Jonathan Hellyer is the man behind the uber-successful DE Experience, but he’s also the creator of Trannie Lennox – a very different character who’s equally as charming and hilarious with a cracking voice to boot. Here he reveals more.
Hi Jonathan, how would you describe Trannie Lennox to someone who has never seen her?
Trannie is a sweet Scots songstress – the love child of Annie Lennox and Billy Connolly. She channels Bowie and Tim Curry’s Frank N Furter and every girl or boy who ever felt ‘different’.
Where did the idea for her come from?
I’ve been toying with the idea of a Lennox-esque character for some years and Trannie actually debuted at the RVT a few years ago. I’m a huge Annie Lennox fan and I love Billy’s humour. I always felt that the two could be married, if not literally – I mean, they’re both spoken for, right? – then certainly via a character.
The DE Experience is a very successful and much loved act – why did you feel the need to create another character?
There was no real NEED as such, just a desire to have some fun and look at other means of creating a presence on stage. Call it experimenting with recreational drags.
What are the differences and similarities between the two?
Trannie is far more tragic, far more sensitive. She’s still in a state of flux over her gender and so desperate for love. The DE is lovely and warm but arrogantly self assured in comparison. Trannie less so. And Trannie’s upbringing in the shadows created by the light around her uber famous parents made for a lonely existence. She’s spent many years behaving badly. Her life hasn’t been great. It’s that which makes her want to perform. I think she’s healing herself on stage.
What does Trannie Lennox allow you to do that The DE doesn’t?
I think Trannie lets me experiment live on stage. She’s punk rock and glam rock and jazz and blue eyed soul and class with a clash. I get to play around with dialect too, which allows me to ‘act’ a tad. Always good for the soul, that is.
What can we expect from Trannie on Bank Holiday Monday?
Trannie has been scouring her songbooks. After years locked away, she likes to sing songs that matter to her and to the audience. Songs that move people. She’s looking to a have a bloody good laugh too and there’s no better place to do that than the fierce rulin’ RVT.
Are there any other characters lurking in that brain of yours that you’d like to explore?
Many. But am I brave enough to try them out? Erm…