December 2008 was spent mostly in Marbella, because we were not in the mood for any more massive Xmas dinners in Amsterdam ( as I have been doing for the last 30 years), but rather felt like a quiet celebration in Spain with a few intimate friends.Ever since I have found my niche in bringing theater to Marbella with the start of Nijinsky's “Last dance” theater performance last year , I find life much more stimulating in the South of Spain. A great deal of networking began immediately after our arrival and as I sometimes jokingly say: " Networking is my middle name" I was in for a lot of fun encounters. I was invited for a luncheon at the German Ladies group ; Philip and I then joined the American club and Lorraine Powells Asociación de Arte y Cultura Marbella. We had dinner with the Christian Association, who are very much interested in the arts and we even joined the Dutch Club in the next village Fuengirola as well as a sophisticated English club where unfortunately most members were of such a respectable age that for them making the journey to Marbella at night would just be too tiresome. Nobody seems bored along this coast and the people we met and befriended are the ones you never see in ordinary beach bars or pubs. They live very much secluded lives in or around Marbella. Some keep busy on the golf course, others play tennis or bridge, yet others love to go to concerts but, as far as the spoken word entertainment is concerned they are all apparently culture-starved.
I found a great new location to produce my plays at the El Campanario golf and country house where Dunja Royer is in charge of cultural events. Finally I had met my equal in this lovely German woman who is as driven about bringing theater to Marbella as I am. We instantly became great mates. The surroundings at this golf club are super elegant, the seating most comfortable and spacious and the space where I would bring my plays in winter time can only hold 50 visitors so it instantly creates an intimate ambiance. June 2009 we will aim for a dinner/theater show on their terrace.
Of course the Black Box theater in the center of Marbella will always be my main attraction, a true professional theater with a huge stage and 125 comfortable seats. This theater is most of the time used for school kids and their shows. My one time associate Sherry Midas and I are so far the only ones who have started producing professional English language theater plays.
Full of energy I decided to treat the audience to a fun and naughty Xmas cabaret show with my dear friends Fifi l' Amour and Rodolfo Ravissant. I soon realized that this would be a totally different performance than Nijinsky's one man show, which had won the award as best play at the Glasgow festival in 2008. Fifi and Rodolfo both live in Amsterdam and we have been friends for the last 15 years. I had thought and hoped that their very professional and frivolous vaudeville kind of act of continental songs and cabaret sketches would go over well for the X mas period.
Some people liked it and others found it a touch too risqué. I think it was just totally the wrong time of year to bring anything entertaining as most people were too busy with their own Christmas activities, so I barely managed to cover my expenses. Yet we had some raving reviews from a.o. a one time Canadian circus artiste Josy who just about peed in her pants laughing, while sitting in the front row with her husband Duque.
Yet a great time was had by all. Fifi and Rodolfo who were obviously our house guests for about two weeks had a ball both with us as well as during their brief stay in Sevilla, where they found some terrific original tablaos flamenco. There Rodolfo, who is also a fine gypsy musician, had the opportunity to play piano with some of the finest gypsies in town. In the meantime Rodolfo bonded with our new doggy puppy Suzy who was fascinated by the strange whistling noises Rodolfo could produce both with his mouth as well as with his fingers to get the little animal totally mesmerized.
Suzy by the way is our latest family member we acquired from a dear Belgian family we know.Christel , her 5 kids from a previous marriage and Luc have a huge animal rescue place in Alhaurin, with about 60 dogs, 40 cats and 6 horses on their premises. Philip and I were invited there for luncheon one day and Philip said immediately "I betcha my wife won't walk out of here without a new little animal" And indeed, just before we were about to leave I heard some peeping noises from the back of their kitchen and I discovered an entire kennel with 6 adorable little puppies. My heart began beating faster when my eyes fell on a tiny woolen black and white ball of fire, called Suzy, who instantly started licking my hands and face when I came close.
She was barely 5 weeks old. Suzy's parents were found more dead than alive hung up in a tree, wrapped in a plastic bag with a string around it, basically there to die. The pair, father (a kind of shiatsu) and mother of non descript little mutt, were still "hooked" as they were obviously being run over by a passing car, while they were having sex in the middle of a country road. Heavily bleeding and with a broken paw, Papa was still sexually entangled with his lover when the cruel driver decided to hang 'em up high' in a tree so nobody would hear or see them.
But the ears of Christels children, who are trained to find any struggling abandoned animals, either in garbage bins or stuck in a tree, heard their squeaking noises as they walked by and unhooked the poor animals. They took papa to the vet to have his leg fixed, while Momma was cleaned up and got a nice doggybed to get over her shock of the last few days. A while later Suzy was born, as the only product of this strange love affair. Happy end to this dramatic story is that a sweet old lady in Holland has now adopted the lovers, so they can for ever be together, but cannot make any more babies as they are both fixed.
