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 Post subject: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:02 am 
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From The Sunday Times
September 9, 2007
Nureyev in love
The biographer of the world"s greatest dancer reveals that beautiful women — not men — were his first passion

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by Julie Kavanagh

As alluring as a young Gina Lollobrigida, Menia Martinez suddenly appeared at the Vaganova ballet school in Leningrad one day in 1955 like a rainbow in a leaden sky.

It was the middle of winter, yet she wore the thinnest of summer clothes — wild Fifties outfits such as zebra-patterned stovepipes, boat-necked tops, open-toed stilettos and huge hoop earrings. The girls in her dormitory begged her to do their makeup, tell them stories about life in Cuba and sing Latin American songs in her husky voice.

"She used to sit on a bench in our kitchen with an upended washbowl between her legs and beat it like a tomtom drum," said Ursula Collein, an East German student who became her friend.
Multimedia

Click here for a picture gallery of his early life and family.

Like almost everyone at the school, Rudolf Nureyev was mes-merised by the Cuban girl, who was to become his first and only teenage sweetheart.

Rudik, as he called himself, was a 17-year-old from Bashkiria in the Soviet far east — as exotic as a Latin American to the Russians at the ballet school. He was noted for his wild performances on stage and his rebellious and sometimes coarse behav-iour off it. But mostly he was known for the obsessive desire to dance that had brought him, penniless, to Leningrad and had won him a place at the Vaganova academy, the training school for the Kirov Ballet.

Leo Ahonen, one of four students who shared a room with him, remembered: "When we played, he worked. The only important thing to him was to study classical ballet."

Several students experimented with same-gender sex — nearby Eka-terina Square was a nocturnal, and highly illegal, cruising ground for gomiki — but Nureyev"s colleagues are convinced that if he felt an attraction towards any of the boys he did nothing about it. As with many of his boyhood friends, they were surprised when he later became actively homosexual.

If anything, he appeared to take a greater interest in girls than the others did. Ahonen remembers his liking for a soloist in the Finnish National Ballet, when it toured Leningrad. "She wasn"t special as a dancer, so he obviously noticed a pretty face."

And like almost everyone at school, he was captivated by Menia Martinez. This "exotic bird" thrilled her fellow pupils but shocked some of her teachers.

"Such a thing was not supposed to enter this traditional institution," said Collein. "I hope Menia never knew this, but we heard her being compared to a prostitute. We all liked her enormously, even though she didn"t share our hardworking Prussian ways — if she didn"t feel like it some days, she just wouldn"t get up — but she was such a winning personality that no one could be critical of her for long."

No one except Valentin Shelkov, the college principal. Glaring at her long, heavily mascaraed eyelashes, he asked sarcastically if they were her own. Menia laughed coquettishly: "Nyet. Magazin." [No. A shop.]

Soon after her arrival, her teacher told her about "a fantastic dancer who"s a little crazy and sloppy and needs to get into shape". It was Nureyev. Menia loved the wild spirit of his dancing while he loved her moody recitals of Afro-Cuban song and dance.

How luscious she looked with her bare feet, flounced skirt and white bra showing through a tight, transparent black top; her eyes half closed and shapely hips swaying to the rhythm; and how well she could hold the stage alone.

"He once said to me afterwards, "I want to have the same emotion when I dance as you have when you sing"."

Dismissing him as "just another stupid boy", Menia was not romantically drawn to him at first; but two years later they began to grow attached. The same things made them laugh — Rudolf often made fun of Shelkov, standing stiffly in a Stalin-like pose and pointing to an offensive scrap of litter in the corridor — and they loved listening to music and talking about books they had read.

The friendship with Menia fanned his curiosity about the world outside. He would study photographs of Margot Fonteyn and other Royal Ballet artists in a calendar, as well as in copies of Dancing Times, which an English friend of Menia"s regularly sent to her.

His roommate Leo Ahonen, a Finn, had two passports, as the original was due to expire; Nureyev pleaded to be given the old passport. "He said, "We can change the pictures. It will be all right if the two of us keep this quiet", but I was too afraid — I thought we would both end up in prison in Siberia. Yet I knew at that moment that he was going to defect one day. It came as no surprise to me when he did."

At the ballet school, he began an intense collaboration with Alexander Pushkin, the most revered teacher. The results amazed those who saw him.

Natalia Dudinskaya, the Kirov"s prima ballerina — a national treasure in the final stage of her career — had been keeping an eye on him ever since Pushkin had called her into the studio to watch him perform. "I"d been surprised by how that boy, not even in the graduate class, could sense and feel the poses."

On graduating, he was offered a post by the Kirov as a corps de ballet member — much to his dismay, as he had been bragging to classmates that he would start his career as a soloist, which was unheard of.

Dudinskaya found him moping in the corridor and the upshot was that he would partner her on stage — though each later claimed that the other had done the asking. For the Kirov"s 46-year-old prima ballerina to pick as her new partner a boy of 21 straight out of school was as much of an event as when Mathilda Kschessinskaya — star of the Imperial Ballet and one-time mistress of Tsar Nicholas — chose the 21-year-old Nijinsky to dance with her.

His first performance with her was thrilling — like "an eruption of Vesuvius", said one critic — though some purists complained that his boiling bravura "disturbed the subtle choreography" of the ballet, Laurentia.

Offstage, his life was just as exhilarating. His relationship with Menia had developed into a romance. "It was the first experience for both of them to be in love," said Liuba Romankova, a close friend. "Although Rudolf was always a little self-mocking — he was very proud and didn"t like to be seen to be sentimental — he was obviously very pleased that such a fabulous, sexy girl would give him her love."

Just before Nureyev was due to partner Dudinskaya in Laurentia for the second time, he tore a ligament in his leg so badly that he was declared unfit to dance for two years. When Pushkin saw his pupil lying on his hospital bed in black despair, he invited Nureyev to move in with him and his wife.

Nureyev"s sudden success had brought home to the dance world how great a teacher Pushkin was, and the two had grown closer than ever. Now, from the moment he was taken into Pushkin"s home, he became more of a son than a pupil.

"There, thanks to Pushkin"s and his wife"s vigilant care, and the doctor"s daily visits, after 20 days I was able to go to class," he remembered. There was more to his welcome than "vigilant care", however.

Pushkin"s wife, Xenia Jurgenson, 42, was a tall, attractive Baltic blonde. She looked half the age of her husband (he was 10 years older) and was as earthy and extro-verted as he was spiritual and mild. One day, soon after Nureyev had moved in with them, all three went to Liuba Romankova"s apartment for dinner.

As the meal was coming to an end, Xenia, who was sitting beside Nureyev, reached across the table for a banana, which she slowly and suggestively began to peel. Just as she was about to put it in her mouth, she whispered something laughingly to Nureyev who, clearly embarrassed, snapped back one word in reply. "Doura!" [fool] Liuba"s mother, who heard what he had said, was shocked. When she and Liuba were alone together later, she said: "I do believe that Xenia is having an intimate relationship with Rudik."

"Mama!" protested Liuba. "How could you think such a thing?"

In her eyes Xenia was an old woman. But over the next few weeks, as she observed them together, she began to realise that her mother must be right.

XENIA was more than ready for a romantic escapade. She had fallen in love with Pushkin when she was a ballet student and he was her teacher. As soon as she graduated, they married.

It was 1937. As the daughter of a St Petersburg couturier, Xenia was fashion conscious: she might wear jaunty white ankle socks with character shoes, a bow tied round her head, or jewellery with her two-piece swimsuit, the white beads of her necklace highlighting her dazzling smile, her wavy blonde hair falling in a Rita Hayworth mane. Her vivacity and sense of fun affected everyone around her.

