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Conor Collins: Getting comfortable with rejection, sleeping with your school bully, and overcoming pee-shyness

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conor collins

Conor Collins is an LGBT activist and visual artist based in Manchester, England.

He is known for making artworks using unconventional materials such as diamond dust, blood, and hate speech found on social media.

His work has consistently gone viral across social media and has even appeared on sites like BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan and Huffington Post. 

But, before he was a world-renowned artist he was studying to become an opera singer, moving to Manchester to follow his dream. 

He took up painting as an attempt to get closer to a boy that he had a crush on. Before long her realised that it was this, and not opera, that was his calling. 

In this episode of Lost Spaces we caught up to talk all about his days as a student, and nights out at Poptastic, a club night targeted mainly at students that played an eclectic mix of music.

In our conversation we discuss getting comfortable with rejection, sleeping with your school bully, and pee-shyness (which seems to be a recurring theme on this show!). 

Notable Work

Tom Daley (2014)

In 2013, when diver Tom Daley officially came out he was subjected to a range of homophobic, hateful comments on social media platform Twitter.

Turning lemons in to lemonade, Conor used these tweets to create this portrait of Britain’s most decorated diver.

tom daley conor collins

Caitlyn Jenner (2015)

caitlyn jenner conor collins

Another coming out – this time retired Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete, reality TV star and politician Caitlyn Jenner. 

After coming out as a trans woman in 2015 one of the first interviews she gave was to Vanity Fair. 

Conor used the cover image from this issue of the magazine as the base of his portrait. Taking transphobic tweets he made a piece of art.

Speaking to Australian publication Star Observer he said of the piece:

“I think it was mostly hoping to highlight to people who may not be aware the real and dark transphobia in society, 

It seems almost every day you hear of the brutal murder of another trans* person, particularly trans* people of colour.

I wanted to show that although the support for Caitlyn is so wonderful, there is still danger out there for so many who do not have the privilege to be able to be safe.”

Alan Turing (2015)

Using the blood of 26 gay medical professionals Conor created a portrait of Alan Turing.

The work was exhibited in the House of Commons as part of a campaign to challenge Britain’s policy on donating blood, which prohibited gay men.

alan turing conor collins

Donald Trump (2015)

donald trump conor collins

Featured in over 250 news publications internationally, and shared thousands of times on social media, this portrait of Donald Trump took the former US President’s most racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise generally bigoted comments to create this portrait.

But, with so many heinous comments to choose from how did he ever manage to narrow it down?

Princess Diana (2018)

Princess Diana was a significant figure in the fight against HIV stigma, challenging commonly held perceptions about how the virus was transmitted.

The portrait was made with diamond dust and HIV positive blood, materials chosen to represent Diana, her message, and the ongoing fight in tackling stigma and discrimination faced by HIV positive people.  

Find Conor online at his website or on Instagram and Twitter.

Conor Collins 0:00
I do hope when I’m old I am that eight year old man not not being lonely but actually just sat enjoying the queer spaces still just socialising with my, my sort of Golden Girls bunch of friends. Remembering times of past remember for the toilet cubicle all the time I sit down the stairs without further wiping a little tear of my I remember those times like put my friend at ambulance getting stomach pumped are the good old days.

K Anderson 0:28
Hello, my name is K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories are created there, and the people that they used to know. Today we are catching up with Connor Collins, a visual artist based in Manchester, England, who is known for making artworks using unconventional materials such as diamond dust, love and hate speech found on social media.

He first moved to Manchester to study and it was here that he found poptastic a club night targeted mainly at students that played an eclectic mix of music. We caught up to discuss getting comfortable with rejection, sleeping with your school bully and P shyness. which I feel is a bit of a recurring theme on this show. What’s up?

Let’s play like a word game. Okay. And I want you to tell me the first word that comes to mind when I say

word. So Manchester

Conor Collins
queer.

K Anderson
Ah, okay. Poptastic

Conor Collins
Youth

K Anderson
dancing

Conor Collins
freedom.

K Anderson
Well, that sets us off in a good direction. So is it fair to say then that Poptastic reminds you of your youth?

Conor Collins 2:30
Oh, without a shadow of a doubt. And generally if I want to get back there now I obviously can’t go back there now but if I were to I think people will go Oh, Clive. Your dad says pick them up. So I wouldn’t really blend in now but I loved her. I was younger. It was the it was the night I look forward to the most

K Anderson 2:47
Why did you choose the name Clive? I don’t know. We all know it Clive. Wouldn’t I don’t know. I feel like Clive is an old man named Sebastian but but so anyway so if you went there now people would be like huh Who is this old man but at the time? I thought oh no,

Conor Collins 3:06
no No at all. Yeah, it was for me it was the night when I was an undergraduate I look forward to the most because it was it was night where you’d you’ve gone to Taco shop during the week and bought an extra extra small shirt thinking that that’s what you should wear. I look terrible on those by the way. So I obviously you see my friends wear the extra small shirt because it be tight fitting they’d love you Molly’s I look like it’s mostly cruel to myself but like angels lighten the sandwich bag is what it like knows wearing those shirts

K Anderson 3:34
Do we need to describe Do we need to tell people what an angel delay is? It’s just basically putting putting it’s more than that it’s it’s it’s like putting that you get like that comes as a powder that you have to add milk to it as well.

Conor Collins 3:51
And there’s also words I’ve got a weird connection with them Angel slides and this isn’t slander by this is all legally out in the open. I used to know the face of angels life so Angel I used to have them packaging thing with a face and a happy face on it with smiley face. But the person I knew then went on to murder someone and he was still the faces and the light for years later and they only recently changed it I’m not making this up this is Google it’s all it’s a public knowledge it’s not slander at all. is the most bizarre thing just this lad called Tommy Who is this very quiet ladder my school who does innocent looking face beat someone to a death with a metal pole is in prison now genuinely true story this is completely bs he was the face of Ange delight for a long long time. Ah, beer the sweetest face the sweetest eye hence the face of angels life

K Anderson 4:43
so what do you think the baby in the sun on the Teletubbies has been getting up to then if this is what the angel delight baby.

Conor Collins 4:49
Oh, they’re having the best time in university I’m sure because it must have been have I never have I ever like if you if you literally grew up and you were either like the face of the Teletubbies or let’s say normal Shannon Matthews. Like the Wanting to answer the head of the cupboard Do you hear that? Do we have that story? The one that they think to kidnapping in the UK and it turns out she just hid under the bed for two days. And yep imagine being growing up to be that person that oh by the way, I was that person. But we’ve been faced with literally the little teletubby the free drinks you get because I use that channel and they cage don’t have I’m the I’m the teddy Teddy baby some free drinks every night. I’m sure. All the Milky bar kid if you’re the Milky bar kid like that. I I’d love that.

K Anderson 5:27
Yeah, I used to have blonde hair when I was really young. So I used to, like get away with telling people I was really working. Well. I think maybe it works like once or twice, but you know, I mean, that’s an hour.

Conor Collins 5:38
I’ve never looked young. What’s the problem? So I’ve kind of grown into my face now. I’ve always looked 30 like my mother half seen pitched me with a baby. I look like a tiny accountant. Like I don’t look like a baby at any point. So I’m kind of glad I finally reached 30 so I actually look my age along I like

K Anderson 5:54
the height must give it away you know if you’re like three feet, people must be like well, this is probably a kid.

