At 73, Bette Y’Sweet Ass – a.k.a.
George Gibbons - is widely regarded as a local treasure.
But when a fifty-year-old letter falls into the hands of George's
Young neighbour, Ollie—ghosts are awakened that reveal
a darker side to the much-loved drag queen.
What happened to the people mentioned in the letter?
And what were they doing at the derelict abbey?
Gripped by the mystery, Ollie and his friends
make it their mission to find out.
Initially leading them to the saucier side of 1960s Brighton,
what they ultimately discover is even more shocking.
Told through discoveries discussed at various parties and
gatherings, The Brightonians paints a candid picture of the
bitter rivalry and social one-upmanship that fuels the lives
of some of the city’s most colourful residents.
Read on to find out more about them.
(a.k.a. Bette Y'Sweet Ass)
Bette is no longer a regular on Brighton’s drag circuit. But come World AIDS Day, Christmas Eve or Pride, she’ll don her blonde bombshell wig, squeeze herself into one of her rhinestone bejewelled gowns and take to the stage for a set of old time vaudeville numbers and seaside postcard lewdness. She doesn’t know who Taylor Swift and GaGa are. But she can sti
CHARLES DE GULL
Whether soaring above the shoreline or nestling amongst the chimney pots of Regency townhouses - there is no creature more omnipresent in Brighton than the pesky seagull.
As true today as when Brighton was a small fishing village, who else could have such a commanding view of the comings and goings in this far-from-quintessential seaside town? And who better to be the voice of Bright
Born in Southern Spain in 1969, museum curator Isobel (Izzy) carries her 50 years well. A confirmed Anglophile, within months of arriving in London, she had met the Englishman she would later marry; a fellow academic called Kenneth Pitt. And seven years after that - aged thirty-three – she became the proud mother of Pitt the Younger – a boy they called Josh. Despite the joys of parenth
At 53, Kenneth Pitt is beginning to find the constant round of parties and events, that seem to miraculously appear on the kitchen calendar each month, more than a little bit draining. In fact, while his son Josh often claims to be suffering from FOMO, Kevin regularly falls victim to the condition’s polar opposite; FOBI - the Fear of Being Invited. An academic like his wife, Kevin te
Born in 2002, Josh is a true millennial. If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen. If it’s not been Tweeted, it wasn’t said. Josh isn’t a person. He’s a brand. Or at least that's what Josh believes. Of course, in the age of selfies and social media it helps if you’re easy on the eye. And with his mother’s olive skin, big brown eyes and luscious full lips, Josh fits the bill. He also ha
Aged 43. Son of a sheep-farmer. Studied Economics at Edinburgh University before securing a job as trainee account-handler at a leading ad agency. With almost 20 years under his belt, working on some of the world’s best-known brands, Cameron currently holds the post of Group Account Director at newly formed agency network, Zarathustra. Hugely competitive, he is a force to be rec
42 years old. Cameron's partner since meeting at university in the late-90s. Ditching plans to become a pilot becuse of an ear abnormality, after university Alex ended up as a freelance travel agent taking care of C-suite businessmen and women. While this was initially the cause of some disappointment to him, as it turned out, selling seats on planes not only paid well but also came
Despite moving from Belfast to South Yorkshire at the age of four, Adam’s accent still bears a striking resemblance in tone and volume to the religious firebrand that was Ian Paisley. It is not the only character trait that can be traced back to his childhood. Picked on at school for being a plimsole-wearing council-house kid, Adam never quite feels at home amongst his predominantly mi
Renting the flat beneath Bette’s on St. James’s Street, Ollie is just a hop and a skip away from the gym on the seafront, where he works as a personal trainer; a job for which he is more than qualified as he is a former member of Team GB's gymnastic squad. And even though the heady social whirl of the Brighton gay scene has taken its toll on his Olympian physique of late, thanks to
ANDREW (DREW) JENKINS
35 years old. Born in Cardiff, South Wales. Trained as a mechanic with the army and engaged in active service in Afghanistan, Drew rose to rank of Captain before realising he loved his commanding officer more than his job. Leaving in 2016 at the age of 33, Drew moved to Brighton with the aforementioned colleague in search of a new life and a new career; a garage specialising
