My third meeting with Gore Vidal.
The second time I met Vidal it was with Stephen Fry when Stephen was here in LA writing his book.
On both occasions I had to share him with many others.
On this occasion Charlie Parsons and I had him all to ourselves.
Gore looks very frail. He looks like a child. Sitting in his wheelchair, his clothes hanging off his slight frame. His eyes still blaze, his smile..when he smiles…lighting up his whole face. He looks ever so slightly like Monty Burns. He remains mesmerizing.
He is still king of the brilliant bon mot.
Charlie arrived from London and checked into his hotel.
My good buddy is here in LA so we get to spend a great deal of time together. He is such fun and very gently mocks how seriously I take myself.
We sat with Gore at his dining room table in his beautiful Spanish revival house (for sale) in the Hollywood Hills riveted to his take on contemporary America.
Sitting with his assistant and his realtor Delphine. He offered us white wine but we opted (obviously) for water.
Gore recently sold his home in Italy so the house is crammed not only with thousands of books piled in every room but also an extraordinary collection of renaissance art.
A ginger cat with huge eyes lay on his bed.
We sat in the dining room chatting, covering a great deal of ground in a very short amount of time.
He laughed at how he was always asked to play corrupt senators.
We discuss Sarah Palin . He impersonates Palin brilliantly reducing us to fits of giggles. He described her as ‘un-American’, he laments her lack of intelligence.
We discuss pre-war Germany and how the catastrophic economic situation here perfectly mirrors the situation there; creating a moment in time when a person like Palin can grab the attention of the people and make them feel as if she alone can provide simple answers for difficult problems.
Like any snobby intellectual he scorns the stupid whenever he can. He laments how Obama has been stopped by the vicious right from achieving anything esteemable.
Yet, Obama’s people were also described as ‘stupid’.
Next week he will be with Gorbachev. He holds Gorbachev in very high regard.
Not only is Gore Vidal a remarkable man, he is a remarkable gay man. Inspiring me to understand the old, old gay man in my film and who he might be.
Such a wonderful history. Belligerent, surly, glamorous.
When we left the house we sat quietly in the car making sense of this extraordinary moment.
Gore Vidal, embittered by this contemporary America. He is saddened that corruption is rife.
Like anyone with a big brain he wants to understand how this could have happened to such a great country.
He mentioned my pet American peeve, that Americans boast continually that they are the very best at everything in all the world.
That they have the best police, firemen, soldiers, scientists, schools, healthcare, healthcare delivery… the list is as long as you want to make it.
Yet, elsewhere people live longer, are better educated, live safely etc. Gore mocked American grandiosity.
He said, “I don’t know many Swedish boys who are desperate to become American, look at the people who do…”
At one point Vidal started talking about the end of slavery, how the blacks were deliberately uneducated by the whites and if they showed any desire for an education, for reading and writing, he said that they were “Taken out and shot.”
I remember a Chris Rock skit when he imagines what that must have felt like, to disguise ones intelligence for fear of ones life.
Now we are all slaves with no real need to be educated.
Do American white folk still resent an educated black man? Is that what he was trying to say? Was this why, when he was elected, people here kept on telling me that Obama would be assassinated?
I drove home listening to NPR but I couldn’t listen to anything other than the conversation we had just had with this frail old man.
When he dies something of old America, good America will die with him.
British class shame is nothing a regular gun-toting American would or should know anything about. Whether or not one has an understanding of manners, social hierarchy or top hats is neither here nor there.
I have spent blog time bashing America but really, the Brits are just as bad-if not worse. My friend Pierre in New York, upon moving here at the behest of his company, missed London terribly but after a short while, much less time than I, understood why we come here and why we want to stay. Pierre began to notice a change in himself and those around him. He felt valued, pumped up, fearless. In America he could feel like a man.
Like me, when he meets Brits who stay at home he marvels at their naivety.
It takes a huge amount of self-loathing to ‘know your place’.
In the USA there is no shame about bettering and reinventing ones self. There are rules, of course, but every one of the rules (guiding principles) is designed to be broken.
You may have to pay a disgruntled employee a ton of money for a spurious sexual harassment claim but that’s how the dispossessed get their share of the pie.