Conor Collins 6:00
Oh no, not just the way to the world and my shoulders as a baby I just feel my nappy and do the accounts. Let’s do that.

K Anderson 6:09
So you started going clubbing at like what seven

Conor Collins 6:13
watch this I feel in this house alone My friends used to go clubbing at age of 1413 and go to clubs and they had a life that I wish I had was younger so I only really got to hang out with them queer people

Conor Collins 6:25
which are University really because I I knew some musical theater my gap year I knew some in the periphery of life I was younger, but I was too scared sort of hanging out with other queer people because I just in my little area in Bromley I was probably one of the gay person and we didn’t get on therefore I just didn’t get to know Gabriel. In fact, chat rooms were a huge boon like it’s a very dodgy area champions. But when you’re a 14 year old if your only chance to chat someone in let’s say Los Angeles, or in Peru and you’re chatting on the keyboard, it makes a huge difference so you’re not alone really. I used to love chatters I was young obviously don’t use now. I love them to just speak someone else who was another person my age who’s having queer experiences across across the globe. So then this thing about not wanting to associate with other queer people is it just that the the the pool of queer people that you had was not kind of up to know what I’m trying to do is that it wasn’t that it was just he was my school bully. Like he was a really, really nasty peaceworks Unfortunately, the other only other gay person so he was gay. I know, because it was unclear. But he was gay. Like he said, he’s a lovely person. Now you’ve grown up into a happier, more comfortable person. But he was a bit of a bully in high school. So I didn’t really have I couldn’t have gay friends because the only option I had was the person who was picking other people really.

K Anderson 7:42
He could have been like, you could have been like his prison wife.

Conor Collins 7:47
Well, there’s, there’s there’s, I’ve got with him once. We’ll address that another day. I’m sure. There was a power play on

K Anderson 7:54
my part. So it’s like, I don’t want to be your friend. But I will. I will share with you. He just looked very good. The gray trackies Oh, God, Oh, God. Okay. All right. Well, let’s not let’s not talk about that too much. Let’s talk instead of our Angel delight in a bag and a plastic bag. What did you say?

Conor Collins 8:14
angels like? Oh, yeah. So yes. So we would always go to top man and buy these incredibly tight fitting shirts because they have to be fitted. And that makes sense. Let’s say if you have a body that looks like a condom full of wallets, you can pull off a tight fitted shirt. But with me

K Anderson 8:32
before you go any further, I just need to picture this a condom full of walnuts. Okay, so it’s like, yeah, it’s like muscles ripplinging Is that what you mean?

Conor Collins 8:42
Oh, yeah, like muscles on muscle muscles. You can then pull off a shirt that looks like you borrowed it from a Barbie. But I just had like all the shirts I wore like crop tops, not because they’re a crop tops. They’re just rode up and so you spend the whole night pulling them down, because they always ride up so much because they clearly didn’t fit Yeah, but Okay,

K Anderson 8:59
great. So is this because you were like pudgy? Or because your body length is long?

Conor Collins 9:05
Oh, I was completely remotely average like unremarkable. Like I was the perfect spike because I just looked. I looked completely forgettable. But having the employee the average body, but I wasn’t an extra extra small. I was a complete medium. I think they just run the mill, nondescript. And so I just I looked like I’ve been put in like a hot wash and just went straight out. Like everything just shrunk so much. But also, I had the tightest top but we all had the baggy jeans as well. This is a weird sort of triangle shape going on. Yes. And I had an incredibly inherent time as well. So I used it was cool to straighten your hair at the when I was younger. And instead of looking like cool an email, I just thought like Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen I just go bless me but I was I had to come from the Tudor period going out clubbing It was not a good look.

K Anderson 9:56
I mean, okay, so that my obvious follow up question. Is there any photographic evidence of this that you would like to share?

Conor Collins 10:04
Oh, I’ve got a few pictures. They just, they look terrified. Jimmy that was also the reason I had long hair as I was growing it and for photographers, so there was a relatively comfortable I thought it was at the time. I look back and go, Oh, no, you awful, but I just wanted to photograph who is Jesus. And he had all these other disciples and he would get this. You realise it’s only when you can only go maybe a predator, but only is he like, Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, I’ll be Jesus. So I grew it for solid 12 months. And it goes to Davis shoot you mean I can’t get the disciples have to cancel it. That’s what I because people used to shout Moses at me in the streets because I had that I had the beard. I had the long hair. And so literally the moment they got canceled, I just shaved my head. I was like, nope, nope, get rid of all the hair. I was like, because I just I hated having long hair. Mostly because I just it wasn’t very time efficient. You get the shower, and it’s been good. Our hair’s dry.

K Anderson 10:52
Like it’s so it was cancelled or wasn’t postponed,

Conor Collins 10:55
or just completely canceled completely. Why didn’t if it even existed, it was maybe a fetish thing or what? But only as I got older last night. I lovely What a lovely older gay man asked me to grow my hair. She would photograph me as Jesus and be me. The eight year old person went Yeah, that sounds normal. I don’t even realise now years later, probably now that’s gonna trigger I’m like, Oh, my God was like, Oh my god, I’m gonna traumatise but. No, no, it was just I did photograph at one point.

K Anderson 11:22
At Where are you? Where are you wearing clothes in these photos?

Conor Collins 11:26
I was wearing a bedsheets. I usually have a bed sheet held together with like, a clip for curtain to hold these spreadsheets together which got edited out.

K Anderson 11:34
It’s

Conor Collins 11:36
the things you do. Yeah. But also, I have no regrets. Because I know when I’m a sixty year old man or seventy year old man, I want to be able to look at those pictures and go, Oh, I shouldn’t buy that. Like so. That’s what I love nudes that take as many nudes as you physically carry on. Because it was always often with nudes. But no, because one day we’ll look back at those dudes ago. Wasn’t that pretty? Like because even now if you don’t like your body now it’s only gonna get worse. So enjoy it now. Like it’s when we’re when I’m eight year old man in the retirement Oh, look at those dudes and go, Oh, look at me in the mirror, doing things I shouldn’t have done in front of my shaving cream.

K Anderson 12:08
So what kind of things you shouldn’t have done? Oh, no, I

Conor Collins 12:12
think it’s always better to have regrets for doing things regret for not doing things.

K Anderson 12:17
Well. Yeah. I mean, the massive caveat here is you don’t want people to be like blackmailing you with your pictures or like sharing them on your own.

Conor Collins 12:26
I’ve always had the backup plan. So my plan is never threatened me. So I will publish these things. Because I’m a painter, an artist, I’d immediately just do a series of paintings of those exact nudes, and just publish them on leisure. Here’s my nudes. Here they are in all different colours, or different shades or different paints. Here they are. And this is the person trying to blackmail me. So that’s what I do. I do a backup plan. I do immediately do a whole series of

K Anderson 12:46
backup plan for people like me who can’t even draw a horse. I don’t know why it was hard

Conor Collins 12:52
to draw. The horse is the hardest thing. Their heads are the heights. We all go to the body but we will do the body but I guess the face no one could draw horse. It’s just it’s just witchcraft. Whoever’s painted one. They’re just witches. Okay, so I can’t

K Anderson 13:03
I can’t even draw a line.

