Unlike other Mothers of showbiz minded children my Mum never encouraged me to pursue a career in the arts. I was never sent to drama school, bought jazz shoes or made to audition for fabric conditioner adverts.
My Mum’s encouragement came in the shape of copious felt tip pens, mountains of paper and listening to grown up conversations. Every day I was allowed to escape into a world of silly drawings and big words – she wasn’t aware she was helping me become creative or harness what was possibly already there but in her own words ‘allowed me to be imaginative’.
Over Christmas my parents came to see me in my show Camp – they laughed, cheered and even cried. Mum spent the rest of the evening playing the role of ‘Mother of Scottee’ in the Roundhouse’s bar with a queue of homosexuals whilst my Dad now refers to me as the ‘superstar’.
As nice as it is having them see me show off in women’s clothes we only invite our families to our workplace to prove to them we are doing well on our chosen path (without a pension). My family are encouraging and I hope proud to see my act develop, but there is a but – I’m not on the telly.
TV equates success in the eyes of my family and my absence from it somehow means I’m not really trying hard enough. I’m not sure my Mum would ever say that but I’m convinced it’s true. On the rare occasion we are both in the same room when Britain’s Got Talent is on my Mum will always say ‘you should go on that, you’d be fantastic! Then you’d be on the telly’ – in fact this happens when most TV talent shows are on. I respond with ‘I don’t really think its for me, I want to be the next (insert light entertainment legend here) not Shayne Ward’.
What is it about the TV that validates your art form? Is it the fact its populist and means you’ve been accepted by the main steam? Or does it mean you’re the best at what you do and are therefor granted precious prime time?
I think the idea of ‘TV = success’ is a working class ideal and not one I can penalize my folk for. For them the box represents fame, fortune, legacy and happiness and these are all things I guess they want for me but more importantly it represents a world in which your social status, education or privilege isn’t reflected by your earning capability or level of success.It’s only writing that last few paragraphs I think I now understand why they want me to be on the telly – they just want the best for me and in a strange sort of way that’s rather touching.