78 dogs on Runyon Canyon.
The transformers on Outpost exploded yesterday causing the fourth power cut of the summer. Thankfully I was not here for any of the others. John and I drove to Ralph’s and bought ice to keep the fridge from getting too hot. I bought three chickens for dinner-they were half price. I also bought melon and strawberries. In the line at the check out the young couple ahead of me had 20 boxes of microwavable hot dogs and a carton of diet beverage. He looked into my cart and said, “This guy eats healthier than us.” I enquired if they were having a party. The petite, pretty blond girl told me that this was their diet, franks and diet drink. “I don’t cook.” she said, “I’m frightened of raw meat.” Her gorgeous boy friend winked at me.
Alexa, Devon and Sabrina invited me to join them on a trip to Little India which is in Artesia some 40 mins from Hollywood along the freeway. The power out meant that the fans did not work so they lured me with a promise of air conditioning in the car. When we got to Little India it was just as you might imagine several strip malls selling sari’s, jewellery and indian food. We had a blast. I bought odd-looking raisins and nut meg and almonds. Being in Little India reminded me of the UK. Tea and digestive biscuits and Wheatabix. The smell of petuli oil pervading the hot streets. We ate lunch in a small restaurant and ordered Indian food that I had never seen in England. We took our chances and before long delicious things arrived in compartmentalized styrofoam trays. The Indians were watching me eat mine with some amusement-it turned out I was dipping my savoury main course into my desert. I suppose it was like watching someone put ice cream on their hamburger.
We all fell asleep, open-mouthed on the way home.
When I got home I stuffed lemons into the chickens and poured curry paste onto the skin and put bay leaves and garlic under the birds and roasted them for two hours at a very high temp. I boiled potatoes and then roasted them with okra and tamarind sauce. Thankfully I also soaked and prepared some barlotti beans which was just as well as Julia’s husband is a vegetarian.
8 people for dinner. Delicious. Julia Woolf who I have known for thirty years. Who would have thought it? If somebody had told me that the coolest chic in Whitstable would be at my table in LA when I was teenager I would have scoffed. Julia’s husband is very funny and dry. Josh and Sara are always great company. I love the way Josh knows film.
After they all left the internet yielded somebody for me to cuddle. Made it perfectly clear that I did not want sex. We walked together up the Canyon counting dogs and then he left.
38 dogs on Runyon Canyon today Sept 3rd 2006. For some odd reason these blogs are out of sequence.
The owners thankfully too tired to make small talk with their dogs. Yesterday, I shopped on Robertson but could not find what I was looking for. Lunch at The News Room with Dean West. The food was bland and expensive. I ordered a fancy fruit drink-wheat grass, pineapple and mint which had no taste what so ever. When I told the waiter it had no taste, that it tasted like water-he asked if he could remedy the situation by adding more ice. “Are you kidding?” I asked. He went onto explain that the ice would make the drink thicker therefore giving it more taste. I asked him to get me an orange juice.
I mopped the kitchen floor with bleach.
Met Sharon S at the Arclight. We saw Oliver Stone‘s new film about 9/11 which was, at times, very moving but I was over come with the feeling that it had been made too soon after the event. I mean, that’s why the US are still in Iraq isn’t it? Avenging the deaths of 9/11?
The film works best in the confined space underground developing the relationship between the two trapped men. I constantly had to remind myself that this was a ‘true’ story-it was so shocking. Sadly, above ground, Stone never really captured the horror and confusion of that day. As a film maker he needed to be less reverential and more grandiose/dramatic and only time passing could or would have allowed that to happen. It was apparent from this film that Stone finds directing women almost impossible, consequently the wives of the trapped men are woefully undignified. The only female performance of any note was Maggie Gyllenhall. Maria Bello‘s bright blue, over sized, contact lenses were very distracting. The flailing women erred, again and again, toward the dismally sentimental.
Nick Cage was physically suited to the role but he is so prone to under playing that I wondered if his inertia would finally get the better of him. Strangely, as I experienced it, the film felt like a ‘white’ film which was odd because one of the guys trapped under the concrete was latino-his family did not really get a sniff at the action-was the latino woman with Gyllenhall the maid or the guys mother? I found out subsequently that the hero who found those guys under the rubble was not a clean-cut white guy but a black man. A BLACK man found those men and WHITE film makers edited that out of the story. Stone is usually an oppinionated, egocentric film maker but ultimately this film, due to the enormous reverence to its subject, lacked a strong point of view and an unusual absence of ego became its downfall.
9/11 remains a ghastly pre amble to what Will Self calls the ’21st century commodity wars’. I would very much like to read the book that the film was based on. I cried when the film ended but I stayed angry long after we left the arclight, angry that today more innocent people would be buried under concrete by the US in Iraq. Nobody seems to have learned anything.
Saw JA in the line for another movie. She was wearing dark glasses. It is the first time that I have seen her since the cancer diagnosis. I suddenly felt consumed with anger that her stupid consultant had got the diagnosis so very wrong. It is such a terrible waste. Letter from DP yesterday expressing his concern for JA. We have all agreed to stand shoulder to shoulder should the time come.
After the film Sharon and I ate dinner at the Hungry Cat under that new apartment building on Sunset and Vine where I first lived when I arrived in LA. The bill came to $111. The food was decent enough-a bit complicated.
We talked about our sexual obsessions-after a life of sex how difficult it is to reorientate oneself toward a relationship. Sharon has huge tits and I kept on thinking about them during dinner. She told me that her next door neighbour is a very fit looking young girl who makes wrestling videos in her back yard. Sharon calls her Canyon Barbie. I tried to explain to her how PH makes me feel-like I am a MAN when I am with her. Filling out my own body.
Sharon has never met me without a beard so was delighted that I had dimples. I love intelligent, strong women. You know, it was Sharon who helped me cut the front of Dorian Gray providing solutions so that the beginning of the film sprints where it previously limped. We wandered to the parking lot arm in arm and then she dropped me at home in her black Porsche.
Dog Piss Canyon
“I’m frightened by the devil but I’m drawn to those who ain’t afraid..”
I passed 73 dogs on my walk on Runyon Canyon today. They call it dog piss canyon. I don’t think it smells at all. The dogs are all quite good-natured although I had a fear that if one of them did attack me it would be my fault because I was wearing black socks or had a beard. “He was wearing black socks-my dog hate men with black socks.” Most owners walk silently with their dogs but others keep a ghastly, high-pitched baby talk monologue going with their dogs, “Daddy wont be happy about THAT when we get home.” “Keep up with your brother.” Obviously the dogs are not related, one is a Yorkie and the other is a large black mutt. The illusion of family pervades the canyon, all these lonely people with dog brothers/sisters to feed and focus on. “Mummy said NO!”
Last night, after my 7.30-9.00pm AA meeting we ate dinner at Swingers on Beverly. The conversation was dominated by the rumour that Bush intends to use ‘little’ nuclear war-heads on Iran. I was dumbfounded by just how jocular the discussion was. Earlier, before the meeting started, a small Jewish guy was telling his friends loudly how ashamed he was of American foreign policy. Bush’s speech yesterday to a bunch of guys in fancy dress (ex-forces I think) was the usual war mongering pre-election bullshit. I keep on thinking about Michael Moore’s Oscar speech when he declared that we live in ‘lying times..’ How will we ever sweep away this bunch of liars, thieves and fools? We are the first generation of human beings who can not just pack our bags and find land to settle with like-minded people. We have no escape.
Apparently my towels are in Daniel’s room. He did not flush the toilet AGAIN yesterday. I feel too embarrassed to say anything. Shall I leave a note on the bathroom wall? I have not actually SEEN the towels yet but at least he has claimed responsibility and will buy new ones if they are vanished. I scrubbed the tea towel that was stained whilst I was gone. This is the third time that I have scrubbed it-it seems to be responding.