Conor Collins 13:08
In that case, I just because also I will say if they knew, I think just get ahead of them. Just go No, I’m gonna send myself because everyone’s got nudes. Everyone’s got new years ago, it was a novelty. But there are more paintings, more pictures of people’s painters now than the whole of the 1920s. So I think just It’s not wrong, I

Conor Collins 13:28
think are you

K Anderson 13:28
Are you saying that a picture of my penis is not remarkable? Is that what you’re saying?

Conor Collins 13:32
We can be it could be magnificent. I know also all new orders pretty orders wonderful. Like as long as the consensual or nudes a wonderful course is. The nude is so rare to see that people people owning their bodies is wonderfully remarkable. It’s one it because also it gives permission to own their bodies. So I use occasion pose to painters and sketching this afternoon new modelling. And I had lumps and bumps I just I had it. But again, it’s a completely unremarkable average run nobody like copy and paste of just a stranger body. But you leave when you model for someone you leave feeling so confident. So happy with yourself. But I think also you’ve been confident with your naked body gives other people would have comments about their body because generally all bodies are beautiful. It’s not like it’s there to be like, oh, like a throwaway comment. No, it genuinely all bodies are genuinely beautiful. I think that the queer world teach that in a weird way because Hollywood has idea of what is a beautiful body, which is a man with ripped body, either no hair or hair in the right position. And a woman with this sort of Dorito shape and then a big bomber and big breasts. Well, the truth is in the queer world, people have types some people would like much fatter men with hair. Some people like skinny twinks Some people like a woman who has a broad shoulders and a big waist. Some people like there’s something for everyone. And the truth is beauty is completely subjective. I think when someone owns a nude in that way, they get permission to realise that oh actually I am beautiful because all people are generally beautiful. There’s not an ugly person in the world, only on people or people who have ugly personalities. That’s just it. All bodies are wonderful.

K Anderson 15:01
Do you work for like a greeting card company or something? That sounds so. Okay, so we’re like we’re going way off topic sorry Angel Delight in its extra small size t shirt going to Poptastic. What? What does that mean to you? Like, why did you want to talk about Poptastic I loved it because

Conor Collins 15:23
for me it was the first experience in my life of not being the minority, to actually go somewhere and be a by the time I say I will call myself gay. I now say queer and because I’m not gay, I generally I as I’ve got older actually realised and attracted a lot more things now realised I was in the past, but it was so nice to go somewhere and being obviously I knew one gay person who was the bully, and then to go to university and walk into a room and it’d be to be an ugly, unremarkable to my gayness. If I said, someone I’m gay, they’ll go, Yeah, like, what it was so nice to be to so average, to be not noticeable in a weird way it was. And also you wanted to pull off things of that. But it was just nice to be like around other people who had shared experiences shared lives. Oh, I loved it. The music. I can’t even read the music at all. But I know I loved both of the two rooms. There was always two separate rooms. There was one room there’s pop music. Another room is Indian music. And so what we’d always do as well, if your friend went if you went with one friend and your friend into the toilet, so you went stood by yourself in the toilet, you it was a circus you’d loop round the entire club thinking like looking out for because you love the outdoors. You made a special point to wear the outfit you felt most confident and you walk around the whole thing hoping someone would look you then come back to the boys again. face a lot that never could never worked for me.

K Anderson 16:43
It was like a peacocking type thing like hey, maybe someone will hit on me and maybe I’ll like snuck them. Oh, yeah,

Conor Collins 16:50
when you have that level of drunk you think that’s how I pulled someone past a stranger and they’ll fall in love. That’s how it worked was then

K Anderson 16:58
Okay, so it never worked. You never ever.

Conor Collins 17:01
That never worked. But that was the first time in my entire life I’ve ever experienced pulling someone without even speaking to them. So I have this lovely local Paddy and we’re still friends now. We wish making eyes across one of the pop rooms but a few times and eventually just not having the right level of drunk I thought it was going to do or talk to him and I just kissed him. And he gives me and it was very hot. Very nice. But I’ve that was probably the only time in my life I’ve just not too strange like because of the level of confidence between the both of us go like yeah, we it’s been very fun. Oh, he was standing his way this gorgeous blonde her total the me deep voice and I was lovely that he’s still lovely as if he’s dead in his life. He’s he’s well in structure. There. I just it was really sort of a grounding experiences there because it is sort of also also rejections. Wonderful. It’s so important, get rejected, because obviously, it’s sort of you get comfortable with it. Because if you just want someone to Marrakesh and they say no, but that’s fine, but it gives you level of action of saying that.

K Anderson 18:01
Yeah, yeah. And the world didn’t fall apart.

Conor Collins 18:04
Yeah, it’s just one of those things. You get rejected by people. But then she was on want to go Oh, thank you. Thank you very much. You’re very cute. And then usually what happens with that is then you kiss them once and you’re friends from life. You never, never blossoms relationship. It’s like, we’re friends. It’s because someone’s pulled someone else.

K Anderson 18:19
It’s like, I’m just never gonna see you again. Thanks. Bye.

Conor Collins 18:22
Oh. If you do stuff with them, you never see them again. If you kiss them friends for Okay, So

K Anderson 18:26
at what point do you stop being friends forever? Like when the top button on their jeans is undone? Oh, when you finish this? I say sorry. Oh no, I’m

Conor Collins 18:37
a big fan of comfortability with friends to have sex into that. And it’s wonderful because there was assumed that sex has to lead somewhere. But like we’ve got to Oh, where’s the leading? Where’s the both having fun you enjoying things that lead somewhere? Like you don’t have a game of I know, like, Snoop can go. But where’s this liaising? Like? No. Just enjoying the game of snooker? That’s a really terrible analogy. I mean, that’s how phallic analogy,

K Anderson 18:59
but it does need to lead somewhere. And that somewhere is climax.

Conor Collins 19:04
Oh, and also I think it’s overrated climax of porn teaches us that porn teaches us that the orgasms the that we all skip to the video like the last three minutes at the end. But at the same time, all the other bits are fantastic as well. Like Yeah, the sheer intimacy of of him just like undressing is wonderful.

K Anderson 19:21
But like those can still be wonderful, but you’re still heading somewhere still on the train somewhere

Conor Collins 19:27
on the train. That’s interesting, but that’s just in your destination. So I like because that suggests the idea that there has to be an ending whereas somebody who says to experience neither one finishes and it’s still a lovely experience there’s no destination there was just falling asleep off.

K Anderson 19:41
Do you not feel Do you not feel like you’ve failed if you’ve not like made him come? That’s interesting.

Conor Collins 19:46
So that’s a that’s that’s a lot of good because I have a few friends who feel this way so so my friends have it’s all people have different insecurities or sexually send or think they come too quickly. So they come to physics to dolphins come from or don’t come to will do it. And it’s always been precious because I think porn does teach us that we need to come at the right time. Whereas there’s some people who the ultimate fantasy someone comes over comes very quickly and leaves. That’s the ultimate thing. Whereas that’s the exact opposite. That’s someone’s insecurity, they come quickly, then they have to leave that. There’s something for everyone. Like, the very fact that someone could get tied up to a wall covered in rubber. I mean, I mean, spat, but omnitrix means that it’s random. It’s all shuffle mode for sex people like all different things. So there’s no right and wrong. It’s just

K Anderson 20:34
You should totally be a politician. Like you’re just in the middle ground for everything.

