She’s still got it. Forty-Six she reminds us, and still has lots of wear left in those knees. ★★★★
And as those noisy punters she had removed from the front row will attest, as feisty as ever. Pam Ann is the unchallenged Queen of the skies and looking around at the packed Leicester Square theatre – queen of the gays as well – with every c*ck joke, every rim job mention provoking whoops of excitement that explode across the small auditorium.
It’s not hard to understand why the gays have taken Pam under their collective wing for nearly 20 years, in an interview with this very magazine in 2013 she said about the gay community,
“They didn’t create Pam Ann; they created my whole fking life and my existence. That’s why I have not got married. I have not had kids. I am a fking gay man, 99 per cent of my friends are gay so they can take responsibility for everything. My vocabulary is gay, I speak gay, everything is gay. I f**k like a gay so you know, I say they created my whole existence and Pam Ann.”
There’s something different though with Pam Ann, perhaps a little more self-aware than her usual, it feels a little Pam Ann 2.0. In this show there’s a lot less “air” jokes and hardly any of her beloved characters, such as Lily, Valerie and Helga. The first part gives way to a full on stand up routine and while much is in the character, Caroline Reid (Pam Ann’s creator and body) is it seems, breaking and aching to get out.
Don’t get me wrong; she still gets in the ‘ass-like-a-hippo’s-yawn’ gag (it was at 3 minutes and 42 seconds, but who’s counting) and she still flies in the headwind of the PC brigade, using race, religion, heterosexuals and class as her bread and butter material, much to the applause of the crowd.
While some media outlets will call her shtick out-dated and a product of days past, our community needs levity and moment to stop eating itself from the inside and listen to some of the pearls that fall from Reid’s mouth – and she knows that. With a knowing eye she momentarily tips her hat off to one particuarly hotly contested word – to the delight of the audience.
But what if Pam wasn’t Pam anymore? Instead we have Caroline… I’m excited about the prospect; does she need to be dressed up in the uniform to still be hailed high as one of the campest comic creations by the gay community? The question is will we let her flamboyant, coked up stewardess character go? Will we let Reid fly, shed the wingtips and become a fully-fledged real person rather than the institution she’s become?
Pam Ann Queen of The Skies is on at the Leicester Square Theatre until November 30th.
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.