Archives for category: Fantasy

Mario Testino was a friend of ours.  He had a studio in an abandoned hospital on Soho Square.  Scott Crolla, Georgina Godley and others were frequent guests.  My boyfriend in 1981 was Mario’s long time friend and collaborator Patrick Kinmonth.

Patrick lived in a tiny apartment in Holland Park, deliberately disheveled, dusty yet filled with beautiful object.  The place was brutally cold in the winter and a furnace in the summer.  Patrick, according to the artist Craigie Aitchison dobbed me in to the police when they were looking for me to ask questions about my credit card and why I hadn’t paid the bill.  It was Patrick who lent me money to buy my Peter Doig and it was Patrick who encouraged me to make art.  He was a vicious snob, exquisitely beautiful and at that time worked for Vogue magazine.  He amused us all by mimicking Mario’s Peruvian lilt.   Patrick is a deft impersonator.  The problem with Patrick?  Nothing ever came of his own talent.  He lives with the painfully shy food photographer Tessa Traeger in the West Country.  He designs opera sets for out-of-the-way operas but never became the great anything everyone thought he might become.

The last time I saw Mario and Patrick we were in LA at The Chateau Marmont.  I was having dinner in the garden they were having a party in the lounge with a bunch of gorgeous boy/men models.  I sat beside Patrick for a moment but I didn’t stay long.  He enjoys scolding me.  I made amends for some indiscretion and left.  Mario looked at me disdainfully.  Patrick enjoys being on Mario’s winning team.  He wrote the forward to Mario’s book and he styles the most interesting shoots.  Neither of them wanted me hanging around.  You’ve seen pictures of young girls on a yacht wearing bikinis, oggled by old men?  This was Mario’s gay equivalent.  I’d already ruined things by talking to him and Patrick, bathed in Mario’s reflected glory, wanted me gone.  He looked down his aquiline nose and told me I could have made so much more of myself.  Yeah, I thought… if you hadn’t worked with the establishment to destroy me.   I probably could.

You know why old men put young girls on yachts?  You’d think… so the girls can’t escape.  No, it’s so their old men friends can’t join the party.  I returned to my dinner in the garden.  Soon I saw Mario, Peter Pan like… screaming and laughing down the stairs with his crew.  Patrick lagging behind like a heavy train on an old dress.

I’ve never written about Mario.  Now, within the context of the salacious revelations and accusations leading to his spectacular firing from the Conde Nast creative family I revisit my association with him.  Let me say immediately,  I didn’t know anything untoward was happening.  I had never heard anything.  The towel series he shot with models were obviously designed to get the model naked and to legitimize Mario’s pervy intentions but I never heard from models who worked with him they felt uncomfortable.

Many of those same models who worked with Mario were not so discreet about their working relationship with Bruce Weber.  For a decade or more I heard story after story from young men who had worked with Bruce and the discomfort they felt being ‘relaxed’ with his hands on their bodies, the ‘breathing exercise’ or asked to take off their shorts when they were alone with Bruce.  I heard again and again about the notorious ‘private archive’ for which Bruce said he wanted their naked picture.  I heard how he tantalized young men with lucrative campaigns and the promise of a life beyond their wildest dreams.  I heard how he set models against each other, how within minutes of the private naked shots… would change his mind about the campaign promise he’d made, playing with them, manipulating them.

Yet, it seems, many models were perfectly happy to have their bodies used by Bruce.  Yesterday I spoke to a male super model I know in NYC.  Last year, after a few drinks, he described in detail how Bruce molested him, removed his underwear and taken pictures of him naked.  I asked if he was willing to come forward, speak publicly.  He told me I should be ashamed of myself for suggesting he told tales on Bruce.  Thus we understand how Bruce, inspiring loyalty in others, groomed them for sexual molestation.

I’ve had my run ins with Bruce over the years.  I asked him to take the Dorian Gray portrait.  He curtly suggested that I wasn’t the sort of person he could do business with.  Oh… how the tables have turned.

Sunday.  I had a late lunch in Hackney with a young gay artist.  We talked about Mario and Bruce.  He asked the difference between flirtation and harassment.  Worried his flirtation might be misconstrued.  How would he know?  Of course, one asks ones self: why doesn’t he know?  He’s a bright lad but his white male privilege is so ingrained he cannot differentiate between the two.  He asked if the men now making complaints were somehow complicit.  Many gay men make excuses for Bruce and Mario habitually devaluing our lives by suggesting the men who agree to work or consort with us are suspect or complicit.  We remain baffled by the notion of consent.  They knew what they were getting themselves into.

“Consent, that’s for straight people?  Women?  Isn’t it?”  He looks confused.

We talk about the abuse of power between men (beyond top and bottom although that too) and how our anti social behaviour and lack of morality has been largely ignored by heterosexual society firstly before equality, because straight people found it distasteful and didn’t really care. Then, after equality straight people were too embarrassed or confused to question how we lived in case they were accused of homophobia or insensitivity.  Recent gay celebrity scandals have shocked many of our straight allies, realizing they don’t know anything much about their gay friends at all.  Like rats we live discreet and cautious lives just a few feet from theirs, scurrying from one assignation to another.

We’ve done a great job passing. For many years the only evidence we existed?  When the police arrested, tried and sent us to jail for being gay. Cottaging. Tricking. Dressing up. Without these occasional mentions in the newspapers our gay lives would remain completely invisible.  I broke the law simply by being born, alive and sexually active. Straight acting wasn’t a fetish, it was a survival strategy… saving a young man from a beating or death. Ironically, this parallel life served many of us very well.  As a young British gay man I enjoyed social mobility, sexual freedom and access to extraordinary financial opportunities my straight peers could only dream of.  Yet, I paid the price for all of those benefits by surrendering my moral imperative.

Paris Hilton is maligned in the press for saying gay men on gay hook up apps are ‘disgusting’.  Which, after being sent 50 or so asshole pics this week… one might be inclined to agree.

With equality comes responsibility.  Some fought hard to enjoy marriage equality.  We fought hard in the UK to have homophobic laws like section 28 overturned.  In the UK these laws were ratified in Parliament and are hard to revoke.  We are tentatively exploring a new moral landscape.  Morals defined by heterosexuals, most gay men are unprepared for these changes and how this shift toward ‘normalcy’ may affect our lives.  Simply, our lifestyle compared with that of the average heterosexual may not bear scrutiny post Weinstein and Mario, Bryan, Bruce and Kevin may just be the very tip of the iceberg.

Entitled, affluent gay white men are especially morally impoverished.  Many still live secret, compartmentalized and shameful lives blighted by addiction, alcoholism and mental illness.  To many straight people we may seem carefree, highly entertaining, a cause to celebrate ‘gay pride’ and drink rainbow cocktails… but, on our own with our second screens we indulge less salubrious, secret lives using hook up apps as the portal, through which many enter a dark and disgusting world of chem sex, lies, cheating and despair.

They say,  everyone lies on-line.  We live in lying times.  Acceptable lies are now morally ring fenced.  The lies most gay men tell before they come out are perfectly… acceptable.  A habit we are loathed to break.  Most gay men are addicted to lying.  Only yesterday I met a closeted 25-year-old gay man.  I asked him why he was in the closet?  He described the same feelings of shame and despair I felt nearly 40 years ago.  Some things never seem to change… however much I am told, ‘it doesn’t matter, nobody cares’.  I explained to him why he needs to come out of the closet.  He needs to stop lying.  The more he lies the less respect he will have for the truth.  As I mentioned in my previous blog gay men get into nasty habits around the truth and the sooner we embrace the truth the less damage is done to our morality and our integrity.

The last time I saw  Mario he was skipping like a teenager down the stairs at The Chateau Marmont surrounded by beautiful teens.  Like Peter Pan, a 60-year-old man unable to face the truth about his failing body and his failing ability to make good decisions.  He could not stop himself grabbing them by the pussy.  He is the same as Trump.  Made of the same stuff.  Gripped by power, fame and entitlement he understood himself to be unassailable.  Nothing would ever bring him down… his legacy would glitter in perpetuity.  The dream maker, the fantasist, the story-teller… the liar.  Conjuring a universe of beauty, Mario forsook a life of loving relationships for an abuse of power.

Anna Wintour, who I confronted publicly about her reticence to stand up to Weber, made this statement last week.

Today, allegations have been made against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, stories that have been hard to hear and heartbreaking to confront. Both are personal friends of mine who have made extraordinary contributions to Vogue and many other titles at Condé Nast over the years, and both have issued objections or denials to what has emerged. I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness, but I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Condé Nast have decided to put our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future.

Of course Anna Wintour is torn, it is hard to align what she hears and what she knows of her friends Mario and Bruce.  She is rightfully appalled, but thankfully she doesn’t know the half of it… she merely glimpsed, very briefly into the dark heart of every gay man I know.

charles-james-gowns-by-cecil-beaton-vogue-june-1948

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I met a young trans person yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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First, if you’re going to out someone, then out them. Itay Hod did not out Schock in his piece, he outed a “hypothetical” congressman who just happens to fit Schock’s resume. He also presented thin evidence, which consisted of hearsay from an unnamed journalist friend and video footage that he claims TMZ has of Schock “trolling gay bars.” Hod knows a Facebook post is the only place this cuts it; that’s why it appeared there and not at any publication.
Secondly, a group of several gay journalists and activists on Twitter — including Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, John Aravosis and Josh Barro — have decided that mocking Schock for exhibiting stereotypically gay attributes, like caring about his clothes and body, or following Daley on Instagram is the way of dealing with him. This is the same sort of behavior that the same people have said is harmful when it happens to closeted LGBT kids in schools. And, when I look at this happening publicly, I know that those closeted kids could be seeing it too. If it’s harmful for those kids to see athletes say anti-LGBT things, how isn’t it harmful for them to see prominent out people teasing Schock for his pants?

Chris Geidner

Chris Geidner is the sole brave gay journalist who dared criticize the velvet mafia for their inchoate name calling and bullying… aimed at Republican Politician Aaron Schock… the reason for this gay vitriol?   Hunky journalist (we only agree with the good-looking ones) Itay Hod posted some ugly, muddled references on his Facebook page to a man who might hypothetically be Aaron Schock.

I’m not a fan of Aaron, he’s a typical… loathsome republican with typically unpalatable views with an unlikely sartorial edge, an atypical personal aesthetic and a body that most gay men seem to die for.

Most gay men seem to think Aaron has a ‘gay body’ so must be gay.

Rather than homosexual… Aaron Schock looks to me like a right-wing narcissus.  Remember the art of the Third Reich?  Remember Die ParteiArno Breker‘s statue representing the spirit of the Nazi Party, fetishizing male perfection?   Like most young contemporary gays, young nazis were encouraged to aspire to an idealized body as proof of their loyalty to the state (the state of gay) and their undying patriotism.  A common right-wing obsession.

Aaron has embraced the people’s fascination with his perfect abs and pecs whilst extolling the values of racial purity, militarism, and obedience.  Perhaps that’s exactly why the white, elite gays believe Aaron is a homosexual… because he is a full on, 100%, bone fide narcissist.

And, if you are wondering… defending him from the gay mafia does not make me a self loathing homosexual.  It makes my blood boil that hate speak usually reserved for gay people is being used by gay people against a man who may or may not be gay.

Aaron!  If you had only kept your abs to yourself, your (some might say) good looks under wraps… and your Instagram private… the gays wouldn’t have noticed you in the first place.  But all those pics of you with your bronzed pecs and tight white underwear have driven the gays wild.  And, like Tom Cruise before you… all the gays really want… is… to fuck you… convincing themselves and others that if they want you that badly… there’s no chance you’re straight.

