Archives for category: Fashion

New York, July 2017.

colin and anna

A few delightful days in Paris and Barcelona restored my serenity.  No more searing heat, the weather more temperate, heavy clouds bursting over us.  The rain washing away the last of the red, Andalusian dust.  Well dressed men, once again, to look at on the streets. Mary’s spare room, decorated with Honiton lace and embroidered white linen.  We walk the length of Parc St Cloud with our dogs wearing gun boots and waxed jackets.  The Little Dog is almost fully restored, his eye closes once again, his sagging jowl looks perfectly normal to those who do not know.  One evening we helped friends of Mary move house.  TV Producer Etienne Alban, recently separated from his wife and kids, moving in with his super cute… yoga instructor girlfriend.  Alban and I carried a huge sofa six flights to their huge new attic apartment.   After the exercise we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at The Hotel Edgar.  Their boudin noir… superb.

The following day I drove from Paris to Chamonix listening to an audio recording of the novel 1984.  It is a compellingly joyless book.  Because I am a ditz I arrived a day early. So I booked the Hotel Isabelle and slept fitfully thinking about my time in Carmona. More specifically I dreamt about my Carmona host and friend Ana Corbero, the chatelaine of an 11 acre estate called The Pajarita nestled outside the old city walls of Carmona beneath the The Hotel Parador and the Cordoba Gate.  I dreamt a huge storm roared as I looked north from Ana’s terrace toward the great plain which was once the sea.  I was pointing at something.  “Land ahoy!”  In the dream the waves returned after a thousand years and swept over the fields of sunflowers.  Sea monsters curled out of the petulant waves then crashed into the salty foam.

My time in Carmona with Ana had been stormy, her demeanor quite different from the beautiful girl I chanced upon 35 years ago.

I met Ana Corbero in 1985 or thereabouts introduced by gallerist and curator Celia Lyttleton.  Ana was showing a collection of unremarkable paintings at the Albemarle Gallery.  Celia introduced her as the daughter of a well-known Spanish sculptor, the girlfriend of a Lord.  She was tiny… gamine, scarcely a women.  Her queer and marvelous features delicately carved and flocked, her fierce and sparkling black eyes challenging those of us who dared contradict her.  She demanded respect.  Her flamenco gestures, her delicate collar bones.  She was beautiful.

I don’t remember a great deal about the beginning of our friendship other than the first night at the gallery.

Ana had been enjoying a fractious relationship with the absurdly handsome Colin Campbell, 7th Earl Cawdor.  I do not remember them visiting me in Whitstable but apparently they did.  I do not remember going to Wheelers Oyster Bar and eating crab but apparently we did.  I do remember Ana’s invitation to Brooklyn the following summer where I stayed in Colin’s huge apartment, the top floor of an abandoned school he and another had recently bought.  It was located just over the Williamsburg Bridge.  Brooklyn was very different then. Crack addicts sat on the stoop. The Puerto Rican community had not been replaced by Hasidic Jews and dumb looking hipsters.  The sky at night was regularly lit by flaming, abandoned buildings.  Some called these arson attacks: Jewish lightning.

The walk into Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge felt unnecessary.  We stayed close to the apartment.  Colin and I had a fairly raucous time.  Even then I felt contempt for toffs but they had all the best toys so one tended to accept the invitations whenever they came.  It was an eventful trip.  I had a brief affair with the artist Paul Benney.  I threw a bbq from the roof of Gerard Malanga’s apartment*.  We were the only white people at an African-American block party and ended up in a black police captain’s humble house.  He looked very uncomfortable.  Years later, I understand why.  White, english people badly educated about slavery or the history of black people in the USA.  We must have seemed very disrespectful.

Ana and Colin’s relationship was passionate and destructive. I blamed Colin for his insensitivity toward Ana.  I excused Ana her eccentricities.  The last image I have of her at that time:  Ana is resting serenely in a nest of pillows, she has written in pen on her forehead one word… SILENCE.

Years passed.  Many years.  I remembered the word scrawled on her face.  Social media reintroduced us.  She married Nabil Gholam an arab architect and 18 years ago they had a baby girl. Sadly, their child is badly disabled with a rare genetic disease.  Against the odds, the child survives.  Ana fought to make her daughter hear and see.  She refused to accept the doctor’s bleak prognosis. Ana lived in Beirut during the Israeli bombardment.  Breastfeeding on her balcony as the bombs fell.  She adopted two more children.  A boy and a girl, both Lebanese.  The architect became successful.  They bought apartments in London, Paris and Seville. When her grandparents who raised her died she bought the Pajarita with a small inheritance.  The Pajarita, a modest finca surrounded by acres of scorched, brown earth and rock where the locals dumped their trash.   Ana set to transforming this barren place with many gardeners into the paradise she and her family enjoy today.

During the years I suggested to traveling friends I knew to be in Spain… meet Ana.  I sent the lazy, derivative Australian furniture designer Charles Wilson who I believed might benefit creatively from a stint in Andalusia. But Charles, another terrible drunk, ended up being thrown out of Xavier Corbero’s house in Barcelona because Ana’s step mother hated him.  Charles refused to leave so Ana’s husband threatened him with gypsies (a common, vaguely racist, threat from Nabil) who would break Charles’s legs if he didn’t pack his bag and leave immediately.

