Interview - Amy Lamé’s Unhappy Birthday
Morrissey at your birthday party? Glasgay! performer Amy Lamé wants to make it happen
Steven Patrick Morrissey. Icon. Owner of the best baritone in the biz. Vegetarian, animal rights activist and moulder of the most vertigo-inducing quiff since Johnny Bravo? Yes, yes, yes. But warm, approachable, fan-embracing performer who would jump out of a cake at the birthday party of his number one fan? Probably not. But this harsh reality has not scared off Amy Lamé, who has officially invited her ultimate muso-hero to her special Glasgay! show, Unhappy Birthday.
‘I am a massive Morrissey fan,’ the London-dwelling, New Jersey-born cult performer says between bursts of hearty chortling. ‘Seriously – borderline obsessive. I slept outside on the pavement in Times Square – and, may I say, this was before it was dignified; when it was still full of prostitutes and drug pushers – because Morrissey was doing a free show at the MTV studios in New York for 120 people. We had to sleep there overnight if we wanted to get in and it seemed entirely logical …’
Lamé is well-versed in the nature of pop obsession, having previously done a one-woman show on the late, great Mama Cass – another wry, witty footnote in her incredible CV.
‘I think a lot of people can relate to the ridiculous length you will go to in a fit of pop-star love, especially in your impressionable younger days, whether it’s posters of Duran Duran, New Kids on the Block or something altogether more sinister …’
Since moving to London 20 years ago, the bespectacled comedy and cabaret-loving lass has written for The Times, The Observer, The Huffington Post, The Independent, DIVA and Woman’s Own, as well as founding Olivier award-winning arts and performance collective Duckie. In between bouts of TV presenting, she has racked up a spree of theatre shows, including 1996’s Cum Manifesto, a one woman show about HIV and gay men’s sexual and emotional health, which delivered performances for hundreds of men on Hampstead Heath cruising grounds at midnight. She also co-presents a show on BBC London and creates HomoLAB, a weekly podcast on queer cultural events and current affairs in the big smoke. In her free time (what little of it there is), she has championed several charitable causes and been accepted as a citizen of this great British nation.
‘I came over on a six-month work visa and just never went home, so they had to let me in officially. The test is very weird. They are the strangest questions which you would never need to know the answers to. Like, “What is the Prime Minister called in Latin?” or “Who is Father Christmas?”
‘I think it’s a good idea to make you engage with the culture but they might want to think of some more useful questions … They should do it like The Crystal Maze. If you make it to the end, Richard O’Brien is there and he lets you into the country and hands over your citizenship certificate.’
Despite the fact that ol’ Mozza has yet to respond to Lamé’s repeated invites (and promises of pass the parcel and Mozz-aoke, a Smiths-flavoured version of the Japanese party classic), she intends to forge on with festivities in the vain hope that her decades of affection will eventually win him over. When will Lamé give up on this bad boyfriend/abused puppy cycle?
‘Never. I stand there screaming, “Abuse me! Abuse me!” He makes so many outrageous statements and upsets so many people, so we do deal with that in the show. My love is not a blind love but I see it as the same way we ignore things in a long-term relationship. When you’re with someone and they say things that really annoy and offend you, you still love them, so you have to forgive them for these outrageous faults …’
Amy Lame’s Unhappy Birthday, Rose & Grants, Glasgow, 552 7575, Wed 9–Sat 12 Nov, £10, 8.05pm.