Conor Collins 20:41
I always be worried if I went to politics, I’d be like, Oh, no, my private life, but the same time was Trump’s and had so many affairs. And yeah, he’s this the Prime Minister. Well, okay. It’s funny, because it’s one of those things where people say, Oh, we often found in a hotel room with 14 brand boys loads of cocaine. And they think well, this is what you’re supposed to give 14 room boys. You can’t give them like Manila yogurt. Like you just go to charities. And also, because it helps shame her awful. I’d never like you never had the chance. Maybe maybe you might be

K Anderson 21:08
wonderful. Okay, well, like I’d really rather not talk about Boris Johnson. So can we like can we go back? Can we go back to

Conor Collins 21:17
literally mood killer? My CDs my safe word. He has killed I literally see. Not only is ruin this country? Yeah, he’s ruined this conversation. Yeah.

K Anderson 21:27
So bleak. Okay, so Poptastic was that then the first gay? No, no, you went to? Yes, it

Conor Collins 21:38
was it was. Oh, no. I just thought it was. I’ve just had a flashback. I’ve completely forgotten. The first gay bar I ever went to. I got dragged to, basically so I did. My gap year I was 18 at the time and I was friends with a guy called Wayland. Which again, I forgot about who’s who was the most stunning lad. He was. You know someone it’s awful when someone’s breathtakingly stunning, but also a lovely person, like no, that’s not fair. Pick one or the other be stunning and horrible. Or be like ugly and what lovely. Don’t be both. But he was lovely. And I said I’ve never been to gay bar. And he was a barman, political, the pink rooms in Swindon. And I was I’ve never been to one I was on a thought of it just a wave of anxiety in spirity theories of physically sweat and thought about like, I can do it. And he did that. No, no. He literally was he was also musical theatre policy was strong. He was you pick me off from the chair shoulder and drag me into his car, literally on his shoulder, threw me in the car and drove me to pink rooms. And I had a night and the pink cribs was the first game I went to. Let’s do it for that. And that was wonderful. And it was it probably seemed it seemed like New York to me because it was bright lights and gays. And the thing is if I was going back now, it will probably just be three gay men drinking beer against the bar. But to me it was like the most amazing experience actually be around other gay people I

Conor Collins 22:55
completely forgot about them Do

Conor Collins 22:57
you mentioned that to be other Pink Rooms and Swindon was the first game I went to and it was so shocking to be speaking to another gay person. He was having a cigarette, I mean a bear. And I was actually having a shared experience on that. I forgot that until now, but I think, but also it was the prospect of pulling slipping rooms, I had a crush on a guy who had very stable like blonde hair gel up. As we all had it at the time that we had gel spiky hair, I thought was an angel. But then Poptastic there was actually positive genuinely pulling, there was certain there was enough people there that you might actually kiss someone, they might come back to yours. And you would share your single beds and your student accommodation. And that was exciting. Because you said one thing is when you were the age you did go out to pool you didn’t go out with friends. Now when I go clubbing, I go out because I’m a half but we’re non monogamous relationship. And so things pulling could happen. But we don’t go to port we go to have a good night, dear friends and whichever formula that comes out with, that’s how it does. But when you’re younger, you went out to pull. And it’s although my friends used to call me Cinderella, which was terrible. So um, when they hit midnight, I’d always go home, and not in a sloppy way but just because, you know, when you feel level of drunk when your night out, is that Oh no, I’m drunk. You know, for a fact in half an hour, you’re gonna be more drunk, because the drunk the drink you just had is going to hit you a little bit later. And so whenever I felt that way, I was like, Oh, I need to go home. And it meant that it was always meant I’ve got I’ve got home Go home.

K Anderson 24:20
You just kind of feel this wave of drunkenness that it just got Oh,

Conor Collins 24:25
yeah, she’s like, Oh, no, it’s coming. You just like the Monty Python scene where the arm is approaching, like future pushing, but oh no, it’s gonna reach me eventually. Like I knew I had to be in bed. By the time the next wave of drunk hit me because that way I can sleep through it. See, I mean, it was Cinderella. Unfortunately, I got through that. So when I hit my 30s I went up to like four or five in the morning when we couldn’t do that. But then lately, I think cuz we’ve all been in lockdown at home ourselves, where our own bar man. And so I guess the problem is that also means I’m I’m literally three steps away from my bed. So I think we’ll better be nice. It’s not a shameful thing to go to bed early. That’d be a shock system when I’m actually when clubs reopen.

K Anderson 25:05
And there’s not a bed within three meters. Exactly. Yeah. So Poptastic. Let’s bring let’s let’s let’s bring it back. Got it. Sorry. So at that time in your life, you just started University.

Conor Collins 25:19
Yeah, I was in my undergraduate at that time I’m studying. I trained to be an opera singer, originally. Oh, wow. So I know painter. But I love singing. I was younger and there was a gap year did musicals and operas and then went to a school called rncm Royal College of Music. And so the opera and it was it’s such good value for money to do opera because you pay as much as any other degree. But if you’re, let’s say English, English legendary. And you will get two lectures a week and everyone advertorial was with opera, you get private tuition with the vocal studies, group, tertiary studies, German lessons, French lessons, Italian lessons, and Pilates classes included. Although the teacher was wonderful acting lessons, obviously, composition lessons we get you use, but nine to five, you’re studying or working hard. It seems really unfair that I spent as much on my degree as anyone else. And I’ve got so much else but however, not doing it. So doesn’t matter. But it was in my third year of studying opera, I discovered art because I fell in love with a lad who was an artist. I didn’t realise I was in love. I was completely in denial at the time. And when we finished, you know, you’ve fallen from right now need to be doctor bit afterwards. And then, after a while, I realised I was painting around him just to hang out with him, because I quite enjoyed your painting. I’ll pay next to him or we can hang out. And then I realised that it wasn’t reciprocated. He was he was the most stunning that he is breathtaking. He won’t listen to this. That’s fine.

K Anderson 26:51
But hang on, hang on. Hang on. Are you telling me you owe your career to the fact that you were crushing on a guy? Yeah.

Conor Collins 26:59
Absolutely completely. But the thing was, after all a fall apart, I realised it was reciprocating, heartbroken. All the stuff, I realised I still wanted to paint. I realised I also not only had a photo with him, I fell in love with painting. And I’ve never looked back, but it was most annoying thing about oh my god, flip. So I’m three years into my degree. I’ve been working this rages and I don’t want to be an opera singer. I want to be an artist. Dammit, this is so expensive, a life change. But then it is best to have this life change. When you’re in your 20s the one in your 50s and then like regret it years later, I think I’m glad to have the midlife crisis now than later really.