Joni Mitchell used to own the apartment block where I live in Hollywood. It is the most adorable pink building built-in the early 1930s. I have a huge sitting room, a smaller, well-proportioned dining room and the original kitchen and stove. There are two reasonably sized bedrooms and a bathroom off of a long dark corridor. Pamela (queen of the groupies) DesBarres lived here in this apartment. There is a photograph of Sid Vicious leaning against my fire-place.
I have decorated for comfort and relaxation. I have some of my photograph collection on the walls. Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth, Larry Clark, Tracy Emin, Larry Sultan and Gillian Wearing. It is a lovely little group. I also have the dregs of the Holly Soloman estate sale, above my desk is a wonderful painting called ‘A Peaceable Kingdom’ by Jimmy Kellough, which is a piece of tat really but I love it. How lucky I am to live in two such perfect places? Whitstable and Hollywood.
At 12 I went to my lunch-time AA meeting but it was a bad mistake-such a bunch of self obsessed relapsers. I had mass murder thoughts during the meeting which I have not had since I was last there-so in the words of Hunter Philip I shall ‘go where the love is’.
I had lunch with my celebrity friend who I can’t mention-maybe next time-at the Chateau Marmont. We were offered the table behind the hedge where they put all of the celebrities but we declined favouring the full spotlight. Since I have been gone they have put air conditioning into the lobby of the Chateau. Not as bad as I thought that it was going to be. The staff was having a serious meeting in the dining room. I waved but they all looked like they were being fired. We then went to see a cut of his new film that was, in a word, dreadful. Two words-dreadful and appalling. I could only sit through 30 mins of it without squirming off of my seat. The worst thing is he has invested $180,000 in it WITHOUT having seen any of the footage. I could have slapped him but I am TRYING not being so judgemental and he is a really great friend.
The oddest thing has happened. I woke up at 7.30 which is when I normally get up-I seemed to have totally got away without having any jet lag.
Woke at 4.30am. Still dark outside. Answered e-mails. Still cannot find missing towels. Sharon only used the white ones. Apparently everyone knows that Sharon cried when she told me that the laundry had lost my large white towel.
Spoke to JA yesterday who confirmed that she has cancer. They misdiagnosed the lump she had in her leg-it was the spreading kind of cancer and not the other sort that stays put. She sounded brave but angry that the mistake had been made and that Blue Cross is not honouring their insurance agreement.
I went for a long walk on Runyon Canyon as soon as the sun came up and looked over the city. I felt like Warren Beatty in the film Shampoo when he looks over LA sadly realising that his life is in tatters. Yet, it was not my life that was in tatters-it was my friends-a friend who had been there for me for over 15 years.
Last night I had dinner at the 101 with Dom and John R. We ate the fried chicken-Thursday special. It was delicious. I wish I had it to eat for breakfast. I am STARVING. The fridge is looking pretty bare. I have not had time to restock it. There are usually stacks of celebrities at the 101 but there were none to be seen last night. They had better things to do than eat the Thursday special fried chicken.
Dom and I have a private joke about Dakota Fanning being snatched by coyote from the terrace at the Chateau Marmont. Nobody else finds it very funny. If ever we see a small child or dog at the Chateau we ask if we can have Dakotas autograph. I was in Barney’s once with Dom eating kippers-they stank so much that our part of the restaurant cleared out. Anyway, there was a child there who looked like Dakota Fanning and I asked for her autograph and her mother looked piteously at me and told me that this was not Dakota Fanning. That is how sad our private joke is.
I tidied my desk today and sorted out the draw and threw out old receipts. I think that I have a shoe addiction. I buy so many pairs of shoes. If JA died it would leave a vast hole in my life. I think that she is going to die. It is the spreading kind of cancer and not the kind that stays put.
I felt a slight tremor yesterday. Watched the fan tremble. Thought about my bed, which is a four-poster and could save me if the big shake down happens at night. I was sitting quietly looking around at my new cushion arrangement. The blue ones on the white armchairs. The pink and orange ones on the sofa. The new paisley cushions on the floor with the mauve shot silk floor cushion. Where are my fucking towels?
Ian Drew called to get a quote he was writing about straight actors coming out in Hollywood for US weekly in the wake of the kiss between Travolta and that boy on the internet. The smoking gun. Finally, The secret is out. So what? Who cares? Who did not know that Travolta was gay? Will we believe him less when he holds up his sub machine gun and takes down a nation? Who keeps the gay boys in the closet? Other gays. They are vicious. Other gays keep gay actors from telling the truth about who they are. The velvet mafia must be reeling this morning.
I feel strangely happy and content. The walk did me some good. I should really go and buy my bike, which I did not do yesterday. I am secretly waiting for Dom to take me to the bike shop on Saturday and help me choose it. Must not lose momentum. Tuesday I start work on Valentine. Found old draft of script that reads well. All problems are structural. Must call Lisa B the casting woman and start talking. Perhaps my towels are hidden in Daniels room?
back in the la
Back in LA. The apartment was very clean and tidy. However, some of my towels have vanished and one of my beautiful French tea towels was used for heavy duty cleaning and I spent ages trying to revive it. It looks like with a few more hot washes it might regain consciousness.
I woke up far too early and set about plumping cushions. My beard has a huge hole in it from my nervously pulling at it at the airport. So, this morning I went to Vine and Sunset and my Puerto Rican hairdresser who shaved my entire head. I have had a beard for so long now I really did not recognise myself. I look like my grand mother when I am concentrating. Not very hot.
Courtney Love was on my plane from London. She looked pale but she always does. Sitting next to celebrities on a long haul flight is like going on a date. You get to see them so clearly. CL is on the wagon so she behaved impeccably but you could tell that the air stewardesses were waiting for trouble. A ‘difficult’ person is often made worse by the expectations of others. Everybody loves a good Naomi Campbell story and the mob loves to blame her for her antics but it is so often the goading behaviour of others and the nasty atmosphere created by the crowd that can make a celebrity attack-or anyone for that matter with a bad rep. Boxers are forever being offered to fight by complete strangers.
I know that I-to a lesser degree-can sense when people have a bad opinion of me or expect me to be the person they have heard I am. It is so hard, in those instances, to take contrary action. All too often I become EXACTLY who they want me to be and then all of their preconceptions are ratified. The contrary action is to ignore the baiting, the sly comment, the sneery look or the comment behind the hand. Of course, if one says anything about THEIR behaviour one is accused of paranoia. CL behaved impeccably. At the carousel where we waited for our luggage she dragged her own very heavy cream leather luggage onto a trolley and I felt for her, I really did. This much maligned woman whose celebrity relies, in part, on her earlier bad behaviour is finding it very easy to change her insides but the others will not let her change the outsides.
The last time I flew to LA I was sitting near John Major-though what he was doing coming to California beats me. Does he have celeb friends in the hills? Does he surf? Anyway, he was there reading the newspapers in the same row as me. I had previously seen Brokeback Mountain with friends at The Grove in LA and afterwards I had battled to keep from crying. I decided, rather stupidly, to watch it again. Heath is so mesmerizing. As the credits rolled I felt like crying so made my way to the tiny loo and cried. I was-making a terrible noise, big fat tears rolling down my cheeks and onto my chin. Anyway, when I had finished sobbing I opened the door only to find special branch-the UK equivalent of FBI-who were traveling with John Major outside the loo door. “Are you alright, sir” one asked and I said, bursting into tears again, “Brokeback Mountain.” and slammed the door. After a good half hour I went back to my seat and John Major looked very kindly at me and asked in a stage whisper if I was OK. “Brokeback Mountain.” I said and the ex-prime minster of Great Britain and all of it’s Dominions frowned and nodded understandingly.
