|Height:||180 cm (5' 11'')|
|Birth Day:||December 25, 1908|
|Death Date:||21 November 1999(1999-11-21) (aged 90)
Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, England, United Kingdom
|Birth Place:||Sutton, Surrey, UK, British|
As per our current Database, Quentin Crisp died on 21 November 1999(1999-11-21) (aged 90)
Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, England, United Kingdom.
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|180 cm (5' 11'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Denis Charles Pratt was born in Sutton, Surrey, on Christmas Day 1908, the fourth child of solicitor Spencer Charles Pratt (1871–1931) and former governess Frances Marion Pratt (née Phillips; 1873–1960). His elder siblings were Katherine (1901–1976), Gerald (1902–1983) and Lewis (1907–1968). He changed his name to Quentin Crisp in his twenties after leaving home and expressed a feminine appearance to a degree that shocked contemporary Londoners and provoked homophobic attacks.
By his own account, Crisp was ‘effeminate’ in his demeanour from an early age resulting in him being teased while at Kingswood House School in Epsom, Surrey, from which he won a scholarship to Denstone College, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, in 1922. After leaving school in 1926, Crisp studied journalism at King's College London, but failed to graduate in 1928, going on to take art classes at the Regent Street Polytechnic.
In 1940, he moved into a first-floor flat at 129 Beaufort Street, Chelsea, a bed-sitting room that he occupied until he emigrated to the United States in 1981. In the intervening years, he never attempted any housework, writing famously in his memoir The Naked Civil Servant: "After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse."
Crisp left his job as an engineer's tracer in 1942 to become a model in life classes in London and the Home Counties. He continued posing for artists for the next 30 years.
Crisp had published three short books by the time he came to write The Naked Civil Servant at the urging of his agent, Donald Carroll. Crisp wanted to call it I Reign in Hell, a reference to Paradise Lost ("Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven"). Still, Carroll insisted on The Naked Civil Servant, an insistence that later gave him pause when he offered the manuscript to Tom Maschler of Jonathan Cape on the same day that Desmond Morris delivered The Naked Ape. The book was published in 1968 to generally good reviews. Subsequently, Crisp was approached by the documentary-maker Denis Mitchell to be the subject of a short film in which he was expected to talk about his life, voice his opinions and sit around in his flat filing his nails.
In 1975, the television version of The Naked Civil Servant was broadcast on British and US television, making actor John Hurt and Crisp into stars. This success launched Crisp in a new direction: that of performer and tutor. He devised a one-person show and began touring the country with it. The first half of the show was an entertaining monologue loosely based on his memoirs, while the second half was a question-and-answer session with Crisp picking the audience's written questions at random and answering them in an amusing manner.
When his autobiography was reprinted in 1975, following the success of the television version of The Naked Civil Servant, Gay News commented that the book should have been published posthumously (Crisp said that this was their polite way of telling him to drop dead). Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said he had met Crisp in 1974, and alleged that he was not sympathetic to the Gay Liberation movement of the time. Tatchell said Crisp asked him: "What do you want liberation from? What is there to be proud of? I don't believe in rights for homosexuals."
By now, Crisp was a theatre-filling raconteur: his one-person show sold out the Duke of York's Theatre in London in 1978. He then took the show to New York. His first stay in the Hotel Chelsea coincided with a fire, a robbery, and the death of Nancy Spungen. Crisp decided to move to New York permanently and set about making arrangements. In 1981, he arrived with few possessions and found a small apartment at 46 East 3rd Street in Manhattan's East Village.
Crisp also acted on television and in films. He made his debut as a film actor in the Royal College of Art's low-budget production of Hamlet (1976). Crisp played Polonius in the 65-minute adaptation of Shakespeare's play, supported by Helen Mirren, who doubled as Ophelia and Gertrude. He subsequently appeared in the 1985 film The Bride, which brought him into contact with Sting, who played the lead role of Baron Frankenstein. Crisp also appeared on the television show The Equalizer in the 1987 episode "First Light", and as the narrator of director Richard Kwietniowski's short film Ballad of Reading Gaol (1988), based on the poem by Oscar Wilde. Four years later, he was cast in a lead role, and got top billing, in the low-budget independent film Topsy and Bunker: The Cat Killers, playing the door-man of a flea-bag hotel in a run-down neighbourhood, quite like the one he dwelled in. According to director Thomas Massengale, Crisp was a delight to work with.
Sting dedicated his song "Englishman in New York" (1987) to Crisp. He had jokingly remarked "that he looked forward to receiving his naturalisation papers so that he could commit a crime and not be deported." In late 1986, Sting visited Crisp in his apartment and was told over dinner – and the next three days – what life had been like for a homosexual man in the largely homophobic Great Britain of the 1920s to the 1960s. Sting was both shocked and fascinated and decided to write the song. It includes the lines:
The 1990s would prove to be his most prolific decade as an actor, as more and more directors offered him roles. In 1992, he was persuaded by Sally Potter to play Elizabeth I in the film Orlando. Although he found the role taxing, he won acclaim for a dignified and touching performance. Crisp next had an uncredited cameo in the 1993 AIDS drama Philadelphia. Crisp accepted some other small bit parts and cameos, such as a pageant judge in 1995's To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. Crisp's last role was in an independent film, American Mod (1999), while his last full-feature film was HomoHeights (also released as Happy Heights, 1996). He was chosen by Channel 4 to deliver the first Alternative Christmas Speech, a counterpoint to the Queen's Christmas speech, in 1993.