Two decades later, although no longer the beauty Pushkin had married, she had a good figure and liked to make an impact, continuing to dress modishly. Theirs was a good marriage, but after 20 years of conversations that invariably reverted to dance, Xenia "wanted to hear something else", according to a friend.

In 1959 she reached retirement age at the Kirov, where she had been a mid-ranking dancer, and this affected her bitterly. She felt lethargic and isolated. All Pushkin"s emotion was invested in his pupils, and when he returned home late at night he was always tired.

Then Nureyev arrived, and Xenia became fixated in a way she had never been before. "She fell totally in love with Rudik and wanted to fill her soul with this feeling," Liuba said. "He was such an excitement in her life. After that, she had no other interests: Rudolf became her project."

Xenia guided his reading, took him to the theatre and concerts and introduced him to her friends. Every meal at the Pushkins" was a lesson in the finer points of etiquette: even when Xenia served just a snack, there would be a white linen cloth, candles, bone china and crystal glasses on the table.

To Rudolf, the strong-willed, sophisticated Xenia with her dancer"s body and flirtatious ways was an irresistible force. However much he recoiled from the implications of what was taking place — the betrayal of a man he loved who had invited him into his home — he found himself in her thrall: she was a woman of "enormous sexual appetite and great sensuality", he a 21-year-old virgin who "wanted to know".

He later told Menia that the first time Xenia made love to him she said: "I want you to know about this part of life . . . And also, I want you to feel like a man."

Menia recalled: "She told Rudolf that Alexander Ivanovich no longer made love to her. And he was afraid, because he knew that she wanted him, and he had so much respect for Pushkin."

A close friend believes the teacher had no idea of his wife"s transgression. "He loved Rudik as a son and he thought that Xenia Josifovna shared his attitude."

Xenia was "very against" Menia, according to Liuba, and became "like a lioness" if she found out he had been with the beautiful young Cuban. The two women had virtually no contact with each other. It was impossible for the 20-year-old student to consider a woman twice her age (and one she saw as "large and looking like a man") as a rival. "When Rudik told me he had been to bed with her, I thought: What! With that monster!" she recalled.

With Menia herself, Rudolf was so affectionately tactile that friends presumed incorrectly theirs was a physical relationship, too. When a friend asked Menia, she told her: "No, it"s not what I want, but I love him."

Even when the opportunity was there, Rudolf did not attempt to take things further, telling Menia — "the only virgin in Leningrad" — that he respected her for holding back. "It"s good, Menia. Good not to." Once, staying overnight with friends, they were given a single bed together. "They thought our situation was the same as theirs and put us in a room with a single bed. We couldn"t stop giggling because we were so squashed and had to hold each other so as not to fall out, and then we were giggling even more, thinking that they were thinking we were making love." BY the early spring of 1959, the time had come for Menia to return to Cuba. On the day she was due to leave, Nureyev was not among the group of friends at the station who gathered to see her off. She boarded the Red Star to Moscow feeling badly let down. The train had barely pulled out of the station, however, when the door to her compartment slid open and a beaming Nureyev announced: "I"m coming with you!"

Throughout the journey they talked "about how we were going to stay in contact, how we could be together. Rudolf was very emotional — it wasn"t like before".

Until then, in Liuba"s opinion, it had always been Menia who was the more committed of the two. "She couldn"t take her eyes off him. She was totally in love and dreamt that he would marry her. I had a lot of sympathy for Menia and tried to push Rudolf into proposing to her. "Oh, I know," he said, when I told him he should make a commitment to her, "but it would spoil my biography"."

Now, realising that he was about to lose Menia, Nureyev began talking seriously about their future. In the middle of the night, stirred by the romantic atmosphere and rhythm of the train, he came down into her bunk and began to make love to her. "But at that moment I had no desire for him. I was stupid . . . A little girl."

They spent their second night together in Moscow in a communal apartment near the Kremlin owned by Menia"s friend Bella Kurgina. Menia confided that he had proposed to her, adding excitedly: "If we"re together we can conquer the whole world!"

Bella, who had never warmed to Nureyev — "I found him very closed and uninteresting" — was concerned. "I felt he was using her as a way to get out of Russia without a scandal, and yet I could see it was complicated — that he was genuinely attracted to her, and there was great sympathy and feeling there."

That night Menia slept on a camp bed with Nureyev beside her on the floor. "Most of the night he was kneeling, kissing her hand and being so loving. From the way he behaved with Menia I could never have imagined that he would turn out to be homosexual," said Bella.

The following morning he insisted on going to the airport to see Menia off and paid for the excess weight of her luggage, which was crammed with books and records. When her flight was called, he had tears in his eyes and would not let her go. "He thought he would never see me again." He was wrong. BACK in Leningrad, Xenia could feel her influence on Nureyev ebbing away. "She got very jealous when she felt anyone coming too close to him; she thought he belonged to her," said Slava Santto, another friend.

"The situation with Xenia was very uncomfortable for Rudik," remarked Liuba. "He couldn"t push her away because she loved him and did everything for him."

He could be cruel to her, however. When he managed to get hold of a copy of a Russian magazine containing JD Salinger"s Catcher in the Rye he was captivated and had just finished reading it when Tamara Zakrzhevskaya, another pretty ballet-loving girl he had made friends with, called at the Pushkins" apartment to see him.

Pointing at the magazine, he exclaimed: "You won"t be able to put this down!" Xenia overheard him, and said that she would love to read it, too. His reaction left both women speechless: "What do you need it for . . . Tamara can have 30 new thoughts in the time it takes you to come up with one!"

Xenia was visibly shattered, but she was unable to break free. "She was completely obsessed by him," remarked one friend. "She wanted to live his life, and she enjoyed sharing his fame."

"For the rest of her life there was only one person for her," said another. "I think she made up some kind of fairytale for herself in her mind, building up the situation into romantic love."

Years later Nureyev confided to friends that while he was living with the Pushkins he had made Xenia pregnant — fathering a son was a lifelong ambition — "but she didn"t want to let the baby live". Again, in 1992, only months before he died, he asked a former Vaganova schoolmate: "What would you say if I told you I might have had a child by her?"

For Xenia to have undergone an illegal abortion would seem to have been the ultimate degradation, but in fact the procedure at that time was fairly matter-of-fact. "Everybody did it," said one friend of Nureyev. "I did it six times. It was only a question of paying."

Ultimately, Xenia became less possessive. Resigned to the fact that Nureyev would never reciprocate the passion she felt for him, she was more able to accept her role of taking care of him.

Liuba sees a parallel between Nureyev and the poet Alexander Blok, whose first sexual experience was at 16 with a woman twice his age. Blok developed a dualistic view of women as being either prostitutes or saints, and Liuba believes that Nureyev "also suffered from this double life. If a very young man has a relationship with an older woman, after the initial passion is over he begins to have other feelings. Rudik associated sex with shame, and women with the dark side of his nature: it"s the reason he began to look for pleasure in other places". HE did not forget Menia, however. On an official visit to Vienna with other dancers for the Seventh Communist World Youth Festival in the summer of 1959, he spotted her in the Cuban delegation.

"He was so happy to see me. He came to our hotel, to our classes, and spent so much time with me that my friends were saying, "Menia, this must be love"." she remembers.

Rudolf talked so openly about freedom that she feared for him. Although he insisted years later that defection was not on his mind at the time — "Not then" — the urgency with which he kept proposing to Menia in Vienna suggests that he was at least keeping the option open.

"He was much more insistent, saying, "We have to do it here." But Rudik at that moment was not very important for me."

With her emotions now invested in the political upheavals of Castro"s new Cuba, Menia was no longer the doting young girl whom Rudolf had known in Leningrad; he found her "cold" and told her: "Now I think I love you more than you do me."

