Dinner on Friday night with Ian Drew at Essex and Beauty. Large, noisy new restaurant..a bit too blingy for me but the food was excellent and paid for by the restaurant.
Try the steak tartare on the thick, tasty rice cake.
After dinner we went to a miserable East Village gay bar where men sat beside each other trying to snag other men elsewhere on Grindr. Their faces lit up by LED screens causing them all unwittingly, with their ghostly green visage, to look like that Ingres portrait of Napoleon.
Ian finished his drink. We left.
It has been startlingly cold. I love the cold. I get to dress up! Hats, hats, hats. Coats, waistcoats, velvet scarves. I love my burgundy velvet scarf. Last night I wore my Dior cape. It did not pass unnoticed.
Dressed accordingly, the Little Dog and I, walked to Soho House and began to write my film. Then, oddly, I had another really great idea for a film (or novel) inspired by my new, young HIV friend. It gushed onto the page like a waterfall. First, second and third act. Beginning, middle and the end.
Met and flirted with Brendan Fallis who is super cute. Steam room buddy.
Even though I am having a great time, I still irrationally fear bumping into Jake. Consequently there is something utterly ruined about these New York streets. Like after a blitz or something. Strewn with emotional rubble.
There seems to be a Jake clone on every corner and every time I see a man who looks like him I shudder.
I think of the special moments we shared here. Making love in the Jane Hotel. Reaching out and touching him in the street. Kissing him for the first time this time last year in the back of that bar on Third Avenue. Then the sadness comes. The questions, the feeling that I have been punched in the stomach.
If I’m hurt…can you imagine how badly that girl feels that he deceived for 7 years? Poor love. I hope she got herself back on her feet. Found somewhere nice to live…met a nice guy. She’s lucky she escaped. If he was beginning to do meth when I met him he’ll be HIV positive in no time at all. What a fucking cliché.
Hurt people, hurt people.
Yet, I exist in two completely different spheres. The reality of my life outweighs the fantasy.
As if to prove a point I had dinner with Federico, my artist friend from Palermo. We ate at Westville. The food came late but the conversation was very lively so it didn’t seem to matter. Then, my NYU poet friend Anthony joined us and we headed west to meet Hamish Bowles.
Hamish greeted me warmly. We’d met a couple of times many years ago.
Hamish is the real deal. The man Patrick Kinmonth and Issie Blow wished they could have been.
My fantasy about Hamish: that he went to Eton, life served effortlessly to him….couldn’t be further from the truth.
We actually had rather a lot in common. He too lived in Kent during his formative years. Went to a grammar school in Canterbury. We would have been knocking about Canterbury at exactly the same time…probably both very horny gay teenagers wondering where we could get cock.
Like Fenton Bailey he succeeded in spite of everything. In spite of his difference.
Hamish is primarily an academic, but his glamorous day job is the European Editor at Large for Vogue. He is a respected authority on both worlds of fashion and interior design.
In April 2001 he was appointed creative consultant at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with responsibility for organizing and mounting the internationally renowned and critically acclaimed Costume Institute Exhibition, “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years—Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library Museum”.
Hamish has a huge collection of haute couture that he lends to museums and galleries all over the world. The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Fashion Institute of Technology, and The Museum of the City of New York in Manhattan; the Palais Galliera and The Musee de la Mode, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Museum of London in London among others.
Recently he curated the Cristóbal Balenciaga show at The Spanish Institute. Opened by Queen Sofía of Spain entitled, “Balenciaga: Spanish Master,” the show examines the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga and his Spanish influences. 60 pieces of clothing and accessories including some from Hamish’s own collection and many unseen publicly before.
I am going to see the show on Tuesday.
We discussed Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, he had just seen at a private screening for Anna Wintour. You’ll remember that Jake and I met Cary this summer in Whitstable with Mia. Hamish said that, although a bit slow, he loved the film and cried all the way through. He reported that the costumes were perfect and historically accurate. He said that Mia’s performance was excellent.
Discussed Michael Bessman’s house that once belonged to the Baron de Meyer.
I cried all the way home. I couldn’t help myself.
I should be really happy. Deep down I am. I just need to learn how to consistently mine the joy I know is there.
Yesterday, in the hotel dining room, there were a sweet couple who are visiting Toronto for the weekend to get married. One was a very young, very tall, strapping jock and the other a much older, smaller, Jewish man who did the talking for the both of them. An odd couple. A pair that I would never even had pegged for a successful date let alone as lovers or as married but there you go, they were obviously very happy and excited by the prospect of their ‘big day’.
After an hour of quite baldly intrusive questioning I determined that they were getting married for all the ‘right’ reasons. They loved each other. They were committed to each other. They wanted to celebrate their union in the company of their friends and family. They were not concerned to have retirement/health/tax benefits. This is Canada so that is already part of the deal. In the USA the gays who bay for marriage seem to think only of what it means to them fiscally.
Why is it that US gay political figures have not advanced the rights of gay people in any meaningful way during the past 20 years where as we in the UK (with our deliciously out gay, joint toting cabinet ministers) and Canada, South Africa, Australia and across Europe gays have equal rights? The tactics used by American gays are obviously not working.
My gripe, ultimately, is with the gays and not the withholding ‘straight’ majority. The majority are just that: THE MAJORITY. Using the gay marriage stick to beat the straight donkey just makes the old mule stubborn and refuse to budge.
Gay activists must make many lawyers across the US very rich indeed. Demanding things from the entrenched. Making headway then having it all taken away. You can get married, you can’t get married. The wailing of the gays. Stop asking to get married because you are doing it for all the wrong reasons. AND you are pissing them off or worse delighting them every time they flick their tails and repeal your meagre reforms. I know that it may seem an odd question but given that you can’t and wont be able to any time soon in any way that equalizes your financial/inheritance situation. Why do you even want to get married? I want to know. The Toronto boys would have been perfectly happy with a get together on the beach with their family. All they wanted the world to know was that they were in love.
My concern for gays in the US is that they just want to be like ‘everyone else’ that they refuse to acknowledge their obvious difference and embrace and celebrate it. The middle class gays that determine the gay agenda are committed to the politics of invisibility. They want the right to get married not because they love each other GOD FORBID but because they want to be just like them (straights). Gays want to get married, have children, and live in elegant houses just like them. Sit on the school board just like them. The middle class gays with heterosexual aspirations want the trappings of the lives their parents had, the comfort and middle class normalcy and when they get it genuinely believe that the OTHERS might not realizes that there is any difference between them and us.
There is a huge difference, no matter how much we hide in fear from their reproachful eyes. We are different. However much we love ‘straight acting‘ ‘100% masculine’ we will always be evident in the way we walk, talk, dress, play-it is time to acknowledge that we are the ‘other’. In accepting who we are we can then stop demanding from the majority that they respect us. Nurture us. Give us permission to be just like them.
I have no intention of being anything other than what I am, I will not pretend to be more like them so that they can tolerate me, or worse ignore me because I have made such a great job of pretending a life that they have prescribed.
I have made a choice to live in a ‘free’ society. I have made a choice to commit to the freedoms of the USA. Yet, from my meager bluff overlooking the sea I don’t think that many people in the US are free at all. How can you be free when you live in fear? When you weigh so much that your ass can scarcely fit into a car, when you cannot identify the flora and fauna around you?
As I tour the US and the world with Dorian I listen to the way gay artists make work-although most gay artists are only eager to talk about money-and I am fascinated by how little new drama for this huge audience is being made. Where as once we were thrilled to have our stories told, the language and locations of gay life revealed-now we are perfectly satisfied to see ourselves on Desperate Housewives. Yet, ironically, mainstream gay and lesbian product is being made but it is not allowed at gay and lesbian film festivals. Gay and lesbian film festivals are not allowed to show Notes on a Scandal or Transamerica because the distributors of these films don’t want to be ‘pigeon holed’ as if amazingly they cannot embrace both kinds of audience. As if showing these films to gay audiences will some how devalue their product? This is unbridled homophobia and we colluded with it. We have little or no respect for our own culture so whilst the distributors get away with willful homophobia then gay film makers are not going to show or make work for gay audiences because they understandably feel that their work will not be taken seriously by those who hold the purse strings.