Soon after Fifi and her man departed for Holland, I rushed into more promotional work for a truly terrific theater animal, DAVID BENSON, a well known English actor/comedian with a great and year long reputation from the Edinburgh theater festival. There he has won many awards for his shows. I decided to let him bring a double act: MOURNING GLORY as well as STARSTRUCK. Both plays I had seen and was fascinated by.
David Benson, who has performed in Amsterdam a few years ago, flew in from London with a young Czech friend Honza, who helped with sound and lighting as well as being his driver while on vacation. They were not lovers, but they sure were a riot together. David, always in great spirits and cheerfully natured, was complimented by Honza's mellow character. Honza helped with the lighting during the shows and also was he the chauffeur of David as they rented a little car so they too could enjoy the surroundings of Marbella on their days off. Honza managed to teach our puppy how to sit and fetch. Later on in Holland my dog trimmer Trudy took Suzy under her wings for 10 days and gave her a thorough puppy training. Now she is home trained and obedient, - though still a wild little fun thing,- who keeps my two older dogs Dida and Schnoofy young.
I would like to thank in particular a dear and fun radio reporter, HANNA from REM radio for her terrific promotion she gave to all my shows. Davids camp performances pulled in much bigger crowds than I had ever had and the last two shows of Starstruck were practically sold out. This sure stimulates me to come back in June 2009 with a brand new show called : musical comedy and jazz with EARL OKIN Musical Genius and Sex Symbol.
Soon after we came back to Holland, we had planned another long journey to South Africa. I had a nasty disagreement with the man who had looked after my house during our absences but I managed to find a perfect solution soon after he left the premises. All my domestic problems were solved within a week and from now on Philip is my official partner, not only as my husband but also in the BB business. He is a terrific cook, and is great with tourists who come and flock our house.
The main purpose to go to South Africa was to meet my half sister Amondi again, who I had not seen for 40 years . She and her two sons Dominic and Stephen used to live in Johannesburg, but now they all had fortunately moved to one of South Africa's most gorgeous places called KNYSNA.
After a tiring 12 hour totally packed KLM flight, we were met at the airport of Capetown by our charming gay hosts who took us to their most elegant and artistically furnished B&B called RECEPTION in Orangetown which little artistic paradise I would like to refer to as our BEYOND FIVE STAR EXPERIENCE, that's how great it was to be there. We explored Capetown , got ourselves a South African map for our GPS and met up with my Dutch friends Susanne Wilmering and her husband Jan, who took us to their incredible mansion in Houtbaai.
First we had a lovely luncheon at the Beach front and a few drinks at the great Constancia wine vineyard. And Susanne also took us to the large Woolworth department store to listen to a fantastic band of black slum kids, now all trained classical music students. They sang and danced for us and collected money for their group or poor family as they are all slum kids trying to get out of their misery and helping their family as much as they can.
On our way to my sister, Philip and I took the famous route 62, also referred to as the Garden Route and had our first stopover in a village called Montagu where Philip went on a private wine tour with the Afrikaans Hotel owner who drove him in his beautiful fifties blue Cadillac from one wine tasting place to another.
He showed Philip the authentic places and not the commercial wineries and we took several fine wines to my sisters place to be shared by her family and friends during a fun “braai” at her terrace a few days later for her 79th birthday celebration. Our second stop over was in a breathtakingly beautiful tiny place called Wilderness .
Here we found a divine and romantic B&B run by yet another hospitable gay couple, who once they found out who I was, proudly showed me a picture on their desk,of one of them reading my Happy Hooker book in a swimming pool taken in 1972. At this point I was however in an awful lot of pain, as for the last three days I had developed some extremely nasty rashes all over my back and around my left breast.
As a doctors daughter I was never much into visiting doctors myself, but this time I really could not take the pain any longer and the owner called a young female doctor to come and visit me in my room I had no idea what I had contracted but it seemed serious enough to get treated . She took one look at the dozens of horrid red spots and asked me when the pain had started and the rashes had come up. It started actually our last night in Capetown but it did not really bother me until a day or two later.
"Well. Ms. Hollander, this is a pretty heavy case of shingles and if only you would have seen a doctor about this within 72 hours it could all be cured in a few days, but now I am afraid it will take you at least three weeks. And take it from me it will be very painful even when the shingles themselves have disappeared. So would you like for me to give you a heavy antibiotic cure as well as prescribe some painkillers? "I eagerly accepted her offer and was given normal painkillers for the daytime and, heavy morphine pills for at night,which instantly put me to sleep soon after I swallowed these pills .
