Showing posts with label Oscar Wilde. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oscar Wilde. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Geoffrey Rush In Drag-and he's Brilliant!

Our favourite Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush is appearing as Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and he's brilliant!.

Rush is receiving rave reviews and is being compared favourably with previous notable efforts, the two Queens of the stage  Dame Edith Evans and Dame Judi Dench.

The Australian's Chris Boyd says "Geoffrey Rush does something far more interesting and exhilarating in the role. He plays Lady Bracknell perfectly straight. There's not the slightest hint of travesty in his performance, nor is there any obvious striving for effect. Rush is engrossing to watch and, of course, to listen to"

Anne-Marie Peard  in The Age says : "It's gorgeous and fun and the joy of watching our Geoffrey is worth a leg cramp.And none frock up more magnificently than Rush. Treating the text like music, he doesn't miss a beat or a grace note and his restrained and refreshingly straight Lady B lets her power comes from more than her age and position. "

The Melbourne Theatre Company's Importance of Being Earnest plays until the 14th January 2012 and is almost sold out.
Rush to their website now :   and put your name down for tickets !

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Update From The Other Side with Victor Zammit

Victor Zammit
From the man who recently brought us a message from England's Stately Homo Quentin Crisp- Australian lawyer Victor Zammit who spends his time debunking the debunkers like weirdo magician James Randi and God denier Richard Dawkins, comes some new messages from the ether. (you can hear Quentin here)

This time it's the osteopath Stephen Ward who topped himself in the middle of the infamous Profumo scandal in 1963.

Stephen Ward
 Ward introduced a British cabinet minister John Profumo MP from the ruling Conservative Party to a couple of good time gels Christine Keller and Mandy Rice Davies at a house party at Lord Astor's country estate Cliveden. When the scandal broke in the media it was discovered Keller was also knocking off a Russian Naval Attache. Resignations were demanded and Ward was charged with living of immoral earnings but committed suicide during his trial.

These days of course they would all be signed up for a reality programme on BBC Two.

Mandy & Christine
Zammit has uncovered a series of recorded seances where Stephen Ward describes his life on the other side, most recorded four months after his death. Apparently he was having trouble adjusting and wasn't yet hanging out with the "bigwigs'-whoever they are-but does get to wear comfy jumpers and loafers, ride horses, swim and well basically it's life as usual, hunting, fishing and shooting.

Sadly it's all rather disappointing. Ward says he could "tell you things about some people (still on earth) that would make your hair stand on end" but then doesn't. However he does reveal there's no coffee up there and Tutankhamen's discoverer Howard Carter is going to introduce him to the Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaton which is rather nice of him. 

Stephen has also met Oscar Wilde who he says he could never have met if he hadn't, well kicked the bucket like Oscar!. Helpfully, he tells us Oscar has a marvelous wit ( apparently Oscar has also hit it off with George Bernard Shaw).
And the man who brought us the message from Quentin Crisp, medium David Thompson has come in for a bit of flack from a 'Sceptical Believer' Roy Stemmen on his Paranormal Review who sounds a bit peeved Crisp didn't sound much like his stage show. It's all turned into right barney which you can plow through on Stemmen's website..

If that doesn't whet your appetite we have uncovered a series of pod casts with Princess Diana recorded by Andrew Russell-Davis.
 Unfortunately the Shuttle only made it through 2 messages as Diana really does witter on endlessly not saying much apart form how nice Wills and Harry are. Nothing about Dodi and not a word about Charles and Camilla.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Queensberry Tragedies

Lord Milo Douglas
Further to our tale about the NSW State Library putting on display letters from Lord Alfred Douglas to a lover in Australia, comes sad news about the death of one of Bosie's relatives.

 A coroner has ruled that the son of the current Marques of Queensberry and Bosie's great nephew Lord Milo Douglas killed himself  during a bout of manic depression. Milo, a charity worker was only 34 when he threw himself off a building in July last year after he had unsuccessfully attempted to have himself admitted to hospital. Douglas told nurses at the time he was hearing voices in his head urging him to harm other people.

The Douglas family has been littered with family tragdies. Milo Douglas's great grandfather and Bosie's grandfather, the 8th Marquess of Queensberry is rumoured to have shot himself while hunting although it was ruled an accident at the time.

