Archives for posts with tag: Marilyn Monroe

Early to bed after an exhausting day of brush clearance.

We hired four, sturdy day labourers from outside the Malibu courthouse.  Moved a ton of dry leaves and branches from the end of the drive.  Now I am obsessed with making that part of the garden beautiful.

Mulching the trees there have made them glorious this year.  The cherimoya, the Mexican Guava, the Mango…all flourishing after the wet winter and mild summer.   This morning the sun is shining.  No marine layer.

It’s going to be a hot one.

Yesterday I had lunch with Cathy Griffin…the writer not the comedienne.   Ha!  Gotcha!  We went to Geoffrey’s.  The restaurant staff, obviously expecting Cathy Griffin the comedienne, looked a little disappointed.

I saw Matthew Perry having lunch with a friend.  He looks terrible.  We used to be close.  I have a soft spot for Matthew.

Anyway, Cathy co-authored the auto-biography of legendary Hollywood hair stylist Sydney Guilaroff.

Sydney dressed Marilyn Monroe‘s hair all through her life, creating those iconic looks…and after she passed, he dressed her hair one final time.

He was the last but one person to speak with the legend before she died.

He told Cathy that Marilyn was miserable that night because Bobby Kennedy had dumped her.  Isn’t that odd that I know Max Kennedy, Bobby’s son?  My friend’s father was, apart from being cruelly assassinated and a political visionary, at the heart of one of the worlds most shattering Hollywood scandles..ever.

I have never had the guts to ask him about it.

Anyway, Sydney never wanted anyone to know he was gay…or a jew.  Is that self hate or realistic in 1950’s America?   I guess it was all about self-preservation in those days.

A tormented soul, devoted himself to the women he worked with…Crawford, Taylor, Monroe etc.  Lived in penury with a Brazilian gigolo.  He sure has a great story.   A little like Truman Capote and his ‘swans’, placing himself at the heart of their dramas then spilling the beans.

There are those of us who adore women, love being surrounded by women…I call myself emotionally heterosexual.  So much easier to love and be loved by women.

I wonder…perhaps there’s a steamy, sexy Hollywood film idea tucked in this story?

I love that scene in the movie where the old friend of the recently departed dresses her hair, gossiping, remembering their adventures…even though she is dead.  I love that scene.

Anyway, check out Sydney’s work.  Google him.

The food at Geoffrey’s was better than I remember it.  Much better.  Had the lobster salad.

Anger disguises sadness. My anger disguises my sadness.

I am trying to forgive him. I know that my anger toward him merely disguises just how rotten this breakup feels. Whilst it is easy to blame him for his insensitivity I will sooner or later have to totally accept my part in this drama. Accept that I wanted him to be something he could never be.

Accept that I chose to overlook his drinking and drugging and manhunting because I wanted him more than I was prepared to know what was good for me.

Forgiveness comes in waves. Acceptance too. I must forgive him and accept that things are exactly how they are meant to be.

The truth is (as per the tenets of AA) sooner or later I will have to totally forgive him and make my amends..a living amends in this case.

I was so happy when I came back from Europe! I felt and looked like a different person. Everybody noticed it and commented. Now look.

I just want to sleep. Get back into my bed and stay there all day long. I have another article to write and a proposal to submit. I have to wrap the art in bubble wrap to take to NYC. I must do these things or he steals even more than he has already stolen.

When we got home all I wanted was an open and honest relationship.

I woke early this morning and drove to the beach where I walked the lil dog for an hour. On the way there I passed a cute man in a sleek convertible and chatted with him briefly at the intersection of Fountain and Labrea. He looked lovely. We continued our chat at red lights on and off until I turned onto the 10.

What must he have thought of my battered truck?

The promenade in Venice early morning is a cess pit of vagrants and drug dealers. Rich folk unlock their homes overlooking the ocean and tip huge dogs into the melee.

Here it comes again: I am so angry with him. Yet, just like I was broken when the big dog was killed and every death and loss and separation came to be healed as I sobbed for her poor broken body so now when the tears come it is for every man I have ever left behind.

No tears yet.

