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Posted by Clayton Littlewood
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Goodbye to the Thong Man

In 2006, my partner and I opened a menswear shop called Dirty White Boy and it quickly became a stopping-off point for all the local eccentrics. One of these was an elderly man who had an interest in one particular item of clothing, the underwear.


In my books he was known as Charlie (aka the Thong Man), although his real name was Derek Andrews. An ex-art lecturer, in his 70s, with a little paunch and short tuffs of black hair, whenever he came into the shop it was always an occasion. He was so quotable, full of anecdotes and I jotted down everything he said.


As gay men move past ‘middle age’ to ‘old age’ there’s a tendency for the scene to ignore you. You can become invisible. So I think Derek was secretly pleased to be befriended by two younger gay men. And I think too he was pleased to be featured in the books, and then later as the star of the play, as he came to see it a few times, bringing a load of elderly queens along with him.


When we left Soho, Derek continued to be part of our lives. He would come to our flat (after conducting a reading at the local church) and, clutching his inhaler, he’d report on the latest Soho news, which shops had opened or closed, or he’d tell us what L’Homme Invisible underwear he’d bought that week.


We last spoke to him just a few weeks ago, and kept meaning to arrange another dinner date. Sadly, he died last week. His son let Jorge know and now we’re waiting to hear about the funeral arrangements.


Derek was such a kind, friendly soul and a phone call from him, just checking in to let us know he was still around, it would always make our night.


We love you Derek.


Jorge and Clay


Here’s a clip of Derek when he first entered the shop (as played by David Benson at the Trafalgar Studios in 2010. Filmed by Lois Froud). The Thong Man 


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