John Curry at the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics. Photograph: Colorsport/REX | 14045
John Curry was one of the first sportsmen anywhere to come out as gay – just hours after securing a gold medal in Innsbruck, in 1976. John Curry was 26. In just two months he won the European, Olympic and world figure skating titles. His life would never recover.
Bill Jones introduces his new book, “Alone – The Triumph and Tragedy Of John Curry”.
Like many young people who have had intensive training in their chosen sport, Curry had not had the benefit of a balanced social life. As a champion athlete he first visited the US and discovered in New York a free and hedonistic social and sexual life which ultimately ruined him – along with many of his fellow skaters and friends, thanks to HIV.
Among close friends, as his choreography grew ever more sublime, he could be savagely amusing. Among his troupe of skaters, plagued by dodgy managers, tiny stages and patchy reviews, he visibly darkened. “He was corrupted by rage”, says lifelong friend Penny Malec. He was also experimenting with drugs, and developing a taste for extreme sex. In 1978, after a mysterious, violent assault near Earl’s Court, Curry’s pioneering London stage show folded. Soon after that – by this time awarded an OBE – he moved quietly to New York.
In 1994, penniless, and close to death, he invited the Daily Mail to interview him and photograph his worn out body.
John Anthony Curry OBE was born on 9 September 1949 and died on 15 April 1994. Rest in peace.