Via an informative email from Don Ardell I received on Christmas day, it came to my attention that English writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp shares a birthday with Our Lard and Savorer Jeezus Haploid Keereist. Don quipped, “I’m tempted to create a little manager scene next year for the baby Quentin.”
I figured why wait? I sent him back this:
Not to be outdone, Don replied, “Merry Crispmas.”
And so it was that I found myself culling Quentin Crisp quotes from various online sources to add to the Palace’s extensive quote collection. There was just one problem: there were so many good ones. Twenty-five, in fact, and I could have easily added many more. Because Don had sent me down this particular rabbit hole, I asked him to help cull the Crisp collection down to a more reasonable number. He obliged, but “only under duress.” “If tortured,” he said, “I might pretend to have favorites.”
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Born “Denis Charles Pratt” in a conventional English suburb on Christmas day in 1908, Quentin Crisp grew up with “effeminate tendencies, which he flaunted by parading the streets in make-up and painted nails, and working as a rent-boy.” He spent over thirty years working as a professional model in art colleges, an occupation he likened to being a “naked civil servant.” The Naked Civil Servant would become the title of his memoirs, published in 1968, and subsequently made into a television movie starring John Hurt in 1975. The film rocketed both its lead actor and its subject to stardom.
Crisp spent the next decades performing his smashingly successful one man show (in London, New York and on tour), acting in films (he played Elizabeth I in Orlando), writing books and penning movie reviews and columns for U.S. and U.K. publications. He lived in New York for many years on 3rd Street in the East Village. Just as he had in London, Crisp maintained a publicly listed telephone number and considered it his duty to have a conversation with absolutely everyone who called him. He would also accept almost any dinner invitation. Dinner with Crisp was said to be one of the best shows in New York.
Sometimes called a “20th century Oscar Wilde,” Crisp was well-known for his witty bon mots: once asked if he were a “practicing homosexual,” he replied, “I didn’t practice. I was already perfect.” Quentin Crisp died in 1999 at the age of 90. But he left us a legacy of wisdom and hilarity.
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While putting this post together, two things occurred to me. One is that the spacious Palace is nowhere near capacity; it turns out that after babbling on and on here for more than two years, we have used up only 2% of our allotted space on the WordPress servers. (And even that limit can be increased as much as desired — for a fee, of course.) For all practical purposes, I am the proprietress of a virtually limitless domain. Why, then, should my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ be denied some arbitrary number Quentin Crisp quotes? To save space? For what, if not more Quentin Crisp quotes?
The second thing I realized is that Don is seriously onto something with putting baby Quentin in a manger and “Merry Crispmas.” That’s right, people: all that War on Christmas shit? It just got real. Your mission, all you godless heathens and/or people who hate Bill O’Reilly and would love nothing more than to see his head explode, is to work on imaginative ways to celebrate Crispmas next December 25. Do whatever you can to spread the good word. I’m getting right to work making Quentin Crisp figurines to substitute for the baybee Jeezus in nativity scenes all over New York. I figure it’s the perfect time of year to do all the reconnaissance for appropriate sizing, placement and access. Meanwhile, perhaps you can find some inspiration and enjoyment in these ditties.
All twenty-five of them.
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Keeping up with the Joneses was a full-time job with my mother and father. It was not until many years later when I lived alone that I realized how much cheaper it was to drag the Joneses down to my level.
In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast.
Exhibitionism is like a drug. Hooked in adolescence I was now taking doses so massive they would have killed a novice.
To my disappointment I now realized that to know all is not to forgive all. It is to despise everybody.
There was no need to do any housework at all. After four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.
Health consists of having the same diseases as one’s neighbours.
God, from whose territory I had withdrawn my ambassadors at the age of fourteen. It had become obvious that he was never going to do a thing I said.
I now know that if you describe things as better as they are, you are considered to be romantic; if you describe things as worse than they are, you are called a realist; and if you describe things exactly as they are, you are called a satirist.
Another friend began to say, “Well, Quentin has a problem of adjusting himself to society and he…” This sentence was never finished. The ballet teacher expostulated, “I don’t agree. Quentin does exactly as he pleases. The rest of us have to adapt ourselves to him.”
If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.
If love means anything at all it means extending your hand to the unlovable.
The very purpose of existence it to reconcile the glowing opinion we have of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think of us.
I recommend limiting one’s involvement in other people’s lives to a pleasantly scant minimum.
Ask yourself, if there was to be no blame, and if there was to be no praise, who would I be then?
A fair share of anything is starvation diet to an egomaniac.
The world now seems a stunningly ignoble place. It has not really grown all that much worse but appears to have done so because we know so much more about it than we did.
The formula for achieving a successful relationship is simple: you should treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.
There are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings.
Vice is its own reward.
Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne.
Of course I lie to people. But I lie altruistically – for our mutual good. The lie is the basic building block of good manners. That may seem mildly shocking to a moralist – but then what isn’t?
Los Angeles is just New York lying down.
The worst part of being gay in the twentieth century is all that damn disco music to which one has to listen.
For flavor, instant sex will never supersede the stuff you have to peel and cook.
It is not the simple statement of facts that ushers in freedom; it is the constant repetition of them that has this liberating effect. Tolerance is the result not of enlightenment, but of boredom.
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Merry Crispmas, indeed.