When gays devalue their own culture when deferring to the mainstream they become a lot dumber in the process. We have traded our rich culture for the mindless thump of our clubs and bars, spend our money on drugs and alcohol yet if prodded pretend that we are just like them, no difference at all. The similarities between Quentin Crisps 1940’s London and present day USA are startling. The attitude of gay men that by being different we ruin it for the rest is all too common.
I see men my age at bars in West Hollywood at the big cock contest, or men older and more powerful than me who will only sleep with straight guys. What have we become? I almost want to buy a wig and paint my nails, after all, drag in its purest form has always been an effective act of aggression.
May 17, 2007 – Thursday
There is a large John Lautner house out on the PCH for sale, it will cost who ever buys it 33 million dollars. At night it looks like it has been carved in amber.
I am in Toronto, here for the gay film festival. I am staying in a bed and breakfast that was once a very grand house. Dorian is the opening night film and I can’t get out of bed. I can’t move out of my room. I am ‘on line’ to various friends. Various websites. Looking, my eyes getting very tired.
Isabella Blow killed herself. She drank weed killer, paraquat, and took 3 days to die. Her husband’s father did the same. Her grandfather committed suicide too. She was an occasional friend to me. When I made The Baron in The Trees she oversaw extra ordinary pictures of me for Vogue. The week before she died she visited with Philippa in Langton St with her sister Lavinia. The last time I saw Isabella she was at a party Lucy Ferry threw with Si Newhouse at Lucy’s home in Kensington. She was with some Argentinean man who looked like a second-rate gigolo. I don’t remember her for her hats. I remember going to Hilles to see her and Detmar and Amory with Philippa and my friend Justin from Whitstable who was a simple lad who also committed suicide a few years later after he was set upon by homophobes in Camberwell. Isabella took him under her wing, realizing that he was totally out of his depth and said,” You know what you need young man-a pork pie!” and dragged him in his car to the village and bought him a HUGE pork pie.
I have one very funny picture of Isabella and Jay Jopling in my photo album. He looks bemused and she looks like an alien in mourning. He looks young.
You know that she was Tim Willis’s girlfriend for years but left him for Detmar Blow. I called her the night before she was to marry Detmar to ask why she was marrying him and she said, “I’m not marrying a man, I’m marrying a house.” Which was true. I used that line in AKA.
KB wrote yesterday:
‘Sorry, darling Duncan, missed all the excitement around Dorian – though I saw Mrs. Merton last week, who mentioned she’d seen you. Issie’s funeral yesterday. Amazing send-off with horse-drawn hearse (very beautiful – though I forgot to remind Detmar that she had wanted a glass coffin a la Snow White!) from Glos Cathedral. kept remembering their wedding there and was sad, but service was rather uplifting and Rupe Everett gave a very good address. Detmar did a good wake at Hilles afterwards and I saw lots of old friends.’
I met Issie when I was twenty-four. She was seeing Tim Willis in those days and they had just moved into Tim’s apartment in Notting Hill. Tim Willis married Joanna and then I became the God Father to their child. Issie could not have children. There was some shenanigans about Hilles and children and how Detmar’s mother wanted her daughter (can’t remember her name) who married Crusty Levinson (who was married to Philippa’s sister Francine) and their children to have the house. In aristocratic circles to lose out on the big house is a DISASTER. She indeed married the house but it was stolen from her.
Good-bye Isabella Delves Broughton nee Blow.
Since I last wrote my blog I have moved to Malibu and now sit high above the sea on a small bluff. Everybody visits so I am not alone. I am in Toronto unable to leave my room and I miss it terribly-my house. The very light traffic outside my hotel room woke me at 5am.
I moved from Whitstable finally-just as the peonies were about to bloom, ants on their sticky buds. I have not really stopped grieving my Whitstable loss but will do when my stuff gets to Malibu. In some ways I wish that the whole lot would sink in the Atlantic. But that might mean that people would get hurt which I don’t want.
Dinners during the past month included: Birthday dinner for and with John Dewis and Kevin West where I met the utterly adorable Elliot Hundley. Opening of Dan Flavin show at LACMA. New age baby shower on Mulholland with babies spirit guide who had been ‘communing with foetus’ and wanted us all to celebrate that the baby was looking forward to being born, to be made flesh. Derek Frost and Jeremy invited me to dinner in Pimlico when I traveled to London for premiere of Dorian. Dorian, up on the big screen in Leicester Square. How did it feel? Not great. I love the film but others were not so kind. People who get it-get it. The others are the others and perhaps they are right. Even so, this experience is more exciting than AKA, which was only great when it got to Outfest. Then that soured when the onslaught happened and I was unprepared for them, for when they love something and you don’t believe it.
Melanie threw a dinner for me with Mickey Wolfson and others came too. My new best friend Wendy A had lunch in Malibu with her and Barry Levinson and others.
Seeing a great deal of Joe who made moving effortless and wonderful. In fact he is making my life all that much nicer by being good to me.
I gave my brother Martin my Porsche, which seemed to delight him. I gave my fridge to Babs and Tony. I took down all the curtains and deconstructed the house. I said goodbye to every one of my plants. I felt like such a traitor for leaving them behind. Tim came by with Jo and Sibbley. He brought gypsy tart and we ate it at Babs house with hot tea.
When I returned from my final month is Whitstable Dom collected me from the airport and when I got back to the new place Joe was in the new kitchen cooking dinner. The new garden is a huge undertaking. Thankfully I have discovered a nursery that is closing down on the PCH and is selling everything very cheaply. Yesterday I bought an 8 foot cactus and planted it.
Bought Euphorbia and aloes and agaves.
I listen to the coyote at night howling and chattering and eating baby deer. I am eager to see a rattlesnake. I saw a mountain lion. A raccoon got into my car and ate skittles. A Blue Jay raided the humming-bird nest and stole all the baby humming birds. Trevor stopped by and heated the Jacuzzi and we lay in it with Eyal the Israeli boy who is dark and mysterious.
So much more has happened but I can’t remember or don’t want to remember. I had a great time in Miami and lay by the pool at the Raleigh with VD and CZ. I am as brown as a nut and looking forward to great wrinkles on my face.
April 9, 2007 – Monday
I walked from my house on Wavecrest to Janet Street-Porter’s house half a mile away toward Seasalter. She has attached an ugly wooden fence to the sea wall since the coastal defense agency raised the height of the beach.
I only saw two dogs. The beach is much brighter than it was. They spent last summer trucking tons of new stone onto the old beach filling the gaps between the new wooden groins. They used a whole forest of timber, I wondered if it came from a sustainable forest.
From the train the new beach looks beautiful but the new stones are mostly flint like a Deal or Dover beach rather than a Whitstable beach. The stones on a Whitstable beach are small, treacle and honey colored pebbles. These flint rocks are huge and difficult to walk on. This has caused much consternation to the dog walkers and weekend strollers. People collect the larger flint pieces and stack them up for others to see. The spring tide had obviously been very high as there was a ribbon of black, dry seaweed swept onto the new pale shore.
I walked back into town and bought a free range corn-fed chicken that I am going to cook for Cathy and Rufus. I stopped in at Wheelers and drained a cup of tea. Mark Stubbs the genius chef arrived, as I was half way through my cupper. I sat in the parlor at the back and finished my tea and flicked through the Whitstable Times. Mark Stubbs is the chef at Wheelers and I have known him and his delightful family since he was a teenager. I have seen him evolve into a fine chef. He understands how to take risks with flavor, he knows how to set something onto a plate and make it look delicious. He is a master because he cares.
Most of the shops on the High Street were closed, as it is bank holiday Monday. I had promised Cathy that I would make bread and butter pudding as per Arabella Boxer’s recipe. It requires that I use stale French bread. Thankfully Dave was in the deli and gave me a heap of stale brioche so I will use that instead. My God, what a change! When I first started making bread and butter pudding 15 years ago it was impossible to buy a vanilla pod on the High Street let alone stale brioche from a friend.
I felt sad in bed last night. I kept thinking about Danny. I am a long way away from my LA AA. I received e-mail from one of the morning gang, urging me to come home. It cheered me up tremendously.