I wish the tears would come. I am dry-eyed, emotionally arid.

When I am not feeling angry, I feel like a fool. It was such a waste taking him home to Whitstable. I thought I was taking someone who would appreciate what he was being given but all he did was lose his iPod and cause trouble and make a fool of me.

He took a huge shit at the very heart of my life. Did you notice that he was always on his lap top when we were in Europe? Couldn’t keep him away from it. He’s addicted to intensity, to fantasy.

Everyone else could see that he was just a using fame whore. I hadn’t had anyone want me just because I had been on TV. I genuinely thought he wanted me.

8 months of Jake.

Last night Michael and I watched Goddess with Kim Stanley. Written by Paddy Chayefsky. It’s a really camp half-telling of the Marilyn Monroe story. One huge, cumbersome monologue after another. There couldn’t have been a single conversation during the entire movie.

The film eerily anticipates Monroe’s demise.

As we lay on his bed watching the film the Lil Dog kept an eye on Michael’s cat who hissed and spat until we left for SHLA stopping briefly at Boa where we met Bryan Singer and Toby. Up in the house we were assaulted by three very drunk people who wanted to be our friends who, in fact, totally ruined our evening so we scarpered.

I had a massage at my house at 11pm..no not one of those…and fell asleep.

I wrote to Jake today telling him to cough up what he owes me. I suppose he will force me to do what I am telling Irene to do. Go to small claims. It’s a fucking bore but I’ll do it.

I want to drop an atom bomb on him for hurting me. I want everyone to appreciate the injustice. That I did nothing to chase him, lost my sexual sober time.. As I look back over the months we spent together every beautiful moment is lost in the dark cloud of resentment that blocks the sun out of my life.

I must pray for acceptance. It’s the only way.

Whitstable, that’s where we grew up.  The High Street, a shingle beach, abandoned oyster beds, abandoned boat yards.

I always knew that I wanted to make something.  I never knew quite what.

Writing, knitting, print-making, drawing, theatre, acting, fashion.

Good… but never good enough.

Wanting to be included but unwilling to participate.  Confident to be part of what was going on but seldom sure.

Always there, never present.

Had I been allowed, as planned, to go to St Martin’s College of Art to study fashion I would have become a fashion designer.

I still have note books crammed with crude fashion drawings and swatches of hideous fabric made when I was 8 years old.

Each ‘season’ I would design a new collection and between ‘collections’ I would write and illustrate articles about the history of fashion.

An avid fashion commentator who had unwelcome, precocious, prepubescent opinions about everything.

My damning critique of Princess Anne’s ‘boring’ ivory duchess satin wedding dress in 1973 irritated my short tempered, royalist Grandmother.  “Look at those ghastly sleeves…”

I was an industrious child.  At boarding school I excelled.

When I wasn’t busily designing imaginary runway collections I worked hard remaking my life, a life I could control.

A life reimagined included: a 30 page illustrated story about a happy family of mice.

As a pretentious teenager at boarding school I spent months writing rambling plays about unrequited love with other boys.

I saw my first proper play on a high school outing to Stoke on Trent.  Bertolt Brecht‘s, The Caucasian Chalk Circle with Bob Hoskins.  1975.

I was hooked.

Theatre!  I must make theatre.

The lights, the tension, the smell of the theatre.  The warmth and silence of the audience, laughter erupting around me, muffled crying from the red velvet stalls.

Oddly, I had absolutely no great passion for film or television.  Of course, I had seen many films but it wasn’t a world that piqued my interest.

I had a fondness for black and white Hollywood films from the 1940’s (particularly musicals) that I would either watch on the television on my own or walk up Whitstable High Street to the cavernous Oxford Cinema.

I was inspired.  Stealing an idea for my ‘new collection’, a sleeve or muff.

I watched the credits roll:  costume designer Edith Head…Funny Face.  Adrian, who designed the costumes for The Wizard of Oz.

I’m 12, I discover Marilyn Monroe without ever knowing she is a gay icon.  The following year I insist that my parents buy me Norman Mailer’s illustrated biography for Christmas.

