Gary May has written a warts-and-all account of life as a cabin crew member with Virgin Airways. He tells Lindsay Jennings about wild parties, revenge against passengers and avoiding the Pink Mafia.

FOR someone who calls his private parts the "big fella", Gary May appears to be remarkably unassuming. He answers the door of his parents' home in Gainford, near Darlington, dressed in jeans and a comfy T-shirt - on his best behaviour.

"Come in," he beckons. "Go through to the garden if you like. Do you want a coffee?"

I'm not sure what I expected really. Perhaps a bow tie and a leopard print posing pouch? I wouldn't have been surprised. Having read his book, If It's Not On The Trolley, You Can't Have It - a revealing behind-the-scenes look at life as a cabin crew member - nothing would surprise me about Gary. I feel as if I already know him after reading about his sexploits, his practical jokes and brushes with the Pink Mafia, of which more later.

There are tales of his conquests with women, and after that, more conquests with women, over the seven years he worked for the airline. To be fair, the female air crew were just as up for a wild party as the lads. On one occasion, Gary writes how, at a party, Virgin boss Richard Branson lay on the dancefloor and promised a pair of first class tickets to the first air hostess who proved she wasn't wearing any underwear.

Gary swears in his book, talks about his dangerous liaisons with unabashed glee, gives all his mates - and his private parts - nicknames. In short, it's a pretty fun read, a cross between a Jilly Cooper romp and a confessional. But, perhaps, not a book for everyone.

"And all of its true," he insists, a devilish glint in his eye. "That's why it's a good read. There's some naughtiness in there, yes, but I just wrote it while I was sitting around the pool."

But before he left on a jet plane, Gary was a midfielder with Darlington Football Club. He played for a couple of seasons in his late teens until he broke his leg after a bad foul. He then went off to Majorca to work as a holiday rep until, aged 25, Virgin beckoned.

'The airlines were all about perks and better working conditions," he recalls. "If you got a difficult passenger you only had to speak to him for a few hours whereas if you went on holiday you were stuck with them for a week. I loved working for Virgin."

It was certainly a decadent life, with the entire crew, including the pilots, joining in the debauchery. It was not uncommon, he writes, for pilots to lead double lives - wives and family at home, junior cabin crew on the side.

Some of the pranks they got up to were, admittedly, rather amusing, like the time someone sprayed a copy of Gary's "big fella" onto the penthouse suite wall of a posh hotel in New York.

But there were downsides to flying. He talks about the "psycho-host beasts" he worked with - usually jealous female older cabin crew who "hated young, pretty talent" - and the Pink Mafia, the gay senior crew who "hated everyone".

"There were a lot of people who could make life very difficult for you," he says.

Eventually Gary was promoted to purser, where he was in charge of the crew on his flights and often worked in first class. It meant dealing with famous passengers, particularly on the flights to Los Angeles.

"Whitney Houston was a nightmare," he says. "She was in a world of her own and so abrupt."

Did you ever do anything to get your own back on troublesome passengers?

He laughs. "I can't tell you that. Well... there were certain things you could do to get your own back... although personally I just used to ignore them..."

"Go on," I urge.

"Well you could always put a few eye drops in their gin and tonic. It would go through them like a dose of salts. It would take about 20 minutes then you would see them get out of their seat and leg it to the toilet - but that's only if you got a real idiot."

There were other passengers who were great fun. Billy Connolly kept the whole flight entertained with his jokes, including shouting "the middle pedal is the f***ing brake, Captain" after one bumpy landing.

When he worked in first class, he spotted many a celebrity trying to join the Mile High Club of which he is, of course, a fully paid up member. He and the big fella.

"I caught David Hasselhoff trying to go into the toilet with his Mrs once. There were a few situations like that," he laughs.

Gary also writes about some of the dangers of flying - air rage incidents. On one flight from Washington, a drunken passenger hit a female crew member and broke her nose. Gary and a colleague had to tackle him.

"This guy was going berserk when we got there and he was massive and all the passengers around him were just cowering," he says. "We found out afterwards that he'd been knocking back home-made spirits and was taking medication for depression and his wife had just left him. In the end he had me in a headlock, but between us we managed to tackle him. He was jailed for a year."

But things were never serious for long. There was always a new party to go to, girls to pick up, drink to down. It made it impossible to have a serious girlfriend. When he tried, buying a house with an in-flight beauty therapist he was involved with, he messed it up by having "a rough and tumble" with someone else.

"I did regret that because she was a good person as well," he says, serious for a second. "But it was just temptation island every time you went away - even if you had the best intentions."

There's now been a crackdown on the airlines, he says, and the crew aren't as wild. "We used to put the seatbelt signs on so people couldn't get out of the seats and we could get everything done," he says. "If you did it now you'd probably get sued or something."

But for those who do like to have fun, the poison of choice tends to be cocaine. Although Gary writes about taking the drug ecstasy on a trip to the clubbing Mecca of Ibiza, he says, overall, drugs weren't for him.

But the hedonism had to come to an end. For Gary, it was in the shape of a predatory "psycho-host beast" he nick-named The Crow. She caught him out after he had phoned in sick to go on holiday. Aged 32, he got hauled into a meeting and, without a union to back him up, he was sacked.

He was devastated, but, eventually, managed to pull himself together. Seven years later, and he's moved to Tenerife where he runs a business supplying air conditioning units.

He has no regrets that he left the airline industry.

"I think I thought I was invincible, that was the problem," he reflects.

"But it's very strict now and all the characters have moved on. Muskrat (his friend) is still there but he says it's almost boring now, the parties aren't as wild. They tend to get assessed all the time - and there's still the back-stabbing," he says.

Of all places, he turned to thoughts of writing his book while in jail, having been arrested for armed robbery in a case of mistaken identity in Tenerife.

"At least it got me thinking about my life and about writing a book," he says wryly. Fortunately, Gary was released after 36 hours when the police realised they had the wrong man.

He's 39 now and planning to write another book. There are plenty more anecdotes, he says. In the meantime, there are few signs of him settling down. Asked whether he's got a girlfriend, he grins and says: "The love life's interesting. It's all good. I'm just having a bit of fun still... well I've got a girlfriend in Tenerife."

* If It's Not On The Trolley, You Can't Have It by Gary May (Authorhouse, £7.60 available at