Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Resident Alien...

"Life was a funny thing that happened to me on the way to the grave."

Quentin Crisp

When I first moved into the East Village, NY in the summer of 1997 I hung out in the diner on the corner of 5th St. and Second Avenue.  I remember the feeling of being in the city and wanting to discover the real me, I had no idea of what I was about to discover and there was a crowd of individuals walking the side walks.  I sat in this diner many hours reading books on music theory, art, and acting looking around at the folks coming in and out.  There was a frail, gentleman in there daily with a few young folks everyday eating and having his coffee.  He always wore lipstick and a scarf around his neck with a huge hat.  I remember wondering who he was but never wanted to bother him.  I could tell he was someone but it was NY, there were a lot of someones.  

After moving to Brooklyn in 1998, I remember seeing his picture in the paper after he died.  That's where I learned who he was and what he had done with his life.  What a man of great character and conviction.  He lived his life as he saw it and trusted the voice inside of himself, even as a child wearing makeup and dresses.  

Crisp allowed his telephone number to be listed in the telephone directory and saw it as his duty to converse with anyone who called him.  For the first twenty or so years of owning his own telephone he habitually answered calls with the phrase "yes, Lord?"  His openness to strangers extended to accepting dinner invitation from almost anyone.  Dinner with him was said to be one of the best shows in New York. He said that provided one could exist on peanuts and champagne, one could quite easily live by going to every cocktail party, premiere and first night to which one was invited.

Just as I remember him.  Quentin Crisp (born Denis Charles Pratt, December 25, 1908- November 21, 1999), was an English writer and raconteur. He became a gay icon in the 1970's after publication of his memoir, The Naked Civil Servant.