You’ve confused the average gay, blindsided him with your million watt smile.

If you had been an ugly troll saying hateful things… the gays wouldn’t care less who you were fucking.  Anyway, they’d have already caught you with your mouth behind a glory hole or paying for boys on rentboy.com and dismissed you with a limp wave and a meh.

But Aaron, much to their consternation, you seem to be sexually abstinent.  Nobody has caught you with your pants down with anyone… male or female. Because you don’t take your pants down?  The gays NEVER understand celibacy or abstinence or how all men are not exactly like them.  It drives them crazy that they can’t catch you, shame you, kill the demon of homophobia within… then fuck you.

Itay Hod and his jacked up supporters are crude, repellent people. Old fashioned bullies… judgmental and prescriptive. If you dare disagree with their group think assessment you will be damned to hell… just like Chris Geidner…

For a bunch of guys who loathe judgement in others the gays sure got judgmental about the rest of the world.  Since the Supreme Court DOMA decision the gays have woken up… emboldened, embracing their power.  Like children, testing their parameters, the boundaries of what can and what can’t be said or done.  Sadly, after a life time of hibernation, they have taken on the attributes of their worst enemies.

Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, John Aravosis, Josh Barro.

They are, after all, just men.  White gay men, looking down their noses at the rest of us.

While the affluent, white gays sink into a sanctimonious swamp the rest of the LGBTQ alliance look on at them with barely concealed embarrassment.

Their treatment of Schlock, their asinine assumption that he is gay based on pics of his bare-chested, manicured body… his trousers, his shoes… says more about them and the type of gays they are… than the kind of straight man Schock is.

Dodgy circumstantial evidence convicts Aaron Schock of homosexuality in the court of the velvet mafia.  Using gossip and here say, bad shoe pics and plaid pants as indisputable proof of his gayness.

This is BULLSHIT!

I thought is was who we were fucking and loving rather than who we were aping that made us gay?

Perhaps Aaron Sch-jock is truly asexual?  Maybe he’s waiting for the right guy… maybe he’s a pedophile practicing abstinence… or suffers erectile dysfunction and hates the gays because they are so obsessed with hard cocks?

What of it?  It’s all conjecture until he tells us what he is if he feels so compelled.

The guy is a republican hater who dresses like a european and loves showing off his abs… have you seen Instagram or Tumblr recently? Based on this proof… this ‘criteria’… the whole world (hopefully) would be gay.  All of my young straight friends are posting pics of their abs and their shoes on Instagram and Tumblr every day.

Haven’t we got past this crap?  That only pansies and girls do that sort of thing?

God forbid, what happens if Aaron comes out? Like Ken Mehlman before… who caused untold harm to fellow gay people.   If indeed Schock is gay and comes out?  There will be a parade.  It will take the baying gays about ten seconds to shamelessly forget his homophobia, objectify his abs… go to his pool parties and drink his vodka whilst he condemns immigrants, destroys women’s rights and turns a blind eye to racist colleagues.

But don’t worry… he’ll be out and proud.

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Stephen N

Stephen N

Denver Boy

Sitting in Ground Works coffee spot on Sunset with Kevin and Fielder yesterday.  Eating a cheese Danish after my latest stint on the JVM show.

Alleged ‘Madame’,  Anna Gristina has been locked up in solitary on Rikers Islandcharged with a single count of prostitution.  Held on an absurd $2million bail.

“It’s not about me; it’s bigger than me,”   “They’re trying to sweat me out. They are clearly trying to break me.”

The self-described “hockey mom” and real-estate developer claims to have no idea why prosecutors are so intent on digging up dirt on those men – half of whom she said she knew as friends or business associates.

“I’d bite my tongue off before I’d tell them anything,”

Since my run in with the LAPD I know exactly how they try breaking their victims of choice.  Can you believe that they tried forcing me sign a gagging order?  As part of their ‘deal’ the DA tried to get me to sign a gagging order…

Obviously I won round 1 by getting myself out of jail.

The fight will get a great deal harder, nastier and…as I predicted…the Immigration Department are already trying to discredit me.

They already lied to the Newsweek journalist Christine P (a meticulous journalist with great sources) about my immigration status.

As I pointed out to her, even if I had been here illegally or ‘out of status’ the immigration department and the Sherrif’s Dept. are still obliged to follow rules and protocols.

As it happened, when I was arrested, I was neither here illegally nor was I out of status.

Kevin and I had lunch yesterday at the 101 Coffee Shop on Franklin.  Delicious.  We polished our ‘trans superhero’ idea.

By day Ricky is a model booker at LA Models.  “Hello?  Nordstrom?  Yes, you got it.”  However, by night, after the emergency call on his ‘weave phone’,  he’s Tranny Hooker!  Solving gay crime all over WeHo.  Dressed in his bad wig, gold disco shorts, crop top and size 13 stilettos he flies (fueled by huge amounts of Tina) along Santa Monica Blvd, to The Abbey where he/she solves most of WeHo’s gay crime…

Mostly crimes against style, including badly cut pants, shopping at Vons and old men pawing mid-western model boys at their palatial homes in the hills…

There by the table I leapt up, over the blackened chicken sandwich, acting out Tranny Hooker’s flight through smoggy LA…just as Robby arrived.

Great being back on Jane’s show.  Love CNN.  Love the make up girls.  Love the security guards…

Sunday morning, Malibu.   You understand don’t you that I have not been to an AA meeting, therapy or spoken with my sponsor…not properly, for a week or so?  It leaves one feeling quite raw.

I should devote myself to healthy choices this week.

Joe left yesterday afternoon.   Back to NYC.  A friend popped over for dinner last night. I made the most delicious Italian feast.  We had a cuddle.  He left.

Totally forgot all about the party I was meant to be going to yesterday.  Instead I hung around in Hollywood.  Met a bunch of cool, young Hollywood types who shared their Obama disillusionment.

How in hells name will he turn this around?

Obama is fucked, the liberals have been fucked over.

How will he turn this around?

He can’t, it’s too late.

If only he would grow some balls, stop goofing around, stop reminding people that he is President.  Tap dancing when he should be banging heads together.   Somebody should remind him that he’s not a contestant on Dancing With The Stars.

Can you imagine what’s going on in the White House?  Obama looks petrified.  Overstretched, isolated, mocked.  When he speaks I can barely listen.  Continually grasping for the flayed notion that consensus politics will save him…us.   Grinning inanely.

When CNN anchor Don Lemons suggested to me at dinner that “Obama was frightened of white people.”  I was shocked.  But, I’ve seen it in Obama’s eyes.  Lemons was right.  He’s frightened of everything.  The most ill-equipped man ever to preside over the free world.

Who is running this country?

If you’re wondering why we are still sending drones into Afghanistan?  Perhaps it’s because Obama has no control over the military.    If you are wondering what happened to his inspiring oratory? Realize that even his speech writers have deserted him.

I wonder what he promised Geitner to stay by his side?  A penis enlargement?

If you are a liberal who is sick of watching Obama partying and quipping when your country is falling into a fascist abyss…demand that he is replaced by Hillary.

The Clintons, after all, have already stolen the money.

What will come next?   I urge you to worry.  Especially my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.  There is a real and present danger that we cannot, must not ignore.  Perry and Bachmann have every chance of being elected.

There will be a time, very soon, when you will start taking this threat seriously.  You will set aside your hook-up sites, your apple martinis, the marriage sop you take for granted, the liberal air that you breath…and remember this:

In the 1920s, homosexual people in Germany, particularly in Berlin, enjoyed a higher level of freedom and acceptance than anywhere else in the world.  

However, upon the rise of Adolf Hitler, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, were two of the numerous groups targeted by the Nazi Party and were ultimately among the 6 million Holocaust victims.

Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general, were burned, and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered. The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the “German norm.”

Between 1933–45, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals, of which some 50,000 were officially sentenced.   Most of these men served time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of those sentenced were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.

It is unclear how many of the 5,000 to 15,000 eventually perished in the camps, but leading scholar Ruediger Lautman believes that the death rate of homosexuals in concentration camps may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in the camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors.

After the war, the treatment of homosexuals in concentration camps went unacknowledged by most countries, and some men were even re-arrested and imprisoned based on evidence found during the Nazi years.

It was not until the 1980s that governments began to acknowledge this episode, and not until 2002 that the German government apologized to the gay community.   This period still provokes controversy, however. In 2005, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Holocaust which included the persecution of homosexuals.

OK, this is the first six thousand or so words of the novel I am presently finishing.  It remains unedited, raw.

It is for you to read ahead of time.  I have never written prose before.  All of the authors I mention in this section sit on my shoulder and scold me for trying.

50, 000 words written.  Still have to write the conclusion.

Obviously, for those of you who know me, there are references to the events of the past year but I must remind you:  This is a WORK OF FICTION.  The twins are not lovers.  I do not work in a prison.  I am NOT planning to murder the Penguin.

Most of you will comment on FB but feel free to let me know what you think.

QUESTIONS FOR A MURDERER

by Duncan Roy

1.  Self Pity

Murder, when seriously considered, is as consuming as any other fervent desire.  So it is that I wake in the morning and retire at night thinking of nothing else.

The obsession to kill obscures and softens one’s vision like a veil.  It properly stops me from walking presently in the world.   Others notice that I am not really here.

“It’s like talking to a wall.”  They complain.

I am not now usually where my body is.  If out in the difficult world, away from the safety of the house, I am safely trapped in my head.  Blinded to everyday beauty.  My senses blunted by obsession.  No longer interested in dappled shadows cast on the sidewalk.  Nor orange blossom or night jasmine.  Nor can I taste expensive lunches at elegant restaurants.  I cannot hear the lark ascending.

Meticulous planning has taken the place of fragrant cabbage roses in silver pots.

I sit at my screen with the blinds drawn.  I can hear the neighbors children screaming as they play in their azure pool.  Occasionally the telephone will ring but I ignore it.  I ignore everything.  There is a pile of unopened mail stacked neatly in the hall.  I ignore everything.

The pool boy knocking to be paid.  The gardeners knocking to be paid.  Unless Lucy is here.  She has her own key and knows how to pay the other staff.  Consequently they only ever come knocking when Lucy is in the house.

“Mr. Maguire.”  She says.  “I’m leaving now.”

I am trying not to think about you Lucy.

“Is everything alright?” She inquires.

I am trying to be alright.  I am trying very hard to answer you Lucy but I am lost inside my own body.  Like a man with a severed spine.  I can see you but I cannot answer you.  The effort it takes to reply may drain what I need to execute the plan, this homicide.

I need all my strength to move the mountain.

As much as I want to reassure Lucy, all I can do is blink.

“Try getting out of the house this afternoon Mr Maguire.  Go for a walk.”  She waits momentarily, anxiously standing in the hall.  She doesn’t dare come in.  Her slim frame silhouetted against the fierce Californian sunshine.   She has worked in this house for many years.  Long before I inherited it.  She is my only witness.

“The twins tell me that you never leave the house.”

Why bother going out?  I think.

I am planning his death.  Planning the end of his nebbish life.  Imagining the final words he will hear before he is snuffed out forever.

Imagine what his fear smells like.  Will he defecate?  Will his fetid breath?

Will they write about him when I reveal my atrocity?  He wasn’t particularly engaging.  Would anyone even bother writing his obituary?  Perhaps.  I will make his name mean something.  In death he will become the celebrity he expected me to be.

Pity.  I pity you.  Nameless boy.

“I’ll take the dog, poor thing.  He hasn’t been out all day.”

“Thank you Lucy.” I whisper.

