Julian Clary says anal warts stopped him from becoming HIV-positive


Gay comedian Julian Clary. (Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Comedian Julian Clary has said in a rather candid interview that anal warts stopped him from acquiring HIV.

The 60-year-old, who is no stranger to making an offbeat comment, spoke to The Guardian about this three decades-long career.

Sandwiched between discussing his marriage to longtime partner, Ian Mackley, and the worries over jokes that involve queer stereotypes, Clary let slip the intimate revelation, which he regarded as an act of serendipity.

“It’s one of those things you realise in retrospect, where you think–gosh, maybe there is a God after all?” he said.

“Because I was very keen on it […] and then I got the warts, and I was so mortified I wouldn’t let anyone investigate that orifice for quite some time.”

Clary touched upon what it was like being gay in the 80s–in the grips of the AIDS crisis in England–working in the cabaret circuit after leaving school.

He explained that, while swinging by “sordid little clubs” in Soho, London’s queer district, had its perks, it is a time he now recalls with great reverence.

“People kept disappearing,” he said. Recounting that the general feeling from the queer community at the time was: “‘‘Everything’s fucked, so we may as well party.’

“And so you would carry on–you’d go out and be gayer than ever, really.”

Julian Clary still has no regrets about that infamous fisting joke

Clary soared to fame in the 80s with his perfumed, sequinned and all-round outrageous displayed of camp humour in sets packed with references to sex.

As a stand-up comedian, he often donned PVC and leather-heavy ensembles while wearing heavy, powdered make-up.

But chatting to the broadsheet, Clary said that in his early days of performing he used to ditch the more political jokes in favour of camp.

I didn’t want to be preachy,” he says. “It doesn’t suit camp, really. Camp needs to be trivial by its very nature.”I didn’t want to be preachy,” he said.

“It doesn’t suit camp, really. Camp needs to be trivial by its very nature.”

Yet, in simply being on the stage was a political act at the time. Eliciting condemnation from anti-LGBT outlets at the time.

Something that Clary looks back with fondness: “I loved it! It’s just the reaction I would have wanted from them.”

Moreover, Clary said he has no regrets about making an infamous joke about former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Tory Norman Lamont.

At the British Comedy Awards in 1993, the gay comedian joked that he had just been fisting the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, having compared the awards’ set to Hampstead Heath, a popular gay cruising site.

Although the joke was met with uproarious laughter from the audience, Clary was criticised in some newspapers, including the Daily Mail and The Sun, who launched an unsuccessful campaign to have him banned from television.

“It’s a very good joke, and I stand by it,” he said. Adding that he didn’t enjoy the backlash that followed–“you become a comedian because you want to be popular.”

“I like to think he made me say something outrageous in order to clear my diary and give me some time off. Television was never my forté.

“It’s probably just as well that I stayed out of it.”


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