Alan Cumming loves his dog.
The pansexual Scottish actor who achieved celebrity in the Broadway revival of Cabaret, and whose film credits include The Anniversary Party (a total downer) and Spice World (it spiced up our life), has now written a book, Tommy's Tale, and was in town last week to promote it. He brought his dog with him.
He didn't just bring her with him into town (he came down from Vancouver with the dog, a boyfriend, and Sir Ian McKellen in tow) but with him to a reading. The collie-German shepherd mix, whose name is Honey, walked into Bailey/Coy Books last Saturday night minutes before 7 p.m., three feet ahead of her famous owner.
At one point during the reading, Cumming picked up Honey (not a small dog) and cradled her in his arms (he's not a big guy), and then, to the Nightstand's horror, kissed her. The regal Sir Ian McKellen, standing near the door at the back, turned to the person standing next to him and said, "Shameless."
Cumming and McKellen are both in the X-Men 2, currently filming in Vancouver, and ended the night together at Blu. ("My god, I kick ass," Cumming said later about his role, as Nightcrawler, in X-Men 2. "The other day, I killed a man by flicking him against the wall with my tail.")
There's really very little to say about Cumming's book (you understand) except that it deals with a youngish, faggoty Londoner who is forced to decide whether he wants to give it all up (sex, ecstasy, etc.) and become a father, and, of note, those same issues have been on Mr. Cumming's mind.
The book is licentious ("His cock bobbed around a bit as he talked") and filthy ("Peeing, like shaving, is hard: There's a lot to it") and off-limits to Cumming's mom: "I begged her not to read it," Cumming said. His reason is that the book deals with "sex and other things that I don't want to have the responsibility of her knowing." For example: "I never want to have a chat with her about rimming."
When asked by someone in the audience about the difficulties of writing a novel, Cumming (who, in his own words, had recently enjoyed "some B.C. pot") said that if you stop writing for a while, "you have to come back and read the 200 pages [you've already written]. That's really difficult for me."
As for literary inspiration, he said Sunday morning over coffee, "I always like books [in which] you feel like you're in the character's head. And you enter their reality so much, you become a little derailed yourself." He cited as examples The Catcher in the Rye, The Trick Is to Keep Breathing, and something else (he has a thick accent; the trick is to catch what you can).
He talked about the drawbacks of being in movies ("You have to have your hair in a certain style for a period of time, even if you don't want to," he said, running his hands through his hair, which he says has been "dyed to fuck") and the merits of writing books ("I wanted to feel more independent and in control of my art"), and then the conversation derailed and he started talking about Honey again. He likes to point out that he saved her from near death at the New York City pound and "a year later she was in Hollywood, staying at the Chateau Marmont, going to her first Hollywood meeting." He brings her to those, too.