Everyone is on the make, everyone! It’s an on the make, nickle and dime affair that I am having with the USA. It’s better than pecan pie and nuclear waste! It’s more thrilling than Guantanamo Bay.
As a Brit I still hanker after public art and healthcare but the rampant small mindedness of my countrymen, their embittered jokes masquerading as irony, their post imperialist arrogance and their total inability to allow anyone to grow beyond the class they were born into keeps me from going back home.
I suppose for all my anti-American sentiment I love the hurly-burly, the hegemony, the extremes, the greed, the excess, the stupidity. I love their terror of art and history. I applaud their dogma and their denial. I love that they think that they are the very best at everything they do when they are patently not. I love that they behave like willful children. I love that they think knowing about nature or food is elitist. I love that an engaging presidential candidate can emerge from nowhere and take the world stage-where as the British produce a bunch of familiar, threadbare politicians like so many provincial repertory actors delivering lackluster performances in what passes for political theatre. Imagine British MP’s sitting in their shared dressing-room waiting for lurid makeup to be applied before performing their ‘great scene’ during Prime Ministers Question Time. Smoking, sinking rummers of whiskey, discussing their expense claims, squabbling over cabinet positions and who’ll wear what at the state opening of parliament.
We don’t cast our parliament terribly well. Here they cast the Whitehouse like a huge movie. No wonder Rahm and Ari Emmanuelle are behind Barrack. They recognized his star potential and like a baby starlet hanging out in the Chateau Marmont plucked him from obscurity and handed him the best role ever in their box office blockbuster political thriller-so whilst the Emmanuells steal the money they got themselves the bestest alibi ever..a black president. They got themselves a well-dressed first lady descended from slaves. They got tears of joy at the inauguration and a divided, blind sided America whilst the spoils of the middle class were being divided up by unscrupulous hedge fund managers and Ponzi schemers betting on the downfall of their own and other nations.
So, there’s Barrack blustering over the war and the economy in his professorial tweeds, his sweet and sexy demeanor softening the hearts of the liberal elite and providing drama and focus for the next lot-the emboldened white Christian right. There he is dithering over healthcare and everything continues just the way it was.
Am I the only one who can’t imagine Tim Geitner having sex with anyone other than himself? He is such a WEED.
If China wasn’t running the world-this could look dangerous!
When British politicians get caught with their hand in the till-what paltry amounts of money they steal! Awarding their friends dodgy $150,000 construction contracts and creaming a few quid and a meat pie for themselves…subsequently getting caught and fired. An American politician wouldn’t waste his time or his position stealing so little. Tony Blair is the only politician to get away with stealing real money. He got away with the money and murder. He understood what few in the UK do-that American politicians are not elected to represent their constituents but to steal as much money as they can within their 4 years in office.
And, you might ask, why shouldn’t he? The Blair’s are just doing what the Royal family and the landed gentry have done for hundreds of years. He just took what he thought he was owed for getting to the top of the pile. It must piss our lowly politicians off to go through all the pain of getting elected to public office and then once there, look around…bleak…lonely…underpaid. Servants of the democracy that we hold dear and never really getting what they deserve-compared with the politicians in the USA who are on the fucking gravy train!
Drill baby drill, bailouts, healthcare, there’s money in them there policies..money for every politician in Washington, TONS OF IT! Politicians accepting donations from whomever and where ever.
Poor old Dennis Kucinich-he’s the congressman President Obama lassoed into helping change the mind of the bold progressives who were holding out for a radical public option during the last few moments before the Healthcare Bill was forced into law.
Well, dear Dennis lives in a one room apartment in Washington…never accepts a dime from anyone..but he lives in a one-bedroom apartment with his wife Elizabeth. If he had played his cards right, abandoned his principles and cut himself free from the people he was sent to represent then he could be living in a huge house in Georgetown-which is what the people expect by the way. To the average American there is something vaguely retarded about a man who is able to steal the money but doesn’t.
That’s why we elected you into office! To steal the money but, mind you, not so much that you piss the other thieves off who have seniority or think you are stealing too much. Of course, once in a while an odd politician needs to be thrown to the lions so that the public think that the other politicians have some sort of morality.