Lucy locks the door behind her.  The twins will be home in an hour.

Imagine his face.  Every time I conjour up his face I remember his wet, sweet mouth.  The mouth I yearned for.

The only fascinating thing that ever came out of his mouth was my cock.  Always hungry for it.  I have a photograph of that.  My thick white cock in his mouth.  Stubble on his chin.  His lips pulling down on the shaft.

Damn you.

Fuck you!

I wish I had been more tenacious tending my own lusty garden, less sensitive, less caring about his.

Sit down, dab at the brow.  My heart is racing.  Prepare a light lunch of home-made pickled beets and cold ham.  Must remember to eat.  Too eager to use a fork, eating with my fingers.  Tastes better that way.  Wipe my fingers on my shirt even though there is a napkin set under the silver ware.

Have I ever wanted anything, anything at all, this badly?

The twins complain that I scream out in my sleep.  I shudder to think what I’m doing in those forgotten nightmares.  Am I trapped or caught or bringing down the knife?  Have I cornered him?  Is he begging for his life?  Have the tables been turned, the police called?  Am I already handcuffed, am I sitting in the electric chair?

No consequence scares me when the lights are on, when dawn has broken.

There is already something so inevitable about this death I am planning.  I will leave it up to my dreams to work out the fear.

The multiple contractions of apprehension.

I have met murderers, many of them. I used to teach prisoners at Fairview Penitentiary.  I taught them English literature, ‘an appreciation’.  Donne, Hemingway, Steinbeck and Joyce.  For ninety minutes I can cast a spell over their unimaginable sentences.  Spinning the beautiful words of all the great writers over them, like a silk web, helping them away from their sparse, miserable lives.  Away from their sweaty cells, their bad choices and the blood on their hands.

Murderers are always so contrite.  They are eager to tell me everything.  I listen politely to their stories.  They were always most terribly sorry.

One young man murdered a little girl with his bare hands.  Buried her in the garden under his chrysanthemums.  Another raped a woman in his taxi then stabbed her in the vagina with a knife.

After meeting them, smiling at them, helping them understand.  I would drive home and google each and every one.   Their stories revealed.  The most terrible among them were often the quietest.  Then, quite cruelly, I would introduce themes from literature that most likely mirrored their own stories, their own pathology.

For those who were cuckolded or who had murdered their wives I would read Ulysses.  Introduce them to Leopold.  How he would prepare chicken livers for her breakfast.  Served to his handsome wife Molly Bloom knowing she would fuck the opera singer in their marital bed.  Hanker after his huge penis.  Yes.

“What would you do?” I ask them innocently.

One of the men starts crying.  Picks up his chair and smashes it against the door.

“Can we forgive Molly Bloom?”  I say, after the man is dragged away screaming by the guards.

The murderers balk.  They couldn’t forgive her, they grunt (rather predictably) that she disrespect her man.  I sit on the edge of my desk and look down at them.  My tweed jacket and crisp white shirt.  I smell of toothpaste and pomade.

“I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. Some you can see, misshapen and horrible, with huge heads or tiny bodies; some are born with no arms, no legs, some with three arms, some with tails or mouths in odd places. They are accidents and no one’s fault, as used to be thought. Once they were considered the visible punishment for concealed sins.”

I sit amongst them.  Murderers.  Never thinking that I would be one of them until he exited stage left.  I wonder if I will be contrite?  I doubt it. Contrition has never been my friend.  I will stare at his parents in the court room and I will look unrepentant into their faces.   I will never make amends.  Ever.

He’s got it coming, that one.  I should have done it months ago.

My hand on the back of his neck when I loved him.  Running my fingers through his hair.

Do you want to know his name?  Do you want me to describe his body to you?  You’ll be amazed that I ever found him attractive.  But I did.  I fell in love.  I tore down the razor wire and let him come to me.  I paved the moat, held off the dogs.  Lay down your arms!  Let him come.

I laid in his arms, laying down an impression.

At first he was the one pursuing me.  I was amused…flattered.  Isn’t it always the way?  Then, when I wanted him. Well.  He vanished.  At the worst possible moments.   He made himself indispensable.

Just as I was beginning to trust him, he left me.

His cruel, final words biting into my heart.

This is the story of how I will avenge my honor, my name, my dignity.   This is the man who fights back, who will not take it any more.  This is the man.  The one who was stalked becomes the stalker.  The tables have turned.  This is that man.

Loneliness has followed me like a ghost my entire life.  I thought I had crafted a life so secure it seemed impossible that I would be lonely ever again.  When I met that boy I let loneliness back into my life.  Deathly, silent, cold.  Hard as iron.

Do you think this pleases me?  I tried forgiving him, I really did.

God, I pray, please let me forgive him.  God, please let me think less.  I want an eviction order so this boy can no longer rent space in my head.  Please God.  I say it out loud like a black preacher:  Please God!  I send up my prayers.  Clamoring to be heard.  God!

The twins have heard me.  One of them, Ronnie or Mike, knocks at the door.

“Are you alright Mr Maguire?”

“I’m sleeping dear.”  I reply.

I can hear him shuffle away.

Is heaven too far away for you to hear my prayer, me amongst the millions of desperate pleas?

So, I must write the final chapter by myself.  However hard I rewrite the ending, this book of resentments.  There is only one conclusion.  Murder.  Bringing down the knife, the final act.  The curtain call.  Taking his bow to an empty house.

After months of consideration and research I have everything in place.  I know everything I need to know:  Where he lives, what he does and how I can find him.  I have seen recent pictures of him wearing his new hipster beard, trimmed in such a way that I never knew him.

Pictures of him wearing clothes I picked out for him.  Do you know how that amuses me?  Every time he pulls on that beautiful green jacket he has no option but to think of me.

New pictures arrive most days.  Eating lunch at the gourmet food truck on the street outside his office.  Waiting for the subway.  Dinner with a special friend.  Arriving at his parents house.  Photographs.  So many photographs.

I spend $500 a day to keep the pictures coming.   Like a drug addict.  Waiting by the phone.  Waiting for Chris the Private Detective to let me know that more are on the way.  45 attachments today.

I am three thousand miles away from him.  So, there are things that remain unaccomplished.  For instance, I have not yet bought the weapon.   It perplexes me that buying a gun is actually more difficult than I at first imagined.  My man who can is ‘on to it’ so I must trust that he is.

The cast has been chosen, the die has been cast.  The private detective who follows him and sends me the clandestine photographs, my accomplices who will help me drag him off the street and into the car.

The weapon?  Must buy.  Top of the list.

It was easy to find Chris the Private Detective.  Google.  Google reviews, four star private detective.  Very reliable.

Everything about my relationship with the young man I am going to kill was conceived and born on the internet.  It was shaped on web cams, emails, Facebook, Manhunt, Grindr, Adam 4 Adam.

Determined by him.

When and whenever he wanted me.  I gave into him.  Until I didn’t.

2. Resentment

How and why should an affluent, fifty year old man be thinking like this?  Why?  I used to wake every morning like a boy!  Enchanted by all the world has to offer.  Now I see nothing.  At the mercy of nothing.  I used to wake up every morning and thank God for the new day.  Now there is no God, just a black hole that consumes everything in the universe.  Sucking anything of value into the vortex.

The furies are all I am left with.

I have given up wondering why I am so angry at him.   This is all you need to know:

I am determined.  Alone in my bed at night but not isolated.

The house, when the twins are here,  is always full of people.  The dog remains well fed.  The maid cleans.  The gardeners arrive daily to trim and prune and sweep.  There are fragrant hyacinths, white and purple, growing in pots on the dining room table.  Freshly grown garden fruit picked and washed, ready for me to eat.

Is this the life I bargained for?  Sitting in my bedroom plotting like an adolescent.  The twins sunning themselves by the pool.  Glistening in the Californian sunshine.  Their equally beautiful friends wondering aloud who it is that owns the house.  Who stands at the window looking down at them?  Like Mann’s Gustav von Aschenbach in Death in Venice.  Staring out to sea.  Hankering after everything and nothing.

“It was Mann’s intention to write a treatise on the Nietzschean contrast between the God of reason,  Apollo, and the irrational God, Dionysus.”  I tell the murderers.

They look at me blankly.

One thing is for sure, I don’t expect to get away with this.

I have been disconnecting from my darling dog.  He knows it, he paws at me insistently.  He knows that something grave is in the offing.  He, in turn, is learning to trust the kindness of others.

He doesn’t want to be left on his own.

The Little Dog who would once sit so loyally by me, now loses no time trusting strangers and sits with them.  I may have murdered months ago had it not been for the extraordinary relationship between me and my dog.   Now, I am ready to let him go.

Recently, he has seen me angry and hidden under the bed.  He cowers when I shout at dullards or digital voices on the telephone.

He is scared when I cry.  Scared by the smell of imaginary whiskey on my breath.

I am ashamed to tell you that when he first arrived I was quite cruel to him.  He was very angry when I brought him home from the pound.  Barking, barking, barking.  He would pee on everything.  A solid week of cleaning the house, scrubbing the god damned carpet, mopping the tile, the smell of dog pee on everything I owned.  Every time he urinated I shouted at him and he would leak some more.

One quiet Sunday afternoon he defecated in my closet.   I shouted so hard he ran away and hid in the garden.

I wished he would never come back.  I begged God that the coyote would eat him.

For a week he managed to not get eaten by the coyotes.  How?  Packs of coyote stalk my mountain side property.  Screaming for their dinner.  Then, one day, The Little Dog just walked back into the house as if nothing had happened.  He never messes on the carpet again.

I was so happy he came home.  Now I am just about to leave him forever.

He still avoids me when I shout on the telephone.  Shivers on his bed.  Most people do.  People in the room move away if they know me well enough to divine that my temper might be lost.

I used to shout at people.

I’ve been very angry.  Furious.  It has been a problem.  Perhaps I’m ‘well-known’ for flying off the handle.  There’s no question mark.  I am well-known for losing my temper.   At work, in situations where powerlessness grips me and I feel myself sinking.  I have shouted so loudly, my blood pressure so high, I collapsed.

Shifting the liquid in my inner ear.

I thought I was having a stroke.

I lost my temper with him.  I lost my temper when we thought he had been robbed.  I lost my temper in The Departure Hall, Paris Charles De Gaulle.   He looked scared.  Everyone does.  I am a big man who looks docile for the most part.  Docile, until they prod me with their stick.

Docile until the blood drains out of my face and I am left looking like an animal.

He was in my dreams again last night.  Laying on his bed.  Telling me how good his life is.  How much in love he is with the Greek man he has been seeing.   I lay there beside him and told him that I was happy for him.  I could feel that I was.  Happy for him.

Sometimes, I can hear him talking about me during the day.  My ears burning.  He’s doing it right now.

I can hear him laughing at me.  That filthy sneer on his face.  Sharing stories about me with his friends.  Laughing at every choice I have ever made.  As if I am worthless.  I imagine him with my old acquaintances (friends no more) who have contacted him.  Laughing at how old I am.  My erectile dysfunction.  The white in my beard.  My stiff knees.

He is only twenty-nine years old.

I don’t expect him to celebrate his thirtieth birthday.

The last time I was in NYC I called Chris the Private Detective.  The first time we met, we met in public.  We drank coffee at a large table at my private club.   A plump, sanguine, middle-aged man who is not even middle-aged.  He is certainly fifteen years younger than me yet he seems so much older.  There is something peculiarly invisible about him.  He is everyman, dressed as everyman and therefore invisible.

I would be hard pressed to pick him out of a crowd even though I have met him twice.

