Fern asked how I spent my days and I was hard pressed for an answer. I didn’t have an answer for her.
I collect coupons. I should have said that I collect coupons and write yelp reviews about coffee shop loyalty. I should have said that I tinker with my script and have long conversations with my expensive, world-renowned lawyers about THE LAWSUIT.
I should have told her about the house I want to buy upstate. I should have told her that I dream most of the day and that’s ok.
That my day is full of dreaming and dreaming and dreaming and that’s okay.
I should have replied that I have long lunches with beautiful men that I meet in AA.
I should have said that I go stay in The Hamptons with show girls and equity trading billionaires. Billionaires who say things like, “I saw them at Frieze and I bought all of them.” Showgirls who, knowing someone else is paying, fills up the super market cart with pies and cream and cookies. Knowing that someone else is paying.
I should have told Fern that for the past month I have been seeing this man/boy who makes me laugh so hard I nearly pee myself. That we dress up and take pictures of each other.
We have been hanging out in bars with models and freaks and transsexuals. We have been exploring Williamsburg. We have been to book launches and fancy lunches.
Michael Costiff had a book signing at the Marc Jacobs book store on Bleecker St. There was an after party at the Soho Grand.
I should have told her that I met Orlando Soria who is a dream and has a huge, winning smile and writes a fantastic blog that you can read here.
My friends from New Jersey supported a young artist so I took Ryan. Ryan comes everywhere. Like a sweet puppy.
We saw Philomena last night at The Paris cinema opposite the destroyed Plaza Hotel. After dinner we sat in their basement and ate bad sushi. Or rather… she ate the sushi and I paid for it.
Philomena, starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, is the story of a teenage girl who gets pregnant, is sent away to a convent to have her baby. The baby is consequently sold to rich Americans. It is a gut wrenching film. I cried nearly all the way through. Fern stayed dry-eyed throughout. I thought about my own mother and remembered that this was her story too. Teenage pregnancy, sent away to a local convent to scrub floors until I was born into a pool of blood and shame.
After the film we sat 30 floors above Manhattan in a bar called The Skylark. I met Sophie Kennedy Clark the girl who plays the young Philomena Lee. We smoked rolled cigarettes on the terrace and she explained that Vivienne Westwood had dressed her. That Vivienne had told her to take a pair of scissors to the dress if she needed or wanted to.
I met Philomena Lee and told her about my mother. She held my hand.
I have spent the past day or so in bed. The dog is less sick, eating again. We have to get his drain removed. He is wearing the Elizabethan collar but hates it.
My left leg is getting better…my right ankle isn’t. Robby stayed over last night. Today he watered the garden, filled the hot tub, went to the supermarket and ran around the house as I finally caught up on all the various tasks that could be accomplished from my bed.
Jen and Jason were incredibly helpful. Anna brought supper.
Surrounded, as usual, with love. Occasionally it is hard to recognize just how lucky I am.
Robby and I have a wonderful relationship. We talk and play and the more I know him…the more I trust him. In fact, I might trust him more than any person I know right now. He has been a perfect antidote to JB. I feel hopeful again because he brings me love.
Crippled and confined to the couch he was pottering about the house making everything look good.
We were talking about how private one needs to be in life.
He is a tentative soul.
He wondered why I write every personal detail here in this blog. Make public what most people keep private. Something that delighted Jake until (of course) he was part of it, part of the narrative…then it wasn’t quite so alluring.
Learn this lesson: If you don’t like your private life being scrutinised…avoid public figures…you will lose your anonymity.
The reality guy who killed himself this week? He had no idea just how pernicious reality TV really is.
We mused about what remains private and what should be public. I am quite clear why I write everything here.
If, like me, you have lived an audacious, notorious life then for every eager friend there is a fool desperate to pull you down.
It is best to live without secrets. Many years ago I was taught that we are as sick as our secrets. What does that mean? If you are cheating on your wife you will be defined by your deception. If you are lying to your friends you will be hindered by self-doubt.
If I have made mistakes, told a lie, cheated a friend or been generally disreputable then I write it here. My part in what ever unfolding drama is worth noting. We tend to focus on who to blame and rarely acknowledge our responsibility.
Keeping my side of the street clean.
That is why I have struggled so badly with you-know-who. It has been incredibly difficult to own my part. I don’t want to admit my short comings.
I make him responsible. I blame him. I say: He lied to me. He cheated. He duped me. He did drugs in front of me. All of this is true…of course, but has to be balanced with: I am responsible. I lied to him. I chose somebody inappropriate. I allowed myself to be duped. I had no boundaries.
When I point at him three fingers point back at me.
What is the answer?
I aim to be ashamed of nothing. This leads, inevitably, to peace of mind.
You, dear reader, know everything! There’s nothing I’ve not written about. You know every insane thought, every defect, every leak and misery.
You know everything…so I fear nothing. Not one of you has anything on me.
When you live a lie you are vulnerable. I don’t want to be vulnerable.
Back to NYC next month to see JB in court but it’s fashion week and I’ve been invited to a slew of fashion week events. Robby will be in town so we can do some fun shit. I love that boy. Jenny will be there too and wants to come to court with me. Before we vanish to The Hamptons.
There is a great deal to do these coming autumn/winter months.
Through archival acquisitions, oral history interviews, public programming, exhibitions, and publications, the Research Institute is responding to the need to document the historical record of this vibrant period.
Between October 2011 and February 2012, a major exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum will present a survey of postwar painting and sculpture in Los Angeles.
