Entries in KT Auleta (2)

Tuesday
Jun072011

Peep Show: Ricky Clifton, John Currin and Rachel Feinstein

XTC: SENSES WORKING OVERTIME [1982]

"Married artists John Currin and Rachel Feinstein are sensualists. They don't look like it but they are. Because I'm so deeply superficial, I steered clear of them until Rachel attacked me at a dinner party one day: "We need help, it's too much, it's out of control!" They had moved into their new apartment in SoHo a few years before and were still trying to make sense of how to marry all their major style influences. At our first meeting I was informed what those were: Annabel's, the old bougie London boîte—uptight, spooky, sophisticated; Third-World-dictator rococo—witty, gilded, ridiculous; and last, but not at all least, Carlo Mollino—the ultimate Italian sensualist. That's when they had me."

"The experience has changed my life. The more I've worked with John and Rachel, the more my obsession with Mollino has gone into overdrive. After a pilgrimage to Turin to see his apartment, I realized that Mollino—like the Currins—was not at all what he appeared to be. Rather than a big, masculine, Gary Cooper-esque adventurer, I discovered a tiny (his bathroom mirror reflected my tummy) rationalist, orientalist sensualist obsessed with all things feminine. Mollino's Turin bachelor pad screams "Miss Thing!" (Moreover, I'm convinced he was a secret cross-dresser—there's a pair of women's stilettos near his bed to this very day.) No wonder the Currin's are into him."

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS OF JOHN CURRIN AND RACHEL FEINSTEIN'S MANHATTAN APARTMENT BY KT AULETA FOR "PORTFOLIO: PEEP SHOW", PIN-UP #10, SPRING/SUMMER 2011; TEXT BY RICKY CLIFTON, TAKEN FROM THE SAME ISSUE

Friday
Dec312010

The Belvedere Guest House for Men, Fire Island [ORG. POSTED 1.26.10]

 

“There are 2,556,596 faggots in the New York City area.

The largest number, 983,919, live in Manhattan. 186,991 live in Queens, or just across the river. 181,236 live in Brooklyn and 180,009 live in the Bronx. 2,469 live on Staten Island, substantiating that old theory that faggots don’t like to travel or don’t like to live on small islands, depending on which old theory you’ve heard and/or want substantiated.

Westchester and Dutchess Counties, together with that part of New Jersey which is really suburban New York, hold approximately 297,852, though this figure may be a bit low.

Long Island, or that which is beyond Queens, at last count numbered 211,910. (This goes all the way to Montauk, remember.)

Suburban Connecticut (not primarily of concern here, nor for that matter are suburban New Jersey or suburban New York—but you might as well have the advantage of all the statistics, since they were exhaustively collected), which includes the heavily infested Danbury triangle area, has 211,910 also, which makes it a sister statistic to Long Island, which is as it should be since the two share a common Sound.” [1]



“Approaching the Belvedere Guest House for Men by boat, you may think you’ve mistakenly boarded a Venetian vaporetto headed for the Guidecca, with Palladio’s Redentore looming mirage-like ahead of you. But it is in face Great South Bay that you are crossing, direction Cherry Grove, Fire Island, N.Y. A tribute to Italy, and more particularly Venice, this extravagant hotel, with its sprawling floor plan, dreaming spires, and antique-filled interiors, is the creation of artist, set designer, and baroque spirit of John Eberhardt. Since the Belvedere first opened in 1957, Eberhardt has expanded it into a renoqwned fun-in-th-sun palazzo for “men who prefer men.

The Belvedere is a hallucinatory architectural pastiche where nearly everything is familiar—sometimes beyond the point of recognition. Its towers (complete with cupolas made from wheat silos) hint of Seville as well as Venice; its lightness, plasticity, and texture recall Michelangelo Naccherino’s Fontana dell’Immacolatella in Naples; yet the hotel’s overall spirit suggests Portmeririon, Clough Williams-Ellis’s Italianate-inspired resort in Gwynedd, Wales.” [2]

“There are now more faggots in the New York City area than Jews. There are now more faggots in the entire United States than all the yids and kikes put together. (This is subsidiary data, not overtly relevant, but ipso facto nevertheless.)

The straight and narrow, so beloved of our founding fathers and all fathers thereafter, is now obviously and irrevocably bent. What is God trying to tell us…?” [1]

“There will be seven disco openings this holiday weekend. Though the premier palais de dance, Billy Boner’s Capriccio, is closing tonight for the season so that Billy can open The Ice Palace at Cherry Grove, its closest competitor, Balalaika, run by the inseparable Patty, Maxine, and Laverene, will remain open, to cater to the hot-weather crowd on those weekends they don’t make it to Fire Island.

Everyone wonders which of the newcomers will be the first to go under, because, ignorant of the above vital statistics, the fear is there’s not enough business to go round.

On Saturday evening opens The Toilet Bowl. But that’s meant to be more than a Disco.

Later, it would be recollected as the False Summer. Everything had bloomed too quickly. Fire Island, this Memorial Day, would be like the Fourth of July. Too much too soon. Everyone was caught in the never-never land of City? Capriccio? The Tubs? Balalaika? The Pits? The Toilet Bowl? Fire Island? All cups runneth over. The weather was no help either—the glorious summer sun now obviously out to stay—and thus useless in defineing and dictating destinations and activities, as it usually did when cold meant dancing and very cold meant television, joints, and bed.

And here it was only May.” [1]

“But Eberhardt understood theater well enough to leave the most dramatic moments for the interior. His delight in the eclectic and whimsical pervades even the most minor spaces. Mural-lined corridors with heavily patterned carpets flow past blind doors leading to stairs at the top of which, seemingly for lack of a better place, sit oversized cherubs in lieu of banister finials. Each guest room is designed around a style or period, and many have fantastical trompe l’oeil murals painted by Eberhardt himself. the Pompeii Room, with its terra cotta-toned scenes depicting the ruins of the ravaged Roman town, is located next to the Oak Room, with its intricately carved paneling—originally from England—salvaged by Eberhardt from a Long Island estate. The dining room and the adjoining grand salon are thoroughly over the top, the salon is where Eberhardt most lavished his love (and talent) for trompe l’oeil wall paintings, archaeological accretions, and wild juxtapositions of decorative styles. Off-limits because of the fragile hand-painted floor, the room is chock-a-block with a multitude of objects and furniture: statuary, including a bust of Apollo over the mantle and a bust of Hadrian’s catamite, Antinous; candelabra; Louis XIV-style chairs facing off a bright-yellow 20th-century demi-lune sofa with animal-print throw pillows; an oversized chandelier (of course); and a collection of artifacts—salvaged and bought—that defies categorization. In the window sits an elaborately sculpted gilt basin, which was purportedly once used by Marie Antoinette.

Amid all the decorative display hangs an easily overlooked portrait of a young John Eberhardt (today in his early 90s), a picture as proper—he is wearing a white cricket sweater and trousers—as the hotel is outré. Capturing a moment, authentic or staged, from a more elegant time, this handsome painting evokes with nostalgia the fleeting of beauty and youth, with which Fire Island has become synonymous.” [2]

 

ALL IMAGES OF FIRE ISLAND’S BELVEDERE GUEST HOUSE FOR MEN, AS TAKEN BY KT AULETA FOR PIN-UP ISSUE 7, FALL/WINTER 09/10; TEXT TAKEN FROM “FAGGOTS” BY LARRY KRAMER, 1978 [1], AND FROM PIN-UP ISSUE 7 [2], BY JOE ROUMELIOTIS AND JOE DISPONZIO