Big bad secrets of an entertainer
Alex Kasriel speaks exclusively to the legendary king of easy listening, Lenny Beige (also known as comedian Steve Furst)
He is the fake-tanned, cigar smoking, jewellery wearing, spoof supper club entertainer, played by comedian Steve Furst. Here, Lenny Beige gives an exclusive interview to the JC, lifting the lid on his greatest influences, his leisure time and his dark family secrets, ahead of his monthly residency at the Pigalle Club.
l Tell us about your monthly show at the Pigalle
I have been doing this show on and off for three years in various different forms and it’s morphed into a Beige Does Whatever… so I’ve done Brit Pop, Country, Bond, Beatles and Rat Pack. At the end of the month I’ll be doing the Rolling Stones. It gives me the excuse to invite different guests and show off. This month I have the poet and good friend of mine Murray Lachlan Young, who has written a poem about Keith Richards falling out of a coconut tree.
l You like talking about Jews in your routine. Who is your favourite Jew?
Probably the person who founded Bloom’s Restaurant — I love the food there. And my mother, Sadie
Beigeowitz, the Kosher Giblet Queen of Whitechapel. (I had to drop the -witz to make my name suitable for the stage.)
l Who would you most like to share the stage with?
Anthony Newley. Not enough is known about his life and times. He died 10 years ago so I never got to perform alongside him but he was my hero, my inspiration. I hope to do a tribute to him at the Pigalle next year. And Sammy Davis Jr. I would love to have shared a stage with him. Robbie Williams used to do my show regularly as my band leader was Guy Chambers, with whom he worked. I have had my share of famous young upstarts on stage, but it was usually me teaching them, rather than the other way round.
l What do you do to relax?
It depends on the day of the week … or who I’m with. I like to curl up with a good book and a bad woman. I’m most relaxed on stage with a band of young bucks behind me and a well-heeled audience in front of me. That’s when I’m most comfortable. I’m constantly working so I don’t have time for much relaxing other than that.
l You say that your mother is so old that when she reads the Bible she reminisces. How old does that make you?
One doesn’t like to talk about anything as gauche as age. My keep-fit regime is my on-stage regime… and I do late night performances, so I am in good shape.
l How did you celebrate your barmitzvah?
I didn’t have a barmitzvah. I realised how much work was involved and it was a lot of effort for something I was not going to be rewarded for. I needed financial remuneration for performing and I wasn’t going to learn that script and a new language for nothing. So I decided that maybe I’m more culturally Jewish than religiously Jewish. My parents were fine with it.
l Are your parents proud of you?
My father died when I was very young. He was the Gusset King of Bow. He used to have a Pants For a Penny stall in Brick Lane Market. He died face down in a sunblushed tray of crotchless knickers. It was my mother who really pushed me on to the stage. She’s always been more than proud. I believe the phrase is “schleps naches”.
l Are you married?
I was but that very ugly chapter came to an end. She changed. Her name used to be Denise. She turned and now she’s become Dennis. We don’t talk. We haven’t spoken for many years.
l Do you have children?
Yes, Nathan and Naomi. My parenting style is aggressive. Nathan is a constant disappointment to me and my daughter… I wish for great things for her but frankly she hasn’t inherited my looks. She has a lazy eye. But I adore them both.
Lenny Beige will be performing his Tribute To The Rolling Stones at the Pigalle Club on July 29. Tickets are £15 (standing) or £45 for three-course meal and show (0800 548 9470, www.vpmg.net/pigalle)