K Anderson 27:38
But I mean, there’s obviously daily things you can do with your upper degree, like it must come in handy. Often,

Conor Collins 27:45
the confidence is helpful. So with opera, you get a really, really thick skin. So in your classes, you’re let’s say you’re singing some song in front of the whole group. And then they’re protected you go Okay, lovely. This is wrong. That was wrong. You did this wrong, blah, blah, blah and you your every lesson you have that you get told everyone is wrong with you. And first that might be hurtful. Is it okay? If you take it personally prevented? You stopped a person? Yeah, okay, good, good. You want the new integrations, you want the things around, she didn’t come better. And so leaving rncm I left is such a thick skin that I’m not afraid of certain situations or service of incident. I’m so grateful that sort of I’m not singing I’m not speaking German or French or Russian or anything or Italian. I have that thick skin, which has been very, very lucky. Oh, okay. Well,

K Anderson 28:31
I was making a joke about and that. Well, I mean, no, no, no, don’t be sorry. Like I was. I was picking on your degree service. Yeah. So just Yeah, good. It’s good that it’s paid

Conor Collins 28:44
us this in employment terms. Like no one in office says like, oh, you’re not particularly fantastic. Can you move this in Excel? Like no? And no point? Has it come helpful in any part of my life, except for the confidence? That’s the only things we’re known for.

K Anderson 28:57
I mean, like that, that’s a pretty big thing. Like, let’s not underestimate,

Conor Collins 29:01
it’s the best thing to ever have to not be afraid of certain situations. I’ve got, I can I’m an anxious person. However, I don’t know that stopped me. I’ll still throw myself into things. It’s, it’s because it’s always better to regret doing things or not doing them really, as long as the consent By the way, that’s not efficient to dark things. I’d say like, generally consent is king. But generally, it’s always much better to try something or not try something because it’s better to regret going doing something and not working for never give it a go because you would never know otherwise.

K Anderson 29:28
So then, where were we? Oh, yes. So you went to university and that’s when you started to explore your gayness?

Conor Collins 29:38
Yeah, so I joined the bench in university, LGBT LGBT society, even though was a part of mentioned University. And I’d loved it. It was so much fun. I spent so much money on booze. But it was, but I don’t regret any single second of it because I met so many lovely friends who challenged my views. You challenged my opinions and education me so much. I’m so grateful. Because it’s one of the things if

K Anderson 30:05
Yeah, so at the beginning of the conversation, you were saying that you didn’t kind of explore your gayness because there wasn’t anyone to do that with like, there wasn’t anyone to go out with and to hang out with was coming out like a big deal or was it just like, Oh, yeah, I am gay now.

Conor Collins 30:24
It will. Yeah, it wasn’t. For me. It was a very heavy moment. But it was interesting. So I learned so much about my parents and when I came out to them. So when I came into my dad’s, it says, he’s lovely. He’s a big supporter. He’s, he’s actually a big supporter of trans rights in that I’m so proud of him. So but he said to me, when I came out, I was, he didn’t say at the time I said it, but later on, he said, I was the first gay man he ever met. Which isn’t true, of course, because he would have met so many one within the closet and not in the closet, he just wouldn’t have realised. It was hard for my mum, but because she, she wasn’t homophobic at all. It’s the opposite. So my mum used to work in New York. And all have read some Mum, his mum is she would have been a stunning sort of six foot, she was gorgeous woman, she’s so gorgeous now. But she was a gorgeous woman, she was younger. And she was friends of all the gays in New York. She she was she had the nicest nightlife. But she was also there during the AIDS epidemic. And all her friends, just she stopped seeing them because they, they died. And she was so scared that she would also lose me because all her friends stopped going to parties because they just, they weren’t around anymore. And she was just that was so scary for her education for me that one mom had this life that I didn’t know about, but also how real the AIDS epidemic was my mom because she obviously didn’t experience it herself. She experienced it by losing all her closest friends, just going to that many funerals was just very hard. And that was about half of me because it was just that I realised that it was because also as a gay person, you’re the age AIDS and HIV is someone that’s battered into what I think as queer people, we are more aware of sexual health than non heterosexual people, because I think we’re brought up with fear. And the truth is now HIV is not a death sentence at all. People live long, happy lives with HIV. In fact, they live actually often happier and healthier lives and people who are negative, because then they’re more aware of, of generally, all these factors really,

K Anderson 32:27
I found to you know, like, why not? So when I was at school, so I grew up in Australia, so I didn’t grow up under Section 28, where homosexuality be spoken about. So like, I had the same education as all of my peers. And we all were taught about HIV, we were taught about using condoms. We were taught about everything like it was all drummed into us. But I found out like only a few years ago, that most of my heterosexual friends were having unprotected sex. I just assumed that everyone was using condoms, like I just assumed. And they all obviously were just like, at that part of the in the lessons that we were having, like, Oh, this doesn’t apply to me. Oh, well, and so they were all out having condomless sex, which just was mind blowing for me when I found out like, oh, because I just had all that shame and stigma like bedded into me.

Conor Collins 33:23
But also i’m sure you had the same experience where I think that things are different. Now we have prep, there’s a different conversation now but I would say that I would say to someone don’t put a condom, which would be by saying not saying with or without is my way of saying don’t have sex? Yeah. So is that a virgin or like you say, don’t put a condom which my saying they do want to now move on to other stuff. When I was younger, we never considered non record ever

K Anderson 33:47
would not have crossed your mind.

Conor Collins 33:49
I just I do remember my education was so poor and sexual health where I went to university thinking you couldn’t get STI is from oral, ah, there’s only 70 STI is wrong because that’s basically what they taught us. It was really bad. And I think that like back to it. I think actually that that’s not that’s not just me, because I noticed a lot of my friends will shame people for having unprotected sex but beyond pregnancy, or whether other STI s, I think for you don’t use condoms for oral because you’re just as likely to get gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, from oral as you are from protected anal sex. So why you shaming these people for this? I that’s, I think very odd. very hypocritical.

K Anderson 34:25
Yeah, I find the whole prep thing really fascinating, the like, the way that different people respond to it being available now. And like there is the generation that lived through AIDS and HIV and has that trauma who are just like, no, like, it’s I’m just not gonna do that. I’m just not going to risk it. I’m just not going to do it. And then there are those like people who are really young, who have just never ever lived in a world where HIV is a life limiting condition. That’s what

Conor Collins 34:57
we need to be that’s not that we do have to listen The older, older generation about this, because we’re lucky to have. I’ve got a few older friends. But I know for a fact, if the HIV epidemic and a template didn’t happen, I would have so many more older friends. But of course, they don’t exist because they passed away. I listened to my I’ve got a Roman I won’t say his name, because I don’t know if he’s a real role model to me or not will say his name is Phil and I listened to him because he lived it. He understood he understands it. And it’s like the I call myself queer. But I also understand that he’s lived a generation where queer was a hate term used against him. And so although I identify myself as that, I understand that also that’s a term of trauma for him. But I just that we have to listen to old generation because they, they under, they can explain to us how lucky we are to have prep. How that is a lesson like prep and pep isn’t actually a blessing that but what

K Anderson 35:56
I guess what I’m saying is like that there are some people who are like, No, it’s too good to be true. I don’t want to believe right? Even like, even if there is all the science if there and if there is everything to back this up. I’m not going to trust it. Which I find fascinating.

