January 1997

As all New Yorkers know The Native has folded. With it Christopher Street, Theatre Week, and Opera Monthly are also no more. I deeply regret their demise. I used to think it so encouraging that Mr. Steele had become a kinky Lord Beaverbrooke at such an early age. It is not of course from any fault of his that his empire has collapsed, but simply because now that kinkiness has become mainstream the unique appeal of such papers as The Native has become obsolete. The "shocking" things it said can now be read in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other respectable daily papers.

Finding myself an orphan, so to speak, I have been instructed by a Mr. Bell to write my diary on Internet. Mr. Bell is employed by — or possibly owns — the brewery in Perth, Scotland, which has adopted the ruse of producing a whisky with my name and my photograph on the label, in an attempt to win the "gay" liquor market of the world. This new enlarged readership of my humble diary alters irrevocably the rather parochial (if it is possible to think of Manhattan as a parish) nature of my diary. What I asked myself could I possibly write that would amuse and inform the whole world?

To start in a small way, I have seen a play called Making Porn to which I was taken by a young man my agent calls "my millionaire". It contains inevitably a lot of well-endowed young men simulating various sex acts, the sight of which I was prepared to greet with a puritanical yawn when a plot emerged. The hero, a man called "Blue Blake" (I think) has a girlfriend (Joanna Keylock) to whom he has represented the films in which he stars as "educational." She is suspicious and demands to see one of them being made. The experience tells her that her lover and his outstanding equipment are the essential ingredients of the film. She asks for more money for his services, and she and the producer argue as to the payment, arriving at the figure of $6,000 per picture. At this, I became very excited. I am always far more easily aroused by a large sum of money than by a great quantity of sex. Of course, by the time the world reads these words, the play will have come and gone. I mention it only in detail so that no one can ignore any subsequent plays by the author, Ronnie Larsen.

I wish I could recommend with equal enthusiasm the film The English Patient, which has received such high praise from everyone in America. I found it noticably long and strangely confusing, but this could have been due to the special circumstances in which I saw this film. I had been with a Texan gentleman to see Mr. Allen's film Everybody Says "I Love You," which I liked. On leaving the cinema where this film was being shown, I encountered a gentleman in the foyer who greeted me with a boisterous hello. I replied with a "Uh, uh, uh, hel..hello." He said he had interviewed me at some time in the past, but I had no recollection of our encounter at all. He offered me a free seat to see The English Patient. Wishing not to seem ungracious, and to do anything that was free, I accepted his kind offer and went back into the cinema, thus spending nearly six consecutive hours in the dark. This may have sapped my critical sense.

I left the cinema on the arm of the woman who had sat next to me and we went to a neighboring cafe to discuss what we had seen, and to pool our bewilderment. I think that American moviegoers have recently taken up British films in a fit of snobbery similar to that displayed by the English over continental films claiming that the actors looked more natural meaning hideous, and the plots more realistic meaning boring.

The only subject which I can think of as having world importance is the trial of Mr. Simpson. I saw the first installment of the trial on television, but after that could watch no more. It seems to me too shameful that the anxiety of this great man should be made into a mini-series for the delectation of people who had no right to experience it. I was delighted when he was declared innocent, but my happiness was short-lived. Apparently it is possible in America to try someone a second time in a civil court and we then beheld a man with a moustache like a sneeze proceeding to wreck Mr. Simpson's life.

That's the trouble with America. It will never recover from slavery. If Mr. Simpson had been white and his wife had been black, there would have been no fuss. The result of the trial would have ended the matter completely. Now we have lost three great men. Mr. Tyson convicted of rape on the testimony of a woman who went to his hotel bedroom in the middle of the night. What did she expect — that they were going to play scrabble? Secondly, Mr. Gotti. Convicted on the evidence of one of his confederates. I would not mind confessing that I had murdered my rivals, but I could never happily admit to having betrayed one of my confederates merely to shorten my own sentence.

Copyright © 1999–2007 by Quentin Crisp and Phillip Ward,
from Dusty Answers (forthcoming), Mr. Crisp's final book.
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