Actor, director and cabaret aficionado Alan Cumming has a new title to add to his CV — intrepid mouse-catcher.
Talking to Sydney Star Observer from his Manhattan residence the morning after opening night of his revitalised one-man cabaret show, I Bought a Blue Car Today, Cumming was distracted by attempts to capture a scampering beast.
Spinning his adventures into a mastery of ‘rodent raconteury’ over the phone, Cumming’s skills as a storyteller are undeniable.
Anyone who missed Cumming’s last foray onto our shores is advised to catch his storytelling, showbiz tell-all show that comes accompanied by some stellar show tunes and original numbers. For those who have caught his act, it’s worth re-visiting, if for no other reason than to hear new tales of slutty summers and a newly crafted song, Next to Me, a love song for boys who love boys.
“It’s pretty queer. I mean, it’s just me, so you get quite a big dollop of queer, I suppose, and I mean that in terms of sensibility as well as the underpanty way,” Cumming told SSO.
“I don’t think you need to be gay to be queer. I think ‘queer’ or the queer sensibility of the show is about more than just sexuality. There’s quite a lot of queer songs, and the act of me singing them maybe makes them even more queer than was initially intended, but I like that. I like re-interpreting something with a queer slant.”
That includes touching on the overtly political topics of marriage and human rights, as well as some lighter tales of life as a gay celebrity.
“Boys in bars, I’m never sure if they recognise me or if we’ve met or whatever,” he explained.
“I was in a bar and this guy said, ‘Hi Alan… You don’t remember me, do you?’ Never a good start to a conversation. He went on and said ‘We met in Los Angeles, remember, my friend vomited at the party we were at.’ And I was like, you’re going to have to narrow it down.
“ ‘We went back to your house and had a joint in the bath,’ and I said, ‘You’re going to have to narrow it down’.
“ ‘We had sexual fulfilment’ and I said, ‘You’re still going to have to narrow it down’.
“Then he said he left his watch, and I was like, oh yes, I remember that, and I sent back your watch, didn’t I? And he was like ‘Oh, yeah, but it was the wrong watch.’
“I was having a slutty summer, what can I say? I asked him if it was better than the one he left, and he said ‘Yes’, so shut up then!”
It’s not all sex, drugs and Liza Minnelli covers.
“When I sing the first or second song, I address the whole marriage cause, and Prop 8 in California right away. I talk about that a lot, because I feel like the show is about me. Here in America I am not considered an equal citizen, and that is a big problem.
“I would agree with people [in the gay community who have reservations about the push for marriage] in a way. I do think gay marriage has sort of hijacked the conversation a little too much. But I think it should be about equal rights for every single person, whether you’re married or not. If you don’t want to get married, I still think you should have the same rights as a straight person has.
“For me it’s not just about marriage. Marriage has become the touchstone point for it all, but it’s a civil rights matter. We’re all supposed to be treated equally and we’re not. We don’t get the same legal rights, we don’t have the same tax cuts or health [insurance]. Marriage is really about getting additional rights.”
info: Alan Cumming brings I Bought a Blue Car Today to the Sydney Opera House, November 10-14. Tickets $65 + bf. For information or to book, visit www.sydneyoperahouse.com