Theatre and fashion people referenced film but nobody I knew would ever have thought about making one.

The years after I left Shotton Hall School in 1976, before I went to prison in 1983 were culturally the richest of my life.

I scraped into Medway College of Art and Design with one ‘O’ level and met and befriended the extraordinary Billy Childish.  I learned how to etch and screen print and draw.

Punk was determining fashion, graphics and music but scarcely impacted the institutionalised, established, sewn up world of British contemporary art.

Britain would have to wait until 1989 until Michael Clark, Tilda Swinton and Leigh Bowery performed in the Anthony d’Offay Gallery.

Whilst at Medway,  I saw a very ordinary man wearing a badly cut suit commuting from London holding a copy of The Sex Pistol‘s single God Save The Queen and nearly fainted in fear.

I was wearing a pair of my mothers bottle green woolen tights.  I wonder what he must have thought about me?  He alighted at Rainham.

Devastatingly I was not allowed to study fashion at St Martin’s College as my garrulous stepfather refused to let me.

I had to get a job.

The job I was offered, selling clothes at Yves Saint Laurent on Bond Street, London became the beginning of what would turn out to be a great, although misguided, adventure.  An adventure that would shape the rest of my life.

I met Lady Clare Rendlesham and within a few months I was in Paris pretending to be her son.

Clare Rendlesham and others

Apart from changing my identity in Paris I threw myself into the very accommodating worlds of fashion, performance art and theatre.

The land of sublime artifice.

During the pret a porter I would run with my friends through the streets of Paris from show to show.  Although my time in Paris seems less, in retrospect, about theatre and more about fashion and art, I was introduced to Robert Wilson and members of his company, traveled to Holland to see Lucinda Childs in Dance with music by Phillip Glass and travelled more to see beautiful work by Pina Bausch.

Pina Bausch died this year.

I was one of the first people in Paris to wear a Walkman.  I think I may still own that original item.

Some rich friend of a rich friend left it at my place and never asked for it back.  Suddenly I had my very own soundtrack.  My life scored by Super Tramp.  The optimistic opening bars of  Take The Long Way Home soaring over the controversial rebuilding of Les Halles that seems only recently to have settled into its surroundings.  Music altered my perception of where I was and how I experienced it.  Paris was never so beautiful.

Duncan 19

It was during this time in 1978 that, as a willowy teenager, I chanced upon Fred Hughes at John Jermyn’s Rue de Bellechasse home.  That beautifully, wonderfully decorated house..rococo monkeys and Fortuny silk.

Fred had been, the year I met him, diagnosed with MS and had become nihilistic and surly.

When Fred got sick, he had to go to the American Hospital, and I decorated his room. I went to visit him, and brought pictures he liked, from his house and flowers, and decorated his room…”  Julian Schnabel

Perhaps because of MS Fred, so reviled, cut a sad and lonely path through his own life ending up incapacitated, angry and alone.  At the end, surrounded in his Lexington Avenue home by the most beautiful things, nothing could placate him.

When I met Fred he had slicked back black hair and tailored suits, he lived in an apartment on the Rue du Cherche-Midi and was, to a provincial teenager, incredibly glamorous..a true dandy.

“It was I who found Fred Hughes his Paris apartment on the Rue du Cherche-Midi, where Warhol would stay.”  Pierre Berger

He probably only liked me because I told him I was Lord Rendlesham but later, when he knew the truth, he would laugh and mock the moment we met and feign outrage.

Fred took me to New York, bought me Vetiver and appropriate underwear, gave me drugs at Studio 54, lent me shirts that belonged to Farouk, the last King of Egypt, wrapped me up in linen sheets and laughed at my jokes.

Fred introduced me to Yves St-Laurent and his muse LouLou de la Falaise, Baron Eric De Rothschild, flame haired owner of Egoiste magazine Nicole Wisniak.  I sat entranced by these people.  Wearing clothes Fred had bought for me, a name that was not mine…casting off a past I had no need for.

Perhaps we understood each other because we had both abandoned our past for a far more thrilling present.

