Me, myself and I: Neil Symons of the Madonna Fan Party

Neil is the promotor of the Madonna Fan Party that happens this Saturday at G-A-Y Late. This is the 30th event this mega Madonna fan has organised and he also has a soft spot for Belinda Carlisle, Bananarama and his mum.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Maidenhead, with husband and cats, next to my parents. 30 minutes from London but with a river and some green!

What do you love about London and why?

Soho – it’s where I found myself. After years of being bullied for being openly gay, I found friendship, acceptance and community. My friend Ellie and I spent days each week on the scene – safe, never lonely, always an adventure around the corner. We lived the glory days of Soho’s gay scene in the 90s/00s, it’s where I met friends who over the years have become family. Because of that it always feels like I just got home.

What can we expect at the Madonna Fan Party on Saturday?

Madonna’s team have supported us since 2003 – for our 30th event we’ve a winning formula. There will be eight hours of videos and music. People fly from around the world. I’m proud to hear stories of fans who met at our events who are still friends 16 years later, that’s why Sharon and I built the events.

How excited are you about Madame X?

Very! Madame X is more than a pop album. It’s a pop opera, a cohesive musical journey, her greatest, most personal work since Ray Of Light. I’m doing 40 shows on the tour and I can’t wait to see how she brings Madame X to life.

What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?

Madonna at Alexandra Palace Theatre last week. It was fantastic to hear her talk about the music and take fan’s questions.

What is your guilty pleasure and why?

I learned years ago to not take myself seriously so I don’t have ‘guilty’ pleasures, however people are surprised to discover I’m a WWE fan. I love the fun, drama, soap opera, fake tan and athleticism. I also love jumping on stage with Bananarama whenever I can.

Biggest extravagance?

200-odd Madonna events since 1993. I pack my bags up and follow her around the world when she tours. In 1993 when I first saw her live, I spoke to fans who had travelled to see her, and decided then and there to build a life and work hard at a career that enabled me the freedom to be able to do what I love.

Best gift you’ve ever received and why?

As well as being a massive Madonna fan, I love Belinda Carlisle for both her music and the animal charity she runs. I’m excited for her fundraiser at the RVT on 4th July! We sat together as she designed a tattoo for me on her last tour – that was special.

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

As well as running my own business, I’ve volunteered and run the Maidenhead and District Stroke Club for 20 years alongside my mum. We have 60 stroke survivor members and help them re-establish themselves. This year we won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and went to Buckingham Palace in recognition.

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

1988/89 as a 21 year old would have been amazing to enjoy those glory years of pop music on the London scene rather than be sat at home as a kid taping the charts!

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

Our wedding at Pinewood Studios last year – we threw 300 family and friends the party of a lifetime! Our mums walked us down the aisle before the production team turned the ballroom into Studio 54 with fireworks, flames and confetti. It was perfect.

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

Play the hand you’re dealt with peace and positivity. Oh, and if you can’t tone it, tan it.

Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?

For me – my mum and my nan, and every parent who made a difference to their kids’ lives when they came out. I was bullied as a kid. Well before I knew what ‘gay’ was, I knew I was different but didn’t get why. I remember mum and nan holding me after I’d taken another beating at school, telling me that one day it would make sense and it would all be OK. Coming out was an unnecessary formality a few years later and my mum’s house became the hub for all my gay friends who needed a place to go.

Who are your favourite people that you follow on social media and why?

I broke my back in 2008 and have osteoarthritis so it’s important for me to stay as fit and healthy as I can in body and mind, so I enjoy fitness and recovery media where people are tracking their progress. I must mention my trainer @johnsonsandc for turning my body around the last few years.

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

I’ve travelled much of the world but not explored the oceans yet. My earliest childhood memories are Madonna at Live Aid and Jaws and I want to get into the water with a great white shark at some point as I’ve always had a fascination.

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

Memories mean so much more than stuff. Don’t let it take so long to realise that!

The Madonna Fan Party is this Saturday (22 Jun) at G-A-Y Late, Goslett Yard, WC2, from 2.30pm. Follow Neil at @NSPh0t0s @MadonnaFanParty

To Top