I sent Jenna and Stephen Mack’s brother John Jr., son of billionaire Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack.  Even though I did not know John Jr. I trusted they would be a great fit.  That introduction worked out very well.  Now it was my turn to meet Ana.  We communicated solely by text message.  After the long drive from Nice I called her and, for the first time in 35 years, I heard her voice. The deep and rasping voice of  somebody who smokes too many cigarettes or talks too much… or both.

“Why do you want to see me?” She asks over the phone.

I did not have an easy answer.

There was unfinished business between Ana and me.  It was not tangible, it was esoteric. I had no expectations of Ana.  I simply wanted to see her face.  Without the word SILENCE scrawled on it. We might have met that afternoon, had a coffee and left it at that.  I would have driven north.  I had no idea what to expect but I was compelled to see her, meet her again.  We arranged to meet at the small apartment she rented for guests in Carmona.

“How do you like your new digs?” She said as she got out of her huge silver Mercedes.

“Stay as long as you like.”

I gave her a long hug.  Her father, Xavier Corbero, had recently died.  I sniffed and she thought I was crying.  “I’m not crying,” I said, “I’m sniffing.”  Ana was back in my life. Her face was not the same as I remembered when I last saw her.  She has hidden herself on social media because, I now understood, she could not bear what age had done to her. Almost immediately she complained how old she was, how raddled.  She was embarrassed by her face.

“I’ve turned into a middle-aged Swedish woman.”  she said.  “I hope you’re not disappointed.”

It was true.  Middle aged and middle class.  Her face, bloated and pale, almost anemic. Her dry hair, she insisted she wanted to dye gray,  streaked with sun bleached golden locks.  Her eyes were just as fiery but no longer black.  There was something stone dried about her, something suspicious. I slowly recognised who she had become.  The reason I felt compelled to see her?  The reason why so many years ago she left something indelible in me?  It was something I recognized in myself.  Within a few hours my suspicions were confirmed.  Ana Corbero is an alcoholic of the most desperate kind.

We walked up the small cobbled hill from the apartment to the Casa Curro Montoya… her favorite restaurant.  She flamboyantly kisses the owners and lavishes us all with praise. We sat in the hot sun and drank white wine and ate greasy jamon.  Immediately, without prompting, she started telling me how her marriage was over.  Her husband was a liar, she said, and she didn’t know if she could stay married to him.

“He lies about his father and their relationship.  I am married to a stranger.”

I was baffled why this should be reason for divorce but Ana, it turns out, is obsessed with her version of the truth.  Under the parasol that dreamy afternoon I found her deeply personal over sharing electrifying.  I was being inducted into a tortured world of intrigue and family drama… it felt intoxicating.  She contemptuously described her adopted children, how her lazy teen son lied and failed at school.  Her pre teen daughter stole and refused to respect her Mother’s authority.  I ask about their eldest daughter.  “Oh, her.” she mused distantly.   A slight smile flickered over her face.  “She’s an angel.”

I do not remember driving to the Pajarita that afternoon.  I drove to her home so many times the next few weeks.  It is a dusty, pot holed road to Ana’s home.  Red dust gets into everything, into the car, my mouth, my heart.  During my stay the sharp red rocks rip into my tyres… twice.  Yet, once behind the sliding metal gates of the Pajarita… decorated with dragons and comic strip birds there is… the illusion of calm.  Beyond the painted blue iron gate a forest of pepper trees, oleander and citrus.  Terracotta pots filled with herbs and lilies. Vines, dripping with grapes grow over pergolas affording shade, respite from the searing heat. Down an exquisitely cobbled path the simple house reveals itself. There are huge windows covered with traditional Spanish blinds made of esparto… woven reeds.  Inside, rooms of various sizes at different levels filled with stuff.  Ana’s art covers the walls. Piles of art books and catalogues from Christie’s and Sotheby’s.  Broken china knickknacks. Buckets of architectural salvage.  Most of it inherited from her grand parents.  So much stuff.

Many staff run Ana’s estate and life. Annie the housekeeper and general fixer.  Three nurses look after the disabled daughter.  There are gardeners and flamenco guitarists, a governess for the adopted daughter and a masseur who comes daily.  On occasions Ana would marshal the staff and demand they sing songs of her own composition.  They did as they were told.

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Annie, a simple local woman and (it became apparent) loathed by the son… was Ana’s most trusted servant. As well as dusting, ironing and making beds Annie, Ana told me, was being groomed to write Ana’s autobiography and mix her paints whenever she started painting again. Annie would also run the restaurant whenever Ana got around to opening it.  Annie, forced to kiss us all as per the ‘Andalusian way’.

I refused to kiss Ana’s staff.

“I can’t bear lies or exaggeration.” Ana says.  “I am never impatient, I am never angry.”

During the first few days of my stay we find a happy routine.  I have practical considerations.  I apply for my Spanish residency, open a bank account and get a phone. I take the dogs to the vet in Seville.  The vet is quite the most handsome man I ever met.  I decide to buy a house in Carmona.  They are cheap and plentiful.  Ana is incredibly helpful.  She introduces me to a lawyer, a realtor and makes every effort to ease me into Spanish life. We find a perfectly preserved 16th Century house near the Cordoba Gate.  I need an assistant.  She introduces me to Jose, her own assistant for five years but curiously tells me he is not welcome at her home.

“He needs to pull his head out of his ass.”