Bosie-Lord Alfred Douglas

One of Bosie's uncles Lord James Douglas drank himself to oblivion and committed suicide by cutting his own throat. It was said he was infatuated with his twin sister Lady Florence.

Bosies eldest brother and heir to the Queensberry title Lord Drumlanrig died in a shooting accident. 

After the famous trial in which Oscar Wilde was ruined and disgraced, Bosie married a poet Olive Custance and they had one son Raymond who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent the rest his life in psychiatric hospitals, dying there in 1964.

Following the sensations of the Wilde trial  Bosie reconciled with Oscar before his death and settled down to become a man of letters, writing plays and producing sonnets that were well, received by his contemporaries. He died in 1945.                    

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oscar Wilde, Bosie, Gay Marriage & The Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras

Two letters written by Oscar Wilde's lover Lord Alfred Douglas have been discovered in the Sydney State Library and put on display to co-incide with this Saturday's Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.


The letters were written to one of Bosie's lovers Maurice Schwabe, who was banished to Australia by his family the year of Oscar Wilde's trial which scandalised Victorian England.

Schwabe was an old schoolfriend of Alfred Taylor who ran London's most notorious male brothel frequented by Wilde.

When Bosie was at Oxford he gave an old suit to a rent boy named Alfred Wood
In a pocket of that suit were the letters from Wilde in which he wrote of Bosie's "kissable lips". Wood found the letters and was soon blackmailing Oscar. Wilde paid 30 pounds for the letters but began an affair with Woods. It was to be his undoing.

Bosie bitterly complains in the 2 letters found in the library about Woods and what he is doing to Wilde.

On March 19th, 1893 Bosie opens one letter to Schwabe with " Darling Pretty Boy" and ends with:

''Goodbye now my dear darling beautiful Maurice; I send you all my love and millions of kisses all over your beautiful body. I am your loving boy-wife, or your little bitch if you prefer itBosie.''
Boy-wife ?. Bitch.  So nothing new there. The language hasn't changed-just the way of celebrating the lifestyle when 10,000 performers will troll up Oxford Street in stilettos on Saturday night watched by possibly a quarter of a million spectators. If they were alive no doubt Wilde and Bosie would be in the official Mardi Gras box at Taylor's Square with Dannii Minogue and Chris Crocker.

It's not known what Schwabe's fate was in Sydney. Previously he had travelled with Oscar and Bosie to Paris and had stayed at the Savoy with Wilde. His uncle  Frank Lockwood was the solicitor-general in London and had Schwabe's association with Wilde suppressed and his name was never mentioned during Wilde's trial.

Sydney in the 1890s
But if the family thought they were sending their son far away to avoid the depraved attractions found in London they were mistaken
With  female immigrants to the new colony in short supply Sydney had a notorious reputation throughout the Pacific as a den of iniquity with it's sly grog shops and male bordellos littered around the inner city areas of Darlinghurst and The Rocks.
When an offender was arrested for prostitution his police record was stamped with K.A.M.P- "known as male prostitute". It is claimed it was the beginning of the use of the word 'camp' in association with gayness ! Perhaps Maurice had felt right at home.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

One Lady, 3 Lords.

News comes that one of Britain's most famous society hostesses, the late Lady Edith Foxwell is to be the subject of a documentary that will tell the story of her amazing life.

Lady Edith, who died in 1998  was known as the 'Queen of London Society' during the 1970s and '80s . With New Zealander Stephen Hayter-who once boasted he kept his press clippings in a Swiss bank vault, Edith opened the Mayfair nightspot The Embassy Club.

 Once married to film producer Ivan Foxwell. she was granted her title with "the rank of a daughter of  an Earl" in a rare move by Royal Warrant because her uncle, the Earl of Cavan was a celebrated war hero.
The Social Shuttle spent many a night in our youth with Lady Edith as a 'walker' accompanying her to parties and she occasionally stayed in our London apartment for weeks on end. It was always meant to be overnight but somehow time stretched as did the horrendous telephone bills that followed her departure. In the day of timed calls, Edith's endless chats to her Hollywood pals like Zsa Zsa Gabor or Joan Collins could almost bankrupt one.