I took all my shirts to the lovely Russian lady who presses them at the environmentally correct launderette. I could go to the local laundry but the walk does me good. I don’t think the one at the end of the street gives a fuck about the environment. This week I am going to buy a scooter. A Vespa. I am very, very excited.
I might hire a car this weekend and drive to San Francisco. I like it there a great deal and my friend Randy lives there. Or, I might go to Mexico city with Eugenio and the others but that might be a bit bonkers. JT asked me rather grandly (he is a few days under 90 days sober) what I was doing with those people doing drugs. He cannot fathom why I get a kick out of hanging occasionally with those guys. What he forgets is I found him at that house and now he is nearly 90 days. He forgets that I am doing out reach work-so to speak. People are genuinely amazed that I can stay up all night with them without doing drugs or drinking. Nobody else I know wants to do it-we lead by EXAMPLE.
I start Valentine on Tuesday with the new writer and it is not a day too late. The secret project is coming along very well. Dorian has ground to a halt.
My life as a film maker.
SS in Berlin thinks that I have a changed personality when I get here. I am going to make a concerted effort to be kinder this time. More accommodating. Now I don’t have a beard to hide behind-I need to be a great deal nicer. Maybe my beard made me aggressive in LA-or just the place. Hot, sweaty. Disparate.
Will add more later about this LA thing. Already have breakfast meetings scheduled for two weeks after labor day.
It is a blustery, bright late August day by the sea. Today I woke at 6.30 and started the packing process. I am taking the cushions I bought at Ralph Lauren and my red shoes from Asprey. I have packed millions of books as I miss them terribly when I am in LA. I am a bit worried about the weight of my bags but perhaps they will not notice at the check in. I dread the airport. Frisked by rude, aggressive men. The police with the guns. The stewardesses who behave like Gestapo. Horrible. I am leaving tomorrow but am staying with Phil and Moffy in Worlds End tonight. Phil is going to paint my portrait. I think that we may rent a house together in LA next year. I know exactly which one I want-the one in Hermits Glen. I love that house off Wonderland Avenue. How do I feel about returning to LA? Well, I have to work with a writer and whip My Funny Valentine into shape for the casting process. I think that it will be very funny by the time I finish it. I have to finish Dorian. I have to start my secret adaptation. Lots of real stuff to do when I get back.
So. This morning I walked up Whitstable High Street eating a marzipan candy bar holding a glass dish I borrowed from Delia at Wheelers. When ever I leave Whitstable I look at everything in the town as if I may never see it again. I look at the houses and the shops and I bumped into so many people I knew. I looked in on Billy Childish (Tracy Emin’s ex b/f) to see if he was there in his studio-he wasn’t. I saw Veronica with her grandson who looks like a very young Richard Green. His eyes are wide over his nose just like Richard. They called Richard Green FROG at school because his eyes were so far from each other on his face. They called me Bleached Nigger at school. That was because I had very long, afro hair like my mother.
There are MILLIONS of lesbians in Whitstable. I think that there must be a Tipping the Velvet convention on at the lesbian beach huts on West Beach. I call it the lesbian shanty-town. During the summer hundreds of lesbians live in the beach huts and cook tofu on calor gas stoves and show off their hairy arm pits. They have wild children with unbrushed hair. So many lesbians live here. I sold my last house to a pair of very rich lesbians. They were not very nice and accused me of killing their cat. They were always drunk. They moved out and told everyone it was because I had made their life so uncomfortable-it fact it was the other way around. Joe and I had lesbian neighbours on Fire Island. They looked like men. The men looking lesbians have an attitude I find quite difficult. I always thought that a gay couple and a lesbian couple might get on but in fact the lesbians we lived next door to in The Pines had the same attitude toward us as a homophobic male. They can be quite sneery. I had a lesbian friend who used to visit me in prison but stopped because she became a lesbian separatist and could no longer have anything to do with men-she even stopped her milk being delivered because he was a milk MAN.
I stopped in at the Deli for a coffee and sat outside on Harbour Street and ate a lemon tart. How do I feel about not being here? How does it make me feel? How is it to be back in LA? I like my little flat. I like the smell of the Jasmin and the garden and the small collection of art I have there. But it is September here and that is my favourite month. I am only in LA for a month then I go to Sydney to write. There is no anchor. Phil could be an anchor. She is so wonderful. Important woman. She has no agenda and has always let me be the man I want to be rather than the man they think I am.
I finished my coffee and made my way home. I should have taken my bike then I might have I would have taken a longer route home and stopped in on Lottie who was like a mother to me when I was a boy. She has MS and I think that she might die very soon. I did not go to say good-bye because I don’t like goodbyes.
The goodbye party I threw yesterday was great fun. Phil and Clare and Carol and Jennifer and Anna and Mikyla and Easterly Jason and Tino and Rob and 5 children all came from London to say goodbye and I made a huge cassoulet and crab cakes and tiny prawn tarts with béchamel sauce. Then we ate strawberries, meringue and cream-Eton Mess. It was obvious to everyone just how important Phil is to me and we spent all day being very close. The women talked about Clare being outrageously dumped at the altar last month by her policeman boyfriend from his greek stag do. The girls who have columns on the Sun and Mirror were eager to pillory him for her but she declined their offer. We also talked about my ex friend Susanna A who we believed might have a penis. We were being very rude about her. I told everyone that when we were on holiday in France last year I hade chanced upon her in the bathroom washing it but it had retracted into her vagina like a tentacle. That is the penis she fucks her friends and relatives with.
It was so wonderful having everybody there to say goodbye to me. I loved holding the baby which I did all afternoon and I gave her-rather grandly-a Jeff Koons print I had bought ages ago in NY. Every baby should have a Jeff Koons. They are such a great bunch of friends. Good friends-kind friends. I have been through the mill with plastic friends of late-the sort of friends I have in LA on the whole are work friends and the friends I have here I have not valued. Recently I made up my mind to open my heart to them. Open up my warmer side rather than being so austere. It really works. That new openness may be all about 9 years of sobriety.
After lunch and a walk we watched Welcome to the Dollhouse and then everybody left when night fell, after the glorious sunset. I was in bed by 10.30. The children had woken me at 4.30 that morning. They had been camping in the garden and the rain had woken them up so they decided to cause havoc. Children can be unwittingly destructive-the loo had to be repaired and the back door handle. Everything needs to have the tiny, black finger prints washed. Thank God they were not criminals. Thank God my cleaner is coming tomorrow.
When I get back to LA I am looking forward to buying my Vespa and cruising the streets of west Hollywood. When I get back to LA I am looking forward to my Saturday mornings with Dom. When I get back to LA I am looking forward to the sun on my back and Runyon Canyon and the spectacular views over..LA.
Threat Level Reduced?
The anti Muslim frenzy that the governments of the US and UK have been working tirelessly toward seems to be complete. I am at lunch in Vauxhall London with columnists from the Sun and the Daily Mirror-two highly influential British newspapers. There is also a political editor from The Times. There is a storm raging outside the house (thunder and lightning) and one inside (fire and brimstone) over the chocolate tart and chicken legs. Suddenly in my secular country people are diving along religious lines. The truth is being rewritten, I am told that the Muslim guys who were shot and arrested in Forest Gate are child pornographers/drug dealers/ black marketers. Suddenly the blacks are ‘just like us’ and the Muslims need to be ‘taught a lesson’. Now it is the Muslims who are stealing our tax pounds by claiming social benefits-even though I thought that last year it was the Muslims who had higher achievement levels in schools and ran small businesses with aplomb. Last year it was black people and asylum seekers who lived off of our white generosity-now it is the Muslims. How the fuck did intelligent people like the guys I was with yesterday suddenly become so blinkered-so incredibly malleable?
