This film is part of Free

Quentin Crisp

Join the original Naked Civil Servant in his London bedsit for a lesson on life, love and gender politics

1970 27 mins


Five years before the TV adaptation of The Naked Civil Servant made him a household name, Quentin Crisp - dandy, raconteur, life model and former prostitute - welcomed celebrated filmmaker Denis Mitchell into his dusty London bedsit. Crisp recalls the violence and fascination his extraordinary appearance once provoked, offers tips on avoiding housework and subsisting on a diet of stout and meal replacement powder, and ruminates on life as a "minority within a minority - an effeminate homosexual".

In a fittingly eccentric touch, the film was broadcast in Granada's current affairs strand World in Action. John Hurt's immortal 1975 portrayal helped place Crisp in the pantheon of English eccentrics, though Crisp's outspoken views put him at odds with the burgeoning gay rights movement. Crisp lived in the flat on Beaufort Street in Chelsea from 1940 to 1981, when he moved to New York City, having taken his successful one-man show there. He died in 1999, aged 90.