When Philip asked the doctor what may have caused this outbreak she said that it could well be a matter of stress, fatigue and low resistance. All these symptoms fitted me perfectly as all the hassle I had in Amsterdam just before our departure, the long and tiring flight cramped like herrings in a fully booked plane and the long rides in the south African heat had worn me down completely. All in all my next few weeks have been quite agonizing for me, even when the actual shingles disappeared and my antibiotic cure was finished, the pain near my left breast and armpits lasted until we got back to Holland, where I had a total health checkup . Stress is the main factor in my life that I should try to avoid. Easier said than done, with all the activities that lay ahead of me. But all of this surely did not stop me from having a terrific time while on vacation in South Africa.
My main purpose of our visit to this great country was to see my sister again, Amondi, daughter of my fathers first wife and like me, conceived in Tretes, Java. Amondi and I had not seen each other for fourty years. We occasionally spoke each other over the phone as she did not believe in emailing. I did keep in email touch with her youngest son Stephan, so from him I heard all the latest news.
I had not seen a photograph of my sister ever since we stopped seeing each other which was shortly after I left south Africa and went to the USA in 1969. I was in for a most pleasant surprise: she barely had changed at all in all these years,though she walks a bit slower due to an Achilles tendon infection which was only temporarily. She has more or less my built, her shoulders a bit stooped but she looks not a day over 70 and is totally au natural, she is less heavy than I am. We are of the same height, still have similar high cheekbones and expressive eyes. (inherited from Pappi) and we even have a similar short hair style .
Her skin is out of this world so smooth and soft without any wrinkles at all. Her feet in open sandals are dainty and look like those of a young girl and she dresses in cheerful colors and fashionable though practical clothes, mostly pants suits. Her tidy house full of flowery pillows and couches and a huge terrace is overlooking a 180 Degree view of the Knysna river. The wooden house is built on a hill. We got a lovely and spacious bedroom with an all round veranda where in the morning or late afternoon we would gather and sip our drinks and tell stories, sometimes woken up by some truly unbelievably exotic birds or screeching monkeys in the distance.
The day after her birthday,her sons Dominic and Stephen and his young girlfriend Charlene dropped by with all sorts of goodies to start the "braai" (BBQ). We had bought the meat and they brought the drinks and salads. We had a nice surprise from Holland to be shared by all: tons of zoute drop - (salted licorice) - some lovely tins with dutch cookies, Douwe Egberts coffee, some cute wooden shoes lookalike pantoffels, Dutch cheese and some cds specially compilated by me. Also pictures I had printed from my dad and mom and not to forget some Indonesian krupuk (shrimpchips) as well as an elegant Indonesian batik long jacket for my sister.
The boys now in their late forties still look very handsome as I remember them. Both had spent quite a bit of time in Holland as well as in Spain about 20 years ago and they still had fond memories of those days and friends they made.
Dominic, who manages building contracts now started to look more like our Pappi while Stephen, who works for human resources in legal disputes for big companies, remained the spitting image of his own father Jannie Devilliers. He still has that Peter Pan personality and both Dominic and I remember well how Amondi used to warn us to look after her hot house plant. They both still call me NAUGHTY AUNTY EXIE and were all delighted to meet with Philip who got along with them like a house on fire.
Talking of fire..While we were there, much like in California some kids had been setting several forests on fire in the neighborhood of Capetown. What a shame!
Charlene, Stephens ladybug for the last 15 years is a devilishly cute tiny but feisty ball of fire of 35. They have a fun non marital relationship and none of them wants to have any kids. What we all have in common with Pappi is the love of animals and our hang for painting and art collecting, though Amondi, who used to own a chicken farm and had many dogs when I knew her in my early twenties, now only has a stuffed little doggy and cat on her couch and leaves the real animals to her children. She too has become a talented Sunday painter if she can find the time for it.
Stephen lives in a kind of artistic tree house with big sweet dogs, cats and birds and Dominic,who we visited during our last day of our stay lives way up on a mountain and owns an enormous field of 14 acres with 3 oxes, one cow, 4 pot bellied pigs , 2 peacocks, a few chickens, fish and two dogs. He is a thorough bachelor, very much in demand by single women, who often have kids from previous relationships. Dominic, like Stephen, does not have fatherly inclinations and often these affairs go bust due to the influence and jealousy of the kids that come with the mothers.
I saw some of Amondi's old albums from the years she lived in Indonesia when OUR pappi was married to her mommy. Her mother had been quite a femme fatale and socialite and much like her debonair husband she was a party animal. While Mick worked hard as a psychiatrist in the daytime, at night and in weekends they would PLAY hard. And unfortunately there was no room for little Amondi , who was left in care of the nannies or baboos. They often would scare the living daylight out of her when she was getting a bit unruly and refused to go to sleep.
