Archives for posts with tag: André Leon Talley

Bruce Weber, Fern Mallis, Ralph Lauren

Last Wednesday I found myself at the 92nd Street Y supporting my great new friend Fern Mallis in the most recent of her Fashion Icon interviews, Bruce Weber.

Even though these charming conversations have become legendary within the fashion industry… receiving great reviews from all who attend, there’s very little on-line that proves that they happen at all other than tiny, badly edited clips.

Fern deserves her own YouTube channel and somebody needs to organize this for her tout de suite.

Indomitable Fern is known most notably for her creation of New York Fashion Week but more importantly she is the consummate glass ceiling smasher.   A brusk Russian jew prone to surliness, an inability to suffer fools, she also has a huge charisma and charm that softens her incisive questioning.

One feels that if anybody can, Fern can.

Interviews with Donna Karan, Polly Mellen, Tom Ford, Andre Leon Talley, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang charting the genesis of their personal style, describing the homes where they were brought up, relationships with their parents and their personal adventures within the fashion industry have moved and delighted her audiences.

I arrived at her Bruce Weber interview expecting a great deal.   In the theatre sat fashion luminaries Grace Coddington and Ralph Lauren.

The lecture series was announced, Fern introduces a short film by Bruce Weber with notable scenes including his own days as a model, numerous famous names and an elephant Bruce likes to take pictures of draped with naked boys.

The problem with Bruce Weber?  He’s not that interesting.  When all is said and done Bruce is a married man obsessed with the homoerotic.  With his wife Nan, sitting in the audience it would have been difficult for any great interviewer to ask pertinent question about the other elephant in the room.  The humongous pink elephant in the room.  The question I wanted answered… like all the others who sat with bated breath wondering if Fern would go there.  The question we wanted answering but was never answered, “Bruce Weber, are you gay?

In 2013 post DOMA this would not be an unusual or impertinent question.  He has, after all is said and done, devoted himself to photographing naked, young, super-fit, white boys.  He is brilliant at photographing naked white boys because he loves them.  He worships them.  Everything else he photographs dulls by comparison.

Bruce says that taking a picture of a beautiful boy is like a ‘handshake or a hug’ I would go further… every time he takes a photograph of a beautiful, naked, white boy he is fucking that boy, caressing his ass, sucking on his cock.  The photographs and the films of beautiful, naked, white boys ooze sensuality, eroticism and the merest suggestion that we are only one shot away from seeing them hard and proud… shooting jizz all over their perfect white bodies.

Bruce Weber, are you gay?

Bruce Weber, why do you only shoot white boys?  Why is there never a black or asian or pacific islander in any of your pictures?  Why do people like Grace Coddington or Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren let you get away with this appalling racism?

Bruce Weber, have you (like Terry Richardson) ever used your power and prestige to encourage those boys you photograph to do other more extreme things for your camera?

I had lunch with a friend on Saturday who was also at the interview and (once we had discussed Terry Richardson sexual unmanageability problems) both lamented Weber’s lack of openness.  We concluded that if we are truly looking for clues about this maybe closeted, married sixty-five year old man we may look no further than a dull, almost forgettable story he told about a beautiful man carrying an air conditioning unit.

Walking in the street Bruce stops and, risking a ‘punch on the nose’ asks a half-naked man carrying an air-conditioning unit if he can take his picture.  If it is his true intention to simply take a picture why would the man want to punch him on the nose?  If Bruce’s intention is to seduce the man… then a punch on the nose seems more likely.

I can shamelessly ask to take anyones picture if I only desire to take pictures.  But if I am shamed by my desire for you, I want you to open yourself up to me, let me take you to a quiet place and take pictures of you as a means to watch you do things you keep private… then the implicit threat of violence seems more likely.

Beneath the chubby, bandana wearing kindly old grandfather facade lurks a self loathing homosexual, terrified of clearly and truthfully expressing his desires.

The interview was not as great as it could have been because we all colluded with Bruce Weber’s charade.  If we could have gotten past the crust of self-hatred then a perfectly brilliant interview might have happened.  No such luck.

Finally, Bruce expressed his frustration… hatred even for the democratization of photography, for Instagram, for Facebook postings.  In Bruce’s perfect, elite white world manned by an army of assistants, he advised us that we should take our most treasured digital images and have them printed on expensive paper and make books as perfect keepsakes.  Bruce lives in a world of perfect keepsakes, of platinum blonde golden retrievers bred by east coast breeders.  Bruce lives by the sea, in the mountains, in the city keeping his eyes peeled for perfect boys who may or may not become stars in a world where naked Russian dancers come on seven month adventures around the world.

“Sergei, come travel with us.”

A faux commune of beautiful, young, white men, strumming guitars in the moon light. Warmed by flickering log fires, sitting on Navajo blankets and always naked, their abs and lats and still wet hair glistening from skinny dipping in crystal clear water and always ready for another perfect photograph.

Hush now, the girls have gone to sleep.  Let me lay beside you and enjoy you for a little while.

The narrative is always the same in the cult of Bruce.  The gently spoken, self loathing homosexual who needs his wife’s permission to buy another dog….

Gerard Falconetti looking like Robby

Sunday morning, children all over the bed.  Asking questions.  They want to know everything.  Inquisitive little things.  The sun is bright and warm.  My hostess is making blueberry pancakes and coffee.

