Provincetown, for those who have never been, is basically one long Victorian street… Commercial Street. Primarily an LGBT resort most everyone seems welcome here. At all times of night and day Commercial Street teems with pedestrians, bicycles and many dogs. Cars edge cautiously amongst the chaos. During the season (June-September) there are themed entertainment weeks (Saturday to Saturday) for gays, lesbians and trans visitors.
Near the Town Hall at town’s center there are bars, candy stores and tourist favorites like The Lobster Pot serving lobster rolls and oysters. Provincetown has become an unlikely hen night/bachelorette party destination. Rowdy, drunk girls dressed in cheap veils patrol the streets screaming raucous songs and hitting men on the head with large dildos… true story. Drag queens, by the way, love dildos and hate Bachelorettes.
Commercial Street is divided into East and West Ends. It’s probably best to work out which end is which within minutes of arriving here. So, facing from the bay where the ferry disgorged… the west will be to your left, the east to your right. I start my day, every day at 7am, after my beach walk with the dogs… unleashed, on the patio at:
Delicious, fragrant coffee served by an attentive bunch who remember both your name and what you want. Joe’s is a staple breakfast haunt for most of the cool ‘townies’ (locals). It’s common to see straight-backed, imperious Andrew Sullivan arrive with his husband on their ancient dutch bikes or watch John Waters sail elegantly by dressed in Issy Miyake. Ryan Murphy and his adorable family chowing down on their morning baked goods.
Try the delicious, freshly baked almond croissant… but get there early to avoid disappointment.
A perfect place to eavesdrop! Who fucks who? Learn all the local gossip: “They bring their terrible taste from the suburbs…” A great way to start the day with everyone who works or lives in Provincetown… and a few tourists.
Meet this man drinking coffee and eating his breakfast:
120 Commercial Street Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657 Phone: 508 413-9500
Run by Josh Patner ex Rome based fashion journalist and stylist, this charming haunt is brimming with local and international art. Possibly the chicest most eclectic store in town. Beware! By August almost everything has been sold. Look out for beautiful and reasonably priced ceramics by: Gail S. Browne.
I bought a beautiful vase by Gail Browne and a gorgeous 18th Century throw.
3. Room 68
377 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 Phone: 617-942-7425
Room 68 is Eric Portnoy’s 21st century gift shop. Originally out of Boston’sJamaica Plain – 68 South Street, originating the store’s name. Look for Debra Folz ingenious extending ash table and more of her award-winning work. For those drowning in bad art glass and cat portraits… Room 68 is a welcome high style lifeboat on the choppy sea of capey mediocrity – quite unlike any other found on Commercial Street… or on Cape Cod.
225 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 Phone: 508 487-3800
Opened in 2013 Canteen continues its stunning success. This charming restaurant is perfectly situated at the heart of Provincetown, offering a simple, unpretentious menu that capitalizes on local favorites like the ubiquitous Lobster Roll but served in a wholly original way. Like the interior of this nautical themed dining room the food is fresh, clean and authentic. The deep-fried smelt with tartar sauce are not everyone’s cup of tea… but I love them. Order everything with re-fried Brussels sprouts doused in an aromatic balsamic reduction and remember to sit in the newly opened garden overlooking the dunes and the spectacular sunset.
5. Red Inn
15 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657 Phone: 508 487-7334
Away from the madding Provincetown crowd, either a 30 minute walk or a ten minute rickshaw ride is the legendary Red Inn. Consistency, taste and prompt service make this elegant venue an essential but expensive must see. Last night we ate perfectly prepared filet mignon, served by delightfully charming staff at the bar over looking the spectacular bay. Older bearded gay men with their well behaved hounds sit on the terrace and drink cocktails. One eats reasonably priced oysters during happy hour (4pm-5pm) or lounge in the very British country garden: lavender, roses and sweet-william perfume the early evening breeze.
