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Sebastian Horsley Funeral

1983, the year I met Sebastian

Is it possible to believe in God and still take drugs and drink?  Is it possible to believe in God and sleep with hookers?  Is any of this possible?  Obviously it is.

Sebastian will be buried on Thursday, July 1st 2010.   There’ll be a horse-drawn cortege from Meard Street to St James’s Piccadilly where the service will be held.   Stephen Fry will be speaking,  as are others.  Stephen very kindly offered to say a few words on my behalf.

Rachel Campbell-Johnstone wrote to me yesterday inviting me to the funeral, she said,  “We are mountaineers roped together heading for the summit of beauty.”   She warned us that the funeral will be filmed.

Remember, I was 23 when I met Sebastian.  That was 27 years ago.  He was still a teenager working for Jimmy Boyle in Edinburgh.   Our show, Pornography, a spectacle, invited by the Richard Demarco Gallery would play in Jimmy’s cold performance space where Sebastian and I met for the first time.

I would later work for the Demarco Gallery and meet Joseph Beuys, the greatest conceptual artist of our age.   There was a fascinating dialogue between Beuys and Boyle..then styled one of the most dangerous men in the United Kingdom.

The dialogue was initiated by Richard Demarco whilst Jimmy Boyle was serving a sentence of life imprisonment in Barlinnie Prison for murder.  Beuys went on hunger strike because of Jimmy Boyle’s removal from the Special Unit, Barlinnie to Edinburgh’s Saughton Prison where he was no longer able to continue making art.

Sebastian claimed in his book Dandy in the Underworld that he was sleeping with Jimmy and I have no reason to doubt him.  I would have too if I had had my chance.  There was something wildly attractive to me about ex cons and hard men and dangerous criminals.  Remember I had been in prison the year before I met Sebastian and developed a nasty habit for sex with brutal straight men.

If anybody was going to fuck me he was going to be a man who deserved me.    He was going to be a man who knew what he wanted and how to take it.

My cell mate Tommy Cowling, married with two children from Hoxton, East London was the most beautiful man who ever lived.  When the lights went out in our cell he said, “I’m asleep now, you can do what you want to me.”  For nine long months we did exactly that, everything we wanted when the lights were out.   He could make me cum by just rubbing his stubble over my soft face.

Perhaps this is another reason why I spurned the soppy men that I met in gay bars and gay clubs?  Perhaps this is why I would rather have my head buried in a squaddies (soldiers) groin, the smell of wet pussy on his cock than a nice boy from The Abbey.  Prison spoiled more than my reputation.   It proved, if any proof were needed, that straight men with furious urges, hard and hairy bodies and urgent desires were far more interesting than living in the half-light of shameful, gay London, Paris or New York.

This is all a matter of taste of course.  My desires cannot be compared to yours.

Yesterday something a little untoward happened.  At Anna’s birthday party she rolled me a fag and it had a few crumbs of weed in it.   I was as high as a kite for a good few hours.  Everything was totally wonderful.  I had that gorgeous feeling of euphoria and masterful abandon.  I hadn’t felt that feeling for nigh on 14 years.  I demanded to speak to Jake because I wanted to know how the experience of me being high would affect what I thought of him.

He was complaining that it was late and he wanted to go to sleep…he was blithering on about how people might think he was some sort of man whore if I compared his experience of being gay with men who died of AIDS in the 1980’s.   Obviously, I didn’t mean that.  I was trying to be nice.

Fuck it!  Go and be a man whore.  All of you!   Go and be whores.  It doesn’t matter to me.  I was sucking squaddie cock and getting fucked in the back of cars by East End builders.  LUSH.  I didn’t wait around to have a gay life.  I emerged from the womb searching for the most perfect penis to suckle on.

Anyway, as I did not deliberately get high I am not going to reset my sobriety time.  I still believe in God but I’m not going to be so fucking pious.

I will miss you Sebastian Horsley.

