The Guardian reported yesterday that actor John Hurt has signed on to appear in a sequel to The Naked Civil Servant. He will reprise the role of Quentin Crisp, a part that made both he and Crisp instant celebrities when the TV movie aired in 1975. Quentin Crisp was a gay icon, writer, flamboyant eccentric, occasional actor (he played Queen Elizabeth I in the film Orlando), lecturer, artist model and, according to his business card, "retired waif". He died in 1999, shortly before his 90th birthday. He had often remarked that he would live to the age of one hundred, with ten years off for good behaviour.
Frequently compared to Oscar Wilde, Crisp is best known for his aphoristic witticisms, such as:
"Never keep up with the Joneses; drag them down to your level. It's cheaper."
"Sexual intercourse is a poor substitute for masturbation."
"I never understood music. It seemed to me to be the maximum amount of noise conveying the minimum amount of information."
"Health consists of having the same diseases as one’s neighbours."
"When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, "Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestant in whom you don't believe?"
"A lifetime of listening to disco music is a high price to pay for one's sexual preference."
"If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style."
"Teaching is for teachers, not students... and if you'd known that when you were at school, all of your suffering would have been at least explicable."
"When asked, "Should I tell my mother I'm gay?" I answer, "Never tell your mother anything.""
"Film is preferable to real life because it's so much larger than life. And so much shorter." (I'm paraphrasing this last one, can't find the original source)
John Hurt called it "a real thrill to reprise such an iconic role". The sequel will be called An Englishman in New York, which is also the title of a Crisp documentary, biography and a and a not-entirely intolerable song by Sting.
The Naked Civil Servant was recently released on DVD.