Fan showcase: Gisbornesboy (part 1)
I encountered Gisbornesboy for the first time during the opening phase of FanstRAvaganza 3, when we were trying out our Twitter strategy for publicizing the event. I kept seeing tweets from someone called @sebabybaby in the streams that Frenz set up, and they were so enthusiastic! Not just that it was nice to have our work praised, of course, but that he was so supportive of and excited about what we were doing. Gisbornesboy was probably the most positive tweep I had or have ever met. His English was also stunning. I filed the datum in my mind, thinking he would be a good interview — I don’t encounter many male fans of Richard Armitage — and then at some point someone in chat referred to him and said, “he may be the youngest fan we know, he’s only seventeen.” I wasn’t going to interview a minor. However, he turned eighteen this spring, after F3. I was idly flipping through some tweets back in June when I saw a bunch from him that traced some of his fan activities, which I read about with curiosity, and so I finally did ask him for an interview. The results will run today and tomorrow. In today’s portion he discusses his first contact with the work of Richard Armitage, his feelings about the romance and justice elements of Robin Hood, and some of the ways he displays his fan allegiance publicly. Gisbornesboy currently blogs at Gisbornesboy and tweets at @gisbornesboy. He’s a multi-media presence in his own right, and our interview for tomorrow covers that particular ground, along with some other matters (see the teaser at the end of this interview). His fandom has been a creative, formative element in his life, and this interview is simply inspiring to read.
It’s true both that I’ve loved every interview I’ve done here, and that I’ve regularly said, “This is the best one yet!” with no consciousness of exaggeration. But this interview is particularly special to me. As readers already familiar with Gisbornesboy know, he’s also gay, out, and proud — someone who’s learned at an enviably young age to be comfortable in his own skin. During a month that attracted more of its share of negativity, contact with Gisbornesboy was always a candle shining through the fog, but this interview would have been a tremendously positive and educational experience for me even at another time. Gisbornesboy’s energy and his pure love for both Richard Armitage and fellow fans shone through in every exchange we had, and regularly renewed my optimism and reanimated my feeling of wanting to grin or yell, “I love Richard Armitage!” While were putting this piece together, he impressed me with his ability to cut through subterfuge to talk about what’s important without shyness or worries about effect, and with his capacity for honest introspection. I started off from the viewpoint that I was going to encounter someone fundamentally different from myself — young, male, gay — but was moved again and again to discover how much his fandom has in common with my middle-aged, female, straight perspective. We simply share so much, a fact that was underlined in every conversation, and made me feel like there’s a whole world of fans I haven’t met yet out there for me to be friends with — people who are different, to be sure, but who share one fundamental affection. Gisbornesboy’s a shining example of someone whose life has been improved, ennobled, and enriched by his ability to acknowledge, critically, what he loves, benefit from it himself, and share the love he feels with the people around him. I’m learning from him every day about fandom without shame, which I think is a step toward loving, toward acceptance, of both myself and others.
When I get to the point when I’m ready to yell in public, I definitely want to be one of the people yelling with Gisbornesboy. We both hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
Finally: “me + richard armitage” tries to be a safe place for all kinds of fans to express their opinions, fantasies, and desires. As always, first-time commentators will be moderated. I haven’t encountered it yet, but it also seems prudent to mention that no explicit or implicit homophobia will be permitted in comments. Thanks for your cooperation! And now to the interview.
Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) rediscovers the necklace he’d given Marian on the neck of Eleri (Rachael Cairns) in Robin Hood 1.7. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
Servetus: You’re the first Swedish fan I’ve encountered who still lives in Sweden. How well known is Richard Armitage there?
Gisbornesboy: Not very! Most of my earlier acquaintances, or even people I meet now, have never even heard of him. Some might have seen Robin Hood once or twice. Then again, some amazing Swedes scattered across the country actually do know who he is, and that’s always a pleasure to hear. But awareness of him might change when The Hobbit premieres here.
S: So how did you find him?
Gisbornesboy: It happened during the summer of 2007. I had turned thirteen that spring, so I was pretty stubborn and, you know, acting like any other teenager. I remember every detail from the day when Richard Armitage first appeared on my television screen. It was on July 5th, around 8 p.m. I was drawing dogs and other animals in my grandparents’ living room, like I always did as a kid — and watching the telly at the same time. My grandmother joined me in the room and said, “This new Robin Hood show is on channel four, do you want to watch it?” and I was like, “Yeah, sure, put it on, whatever.” I was not very interested. I mean, I had heard of the show — not seen anything — but read about it in the newspaper and such. And I have always been interested in medieval matters. But Robin Hood did not really speak to me at first. So my grandmother put the telly on and we began to watch it. Truth is, she watched it while I continued sketching. But then… oh my… I raised my head for a second. I dropped the pencil and relaxed in the chair. I stayed in that exact position for the next sixty minutes of my life. They had just broadcast episode 7 of the first series, the one involving the journey of the necklace.
