Freddie ‘s 41st birthday fell just five months after the star discovered he had AIDS - the virus which had killed so many of his lovers. His immediate reaction was to throw the party to end all parties. The venue was Pikes Hotel on Ibiza. It was the most incredible example of excess the Mediterranean island had ever seen. It took three days merely to inflate the countless gold and black helium balloons. The hotel made a special 6ft long cake decorated with the musical notes of Mercury’s hit Barcelona. Waiters opened 350 bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne in less than an hour for the 700 guests. There were flamenco dancers…and fantasy dancers. Ever-flamboyant, Freddie played the perfect host. No-one had the slightest idea that the killer disease was already taking hold of his body. In the cold light of morning, hotel boss Tony Pike meticulously drew up the bill - the largest he had ever presented. It was to give him an astonishing insight into how the Queen money machine could pay out massive amounts - yet still subject tiny details to the biggest scrutiny. “I gave the party bill to Queen’s manager Jim Beach who went through it very carefully,” said Pike. “There were items like 232 broken glasses - and suddenly he pointed to one entry of four vodka-and-tonics, and said, ‘Take it off. We didn’t have any vodkas’. “I said that if it was on the bill then someone must have ordered the drinks. But Beach repeated, ‘No-one ordered vodkas’. “I was about to stand my ground when a quiet voice cut in and asked, ‘Is there a problem here?’ “It was Freddie. I explained the situation and he replied: ‘Yes, it’s correct. I bought those myself for the bar staff’.”
He was such a kind and gentle soul, oh how much i loved and still love him today. (top photos of his 44th birthday.)
TCGS is returning to it’s roots for ONE NIGHT ONLY!
In mid-2009, I had been doing a storytelling show at UCB for a while. It was going well, but I was getting burnt out on it. I asked the artistic director at the time, my good friend Anthony King, if I could do something different. I said maybe I’d like to host a talk show someday. He said he was down, but only if I made the show a staging ground for some of my weirder ideas. He didn’t want to see me mimic a traditional talk show, he wanted me to put it in my voice. He also insisted I call it The Chris Gethard Show to force myself to do so.
The show quickly took on a life of its own. I interviewed the coolest kid from my high school on stage. I interviewed the girl I went on the worst date of my life with. People were shot with paintball guns, electrocuted, and choked unconscious in a tiny black box theater. We drove cross country in an RV and got in some brutal arguments that lead to me being abandoned on the side of a highway in Texas.
We gave a nice night to a kid from Ohio named Fesh.
We convinced Diddy to show up.
Many people contributed to it, but there was a core group, myself and Shannon O'Neill and Will Hines and Don Fanelli and Bethany Hall and the goofballs in our house band.
Looking back on it with some perspective, this stretch of my life was perhaps the most inspired creatively I’ve ever been. I was lucky to be a part of it, and lucky to lead the charge.
After a few years, our show became the public access television show it is today. We took what we built at UCB and invited dozens of talented comedians and filmmakers and musicians and artists to come share that world, and they transformed into a much more positive, open, hopeful thing. It stopped feeling like the grueling battle of wills that was the stage show and became something that cast a wider net and that I am even more proud of.
We are on the cusp of moving on from public access to a new platform on basic cable and it’s daunting and exciting and inspiring in all sorts of new ways.
But before we do, we’re returning to our roots one last time. We are heading back to our old home at the UCB Theater to see what happens when we bring it back.
It’s going to be crackers mcgee.
Get your tickets fast when they go on sale! This one is going to sell out quick.