Pierre Bergé

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Pierre Bergé | Agence France Press | 17156gh

The French fashion tycoon Pierre Bergé – the business brains behind the Yves Saint Laurent empire – has died aged 86.

The longtime partner of the late designer Yves Saint Laurent died in his sleep early Friday at his country home at Saint-Remy-de-Provence in southern France.

The passionate bibliophile and art collector was a tireless campaigner for gay rights and donated a large part of his fortune to AIDS research.

Gay Activist sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

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The Two Brewers Double Arsonist

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Jason Fossett | Press Association | 17147

Jason Fossett has been jailed for life after setting fire to a busy south London gay bar, the Two Brewers in Clapham, for the second time.

Fossett piled rubbish against the fire exit of  before setting it alight and fleeing on March 20. He pleaded guilty to arson with intent to endanger life at Inner London Crown Court. He could not remember starting the fire after “having a couple of drinks”.

He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of three years and 244 days.

He was traced through his bank card after CCTV footage showed him buying two drinks at the bar on the night of the arson.

Officers searched his home and found receipts from the Two Brewers for that night, and a red leather satchel which matched that seen on the CCTV.

In 2004, Fossett was jailed for eight years for targeting the same venue in an arson attack. Police said there was no suggestion the attacks were hate crimes, although Fossett’s motivation is not known.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/man-jailed-for-life-for-setting-fire-to-busy-clapham-gay-bar-a-second-time-a3605851.html

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The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London

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Chris Helgren/Reuters | 15362

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern was built in 1863 at Spring Gardens, Kennington Lane, on land which was originally part of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and was originally a music hall. It seems to have been a local gay pub ever since it opened as a public house. After the second world war it became associated with drag acts, with performances from Hinge and Bracket, Regina Fong and Lily Savage. On one occasion Princess Diana went there dressed as a man.

On 8 September 2015, in an attempt to save it from being closed by new owners and the site re-developed, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern was made a grade II listed building – the first building in the UK to be listed in recognition of its importance to LGBT community history. This followed a campaign supported by Boris Johnson, Sir Ian McKellen, Paul O’Grady and others.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/09/this-london-pub-just-made-gay-history-but-can-it-be-saved.html

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/03/31/freddie-mercury-dressed-princess-diana-in-drag-to-sneak-her-into-a-gay-bar/


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Remembering Emile Griffith

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Benny Paret (left) and Emile Griffith (right) during weigh-in at the Garden in New York | March 1962 | John Lindsay/Associated Press | 15353

Emile Alphonse Griffith was a world champion boxer at both welterweight and middleweight who was born on 3 February 1938. His enduring reputation hinges on the night of 24 March 1962, when he regained his world welterweight championship from the Cuban fighter Benny “Kid” Paret, unfortunately killing him in the process, live on television.

Earlier at the weigh in, Paret had taunted him with homophobic comments.

Griffith was about to step off the scales when he heard his trainer Gil Clancy shout: “Hey, watch it!” He wheeled round. A smirking Paret feigned intercourse with him as his trainers whooped hysterically. He waggled a finger at Griffith. “Hey maricón,” Paret said in a cooing lisp, “I’m gonna get you and your husband.”

1962 was no easy time to be homosexual in America, and Griffith was not out, although it was an open secret to journalists covering the sport. So how did they report it? A single journalist noted that “the challenger had been subjected to a slur about his sexuality.”

It was no easy time to be black in America, either: just days earlier Paret had taken his young son Benny Jr and wife to the zoo in Miami but, at the entrance, they’d been refused entry. His wife Lucy had been stunned when her husband, rather than their small son, had cried. The injustice reminded Benny that, rather than being a world champion, he still looked like a Cuban sugarcane cutter.

Michael Carson writes in Griffith’s obituary about the fateful televised fight. Earlier Paret felt ill and had forebodings about the fight but was afraid to pull out of the fight.

Paret floored Griffith for an eight-count in round six before Griffith took control. In the 12th, he landed a number of telling punches before a right staggered the Cuban, who retreated into the corner. Referee Ruby Goldstein stood directly behind Griffith, inexplicably slow to stop the beating. Paret was known for his ability to take a punch and Griffith was not a big puncher, but Paret was clearly out long before Goldstein stepped in.

Griffith always denied he intended deliberate punishment, and watching his concern as he moved to Paret immediately after his hand was raised in victory, it is easy to believe he was telling the truth. But the fight haunted him – and the whispers about his sexuality trailed him – for the rest of his life.

New York’s then Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered an investigation which cleared both Griffith and Goldstein of blame. However Goldstein never refereed another fight, and the television network dropped prime time boxing for the next 20 years.

Griffith was born in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, one of eight children, abandoned by their father, and was raised by relatives while his mother found work in New York, sending for him when he was 12. He got a job in a garment factory whose owner, a former boxer, gave him permission to work shirtless in the heat. Taking one look at Griffith’s narrow waist and broad shoulders, he sent the boy to trainer Gil Clancy. By 1958, Griffith was the Golden Gloves champion at welterweight, and he turned professional.

In 1971, Griffith married Mercedes Donastorg, with Joe Frazier as best man. The marriage lasted less than two years. After retiring, Griffith coached the Danish Olympic team, worked as a corrections officer at a juvenile facility in New Jersey, where he met Luis Rodrigo, who became his life time companion, publicly called an “adopted son”. The relationship cost him his job, and he became a bartender in Jersey City while also training fighters, most notably Wilfred Benítez.

One night in 1992 he fought back after being attacked by a gang as he left Hombre, a gay bar near New York’s port authority terminal. The savage beating he received left him close to death from kidney failure, while the trauma to his head would exacerbate the damage he had received while boxing.

It is evident from the film and from a biography, Nine Ten and Out: The Two Worlds of Emile Griffith, made in 2008, that Griffith struggled to define himself as others would see him. In 2005 he said:

“I’ve chased men and women. I like men and women both. But I don’t like that word: homosexual, gay or faggot. I don’t know what I am.”

Griffith died from kidney failure on 23 July 2013 after suffering from dementia. He is survived by his seven siblings, and by Luis.

Emile Griffith obituary, Guardian, 24 July 2013

Guardian, 10 September 2015


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Gay film pioneers remember a new use for piano wire!

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Falcon Studios | 15171

Out have looked back 40 years to the founding of the US gay video industry, where studios like Falcon began producing sex material for the burgeoning gay market, first with pictures and magazines, and then venturing into video production. Four key players at the time were Vaughn Kincey, Jack Dufault, Jim Hodges, and Chuck Holmes, who worked under the pseudonyms of John Summers, Matt Sterling, John Travis, and Bill Clayton. Chuck Holmes, Jim Hodges and Vaugh Kincey founded Falcon Studios, and went on to become the most commercially successful of the four men.

Jim Hodges (“John Travis,” co-founder Falcon Studios): I was probably one of the first in the business. Bob Mizer [publisher of [of Physique Pictorial] was down here on West 11th Street in Los Angeles. We were shooting posing straps. And then it went from posing straps to ‘soft’ nudes [with flaccid penises]. And then it went from ‘soft’ nudes to piano wire holding the penis back — but hard so it would stay down, not go up. It was a lot of magazine publishing back then. That is really where it all started.

In the US, the sale or exhibition of “porn” — actual sex on film — was illegal. In 1969, San Francisco became the first city in the US to allow porn to screen in theaters, and the business flourished, leading the New York Times to proclaim it the “Smut Capital of the United States” in 1970. Demand for hardcore product increased nationally (and internationally), and much was produced in San Francisco.

http://www.out.com/entertainment/2015/7/08/few-good-men-oral-history-early-gay-porn


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