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7 nights with Sam Mann; MEN IN SUSPENDERS AND THE CHANCE FOR A GOOD HECKLE.

Byline: Sam Mann

I remember my first time. I was totally freaked out when my date turned up on my doorstep wearing make-up, stockings and suspenders. I thought I'd stumbled across a confused cross-dresser until we pulled up outside a theatre where everyone was dressed in the same sexy attire.

The Rocky Horror phenomenon was new to me and I didn't appreciate the entertainment value back then. Nowadays, the hecklers' cries are more obscene and I actually find dishy blokes in women's gear quite sexy.

This week saw the 30th anniversary of the cult musical, so I went to watch it for the third time. It was nice to see that Jonathan Wilkes is still doing well on his potentially ankle-breaking heels as Frank N Furter, and that narrator Rhona Cameron is giving as good as she gets from her hecklers. And she thought she had it tough in the Aussie outback!

A host of celebrities turned out at The Queen's Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue to join in the weird and wonderful transsexual fun. Robbie Williams strolled in wearing a skimpy vest which revealed his heavily-tattooed muscles. Other Rocky Horror fans included Hayley Evetts, Catalina, Max Beesley, Wayne Sleep, Lionel Blair and Sian Lloyd. As luck would have it, a professional heckler was sat directly behind me, yelling down my ear. And when muscle-bound creation Rocky was unveiled, the heckler yelled, 'He's no Robbie Williams!' - leaving me to turn a nice shade of pink as everyone looked in my direction.

After having seen the show several times, I'm getting into the audience participation swing of things. But I still can't pluck up the courage to shout "w****r" and "s**t" in anticipation of the characters' names being read out, just in case I get my timing wrong. Besides, Janet may be a s**t and Brad a w****r, but I prefer to keep my opinions to myself.

The show was as funny as ever and by the time it was over my throat was hurting from laughing. I bet the professional heckler never suffers from a sore throat.

The Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Awards saw a host of music stars descend on London's Hotel Intercontinental. Dido looked fabulous in a spotty dress, Natalie Imbruglia was pretty in pink and Simon Cowell brightened up proceedings wearing - you guessed it - black.

Pregnant Ms Dynamite looked the picture of health as she collected the Best New Music gong. Liz McLarnon teetered onstage in huge heels to pick up the Record Of The Year award on behalf of Atomic Kitten. And after getting the main award, the Silver Clef, Coldplay splashed out pounds 31,000 for charity, to buy a Jimi Hendrix Fender guitar and a painting of John Lennon. "Imagine" having that much money to play with!

The winner of the International Star award, Jon Bon Jovi confessed that although he was looking forward to his gig at Hyde Park the following evening, he was worried about the weather. He reckons he takes the rain with him wherever he goes. I promised I'd keep my fingers crossed that it would stay dry and added that whenever I sing it rains too. Luckily he saw the funny side.

The weather did hold out and on a warm summer's night, Bon Jovi played in front of thousands of fans. I guess your curse has gone, Jon.

CAPTION(S):

A SWEET TRANSSEXUAL: Jonathan Wilkes camps it up in The Rocky Horror Show. Above right: Jon Bon Jovi and wife Dorothea; ELEGANT: Dido (top). But Robbie pulls a face; PRETTY: Liz McLarnon (left) and Natalie Imbruglia add style to the Silver Clef Awards
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 4, 2003
Words:607
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