Two years later Nureyev did defect to the West; and in 1966 — by then the most famous ballet dancer in the world — he learnt that the National Ballet of Cuba was due to appear at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. He went to Paris from his home in London, hoping Menia would be with them.

At the general rehearsal, trying not to be recognised, he spotted Menia onstage and sent a note to her: "When you"ve finished, go to the Hôtel des Ambassadeurs. I"ll be waiting for you."

Alicia Alonso, co-founder and director of the ballet, forbade Menia to leave. She was backed by her husband Fernando, who had trained Menia as a young ballet student. They told her she was a representative of her country. Nureyev had betrayed the motherland; he was known to be a friend of Jacqueline Kennedy.

Menia refused to be deterred. "I don"t care," she told the couple.

"Even if you fire me, I"m going. He was my best friend."

The impasse was finally broken by a colleague who volunteered to chaperone her. It was a short walk from the theatre to the hotel, where Rudolf was standing outside. Seeing Menia"s male companion, he raised an ironic eyebrow. "Cuban KGB?"

"No," she said firmly. "This is my friend."

Her colleague left them, and they fell into each other"s arms. They were still "grasping each other" when a dance critic, Claude Baignères, passed by: "I saw Rudolf take the girl to the hotel. They looked as if they were going to stay there for three days without leaving!"

In fact they left soon afterwards to go for dinner, and noticed they were being followed by a photographer.

"No pictures! No pictures!" snarled Nureyev, throwing his jacket over Menia"s head and saying to her softly: "I don"t want them to hurt you."

Under her coat she was still wearing her rehearsal clothes, but despite her protests Nureyev insisted on taking her to Maxim"s. It was important to him that she be made aware of his enormous change in stature.

He introduced her to Brigitte Bar-dot, and later they went on to Régine"s nightclub. Nureyev began to explain almost immediately why he had stayed in the West. He also told her how much he had learnt from Margot Fonteyn — "she was like a mother to him, he said" — and what a great revelation it had been to work with Erik Bruhn, the Danish dancer, with whom he had had a long affair.

Nureyev told her it had been so hard being constantly apart because of their different dancing commitments that Bruhn had finally decided to end things. "It"s finished," he said, breaking down. "He"s the love of my life, but it"s finished . . . now I am alone."

Menia recalled: "At that moment I could have gone to bed with him. It was so wonderful to see him again. He told me that there was something about me that he"d never found in anybody else, and he started to cry again, saying, "I love you . . . Please, Menia, stay with me. I want you to stay with me." I realised then why the Alonsos hadn"t wanted me to go."

Rudolf was flying to Vienna first thing in the morning and he was insistent that Menia should accompany him: Vienna was where he had proposed to her all those years earlier.

"But why now?" she wanted to know. "I always thought you asked me only to leave Russia."

"Well, I"m on the other side and I"m still asking," he replied quietly.

Her first thought was that she could not let her ballet company down, but longer-term considerations made the idea of elopement seem even more "impossible". She planned, as soon as she could, to return to Russia to dance with the Kirov or the Bolshoi.

Nureyev, more than anyone, could understand her obsession with "only dance, dance, dance", and consequently kept contradicting himself. "He was saying, "Come . . . please come!" And then, "No, I can see that you can"t"."

Finally the answer Menia gave him was just as equivocal. "I told him not yes, not no, but potemu sto [because]."

It was after five in the morning by the time they left Régine"s and Nureyev dropped Menia back at her hotel. As she lay in bed, her thoughts still racing, she felt very sad, wondering if she had made a mistake. But instead of being impressed by his enormous celebrity it had made her "a little afraid", and she knew without any hesitation that she did not want to spend the rest of her life just following him around.

"A few days later, I think it"s good that I say potemu sto."

© Julie Kavanagh 2007

Extracted from Rudolf Nureyev: The Life, by Julie Kavanagh, to be published by Fig Tree on September 17 at £25.


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:08 am 
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From The Sunday Times
September 9, 2007
Flirting with Jackie, and going further with her sister

Nureyev first met Jackie Kennedy after she watched him perform with Margot Fonteyn on his first tour of America with the Royal Ballet in 1963. Having applauded throughout 40-odd curtain calls until her hands were "black and blue pulp", the first lady wanted to visit backstage but found herself blocked by Sol Hurok, the tour"s promoter, who was "fearful of the political repercussions" on future tours by Russian ballet companies if she met Nureyev. Her attempts to hold a supper party for the stars were also thwarted.

Mrs Kennedy was accustomed to getting her own way. Defying the furious Hurok, she ordered a private plane a few days later to bring the dancers to tea at the White House — where Nureyev cheerfully sat in the president"s rocking chair.

Good-naturedly accepting the fact that the White House was becoming "a sort of eating-place for artists", Jack Kennedy received his wife"s visitors with his customary easy charm, although he would have been the first to admit a lack of enthusiasm for "all that cultural jazz".

Nureyev, on the other hand, immediately appreciated Jackie"s knowledge of and passion for the arts, for antiques and excellence in general, and it was this encounter that marked the beginning of their lifelong friendship.

As Jackie Onassis, after the president"s assassination, she gave Nureyev financial advice. "The first real money he made was under Jackie"s influence," said one of his intimates. "She"s the one who made him buy gold just before gold went up to thousands."

And when in 1987 he returned to Russia for the first time to see his family and old friends, she got Senator Edward Kennedy to write to the Soviet ambassador in Washington expressing his "personal concern" that the trip "go smoothly". It did.

Jackie"s London-based younger sister, Lee Radziwill, was also one of his most passionate admirers.

Lee was "a fantasy girl" whom many found a more intriguing personality than the relatively conventional Jackie.

Nureyev was adept at sharing himself equally between the two competitive sisters, photographed shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York with Jackie, dancing with Lee in Monte Carlo; but there was a time when he was very much closer to Lee — a bond she says her sister greatly envied.

She vows that she never had any delusions about Nureyev"s sexuality. He was "ninety-nine and a half per cent homosexual"; if a woman set her heart on him, she would "have to take the initiative".

There are those who are convinced — "in the way that you just do know", said one woman who knew Nureyev extremely well — that Lee succeeded in getting him into bed.

He even told a confidante that he had made her pregnant: "And what do you think she did? She destroyed my baby."

Lee insists this is untrue. She does, however, admit to having been completely besotted by Nureyev. "I only ever wanted him to myself. Always."


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:10 am 
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From The Sunday Times
September 9, 2007
Teenage boy who gave the first lesson in gay sex

Vadim Kiselev was a young ballet fan who first spotted Nureyev throwing snowballs. "Even then I could see the beautiful catlike plasticity of his movements."

Five years older than Nureyev, with wavy blond hair and Cupid"s-bow lips, Kiselev was "an exotic" by Leningrad standards, one of a coterie of homosexual friends who, he says, were already aware of Nureyev"s true sexual orientation. "We understood that his volatility came about partly as a result of this."

One night Kiselev invited Nureyev to his apartment. With seduction in mind, he had bought a bottle of Armenian cognac and 200 grams of caviar, which he served on bone china. But the evening did not go according to plan.

His delicate sensibilities already affronted by the young Tatar"s gross table manners, Kiselev then found his advances rudely repelled. They parted "almost enemies", and had no further contact until Nureyev turned up one day, saying: "I think I offended you." He apologised, and while continuing to flirt with Kiselev (addressing him as "Adonis"), resumed an acquaintance free of sexual ties.

He was not yet willing to consider male love as an option for himself. (Years later he told a lover in London that when he had found himself attracted to a boy on a Leningrad bus he had felt so ashamed that he got off at the next stop.)

When Nureyev met Teja Kremke, however, his attitude changed. Not only that, their relationship would lead to his defection from the Soviet Union.

