Archives for posts with tag: Scott Crolla

Mario Testino was a friend of ours.  He had a studio in an abandoned hospital on Soho Square.  Scott Crolla, Georgina Godley… and others were frequent guests.  My boy friend in 1981 was Mario’s long time friend and collaborator Patrick Kinmonth.

Patrick lived in a tiny apartment in Holland Park, deliberately disheveled, dusty yet filled with beautiful object.  The place was brutally cold in the winter and a furnace in the summer.  Patrick, according to the artist Craigie Aitchison dobbed me in to the police when they were looking for me to ask questions about my credit card and why I hadn’t paid the bill.  It was Patrick who lent me money to buy my Peter Doig and it was Patrick who encouraged me to make art.  He was a vicious snob, exquisitely beautiful and at that time worked for Vogue magazine.  He amused us all by mimicking Mario’s Peruvian lilt.   Patrick is a deft impersonator.  The problem with Patrick?  Nothing ever came of his own talent.  He lives with the painfully shy food photographer Tessa Traeger in the West Country.  He designs opera sets for out-of-the-way operas but never became the great anything everyone thought he might become.

The last time I saw Mario and Patrick we were in LA at The Chateau Marmont.  I was having dinner in the garden they were having a party in the lounge with a bunch of gorgeous boy/men models.  I sat beside Patrick for a moment but I didn’t stay long.  He enjoys scolding me.  I made amends for some indiscretion and left.  Mario looked at me disdainfully.  Patrick enjoys being on Mario’s winning team.  He wrote the forward to Mario’s book and he styles the most interesting shoots.  Neither of them wanted me hanging around.  You’ve seen pictures of young girls on a yacht wearing bikinis, oggled by old men?  This was Mario’s gay equivalent.  I’d already ruined things by talking to him and Patrick, bathed in Mario’s reflected glory, wanted me gone.  He looked down his aquiline nose and told me I could have made so much more of myself.  Yeah, I thought… if you hadn’t worked with the establishment to destroy me.   I probably could.

You know why old men put young girls on yachts?  You’d think… so the girls can’t escape.  No, it’s so their old men friends can’t join the party.  I returned to my dinner in the garden.  Soon I saw Mario, Peter Pan like… screaming and laughing down the stairs with his crew.  Patrick lagging behind like a heavy train on an old dress.

I’ve never written about Mario.  Now, within the context of the salacious revelations and accusations leading to his spectacular firing from the Conde Nast creative family I revisit my association with him.  Let me say immediately,  I didn’t know anything untoward was happening.  I had never heard anything.  The towel series he shot with models were obviously designed to get the model naked and to legitimize Mario’s pervy intentions but I never heard from models who worked with him they felt uncomfortable.

Many of those same models who worked with Mario were not so discreet about their working relationship with Bruce Weber.  For a decade or more I heard story after story from young men who had worked with Bruce and the discomfort they felt being ‘relaxed’ with his hands on their bodies, the ‘breathing exercise’ or asked to take off their shorts when they were alone with Bruce.  I heard again and again about the notorious ‘private archive’ for which Bruce said he wanted their naked picture.  I heard how he tantalized young men with lucrative campaigns and the promise of a life beyond their wildest dreams.  I heard how he set models against each other, how within minutes of the private naked shots… would change his mind about the campaign promise he’d made, playing with them, manipulating them.

Yet, it seems, many models were perfectly happy to have their bodies used by Bruce.  Yesterday I spoke to a male super model I know in NYC.  Last year, after a few drinks, he described in detail how Bruce molested him, removed his underwear and taken pictures of him naked.  I asked if he was willing to come forward, speak publicly.  He told me I should be ashamed of myself for suggesting he told tales on Bruce.  Thus we understand how Bruce, inspiring loyalty in others, groomed them for sexual molestation.

I’ve had my run ins with Bruce over the years.  I asked him to take the Dorian Gray portrait.  He curtly suggested that I wasn’t the sort of person he could do business with.  Oh… how the tables have turned.

Sunday.  I had a late lunch in Hackney with a young gay artist.  We talked about Mario and Bruce.  He asked the difference between flirtation and harassment.  Worried his flirtation might be misconstrued.  How would he know?  Of course, one asks ones self: why doesn’t he know?  He’s a bright lad but his white male privilege is so ingrained he cannot differentiate between the two.  He asked if the men now making complaints were somehow complicit.  Many gay men make excuses for Bruce and Mario habitually devaluing our lives by suggesting the men who agree to work or consort with us are suspect or complicit.  We remain baffled by the notion of consent.  They knew what they were getting themselves into.

“Consent, that’s for straight people?  Women?  Isn’t it?”  He looks confused.

