Paul O’Grady: Royal Vauxhall Tavern cabaret club where Lily Savage rose to fame pays raucous tribute to star
Paul O’Grady has been remembered as “one of the greatest drag artists the UK has ever seen” at the LGBTQ+ cabaret club that helped him rise to fame as Lily Savage.
Instead of the typical minute’s silence, there was a minute of raucous applause from the audience at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) in south London on Wednesday evening – a moment to cheer in memory of the “trailblazer and legend”.
His close friend Linda Thorson, an actress known for starring in The Avengers and Emmerdale, said in an interview with Good Morning Britain that he died in bed with his husband, Andre Portasio, beside him.
Stars and royalty including Sir Elton John and the Queen Consort led the thousands of tributes following his death.
The TV presenter and comedian rose to fame on the nightclub circuit in the 1980s as the acerbic, platinum wig-wearing Lily Savage – a name believed to have been inspired by his late mother.
After touring the north of England, he settled into a solo residency at the RVT before the character went on to become a household name.
‘Silence is polite – but this is a moment to applaud’
On Wednesday evening, RVT host Michael Twaits described O’Grady as “an absolute legend of the community” to a full-house audience paying tribute.
“Today we lost one of the greatest drag artists the UK has ever seen, and it is this building, this building was where it happened,” he said.
“Eight years of doing solo shows… and also doing shows like tonight, introducing new talent to the LGBT+ scene. Paul O’Grady was an absolute legend of the community.”
Twaits said O’Grady had always stayed true to his roots, despite his rise to TV fame.
“It was around raising up the community, and when you move from a stage like this into the mainstream, when you move into breakfast f****** television… and still stay true to yourself, stay true to your queer self, and stay true to your working class roots.”
Telling the audience that “a trailblazer and a legend has left us”, he then led the crowd in a round of applause.
“Obviously a moment of silence is polite… but I don’t think a moment of silence is right. I think this is a moment to applaud, a moment to love, a moment to cheer,” he said.
Deputy PM invited to cabaret club
MPs also highlighted O’Grady’s time at the RVT in the House of Commons earlier on Wednesday.
Addressing Dominic Raab, Sir Chris Bryant said: “I don’t know whether the deputy prime minister ever met Lily Savage or has ever spent a night out at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, but… I can take him some time if he wants to go?”
As laughter broke out, the Labour MP added: “Her alter ego, Paul O’Grady, campaigned acerbically and hilariously for elderly people, for care workers, against oppression of every kind.
“Isn’t it time we in this country celebrated our naughty, hilarious drag queens and comics of every kind who inspire us to be a better and more generous nation?”
Mr Raab, who was filling in for Rishi Sunak during Prime Minister’s Questions, accidently referred to O’Grady as “Paul Grayson”, before correcting himself and describing the star as an “incredible comic”.
‘A true animal lover in every bone in his body’
Among the many paying tribute to O’Grady was the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the charity for which the star had been an ambassador since 2012.
He filmed 11 series of his beloved show For The Love Of Dogs at the centre, and during the first series he rehomed Eddie, a Chihuahua Jack Russell-cross puppy.
Eddie was followed by shih-tzu Boycie in 2014, Conchita, a Maltese, in 2015, Arfur, a mongrel puppy, in 2017, Nancy, another mongrel puppy, in 2020, and Sausage, a wire-haired dachshund, in 2021.
Battersea chief executive Peter Laurie said O’Grady would have taken all of the charity’s dogs home “if he had his way”.
Mr Laurie said: “It’s hard to overstate Paul’s impact at Battersea over the last decade. He really helped put Battersea on the map.”
O’Grady’s “real legacy” is how he showed both the British public and an international audience how “lovable and incredible” rescue dogs are, Mr Laurie added.
“He could walk into a kennel with a dog he had never met before, sit on the floor and play with that dog and bond with that dog within minutes.
“He would fall in love with that dog and the dog would fall in love with him too and you can’t pretend, that was so authentic, that really was Paul – a true animal lover in every bone in his body.”
Taylor Swift’s dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show
An Australian photographer claims he was punched by Taylor Swift’s dad in Sydney following the singer’s concert.
