There's been an awful lot of piffle written about Rudolph Valentino over the years. He supposedly couldn't keep his hands off any woman with a pulse--if you believe some of the wildest accusations, that he even got his own sister-in-law pregnant. I suppose he was thinking, back then, "If the world thinks that I slipped it inside Ada, they won't call me abnormal by saying that I actually slipped it inside André, or Ramon--well, it was vice-versa!" And anyone seeing how tremendously ugly that child was would not want to say that someone as handsome as Valentino had fathered him!
One dipstick once said, and publicly, that Valentino could not have been gay because there are no pictures of him having sex with men! This brought the ribald comment from a very dear friend, "Well, there are no pictures of him with his cock stuck inside a pussy, either!"
Valentino was gay, of this there was no doubt. Indeed, I would be worried if someone actually wrote that he was straight and was taken seriously for a single second. One of the biggest defenders of his sexuality in America is a gay man attempting to pass himself off as straight, and emerging only slightly to the left of Liberace. Two authors have stuck to their guns and written persistently that Rudy was as gay as a pink chaplain but Butch as John Wayne: myself and Chaw Mank, who knew him. To date, our books are the only ones to have hit the six-figure mark, so it is not hard (no pun intended) to discern what the book-buying public believes.
Chaw Mank's book was optioned for the Ken Russell film of 1977 with Rudolph Nureyev. My own has been optioned for a film which should see the light of day in 2017, if I'm lucky. These things are notoriously tetchy, and anything can happen. What I'm aiming for is part-control over the casting of Valentino. Two actors--one famous, one completely unknown--have put their names forward and have written to say they are wholly unfazed at the idea of two men kissing on the screen. One group interested in the project goes with this, while another wants to find its own Rudy. In fact, there is NO kissing in the script (registered with Ink.Tip) and definitely no sex scenes. I don't find them necessary to convey man-on-man love by way of all the anal stuff, which is what homophobes think that gay men do all the time. Because homophobes in general are either thus to hide their own homosexuality, or just plain vindictive, this is how their brains work. But, enough of that.
Having spoken to people and even had friends who KNEW Valentino, the first thing they recalled was not his looks, talent, and who he may or may not have wanted to poke, but his tremendous wit. My great regret is that when I twice met André Daven in the 1970s, I was less interested in Valentino than I was in Joséphine Baker. Indeed, we never spoke about Rudy. Daven directed the Champs-Elysées Theatre and had been responsible for "La revue Négre", which took up the first half of Damia's recitals. I knew Damia very well--she's interviewed in my new Piaf book--and Damia knew Valentino very well. He stayed with her on occasion when visiting Paris. It was she who taught him to dance the apache, and she dedicated two of her most famous songs to his memory.
So, though the Valentino Screenplay is currently being considered for the next level, any producers out there are more than welcome to put in a bid. The more the merrier, as we say! Oh, and there's the stageplay too--depicted above--written ten years ago, but which has little in common with the screenplay other than the title.