THE GERONTOPHILE POSTER BOY OF THE LONDON SCENE

Interview by Paul Flynn

I’m knocking at Julian’s front door above a pub in Vauxhall, London’s supergay enclave just south of the river. Julian opens the door looking as good as he always does, though he is nursing a cold and has a few nights out to get over. He’s wearing a rocking mix of baseball Americana and rockabilly denim. His close crop is growing out a little. He has a skip hat on and winks a greeting, from the eye that is split down the middle by a four-inch scar. Julian later tells me that he got his scar when he fell through a plate-glass window when he was 19. He laughs when he says this.

I’ve never met Julian properly before, but he comes littered with recommendations. I’ve seen him around loads. More than that: I’ve noticed him loads. Everybody does. He is what you once would have called a “night-club celebrity” before both concepts — night-clubs and celebrities — became so wildly debased. Now you might like to politely re-brand his status to “nightlife character”. To me, he is London’s poster-boy for everything that is still worth going out to and for. He recently won the “Butch Real Body” contest at Horse Meat Disco’s “Vogue Ball”, gay London’s brightest night on the calendar. He shines quietly at nights like these. I liked him just being a beautiful enigma with a clipboard and a smile or falling-down drunk on a dance floor, but now I want to know more about him, for many reasons.

Three and a half years ago, young Julian Ganio caused an international publicity ripple with his degree show from the London College of Fashion. At Graduate Fashion Week he sent a collection he had specifically designed for older, larger men down the runway, sported by eight ruddy-faced, pensionable, overweight, grumpy and bald men. His thinking was “why shouldn’t they have nice clothes, too?” Fair enough. A bit street, a bit preppy, in nice colours, plaids and stripes, but nothing too overly styled, the clothes took into account both the ages and weights of the men wearing them. It was designed with the rarest of fashion attributes: affection.

We take a nice, breezy walk through the detritus of Vauxhall, a place so obviously designed for the night, but one that I know little of. Julian tells me about everything in Vauxhall and I tell him that I know nothing about it, really. I don’t go there. There is a new gay sauna that we walk past and a fetish club with a dungeon door. Under every arch on the railway pass there is some form of weekend gay activity that springs to life as Friday turns to dusk and closes shop on Monday at midday, when the party must stop.
We stop for a coffee and Julian tells me a few little things about himself:
The first three bookmarks on his computer are eurowoof.com, Plusia lollipops and a site for wrestling headgear.
His favourite item of clothing is his burgundy Harrington jacket.
His favourite food is a roast dinner, particularly a roast beef dinner, but anything will do.
The first time he came was, he thinks, at around the age of ten, when he rubbed himself against a mattress and liked the feeling.
He says he’s refined his technique a bit since then.
He doesn’t have a hero as such, but he loves the photographs of Martin Parr.
He says that, yes, he probably does believe in God.
None of this really surprises me. One thing that usually surprises me about gay boys but doesn’t surprise me about Julian is that he is a football fan. He supports Chelsea. He started going to see them at the age of eleven with a friend from school. They would stand in the standing area called “the Shed” and he was just as interested in the men standing around him as in the game on the pitch. He was a season-ticket holder for a couple of years but doesn’t have one now because of work. The only newspaper he reads is The Sun , just for the football really. He says he wouldn’t like to speculate on why lots of gay men don’t like football, but maybe it’s that they can’t get past the footballers themselves to concentrate on the game. Because Julian doesn’t like younger men he can watch the game, but he does like the managers. He says the managers are “Mmmmm”. It’s a nice noise. He says that the pin-up he never lost was Bob Hoskins. He’s “Mmmmm”, too.

End