Roaming With: Alan Cumming

The talented Scottish actor is a travel fiend.

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There’s no one quite like Alan Cumming. A study in wonderful contrasts, Cumming is a deliciously cheeky performer currently traveling the country in his one-man show “Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs” which stops on March 3 in Atlanta at Atlanta Symphony Hall.

Actor Alan Cumming

Actor Alan Cumming

Actor Alan Cumming performs "Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs" this spring at venues across the country.

Photo by: Gareth Easton/Fox Theatre

Gareth Easton/Fox Theatre

Whether vamping it up as the gleefully perverse Emcee in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Cabaret, raking in accolades as the shifty political consultant Eli Gold in the CBS drama “The Good Wife,” or championing LGBT rights, Cumming is a take-no-prisoners actor and activist prone to taking chances and wearing his heart on his sleeve.

Defiantly honest and vulnerable, the multi-hyphenated actor/entertainer/writer/musician/activist has authored a New York Times bestselling memoir of life with an abusive father Not My Father’s Son, and his writing has appeared in Marie Claire, The New York Times and Harper’s Bazaar. Currently jetting around the globe as an ambassador for Visit Scotland and in his one-man show, “Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs,” the peripatetic Cumming took time out from his busy schedule to tell Roam about his favorite cities and the thrill of hotel room anonymity. 

Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming at Carnegie Hall.

Photo by: Fox Theatre

Fox Theatre

Best place you traveled in 2016?

The Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Absolutely amazing. I went to Barra, Harris, Lewis on this trip I took. Absolutely magical, and incredible country.

Place you’re going in 2017 you’ve never been to?

The Maldives.

One thing you always pilfer from a hotel room?

I’ve actually kind of stopped stealing from hotels quite as much. It depends on the quality of the moisturizer. The first time I ever came to America I stayed at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills and stole the nuts from the mini-bar. 

Leave the room messy or tidy up for the cleaning staff?

I definitely tidy up. Even if a car is downstairs and I’m late I do a little. I’m quite a diligent customer.

Thing that makes you happiest about staying in a hotel?

The fact that people don’t know you’re there. The door’s closed and you’ve got some license to just veg out and nobody knows how to get you. And also I don’t stay in hotels under my name: I have a secret name.

Is your secret name cheeky and fun or neutral?

Its kind of a weird name of a character I once played in a film. It’s not like “huge arse” or something like that.

Best international food discovery of 2016?

I think it would have to be vegetarian haggis pakora. A real combination of cultures.

Favorite city in the world to visit?

I live in and love New York City; it never ceases to amaze me or surprise me. But I travel a lot, I love Sydney, I love Berlin in terms of the energy of it…Barcelona I’m very fond of and also really love Cape Town.

Air travel: awesome or horrendous?

Well it depends on whom you’re flying with…A lovely first class experience can’t last long enough in my opinion. Again it’s this thing of people not knowing where you are and you’ve nothing to do, but read or watch films or eat delicious things…you might as well eat and drink as much as you can and have a delicious time. I don’t adhere to moderation on planes. Go for it.

Do you go incognito in airports? Sunglasses? Low profile?

I do head down. It’s pretty interesting: I think people have faces that are more unusual than others. And I seem to have a face, that even if I do my disguise, it doesn’t work.

If I’m not feeling 100% personality I’ll go with a hat and sunglasses. I think it’s signaling to people that I want to be left alone a bit more. Although once at a Halloween party I dressed as a rabbi and no one knew it was me. I should wear my rabbi costume more often.

You’ve narrated the VisitScotland ad campaign: what are the traits that define you as Scottish?

Openness, humor, sense of fairness. I think those things are really intrinsically Scottish. Going out to the world with an open heart.

What’s something you have to experience in Scotland you won’t find anywhere else? 

The sense of humor, but you might not get it…It’s a dark sense of humor. We have a thing, it’s called, 'you have to laugh or you greet.' 'Greet' means cry. It’s quite self-deprecating. You have to make light of your situation.

Are mushy peas really your favorite Scottish treat?

Mushy peas are right up there.

Translate “numpty:”

Numpty means a dope, a silly person. It’s kind of an affectionate way to say 'you’re stupid.'

Find more cities and dates for "Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs" here.

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