33 replies on “Sebastian Horsley Funeral”


Sorry if I seem a bit untoward but I’ve had a rotten summer cold since Saturday and although I’ve pretty much cleared out the sore throat, I still have a slight fever, runny nose and my right sinus is beginning to be quite annoying. I had planned on napping to get this thing out of my system but after reading the above, I couldn’t peacefully rest. So…

After getting a “contact high” at the smoke shop location, acting in your friend’s film, on Sunday, you were at Anna’s birthday party (Happy Birthday, Anna!) and although I don’t ever remember you mentioning that you smoke cigarettes — ever, that I recall — you were in need of a “fag” (BTW, sorry if I misinterpreted you remarking on how if the “fags” don’t get you, the pancreatic cancer might. I thought that you were talking about the gays who constantly try to tear you down for living out loud. That you were being nasty in turn. It never occurred to me that you might mean cigarettes. My bad.) and since no one at the party had a manufactured one, filtered or unfiltered, Anna was kind enough to roll you one that “accidentally” had a few crumbs of marijuana in it. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! DAMN! I really didn’t think that at this late date that you would start to deceive us but especially, yourself. Forget about us. But YOU?! One “accident” is — I guess — an accident. TWO?! Stop deceiving yourself, dude. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I hate to say it, I really do, but you need to reset your sobriety date. And talk to your sponsor/therapist and hit as many meetings as you can before you go away. You’re at the top of a slippery slope and I don’t want to see you start the long slide down.

I realize that you’ve been under a great deal of stress, and that you’re lonely and sad but that’s the time when your old frenemy, addiction, sings the sweetest siren songs. It’s like Richard Pryor talking about how his crack pipe would talk to him, saying “I’m your friend, Richard. Those other people aren’t your friends. I’m the one that makes you feel good. Haven’t I always? You deserve to feel good, Richard. You’ve been through hell. No one understands that better than I do. Come on… light me up. You know that you want to. One hit won’t hurt. I promise.” STOP LISTENING TO THE SHIT IN YOUR HEAD! We care about you. CARE ABOUT YOURSELF!

You said “There was something wildly attractive to me about ex cons and hard men and dangerous criminals. Remember I had been in prison the year before I met Sebastian and developed a nasty habit for sex with brutal straight men.

If anybody was going to fuck me he was going to be a man who deserved me. He was going to be a man who knew what he wanted and how to take it.” And “Perhaps this is another reason why I spurned the soppy men that I met in gay bars and gay clubs? Perhaps this is why I would rather have my head buried in a squaddies (soldiers) groin, the smell of wet pussy on his cock than a nice boy from The Abbey. Prison spoiled more than my reputation. It proved, if any proof were needed, that straight men with furious urges, hard and hairy bodies and urgent desires were far more interesting than living in the half-light of shameful, gay London, Paris or New York.” You were brutalized by a beautiful straight man “with furious urges” starting when you were two. Your brain — literally — imprinted on him. He was and is the template for who you’re attracted to and how. I thought that you got that. Especially, after “Sex Rehab” when you had the breakthrough about recreating your childhood trauma and re-traumatizing yourself over and over again because of your sexual addiction.

I’ve been reading a book by Dr. Daniel Amen, he of the PBS specials and the book “Magnificent Mind At Any Age”. It’s called “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body”. His work isn’t just pop psychology. He is a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist and brain imaging expert, who has done over 55,000 SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans that show how the brain functions. Not just it’s anatomy. To quote from the book: “According to my friend, addiction specialist,Mark Laaser, Ph.D, “the arousal template” in the emotional memory centers underlies many behaviors that get out of control. IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHEE YOU WERE AND HOW OLD YOU WERE WHEN YOU EXPERIENCED YOUR FIRST PLEASURABLE OR AROUSING EXPERIENCE (Caps, mine.), such as standing at the stove and making fudge with my grandfather when I was four years old. THIS INTENSE, EMOTIONALLY PLEASURABLE EXPERIENCE OFTEN LAYS THE NEURAL TRACKS FOR LATER ADDICTIONS, EVEN IF THE EXPERIENCE HAPPENED AS EARLY AS AGE TWO OR THREE. THE FIRST EXPERIENCE GETS LOCKED INTO THE BRAIN, AND WHEN YOU GET OLDER, YOU SEEK TO REPEAT THE EXPERIENCE BECAUSE IT WAS THE WAY YOU HAD THE INITIAL AROUSAL OR PLEASURABLE EXPERIENCE, LIKE THE FIRST TIME YOU TASTED FUDGE, HAD SEX, FELL IN LOVE, OR USED COCAINE. (Caps, mine.) Understanding the triggers for emotional eating, smoking, or drinking can be very helpful to BREAKING (Caps, mine.) addictions.”