He had no particular expression, no charisma, no beauty and thankfully no opinion.  Only when pressed did he tell me about his other clients:  a woman from Katonah whose husband she suspected was having an affair.  When he followed her unemployed spouse he took the train into the city and sat in a mid-town coffee shop day after day drinking english tea and reading free newspapers until it was time to go home.

I wondered if I had ever been followed, watched or my movements documented?   Really, who would care enough to do that?  I couldn’t think of anyone other than John.  The thought made me smile.  Not even he would bother.  Not even as we were in the midst of our messy ‘divorce’.

The second time I met Chris the Detective we met at my home in the East Village.  He had, by this time, Googled me.  He was less restrained, obviously knew who I was and who he was dealing with.

He told me about a boy he was looking for, a lost boy.  He thinks the boy is already dead.  Suicide.

“Let’s talk about money.”  Chris pulled a contract out of a black plastic folder and I handed him a cheque for $1, 500.

“Discover where he goes.”  I said.  “With whom…simple.”

“Who was he to you?”  Chris enquires politely.

“He was my lover.”

Yes, I am a homosexual.  I wondered if you could had guessed already?  Had I made it obvious? Was it evident in the way that I write?  The way I see things.  Does it differ from the way you see things?

A homosexual, a teacher and recently  (I don’t know how to write this) a television personality from a reality television show.  That’s how I make my money, odd jobs.  Like the Downs syndrome boy who lives in my home town.  Running errands.  I am a high achieving cripple.  Limping up and down Main Street dragging my club foot behind me.

Odd jobs suit me just fine.

Yet, I earn more money than I ever have.  Using all of my potential.   Even though the worst of me seems to get the better deal every single day and always has.

I can confide in you?

Each night I regret the passing of another day.  I lay in my bed before I fall asleep, knowing that my freedom will be curtailed, my sheets will no longer be pure, white linen.  My houses in NYC and CA will fall into disrepair.  Friends and family will come and take what they want and the lawyers will take the rest.

My dog will never see me again.  Will he die in prison?  Euthanized by strangers?  Is it worth it?   To lose everything because the timid boy that I loved made a fool of me?  Lied to me?  Should I risk everything?

Should I?

I have never been so sure of anything in my whole life.  In lieu of suicide, murder works just fine.

I talk to him, day dreaming imaginary conversations.  I catch hold of his sleeve and I ask him: “Can I tell you how you broke my heart?”  He looks back at me.  His brown eyes and soft mouth.  I say, “Because you trusted me, you encouraged me, you loved me.  Then you saw something you hated and turned your back on me and I was all alone…again and I couldn’t bear being all on my own…again.”

Then I feel sorry for him.  I want to help him get out of this pickle.  I don’t want to kill him.  But the wish to kill is not going anywhere.  Even when I am happy, even when the twins are here bouncing around the house.

Sometimes I want to call you and give you fair warning.  I want to tell you to run and hide so I can’t get you.  But I don’t.  I don’t because the die is cast.

I have already caused him inexorable pain and chaos.  I know that his entire family (Mother, Father and brother) stand beside him whereas I have no one alive anymore.  His Riverville mum and dad who only found out that he was queer when I forced him to tell the truth.  Well, they are still in shock that their son could have made so many bad choices, led such a double life.

That he compartmentalized the life he led with his fiance/family and the life he had with me.

He is not uncommon.  So many gay men learn how to lie, to skirt the existence others think that they lead and the black hole that is their contemporary, immoral gay life.  Only last week a gay acquaintance of mine was found dead in his bathroom from an oxycotin overdose.  He was fine!  His father told everyone that he had only just put down the phone twenty-four hours ago and his son, his only son, his darling son was fine.

I used to tell him that.  The toxic shame that kept him lying to everyone who loved him would end up killing him if he didn’t tell the truth.

3.  New York

My name is Charles Maguire.  I am fifty years old.  I live with my small dog (half jack Russell half chihuahua) in a large, mid-century modern house designed in part by Rudolf Schindler on three acres of verdant, semi-tropical gardens overlooking the sprawling city of Los Angeles.

The gardens are planted with Agave, cactus and other drought loving succulents.  Below the house there is a small grove of olive trees.  Last summer I grew cherimoya, oranges, grapes, lemons, plums, peaches and all kinds of vegetables.  My aim, in those days, was to be self-sufficient.

It is a tranquil place away from the maddening life I had in Hollywood.  I can see the stars at night and listen to the birds all day long.  There is a carp pond and an architecturally significant swimming pool cantilevered over the mountain top.  My neighbours are mostly European.  Americans tend to fear the idea of living up here.  They say when they arrive at the house, “Are you scared of….mudslides, fires, earthquakes?”  And I say, “No..not much scares me up here.”  They tour the gardens and tell me that this is a ‘magical’ place.  Well, they are right, it is.

Ten months ago I let a pair of young male twins move into the guest house but mostly, to my chagrin, they try hanging out with me.  My Mormon twins: tall, perfectly sculpted bodies, polite and inclusive.  Not even they can shift me, distract me from the great task that will inevitably end my life.

They heard about me long before they met me.  They saw me, like millions of others, on the television edited to be somebody I am not.  Like Iago, I tell the murderers. “Unfairly treated.”

Perhaps all I want is the attention?  Craving the attention.  Negative or otherwise?  Am I the sort of person who is so desirous of attention I would kill to get it?  Is that what I grieve?  I have imagined this:  The show trial where I arrive looking svelte and dapper.  My fellow reality star cast members at my side.  The celebrity doctor summoned to give crucial evidence.  I will stand in the witness-box and sob when forced to tell my abusive back story.  I will look over at his distraught parents and ugly brother.

His Mother will cry, his father will be resolute and comforting.

It’s very hard to convict a celebrity.

I know that the reporters in the room will be looking for clues.  The television cameras will stare unblinking at me.  At night I will follow the trial on CNN.  Must pluck my eyebrows.  Must remember to wear louder ties.

New York has not had an execution since 1976.  There is currently a court ordered moratorium in effect.  Perhaps I can single-handedly break this embargo?

I think about him again.  I think about how he may or may not be with someone he loves who is not me.  I think of him having sex with someone he loves who is not me.  Then I think those murderous thoughts that many of us have when ditched.   I console myself in the shadow of that word:  I think about the wounds on his body that I am going to inflict and how they will open in his flesh like cactus flowers.

I ask the murderers to tell me about the very moment they knew they had murdered.  I get them to describe it so that when it happens to me I am prepared.  The clichés they use are best not repeating.  They think they are being poetic.

How did this happen to me?   How is every waking hour dedicated to you?  My darling.

Two years ago I was enjoying my life.  I was perhaps happier than I had ever been.  Every night I would find fascinating people to have dinner in wild and exotic places.  I loved being recognized on the streets even if it was for something that previously I had found contemptible.

They say that if you hang around a barber’s shop long enough you’ll get a hair cut.  If you hang around Hollywood you’ll end up on TV.  It only took ten years.  Somehow the dream I arrived in Hollywood became a nightmare.  Until, one day, a friend called and asked if I would consider being a cast member on a TV show.  A reality TV show.  Of course I said,  “No!”

“No!”  Immediately, without a moment’s pause.

“Absolutely not!”

After some extensive contractual negotiation (I amended my own contract) and a huge cash settlement I said…yes.

As it turned out, the experience proved to be extreamly validating.  It transpires that there is nothing more reassuring than having a camera shoved in your face 24/7.  From the moment you wake in the morning to the moment you go to bed at night.   I felt loved.  The moment they pinned the microphone to my tee-shirt.  The night camera in my room that kept me safe.

Every word I uttered recorded for posterity.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised when they hear that I am arrested.  Most people I know understand that I am the sort of man who would or could be capable of murder.

Just like my father.   He was the same way.

I booked the flight this morning.  On line.  Into the unknown.  I have a meeting set up with the detective.  He will tell me where and how and why.

The route he takes to work everyday.  Even though I know it.  I will discuss the route he takes to work in such detail that nothing can go wrong.

The twins are in their room making love.  I can hear them.  One of them says softly, “Don’t.” and they giggle.

They look at my AA sober coins and say, “These are really cool trinkets.”

They are going to the gym and getting ready to audition.  Actor/Models.

They don’t know my thoughts.  They can’t possibly know what is going on upstairs in the head department.  They are simple Christian boys who make love in the morning and talk about girls all day long.

I can hear them kissing.  I can hear them cooing like doves.  I can hear one of them gasp.

Since he left me I have put on weight.  My jowls are sagging.  The skin around my eyes drooping over my eye lids.  My belly looks permanently full and my skin is dull and grey.  I used to be attractive but that doesn’t matter any more.  Who cares what I look like?

I don’t.

I have not had an erection for months.   Can you imagine that?  Fucking gay boys!  How would you feel about that?  Not to have an erection for six months?  Not to wake up with morning wood because all you can think about twenty-four seven is how you are going to speed a bullet through his brains?

Murderous thoughts destroy ones libido.

I don’t look at pornography.  I don’t show myself on any match-making websites.  I don’t drink alcohol or take drugs.  I drink coffee and smoke strong cigarettes.  I barely brush my teeth unless I have to share a car with someone…and then, only when that person matters.  I stand naked in front of the mirror so the image of who I am burns into my brain.  I am ugly and useless and unlovable.

My limbs increasingly misshapen.

I am old.

I look in the mirror.  Sink to my knees.

Kneeling at the edge of my bed and pray that I can be delivered from this obsession but God long ago fled the scene of this crime.  I have nothing to lose.  My life is worthless.

I can hear the twins in another part of the house film scenes for a film that has no beginning, middle or end.  The dog is with them, he’s barking and running around joyfully.  I know that if I join them they will all sit quietly.  Their joy deferring to my misery.

There is no television in the house.  I threw it out when he sent the cruel note.

I wouldn’t have met him had I not been on the television.   He would never have ambushed me.

Yet, I wouldn’t have met the man who is selling me the gun.  The woman who paid for my flights.  The man who paid for the ‘luxury’ spa.  The pizza guy who gives us huge pizzas for free.  None of them.

The man with the gun stopped me in the street and said, “Hey, are you…” and I smile and say yes and now he is selling me the gun that will murder the crazed fan who lied his way into my life and my heart.

Did you know that I used to have two dogs?  The other one was killed in the road.  I miss her so much.  Somehow her death, her cruel and senseless death introduced me to the idea of death.  Life’s fragility.  I am crying now.  Thinking about her.

Anyway, that’s that.  The plane ticket is booked.  The detective has been appointed.  Rizo from The Bronx called late last night.  He has the gun. It is presently sitting in a box wrapped in a dishcloth.

“I’ll text you a picture.”  He rasped.

He texted me a picture of it.  Applying some Polaroid app to the image which made it look very old-fashioned.  Very old.

Good.  Everything is in place.  What could possibly stop me?  Other than his pleading face.  His begging cries?  His convincing argument that he might live?

Why don’t I just kill myself and spare his young life?  Yeah…right.

The twins drove me to LAX in their old car.  I said goodbye to the dog.  I held his little face in my hands and kissed his forehead.

“I can’t take you this time little buddy.”

I walked with him one last time around the estate.  The paths that cut into the hill-side.  The view over the city.  Who will pick this fruit?  Will it just wither on the vine?  I said goodbye to it all.  Goodbye Southern California.

All the way to the airport I just couldn’t stop talking.  The twins were shocked that I had that many words in me to say.  I made them stop at some ghastly fast food outlet and bought them burgers, french fries and gallons of soda.  They complimented my smile which, they told me, they had never seen before.

“The next time you see me will be on the television.”  I said to The Twins as I unload my luggage.  They looked a little confused but are too polite to pry.

