BJ is doing us the honour of being our esteemed guest at the Fat of the Land. She will cut the ribbon to open the event at 2pm sharp.
BJ! One of my fat queer heroes. The first time I met her I knew I'd never forget her. Dawn French was making a programme about fat and art for the South Bank Show in 1994 or thereabouts. A bunch of fat oiks, including BJ and I, were roped in to give the programme some colour. This involved swimming around Dawn F in formation around the beautiful Marshall Street Baths, just off Carnaby Street. We were kept pretty separate from Dawn, she was clearly out of our league, but I remember BJ clinging to me with her legs because she wasn't a strong swimmer back then. Thrills!
Like all the best people, BJ manages to straddle high and low culture. In 1997 she won the inaugural Miss Lesbian Beauty Competition at the Café de Paris, organised by Amy Lamé. Some people were really upset that a big fat dyke could steal the prize from under their noses, there were letters of complaint to The Pink Paper about it! But BJ won fairly and squarely, and she deserved to win too. She's been a muse to Vivienne Westwood, photographed by Del la Grace Volcano, and the award-winning artist Sadie Lee's painting of BJ, entitled Pinky, has shown at the National Portrait Gallery (see the pic above).
If BJ was the type of person to appear in the Sunday colour supplements, she'd likely be described there as a living legend or an institution. Raw, brave and fierce, my favourite memories of BJ include the sight of her throwing bottles of champagne around a dive bar, strutting in a bikini at London Fields Lido, and flirting as though it were an Olympic sport. She's bad to the bone and impossible not to love.
Anyway, you'll get to meet her on 3 October at 2pm.