The media tributes to Paul O'Grady (and his alter-ego Lily Savage) strip him of his politics and smooth away the sharp edges that enhanced his greatness.
Thank you for this. If you go to social media you’ll see lots of us gays, dykes, queers and assorted sexual misfits who were there with Paul/Lilly (and the many other splendid drag stars of the London gay scene) retelling our memories of him.
They were a big part of our lives then, at a harsh and frightening time. They entertained us, the emboldened us, and more than anything they helped us realise our self-worth.
From Lilly’s public rise came a whole host of other queer performers, who unlike their predecessors were not ashamed nor needed to be, of being gay or lesbian.
I was sad when Lilly disappeared, but Paul kept that sharp wit honed, and Lilly was never far from his surface because in reality Lilly was Paul, just in a different guise.
Today many of us Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) oldies are shedding a tear for not just Paul/Lilly, but for ourselves, because this moment truly marks an end to an era; of activism, of camaraderie, or riotous rebellious joy. I’m sure the RVT will be a sad but raucous place this weekend, as St Lilly-Paul is given a fond and likely furious remembrance.
My memories of Lilly-Paul of an entertainer ever ready to muck in, delivering stonking performances at many, many early AIDS benefits, being brash and rude and angry from a tiny stage in Vauxhall, and through it all giving us the energy to go on in harsh times.
Oh, and once being so crap at fire eating that they nearly set the pub on fire, which left the audience in stitches.
God rest you Paul, thank you Lilly, you were the best of us.
As an Australian, I only knew him from the Battersea dogs TV show - I'm going to have to read his autobiography. I'm sure I would have loved Lily Savage
Really enjoyed this Mic. Found it quite moving. x
Great article, Mic. Really right in the mode O’Grady’d loved.