Archives for posts with tag: Chateau Marmont Hotel

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 boy friend 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.

A perfect Sunday lunch with old friends: the wonderful Merle Ginsberg and Orian Williams… producer of Anton Corbijn‘s Control at  The Chateau Marmont.

Followed by a walk up Abbot Kinny with Tristam Summers.

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My days are split between the remarkable and the absurd. Bloated with new experiences, extraordinary adventures and, of course, passion.

Every day unfolds like a new napkin.

From dawn I write and rewrite. I am determined and hungry, inspired by the 75-year-old man who won the Palme D’Or in Cannes this year.

Contradictions:

On Thursday I stood in front of the Men’s County Jail with a disparate bunch of men and women denouncing the secure communities protocol, the very same protocol that illegally incarcerated me. A press conference for the Spanish press.

The only Anglo Saxon, the only non spanish speaker.

They hailed me and the other people called to testify. ‘Viva Duncan!’ they shout together. I am moved to tears.

Nobody I know cares about these people. Not least my gay ‘friends’ who savage me publicly for standing shoulder to shoulder with day workers, maids and gardeners who face daily threats of deportation and police harassment.

Later that same day I sat with Lady Gaga and Lindsay Lohan at dinner eating spaghetti. My date was overwhelmed. It was wholly unexpected.

The writing and photography give my life meaning and hope. The immigrants, of whom I am one, better shape my understanding of the world.

I am not interested in what I wear. I’m sure I look like a hobo. My beautiful tailored shirts are shredded. I have no interest in replacing them.

All the vintage Helmut Lang has been sold.

I can cobble together an ensemble for dinner. I look respectable enough.

Last week a young gay man told me I was lonely and sad. I feel neither. In fact, I have never felt so complete.

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Such a lovely day yesterday.

Thank you all for your kind wishes and wonderful gifts.

Everything was perfect. The people, the locations, the birthday greetings.

Breakfast at home with one remaining child, the others are away at camp.

Lunch at the club with Tom et al.

After lunch more friends arrive. We decamp to the Chateau Marmont.

I inadvertently drink half a bloody Mary they serve instead of a virgin Mary.

Feel totally buzzed.

A short time at the Abbey on Robertson with more buddies.

Dinner at Gjelina with Gabe and his bf.

Bed time welcome. Sleep like a log. Dreaming of my burgeoning script.

Power and prestige can be just as intoxicating for those who are powerful and prestigious as for those who seek them out…or chance upon them.

Infamy can have the same mesmerizing effect. Mass murderers, on their way to the electric chair, marry formally reasonable women.

The mother/father killler Menendez brothers, still get proposals of marriage from star struck suiters.

I have seen gown adults buckle before the very famous and the not so very famous.

The youth of Hollywood, like so many generations before them, have been levied.

Sexual expediency is a price silently adhered to any deal.

I don’t need to tell you Marilyn‘s story…do I?

It’s quaint! It’s so old fashioned…it’s happening today.

Somehow everybody knows that if you are going to go the distance in this town you better go the distance with whomever has the power in this town.

Many people masquerade as powerful and do very well thank you very much. Taking advantage of those who are want to trust them.

Gays are particularly vulnerable.

It’s best, they are told, for a life as an actor…to stay in the closet.

The closet protects and it taketh away.

To be a young, beautiful gay man arriving in Hollywood for the first time has a million, unforeseen drawbacks that seem, to the uninitiated, like wonderful gifts.

Noticed by rich and powerful men (when you have lived your life in relative obscurity) perverts the course of any fate you might believe in.

There are plenty of fate healers.

Look at him.

Picked from a legion of other boys. He feels special at last.

Boys who would not normally indulge in the crepe flesh of the elderly become their most ardent moisturizer.

Especially for a young gay man who may have been deeply closeted, living in the jet black shadow of toxic shame.

Never realizing his own beauty. His own worth.

Ignorant to the attention he receives as he walks innocently down the street.

Like Dorian Gray, shown for the first time how gorgeous he is…becomes immediately vain and arrogant.

Throws off his mantle of quiet humility and becomes addicted to the adoration of others.

Watching my gay brethren in Hollywood flocking to the shrine of the generously rewarded can be a sickening sight.

Young boys arrive uninvited from small towns in far off states armed with copies of US weekly.

Sitting in the Chateau Marmont hoping for a glimpse of Josh Hartnett or Lindsay Lohan.

Hoping to make everything better, validate and soothe away the pain of a miserable and isolated childhood.

Unless those boys are fabulously gifted, educated or similarly bequeathed the last of their youth is stolen from them by the unscrupulous.

Their talents go unnoticed. Their dreams unfulfilled, their virginity discarded to the most affluent.

Another notch in the bed post.

Get them drunk or worse.

People say, let them make their own mistakes.

It’s very hard to do.

So, the fame whores and the star fuckers line up…pig pink, shaved and waxed for the jovial grandees who take turns like so many commissioned shop assistants on the floor of the biggest meat market in the whole damned universe.

It was a wonderful day yesterday.

Had lunch with Jon in West Hollywood.  Delicious chicken and polenta at Hedley’s.  Great to see him.  We hadn’t seen each other for weeks and had loads to catch up on.  He is in very good spirits.  Business is booming for purveyors of luxury furniture so he is doing very well.

