Louis Colaianni
author, professor, director
Quentin Crisp Museum in Kansas City, Missouri

I adored Quentin Crisp. I was his disciple; a prefect at his Academy of Being. As such, I needed him more than he needed me. Quentin never seemed to NEED anyone, in fact. This was the chief lesson of his doctrine. He was devoutly independent, fervently individual. A true existentialist, he accepted whom-ever and WHATever came his way. "I go where I am told, what else am I to do?" were words he lived by and died by. In recent months as he grew frail, he prophesied, "Someday you will ring me and there will be no answer." Sadly, that day has come. I will miss Quentin and yet I know, determined as he was to carry on, he craved death. With a mixture of relish and resignation, he would quote, from memory, a canto from Tennyson’s In Memoriam:

Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow . . .

As I say goodbye to Quentin, I know that he does not linger. He shuffled off calmly, for he was ready to go. His voice, unique and unmistakable, reverberates as a memory, his body is ashes, his profession is REST. And this is to his liking.

Copyright © 2000 by Louis Colaianni and Estate of Quentin Crisp. All rights reserved.
Photograph copyright © by Jean Harvey. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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