Teja was a 17-year-old East German boy with an erotic presence as visible as a heat haze. A student at the Vaganova ballet school, he had shiny chestnut hair, pale skin, full lips and intense grey-blue eyes.

He was invited to the apartment of his teacher Alexander Pushkin, where Nureyev — already a star with the Kirov Ballet — still lived. Pushkin"s wife Xenia, who had already seduced Nureyev, was instinctively drawn to this beautiful youth. She adopted him as a new protégé, shaping his thoughts and tastes. Pushkin, whom Teja worshipped, soon became a father figure for him, too. A deep bond developed among all four. "It was a liaison à quatre. They were kind of bound together," said a friend of the Pushkins.

Like Nureyev, Teja had no interest in contemporary politics but hated the constraints of communism. One evening they were talking in the Vaganova student kitchen while Ute Mitreuter, another East German, was brewing coffee.

She remembered: "Teja was telling Rudolf that he should go to the West. "There you"ll be the greatest dancer in the world," he said. "But if you stay here you"ll be known only to the Russians"." ""Yes of course I know that," answered Rudolf. "It"s how Nijinsky became a legend. And I"m going to be the next one"."

Teja confided to his sister that he and Nureyev had become blood brothers, cutting themselves to mingle their blood. But their growing intimacy was too risky to reveal to anyone at the school, even to Mitreuter, to whom Teja had always confided his sexual history in the past.

"Teja talked to me about all the things he did with girls. There were many of them who were mad about him. I heard he was a very good lover and that"s why I didn"t think there was anything more than a friendship between him and Rudolf. It was only later that I knew it was a love affair."

Teja had been only 12 when he was seduced by a 35-year-old woman, an encounter that left him with a far from conventional sexual outlook. At school he had been caught in the shower with a boy. (In the mid-Sixties he would persuade his adoring Indonesian child-wife to live in a ménage à trois with a beautiful Aryan youth with whom he was having an affair.)

"Teja was always open to new experience," said someone who knew him at the time. "There was a perverse strain in his character. Something other people didn"t find normal was very exciting to him."

When Konstantin Russu, another student from East Germany, went to the ballet school shower room one day, he found that Nureyev and Teja had locked themselves in and were refusing to open the door. It confirmed what he had suspected for some time: often, when he came back in the evening to the room he shared with Teja, he had seen Nureyev climbing out of the window. (Nureyev would one day tell a mutual friend that it was Teja who first taught him "the art of male love".)

At the same time, Teja was constantly goading Nureyev to leave Russia.

Teja: an erotic presence

"He"d say, "Go! Get out! At the first opportunity you have. Don"t stay here or no one will hear of you!"" said their friend.

Earlier in the winter of 1960 Janine Ringuet, a 20-year-old assistant impresario who worked for a Parisian organisation specialising in artistic exchanges between France and the Soviet Union, came to Leningrad for several weeks to observe the Kirov Ballet. She reported back that Nureyev, almost unknown in the West, was "the best male dancer in the world". He was engaged for a Kirov visit to Paris.

Only days before he was due to leave, Nureyev and a colleague were taken before the special committee responsible for vetting dancers for the tour. Why, the KGB officer chairing it demanded, had neither of them joined the Komsomol, the young communist organisation?

"Because I"ve far more important things to do with my time than waste it on that kind of rubbish!" exclaimed Nureyev impulsively.

He got away with it but it was clear he had to leave. "In Russia," he later told a friend, "I did not belong to myself. I had a feeling that I had a big talent which people would recognise anywhere."

It was hard for Nureyev to accept that his dream of seeing Europe was about to be realised. His defection was "prepared inside", but he felt that he needed to gauge the reaction of his friends. During a long walk with one of them a few days before his departure, he asked: "What would you think if I stayed in the West?"

The friend reminded him of the lifestyle he loved and would be leaving behind — Leningrad"s "kitchen culture", where a gathering of friends around a table had come to mean more to him than his family.

But Nureyev felt increasingly trapped at the Pushkins" apartment. Now that Xenia could see how much of a hold Teja had on him, she had reverted to being jealous and contentious, going out of her way to cause trouble between them. But at the same time she found herself involuntarily attracted to Teja.

If Rudolf sensed the growing sexual chemistry between them he would have felt the kind of distaste and disenchantment experienced by Chinko Rafique, a student taken up by the Pushkins a decade later: "Xenia was predatory. She was sexually predatory."

Liuba Romankova, Nureyev"s close friend, has always believed that his involvement with Xenia was a key reason why he "escaped to the West". Ninel Kurgapkina, a Kirov dancer and confidante, agrees that it was a situation from which he badly wanted to extricate himself. "He was not very proud when he talked of Xenia. He didn"t feel good thinking about her."

But even more of an incentive to leave Russia was the realisation that he would never be free to follow his true sexual instincts while he was there. As he said himself: "I did not have the possibility of choosing my friends according to my taste. It was as if someone battered me morally. I was very unhappy."

Teja stayed in Russia. Even a decade later, Pushkin remained afraid that he would have the same malign influence on the budding new star Mikhail Baryshnikov as he had had on Nureyev. If Teja happened to drop in, Pushkin would usher the young Baryshnikov into another room, keeping him hidden until the East German had left. Baryshnikov nonetheless defected.


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 6:46 pm 
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Well done, Jim! I'm not no ballet person more of a boogy on down type of guy, you know, shake my booty to the beat and so but I know Nureyev was like real important. Thanks for the good read! :)

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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:09 am 
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Thanks, rebel, that's always nice to hear. The article came with some old photos of his early childhood and his family. I'll see if I can post them as well.

Yes, he was a real gay icon of his time, not to mention one of the greatest ballet dancers in history. The world lost a great talent. One of the great that succumbed to AIDS, out of many.


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:17 pm 
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The KGB's long war against Rudolf Nureyev

17/09/2007

In 1961, Russia's finest dancer slipped through his keepers' fingers to defect to the West. But, years later, the Soviet secret police had their revenge. By John Bridcut

The KGB had seen it coming. When Rudolf Nureyev, the most promising young talent in Leningrad's Kirov Ballet, fled the Soviet Union for the West in June 1961, they were not surprised.

Image
Off stage Nureyev was capricious and wilful

He was known for flouting house rules, and flirting with Western artists and ideas whenever he could. On the Kirov's tour of Paris in June 1961, he continually escaped his escorts to absorb French culture and friendship.

It was why the KGB had tried to restrict his foreign touring, and had even asked his own mother whether he was likely to defect.

At Le Bourget airport outside Paris, the KGB had it all planned. As the rest of the Kirov tour party boarded the plane to London, there was a tap on Nureyev's shoulder at the departure gate, and an urgent summons to Moscow to perform for General Secretary Khrushchev.

The burly men in the inevitable raincoats bungled it. Thanks to Nureyev's hysterical reaction and quick thinking by his French friends, he slipped through their fingers, and made his so-called "leap to freedom". But the KGB played a long game.

The defection was particularly embarrassing for Moscow because it came only three months after Yuri Gagarin's pioneering journey into space. Nureyev, once hailed as "the cosmonaut of the stage", dashed both pride and propaganda. The West was quick to claim a political victory.

But in truth his choice was practical rather than ideological. Nureyev had no interest in politics. He was a natural rebel against authority, whatever its political stripe. In Russia, he saw little chance of spreading his wings. So, with one or two discreet friends, he had been toying with defection, but he had made no plans. He just knew what he had to do when the moment came.

Paris was entranced by Nureyev's dancing, but off stage he irritated his French hosts just as much as his Russian minders.

Capricious and wilful, he behaved like a spoilt child. The dancer Pierre Lacotte was amazed at the latitude the Kirov had afforded him over costumes and wigs: he told Nureyev that, in Paris or London, a company dancer had to wear what he was told.