I have no idea if I will be moving into my Malibu house when I get back as I have heard nothing from Kelly. I may just stick around in London. I have everything I need here.
The house next door has been renovated so mine looks spectacular. I got used to living next door to a derelict house. I am almost pleased that I am staying. The plot at the end of the garden has been cleared and looks like the building work is well underway. It is good to be grateful for the world around you. I try to and see the best in everything. However, when I get ill I tend to have a very bleak outlook. Jet lag, a cold and a long way from an AA meeting made me feel despondent.
I wish that I had my Premiere tonight I would feel like I could rise to the challenge.
After a few years in the USA with their can do attitude I am dumbfounded by the petty attitude of the British. The ones I know-but mostly I don’t. They say sneeringly, “Oh you art directed your own film.” As a sort of put down. Why should this be? Of course I want to art direct my film. I would shoot it and edit it too if I could. Last week, my head full of cold I was in no mood to defend my film. This week I am.
April 8, 2007 – Sunday
I am sitting on the balcony overlooking the pale gray/blue sea. I have been in England for a couple of weeks but have still not overcome my jet lag. Part of me seems absent without leave. I slept in a bed on the plane from LA. It was very odd. I decided to open the B&B for Easter. I hung the freshly painted sign and made the beds with new linen and made a trip to Somerfields to get bacon and eggs. This morning I cooked the eggs and bacon for my guests. They were a nice couple from Stratford; they worked for Carlsberg-good folk from the Midlands. She ate a bacon sandwich but he ate the full English and I was pleased as they left too much on their plates yesterday.
A bee is trapped in my bedroom and keeps bashing its face into the glass. The front of the house is gleaming white as after the guests paid me I took a mop bucket full of soapy water and a stepladder and washed the ship lap. I used a dishcloth on the boards but in fact I should have mopped the front of the house but this idea only just occurred to me.
Rather a lot happened since I last wrote my blog.
So, as I am back in Whitstable with no real plan to return to LA I shall start my walking and writing routine once again. There are no 7am AA meetings here. There are no mountains. I began smoking again three weeks ago. Have stopped this past three days.
The Oscars, lets start with them. They were very dull this year. I spent the few days before the big day and the day after with Todd Eborly the Vanity Fair photographer. Todd very kindly dragged me willingly from one obscure party to the next. We originally met at Eugenio’s house at some function although I may have met him with Samia at Art Basel in Miami. I think we met this time at the Robert Wilson after show party. Amazingly, ever since I had my run in with the ghastly Doug Christmas I bump into him everywhere and it was at the Ace Gallery that Robert had his show. I first met Robert Wilson in Paris when I was 19 years old. He didn’t remember me but we discussed Philippe Chemin and his girlfriend (now his wife) Robin who apparently are still together.
It was because of them that I (apparently) fell out with Samia all those years ago-a resentment that the old ferret had held onto for 25 years. After ten years a resentment has more to do with the person who bears it than the person it is about. Anyway, Robert asked me what I thought about his show and as I had not seen it I made some clever, nondescript remark that amused Todd. Met Darrel Hannah and a bunch of über gays. Doug Christmas and I looked at one another suspiciously across Eugenio’s huge drawing room-past the Twombley and the Warhol’s.
Two days later Ronnie Sassoon, Todd and I watched a huge Jeff Koons, green metal elephant craned high into the blue LA sky reflecting the palm trees and dropped into place in Eugenio’s newly landscaped garden whilst his maid fed us Mexican food and the curator of his collection danced like a demented pixie in the street in a black satin Balenciaga rain coat and fedora. It was bright but bitterly cold. Ronnie and I wrapped ourselves in cream cashmere blankets.
Eugenio has bought a bunch of bronze spiders that look like they are by Louise Bourgeois but in fact are just tat. When I asked Richard Squire at our lunch with Joe Townly and that sweet lesbian he hangs out with why Eugenio would buy such rubbish Richard replied that it was really none of my business as Eugenio was, “Richer than God.” Joe and I, to this day, laugh about his answer.
Soho House opened in LA for their usual Oscar fortnight in a huge house quite close to where Eugenio lives. Ate lunch there with Ronnie and Todd. Given much free stuff. The night before Oscar night snogged Sharon there again. Met Amy Berg who was nominated for an Oscar for her documentary about child abuse. Met Hillary the real producer of Children of Men who was furious that her picture had been ignored by the Hollywood establishment. She dashed furiously about Soho House followed by three assistants who trailed miserably in her wake.
The Diane von Furstenberg/Barry Diller party at their sprawling Bel Air estate was very pleasant. I met Paul Allen and Shirley MacLean. I ate lunch with David Hockney and discussed the camera obscura. Helen Mirren was adorable and I was happy to have had the chance to meet her. I flirted a great deal with a realtor called Chris from Malibu and have met him twice since then. Dennis Hopper and I reminisced about Romania. He had just seen Coppola’s new film-an art film. Dennis was deliciously confused. Rupert Murdoch, David Geffen and other powerful men as well as the prerequisite fashion crowd who were horrendous. Tamara Mellon and her fat, gay, best friend who is some how related to Joan Collins sat with her ex husband. Oswald Botang was there with his bunch. There were a few film stars and a cute waiter as well as some delicious boy from Sydney. Todd and I stayed till the end. I will prob never go to that party again so I was determined to squeeze every moment out of it. Paris and Stavros were also at Barry’s garden party dressed in almost middle-aged, sensible clothing, they looked like a perfectly normal young couple.
However, at Paris Hilton’s birthday party the following night at her ugly little house she transformed into PARIS! the celebrity with crop top and trashy hair. I am convinced that she has two homes, one for trashy Paris and one for chic Paris. Her birthday party was only worthwhile as one got to gaze longingly at Stavros who is not only incredibly beautiful but also the most charming man alive. Paris’s trashy house is full of portraits of her and terrible people but Todd, John Dewis and I had our pictures taken by a company who make 3d laminated fridge magnates. We spent more time in the valet parking than the party.
Spent the Oscar awards at Dede Gardener’s (runs Brad Pitts production company) and her husband’s beautiful house in Hollywood. As the ceremony unfolded there was much talk about Brad Gray and Brad Pitt and their involvement with Scorsese’s The Departed. All too convoluted to explain here. Their child is adorable and her house is packed with great stuff and marvelous art. Great vintage wallpaper in the bathroom-huge silver cranes dance against a pale blue landscape.
I spent time at Soho House and did not go to the Chateau Marmont.
Very sweetly Damien (Hirst) invited me to his show at Larry Gagosian’s and the party afterwards at the Bar Marmont. There was a very odd moment when I found myself with Damien and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I didn’t say much. We just kissed and that was it.
Spent a good amount of time with Maia, Damien’s wife. She was wearing a white pleated leather dress by Jil Sander.
I met my friend Justin the model at the after party and we headed over to Eugenio’s when we tired of Damien’s crowd.
Met Lynn Wyatt and a bunch of elderly, stick thin socialites at some gay rich boys Hollywood house. Dominick Dunne and others there. Fried chicken-apparently he cooked the food himself. Todd took wonderful photograph of Lynn Wyatt by portrait of Betsy Bloomingdale.
Ronnie commissioned Todd to take pictures of the Singleton House by Neutre, which she has restored. It was very beautiful but I am afraid not nearly as beautiful as her own house, which is so stunning, I cannot begin to describe it. It was so beautiful it made me cry. Actually, the Singleton House is ruined. I cannot beat around the bush and as much as I love Ronnie she has ruined that house with sunken bars and huge non descript rooms. There, I wrote it.
My film premiered in London to a bunch of sour faced gays and lesbians and five baby celebrities-the Geldof children and some band front man. This is exactly what happened to AKA. Sneered at by UK gays. If I had been a Mexican or Japanese they would have loved it but as I am home-grown I tolerated their pursed lips and arched eyebrows.
I couldn’t care less about them. Two days previous my good friend and occasional lover Danny Ross was killed on an LA freeway so all I could really think about was his sweet face. That night I erased his number from my Blackberry. I was numb. Stayed with Sharon Marshall in Brixton. The girly self-help book that she is writing with Tara PT strewn over the dining room table.
