Archives for posts with tag: Hamish Bowles

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Lucy Ferry killed herself.  A shot-gun in an Irish village.  Her ‘beloved’ dogs present.  Her death opening the door to a whole world of grief.  In drawing rooms all over London, Palladian homes in the West Country, cottages in Norfolk… pearls were clutched, brows furrowed.

The moment I heard the terrible news I called Simon Finch. We gasped in horror.  Oh no.  No.  There was nothing more to say.  Lucy Ferry/Birley née Helmore was dead.

I met Lucy with Isabella Blow.  Mischievous Isabella, she’d say, “Lucy only married Bryan to save the Helmore family house.”  By the time I met Lucy she was already separated from Bryan.  We had tea often at that saved Kensington home.  A short walk from where I lived on Adam and Eve Mews. “Oh, hello.”  She looked a little confused.  As if my visit had slipped her mind, as if life were happening to her rather than being fully present.  That sweet smile.

Sometimes the younger of her four boys were in the house, rattling around upstairs, but we sat on our own.  She didn’t have to be Lucy Ferry with me.  She was just another addict talking it through.  Another bozo on the bus… as they used to say at AA/NA meetings in Hudson NY.  Just one addict helping another, working the steps.  Even so, she was never a great believer in God… but I bet she called out for him just before she pulled the trigger.

We had dinner at Floriana on Beauchamp Place, pretending to be a couple, mainly her idea to annoy Bryan.  Hosted by Tatler, 19 Mar 2003.  The Evening Standard wrote a vile and libellous take down of yours truly after the prank.  Gratifyingly, the writer of the piece (Deborah Orr told me) died painfully and suddenly a few months later.   I wasn’t moved by his death, nobody remembers his name… as people remember and are moved by Lucy.

Isabella read the piece in the Standard, refusing to understand the humour.  She summoned me to Prada on Bond St. I met her in the dressing room, pulling a jewelled frock over flesh-colored, boned underwear.  She screamed, “What were you thinking? Lucy would never have a relationship with someone like YOU!”

“Issy! You were there. You knew it was a prank!”

“It wasn’t very funny.” She gasped as the sales associate zipped her into the gown.

The dinner at Floriana was thrown for Lee McQueen.  Michael Portillo and Isabella Blow sat either side of me.  Prince Michael of Greece opposite.  Lucy was setting me up with Lee but we weren’t interested.  We were interested in Lucy.  If only gay boys had Lucy’s charm and spunk.  4 years later Isabella would drink poison and die, a year after that… Lee would hang himself.

This week Bella Freud, Jasper Conran, Patrick Kinmonth amongst so many others posted sad obituaries on Instagram.  Conran, a picture of Lucy from his wedding.  Kinmonth, a tiny dead bird by Craigie Aitchison.  All of them wailing plaintively about their friend Lucy.

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Why didn’t she call?  Why was she on her own?  Where were her friends?  Her husband and children?  Was she going to meetings?  Did she have people who could help her live, make the decision to live?  Obviously not.

Every addict wants to die sooner than God planned.  It is a decision none want taking from us.  The needle in the arm, the bottom of the glass, the cold gun.

Hamish Bowles’ piece in Vogue was mawkish and badly written. Painting pretty Lucy shaped pictures of a woman Hamish scarcely understood other than her frocks, hats and shoes.  Of course, he didn’t ask why?  Nobody is asking why.  Is that too impertinent when you expect someone you know well to grow old?  She would have made a very, very grand old lady.  Rasping, funny and chic.

It’s a bit late,  posting pretty black and white pictures of her on social media, Hamish.

Two weeks ago I managed to track her down.  She was a little frosty, we hadn’t spoken for years.  She asked if I was sober.  We giggled about her brother Ed living it large at The Chateau Marmont in LA where I last saw him.  We recalled the Floriana scam and the subsequent outrage.  She wanted to know if I was in love.  I told her about Jake and our disastrous relationship… I told her how overwhelming love can be.  Crippling.  I asked about her husband.  There was a long, painful silence.  She suddenly seemed wistful and bored.  We made tentative plans to meet when she returned from her doomed vacation.