Why she makes the introduction to Jose is a mystery.  And why is he unwelcome at the Pajarita? Jose is a good man. Friendly and helpful.  I confide in Jose.  I am shocked by the way Ana treats her children, the contempt she has for her husband.  I rant at Jose about Ana.  She believes she’s always right, she’s never wrong, the interminable interruptions at dinner so conversations between adults become utterly fruitless and frustrating. Ana interrupts with shrill, ill-informed dissent. Blighted with a remarkable lack of insight and self-awareness Ana’s inability to see her part in any dispute caused me much incredulity.

Jose smiles and listens.

“I don’t have a problem, YOU have a problem.”  Ana insists.

Three days into my visit Nabil arrives with their son.  They are very pleasant but I have already had my mind poisoned against them.  Expecting the worse I’m surprised to find her husband kind and considerate, compensating for his wife’s excesses.  He is a gentle man and every day works hard to keep his marriage alive. Nabil shows me his watch collection, explaining how he transports his wealth around the world at times of war.  In the evening, when she is at her worse, Nabil makes excuses for her rapidly disintegrating behaviour.

Their son is a perfectly ordinary teenage boy.  He has a girlfriend, he has thick black hair, he is interested in sport and fashion and making money trading sneakers… we went to the fashion outlet in Seville but it was closed.  He was funny and charming.  House hunting one morning I paid him to translate for me.  He has a keen understanding of people.  He could read between the lines.  He enjoys his life at boarding school.

I find him in his room trying to write.  Ana has asked him to imagine a fifty year life plan.  He looks helpless.  An absurd request the teenager knows he must fulfill.  When, after several weeks, the 50 year plan arrives Ana is outraged.  Why does the plan does not include Spain and by inference… her?  Why should it?  Ask a boy to map out the next fifty years is abuse enough.  But this was just one of many abuses, her plan to punish him for not appreciating how lucky he was that she had taken the time and money to adopt him. He could never be grateful enough.  She confided that she planned to take him out of the boarding school he loved and punish him for his lack of sensitivity by sending him to his paternal grandfather… who Ana hated.  Nabil, when we are on our own, desperately whispers an appeal to me,

“Please help me, can you make her see sense?”

It was no use, Ana is always hell-bent on revenge, riven by some resentment for some poor sap. Ana reminded both her children how lucky they were to have her as their adopted mother. These scenes pulled straight out of the movie Mommy Dearest. But Joan Crawford, bless her tortured soul, was a saint in comparison.

We drive to Seville for lunch with John Mack Jr. who mocks Ana’s constant, inebriated interruptions.  John Mack Jr has his own demons but I wanted to hear everything he had to say. I had been very close with his brother Stephen and worked with his sister Jenna. Both relationships had come to nothing.  Of course John claims he knows nothing of his sister’s appalling arrogance… he is his father’s son.  He knew everything.  He had his own brush with addiction, a failed marriage and traumas only the son of a billionaire would understand.  Stephen Mack told me once their father would say of his enemies, “I’ll make them hurt.” His father wasn’t called ‘Mack the Knife’ for no reason. Jenna was very eager for me to meet her parents but I knew it would turn out badly, getting dragged along to events I had no reason to be at.   I met Mack senior, who one couldn’t help respecting, several times.  I had dinner with Jenna and her father at The Mercer Hotel and again at a High Line charity event.  Jenna, Stephen and John’s parents are a great team,  they donate millions to charity, they delight in taking pictures of couples in the street who don’t have selfie sticks.

I knew my father was the same as John Mack.  Cruel and kind in equal measure.

When I said goodbye to John Mack Jr. after lunch (he cycled off into the hot, congested Seville streets) I knew I would never meet him or any member of his family ever again.

As I grow closer to my assistant Jose it becomes apparent that he doesn’t merely dislike Ana, he hates her.  He hates her with a shocking vengeance.  It is painful for him to carry such hate in his heart.  He warns me to think carefully about staying in Carmona, he cautions if I buy a house in Carmona I will end up hating Ana.  He warns me people very close to Ana hate her.  The owners of the restaurant hate her, he warns she has fallen out with everyone who lives in Carmona, accusing them of crimes and disappointments, their relationships blighted with unrealistic expectations.

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Jose describes Ana’s tantrums, how she would regularly reduce him to tears with her demands and mendacity.  His impersonation of her clawing at her own face demanding she wanted what she wanted… NOW!   Nothing would placate her.  He tried helping her but failed.  He still finds it hard to forgive himself for walking away.  Walking away from the children he loved and cared for.

I took the adopted girl to meet Jose.  They hadn’t seen each other for years.  They cried and hugged.  We wandered the streets of Carmona until midnight.  Jose kept thanking me for bringing her to see him.  We ate ice cream and sat in the forum.  When we returned to the Pajarita Ana looks quizzically at me. Taking the child to meet Jose could be construed as an act of betrayal.  I apologize for bringing her home so late.

The following day Ana is screaming at her children, “Why don’t you bring your friends to the Pajarita?” It is obvious why… to those of us who are the children of abusive parents. There’s shame and fear around alcoholism and the unpredictability of an alcoholic parent.  Neither child want their friends to meet Ana. Neither want to explain her behaviour.  I saw the fear in their eyes when Ana looked as if she was going to lose her temper.  The night she couldn’t make the ancient iPod work and began blaming her daughter.  The panicking child wrestled with the iPod, willing it to work. Finally she managed to make it play and disaster was averted.  I’m sure the little girl didn’t want to be reminded once more why she should be grateful Ana adopted her and how easily she could be sent back to the children’s home.

