For claustrophobics, I have two infallible methods of ensuring the maximum amount of personal space around you.  The first is to turn your collar backwards to become a vicar, and beckon people with a benign leer for a friendly chat. 

The second is to hand out leaflets on the streets during the Fringe.  You will get even more space if the leaflets in question feature the naked torso of an extremely fit man, and your company is called Homo Promos. 

 I’m handing out such leaflets every day on North Bridge, for ‘Strip Search’.   The venue is on a ley line between the Tattoo, which finishes about half an hour before we start, and the bus station.  The interaction between me and the Tattoo audience is interesting.  Most of the girlie groups, good sports, take a leaflet and giggle.  In mixed couples, the women look mildly interested and the men pull them quickly away.

But it is the men, alone or in packs, who back away – no, jump away – as if I’d offered them a live eel.  What are they scared of?  Twenty-five years ago there would have been an easy answer: they were scared of catching AIDS.  Surely we’re beyond that now.  

Is it that they’re scared of being identified as gay by accepting a leaflet for a gay show?  Or are they thinking that I have identified them as gay?

It’s strange.  If it was for a black show, no-one would assume they were black.  If it was for Sandi Toksvig, no-one would assume they were lesbian.  Is their heterosexuality so fragile that it would crumble in the presence of a male stripper if they came to see the show? 

In fact we’ve had all sorts in the audience, everyone from grannies to trannies.  Appreciation has not been related to sexuality, which is as it should be.

The sad thing is that those who are recoiling on North Bridge are probably those who could benefit from exposure (I use the word advisedly, given the subject matter) to gay material.  They might even enjoy it.

Peter Scott-Presland

Peter Scott-Presland is the writer/director of ‘Strip Search’, which is at Space Cabaret, Venue 53, on North Bridge until Aug 25th at 11.05pm.  He is the writer/performer of ‘Locked In’ at Surgeon’s Hall, Venue 54, until Aug 25th at 12.50pm.



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