Julian Clary: ‘Benedictine monks didn’t really prepare me for the life I have lived’

Born in Surrey, Julian Clary, 63, began performing on the cabaret circuit as the Joan Collins Fan Club and in 1989 was given his own Channel 4 show, Sticky Moments. He went on to tour the world with his one-man shows, and his West End roles include Leigh Bowery in Boy George’s Taboo and Emcee in Cabaret. Clary’s books include three novels, The Bolds children’s series and a memoir, The Lick of Love, which has just been published in paperback. He lives in London with his husband.

When were you happiest?
Sydney mardi gras, 1993.

What is your greatest fear?
Running out of Molecule cologne.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Dame Joan Collins. She insists on being happy whatever is going on and, despite being a Tory, is a very caring person.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My cold indifference towards discarded friends.

What is your most treasured possession?
A drawing by Sylvia Plath, a gift from my mother.

Describe yourself in three words
Limp-wristed comedian.

What would your superpower be?
Cooking. Everything I attempt is inedible. Even fish fingers go horribly wrong.

What makes you unhappy?
Transphobia on social media.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
Muriel Spark. If she could come back to write another book or two, the world would be a better place.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Rebekah Vardy.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Making flippant remarks when someone is trying to be serious.

What scares you about getting older?
Forgetfulness. Since I had coronavirus in February, I can’t remember much. As far as I recall I’m a homosexual, but I can’t be sure about even that.

Would you choose fame or anonymity?
Fame. You get tables in restaurants, and strangers give you compliments.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
I’ve made some terrible remarks about people over the years in the interests of light entertainment, and I regret them all.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Opium. I tried it at a party in the 80s and knew then that I could never revisit, or all would be lost. But if I’m ever terminally ill or if the Russians are closing in, I’ll be seeking out the nearest dealer.

What was the best kiss of your life?
A security guard at CC Blooms in Edinburgh in 1992.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Have you finished?”

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
My education. Benedictine monks didn’t really prepare me for the life I have lived.

If not yourself, who would you most like to be?
Someone northern and rustic. Living off the land with a rosy-cheeked wife and lots of feral children.

How often do you have sex?
Because I am a homosexual, I require full penetration with a member of the armed forces every 20 minutes.

What is the closest you’ve ever come to death?
A gig in Chatham.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Jamie Dornan.