The Naked Civil Servant

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The Naked Civil Servant

Talk about neglected pleasures.

Dimly I recall when Quentin Crisp was a gay celebrity of sorts. Never occurred to me to read of watch The Naked Civil Servant.

Starting to get caught up with queer cinema a few years ago I kept trying to find John Hurt's performance as Crisp on DVD. No DVD is available. The videos are collector's item's . A friend lent me his.

However bad we feel about the stupid public's response to gay men and women getting married if PBS were to air the movie nowadays only the most determined fundagelical crazies would protest.

Crisp was a rare Brit, willing to live as an openly gay man in wake of the Oscar Wilde trial.

As he himself confessed he was an “effeminate homosexual,” which only endears him to me. As he also says he wouldn't have wanted me because I am a homosexual man and thus not a 'real' man. That nutty attitude persisted well into my early days among other gay men. I'm sure even now gay men pursue 'straight' hustlers and hope for an abusive relationship with their fraternity brothers in hopes of getting the, ahem, real thing. Arguing with a tornado is probably more profitable than fussing with someone about their sexuality. And as long as so many of the heterosexual majority think we'd be better off hetero there's not point in engaging in internecine quibbles.

It is a movie so you know it couldn't be that tidy and clean. John Hurt portrays Crisp as an almost stereotypically sardonic queen. Well, savage irony has remained many a gay man's steady weapon. I haven't seen a drag queen in many a year but I assume they are as quick with a cutting remark as ever.

I don't' know if the happy, or at least affirmative ending is at all true to life but I think that at least for now pleasant endings to gay movies aren't anything to cavil with.

Really it is lots of fun, maybe you know someone who has a copy to lend.

Comments

You might like Quentin Crisp in “Homo Heights”— a film he was in with Lea DeLaria in 1998. The film is pretty much crap— but a Quentin Crisp film appearance is impossible to resist. And BTW— You might have to search for the movie under the title “Happy Heights”— it seems the title was softened for its video release.

I did get to see Homo Heights. It was pretty bad. Since they were doing it for fun and not lucre I can only complain so much. Now if I had to watch it again I could imagine being very bitchy.

i met Quentin Crisp many, many years ago in London at a rather “down at heel” coffee shop/sandwich bar on Monmouth Street in London run by a rather effeminate gay man called Barry Stacey. (the name of the bar now espcapes me) i was a very pretty little fem-boy at the time, just starting to “come out”, and Quentin Crisp was always there whenever i went in, sitting at the same table. i was used to older men hitting on me (it fed my fragile ego, i’m afraid) and i was always curious why he never showed the slightest bit of interest in me. He was a very strange men at the time, but obviously quite brilliant. i wish i had got to know him better.

At least you did get to meet him. Rarely are we wise enough to appreciate what we’re offered when we’re young. In a way he was the great ancestor of gay guys like yourself willing to be feminine and flamboyant no matter what anyone else things of you. A special class of people.

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Richard

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