The sad truth that June was that most of his colleagues at the Kirov were glad to lose him. For the management he was simply trouble, while his fellow dancers relished filling the vacuum.

The KGB, however, wanted him back. His celebrated teacher, Alexander Pushkin, and his devoted student friend, Tamara Zakrzhevskaya, were ordered to write pleading letters; his father, a loyal communist, was pressed to fetch him; and Soviet sympathisers in Paris tried to destroy his confidence by pelting him with missiles and catcalls on stage.

When these efforts failed, the KGB made other plans, one of which was to break his legs. He was tried in his absence and sentenced to seven years in prison as a traitor.

Next, the KGB turned to his friends. Pushkin was repeatedly questioned, and suffered a heart attack.

The careers of Leonid Romankov and his twin sister Liuba, scientists whose interest in literature and art had stimulated Nureyev, were blighted because of their friendship with him. Tamara Zakrzhevskaya was expelled from university, and forbidden to travel even to Eastern Europe for 30 years, for the crime of knowing him.

"In this life," she says today, "you have to pay for everything. I had this friendship with Rudik [Nureyev]: it has stayed with me for my entire life. I don't regret anything."

His friends in Leningrad kept the Nureyev flame alight in secret. In a communal apartment in Gatchinskaya Street is a remarkable — and completely unknown — private archive, assembled by a bereft fan after his defection.

Faina Rokhind is 80: she first saw Nureyev dance at his graduation in 1958, and became one of those who showered him with flowers in Leningrad before anyone in the West had even heard of him.

While researching this Saturday's BBC documentary on Nureyev, I found myself in her room (no more than four metres by three) which is almost a shrine.

The walls are adorned with images of Nureyev in his prime, and the cupboards and shelves overflow with books, photograph albums, magazines, scrapbooks and videos — one woman's unique collection in defiance of Soviet authority.

In the rest of the Soviet Union, Nureyev became a non-person just as his international career was taking off. Russian books about ballet were recalled and every reference to Nureyev was literally cut out: he was excised from Soviet consciousness as though he had never been.

But through her job in a Leningrad library, Faina Rokhind had access to foreign magazines. In her mid-thirties she took up English so that she could decipher British and American articles, which she faithfully copied out into exercise books.

By studying dance notices, she reconstructed every moment of Nureyev's career in an elaborate timeline. She managed to procure his autobiography in English, photographed page by page, and translated into Russian to circulate samizdat among her friends.

In the weeks after his defection, Nureyev was lonely and depressed. He telephoned home: his father refused to speak to him, but his mother tugged at his heart-strings, with the KGB keenly listening in.

He called East Berlin to speak to the handsome German student, Teja Kremke, with whom he had had an affair in Leningrad. This time the Stasi were listening.

Nureyev pressed Kremke to join him in Paris and ease his loneliness. Kremke's mother insisted he complete his studies first, while his sister urged him to fly the nest. Kremke hesitated, and the Berlin Wall went up without warning. He was trapped. Teja and Rudolf, who had become "blood brothers", never met again.

In a letter, Kremke advised his "sweet Rudik" to stay in the West, but it was intercepted and the Stasi (in the manner of the recent film The Lives of Others) spied on Kremke relentlessly through two marriages and a drink problem, until his death in unexplained circumstances at the age of 37.

For some years, Nureyev spoke to him occasionally on the phone. He also met Kremke's Indonesian wife, Nuraini, who could travel to the West. After Teja's death, Nureyev signed a photograph for her — a magnificent self-portrait of Teja.

The KGB were waiting for the endgame. All through his glory days, Nureyev was pained by the separation from his beloved mother.

In 1987 she was dying, and Mikhail Gorbachev finally granted him free passage to visit her. But it was already too late for recognition, let alone meaningful communication, and his anguish was compounded by a general cold shoulder in his home town of Ufa.

He was turned away at his old school, and berated in the art gallery. At the theatre, his old colleagues had mysteriously been given the day off. Some had been told not to answer the phone, while others had been sent out of town on spurious excursions.

Two years later, he fulfilled a dream to return to the Kirov stage. But again it was too late.

He was now 51, and hoped to perform a matching character part. But the Kirov authorities insisted on a youthful classical role — Albrecht in Giselle, which had launched his partnership with Margot Fonteyn more than 25 years before, or James in La Sylphide. They must have known these were beyond him.

The conductor, Robert Luther, remembers him asking where "the bitches" were who had denounced him after his defection, and then greeting a former ballerina effusively while muttering "here comes number one" under his breath.

But Nureyev was weak from Aids, and the dress rehearsal was a physical torment, as his old rival, Boris Bregvadze, observed: "On stage he was really bad. I left after the first act, because I didn't want to carry on watching a frail and ill Rudi struggle."

It was his second cruel homecoming. Both Nureyev and the KGB were in their twilight years. But the KGB had perhaps had the satisfaction of revenge.

When the curtain rose to reveal Nureyev asleep on a couch, the Kirov audience erupted in applause so long that the conductor had to stop the orchestra and start again. But when he tried to dance, the legend began to crumble. The modern audience wondered what all the fuss was about.

His one-time partner, the French dancer Ghislaine Thesmar, says it was important for him to "close the circle. He went on stage to dance like some people go to the temple and pray when they can't walk any more. That effort is sacred."

For Faina Rokhind in Gatchinskaya Street, it was a reward for her years of devotion.

"It was like a fairy tale, a miracle. I couldn't believe my eyes that I was once again seeing Rudolf on stage. It was a sign of the changing times. I was euphoric."
# John Bridcut wrote and produced Nureyev: From Russia With Love, to be broadcast on BBC2 on Sept 22.

Source: The Telegraph.


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 11:16 am 
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Nureyev is the best, no doubt about it. Thanks, Jim!


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:34 pm 
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Count Bismarck injected cocaine every hour

By Bonnie Malkin and agencies
Last Updated: 1:48pm BST 10/10/2007

Flamboyant German aristocrat Count Gottfried von Bismarck injected cocaine every hour during the day and night before his death, a coroner has found. The body of the great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany's Iron Chancellor, contained the highest level of cocaine ever seen by the pathologist conducting his post-mortem.

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The Count was found alone in his near-empty Chelsea flat

The Count, 44, was found alone in his near-empty Chelsea flat on July 2 by an estate agent who had been asked to check on him by his father, Prince Ferdinand von Bismarck. His body was lying on a low mattress, his arm exposed and blackened. It is believed that he died two or possibly three days earlier.

Coroner Dr Paul Knapman, at Westminster Coroner's Court, today ruled that the Count died as a result of drug dependency. The post-mortem found that he died of cardio-respiratory caused by his massive drug intake - very high levels of cocaine and morphine that could have come from heroin were found in his body. The Count also had a damaged liver caused in part by years of abuse, and hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV infection.

Von Bismark led a glamourous but troubled life. Never concealing his homosexuality, he often appear in public in various eccentric items of attire, including in women's clothes, set off by lipstick and fishnet stockings. He was also known for his wild all-night parties at his £5 million flat off Sloane Square.

However, his existence was touched by tragedy early on. In 1986 his friend Olivia Channon died from a drink and drugs overdose in his room at Oxford. The event was to cast a shadow over his life from which he never recovered.

In August last year the Count met tragedy for a second time when, during a riotous party at his flat, one of his male guests fell 60ft to his death from the roof garden.

The last person to see the Count alive was his friend, Paul Hillstead. Mr Hillstead had plans to go to a concert with the Count on June 28, but repeatedly phone calls from his friend during the day raised suspicion that he had been injecting himself with cocaine. "He was very much on edge," Mr Hillstead said.

