Authors: John Cigarini
It didn't take me long to fall in love again.
After my split with Patti, Jose Fonseca, the owner of Models One, played matchmaker and introduced me to her friend Jenny Marriott. Jenny was a beautiful lady who had just separated from her husband Steve Marriott, formerly lead singer of the Small Faces and part of the super-group Humble Pie. Like Cat Stevens, he was also upset about the break-up and would call in the middle of the night. Sometimes it would be me who answered the phone when he called. I guess I didn't want to be like one of those people who cling on, and although it had been hard not to contact Patti, I let life move me on. Otherwise, what was I going to do? Be depressed and listen to Cat Stevens for the rest of my life? Gimme a break! Steve died a few years later in a house fire â something very likely caused by drunkenly falling asleep in bed with a lighted cigarette, but we'll never know.
Jenny and I had fun while it lasted with one very romantic weekend in Paris. She was an antique dealer and had a commission to buy Daum and Galle lamps. She was obviously used to having a lot of money â the cash was literally falling out of her shoulder bag â and although I had been around a lot of money people, I had never seen anything quite like this before. In Paris, we stayed at a country house that belonged to friends of hers. We went to the MarchÃ© aux Puces and other antique markets which she scanned for fine rarities, and she could sure spot them. Jenny had a terrific eye and could pick out a beautiful piece inside a crowded and bustling stall, when to me it all just looked a shambles.
Back in London, she took me to my first Alternative Miss World â an annual event devised and hosted by Andrew Logan, the artist. The entrants were mostly gay, presided over by Andrew who sat on his throne in a half-man, half-woman costume.
Although paintings and artworks seemed to appeal to me, the story of my father's past was still haunting me slightly and I'd often think of how he had lost his gathered fortune to old paintings when staring into the deep oil colours of the great works that would often totally engross me. Later, in the eighties, I did become a big collector of Logan's artworks. Jenny also took me to the Ossie Clark show. She had known Ossie since art college in Manchester. He was a legendary sixties dress designer, using fabrics created by his partner Celia Birtwell. Having influenced Yves Saint Laurent and Anna Sui, Ossie has now gone down in history as one of the main swinging sixties fashion gurus. There is a famous David Hockney of Ossie and Celia, known as âMr and Mrs Clark and Percy'. It now hangs at the Tate and is one of the most visited paintings in Britain. Ossie also became a good friend of mine, right up to his premature death, when he was in a bad way due to alcohol and drug dependency â but that's not what killed him. In 1996, fifty-four-year-old Ossie was stabbed to death in his flat in Kensington by his then twenty-eight-year-old former lover. An Old Bailey jury was told that Italian-born Diego Cogolato stabbed him to death in a frenzied knife attack because he believed Ossie was the devil. It was tragic. Jenny still has a wonderful collection of his dresses; they are collectors' items now.
I also got reacquainted with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd when Jenny and I went to a Guy Fawkes party at his Essex country home. She was also great friends with an underground filmmaker, Michael Kostiff, and his wife Gerlinde. They were collectors of art deco and art nouveau, and I bought some nice pieces from them. Later, in the eighties, they opened a very happening club in Soho called Kinky Gerlinky â famous for its outrageous fashion and drag.
Sadly, and although I really liked Jenny, it was not to last. She met and married James Dearden, the writer of
. I was again heartbroken, and then I kind of gave up on love and just spent my time dating models. I would meet them through work, at Tramp or at the model agency Christmas parties. I was a friend of the owners of all the top model agencies at this point, like Gillian Bobroff and Laraine Ashton of Bobtons. I would often stay for weekends at Gillian's country home that she shared with her boyfriend, David Charkham. Her business partner, Laraine Ashton, was also a good friend of mine. She would later open an eponymous model agency under Mark McCormack's IMG umbrella of sports management agencies. Laraine used to go out with the great war photographer Don McCullin.
One day, I was in their flat and opening a bottle of champagne when Don started freaking out. “Don't let it pop,” he pleaded. Due to his traumatic war experiences, he had become highly sensitive to any small bang. Laraine later met, and I believe is still with, Terry O'Neill, Britain's best-known celebrity photographer, who had previously been married to Faye Dunaway. Everyone was getting married to everyone else, but I wasn't. Was I destined to walk this world alone and forever? Perhaps go back to Africa or even Margate and live the solitary life of a recluse? Give up on the world and just go and write books? I suppose I was beginning not to mind the idea of being on my own. Maybe being with one person forever and ever just wasn't my cup of chai.
It was from the Laraine Ashton agency that I got to know Gae Exton. I seem to remember that she was a booker at the agency, but she may have been a model. She was a stunning woman herself, and I knew her when she first got married to the rich industrialist David Iveson. He was a very nice man indeed, and I used to weekend at their country estate. In the late 1970s, after she had split from Iveson, Gae met an unknown American actor who was shooting a movie in England. His name was Christopher Reeve and the film was
Chris and Gae stayed together for many years and had two wonderful children. I would see them regularly, either at their house on Hollywood Road, Chelsea, or I would see Chris in New York, where he lived on the Upper West Side. I really did love New York and was often there in the eighties. I loved Chris too and he was a good friend to me. He took me bowling for the first time; I remember it well because I knocked down all the pins with my first ever throw. He was impressed, but it was beginner's luck. “I've been lucky my entire life,” I explained, although I've stopped telling anyone that these days â I guess they don't want to hear it. Sometimes I'd wonder if it were really true anyway, that I was genuinely lucky, or perhaps it was just my outlook. I think I'll leave that one up to you. Chris and I talked about that a little and other things too, like flying. We'd hang out in places like Studio 54, which was the hot place then. We went in the VIP room and, I'll never forget it, a dealer came to us with a doctor's bag full of cocaine. I had never seen so much.
