Quentin Crisp

Quentin Crisp was born Denis Pratt on Christmas Day, 1908, in the London suburb of Sutton. He the youngest of four children; his father was lawyer, mother former nursery governess. In his autobiographical work, “The Naked Civil Servant”, he describes a difficult childhood in a rigorously homophobic society. In his early twenties he decided to devote his life to “making the existence of homosexuality abundantly clear to the world’s aborigines”. He cross-dressed and acted intensely effeminate in public, often at great risk to himself. In London he worked as a prostitute, book illustrator and finally – the source of the title of his autobiography – as a paid nude model as government-supported art schools. A dramatization of The Naked Civil Servant (1975), starring John Hurt, was shown on American television to critical praise in 1976. Crisp moved to New York the following year, a move he described as his proudest achievement. He first presented “An Evening with Quentin Crisp” in 1978; it received very favorable reviews (Richard Eder, NY Times) and a special Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. He defined a style with his flashy scarves, purple eye shadow, and white hair swept up under a black fedora. He died in Manchester, England, aged 90, on the eve of opening another run of “Evening”s. When, in preparation for his move to America, he was asked at the US Embassy if he were a practicing homosexual, he replied, “I didn’t practice. I was already perfect”.

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