Archives for posts with tag: Samia Saouma

Samia

Samia, my ex lover, would describe the people she had least respect as ‘limited’.  It’s a jolly good word to describe those we cannot be bothered with.

I love writing my blog.  Just as I loved writing my diary.

Some blog posts get particular public attention.  The most popular being listed to the right of this page.  Kristian Digby‘s Funeral in particular gets as many hits per day than any other post on this blog and cumulatively is the most read post on this site.  It heartens me that so many people leave messages for him there.  Sweet, kind, sad messages from people whose lives he touched.

I am so lucky to have been his bf for a few months.  I am so happy that it didn’t end in recrimination or bitterness.  I am just lucky that I have had the opportunity to know so many wonderful people.

I wish I could pick up the phone and call you Kristian.  I needed you these past few months.   I really did.

Kristian Digby

I am in a sparkling good mood this morning.

Oh my God!!!  Such dark days!  Such misery!  Such a BORE!  Coming to an end.  Well, I still have to deal with my balls.

My balls ache.  My back aches.  Let’s get this testicular party started.  I am sure that by the end of this surgery episode you will get tired of listening to me bleating on about the operation.  Apparently the penis gets quite bruised when they operate.  Black, blue and yellow bruising in the groin department.

Perhaps I should have it inverted and become the ugliest transsexual ever.  I am not likely to be using it recreationally any time soon.

I feel free to leave now.  What has been holding me back is finally resolved.  Perhaps having a vagina would solve my problems.  Maybe I wouldn’t be such a cunt.  Ha ha ha.

My poor doctor in the UK despairs of my hanging around here.  She thinks time is of the essence.  She tells me that I am risking my life.  She will be pleased to know that I am leaving soon.

Back to wintery London.   I wonder where I will stay?

Listening to really loud music.  Elsie de Witt is here, she’s singing along with Simon and Garfunkel.  The Bad Baby is sleeping soundly.  I hope she doesn’t wake him.

Elsie de Witt

The sun is shining.  I spent more time yesterday fixing the spa.  The light is working.  The air jets are fixed.  It’s a real spa!  I think I might heat it today and sit in it with my friend.  Under the stars.

A huge weight lifted from my shoulders.

Tim had his triple by-pass.  He’s only a few years older than me.  My old drinking companion Tim Willis.  His book is doing good business back at home.

Elsie is singing Midnight Train to Georgia.   Hush Elsie!  The Bad Baby is Sleeping.

Whitstable, that’s where we grew up.  The High Street, a shingle beach, abandoned oyster beds, abandoned boat yards.

I always knew that 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.  As a precocious teenager at boarding school I spent months writing rambling plays about unrequited love with other boys.

I saw my first proper play on a high school outing to Stoke on Trent.  Bertolt Brecht‘s, The Caucasian Chalk Circle with Bob Hoskins.  1975.  I was hooked.

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.

Clare Rendlesham and others

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.

 

Duncan 19

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.’

Who cares?  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 unworthies.

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.

Turner

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.

David Gothard Riverside Studios

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 that I found hard to get to grips with.  Acting, as you may know, requires the performer to be real and by 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.

Theatre

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

Robin, Ivan and Duncan in ‘Pornography, a Spectacle’

“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

  • Edinburgh Festival

The Host: 1987 Writer/Director

  • Institute of Contemporary Art London and National Review of Live Art Glasgow with Georgia Byng and Tatiana Strauss
  • October Gallery

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.

Marrianne Fearnside in Bad Baby

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.

July 18, 2006 – Tuesday

PARIS

I love the smell of Paris. I love the streams of glistening street cleaning water on a bright morning coursing over the cobbles. I love the great boulevard. I love my secret lovers courtyard and her cour. I love her white skin at night, my black hands on her breasts. In the hot afternoon she sprays her hands with eau de cologne. The pungent smell of vetiver filling the apartment with a promise of erotic nights. Guy de la Bedoyere wore vetiver, so did John Jermyn and Jay Jopling still wears it but he is most undeserving.

I am on a precipice.

There is a small boulangerie on the Boulevard St Germaine where they sell delicious croissant almonds; they are soggy with almond paste. This afternoon I will go to Trocadero and drink lemonade and eat macaron. This afternoon I will buy a white shirt in Charvet and wear it with my secret love at dinner on the rue de cherche midi. How strange and different a womans body is after so many years of hairy men. How they yield, how they do not judge you. I never mind taking off my underwear in front of a woman. Taking off your clothes in front of a man who spends hours in the gym. The last man I slept with had a firm, hairy body. I had to apologise for mine. He said, I like it, I really do. He was lying. He did not want to see me again. He cancelled. He lied.

