Mr. Pussy book launch tonight

Alan Amsby is a true champion and one of our most provocative artists.  He challenged this society in a way that very few did.  He gave an outlet and an opening to a lot of men who were coming to terms with their identity.  Before Brendan O Carroll or any of the tame Panto dames, there was Alan Amsby (Mr Pussy).  Dangerous, provocative, innovative, ground breaking and loved by everybody including all those in the shadows and underworld of Dublin’s then unlawful gay scene.

I hope President Higgins sees fit to honour Alan Amsby in some way. It is fantastic to see this book finally come out of that big wardrobe that Alan Amsby has.  Its part of our social and political history as well as our artistic cultural identity.

Alan Amsby, a British citizen, gave this city and this country his life and a fantastic service well before the Belfast agreement.
mr-pussy

In 1969, a young Englishman named Alan Amsby arrived in Ireland with a frock and a wig. He was booked for one week, but was an overnight sensation, and made Dublin his home. Catholic Ireland had never before seen anything like the beautiful and outrageous Mr Pussy. For almost fifty years, Alan has delighted audiences and demolished boundaries.

Here, he recalls his early days as a drag princess and model in Swinging London, partying the likes of Judy Garland, Noël Coward and David Bowie; being heckled by one of the Kray twins – and snogging Danny La Rue. He also remembers grey 1980s’ Ireland, shocking the country with its first adult panto, and losing friends to the Aids epidemic. Then there’s his 1990s’ renaissance, ‘doing time’ with Paul O’Grady and Daniel Day Lewis, and opening Mr Pussy’s world-famous Café De Luxe with Bono.

Full of hilarious celebrity yarns, sequinned characters like the remarkable Stella Minge, and a lot of shameless name-dropping, Mr Pussy is the story of a legendary, ground-breaking entertainer, full of pathos, charm and wit.

 Alan Amsby (aka Mr Pussy) was born in London and performed a popular drag act before moving to Ireland in the late 1960s. 

Brendan Kennelly at The Abbey Theatre

Today Brendan Kennelly, his life and work, will be celebrated at The Abbey Theatre, Dublin in the presence of President Michael D. Higgins, Brendan Kennellys family and his many admirers from around the country.

It is a great honour for the Capital City of Dublin, where Brendan lived and taught and wrote for decades to bestow this occasion  upon him.

Below is a poem that will resonate to the many out there who suffer from addiction and cling to hope.  Don’t give up. Go forward.

brendan-kennelly

Photography by Sandrine Brisset, from her book, Behind the Smile, Brendan Kennelly

 

THE HEALER

(FOR DR JOHN COONEY)

The horror of accusing morning light

Condemns me to another hideous day

Did someone cry? What did I do last night?

Was someone hurt? Insulted? What did I say?

My hands are crazy, blood streaks my eyes,

Jeering images flash havoc through my mind,

My mouth is full of muck and stupid lies,

I”m hell, I know hell’s taste and smell and sound.

Healer,  I hear you speak: your head and heart

Help  many a suffering man and woman

While I, like countless women and men,

Am learning how to tend and heal each hurt

With candid, gentle words profoundly human

Thanks to you, hope lives again’

Brenday Kennelly ©