She wondered if I had ever received the green fur hat.  Of course I had.  Apparently, she had never received my written thanks.

Did she stop believing?  Run out of dreams?  Her children, dogs and husband could not convince her life was worth living.  Did she stop loving dressing up, entertaining, preparing lavish dinners, being center of attention?  Perhaps she saw the folly of her ways?  Couldn’t align her feelings with the facts?  Maybe she was drinking and convinced herself suicide a glamorous conclusion?  God only knows.

I have lost more friends/acquaintances to suicide than any other disease these past 50 years.  Suicide.  Touching the lives of almost everyone I know.  He lay on the tracks, he loaded the syringe, he hung himself from the banister, she jumped from the bridge, she blew her brains out in Ireland.   They found him dead in the car park, Boxing Day.  He was badly decomposed.  He stole pills from the hospital.  I knew all these people.

Bye bye Lucy.

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Milo Yiannopoulos is a loathsome proto fascist.  A disruptor, a camp agitator.  To the gays, he is our familiar. We all know men like Milo.  When gay men are together… in private, competing for attention, without the prying female gaze, without the heterosexual male laughing like a hyena at things he can only guess are funny, men like Milo reveal themselves.

Milo is the club bitch, the bar cunt, the gym queen… who, without introduction or provocation will dismember you with a single word. He will not hesitate to identify and mercilessly herald to anyone who will listen your most tender vulnerability what ever it may be.  He is the gay guy who unrelentingly critiques your clothes, your teeth, your abs… and worst of all?  He is every gay man I know.  He is inexorably cruel.  Straight people think caustic homosexuals, diluted for mass consumption, are funny and unique.

Successful gay male entertainers like Dan Savage, Graham Norton and Alan Carr delight heterosexuals with their cutting jibes, a crippling aside masked with a cheeky grin… and the genesis of their humor?  Self-defense. Ironically, these skills are honed to protect ourselves from each other, from other gays, the queens, from men like Milo.  From you and me.

Do you remember the first queen you ever met? How exotic and frightening they were? Sitting at the bar.  How they crossed their legs, sipped their cocktail, do you remember how they looked at you?  

Milo, Hamish Bowles and I are all from the same cathedral city (and there about) of Canterbury in Kent, England.  Until Milo pitched his tent in the USA I never expected a gay man like him to get any traction.  I mean, have you heard him?  How could anyone take him seriously?  He’s a fool… but his campy insurrection and anti politically correct message were enthusiastically embraced by the Alt Right. Now, like some swishy Pines faggot bowling down Fire Island Boulevard high on meth, talking loudly to himself… he has leapt from the gay swamp into our consciousness.

Yesterday, however, an old radio interview surfaced in which Milo was accused, by his liberal detractors, of condoning child rape.  Listening to the interview it became obvious to me that he was describing, albeit in his usual flamboyant, incendiary way, a very common experience for many gay teens.  Overwhelmed with hormones and hornyness, unable to have sexual contact with our peers… he confessed as a boy he had consensual sex with men.

Milo perfectly described my experience as a gay teen and I’m sure we share this formative experience with many thousands of other gay men.  I was sexually voracious, just like most teen boys but without any kind of outlet.  Comforting myself with a cocktail of shame and confusion.  Remember, when I was born… homosexuality was illegal.  Like millions of others I was… born a criminal.  I came out at 13.  Making criminal sex choices as a young boy seemed perfectly understandable.  What choice did I have?  Only recently have people like me been pardoned by our government for being gay, and those who suffered in prison their records expunged.

Since Milo’s implosion the gay liberal media have kept extraordinarily quiet. It was easy to condemn Milo for hating on the trans, not so easy to shame him for his first time. What will happen if they tell their story of the older man who showed them the way? They might end up like Milo.