S: How did the episode affect you?
Gisbornesboy: My grandmother watched the news after the episode ended, but I basically ran down to my grandfather’s office and did a little research on the computer. From that day, I was trapped. This goofy, rather annoying thirteen-year-old was not captured, but more like rescued by, the Armitage Army. At the time, I was in a pretty bad state. I more or less had no friends at all. I was going to start a new school the following autumn, and I just did not feel well. I started loving the show. It was fun, romantic, a bit goofy, sad, and pretty much everything I wanted in a television show. And — the dark, blue-eyed, good-looking man driving all the villagers to delirium was a very big plus. His was one of the best performances I had ever seen. I was in a crazy state after that day. I watched the first series of Robin Hood over and over and over again for several weeks. I did not talk to anyone; I did not do anything else except watch Robin Hood. It was a lovely summer.
S: What kept you watching Armitage’s work?
Gisbornesboy: Richard Armitage is simply gifted to a point beyond the highest level imaginable. Not only with good looks, but also with talents for moving, speaking, and creating a character — all of these appealed to me. He made Sir Guy come alive — shaped him into someone. And I had rarely seen that in a television show. Before that, I had pretty much felt that the actors in all the other shows airing were holding the script in their hands while performing, but not this guy. Not this Guy. Robin Hood will always be my favorite work that Richard Armitage has created, with a little help from Sir Guy of course. And yes, he is extremely handsome as well.
When asked to describe scenes from Armitage’s work that he found particularly memorable, Gisbornesboy naturally turned to Robin Hood, and then provided a ranking.
Gisbornesboy: I developed a sort of [pauses] schedule (obsession) when the second series of Robin Hood aired. And since it aired in the UK first and I live in Sweden, I was not able to watch it directly. I had to wait until the following morning or afternoon, but RichardArmitageOnline always published little clips from the latest episode, so that was an early guilty pleasure — watching those.
Gisbornesboy: My third most memorable scene must be the finale of series 2, when Sir Guy kills Marian. Definitely not my favorite part of the show, but memorable, because it was a very upsetting ending. I was furious. Might sound silly, but a part of me died as well when he killed her. Which is why I started writing fanfiction after that series. Where he doesn’t kill Marian.
S: From our discussions, I gathered that you are markedly interested in justice for Sir Guy. How do you feel about Richard Armitage’s statements in interviews that because it was a series for children with a clear villain, Sir Guy had to get his punishment?
Gisbornesboy: Well, sure. The villain always has to be punished, obviously. But I didn’t see Sir Guy as a villain. Which is why I didn’t agree with his punishment. The story would have been more interesting if he hadn’t killed Marian and if they actually had married. I mean, at least I wouldn’t have seen that coming.
S: Given Armitage’s statement that Guy was only interesting when he wasn’t getting what he wanted, what do you imagine might have happened to Guy if the series writers had allowed him to “get” Marian?
Gisbornesboy: I agree with Armitage. Guy was interesting when he wasn’t getting what he wanted. I wouldn’t have complained if he had gotten her in the end, I mean, I would be happy about that. But I don’t think it would have turned out so well. I have read many fanfics about possible endings in which he didn’t kill her, endings that I could have seen actually happening. But to stay truthful, I think, if Guy had “gotten” Marian, he would have brought her to France or something like that and built a home there. Marian would be living in misery, and Guy wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe she would even have committed suicide. I don’t really know what would have happened, but even so, I don’t think they would have had a very happy ending. But hey, you can always hope!
S: What you say about your favorite scenes also suggests that the Sir Guy / Marian romance in Robin Hood played an important role in your enjoyment of the series. What special elements do you think Richard Armitage as an actor brings to the portrayal of romance?
Gisbornesboy: He really digs into it. He uses his body language, eyes, mouth, and everything, which creates the perfect feeling in every single scene he’s in. His portrayal of romance is a true painting. When he first starts painting you can’t see the whole picture, it doesn’t make sense, it’s all still a big mess. But then, when he carefully adds personal details, it slowly turns into a perfect, finished work of art.
