Eddie Izzard - Dress to Kill By Samantha (S6026) | Beaumont Society
|Eddie Izzard is always dressed to kill and "Dress to Kill" is the name of the stand-up tour which Eddie Izzard took across the US during the most part of 1998. The phenomenal success of Dress To Kill was reflected in the US press reviews:"||
|The Male Tomboy,
Male lesbian and Action Transvestite, " Probably I'm the only TV comedian in the
world at the moment, in the non Lily Savage sense of the word. There's the TS woman who
won the Eurovision Song Contest, is that the same? She's better looking, She's gorgeous,
so that's fine; If I were gorgeous, that would be different. Julian Clary's gorgeous. I'm
this... bloke. People say,' Why don't you change your clothes at half-time ?' Why? Do
footballers do this? I'm not a drag act. This is not about the clothes, it's about the
comedy and I just do whatever I want now. When I first came out, a comic called John
Gordillo did a video of my first gig in a dress, and in the video he's talking to comedian
Jo Brand and he's saying,' what do you think the reaction's going to be to Eddie being in
a dress?' She said,' The same reaction as to me wearing a dress.'
I don't think there are many out transvestites in the public eye - transvestites in the sense of male tomboys. I've been looking to find them. There are a lot of gay and lesbian people who are out and there's drag per se, dressing up as women, and there's rock stars who'll put on eyeliner and could well be TV - but I don't think they are. I don't know where Mr. David Bowie stands at this time. I always thought it would be quite good fun to play a girl in one of the school plays, but I never did, and this was in my cute days when I could have passed for a girl more. I was 17 at college, when they said:
'Right, you're playing the girl,' in this revue we were doing. I said: ' Oh, wow!' and then psychosomatically I got ill the day before the show.
My brain couldn't deal with it. I got flu, or a cold or something. I was quite incapacitated. It was just not being able to deal with this situation. I remembered when I was 21 this one friend of mine saying - chit chat, chat chat - ' Have you ever worn women's clothes?' And I remember my mind going, that's one question that's right at the heart of the problem, and my voice going: 'Ahh...ggh...hyuh...uhh...no.no! No!' It's going all the way in and alarm bells are going off - AWOOP AWOOP! Dive, dive, dive'. I had to sit there. I was trying to think, why? Why do I feel there's this boy/girl fight going on inside? Why? 'Why' seemed to be very important. I still haven't got an answer. I just pulled the curtains and lay in a room and tried to go through it - real self analysis. I worked out that I'd better come out and I just did it.
|I've thought about changing sex, but I look too much like a bloke.'|
|Then there was the
fight I had in the street at Cambridge. It was after the third gig of my tour - Cambridge
Corn Exchange. Sold out, got a good review on The Late Review - they gave me a clean sweep
of yeses, Germaine Greer and everyone, and I get the impression they tear the shit out of
things, normally. I was sitting on my bed going, 'Hey, this is really good.' That was my
second show. Then the next night I did the third show, went out afterwards and had a fight
with these guys. I don't think I was enormously transvestite that night. I wasn't wearing
the skirt and the fantastic Versace boots, I was just wearing the trousers and heels and
make-up, and this black jacket I wore in New York - my lucky jacket, that. It's now got a
hole in it. So this guy stopped and said to his mate,' Look it's a transvestite.' He went,
'Ooh Tracy, ooh Tracy, ooh Tracy.' So I did all my streetlore-type stuff: ' Look, you live
on the street - have respect. You don't need to do all this. We're just two individuals on
the street - have respect.' ' Ooh Tracy, ooh Tracy.' I've gone very big on the Tracy line.
We've now got tour jackets with My Name Is Not Tracy written on them. It has to be said in
a Michael Caine voice.
