by Alaire Marble
When I saw The Naked Civil Servant on PBS years ago, I was hooked and interested in the eyebrows of Quentin Crisp! At the time I was living in the Bay Area near San Francisco and Dick Cavett interviewed Quentin on a TV station. I was hooked!
Planning on going to England that spring, I called and actually talked to Quentin Crisp. I found that he would not be appearing in London during my trip there, but he asked me to come to see him and promptly gave me his address.
I visited Mr. Crisp in his one-room home, where he invited me in to drink tea with him. I took his picture against the American flag too. He was intoxicated with America and hated England, as he had repeated in his books The Naked Civil Servant and How to Become a Virgin.
Before that visit, however, I had seen him in San Francisco, where we at in the rooftop café of the theater in which he appeared. The waiter made us both laugh when he called us "ladies." Quentin was dressed in his velvet suit, makeup, and hat. He cut quite a figure, believe me! It was the next year that I met him in London.
In 1980, I went to New York where we had lunch at the Algonquin Hotel and enjoyed a wonderful visit in my room. I can see him yet, leaving the hotel, in his velvet outfit.
He wrote that he had no "need of people." But I believe that he had been offended so much as a young man that he trusted nobody. He never acted like a "star," and entertained every person he met with joy.
We corresponded for years. Even when he was troubled with the carpal tunnel syndrome which kept him from typing, he would write brief notes. My last letters to him were written when he was dead, but I did not know this. It is so ironic that he died in England.
In his autobiography he stated, "I was born under Capricorn and am logical to the point of idiocy." As a fellow Capricorn I can agree. He was funny, yet so very vulnerable and really almost innocent. He also wrote that "homosexuals have time for everybody," and that "income tax forms being red by Orson Welles would sound like Wuthering Heights, only sexier."
Thus, I wish The Naked Civil Servant would be shown again, and frequently. John Hurt was great in it and I guess they remained good friends. I am sure more people are aware of this wonderful man and the life Quentin Crisp made for himself and shared with the world because of the film. That is good. I am also glad that his picture was in TV Guide and Time magazine and all the English papers, which paid tribute to him.
I have said "goodbye" to him many times and will always cherish the memories of this man. Oh, I will see you again, Quentin Crisp, and we shall take up where we left off. Save a space for me up there!