Gisbornenesboy’s ranking of Armitage’s most memorable scenes continued with another moment from Robin Hood:
Gisbornesboy: My choice for second most memorable scene must definitely come from episode 8 of the second series. When Marian returns to the castle and wants to have a chat with Guy, they have a deep conversation, and Allan interrupts them, but then Guy finally gets his kiss. I know she is just doing it to distract him and all that. But I still love it. And also the one shortly afterward, when they are just standing there, being affectionate. Or, well, he is being affectionate. She is just being stupid. LOL. I love that scene because [pauses] you can see how good he is. That he really is a good, caring, affectionate, romantic person. But she doesn’t get that, still.
S: So you definitely belong to the segment of Richard Armitage’s fans who “fell” first for Sir Guy of Gisborne. I can tell that you’ll always be faithful to Guy, but have you enjoyed other roles?
Gisbornesboy: The pieces I watched after Robin Hood were North & South and Cold Feet. It doesn’t really matter to me if his characters are good or evil; it’s the way he brings the characters alive. I especially like Lucas North, Mr. Thornton, and Harry Kennedy — Lucas and Thornton because of the ways the stories developed and how much the characters changed. And Harry because, well, he’s perfect.
S: Anything you haven’t enjoyed?
Gisbornesboy: I love his portrayal of John Porter, but I didn’t really like Strike Back; it was too complicated for me.
S: What did you like about the John Porter character?
Gisbornesboy: I liked the way he portrayed the role of a father. I loved the scenes between Porter and his daughter. Made me go all jelly. And yes, I know it’s weird for an admirer to want to switch places with his kid just as much as one would like to marry him, but sweet Jesus, he just makes it all so inviting. So I really liked the whole family love thingy. Something else I liked about John Porter? Well, he was quite sexy, in like, every scene.
S: What would be your ideal role for Richard Armitage?
Gisbornesboy: That’s really hard! I would love for him to play a gay character, to be honest. But that’s not really a role. Maybe he could play some kind of detective, or super-bad villain (like a James Bond baddie) who falls in love with his male enemy. Either the detective falls in love with the villain or the other way around.
S: Are you looking forward to Thorin Oakenshield?
Gisbornesboy: I am. Some of my closest friends are great LOTR and The Hobbit fans and since Richard Armitage is in The Hobbit, I have sort of converted them to like him even more! I am extremely excited to see him on the big screen as Thorin Oakenshield. I am myself very much into these types of films, so it is all a great joy. Just wish time could go faster!
John Porter (Richard Armitage) returns home to his daughter (Laura Greenwood) and wife (Nicola Stephenson) in episode 1.2 of Strike Back. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
S: One thing that attracted me to you as a potential interviewee was the amazing energy and positivity you bring to being a fan of Richard Armitage. For starters, you have eleven autographs. What got you started collecting them?
Gisbornesboy: It started during that first summer. I was browsing the Internet, and found his fan mail address. And since I was thirteen, never having been through this before, I got all excited. I started writing about how much I appreciated his work and about his talent and so on. I sent the letter and I didn’t really think much about it afterwards — I mean, why would he care about a thirteen-year-old? He was a successful, busy man, creating art for me to enjoy. I didn’t think he would actually answer my letter, but he did. I received an answer the same summer, just before school started. And I was just amazed and over the moon. So happy.
S: I saw your remark on twitter that they come from different parts of your life.
Gisbornesboy: It’s embarrassing sometimes to admit that I have received so many autographs from Mr. Armitage, because some people might think it sounds freaky. But it’s true, they represent different parts of my life, so each has a different meaning, although it’s not really something I know how to explain. The first one is pretty special — it represents my very first connection to him, of course. But each one is just as special as the first. They represent pride, confidence, happiness, the future, who I am, what I want to do with my life, many things. It’s kind of funny because people ask me, “Why do you have so many? Isn’t one enough?” Of course I would be just as happy with one, but writing to him is the only way for me to actually “talk” to him and tell him what I think about his work and acting. I don’t know if I would be comfortable meeting him face to face. I just can’t see that happening — and being a very shy and worried person in general, I don’t think I could handle it. But writing: I love writing, and that I can do. Besides, since I’ve written to him about twice a year, I’ve been around to see him change his fan photos.
S: Your fandom took on truly creative features right from the beginning. For instance, when you were younger, you made a Guy of Gisborne doll and bag. When did you make them? What meaning did those objects have to you at the time?
Gisbornesboy: I got the bag first. I wanted a new bag for my new school, you know, to prepare myself for that. I thought it would be awesome to have his sexiest Sir Guy face on my bag, which ended up being this one. I really like that picture, even if I don’t think it’s the sexiest one ever. But as a result I didn’t want to show the bag to anyone. I wore the bag, but with the picture against my body. It was hilarious! The doll, on the other hand, I made as a class project, so I got a grade on it and everything. And I thought Sir Guy would be perfect for this assignment.
