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August 22, 1959
|Other names||Alan Pillay, Alana Pellay, Lana Pellay, Lanah Pellay|
|Years active||1983 - 1991|
Alan "Al" Pillay also known as "Al Pillay" (born 22 August 1959), the star of Eat the Rich is a person of many names and two genders, starring in The Comic Strip Presents as Alan Pellay playing Himself in Gino (Episode 10) as Alana Pellay playing Herself in The Bullshitters (Episode 13) and, finally, as Lana Pellay playing Mary in the feature movie The Supergrass.
He was born near the docks of Grimsby where he was the youngest of six children, his mother a cleaning lady of Irish and Jamaican descent, his father an engineer on the fishing trawlers originally from South Africa of Indian and Spanish descent.
Working men's clubs
He left school at fifteen and went to Manchester where he hooked up with Northern drag legends Bunny Lewis and Frank Foo Foo Lammar. He was noted for his impersonations of Shirley Bassey, Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne, Cleo Laine and Dorothy Squires in full drag and no mike and was booked into the working men’s clubs throughout the North of England as well as the cabaret club circuit.
During a lull in his drag career while he was managing the Black Market Café in Levenshulme and renting a room from Coronation Street actor, Alan Rothwell he was introduced to Kay Carroll and Mark E Smith of The Fall (band). He formed his own band the I Scream Pleasures which would appear as guest support at many a The Fall gig with an original repertoire of songs including Parasitic Machines, Surrender Your Gender, Closet Queen, Do You Like Labels, Spirit Souls and You Aint Nothing But A Phoney F-cking Hetero Queen
He metamorphosed into a disco diva as the hormone popping transsexual Lana Pellay, dressed in costumes by his close friend Leigh Bowery and with a number one world wide dance floor hit Pistol In My Pocket and accompanying Gary Clail in his 1991 hit "Human Nature" with the repeating couplet "Let the carnival begin... Every pleasure, every sin!"
TV and movie star
While squatting in Notting Hill he met Keith Allen who invited him to appear in the newly born Channel 4’s first ever “yoof program”. There he met his champion, Peter Richardson, actor, comedian, writer and director of The Comic Strip Presents who wrote parts for him in the episodes Susie, Gino, The Bullshitters and The Supergrass. He also wrote the lead part for him in the feature film Eat the Rich.
Theatre and cabaret
As Al Pillay he performed in a one-man play Glitter & Twisted based on his life, written by Tim Fountain, which had its premiere at the Beckett Theater on 42nd Street as part of the first Manhattan Musical Theatre Festival and is appearing in his own cabaret A Life in Song at the Pizza on the Park and the Café De Paris. His cabaret performance has also been released as a double CD.
- Positive Nation Interview with Pillay “Leigh Bowery and I were enormously close. I still have all the big Liberace coats and shirts he made me”.
- Time Out Movie Review “In this second feature from the Comic Strip team, genderless black waiter Pellay takes to the road to lead a People's Revolution… True to Comic Strip form, the film lampoons the lunacy of every social group it touches and Pellay's transformation of a swank London restaurant into an eatery on the lines of a pie shop is not to be missed”.
- Playbill.com 2 August 2004 “A two-act British import about two sides of Old England: Black against White, Poor against Posh, Crude against Smooth, Town against Gown. Starring Alan Pillay as the black vulgar Northern English drag queen reminiscing on his shabby life in a new musical play Glitter & Twisted, specially written for the occasion by award winning author Tim Fountain." The Beckett Theatre in Theater Row”
- The Sunday Times 12 August 2007 “A Life in Song is a double CD of Pillay’s cabaret act, in which showbiz standards, including a genuinely affecting Both Sides Now, are peppered with camp northern stories, equal parts Alan Bennett and Larry Grayson”