“Don’t forget to pick the peaches.  Don’t waste them.  Lucy will show you what to do.”

The Little Dog thought that he was coming too and looked quite panicked when I did not invite him onto the concourse

I didn’t look back.  I could hear him barking.  I didn’t look back.

 

1.

Before I hit the doctor’s office I stepped into Regen Projects on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Owned by Shaun Regen this is by far the most interesting gallery in LA and consistently shows challenging and stimulating work.

Regen Projects is currently showing work by German artist John Bock.

Born 1965, Gribbohm, Germany

Lives and works in Berlin.

The show reminded me (inevitably) of fellow German Martin Kippenberger.

Kippenberger is one of my favorite artists.  His work has been inexcusably and crudely plundered by the YBA (Young British Artists).

Bock influences  include: Paul McCarthy, Otto Muehl, Paul Thek and Maurizio Cattelan.

John Bock is a performance artist and sculptor whose three-dimensional works often serve as props for his performances.

Bock creates entire universes using a wildly eclectic range of materials, described in multiple languages, and presented with an antic energy that is equal parts mad scientist and Buster Keaton.

A dizzying mix of pseudo-scientific, aesthetic, social, and political commentary,  Bock’s works defy logic.

This view of the world has various precedents, notably in the post World War II Theatre of the Absurd, a movement whose goal was to shock audiences into facing up to life “in its ultimate, stark reality.”

Bock believes the pre-conscious associations inherent in words are unavoidable and that only through experience and empathy can we penetrate what he terms the “heavy numb dumb world” of daily life.

Bock’s lectures seduce and confound, simultaneously proving perhaps, the inexplicability of the interrelationship of man and his universe.

2.

When I let God take the reigns of the humble buggy I drive down the promised path of happy destiny I am sure of one thing: things are going to turn out just the way they are meant to.  Good and bad.

When I angrily push him out-of-the-way and drive myself I am sure of nothing.

I used to think that if I let God take control of my life, my life might be ever so slightly boring but that simply isn’t the case.  God and I can still go on a wild ride, we can still have excitement and ambition.   We just do it the right way.

I get to have all that life has on offer without paying the terrible price I seem to pay when I wilfully drive the buggy myself.

I used to think (convinced myself) that doing the right thing meant that I had to live a pious life.

This simply isn’t true.  God doesn’t want me kneeling at his feet all day praying that his will be done.  He knows that I believe in his will being done, but what I have come to understand of late is that his will needn’t be dull.

Everyday things get better in my head.  Everyday without the grip of obsession, compulsion and the like I am calmer, more centered, more and more in my own skin.

Getting back to work and in touch with my God-given desire to create (and a means to do so) I feel more like the man I was meant to be rather than the man I have been lately.

Yesterday I went back to the doctor, had more scans and lo and behold there are yet more problems to deal with.  The difference between this time and the last is that I now have a skill set to deal immediately and healthily with these problems rather than the last time when I associated the problem with him.

It is remarkable to me that for nearly a year I let somebody else rule my head and my heart.  By so doing I allowed the deep shadow cast by another to blot out the sunlight of the spirit.

When I talk about God I don’t mean a christian…organised religious God.  I mean a God of my understanding, a higher power to whom I must defer at all times if I am going to live a healthy life.

Whitstable Carnival 1967

So.  My main obsession as of the 15th April is not some stray boy but this: I now have an assigned parking place at my apartment building in Hollywood.

I am free to come and go without fear of having nowhere to park.

This may mean nothing to those of you who live in parking heaven-like Kensington London or Bourke Street Sydney but to me in Hollywood club land where every miserable Saturday night I spent HOURS looking for somewhere to park  it is like driving through the pearly gates.

Bloody Hell!

I can now glide effortlessly behind my mechanized gate and slip into a glove of a parking place. Bliss.

Implications:  less gas used in car, less walking to and from the house, less time squandered looking for parking, accurate departure and arrival schedule.  I no longer curtail my pleasure in fear of no parking.

Oh brother, that I conned myself into not paying for assigned parking because I would save money!  I ended up paying $700 in parking tickets last year.  Can you believe it?

The little dog and I have an exciting day ahead of us.   Very glamorous party in Beverly Hills.  Dinner with Dane.  My morning meeting in West Hollywood first though.  Let’s get reconnected with God and AA and start today as I mean to go on, getting stronger, refilling my poor depleted heart with the love of mankind and not one man but all of you-the great collective.

Why in hells name is love so fucking painful?  Why do I do this to myself?  Why?  What lesson do I refuse to learn?

I know things are bad when I start imagining that I am a great chanteuse wearing Chanel.  At least YOU got a laugh out of it dear readers.

The truth will set me free.  That is all we have.  At the end of the day, that is all we have.

P.S. And I promise this is not some morbid recall.  One of the best things you know who did for me when he was being eager-beaver-boy was to start editing my blog for publication.

I must admit that it was really rather good.  This makes me think that I should pull out those ancient diaries and start cobbling together some sort of autobiography.   It would be selfish not to really, wouldn’t it?

‘Tis I, I must be sorry,

With hands and feet together

Bound fast, must lie in hell.

The scourges and the fetters

And all that thou hast suffered,

All this deserveth now my soul.

A VIEW FROM THE WINDOWS OF THE WORLD

By Duncan Roy

I know this.  I’m gazing over the wide open city.  It’s difficult, ’cause of the thick black smoke, to make out what is going on below.  Obviously there is chaos.  Occasionally a small helicopter will peer at me from a long way off.  I can see men with cameras or men speaking into their hands in which, I presume, are microphones.

Even from this distance I can see every one of the men and women standing still, looking at this building, is appalled.  When I landed here I waved frantically at them but I’m not waving any more.  It seems so pointless.  My situation is very grave.

Reviewed by my peers, in a test designed to articulate our particular strengths, I’ve been told I’m very good at coping in stressful or difficult situations.  Each one of my co-workers, came out strong on my coping skills.  When I last saw them they were, each and every one, silently trading in a bubble of self-absorption.  Calculating and re-calculating the money they would earn for this particular day, September 11th 2001.

It is a beautiful day.  I can see birds on the horizon and wonder if they can fly this high.  I am momentarily jealous they can fly and I cannot.  If I could spread my wings I might take off into the East Village and drink cappuccino.  I would order my coffee ‘too hot to drink’ that’s what my lover would say.  “Too hot to drink, ‘cause nobody likes cold coffee.”

I’ve tried calling my lover but his cell phone is switched off.  I know where he is.  In bed, asleep, unaware.  Unaware there is chaos on the streets, unaware two jet planes have smashed into the place where I work.  He is recovering.  We passed silently in the hall as he came home from a late night and I set off to work.  He smelt toothpaste on my lips as he kissed me briefly.  I asked him if he’d been smoking cigarettes… again.  He smiled; pulling off his shirt and pants, curling into the warm bed I left behind.

I heard him say,  “Come back to bed, you work too hard.”  I pretended like I didn’t hear.

If I were a bird I would fly to the window where he sleeps surrounded by the things we own, in the smells that are ours.  This situation is grave.   He doesn’t love me anymore… he loves crystal meth and nameless men.  We are not tender anymore so, if I were a bird, I would also have another magical authority: I would travel through time and be with the man I first loved.  But I have no wings and this city is so wide.

Are you asleep?  Can you hear me?  If I think hard enough about you can I wake you?  “Jimmy, wake up!” He’s not asleep… he’s unconscious.  When he wakes he’ll still look tired.  Today, however, when he wakes and flicks open the case of his silver cell phone he will hear my voice explaining everything I wanted him to know when I was still alive.

“I wanted you to know… I loved you but I don’t love you any more.  If I had loved you… this morning I may have taken off my suit, climbed back into bed and risked everything, because I loved you.”

I tried to remember the day I met him but curiously the moment had been erased.

“Does this mean because I don’t love you… I am now looking over the city from the upper most floor of the fractured World Trade Center?”

I was frantic to remember.  Did we meet on-line?

“No, of course not.  It’s not your fault”

I can’t remember where we met!  I panic, my breath tight in my lungs.  Help me!  I think it but I can’t say it.  I can’t scream out loud because this is a fucking dream… isn’t it?  When I scream out in a dream my voice is strangled, my mouth cannot open wide enough and call out.  Who would hear me?  Help me!  I sit down by a huge pipe, amongst a forest of antennae.  I can smell the jet fuel; the wind whips around me, an ominous rumble, like an explosion deep in the heart of the building.  I get up again and run the length of the north side until I get to the corner and haul myself onto the edge and look down.

I say out loud, “I’m not scared.”  I wasn’t scared the first time.

The others were petrified, praying, paralysed.  Barney’s mouth, bleeding from the gash on his lip.

I shout out, “Why are you keeping me alive?”

Some of us tried to get up onto the roof but the door was locked.  After the first plane hit Barney told us to stay at our desks, the dislocated voice from the walls told us to stay at our desks.  When June saw the first woman fall out of the smoke a few minutes after the impact, after it happened to the other building. That building was our mirror.  Out of our mirror fell a fair latina woman with no expression on her face, dressed neatly in her white cotton blouse, tumbling through the air.  Arielle said, “Fuck that.” and left the office.  I stood up and looked around.  I expected to follow the women but the men stayed behind.

I was torn, I wanted to leave with the women.  June said to me, “Come on Ed, come with us.  The tower could fall.”

Barney screamed, “Are you kidding?”

I told them I would see them later.

“Don’t let that asshole bully you.” She said.

Now look at me.  I am on the roof and they are drinking cappuccino in the East Village looking in awe with millions of other Americans at the grave situation in which I now find myself, coping not screaming as determined by the company commissioned aptitude tests.

I am sitting demurely on the edge of the roof.  Looking at the batmen and women falling to their deaths, unable to fly.  I thought I should call my mother but then I thought better of it.

A gay son is a dead son and God will punish you for embracing the devil.” she said.

God would and could if he was sought.

I scrolled through the hundred odd names on my cell phone and could not see one name of one person I wanted to share my predicament, every one of the names on my cell were names of men and women with whom I could share a pleasant evening in the city, at the Hampton’s, skiing in Aspen, at bare-chested parties in Miami/Fire Island/white party/black party/Sydney Mardi Gras.  Every one of those names could cast a spell.  But how would I tell anyone of them where I was now?  Oh my God.  They might say “Oh my God.”  Then they would tell me help was on the way but I knew, the moment we felt the impact, help would never come.  And when the floor began to buckle and the smoke was hot and thick and the window smashed – I knew the truth of my predicament.  There was only one person I wanted to call but he was ten years in the ground, scattered in a field behind an English church.

It is a terrible thing to see a man ravaged with cancer.  Sonny died in my arms.  I wish I could call him now.  He would know just the right thing to say.  He would say something like: ‘take a breath’.  He would know it would calm me.  He never knew me get sober, but if he had known me… now he would tell me to: Accept the things I cannot change.

A few weeks after Sonny died I took the train to Axminster, took a taxis to the countryside, carried his ashes into a field behind a tiny medieval church where he had been happy as a child.  ‘Unfettered’ that’s how he described his childhood and I had to look for the word unfettered in the dictionary because I wasn’t quite sure what it meant.  I sat behind the quaintly hipped church for a long time that warm, fragrant July evening.  I sat and watched baby rabbits pull at tufts of clover and tiny bats flutter in and out of the hedgerow.  I looked at the hand drawn map Sonny gave me just before he passed.

I was sitting where x marked the spot.  He gave other instructions.