In 1995, he was among the many people interviewed for The Celluloid Closet, a historical documentary addressing how Hollywood films have depicted homosexuality. In his third volume of memoirs, Resident Alien, published in the same year, Crisp stated that he was close to the end of his life, though he continued to make public appearances, and in June of that year he was one of the guest entertainers at the second Pride Scotland festival in Glasgow.
In his 1995 autobiography Take It Like a Man, singer Boy George discusses how he had felt an affinity towards Crisp during his childhood, as they faced similar problems as young homosexual people living in homophobic surroundings.
Crisp was a stern critic of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her attempts to gain public sympathy following her divorce from Prince Charles. He stated: "I always thought Diana was such trash and got what she deserved. She was Lady Diana before she was Princess Diana so she knew the racket. She knew that royal marriages have nothing to do with love. You marry a man and you stand beside him on public occasions and you wave and for that you never have a financial worry until the day you die." Following her death in 1997, he commented that it was perhaps her "fast and shallow" lifestyle that led to her demise: "She could have been Queen of England [sic] – and she was swanning about Paris with Arabs. What disgraceful behaviour! Going about saying she wanted to be the queen of hearts. The vulgarity of it is so overpowering."
In 1997, Crisp was crowned king of the Beaux-Arts Ball run by the Beaux Arts Society. He presided alongside Queen Audrey Kargere, Prince George Bettinger and Princess Annette Hunt.
Around this time, Crisp began visiting the cafés of Soho – his favourite being The Black Cat in Old Compton Street – meeting other young gay men and rent-boys, and experimenting with make-up and women's clothes. For six months he worked as a prostitute; in a 1998 interview, he said he was looking for love, but only found degradation.
In December 1998, he celebrated his ninetieth birthday performing the opening night of his one-man show, An Evening with Quentin Crisp, at The Intar Theatre on Forty-Second Street in New York City (produced by John Glines of The Glines organisation).
Crisp died of a heart attack in November 1999, nearly one month before his 91st birthday, in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, on the eve of a nationwide revival of his one-man show. A humorous pact he had made with Penny Arcade to live to be a century old, with a decade off for good behaviour, proved prophetic. He was cremated with a minimum of ceremony as he had requested, and his ashes were flown back to Phillip Ward in New York.
Crisp was the subject of the play Resident Alien, by Tim Fountain, which starred his friend Bette Bourne in 1999. The play opened at the Bush Theatre in London and transferred to the New York Theatre Workshop in 2001 where it won two Obies (for performance and design). It went on to win a Herald Angel (Best actor) at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002; subsequent productions have been seen across the US and Australia. A film of the same name was released by Greycat Films in 1990.
In 2009, a television sequel to The Naked Civil Servant was broadcast. Entitled An Englishman in New York, the production documented Crisp's later years in Manhattan. Thirty-four years after his first award-winning performance as Crisp, John Hurt returned to play him again. Other co-stars included Denis O'Hare as Phillip Steele (an amalgam character based on Crisp's friends Phillip Ward and Tom Steele), Jonathan Tucker as artist Patrick Angus, Cynthia Nixon as Penny Arcade, and Swoosie Kurtz as Connie Clausen. The production was filmed in New York in August 2008 and completed in London in October 2008. The film was directed by British director Richard Laxton, written by Brian Fillis, produced by Amanda Jenks and made its premiere at the Berlinale (the Berlin International Film Festival) in early February 2009, before being shown on television later that year.
In 2013, with curator Ward, the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan staged a three-month retrospective on Crisp, entitled Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Quentin Crisp. The retrospective consisted of free screenings of interviews, one person shows, documentaries and other recorded media.
In 2014, Mark Farrelly's solo performance Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope debuted at the Edinburgh Festival, before transferring to the St. James's Theatre in London and subsequently touring. It depicts Crisp at his Chelsea flat in the 1960s and performing his one-person show thirty years later.
In the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, Bill Murray explicitly based the dress style of his character (Martin Heiss) on Crisp.
On 21 November 2017, MB Books published The Last Word: An Autobiography by Crisp, edited by Ward and Watts. Whereas The Naked Civil Servant made Crisp famous and How To Become A Virgin detailed that fame, and his move to and life in New York, The Last Word was written as a goodbye to the world, with Crisp knowing the end was near. In it he recounts several previously untold stories from his life, walks the reader through his journey from obscurity, and reflects on his philosophy. He also describes the realisation that he was a trans woman and not a gay man.
Finally, on 1 January 2019, MB Books published And One More Thing by Crisp, a companion book to The Last Word: An Autobiography, again edited by Ward and Watts. This book contains material that the editors believed did not fit into The Last Word. In And One More Thing, Crisp primarily shares his views on other people, their lives and their opinions, from flapper girls to Monica Lewinsky, and from the British Royal Family to Walt Disney. Also included is the script for Quentin's Alternative Christmas Message, broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 in 1993, the script of his one-man show An Evening With Quentin Crisp and his collected poetry.
Currently, Quentin Crisp is 114 years, 1 months and 13 days old. Quentin Crisp will celebrate 115th birthday on a Monday 25th of December 2023.
Find out about Quentin Crisp birthday activities in timeline view here.