I have stayed numb ever since I heard about Danny. His death has made me angry and despondent. Nothing really matters.
Since I have been home my cousin Caroline came to visit me, her huge, sad Irish eyes and long fingers in my kitchen. She wanted me to remove any mention I made about her father in my blog but I refused. Nothing will make me censor the truth in these pages.
I bumped into my brother Martin; I walked The Kings Road with Joe. Phil and I could not sleep so we sat up into the night drinking tea and giggling.
I have lost a bunch of weight and last night a man I know from London drove here and stayed over. It was a fruitless exchange. My head was with Danny on the freeway, thinking about his body smashed to pieces on the cold hard road. I thought about his smile and delicate kisses. I could not stop thinking about how much I wished I had made time for him the day before I left LA but instead I was finishing a film for a bunch of piss elegant, precious gays who did not deserve my time.
I know that Dorian is flawed, like an unfinished work of art. It is art. I know it.
I know that my film is sort of broken to pieces but I love it. I know what I have to do to fix it but I can’t. It’s too late. I am angry about the death of my friend.
February 2, 2007 – Friday
I am back in LA. Feels like I am back at work/school/LA. Various pre-Oscar dramas unfolding, Hollywood intrigue playing itself out in front of me. I am not as invested as I was last year. Last year I was at the center of it all with Sharon to see how it worked. It was utterly exhausting. I will not be going to the parties this year. I may pop into the Soho House rented mansion. Anyhow, I am just not interested in the films they have in competition this year.
Went with Kevin Zegers to Hyde. He is a sweet thing. Interesting listening to his take on the making of Trans America. He is Canadian. Liked him a great deal. At the Golden Globes last year Brad Pitt said to him, ‘Trans America is your Thelma and Louise.’ Which is a pretty damned cool thing to hear. Kevin stole Trans America from David Gallagher. David lost TA and made DG instead.
Up on the Canyon this morning it was very cold. It has been really cold here. I like it. There were very few people there, fewer dogs. The guys that tend the path were using a very noisy machine, a ‘low blower’ they said, and that is what it does-very loudly. It blows dust all over the place. What about using a broom?
So, I thought about how lazy we all were and how much I hate the TV remote control and how it was the best and worst invention of the past fifty years. I thought about those ‘home entertainment’ rooms that folk have here and how many remote controls these people have lined up in front of them desperate to be entertained. Last week I invited a friend to my home and he was amazed that I don’t own a television set. American TV depresses me. It makes me miserable. The commercials are grueling, relentless and mind altering. The content is formulaic baby food. When I live in NYC I lay on the sofa when I can’t sleep and watch the Home Shopping Network because there are no commercials and the content is exactly what it is-selling. The Home Shopping Network is authentic, amusing, dramatic, reality TV at its very best. I love it. Occasionally I am tempted, like an alien from another planet, to pick up the phone and buy something. Austrian Art Glass or a cover all powder that gives a translucent glaze to any skin in any tone. I listen to the rehearsed testimonials and I am transported.
Jean and I drove in his Mazeratti to Malibu and the mountains around there. As the sun began to set, low in the winter sky, the grassy hillocks at the base of the mountains were covered in silver grass that looked like fur. We had gone to look at a beautiful modernist house perched on 15 acres of land on the top of a huge mountain that is For Sale and we were tempted to pool our resources and buy it. The air was bitter. Remember it had been snowing in Malibu only two weeks previously.
Had lunch with Amanda Ross who invited me to Laurie Simmons event at The Billy Wilder Cinema at The Hammer. It was an ‘art’ film. Meryl Streep can sing! There was much applauding the work but I must be honest, I do not understand why Laurie Simmons feels that an obscure art film needs a conventional narrative. I don’t get it. Laurie’s film was shot by Ed Lachman who had introduced me to Brian Jackson the Dorian DP. She had worked with Mathew Weinstein who I had a brief affair with when he lived in London 20 years ago. He was so gorgeous then. I had dinner with Merle Ginsberg at Red Pearl Café after the film. Met Amanda’s rather handsome fiancé.
Had meeting with my agent at Urth Café flushed from his trip to Sundance.
Back at school, getting on with shit. Every moment of every day, in every situation in LA we work toward our filmmaking goal. Every relationship and situation unfolding in front of us like so many jewels, sifting out the paste from the diamonds.
January 28, 2007 – Sunday
FIGHTING IS MY GENIUS
I seem to have fought all of my life with people, places and things yet I perceive myself as having a placid soul. For as long as I can remember it was inequity, in all its manifestations, that caused me to become furiously angry. As an infant I knew instinctively that the way my stepfather treated my mother was wrong and caused us all the loss of dignity. I fought hard against him even though his cruelty was more than any match for a small boy. I knew that the way my Uncle Norman beat his wife was wrong and caused her to lose her baby but nobody seemed to do anything about it. The desperate screams of women were familiar to me when I was a boy. My brothers may scoff at this description of our shared history but sometimes I think that they may have lived in a dream of our childhood where their father was some how absolved of his brutality simply because of their blood relationship with him. Because they were his children the beatings they received were not as unjust as mine?
Even though we had a tough time at home it is good to remember that only sixty years before I was born in Whitstable there were still child prostitutes in Victorian London that a man could buy and take to padded rooms in Wimpole Street and kill. We were, my brothers and I, lucky children of the post war, 1960’s modern world and all of the promises of the age were just revealing themselves to the men and women of my parents generation.
When I was born my shamed mother and I were hidden away from society yet only ten years later life in Britain had changed so radically that my ‘behavioral problems’ had been identified and I was taken to child psychiatrists, sent to hospitals etc. so that my maladjustment might be healed with group therapy and words. The massive head injuries that I received in a car accident when I was 5 would nowadays be factored into understanding my erratic behavior and vile temper but this was simply overlooked.
Like so many men I have tried, all my life, to make sense of myself. To have the luxury of sitting comfortably in my own skin. Ten years ago, after a life of therapy, hospitals, transactional analysis, cognitive therapy, prison encounter groups, sweat lodges, reike, traveling etc., after a life of talking it through and telling my fucking story over and over so that sooner or later the truth of my mad bad head would be magically revealed I ended up in a beautiful house in Kensington on my own snorting coke first thing in the morning knowing for sure that things were not meant to be like this.
By the time that morning came around I was unable to leave the house due to paranoid delusions and periodically black liquid flooded out of my nose at the most inappropriate moments, at dinner in Quo Vadis for instance. Ten years ago I self-medicated with hard drugs and alcohol and even used to attend sessions with my expensive psychiatrist high on coke.
I then began my sober journey.
It became apparent that the question I so badly needed answered by so many therapists I did not know how to frame. I knew that I was a mess, that my life was in ruins, that I was somehow responsible but the fundamental question remained. The question that I needed answered through out my adult life was this: How come I hated my stepfather so much yet became so much like him? How come I had scant regard for those around me when I was so plagued with the terrors of inequity? How come I thought nothing of screaming at those who were only trying to do their best? How come?
The answers are not always palatable, even to me.
The reality is that I do not live a good-hearted world of benevolent people eager to do the very best for one another or even themselves. The skills of hard heartedness that my stepfather taught me are skills I needed to embrace rather than heal with therapies.
Recently I have begun to thank my stepfather for making my skin thick enough to fight for what I believe in or take the hard knocks and learn how to box with precision. I do not tolerate being beaten by those who give me pains or lawyers who give you bad, self-serving advice or untrained, untested co-workers who expect an opportunity but give very little in return. Married women who want you to fuck them yet blame you when you do. Straight boys who put out but hate you for exploiting their desires.
I can thank my step-father for teaching me not to be led by the nose or having overwhelming capitalist fantasies. I don’t want a big house. I have never wanted a big house. All I have ever desired is one room with a perfect view. What else could I possibly want? What is ENOUGH for one man?