Then they would put on gruesome masks of wicked witches which prevented her from sleeping at all and caused her terrible nightmares as well as bed wetting.All in all what our childhood memories of Indonesia were concerned, Amondi lacked the presence of her father due to their eternal partying and late nights or pappi's hard work in the daytime so she barely knew she had a father and in my case.. when I was her age between 0 and 4 I barely knew my father either, not due to parties or hard work, but because of the war. Japanese soldiers locked my mom and me up in concentration camps far removed from where my father was also imprisoned. So in a way Amondi and I had something in common and that was the lack of a father figure for the first 4 years of our life and thus many moments of extreme loneliness.
I enjoyed listening to Amondi's melodious high and youthful voice, to see her so full of energy still and to relax in her lovely big house, full of art work either painted by herself or her son Dominic. On the walls I noticed some Indonesian artifacts and swords and wooden statues from our native country Indonesia. Specially her beautiful Wajang dolls and portraits brought back to life both our childhood memories. A colorful big kimono on the wall of her staircase -with red dragons- was apparently the last gift her mom got from our father before they split up. All these items were discretely put on display in her cozy home.
We were her guests for over ten days and took some tours in the surroundings. I photographed one spectacular sunrise from her balcony with bright red and orange colors. Late at night, tranquil and peaceful with the gentle nature sounds all around us, paradise-like Knysna made me think again of the time I spent under my sisters roof 40 years ago when she and her family lived in a Rivonia near Johannesburg. I will always remember the noise of the crickets, frogs or birds in the distance just before we would go to sleep and I was babysitting her 3 kids.
I looked through some old photo albums and of course came across a few pics of our Pappi and Amondi when she was a young girl. Mick looked just like Rudolf Valentino in his one piece bathing suit and another picture showed him hugging his brown bear he used to keep in his garden. Our father was always very much into animals. He used to own not only monkeys, dogs and cats, not to speak of the dozens of tropical birds. There was this brown medium sized bear, who adored him. Amondi offered to reprint some of these photos while Philip and I took off for a few days to check out the ADDO elephant park.
We spent one day at Port Elizabeth beach front and enjoyed a romantic meal overlooking the sea. Philip and I still were astounded about how inexpensive life is over in South Africa, compared to super expensive Europe. Of course we did not take into consideration that the salaries here are not to be compared with what people earn realistically in Europe. The average amount a simple laborer or cleaning lady takes home a month is euro 100. With the influx of refugees from Zimbabwe who work for half that money and dont' get drunk, like the local South African workers, a lot of hate amongst the blacks has flared up.
A lot of people drive their cars without insurance, nor do many young kids have any kind of health care insurance. In the Game park we were promised the "big five", but we mainly saw dozens of elephants, a buffalo, some kudu's and wild swines and some giant tortoises. No lions, nor hyenas, giraffes or zebras were anywhere to be spotted. It was not as impressive as I had experienced in the Kruger Park many years ago or in a Kenya game reserve but it was interesting nevertheless.
Our last day at my sisters we took a ride to a quaint neighboring nursery where we saw incredible cycad plants with enormous colorful flowers in the middle, which can only be bought with a certain permit. We walked around various cages of tiny monkeys, called Marmasets; watched dozens of elegant skinny pink flamingos, black swans with red beaks and a proud blue herrin as well as some colorful peacocks and parrots, of which the sweet set of red parrots won our heart.
Then Amondi took us to the Buffalo bay which is a seaside little village where we ended up in a very dutch looking cozily furnished backpackers lounge overlooking the Indian Ocean and had a whale of a time watching two vivacious white whales play together.
During the Apartheid years the whites had everything and now since 1994, when apartheid was abolished, there is a reverse apartheid. Jobs have to be filled first by black people , - even in the top positions - and the whites are more difficulties to find work than ever before. Black fashion models and singers are getting more exposure on TV, Radio and magazines than white artists. Result is that less famous international artists will be performing in South Africa.
Philip and I were most impressed with the great quality of the roads, the undisturbed wide areas of beautiful nature, trees, bougainvilleas, bushes, and apart from the fascinating sea views we were stunned by the inland lakes easily visible from the highway along the Garden route. I have never felt unsafe for a moment while on vacation and was surprised about the friendly helpful people of all colors who loved us for having come from so far.
On our way to Capetown, we stopped for luncheon in a nondescript little town with the name Heidelberg. All I know of a place in Germany with that name is the lovely song: " I have lost my heart in Heidelberg" and boy oh boy did we lose our heart there as well ...
We spent an hour having divine pancakes and ice cream at this incredible surreal little coffee shop, where the owner, a jolly elderly big white momma, who only spoke Afrikaans to all of us, told us how she had lost her beloved husband just a few years ago and she did not want to stay at home, so she moved to where her kids live and now has started this fairy tale coffee shop with two huge cabbage patch dolls on the veranda.
