As I mention on my [About page](http://matthewman.net/about/), I’ve recently been lucky enough to have received a commission for my first professional piece of fiction — a short story for an anthology based around a certain TV show.
The story itself has been approved, is currently being typeset and the (small but historic) cheque has long since been cashed. The book itself will be out in a few months, but today, my editor emailed me asking for a 100 word biography for the frontispiece.
Initially, I couldn’t really think of what to include. My name, of course. Great. Only 98 words to go. Beyond that, though, what? It’s not like I can do what many other writers do, and wax lyrical about their wife, three kids (mention them all by name, it all adds to the word count) and sounds-palatial-but-I’m-a-writer-so-it’s-rather-more-squalid-than-that house somewhere in the Home Counties. And as this will be my first fiction work, I can’t list any previous achievements in that field.
So I figured the best thing to do is to concentrate on what writing achievements I have made (establish my credentials), make a passing reference to the subject matter at hand (signifying that I do, in fact, know what I’m talking about) and end on a joke (so that it’s not completely dull).
So this is what I came up with:
> Scott Matthewman is Assistant Editor of The Stage, the British newspaper covering all aspects of the performing arts. In 2004, his website covering gay issues was named Best Political Weblog by The Guardian, and he now contributes on a regular basis to TV Today, The Stage’s blog about British television. He specialises in coverage of Saturday night entertainment, even when it doesn’t involve a time-travelling police box — although he remains convinced that musical theatre reality shows are part of a devious plan for world domination by aliens with jazz hands.
> Tell Me You Love Me is Scott’s first published fiction.
Fingers crossed that’ll do.
It’s a funny old world where an over-the-hill prostitute and former stripper lands a lucrative deal with ITV Light Entertainment. That’s exactly what happened to Lily Savage, the blond bombsite from Birkenhead, though. Now the man who plays the Blankety Blank-ing drag act, Paul O’Grady, is making a further bid to be known in his own right with his latest travelogue series, Paul O’Grady’s America.
Following on from last year’s series set in the Orient, the opening episode of the US-based sequel is set in New York City. The formula remains much the same: O’Grady takes an occasional tour of the city before meeting up with interesting people. Oh, and he has a row with the hotel staff. One of the highlights of the last series was watching O’Grady get increasingly riled by some perceived discourtesy foisted upon him. While his tirades were diverting first time round, here the abuse meted out to the staff of the New York Plaza comes out of the blue and disappears as quickly. It’s as if he’s performing to quota, with ITV Network Centre demanding at least one bust-up per city.
Busts of a different nature come under the spotlight when O’Grady meet Sherry, a former burlesque dancer who could shimmy across the stage balancing a glass of water on each breast. Even here, though, the ego takes over, as Sherry’s wonderful reminiscences are cut short, reducing her to spectating as a fifty-something man gyrates his hips on stage. It’s a shame, as when O’Grady lets other people get a word in edgeways he shows every sign of having the potential to be a great interviewer, showing real interest and sparking off fondly-remembered anecdotes. Which makes it all the more bizarre that in a show that’s supposed to be about the Big Apple, most of the people he meets are C-list Brits. Why go all the way to America to interview Julian Clary and Cilla Black, for goodness’ sake? You may just as well stick a camera crew in the LWT cafeteria for much the same effect.
It’s all summed up rather neatly when O’Grady meets Miss Revere, a choreographer at the American School of Ballet. After Paul professes a long-held desire to be a Broadway starlet, Miss Revere quickly establishes that O’Grady can neither sing, dance nor act. He sums up his abilities as, “I dress up as a middle-aged prostitute and do a game show.” The look on his tutor’s face says it all.
Originally written for Gay.com UK. Original link no longer available