6. Mimere’s Homemade
281 Commercial Street #4, Provincetown, MA 02657 Phone: 917 670-7561
Opened by ex-banker Andrew Hood just this year to sell his vast array of delicious home-made, seasonal jams and jellies using old-fashioned techniques. I bought 6 different flavors including hefeweizen (wheat beer and orange) and red onion preserve. The chunky peach jam is particularly delicious, slathered on crusty toast from the Pain D’Avignon French Bakery found at Provincetown Farmer’s market held every Saturday by the Town Hall.
Provincetown Town Hall, 260 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 Phone: 508 487-7000
This years Provincetown Film Festival, hailed a huge success, attracting viewers from all over the world. I met women from Europe and a couple from Australia who coincided their holiday with the film festival. A well-organized and international feeling festival The Provincetown Film Festival grows in reputation every year. This year I saw Andrew Sullivan rip a new ass hole in the makers of the ghastly Chad Griffin propaganda film: The Case Against 8, at a festival breakfast. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend $25.
As I left the breakfast feeling exhilarated, I bumped into a huge and handsome man, I said, “Did you see that! Andrew Sullivan is my hero!”
He replied, “Me too, that’s why I married him.”
8. Fag Bash at The Governor Bradford
312 Commercial St Provincetown, MA 02657
I’ve already written at length about this wonderful, subversive spectacle. A delightful Wednesday night basement party. Arrive at 11pm, leave at 1am. Wear your finest drag. I expect the ghost of Leigh Bowery to make an appearance at any moment. Remember, most everything closes at 1am in Ptown.
396 Commercial Street Provincetown, MA 02657 Phone: 508 487-1362
The queen of decoupage Derian runs a tiny showroom a world away from his NYC empire. It is packed with essential nick nacks at the back of his Greek revival Ptown home. Black, $500 paper hollyhocks are not immediately alluring or justified… but… with time… anything is possible. I love the meat dolls by Nathalie Lete and the papier-mache hippo head. At night, as you pass by, envy his candle lit parties for Martha Stuart… and other gorgeous celebrities.
This boy will serve you. His name is Kevin and he is DIVINE.
145 Commercial Street, Provincetown MA Phone: 508 487-5151
Once a week I drop into see the charming, flirtatious Joey to have my hair and beard trimmed. It’s essential whenever you are anywhere for longer than a week to locate a great barber and Joey is he. Very reasonably priced, very funny and he’s… totally gorgeous. In fact, I’m off there, right now to get my neck shaved.
Day after day the sun shines and the people shed their winter clothes revealing their creamy skin. The dog and I traverse the city, traveling from one exciting assignation to another. Yesterday was no exception.
I woke early helping Dan with his luggage. He is off to LA until Wednesday. I really don’t like it when he leaves. We get closer and closer. He is kind, generous and appreciative. We are the same age. Our perspective is very similar.
I have been thinking a great deal about how I am going to spend the summer. I continue to write my film. Bumped into Paul Haggis yesterday who asked about my film. He loved the story…as most people do.
I couldn’t go back to bed after Dan left so I walked the dog around the deserted East Village until I bumped into a young friend of mine. A yoga teacher. We drank coffee and ate pain au chocolate at Ost on Avenue A. He is the sweetest young man. Looks directly into your soul.
We are going to spend the day together tomorrow.
Met Lady Rizo for lunch (chopped salad) then we took a cab to my lawyer on Wall Street. Driving the West Side Highway we passed office workers taking their lunch walking the water front. A brief moment in the sun.
I had to sign a bunch of papers. I signed them whilst Rizo bought us ice creams. As we were in an unknown part of town we decided to explore and ended up in a tiny Italian Deli eating profiteroles and singing show tunes out loud. She has a hugely exciting gig in June. In the mean time come see her perform on May 20th at Joe’s Pub.
Took Subway (I never do) back home and rested for an hour. Met Rizo’s friend Gilly on the corner of Tenth and A just as a skateboarder was nearly run down in front of our very eyes. He escaped death by jumping over the hood of the car.
My second ‘scene’ for the ‘A’ List. Austin is throwing a ‘party’ at this cavernous restaurant called Almond. It seemed designed for me to explain why Derek Lloyd Saathoff had wanted me to be his ‘Mister Big’.
I was uncharacteristically nervous meeting the other cast members. They are all very charming.
Obviously they have their on-screen personalities.
