my housemate Rachel had to go on a date with one of the staff to get a job there (that was how it was done in those days apparently). She passed the interview and got the job and I then had the excuse to visit all the time where I got to meet Skinny Mini, Ashley and Dan who got me into the gay pub industry, amongst other things, in London.
How has it been moving from the Admiral Duncan to the Welly?
It’s been absolute bliss not having to hear Proud Mary sung everyday by a drag star. Leaving there was bittersweet as A LOT of blood, sweat and tears went into the Dunky and it is now one of London’s premiere cabaret venues. I have swapped Drag for Bears and I am very excited to have returned to the Welly as there is work to be done here and I have plenty plans for the future with a massive refurb scheduled. Also, our customers are certainly easier on the eye than Baga Chipz every week.
Favourite club/bar/venue in London and why?
I think you would have to have a life for a favourite bar or club, but when we do get out of the house I love to go to the Ham Yard in Soho with its beautiful outside courtyard so I can sit and chain smoke and drink a bottle of blush.
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
Currently 80s and 90s female rappers. I’m obsessed with Salt-N-Pepa, JJ.Fad, TLC and L’Trimm. I missed this genre when I was going through my goth phase and sadly, for my staff, I am constantly playing it at the Welly.
I just recently went to Australia for my friend’s wedding. I used to live in Sydney and I wanted to be dressed to impress so I bought a new Paul Smith suit. All I’m saying is that it cost a lot more than the flight to Oz and it was totally worth it.
Best gift you’ve ever received and why?
The first Christmas present my partner Matthew got me. It was a special edition, leather bound book of Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes. I have loved this newspaper comic strip all my life. I was completely shocked when I opened it and felt sorry for Matthew as he hasn’t been able to top it since.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
It will always be the Orlando vigil we held on Old Compton Street in 2016. It started with myself, Son of a Tutu and Joseph Devey creating a Facebook event, only expecting and wanting enough people to link arms up and down the street to receiving an email from the Chief of Westminster Police saying they expected over 11,000 people to be attending. It was such a proud and very humbling moment to witness and be a part of. It was great to get the other LGBT+ bars, Boyz and people from all walks of life come together for the gay community and to stand against hate crime.
If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?
I always wanted to be born just five years earlier. I’m always listening to 90s house music and would have loved to been one of the original 24 hour party people at the Hacienda Club in Manchester and raving it up at warehouse parties.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
My former Welly boss Craig Taylor always said that “it is all about the detail”. And in our fierce industry I believe it really is about caring about the little things and high standards.
Who is your LGBT hero and why?
It would have to be Jean-Paul Beaubier aka Northstar from the X Men, he was one of the first openly gay superheroes and the first same sex marriage in 2012 which was groundbreaking for the time and especially for the USA.
Who are the most entertaining people you follow on Twitter and why?
My most entertaining bezzie has to be Charity Shop Sue, she’s hilarious and of course, the Aussie sensation Sheila Simmons. We have been lucky to get her for our new #BusyLadyBingo every Tuesday from 8pm at the Welly. I have never played bingo before and those who have will never have played a game like Sheila’s.
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?
I want to go everywhere I haven’t been in the world already but if I have to narrow it down I want to go to a little village in Northamptonshire called Blatherwyck. Mine is not a common surname and so either it means “to talk a lot about candle wicks” or I have my own village. I would love to visit and come in riding a horse and collect all my taxes owed from my people.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
I don’t regret anything that has happened to me as it has made me who I am and where I am today, so I am a very happy man with amazing friends and family.