Conor Collins 36:10
Is interest. Yes. But then also, we all have parents and so we had where he would take ibuprofen and things of that mix, things were things so I think it’s education is key. Education is absolutely key. The more we can educate you about undetectable means on transmittable that PrEP is in revolutionary countries are in path as well as so important pet works so so well, as long as it’s within 48 hours.

K Anderson 36:36
Yeah, and I should say like, it’s absolutely their choice what they do with their bodies. And they just find it interesting when you consider different demographics the way that they’ve responded to this drug.

Conor Collins 36:48
Well, I’m sure if I if I was around at that time, I’d have a completely different opinions what I have now because I’m, I’m so lucky to be in a non monogamous relationship. Now, when I am we can both be on pet note, perhaps. And it’s just that extra line of defence. But also if my partner or I didn’t become HIV positive, we also both have an understanding of that. Okay, more obviously, going on antiviral drugs. And in a few months, hopefully, we’ll be both Android and transmittable and life move on it won’t be a death sense won’t be a trauma. We it’d be difficult because I think it’s there’s so much stigma still towards people who are HIV positive, which is horrible. Because it’s we know, we should know better in my opinion.

K Anderson 37:31
Yeah. Can we can we just move left of it and this word queer, like so I have the same experiences here where queer was never used, like as a word to better meet with like, so I don’t have that same emotive response when people use that word, which means I’m comfortable with it. But I was thinking like, I was trying to think of a word that would be an equivalent for me, and I can’t I can’t think like the ones that would have been used against me is like faggot and puff, dare. But yeah, I kind of don’t. I kind of don’t mind. Like if someone calls me that. I’m like, all right. Yeah.

Conor Collins 38:10
It’s weird. Because Because you’re puff you like, no, they’re homophobic. They’ve been homophobic since the 90s. That’s, that’s old school homophobia. Like,

Conor Collins 38:18
it’s actually true.

K Anderson 38:19
I haven’t been shout as, like sweet and homespun. But I come

Conor Collins 38:24
in, but I’m always working on my behalf. And if you’re my friends to Canal Street and shout Your puff, I would just so thrown because I have not heard that term since I was 14. But I think they want to quit, but also quit. I think it’s because the idea is it’s it’s a broad spectrum idea. queerness can be trans, queer smear gay man. queerness can be an intersex person. Yeah. And it’s also just, I think welcoming, because I like the LGBTQIA thing. But there’s also there’s more letters to add. There are more letters. Yeah, yeah. And so I think the term queer means that it opens conversation because that we 15 queer people in a room, but none of them anything like but if you want to know more, you can ask them and they can then have discussion whereas I find gay is very binary. I like men. That’s it, but then this whole thing of like, Okay, what is man? Like, what is your definition of man? Because one person definition what other man is is different person to another, there’s a definite definition. Whereas I think queerness has a discussion. It’s, I think it’s much it’s about how we used to be used by the Roman age, you would never define someone by their sexuality because it’s a weird concept to that. People just like what they like. And I think hopefully we’re moving towards that now where people say, this is my part or this my my partners, or I like, Guys who like this, I like people who behave this way or it’s whatever you personally like, or don’t like as well. That can be a definition most people don’t aren’t sexually interested anyone. I think that’s part discussion as well. Like they are still part of our beauty. So

K Anderson 39:50
yeah. Which is why I like Queer as a word because it’s a bit of a catch all and it’s like, it’s much easier to say as well. But yeah, yeah. Like, can you think of anywhere That you would just be like, that just make you recoil? That’s a really good question. That’s a fantastic question. And I would mask our, I think it’s, well, I hate it as well, because it’s usually used to other me. But like, Yes, yeah, it’s been used within the community rather than something outside of the community. It’s,

Conor Collins 40:23
I find it’s, it’s with the word mass carries with it so many ideas of heteronormativity, but also ideas of what a woman should be what a man should be. It’s just, it might be something that be lovely in maybe a few decades time because some people can identify themselves that way. When it’s no longer carrying back to the idea that this is right, that I am that times that minimus Quint, do you know the Quentin Crisp, the author and lecturer when he used to go into the gay bars, even though he was because he was part of the time were with you again, man, you would have your painted nails if your soft hair, you’ve walked in a gentle way. But we used to go to the bar at the gay bars, he would not be welcomed, because the men at the time were not the builders shirts, the leather, and they were like, No, we don’t want you because you’re part of the past. And I that’s why associate mask with is an often a ton of internalised hate that I need to be strong to be welcome or strong to be accepted. Whereas the truth is, is the, in my opinion, is the fan people are the strongest because they walk through the world, not welcome and harassed and yet are still interested in Thai themselves. And that takes so much confidence and strength more-so than being a white, muscular, masced up guy, and you’re welcome anywhere.

K Anderson 41:44
But to be the old do you think? Do you think that’s confidence? Like? I mean, we’re going like way off topic. But I think like, you know, I am not mask presenting. But I don’t think I’m not mask presenting because I have made a conscious decision to be like, this is who I am. But you can like take it or leave it. I think it’s just that I’m incapable.

Conor Collins 42:05
But that’s exactly. That’s exactly it. People are who they are. And it’s like Quentin, Chris was beaten all the time. But because people think I wanted to change be couldn’t. He was like he was a square brick in a circular world. And no matter what he did, he would always wake up and be that square brick. And that’s it, I just people can’t help who they are. In my mind. It’s they need to stay exactly who they are, and stay where they are, and wait for society to form around them. Because it’s society’s job to catch up, they should change society, society to catch up with them in my mind, because that’s how the world gets better as well. It’s the outsiders who suggest things aren’t right, and what will stand their ground. And eventually that one person will stand their ground, and then someone will join them. And then a few more join them and a few more elegibles movement and eventually becomes normality, that actually no, this is like women’s women’s rights. It’s so bizarre to think there was a time when women didn’t have equal rights and in fairness, women still now aren’t paid equally aren’t treated equally. But there was a time where women didn’t get a chance to vote, which is you think it’s insane. But there was there was a few people who stood against it, then a few more than a few more. Now, that’s normality. Because it is the outsiders who stand their ground to make the model a bit better.

K Anderson 43:22
Yeah, I guess what I’m trying to say is like, do you think that that was something that that I mean, not not that I’m picking entirely on Quintin Chris, but that he was like, Oh, I’m not going to conform. I’m consciously not going to do that. Or do you think it was just that it was something that he wasn’t able to do?

Conor Collins 43:41
I think it no other choice. He just was always this. But he like queer person.

K Anderson 43:48
I’m sure he had some homophobic things that he said

Conor Collins 43:53
that kind of Oh, he’s had some nasty comments towards the AIDS crisis, which he regretted which is quite interesting. So he is quite a proud person. So he said, some cop flippant comments, which were not nice. We’re not not good. But, but when he passed away, he actually organising it within as well to donate a huge sum of his fortune to AIDS research needs to be HIV research and HIV support. But he had been too proud to confess that because I think it was super unpleasant say Actually, this was why Ted was wrong, because he was wrong when he said it was not. It was not nice. It was

K Anderson 44:34
like lots of ignorant stuff like in 97. He told the times that he would advise parents to abort a foetus if it could be shown to be genetically pre determined to be gay.