At Anthony’s house this week he asked me what he needed to do to make a low-budget film. ‘How did you do it?” If I have been asked once I have been asked a million times. How do you do it? As if there were a private door from a previously hidden corridor that they may not have noticed behind which the secret of making a low-budget feature film lay. Usually I am polite when I am asked this question and try to help who ever is asking delude themselves that they will make feature films. For part of the truth is this: If you are asking me this question it is unlikely that you will ever make a film. If you are looking for a softer, easier path then you will never make a film. The secret door does not exist.
The truth of how I continue, against the odds, to make films is: I am a GENIUS.
I am a GENIUS because: I get off my ass, I write the script, I raise money, persuade people to work and then I force the film into the world. I do not feel fear and when problems arise I deal with them creatively and in a way that benefits the final product. When the film is made I call my friends in the press and get them to write about it and then I sell it all by myself. That is how I do it and if I need to do it this way then so be it. I never answer questions about budget because it’s personal. When people ask me how big my budget is I tell them that it is 8 inches long and quite thick. Asking about a person’s budget is more personal than how big his cock is. Don’t ask. Nobody ever tells you the truth.
I am a GENIUS because I am making films and you are not. Do gallery owners get asked endlessly how to open a gallery or novelists asked endlessly how to write a novel? I have no idea. When I made theatre nobody ever asked me what they needed to know, what great secret I had that they needed to know to make theatre.
I am a GENIUS because when I make a film I can’t take no for an answer and for that I am truly grateful to my beastly step-father and Derek Jarman who gave me that piece of advice long before I even contemplated making films.
I am a GENIUS because even if I had to make a film using my mobile phone I would do it.
Remember the other great and terrible truth about film-making: Nobody wants to make your film.
Even if you are really, really famous and well-connected and a marvelous director nobody wants to make your film.
The only films worth making are the ones that you are passionate about.
So, I am a BAFTA nominated, award-winning GENIUS and so is everyone else who gets off their ass and makes a film.
I have only one person to thank for this: My step-father who taught me to never back down, to take it on the chin and ultimately not be afraid and keep on fighting. He taught me to think beyond what was expected of me and anticipate problems way ahead of anyone else. He taught me to ignore what people say about me, the lies they tell, whether it is Oscar or Joe or anyone else. Perhaps that is why I never really found it hard to forgive him and never forgave my simpering Mother.
I have wasted most of my life trying NOT to be like my stepfather David Roy when all along I needed to follow in his footsteps and embrace every single thing he ever beat into me as the living truth.
January 24, 2007 – Wednesday
I killed a mosquito this morning. I slapped it against the wall with a pair of yesterday’s underpants. It exploded all over the place with my fresh red blood, blood it had just sucked out of my foot. I am sitting in the Book Kitchen waiting for Zoë, Anita and Teddy so that I can order my poached eggs. Last night Zoë’s landlord’s Ross and Renata cooked us dinner and their highly entertaining children (Dom 6 and Nick 10) amused us with made up jokes and mayhem.
I spent the afternoon with Anthony S in his rather nice Woollarha house watching The Corporation, which is a very long documentary essay about the history, excesses and fight against capitalism. Susan Sarandon’s voice was very irritating. I was moved by the description of the Bolivian water riots. Decided to make some changes in life when I got back to UK-am already not leaving too much of a foot print but could be leaving less. Anthony’s gruff, rich, stepfather arrived in the middle of the film and Anthony turned it off as if we were watching pornography. We continued watching only after he had left the room. After the film we ate sweet things in Jones The Grocers then I drove home.
Two weeks ago I saw Steven Frear’s film The Queen. I didn’t really want to see it because I find anything to do with Diana very, very disturbing and, like Brokeback Mountain, did not want to risk bawling my eyes out. Anyway, I had to see it as I am a BAFTA voter and take my voting very seriously. The experience turned out not to be as painful as I thought. Helen Mirren was great but I really wouldn’t expect anything less. She is an English Character actress who has worked with really outstanding people-Peter Brook for instance. Pretending is what our actors do best. Pretending to be Tony Blair and The Queen shouldn’t be that hard with a voice coach and a good wig. In fact I thought that Mirren’s range within her role of The Queen was rather limited, she spent the entire film pulling one face, a perplexed look of gentle concern. Like she was gazing into the middle distance desperate for answers. Do people really think that HRH is like this? Do they think that HRH is a sweet, benign little old lady? Do they think that Cherie Blair provided fish fingers and comic relief to her husband and children and is capable of feeble thinking as written by Peter Morgan? Did he forget that she is one of the most highly regarded Barristers in the UK?
This my HRH The Queen evidence:
I saw her once at Smith’s Lawn shortly after I left prison and could see her suspenders quite clearly through her boucle skirt. I saw her on TV crying when Blair took away her yacht Brittania. She did not cry when the rest of her people were crying at the death of Diana.
Strangely, some years ago I was invited to a gruesome, Conservative Party Dinner and Dance held at the cavernous Kings Hall in Herne Bay. I sat next to the ex Mayor of Canterbury. I can’t remember his name but he was a kind, small old man of simple taste and brain. I asked him if he had ever met the Queen. To my amazement he told me this story about HRH The Queen.
In his Mayoral capacity he had to greet the Queen upon her arrival in Canterbury with the Lord Lieutenant of Kent and sit in the car with HRH and Prince Philip for the duration of an official engagement. It was a freezing cold, winters day and The Queen arrived by Royal train at Canterbury Station for some Christian event at the Cathedral she is, after all, the head of the Anglican Church-nothing between her and God. The train arrived late and one of the equerries or Ladies in Waiting sprinted over to the Mayor and his party giving him the heads up that HRH was in a filthy mood as she hates being late for anything. A few moments later a very grumpy HRH got off the train, leapt into her car refusing to stop to speak to wheel chair bound constituents who had been waiting in the cold and wet for hours. The Mayor begged her to stop for a moment to speak with her subjects. “Do we have to?” She moaned. At the Cathedral she met the Arch Bishop performed her function then the worthies retired with her to the Arch Bishop’s home. At this point the Mayor had to present HRH with a book as a present from the people of Canterbury. When he handed it to her she said, “Not another book!” Dismayed the Mayor, a very simple man, said, “It’s a very valuable book Ma’me.” The Queen looks at Prince Philip and says, “Oh valuable is it? That’s good, we’ll sell it when we lose all our money.” The Queen and Prince Philip then have a fit of laughter at their ‘joke’.
The mayor was neither impressed with the behaviour or attitude of The Queen or her notoriously rude husband.
I met Paul Keating (ex Prime Minister of Australia) this week. He has the most famous HRH story of them all. The back touching. The faux pas. International outrage. He was pottering around at his house. Paul Keating is definitely one of my heroes.
Katherine Phillips, my occasional friend, had lunch with HRH in Scotland but was thrown off the table for having a cold, “Has that girl got a cold?” HRH said. Now, I don’t know if this last story is true but worth retelling anyway.
So, I saw Frear’s movie The Queen and I thought that the Royals came off rather well. What really happened at Balmoral may very well have been a lot less calm and openly hostile to the memory of our Princess Diana. The Princess, which The Establishment worked so tirelessly for us to love in their gruesome soap opera was dead. When she died I will never forget how they wheeled out those old, bitter Queens to defend the Monarch, St John Steevas and that hump-backed monster historian who has the history show on TV and The Moral Maze. It all makes me feel sick. Yet, do I subscribe to The Establishment, The Corporation or The People?
When Diana was killed in the car accident and the flowers started piling up outside Kensington Palace Princess Alexandra sneered at them wondering if the poor had better things to do with their money than spend it on the memory of Diana.
Like The Corporation The Monarchy will go to any lengths to protect its power. So, The Princess is killed in a tragic accident. Within hours The Establishment seeks to disable our memory of her and refocus us on the good works and youth of The Two Young Princes Harry and William. It takes time but finally we embrace them once again. We do so eagerly, as we are told to do. But as hard as I want to forget I will never forget that morning when I woke up and, like so many people, believed that I lived in a country that had assassinated it’s ‘people’s princess’ regardless of whether it was true or not.
Book Café, Surrey Hills, Sydney
It is raining today. Hard. The streets are flooded. Rain drops loudly on the tin roofs. Nobody complains about the weather because of the drought. This morning, like every morning for the past week, I have ordered poached eggs and bacon.