The BEST PART about all the above is that you can LITERALLY change your brain. He shows before and after SPECT scans of people who had problems from ADHD to various addictions and other issues. Your wiring was screwed up from early on but it can be fixed and then you can truly make FREE choices. I’m not talking about being gay, I’m talking about recreating your abuse. Being like the women who find a “nice” guy — who will make a good husband/father — dull and who constantly choose the scary, “exciting” guy, who treats them like shit and takes their money but with whom they have “great sex” when they’re not being slapped around. You can keep running in place, and try to be as healthy as you can while holding on with fangs and claws to stay in the same place, or you can get off the treadmill and move on. I doubt that your soulmate will be found while sucking squaddie cock. And this is the lush life that you want? DUNCAN, THINK!
You said “…I emerged from the womb searching for the most perfect penis to suckle on.” No, you didn’t. Whoever you were before David Roy got his talons into you, you’ve forgotten a lot about him. You need to find him again. My heart bleeds for him and you. I hold steadfast to the KNOWING that you will listen to your higher angels and take care of yourself.

As always, blessings,


I suppose people do still roll their own cigs these days Maybe it’s like being organic or it’s an English thing. You don’t strike me as a liar, so either you did it because you believed it was tobacco or you smoked it w/ the subtle hope that it had something in it, but since you didn’t know you weren’t going to ask. Considering you are addiction prone, it probably wasn’t the best idea to do it. But mistakes happen, just be more careful next time. As it is, just keep it as a nice memory. As for the prison time, as long as it was consensual and you weren’t harmed by it, there you go. I wouldn’t think it would be a good idea now though. (Mind you I’m no expert at advice, just my most humble opinion.)

In my humble opinion, I don’t think you should have to reset your sobriety, it’s not like you went out and did a ton of drugs and have been doing so ever since. From your blog, you seem like a very honest person and you know what you’ve made a mistake and you own up to it. You’ve worked hard to stay sober for so many years that I don’t think one set back should take that away from you. I’m very proud of you for being so honest and open with us, and I would like to thank you for that. Mistakes happen, but it shouldn’t make all of the hard work you’ve done count for nothing.



I second Jaime’s opinion. We’re not a jury pool for Duncan’s day-to-day life events & (sometimes) choices.

@Mettalrabbit Thank YOu!! Although you are trying to reach out Duncan, you reached out to me! Thank you again.

Slippery slope Duncan, slippery slope…we have a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition…hope you’re going to meetings and telling the truth…xx

Sorry folks, I agree with Metal, there was something very sordid about the post, was it meant to shock? life been too normal?
Come on Duncan, you are better than that. Anyway, weren’t you the one advocating “Stay in the now”?
I know many friends of yours have died recently, but that’s life, it seems they were lucky to last this long with the lifestyle they pursued.Your smoking seems to have set you back. You are talking about a healthy lifestyle and then write you got high.What’s wrong with this picture?
Nothing wrong with having a good interesting life, pursuing travel, art and all things creative, you have too much time on your hands and it leaves waaaayyy too much space for dredging thoughts of the murky past.
that was then, this is now. That was a shite time for you, instant gratification from people who don’t care to remember. Was it really worth bringing it all up?

Ok, how about this, perhaps you should talk to your therapist or your group, and if they feel it wasn’t anything to worry too much about, then it is ok, since it was a mishap. I kind of doubt you’ve suddenly become a pothead. Though, respectfully, I think you shouldn’t do it again in case you start doing it when you feel bad. I only say that because I don’t want anything bad to happen to you and we all want you to be happy. I really don’t mean to sound judgmental or anything. We all mean well.

when some thing isnt your drug of choice, its not going to change your sobriety. maybe D got high off a few flakes rolled in , lots of people roll their own smokes since it costs so much . but it doesnt change who he is and how hard he worked to be sober from his drug of choice. and from what i can tell he aint no stoner. if he tried regularly smokin pot, that i do think can lead to relapse, only because your subsituting one addiction for another. the smell of nail polish remover is a trigger for me, so i go to great lengths , even after 15 yrs to find ways to avoid it and i really cant stand having ugly toes! every addict knows how easy it would be to just “do it this once” .. i know how many times i said that and was right back in the addiction. but if your going to fall, your going to do it with what your in lust with, been there done that. and im sure D knows this as well .

