What happens onstage is less than half the story behind the show that has probably garnered more column inches than any other on this yearís Fringe. Tim Fountain is a playwright: his Quentin Crisp play has won awards, and his Julie Burchill play is on at the same venue as this, his own solo show. For in this hour, he explains how, in his life (and heís only 40ish) he has had sex with 5000 men and one lesbian.
Iíve been a friend of Timís for nearly 15 years now, and Iíve heard many of these stories before. Theyíre all true: he really is a randy little bleeder. He doesnít beat about the bush... well, not as regards his anecdotes. He calls a spade a spade, if you see what I mean. Oddly, though, heís quieter onstage than when he tells the same stories among friends. Here heís like a depraved Thora Hird in Alan Bennettís Talking Heads.
But he takes it further. To demonstrate how easy it is to find sex on the Internet, he logs onto a gay Edinburgh chat site and asks the audience to pick a partner for him for the night. Then he cycles off to meet up and do the deed. The next night he reports how it went. At least, that was the story during early performances a couple of weeks ago. But things have grown quite a bit more complicated since the run began.
First Gaydar, the Web site Fountain was using, banned him. So he started logging on under a series of false names. Then they threatened him with legal action. So Fountain released a statement saying that everyone he seemed to meet online was in fact the same friend of his under a variety of aliases; he never really went off for nocturnal nookie, he said, it was all just to illustrate his point. Some of us reckon this is the real fib.
Basically, Fountain has sussed the core truth that thereís no such thing as bad publicity, and a canny operator can keep a story running as long as he wants. My hunch is heís got fed up with just being a writer, a behind-the-scenes johnnie, and wanted some fame himself. Allegedly the Royal Court has picked up the show for a London transfer. I think itís sad that such pointless celeb culture has now invaded theatreland.
Written for Teletext.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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