OK so, the innocent Brazilian guy gets shot in the head by cops eleven times at close range in a crowded subway. The Forrest Gate guys get shot and arrested and later released even though the ‘intelligence’ that had been collected over several months proved without doubt that these guys were manufacturing chemical weapons. Now we get this-the arrests of the men who were supposedly going to blow up planes with liquid bombs. Did the intelligence guys get it right this time or were they manufacturing moon shine? Perhaps they got hold of the mobile Weapons of Mass Destruction units that Saddam supposedly had? In fact those people arrested last week are slowly being released. Did you know that? But, in the mean time, chaos reigns over us. Hand luggage banned. Scary men with sub machine guns in the airports. What are they going to do with all those guns? Who are they meant to be scaring? Certainly not terrorists or insurgents. They are scaring us.
I am more scared by the British police than a Muslim with a backpack. However, I refuse to be intimidated by the anti-Muslims. I suddenly understand what happened to people’s minds in pre war Germany-how people were manipulated to hate the Jews. It is happening before my very eyes! At some base level we are all tribal beings-thankfully we here in the UK do not know which tribe we truly belong, we kinda get along with each other. WE always have. Yet somehow we all realised at the same time that the muslims were our enemies. Suddenly we are outraged that we do not want the muslims to steal our way of life-to take our social benefits and if they do they should be fucking ‘grateful’. “Because the way I see it.” She spluttered over her paella, -”WE feed them and they have the audacity to hate us.” Correct me if I am wrong, I replied, I thought that most of them were very well paid. I thought that they were angry because people were hating them for no good reason. Killing their fellow muslims abroad. “Are you with us or against us?” That’s what George W said after 9/11. Some people in this country are taking this question very seriously.
Even if it were true that the Muslims were taking our generous social benefits can we really expect to buy the loyalty of these people? Does $30 a week buy the loyalty of an asylum seeker? The friends I ate lunch with yesterday were sure that these parasitic Muslims were out to get us even though we were so god damned generous. They refused to make a connection between our behaviour toward their fellow Muslims abroad and their anger against us here. My friends are under the impression that we were all living in harmony before this happened. They refused to believe that the strengthening of a BNP (right-wing) party in the hearts of the Muslim communities was frightening to those people. Anyway, I thought that we had a wonderful low unemployment rate. I thought that we were striving collectively to beat race hate? I thought that we believed in the politics of inclusion? This new political landscape seems very foreign to me. Yet, I live in the USA and it is not so foreign to me there. Perhaps we have a diet of American TV for a reason-perhaps Friends and Ally McBeal have made us think that all Americas are funny and tender and inclusive and thoughtful like the girls in Sex in the City-that at the end of a busy day they take stock and make amends. No. This is a big fucking lie.
All afternoon I heard not one solution from my friends. I just heard hate. When I asked about solutions there was a terrible silence. After all, we know about ‘solutions’ in Germany and Yugoslavia. We know about Rwanda-about Soweto. These ‘solutions’ become increasingly more popular to people when they are manipulated to hate those they share their community with. We have seen concentration camps in the last twenty years in colour on our very own continent.
It was clear to me that we are creating/have created an environment where the people of the white ‘generous’ world will agree to any action taken against Iran or the so-called axis of Evil or Muslim world. We are being prepared to hate so that a war becomes inevitable. The innocents are forgotten-we are forced to forget or to reconsider how innocent they really were. The Brazilian was wearing a heavy jacket and carrying a back pack (lie). The Forest gate men were child pornographers. Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Do not think about the children under the rubble or the point-blank horror of the Brazilian electrician. Do not consider the terrible loss of life everyday on the streets of Iraq. Think about this: we are running out of resources at an alarming rate. Who controls those resources? Who has a trillion dollar debt? Who is making a fortune from all of this? Who will profit from our fear? From the death of innocents? From the death of our own evolved culture?
I suggest that our threat level be increased to its very highest level. Why? Not because we are scared of liquid explosive allegedly planned to cause havoc in the skies but because the very people we think are our friends are quietly and determinedly with perfect white teeth are eroding our culture and the things we hold dear.
Radix malorum ex Cupiditas
August 9, 2006 – Wednesday
my little soldier friend Luke just left. it is quite late. he is so sweet and polite. he kills people in Iraq. that is his job-like thousands of others. he is not liberating-he is at war. he is not doing what we were told they would do by our government. he told me that he killed an eleven year old boy who tried to shoot him because his father had been killed by british troops. today I had to deal with shit film people in LA-my job. let’s make a film about war, about mass migration about 9/11. let’s make a comedy about-FUCKING HELL. The suits where I work are not used to people like me with an opinion. JD and HK sitting in their office jerking off over girls on their lap tops-name dropping because that’s what we do for a living. I do not have to shoot an eleven year old boy in the neck because I have to-to save my own life. My friend Luke is only 19. I may include what he said in a script some day-that’s fair game isn’t it? Today they wrote about me in the newspapers-I was mentioned in the Evening Standard. They were saying that I (Hollywood Director) just moved to Whitstable. That is so funny. They think I just moved here. They don’t know that I am already meeting the sons and daughters of my high school friends who never moved away. They don’t know the contempt I have for most of the people I meet in LA. Let me tell you one decadent moment from my Hollywood life. I was at the private house of a well-known actor. I was waiting in line for the bathroom sandwiched between two other well-known actors. A young girl started flirting with one of theses well-known guys. She was drunk, she said she would do anything for these guys. She was their biggest fan. Anything? You’d do anything? The girl nodded brightly. So one of these guys who had been waiting in line for the bathroom for some time took a piss in the girl’s mouth whilst the other recorded it on his telephone. Luke is already being briefed about Lebanon. The cards are already stacked. Tonight another girl will let a famous man piss in her mouth. when I get back to LA I will go to Hyde and try my luck with a gorgeous actor. Tonight I rearranged my dining room. tomorrow the gas man will come and read my meter. yet again I am torn between my two lives. my two selves. betwixt what is right and what is wrong.
Budd House Summer Party
The Budd House Biennial garden party thrown by Charlie Parsons and his partner Lord Alli is always a delight. Set in the grounds of their 17th Century home in 25 acres of perfect Kent Sussex rolling down. I refused to eat all day as I knew the food would be excellent and wanted to eat as much of it as I could. I took my friend Melanie de Blank who wore an Indian soufflé of shot silk black currant pants and a heavily embroidered mid length coat. I wore a brand spanking new Dolce and Gabanna raspberry, silk velvet jacket and linen trousers and violently pink shirt remembering that it was Diana Vreeland who said that ‘Pink is the navy blue of india’. The party includes a huge fun fair (no waiting for anything) including a helter skelta, carousel, bumper cars and candy floss. There was a hot air balloon-taking people on short rides above the house. I have only ever been to that house during a party. Of course I had a good look around. Their home is so comfortable and gracious and reflects so well on the owners. You can tell so much from where a person lives and how they choose to decorate and the things they surround themselves with. I had a sponsor in LA who had a huge-I mean thirty foot-crystal octopus in his hall. It was rather cold and grandiose-a bit like my ex-sponsor.
Guests at the party included John Reed the Home Secretary with very, very good-looking special branch who whisked him away far too early after dinner. It was amazing just how many people he travelled with. Who could not consider themselves important with that sort of coterie? We met Peter Mandleson (no special branch) wearing cricket whites who still maintains a lofty hauteur. Mandleson does not walk-he glides. Sadly, it was not the time or the place to challenge either of them about Blair sucking Bush’s cock-although I was tempted. I think that special branch would have removed my plate of hot smoked salmon; man handled me into the balloon and cut it adrift.