I am not resetting my sobriety date. I have spoken to my sponsor and that is that. Mistakes happen. Anna did not deliberately lace her tobacco with weed. When I used I rarely, if ever, used weed as it tended to make me paranoid. Some of the comments show scant understanding of how AA works and the decisions we have to make as Alcoholics/addicts. My real issue is SAA related and I constantly reset my sobriety date as a result. What some of you fail to understand is that this is a matter to be decided between me and God and no one else. In many ways the accidental use of weed was a great benefit to me as it helped me understand that what I may have thought I wanted I do not want. My obsession is not with drugs but with sex. As crude as some of you thought this particular blog is/was I continue to be true myself and that, I am afraid, is what I shall continue to do.


I’m glad that I was wrong. And I’m sorry if I was out of line.

As for the rawness of your blog, I saw the film, “Prick Up Your Ears” about the life and death of the playwright, Joe Orton, a long time ago, I don’t shock easily. Truth is what it is. And as someone once said, truth is not for the faint of heart. I will agree with Irena in that the tone what you wrote seemed more strident than usual. But then sometimes you have to look at where you’ve been in order to know where you want to go. And maybe the residual spirit of whatever made you demand “… to speak to the traveling companion because I wanted to know how the experience of me being high would affect what I thought of him.” carried over to your writing to see how rough you could get before the virtual parachutes started opening? Regardless,…

Since you asked Stephen Fry to say a few words for you at Sebastian’s funeral tomorrow, will you be posting them here? I think that all of us would like to read them if you’d care to share them.



We care, we are concerned.
It was not the weed that I chose to address in particular, it was the concern that smoking dragged in the demons and that you could be reckless as a result.
I respect you and your beliefs, you are being honest and open, a trait I like in a person and was what I found endearing when I watched the show.

issues of abandonment and being accepted as a child along with the ordeals you had to deal with have made you a strong person with a great character.I was married to a Persian (and left with a small child) and my beautiful daughter has had abandonment issues too.She has resolved many of these issues by reaching out to her family in Iran and is accepted as a grandchild, neice, cousin.It helped enormously, she embraced her culture and heritage. There is so much that is interesting about this culture and I am sure your grace and elegance along with writing skills may come from that particular heritage.Have you ever reached out to your family? I hope you will.
Have you read ‘The Persian Boy” by Mary Renault?
I look at your photo with Sebastian and I see a beautiful young man, I look at photos of you now and I see the man you have become, a little spoiled, but a very fortunate lovely interesting person.


I looked up “The Persian Boy” and put it on my reading list. If you aren’t already aware of Azar Nafisi. (a visiting professor and the director of the Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University), may I recommend her book, “Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories Of A Prodigal Daughter” wherein she writes about her parents and her culture. Her stories about how her father told her about the epic poet, Ferdowsi’s “Shanameh” (or “The Book of Kings” in English) and other great classic Persian literature are just wonderful. And also, “Reading Lolita In Tehran” where she speaks about teaching Western literature to a select group of young women students after it’s teaching was banned at the University of Tehran, where she was a professor. Her writing is evocative and beautiful and she is an amazing and courageous woman.



…OMG….what do you all do when you are not reading Duncan’s posts….Duncan is a big boy….a grown up…and a faubulous writer…Duncan is Duncan and will do what he wants to do….yes you all care about him but give it a break….

Thanks Amanda, I have read ‘reading Lolita’I actually have a collection of music and poetry too, One of the best books I read recently is ‘the blood of flowers’ by Anita have to read it, spellbinding and beautifully written.

Irena…..this is a free country I can say and do as I please….MIND YOUR OWN BEESWAX….

You are right I was out of order, sorry NYC.It was the ‘what do you all do’ line that I thought was not very nice. I love this blog.Please forgive my hasty reaction.

…Irena…..imho there is no “out of order” say what you like as I do..

Irena…..last time I looked this was a free country….you know freedom of speech…I can say,do and comment as I please….as can you….and by the way MIND YOUR OWN BEESWAX!

