Tuesday mornings usually designate an “up and at ‘em” type day for me, the type I most enjoy, and this was no exception. This is when I schedule meetings in London, all over our beautiful capital city. First on the agenda was at Stonewall, just south of the London Eye. This wonderful charity, founded in 1989 by a small group of men and women (including Sir Ian McKellen) who were active in the struggle against Section 28 of the Local Government Act, is one place I volunteer. Once inside this rather drab building’s fourteenth-floor, abutting Waterloo Station, one has a bird’s-eye view of every landmark for miles.
Lunchtime found me at Edge Bar in Soho where I met my friend, Dillon Buck, to discuss his interview for the PROUD! documentary, chat with manager Rafaela about filming locations in this impressive three-storey venue, and grab a pint. I really like the al fresco tables (which were unfortunately in use) although the multiple monitors of the latest music videos made up for having to meet inside.
A short walk away and I was at the Dominion Theatre discussing Freddie Mercury and his positive role-model qualities that are inspiring, and whose music with Queen are featured in the West-End musical, We Will Rock You.
The funniest moment of my day occurred when leaving my third stop, the Palace Theatre, speaking with folks there about ‘gay entertainment’ aimed at the general public. As I exited the stage door, a tourist taking pictures of the marquee ran up to me screaming, “Are you somebody?” Denying my urge to answer philosophically, I turned quizzical, lowering my ever-present sunglasses due to ‘glarephobia’, peering over the rims and replying, “Don’t you recognize me?” Without missing a beat, in true emperor’s-new-clothes mode she shrieked, “YES!” and snapped a dozen pictures. I turned my collar up, told her she was welcome, and walked away, laughing all the way to my fourth and final appointment – The Really Useful Group – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s office for permission to use Priscilla in my film.
Winding my way through the West End en route, I met a few actors outside St. Martin’s theatre, home of The Mousetrap – Agatha Christie’s mystery holding the world record of continually running play at 58 years. One of these, Michael Roberts (Mr. Paravicini in the show) introduced me to Polari, the old British gay slang that has all but died out, and its usage in theatre – a fascinating man and conversation, both of which I worked into PROUD! That conversation is exactly what I enjoy most about documentaries – watching or making: Discovering the unexpected, and realizing that often what one needs to tell the story best, cannot be found – it finds you.