She is like the ultimate mama herself and lovingly tells stories about her chatty 2 year old red tailed gray parrot and his ongoing love/ hate affair with her tiny old dog.
With a full belly and a grimace on our face from all the giggles this lady caused us, we set out to visit one of Hollands most hospitable one timeTV personalities Tineke de Nooy in Velddrif, an hour away from Capetown.We spent three fun days there a.o. attending an all Dutch get together in Doornfontein and were treated to a charming young group of jazz musicians. The Dutch ex pats who came from as far as 2 hours drive, occasionally get together and Tineke, very much like me, is the great organizer...
It was nice to be a guest instead of the producer for once. After 5 weeks in paradise with temperatures of 42 degrees C we were more than ready to go home to Holland where spring was in the air but totally out of the blue I was faced with the death of two dear friends.
I was just thinking about calling my longtime young friend Romke, a soul mate of Nick and me for the last twenty years, to find out if he wanted to join me to go and see Nick perform his one man show at the Parool theater, when Romke himself, barely controlling the flow of tears, rang me up with the bad news that Nick had suffered yet another heart attack and was being hospitalized .It was obvious that Nick would Not be able to do this incredible show he had so much looked forward to.
Now with Nick, we all know his health has been failing on and off for years. Being a BIG person myself, having tried to fight the battle against my own bulges for the last 30 odd years, I was powerless to help him overcome his own struggle. His cardiologists suggestion (in an effort to try and prolong his life by making him shed some of his excess weight,) to get a stomach operation a few years ago, only offered him temporarily solace. His fatal attraction for junk food would finally bring him to his grave far too soon.His GLUTTONY you tube film columns about GLUTTONY, with obviously copious meals all over town in the restaurants he reviewed for Amsterdam Weekly, made him not only put on weight rapidly again, but also more famous than the star he was already as a fine raconteur.
Several times a girlfriend of mine who lives in his street had informed me that once more the Goblin (as that is what he was lovingly referred to by the neighbors due to his artistic colorful outfits and crazy hats) had been taken down from his attic apartment by the window. No ambulance or policemen could get his bulky body down the narrow stairs in time to save his life, as his weight , which once he had under control for a very short while, had become so excessive again that he would not have made the hospital alive . So OUT the WINDOW he went, our colorful pixie
I remember fondly the many exclusive gatherings he organized in his cozy, lately messy place, where we all would participate in some way or other to make the parties a success. There was no shortage of food and drinks and entertainment of all sorts. Often Nick surprised us not only with new stories but also with yet another version of the delicious south African dish Babooti he would lovingly prepare either in his own home, or at the south African restaurant Tjin Tjin or even for dozens of theater visitors at the Cameleon theater where Michael Kamp, another fellow south African I have known ever since the start of this romantic theatre, put on several of Nicks storytelling events. To me Nick was a great friend. At one point my documentary maker Robert Dunlap invited him and Romke, who was almost like the son he never had to him, to say something in front of his camera about their relationship they had with ME. We sometimes felt like the three musketeers! Romke and I had been lovers for six years. Nick was merely a very good and inspiring friend. Nicks soft voice and mysterious look focused on the camera for a few moments without uttering a word and then he kind of whispered: “XAVIERA,...ah.... she can make a very good friend but boy oh boy... can she make a BAD enemy!“
About 17 years ago I introduced him to a charming but cunning young blond man from South Africa.. who had lived most of his life in Kenya and later on in London. He came from a frightfully wealthy family but was clearly the black sheep. “,Golden angel Charley“ Nick instantly nicknamed this boy whom I had known since he was 18. Seldom have I seen Nick so enamored and charmed by such a pretty and bright but cunning individual as this upper crust yet debauched kid. Nick even went on a crash diet and charmed the pants of the young man. That he was a little con artist none of us had noticed until Nick found him drunk one night and passed out like a light on his couch cradling MY meanwhile empty wallet( Still full with my credit cards,) which he had ripped off from me and for which I had been looking for days. Long story short... Charley and Nick had the oddest relationship, beyond father/son feelings. But when he finally told him to leave, Nick wrote one of the most haunting love/hate poems I ever heard from him. I think this was truly his last great love of his life and it devastated him to be so fooled.
