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The Daily Agenda for Christmas Day

Jim Burroway

December 25th, 2012

All of us at Box Turtle Bulletin wish you a very fabulous Christmas.

And speaking of fabulous…

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Quentin Crisp: 1908. He was always a gender-bending raconteur, even going back to when he was the object of endless teasing in elementary school. In 1926, he studied journalism at King’s College London, but switched to art at Regent Street Polytechnic. He also visited the cafes and pubs of Soho’s Old Compton Street, which is still the heart of the gay community in London. It was then that he decided that his life’s work would be “making the existence of homosexuality abundantly clear to the world’s aborigines,” and he did so by developing the flamboyant style that would become his signature. When World War II broke out, he tried to join the Army, but was rejected on medical grounds — “sexual perversion” was the diagnosis. He remained in London during the Blitz, and placed himself at the service of American G.I.’s, so to speak. That’s where Crisp picked up his love for all things American.

In 1968, he achieved success with his third book, an autobiography he titled The Naked Civil Servant. The title referred to his job as a paid nude model for government-supported art schools, which he described as “like being a civil servant, except that you were naked.” The book at first didn’t sell well, but it led to a documentary featuring him talking about his life while sitting in his flat filing his nails. That documentary eventually led to the 1975 television adaptation of The Naked Civil Servant, featuring John Hurt as Crisp. Crisp’s second career as professional raconteur and lecturer was launched, touring Britain with his one man show, and moving to New York permanently in 1981 to fulfill a longtime dream. Before moving to the States, he was reportedly asked at the US Embassy in London if he were a practicing homosexual. He replied, “I didn’t practice. I was already perfect.” But his sharp-tongued wit also got him in trouble. During the early years of the AIDS crisis, he recklessly joked that AIDS was the latest “fad.” He made a pact with a New York performance artist named Penny Arcade that he would live to be a hundred years old, with a decade off for good behavior. He died just one month before his 91st birthday.

Here he is in a Q&A session in Los Angeles following a lecture on style:

Also, parts three and four.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
December 25th, 2012 | LINK

I’ve always loved and admired quentin crisp, despite his flaws. His books are often hilarious, his courage for the times unmistakable.

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