Thursday, 14 November 2013

Rudolph Valentino: The Screen God Who Loved Men

I guess you could say I brought out a second edition due to public demand, though "Valentino: A Dream of Desire" shows no sign of abating, for which I am very, very grateful. When I published it back in 1998 I was told by my then publisher that it might shift 'a few thousand' copies, but never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate it hitting the six-figure mark, or for it to still be in the charts after fifteen years! As they say here, "There's nowt so queer as folk!"

In Rudolph Valentino: The Screen God Who Loved Men, David Bret tells of the real Valentino, a man sexually attracted only towards other men, whose relationships with women, particularly his two rapacious lesbian wives—brought him heartbreak. Moralists attacked him, studio chiefs treated him like dirt. His manager was only interested in gaining control of his estate. When he lay dying in hospital, these people deliberated between saving him and letting him die while working out which was the most financially viable: Valentino alive or dead, and what would happen if the truth emerged about his private life.

Valentino was less ashamed of his sexuality than he was of being trapped within the image of his public persona. In 1920s Hollywood, gay men were stereotyped as feeble degenerates. Not so Valentino, a powerfully-built man who excelled at most sports, boxing in particular. It was his persistent, unnecessary need to ‘prove’ his manhood which ultimately contributed to his early death.


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