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Christopher Fowler interview – The Soho of gays gone by

Gay author and screenwriter Christopher Fowler has some claim to the title Mr Soho

After 40 years of pushing projects, pitching scripts and having a wild time along the way, he knows London’s very unsquare mile like no other. His new memoir ‘Film Freak’ recalls Soho in the late ’70s in particular, when a Wardour Street producer who promised to shoot Fowler’s film was actually more interested in ‘walking his nicotine-stained fingers up my inside leg under the table in The Ship,’ Fowler remembers ruefully. ‘I was young, hungry and suddenly less ugly than I had been as a child. But if I was going to sleep with anyone in the film industry, he had to be under 50 and not look like an ashtray in a jumper.’

The book is full of similarly revealing vignettes, recalling a Soho that was, Fowler says, ‘far queenier then than it is now. One screening room was presided over by a lovely man called Brian who was nicknamed Beryl, because he was famous for his performances as a pantomime dame.’ But there was much about the scene then that we would recognise now. ‘Superclubs had just arrived,’ Fowler points out. ‘And it was considered a novelty to be stuck on Tottenham Court Road at 2am dressed only in Speedos, body glitter and workboots.’ Well, we’ve all been there. Haven’t we?

‘Film Freak’ is published by Doubleday at £16.99.

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