TJ is very ebullient when the cameras are on. Thrown directly into the ‘A’ List mix, TJ positioned me like an on set director and asked acerbic questions and about me and Derek. I came clean. He was quite strident. Off camera he is affectionate and warm. They all are.
Reichen Lehmkuhl seemed reticent and quiet. He has a troubled soul. Very beautiful, great story, gentle. I liked him. His brother lives very close to me in Malibu. I spent the most time chatting with him. We talked a great deal about how one can get ones needs met in a relationship. I told him The Penguin story as my very own reality cast member cautionary tale.
Crazed fans who think you are what you are not.
We talked about how we are edited, how one is perceived. The reality and the fantasy of ones on-screen and off-screen persona.
I really enjoyed meeting Ryan the salon owner. Blond, sweet-natured and very genuine.
This is their second season. They have become very adept performers.
I have no idea if I will ever see any of them ever again.
Stephen joined us and Rizo, Gilly and I ate dinner at Westville. I bought The Little Dog a chicken breast as he had been so good all day.
Tonight is the very last night of Beige the long running weekly party held at The Bowery Bar. It must be twenty years old. I went there first when I was still drinking so it must be ancient. Remember dragging Joe there? I think he enjoyed it despite his protestations. I will be there tonight if anyone wants to serve papers. Zach said, “Nobody gets laid at Beige.” which was never my experience.
So, all packed and moved out. I left the apartment empty and covered in dust. I have to go back tomorrow to collect deposit and hand over the wi-fi thingy. I am pleased not to be going back there.
When Jennie and I moved into The Chateau de Fleur we did so to escape the lives we had and wanted to change when we went into rehab. For Jennie it was the beginning of a life away from being a porn performer. For me it was to escape the exquisite monotony of Malibu, the pornography, the internet hook up sites and the gruelling symptoms of sex addiction.
Amazingly, for the longest time, I steered clear of the worst of my sex addict tendencies. Until, of course, I met Jake and collapsed..once again..into active addiction. As much as I try..I cannot forgive him. I was doing so well.
I tell you, I hate him now more than anyone I have ever been wronged by. More than the vile people who ran over The Darling Big Dog and more than I ever harboured for my step-father.
Masquerading as an innocent, timid boy JB knows exactly what he is doing. I would urge anyone that gets involved with him never, ever believe a word that comes out of that mouth. His lies are not even very amusing. An amusing liar, like Leigh Bowery or Diana Vreeland can enhance a dull world but a tepid, self-serving liar like Jake can only make the mediocre a paler shade of taupe.
The only good thing that came out of his mouth was my cock.
I though I might write about the day my dog was killed in front of that building, in front of me and the little dog..but I can’t, not least because the memory of her written on the same page I write his name would sully the memory of her.
To think, he left his gf and flew to me. I tended him, looked after him, cooked for him, dabbed at his tears. I reassured him again and again that things would work out fine..and I am sure they will for the conniving little cunt.
Goodbye Hollywood. Hello New York City.
Letter from Susan:
I drove my father to the Stiperstones last Saturday – creamy golden late afternoon sunshine lighting all that hilly beauty – he was so happy. But all I could think of was the time we drove up there in his little Mini – I rammed the car off the road at a funny angle and we then draped ourselves around the seats and dashboard. Do you remember how much we laughed when people came to help and we woke up ? I still find it quite funny.
Whitstable, that’s where we grew up. The High Street, a shingle beach, abandoned oyster beds, abandoned boat yards.
I knew I wanted to make something. I never knew quite what. Writing, knitting, print-making, drawing, theatre, acting, fashion. Good… but never good enough. Wanting to be included but unwilling to participate. Confident to be part of what was going on but seldom sure. Always there, never present.
Had I been allowed, as planned, to go to St Martin’s College of Art to study fashion I would have become a fashion designer. I still have note books crammed with crude fashion drawings and swatches of hideous fabric made when I was 8 years old. Each ‘season’ I would design a new collection and between ‘collections’ I would write and illustrate articles about the history of fashion.