Latterly, he was described as ‘a consummate liar, social climber, and a bespoke SOB who grew to total ghoulishness because of his connection to Andy Warhol.’

Who cares?  Isn’t everyone a social climber of some kind and why the hell not?  It is galling to have Fred’s memory so maligned.  From what I saw and heard he managed or rather..baby sat Andy Warhol, pulling him out of relative poverty, protecting him from unworthies.

Unless that was a lie?  I really don’t have a clue.  As a teenager I thought he was just swell.

It is so sad to him like this, stricken with MS:

This photograph is amusing.  Tim Hunt, Princess Anne of Bavaria, Me and Alexis de Toqueville at Anne’s apartment in Paris.

Samia Saouma’s Gallery (another social hub as galleries tend to be) I was introduced to the work of  The Baron de Meyer, Man Ray and Joseph Kosuth.  I followed the crowd and applauded the sparse and mannered work of Robert Wilson.  We saw I Was Sitting on My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating and Death Destruction and Detroit.

In Paris I learned about artists and their power and prestige.  Most of these men and women, invited to Europe during the late 70’s early 80’s, were American.  Flooding the world with new ideas; polemical and challenging.

What happened to the arts?   Even though British theatre seems to have maintained it’s edge, British art has become increasingly bland and decorative.  Says nothing of the war or the bloody peace.

Paris was just how Paris is meant to be: an education for a young man.

Before we leave Paris there was one sublime moment.  It was a moment.  We all need them.  Romantic.  I had been invited to the house of some elderly Duke.  On an orange velvet wall hung a huge sunset by Turner.  Surrounded by furniture, a light supper served in front of it.  This is how art should be enjoyed.  Domestically.

Turner

Returning to England I was given the telephone number of Erica Bolton by The Princess Anne of Bavaria.   I met Erica at The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, West London, where she worked as a publicist.   My great love affair with the theatre began in earnest.

David Gothard Riverside Studios

Erica Bolton, in turn, introduced me to a community of successful writers and directors.  Men and women who inspired me to make my own theatre, my own films, my own art.

I listened and learned.

Erica sneaks me into the theatre to see Kantor’s sold out show Wielopole, Wielopole. I sit in the Gods looking down at syphilitic soldiers marching, wax figures strapped to the living, a monochrome set with Kantor in the middle of it all tweaking his memories and watching sadly as the dead come back to life.

It was triumphant, breathtaking theatre and in sharp contrast to the very British, academic work of Peter Gill (Cherry Orchard) who I met that year (1978) and his then assistant David Levaux the now hugely respected Broadway director.

There were so many exciting people to hang out with at The Riverside like the precocious Hanif Kureishi fresh from his triumphant stint at The Royal Court.

Pioneering David Gothard, the artistic director, the genius at the very heart of the Riverside Studios.   Responsible for bringing Tadeusz Kantor, Miro, Shuji Tereyama and many others not only to Hammersmith but to the UK.

Night after night we sat in the canteen drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.  I loved every moment.

In 1979 I made my way to Paris to see Peter Brook’s Bouffes du Nord.  The unplastered walls and magnificent arches quite unlike any other performance space.  To Paris by boat and train to see Brook’s Conference of the Birds.    I can’t remember where I stayed that night.  I was in heaven.  I remember the Persian rugs on the floor, the chirping of the cast as they imitated different birds..a chorus..the dawn chorus.

I wanted to make theatre so badly.    When I finally got around to it I made just one good work The Host.  The other works (as it turned out) a preamble for my later film making and really not that good.

In 1981 I moved into a small flat in Furlong Road, Islington.  The home of director Michael Darlow.  The flat came with a job:  nanny to their wayward 13-year-old adopted son.

Wandering the streets I discovered the derelict Almeida Theatre where I would end up having my 22nd Birthday thrown by designer Scott Crolla.  Furniture Designer Tom Dixon was our doorman.  William Burroughs came.

‘Come Dressed at Duncan Roy’ the invitation demanded.

