Not the most romantic part of London . . . "It is for me! But then there's nothing very logical about love or where you find it."
The title of your show suggests you take a fairly comic approach to romance? "Emotionally, the show goes all over the map, but comedy is a major part of it. I've always felt I was a gay man trapped in a straight woman's body, and that gets reflected in the show. Gay men have perfect taste of course — in everything except men!"
You've done a lot of script writing in Hollywood, for Sony television and many others. But wasn't your background in music as a performer? "Yes! I grew up in Chicago, which is, in many ways, like London — there's a lot of theatre (I saw John Malkovich in his first stage roles), a lot of culture, and the people are fairly no-nonsense types. I grew up loving music, and performing, and made my stage debut at six years old.
"Probably, my most memorable role was as Oliver in the Lionel Bart musical. Given I was Jewish, chubby and female, I wasn't exactly what either Charles Dickens or Lionel Bart had in mind, but I loved it!" It must have been a very different performance from Mark Lester's in the film version? "It was! I loved that film, and many years later I briefly dated a guy who was in it — he had played one of the young pickpockets in Fagin's gang — and that was the only reason I dated him!"
You spent some 15 years as a writer, though, not as a performer. Why was that? I grew up in a small town, Evanston, in Illinois. The same town as Ruby Wax, though she's a lot older, of course! And although I had a talent for performing, I kept being told I was too small, too unattractive — what they were really meaning was too Jewish for the roles I was up for.
"So I decided, while sitting at the back of the hall during science classes, that I'd write a play in which I was ideal casting! That happened, was seen, and I was approached to write scripts for other people. So I got a career out of it, though not as a performer."
What made you decide to take the leap and get yourself back on stage? "It was September 11th, really. It was like a wake-up call. If you want to do something in your life, then do it! I arranged a date at the Gardenia, a cabaret spot in Los Angeles.
"It was the night before Thanksgiving, when traditionally no one goes out, as they're all busy cooking for the big family and friends meal the next day. So it wasn't that big a risk for the Gardenia to give me the night. As it turned out, we sold out completely — we even had someone sitting on the pianist's stool! And it took off from there."
You look like an off-screen 1930's actress. Is that a deliberate look? "No, it's me trying to do my hair myself! Actually the decade I really like is the 1960's. I think everyone has a period in history when they'd like to have been around, and if they just missed it, then that makes the feeling even stronger. I've always loved the idea of the 1960's, and of Swinging London, and I do a Dusty Springfield song as part of the show."
You're only on for two days — is there any chance of your doing more later in the year? "I certainly hope so. I'm thrilled to be appearing at the Pizza on the Park, which is one of the great cabaret venues, and I'd love to return later in the year. Jermyn Street is also a great venue for cabaret, I hear, so that would be fun, too. At the Pizza on the Park, we have two shows each day. The theme — love — is the same, but the material's different. So people should book for both!"
Shelly Goldstein is at Pizza on the Park on Jan. 14 and 15. The sets are at 9 PM and 10:30 PM. Tickets £10 (prepaid) or £12 at the door. Reservations: 020 7235 5273.