Lady Edith owned a splendid country manor called Sherston where she threw great weekend parties relying on an interesting mix of people from all walks of life. She would phone tSS and say "I think it's a bit top heavy with gay boys this week-could you bring a couple of women?". Inevitably her butler would then phone shortly after and request we also pick up half a dozen bottles of champagne and assorted spirits on the way down. That call usually went to just about every guest. Edith kept her cellar fully stocked without spending a penny.
Once over a Sunday lunch at Sherston with 40 guests the cook disclosed to tSS that none of Edith's staff had been paid for 6 months and her credit had finally been cut off in the village.

 Sherston backed onto Princess Anne's property who Edith sued once when Anne's gamekeeper shot one of her dogs. It also bordered a 'commune' where Princess Margaret dallied with her paramour Roddy Llewellyn . The commune was run by the Australian 'Christian The Lion' identity John Rendall who owned an antique shop in the Kings Road at the time. Asked if she ever mingled with neighbours she replied "good God no, frightful snobs the lot of them . It's much more fun in the local pub". She did however give Sherston over to Prince Andrew so he could conduct a then secret affair  with his girlfriend Koo Stark.

 Lady Foxwell had a London flat but she gave it to her daughter Atlanta as wedding present when she got married, hence she was perpetually homeless in London. Atlanta married a very handsome Italian, Prince Stefano Massimo , the son of a Riviera playboy and Dawn Addams, a 1950's British movie star. Stefano is also a descendant of Lucrezia Borgia and a Roman emperor.
'once black, never go back'
Once at one of Edith  parties  tSS noticed a face that seemed vaguely familiar. On asking our hostess who he was she said "oh that Scientology man, he's so much fun and brings crates of Moet". It was  L. Ron Hubbard who was living on an old tramp steamer on the Thames River. A few days before we had read in the Times that the FBI were looking for him to interview him over some matter.

 Edith had an affair when she was 62 with the African American singer Marvin Gaye and then she was hooked saying "once black never go back". She had a string of young black boyfriends who she loved to flaunt around town. Once tSS returned home and burst into our bedroom in the afternoon and with huge embarrassment found Edith in flagrante with her  22 year old beau Winston. Edith just smiled sweetly and winked while we backed out of the room.

Meanwhile journalist Marcus Scriven has penned a book on 3 aristocrats who fell on hard times and squandered huge family fortunes. 
Edward FitzGerald, 7th Duke of Leinster, also known as "the bedsit duke" spent a $600M fortune before he committed suicide. Angus Montague, horrendously  overweight, was the 12th Duke of Manchester, who died in 2002 after being crane-lifted out of his tiny flat. He spent time in an American jail for fraud but avoided the slammer in the UK for similar charges when the judge decided he was 'so dim' he didn't know better.
Another who Scriven writes about is John Hervey the 7th Marquess of Bristol.

 tSS  got to know Hervey briefly during his short 44 years before he died of a drug overdose in 1999 having spent a $10M inheritance. There are tales that didn't make it into Scriven's book. Hervey adopted a sort of Oscar Wilde pose although he wasn't quite as amusing but certainly indulged in rent boys and dubious acquaintances.

The late John Hervey
We ran across John Hervey once in New York in the early 1980s. He was accompanied by a man who  he introduced as his personal lawyer although we had already met that man. The lawyer had been a friend of the writer Robin Maugham who was the nephew of Somerset Maugham.

Robin Maugham wrote a rather scandalous book called The Wrong People about a wealthy man who adopts a young boy and moulds him into his ideal image of a boyfriend. Our lawyer was the real life example and few knew that Maugham was writing from real life experience.

Hervey and the lawyer were busted for drugs in a New York hotel. The lawyer took the rap and Hervey said he would hire the best attorneys to get him off. He promptly returned to London and forget about the man languishing in jail. The lawyer got a 25 year sentence and died 8 years later in Rikers Jail.
Towards the end of his life John Hervey visited Australia but was arrested after a week on an immigration charge. He hadn't notified authorities upon his arrival that he had been arrested and served time in jail in the UK for drug offences.
In the magistrates court the prosecutor asked Hervey why, when filling in his immigration card, he didn't note as required, that he had a criminal record. 
Hervey replied " oh I thought you had to have a criminal record to get into the country". He was deported the next day.

 Splendour and Squalor : The Disgrace and Disintegration of Three Aristocratic Dynasties by Marcus Scriven