Interviews

Son of a Tutu: This week’s Me, myself and I

The Outstanding Contribution Boyz Award 2017 winner, Son of a Tutu, follows the Men of Rugby League on Twitter and would love to visit South Africa’s Robben Island.

Where are you from originally?

My mother’s womb, Queen Mary Hospital, Mile End, June 1968. Proper Cockney me, eh eh.

And where do you live now?

I live south of the river but only just south, and can see the Isle of Dogs from my back garden. I have a knack of killing potted basil and parsley so cannot be trusted with pets or other human beings.

What do you love about London? 

Apart from it being my hometown, I love its cosmopolitan craziness, culture, nightlife – I am nocturnal by nature –multiculturalism and progressiveness. There is no other place on the planet like it except perhaps for New York City, which I also adore.

What was the first gay venue you visited?

The Brief Encounter on St Martin’s Lane. It must’ve been late 1990 when I had just returned to the UK from Nigeria; everybody stood around like they were going to eat you alive and I prayed they would. That first encounter would end up being anticlimactic but the hairs on the back of my neck still stand when I think of the chilling excitement and anticipation that preceded it.

Favourite club/bar/venue in London and why?

Anyone that books me regularly as they pay my bills and keep me connected to my community. #SelfishButTrue. The Admiral Duncan and G-A-Y at Heaven are my home venues.

What was the last theatre show you saw?

To be honest I haven’t been out to the theatre much lately, unless you count the mega star-studded panto at the Palladium last year. But the last thing that truly left an impression on me was The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory before its transfer to Broadway. I’ve never felt anything like it in a theatre before in my life.

What is your guilty pleasure? 

I don’t understand that concept of ‘guilty pleasures’ as the name suggests having a pleasure that does not quite meet with the approval of the pleasure police. I love everything that gives me pleasure without guilt.

Biggest extravagance? 

When I got my teeth fixed – I used to have Ken Dodd’s smile. It cost a fortune but at the time I was still the finance director of a Wall Street technology company. How times have changed.

Best gift you’ve ever received and why? 

My friend Michael Topping (of Topping & Butch) once bought me the DVD of Mariah Carey’s (I’m not a fan) Glitter for Christmas (I’m not a big fan of Christmas either). It was awful but he left the price tag on – 99p – gift wrapped it complete with bow and it looked so grand. We’ve been laughing since I unwrapped it and haven’t stopped.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Highlight of my career is also one of the highlights of my life and that was being involved with the Orlando Vigil in Soho last June. Nothing can take the memory of that day away from me. I still get chills.

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

All the ones I only remember going to, but not returning from.

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

As a black gay man, my past is full of hiding and fear of persecution. Couple that with the many mistakes I’ve made over time – they haunt me more than the successes elevate me – I’d just rather leave the past where it’s at and look to the future.

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

People will remember the great things you have done in a place but not as much as how you made them feel; get your priorities right.

Who is your LGBT hero? 

Too many to mention: David Bowie, Maya Angelou, Boy George, Imagination (the campest band in the 80s), Madonna, Billie Holiday, Marsha P Johnson, Harvey Milk, Fela Kuti, Flip Wilson, Danny La Rue, Lily Savage… If I could name them all, I would!

Who are the most entertaining people you follow on Twitter?

@JamesBlunt – Blunt by name, bitchy by nature; Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) – sucks it to Herr Trump every day; and Men of Rugby League (@RugbyLeagueMen) – they’re just so damn hot!

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

Robben Island, Robben Island, Robben Island: I just have to see where Nelson Mandela spent the best years of his life incarcerated for freedom of all.

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

That there were others out there, just  like me: I spent a big part of my adolescence thinking I was defective.

Catch Son of a Tutu regularly at the Admiral Duncan and G-A-Y at Heaven, plus also at The Victoria in Walthamstow this Saturday (11 Mar) from 9pm.

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