AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORKJohn Hurt first played Quentin Crisp over thirty years ago, in 1975 in Jack Gold’s legendary television production of THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT (see page 233). The film also proved to be an international success in cinemas. In the first part of his memoirs, Britain’s most famous homosexual depicted his life in anonymity. AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK now tells the story of his years of fame.
In 1981 Quentin Crisp accepts a theatrical engagement in New York. His agent, Connie Clausen sees to it that, on account of his ‘particular achievements’, he is awarded an indefinite residence permit as a ‘resident alien’. She also manages to organise regular bookings of his one-man-show, ‘How to be Happy’. Before long, the word is out and Quentin Crisp’s appearances are popular with more than a select few. One day, Connie introduces Crisp to Phillip Steele, the publisher of “The Village Voice” magazine. The two men soon become friends and Crisp – a genuine party animal who adores premieres – finds plenty of opportunity to parade his flamboyant style and sharp-tongued wit.
However, his careless comment during one interview, that Aids is merely ‘a fad’ earns him more than a few enemies in New York’s gay community and eventually causes a rift between himself and Phillip Steele. He subsequently strikes up a close relationship with a young artist named Patrick Angus. When Angus contracts Aids and later dies, Crisp succeeds in persuading Steele to print Angus’ paintings in “The Village Voice”. The two men grow close once more. Their new relationship proves to be more enduring than the first; it is still going strong when performance artist Penny Arcade introduces Quentin Crisp to a hip, young audience who revere his iconic style – even at the grand old age of ninety.