1.  Do not cry.

2.  Go where the love is.

3.  Delete my number from your cell phone.

4.  Stop drinking and taking drugs.

I tried not to cry.  I went where the love was but could not always identify what form the love took.  I drove back to London and found an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on the Kings Road and never took another drink or drug from that day to this.

It took an age to delete his number because for weeks his number was still operational and if I dialled his number I could hear his voice asking me to leave a message after the beep.  I would call when I missed him most and, knowing no one would ever hear, I’d leave messages pretending he was still alive.  Asking if he was on his way home from the office, would he please pick up some milk or make him promises I knew I could never keep.

Then, one day, the ominous single tone told me his number was gone, along with the cheery greeting.  I cried buckets, talked about it with my AA sponsor and without warning pressed the delete button and moved on.

I wonder how long it will take to delete my name from the cell phone of all the people I know?

The spring after Sonny died I returned to Manhattan. I found a small apartment next to the Russian Baths on E10th Street, between 1st Avenue and Avenue A just a block from the rat infested Tompkin Square Park.  The beautiful home I left behind in The Mission reminded me too much him.  Each well proportioned room now stripped of the life we once shared.  I left the kitchen gadgets Sonny liked to collect and I liked to hide away.  Still in their original boxes: a waffle maker, a small grill, a juicer, a coffee grinder, a magi-mix (unused) and countless other appliances.   I tried donating them to Good Will but they won’t accept electrical items so I sent them to my God Fearing Mother who could never throw anything away.   It made me chuckle.

The marine layer rolled over the city.  I sat in the misty gloom on the floor of our empty apartment.  I was wearing a mid-length, camel top coat with a beige velvet collar.  I’d bought the coat at Harrods in London with Sonny three years before.  We had a plan for our old age that included camel coats as essential accessories.  We would dress like English gentlemen and bowl along Sloane Street in out velvet collars and black lacquered canes.   Before I met Sonny I didn’t know anything about velvet collars, black lacquer, London or Harrods.  I was 20 years old and Sonny was 32.  Good God.  I met him in the zoological gardens in Sydney Australia.  He was staring at a huge cobweb strung between two trees.  The scribble of a Huntsman spider cobweb had captivated Sonny.

It wasn’t the first time I’d noticed him.

We had seen him laying in the sun with his friends at Tamarama, the gay beach.  My friends stared at him from under their dark glasses.  ‘Lordy, that boy is fine.’  Justin said and rolled over to stare at me.  Justin’s body all glistening and gay.  ‘He is fine.’  It was true.  Justin jabbed his cigarette into the sand.  ‘He could have any one of us.’  He sneered.

I hadn’t left the USA before.  It was my first year of out gayness.  Justin and his friends adopted me and insisted I come with them to the Sydney Mardi Gras.  Justin called it a ‘gathering of the clans’.  He sat in the Big Cup and painted a picture of gay paradise.  “Men hold hands on the street.”  When we got there the paradise he promised was true.

Every morning I got up early, even after a late or heavy night, I couldn’t bear missing out on anything… ever.  Justin, who shared my room but not my bed, would groan and tell me that at his age (26) getting up at that time (8am) was illegal.  I went every day, first thing, to City Gym and worked out.  I alternated body parts and split sets. Occasionally there was an attractive man in the steam room and if I was in the mood I might let him suck my cock or I his.  I would have breakfast at the Dov café in Darlinghurst opposite the red sand stone prison then take the 21 bus to Bronte, have a fruit smoothie in The Bogie Hole then walk the half-mile along the cliffs to the gay beach at Tamarama.   All afternoon I would lie in the sun with my friends or loll in the surf.

We had come for the big event, the gay and lesbian parade and the huge gay party afterwards.  Occasionally, instead of my gym routine, I explored the polite city of Sydney.   After looking at aboriginal art in the New South Wales Art gallery I headed off toward the Sydney Opera House by way of Lady Macquarie’s Park.  It was only 10.30 but already it was fiercely hot and I was ducking in and out of the shade to avoid burning myself.  On the pavement ahead I saw the confident man from the beach Justin said could have anyone he wanted.  He was wearing a well-cut pair of shorts, a white cotton vest and he was carrying a straw hat with a wide brim.

He turned, looked at me and said,  “Hello mister Tamarama.”  He was British.  “You thought I was American?  That’s ok… I live in New York.  I look like an American and my teeth are good like an American.”  He smiled.

I stood silently and listened to him think all those things about his teeth as clearly as if he were saying them.  No, this is absurd!  I challenged him, as he stood looking over at me: without opening my lips I said,  “Come here and kiss me.”

I told him to kiss me in my thoughts, come here and kiss me… and he did.  Just like that.  He kissed me under the cobweb and for ten years I never kissed another man.  I never let another man make love to me.  I looked into his face every day and mapped it so that if I never saw it again I would remember what he looked like… indelibly… forever.

Who couldn’t love a man with raven black hair and navy blue eyes?

Over 20 thousand people work in both the twin towers.  If you could take off all the clothes of every man and every woman who worked in the twin towers and made piles of every item: pants, skirts, spectacles how large would those piles be?

This morning, after I left our apartment, I walked to the 7am AA Meeting on Christopher Street.  ‘A splendid September day’, that’s how they described it on the radio.  Barney had made it abundantly clear we had a great deal of work to do so I left before the serenity prayer, which I never usually.  You know, they always say, wagging their AA fingers “if you put anything before the rooms of AA you’ll lose it’.  (I am losing it).

At the South Tower the elevators were crammed and as usual I felt sick as we elevated.  I never stopped feeling a small amount of sickness as we catapulted onto the 101st floor listening to a synthesised version of ‘Here Comes The Sun’.  On my floor the receptionist ignored me and continued looking at a gossip magazine containing multiple images of the same celebrity doing the same thing.   I poured myself a decaf and added half and half.  I sat at my desk.  June handed me a stack of papers and sucked sugar off the back of her thumb from the doughnut she had just finished eating.

“Did you tell him?” she asked.  I shook my head.  She wants me to tell my lover I don’t love him any more.

“I am going to buy the new Bob Dylan record at lunch from J and R.”  I reply.

She looks at me steadfastly.  “Bob Dylan?  What’s he goner do?  He’s not going to help yaw.”

Tim, Lyle, Jason, Mackie, Mickey, Blue and Barney sat and checked over the London figures and then the Japanese.  Bob Dylan… he’s not going to help yaw.  At 8.46 all of us heard a huge explosion.  “Holy Cow! What was that?”   Jason called out.   We ran to the window.  The impact on the other side of the north tower at about the 90th floor, a few floors higher than us.  We heard it and felt it and we could see above us a great deal of smoke.  After a few minutes Barney told us to go back to work.  Nobody took any notice.  He was immediately hysterical.  He wasn’t used to being ignored.

There was a huge amount of chatter in the room as we very quickly divined what had happened.  It must have been an aeroplane.  Arielle had heard it.  An aeroplane?  How could that have happened?  Lyle and Mackie called their wives and told them what was going on.  There voices were matter of fact, I guess they were disguising their fear.  Mackie said there had been an explosion on world trade one… the other building.  Eventually the men returned to their workstations but the women, June, Laura, Ami and Arielle kept staring at the smoke.

Then June said,  “I’m getting out of here.  That building could fall on us.”

Barney screamed at them to sit down.  Arielle gave him the finger and grabbed her coat and keys and left the office.  Barney called out to her, “You’re fired! All of you!”

Ami said, “Fire us all… we could die in here.”

The dislocated voice said,  ‘Go back to your desks, there’s nothing to fear.’  Barney looked very pleased with himself and the men obediently sat down because the dislocated voice said so.

June hesitated then said,  “Fuck that.”  and left the office, the remaining women followed.

“Come on Ed, don’t let that asshole bully you.”  June pulled at my lapel.

I smiled and told June I would see her tomorrow.

Barney screamed, “You won’t see her tomorrow… she’s fired.”

June said, “See you tomorrow boys, unless that thing comes crashing down.”

I sigh and diligently set to work.  Mackie calls his wife as the dislocated voice repeats its reassurance everything in our building is just fine.  This time Mackie wasn’t so sure, I heard him tell her it felt bad… it looks horrible.  ‘It’s secure here.’  Lyle reassured his wife.  Barney told him angrily to get off the fucking phone and get back to work.  Mackie’s wife must have heard Barney screaming and I wonder what she’s thinking now?

I wondered if I hadn’t made the wrong choice to stay in this office, not now not forever. At nine o’clock my AA friend Michael L called to ask if I was ok.  I told him I was in the South Tower and I was fine.  He confirmed what the others were saying, a plane crashed into the east side of the North Tower.  He was watching TV.  I told him Barney wouldn’t let us watch TV.  Michael said, ‘Oh, that’s a little mean-spirited.’ Which, if you knew Michael L, was like him calling Barney an asshole.  We were fairly new AA friends, he seemed incredibly calm and spiritual.  He reminded me of Sonny.  Then he said, “Oh my God.”  And the line went dead.

I felt the impact very clearly, we began to shudder and sway.  The drywall fractured, sighing dust over us.  We looked at one another nervously, stood up simultaneously, running to the window.  A vast plume of black smoke obscured our view.

I started getting Blackberry messages confirming what we already knew, a plane hit the South Tower.  Below us.  I thought, this is the beginning of the end of my life.  A thought I had many years before.  Sitting in our empty San Francisco apartment where we spent so much of our ‘married’ life.  It seemed impossible we would never share a moment together ever again and every passing day would be a different sort of day because he was not there.  As I hauled myself off the floor I glimpsed thick folded paper poking between the skirting and the bare boards.  Investigating, I pulled out an envelope, an unopened letter addressed to me.   I did not open it immediately as it occurred to me perhaps Sonny, whose unmistakable writing it was, intended me never to have seen it… then again, why didn’t he simply destroy it?   So, I tore it open and read:

Darling Ed, I knew one day you would read this and I would be already gone.  How did I know? I was sitting here in our beautiful home, so full of love and friendship and consolation and decided to write a letter you would find once our home is truly dismantled.  I know when we leave this place it will be you who will be the last to leave.

So, my darling, I wanted you to know when I met you I had, by then, let so many mister rights pass me by.  Before we met, you have no idea how incomplete I had been, what terrors I had suffered before I met you.  I was so bored before I met you… yet I had no idea I was bored or incomplete before I met you.  I thought life was perfect and then I met you and every day was a delight. I stepped out of the shadows and into your light.  Inspired by your unconditional love.  What a journey we have had!

I lay the letter down for a moment and remembered it all for myself.  We traveled the world either because we had to for Sonny’s job or because we loved to explore.   Together, if either one of us missed a trick the other would reveal it.  I looked back at the neat blue ink and continued to read.  Together.

I know one day you will find another man.  You’re so young.  Let him treat you well.  Let your heart sing.  Remember, life seldom delivers as we expect it.  It is simultaneously full of joy and love and terrors and iniquity.  We enjoyed a rare paradise and I want you to hear me my darling when I tell you whatever you may endure, good and bad, I will be there for you.  I will be there to help you through your bravest and darkest moments.   If you need me all you have to do is call my name and I will be there for you.

I love you… I have always loved you.

Sonny

It was the strangest thing.  The letter was unusually melodramatic.  I tucked it back into the envelope and into my breast pocket.  When I settled into my apartment in New York I added it to all the other letters from Sonny I kept locked away in a green leather box.

Mackie called his wife immediately and let her know what had happened.  “We’ve been hit.”  he cried.  My cell rang, it was June… she was crying.  June had seen what happened.  All of the city, anyone with a television all over the world had just seen the place where I work get hit in the neck by a jet liner… a jet plane full of people.  God, grant me the serenity.  I couldn’t really hear what June was saying because there was a great deal of noise around her.  People wailing and screaming very loudly.