I spent the early part of the morning at the dentist having a crown replaced that fell off in the 101 Cafe in LA 6 weeks ago. I did not feel the needle go in. My nose is still numb from the anesthetic and I am concerned that stuff is hanging out of it because that’s how it feels. I have to go back tomorrow to have the last of the mercury fillings removed and replaced with white porcelain. Finally getting rid of all those ugly, unnecessary fillings British National Health Service dentists made us suffer just for an extra tenner a pop. That’s what they were being paid by the government to fill our teeth. Taking perfectly fine teeth drilling them and filling them with mercury. I have been traumatized by British dentists just like so many 40 something men and women. Consequently, my poor gentle Australian dentist has to deal with me in his office sweating and squirming and swearing at him.
As the end of my Australian trip approaches I must tell you all that I have had a lovely, relaxing time. I left my hotel on Oxford Street and stayed with my friend Zoë Wane. Together we have traversed the city from one huge house to another. When we weren’t enjoying the many mansions of her rich friends we sat in the Cricketers Arms that Zoë’s brother runs where we sat with Vito who looks like Bart Simpson all grown up (see pics) and Jack who looks like Castro and her twin friends Teddy and Larry. Last week, Anita, Teddy’s girlfriend cooked a Malay feast at her home which was so delicious I thought that nothing I would ever eat again would ever compare to what she served at her table that night. Zoë and I ate at Fratelli in Potts Point with Zoë’s friend Ben Brady and endless coffee shops in all the Eastern Suburbs with various combinations of the above.
Last night Ben’s girlfriend Jasmine and her mother prepared Persian food and we sat and ate on their balcony discussing Lebanon and Iran and watching forked lightning dance over the sea.
I had dinner with my friend Vassilli Kalliman who took me to his brand new gallery and introduced me to the wonderful work of Sally Smart and David Griggs. We ate at Bird Cow Fish on Crown St., which was very satisfying. I saw Sophie Mears and Anthony Sissian and swam with them at Bondi they told me that they had been living three blocks from me in LA. I walked around Coogee bay with Kate Fisher and we sat fully clothed on the rocks being sprayed by huge waves. I ate pasta on the lawn of the Darling’s beautiful home in Bellvue Hill with their son Daniel and his gorgeous South African girlfriend.
My dear old friend Charles Wilson, the furniture designer, and I ate dinner at his house and whilst trying to assemble his very chic candelabra I spilt a huge mug of coffee over my white trousers. Ken Neal took me to one of many dinners I had at Fish Face on the Darlinghurst Road. I ate the sashimi on every occasion, had everything on the menu once and the fish curry twice.
I saw Jess Cook who prepared a lunch time avocado salad for me to eat in her loft. I saw Rose who took me to a one nighter at the Flinders Arms called Health Club. I tanned on various beaches and had occasional tangled phone calls with people in other countries. Saw Dreamgirls and hated it. Saw Babel and respected it. Saw Marie Antoinette and loathed it but remembered what it was like to shoot AKA in Versailles. I finished the first draft of my new Untitled LA Project and I wrote a gratitude list every day and sent it to my AA sponsor.
I slept alone and often wondered about someone I had left behind in NYC-you know who you are. I thought about Sharon and developed a nasty resentment against Samia who has not returned my e-mails despite the fact that at this time last year she was so obsessed with me that she flew uninvited to LA and behaved toward me like Glen Close in that bunny boiling film. As usual I got all the blame.
Unsatisfyingly bumped into Oscar H at Fiveways who was all snipes and false promises and Peter S at The Bayswater Brasserie who was frankly annoying although I enjoyed seeing his brother Charles and his charming uncle.
I will miss the friendship, the food, the beauty, the vista and most of all I will miss who I become when I am here. The man I allow myself to be. Calm, kind and full of hope. I will try to carry all of this good me back to LA and The Oscars and to Baja Mexico where I started blogging last year and where this year I am meeting Phil H to watch the whales migrate at the beginning of February. Thousands of them.
January 10, 2007
The Book Kitchen, Surrey Hills, Poached eggs.
I have found a new walk to walk every morning. Bronte to Bondi along the coastal path. Up at 6.30 I wake poor Zoë and drag her out of bed, drive to Bronte and we walk. God damn, such beauty we pass in nature and human form. “You missed that one.” Zoë said this morning as some perfect being sprinted past us and out of sight. And such is the nature of my addictive personality I want to run back and catch a glimpse of what ever I had missed. We mostly both walk quietly, however, lost in our own thoughts. Gazing out to sea. It always looks so inviting even though there were warnings of bad currents at Bronte. The air is wet and piquant with sea spray that dries the moment it touches our faces. I love my morning walk, all my thoughts are collected there. I don’t have the same sort of meditative experience that I have on Runyon Canyon but quite frankly I am never so full of loathing and resentment here as I am in LA. Here I am calm and fearless. Perhaps my renewed vigor in AA has caused me to be less furious. Perhaps I just feel safer and why shouldn’t I? Anyhow, what ever it is, I am losing weight, being calm, tanned and start the day with a new kind of optimism. I passed three dogs on the path. This is not a dog culture. No tiny house bound, constipated dog children to negotiate, no screamers, no dust.
What will be will be.
We were going to Bronte yesterday to swim with Teddy and Anita but ended up at Nelson’s Park which is a harbor beach packed with Greek families swimming within the confines of the shark net. We swam beyond the net risking being eaten by great whites. Met Eugenie who used to go out with Oscar and had a brief flirtation with one of the Grimaldi boys and a bunch of Zoë’s very thin chums who were being perved over by men who sat like vultures at the periphery of the group. The girls are so thin most of them look like boys. No wonder thin women feel they need breast augmentation. I swam with Teddy and James in the warm water then we went for a precarious rock climb along the shore. I am not a sprightly as I once was and lagged behind these 22-year-old boys who scampered over the rocks like lizards. On the way back we discussed how a lobster sheds its shell. They did not believe that a lobster could shed its entire shell and sit soft and vulnerable on the ocean bed whilst it waited for its new exoskeleton to harden up. This odd knowledge comes from me hanging around the kitchen at Wheelers listening to Delia, who, by the way I miss terribly. When we all got home and verified the disputed lobster information on the Internet I won a $5 wager.
On the way to the beach a small, old woman was trapped in the drive of her huge Vaucluse home by a selfish person who had parked in front of her gate. We commiserated with her and wondered who could have possibly done such a thing. I told her it was probably the muslims which she agreed with without a seconds thought. It would seem that Muslims and global warming account for all most every bad thing that happens nowadays.
Anita cooked dinner for us all at her Mother’s house and then we drove to Hyde Park barracks to listen to Hip Hop, which was all part of the Sydney Festival. Ugly Duckling were the headliners and of course we found ourselves back stage with the politest most unthreatening rappers you ever did meet. I entertained them with my meeting Jay Zee in New York and The Game in LA stories which dumb found people who know about rap. Anyway, Zoë knew the guys who were on before Ugly Ducking who are the sweetest, blue-eyed, public school boys who rap about how nasty stale muesli is and his mum asking him to tidy his room. Very sweet. The white, middle class audience bobbed around half-heartedly. White rap is not as authoritative as black rap. You simply don’t feel that thump in the chest that you do when you hear black rapper men shouting at you. We went to the gaslight after the concert and bid farewell to James who flew to London this morning. I did not envy him flying back to London. Not one bit.
January 7, 2007 – Sunday
It is cloudy again today but deliciously warm and humid.
Most of my days here in Sydney are spent doing what I came here to do: write. I write in the mornings. I get up at 6am. I spend a good hour messing around on the internet. Read mail, the news: BBC, Huffington Post, look at messages left for me on various web sites. I write my required AA lists then my private diary. I leave the room to write my film (75 pages so far) and this occasional blog at a deli on Victoria Street where I am in love with the boy who serves coffee (flat white). As we all know it is impossible to buy a bad coffee in Sydney. I get back to the hotel room and check the Dorian Gray web site stats. We are getting a huge volume of hits from France where David Gallagher is a TV star. I mean over 2000 hits a day, which is phenomenal for an unpublicized site.