Robby picked me up and we sat in the sunny Chateau Marmont garden and drank iced tea.  Eva Longoria sat next to us.

Met Ryan F and his super sexy new girlfriend Kirsty Mitchell who was once Miss Scotland but is now a very bankable young actress.   She worked with my old friend Billy MacKinnon in his and his brother’s film Small Faces.

We then headed into the hills under the Hollywood Sign where we met Tom D who very kindly let Robby try on the Wolverine talons used in X Men 1.

Had dinner at The Tasting Kitchen in Venice with Anna.  Wonderful food.  I had pork…again with polenta and baked cherries.  Dropped into Gjelina to congratulate owner for sticking to his guns and not let Gordon Ramsey and ‘Lady’ Victoria Beckham bully them into making menu substitutions.

Arrived home late and fell into bed exhausted.  Woke at 5am and watered the garden.  My current obsession.

Robby With Wolverine Claws

Duncan Roy and Kirsty Mitchell

I should have called this post: Pre-Existing Condition.

I have always been embarrassed by my piles.  Hemorrhoids.  I have always had them.  Ever since I can remember.  Thank God I was never a bottom.

Whilst the rest of the world looks on in horror at the inevitable nuclear meltdown in northern Japan, the brutal attacks on protestors by the Bahrainian police force, the Libyan civil war I spent this evening with a complete stranger from the internet who arrived at my home with a bag of groceries and cooked me dinner.

Whilst he did that:  I fainted.  Very, very Jayne Eyre of me.

The upshot being that I badly bruised my back on the fucking chair Michael Temple made for me.  The chair looks nice but it’s a FUCKING DEATH TRAP.

That’s what we do in LA.  Strangers come to our mountain top mansions and prepare Penne Carbonara.   I served coffee in delicate Sevres coffee cups.   The dog was FREAKED OUT when I fell over.  He ran away from me when I tried to placate him.

This morning Charles left in his neat black suit and freshly pressed shirt and tie.   He looked so sweet.  I had film stuff to do after he left.  After a few film related conversations on the telephone I walked to the PCH.  All the way there and all the way back.   He chased many ground squirrels.

I sold some art.

This afternoon I watched Sophia Coppola‘s film Somewhere.  I really enjoyed it.  The language and locations of our Hollywood lives.  Too many afternoons floating on the pool, too many hasty hook ups.  Too many facile conversations.  Too many text messages from people who either want to fuck you or fuck you over.  Not enough substance.  Set against a back drop of elegant hotels with fancy toys to play with.

I once lived in the Chateau Marmont for a month.   I moved there when the mountain burned.  I have spent many hours there making new friends.

I remain isolated.

Most of us are isolated here.  However successful we are or we are not.  However many parties we are/are not attending, however ‘connected’ we are.

Sitting around.

Waiting for a great idea.

So now the next great idea has come upon me and I have convinced others to work with to make a dream come true.  Suddenly this town makes sense.

Los Angeles, oh you strange and terrible place.

The christian twins are coming to stay.  The beautiful, twenty-year-old twins are coming to live with me at the house, live at the house whilst I am in NYC.   When they return from Utah.   My born again beauties.

I ate the pasta/caprese salad/garlic bread and he left soon after we finished our coffee to my strange, secluded mountain top life.

He was perfectly nice.

The bruise on my back is worth photographing.

just part of the bruise

Guess who I received a long letter from yesterday when I got back from the Emmy do at SHLA?  Yes, you guessed it…Jake. What a smarmy bastard..of course he couldn’t just let it all go.  He couldn’t leave me alone.  He had to reach out.  Just as I was NOT thinking about him, getting right with our situation.  DAMN.  I was in such a positive mood.

I went to bed feeling all confused and mushy again.  Thinking all manner of absurd things.

He timidly suggested that we don’t meet for the time being.  How about we never EVER meet?   Why don’t you just fuck off and lean on some of your other friends like you lent on me for support?  They’ll get sick of you too, bleating and moaning and missing her.

So, why was he writing?   He asked for his full name to be removed from the blog which I did ..then I re-read his letter.  It was all about him.  Blah fucking blah about his coming out and how much I meant to him.  Bullshit.  If I had meant anything to him he wouldn’t have contacted me.  Not once did he enquire about my continuing health problem..not once.  The more I thought about it the more annoyed I became.

He asked after the ‘darling’ little dog which nearly made me PUKE.

So, I called him and left a long message on his phone.  I told him never ever to contact me again.  That his mate had emailed me from Mt. Kisco to tell me that he was laughing at me with Jake and other friends behind my back.  That I hated him.  I wanted him to hear my voice.  That I meant what I was saying.  That I am serious.  Like when you call your dealer and tell them to lose your number.  Like when you tell your friends that you are not coming out for a drink.

The funny thing was he didn’t want to demonize me..well Jake, that’s very reassuring.   I am having NO TROUBLE demonizing YOU.

So annoying!  I had been really getting my head together.

Saw George Clooney, said Hi.  He seemed to remember me from the evening Sharon introduced us at Chateau Marmont.

Had dinner with Toby at Pace..his steak cost $50.  My soup $8.  I drew these: