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The <i>Naked Civil Servant</i> Dies

Quentin Crisp, the eccentric writer, performer and raconteur, died Sunday in Manchester, in the Nortwest of England. He was 90.

Crisp was due to begin a new run of his long-running one-man show, An Evening with Quentin Crisp, in Manchester, before playing five other British cities.

He collapsed at a private residence arranged by the Green Room Theater, where he was to open on Monday night, said the theater's press manager, Christopher Hodgson. "There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death," a police spokesman told Reuters.

Quention Crisp, the self-described "Stately Homo of England," first stepped into the public arena with his 1968 autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant, later adapted for television.

He was openly, flamboyantly gay, often wearing makeup, high-heeled shoes and piling his white hair in a bouffant atop his head.

"If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style" was among his famous quips, along with: "Never keep up with the Joneses; drag them down to your level. It's cheaper."

Though he became an ardent advocate of gay rights, he often enraged homosexuals, saying he regarded being gay as an illness.

Crisp was born Denis Pratt on December 25, 1908, in the southeastern English town of Sutton, Surrey to what he called "middle-class, middle-brow, middling" parents.

He moved to London in the 1920s, changed his name and worked as a nude model, a commercial artist, a part-time prostitute and a book designer.

In 1978, his first one-man show opened in London to acclaim. He made his off-Broadway debut the same year. Three years later, he settled in New York City, where he lived in a small room in the East Village.

There, he built up a new following, taking his one-man show across the US, lecturing on cruise ships and appearing on TV and in advertisements for Calvin Klein perfume and Levi's jeans. He played cameo roles in various films, including the part of Queen Elizabeth I in "Orlando."

Beside The Naked Civil Servant, his books include How to Have a Lifestyle, Doing it with Style, and Resident Alien.

Rock singer Sting based his hit song An Englishman in New York on Crisp.

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