On occasions I don’t write at all and just explore the streets of Sydney either on my own or with my friend Ben. On Sunday morning Ben, Jake (the artist) and I found a cafe in Erskinville and ate chicken salad, drank delicious coffee and I poured Demerara sugar straight from the bowl on the table into the palm of my hand and ate it like a child. We sat there for hours discussing Australian art whilst tropical rain fell torrentially onto the streets. A uniformed policeman and his female mate came into the cafe to escape the rain, he was so beautiful I asked him if he was a stripper.
I walk despite my poor burned hip which is horribly painful. I have bought books and food but little else. I am training myself to follow a pre-planned path and not get way laid by beauty. I have only seen one must have item: a modernist carved marble lamp in my friend Ken’s shop in Darlinghurst.
Cooked dinner last night at Zoë’s house. Huge frizze salad with boiled egg, lardons, walnuts and chopped freshly cooked asparagus. We bought some delicious salami and mozzarella and Turkish bread, which we all tore apart and devoured the moment we sat down. Baklava for pudding with guava juice. Ben, Zoë, Rose, Teddy, Larry, Jack, Jack’s girlfriend and another girl all no more than 22 years old. Very Sydney, so much fun.
Zoë is renting a beautiful basement in Surrey Hills and has invited me to move in tomorrow so I rented a car and am suddenly FREE! Whenever I get here I am trapped by old habits. I never really move from Sydney yet there I was washing my smalls in the hotel laundry waiting for the dryer to dry and I started looking at a map of Australia. I knew immediately that if I did not take advantage of this opportunity I never would. I am going to drive into the desert, the red heart of Australia. I have only ever explored New South Wales and parts of Victoria. I have been to Nyngen, Forbes (Charles Wilson’s beautiful country house), Melbourne, Tilba and Condoblin where I travelled with Georgina and Oscar Humphries who wrote very offensively about the Australian country tradition of the Batchelor and Spinsters ball. I took millions of pictures that ended up in a sunday magazine and an exhibition of Australian reportage.
Back in tedious LA things have been going a pace. Before I left Hollywood I realized that I had been the victim of a terrible fraud and so had to deal with it. The worst thing about knowing that things are ‘not right’ when you are naturally paranoid is sorting the fact from the fear based fiction. I had to write a difficult letter. The truth, and nothing but the truth. It took a week to write the bloody thing. That said, when it was done I felt a whole heap better. Lawyers in these circumstances are not your best friends. When I fought my ‘divorce’ in court I did it on my own and as honestly as any one can in the circumstances. The courtroom and the truth are not, one quickly realizes, synonymous. Even after I had written the letter my index finger hovered dangerously over the return key for a good few days. I just kept praying for guidance and asking God and my few trusted friends what they thought of what I was doing.
I hate having to fight fairly yet when I fight unfairly I end up loathing myself. In a world which seems rigged against most of us most of the time this primitive side of my nature becomes essential. The courage to change the things I can, it’s tough to be courageous. It’s hard to turn up in a city with nothing and make a film from scratch. It’s tough to do things in an unusual and challenging way. For all of producer Brad W’s defects of character he taught me to pick my battles wisely.
I pressed the button and off it went for only God to determine the outcome.
I have been thinking a great deal about Tracy Emin-what a great artist she has become. I saw a photograph of a sculpture that reminded me of the roller coaster at Dreamland in Margate and of course that is exactly what it was. A scaled down naive sculpture of the roller coaster at Dreamland. It was so wonderfully evocative. Tracy and I both come from Kent, villages that are not so far away from one another and we are about the same age. She was the girlfriend of Billy Childish who I was at art school with and very close friends with. It was because of Billy, I suppose, that I was suspicious of the authenticity of her work but let’s face it: if she was ever influenced by Billy Childish as he loudly claims she has well and truly flown his coop. When she makes work away from the mirror she excels. Building the Whitstable beach hut in the Saatchi gallery for instance was a stroke of genius. I loved her helter skelter tatlin tower at White Cube and now I love her roller coaster. I remember the experience of Dreamland so well. The coconut matting to slide down the helter skelter. The clockwork ticking of the roller coaster, the abrupt ending and the fearful screams. I loved it, as did she. Tracy has evolved into a bone fide arts star. One of the best of British.
I cannot tell you how much I love being sober, how much I love my sobriety and how I am loving writing the most thorough and grueling step one. Sometimes I feel so ‘here’ that it’s as if all my skin has been removed and I experience the world as a raw unborn thing.
Every night I watch the bats in the sky, huge fruit bats flying haphazardly in the twilight. Streams of them, black flapping chattering to each other all the way home.
January 6, 2007 – Saturday
Sydney. lay on Bondi beach yesterday with Charles, Anthony and Sophie. Had dinner at Lotus with Cameron and Zoe. Decided to go to bed early. Burned my hip in the sun. I am happy. Not really worrying. Drifting aimlessly when I am not writing or walking or going to AA meetings. I am bored with my hotel so am going to move. I may hire a car tomorrow and drive down the coast. I will. I think that I will.
The script is coming along very nicely. It is better than I expected. Works well.
Decided definitively that I am going back to London to live as soon as I can.
When I walk the streets I am inspired, alive, able.
December 28, 2006 – Thursday
Sydney New South Wales Australia
I am back in the southern hemisphere, arriving on the chilliest day of the summer. It was a relief, however, not to step into sub tropical Sydney. A delicious wind cooled the usually sweltering mid summer city. I left my lap top in the taxi but it was returned to me. At night I noticed how hot the stone buildings were, that my skin was already mildly burned. I managed to deal with the jet lag in two days. This morning I woke at a very respectable 7am.
Since I arrived in Sydney I have eaten three times at the new Tropicana (chicken salad) now finally at home back in its original place on Victoria Street. I have eaten flourless orange cake at the new Dov also on Victoria Street and tasted their delicious, home-made, sticky nougat loaded with candied cherries and almonds. I saw Ursula and Kate who now part own Dov with Matt Onions. I walked the streets to see what else has changed. I walked so hard that my calves hurt. I joined the gym, and worked my chest and shoulders. I found NA meetings and AA meetings and caught a cab to Bondi Junction and met Ben and drank more juice at The Tropicana.
I visited the dentist and had my teeth cleaned. I made further appointments to have a small filling in a tooth on my upper jaw and replace a broken veneer.
I listened to the varied bird song and realized what I missed so much in LA but for all my bitching and complaining how LA had reconnected me with AA, a connection I hadn’t felt for years and years. I bought a phone and got myself a new phone number. I smelt the sweet lush blooms on the trees on the street and listened to the mewing of the birds that sound like crying babies. I looked out for familiar faces and found them. I looked at the bald black-headed egrets in Hyde Park; I gazed at the huge bronze sculpture of Queen Victoria. I was just too damned excited. I have not seen the huge fruit bats migrating from Centennial Park but I am sure that I will.
I walked to Kings Cross, Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay and Woolloomooloo. I began walking up Oxford Street to Paddington but decided to do that some other time. I realized that the lower gay part of Oxford Street was now filthy dirty and far too many toothless drug addicts asked for spare change. For every fit, beautiful Sydney boy/girl there was a scrawny homeless addict to remind one where one might have ended up or might yet.
Surprisingly Sydney does not feel as optimistic as it once did. It feels like an anxious place to be compared with the ebullience I felt here a few years ago. Apparently, according to friends, China is making some parts of Australia fabulously rich but not here. Buying minerals, feeding the great 21st Century Chinese expansion.
I have no expectations for New Years Eve. What ever happens, happens. May go to bed, may watch the fireworks.
I have written 21 pages of my new script and I am falling over myself to complete it. It flows out of me like a torrent. It always happens like this here in Sydney Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere. I find my voice. It was here at this table that I wrote Dorian, it is here that I am writing Untitled LA Project and already a new world exists on the page. What could be more exciting than that?
December 19, 2006 – Tuesday
Deal or no Deal
I am still in bed with what has developed into a hideous chesty cough. I should never have gone to my AA meeting last night or had dinner at Ago even though I love risotto and had truffle shaved all over it.