The daughter dances, she entertains Ana’s guests with gymnastics, endless cartwheels and overtly sexual dance moves she learns from TV shows like Glee.  Playing the same track over and over.  I was asked to judge endless dance routines.  She was desperate to impress.  Yet, however hard the child tries to please… it is never good enough.

“Hold your hands like this” Ana demands.  “No!  Not like that… like this.”  Ana lunges beside her daughter and demonstrates what she wants to see.  Ana demands we all dance.  I dance for a moment then I sit down and watch the scene unfold.  The dance with her daughter becomes violent, twirling the child around until finally it is no longer a dance but a fight… Ana body slams the girl onto the floor.  The child is crying and Ana falls badly into the television.  She mocks the child for crying, mocks her use of a hearing aid.  She swears at the child and accuses her of making sexual advances to Nabil.  Once, in the pool, Ana tore off the child’s bathing costume, tossing it out of the pool.  Ana is laughing like a maniac, the child is pleading. I throw the costume back into the pool. Then I walk away, saving the kid the embarrassment of being seen naked.  Jose, when I tell him… is not surprised.  There were times when he wanted to report her to the police for child abuse.  The following day Ana wonders why her back hurts so badly.  I remind her but she doesn’t remember the fight.  She has no recollection.  How much of the time is she blacked out?

“Time for drinkypoos?”  She says.

Like an infirmed english aristocrat the pronouncement comes when Nabil is at home… otherwise she’s opening bottles all day.  She’s already stoned long before she starts drinking.  I learned not to go near the house until she is drunk or stoned enough not to be a total bitch.  Waiting for an invitation to join her.  If I stayed at the Pajarita I would slip away before she woke up.  When her interest in me cooled her morning emails and text messages were filled with vile insults and personal attacks.  By then I was employing every technique Alanon afforded me.  Let go with love, they say.  Every day I let her go… with love.  Soon I would have to let go of her forever.

The night Nabil left for London and Beirut I was sitting by the pool with Ana enjoying a rare, balmy evening.  We spent a lot of time talking about her future, her work, galleries and retrospectives.  I was convinced she was capable of making the huge changes in her life necessary for her to be recognised as an important artist.  We talked about male artists who were commanding huge sums in galleries and at auction.  We discussed how women artists have been impoverished by men.  After meeting her disabled daughter my understanding of her work swelled.  The cute sculptures of girls looking heavenward meant something.  Ana has spent years working out her feelings toward her disabled daughter using her art, especially her sculpture.  Her work, like so many women… unlike the work of so many men, has never been contextualized.  The story is never told. “Your work is beyond the vagina.”  I said.  She laughed.  Ana is not easily complimented.  So, we concentrate on her potential.  I liked mulling over future possibilities with her.

Without warning she rolled toward me and laid her head on my chest.

She said, “I find you overwhelmingly attractive. I want to grow old with you.”

At that very moment I knew our friendship was over.  I shifted in my seat.  If I rebuffed Ana I risked her unconscionable wrath.   She repeated the words.

“I want to grow old with you.”

Finally, I affected my most affable self and said,”Oh, silly… what would Nabil say?”

She lifted her head.  She was not going to be fobbed off with that.

“I don’t put my head on anyone’s chest.” She began, her voice becoming defensive.  She continued speaking but I could not hear her… I was in a blind panic.  I knew it was over, at that moment I knew my time around Ana had come to an end.

The following days she called me names by text (fat and old) and generally took time to insult and belittle me.  She denounced me as a traitor to the Pajarita.  I found myself drifting to the house knowing full well what reception I would receive.  She warned me, I was no longer ‘drama free’ I was accused of bringing stress and ‘baggage’ into her life.   Thankfully, her friend Alfonso and his daughter arrived.  Perhaps he would grow old with her?  I slipped out of the pre arranged parties to which I was tacitly expected to attend.  I had no interest in being around her.  It was over.  Soon I was packing up the car and headed north.  My time in Carmona but not Spain… had come to an end.

Ana Corbero signs all her emails or text messages with ‘Luv and Light A xxx’.  It is ironic because she has a dark soul.  A monster for whom no cage will ever be built… unless of course she embraces sobriety and thereby solves her chronic addiction to resentment.

*Recently I bumped into Gerard Malanga, frail and limping, in a small French cafe on Warren Street in Hudson, New York and apologised for my drunken indiscretion all those years ago.  Although furious at the time he sweetly claimed not to remember the incident.

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In the jail I was enveloped by the trans community.  They showed me the way.  Black trans women.  They were not entitled white girls, passing themselves off on the street like women born women. They were black trans women subject to everything a black women suffers (and more) on the streets of racist USA.  These women are considered worthless, trash, undignified.  I related to these people.  They taught me more than I had learned for decades.

This winter I will be wearing couture suits.  A jacket and skirt. Based on a Charles James classic.  I found a brilliant couturier to make them, one in dark green tweed and another in aubergine silk velvet.  They are interchangeable.  Deliberately,  I get four outfits for the cost of two.  A lady has to look after her pennies.

My hope?  To look like a lesbian geography teacher from an exclusive private girls school. I rather think I’m going to look like the chef from Two Fat Ladies, Clarissa Dickson-Wright.  I have no desire to look feminine.  Butch lesbians are far more attractive to me than pretty girls.  If I ever had a sex change I am sure to be a lesbian.

Without the power of the penis I am a free man.

I have, these past couple of years since I left the jail, submerged myself in trans culture.  My silly film about Jake became an audacious film about a trans woman and the men who chase her.  My desire to reprimand my ex became a beautiful treatise on my own trans curiosity.  One thing is certain.  If I am true to this path I will never leave the big city.  I will never live in Whitstable.