On Facebook, defending my own experience as a gay teen fucking men in their 30’s I was attacked by a straight women radio commentator and several straight men who refused to acknowledge that my sexperience is vastly difference from theirs.  They insisted I had been preyed upon by pedophiles.  They felt ‘sad’ that I didn’t understand I was a ‘victim’. They implied that unless I condemned the men I had sex with I colluded with all pedophiles.  They were looking for an angle to bring me down. One of them called me a ‘narcissistic fag’.  “If you are not a victim then you are a perpetrator,” they said.  When I defended myself they told me how angry I was and how I should get help.  Yeah, I thought… I’ve been seeking help for years to get over the trauma of being mercilessly bullied by straight people and their stringent anti gay laws. Who wouldn’t be angry if every time they held their lover’s hand in the street they risked a fatal blow?

I fought with ‘film maker’ Alexandra Billington and some dick called Ed Jones.  I said:

You would like to conflate the experience of heterosexuals with homosexuals but you are wrong and the moment you understand you are dead wrong you can get off your high horse and apologize to the thousands of gay people you’ve just insulted.

As I said, me seeking out and fucking a 30-year-old when I was 13 because I was sexually isolated is not the same as a 30-year-old man grooming and fucking a 13-year-old girl. As much as you want it to be.

I’ll tell you the help I need. I need men like you to stop telling me what my experience of being gay is like. If I need help with my anger then it’s because people like you have tortured me all my life with your heteronormativity.

Alexandra Billington I suppose only characters in movies are rageful?  Don’t you understand… you’re surrounded by people who are full of rage which is why we have Brexit and Trump. I don’t understand why you are not full of rage?  You should be on the streets fighting austerity but you’re at home criticizing other people’s sexual history on Facebook. I can’t imagine how dull your films must be.

Hasan Piker from The Young Turks seemed overjoyed that Milo had lost his book contract, his speaking engagements and his credibility.  Yet Milo lost everything for the least incendiary of any of his bitchy comments.   Of all the dumb things Milo has said, of all the cruel and meaningless attacks on trans, women and people of color… he loses his book deal describing an experience he possibly shares with millions of other gay men.

Stephen Petronio and Hamish Bowles

Yesterday:  an interesting day of fascinating contrasts.   At 5pm I had the first of what I am sure will be many conversations with the mean (read aggressive) litigator.

Regardless of what I now feel about The Penguin I don’t really want to see this strange litigator man unzip his Penguin belly and scrape out the rancid innards.   But, I suppose, that’s what has to happen if we are going to get me some settlement.  Evisceration.

I woke up feeling like Dr Jekyll and went to bed as Mr. Hyde.  Or vice versa.  One wonders, when one wakes up, who will be driving the bus.  Will I be in a good or bad mood?  Will I feel vindictive or conciliatory?

Earlier in the day I had a brief conversation with CP who thought I was grumpy and urged me to go to a meeting.  I went to the 12.30 University Place AA meeting and felt markedly better.  Good call CP!

Derek Lloyd Saathoff and I met with ‘A List’ Executive Producer at Elmo.  Charming man.  He drank lychee with vodka which was a somethingtini?  Can’t remember the name.  I drank 5 double espresso.  It was the first time I had publicly stated or engaged publicly with D.   I will, unless told otherwise, start writing about this oddly satisfying, burgeoning ‘fake’ relationship.

By the time we got to the Joyce Theatre to see the premiere of Underland we were all over each other.   Well, he was all over me.  He is a really good kisser.  Though, I must admit…public kissing is not really my thang.  In this rarefied NYC milieu we seemed to know just about everyone.   Kim Light, Hamish Bowles, Cyndi Stivers…and others.

Stephen Petronio’s Underland is a vividly surging work, inspired by the dark, bittersweet songs of Australian balladeer Nick Cave.  Dancers hurl through space with razor-sharp precision, fiercely energized one moment, sensually lyrical the next.

After party at Hotel Griffou organized by old friend Mandie Erickson.   “Everything I touch turns to gold!”  She poked me in the chest.  Delicious dancers from the show and glamorous men with names like Tito and Phillipe.

