Tom Jenkins: Me, Myself and I

Tom Jenkins is the man responsible, if that’s the right word, for much-loved scene favourite Martha D’Arthur. He loves Star Trek, bolted out of the first gay venue he ever went to and wants to see the Northern Lights.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Germany to British Naval parents, spent my childhood in Cornwall and the New Forest before I moved to London at 18.

And where do you live now?  

My partner Gordon and our dog Dizy moved to Salisbury at the beginning of last year. It was time to get out of the hustle and bustle and save a few pennies.

What do you love about London and why?

I love that you have places to go where you can bump into friends while popping to the shop. The places to explore in London are infinite.

What was the first gay venue you visited?  

The Penny Farthing in Hammersmith. I’d just come out to my friend and she insisted on taking me there. We hadn’t even made it to the bar from the front door when someone made some lewd comment to me and I bolted back out the door.

What do you think of the state of cabaret and drag on the scene now? 

I think our drag and cabaret scene is the best in the world. I love how diverse it is with something for everyone’s tastes. There are problems and I could talk at length about it but on balance I think British drag is incredible, strong, rich and full of passion. I constantly talk to people from abroad who are blown away by what we do and the MANY ways in which we do it!

Favourite club/bar/venue in London and why?

I am blessed to have residencies in three London venues, Halfway II Heaven, Admiral Duncan and The Duke of Wellington, so I’m not falling for this one. I don’t do clubs but for a little treat, I love the Cork and Bottle, a little hidden wine and cheese place on Leicester Square.

What is your guilty pleasure and why?

Easy one…. Star Trek. I’m a huge nerd! The TV shows, books, movies, trivia and now the Bridge Crew game on the PS4. I LOVE IT!

Best gift you’ve ever received and why? 

For my birthday this year, I got an engagement ring. Best present ever, EVER!

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

This is a job that is always giving back, the cabaret tent at Brighton Pride this year was the most electrifying experience (thanks Lola!), but I have to say a real highlight so far was opening and hosting the first show of the first Austin International Drag Festival in 2015. It was an amazing experience that started to open more doors for me through people I met there. In November I’ll be performing for five shows at the Red Room Theatre with Act II Stages in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico and my chum Delighted Tobehere from NYC will also be there.

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

I would love to have experienced watching the moon landing with the rest of the world as it happened. It must have felt like an amazing, hopeful and exciting time.

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

My favourite party was my friend Julia’s 30th. Everyone came dressed as kids TV characters. There was Danger Mouse, Thunderbirds, Ghostbusters, Mr Ben, Bagpuss etc. That was a fab night!

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

There are three sayings that changed me completely: Life owes you nothing so be prepared to work for what you want. Be nice and if you can’t be nice, be quiet! and finally: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Who is your LGBT hero and why? 

Pepe Julian Onziema is an Ugandan LGBT and human rights activist who has done some incredible work to promote LGBT rights and organise Prides in Uganda. He is just one of a few people campaigning in countries against deep, deep set prejudice. I can’t imagine the courage it must take to fight that. I’m so grateful for my life and so in awe of these people. They are braver than I think I could ever be.

Who are the most entertaining people you follow on Twitter and why?

Hands down Elizabeth Windsor @Queen_UK makes me laugh out loud. So does Donald Trump but for very different reasons and I love the eloquence of JK Rowling.

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

I desperately want to see the Northern Lights, and if I could combine that with a trip to Lapland to visit Santa I’d probably drown in my own childish glee.

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

That it’s OK to be yourself and you learn more by fucking up every now and then so don’t give yourself a hard time.

Martha will be at Halfway II Heaven this Friday (1 Sep) for a double cabaret session.

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