There is something about rotting pears on the pavement, wasps feeding on the smashed fruit that transports me to my hometown of Whitstable.  There is something about the occasional warm day in October when I hanker for my home.

Last week I had a serious meeting about a play.  I have not written a play or thought about the theatre for years.  This is an exciting  possibility once again.  I have no desire to direct.  NONE.  Write… yes.  Direct… no.

I met a young trans person yesterday.

There is a chasm between gay men and trans people.  My friend Our Lady J disputes this but my other less glamorous, non performing blue-collar trans buddies tell horrible stories of gay people and their rudeness and transphobia.  Bluntly, why should a gay man be interested in a trans woman?  Gay men sleep with men… not women.  However, out of their trans costumes some young working class non theatrical trans m to f are berated and insulted when they tell gay men what they are into.

If you are a young trans person where do you go to meet empathetic straight men?  Many young, transitioning straight men misguidedly think they can meet men through gay dating apps like Grindr.  They make their trans position clear.

He said, “I tell them I want to dress as a woman when I meet them, that it’s only going to work if I am dressed as a girl.  They tell me it’s not ok.  They let me wear panties but won’t tolerate anything else.”

I am taking him on a date this week.  He’s excited to wear a dress and paint his nails.  He says, “There are two of me, straight me wants to meet trans me and fall in love.”  That was very beautiful.

I met another white gay man in NYC, an undergrad at NYU, who condescendingly lectured me about trans culture.  He vehemently posited that any man who wears a skirt is transgender, that make up on a man is transgender, that drag is indisputably transgender.  That the word transvestite was like saying nigger or faggot.   He told me he wants to help his trans brothers and sisters at his university.  What help will he be?   I couldn’t be bothered to fight.  We had sex and I threw him out of my room.

Since I embraced this new path I have come to love my body.  No longer interested in what metropolitan gay men think I should look like to enjoy a full life.   I have been watching endless documentaries.   Paris is Burning versus Candy Darling.  The concerns of the former oblivious to the latter.

I am looking forward to wearing my new suit in the big city.  I’m excited.

Today transvestite (self described) artist, honored by Queen Elizabeth and the British Government, Grayson Perry writes brilliantly in the New Statesman about default man.  Read it here.

Peter

Fire Island Kitchen

 

Arrived on Fire Island.  I’m here for the next few weeks… until I decamp (via Martha’s Vineyard) to Provincetown for a month or so… then it’s LA for the rest of the summer.   Nobody wants to be on the East Coast for August.  Not when one has Malibu… everyone agrees that Southern California is gorgeous in August.

I finally found an affordable and rather beautiful house near Whitstable to buy.  Just far enough to be close to those I love… yet out of harms way.   There’s so much on the market.  Everything in my old home town seems for sale.  Everything.

I’m staying, as usual, in The Pines… a guest in the most gorgeous house.  I stayed here last year.  So many pretty things to look at, art to admire and crisp white linen to drown in at night.  A fancy cooks kitchen, every utensil one could possibly wish for.

As I was winding down last night I noticed that the house is loaded with alcohol, bottles and bottles… and I am all alone.  It’s odd isn’t it?  What keeps me, and those who want it badly enough, away from the booze.  Sober.  Nobody would ever know if I took a huge gulp of something before I went to bed.  Only me.

What’s stopping me from taking a drink from the well stocked bar?  Even if it’s just me?  I suppose… I would know and God would know.  The power of ones conscience.  I’d lose the only thing I’ve ever worked really hard to keep.

I realize that many people don’t get sobriety.  The disease, the god part, the endless AA meetings.  During the past 17 years it’s been a struggle to remain interested or focused.  There’s so much to put you off.  Sober people can be a big pain in the butt.  The endless revolving door of people you meet who commit to sobriety then drink again, the deaths, the drama, the fucking rules…  but I tell you, if this is a cult (and many say it is) I’m a happy member.

I’m cooking a very old-fashioned coq au vin.  A hearty treat for a chilly May evening on Fire island.

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Lady Rizo

Marc Jacobs Hat

I bought a huge green fur hat from Marc Jacobs.  It’s very warm, very green and attracts many, many comments.

The people who comment fall into three distinct groups.

1.  The people who comment most are African-American men and women who approach me with huge smiles and open hearts and say wonderful things about the hat.

They tell me how happy it makes them.  They ask where they could get one.  They love the color. They hold me at the checkout at Trader Joe’s and ask if they can touch it.  Black school kids holler across the street.

2.  White woman tentatively tell me how much they like it, how warm they imagine it is.  They rarely look me in the eye and their diminished confidence allows them only the slightest… but genuine opinion.

3.  Gay men.  I sighed writing that.  Gay men.  I sighed again.

When gay white men (strangers) talk to me about my hat it is always with sneering disregard.   They go out of their way to say something catty and unpleasant.   They look at me witheringly, their comments infused with: who do you think you are wearing that absurd hat?   They dress compliments up in such a way that confuses the listener.

If the African-Americans who complement my hat had not done so I would have nothing to compare the responses of the gays.  I might think I was going crazy.  But I’m not.

We all know what a heartfelt compliment sounds like and the gays seem incapable of giving one… unless (of course) they want to get laid.

Here are more pictures of our brief stay in Malibu and our trip home.

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I felt both overwhelmed and liberated in 2013.  Simultaneously.

