The shape I'm in: Alan Amsby, entertainer

Female impersonator, Alan Amsby, has recently published his autobiography, Mr Pussy: Before I Forget to Remember. Now he sits down with Irene Feighnan to discuss the shape he’s in.

The stories of wild parties and great nights flow like champagne from Alan Amsby. Working under the stage name Mr Pussy, the celebrated female impersonator has rubbed shoulders with the who’s who of the entertainment business, from Sean Connery, Van Morrison and Ronnie Wood, to Adam Clayton, Naomi Campbell and Mel Gibson.

His ability to connect with the great and good reaches back to the swinging ’60s in London when Beatlemania was at fever pitch. “I drank with Brian Epstein a couple of times,” he says casually. “It was in the very posh Cromwellian Club in Knightsbridge, London. It was the place to go to in the 1960s. He was drinking scotch and coke and I was drinking brandy. He gave me a lift home one night in his Rolls Royce.”

Intelligent and witty, he learned from an early age about the value of friendship. “Being an only child you have to have people around to talk to.”

He also knows how to “suss people out”quickly. “In show business, you have to be on your guard. And If they try to be smart I can soon put them down because that’s my job.”

Born in London, he first came to Dublin in 1969, liked what he saw and stayed. And while he’s an open book on most aspects of his life, his age remains a “state secret”. He does admit, however, that due to arthritis he can’t get into the heels as high as he used to.

A new autobiography, written with journalist Dave Kenny, has pushed him back into the limelight. “I intend taking a show on the road next year based on the book and I want to get back into theatre,” he says.

First, he intends to get fit for the undertaking. “I’ll have to get a couple of dogs and run around. I have to play myself when I’m 12!”

Mr Pussy: Before I Forget to Remember, New Island Books, €12.71

What shape are you in?

At the moment, I shouldn’t be as big as I am. I’m very lazy. I had two German shepherds, Lilly and Danny, but both died. They used to bring me out every day. I’ve got their ashes on top of the piano. Mixing with young people keeps me with it. The baby drags all call me Aunty Pussy.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Steak, salad — spinach is absolutely wonderful — lots of water and good wine.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I go mad about twice a week and get the hottest curry imaginable with naan bread, lime pickle — the lot. Also, knowing I don’t have to get up in the morning and can stay in bed. I do my office work from bed and then go back to sleep.

What would keep you awake at night?

Watching the telly. And I have ghosts. I tell them to piss off if they annoy me. A friend of mine, a priest from America, came over and blessed the house. Since then it’s been quieter.

How do you relax?

I like going to the theatre. I used to go the Everyman in Cork when it was a cinema and always thought what a terrible waste of this beautiful little theatre. I was delighted when it was reopened as a theatre.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

My mum, she was a great character. And David Gordon, he was the ballet master with the Irish National Ballet. They would get on very well. I wouldn’t get a word in.

What’s your favourite smell?

I like the perfume Shalimar. But my favourite smell is Sunday roast being cooked. It’s a happy family feeling — a nice dinner on the table.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I have to go on a diet. I did lose weight a few years back and looked great, so that’s my new year’s resolution.

When is the last time you cried?

When Queen Victoria died! And when I see the terrible things that happen on the news.

What traits do you least like in others?

I can’t stand laziness. I’m also a stickler for punctuality. And I don’t like rudeness — especially in some shops they can be very ignorant. I can pull them up on it too. Manners are important.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

Drinking too much. My favourite drink is brandy and coke.

Do you pray?

Yes. Quite often. Since I’ve come to Ireland I’ve become more religious.

What would cheer up your day?

If the weather changed a bit. Also if I could wave my wand and have my bedroom tidy.


Lifestyle

‘Children of the Troubles’ recounts the largely untold story of the lost boys and girls of Northern Ireland, and those who died south of the border, in Britain and as far afield as West Germany, writes Dan Buckley.Loss of lives that had barely begun

With Christmas Day six weeks away tomorrow, preparations are under way in earnest, writes Gráinne McGuinness.Making Cents: Bargains available on Black Friday but buyer beware!

From farming practices in Europe to forest clearances in the Amazon, Liz Bonnin’s new show seeks solutions to some of the damage done by the world’s appetite for meat, writes Gemma Dunn.New show seeks solutions to some of the damage done by the world’s appetite for meat

Louis Mulcahy reads in Cork this weekend for the Winter Warmer fest, writes Colette Sheridan.Wheel turns from pottery to poetry

More From The Irish Examiner