"I like a nice warm hand upon my entrance
" - Julian Clary, referring, of course, to the warm round of applause
he likes to get when walking on stage.
Entertainer, comedian, and purveyor of the finest sexual innuendos since the Frankie Howerd/Kenneth Williams era,
Julian Clary was born in Surbiton, Surrey (Englishland) on the 25th May, 1959. Growing up in London, he was exposed to glamour at an early age, when his sister Frances became a Tiller Girl (part of a famous dance troupe,
renowned for high kicking and skimpy clothing). Clary was fascinated by her makeup, which may explain his predilection for
smearing the stuff all over his face today. After getting a degree in Drama and English, he did some work as a
singing telegram, accompanied by his new pet and friend Fanny the Wonderdog, who he rescued from an animal shelter.
Clary's success didn't come overnight - his drag cabaret show as "Gillian Pie-Face" didn't go down too
well, neither did the wig and kaftan, and the heckling was fierce. Clary enjoyed giving rather than receiving,
with classic put downs like "Who cuts your hair for you? Is it the council?", "Is that your face, or has your neck just
vomited?", and my favourite "Hello - what have you come as?" Gillian Pie-Face was eventually dropped in favour of the
PVC-clad "The Joan Collins Fan Club", and things started to come good.
Thrusting Into Television
After lapping up success in various comedy clubs, he was snatched by TV producers to star in "Friday Night Live",
a British TV comedy show which featured Ben Elton, Harry Enfield, Fry and Laurie, and many
others. Clary came into his own, and a succession of TV shows followed: Terry and Julian, Sticky Moments, and various specials and one-offs, including This Is Your Life (but then, as I've said before,
they've had everyone except my mum on that). He was a regular guest on too many comedy panel shows to mention,
did several ITV Christmas pantomimes, tossed off a couple of comedy books, released a cover version of Leader of
the Pack, and starred in the ill-fated new Carry On film, Carry On Columbus, as a sort of successor to
Kenneth Williams (although the reason it flopped is probably because Williams, Sid James and so on weren't in it, due to
being inconsiderately dead).
A Sore Point
The 1993 British Comedy Awards are legendary in TV circles for being one of the biggest disasters of all time. Obviously, it
was utterly compelling viewing. Jonathan Ross dealt with it all masterfully, the bizarre guests, the inappropriate jokes,
Jerry Hall losing her temper when he made fun of her yoga video, Michael Barrymore's usual desperate antics - all live.
And then Julian Clary walked on to present an award. A casual ad lib - "I've just been fisting Norman
Lamont1 backstage" - made the audience go into hysterics, and was quickly followed up with "Talk
about a red box2..." It blew up in his face and nearly ended his career, the usual media
suspects calling for him to be strung up, banned from television, beheaded, etc. Clary briefly considered suicide, but ended
up in therapy instead - he came out of it okay, but considering only 12 people complained about the show, the media reaction
was way, way over the top. Recently Clary's profile wilted somewhat, the saddest example being a washing powder
commercial, surely the last resort of a celebrity - but then I suppose it gets quite hard after a while, and you're
forced to take whatever you can get hold of.
Coming On Stage
However, you can't keep a good man down, and Clary has been going onwards and upwards with his stage
work, appearing in Taboo (the Boy George musical), several pantomimes, the Edinburgh Festival, and his own stage shows,
including an appearance in New York. Hopefully he will make a TV comeback soon, as his double entendres are impeccable -
put the most innocent thing into his mouth and it always comes out dirty. Filthy stuff just seems to fall from his lips,
he can't help coming out with them, slipping one in wherever he can, and after a while you start doing it too -
this writeup is ample proof, being rammed to the gills with them. See? Out pops another one, without even trying
Pearls of Wisdom - Some Clary-Facts:
Fanny really was Clary's pet, and he really did rescue her from an animal shelter. She had a huge fanbase, and was a true
professional. Sadly, Fanny died at the age of 19. In a poignant moment on Room 101 (a show where you submit the worst
things in the world to be locked away in the fictional room), Clary asked for "the lifespan of dogs" to be included (it went
in), as Fanny was about a year away from death, and in a terrible state.
He was put into an awkward position by Joan Collins when she objected to his stage persona of "The Joan
Collins Fan Club", although you'd think she'd be glad of anything that got her name in the papers. After Clary placed it into the hands of his lawyer, an agreement was reached - ie, he'd stop using the name, and that was that.
Clary has a particular phobia about showing people the left side of his face - he hates it, and thinks it is fantastically
ugly. That's why, when you see photos of him, they are usually of the right side of his face. When he was on Room 101, for
the first and only time the guest (Clary) and host (Paul Merton) switched seats, so Clary could hide his "hideous" left side.
Both sides look the same to me.
Once wrote to the Queen ("from one queen to another") imploring her to stop the use of real bearskin for her guards' silly
Clary will soon be writing his autobiography, tentatively titled "The Passage of a Young Man". Oo, and
1 - Norman Lamont, the then chancellor of the exchequor (man in charge of the UK's money), who had earlier presented an
award to hisses and boos.
2 - the "red box" is the term for the red box/briefcase the chancellor holds up for the press cameras on Budget Day, the
day when cigarette smokers pay an extra 10p for their smokes, beer/wine drinkers pay an extra 5p, other stealth taxes are
sneakily introduced, and so on. The red box is supposed to contain the budget details, but is more of a symbol. I believe Mr
Clary, however, was referring to Mr Lamont's anus.
Some stuff taken from my increasingly shabby memory, most of the biographical stuff from www.julianclary.net, the
official Julian Clary website. Click to enter, indeed.
Thanks to fondue for suggesting that "someone needs to write up Julian Clary, and stuff their writeup with double
entendres" - so I've taken you up on your offer, and am giving you one now, I hope you
enjoy it. Sorry it's such a long one, but the quicker I tried to do it, the more stuff
spilled out into my keyboard. Okay, that's enough, now.