I mourn his demise terriblly even though i only met him once and we corresponded I am seeing his play tomorrow and the send ff was magnifiscently decadent the whole of soho was there where were you?
love celia


i stumbled upon your blog a few months ago and i really enjoy your writing. i can relate a lot to the ups and downs you experience.

i had no intention of commenting, but some responses to this post irritated me.

one of the only things i can qoute for sure out of the big book is “we aa’s are active folks.” it’s somewhere in there. most people who are recovering and trying to rebuild their lives have to do that out in the world with people and sometimes shit like what you described happens.

three years ago, at my cousins wedding, i picked up the wrong drink, and had a sip of alcohol. a few months ago i was selling my art work at hippie fest and i walked into a tent where people were smoking and caught a contact high. shit like this happens. and, for me everytime it does i find myself grateful, because it proves to me that the voice in the back of my head that tells me that alcohol, drugs, porn, meaningless sex and relationships is what i really want is wrong.

so, thanks for writing, because i love being on the journey with you.

Der All,
I knew Sebastian very well. I had a print and design business at No. 13 Meard Street, Soho – a couple of houses from Sebastian’s. All this dalk of porn, violence, sex, aids and drugs is OK but you are a load of old copycats and boring as hell. I have never taken drugs, lived and lived wildly through the 60’s. Met and dined with all the gangsters, pimps and prostitutes and knew my world. I knew Sebastian. We talked for hours – when he was sober of drink and drugs. We would talk and laugh and enjoy conversation. He would show me his written pieces, he showed me his dodgy photos – having sex with a limbless woman etc. etc. but what none of you seem to have realised that underneath all this bullshit that you call ‘living’, Sebastian was a sad, confused, unhappy sould who would get out of his b ox because he had no fucking life. Its sad that you all write about weed and drugs and drink. You all have money and too much and that has fucked you all up. It fucked Sebastian up.
Not one of you wrote and said how sad it was. How sad his life was. Did any of you ever wonder why his flat was adorned with sculls. I know he would never have chosen plastic flowers but come on. The poor man is dead. He head a heart. He had a soul and he has gone and gone early because he needed to go. He wanted to go. He did not like this life and he did not like the fact that he was hooked on drugs and that is why he tried, many, many times to get off them and go into rehab. You lot can learn something from this. The world has lost a lovely man, who died lonely. Lonely because he was full of drugs and would not have had know if an angel had been holding his hand.

I am not a writer. I am not even educated but I know enough to know that Sebastian was crying out. I sat with him one evening in the Indian Restaurant opposite his flat. We talked and talked and at the end of the conversation he said “Jenny – I have been more honest with you than anyone in my life”. I am not trying to be mother Theresa. I could not stand in her shoes but I recognised his pain, which most of you obviously did not. Instead of encouraging him, one of you should have tried to help him, instead of putting him on some velvet, lace edged pedestal where he felt that you were all looking up to him, therefore he had to continue the act. He was never allowed to be himself. I am one person who allowed him that and who tried to show him there was a way out.
Jenny DeSouza
ps If anyone wants to write and tell me that I am talking a load of bullshit. Don’t bother because I took time to speak to him and know him since the day he moved into Meard Street.


It sounds like Sebastian had a good friend in you with whom he could be at ease and with whom he didn’t have to perform and be “on”. You were a blessing to someone who was so lost in addiction. I hope you realize that you gave him a bit of solace. It’s nice to know that he had people in his life who didn’t need or expect him to perform. With whom he could simply be.

As for others trying to help, when you’re all in the same boat, it’s difficult for anyone to have the insight to suggest that perhaps it would be a great idea to row for shore and get on dry land. Sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective to spark a change. But we all have free will and must take the first step. And keep fighting. I wish that Sebastian had had the support he needed to stay sober after going to rehab. The only solace is that he is at peace now.



Hi Jenny,
I went back desperately trying to find where I expressed condolences on his death….and I didn’t. I can’t believe that I would be so thoughtless, and yet I was. I am sorry Horsely passed away, and I’m sorry you and Duncan lost a dear friend. I’m usually not this way and am extremely sorry and feel terrible.

I never met Sebastian, but I would have liked to. Not because of what he said or did that made him infamous, but to find out what made him such a contradiction. He seemed to be somewhat of a depressive but that is commonly associated with creativity. I think I share many of the same attributes (minus the sex, drugs, clothes and money!).

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