For the last 30 odd years that I have lived in Amsterdam I have given many a party, whether this was a sit down Christmas dinner for up to 40 people or a massive musical birthday party mid June for up to 120 people. Most of the time NICK would always be there, in one of his many African style huge colorful shirts and crazy hats and with this sardonic smile on his cherub face. Often he was seated quietly in a corner of the room or garden, a plate full of food on his lap or a piece of chicken in his fingers or dangling from a corner of his mouth, watching the action take place with jugglers, musicians, cabaretiers like Fifi and Rodolfo or even the occasional male or female stripper or burlesque performer. And then , when he felt the time was ripe for it.. he would get up, wipe his face clean and prepare himself to tell one or more of his unforgettable stories . Instantly the noisy room would go totally quiet... Nick is one of the few storytellers I know, who had a soft voice and could make people even enjoy the sometimes long silences between his words.. I have seen him play grandiose solo performances but also if he did a very small role on stage, like a porter in a hotel lobby, with Fifi in the Casa Blanca on the Zeedijk , with only a few lines, he could steal the entire show. His grimace, funny shrugs with his shoulders, or subtle little hand moves, or his naughty twinkle in his eyes when he would squint them together like a Cheshire cat were inimitable.
Nick usually wanted to know when I was to embark on yet another long journey, what date I would be back in Holland. Guaranteed he would be the very first person to call me and wish me happy landing and tell me how much he missed me. We sometimes did double acts on stage. We even wrote a few sketches for ourselves. What fun we had. Ah well.. I think I better leave the stage now for someone else to tell his or her story, before I start crying. The news that he died that Romke once more broke to me a few days after his last heart attack hit me over the head like a hammer . I knew it had to happen some day, but 57 years is really far too young to leave us all. We shall miss you Nick. Amsterdam will just not be the same any more without your funny face and impressive posture.. Nobody who has had the pleasure of getting to know you, can ever forget who you were... I am sure you will cheer up whatever individuals you will bump into up there... as someone like you certainly will not end up in hell.
LOVE also from my man Philip , who has known you for a brief period of time only but took an instant liking to your charismatic personality. May you have all the wonderful food and lovely new friends you ever could have dreamt of, wherever you are, your spirit will never leave us.
Soon after my dear storyteller Nick Leslie died only a few days ago, from gluttony now John Drummond, my one time love of my life, died in a horrid way as well in Fuengirola, Spain Age 79, March 19th 2009. I am dedicating this poem to my two friends, who just past away recently... Nick Leslie the story teller and John Drummond the love of my life!
"The clock of life is wound but once,
and no man has the power
to tell just when the hands will stop,
at late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still."
REQUIEM FOR A FIRY REBEL : JOHN DRUMMOND Friday March 20, 2009
For 16 years John Drummond, a well known bon vivant and artist, columnist for The Reporter, has been my man of all seasons and for all reasons in the villa Caprice in Marbella. During the first 6 years of our tumultuous relationship we had a lot of fun, wrote two books together: HAPPILY HOOKED or “what happens when two raving egomaniacs get addicted to each others body and mind”and LET'S GET MOVING. He also assisted me with my sex advice column CALL ME MADAM in Penthouse Magazine. In the late sixties John moved from London to Fuengirola where he became an art director for commercials, produced by his friend Eddy Vorkapich. He was also known as ‘John de las mapas’ as with his artistic talent he made beautifully drawn maps of various towns up and down the coast with commercial locations and interesting sights . Even the police station in Fuengirola has one of their walls adorned with this map. He held his office mainly in LA CEPA bar at the Plaza de la Constitution. John did not need a phone, his voice was usually loud and boisterous and he liked his liquor but never lost control. His wit was sharp and often biting.
We traveled the world extensively for many years, but John always came back to Spain,where he preferred to work on his old minis, feed his chickens, play with his big dogs he used to pick up on beaches or who simply found HIM, get drunk with the boys in the pub, yell at me some times and generally acted like he was the lord of the manor, while I still spent a lot of time in Amsterdam. When this cat was away John Drummond no doubt would play... so did I by the way. But when we were under one roof we actually remained faithful to one another. For the first three years of our relationship we made love at least 3 x a day!
He spoke fluent Spanish and always knew his way around no matter in what part of the world we were. We both allowed each other the occasional polyamorous affair and almost always were honest to each other about our outside activities, but what WE had was a perfect body/mind chemistry, something that nobody has ever been able to take away from us.
When we really broke up in 2004 John moved back to Fuengirola where he spent the rest of his life in his own finca up in the mountains near Mijas Golf. It is en route to the hospital in Fuengirola on Friday March 20 that John Drummond, who had been suffering from prostate cancer and had clearly reached the end of his rope, collapsed on the staircase to the ambulatory. He was accompanied by his faithful old friend John Searles. Reanimation did not help. John Boris Drummond died a quick death of a massive heart attack at the age of 79.
In his youth he used to live in London for many years, where he was a dealer in second hand old timer cars, a sculptor and a painter. The cold weather drove him to visit Spain, a country he instantly fell in love with. We were often referred to as a “WHO IS AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF “kind of couple, except that my lips never ever touched alcohol. We were perfectly matched and very verbal and temperamental. John's famous quote was:“An Englishman's way of saying: “I love you” is a put down.”