As I lay in my large bed my mind drifted from this illness to the first time I remember being in hospital when I got my scull crushed in a car accident when I was 5 years old. The next time I ended up in hospital was when I was 13 years old for being a nuisance at school. I thought that I might spend some time this morning writing about that. I remember playing canasta with Edna, hiding the drugs they gave me in my ear so that I did not have to take them, St Augustins, Pandora with the flakey teeth and the morgue. I thought that I might write about my being hospitalized when I was 25 in Sutton at the Hendserson Hospital and describe Sarah who killed herself and the blood in her room and knitting during group therapy but I have decided that I am going to write about that some other time.
Instead, I am going to write about people who read this blog and try to use it against me. Who contact friends and organizations with disinformation, who try to derail my film and me. For it came to pass this morning that I was sent a whole heap of e-mails from people I had worked with who are dissatisfied with me, who are working tirelessly against me and my film.
The more damage these people cause, the less likely I am inclined to get the film out of the box and try to raise money to finish it. The less likely I am able to attract an investor. As you may know, if you have been diligently reading this blog, I am about to start making a movie in the UK. Some of you naughty minx seem to be under the misapprehension from you’re e-mails that you can do damage to me. If I lived in the scum you call you’re lives then no doubt you could indeed hurt me badly. But I do not.
Nothing you can do to me will ever stop me being creative or living a wonderful life. Nothing you can do to me can take away my sobriety, which is more important to me than any fucking film or any one of you.
I have passed these e-mails to my lawyer and any further attempts to scupper our film will be met with fierce counter measures. You are not the only ones who can make life very difficult. I urge you to consider this: You do not hurt me when you do these things you merely hurt the people who genuinely want to benefit from making art. the DP, the actors etc. By reducing the value of the film you merely stop yourselves from getting the money you are rightly owed under the agreement of your deferment deal. You do not and cannot hurt me. You merely hurt yourselves and the others that are owed money.
I urge you to work with me to deal with this problem as best we can.
December 17, 2006 – Sunday
Last night I dreamt that it snowed in Los Angeles. The snow glinting in the sun, melting fast, too fast to fetch my camera. The snow held on longer in the valleys in the deep shadow. It was an exciting dream.
I have been very ill in bed with my cold. I am too ill to leave the apartment, too ill to call anyone. Dom came over yesterday but I no longer trust him and eyed him suspiciously over the matzoh ball soup he very kindly delivered me. He is so crazed with love for Joe it is embarrassing and frankly, tragic. Joe is just as bad using poor Dom to fill his time before he does the decent thing and goes back home to England to do something sensible. Dom genuinely believes that he can be Joe’s boy friend.
By yesterday, full of phlegm, I had had just about enough of being here. I craved my little cottage and the brown Whitstable sea. I craved The Tudor Tea Rooms, Wheelers and The Whistle Stop. I craved Mother’s pride and Marmite. I craved poached eggs. I craved anything that wasn’t me here and now. It was apparent that nothing I could do was going to change any component part of what I am suffering.
Joe the mountain scientologist visited me and showed me his new bicycle helmet. Merritt swung by and set up the printer that had been sitting in it’s box since it was bought weeks ago. Devon brought more soup as did Aleksa’s mother Sabrina who made a wonderful, soothing concoction of limes, cayenne pepper and hot water.
Being ill here reminds me of this time last year when I ended up in Cedars (hospital) with that terrible leaking spine. The devastating head ache, unable to speak, to stand up. Then being saved by and staying with David and Hunter. Meeting Hilary. The way the doctor fixed it with that blood patch. I refused the anesthetic. Laying there begging that the pain be taken from me. I thought that I was going mad. I thought that I was having a nervous break down and all along spinal fluid was draining out of me. Just like George Clooney.
Phil left text messages. Cheered me up. She will never make it here-maybe in February for Mexico and the whales.
It was cold when I woke this morning; there was a bite in the air. I cannot stay in bed all day. I can’t do it. I have to do SOMETHING productive. Make lists. Write.
Apparently, if you threw a cat onto a 15th century funeral pyre the cat represented the devil. When I was a child I had a recurring nightmare that I had thrown a kitten into a fire.
December 15, 2006 – Friday
December LA. I have just returned from NYC. Whilst I was there Will Self walked (for the press) from Kennedy Airport to his Downtown hotel. He is here in the USA to promote his new book. It will be just as bad as all of the recent others. I can just imagine him striding pompously along the LIE puffing on his pipe baffling the accompanying journalist from the NY Times with a whole lot of long words. He is truly the Gerard Manly-Hopkins of our age.
It is not perhaps the time to admit this but whenever he used to visit me in Whitstable I was always terrified that he would break something. He would change a shitty baby on a white bed or open oysters directly on wood causing great scratches in the wooden kitchen counters. One night I had Janet Street-Porter, Will Self, Deborah Orr and Jay Jopling around that tiny zinc dining table in my Whitstable kitchen. They are all HUGE people in stature and ego. Deborah used to be huge laterally which caused everybody I know to think that she was extraordinarily fecund. You just have to imagine Will Self and you start using words like fecund. Will is a sweet man but he uses his celebrity to ensnare then his verbosity to crush too many willing victims. What ever may or may not happen to Will and I, I am glad that we have been friends.
Time is the greatest distance between two people.
From a distance one quickly sees the people one has known for who they are and forgive them their defects of character. Janet is a cold fish, a snob to boot but her eccentricity is what makes me proud to be British. At dinner Deborah asked Janet why she had never had children. It was a question only Deborah could have ever asked Janet. Janet told us that one of her husbands had had a child who died. She said that she never wanted to suffer the pain she saw him endure. It was really very touching.
Deborah Orr. I never really trusted her or her incessant moaning. She is undoubtedly a genius, more so than her husband. Her intellect is a thing of great beauty. I would much prefer to hear her spout than her moribund husband. She endlessly reminds anyone who will listen that she comes from Govan, a very rough part of Glasgow. When Deborah and I met Lulu at Jay’s house one night I made Deborah tell Lulu where she came from and Lulu made a grand whooping noise and brushed her fingers against her nose to indicate how POSH it was. Lulu grew up in the Gorbals, which used to be a total shit hole.
Anyway, enough of the aptly named Self’s.
I walked the Canyon at 7am this morning. It was so pretty but my heart was heavy. I cannot imagine living here after I get back from Australia. I will do a few months of Dorian then it is time to get on and go back to Whitstable. I expect to be there by June. I listened to the same sort of conversations on my way up that I heard when I left, two frumpy women in badly fitting sweats complaining about some one who had wronged them. On the way down two executives were discussing powerful studio men. They were in awe.
I have done my stint, paid my dues to LA. I have stayed sober in LA. LA has been an interesting home for me but as I have said before it is like living in Whitstable, yet there in no allure. LA is a small town with small people. Self important, heartless and occasionally very, very cruel. The squabbles are no different or important from those I might hear in The Duke of Cumberland. The fights I witness in Hollywood are as vicious as any I have seen outside the kebab shop on Whitstable High Street.
Thankfully my shrewd investments may make this year my most profitable yet my ‘profit’ of course would scarcely pay for the mixers at one of Jay’s parties!
I am on the edge of something here in LA. On the edge of a continent or on the edge of my own life? I cannot continue this journey without a serious moment of reflection yet wherever I settle I am at the mercy of my own madness. My life has been all about shopping and fucking yet with none of the irony that this may suggest.
Somebody once asked me if I had ever been proud of anything in my life. I can honestly say that I am proud of every achievement I have ever made. Every play, film, dinner, room, article, sobriety, garden, blog. I am proud of all these things because I have had to do such terrible battle with myself to get anything done. The worst part of ME has always been my most terrible adversary. There is no one else to blame. I used to blame my stepfather but whatever seeds he sowed I have propagated. Every day I wonder who will get the best part of my day, that Duncan Roy or this Duncan Roy.
Finally, whilst in NY I contacted very old friends. A Whitstable friend and someone I had not spoken to for seven years. It was such a relief to call him. I was walking in what used to be the shadow of the twin towers. I suddenly remembered his telephone number and like a spell, a long forgotten spell I dialed the number and listened to his voice. It was wonderful.
Today I counted 27 dogs on Runyon Canyon.