My name is Tallulah...

He dined with Kenneth Williams in the ‘60s, gatecrashed beauty contests in the ‘70s, partied with Babs Windsor in the ‘80s and still found time to be a pioneering London DJ. Time Out rolls back the years with the first man to be admitted to the UK‘s newly created House of Homosexual Culture Hall of Fame

  • My name is Tallulah...

    Queen of hearts: Tallulah today, dressed down

  • It doesn’t take much to become a legendary gay DJ these days. A few years on the decks. Maybe a remix or two. And of course it helps if you’re young, cute and work with your shirt off.

    And then there’s Tallulah. A regular on the gay scene since the dark days before decriminalisation, he began his DJ career way back in 1972, at The Escort Club in Piccadilly. DJs weren’t exactly scene celebrities back then. As well as playing the records he had to clean the toilets and take the coats. His CV reads like a history of gay clubland – Bang, The Embassy, Heaven, Substation. Along the way, he knew Danny La Rue when he was plain old Danny Carroll; he was friends with Kenneth Williams and Joe Orton; and on ‘smiling and nodding’ terms with Quentin Crisp.

    And now he’s about to receive the ultimate accolade. On February 22, Tallulah will become the first person to be inaugurated into the House of Homosexual Culture Hall of Fame at a gala event at Bush Hall, hosted by the organisers of last year’s gay Autumn Fayre. There’ll be star guests, rare archive footage, live entertainment and possibly even a tear or two. But before stepping up to accept this honour, Tallulah talks us through the highlights of his remarkable career and pulls out some favourite clippings from his scrapbook.

    Joe Orton and Kenneth Williams (1966)

    ‘I met some guy at an old cruise cinema in Victoria, and he invited me up to meet his boyfriend. When we arrived, there was Joe Orton. The guy I was with was Kenneth Halliwell. The next time I went, they had Kenneth Williams there. He lived opposite the hotel where I worked, so I invited him there for dinner. We sat in an alcove, which he hated. It didn’t click with me till later, when he insisted we go to the lounge. And of course the moment we arrived he started playing to the audience. If someone didn’t recognise him, the voice would get louder and louder until he had their attention. I couldn’t have him in the hotel after that. I wasn’t even out at the time, and here he was, this big, loud homosexual. So I used to go over to him for afternoon tea. He was an absolute nightmare. One time he recommended me a load of places to go in Tangier. And when I got there, every place he’d recommended had a photo of Kenneth up on the wall, signed “To Abdul” or “To Mustapha”.

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