Oh my God!

I told her I thought we were probably trapped and we would search for a way out.  I told her there were four staircases and perhaps one of them would be available for us.  June listened to me and I realized she was softly crying.  She knew that there was no way out.

Several of us tried to find a way… in the shortest time we ran down stairs but the smoke got too thick and then we ran up to see if we could be evacuated from the roof.  The heavy metal door to the roof was locked.  Lyle banged on it several times in sheer frustration, Barney pushed passed him and said, “Let me try.’  His abrasive voice infuriating Lyle.  Lyle shouted, “Let me try?” he turned on Barney.

“This is your fuckin’ fault you bastard… this is your fault!  Sit down, work harder!”

The others looked menacingly at him and fearing for his life he stepped backwards.

Barney whispered, “I’m sorry.  I’m really sorry.”

“Sorry?”  Mackie said.  “My wife and kids are gonna be sorry.”  And even though he was calm Mackie took a step toward Barney and punched him hard in the face.  Barney’s lip was badly cut and blood dripped onto his crisp white shirt.

“Stop it!   For fuck sake stop it.”   Blue and Tim separated the two men and we all just stopped and looked at each other in silence, knowing we were past recrimination.  “We’re in this together.” So, with immediate calm and resignation there in the stair well we were as one.  I took Mackie by the elbow and lead him away.  The others followed.

We made our way through the thickening, acrid smoke to another office on an unfamiliar floor.  I thought twice about walking into a strange office on an unfamiliar floor.   As if we were intruding, a sense of propriety overwhelmed me.  This was someone else’s reception, someone else’s stack of magazines to be read by someone else’s clients.  Were these people our competitors only an hour ago?  Like visitors uninvited into someone else’s office we did not meet with hostile cries but with other trapped, desperate, dusty people who were either silent or crying or having quiet, serious conversations on the telephone with loved ones.  I found a bottle of water and drank it.  My phone vibrating in my pocket.  There was no one on the ground who could save me, I silenced my cell.  42 missed calls. Listening to anyone right now, all those floors below, would simply add to my distress.

‘Who did this to us?’  One man cried out.  It wasn’t a question I wanted answered.

There was a woman screaming, “Palestinians!  I know it!  Suicide bombers!”

The others looked at her benignly, they knew theirs was not to reason why.  Bleak, this situation is bleak.

A young African-American man joined us, covered in dust.  Tears carved through the white dust into his black skin.  His lips, the colour of black cherries.  He told us there was no way out.  A few people had made it past the point of impact but the heat and smoke were intolerable.  He told us the floors below us were buckling, the floors below were collapsing.  He said.  I don’t want to be burned to death.  Accept the things I cannot change.  One of the terrified women agreed with him and they attempted to open one of the windows.  We watched as the young black man vainly kicked at the toughened glass.  His limbs like jelly, his suit ripped, his eyes wild.  The woman joined in and finally they used a computer console to break the glass, charging it like something medieval.  The glass smashed, the console disappeared into the air outside and a strong cool wind filled the unfamiliar office, important papers, precious less than an hour ago, blew from unoccupied desks, desks never ever to be occupied again.

The fresh air from the broken window transported me to a fantasy Sonny and I had shared of walking a dog we never owned on the long, empty, off-season beach at Fire Island.

The cold, fresh air was a wonderful relief.  I had momentarily closed my eyes, remembering the surf.  When I opened them the young black man stood on the edge of the broken window, facing us… looking at us.  He smiled and said very quietly the word, “Concentrate.”

He fell backwards from the 98th floor.  Tim, Lyle and Mackie stifled their tears.  Barney sat on the floor, I looked out after him.  Head first the boy sailed downward.  At first he looked serene but at about the 50th floor he began to struggle in the air… I pulled my head in.  I was sure the flesh they found was struggling still.  I knew instinctively his choice had been correct.  Burn to death?  It’s a terrible way to die.

The others looked back at me silently.  Like a painting by Gericault in the Louvre: The Raft of the Medusa, a gruesome shipwreck.  Sonny explained Gericault’s difficulty.  Could the artist choose from the drama of the narrative a single, significant, and pictorially effective moment.   The others were staring back at me.  This was the single, significant, pictorially effective moment.  Another two fell from the open window.  I tried seeking comfort from a prayer at Sonny’s funeral:

Be near me Lord, when dying
, Part not from me
, And to my succour come flying
 Lord, and set me free
, And when my heart must languish
 In death’s last awful throe
, Release me from my anguish
, By your own pain and woe.

The young black boys flying suicide prompted another flurry of wild and desperate suggestions, alternative ways we could save ourselves.  Is there something we can use as a parachute?  Can we climb down the face of the building?  There must be another way.  We were dreaming we were spider-man, super-man or just anyone who wouldn’t be us trapped in a burning building with no hope of escape.  The smoke grew thicker.  The building groaned, steel tendons snapping, glass breaking, an unidentified metallic stench filled the office.  More windows smashed, more people arrived, faceless desperate men and women.  No names.  Connected in death.  One woman severely burned, the smell of her burned skin made Mackie heave.

Crowding around the broken glass.  Our views obscured by black smoke.  Tantalised by the sound of helicopters.  Three women, one by one threw themselves out of separate windows.  They were quick and efficient.

“I have sleeping pills,” the blonde woman said, “How long will they take to work?”

She pulls out her bag and opens the tub of sleeping pills.   We watch her empty the black and red capsules into the palm of her hand and like squirming bugs she swallows them.

In death’s last awful throe. Release me from my anguish. By your own pain and woe.

The men I worked with, unable to call their wives, their fathers and Mothers, best friends and buddies.  Their cell phones dead, their blackberry’s powerless.  We stood together, defeated.  Blue said he wanted to jump.  His blonde hair matted on his forehead.  “I don’t want to burn alive in this inferno.”  Blue laid his head on my chest like a small child, like the child he was leaving behind.  I held him close to me in my arms reminding me of another dying man in another place in another time.  The men from our office gathered together.  We stood in a strange intimate shambles on the carpet, Lyle held out his hand and I took it.  “It’s time isn’t it?” he said.  “This is our time.”  We nodded our sad, resigned heads.  After a moments further agreement we decided to jump together, all 6 of us who had worked happily and unhappily for five years in that building.

Those who wanted found quiet corners and prayed.  Occasionally a yelp of pain would puncture the human silence.  The roar below becoming more evident and with no one to call I collected them one by one until we were together for the last time.

I said to Barney, “I want you to know… I forgive you.  We all know you behaved very badly but I can’t not forgive you.”  Barney nodded silently.  The others hugged and said their farewells.  We held hands in a circle and even though it was the most serious and morbid moment in any of our lives when we jumped we were smiling.  This was our choice not to die in hellish flames.

Tim, fat tears on his face, fell away first with Mackie holding his right hand, Blue on his left.  I held onto Barney and Lyle.  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The circle complete.  The courage to change the things I can.  Barney kept quiet, he looked like a guilty child.  The wisdom to know the difference. We fell in an organized formation.  We started falling, falling so fast my jacket filled full of air and for a moment I thought my fall was slowing.  My heart began to race.  I was only now beginning to panic; all of my worst child hood nightmares came upon me.  Then my fingers were snatched by the violent updraught out of Barney’s hand.  I looked, momentarily, into his face.  He flailed toward me trying to catch hold of me.  My jacket caught in the violent wind and I began tumbling, separated from them all, helpless… alone.  God, grant me the serenity!

One hundred and fifty miles an hour, only 4 seconds had passed and I was yanked away from my friends… and then it happened.  A miracle began to happen around me.  No more believable nor spectacular than a plaster Mother of Christ crying real tears, or the wounds of Christ bleeding real blood.  My back arched.  My lungs filled with cold, gasping air.

My lips trembling I gathered all of my strength and screamed, “Help me Sonny!  Help me.  I am not at peace!”

I must have passed out for half a second because when I regained my conscience I felt safe.  As I relaxed and began to call his name I fell away from myself or rather my body fell away from me.  Accepting the things I cannot change.  Help me Sonny.  Out of the thickening smoke I could see his beautiful face.  The face I had mapped was all about me.  He warmed the cold air and instead of falling I was suspended then diving though water, in warm clear water.  Treading the warm, clear water expectantly.  I began to soar upwards, slowly at first then faster, as fast as I fell I now forced my way skyward, like Superman.  I thought, this is how Superman would do it.  His hands outstretched, away from disaster.

At that moment I knew two things:  this was indeed, unquestionably my time to die but not falling to my death, flesh on the sidewalk, my body dashed against the marble plaza.  You see, he would never let that happen to me, would you Sonny?

“Be quiet… be still,”  he whispered.  “Be quiet and still and say your prayers.”

I heard him as if he were still wrapped around me whispering into my ear.  I could feel him by me.  He was working very hard to save me pulling me upwards.  Where were we going?  Where was he taking me?  Now I was higher than both the burning towers. He was holding me so tight but I sensed he could only do so much… his limit had been reached.  I heard these words:  Prepare yourself for the truth. It was another harsh voice.  Clearly and definitely in my ear.  I could not look behind me to see who said this.  All I was certain, it was not Sonny.  Then I began to sink, sinking through treacle, back toward the towers… the North tower.  I sank onto the roof of the North Tower.  Sonny had carried me upward through the grinning jumpers because he loved me so and this was the promise he made that nothing bad would ever happen to me but this was God’s time and he had other plans.  Now look, instead of falling or flying I was headed down toward the roof of the other tower, the tower that had been hit first.

And as fast as my hope for a continuing life had been so I knew my death was imminent, as imminent as it had been yesterday and the day before that… and that was that.

Before the miracle I was only a few seconds from death, a heap of steaming flesh on the sidewalk, a charred and boiling bag of meat and juice.  Maybe I had already fallen to my death?  Perhaps I was already dead and this was merely the out-of-body experience I had always imagined at the moment I would die?  The dream some of us had falling to our deaths and waking in a cold sweat, once again interrupted… but this time by another more terrible truth.  I was alive!  Kept alive by extraordinary forces… by Sonny.

I had a dream years before,  including images of my falling violently from a motorcycle on a deserted country road in the Santa Monica Mountains.  Watching from a place above the accident police officers scoop my decapitated head into a black plastic bag.  I know my injuries are so catastrophic no amount of self will would let me live ever again.   I know the end is soon upon me.  And so it is I no longer scream at the helicopters to save me because I am not entirely sure I exist.

I watch the other building fall and know my destiny.

Sonny taught me how to forgive my mother and tell her so.  I forgive you, who ever did this to me and thousands like me.  I forgive you.  I have no option or go to my grave with resentment in my heart and hatred in my soul and that’s no good way to die.  That’s how my grand mother died, how my mother will die.  Not me.  Sonny taught me to forgive the world.

I feel the whole building begin to shudder.  I lay on the roof and pressed my ear against the black, soft tar surface and I could hear, deep inside the building the groaning, creaking, breaking structure and knew instinctively this was the end.  God, grant me the serenity.  I lay on my back facing the blue September sky and the floor began to fall.  Like an aeroplane sinking briefly in turbulent air.  Accept the things I cannot change. I held onto my phone.  I am sinking away from the blue and into the black.  Perhaps I can survive this?  Perhaps there will be another miracle.  I can feel the fingers of my left hand tangle in something and I knew that they had been torn away.  I can survive without my fingers, right?  Without my arm?  Many people live their whole lives without limbs.  Perhaps I can survive this?  I felt a sharp and uncomfortable pain in my shin and knew that it had been snapped.  I am fragmenting.   My hip grazing against something and then slammed into another.  I feel the heat.  I want to open my eyes but I daren’t.  If I survive this I don’t want to be blind.  I want to call Sonny.  I lift the phone to my ear and I can hear the phone ringing.  Come on Sonny, let me hear your voice.  After a few seconds someone answers.

