Archives for posts with tag: Anna Wintour

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.

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.