Brighton OurstoryNEWSLETTERS  
20 Winter 2006
19 Summer 2006
18 Winter 2005
17 Summer 2005
16 Spring 2005
15 Summer 2004
14 Winter 2003
13 Summer 2003
12 Winter 2002
11 Spring 2002
9 Winter 2000
8 Summer 2000
7 Winter 1999
6 Summer 1999
5 Winter 1998
4 Summer 1998
3 Winter 1997

Issue 18 . Winter 2005

Our survey said . Rookie to Raunchy . A tribute to Phil Starr. Hold very tight please . War stories wanted . It started with a kiss . News in the archive

A tribute to James Arthur Fuller (aka Phil Starr)

Phil StarrIf you've been living in Brighton these last few months you can't have failed to notice the impact the death of Phil Starr has had on the community. A female impersonator from the old school, his career and life ended, not with a whimper, but while he was still going strong. He had just taken over Starr's Bar and Hotel on the New Steine, he was lined up as the lead in drag panto Babes in the Bushes and there was even talk of a BBC sitcom.

What stirred most people, however, was that his death came just days after he brought the curtain down on Legends bar as it closed for an extended refurbishment. He had been the fist drag act at Legends 14 years previously, and now he bowed out with a rendition of Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again. Sadly, we were not to meet Phil again.

Born in Croydon in 1932 Phil began his career in the RAF, stationed in Singapore. Upon his return a life on the stage beckoned and he began performing in Call Us Mister - the last ever touring drag show. After the chorus line finished Phil kept performing -mostly in East End bars. He also managed the Two Brewers pub in Clapham, South London, turning it from unsuccessful straight pub to widely popular gay bar.

It wasn't long before he was a regular on the Brighton scene and five years ago, just short of his seventies, he finally sold up and moved to the coast. But his diary remained full not only by the sea, up in London and even as far afield as Thailand.

Phil's finale

Phil's final performance at Legends Bar on Brighton's seafront, just a few days before his death.

Photos courtesy G Scene magazine.

Recently his Arsenic and Old Lace persona saw him team up with David Raven (aka Maisie Trollete), while Brain Ralfe and Lee Tracey persuaded him to take part in the infamous and popular drag pantos.

His funeral, attended by hundreds, was testament to his popularity in this town and beyond. Phil Starr was a one off and much loved Brighton figure. We wish him well on the next stage he steps across.


Back to top of page

Back to Ourstory home page