May 1997

In the "Flame of New Orleans," Ms. Dietrich sang, "the heart of love is spring and the heart of spring is May". The days we have so far had of May have been, like Ms. Dietrich herself, beautiful and cold. This does not apply only to Manhattan where we never complain of the weather, because the summers are so hot and the winters so cold, so if we observe the temperature is not extreme, we regard it as a blessing.

I have been to promote my newest book Resident Alien in Providence, Rhode Island, where I spoke in the art school which is better equipped than any art school in England that I ever visited when I was a model. It has a huge lecture hall as acoustic as hell.

I have also been to Livonia which no one, even in Michigan, had ever heard of, but which is a suburb of Detroit, where I attended a conference on aging. I forgot about the designated subject and rattled on in the usual way about myself — it seemed to pass.

Then I went to Washington, D.C. On my way to a bookshop called Lambda Rising, I was instructed to look out for a cab driver holding a sign with my name on it, but Washington railway station is so large and so cluttered — amusement arcades, shopping centers, apart from the trains — that if he was there I never saw him. So I went out into the street and got into any old taxi. The driver had no idea where the hotel at which I was booked to stay was situated. We drove around for about an hour hopelessly looking to right and left when one of his tires went flat. I got out of the ill-fated vehicle and asked the driver of a parked car with the word "security" written on the side of it if he could tell me where the Embassy Inn might be. By that time it was so late that we decided that we would go straight to the bookshop. To my amazement, the curiosity of the driver was too much for him. He followed me into the shop, demanded to know who I was, why I was there, and even to be given a signed copy of the book.

That's what makes America so wonderful. In England, if a stranger volunteered to take me to my destination (which involved telephoning his office and explaining why he was late returning) no security man would have become involved in a book signing, but to an American an event that involved publicity of any kind must not be missed.

Of course, he will not read the book, but that would be going too far. Now I will go to Orlando, the town not the film. I shall avoid Mr. Disney and he will avoid me, but I will grab as much publicity as he will allow.

Copyright © 1999–2007 by Quentin Crisp and Phillip Ward,
from Dusty Answers (forthcoming), Mr. Crisp's final book.
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