Article Title:Eddie Izzard - 'Sexie'
Author or Credit:Chris Banks
Published on:9th July 2003 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:84
Text:Eddie Izzard may have been hailed as one of the foremost stand-up comedians of his generation by straight and gay fans alike, but there's one thing he, as a straight man, has in common with gay audiences that most "ordinary folk" have no experience with - coming out, in his case, as a transvestite. He knew he was a transvestite at four, but waited until he was in his 20s before coming out gradually. "I was a little boy in Northern Ireland. My kid brother's friend was wearing a dress and all the other kids laughed, and I joined in," he says. "Probably I was saying, 'Yes, yes, foolish chap', and in my head going, 'No, I find it strangely beguiling'. He told his ex-girlfriend when he was 21, but then kept closeted about it until he was 29 when he told his father. "There was a transvestite transsexual help group in Islington where I was living. I was living one bus stop away from the only one in England, and I thought, 'This is karma, this is the bell ringing, I have to come out'. "I met a lawyer there who said, 'This is a gift', and I thought, 'Wow, that' s a good way of looking at it', and I have used that ever since." There may have been times when he didn't consider it such a gift, like the numerous times he has been showered with homophobic abuse in the street. "You get people going 'Ha ha, its a bloke in a dress', but if you're not ashamed of it there's not much they can say to it really...[it's a case of] yeah, and?" In Izzard's 1998 show "Dress to Kill", which garnered him two Emmy Awards, he took a little time to explain to audiences the difference between a transvestite and a drag queen, as hets often don't realise the distinction. "I call myself an action transvestite," he says. "If you are a straight transvestite like me you have a big slice of boy going on. I love running about and shooting guns and things." It hasn't stopped some from continuing to insist that he's a closet case. "People think, you're lying, you actually are gay. But what would be the point of pretending I'm straight when I'm actually gay and I have taken all this flak for wearing makeup? "It would be wonderful to be gay, because there is such a big gay community. Straight transvestites are not out so much. "Everyone has heard the story where the woman finds her husband or her partner wearing their clothes and they divorce them and never talk to them again. That's my community." Eddie's popularity in New Zealand has seen him adding extra dates in Auckland and Wellington to keep up with demand. On his last visit here in 2000, he played three sold-out shows at Auckland's Laugh festival. His return to stand-up after a four year absence sees him touring Australia, Canada, and the US as well as Britain, a testament to the success of a man who 13 years ago nearly gave up performing to start up a computer business before starting to make a name for himself on London's alternative comedy circuit. Despite his success in stand-up, his first love is still acting - in fact it was his first career choice before he was "sidelined" into comedy - and over the last four years he has begun to emerge as a big-screen star, after roles in "Velvet Goldmine", "All The Queen's Men" opposite Friends star Matt LeBlanc, and an acclaimed turn as Charlie Chaplin in Peter Bogdanovitch's "The Cat's Meow". For more information on Eddie Izzard's career in film, theatre and stand-up, you can visit his official website. Chris Banks - 9th July 2003    
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