Derek drank two cocktails and became immediately drunk.  I pushed him into a cab and went back to the party.  What a mess.

The food at the Griffou was excellent though the roasted cauliflower made the dining area at the back smell like farts.

Stephen Petronio on good form.  I told him that the show obviously reminded one of  Michael Clark’s work from the 90’s and he told me that they dated for 4 years.  I didn’t know that!

I refered to Stephen’s BF but was corrected…”My husband…”

Hamish and I discussed the Balenciaga show in San Francisco.  He seems really happy with it.  More space and access to better gowns.  I will make the effort to see it and take my poet friend Randall Mann.

A sparkling night out.  D home early to bed as has to work final day today.

Dropped in at Bowery Bar on way home.

Woke up on Saturday morning curled up with the sweet NYU boy and the little dog tangled in our feet.  It felt good to feel him there.  We walked west to meet my lawyer.  It was a great meeting.  We connected.  Looking forward to this project.

Lunch with Federico then we all headed to the Cristobal Balenciaga show at the Spanish Institute curated by Hamish Bowles.  Dan joined us there.   Very well attended show.  Many, many old ladies in mink coats and equal numbers of gay men including that really camp boy Austin Scarlet from Project Runway.

BALENCIAGA: Spanish Master is the first exhibition to consider the impact of Spain’s culture, history and art on one of its greatest twentieth-century sons, the legendary designer Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972). Hailed as “Fashion’s Picasso” by Cecil Beaton, Balenciaga’s innovations transformed the way women dressed, from the opening of his Paris fashion house in 1937 until his retirement in 1968. His visionary designs and impeccable standards seduced generations of the best-dressed women in the world.

Separated over two floors in three rooms this exhibition could have been delightful but sadly…wasn’t.  There were simply too many beautiful costumes crammed into two badly lit rooms.  The descriptive captions were almost unreadable and the ‘influences’ we were promised were hard to divine.

There were some very beautiful dresses.  Some really pretty hats.  Wonderful beading and embroidery.   The black and white film of the fashion show on the top floor was interesting because most of the pieces looked so frumpy and the women in the audience were smoking.

Cab home.  After the show Aaron and I lay on the sofa and napped.

All the while I am having a huge kerfuffle with some man making comments on my blog.  I took down all of the comments and my replies.

He was trying to persuade me that I was clinically insane but all of the ‘symptoms’ he used to convince me of my insanity seemed perfectly reasonable coping mechanisms for the unusual, the addict and the high achievers.

I am not striving any time soon to be NORMAL.  I am not striving to hang with NORMAL people…what or who ever they are?

I certainly don’t want to end up in crippling mediocrity…in some clap board home in River Ville filled with furniture a bed bug wouldn’t bother infesting.

Dinner with Ian Drew.  A young lady asked if I was famous.  I told her that I thought maybe she was confusing me with some other guy.  She wasn’t convinced.

Dinner on Friday night with Ian Drew at Essex and Beauty.  Large, noisy new restaurant..a bit too blingy for me but the food was excellent and paid for by the restaurant.

Try the steak tartare on the thick, tasty rice cake.

Thanks.

After dinner we went to a miserable East Village gay bar where men sat beside each other trying to snag other men elsewhere on Grindr.  Their faces lit up by LED screens causing them all unwittingly, with their ghostly green visage, to look like that Ingres portrait of Napoleon.

Napoleon by Ingres

Ian finished his drink.  We left.

It has been startlingly cold.  I love the cold.  I get to dress up!  Hats, hats, hats.  Coats, waistcoats, velvet scarves.   I love my burgundy velvet scarf.  Last night I wore my Dior cape.  It did not pass unnoticed.

Dressed accordingly, the Little Dog and I, walked to Soho House and began to write my film.  Then, oddly, I had another really great idea for a film (or novel) inspired by my new, young HIV friend.    It gushed onto the page like a waterfall.  First, second and third act.   Beginning, middle and the end.

