Eddie Izzard: Executive
by Ivy D. Vine | Girltalk Magazine Vol. 2 #3 | December 25, 2000 (thanks Robbie and Brian!)
The lights went totally dark in the auditorium. The audience enveloped the star with adoration and deafening applause. Clad strikingly in black leather stiletto-heel boots, tapered leather slacks (like buttah!) and a stylish top that was a perfect match for the rest of the outfit, British stand-up sensation Eddie Izzard took command of the room.
Eddie Izzard is a brilliant comic. John Cleese of Monty Python's Flying Circus has called him the funniest man in England, and that is selfishly keeping him for the motherland. The best way to describe his act would be the marriage of Robin William's brain, a scholar's knowledge of history, a savvy politician's expertise on the modern social and political landscape an Claudia Schiffer's sense of style and fashion.
He has been in films, and has received bang-up reviews for his legitimate stage performances an stand-up concerts. In the accompanying interview we provide not only a review and preview of Eddie's professional accomplishments, but also a frank and fearless look at the man as himself.
Gina Lance, Bijoux Deluxe and I were the very fortunate correspondents from Girl Talk who were able to attend his sold-out show that night. If you've haven't seen Eddie's work in person or on this HBO special, DRESSED TO KILL, treat yourself to that at the next opportunity. He is brilliant and self-effacing, fast and thought provoking, all without losing one glimmer of the shimmer on his lips. (He confessed to the crowd that it was M.A.C.).
Eddie's act touches on themes both intimate and universal. When going to see him, or watching on the tube, we suggest waterproof mascara and a looser corset. Laughter of that magnitude can wreck your face as well as hurt your tummy. As a bloke I once knew said, "You'll laugh so hard the tears will be running down your legs!" So be careful of your silks, as well.
Of course, we would not be presenting a review, as deserving as it is, if we didn't have that little extra "padding" that truly "defines" any experience. Apres la show, the Girl Talk 2 were invited backstage for the showbiz standard of the meet and greet--the Kiss and Tell. And let me tell you...
Our host, Eddie, made a fabulous entrance in yet another calf hugging pair of leather boots, a black mini-skirt and luscious pink, scooped neck sweater. His make-up was flawless and his bust line was just enough , if you get the drift. The cocktails were flowing along with the conversation. Eddie was gracious enough to extend Girl Talk an invitation to his "wrap" party. Held at the infamous Chateau Marmont, this was the final celebration of Eddie's triumphant week in Hollywood. It was cozy, it was kitschy. It had celebrities and it had Gina , Bijoux and Sandy Thomas.
Th beauty of time spent with Eddie Izzard, in person or through the tube, is the complete sense of comfort and ease he has about himself. Not only does he have talent, he gets to work at what he loves and does best. Few of us have that privilege. In addition, Eddie Izzard has the unique distinction of getting to be himself, his complete self, at work and at play. He appreciates his privilege, and the unique position he holds to make others more visible, more comfortable and more accepted. He is unapologetic, unafraid and unparalleled.
GT: The first thing we noticed when meeting you after your performance (at the Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles) was that you dress offstage. We knew originally that you dressed to some degree onstage, but we didn't know how much you dressed offstage. That was a surprise to us.
EI: Oh no, I'm out, out, out!
GT: We know that now. But most people we talked to didn't know that either. Do you tone it down for stage?
EI: No, I just keep experimenting around. I didn't mean to "come out" with boobs actually. When I first came out I sort of, I was trying to pass as a woman but I kind o look too blokey so I thought "stuff that"! So I dropped the boobs and thought I'd just go around wearing makeup. Instead of trying to pass as a woman I thought I'd just be me. That was sort of an easier position to swallow mentally. So I wear what I want onstage, offstage, I do gigs with makeup, without makeup, sometimes I grow a beard and just look big and blokey. My roles in films have been straight male parts (ala Mystery Men). Just like a woman who can look bland when she is going out, I wanted to have that kind of freedom.
GT: What brand of makeup do you use?
EI: I use a number of different brands...M.A.C., I use alot of their lipsticks.
GT: Are they sponsoring you?
EI: We're talking about doing something.