Ben McDonald said he told police the incident happened at Neutral Bay Wharf, where Swift and her dad had just come ashore from a yacht hours after the singer’s final show in the city.
While officers did not release names, police said they are investigating an alleged assault by a 71-year-old man on a 51-year-old man at 2.30am local time.
Swift’s representatives have not responded to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told Rolling Stone magazine two people were “aggressively pushing” to get to Swift.
They added that the people grabbed security and threatened a member of the singer’s staff.
Mr McDonald said media had been waiting to picture the star as she walked towards two cars.
“There were about four or five security there and at one point, one of the American security started shoving his umbrella into me and my camera and then Taylor got in her car,” he said.
“Someone else came running at me and punched me in the left side of my face.
“Initially, I thought it was an Australian security that was trying to be the hero of the moment in the front of the Americans, but as it turned out it was her father.”
Mr McDonald said he recognised Swift’s father, Scott Swift, from a picture online – adding that he doesn’t have any bruising and didn’t need any treatment.
“In 23 years, I haven’t been assaulted and punched in the chops, particularly by the talent’s dad,” he said.
“We didn’t go rushing down the jetty. We didn’t go rushing to the back of the boat. We waited for her to come up. Kept it very civil.
“But no, they… put the umbrellas up and umbrellas over her and then shove the umbrellas into our faces and then make out that we’re the ones making contact with them.”
Swift left the country on Tuesday after more than 600,000 fans saw her Eras Tour performance across seven concerts.
Matthew Perry’s X account ‘hacked by fraudsters’ urging donation to fake foundation
The X account of Matthew Perry has been targeted by hackers, according to reports.
A foundation set up in honour of the Friends star, who died last October, appeared to be the target of a link in a pinned post at the top of his profile urging people to donate.
However, the post actually linked to duplicate site.
An Instagram post from the Matthew Perry Foundation said: “We have received reports that Matthew’s official X page has been hacked and is directing users to a fraudulent site soliciting donations via cryptocurrency.
“Please do not donate to this site or share the fraudulent posts on social media.
“MatthewPerryFoundation.org is the only website associated with the Foundation, and we are only accepting donations through this site.”
A caption added: “This is the only official Matthew Perry Foundation Instagram account, and we will only ever post official Foundation communications.
“Please report imposter accounts, and do not submit donations through any channel other than MatthewPerryFoundation.org. #MatthewPerry.”
The post was also flagged by X’s community notes feature saying that the account had been hacked and the link was fake.
Perry’s death was ruled an accident from the “acute effects of ketamine”. The actor, was found “unresponsive in the pool at his residence” on 28 October last year.
Most famous for playing Chandler Bing in hit US sitcom, Perry was open about his battle with addiction, setting up a sober living facility for men who were also struggling.
Following his death, the foundation was created in his name to help those struggling with addiction.
Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel Green in Friends, was among those who urged support of the foundation.
The actor was recently honoured during the in memoriam segment at the SAG Awards, after there was controversy at the BAFTAs following his omission from their remembrance roll call.
Producer accuses Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs of forcing him to have sex with prostitutes
A music producer has accused Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs of sexually assaulting him and forcing him to have sex with prostitutes.
The suit, filed in New York, accuses the music mogul of repeated instances of unwanted groping and sexual touching.
It also says the music producer was forced to work in a bathroom while Combs showered and wandered around in the nude.
Combs’ lawyer, Shawn Holley, labelled the events described in the lawsuit “pure fiction”.
“We have overwhelming, indisputable proof that his claims are complete lies,” he said.
“We will address these outlandish allegations in court and take all appropriate action against those who make them.”
In the lawsuit, the producer claims Combs made him solicit sex workers and pressured him to sleep with them.
It also described a time when the producer suspected he had been drugged after waking up in a bed with a pair of prostitutes.
The claim is one of several sexual assault lawsuits filed against Combs in recent months, including a lawsuit from the R&B singer Cassie that was settled last year.
Another of Combs’ accusers is a woman who claims he raped her two decades ago when she was 17-years-old.
Combs has denied all the allegations.
In a statement in December, he described the claims as “sickening” and his accusers of “looking for a quick payday”.
“Let me be absolutely clear: I did not do any of the awful things being alleged. I will fight for my name, my family and for the truth,” he said.
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