I spent the past few hours un-subscribing from 100 mailing lists from whom I receive emails begging for money.  All perfectly decent causes, gun control, black theatre, saving the ocean, climate control, Unicef, the world wildlife fund, democratic causes, mercy for animals, slow money…

I un-subscribed from cook shops, travel companies, furniture stores and fashion lines.  I spent a few moments each day erasing my name from the lists I added myself in the hope of being better informed, no more Gawker or Huffington Post or the Daily Beast.

It was an odd year.  It was unusually diverse.  I continued writing my film tho I stopped talking about it.  I met thieving producers and film industry liars.  I spent time with weed smoking Susan Sarandon in the back of her ping-pong club.  

Away from the film I travelled to Martha’s Vineyard, to Des Moines and over the Rocky Mountains.   I travelled by car all over America.  Los Angeles to New York and back again… three times.  I was constantly surprised by American kindness whenever I found it.  

I fell in and out of love with AA.  In and out of love with the gays tho… mostly out of love.

We are presently finalizing our divorce.

During the past months I began a strange adventure with a young man who I tentatively call my boy friend.  I began to dream again… of better things… even though I am still cautious and burned.  Erring toward single at all times.

I wrote a great deal but never published a word of it.

I wrote indignant things like this…

I am queer.  They are gay.  They are white and affluent.  They want to get married and join the army.  They want to assimilate.  That’s what they say.

When you question them… when you ask them what assimilation looks like… they still want to keep gay pride, gay bars, gay apps, gay film festivals, gay morality.

They want the gay section in the bookshop, the ‘gay voice’ section in The Huffington Post.  They don’t really understand what assimilation looks like because most of them are too comfy not assimilating.

He said, “This is all about your internalized homophobia.” I smiled.  “It’s not internalized, it’s externalized.”

One can devote ones life to betrayal.  Betrayed by parents, family members, institutions, schools, by loved ones even the country of ones origin.  I have felt a smidgen from all of the above.  Yet, I forgave my family, my school, the class system, my beloved country.

Because I wanted to be free.

I huffed and puffed about the NSA, I applauded Glen Greenwald and Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowdon.  I stopped worrying about who could read whatever I was writing privately or which ever websites I was wacking to because there is nothing private.  Not any more.

I met literary heroes on Fire Island like Andy Tobias and had breakfast with John Walters, I spent sultry nights on Cape Cod.  I started Anger Management classes and enjoy them tremendously.

My counsellor asks things like, “Where in your body to you feel the anger first?”

I began to identify the genesis of my anger and feelings of uncomfortability.  It usually starts with a demand for money from a worthy cause.  A picture or video of a screaming rabbit as it is having it’s fur pulled off or a pile of euthanized dogs waiting to be incinerated.

It was the hopelessness that infuriated me, the cruelty, the stupidity, the hypocrisy.

I came to conclusions in 2013.  That I do not, have never had, am not interested in… A CAREER!   Careers, I realized, are… for other people.  For those who may be interested in a legacy.  I stopped calling myself a film maker and started telling people, if they asked, that I do… nothing.

I understood that wherever I found myself both good or bad I was meant to be.  It was all for a reason.  A reason that would one day be revealed to me.  That my life was a series of choreographed moments. The life of a narcissist.  That the cameras I learned to love whilst in the reality show had always been there and had never gone away.

In 2013 I never gave up.  I waited patiently.  I didn’t worry about the future nor was I enslaved to the past.  For this I was grateful.

Occasionally I hankered to go home but knew that after a few days in Whitstable I would find my life shrinking and darkening.  I did not go home.  Though, I spoke more to my Mother this year and was curious about my nieces and nephews.

Finally the JB entanglement came to an end one nondescript day in November.  I wanted to write to him and make amends for the mess I had caused.

But I wrote this instead… it was never sent.

An apology is owed.

I was wrong to lie to you.  I was wrong to lose my temper.  I was wrong to fight you.  I was wrong to have asked for money to be paid when you owed me nothing.  I was wrong to have blamed you for any part of our unhealthy association.  The blame must fall squarely at my feet for everything that went wrong.   The moment you came out I should have politely walked way… I did not.   I was advised by everyone I knew and cared about… to walk away from you but chose to ignore their good suggestion.   I should have thanked you and walked away.  I regret very much that I did not.  I am extremely remorseful.  Due to my weakness of character I initiated a drama that harmed you and caused distress to your family.  I should have walked away.  The moment you told me you were gay.   I know that you are happy now.   I know that your happiness will continue.

It took two years to own up.

2013.  Un-subscribing to websites, making amends, keeping my side of the street clean, owning up, anger management.

Let’s see what 2014 will bring.

As the years pass by, unrelenting, amazing, fulfilling, desperate, happy, sad.

Even though I have filled my homes with art and furniture and friends and the lingering smells of delicious feasts… even though I have made films and plays and paintings…. all I have ever wanted, really craved… was peace of mind.

I’m getting there.  Slowly.  A Happy and Prosperous New Year everyone.

Catie Lazarus, Lady Rizo, Our Lady J

The Little Dog is, as usual, very chill.  He becomes more trusting as he gets older.

One bright Sunday last month we visited the Brooklyn flea market and looked over the river to Manhattan.

I spent two days in the hospital having a stent removed from my gall bladder.  Yes, I did.

I had dinner with Fern Mallis… who, as you know, invented fashion week.

Duncan Roy Fern Mallis

After dinner we decided to attend the Giorgio Armani One Night Only event.