A statement from his GP confirmed that the count had admitted injecting himself but said that it made him paranoid and that he had stopped. Mr Hillstead said the Count had recently come out of rehab, but when he arrived at the Chelsea flat he found the Count was "as high as a kite", the court heard.

The pair abandoned their plans to go to a concert and instead went to the Queens Head in Chelsea where von Bismarck drank a bottle of wine. They returned to the flat where the Count continued to inject cocaine until around 4.30 in the morning. Mr Hillstead left the apartment on Friday afternoon, leaving his friend sleeping and snoring, the court heard. It was not unusual for him to sleep 24 or even 36 hours straight after a binge, Mr Hillstead said.

When police were called three days later by the estate agent who found him, they found around 14 needles in a kitchen drawer and a plastic bag in the hallway. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy found patches on his arms where he had been injecting. Professor Sebastien Lucas conducting the post mortem told the court that the Count's blood contained very high levels of cocaine - the highest he had ever seen - and morphine that could have come from heroin.

Coroner Dr Knapman said: "I think this is a very regrettable story. The reckless behaviour with cocaine has caused his death."

Source: Telegraph UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:35 pm 
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Count Gottfried von Bismarck

Last Updated: 2:52am BST 04/07/2007

Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.

The great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany's Iron Chancellor and architect of the modern German state, the young von Bismarck showed early promise as a brilliant scholar, but led an exotic life of gilded aimlessness that attracted the attention of the gossip columns from the moment he arrived in Oxford in 1983 and hosted a dinner at which the severed heads of two pigs were placed at either end of the table.

When not clad in the lederhosen of his homeland, he cultivated an air of sophisticated complexity by appearing in women's clothes, set off by lipstick and fishnet stockings. This aura of dangerous "glamour" charmed a large circle of friends and acquaintances drawn from the jeunesse dorée of the age; many of them knew him at Oxford, where he made friends such as Darius Guppy and Viscount Althorp and became an enthusiastic, rubber-clad member of the Piers Gaveston Society and the drink-fuelled Bullingdon and Loders clubs.
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Perhaps unsurprisingly he managed only a Third in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

Von Bismarck's university career ended in catastrophe in June 1986, when his friend Olivia Channon was found dead on his bed, the victim of a drink and drugs overdose. Von Bismarck admitted that his role in the affair had brought disgrace on the family name; five years later he told friends that there were still people who would not speak to his parents on account of it, and who told his mother that she had "a rotten son".

In the reunified Germany, von Bismarck managed several telecoms businesses and, armed with a doctoral thesis on the East German telephone system, oversaw the sale of companies formerly owned by Communist East Germany to the private sector.

By the late 1990s von Bismarck was working for Telemonde, Kevin Maxwell's troubled telecoms firm based in America, with responsibility for developing the business in Germany; the company collapsed in 2002 with debts of £105 million. Von Bismarck eventually returned to London, where he became chairman of the investment company AIM Partners, dabbled in film production and promoted holidays to Uzbekistan.

Never concealing his homosexuality, von Bismarck continued to appear in public in various eccentric items of attire, including tall hats atop his bald Mekon-like head. At parties he would appear in exotic designer frock coats with matching trousers and emblazoned with enormous logos. Flitting from table to table at fashionable London nightclubs, he was said to be as comfortable among wealthy Eurotrash as he was on formal occasions calling for black tie.

Although described personally as quiet and impeccably mannered, von Bismarck continued to live high on the hog, hosting riotous all-night parties for his (chiefly gay) friends at his £5 million flat off Sloane Square. It was at one such event, in August last year, that von Bismarck encountered tragedy for a second time when one of his male guests fell 60 ft to his death from the roof garden. While von Bismarck was not arrested, he was questioned as a witness and there were those who wondered - not, perhaps, without cause - whether he might be the victim of a family curse.

Gottfried Alexander Leopold Graf von Bismarck-Schonhausen was born on September 19 1962 in Brussels, the second son of Ferdinand, the 4th Prince Bismarck, whose own father had served in the German embassy in pre-war London until a feud with the ambassador, von Ribbentrop, ended his career.

As a talented young scholar, Gottfried had studied at what he described as "an aristocratic Borstal" in Switzerland and worked at the New York stock exchange before going up to Christ Church, Oxford.

Von Bismarck never fully recovered from the death in June 1986 of Olivia Channon, the striking 22-year-old daughter of Paul Channon (later Lord Kelvedon), then one of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet ministers.

To celebrate the end of their finals, von Bismarck and Olivia Channon had taken part in a drinking bout involving excessive amounts of champagne, Black Velvet and sherry before she overdosed on heroin. At the inquest her cousin, Sebastian Guinness, described how he and other revellers had repaired to von Bismarck's bottle-strewn rooms, where Olivia was found dead the following morning.

Von Bismarck himself was charged with possessing cocaine and amphetamine sulphate and was later treated at a £770-a-week addiction clinic in Surrey. Following Olivia Channon's funeral, at which he was said to have "wept like a child", von Bismarck was ordered home to the family castle near Hamburg by his father.

His removal from Oxford was so abrupt that he was not given time to settle his bills; Prince Ferdinand sent a servant who did the rounds of von Bismarck's favoured watering-holes, restaurants and his tailor bearing a chequebook.

The tabloids quoted words of repentance from von Bismarck himself - "My days of living it up are all over. This past week has just been too much" - but although he was reported to be leaving to finish his studies at a German university and eventually to enter German politics, in the event he was treated again for alcoholism at a German clinic.

He returned briefly to Oxford, where local magistrates fined him £80 for drug possession; he wiped away tears as his lawyer offered mitigation, pointing out that since the Channon affair von Bismarck had received a bad press in Germany.

Doubting whether he would be able to find work in his own country, von Bismarck was said to be planning to study at a university in Los Angeles while continuing to receive treatment for his drink problem. Olivia Channon's death, his barrister said, would prove to be a shadow over von Bismarck's head "probably for the rest of his life". So it proved.

He never married.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 6:05 pm 
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The count, or would that be contessa? sounds like a party person. A bit crazy to think that when you got it all you really have so little after all. To die like some miserable street druggie, that's a waste of a life better spent. That goes for everyone but especially for folk that had all the gold spoons up their asses and did shit with it.


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:16 pm 
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victor wrote:
Count Gottfried von Bismarck

Last Updated: 2:52am BST 04/07/2007

Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.

...

He never married.


Sounds like a fun guy as well as a total nutter. I suppose that's a normal combination amongst the upper classes. LOL. You're right, Jim, it is a waste of a life that could be better spent. It doesn't seem to matter how rich or poor you were born, if you got that type of character and are mentally insecure or somewhat unstable you're bound to end up wrong if you don't take care or have someone to watch over you.

Married? Why would he marry, some queens do and some queens don't. His family probably felt disgraced by him, which possibly contributed to his self-destructive way of life.


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 6:56 pm 
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I came across this very touching story yesterday and thought it would fit well here.
I'm glad the truth came out finally. God bless.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Frankie Howerd's long-time gay partner breaks his silence

By HELEN WEATHERS
1st February 2008

Sitting in his favourite armchair with a large vodka in one trembling hand and a cigarette in the other, a tear trickled down Dennis Heymer's face as he stared at the television screen.

"Frankie's come back," he whispered, watching Little Britain star David Walliams camping it up for the cameras to play comic legend Frankie Howerd in a new BBC4 drama.

Image
Partners: Frankie and Dennis in 1963

The resemblance was so uncanny, Dennis - Howerd's secret lover for 37 years - could only stare in amazement.

Dennis, now aged 80, frail and blind in one eye, was too ill to travel to London a few weeks ago to watch the filming of Rather You Than Me - to be broadcast in March - which explores the tortured side of the man famous for his saucy persona and catchphrases "Ooh Missus" and "titter ye not".