I am not a very good gay. Bad Gay. I don’t like men. Of course I am useless as a straight-after making her climax with my tongue I wonder about the boys on the street. I think about that beautiful Russian boy I met on the train who I am almost in love with. Even so, when PH and I were together I needed no one else. I simply needed her. I have only been in love with one woman and one man. The love is quite different. It means something different.

American men have perfected the art of seduction. When the firm, hairy one told me that he would not stay the night-he had screamed out my name so loud I put my elbow in his gob so the neighbours would not hear. When he told me that he would not stay the night and wake up in the morning with me. It made me curse him. I left my body-floating just above the ceiling-and I could hear him say, you’ve gone quiet. And I replied, I knew that you would do this. And then he said, So you’ll not be disappointed then. He said it in that other way that Americans have when you see their true colours, when you realise that their charm is skin deep, that their intentions are dishonourable.

He said at dinner the line that makes a woman melt, Sex means nothing to me outside of a relationship I had already blown him ten minutes into the date. He paid for dinner. The champagne was chilling in the fridge. Champagne he had bought/acquired and that I would never drink. He did not think to ask if champagne was an entirely appropriate gift. I went to bed early that night. The smell of him on my fingers. It was my birthday-I had chosen to spend it with a total stranger rather than the friends who wanted to see me. It was not a good choice.

Bad Gay.

The following night the same thing happened with a red-headed boy who when I called him the next day was obviously petrified. Bad gay. I am a very bad gay. And then there is Ed. Ed, who sits in his room and has cam-to-cam sex with men. I think that he might have the right idea. He will never be disappointed.

I have lent my apartment in LA to a friend. I hope that he looks after it. People have very different ways of living than I do. I have a new bed. Hope that he does not stain it.

Susanna S. once said that Duncan will give you the world, then one day he will take it all back. She did not actually say that, that is better than what she would say-as she is an inarticulate grunt. That is what people would like to believe. She meant that people take advantage of me until I get pissed off. My friend who is borrowing my flat then asked if he could borrow money from me. Then you begin to get pissed off. Then you think to yourself-what the fuck? Joe T let me buy him alcohol and dinners and let me cook for him then when he had money expected me to pay the valet. I do not think so.

I am going to be a grumpy old man who has to defend himself like a prize-fighter. Resentment will kill them before it gets a sniff at me. I want to be on my own. People distress me. Their ways. When I took cocaine (ten years ago) it made me even more solitary, made me walk from Kensington to Soho at 4am. My toes bruised yet I could not feel the pain.

Do you remember the day Diana died? It made my blood boil. People said that I looked like Dodi. Now they say that I look like some actor. Cant remember his name. That is maybe why people look at me funny when I am in shops. They look at me like I am well-known. They think that I am that man.

Bad Gay.

We walked the Seine last night. It was perfect. The pedestrian bridge-the one adjacent to the Pont Neuf, is covered with young people puffing on weed. They have food and guitars and the police just wander on through. It’s like a little strip of youth revolution in the heart of the city. I could not imagine that happening in London-oiks would ruin it with their crude behaviour. At night it is incredibly warm on the streets. My secret love drank menthe and lemonade. We came home and had that sort of time you only remember from your youth: enthusiastic, passionate, and perfectly connected. Did that really happen? Nobody crept out after they came; there were no lame excuses. This morning we had breakfast and then we shopped around the rue de Bac. I bought a raincoat and a velvet romper suit for LA from Sonia Rykiel. We had lunch. I ate a delicious garlic tart with celeriac and rocket salad. We saw a glamorous woman dressed in black linen-her haircut immaculately severe-we saw her meet her affectionate lover.

Tomorrow my secret love has to go to the American Embassy and get her working visa. I will buy fabric for a lampshade. Tomorrow I will catch the wonderful train and be back in London, away from her arms until we see each other again in California. As I write she is playing with my beard. Her fingers glancing my nose and eyebrows. She looks tenderly over at me and smiles as the laptop noisily corrects my spelling.

She will learn to see me in less attractive circumstances. She will see me frustrated and sad and furious. She will see me rudely demand a better table in the restaurant or shout on the telephone at a moronic bank person-my least favourite phone call is to the bank/credit card/cell phone company-the thieves that come into my life monthly. She will see what I am like. The other side of this coin.

So. This bad gay has to kiss his secret love on the lips-adieu.