Lily, their youngest, had dreams about heaven and hell.  Hell had something to do with a supermarket.  She said, “There were people in hell who shouldn’t have been there.” Which was a very astute observation for a 9 year old girl.

She’s Jewish, Jews don’t believe in heaven or hell.

The Little Dog is confused.  He’s a one man dog.  He’s been with J and J these past few months so his loyalty, understandably, shifted.  We are re-orientating him.  He slept with me last night.  Hung out at the house yesterday.  He lay on his bed as we toiled in the garden.

Robby and I spent the day doing errands.  I have my phone!  The garden is tidy!  The house is returned to normal!  The art is back on the walls!  Lost things have been found! There is food in the fridge!  The dog is happy!

Saw Safe House at the Malibu cinema with Robby, bumped into AA folk.  The film was ok but had one huge and unforgivable plot flaw.

Before the film we wandered down Cross Creek.  Wondering at the night.  The cold, damp breeze on my face.

Robby is the only person I tell everything.  He has seen me vulnerable and survived.  Not like Jennie and the others.  No room!  No room!

Last night we watched September IssueAnna Wintour really is an extraordinary woman.  She is also incredibly generous.  You know, don’t you, that she lent us her NYC house when we made Dorian Gray.  Hamish, I wish we had seen more of him.  I remember meeting Grace with Patrick Kinmonth when they worked at Vogue in  London and again, rather obscurely at a house in North Wales  years later.  She stole the show.

God, Andre Leon Talley is such a twat.  The least interesting character in the film…just because he tries so hard to be fabulous.  Inauthentic.  I knew him when I lived in Paris, we met at Karl Lagerfeld‘s house when Karl lived on the Rue de la Universite in the early 80’s.  Gerard Falconetti and I stopped by unannounced.

Falconetti’s brilliant grandmother Maria played Jean d’Arc in The Passion when she was 19 years old.

For some reason I remember touching Andre’s face, his skin was cold and soft.  Like an old handbag.

Gerard was 11 years older than me, so incredibly handsome.  A wonderful lover.  In 1981 Gerard played Meryl Streep‘s boyfriend in The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

In 1984 Gerard found out that he had AIDS and threw himself off the Tour Montparnasse.

Gerard was a generous, extraordinary friend.  He played Montserrat Caballe singing Tosca when I was sick with flu, he lifted my spirits with delicate macaroons from Carette.   He showed me the Paris I would later show those who have never been. The secret places we all need to know when we discover a city for the first time.

I have, somewhere, a note Karl sent Gerard referencing his grandmother.

That was then this is now…

I have a million things to do.  A great deal of catching up and making good.

I promised to write about being arrested.  Well, I will…but after conversations yesterday with my journalist brethren I’ll let them do the reporting and I’ll take a rest.  There’s still so much to tell you.

As you may know this entire being arrested thang was to do with this very blog.   What can or cannot be said.

Meanwhile on another part of the internet…you simply have to check out what is being said about me by identifiable enemies: an ex-employee calling me a sadist,  a gross individual from Province Town who attempted to malign me last summer,  some cretin accusing me of killing my own dog…these people are wrought with life affecting, overwhelming resentment.  It is so extreme it makes me laugh.

Baying for blood.  Send him back to jail!  Throw away the key!  If only, in some way, they could find a way of getting me locked up for ever…the death sentence even?

I am chuckling to myself.

Chris Lewis of Sydney Australia thinks I want your sympathy.  If I looked like Chris Lewis I would want your sympathy.  Even when he was young he was ugly.  You know very well that I report as I see…as truthfully as I am able.  It is my unalienable right to do so.  I don’t want sympathy.  I need your support.  Those of you who have stood by me, my God!  I never expected such amazing gifts.

Marilyn Monroe, of all people, said that for every fan excited to see her there were 10 enemies waiting to bring her down.   Being hated is an occupational hazard for those of us who do not live in the shadows.  If you think what people write about me is outrageous…try being Rachal Maddow.

Somebody called from the jail yesterday, he is as well as can be expected.  How quickly one forgets. Yet…you know me.  The lure of the uniform…the smell of ruminating men…ransacked sexual fantasies.

Do you know what a Nonce is?  It’s a slang word for a child molester.  I taught the men in my dorm at Men’s County Jail this very English word.  By the time I left they were calling each other Nonce, it was quite inappropriate…but very funny.

By the way, I didn’t get any Christmas cards whilst I was at the jail, I thought you didn’t care!  I now know that many of you sent cards and letters of support.  Apparently, they were all returned as having inappropriate content.  What were you sending me?

One’s body is weakened by three months of inactivity.  Working in the garden was exhausting yesterday.

Thank God for Robby.

As I lay here, at what ever time during that constant night…the ghosts of Wilde and Cocteau, Rimbaud and Verlaine come to me.  The fragrant, aromatic smoke he blows to me through the tiny hove carved between cells.  The great poet cries, “Hard labour!”  And all…for love.

A famous passage from the Ballad of Reading Gaol:

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard.
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

The line is a nod to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, when Bassanio asks, “Do all men kill the things they do not love?”

A passage from the poem was chosen as the epitaph on Wilde’s tomb.

And alien tears will fill for him,
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.