In bed with eight leg­ends at the witch­ing hour, when even the wildest dreams come true.

VOGUE Hommes International (English) - - CONTENTS - By NELLY KAPRIÈLIAN and DI­DIER PÉRON

—A sum­mer evening in 1987, inside his apart­ment on Great Jones Street, New York is en­gulfed in heat. He’s been paint­ing, stark naked as al­ways. He’s flopped onto a mat­tress on the floor, the room bathed in flick­er­ing light from the TV screen, which at four in the morn­ing stopped trans­mit­ting hours ago. This is how he likes it best any­way, blank and sil­very: the per­fect lamp, cast­ing ghosts onto the walls. Yet just one ghost haunts him: Andy Warhol, his friend, died a few months ago. He swore to him­self that he wouldn’t join him in the king­dom of shad­ows, so he’s given up heroin and only smokes weed. He’s lost count of how many joints he’s smoked that night. Andy, his an­gel, is dead. And he can’t get over it.


He doesn’t have a bed, or py­ja­mas, he’s dream­ing with eyes open that he never grows old, that his tal­ent is to be the hippest man ever to walk the Earth, some­thing fu­ture gen­er­a­tions won’t even need to re­mem­ber be­cause no­body gives a shit, and so much the bet­ter. He drinks an ice–cold glass of al­mond milk after lazy laps in the pool, lis­ten­ing to Brian Eno’s new al­bum. The light is beau­ti­ful tonight, as though some in­vis­i­ble hand had cleaned ev­ery nook and cranny to make ev­ery­thing sharper, more con­trasted. Each piece of fur­ni­ture, ev­ery ob­ject ap­pears to leap out from its sur­round­ings. Tony smiles, as though the mem­ory of a eu­pho­ris­ing drug had come alive un­der his tongue. But no, he just feels good, life is sweet, like his name, like his skin. With­out a word, he sends up a prayer to the good fairies and tiny gods who are watch­ing over him.


Three weeks on the road, criss–cross­ing the States from one venue to the next, from one club to another, per­form­ing night after night. Now he’s home at last. It’s well past dark, he flings off his clothes, grabs the one clean shirt he can find and col­lapses onto his bed, where he’ll sleep a straight twelve hours.


He lights up a cig­a­rette. Alone at last. The girl or the guy, a body to be taken in­dis­crim­i­nately, has tip­toed out, think­ing him asleep when re­ally he was just pre­tend­ing, one more sem­blance, noth­ing to be proud of, so that he or she would leave and he could fi­nally be by him­self. Away from them, away from the stage and a pub­lic who de­mand he take on end­less new per­sonas, who con­demn him to al­ways shed one skin for another. Who is he? Bowie — he clutches at the name, another in­ven­tion, an umpteenth mask for the man who is re­ally David Jones. In bed, star­ing ahead, he sees the fu­ture that will only hap­pen if he can es­cape this role­play, this du­plic­ity in which he’s en­tan­gled him­self since Ziggy Star­dust. Ziggy, the glam rock alien who be­came a su­per­star, and almost con­sumed him from within. So he de­cided to kill him off, one July night in 1973, on stage at the Ham­mer­smith Odeon in London while his group, un­aware, looked on as­tounded. The death of his al­ter–ego was no­body’s business but his own. He wore a black see–through top, black se­quined trousers and spiked orange hair as he launched into his prophetic Rock ’n’ Roll Sui­cide. But tonight, with dawn about to break, a cig­a­rette smoul­der­ing in his hand, who is he? Is he al­ready The Thin White Duke, that deca­dent, black–suited aris­to­crat who lives on red pep­pers, co­caine and milk? Which skin will he cloak him­self in to­mor­row, and the day after that? He gazes into the dis­tance and, eyes wide open, dreams of a new in­car­na­tion in which he can fi­nally be him­self. Happy ever after.