There were other politicians there (Valerie Amos who looked stunning) as well as the Mitcham and Morden labour party members who arrived in a coach and were having a whale of a time. There were many entertainment industry people reflecting both Charlie and Waheed’s stella careers in TV. Michael Foster, who changed into a very nice Etro shirt in the lane behind his Mercedes in the car park, told me that he had sold his company recently-who can’t be impressed by Michael’s tenacity? I was so pleased to see him again as when we last met I had been rude to him-it was years ago at the premiere of Mortal Kombat in Edinburgh so I took this opportunity to apologise. It is terribly important to make amends. That moment has haunted me for ten years. I was drunk and fucked up and nasty and that night ended up face down in a puddle of my own (I hope) vomit. I had been very rude to Joelly Richardson too that night asking her where the lesbian bars in Edinburgh were because I told her she looked like a lesbian-I go red just thinking about it. It was such a relief to finally say a big heart-felt sorry to Michael.
The great thing about making amends is that after you have truly offered them, it is then up to the person to whom they have been made whether they accept them or not-but that bit is nothing to do with me, the accepting part. What one cannot do is make any amends expecting a good outcome, some people will never be able to accept an apology but that is the way the cookie crumbles. Keep your own side of the street clean. It is the truly meaning part of any amends which makes any apology important. Saying sorry when you do not mean it is very bad indeed for ones spiritual well-being.
I saw Guy M who told me that Jamie P my ex is now two years clean-that made me very happy. Jamie now lives in New York and works his CA programme. When I remember the chaos of our violent, drugged relationship it makes me feel very sad. I still have scars on my back from our fights. Yet, it was that relationship that shook me to the very core of my being and eventually got me clean and sober. I remember day after day praying to be relieved of the obsession of JP. It was because of that intensive praying that I learned one of the great secrets of recovery-to be brave enough to hand over any fear, anxiety or obsession that I may have to the God of my understanding. I leaned that if you have a guiding principled, higher power in your life-one has perspective. Eventually! It all takes time. I am still working it every day. As I sit here and write I know that I am kept safe by my benevolent higher power-what ever may happen to me in life or death.
It is apparent to me that most people live in a world of petty resentment and greed. These people do not have any God in their life and quite frankly, they scare me. I am not saying that one has to be a saint. All one has to do is try to follow a simple set of principles. God knows that I fail.
Other notable guests included Julian Clary who looked portly in a grand sort of way-we have never had much to say to one another. I spent most of the evening talking to my friend Rob and the delightful Paul O’Grady aka Lily Savage who I will have lunch with this week. He loves oysters. He is such a tower of strength; he has had two heart attacks in four months. Paul talked honestly about how being seriously ill had scared him. You know that Paul/Lily has been so much a part of my life since I was a young gay man living in London and going to gay bars. He used to work in the Elephant and Castle pub which held amateur drag nights which I would never, ever miss. There was one drag artiste called Rose-Marie who only really sang two song (I Who Have Nothing and My Boy Lollypop) and as many dresses. Rose-Marie had exceptionally long arms and was not a very attractive woman and an even less attractive man. When she sang Lollipop she would throw lollipops into the audience. Sadly, Rose-Marie was murdered by some young boy she picked up. Lily used to work in that bar and thought to himself-I could do better drag than that. He sure did. The Vauxhall Tavern every Sunday Lily was there and I am sure he did the Two Brewers in Clapham. Adrella, The Trollettes and Regina Fong-why drag was such a huge part of my gay entertainment I do not know but it was theatre in our bars and I loved it. Regina/Reg was in AKA, just a little part-he died last year.
There were the usual Kent queens who I did not speak to and they me. They are so funny and ugly and STUCK. Of course I have been an ass but to keep hating me after so much water has flowed under the bridge-it is absurd and says more about them than me nowadays. Much to the amazement of people who do not know me very well I really find it hard to hold a resentment. Those Kent queens have made it their lives work.
Even though they were giving me the cold shoulder I met many, many people. As well as John Reed the Home Secretary there was John Reid, Elton Johns ex-manager off to the Hamptons for a month. Beverley Knight is charming and was thrilled that Joni Mitchell once owned my home in LA. There were at least five TV presenters and news readers-I saw one of them and his boyfriend in the sauna looking very sexy. We had a grand time finding the chocolate fountain, which was hidden on a lower lawn by the ha-ha. We dipped strawberries, pineapple and profiterioles into the liquid chocolate and watched the moon come up over the Kent countryside.
Melanie and I left at 1 and were in bed by two in Whitstable. Today Phil H and her daughter and the Piettes (all five) are coming for lunch so I had better get my apron on. Cooking lunch in Whitstable for 10 people on a barmy sea-side Sunday. I love it.
PS Melanie cooked the lunch-she can’t stand anyone else in the kitchen. It was an Italian feast of roast potato and rosemary and garlic and three huge chickens which we cut into quarters. A delicious salad of rocket and various green leaves. Strawberry’s drenched in clotted cream and vanilla sugar. We set the table in the garden then at 9 that night when the tide came in we all swam in the absurdly warm water.
Chris P and Sebastian Horsley in London
Sebastian Horsley’s Birthday Message to me this year:
Happy Birthday cocksucker. Hope it’s your last
Are you amazed that you have arrived at middle age without having syphilis?
Is it a terrible shock that you are getting too old to die young?
From now on I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do. Except grow old. After a lifetime of defeat we shall become senile delinquents.
So big boy. Stay Youthful: Watch the posture. Dress young. Keep your hair on. Hold it all in. Improve the bad bits. Avoid the daylight. And remember…There is only one real way to avoid getting old. hang yourself while young.
I met Sebastian Horsley in Edinburgh when I was 22. HE looked like a pop star. I was in a show ‘devised by actors’ and directed by Neil Bartlett called PORNOGRAPHY-a Spectacle. Ivan Cartwright, Robin Whitmore and me telling the audience through the medium of mime, physical theatre and contemporary dance what sort of sexual antics we got up to. We sang and danced and stripped and simulated sex and talked about the history of gay sex in London. It was Neil, at this time, who introduced me to Teleny-The Diaries of a Marianne, pornography attributed to Oscar Wilde. In my retelling of the story of Dorian Gray it is this book that Henry Wooten gives Dorian Gray rather than A Rebours (Huysmans). Teleny’s stories lingered with me for many years and so it seemed perfectly natural to use them in my version of Dorian Gray.
The show played at The ICA in London, “Now there are 4 queens performing on the Mall.” Neil used to say. We pulled in the punters, packed houses every night. The queens loved us although it took me a bit of time to get up to speed. I was petrified of the leering audience. Each night the others would try to assuage my fear by massaging me. That sort of stuff never works. I just get even more anxious. I over come my fear by having an almighty row. And, until I had a huge row with Neil, the director, I was dreadful. After the row with Neil, however, I found my performance and pretty much stole the show.
Ivan Cartwright is a wonderful, glamorous northern drag queen. He used to look like Bianca Jagger, a seasoned performer, he was well-known for his cult stage show in gay bars and arts centers performing alternative drag-not Judy, Lisa or Barbra for Ivan. Oh no, he came on as Imelda Marcos flinging shoes into the audience. More disturbingly, for some of the audience, Ivan did a cracking Myra Hindley.