S: Why did you wear the bag with the picture inside?
Gisbornesboy: I guess I didn’t want to feel [pauses] childish or get bullied. Might sound silly but I was a very nervous person as a kid, and extremely shy as well, so having someone picking on me was definitely something I wanted to prevent. I wanted the bag, but I wanted to keep it for myself, just for safety reasons.
S: How do you see them now?
Gisbornesboy: I don’t use them these days. Neither the bag nor the Guy doll. I’ve been thinking about auctioning the bag to someone who would have more use for it.
S: People who follow you on Twitter read that your father helped you decorate your room with a number of Armitage-themed objects. It sounds like your parents and grandparents have been supportive and understanding of your Armitage fandom.
Gisbornesboy: In the beginning, they saw it as some sort of “this-will-pass” thing. Like in a couple of weeks I would grow tired of him and find someone else to drool over. That annoyed the hell out of me because I knew they were wrong. I already felt it wasn’t the same as with others I’d admired. Before Richard Armitage, I was really into Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford. I still have my Bruce Willis collection — worth a couple of thousand kronor, I’m sure. But when Armitage appeared in my life, the others left. And Richard stayed for real. Nowadays, it’s obvious to me that I’ll look up to Richard Armitage for a very, very long time. When people I know see him on the telly or read about him in the newspaper, they tell me about it because he makes them think of me, so that’s quite lovely.
S: What does your boyfriend think of him?
Gisbornesboy: I don’t have a boyfriend at the moment, but my ex and I are super-duper close. And I am happy to report that the lovely Armitage epidemic embraced him pretty quickly, too, when I introduced them to each other.
Gisbornesboy’s London trip: “My friend Sofia in the back and my other friend Siri at front. Our last night in London.” His photo.
S: I see you have a tattoo of Armitage’s signature, as well.
S: What was the occasion for the new tattoo?
Gisbornesboy: A couple of months before my eighteenth birthday, two classmates and I started planning a trip to London, just we three. It was going to be my very first, real trip to another country without my parents, so it was a very exciting thing to plan, because it was all up to us. It’s been almost five years since I first discovered Richard Armitage, so I wanted to do something special to “celebrate” that and dedicate something to him.
S: How did you decide to do it?
Gisbornesboy: I’d always wanted to get a signature tattoo anyway. I didn’t really know whose. But, I realized, Richard Armitage was the perfect choice, the only one that really matters to me anyway. Since we were going to London, it all made so much sense. So I looked through my stash of autographs and tried to figure out which one would be the perfect fit. It was one of the big ones, where he signed with “R Armitage x.” I didn’t want to tell anyone until I had done it, except my travel mates, of course. That was a really hard thing to keep quite about.
S: How did you feel afterwards?
Gisbornesboy: Eighteen years old for about a week and already covering my body with permanent ink! It was such an amazing feeling; I was actually about to cry when I left the studio, because it felt so right.
Gisbornesboy reports of himself: I’m eighteen and live in the capital of Sweden with my family. I drew a lot when I was a kid — mostly animals; I also played with dinosaur toys and pretended to be a dog all the time. I bought strawberries, made juice out of them, and used it as my own Mary Poppins medicine. I personally think I am funnier than I actually am, but I try to be a good friend and I am pretty loving and caring. These days, I’m studying photography with the goal of becoming a professional photographer. I am a confident, straight “A” student and am learning about dog psychology as a hobby.
In the truly moving conclusion to this interview, Gisbornesboy reveals his all time most memorable Armitage scene! He also talks about his interest in social media, being a gay teenage fan in a mostly older heterosexual female fandom, his crazy Armitage dreams, and the ways that his engagements with Sir Guy of Gisborne and Richard Armitage have changed his life. Tune in tomorrow!
[Fan showcases are an irregular feature on "me + richard armitage." These segments seek to highlight the opinions and activities of a cross-segment of the very diverse group of people who have become fans of Richard Armitage. Previous showcases can be found here: bZirk, Eli, LadyKate63, fitzg, Angieklong, khandy, jazzbaby1, Amanda Jane, Jane (part 1, part 2, part 3), Prue Batten (part 1, part 2, part 3), mersguy, and Mezz. I plan to continue this feature intermittently, so if you are interested in being interviewed, please let me know. My email address can be found in the sidebar under "About." -- Servetus]