I have always hoped that the T in Russell T Davies stood for Tiberius, as in ‘James Tiberius Kirk’. I suppose I could just Google it to find out, but I would only be disappointed to learn that it was something more mundane… besides I had the opportunity to ask the man himself when the Midlands Arts Centre hosted an event to celebrate 20 years of Queer as Folk last Summer.
I couldn’t believe that 20 years had passed since this ground-breaking TV series first aired. At the time I was living in a flat over a chip shop in bohemian Moseley (my room always smelled of fried chicken). My flatmate and I would watch each new episode then jump into a taxi and head to Hurst Street. Watch it. Live it.
The event at mac, as the arts centre is affectionately known, consisted of a screening of the first two episodes of series one, followed by a live Q&A with Russell T Davies, expertly hosted by a local guy that I recognised from the scene. It had originally been programmed to start at 7.30, but the mac’s marketing department realised that this would clash with the Eurovision Song Contest and create a conflict of interests for the target audience, so moved RTD to an earlier slot. I love the fact that the management at mac realised that Eurovision night is ‘Christmas for the Gays’ and amended their schedule accordingly.
Russell T Davies talked enthusiastically about all things Queer as Folk and other aspects of his career, starting with how Channel 4 had originally guaranteed him total artistic licence to write whatever he wanted, no holds barred, until he presented them with his finished scripts entitled ‘Queer as Fuck’ and they reasoned that such a title would never be permitted to appear in the pages of the TV listings.
Russell was clearly enjoying the evening and even insisted on continuing when the interviewer tried to wrap things up after the allotted 45 minutes.
“Let’s carry on,” he said, in that booming Welsh voice of his. “I’m having a lovely time. More questions. How marvellous!”
He may not have actually said ‘How marvellous’, but I like to imagine that he squeezes that phrase into every sentence.
After an hour and a half of chat, Russell decided that it was time to finish.
“One last question,” he announced, “from the handsome man on the back row.”
The interviewer took the roving mic up to the audience member that Russell had indicated.
The handsome man took the mic and said, “Hello Russell. I met you at a book signing 10 years ago and you called me a ‘handsome boy’ then.”
Russell chuckled and replied, “Well at least I’m consistent!”
The interviewer returned to the stage and began to make a closing statement about how touching it had been to hear so many people in the audience express how much Russell’s work had affected them and in particular Queer as Folk.
Russell interrupted, “Yes that has been nice. Guys usually just come up to me in the street and say, “I had a really good wank over your stuff”!”
After the event was over Russell kindly stayed behind in the auditorium to sign autographs. I had brought along a few DVD covers, just on the off chance that this might happen, so joined the queue that had formed on the stairs.
As I waited, I realised that this was my opportunity, not to ask him about that middle initial, that could remain a tantalizing mystery, but to tell him how I owed him for making me look really cool during a sexual encounter several years earlier.
I had picked up a young guy in Unit 2, Birmingham’s recently closed and much missed gay sauna. We had retreated to a private cubical, with its standard issue wipe down mattress, and started to play around. This lad was in his early twenties and, while I doubt it was his first time, it was clear from his reactions that this was all still virgin territory for him.
The lad was lying on his front on the mattress and it put me in mind of a scene in the first episode of Queer as Folk where Stuart Alan Jones takes Nathan back to his apartment. Purely for my own amusement, I began to re-enact one pivotal moment from that scene. Beat by beat. Lick by lick.
I licked between his shoulder blades and he shuddered.
I licked the nape of his back and his spine arched.
I parted his cheeks and went in for the star prize and he gasped in an identical manner to Charlie Hunnam in the actual scene. It was like the lad knew the episode and was playing along.
I immediately darted my lips to his ear and whispered Aidan Gillen’s line, “They never told you about that did they?”
I had never appeared so cool during sex before and it was all thanks to Russell T Davies.
Finally, it was my turn to meet the man himself and tell him how my re-enactment of Charlie Hunnam’s most famous scene, well ‘most famous’ until he made it big in Hollywood with the aptly named movie Pacific Rim, had me look like the sauna’s greatest Lothario.
I gazed up at Russell’s pleasant open face, thrust my DVD covers at him and said… “What do you think of Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who?”