Sunday 21 Feb 10

I am in Los Angeles again. From my hotel room I can hear coyotes howling. I think they want out.

I just did a very crazy thing: I walked to a restaurant.  I know it's cliched to say that when you walk on the streets of LA everyone thinks you're a homeless or crazy person, or both, but there's a reason for that.  I encountered three people in about ten minutes on the way back here. Two of them were straight out of Central Casting's down and out department, complete with shuffling gait, incoherent mumbling, crazy hair, bottle of liquor in a paper bag, the works. The third person asked me for a dollar and then recognised me.  It's always a little hard to refuse someone money when they have seen you on TV, but then again I always wonder how a homeless person has access to a TV.  That's a bit of a cover blower, don't you think?

And then I wondered if people in Los Angeles don't walk anywhere because there are only crazy people and beggars on the streets, or are there only crazy people and beggars because everybody else is in a car?  Maybe it's the coyote issue.

I saw a billboard for Kirsty Alley's new show about being big.  Hasn't she done this already?  And then there was an advertisement for the fifty-sixth film Matt Damon has been in in the last fortnight. He really is prolific.

There are more coyotes.

I asked the front desk to have housekeeping come and clean when I was out but they must have forgotten, and so when I returned it felt like I was breaking into someone else's room.  They're very messy.

Ask Alan....

James writes: Thank you for speaking up for the rights of all children to genital integrity. Too many people remain silent in an effort to maintain "cultural sensitivity" or some such nonsense but thankfully some people with ethics are speaking out against genital mutilation of children. I'm curious to know how and when this issue registered with you and what prompted you to speak out.  When I came to live in America I realised how many men were circumcised and were so inured to the idea that they almost didnt know what it looked like to be intact.  I just thought that was so weird, that mutilation of that kind should be so commonplace and accepted.  Then I found out how often it can go wrong, how much sensitivity is lost, how traumatic it is and I really felt I should help people question why they put their children through this horrible experience.

and Ryan says:
Hi, I found out about your Intactivism on Intact America's web site.  Thank you for your support.  I read that you were born in Scotland.  You're lucky to not have been born here in the US.  You were spared.  I am just another victim.  The rates are dropping here but that may change if the AAP/CDC gets their way.  The tide is turning but the norms are still such that some of your more visible, i.e. famous friends might be afraid to speak out.  Let's do our best to change that.  Let's do our best to end this secret national tragedy that has continued too long.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help your efforts.  I think the best thing to do is to keep talking about it, Ryan.  Challenge people to question it.  Spread awareness.  Also point them in the direction of Intact America's website.

Eleanore says: Alan, why can't I find For My Baby anywhere? I've looked and I've looked and I've looked, and all I can find are trailers. But nowhere to get the DVD. It looks like such an amazing film, and I'm just stuck about what to do! Any ideas?  Hmmm. You might want to try its other title, Goodnight Vienna

Tom writes: My family are coming from Cumbernauld, Glasgow, Scotland this summer, June, to New York and Washington DC for our holiday.  We booked tickets for the Spiderman Show but have now found out that it will be delayed. Is this true as we were looking forward to going to see this Broadway musical and would be gutted if we miss it?   It is indeed true, Tom.  The show has been delayed but the latest I hear is that it will be opening in the autumn of this year.  But you're not going to see it on this trip, alas.

From Carlton: in the early 90's I was spending a great deal of time in the UK. I caught a hilarious parody of
Oliver twist meets the Elephant Man with youand a comedy troupe. I believe it was called "Let's Twist Again". It was wicked genius. Where and how can I get a copy of it? I've searched and searched and met with no success. ( I've been telling my friends about this skit  for years )
.  It was called Oliver 2: Let's twist Again, and written by Richard Curtis as part of Comic Relief night in 1995.  Here's a picture of me as Oliver and Ron Moody as Fagin (He was the real Fagin in the original musical movie of Oliver!).  The cast also included Oliver Reed, Jeremy Irons, Diana Rigg, Stephen Fry, Michael Palin to name but a few.  I think I have a copy somewhere and will try and get it online soon.

Thanks for all your kind words about When Alan Cumming met Stanley Baxter. Isn't he amazing?  To answer your questions about how we met and to find out more about him, here's an article that was in The Herald newspaper this past week. And if you live in the UK you can watch the show here.

Here is a video about my friend David Remfry. He is an amazing painter, and this shows his series of paintings of dancers.  I have known David for years, and have sat for him several times. Sitting for him is great.  You don't have to stay still all the time (at least I don't.  I wonder if that's just me), and you get to chat and unleash whatever is going on in your mind. It's almost like being in therapy except the therapist is a really good friend and they're drawing you.  I was very honoured that a painting he did of me was in his exhibitions at PS1 in New York and at the Royal Academy in London.  Honey and Leon, my dogs, have been painted by him too, and indeed I have a work of David's in my study of Honey and I.  I just love the way he captures spirit, and draws you to certain parts of a body with such details and then other bits he leaves very spare.  And best of all, he is a lovely, kind and funny person.