An avid fashion commentator who had unwelcome, prepubescent opinions about everything. My damning critique of Princess Anne’s ‘boring’ ivory duchess satin wedding dress in 1973 irritated my short-tempered, royalist Grandmother. “Look at those ghastly sleeves…”
I was an industrious child. At boarding school I excelled.
When I wasn’t busily designing imaginary runway collections I worked hard remaking my life, a life I could control. A life reimagined included: a 30 page illustrated story about a happy family of mice. A precocious teenager at boarding school I spent months writing and rewriting rambling plays about unrequited love with other boys.
Theatre! I must make theatre. The lights, the tension, the smell of the theatre. The warmth and silence of the audience, laughter erupting around me, muffled crying from the red velvet stalls.
Oddly, I had absolutely no great passion for film or television. Of course, I had seen many films but it wasn’t a world that piqued my interest. I had a fondness for black and white Hollywood films from the 1940’s (particularly musicals) that I would either watch on the television on my own or walk up Whitstable High Street to the cavernous Oxford Cinema.
I was inspired. Stealing an idea for my ‘new collection’, a sleeve or muff. I watched the credits roll: costume designer Edith Head… Funny Face. Adrian, who designed the costumes for The Wizard of Oz.
I’m 12 years old. I discover Marilyn Monroe without ever knowing she is already an established gay icon. The following year I insist that my parents buy me Norman Mailer’s illustrated biography for Christmas.
Theatre and fashion people referenced film but nobody I knew would ever have thought about making one.
The years after I left Shotton Hall School in 1976, before I went to prison in 1983 were culturally the richest of my life. I scraped into Medway College of Art and Design with one ‘O’ level. I befriended punk rocker Billy Childish. I learned how to etch and screen print and draw. Punk was determining music fashion and graphics but scarcely impacted the institutionalized, established, sewn up world of British contemporary art. Britain would have to wait until 1989 until Michael Clark, Tilda Swinton and Leigh Bowery performed in the Anthony d’Offay Gallery.
Whilst at Medway, I saw a very ordinary man wearing a badly cut suit his tie askew commuting from London to Thanet holding a copy of The Sex Pistol‘s single God Save The Queen and nearly fainted in fear. I was wearing a pair of my mother’s bottle green woolen tights. I wonder what he must have thought about me? He alighted at Rainham.
Unable to study fashion at St Martin’s College as my garrulous stepfather refused to let me. I had to get a job. The job I was offered, selling clothes at Yves Saint Laurent on Bond Street, London became the beginning of what would turn out to be a great, although misguided, adventure. An adventure that would shape the rest of my life.
I met Lady Clare Rendlesham and within a few months I was in Paris pretending to be her son.
Along with changing my identity, in Paris I threw myself head long into the very accommodating worlds of fashion, performance art and theatre.
The land of sublime artifice.
During the pret-a-porter I would run with my friends through the streets of Paris from show to show. Although my time in Paris seems less, in retrospect, about theatre and more about fashion and art, I was introduced to Robert Wilson and members of his company, traveled to Holland to see Lucinda Childs in Dance with music by Phillip Glass and travelled more to see beautiful work by Pina Bausch.
Pina Bausch died this year.
I was one of the first people in Paris to wear a Walkman. I think I may still own that original item. Some rich friend of a rich friend left it at my place. He had bought it from Tokyo where he’d been modeling and never asked for it back. Suddenly I had my very own soundtrack. My life scored by Super Tramp. The optimistic opening bars of Take The Long Way Home soaring over the controversial rebuilding of Les Halles that seems only recently to have settled into its surroundings. Music altered my perception of where I was and how I experienced it. Paris was never so beautiful.
It was during this time in 1978, as a willowy teenager, I chanced upon Fred Hughes at John Jermyn’s Rue de Bellechasse home. That beautifully, wonderfully decorated house… rococo monkeys fucking on the drawing-room walls painted by Harry Gromelion and acres of Fortuny silk.
Fred had been, the year I met him, diagnosed with MS and had become nihilistic and surly.