Whilst we were on tour in Nottingham we went to the Nottingham Ice Rink (Home of Champions) where Ivan was going to teach me and Robin how to skate. Ivan was wearing a short black boucle skirt. After a while of us screaming and falling on to the ice we started attracting altogether the wrong sort of attention. It was obvious to everyone else on the rink that the very gay cast of PORNOGRAPHY-a spectacle was there; they didn’t appreciate our gayness-they began to circle us threateningly on the ice. Ivan whispered to us both to slowly start moving toward the exit. Tearing our skates off we were chased out of the building by a hysterical, Nottingham, homophobic mob. We fled through the front door. 6 yards behind us they were gaining ground-we could hear one particular girl’s voice screaming vile abuse at us. Hearing her shrill, youthful voice Ivan suddenly stopped in the doorway, rounding on them all with such a fierce model turn that they stopped abruptly, as one, in their tracks. In the face of this magnificent drag queen the ugly mob stood silently. Robin and I hid behind Ivan. The poorly dressed, screaming girl fearlessly took one step toward us. She spat on the floor and screamed at Ivan, “You are a fucking QUEER!!” Ivan, gathering himself up like he was performing his finale at The Black Cap, slowly raised his hand, pointed a bony finger at her and said,”My dear girl, I’ve heard what you’ve had to say about me-and what you say is correct. I am a fucking queer! Now you listen to ME! I shall tell you something about YOU. One day, young lady, you will have a child and I shall tell you now-that child will be GAY! Undoubtedly, my dear-you will learn to love that gay child-as my mother loves me.” It was like a spell had been cast. The mob looked at her appalled, the girl’s eyes widened in horror. She stood silently for a moment then she started crying. Ivan swept out of the building. I know in my heart that the girl had a gay child. I know it. Ivan’s powers were legendary.
We went to Venice together a few months after the show-him in full drag. I don’t mean bad drag I mean-really chic. We were in Harry’s bar and a Texan started proportioning him, which Ivan let happen for many, many drinks. I sat on the edge watching a far better spectacle than the one we had been performing. Toward the end of the night the Texan said to Ivan, “You’ve a very deep voice honey, have you got a cold?” Ivan let out a drunken screech, “It’s a lot worse than that daaarlin.”
Ivan did not come to Toronto with us on tour. Sadly, he stayed in London. Things got very bitter and twisted in Canada. I really thought I was a huge STAR by then. We were performing in the Poor Alex Theatre, which was tiny. I was only ever wearing black and kabuki white make up and pearls and drinking for England. There is one particularly bad picture of me taken at this time-it is almost worth scanning. Remember I had only just come out of prison. I was insane! Poor Neil really did a brilliant job of dealing with me. He was a saint.
Until we got to Toronto I had never met anybody with HIV or AIDS. I stayed with a couple of good-looking young men who were both positive. Then, to be positive was as good as dead. It was terrible. I never looked back to see if those men survived, a couple of years later every man I had met in NYC was dead.
Anyway, we are in Edinburgh on our UK tour of freezing theatres and I meet Sebastian. He was working for and being rodgered senseless by the famous, married ex con, murderer Jimmy Boyle. Jimmy ran a gallery there in Edinburgh and though him I met Richard DeMarco the gallery owner and Dione Henderson the art collector. They were so sweet to me. So, after the tour ended I moved to Edinburgh and the next chapter of my life unfolded as a gallery assistant. I moved into a huge apartment with Dione and her three children. I loved Edinburgh, walked everywhere, getting used to the smell of the brewery. I love a city with a mountain in the heart of it.
It was in Edinburgh that I met Jay Jopling for the first time. He stormed into the Demarco Gallery, he was wearing a poncho and demanded to know where Joseph Beuys was. When I told him that Joseph was at home in Germany Jay was FURIOUS. He didn’t believe me. I just stared at him. “I want to talk to Richard (DEMarco)?” he screamed, I just looked at him, looked at this great big charming crow of a boy flapping around in his poncho and smiled. That was the beginning. The usual gayness happened at some point but it might have been after the dance floor ecstasy moment we had in a gay club with DM and LJ and MN in Kent of all places. Dancing to Pink Cadillac. Riding in the back-cruising down the streets-spending all your money on a saturday night. Pink Cadillac. Until Jay got really famous we were really good friends. When I had my nervous breakdown it was he who collected me from the hospital. When he had his first Damian Hirst show it was me he dragged a head of the crowd and said “Look at the titles-they are genius.” I was so proud of him. It was at my house that he and Maia Norman came weekend after weekend. Maia left him for Damian Hirst. Jay was a real friend and my first real friend lost to celebrity.
I know that his other friends grumble about being left behind or abandoned but that is what he always wanted, the life he bargained for. I really don’t blame him. I am really happy for him. I am! Despite the art connections and the poncho-Jay never really made it as a a Dandy, he is brilliant businessman.
Sebastian Horsley, on the other hand, is a true dandy. He wears three-piece suits with Chartreuse lining. The knot in his tie is as big as a fist. I have seen him lose his wife and battle an addiction to crack cocaine. He and I were with each other the night they buried Diana of Wales. It was a dark night in London that night. He is a loyal friend who writes a sweet note every time we meet. I have pictures of him swimming with sharks, fucking a woman with no arms or legs, being crucified in the Philippines. I remember him wild-eyed on crack storming the streets of Soho hunting for prostitutes. I think he is perfectly normal.
Sebastian lives on Merde Street in Soho. On his front door are the words. THIS IS NOT A BROTHAL, THERE ARE NO PROSTITUTES HERE-which is total lie. There are always prostitutes there-in Sebastian’s bed. I think that it was in Merde Street that I hid from a gang of skin heads. Ivan had persuaded me, before a performance of PORNOGRAPHY, to dress in high heels, a mini dress and a long black wig and pose in Berwick Street market whilst he took photographs. I have no idea why-this behaviour is simply a result of hanging out with a man who likes dressing up in women’s clothing, eventually you get in on the act. “Exhibitionism is a drug and by that time I was taking lethal doses.” (Quentin Crisp) Anyway, as usual we had to run away from men who take an exception to that sort of thing. “The roughs are coming!”
Recently, I took a genuinely normal boy to meet Sebastian-my very sweet friend Chris P the TV actor. Chris is a an utterly charming boy. Previously I had taken him to The Colony in an attempt to delight him with a glimpse of an alternative London. My experiment failed. Chris thought that the Colony, the great beating bohemian heart of London was horrible. He didn’t like it. He looked scared. He was not interested in the art or the characters dressed in huge jewels or zoot suits. Those people in that tiny room shocked him, he was unaware of the history of that room. In that room the greatest art dramas had been played out, that Francis Bacon held court there, destroyed the confidence of his boyfriend publicly in that room. Go see the film: Love is the Devil if you want to know more about The Colony.
So, Chris and I are shopping in John Pearse on Merde Street. I bought a pink linen shirt. You know who John is? He made The Sargent Pepper uniforms for the Beatles. John owned a shop on the Kings Road called Granny Takes a Trip in the 1960′s. As we were on the same street, on the spur of the moment I wickedly decided to introduce cautious Chris to Sebastian. Chris is 5’10″. When Chris met Sebastian, 6’5″ tall wearing a lurid tie, his raven black hair swept into a huge bouffant in his rooms in Soho, he was struck dumb. He looked at the pictures of the crucifixion, the limbless woman and the sharks. He was visibly distressed when he saw the nails that been nailed into Sebastian’s hands during the crucifixion. He was appalled when I told him that Sebastian had fallen off the cross. Chris noticed the gun by Sebastian’s bed. “What is that for? Is it real? Why do you have it by your bed?” Sebastian, picking it up to show us the real bullets said, “I don’t believe in unprotected sex.”
My Dear Friends, Colleagues and Acquaintances,
today 21 small children were shattered into tiny pieces as they hid from terrible bombs that rained down in Lebanon.
Your president in the USA and our Prime Minister here in the UK are yet again united against the world in not demanding a cease-fire in the Lebanon. We cannot and must not tolerate this situation for one more moment.
My friend Karim who was in Spielberg’s film Munich is trapped in his home town of Beirut. He is frightened and unable to leave the country. He is a good man, some of you know him. In both countries today there are good men who are not full of hate for strangers, but this will change. These wars will make benign men like Karim hate other men. This is the tragedy of our age.
