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Wednesday 08 April 2009


Review: John Barrowman's Anything Goes

Posted in: Books
By Craig Young - 31st December 2008

JB_autobiography.jpg
Review: John Barrowman: Anything Goes: London: Michael Mahler: 2008

To any gay man with a pulse and other working pieces of anatomy, John Barrowman is an icon. As Captain Jack Harkness in Dr Who and Torchwood, he is the first out gay/bi/omnisexual action hero. But what is the background story behind this star of stage and screen?

John was born in Glasgow in 1967, and had a warm relationship with his family and nanna. From an early age, he did drag and was an aficionado of show tunes. As the eighties dawned, this turned to appreciation of trashy eighties night time soaps like Dallas. In case you're wondering when he initially realised he was gay, he seems to have been, for as long as he could remember. At nine, John and his family moved to Chicago and he became bidialectical to avoid hassles at school. What, you thought he was gay? He is- that term just means he does it both ways in terms of accents.

In 1986, he came out to his parents, who had already guessed and were totally cool with it. After fleeing the University of Iowa in Des Moines (think any provincial New Zealand city), our hero ended up in Nashville, Tennessee, and met up with a large-scale gay community for the first time. After that, it was Chicago, and the United States International University's School of Performing Arts. It was about then that John developed his thespian tendencies, and went on to star in a mind-bogglingly large number of musicals and theatre productions, with sundry wardrobe and bowel malfunctions. Some of them involved nudity!

(And I'm afraid that's one of the few problems with this book. Barrowman shows no beefcake. There's one bum shot, albeit concealed slightly by a kilt, a much-appreciated Speedo scene, but little or nothing else. Sigh).

He's lost male and female friends to cancer and mental illness over the years, but after a HIV scare in the late eighties, he came out to his parents- and has strictly maintained safe sex ever since. Shortly afterward, during a stage performance in Chicester (1994), he met the love of his life and luckiest man alive, Scott Gill. They've been together for fourteen years, and tied the knot in December 2006 in Cardiff. The cast included Torchwood colleagues and production staff, their respective families and fur children (three dogs), David and Freema from Doctor Who and other stage mates.

At this stage, it is not known whether the catering ran out of salmon nibblets at the event, given the Gill clan's noted enthusiasm for this foodstuff. John is very close to his folks, siblings, nieces and nephews- some of which have already dragged up, and others of which have been introduced to the pleasures of plonk when they came of age.

As for Torchwood, it sadly only gets the penultimate chapter, although they're all apparently great mates offset. Pranks abound in the Barrowperson's life, involving protruding anatomical bits, methane emissions, and performance sabotage. For example, while snogging Gareth (Ianto) on set, the two guys stayed liplocked for two whole minutes, due to production staff naughtiness. As for Eve (Gwen), she's been known to tie one on with Johnno when it involves champagne.

Please read. He's fun, highly entertaining and bawdy in far too many places. Scott is a very lucky man.

John Barrowman sings Anything Goes on the video below.


Craig Young - 31st December 2008