No frocks and wigs for Joe

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No need for frocks. No need for wigs. Joe Longthorne insists he’s far better off without them.

Without them, he just “becomes” Shirley Bassey, so much so that even she admitted that Joe was far better at “doing” her than she was.

Bassey (or at least Joe’s impersonation of her) will certainly feature when Joe plays the Theatre Royal Brighton on Sunday, June 12 and the Kings Theatre, Southsea on June 16.

You can also expect a big dose of Judy Garland.

“I am one of the very few male artists that can do female impersonations,” says Joe. “I do quite a few. I do Cleo Laine. I do Barbra Streisand. I also do Bowie and Sinatra.”

He’s not so keen on attempting the newer names: “A lot of it is pretty technical. It’s difficult to perfect a new voice.”

But he’s very happy with what he knows: “I have always adored Shirley Bassey, and between you and me, I am a bit camp anyway. I am bisexual, so the feminine side comes out of me more easily.”

Significantly, he’s never had any negative feedback from the people he mimics. It’s because, he believes, they are done with affection: “I adore the people that I do.”

2011 is an important year for Joe, 30 years exactly since his big break as a finalist on Search For A Star in 1981. Since then he’s appeared at the London Palladium with Bob Hope and The Talk Of The Town, starred in television specials on both sides of the Atlantic and produced platinum-selling albums.

Search For A Star was the turning point - a lucky break, given he was, as he says, awful at auditions. He’d tried New Faces; he’d tried Opportunity Knocks. Those auditions let him down.

But Search For A Star sent someone to see him perform: “They saw me doing what I do. I bypassed the auditions!”

In the event, he came second in the grand final: “But it was just being on the show that mattered, not winning it.”