“Ed?  Is that you?”

“Sonny!  You’re there!”

“I’m waiting for you Ed.  Just a few more moments and I’ll be waiting for you.”

You know, it’s easy to get depressed around Christmas time.  It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself as others are so obviously having a good time.  Take away the booze, the drugs, the porn etc. etc. and what are you left with?  It’s not just about what I can’t do it’s more about what I won’t do.  Invitations are left unanswered.  Parties unattended.   Why go out when I can throw my very own pity party?

This Christmas is miserable for other reasons.  My malaise is the countries malaise.  Diffident people, unresolved policies, a new President who arrived with such hope and is not delivering.   The undeserving bankers partying on the taxpayers dime.  ‘The have’s and the have mores.’  Do you remember Bush saying that?    I read about whole families in homeless shelters and growing incidence of hunger in the world’s richest country.

My friends are becoming more frustrated and less patient.  I only hope that their frustration leads to dissidence and activism.  Listen, this is not my fight.  This is not my country.  Why should I care?  Well, I do.

This week I wrote about sexual fluidity and my usual detractors came at me with the usual arguments.   One writer challenging my assertion that there is more sexual fluidity than we like to admit posted a link to an interesting piece in the New York Times.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/05/health/05sex.html?_r=2&pagewanted=2&;_r=1

I think that it is worth reading.  Rather than proving his point that most men are one thing or another or gravitate toward one or other end of the sexual spectrum it proves only one thing:  we tend to ask men the wrong questions about sexuality if we want to hear the truth.

Bisexuality is not the point.  Sexual opportunism amongst men is the point.  Most men, initially, are simply not honest when asked about their desires, fantasies or experiences. Of the hundreds of men I have spoken to about their sex conduct-when they finally feel safe enough to tell the truth, the truth is always far more complicated and often more harrowing for them to admit.

Our personal and evolving sexuality is far too complicated for most humans to own up to.  Sexual honesty is further complicated by the hysteria whipped up by organized religion.

Sexuality is simplified by those at either end of the sex spectrum who are sure (for the time being) of their own desires and cannot be aroused by anything else.   These people are in the minority.  For the sexually opportunistic when sex options become available those options are gravely considered.  Hence the problems many men face with the internet and the availability of previously unseen or considered (often illegal) pornographic images.   Men trawling for pornographic images on the internet start by looking at ‘vanilla’ type images but very quickly find themselves looking at and aroused by images of sex acts and sex scenarios that they may never even considered previously.  Why do they look at them?  Because they can.  Once the door is open to this world of taboo it is very hard for most men to close it again.

How many men who are languishing in prison today, their lives destroyed, for looking at illegal images would have ever sought out those images if they hadn’t had the internet?   Once, not so long ago, before the internet those criminals might have thought about those things-maybe.  They might have had terrible desires or feelings but feelings are not facts.

Feelings are not facts.

Is it only a matter of time before the leap from an imagined world to reality?

The internet takes us very quickly to places that we wish we had never been.  From the safety of my own apartment I can explore the darkest reaches of my own mind.

Most of us never have the guts or the inclination or the opportunity to make real what was previously a fantasy.  The moment we step from fantasy into reality we create another life.

Tiger Woods will tell a reporter that his wife and family come first.  This scene is played out endlessly on TV to confirm that Tiger Woods is a liar.  No, Tiger Woods did not lie.  Tiger Woods really does believe that his wife and kids come first but he Tiger, like so many men, has multiple lives and like many, many men he compartmentalizes those lives.  He has his real life of wife and children and his fantasy life of hookers and escorts.  Because of his power, position and social mobility he gets to act out what is usually, for most men, a fantasy.

I serially cheated.  I had two lives.  My real life with my lover and the discardable life of quick hook ups.

‘It meant nothing’ means something.

I was acting on my most basest desires because I could.  Because I had no morality?  I balked at writing that but actually I mean it.  I had no code of conduct.  I had no guiding principles around my sex conduct.  I found myself at the mercy of my desires. Is this peculiar to me?  No.  One does not need to have had a traumatic past to become the victim of ones desire-just ask Tiger.

Sexuality is not as dull as gay or straight or bisexual.  It is infinitely more interesting.  My detractors want you to believe that sexuality is simple.  That they have the answer for all of you-that you are one thing or the other.

The truth is that until we can all honestly, shamelessly tell our sex stories we will never really know.

Duncan and the Big Dog

Everything falling: today’s theme.  The unusual sound of rain falling over Hollywood, Luna falling off of the bed at 3am and having to be helped back up.  The little dog burrowed beside me. I think his dewclaw has fallen off.  He looks more comfortable.  As for claws or nails or rain or cats and dogs falling-the little fingernail that fell off after my Big Dog was killed has finally grown back.  A full seven months it took.

My therapy session yesterday with Jill cleared my muddy mind.

People ask all the time about the clothes I wear on the show Sex Rehab.   The sunglasses I wear are either Paul Smith  ($65 on sale) or Tom Ford ($350 not on sale).  Let me put your minds at ease:  I usually spend NOTHING on clothes and keep them forever (I still wear a Romeo Gigli suit I bought 25 years ago) wearing them well after the moths have eaten them.  The secret, of course, is buying beautiful pieces and developing a specific style.  I love the cut of my Dior pants, the theatrical kick of a Vivienne Westwood jacket..and her accessories-my favorite sweater full of moth holes is a Westwood classic.  I used to wear tons of Helmet Lang before Gucci fired him.  I bring out the Lang for special occasions.  I have a beautiful Helmut bondage cardigan that I am going to wear today.

I love talking to you because you remind me..

Duncan and Clare

My favorite designer is Rei Kawakubo for Commes des Garcons.  Oh Rei, how I worship you-I worship Japanese designers:  Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Rei.  REI!  Every time I wear the navy cardigan I bought in Paris from your hidden store on the Rue Saint-Honore people jump out at me!  They notice the elegant detail, they want to know where..who..how.

Well people, the secret is in the search and the timing.  I never buy anything unless I LOVE it.  Every season I buy just one item at the full price to enjoy the experience, having it served properly, having it wrapped beautifully.  Then for delicious bargains, getting to Barney’s or Fred Segal at just that moment when sale items crash from 40% off to 70% off.

If you arrive in Hollywood with a suitcase and a dream then you have come for one thing and one thing only…the film industry.  The most handsome boys and the most beautiful girls from all over the USA.  The prom kings and queens who sparkled in their High School musical all end up here.  From all over the world writers, directors, producers they too turn up in LA sooner or later. Some of them end up leaving as fast as they came, others become waiters or waitresses looking to be discovered and for a select few there will be a place at the table.  It’s the same thing in Paris.  The streets jammed with hopeful, hopeless lovers of fashion.  As I would arrive in Hollywood years later in search of the studio-I arrived in Paris aged 17 totally in awe of the big fashion houses, worshiping at the iron gates of St Laurent as I would the gates of Paramount.

Paris! What an amazing adventure.  Apart from reinventing myself as Lord Anthony Rendlesham I also illustrated for fashion magazines, styled for photographers (where r u Jim Greenburg?), formed opinions about haute couture, prêt-a-porter and ‘tendance de la mode’,  I went to every show every season, met every designer: Karl, Yves, Chantal, Emmanuelle, Angelo, Thierry, Jean-Paul…I watched elderly women with soft voices cover an entire couture frock with 14 lbs of tiny jet beads.  I learned how to sew a cuff onto a sleeve, a collar onto a blouse, a placket, a peplum, to drape, a toile, organza, interfacing!  The language of fashion became my language.

These are the languages I learned during the past 45 years: fashion, cuisine, film.  I can speak all of them fluently.

It was in Paris that I met Fred Hughes, elegant mercurial Fred Hughes.  His slicked back hair and beautiful apartment on the Rue de Cherche Midi, his paintings by Girardot , his linen sheets, his vetivert.  He showed me how to take cocaine and heroin.   You know, I was such a prude.  I didn’t have sex ever with any of them.  Now they are all dead.

Fashion, take it as seriously as you want to take it.  I love it as much as I love cooking and film making.

Within a few years I would learn an altogether different language:  the language of prison.  I can speak that fluently too but I seldom get the chance. Thankfully.

Little Dog asleep in suitcase Paris 2009 with Comme

I read about Bernie Madoff in his medium security prison yesterday.  Harlene Horowitz, who lost her Brentwood, Calif., home and other assets in Mr. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

“For someone who lived so high, he can’t be happy in his surroundings,” she says.

It struck home forcefully.  Not because I agree with her but because if Bernie is anything like me then he’ll be doing just fine.  He’ll be making the best of it.  He’s a survivor.  Bernie Madoff is cushioned from the reality of prison by fantasy.  The same fantasy that persuaded him he would never get caught.  I know what that feels like.  I know what it’s like to be in prison, treading carefully, never looking anyone in the eye or speaking unless spoken to.

I am really very excited about seeing Mr. Levi Johnston in Playgirl magazine.  Just previewing his phat hairy pits was enough to get the blood rushing to my loins.  He is, after all, the ideal husband.  Dumb, sexy, provocative.

Levi, guilessly picking his way out of a life littered with Christian fundamentalists, arrested drug fucked mommy, republicans, bible study, GOP, McCain, Hannity, Palin praying on her padded knees.  Never looking back.  How effortless was that?  Their snide remarks like water off a sitting ducks back.  He just keeps on moving.  He appears with Kathy Griffin on Larry King (whiskey on her breath and cheap perfume).   He is confident; he never looks askance as the gay man dressed in Kathy Griffin’s old body paws at the young boy with cheap innuendo.  He just sits there patiently for the moose to come then with stealth he just blows us all away.

Levi is my hero.  19 years old.   Giving us exactly what we want when we want it.  Want damning Palin gossip?  He got it.  Wanna hear the truth about Bristol?  He’ll tell you.  Want to see his perfect butt?  He gonna show it.   Oh Levi.  Only in America could you become such a star.   You are the patron saint of US Weekly.  The divinity we non-Christians have been waiting, longing for.  A regular St Sebastian (lite) already smite with arrows.

I think I may be in love with you-and I know that you wouldn’t care.  You are modern enough to realize that me loving you, lusting after you cannot possibly hurt you.  You would spread your cheeks for me as long as I didn’t touch your pink rose bud.  I just know it.  Unlike the puggish, too perfect Taylor Lautner you, my darling, are quietly aware of your masculinity.  Taylor, go fuck yourself.  Levi would whip your bubble butt.  Then rape you Wassilla style with the butt of his rifle.  Oh..maybe not.

Levi..you are a flirt, a seducer, a media sex God.  When you ain’t St Sebastian you are Helen of Troy, when neither of the above you are simply Levi.  The boy who wouldn’t lay down and die.  Refused to be used.  The clean-cut kid who took hold of America and savagely kissed us all with your plump, teenage lips.  Drowning in our lust.   The boy who can’t say no.  The boy we all wanted or wanted to be.

Sarah Palin is praying for you Levi.  I am praying for you.  Your peers are praying that you make a fortune.  That you get the girl.  That you love every second of your fifteen minutes.  After all, you can always go home to Alaska..if everything goes tits up. Your people are Christians folk-they’ll forgive you-they’ll forgive anyone anything as long as you give yourself to Jesus.  It’s in their DNA. It’s the fucking LAW.

I think, yes I am sure..I love you.