Conor Collins 44:44
Yeah, he had a lot of because he he didn’t he thought he was an abnormality and a thing as a sociologically at the time, people would have seen that, of course, it was probably about the same sort of time people stare was that the sun did an article saying that and they found the A gene and therefore we can say yes. was the truth is that I think what we get as society moving on, we’re realising being one thing or the other is actually a normal thing like being 100%. gay, or 100%. Straight, is actually the indescribably rare thing. Everyone is on first of all spectrum. And it’s, it’s just whatever you like, but it’s Yeah, he he was a lot of internalised homophobia. He did a lot for us. But I think it was also You can’t expect anyone to be perfect as well, because it’s most things are role models eventually, as years go on. Yeah.

K Anderson 45:32
And like we, you know, we need to also be aware that the context of the time that he was living in like, it would be very rare for him not to be self hating, and homophobic. Like, that’s kind of the way that you’re raised and the things that you’re taught to think and believe, but I guess that that that’s what kind of brings me to that question. Like, obviously, we can only speculate because we can’t ask him. But if it was up to him at that time, like, if he could conform, if he could fit in if he could pass? Would he have done that? And was he did he present the way that he presented because he kind of just had no choice? Like he was incapable?

Conor Collins 46:11
Yeah, I think it’s, I think the whole the square brick and secular world, I think some people, because I do wonder if I wasn’t praised, or insulted by what I said and did and behaved. How would I say and do me? I don’t know. Because the problem is, as much I try and be my entire self, I am still a world where I’ve grown up monitoring my actions, my movements,

K Anderson 46:36
and and monitoring them to a different degree, depending on the setting that you’re with it.

Conor Collins 46:41
Yeah, exactly. And I think that it is that’s intrinsically for queer people. I think. strengths people, if they label themselves as traits have exactly the same level of Oh, I can’t do this. I can’t have a floppy hand. I can’t drink that day. Because I’m sure there are so many streets identify men out there who are in love a widespread

K Anderson 47:00
redirect the Okay, this is like I read the headline and so I know everything about this, but like the thing about man, like heterosexual men not wiping their butt because it’s because they think,

Conor Collins 47:13
oh, man, easily dump that person. I have a hose attached to my tap and just spray them into their left my house like no leave.

K Anderson 47:24
It’s just, it’s just incredible. I mean, what are they gonna do when they find out about today? Oh, I love it. I love a beat I

Oh, I hate it. But I think it’s because I never like I’m not patient enough to get the temperature right. There’s always a shot here and then it’s freezing. Yeah.

Conor Collins 47:49
That’s because this because I’ve always considered my judging myself or my masculinity or femininity. Va thinks I’m a queer person in a straight world. But I forget that all the straight men have the exactly same level anxiety they, they they hang out with friends and wait for them their coolest friend to allow first before they laugh. So now if the jokes funny or not, they will laugh or sexist comments, because that’s the norm but the truth is they probably do they actually want to go Oh, that’s not quite right. Yeah. And they want to wear comfortable clothes and said they have to wear their logo shirt without jeans and black trainers because straight ups that’s my office is so weird. In queer world, you go to bar you wherever you want. In straight world. If you’re not wearing black shoes, you’re not coming in. And why is that? A roll? Like that is so strange. You like why did a black shoes buy that’s what I do like about queer black spaces where you could just whenever you like, You’re welcome.

K Anderson 48:41
So speaking of queer space Poptastic So shall we circle back? Okay, so the questions that were asked you that I was asking you had just started University you’d been going. So like, first impressions of that bar. Were around the freedom like the fact that you were so ordinary, the fact that people were kind of overlooking you. What else did you love about it?

Conor Collins 49:08
That sounds really weird. I remember the smell in a strange way the smell of sweat, spilled drinks, smoke and the smoke machine. And that’s it because it doesn’t really none of us have smelled that for so long because we’ve all been not clubbing for so long. But I think we can all remember the smell of our favourite places like our favourite bars you go to the smell of stale beer. Of that symbol is that the source of a soggy beer that smell that I that that sort of stays with me I can smell the smell of Poptastic i i said i was just the way you walk in and they’re supposed to stamp the hand and they’d be flirty and chatty. And it’s the welcoming experience it feels at home like their family. Like you with a weekend come back that always you again. I was just so lovely. No, I actually adore that. And also The tension of the hope the deep hope that you get toilet cubicle because there’s nothing more awkward being in a club and paying that someone else and it’s I if you see the cable jaw opening yes I’ve done this perfectly. He goes to people getting over a nice relaxed way. But like if you’re there and you’re like you stood next to someone and you’re just counting 10 like hoping eventually when you’re stood there not waiting just for the penis out just like praying eventually we like oh my god, am I ever going to wait?

K Anderson 50:25
Let’s talk about p shiners. So are you saying like so was the P shyness restricted to the club where you were around other gay men? Or is it something that you just experienced anywhere?

Conor Collins 50:37
Oh, no, I think anywhere but particularly because they’re interesting because you go to a just a pub pub, you have peanut pee shyness because just general p shyness. But when you’re in a gay club, obviously Oh my god, like my penis. Like is held my penis looking as if you need to, like, presented beautifully, like on a nice little silver tray with a garnish like if you like cherry tomatoes, but

K Anderson 50:56
also Like who? Who is interested in a flatted penis like who’s going to look at a flask of penis Oh, like oh brilliant.

Conor Collins 51:03
But that’s that’s the logic right? but not when you’re like when you’re 19 year old guy peeing next to someone if you The worst is or if they’re cute if they’re cute like oh my god the cute guy you might look at it might be terrible. Yeah, did I do that wasn’t on your suit. They’re not wearing like oh my god, they’re gonna notice I’m not like his sound effects. I think I

K Anderson 51:21
did I think I’m here hitting on them because I’m not hearing and I just stand with my cock in my hand. But like, have you overcome a shyness as you’ve gotten older? count down from 10

Conor Collins 51:31
that’s my thing. 10 nine he had not an out loud if you did out now. That’d be very weird. Thunderbirds I’ll go there but in my in my head that’s how I do it. And also it’s a great place to also realise that if if the guy you fancy doesn’t wash your hands like no, I’m not pulling you. You don’t wash hands like no no, I can’t hear someone doesn’t wash their hands. Oh, oh, that’s about the lollipop people I forgot. No spray no lay. They love them but you pay a pound to pay because you’ve also awkward like thank you. Thank you for paying the hard class and with a hand towel I’ll give you a pound like so I can dry my hands

K Anderson 52:07
overcame my shyness because there was so stingy and didn’t want to pay a pound every time I went to the toilet I would hold it in until I was absolutely fasting. And then when I got in I had no choice right

Conor Collins 52:20
everywhere. Like a fire hose just flying around the room out of my way.

Conor Collins 52:26
But that’s also worse because also is so grotesque. I’m sorry listeners. You might like when you pee too hard. It’s like the spray. And it’s like this smoke that appears like oh my god you think oh my god. Am I splashing the next day. This is terrible. Oh, but the best is the best is when you’re by yourself and you’ve got the big urinal with urinal cakes and you can even move the urinal cakes along with your way he moved on. It was like a hockey with yourself. Okay, you’ve lost me now. We never done that urinal. And as you will Okay, so that five or six year old case, and if you pee hard, you can move the urinal cake along a little game with yourself.

