In Con­ver­sa­tion

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS -

Phillip: What’s the worst ad­vice you’ve ever re­ceived? Rory: Do tech­ni­cal draw­ing. P: The worst ad­vice I ever re­ceived was from an ac­coun­tant friend who gave me and my dad a tip to buy an apart­ment in a new swanky apart­ment block in the cor­ner of Bal­ly­mun and Fin­glas … we didn’t get it. R: If I have been given bad ad­vice I don’t re­mem­ber it. You know me, I don’t re­mem­ber any­thing any­way. P: You don’t lis­ten to peo­ple. R: It’s true that I don’t re­mem­ber things. I have a ter­ri­ble mem­ory; faces, names. P: The only rea­son you keep me on board is be­cause I re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing. You need some­one who knows what you’ve done. R: I’m bad at day- to- day mem­o­ries. I have some form of Alzheimer’s’s. Who are you again? Rory: Can you re­mem­ber the first time we got drunk to­gether? P : Here’s the thing, you rarely get drunk, you’re not a big drinker. I’m Fun Bobby all the time. The drunk sis­ter. I re­mem­ber the last time you were drunk, which was Kilkenny Cat Laughs, sit­ting on Deirdre O’Kane’s knee hold­ing court at 5am in Lang­tons. R: That’s true. I’m not a big drinker, which peo­ple are of­ten sur­prised about. It’s only be­cause I get tired and bored. I don’t get drunk very of­ten, but when I de­cide to do it, I do it well. P: You do. I de­cide to get drunk of­ten and I don’t do it well. R: But there’s an age gap be­tween us, about 10 years? P: What age are you this year? R: I’ll be 48… 49 this year. P: And I’ll be 38 this year. 11 years. R: In about 10 years’ time you’ll be just as bor­ing. P: 11 is the ac­tual num­ber. Phillip: What’s your idea of a per­fect mo­ment on stage? R: You like it when I do ev­ery­thing ex­actly the way we dis­cussed it. Whereas I like the mo­ments where it doesn’t go ex­actly like that, where some­how in the riff­ing or the go­ing off bit I find some­thing that I think re­ally works. That’s where I get ex­cited about it. P: I feel the same. I love the im­pro­vised mo­ments with the au­di­ence. That mo­ment where any­thing can hap­pen. I like when the show is per­formed as we’ve re­hearsed it, but in the show there are break­out bits, and the amaz­ing part is some­thing you didn’t ex­pect to hap­pen with an au­di­ence mem­ber. R: I do like the sur­real nut­tery, go­ing off on a stupid thing where no­body knows where it’s go­ing but it some­how comes back. P: I’m just too real. Phillip: What’s your idea of the per­fect day to­gether? R: We’re away some­where, it’s in the mid­dle of a tour, or at the end of one, so there’s not a huge amount of pres­sure at that mo­ment, and we’re some­where nice, food, a beach, all that. And we’re lucky to get to do that a lot. P: One that springs to mind re­cently was in Perth. We popped down to the lo­cal nudie beach, had a sun­bathe, got kicked around in the surf, had an amaz­ing lunch, booze. You paid. One thing we do love do­ing though, no mat­ter how good or bad it is, is see­ing lo­cal drag. We will fol­low that blue dot on Google Maps to go any­where to see a bit of lo­cal drag. Rory: What is the stu­pid­est thing ei­ther of us has ever done? P: Oh god. Well, yours is not fit for print. R: Oh yeah. I mean, take your pick! Get­ting HIV? P: Ha ha ha ha! Rory: When did you last cry? P: I had a lit­tle tear this morn­ing. I think it was my hang­over. There was a group of Ir­ish fans do­ing a cover of the Conor McGre­gor song. Some­one posted a video on Face­book, the fans are singing it and they all know the words, and I had a lit­tle mo­ment. I cry quite of­ten. R: I don’t. But when I do it’s over some­thing stupid like that as well. Not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause I’m hung over. P: At the very last show of High Heels And Low Places at the Abbey you told a new bit about a friend of yours who gave her baby up to a mother and baby home. R: That’s right. Yeah. P: I cry at shows. I saw an amaz­ing show about two refugees in Ed­in­burgh. I cried at that. Phillip: What do you think is our great­est achieve­ment? R: This is go­ing to sound re­ally pa­tro­n­is­ing. I think your great­est ac­com­plish­ment is com­ing from a re­ally tra­di­tional, dyed- in- the- wool Fin­glas work­ing class back­ground, where none of this stuff is ex­pected. At what­ever age you were you went to Dublin Youth Theatre and thought ‘ f*** it’ and made a space for your­self in a world that isn’t eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble for some­body from your back­ground. P: That’s well put! I think Panti is your great­est achieve­ment – do­ing that in the first place. What it takes to be a drag queen is in­cred­i­ble, and then keep­ing that go­ing for how many years? R: 28. P: 28 years, that’s in­cred­i­ble. Ev­ery­thing – all of the tan­gents that have hap­pened – come from putting that dress and makeup on and cre­at­ing Panti ev­ery night, which is in­cred­i­ble to me. Rory O’Neill is an artist and ac­tivist, best- known by his stage name Panti Bliss. Phillip McMa­hon is a theatre pro­ducer and one half of THISISPOPBABY

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