“When Fred got sick, he had to go to the American Hospital, and I decorated his room. I went to visit him, and brought pictures he liked, from his house and flowers…” Julian Schnabel
Fred, so reviled, cut a sad and lonely path through his own life ending up incapacitated and angry. At the end, surrounded in his Lexington Avenue home by the most beautiful things, nothing could placate him. His terrible Texan mother moved in to help, firing his loyal assistant. We never saw him again.
When I met Fred he had slicked back black hair and tailored suits, he lived in an apartment on the Rue du Cherche-Midi and was, to a provincial teenager, incredibly glamorous… a true dandy.
“It was I who found Fred Hughes his Paris apartment on the Rue du Cherche-Midi, where Warhol would stay.” Pierre Berger
He liked me because he thought I was a British aristocrat. He was a terrible snob. Later, when he knew the truth, he would laugh and mock the moment we met and feign outrage. He only ever called me Anthony.
Fred took me to New York, bought me Vetiver and appropriate underwear, gave me drugs at Studio 54, lent me shirts that belonged to Farouk, the last King of Egypt. He wrapped me up in linen sheets and laughed at my jokes. Fred introduced me to Yves St-Laurent and his muse LouLou de la Falaise, Baron Eric De Rothschild, flame haired owner of Egoiste magazine Nicole Wisniak. I sat entranced by these people. Wearing clothes Fred had bought for me, a brand new name. Sloughing off the past… a past for which I had no need.
Perhaps we understood each other because we had both abandoned our past for a far more thrilling present. After his death he was described as ‘a consummate liar, social climber, and a bespoke SOB who grew to total ghoulishness because of his connection to Andy Warhol.’
Isn’t everyone a social climber of some kind… and why the hell not? It’s galling to have Fred’s memory so maligned. From what I saw he managed or rather… baby sat Andy Warhol, pulling him out of relative poverty, protecting him from the unworthiest.
Was that a lie? I really don’t have a clue. As a teenager I thought he was just swell.
It is so sad to see him like this, stricken with MS:
This photograph is amusing. Tim Hunt, Princess Anne of Bavaria, Me and Alexis de Toqueville at Anne’s apartment in Paris. Like so many beautiful young men from that time, Alexis would die of AIDS. Hid family refused to acknowledge his life as a gay man and his death as a gay man.
Samia Saouma’s Gallery (another social hub as great galleries tend to be) I was introduced to the work of The Baron de Meyer, Man Ray and Joseph Kosuth. I followed the crowd and applauded the sparse and mannered work of Robert Wilson. We saw I Was Sitting on My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating and Death Destruction and Detroit.
In Paris I learned about artists and their power and prestige. Most of these men and women, invited to Europe during the late 70’s early 80’s, were American. Flooding the world with new ideas; polemical and challenging.
What happened to the arts? Even though British theatre seems to have maintained it’s edge, British art has become increasingly bland and decorative. Says nothing of the war or the bloody peace.
Paris was just how Paris is meant to be: an education for a young man.
Before we leave Paris there was one sublime moment. It was a moment. We all need them. Romantic. I had been invited to the house of some elderly Duke. On an orange velvet wall hung a huge sunset by Turner. Surrounded by furniture, a light supper served in front of it. This is how art should be enjoyed. Domestically.
Returning to England I was given the telephone number of Erica Bolton by The Princess Anne of Bavaria. I met Erica at The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, West London, where she worked as a publicist. My great love affair with the theatre began in earnest.
Erica Bolton, in turn, introduced me to a community of successful writers and directors. Men and women who inspired me to make my own theatre, my own films, my own art.
I listened and learned.
Erica sneaks me into the theatre to see Kantor’s sold out show Wielopole, Wielopole. I sit in the Gods looking down at syphilitic soldiers marching, wax figures strapped to the living, a monochrome set with Kantor in the middle of it all tweaking his memories and watching sadly as the dead come back to life.
It was triumphant, breathtaking theatre and in sharp contrast to the very British, academic work of Peter Gill (Cherry Orchard) who I met that year (1978) and his then assistant David Levaux the now hugely respected Broadway director.
There were so many exciting people to hang out with at The Riverside like the precocious Hanif Kureishi fresh from his triumphant stint at The Royal Court.
