Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In The Dreamtime With Diana & Freddie

The Hollywood actress Shelley Winters was once lunching with an actress pal who wanted to pick her brains- she was penning her autobiography and was worried that she had led a fairly tame love life. "I 've had few affairs with stars" she said.
Winter's responded :"look, if they are gay or dead, just say you screwed them. None will complain"
The Shuttle's eye was drawn to a tale that swept the world yesterday. No-one yet has clocked it as an April Fool's Joke. Such fine publications as the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph have faithfully repeated the tale verbatim.
Cleo Rocos who worked with the late British DJ Kenny Everett says that one night in 1988, she, Kenny and the late Freddie Mercury dressed Princess Diana in military jacket and sun shades and they all went of to the South London gay pub the Vauxhall Tavern where Diana was able to buy drinks with nary a punter spotting that the Most Famous Woman On The Planet was in their midst :
“When we walked in . . . we felt she was obviously Princess Diana and would be discovered at any minute. But people just seemed to blank her. The venue was packed, but the presence of Mercury, Everett and Rocos helped divert attention and Diana was able to order drinks at the bar before the group left,"
Such a  sweet tale from Cleo's new tome : ' The Power of Positive Drinking".

In 1996 the Shuttle spent a few days with Diana on her last trip to Australia for the Victor Chang Institute, accompanying her to various events to document the visit, commissioned by her Aussie pal Marie Sutton who had talked Diana into her last charity event before retiring from public life.

One night we were smuggled out of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Double Bay, all 3 of us crouched in the back seat of a car, to avoid the press. Diana was visiting the St Vincent's Hospice to meet HIV patients. We were sworn to secrecy. She wanted no publicity. Diana sat and chatted to patients for over 5 hours. We took snaps of each patient with Diana as memento's.

Marie Sutton
Driving back to the Ritz Carlton the driver took us via Oxford Street to show Diana the Golden Mile of gay clubs. Diana commented that she visited gay AIDS patients around the world but had never been to a gay bar. Whilst she was still a Royal she said "my detectives would have never let me enter one without it being searched for days beforehand. In fact going to any bar was out of the question".
Freddie Mercury died in 1991 from AIDS. From about 1987 he had become a recluse and was never seen again in public again . Kenny Everett was a regular at the Vauxhall Tavern but usually went unnoticed mainly as all the patrons more or less looked just like him. It was 'clones' pub.

Diana was finally divorced from Prince Charles in 1996 and lost her Royal title and the privileges that came with it including 2 permanent detectives from the Royal Protection Squad - the ones who "would have never let me enter one (gay bar) ".  In the year leading up to her Australian visit she spoke to Marie Sutton almost daily. She would relate the extraordinary lengths she would go to meet her lovers- the private houses of the Aristocracy where she could arrange a discreet visit for a weekend  in privacy which she knew the Protection Squad would always vet. Perhaps they slipped up in the Vauxhall Tavern incident.
What a shame Diana's great pal Sir Elton John hadn't joined this little pub crawl to confirm the tale.