I urge you to do everything you can to stop this terrible carnage in Israel and the Lebanon. It is wrong. It is dangerous. It is a vile preamble for US domination in the middle east and a manipulated attack on Iran and Syria.
I urge you all to do what ever you can to help these beleaguered people in both Israel and Lebanon find a hasty peace. I urge you to call your representative in government to register your protest. I urge you to see this conflict for what it is, that these people are dying to justify attacks on a third nation. That Jews and Arabs are killing themselves to provide a smoke screen for a US/UK agenda in the middle east.
Only a few months ago Beirut was beginning to emerge as a confident democracy, there was hope for the future after many years of despair.
Did we blame the Irish people when the IRA bombed London for 20 years? Did we level Dublin because of the actions of some maniacal Irish? No, we fought a war against terror even though Irish Americans supported the carnage on our streets in London by donating money to Noraid.
I urge you, my friends, to help stop this destruction, end these lies and save the lives of more young children who will undoubtedly die. I urge you to look into the faces of your own children this evening and imagine how the parents of the tiny, shattered bodies in Lebanon are grieving today.
No more crimes against humanity. No more lies from our leaders. No more blind faith. No more biased reportage.
5:12 AM -
My Baby Drink Red Bull
My friend Randle Mann-yes the poet-he’s one of only three men who can make me howl with laughter. Gary D my casting guy makes me laugh like a lunatic. My LA friend Dom is the other person who can keep me laughing my head off all the time (constantly) I am with him. He’s a PR and I dont know how he puts up with half the people he works with.
I am still awkward and shy with most people-so consequently everybody thinks I am confident but its all a genius cover up. Ever since I went to my first gay bar when I was 17 I was crippled with shame. Gay bars are terrible places to grow up-especially 20 years ago, in London..shit..how did I survive? Not only the shame but AIDS how come I never got that? Everyone else did. Probably because I was a terrible prude and refused to have one night stands and refused to have sex just for the sake of it.
I have no idea why we treat ourselves so badly.
Gay bars do not have to be so horrible. I went to two opposite each other in Dallas with JBC a few years back, one was a typical techno bar and the other was full of line dancing cowboy types. In one it was dark and stainless steel and the music was pop/dance/hard the boys and men kept their eyes averted because if they looked it might be perceived as an invitation to have sex, which might precipitate a snub. In the other bar the lights were on, the men were dancing to be seen, there was no embarrassment. The music was understandable like the moves on the dance floor. Men stood proudly like men welcoming any attention that they might get rather than scurrying around like cockroaches in the semi dark, too air-conditioned, techno environment where any human contact or intimacy was reduced to cock and mouth and ass.
I remember Neil Bartlett saying once that if there were a gay ghetto he would move there. I love gay men at their excessive best. I love that they can, how ever macho they might appear, dress a room with individual style, deliver a brain splitting, catty remark and be that OTHER that I love.
When we lived on Fire Island in The Pines all the fancy muscle queens had twin poodles or miniature Italian grey hounds. The men carried them around on their bulging biceps or the little creatures would step out on bejewelled red lizard skin leads. I admit it I used to SNEER! I did, I am ashamed. Now, I hanker after those days because those very same men have traded in their little dogs for babies. Wombs all over the west coast are currently being rented to grow babies for gay men.
Why do I find this phenomenon so difficult to stomach? The two single men I know who have tried to have a baby seemed like such egomaniacal workaholics how would they ever make space for a baby? What is the point of getting a baby just to hand it over to a nanny on a daily basis? I asked my friend but he reacted badly, it seems that even a hint of gentle questioning is perceived as a full-blown attack. “Why shouldn’t I have a baby? Straight people can do it so why cant I?” “Straight people have been getting things wrong with kids for years-why cant I?” “I want a baby!” “Where’s my BABY!”
It feels to me like we are planting tiny little legal/emotional time bombs all over the gay ghetto-for what? I don’t have an answer for all of this. I just have questions that seem to upset people when they are asked. I don’t want to stop anybody having anything but the explanation for the ubiquitous gay baby is this: Of course I can buy a baby-its the American way. “It’s like buying a house.” I pointed out. “Exactly!” My friend threw his hands up in the air. The irony was lost on him. Another man was boasting that his baby was white and therefore more expensive. (When he left the table his friend said that the mother was a crack whore in san Antonio). Another man I know was furious that the surrogate mother of his twins had miscarried them, he said that she was a ‘bitch’ that she was ‘unreliable’.
I have always suspected that gay men in the USA, knowing that the Christian right want them gone, disappeared-think that if they make a relationship, buy a nice house, furnish it elegantly and have a baby, THEY (the Christian Right) might not realise that they (the gays) are there at all. Holding their baby toward the church gay men seem to be saying-”Look, were just like YOU!” “We can sit on the school board and be just like you.” “Look at our picket fence it’s just like yours.” “It is the American way!”
When did we decide that we wanted to be just like them? When did we opt for invisibility rather than the benign freak show that has formed my aesthetic and thinking during the past 20 years? I do not want to be like THEM. THEY are not my people but increasingly the baby owning gays are not my people either. Who are my people? European, free thinking gays? Perhaps. Peter Tatchell gays? More likely. Alternative queers? Absolutely.
I am not invisible. I do not subscribe to the notion that Brokeback Mountain was good for us and why do we have gay film festivals anyway? I do not believe that, especially in the USA, that we can integrate in any meaningful way without losing out on who we are.
In the 101 café a couple of gay men are holding their blond, blue-eyed baby above their head for all to see. My friend said, “That looks like an expensive baby.” Surely that child will ask one day, “Where’s Mommy?” Where the fuck is Mommy? Well, darling blue-eyed boy we bought the egg from an unknown woman in Texas and paid for an unknown womb in California-so there is no Mommy but don’t worry darling you are loved and that should be enough. “What? What do you mean there is no Mommy? Where is my MOMMMY!” The perplexed gay couple might say: “Straight people were doing a lot worse than this for years before we started doing it.” It is a lame answer and they know it. This morning over pancakes, as they toss the delighted child from father to father they are not thinking of the spotty, dispossessed teenager with a gun in his hand demanding answers.
Perhaps the child will not be like me and will not ask a million difficult questions about what sort of woman could do that. What sort of woman has a child and does not want to know it? What happened to that woman to make her give up her baby? Perhaps this blue-eyed, expensive, white kid will have had so many chemical solutions every time he asks a difficult question that his questioning nature will have been removed completely. Perhaps Ritalin or Prozac will do the trick? There will be no time bomb questioning-no desperate moments of desire to understand from the woman who bore him what sort of woman she was.
All I know is this: I remember the first time I saw into my father’s eyes, even though it was a photograph and he was long dead, I remember how I breathed a final sigh of relief that at last I understood who I was and the questions that had driven my emotional life were finally answered. I had recognised myself ion his eyes and where I had come from. The look on his face in one photograph relieved me of the burden of that nagging question.
The last time I was at The Abbey in West Hollywood with Randle Mann we saw two perfectly manicured, perfectly pumped and tanned men and their 6-month-old baby. They went to the bar and ordered drinks. I could see the bar man pinch the baby’s cheek. What does he drink? I imagine him say.
Randle and I looked at each other and howled with laughter.
“My baby drinks red bull.”
DORIAN GRAY-THE PROCESS
I showed Dorian Gray last Sunday. I like to show my most arrogant friends who have little regard for me because I am sure of a truthful opinion. Thankfully they loved it. My friend said that I had taken all the best bits of the novel and made it come alive.
