After finding shelter and having a good natter about the amazing array of 80s action figures, we had another coffee with writer Mikey Walsh for the last part of our interview, starting with a quote from Gypsy Boy that had made us laugh.
“That evening the three of us sat at a table in the Dyna Bowl bar. The ice in our Diet Cokes rattled as we held the glasses to our lips. Then Colbert and the girls arrived. One looked like a walrus in a miniskirt, the other like a transvestite in hysterectomy pants. With a ‘cooeee’ they plonked themselves down next to us. The walrus made a beeline for me.” You’ve just summed up every gay man’s worst nightmare!
They were small town sluts (laughs)! Just vessels to fill, I think that was their job in life, those two women.
I think every gay man has been in that situation, being descended upon in a club or whatever.
I remember kissing this girl once and feeling the wire in her bra, and thinking “Why’s she got wire in her bra?” not seeing then that they all do. I remember her asking me to finger her, and I was just thinking, “Shit, I don’t want to put my hand in there in case it bursts on my fingers.” (Laughs) I remember at that age when people are curious, I was always attracted to boys. Me and a couple of these travelling boys used to sit on either side of this tar barrel and play a game called “poofs”, which I’d created.
You amaze me…
It was where we’d each sit at either end of the tar barrel and try and grab each other’s penis.
He was game for that?
He was game for that, but then we were just kids. He’s married with kids now, and he’d probably want to rip my head off, but there you go… But I touched his cock!
You got what you wanted!
(Laughs) I got what I wanted.
So tell me about the screenplay for Gypsy Boy?
I don’t know what I can say about it publically, but it’s had a lot of interest.
But you’ve got the second part of the book coming up?
I met with my publishers last week to talk about it and they’re pitching it very soon. It’s going to start from the moment it all kicked off in the first book where everyone found out and I started getting the threats; then I will jump right back to the moment I left, because I didn’t just run off into the sunset. We were being hunted for three years.
What would have happened if you’d been found?
I have no idea, but there were people who were wanting to find me that had nothing to do with the reason I’d run away from home. My father put a contract out on me, and it was for an object that I didn’t have, and people wanted the cash. Also, a lot of people were just angry. My father was angry because he didn’t expect me to do it. It wasn’t courage; I just fell in love with somebody and knew that that’s what I had to do. But my father always told me, you’re nothing, you’ll always be nothing and you’ll live off me for the rest of your life. And then one day I’ve just gone, and nobody knows where I am, and suddenly all the repercussions of, “We know why he left.” It caused a massive kind of rift, and it broke my mum’s heart, and I hate to think it.
It was a few years before you saw her again?
I used to write to my mum every couple of weeks, and I’d always send it from somewhere I wasn’t living. I’d take the train out. My mum was always all right at reading. I used to write like my mum, everything in block capitals, and I always spelt the way you thought it sounded, because most of my learning came from Sesame Street; but words like ‘thought’ and ‘the’ you’d always do it with a ‘f’ instead of a ‘th’ – things like that. But my mum wasn’t allowed to talk about me. My mum would write to me, but she wasn’t able to send letters to anywhere, so she’d hide them under her bed.
Do you have any inkling when the next book might be out?
When I met with the publisher they were saying I should wait a little while longer; but when I found out about all these other Gypsy biographies coming out, I thought, “I just want to do it. I want to do the final part, get it done and get it out.” It’ll be pitched soon, so hopefully a big ‘yes’ all round. First of all they said if I wanted to get it out by February next year I’d have ten weeks to write it! (Laughs)
Christ! Nothing like a deadline!
I know! But we’re hoping to make it a summer release next year. I’ve got lots of stuff but I don’t want to go through it all until they say ‘yes’, because it’s a pain in the arse. Writing this is telling a story, but it’s also expelling something; and with the way I write – if it’s not affecting me it’s not going to affect anyone – so there’s a straight to the bone reality with it and I want to know it’s definitely going to be done.
Are you going to call it ‘Gypsy Man’?
No! (Laughs) No!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist!
That was actually suggested! It will be called something to do with running, and we’ve come up for the idea for the cover which will be someone wearing red Converses running away from a Gypsy camp.
I hope so! But the cover will be that old paper look again, where the only thing with colour will be the shoes.
I like that.
It’s cool, isn’t it?
Do you write, or plan to write any fiction?
All fiction comes from your own experience anyway. I want to get the second book done, and then sit down and think, “OK, what’s next?” I’d love to write a children’s book. I think innocence is the most amazing thing in the world. It’s magical to come out of something a changed person. The whole theory of someone going on a journey and learning something quite profound about themselves at the end of it is a message of life.
Any unfulfilled ambitions?
To meet Kate Bush (laughs)! Without the journey of looking, there’s nothing left. It’s the little bursts of happiness you get that keep you going.
As we’re leaving Mikey tells us about the problems he had generating initial interest in Gypsy Boy because it was dismissed by some short-sighted professionals (who must now be kicking themselves) as gay market only.
Sometimes, being a gay man can be a real pain in the bum.
You heard it here first. Possibly. It’s stopped raining, but not for long, though the next time the heavens open we’re protected by an awning, watching other people do the mad dash through the streets, until it’s time to head off.
And as for what the elusive Mikey Walsh really looks like… the description of his eyes in the book is no exaggeration. In fact, he’s just as striking as you imagined when you read Gypsy Boy…