Archives for posts with tag: Ballad of Reading Gaol

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.

Duncan Roy and Wendy Asher

Oscar Wilde enjoyed the extravagant promises of the Victorian Age, capturing the imagination of London’s aesthetic elite. However, beyond the enlightened few, everything about the man provoked consternation to the prudish, hypocritical Victorians—from the green carnation in his buttonhole to his sensational novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Like his suits, Wilde, a tireless self-promoter and purveyor of the unforgettable bon mot, was exquisitely tailored. While young, he was best dressed in bold plaid, plus fours, starched shirts with high, tight collars or gabardine suits cut short above the hip. Wilde traded his own slender, youthful visage (French
pleated hair and Cupid lips) for a bloated middle age rife with extravagant capes and voluminous fur-lined coats.

In his revisionist biography of Oscar Wilde, Who Was That Man?, Neil Bartlett describes how Wilde became a huge man with a penchant for young, willowy boys. He was an intriguing mass of contradictions: The love letters he sent to his wife, Constance, are as beautiful as the letters he sent to the dark-hearted “Bosie,” his lover. The innocent stories he wrote for his beloved children were a counterpoint to the pornographic tales he created from his forays into London’s dank underworld.

The pornography attributed to Wilde in the British Library, under the pseudonym “Teleny,” reveals his sado-pedophilic fantasies. Young boys figure highly in these violent, disturbing texts. The virginal youths are deflowered by older, cruel men, their innocence torn from them.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, it is the reworking of these same themes that lead Wilde to his pessimistic and wholly modern conclusions about our shared horror of the loss of youth and how we might reclaim it.

When casting for a perfect Dorian, I was not interested in hiring a great beauty, but rather, a young boy. After all, beauty is subjective, youth indisputable.

For the movie’s Dorian Gray, it was imperative that our actor, David Gallagher, look effortlessly chic. David is very much the stick-thin look of right now and Dior Homme (as reinvented by our costume designer, Hedi Slimane). Dressing the literary youth icon of our age was a perfect solution for us and Dior: Slimane set his homoerotic boy-man aesthetic against the new Puritanism of American mainstream culture.

It is Lord Henry Wotton who appeals to the youthful Dorian Gray and speaks for the moisturized 40-plus generation, when he says to Dorian: “I wish that I could change places with you. To get back my youth; I’d do anything in the world. You are the type that the age is searching for and is afraid that it has already found. The world has always worshipped you—and it always will.”

If Wilde’s sensational sodomy trial had happened today, would the acclaimed wit have ended up in prison? Given that we find it hard to throw celebrities in jail, perhaps not. But Wilde’s predilection for sex with underage boys? I am sure that his hard drive would have been littered with unsavory images of children.

Once in prison, Wilde was given a thin gray cotton shirt and pants. Issey Miyake—or Kim Jong Il—might have gotten a kick out of this minimal Bauhaus look, but Wilde loathed it and woefully described his prison uniform in the poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. A couple of years later, he was dead. (“It’s either me or the wallpaper.”) But as hard as I look, I cannot discover what he was buried in. Except, of course, shame.

This article was edited by Black Book for whom the piece was originally written.  It has been pointed out to me that Hedi lent us the clothes for Dorian rather than designing them for the film.   I have also been asked what happened to the film.  How did it do?  Well, in my own estimation it did OK.  It closed the London Lesbian and Gay film Festival, opened the Miami G&L film festival and opened the New York G&L film festival amongst others.   It had a small life and then vanished.