Actor, Activist, Author and Entrepreneur — Charles Busch Reflects on the Roles of Alan Cumming

Playbill Pride   Actor, Activist, Author and Entrepreneur — Charles Busch Reflects on the Roles of Alan Cumming
 
As part of Playbill's 30 Days of Pride, writer and performer Charles Busch reflects on the accomplishments of actor and LGBTQ activist Alan Cumming.

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The first time I laid eyes on Alan Cumming was in the movie "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion." It was exciting to discover a wonderful new character actor. A few years later he triumphed on Broadway as the Emcee in Cabaret.

Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming Photo by Monica Simoes

It took me a while to figure out that those two actors were indeed the same person. But that's the thing; Alan is several actors in one. He's a chameleonlike transformational character actor par excellence and also a fabulous star personality. That is the true rara avis. He has created a memorable gallery of characters in film, theatre, and television and also has found a singular place in popular culture as Alan Cumming: entrepreneur, bon vivant and activist. He is a role model for the LGBTQ community by leading an honest, open life and actively working for change. Last year he wrote a moving and powerful memoir, "Not My Father's Son," that should be read by every gay kid who feels adrift.

Alan is also a lot of fun. He's very interested in other people, and consequently has a lot of friends. He's got to be the only theatrical personality who turned his dressing room into an after-hours bar with a liquor sponsor! And he's very seductive. When you're around him, you find yourself doing things that are completely out of character. Once at his house upstate, I found myself squinting my eyes like Bonnie Parker and shooting beer cans with a BB gun, and, more amazingly, shedding my Garbo-like shyness by singing a duet with him of “Losing My Mind” at Marie's Crisis Café, as a ruse to distract an inebriated cohort from being 86'd into the street.

Alan is a man of many accomplishments. But personally, I thank him for being true to his outrageous, sweet, intelligent self: both an insider and an outsider, and one who provides a bit of glitter and glamour in a frequently cold modern world.

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