Here are Kadir Guirey and Tom Dixon in their band Funkapolitan…

The Almeida Theatre, bought and renovated (Bouffe de Nord style) by Lebanese born Pierre Audi.   I managed, by chance, to witness the birth of an institution.   Even when derelict, Pierre still used the space as a theatre.  Amongst many, early notable Almeida productions I saw A Dybbuk For Two People with Bruce Myers and in 1982, at Saint James’s Church, Chillingworth Road at the Almeida International Festival of Contemporary Music, John Cage at 70.  Stunning.

Early 1983 I was arrested and imprisoned for running up a huge bill on my credit card.   I spent the next ten months starved of  theatre and art but found another altogether unexpected beauty.

I was 23.  Prison, as I have said before, was beautiful.

People like Erica bid their adieu and I would never really see them again.

1983, months after I left Wormwood Scrubbs Prison I answered an advertisement in Time Out Magazine. Neil Bartlett was looking for performers to open his show PORNOGRAPHY, a Spectacle at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

It was a gruelling process, one that I found hard to get to grips with.

Acting, as you may know, requires the performer to be real and by this time in my life I really had no idea how to do that at all.

As with my appearance in the ‘A’ list thirty years later, people mocked my decision to be in a gay play about sex and sexuality.   Life is for the experience..isn’t it?  For one grand adventure after another.

Theatre

Pornography: A Spectacle. 1983/84 Actor

  • Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 6 city UK tour, Poor Alex Theatre, Toronto, Canada
  • Devised with Ivan Cartwright, Neil Bartlett and Robin Whitmore

Robin, Ivan and Duncan in ‘Pornography, a Spectacle’

“Pornography is quite wonderful, outrageous, intentionally shocking — but with real human beings stepping through the sensationalism at regular intervals to speak between the screams of cliché in normal conversational tones about who they are and how they really feel. The recurrent theme is one of intense pornographic description, which the actors suddenly stop, pause, and say, “of course that was merely a quotation,” or “but it really wasn’t like that.” Sky Gilbert

The Critic by Sheridan: 1984 Actor – Mr. Puff

  • Edinburgh Festival

The Host: 1987 Writer/Director

  • Institute of Contemporary Art London and National Review of Live Art Glasgow with Georgia Byng and Tatiana Strauss
  • October Gallery

Bad Baby: 1989 Writer/Director

  • The Penny Theatre, Canterbury, Kent, Hen and Chickens Theatre, Islington North London
  • Using a cast of local Kent performers this play examined issues of child abuse using Beatrix Campbell’s Unofficial Secrets as the basis of the text.

Marrianne Fearnside in Bad Baby

The Baron in the Trees: 1990 Writer/Director

  • Adapted from the Italo Calvino novel of the same name for The Penny Theatre, Canterbury, Kent

Copper’s Bottom: 1991 Writer/Director

  • Sadler’s Wells Theatre, starring Aiden Shaw

Call me Susan: 1993 Co-writer

  • Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh; Edinburgh Festival Fringe;
  • Call Me Susan explored issues surrounding prostitution across Europe. A dramatised discussion between two prostitutes interspersed with real-life recorded testimonies and pictures of prostitutes working in six European cities.

To all the young men and women who arrive in Hollywood looking for stardom, this post is for you.

It’s not the very thorough advice I give my students at UCLA nor is it as involved as the conversations I have with young actors I meet daily at coffee shops all over Hollywood.

I don’t want to piss on your dreams, I merely want to help a legion of unprepared youngsters before they arrive in California.  To help them avoid the wholly avoidable traps so many young people fall into when they arrive in Los Angeles expecting to ‘make it’ in the film industry.

Firstly, listen to this.  How ever brave you may think you are, Hollywood is not for the fainthearted nor for the under-prepared.

Read this:

Film INDUSTRY.  Show BUSINESS.

Remember these two important words:  INDUSTRY and BUSINESS.

The youngsters who make it Hollywood, those who get to make movies (of any kind) are naturally inclined businessmen and businesswomen.  These serious men and women want to do business with the like minded and make it their business to sort out the winners from the losers.

Business.  Money.  Industry.

