expert eye No 6: Adele Andersen on 'The Slow Drag''

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
I DIDN'T really find Nikki Slade convincing as a man or Chester convincing as white, but I do think the issue of race is a good parallel. They all seem to be living a lie - but then that's musicians for you. Never have an affair with a musician, that's my advice: music always comes first and the relationship second.

As for the play itself, the writer has said that the reason Johnny Christmas lives as a man is that he doesn't feel that love between two women is acceptable - but I didn't get that from the play at all. I felt he did it because he wanted to be a musician, and female trumpeters didn't exist. But it's got to be more than that, because all those women who want to be civil engineers or work on oil rigs don't masquerade as men.

What the play said about the press digging dirt and having no manners was absolutely right. When all the stuff about me came out, the press tried desperately to find pictures of me "before"; but nobody would give them any.

I think Johnny makes a very clever point in the show: "I blended in because I had a beautiful wife. Everybody looked at her, not at me." I think that's excellent; because, certainly in the early stages, you learn ways of diverting attention from yourself.

With transsexuals, cross-dressers and gay people, the main source of interest for others is: "What do they do in bed?" I remember one guy at a party asked me: "What's it like? If I make love to you will it be like making love to a proper woman?" I said: "Well there's only one way to find out, isn't there? But I'm afraid I don't give previews." I felt that the play rather side-stepped the issue, because although the characters were usually quite confessional, at one point June said: "They wanted to know if I knew, they wanted to know if I ... well I won't even dignify it with the word." A bit of a cop-out. Perhaps the author's message is that the important thing is the love between two people, but what everybody wants to know is did she know or not - it's natural curiosity.

Johnny's best line was, "I was a self-made man". He kept talking in cliched images, as he lived a cliche. But in the end you can't life your life as a cliche, you have to find your own way through.

Adele Anderson was born a man; after completing a drama degree, she began the long process of changing her sex, and is now one third of the cabaret trio Fascinating Aida. They play the Apollo, WC2 from 4 Mar, for 13 performances only.

Interview by Maggie O'Farrell.

Comments