So he was going, 'Ooh Tracy, ooh Tracy,' and I was going, look seriously, have respect. Why do you need to do this?' And he hit the 'Ooh Tracy' line a third time - magic three - and I said, 'You're a cunt who deserves to be cut with a knife'- which I repeated in court - and then he went for me. I was doing quite well, I was blocking away. And then four other guys were suddenly there. And I just thought it was me and him, but of course the way to win battles is superior numbers. So they were all beating away and my friends were trying to pull them of me. I was doing well with this bloke, I got about four hits in. And at the end I was still vertical. It was probably over in about 30 seconds. Then they sauntered off and went into this pub disco about 50 yards away. So we were all staring at each other and they were talking to their bouncer friend - who turned up later as a witness for them. He told the court,' Yeah, he attacked five men at once,' then he went and sat down and joked with them at the back of the court. The police turned up and said,' Was it squaddies? Was it squaddies?' Squaddies? Two Oxford dons, mate.' They kept saying,' Was it squaddies?' like it was,' Oh, we have tons of squaddie fights. They're constantly beating up transvestites round here.' Anyway, two of my friends went into the disco to point them out, and there was a kind of hyperactive bouncer there.
They couldn't find the troublemaker. I went in there and I couldn't see these guys and the bouncer asked me, ' is this him?' And this guy, who was one of them but who was the pacifist, appeared and he was saying,' Look we didn't want any trouble.' I thought, oh, if you're here, the other guy must be here. And I looked round and there he was, dancing in the crowd, Happy Mondays-Kind of dancing. So I picked them out. And in the police van on the way back, he apparently said,' Yeah, I did it,' and he admitted everything. The police never told me that. I felt more bashed up than I looked. We had to give the police all the details and for some reason I had to show them the physical evidence so they could note it down. The bruises. And then three months later, when I had forgotten everything about everything, I had to hire a car and go to court. and everybody was going, 'I've forgotten what everyone looks like. It was just some guy you saw for two minutes three months ago.' You can't remember what you said in your statement because it was three months ago. They said,' can you identify the man in court? Are you sure it was this man?'
They put the witness and the defendants about 50 yards
apart. It wasn't a great situation. Intimidation is common, especially in the toilets,
which you share. It would be very logical to put the witnesses on one side and the
defendants on the other so they don't meet. Think about what intimidation serious villains
could do. Anyway. We couldn't remember what the bloke looked like, but he was stood there,
going 'Ello darlin'! Argh!' being the chirpy lad he was, and we went oh it's him! That's
the guy.' He'd identified himself when we couldn't remember him. He decided not to talk in
court. And we'd all seen Crown Court on TV, so everyone was there ready to do their
|Eddie talks about his childhood - the death of his mother being a low point, to his experiences on a TV/TS helpline. " People were phoning up like they were sexlines - and asking 'what are you wearing now?' I'm wearing a hat and a balaclava " He talks of his childhood religion (Jesus, his disciples and the art of running in flip-flops)'; Monty Python, sex, crime and space. " It's pop culture stand-up. All the stuff I talk about, history, whatever, it's all from the television." And his opinions on transvestism, " they've done studies and found that there is a gay gene thing. I think that means there's a lesbian gene and a TV gene, it would be good to prove it,"...|
|I actually came out
when I was 23 (1985) and then I sat in a cafe and told the Observer I was a transvestite
halfway through 1991. I wasn't wearing make-up or anything. And then people started
saying,' Well, I've never seen him in a dress,' so I thought I'd better go on to the next
stage. I wasn't actually meaning that I should wear skirts on stage or whatever, but then
I thought I should do that if I wanted to. I should have the freedom. When I first came
out, I went to see a bank manager, a dentist and a doctor wearing a dress. I remember
going to see a dentist wearing make-up. He was looking at me with all the make-up on and I
was saying,' I've got a bad tooth.' I went to the doctor wearing make-up:
' I've got a cough.'
' You've got what?'
' I've got a cough.'
' You're a transvestite?'
' No, I've got a cough. I am a transvestite, but I've got a cough.'
' Well, I'd better sort the transvestite thing out. Have to refer you for that.'
' No that's not a problem, Just the cough, thanks.
'I dared myself to go to all of these places because I thought if I did it, my confidence would grow. So I did. It was scary, but scary is interesting if it's positive. Once you've done it, you realise that it's not as scary as you thought it would be, therefore your scary receptors change. Fear is the mind killer': one of the great lines in Dune. I love Dune. I took a train back to Sheffield, where I was a student, and I had a friend there I thought might kill me for being TV but he just turned up at the station and picked me up on his motorbike. Lucky I wasn't wearing a skirt.