I dont think that people in the US will get this film. Whenever Americans see it they ask a million questions without waiting for the answers that exist in the film. When I show it to Europeans they get it immediately. Theres nothing bad about this-its merely cultural. A question of a different sort of education. The history of ideas that informs a European viewer is quite different from an American. Roland Mouret the fashion designer and long time friend said-well you KNEW that was going to happen didn’t you? Frankly, I didn’t. The constant explanations required in US movies dampen and distort the narrative. The simplest explanation is all that is required, I am told this all the time. The problem with Dorian Gray is that it is novel about complex ideas and even more complex solutions.
When I decided to adapt Dorian Gray I was fascinated by two things, firstly the earlier, unpublished version of the book that was serialised in the Lippincott Monthly Review grabbed my attention. In this version it is perfectly clear that Basil is gay. He tells Dorian that he could never love a woman. He is explicit about his desire for Dorian. His obsession kills them both. The second, compelling reason for making this film was just how much of myself (and the description of my dead father) that I saw in Dorian. In fact people who have seen earlier cuts have told me just how Davids performance at the end of the film is just like ME. Obviously this was going to happen-David needed to morph into something quite unlike his role in 7th Heaven. He starts the movie like this but very quickly it becomes evident that he is changing-what he changes into is me.
Like AKA there are very highly stylised elements in Dorian Gray, the split screen the use of words on the screen-the constant references to art and artists. The film is deliberately arty and to that end I think is better suited to playing in galleries. How do we gage the value of an art film? I have no idea.
I am not frightened of this film being labelled as gay because I am and there are themes in both the movie and the book. However, it is more literary than gay. It was made for those of us who read and love the novel. I had to make a crucial decision at the beginning of my adaptation-do I make a film for people who think that they know the story or who definitely know the story. Even people who have read the novel are unaware of the age of Sybil for instance-she was 15! They are unaware that the story was written over an 18 year period-the time it takes a boy to become a man. Dorian, as played by David Gallagher, is a slim boy. We did not attempt to cast an obviously beautiful boy because beauty is subjective. For some I would never have chosen a beautiful enough boy. Beauty is subjective. Youth is indisputable.
Who is Gabriel? The most obvious and controversial departure from the original text is the character Gabriel. I was captivated by the line-’poisonous influence of his own nature’. What did this mean? Instead of passing this by I decided to introduce us to the human form of the poisonous influence a character called Gabriel, a rent boy who may or may not have known Oscar, a traveller in time. Gabriel is Dorian’s poisonous influence-the voice of the ‘other’.
I was really worried that the final abstract chapters of the novel that chart his decent into hell would not work but we shot them anyway pretty much as they were written. In fact, these chapters work the best of all. The abstract decent into hell suits film perfectly. It is the earlier, dramatic part of the film that works more traditionally. Getting people to care, introducing them to the characters.
When we adapt a great novel we have to bring something of our own lives into the equation. It is not good enough to tell it as it was written but actually to reveal what it says about the way we live our lives now.
There has been so much discussion about what David will be like as Dorian Gray. Unanimously people who have seen his take on Dorian love his performance. They understand that they are looking at a remarkable young actor who holds the entire film together with understated, elegant performance. I love to look at David, it is apparent from the way we shot the movie that we needed to fetishise him. I needed to fall in love with David so that every frame of the film is devoted to revealing his beauty-just as Basil Hallward reveals Dorians.
Every element in this film adaptation of Dorian Gray originated from the words of Oscar Wilde. I wrote the adaptation in Sydney Australia-where I love to write. It took three months to sketch it out, to stay true to the original. Now we are making the sound track and Laura Karpman has found every musical reference in the book and is reinventing it.
It is a most exciting time.
I had not seen Jono for months. We met ten years ago in Covent Garden the day that HRH the Queen and I were having lunch at the Ivy. Of course, I was not at her table. Nor were Chris Eubank (charging his mobile phone) or Torville and Dean (too much make up) but we were, all of us, still in the Ivy that strange summer lunch time in the mid 90s. Jono was 20 years old and had-still does-the hugest most magnificent smile. He was selling throw pillows with Mao and Marx silk-screened on to them. He originally comes from the Pacific Rim and his long, aquiline nose on his face reminds me every time I see him of those huge heads on the Easter Islands. I think that I was still with JBC then and lived in Kensington.
Anyway, after the obvious cock showing and gayness we settled into a periodic friendship which usually meant that I saw him getting out of limousines with Elton or Patrick. Two things have tremendously endeared me to Jono; the first is purely selfish-he likes me. The second; a young boy over dosed and died in his bed beside him. Jono dealt with it so compassionately and well, dealing with the boy’s family and friends.
There was a Scottish boy who killed himself who used to hang around with that lot. He was from the northern most part of the isles up there in the Hebrides. He escaped the bleak north of Scotland by joining the army. I met him on a train and after the usual gayness we became friends. He was always so well dressed-so careful. However, he got in with the wrong gay crowd and one day he told all his friends that he was going to kill himself, said his goodbyes and then took enough drugs to kill three Scottish squaddies. I digress.
So Jono and I met up last Tuesday night in Soho, he was wearing a trim cut shirt and tight beige pants-Dior I think. We ate sashimi and I told him all my LA stories and he told me all of his world traveller tales. Like normal people are with rats-Jono is never more than six feet away from a celebrity at any time-they gravitate toward him so his stories are always fascinating. Art dealer and artist wife-he’s gay etc.
We wandered to café Nero to drink latte and as we were leaving a very cute, young boy passes us on Old Compton Street, the gayest street in the most liberal capital in the world. We both looked at the boy and agreed that he was cute. The boy reacted very badly and started asking us what we were looking at. I said-you, of course. You are very cute. He was FURIOUS! He started swearing and calling us queers. Well I tell you that in all the years that I have lived in London this has never happened to me.
Actually, it wasnt really happening to me. It was happening to Jono who was then grappling with this boy in a sort of pathetic argy bargy. The boy let Jono go and walked on and we were indignant but something began to overwhelm me. I was furious, absolutely furious. We kept a pace with the boy and suddenly he grabbed a bottle from a table and rushed at Jono. I grabbed the lads hand, made him drop the bottle which smashed on the road and then I took the back of the boys neck slammed his face into a parked car and beat his head with my fist. Apparently I was screaming “How dare you.” Anyway, the boy and I had more posturing on the street, including me creaming at him, “Go sell your ass in another part of town.” Then I went to Soho House for a strong coffee.
I was elated. He eventually ran off. Of course, it was like we had sex with the boy-and he with us. He wanted the attention of gay men or he wouldn’t have been there. He simply did not know what sort of attention he was going to get.
I said good-bye to Jono and gave him numbers to call once he gets to LA. Jono is one of those for life kind of friends.
two 29-year-old men
I know this guy, 29-year-old guy who was addicted to smack. He was in the Neptune tonight, he had a black eye and a grazed head. He was reeling around, out of control. He was pleased to see me because, he said, “you listen.” He hadn’t seen me since Christmas and then the summer before-so this was the third time we had met. He told me that he had told his brother about me. We sat down in the pub and talked about his drinking. He had got the black eye last night-he couldn’t remember how. He told me that his father had died drinking. “I was only eleven. Look at me I am a grown man and I want to cry.” I urged him to cry. Instead, he stood up and threw his beer on the ground outside the pub and kicked a car. I followed him and he sat down on the steps over looking the last of the sunset. He is a tall and handsome man, he has bright, intelligent, sensitive, brown eyes. He knows that I drank- that I was a drinker. He listens to me when I urge him to choose a life rather than a slow death. He listens for a moment, apologizes then asks me for three quid to buy another beer. Meanwhile my friend Karim is trapped in Lebanon. I spoke to him yesterday-he is another strong, intelligent man. He is a head strong actor. He sounded scared. I hate this-this terrible thing that is happening. I hate the lies and the double standards, I hate that my innocent, good friend is trapped in a war that nobody wants.