‘I’m having a weird, torrid affair with Francis Bacon’s work’

In Conversation: broadcaster and fashion designer Brendan Courtney and Tropical Popical CEO Andrea Horan

When did you last cry?

Brendan: Yesterday. A song came on and it made me think about my dad, dreading the first Christmas without him. I'm looking forward to processing a little bit because I haven't.

Andrea: I wonder if you're dealing with it in the way that you're not dealing with it? That's the way I deal with s***, it takes me three years.

Brendan: You look back in three years' time and think, "I really didn't deal with that."

Andrea: I'm not a big crier, but when I cry, I cry for a year.


Brendan: Okay, Joni Mitchell.

Is there an ambition or project you want to fulfil in the next year?

Andrea: A chat show and a festival. I don't want to be in the chat show, though! I also want to do a youth club for old people.

Brendan: I'd love to do interiors. That's a little gay fantasy.

What is your death row meal?

Brendan: Probably lasagne.

Andrea: Could you have multiple stages? I'd have McDonald's, a Big Mac with a cheeseburger on the side and an apple pie for dessert. Then a steak from L'Gueuleton.

Brendan: McDonald's makes me feel empty.

Andrea: It makes me feel so happy!

Brendan: No, definitely a really cheesy, rich lasagne.

Andrea: Could your death row meal be in a place? If you can go to Italy, I'd have one of those wedding dinners where they have to go for walks in between it.

Brendan: What about Thai food?

Andrea: Not for death row, cop on. Cauliflower cheese.

Brendan: Yes!

What is your favourite item of clothing?

Andrea: I've got a gold coat I got in New York that I love. I feel like a Miami art dealer when I wear it.

Brendan: You young people.

Andrea: I've a green sequins dress that all the gays slag me about because every drag queen has it.

Brendan: A navy crew neck. I have a uniform. When I was your age, I really enjoyed the pomp and ceremony of clothes. Now I enjoy sleek comfort.

Andrea: That's because you're old: "I love the comfort".

Brendan: Black crews, navy crews, and black or navy trousers.

Is there any artist you feel particularly connected to right now?

Brendan: I'm having a bit of a weird, torrid affair with Francis Bacon's work. I always hated it, but was always drawn to it. I love it now.

Andrea: It feels like you're really growing into life!

Brendan: Gays only get to the age of straight people 10 years later! I mean gay men, now – gay women are born mature. But Francis Bacon, I think the reason I couldn't connect to his work before is I found it too profound, too uncomfortable. Now I'm not afraid of it.

Andrea: The artist I'm always obsessed with is Tracey Emin and her neon signs.

Can you guess what the other person’s go-to drink is?

Brendan: I think you know what this is . . .

Andrea: Anything wet?

Brendan: Beer.

Andrea: I've never had a beer with you in my life.

Brendan: Yours is without a doubt champagne or prosecco.

Andrea: I hate both of those things. I'll start with a red wine, then an after-dinner amaretto, then I'll move on to an Old Fashioned, then a Jaeger and Red Bull. I drink gin and tonics sometimes. I love Malbec.

What is your favourite destination to visit?

Brendan: Ireland is my favourite place, hands down, in the world right now.

Andrea: You're having a real nesting period.

Brendan: I went to Greece for the first time this year, and it blew me away. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Andrea: I've been to Greece the last three years. Love it. But my spiritual home is Italy. I love Italian men, I love the food, the sun, the countryside.

Is there any personal motto you have that you think of when things get tough?

Brendan: "Thank you". It makes you check yourself a little bit when the s*** is hitting the fan. Coming from a challenging socioeconomic background, something I realised later in life is that when you're poor, all of your stresses are financial, and all of your decisions are dictated by that. I was poor for most of my adult life. Now I'm not rich, but for the first time in my life I can make choices.

Andrea: I always say "create the life you want to live".

Do you have any tattoos?

Brendan: I'm proud I've got to the ripe old age of 46 without a tattoo.

Andrea: I've got three anchors. Clearly I was looking for stability in my life. I got a Tracey Emin one that says "sister" with my sister, just so we remember we're sisters, you know, in case we forget!

What word do you overuse?

Brendan: Younger gay friends get called "chicken", with love. I probably say "cool" too much.

Andrea: "Stinger".

Andrea Horan is chief executive of the Tropical Popical nail bar, and founder of The HunReal Issues (thehunrealissues.com).

Brendan Courtney is a broadcaster, fashion designer and co-founder of the brand Lennon Courtney.