Met and flirted with Brendan Fallis who is super cute.  Steam room buddy.

Even though I am having a great time, I still irrationally fear bumping into Jake.  Consequently there is something utterly ruined about these New York streets.  Like after a blitz or something.  Strewn with emotional rubble.

There seems to be a Jake clone on every corner and every time I see a man who looks like him I shudder.

I think of the special moments we shared here.  Making love in the Jane Hotel.  Reaching out and touching him in the street.   Kissing him for the first time this time last year in the back of that bar on Third Avenue.  Then the sadness comes.  The questions, the feeling that I have been punched in the stomach.

If I’m hurt…can you imagine how badly that girl feels that he deceived for 7 years?  Poor love.  I hope she got herself back on her feet.  Found somewhere nice to live…met a nice guy.  She’s lucky she escaped.  If he was beginning to do meth when I met him he’ll be HIV positive in no time at all.  What a fucking cliché.

Hurt people, hurt people.

Yet, I exist in two completely different spheres.  The reality of my life outweighs the fantasy.

As if to prove a point I had dinner with Federico, my artist friend from Palermo.   We ate at Westville.  The food came late but the conversation was very lively so it didn’t seem to matter.   Then, my NYU poet friend Anthony joined us and we headed west to meet Hamish Bowles.

Hamish greeted me warmly.  We’d met a couple of times many years ago.

Hamish is the real deal.  The man Patrick Kinmonth and Issie Blow wished they could have been.

My fantasy about Hamish: that he went to Eton, life served effortlessly to him….couldn’t be further from the truth.

We actually had rather a lot in common.  He too lived in Kent during his formative years.  Went to a grammar school in Canterbury.  We would have been knocking about Canterbury at exactly the same time…probably both very horny gay teenagers wondering where we could get cock.

Like Fenton Bailey he succeeded in spite of everything.  In spite of his difference.

Hamish is primarily an academic, but his glamorous day job is the European Editor at Large for Vogue.  He is a respected authority on both worlds of fashion and interior design.

In April 2001 he was appointed creative consultant at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with responsibility for organizing and mounting the internationally renowned and critically acclaimed Costume Institute Exhibition, “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years—Selections from the John F. Kennedy Library Museum”.

Hamish has a huge collection of haute couture that he lends to museums and galleries all over the world.  The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Fashion Institute of Technology, and The Museum of the City of New York in Manhattan; the Palais Galliera and The Musee de la Mode, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Museum of London in London among others.

Recently he curated the Cristóbal Balenciaga show at The Spanish Institute.  Opened by Queen Sofía of Spain entitled, “Balenciaga: Spanish Master,” the show examines the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga and his Spanish influences.   60 pieces of clothing and accessories including some from Hamish’s own collection and many unseen publicly before.

Balenciaga

I am going to see the show on Tuesday.

We discussed Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, he had just seen at a private screening for Anna Wintour.  You’ll remember that Jake and I met Cary this summer in Whitstable with Mia.  Hamish said that, although a bit slow, he loved the film and cried all the way through.  He reported that the costumes were perfect and historically accurate.  He said that Mia’s performance was excellent.

Discussed Michael Bessman’s house that once belonged to the Baron de Meyer.

I cried all the way home.  I couldn’t help myself.

I should be really happy.  Deep down I am.  I just need to learn how to consistently mine the joy I know is there.

Gore Vidal with Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich

The past few days have been lovely.

Breakups are never usually times to relish but this breakup has been very good to me.

This is exactly the time in my life to take action and find a new perspective.

I took action by finding my peers in gay AA who might, in turn, shed some light on my relationship with the other.

In the scheme of things I was just an inconsequential blip in his life and I would be kidding myself if I thought differently.

I certainly could not compare with his other enduring relationships.    Anyhow, we seem to be communicating like friends and I am largely over what he may or may not be doing-though sitting here alone writing causes me a certain doleful curiosity.

Let me tell you about the past few days.

On Saturday I went to the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills to see the Andreas Gursky show with my friend Dom.  We ate lunch at the Montage-he had the steak tartar and I, the charcouterie.

