Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Summer 1998

Warren Allen Smith

Gossip from Across the Pond

by Warren Allen Smith

It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. It is the gossipiest of times. It has probably always been so. Even the ancients were intrigued by the story of Adamastor, whose penis was so monstrously huge that he and the nymph Thetis were unable to have sex. Or by the whispered rumor that Alcibiades, when not attempting to seduce Socrates, went around drunkenly knocking phalluses off public statues.

American universities in large numbers have now instituted “queer studies programs”. Their scope was touched upon in a March television show, the popular “60 Minutes” program. In it, one professor related how the 28-year-old lawyer Abraham Lincoln had shared a double bed for four years with 23-year-old Joshua Fry Speed. That news came as no surprise to those who had already known that President James Buchanan (1857-1861), our only bachelor president and once our minister to Great Britain, had been roommates for over two decades with Alabama Senator William Rufus de Vane King who reportedly was called “Miss Nancy” by Washingtonians of that day.

Gore Vidal’s Palimpsest (1995) had details about numbers of world leaders, including several about his fellow promiscuous friend Jack Kennedy. When Kennedy was only the President-elect, he is said to have grinned when called “the President-erect”. Vidal, the atheist admirer of Lucretius, told how Tennessee Williams, when visiting, had found Kennedy sexually attractive. “Look at that ass”, Tennessee had told Vidal as the three of them were being shown around. “You can’t cruise our next president”, Vidal told him sternly. But later when Vidal told Kennedy, Kennedy had grinned and said, “That’s very exciting”.

Vidal’s tales about various VIPs also include one about the Bishop of Ephesus. In his Live From Golgotha (1982), Vidal described the bishop, the heterosexual Timothy, as having had “the largest dick in our part of Asia Minor”. Further, he was represented as having been an acolyte and “love toy” of St Paul ... which should give women adequate ammunition for their feminist canons.

This year, numbers of women are eager to obtain advances from publishers for their material about alleged sexual advances by President Bill Clinton, who understandably chose to leave for an extended tour of Africa, where he drew bigger crowds than the Pope, probably because of his greater sex appeal.

At the Oscars, Dustin Hoffman, introducing a short clip that featured all sixty-nine Best Picture winners at this year’s Oscar Awards, mused whether “the number 69 is as significant internationally as it is at home”. Meanwhile, rumors fly about Dustin’s demands that all movie shots of him be personally checked to insure that he is not shown to have a limp wrist.

Jodie Foster, who has come out as a freethinker, now says she is pregnant. “I couldn’t be happier”, she told columnist Liz Smith, “but, no, I’m not going to discuss the father, the method, or anything of that nature”. Sandra Bernhard is giving no clue as to the father of her forthcoming baby, except to say she had insisted the donor be Jewish. Upon arrival, of course, the babies will touch down as non-theists – any religious baggage gets checked aboard later.

The cognoscenti are presently marveling about two works that describe the sexual appetites of VIPs. Josephine, an overlooked 1993 work by Josephine Baker’s “adopted children” Jean-Claude Baker and Chris Chase, has juicy gossip about Baker’s bisexual escapades with numbers of noted as well as not-so-noted admirers, and tells of her gay fourth husband, Jo Bouillon. Jean-Claude, who runs a spiffy restaurant in Manhattan’s theatre district, is sometimes seen goosing his handsome waiters.

Meanwhile, even in Sri Lanka they are talking about a work that tells how a dirt-poor Depression-era American boy becomes an oral delight and sex partner of the rich and beautiful in the international social world. Based on an actual 1943 murder, the novel drops names such as Maxine Elliott, said to have been Edward VII’s mistress; describes the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; and includes tales about Cole Porter, Clifton Webb, Gloria Swanson, Elsa Maxwell, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Pablo Picasso, Barbara Stanwyck, Tallulah Bankhead, and others. The author of The Good Life (1997) is Charles G. Hulse, who completed his lover Gordon Merrick’s unfinished work. In 1988, Merrick died in Sri Lanka, where Hulse lives part-time and the rest of the time in France.

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Created : Sunday, 1999-02-28 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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