... author and flamboyant celebrity - 1908-1999
I watched a documentary about Quentin Crisp, author of "The Naked Civil Servant" which was made into a movie of the same name, starring John Hurt. Quentin is gone now, but at the time he was frail, subtly rouged and lipglossed, jaunty and "still here at eighty".
Some of the documentary took place in his ratty New York apartment. Featured were his hot plate, a small battered aluminum pan for heating canned pork and beans (Campbell's), his worn chair, the sink..brown, and the dust that "gets no thicker after three years."
His comments, as usual, were honest, well thought out and worth repeating, which he did. Perhaps it was to underscore them. His courage and unflinching presence endear him to me, even as his surroundings, in the documentary, repelled.
I discovered his portrait among a collection of photographs of famous artists in an a museum in Germany some years ago.
Quentin spoke of fame and failure as if they were each, in themselves, vocations. He said that he "received mail from failures." I looked among his belongings, none beautiful that I could see, for the ancient typewriter he used to type the short, straight forward note to me in answer to my fan letter.
I didn't see it.
May 6, 2005