Duncan James on touring, trolling and training at the gym
by Lauren Naylor
The singer and actor on touring, trolling and training at the gym
By Lauren Naylor
You’re currently touring with the Rocky Horror Show as Dr Frank ’n’ Furter. How’s the schedule for you?
‘The schedule is great – it’s really relaxed. I do alternative weeks where I share the role, which takes the load off.’
What’s your favourite song to perform?
‘Sweet Transvestite, because it’s such a great opening song to do for Frank, and it’s such an iconic entrance in musical theatre. Coming out with a cape and whipping the cape off, only for the audience to go mad because you’re left literally in just suspenders and a corset and heels, is incredible! The audience loves that moment where Frank walks out for the first time, and poor Brad and Janet are just completely freaked out by what they see. It’s such great fun for me to be able to play.’
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
‘Yes! I’m very organised and set in my ways. While I’m talking to you, I’m actually doing my make-up! Before I started this role, I was given a proper drag make-up tutorial of how to apply my own, so I’m really good at it now – it takes me about 30 minutes. I’m also currently making myself a cup of tea, and then I will steam my voice. The only thing I don’t do is apply my wig – I need someone else to do that as it’s a tricky job, so she will come along shortly!’
Do you have any super-fans who follow you around the country?
‘Yes! I have some hardcore Blue fans who have supported me for years and years, so it’s really nice to have their support and see them regularly at everything I do.’
You obviously look after yourself – what are your grooming rituals or is there anything you swear by?
‘I swear by a guy in Sloane Square London called Pietro Simone (pietrosimone.com) – he is a skin genius. He does amazing natural facials to give me glowing skin – I only use his products and everyone says my skin looks so good!’
What about fitness?
‘I love the gym, as it boosts my mental state as well as improving my physical shape. Taking time off for yourself to have an hour in the gym to focus is really important, because we never get time for ourselves in our busy schedules every day. It’s important for my mental health.’
Speaking of mental health, do you ever suffer at the hands of social media?
‘It’s all become a very different way of life to when I was a kid. Back then there was no social media, and nobody gave a damn about what you looked like in a picture that went on the internet. Now with people’s comments it’s hard-going. I think if you’re feeling confident in yourself, that’s what it should be about, and hopefully we can get away from all this horrible naming and shaming and circling people out.’
Does your daughter use social media?
‘Tianie-Finn is 14, she’s a grown girl. It’s a different age now and all of her friends have phones, so I can’t deny her one as it would be unfair that everyone else has social media and she doesn’t. You’re damned if you do – you’re damned if you don’t!’
What do you think constitutes fame these days?
‘It’s very different now, you could just be Joe Bloggs with millions of followers, and you are famous. You don’t necessarily have to have a talent. Reality TV has become so huge and popular, so if you are entertaining you automatically open up a career.’
Has life changed since turning 40?
‘Yeah, I think for me turning 40 was a really good milestone for myself in a mental place, because I was kind of discovering myself in my thirties. I didn’t come out as gay until then, and it was all a bit fresh and new for me. Now I’m really comfortable in my skin – I’m really happy with who I am, I’m happy in my sexuality, I’m happy in my family life and I’m happy in my career. I don’t have all those pressures that I had in the heights of Blue where you can’t walk down the street or fart without somebody saying stuff! I think for me my forties have been the best decade so far.’
Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show tours the UK until 2nd November 2019 – visit rockyhorror.co.uk for tickets and information