But Dennis's carer and partner of 14 years Chris Byrne, 40, went and videoed the recreation of a scene from Howerd's most popular TV comedy, Up Pompeii!, to bring back to their home in Somerset for Dennis to see.

"The older he gets the more he misses Frankie," says Chris solemnly as he runs the tape for me. "Frankie was the love of his life and seeing David Walliams capture him so perfectly was very emotional for him."

Dennis was Frankie Howerd's business manager and long-term partner, whose relationship with the star had to stay secret because, for much of their lives, homosexuality in this country was illegal.

No one except their closest friends ever knew. As Dennis says: "Frankie did not want to be gay. When people came to visit I would be put in another room. He was terrified it would affect his career.

"I was a handsome young man and he would hide me away. At the beginning I was hidden when anyone of note came here. I was even hidden away from his sister, and his mother for a time."

Image
Frankie and Dennis played by David Walliams and Rafe Spall in Rather You Than Me

Even after Howerd's death in 1992, aged 75, Dennis maintained his silence, refusing to contribute to the many autobiographies written about the star, whose catchphrases such "Nay, nay and thrice nay" endeared him to a nation happy not to question Frankie's "confirmed bachelor" status.

Dennis would say to Chris, dismissively, "People will just think we were a couple of old queers."

He knew how paranoid Frankie had been in life about the truth getting out - at times resorting to paying off blackmailers - and Dennis felt comfortable to remain for ever in the shadows.

Two years ago, however, Dennis was persuaded by Chris to collaborate with the BBC on the new drama, which tells Frankie Howerd's story for the first time through his lover Dennis Heymer's eyes.

"What people have to remember," says Chris, who went through a civil partnership ceremony with Dennis two years ago, "is that without Dennis there would have been no Frankie Howard. It would have been a tragedy if his contribution was never fully acknowledged.

"Dennis still belongs to a world where gay people did not come out of the closet because it was illegal. He still has that mentality and I had to tell him, "Dennis, times have changed."

And so it was that, a few days after Christmas, David Walliams and actor Rafe Spall - who plays Dennis in the drama - arrived at Wavering Down in Somerset to meet Howerd's former lover for inspiration for their roles.

It did not get off to the best start. As a shy David Walliams walked in, Dennis greeted him with: "Who are you? I hope you'll excuse me, but I've never heard of you." "Really?" replied Walliams, shocked.

Over lunch, Walliams told Dennis that it was an honour to play Frankie and that he admired Frankie's ability to reduce an audience to hysterics with a look or an intonation.

He said his parents had taken him to see the star three times as a child and after one show, David, aged 12, had secured one of his most prized possessions - Howerd's autograph.

It was an admiration for Frankie that brought Walliams and his Little Britain partner Matt Lucas together in the first place.

While both students at Bristol University, they separately performed comedy routines which included impressions of Howerd, and when they heard about each other they met up.

After lunch, Dennis and Chris showed the actors around Wavering Down, the rural home Howerd and Heymer bought in 1969 so they could live freely together away from prying eyes and gossip-mongers.

Walliams tried on Frankie's old tweed overcoat and even his famed chestnut-brown toupee, which Howerd in his vanity refused to take off even in front of Dennis.

Chris says Dennis has asked him to slip the toupee into his pocket when he dies, so he can be buried with it.

After the actors left, Dennis observed to Chris that Walliams had been "very dry" just like Frankie. As for Rafe Spall, he departed with Dennis's advice: "I just hope you can nag well. That's what I did for most of his life."

Stepping through the front door of Wavering Down, set in acres of gardens, is a spooky experience.

The house, which Dennis and Chris occasionally open to the public to raise money for charity, is exactly as Frankie Howerd left it, preserved almost in aspic.

In the living room is the gold velour settee on which Frankie died from a heart attack after Dennis's frantic attempts to resuscitate him failed - transported to Somerset from Howerd's London home in Kensington.

In the kitchen is the teapot Hollywood legend Bette Davis gave him, saying it could be used to gently steam Frankie's toupees to give them a little lift.

Upstairs Howerd's tweed overcoat and red scarf are casually draped over a chair and on a windowsill sits a plate with Frankie's dentures.

Hanging on the side of the bed are Howerd's worry beads which he used to carry in his trouser pocket. They had a lot of use over the years.

Frankie worried about everything: his sexuality, people finding out, blackmail and a career that had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster.

Perhaps that was why he went everywhere with the walking stick that Welsh acting legend Richard Burton gave him and which contained a secret compartment inside which Howerd used to fill with vodka.

On the dressing table is Howerd's brown leather wallet which contains the book of matches from a club called The Four Queens, on which he would scribble down numbers of men he habitually tried to chat up.

Often unsuccessfully, for Howerd was known for shouting: "You don't know what you're missing!" as they fled in terror following an unwanted advance.

"He used to say, 'There are four queens'," recalls Chris, taking out the pristine book of matches, "'Her Majesty, The Queen Mother, Dennis and me'."

From upstairs Frankie would often shout down imperiously to his lover, "Coffee, Dennis!", as Heymer was not only his manager, confidant and lover but also cook, cleaner, domestic and Man Friday.

Dennis is still a dapper man, who likes to dress up in his striped blazer to host Christmas parties for his neighbours, but rarely ventures out of Wavering Down, preferring to sit with his memories of Frankie as he smokes his 60 cigarettes a day and drinks, according to Chris, large glasses of vodka or brandy.

His memories are contained in the hundreds of photographs of Frankie which cover every wall and surface, revealing just how big a star he was in his day.

There's Frankie with the Queen Mother, with Princess Anne, with former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath, with Zsa Zsa Gabor and hugging Liz Taylor, who used to stay at Wavering Down and still phones Dennis for a chat to this day.

Dennis was a handsome 29-year-old sommelier when he first met Frankie Howerd, ten years his senior, at the Dorchester in Park Lane in 1958 where the star was dining with Sir John and Mary Mills.

They met just as Howerd was beginning to despair about his career and his physical attractiveness.

Born in Eltham, South-East London, Frankie - the youngest of three children born to a soldier who Howerd claimed sexually abused him - found fame relatively late in life.

Drafted into the Army during World War II, where he entertained fellow soldiers with his comedy routines, he went on to become a huge radio star.

He made his television debut in 1952 in a series called The Howerd Crowd, and starred in films and stage productions.

His career, however, suddenly declined when he acquired a reputation among TV producers for being difficult (Howerd was jealous of performers he considered less talented than himself), a sitcom he starred in bombed and he went out of fashion as a new wave of satirists arrived with the Sixties.

Dennis Heymer was the one person who had faith in Frankie at this time, and believed in his talent.

It was Dennis who got rid of Howerd's crooked manager, who'd siphoned off £5,000 of the comic's earnings (£86,000 in today's money) and took over.

It was Dennis who tried to breath new life into Howerd's career, at a time when Howerd was thinking of giving up showbusiness to run a country pub.

It was Dennis who looked after Howerd, during his prolonged bouts of depression and when he suffered a breakdown in the early Sixties.

It was also Dennis who supported Frankie financially, by going back to waiting, when times were lean, and whose moral support and unswerving faith in his abilities enabled Frankie to overcome crippling stage fright.

As his friend, actress June Whitfield, once observed: "Frankie hated performing. If he had won the pools he would have given it all up overnight."

"I think he wanted to be normal, to be married and have children," says Dennis, who believes Howerd - who saw a psychiatrist during much of his adult life - was tortured by the sex abuse he suffered as a child.

"He wasn't a cheerful man in private, but I liked to make him laugh."

Chris, a former nurse and occupational therapist who became friends with the couple when he met them in a North London pub 22 years ago, adds: "Frankie hated mixing with gays. The first time we met he said to me: 'Will you stop waving your arms around, people will think we're queens.'