|Never apologise for
being TV. You've got to say, Hi, I'm here, can I have a cup of tea? And one of those
biscuits?, If you say that it's fine. If you go in and say,' Excuse me, I'm a
transvestite, I'll be in the corner, I won't be a problem, I'll face away,' everyone will
go,' oh-oh, problem case in the corner.' So don't apologise. I picked this up from
Madonna. If I had my life over again, I'd be TV again. Even though it'd obviously be much
easier not to be. A lot of TV's don't come out because then you're a bloke who fancies
women. But there's this whole female side in your head that's a big secret and such a
burden and when you come out, it's 'ARGHHH! Got to tell everyone! But once you're out,
when people say,' Are you a transvestite?' and you go, Yeah...' and then there's nothing
else for them to say. I've thought about changing sex but I look too much like a bloke to
change sex, and I actually appreciate the male side more by being able to express the
My website, www.izzard.com,
has just won second best website from Yellow Pages. It's good. People log on and say what
they want. It had 6000 hits in six weeks. I think it might be eight people just constantly
logging in." (OK which one of you BS members is responsible?) He looks at some
photographs and sighs." You can't look like a tomboy with a powder puff in your
hand," he says. In 'The Avengers' I only had these little scenes with Sean Connery.
It wasn't, 'You talking to me? I don't see anybody else here.' It was more like, 'You're
obviously not talking to me as I have no lines.' I didn't quite have enough to get
my teeth into. They said, 'We'll put some more lines in,' and gave me three more lines and
I said, 'No, no more lines, we'll take 'em out.' Because Steve Mc Queen used to take lines
out. I think my character was expected to say a few lines - stuff like don't you do that,
John Steed.' But it was more powerful if I wasn't saying
Stand-up comedy and film acting are very different. There's a certain purity about stand-up comedy. If you want to be original in stand-up you just talk about your own sad life and people go, 'Oh, that's interesting.' So you can be as sad as you want - ' You know, I can't tie my shoelaces and I still can't tie my shoelaces, because I was attacked by my shoelaces when I was a kid.' And people will love it. Whereas you wouldn't do that in a film. Unless you playing a weird shoelace guy. I was walking through Time Square in New York and this guy was looking at me and shouting, 'F***n' faggot!' And I was going, 'You're a f***n' faggot.' I shout whatever they shout at me. So some people were going,' I saw you on the telly,' and other people were going, 'F***g faggot,' and one person said, 'Are you funny? Say funny! Say funny now!' I was saying, 'I'm expensive, I'll only do it for $10,000.''Tell me funny now! ''Give me $10,000 and I'll be funny'. I thought, if he gets that money out , I'd better be funny... And I could feel the aggression coming off those people. I'm no good at fighting but I just can't stick it if people shout shit. And it can happen anywhere. If I'm in Leicester Square at night, I'll get it.
|'If I decided I was going to wear a dress in a dream, I'd wake up just before I got the opportunity.'|
I was younger, I broke into Pinewood Studios, I broke into
With thanks to Eddie Izzard, Ella Communications and Mike Watson at 'Hall or Nothing'.
|Comedians were the new cool.
Then Ben Elton collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber while Paul Merton flogged mobile
phones on television and the new breed suddenly looked about as funky as Jimmy Tarbuck
playing pro-celebrity golf. And then there is Eddie Izzard. As other once-radical
comedians joked all the way to the bank via the inanity of light entertainment and
advertising, Izzard just grew hipper. For when away from the stand-up arena, he is not
sitting on the chat-show sofa but quietly crafting a career as a serious actor.
I feel if I lose all that money by
not doing that stuff and adverts pay crazy money then it forces me to work
harder creatively. Its taken me so long to get here, what is the point? I say no
For such roles, being known as a comedian
is not helpful. Yes, which is why I am building my acting career slowly. When I
first became known in stand-up, it was in a culty way. He may be modest but he is
also a man powered by ambition. Izzard still simmers about how at public school he was
never cast in the play. I have since tried to work out whether I was just crap,
he says with an intense smile.
Having made peace with himself, he could
devote himself to work, which he has done without a break for 14 years. If he is
frustrated that closed-minded studio heads wont cast him as a romantic
lead, the intriguing thing is that women seem to find him highly attractive. Just as fame
opens doors it lowers drawers (look at Chris Evanss incredible romantic back
catalogue). But Izzards vast female fan club is proof that womens fantasies
are more extensive than the square-jawed bozos offered them by Hollywood.