It will be a great deal of fun.
In tandem with PST, Art Platform—Los Angeles, the west coast cousin of The Armoury, is collaborating with Pacific Standard Time to organize an extraordinary series of events and services to highlight this historic period and unprecedented weekend of art in Los Angeles. Rather wonderfully I am part of their VIP Programme.
Tonight Eric is bringing supper. The little dog will get better. I am willing him to. Help me think him right.
The first time Joe ever took me to Fire Island Pines I was immediately convinced that something I had always hankered existed: a place where gay men and women of all ages could live together, experience life together and express themselves without shame.
I have heard from black friends who traveled to Africa for the first time that they experienced a sense of truly understanding how it might be to live an unfettered life.
There are exceptions.
I have just finished reading A Black Man Confronts Africa.
Unlike many black Americans who romanticize Africa, Richburg looks back on his time there and concludes that he is simply an American, not an African-American. This is a powerful, hard-hitting book, filled with anguished soul-searching as Richburg makes his way toward that uncomfortable conclusion.
I am a gay (adopted) American. I do not belong. The laws of the land preclude me from being truly equal. The streets are periodically mine but not consistently. Really? I thought things had changed for the gays? Strangely, post Will and Grace things have not changed. I urge any one of you (gay or straight) who think things may have changed for gay people in contemporary USA (and I have said this many times over): Try holding your same sex friends hand in a street anywhere other than NYC or LA.
See what happens.
Returning to Fire Island this summer for the first time in a decade I am excited to see how things have evolved since I lived there and if the idyl I first experienced still exists.
The beautiful beach, the beautiful boys, the sunset and sunrise…no cars. Dinner prepared by groups of men who sit down together and share. Share being the operative word. What ever share you may have in the house you are renting…doing things collectively is the modus operandi.
Have I idealized my memory of this slim sand bank set at the edge of the Atlantic? Have, within a decade, my memories been burnished?
Firstly, finding a house to rent has been quite hard. I guess my demands are not normal by gay Fire Island Pines standards. When searching for a house I made it quite clear to the realtor that I am sober. I do not drink and I do not take drugs. I told him that I was not interested in the big gay beach parties (drug festivals). That I am going there to write.
Almost every house that I looked at was a ‘party’ house. Almost every person I spoke to told me that they wanted to have fun…read that as excessive drinking, drug taking and sexual unmanageability.
Having a sober person around might mean curtailing the ‘fun’.
I have heard that The Pines has become quite trashy. I have heard that they have ruined the ambiance.
The über gays have long since deserted The Pines for The Hamptons. Aping upper-class American straight people rather than investing in the peculiarities of The Pines.
What is it that draws me back there? What is it that I loved so much?
Well, Joe and I had a wonderful time together in our pretty little house. It was the nexus of gay culture and me. For the first time in my life I saw both old and young gay people going about their business (during the day) just like common people. Fetching their shopping on small, red carts. Dressing up, holding hands, not dressing up…alone.
For the first time in my life I felt as if I owned the space around me, that I could not be judged in this place.
Until I got there I believed those things to be true but I had been kidding myself.
Just getting there from Manhattan was an adventure. The car to Sayville. The ferry ride from Sayville to the island, the palpable excitement of the passengers. The great piles of supplies and dogs and suitcases.
Thank you Joe for taking me there.
The first man I saw when I scrambled down the gang-plank was an elderly man with a stick walking slowly along the board walk. It delighted me. “Is everyone gay here Joe?” I thought to myself that there was indeed a place where I could be free when I was his age. I knew even then in my late 20’s that being old and gay was going to be difficult. My premonition has come to pass. Being old and gay is going to be horrible from what we found out when researching The Scarlett Empress.
Unless, of course you have a spare $160, 000 to buy a surrogate child who might look after you.
I had thought about going back to Whitstable in my dotage but not even Whitstable holds much allure to me. Being the old gay man in town…I have seen the way we are treated.
When I arrived at The Pines I understood how life might play out. The options. I looked around and even though the bars were full of very drunk gays (I was one of them) the look on their faces was different. They looked relaxed, they looked happy.
We went to gay bingo, we involved ourselves with the gay fire department. We had opinions about dune reclamation. We walked barefoot to the beach and watched the beautiful naked men play ball and walk their dogs. We paid for limousines from JFK for our friends and delighted them with our house, our gay lives.
Our routine rarely altered. Watching the sunset, hanging out on the dock to see who would get off the ferry. Buying expensive food at The Pines Pantry…the store was just like any store but crammed with fancy queens buying $100 steaks.
When I got sober the AA meetings were quite small on Fire Island…now they are huge.
I really have no idea what it will be like to live out there once again for the summer.
I am excited at the prospect.
Of course there are other places where one might feel free, where YOU might feel free. Perhaps you have already found your very own utopia elsewhere.
The Fire Island Pines experience is short-lived. In September this utopia is disassembled. The grand houses are shuttered, the store closes, the ferry comes but once a day.
There are other places for us to go. Unless we vanish. Those of us who look kindly upon our strange ‘culture’ can find our tribe elsewhere.
Not until I got to San Francisco did I have that sense of belonging once again. Where the streets were mine. The neighborhoods belonged to us. Where fear and shame were banished.
Like Keith Richburg I am aware of the anthropological problems but still happy to have experienced the adventure. Let me for a moment love it all without criticism, let me love what we have carved out for ourselves both good and bad and celebrate our difference. Celebrate.