Could he just have one minute’s peace? Shia LaBeouf is not happy. The more he tries to be some­thing other than a pretty face, mere block­buster fod­der, the more the me­dia are out to trip him up and poke fun. He just jumped into bed, not both­er­ing to take off his hat or shoes, but re­mov­ing his belt, all the bet­ter to whip the back­side of a young fan or a pa­parazzo, given half the chance. Granted, things have been a bit chaotic of late: ac­cused of pla­gia­rism for a short film he made with noth­ing but good in­ten­tions, hum­ble–pie apolo­gies via Twit­ter then, con­vinced this wasn’t enough, sky­writ­ing another apol­ogy over Los An­ge­les. Peo­ple thought it was dumb, he thought it was classy, the kind of thing a mod­ern–day knight would do. No­body un­der­stands him. OK, so he drinks too much, gets into brawls in bars, in the­atres, out­side night clubs. Given how bank­able and how fa­mous"/"no­to­ri­ous he is, turn­ing up for the premiere of Nym­pho­ma­niac in Berlin with a brown pa­per bag over his head, em­bla­zoned with “I am not fa­mous any­more”, was bound to go down like a lead bal­loon. At least he thought it was funny. But he gets the mes­sage, he’ll check into re­hab like every­body else, and jour­nal­ists, ev­ery last one of whom is sober, of course, will glee­fully fill col­umn inches with the news. One minute’s peace, just one.


Even his dog’s had enough. Hem­ing­way has got into bed, fum­ing, and is pre­tend­ing to read The New York Times. The bed next to his is empty. She won’t come now. In fact she won’t ever come. The irony of it all makes him want to cry: none of the women who are a match for the hero­ines of his nov­els ever fall in love with him. They pre­fer younger, slim­mer men, tore­adors, like that Ava Gard­ner he’s dreamed of screw­ing ever since they got to Madrid, but she’s lead­ing him down the gar­den path. They just had a slang­ing match, throw­ing back whiskies in an over­heated bar. She emp­ties glass after glass, burst­ing out laugh­ing ev­ery time he makes a pass. A hero­ine from his books come to life, one she will por­tray on screen with­out ever want­ing to lie naked in his arms. She takes him for a fool and here he is, all alone like an idiot in an empty bed­room, pre­tend­ing to read the pa­per. Sud­denly he bursts out laugh­ing. Ava, she’s no dif­fer­ent from him: same panache, same courage, same gaunt­let thrown down at life. And she can hold her drink too. At last the penny drops, and he laughs louder still. She’ll never be his mis­tress, but she will be his friend for life.


27th Oc­to­ber 2008: night has fallen on Los An­ge­les. It’s strangely hot for the sea­son. Noth­ing un­usual in Hol­ly­wood, where ev­ery­thing gets rolled into one, sum­mer and win­ter, truth and lies, re­al­ity and il­lu­sion. Joaquin Phoenix un­but­tons his shirt, but can’t muster the strength to take it off, and throws him­self onto his bed. Too many films. Too many lies. Too many iden­ti­ties to take on — even if he loved play­ing Johnny Cash, be­cause mu­sic is what he en­joys most. In four days’ time he’ll com­mem­o­rate the death of River, his ac­tor brother who took too much dope and died of car­diac ar­rest. That was fif­teen years ago. He was 23. Too many roles, un­able to dis­tin­guish him­self from the images re­flected by too many films, heroin as an es­cape route, am­phet­a­mines to keep go­ing dur­ing long hours on the set. He pic­tures again his long, blond hair, his turned–up nose, the look of a young grunge idol. He’s dead, pay­ing for the il­lu­sion of life that cin­ema cre­ates. Joaquin feels drained, as though the char­ac­ters he has played have emp­tied him of all vi­tal sub­stance. And he’s afraid. Afraid to end up like River. So he turns his head, stares at the shad­ows creep­ing over him, and takes a decision. Next day, as a guest on a TV show, he’ll an­nounce that he’s giv­ing up act­ing.


He curls into a ball, fever­ish, be­tween the sheets. He doesn’t re­alise he’s even more hand­some that way, that now it’s our tem­per­a­ture that’s ris­ing. In­stead he feels lonely, weak and help­less, in­ca­pable of re­liev­ing his aching body. He re­mem­bers his child­hood, how he loved to be sick, to stay home from school, in bed, be­cause that’s when his mother took care of him, and only him. He misses her so much. He was nine years old when she died. He’s spent his life search­ing for her in all the women he’s met. And he would be­come an ac­tor so that they would all fall in love with him. So that a sea of women would open its arms and gen­tly rock him. Tonight, ill in bed, he wraps the sheets around him­self and nes­tles into their arms, a co­coon of ten­der­ness and se­cu­rity, things he lost far too long ago.

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