Having grown up in New Malden, third generation South Korean boy Kwan is a Londoner at heart. Though a couple of years older than Josh, as recent emigres from the capital, they have much more in common than the covers under which they sleep now and again. First meeting at the Rainbow Hub on St. James’s Street, Kwan also shares Josh’s passion for political activism and is never too fa
As verger at St. Mary’s, Stephen's job is more akin to office manager/caretaker than spiritual leader. In fact, the draw to the church had as much to do with its impressive Victorian organ (which he plays every Sunday) and its remit to reach out to the large LGBTiQ+ community that lives in the diocese, as it did with any religious calling. Though asexual and single himself, Stephe
Named after an amiable and cheery fellow from a popular 70s children’s TV series, there could be few monikers less fitting for Stephen’s cantankerous old fox terrier. More appropriate is the nickname Benito - which is how he is being addressed on the occasion of our first meeting. Shouted at him as he is Christening the church's baptismal font, it is the cry that always accompanies his f
Born 1947. Daughter of a station porter. Jane’s aspirations were typical of any 18-year-old in the 60s. Work for a few years, bag a husband and have a couple kids. It’s perhaps why she chose to specialise in midwifery once she qualified as a nurse. And in 1965 she was well on the way to doing just that. She was already a year into her training at the Royal Sussex when she met Jack at Sh
46 years old. Born in Granada, Spain, in 1972. Arriving in London in 1994, she eventually moved to Brighton in early 2000. Initially working for a lesbian-run building cooperative, Maria discovered that she had a flair for house-remodelling and in 2006 she set up her own business. The skills and knowledge she acquired over the following years gave her the confidence to embark on a
47 years old. Meena met Maria at Brighton Pride in 2013, during a weekend break with best friend Adam Moxon. What started as a bi-curious adventure - a rebound following a messy divorce - developed into romance and a meeting of minds that took both Meena and Maria by surprise. With her kids grown-up and off to university, when Adam suggested she needed a change of scenery, Meena packe
A year older than George in 1965, Jack is the archetypal cheeky chappie. Embodying the ‘kiss me quick’ reputation of the town itself, Jack is ‘as bold as brass and twice as vulgar’. He’s handsome too. Gorgeous, in fact. Chiselled cheek bones, dark hypnotic brown eyes, luscious full lips and a thick mop of hair which he wears in short, back and sides with a long fringe greased back
19 years old in 1965, young George Gibbons was a ‘dish’. According to the septuagenarian drag-queen Bette Y’Sweet Ass, who he would later become. Certainly, with his blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, there is something of the teen-idol about young Georgie. His upbringing, however, was far less glitzy. Born not in the hills of Hollywood but on Brighton’s Carlton Hill, where George
Born 1946 in Worcestershire. By the age of 16 it was clear Paula was not going to be happy in the Midlands backwater of her birth. Moving first to London and then onto Brighton - after blagging herself a job in the costume department at one of the town's many theatres - it didn’t take long for Paula to find the door to the town’s seedy underworld. But the rough diamond exterior c
Born in Southern Italy in 1930, Michelangelo moved to England in 1948 when his dad got a job at the London Brick Company in Bedford. But that wasn’t for young Michael. Motors were his thing. Fast ones, especially. In fact, before buying Duke’s Garage he was quite well known in racing circles as a bit of risk-taker on the track. He had even won a few trophies in his time. But Micha
Having undergone gender reassignment surgery in 1969, Grace had already been living as a woman for a number of years when she was caught up in the infamous Stonewall Riots of that summer. Politicised by her time in NYC – but also wanting to make a new start – Grace decided to ‘Go West’ to San Francisco – joining the burgeoning gay rights movement and later becoming a friend of Harvey
At 55 years old, working in an industry dominated by youth and obsessed with all things new, Damian is a survivor. A former Creative Director, his role as Director of Sexy Thinking at one of the London’s trendiest ad agencies is the culmination of years spent in brainstorms and thought-showers - encouraging people to leave their comfort zones and think outside of the box. Ironic then
The Brightonians is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Likewise, the illustrations are the author's own work, drawn from his imagination and not intended to look like any actual person, living or dead. Aside of Damian King, who is based on the author himself.