This is America and once you get a handle on it it’s not that bad. As long as you understand that to survive here you have to learn how to steal. You have to learn how to lose. Learn how to pick yourself up. Not get trampled in the stampede.
You must definitely learn to rub belly..pat head..
The past few days have been lovely.
Breakups are never usually times to relish but this breakup has been very good to me.
This is exactly the time in my life to take action and find a new perspective.
I took action by finding my peers in gay AA who might, in turn, shed some light on my relationship with the other.
In the scheme of things I was just an inconsequential blip in his life and I would be kidding myself if I thought differently.
I certainly could not compare with his other enduring relationships. Anyhow, we seem to be communicating like friends and I am largely over what he may or may not be doing-though sitting here alone writing causes me a certain doleful curiosity.
Let me tell you about the past few days.
The Gursky show was good but uninspiring. Huge photographs framed in monstrous oak frames. Big forgettable pictures…that’s all.
Huge photographs of the insides of neutrino splitting machines buried miles under Japan and filled with super purified water. Satellite images of the great oceans. It was all spectacle and no substance.
After our gallery visit I bought a pair of very baggy white trousers in some outlet store. Gucci $48.
We popped into the new Missoni on Rodeo designed by my once boyfriend Patrick Kinmonth. The outside is PERFECT, like a huge basket, woven metal softening the corner of Rodeo and Little Santa Monica.
The inside, however, is a bit of a mess.
I suppose the concept is the shopper wanders down a grand boulevard with variously sized vitrine to grab ones attention. It was too theatrical.
The men’s area, the woman’s area, the home store etc. It doesn’t work, it’s a mess. The interior finishes are very beautiful but the layout left too much to be desired.
Again, the outside is exquisite.
I could tell you very wonderful stories about Patrick but I will save them for another day.
The last time I saw Patrick Kinmonth he was reclining on a velvet sofa at the Chateau Marmont with Mario Testino.
He drawled that I could have been so much more than I was. He is, after all, a very grand queen; something I long abandoned aspiring to be but glad that I had the chance to meet.
For a few glorious months at the age of 21 he totally indulged me.
Sadly, I didn’t really fall for him. I fell in love with his impeccable style.
Saturday night we celebrated Josh’s continuing testicular cancer treatment. Every one of his friend brought ball-shaped hors d’œuvre to commiserate his recent loss and the chemo that began today.
He is an incredibly brave 29-year-old and described his cancer as an ‘inconvenience’. I have huge respect for that young man.
I suppose that this was the Velvet Mafia’s way of expressing their disapproval. The sex addict message is not one the gays are eager to hear.
Even though conversion parties, bug chasing and crystal meth are discussed at length amongst the young gay men I know. Perhaps this is only a myth? A meth myth? It is much easier for the gay community to concentrate on attacks from the outside than focus on the damage we do to ourselves.
On Sunday I met Gore Vidal again (the last time was with Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich during Dennis’s run for President) he described the sad state of the USA, describing it as rotten and then said (rather surprisingly) that he would like his bones buried in France and not, as he has always said, beside his lover in Washington.
I wonder if he was just being dramatic. It was lovely to see him… even though he is beyond frail.
Others at the party included the divine Ben Barns who played the other Dorian Gray, he told me how disappointed by the film he was.
Quite right! Not nearly as interesting as our deeply flawed Dorian. Eric Mc Cormack, Rufus Sewell and Michael Sheen all friends from different places and all at Stephen’s party. I had a wonderful time.
So nice to be included by someone who the British might describe as a National Treasure.
Stephen is, of course, the most gracious of all hosts. The food was excellent, the Pellegrino..well there’s not much more I can’t tell you about Pellegrino.
I took my friend Dane who looked a bit like Tarzan. He was wearing a tiny black vest… nipples like peanuts.
Met a British director called Toby and after Stephen’s we decided to hit WeHo where I met a whole host of adoring sex rehab fans but regardless of their drunken attempts to get into my boxer briefs-I slept alone.
It is simply too soon to start meeting folk again-especially after the feast of affection, love and intimacy I have gorged myself on this past few months.
If I miss anything about dear old HIM I miss that I will never kiss him again, that he will never nestle in my arms and sleep as lovers do. Hey ho, that’s going to be a hard one to replicate any time soon.