In private he was really quite a serious, macho person. He wasn't effeminate at all and didn't like being touched or cuddled. That was more Dennis's style.

"He used to make Dennis dress in a suit and tie in London because he didn't want people to be suspicious. He travelled all over the world performing for the Armed Forces and knew any hint that he was gay would end his career.

"But on holiday Dennis could be freer. He could wear more flamboyant colours and casual clothes. Dennis was always happiest when he was on holiday with Frankie.

"They liked to go where people didn't know them because Frankie used to hate people coming up to him and asking, "What's it like being a comic?"

"He used to reply, 'Would you ask a butcher what it's like to cut up a cow? Now p*** off!' He was a moody sod. Frankie depended on Dennis for absolutely everything. He used to admire the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Dennis used to joke, 'She's got her Denis, like you've got me.'"

Thanks to Dennis's support, Howerd's career took off again in the 1960s when Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, part of the new breed of satirists, invited Frankie to perform at the Establishment club.

His success there led to appearances on David Frost's That Was The Week That Was, before he found his greatest success in the sitcom series Up Pompeii!, in which he played the slave, Lurcio.

With his renewed success Howerd's promiscuity resurfaced and Dennis often returned to their London home to find Frankie in flagrante with another man, who would be promptly thrown out.

Chris says: "Dennis used to get very upset. He'd think, 'I'm young and handsome, why would he want anyone else?' But Frankie was very complicated. He was attracted to straight men, and quite a few even back then were open to experimentation.

"Frankie was terrified of being found out. He hated to do any live performances just in case some male voice shouted out: 'Do you remember what we did last night Frankie?'

"He always insisted on recording programmes so he could be in control," says Chris. "People did try to blackmail him over the years, threatening to go to the newspapers, and Frankie could not let that happen so he paid up. It was a constant fear."

Frankie and Dennis's last holiday, just months before he died, was a six-week cruise on the QE2. On their return Frankie developed breathing problems and went into hospital. He died two weeks later from a heart attack and Dennis, who fought to revive him, says he hasn't had a truly happy day since.

Chris says: "It was devastating for Dennis to lose someone he had loved so much. He'd devoted his whole life to advising and protecting Frankie, and now I'm doing the same for Dennis."

Dennis, who inherited half of Frankie Howerd's £1million fortune and Wavering Down, has signed over the house to Chris and entrusted him with his and Frankie's diaries - which Chris says "will change the way people view some of the most famous people in history".

"Frankie had thousands of acquaintances throughout his life, but Dennis was his one true friend," says Chris, "He deserves to be recognised. I'm glad he's no longer in the shadows."

Source: Daily Mail UK.


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:31 am 
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Here's an interesting web site about famous gay couples, although I confess I've never heard of many of them... LOL.. but it's a good indication that gay couples have been around and well known for some time!

http://www.buddybuddy.com/famous.html

But there are people like Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci from history that were gay, and for which ample documentation exists that they had lifelong partners and who have made great differences in the world.

:lovesign:

And what about these two colourful characters:

Anne Cormac Bonny (pirate)
Mary Read, alias "Mark" Read (pirate)

These two women where hot-headed bisexuals who also happened to be thieves, arsonists, and cut-throat murderers. Historical knowledge about them is based largely upon "A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates," by Captain Charles Johnson (probably a pseudonym for Daniel Defoe). It was published in 1724 after Anne and Mary were brought to trial for piracy on the high seas in 1720.


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 Post subject: Re: Famous gay men
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:03 pm 
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Mike, thanks for the link, fascinating reading! :happy0065:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 6:53 pm 
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Red Duchess wed lesbian lover to snub children

By Graham Keeley in Barcelona
Last Updated: 2:39am GMT 16/03/2008

In her life she was always unconventional, but nothing had quite prepared the family of the Spanish aristocrat known as the "Red Duchess" for the controversy she would create upon her death.

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Doña Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo.
Noble causes: Doña Luisa went to jail after leading a protest


As obituaries celebrated her long record as a defender of the poor, and opponent of the dictator General Franco, the three children of Doña Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo, 71, were grappling with the revelation that she had married her lesbian lover on her deathbed - and made out her will to her.

Instead of the descendants of one of Spain's oldest aristocratic families inhabiting the family's palace and taking control of its precious collection of medieval documents and archives, their place has been taken by Liliana Maria Dahlmann, their mother's former secretary.

Her relationship with Miss Dahlmann, who is in her fifties and worked for the duchess for 20 years, had been kept secret until their marriage, in a civil ceremony conducted by a council official just hours before she died on March 7.

It was the final, defiant act of a woman whose official title was Duchess of Medina Sidonia and who could trace her family back to Alonso Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno, the seventh Duke of Medina Sidonia, who led the ill-fated Spanish Armada defeated by Sir Francis Drake in 1588.

The duchess's second son, Don Gabriel Gregorio y Álvarez de Toledo, 50, a civil engineer from Madrid, who last spoke to his mother 25 years ago, said: "My mother was a nightmare. She tried to deprive her three children of their inheritance."

The family was bitterly divided after her children - Don Leoncio, 52, Doña Maria del Pilar, 51, and Don Gabriel - won a legal battle to stop her giving away portions of the family estate at Sanlúcar, in Andalucia in the early ­Nineties.

"We wanted to stop her giving away plots of land from the palace of Medina Sidonia to poor people in the area and we won in the end," Don Gabriel said.

"My mother never forgave us for winning legal action to stop her giving away the estate."

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Farewell gesture: Liliana Maria Dahlmann at the funeral of Doña Luisa, the 'Red Duchess'

He has accused Miss Dahlmann of trying to prevent him taking a final photograph of his mother in her coffin during her funeral last week. "My mother tried to help Miss Dahlmann when she came to Spain from Germany years ago and the two became lovers. My mother was part of a group of radical lesbians," said Don Gabriel.

"When I heard that she had married her secretary in articulo mortis [on her deathbed], I thought it was typical of her," he said. Despite the duchess's reputation as a defender of the poor and opponent of the brutal Franco regime, Don Gabriel claimed his mother was an "autocrat" who abandoned her children.

"She would put her political views before our needs as children. It was more like Charles Dickens than an aristocratic house. When she went into exile, we later heard she was spending her time in the Playboy club in Biarritz," he said.

Famous in Spain for her Left-wing views, the duchess served eight months in jail in 1967 when she led a protest march over a nuclear accident. Two American aircraft collided and accidentally dropped hydrogen bombs in the Palomares area of Almeria, southern Spain. The bombs did not explode, but Franco tried to suppress any hint of plutonium release. The duchess used her diplomatic status to publicise the plight of Spanish villagers who lost everything because of contamination.

Her political activities led a court to brand her "unstable". After a bitter divorce from her husband, José Leoncio Gonzales de Gregorio Marti, in 1970, she lost custody of the children and went into exile in France and Portugal.

As the duchess's "widow", Miss Dahlmann can live at the duchess's palace in Sanlúcar, a rural area near Cadiz, until her death. The building was declared a national heritage site in 1978 and is managed by the Spanish ministry of culture and the local council. The duchess made Miss Dahlmann the president of the Foundation Casa Medina Sidonia, meaning she is responsible for the palace's archive. It contains priceless historical documents and drawings dating back to the Spanish kings Charles V and Philip II in the 16th century.

The mayor of Sanlúcar, Irene García, said the duchess had a "complicated" relationship with her family but refused to comment on the lesbian marriage.

"The person who has been with Doña Luisa Isabel has been ­Liliana," Mrs Garcia said.

The ministry and the Sanlúcar council are also part of the foundation's managing committee and are due to meet Miss Dahlmann soon to discuss her plans for its future.

Miss Dahlmann was unavailable for comment.

From http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... ess116.xml

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