Pioneering David Gothard, the artistic director, the genius at the very heart of the Riverside Studios. Responsible for bringing Tadeusz Kantor, Miro, Shuji Tereyama and many others not only to Hammersmith but to the UK. Night after night we sat in the canteen drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. I loved every moment.
In 1979 I made my way to Paris to see Peter Brook’s Bouffes du Nord. To Paris by boat and train to see Brook’s Conference of the Birds. The raw brick walls and magnificent arches quite unlike any other performance space. I can’t remember where I stayed that night. I was in heaven. I remember the Persian rugs on the floor, the chirping of the cast as they imitated different birds..a chorus… the dawn chorus.
I wanted to make theatre so badly. When I finally got around to it I made just one good work The Host. The other works (as it turned out) a preamble for my later film making and really not that good.
In 1981 I moved into a small flat in Furlong Road, Islington. The home of director Michael Darlow. The flat came with a job: nanny to their wayward 13-year-old adopted son. Wandering the streets I discovered the derelict Almeida Theatre where I would end up having my 22nd Birthday thrown by designer Scott Crolla. Furniture Designer Tom Dixon was our doorman. William Burroughs came.
‘Come Dressed at Duncan Roy’ the invitation demanded.
Here are Kadir Guirey and Tom Dixon in their band Funkapolitan…
The Almeida Theatre, bought and renovated (Bouffe de Nord style) by Lebanese born Pierre Audi. I managed, by chance, to witness the birth of an institution. Even when derelict, Pierre used the space as a theatre. Amongst many, early notable Almeida productions I saw A Dybbuk For Two People with Bruce Myers and in 1982, at Saint James’s Church, Chillingworth Road at the Almeida International Festival of Contemporary Music, John Cage at 70. Stunning.
Early 1983 I was arrested and imprisoned for running up a huge bill on my credit card. I spent the next ten months starved of theatre and art but found another altogether unexpected beauty.
I was 23. Prison, as I have said before, was beautiful.
People like Erica bid their adieu and I would never really see them again.
1983, months after I left Wormwood Scrubbs Prison I answered an advertisement in Time Out Magazine. Neil Bartlett was looking for performers to open his show PORNOGRAPHY, a Spectacle at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. It was a gruelling process, one I found particularly hard to get to grips with. Acting, as you may know, requires the performer to be real and at this time in my life I really had no idea how to do that at all.
As with my appearance in the ‘A’ list thirty years later, people mocked my decision to be in a gay play about sex and sexuality. Life is for the experience… isn’t it? One grand adventure after another.
Pornography: A Spectacle. 1983/84 Actor
Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 6 city UK tour, Poor Alex Theatre, Toronto, Canada
Devised with Ivan Cartwright, Neil Bartlett and Robin Whitmore
“Pornography is quite wonderful, outrageous, intentionally shocking — but with real human beings stepping through the sensationalism at regular intervals to speak between the screams of cliché in normal conversational tones about who they are and how they really feel. The recurrent theme is one of intense pornographic description, which the actors suddenly stop, pause, and say, “of course that was merely a quotation,” or “but it really wasn’t like that.” Sky Gilbert
The Critic by Sheridan: 1984 Actor – Mr. Puff
The Host: 1987 Writer/Director
Institute of Contemporary Art London and National Review of Live Art Glasgow with Georgia Byng and Tatiana Strauss
Bad Baby: 1989 Writer/Director
The Penny Theatre, Canterbury, Kent, Hen and Chickens Theatre, Islington North London
Using a cast of local Kent performers this play examined issues of child abuse using Beatrix Campbell’s Unofficial Secrets as the basis of the text.
The Baron in the Trees: 1990 Writer/Director
Adapted from the Italo Calvino novel of the same name for The Penny Theatre, Canterbury, Kent
Copper’s Bottom: 1991 Writer/Director
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, starring Aiden Shaw
Call me Susan: 1993 Co-writer
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh; Edinburgh Festival Fringe;
Call Me Susan explored issues surrounding prostitution across Europe. A dramatized discussion between two prostitutes interspersed with real-life recorded testimonies and pictures of prostitutes working in six European cities.