When we arrived we were whisked off to meet Armani who refuses to speak english but spoke english to Fern… because Fern is a legend.

On Sunday we went to the doggy Halloween parade in Tompkins Square Park but we couldn’t be bothered to wait in line.

In Woodstock we met a man wearing a lovely sweater.

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I met a friend of Wendy Asher’s.

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Lady Rizo and I went to a party in a penthouse on Gramercy Park.

The hedge fund billionaire who owned the apartment also owned a perfect Nakashima coffee table.

Lady Rizo Duncan Roy

The following week we sat with Courtney Love in the Baby Grand, a new lounge at the back of the TriBeCa Grand with Paul Sevigny for a Roger Vivier event.

The lounge is perfectly beautiful and looks like the Beverly Hills Hotel interior on Acid.

For Halloween proper we hung with Cynthia Rowley who looked like this and loved my Asprey tie.

This is my Halloween costume:

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It is a paper napkin with two slits torn into it.

The following day I went back to Woodstock to look at a lake house I want to buy.

This is me and The Little Dog in the view taken by Angelo:

Woodstock

Today we watched the NYC marathon. This morning at 7am we ate breakfast bagels in Crown Heights.  We ate two further brunches later on in Williamsburg.  After my haircut.

Blair Thurman

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Hannah

I haven’t written anything for so long.

Perhaps I just ran out of things to say.

Roger Ebert died.  He wrote to me recently urging me to write more.  I have no idea why.

The house in Malibu is filled with my things again and the garden, this beautiful spring, overwhelms me.

Moving back in gave me the opportunity to start editing once again.    I threw out three huge boxes of old clothes.  Cashmere, labels, everything loved for a moment back then.  Helmut, Yves, Issy, Comme des Garcons… boxy shirts from another era, trousers that I can (after my op) still get into but have lost interest in.

I kept all the Helmut Lang couture.  It’s just too special.

I feel myself floating over the surface of my life.

The road trip across the USA was spectacular.  Chicago, Denver, The Rockies, Utah and Vegas.   Just me and the dogs and a car full of art and luggage.  I met lovely people and saw cities I had only ever heard of.

I never went over the speed limit.

The operation to have my gall bladder removed was painful but since having the surgery I feel wonderful.

I didn’t realize how much pain I was living with.  How the pain made me grumpy, listless and intolerant.

Now, without that girdle of pain, without the imminent GB attacks… I feel perfectly happy.  Peaceful.

I can concentrate.  perhaps that’s why I need to write?

During the past few months so much has happened.  Things I can tell you and things I can’t.

Yet, after the moment passes, I can’t be bothered to write it down.

Editing the huge amount of stuff I own to a few essential pieces.  Taking my old stuff  to vintage stores, consignment stores and auction houses has been cathartic and profitable.   Who knew things were so valuable?

But more than that.  It feels like I am winding down.  Not is a morbid way.

With less stuff and less girth (since the op I lost a great deal of weight) I feel not only lighter but more agile, more energy to do important things (for me) more time to devote to others, causes, delights.

As you know, those who know me, I like my decisions to be made for me.  I LIKED my decisions to be made for me.

Recently I have taken control of the reigns.  Less at the mercy of Duncan Roy.  Do you know what I’m talking about?

Wedding Dress

Sup. I bought my wedding dress.  Am I wearing it properly?

I am back in Afghanistan next week.

I may take it with me.  Masc and Chill.

I’m going to lip sync ‘Call Me Maybe’ with my Marine Corp bros/buds.

Vincent NYC

TSA BLUE

Lady Rizo and Taylor Mac

Paw and Finger

From Bedford

SH

 

The Boy Mondino

Google you

Late at night when I don’t know what to do
I find photos you’ve forgotten you were in
Put up by your friends

I do, I Google you
When the day is done and everything is through
I read your journal that you kept that month in France
I’ve watched you dance

And I’m pleased your name is practically unique
It’s only you and a would-be PhD from Chesapeake
Who writes papers on the structure of the sun
I’ve read each one

I know that I should let you fade
But there’s that box and there’s your name
Somehow it never makes the pain grow less or fade or disappear
I think that I should save my soul and I should crawl back in my hole
But it’s too easy just to fold and type your name again, I fear

I Google you
When I’m all alone and don’t know what to do
And each shred of information that I gather
Says you’ve found somebody new
And it really shouldn’t matter
Ought to blow up my computer
But instead…
I Google you

 

 

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At this time of life it is time to take a good hard look at what is and what could be.

The obvious frailties: reading glasses, aching joints, the prospect of a life without enduring love.

If I had only invested in a surrogate child. All my fears may be allayed.

That, for the uninitiated, was irony. You know how I feel about those surrogate gaybies. Abandoned to nannies until they can talk. Dressed up like performing monkeys.

“They spent every weekend on Fire Island this season and didn’t take the baby once.”

I am judged by what I own, by the company I keep, the baby I can afford, the art on my walls, the boy in my bed, the ideas in my head, the club I belong to, the house of my dreams, the car in the drive, the clothes on my back, the God of my understanding. I am judged.

Who am I? Take all of this away and leave me on the streets of Brooklyn and I am content. I want to be just like you. My history erased. My name changed. Once again.

The fire sweeps through the apartment building. The fire captains excited by the prospect of a real fire, manageable, heroic. Nobody is injured. The windows are smashed. The art deco facade blackened.

The jews are on the streets blowing their horns for the new year.