The last few years he suffered from an incurable prostate cancer, but up until the last moment he maintained his erudite wit and his sardonic sense of humor and his cutting remarks will be missed by many, both in Marbella as well as Fuengirola.
Stephen rappaport people on the other side seems approriate here:
This is a letter written by Nicholas, his son...
John's funeral was yesterday. We held a short mass conducted by a Spanish priest who spoke English so that the service could be spoken in both languages, his native tongue and the language he loved. As I am sure you know, John's religious beliefs were far from conventional. Though he was neither an Anglican nor a Catholic, he wasn't an atheist. He believed in magic, the inexplicable serendipity that sometimes surrounds certain events and situations. In my book that makes him agnostic. He might have preferred a funeral without any ritualistic religious content, but we thought the formality of s short Catholic mass would at least mark his passing with dignity and affection. Since Christianity is at its heart concerned with forgiveness, perhaps we were right to send him off with such thoughts in mind.I know you were very fond of him. I certainly regard the 20 or so years you spent together as the happiest and most successful of his life. You were well matched as a couple since he was one of the few men with the necessary intelligence and strength of character to complement your own. When you were together, you built a large circle of friends around you. Perhaps if John had understood why commitment is important in marriage, he might have made more effort to work through the inevitable differences that test every long-term relationship. In doing so, he might have helped you develop a love that lasted a lifetime and beyond.
I know John hurt you enormously. Without wishing to judge either him or you, I think I can fairly say that it was unkind if not selfish of him to bring Paloma into your house as he did. Had I been you, I would have made every effort to boot them out too. In that sense, he only got what he deserved.
What I mean is that when you live your life without any kind of morality, the dividing lines between right and wrong eventually become so blurred, you lose your perspective and balance. I think John genuinely didn't understand the duty of loyalty and fidelity that evolved from the life you built together. So I am not angry with you and hold no grudge against you. If Titus does so, it is only because he believes your legal actions against John destroyed him. I am not sure they did. John was so thick-skinned and indomitable that few things every disturbed his equilibrium. That said, sometimes you don't realize what you have lost until it is beyond your grasp. He hated to be wrong and hated to admit being wrong even more. If he seemed venomous, perhaps this was merely his sense of hurt and injured pride.You were always incredibly kind to me and I think your directness and warmth were a panacea not just to me but for the many hundreds of friends and acquaintances you entertained in both Holland and Spain. If you were able to love John with such intensity and passion, he was foolish not to anticipate that the flip side of that could be a ruthless and uncompromising rejection. Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned is one of life's great and universal truths. I suspect that deep down a twinge of regret may well have existed. Whatever, in looking back on the time you and John spent together, I prefer to remember the good times not the bad.
In considering his life, he is such a paradox. So talented, yet so lazy. So creative, yet so destructive, So intelligent, yet he made so many stupid mistakes. So hungry for love and approval, yet so insensitive and uncaring at times. John was supremely selfish and self-centered. It was almost as if he had no ability to put himself in other people's shoes. I think it is accurate to say that we was a narcissist in the truest sense of the word, although that is an observation not a criticism. It makes me suspect that his childhood may not have been the easy, happy upbringing he suggested it was. I wonder if my grandmother was as warm and gentle as she is supposed to have been. In fact, I imagine that despite many positive qualities that she was emotionally detached. I think John, like so many stiff Englishmen, was brought up by a succession of nannies in an environment that denied him the proper love, acceptance, time and attention that any small child deserves.
As a result, I think he cut off his emotions. He never acknowledged them, although they surfaced through various things he did. In this sense, his self-centredness was really no more than his unexpressed need for affection and acceptance, even if it made him pretty difficult to deal with at times. Today, we know so much more about how the environments in which we are brought up condition our attitudes and responses to life, people and events than we did in gloomy wartime Britain. In other words our personalities and characters aren't only shaped by who our parents are or the fact that they are around. It is what they do for us that really matters. I was much luckier than John in that my guardians in his absence, the Nuttalls, were wonderful parents even if they weren't my real parents. Their love was real and unselfish.
I am not trying to excuse John's behavior at all, only explain it so that our memory of him can be focused on his great wit, charm and the fact that he was always fun and interesting to have around. The last years of his life were not as rosy as his zenith years. I think John may have had moments when he was forced to confront life's deepest questions. I think the end of your relationship was just such a point in his life. So only good came out of such unpleasantness. I am glad that you have settled down with another man to find new love and contentment. You are one of life's givers not takers. You have a well of generosity that seems almost bottomless. I am grateful that my father was able to benefit from it for so long. You deserve to be happy and to be loved.