The Gursky show was good but uninspiring.  Huge photographs framed in monstrous oak frames.    Big forgettable pictures…that’s all.

Huge photographs of the insides of neutrino splitting machines buried miles under Japan and filled with super purified water.  Satellite images of the great oceans.  It was all spectacle and no substance.

After our gallery visit I bought a pair of very baggy white trousers in some outlet store.  Gucci $48.

We popped into the new Missoni on Rodeo designed by my once boyfriend Patrick Kinmonth.  The outside is PERFECT, like a huge basket, woven metal softening the corner of Rodeo and Little Santa Monica.

The inside, however, is a bit of a mess.

I suppose the concept is the shopper wanders down a grand boulevard with variously sized vitrine to grab ones attention.   It was too theatrical.

The men’s area, the woman’s area, the home store etc.  It doesn’t work, it’s a mess. The interior finishes are very beautiful but the layout left too much to be desired.

Again, the outside is exquisite.

I could tell you very wonderful stories about Patrick but I will save them for another day.

The last time I saw Patrick Kinmonth he was reclining on a velvet sofa at the Chateau Marmont with Mario Testino.

He drawled that I could have been so much more than I was.  He is, after all,  a very grand queen; something I long abandoned aspiring to be but glad that I had the chance to meet.

For a few glorious months at the age of 21 he totally indulged me.

Sadly, I didn’t really fall for him.  I fell in love with his impeccable style.

Actually, he may very well be the Diana Vreeland of our age.  That plaudit might have been reserved for Hamish Bowles but Hamish doesn’t dress well enough or take enough care with his appearance.

Saturday night we celebrated Josh’s continuing testicular cancer treatment.  Every one of his friend brought ball-shaped hors d’œuvre to commiserate his recent loss and the chemo that began today.

He is an incredibly brave 29-year-old and described his cancer as an ‘inconvenience’.   I have huge respect for that young man.

GLADD awards and party on Saturday night that I was not invited to.  Odd really as I was the only out gay man in recovery ever on a Dr Drew show.  I am definitely not pretty enough for GLADD.

I suppose that this was the Velvet Mafia’s way of expressing their disapproval.   The sex addict message is not one the gays are eager to hear.

Even though conversion parties, bug chasing and crystal meth are discussed at length amongst the young gay men I know.  Perhaps this is only a myth?  A meth myth?  It is much easier for the gay community to concentrate on attacks from the outside than focus on the damage we do to ourselves.

Dane

On Sunday I met Gore Vidal again (the last time was with Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich during Dennis’s run for President) he described the sad state of the USA, describing it as rotten and then said (rather surprisingly) that he would like his bones buried in France and not, as he has always said, beside his lover in Washington.

I wonder if he was just being dramatic.  It was lovely to see him…  even though he is beyond frail.

Others at the party included the divine Ben Barns who played the other Dorian Gray, he told me how disappointed by the film he was.

Quite right!  Not nearly as interesting as our deeply flawed Dorian.    Eric Mc Cormack, Rufus Sewell and Michael Sheen all friends from different places and all at Stephen’s party.  I had a wonderful time.

So nice to be included by someone who the British might describe as a National Treasure.

Stephen is, of course, the most gracious of all hosts.  The food was excellent, the Pellegrino..well there’s not much more I can’t tell you about Pellegrino.

I took my friend Dane who looked a bit like Tarzan.  He was wearing a tiny black vest… nipples like peanuts.

Met a British director called Toby and after Stephen’s we decided to hit WeHo where I met a whole host of adoring sex rehab fans but regardless of their drunken attempts to get into my boxer briefs-I slept alone.

It is simply too soon to start meeting folk again-especially after the feast of affection, love and intimacy I have gorged myself on this past few months.

If I miss anything about dear old HIM I miss that I will never kiss him again, that he will never nestle in my arms and sleep as lovers do.  Hey ho, that’s going to be a hard one to replicate any time soon.