We talk about the abuse of power between men (beyond top and bottom although that too) and how our anti social behaviour and lack of morality has been largely ignored by heterosexual society firstly before equality, because straight people found it distasteful and didn’t really care. Then, after equality straight people were too embarrassed or confused to question how we lived in case they were accused of homophobia or insensitivity.  Recent gay celebrity scandals have shocked many of our straight allies, realizing they don’t know anything much about their gay friends at all.  Like rats we live discreet and cautious lives just a few feet from theirs, scurrying from one assignation to another.

We’ve done a great job passing. For many years the only evidence we existed?  When the police arrested, tried and sent us to jail for being gay. Cottaging. Tricking. Dressing up. Without these occasional mentions in the newspapers our gay lives would remain completely invisible.  I broke the law simply by being born, alive and sexually active. Straight acting wasn’t a fetish, it was a survival strategy… saving a young man from a beating or death. Ironically, this parallel life served many of us very well.  As a young British gay man I enjoyed social mobility, sexual freedom and access to extraordinary financial opportunities my straight peers could only dream of.  Yet, I paid the price for all of those benefits by surrendering my moral imperative.

Paris Hilton is maligned in the press for saying gay men on gay hook up apps are ‘disgusting’.  Which, after being sent 50 or so asshole pics this week… one might be inclined to agree.

With equality comes responsibility.  Some fought hard to enjoy marriage equality.  We fought hard in the UK to have homophobic laws like section 28 overturned.  In the UK these laws were ratified in Parliament and are hard to revoke.  We are tentatively exploring a new moral landscape.  Morals defined by heterosexuals, most gay men are unprepared for these changes and how this shift toward ‘normalcy’ may affect our lives.  Simply, our lifestyle compared with that of the average heterosexual may not bear scrutiny post Weinstein and Mario, Bryan, Bruce and Kevin may just be the very tip of the iceberg.

Entitled, affluent gay white men are especially morally impoverished.  Many still live secret, compartmentalized and shameful lives blighted by addiction, alcoholism and mental illness.  To many straight people we may seem carefree, highly entertaining, a cause to celebrate ‘gay pride’ and drink rainbow cocktails… but, on our own with our second screens we indulge less salubrious, secret lives using hook up apps as the portal, through which many enter a dark and disgusting world of chem sex, lies, cheating and despair.

They say,  everyone lies on-line.  We live in lying times.  Acceptable lies are now morally ring fenced.  The lies most gay men tell before they come out are perfectly… acceptable.  A habit we are loathed to break.  Most gay men are addicted to lying.  Only yesterday I met a closeted 25-year-old gay man.  I asked him why he was in the closet?  He described the same feelings of shame and despair I felt nearly 40 years ago.  Some things never seem to change… however much I am told, ‘it doesn’t matter, nobody cares’.  I explained to him why he needs to come out of the closet.  He needs to stop lying.  The more he lies the less respect he will have for the truth.  As I mentioned in my previous blog gay men get into nasty habits around the truth and the sooner we embrace the truth the less damage is done to our morality and our integrity.

The last time I saw  Mario he was skipping like a teenager down the stairs at The Chateau Marmont surrounded by beautiful teens.  Like Peter Pan, a 60-year-old man unable to face the truth about his failing body and his failing ability to make good decisions.  He could not stop himself grabbing them by the pussy.  He is the same as Trump.  Made of the same stuff.  Gripped by power, fame and entitlement he understood himself to be unassailable.  Nothing would ever bring him down… his legacy would glitter in perpetuity.  The dream maker, the fantasist, the story-teller… the liar.  Conjuring a universe of beauty, Mario forsook a life of loving relationships for an abuse of power.

Anna Wintour, who I confronted publicly about her reticence to stand up to Weber, made this statement last week.

Today, allegations have been made against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, stories that have been hard to hear and heartbreaking to confront. Both are personal friends of mine who have made extraordinary contributions to Vogue and many other titles at Condé Nast over the years, and both have issued objections or denials to what has emerged. I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness, but I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Condé Nast have decided to put our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future.

Of course Anna Wintour is torn, it is hard to align what she hears and what she knows of her friends Mario and Bruce.  She is rightfully appalled, but thankfully she doesn’t know the half of it… she merely glimpsed, very briefly into the dark heart of every gay man I know.

I love wiki leaks for this reason:  It’s like getting to hear what everyone ever said about you behind your back…confirming exactly what you thought they might be saying.

Today…I had lunch with Tom, his wife, daughter and assorted friends.

I am now in bed with the most terrible flu so here are some pictures.  Lunch was delicious.  Conversation amusing.  Children delightful.   Discussed Scott Crolla.

Tom’s Garden

Tom’s Garden

Sir Tom and Lady Croft

me

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.