I regret that I was unable to tell John many of the things I have written in this letter. I am regret he never discovered the power of that small and seemingly inconsequential word: sorry. Sorry changes everything. Anyway, he is gone now. I have no doubt that John was prepared to meet his maker. The question is whether his maker was ready to meet John.
In addition to having to pay for John's funeral, it looks like I will need to clear up the mess he has left behind. He has left Paloma with nothing. I understand that John still owes your solicitor €12,000 for the costs of defending your action against him, which is registered as a charge against his property. Assuming I am acknowledged as his legal heir, I will liquidate John's property as soon as possible and do everything possible to pay-off this debt. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it is really worth or whether it can be sold easily or quickly. I am in contact with his solicitor who has an accurate and fully attested record of the facts. I just wanted you to know that I will do whatever is within my power to close John's affairs honorably, correctly and as quickly as I can. I have told Titus that this must be done, not only for the sake of John's memory, but also for the sake of our family. John came from a very good old Scottish family. For generations they earned the trust of everyone they came into contact with. Titus and I will pick-up the thread our great grand-father left behind for us to follow. We have taken John's ashes back to the UK. We intend to scatter them in the churchyard in Scotland where generations of Drummond ancestors were christened, married, and buried. John is finally going home. He may not have earned our love during his life, but in death will be no barrier to his receiving it. I hope the words and thoughts I write here are acceptable to you. If I have one regret, it is that i was too immature when we met to realize what a force for good in John's life you were. Sorry for that. With gratitude, love and respect to you and your family,
And now for some more cheerful ending to this very long newsletter THE HAPPY HOOKER MUSICAL in London What a whirlwind visit it was Philip and I made to London!
The trip began with a private soiree presented by long standing ex-USA resident now business guru in London, Isabel Bass, who hosted a dinner complete with Louise Dearman singing the 4 songs from the new musical.
Here are the words of our songwriter himself Richard Hansom who introduced the performers to a very enthusiastic crowd.
Thursday 2nd April , 2009 saw large parts of Covent Garden and London’s West End closed off by police – the official reason given was that Michelle Obama and the other wives of world leaders at the G20 meeting in London were attending a dress rehearsal at the Royal Opera House.
But now the real reason for all this police activity can be told – the Happy Hooker was back in town! Xaviera and husband Philip flew in to London for a few days to attend an exclusive preview of the new musical based on her New York years, written by composer/longtime friend Warren Wills and his writing partner Richard Hansom. The prestigious Theatre Royal, Drury Lane was home for the preview – and the audience consisted of many of the top movers and shakers on London’s theatrical scene, West End theatre owners and producers alike, including representatives from the Ambassadors Theatre Group, Nimax, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Hackney Empire. The fact that they had to weave their way through police cordons to get there just added to the exclusivity of the event! Richard Hansom synopsized the story, canapés and drinks flowed freely, the chandeliers glistened.
Warren was at the piano to accompany four of the songs from the show, performed by some of the West End’s top talent – Louise Dearman performed the role of Xaviera, having just finished a national tour of Evita where she played the role of Eva to rave reviews. She was joined by Francesca Ellis, who sang a duet – Don’t Call Me Sister – as Xaviera has a showdown with a group of street whores in a Manhattan jail cell, and by Anthony Cable, who performed the role of Evelyn St John (the first man from whom Xaviera accepted money for her services) in a number entitled There’s Nothing Like An Older Man. Other numbers performed were Don’t Mention The Name and Easy Come, Easy Go.
The afternoon turned out to be a triumphant success, and with the help of some of the most influential 25 crème-de-la-crème producers who attended, the show can hopefully soon be launched in style! Next week will see several high-level meetings as producers start bidding for the rights to the show. More news as we receive it! Many thanks to legal eagle John Cohen who hosted this event and Isabel Bass for their help in organizing this highly successful event. Further details of the creative team involved can be found at:
Richard Hansom also works as a Development Executive for the UK’s leading animation company Aardman Animations
The rest of the week was spent leisurely, visiting friends like Anna, my X team helper from Marbella during my theater productions there, who also resides in London. It was Anna, a one time actress herself, who introduced us to a most talented young singer with a very unusual voice and of extreme beauty: Giles Howe and Katy Lipson treated Philip and Xaviera to an afternoon of delightful, charming duets. I'd love for Warren to hear their music and hopefully we shall see and hear specially Giles in my musical as the YOUNG lover of Xaviera in her twenties.
Of course there were , not to forget three delightful evenings spent at various theatres where we watched a spectacular show of "Priscilla, queen of the desert" and Oliver:
John Cohen, who is co producer of Oliver had kindly arranged the best seats for the most reasonable prices for us. All in all a magnificent time was had by all and I think this is the cheerful note I want to end this newsletter with, which must have kept you busy reading for hours... so consider this as one or even two chapters of my new book...Wall Talk...!!!