K Anderson 53:01
Oh, hang on. When I when I first moved to the UK, I was always really shocked that everyone would call it urinal instead of urine. Oh, but you’ve just called it urine. Oh, oh,

Conor Collins 53:13
I pronounce things wrong all the time. I got I was everything wrong? Yeah, so I say I say your your rifle sounds American to me. You’re

K Anderson 53:23
so weird. But yeah, like that’s how people pronounce it here.

Conor Collins 53:28
But you know, we’ve got so many different terms for the toilet. We’ve got the bog the loo the crapper is because I’m in the UK we’d have we were very coy and bashful about saying we’re going to the toilet. And so every sort of couple of years or a few years, maybe a half a decade or so we’ve come up with a new term for it. But then eventually that term become rude like you’d actually become because we use it so much if clearly the router and like a new one so we literally every single decade we’d have a new termite the crapper the loo the balkar the restroom. So yeah, eventually we just keep rotating them so yeah, that’s we’ve got some random words.

K Anderson 54:03
Well I don’t I feel like there hasn’t been a new one introduced for a while No, we need a new one should we should we brainstorm powder room I like the powder room. That was good. I don’t know. I think it’s too like it’s not direct enough like the the bowel evacuation room I mean it sounds so beautiful. I think I just like you know I just like when words describe what you do in that like like what it’s for I don’t like when it’s all kind of like frilly and like powder room like you know you mostly do cocaine or something like that. Like no No, no. Oh, I feel like I feel like it’s that big fluffy like talcum powder. thing. That’s what

Conor Collins 54:51
Oh, if they had that I’d certainly autumn I love to use your finish away and they go. Powder puffs be glamorous has anything Dressing tables have somewhere to sit and weep. With a gin and tonic. We have a hard night just sit, listen, they will just cry, baby glamorous, nude lovely sort of a silk negligee. Wonderful. So, okay, so

K Anderson 55:13
we’re drawing a line under this when we haven’t got any words that we are going to enter into public lexicon about toilets.

Conor Collins 55:22
The cottage, I suppose is a big part of queer history as much as the cottage.

K Anderson 55:26
That’s not a new word. You’re changing the subject. Sorry. Okay, so what Poptastic Did you just, like stop going when you stopped being a student?

Conor Collins 55:38
I think I got too old. Yeah. So I started going to cruise eventually. And also to my 20s, I went through periods of just not getting club anymore. I just felt too old. And then we’re the one of hits on my late 20s, early 30s. I’ve been clubbing boxing Not now. But when we could I think having more than ever, it’s I get a second wind and I’m really enjoying it. I think the big factor is actually having the self confidence of not caring anymore. So when I was younger, you’d be in school wanting to pull fitting into my body, blah, blah, but what am I What is my why I’m not an 18 year old alternative to care. I’m not gonna be this young, beautiful person. So I’m just gonna draw my dancing light and it’s I enjoy them so much all clubbing. They’re all really

K Anderson 56:17
interesting though. So you don’t feel like they’re, and maybe this is because of the nights that you’re going to and the clientele that they attract. But like you don’t feel like there’s any you’re experiencing any ages. And when you go out.

Conor Collins 56:30
I do feel I stand out if I went to ga Why am I in Manchester, I feel I stand out as as a 30 year old and because it is very much younger students with their shots and Wk DS things that I don’t mind that I’m quite enjoying getting older. But I do I do hope I eventually all age into that lovely sort of wrinkled gay man and the floppy hat sat in the corner of the pub. I want to be that man. I i It’s lovely.

K Anderson 57:02
So we practice then can you say in my day?

Conor Collins 57:05
Oh, in my day, like genuinely all this was feels this fantastic on fields. There were bombing but all all fields, all fields.

K Anderson 57:12
Right? So Poptastic you just kind of grew out of it. So do you then remember the last time you went?

Conor Collins 57:18
No, I remember one of the last times where I was wearing cowboy boots that were really slippery on the on the shoes and Poptastic have a set of stairs that are going by sort of seven stairs down the loop round to do another seven stairs down and they’d be there with the person who stabbed your hand and I slid down the first set of stairs all my hours scratch my back bashed against the wall but my mentor meant I then also slid down the next set of stairs. And obviously the person would know you’re drunk easily but thank you. I’ve actually I’ve got a thing called dyspraxia which is basically dyslexia but if your coordination I still went How dare you and dyspraxia I was just fine. I was strong. I shouldn’t have been there but dyspraxia saved me a lot of times. There’s been times when I’ve rolled into a black cab, bashing my head against the other door of the black cab clearly because I’m so drunk, I can’t stop myself. And again, it’s like How dare you I’m just praxic again, journey home as you find dyspraxia. Although it was a pain when I was younger. As I’m getting older, it gives me a lot of sticky spots, really.

K Anderson 58:20
So that there’s a handy little tip there for anyone listening if you’re incredibly drunk and trying to style it out. Yeah, tell them you’re dyslexic

Conor Collins 58:28
and I do have dyspraxia by the way if you’re listening I do generally have it so I can say it.

K Anderson 58:33
Obviously you’re not giving everyone permission to use that.

Conor Collins 58:38
You can just walk into something like a while you’re live it also got a palsy is fine. Okay, jump jumping. Let’s find doing doing a longer longer talk. No, we can’t Yes. No, no pretending.

K Anderson 58:47
Okay, fine. And so if we’re going to cast our minds back and think about Connor, squeezing into an extra small t shirt looking looking like Angel delight in a plastic bag. If you had an opportunity to talk to him and give him some advice, what would you say?

Conor Collins 59:07
I’d tell him nothing. Nothing. Genuinely, I think it’s much better to be surprised. And I always wonder the whole thing of Oh go back in time. Oh Tomislav, blah blah. I always find that it could potentially be a form of like a self hates like you don’t like who you are now. So you want to change your past. I’m not quite I I’d much rather be happier now and accept the mistakes and good things or bad things. I turn nothing. It’s it’s much more fun to find out on the way Really? Oh, I want to say we’ll get a haircut. That’s the one thing I always say get a haircut. But other than that, just it’s much more fun to be surprised about what’s to come because it’s so exciting to for things to be new, or these new experiences when you first meet other gay person when you first kiss another person when you first go clubbing in ludicrous shots. When you first get you discover that Thompson’s will ruin your shoes for life that you go in there white shoes, you come up with black all of these experiences It’s much more fun to discover on the way I think.

K Anderson 1:00:05
Did you ever go to Poptastic? Or do you have any memories of Manchester’s Canal Street that you want to share? Well, if you do, please get in touch. I want to create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories from Lost queer spaces. Go to lost spaces podcast.com and find the section share a lost space and tell me what you got up to. As always, there are bonus points for embarrassing photos. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as last spaces apart. And whilst you’re at it, go give Connor some love. His website can be found at www dot Conner collins.com. And he is also on Instagram and Twitter as con art works. Law spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I have been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there and we’ll be releasing songs over the coming years. You can hear the first single which is called well grown boys and is playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you like this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.

 







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