Young film maker/actor/actress there are a few things you urgently need to know:

Firstly, if you live outside of the greater LA area don’t even think about packing your bags and coming here unless you are:

a) Invited by a reputable agent/manager because you have ‘made it’ else where.

b) You have thoroughly researched your move to Hollywood before you arrive.

Too many people arrive in LA thinking that life is just one long episode of Entourage punctuated by Entertainment Tonight type red carpet appearances.  They believe that they will be ‘discovered’ in an instantaneous ‘America’s Got Talent’ kind of way and become household names within a year of moving into what is one of the most heartless cities in the whole world.

Remember this:  You Will Not Be Discovered.

Let me say again:  Don’t come to LA and expect to be ‘discovered’.   It won’t happen.

Oh, actually, you will be discovered but not by the people you expect to be ‘discovered’ by or in a way you’ll be writing home to mother any time soon.  It is sadly true that for every young, good-looking boy and girl who arrives in Hollywood there is a predator waiting to fuck you. who will mercilessly lie and cheat you out of your integrity and your virginity.

This post, I hope, will help you keep your dignity and your virginity intact.

These perfectly charming predators (with fabulously important jobs) will show you their huge houses, take you to premieres and parties but the outcome is always the same:  Another suitcase in another hall.

Prepared to be totally washed up in no time at all if you fuck anyone who promises you anything.  Even people who should know better end up having clandestine dinners with well-known married producers discussing projects that will never, ever happen.

Of course there are some aspiring actors/actresses who think that blowing the occasional producer in their hot tub is a perfectly reasonable trade.  Indeed, they may think that it is the driving force behind Hollywood’s star making machine.

They site Marilyn Monroe as the archetypal ‘career for sex’ success story.

This reciprocal arrangement is both rare and undignified.  It seldom leads to anything other than STDs and a stint in the rooms of AA.

If you feel you have acting talent… think about taking acting classes before you get to Hollywood.  Any advantage you have over the thousands of willing hopefuls who arrive in LA everyday will get you closer to your goal.  If, say, Brad Pitt is your hero, study his life and how he got to where he is today.

READ BETWEEN THE LINES!

This information will help you decide if Hollywood may work for you.

If you genuinely want to be an actor or actress be sure, before you get here, that you have researched the industry you want to be part of.  Read these trade papers/web sites: Variety , The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood.  From these publications you will learn everything you need to know about Hollywood, the way it works, what is being made and where.

Get yourself a copy of The Hollywood Creative Directory and read it.

If you want to be a film actor research the directors you like, find out who produced their films, the casting directors who cast them and what they are doing next.

If you want to be a TV actor learn the names of all the casting directors at all the Networks.

See how you can get close to the people you want to do business with.

My low budget film making students at UCLA laugh at me when I tell them to precision bomb when making decisions about their careers.  Carpet-bombing is expensive, risky and often misses the mark.

EXAMPLE:

(This applies only to those of you who have demonstrable talent.)

I tell actors to print 500 head shots and 500 resumé, buy 500 envelopes and 500 stamps. Address them to all the usual film industry suspects.  Reserve all but ten.  Take the 490 stamped and addressed head shots and resumé and tear them into tiny pieces and put directly into the trash.

At least you get the satisfaction of throwing them away rather than some bored assistant.

With the ten reserved head shots and resumé take them directly to the industry people you want to do business with.

It works, it really does.

I used to say to actors, “Never take no for an answer.” I don’t tell them that any more.

I reserve that advice for directors and producers.

Remember, actors/directors, you are the only asset at the company you are about to create in your own name.  To make your dream come true requires tenacity, an encyclopedic knowledge of the film industry and a keen sense of direction.

Life in LA can be very lonely.  You may be surrounded by many ‘friends’ but you will not be able to trust any one of them.  Nobody but you wants you to succeed in Hollywood.

If you have been kicking around LA for a year or so waiting tables, don’t have an agent or a manager and have not been seriously considered for any sort of acting role in a legitimate film production:  go home.

Most roles being cast in Hollywood today are for actors between the ages of 35-45 years old.  Go home have a decent life… then, if you are still hankering after Hollywood, return when you are 35.

Frankly, you will have more chance of making it then.

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