GT: We've read a quite from you regarding you telling your father that you dressed.
EI: Yes, he was just very cool about it, "yah, that's okay". It was six years after I came out that I told him about it, but he's a very cool fellow and quietly supportive. I assume it wasn't his top choice but he was very chilled about it. That was great.
GT: When did your dressing enter your appearances onstage?
EI: I came out when I was 23; I was doing street performing. My career was going nowhere. It didn't really take me anywhere. When I got into telling my dad, two days after that, I talked about being a transvestite onstage. I wasn't going to wear makeup, I just thought I'd introduce it shi way; I'll tell them. There was the thought that I could lose my career, that was a big possibility. So I strategically thought about it, talked about it for a year-- being a transvestite without wearing anything. SO journalists began writing about it and then it was a year before I'd did my first gig wearing dress. And we filmed it just to see what the reaction would be.
GT: Alot of people in the states didn't know if you were hype, or press or whatever.
EI: I've been a TV since I was 4. It hasn't moved; it is my thing. I will wear what I want though.
GT: So do we.
EI: In my branch, of being a male lesbian of sorts, there's a big slice of boy stuff going on of course and I just enjoy being a bloke. I appreciate it more because I can express a more feminine side, and so I will go from wearing one to the other...I'll just keep moving it around so that the media can't really box me in too much.
GT: Do you think that Hollywood has boxed you in at all? Do you feel that you have been excluded from any roles in particular because of this?
EI: (laughs)I feel that I've been excluded from all roles.
GT: (extreme laughter)
EI: They don't have a huge amount of imagination...most of the roles I get in the films are straight male roles. When you tend to get into a slot, people tend to offer you roles in that area, and I haven't really established that area...I'm an agent's worse nightmare, really!
GT: Your show contains alot of historical references. Have you always been a student of history?
EI: I didn't like it in school much. I was interested in the facts, but I didn't really like the essays on it. But I am fascinated by it. It gives you clues to the future so it's something that's always fascinated me and I watch the History Channel. I get everything from television; it's like pop culture standup. I take all the trends of television and kind of blur it into one.
GT: Your role in "Lenny". Is that more demanding than your concert performances?
EI: It is more difficult...it is very demanding. There were actually eight actors, and a jazz band of five people on the stage it was always twice nightly.
GT: Are you going to be bringing that to the U.S.?
EI: I hope to but at the moment we haven't quite sorted it out.
GT: Robin Williams promoted your early US appearances. Are you comfortable with the comparisons with your talents and styles?
EI: We're kind of similiar in a number of ways... we both go freewheeling and adlib in a number of directions. He produced the shows in L.A. that was a great big help and I met him after...and he came and saw as well. He was very positive and supportive.
GT: What movies of yours are being released?
EI: In America, 'Shadow of the Vampire" with Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich. It's about the making of "Nosferatu". The actors and the crew and the making of ht film. I play a bad actor.
GT: On stage you mentioned about being confronted by a large man in England at the Leicester tube station.
EI: (He called ) a "gay cunt", and I was, "No, I'm a transvestite cunt"!
GT: And at the same time someone was asking for an autograph?
EI: Yeah, at the same time another guy came up and said, "Can I get your autograph? That often happens.
GT: You present a positive TV image. Do you have any words for people wanting to come out?
EI: You need to do it as young as possible so you can get (on with) your life...it's sort of a life rearrangement thing. The more people that are "out", the world will realize there is a large transgender population. I do empathize, but the only way we can move forward is with more people coming out.
GT: Do you consider yourself a role model at all?
EI: If anyone can use anything that I've done, that's cool. The transgender movement is still in the 1950's like gay and lesbians use to be. Anti-gay jokes are gone from television, but the guy in a dress jokes are still there. They need to get sharp, snappy dressed transgendered people on there. That's why I came out with all the buzz words like "Action Transvestite" or "Executive Transvestite".
GT: Any closing words for out readers?
EI:If you wear your weaknesses on your sleeve, then they're no longer weaknesses. People use to come up to me and say, "You're a transvestite"! And I say "Yah!" and then they'd have nothing else to say.
GT: Thank you Eddie. We couldn't have said it better.