“Are you Jewish?” The young Hasidic Jew asks me.

” No. I’m not a Jew.”

I change my mind the next time I am asked. “Yes,” I lie, “I’m a Jew.”

He takes out the ram’s horn. I stand there in front of this eager youth with boyish whiskers and a large black hat, (the bastard child hat of the sombrero and the fedora) and for ten minutes he chants incantations and blows his horn.

We walk to Park Slope, enjoying the multi-million dollar mansions, the Art Deco Brooklyn Library, the renovated Museum with oddly placed Rodin in the foyer.

Delightful Prospect Park adjoining the Museum could have been designed by Capability Brown but was (of course) designed by Frederick Law Olmsted the designer of Central Park.

We ate at the new burger joint in Park Slope. My burger was made of Elk.

As I was ordering my elk burger I opened an urgent email. My friend’s brother had been shot dead on his farm in Maryland. He was found, partially eaten by animals, on his tractor. They have no idea if it is suicide or murder.

I filed the tragic news as ‘pending’.  I called his Mother and offered condolences and help.

These streets. They yield all manner of fine opportunity. I can disappear on these streets.

Today it is dark, wet and grey. The wind is warm however, the rain splashes onto my face. The Little Dog sits patiently outside the coffee shop.

Yesterday I lay in the arms of a beautiful boy who wanted me to fuck him. His cat curled up in a shoe box.

After he came we lay watching Glee in bed.

Mawkish, sentimental nonsense, a world invented by gay men where periodically an entire orchestra will appear from nowhere and youngsters will start singing hearty cover versions of popular tunes. A world run by the LGBT community. Bullying each other with waspish bon mot.

The drama is lackluster and situational.

The one-dimensional characters problems are slight, their solutions are wholly achievable. They worry to the point of suicide about their home town until they are saved by the gay hero.

This new gay frontier, where blue-collar dads talk like Kant, where black trans boys walk freely and unchallenged around a mid-west high school in full drag… this homo-utopia merely betray the dreams these gay writers had about their own youth. The dream of freedom.

The episode starred Whoopie Goldberg and Kate Hudson as teachers. Teachers masquerading as judges from America’s Got Talent.

“You’re Fired!” “You’re Cut!”

But of course Kate has a drinking problem and a lost dream and Whoopie wants to be Maya Angelou.

I took the dog and the train into Manhattan where I met with old friend Oscar Humphries who looked amazingly well.

We have had our fair share of adventure (all over the world) these past ten years:  Driving 24 hours into the Australian bush to a Bachelor and Spinster ball  for the Sydney Morning Herald.  Louche nights in Paris and London…

Son of Dame Edna Everage creator Barry Humphries he is perhaps one of the most talented yet self-destructive people I know. We went to an NA meeting on Prince St. Then dinner at Cafe Select.  I just adore him.

I had a late date after dinner with a charming man. We brought cup cakes and drank hot chocolate on West 4th St.

I climbed into bed at midnight and fell straight to sleep.

Nightmare: The Cohen’s, David and his 6 children are looking after The Little Dog. I bump into the youngest son who tells me without compassion that “You’ll probably be sad when I tell you this but…” they had to put The Little Dog to sleep because it was too ‘nippy’.

Were I the Moor I would not be Iago.
In following him I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so for my peculiar end.
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at. I am not what I am

 

 

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I was diagnosed with neck arthritis some tine ago after losing strength in my arms. It is, of course, a degenerative, condition.

Yesterday, after a long hike up Runyon Canyon with Vincent, Brock and the Little Dog I was dismayed by the increased dull aches and weakness in my arms and legs.

Getting older with anything degenerative is a depressing idea.

Last week I managed to get the 24 hour flu which included stomach cramps, nausea and general malaise.

Apart from the weakness and flu life has been a great deal of fun.

Laural Hardware, after two and half months, has become THE coolest place in LA.

This week we spotted Gwyneth Paltrow, Chelsea Handler, Rashida Jones and Katie Perry. Phil and Dean the owners of LH are loving their moment in the LA celebrity sun.

Even so, they remain the humblest success stories in town.

It is that time of year. After a day of writing I put on my autumn style and head off to whatever event seems most appropriate. The Fendi Baguette party was wonderfully organized. Peggy Moffitt, Victoria Hervey and Jeffrey Deitch etc.

Victoria Hervey goes to everything. Rude and pompous.

You know, of course, that I knew her brother John who, at the time of his death, was The Marquess of Bristol. It was he who introduced me to Freddy Hughes and radically changed my life.

In these modern times there’s really no reason for a girl like Victoria to behave so despicably… I mean… what does she actually do?

I hear that she is on the verge of being banned from a very exclusive club here in LA for being vile to the staff.

I have been spending a great deal of time at Vincent’s house in Brentwood. Such a beautiful home filled with wonderful art and books and mid-century modern furniture. Such a history! Presidents and celebrity sitting in the same furniture where I now sit watching Vincent’s crackling serve.

He knocks balls all over the tennis court and I swim lazily in the lap pool.

There’s a croquet lawn at the house but I could never win. Vincent is a croquet fiend and scoots around the course in as much time as it takes me to negotiate the first few hoops.

Exciting months ahead as the year draws to a close.

Regardless of where I’ll end up we are going to shoot the movie in January. I have been meeting with actors and heads of departments and line producers. It’s fun to be so involved with the process once again.

I have been asked to write an AA expose. There’s only so much exposing one can do in 1,500 words.

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