Christopher Reeve was passionate about gliding and flying. He used to fly a small plane back to New York from the UK. This meant going mainly overland, so that he could refuel on the Scotland, Greenland and Newfoundland route. One time he came back from a trip and told me he had had a complete electrical failure in the dark, as he was coming in to land. The wheels would not go down and he'd had to glide the plane to a crash landing without power or wheels.
Everyone assumes that Christopher Reeve was made a paraplegic by being violently thrown from his horse. It is a tragedy that it was much more gentle than that. His horse pulled up at a fence and Chris slowly slid down the horse's neck. He landed on top of his head and broke his spine. He was my friend and I miss him.
After Chris died, I couldn't watch
for a long time, but since I began writing this book, I decided to give it another go and it's been great to see him again. I guess through his films he lives on forever. After watching the film, I ran a search online to see what Christopher Reeve things I could find and one fan had made a list of the top ten Christopher Reeve quotes. I read them and didn't feel sad as I expected. Instead, I felt empowered. One read, “You play the hand you're dealt. I think the game's worthwhile” and I find that to be quite correct. Christopher Reeve â he really was a superman.
It was the mid-seventies and I was so disillusioned with love that I was only going out with foreign chicks â foreign models in fact â because they would always move on, doing the international modelling circuit of London, New York, Paris and Milan. It meant they would only stay in London about a month and then leave, so I had no danger of emotional attachment. They were mainly Swedish and American girls, so gorgeous and Ã¼ber gorgeous â they were beautiful and they were all of the time. Jose Fonseca once rang up: “Darling, I have âMiss Young Germany' coming over next weekâ¦ and she doesn't know anyone. Could you show her around?” “Sure thing, Jo!”
I went out with one shapely gal from Chicago; she had been a
centrefold. Her name was Cindy Russell, and she was as sexy as Jane Russell. Eventually she went to live with the infamous Peter Grant, the manager of Led Zeppelin. At the time, I had a 1956 Ford F100 pickup. I painted flames down the side of it and Cindy just loved that. I think it took her back to America. We went to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in it.
I also had a girlfriend from Peru, Maria Badeaux, who would visit London frequently. She was a superstar model in New York and would do all her magazine cover shoots when she came here. One thing about Maria: she always had a gay entourage with her. It was all a bit of a clichÃ© I suppose, but at the time it was just fab! I would sleep with her every time she came to London.
I had another American girlfriend who was often in London, Connie Stumen. I would date her whenever she was in town. She had done many
covers; she was rich and she was successful. She bred horses back in the US and drove an E-Type Jag. In London, she always stayed in a basement flat in Chelsea and had a half-Hawaiian model roommate, who didn't seem to know anyone in London. However, that would all change when she modelled for, and married, David Bailey. Her name was Marie Helvin, and keeping in the vein of the book and terrible name-dropping, she's now a big celebrity, and I'm very likely the person she has known longest in London.
In 1972, I had an affair with Carroll Baker, the star of the 1956 hit Hollywood movies
. Jan Gold, the wife of Johnny Gold, one of the owners of Tramp, introduced us in the club. I used to go to Carroll's home in England's Lane, off Haverstock Hill, Hampstead. She was a very nice, beautiful and sexy lady, but it was a new experience for me to have an older girlfriend. I was twenty-eight and she was forty. All her friends were producer types who were even older and I didn't feel comfortable being a toy boy, so I ended it. It seemed to be the pattern of my relationships. I was definitely afraid of commitment. I would dump fabulous girl after fabulous girl after a month or so, and for no good reason. For me, being in love was being in pain.
One night, Butch and I were at a concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Standing outside afterwards we met someone. She wore a fringed chamois-leather mini-dress. She was very statuesque indeed and looked like Hiawatha. It was my first meeting with Siobhan Barron, who was to become one of my best lifelong friends. She told us she had been modelling for Anthony Price, the clothes designer who styled the Roxy Music album covers (it was what introduced Jerry Hall to London society. In fact, Jerry initially went out with Bryan Ferry, the lead singer of Roxy Music, until Jagger stole her off him). That night, Butch and I took Siobhan to the Hard Rock CafÃ© and in the weeks that followed she was always in my flat on the King's Road. By this time, I was sleeping with her.
She met some American musicians living in the next-door building and kept telling me I should meet them and that they were nice guys. I never bothered. I think I was a bit jealous or something, or the idea of them chatting her up while I was there wasn't something I wanted to hear. It turned out they were the Eagles and they were recording their first album in London with the legendary English record producer Glyn Johns. His wife Glynis would later produce commercials with me. They are now good friends of mine, but I didn't know him in those days. The King's Road was proving to be the nexus in London for anyone that wanted to make money, meet celebrities or become one.
Before you could say “Bob's your uncle”, I was in the Brompton Hospital in Chelsea, visiting Siobhan and her mother. Siobhan was having an abortion with my child. It seemed she was younger than she had let on and may have only been sixteen, but she was extremely well developed and she looked more mature than that â well, I thought so anyway. Her mother, Zelda Barron, was very nice about it, and I think she appreciated that I went to the hospital. I became good friends with her, which I suppose, looking back and considering the circumstances, was a little strange. She was a well-known figure in the film industry, a writer/producer and a collaborator with Warren Beatty on
, and she was often in Los Angeles when I lived there.
This is how Siobhan remembers it, in an email to me, after starting to read a draft of these memoirs. In Siobhan's words:
OK, I am up 2 the brooks fullford days. its giving me the creeps and reminding me of bob Brooke's making me cry when i was doing wardrobe. Also Mum use 2 work with him. it also brought back the memory of how she new you . i remember her sitting by my bed while i was having that barbaric force labour abortion. u popped in with your squash bag for 30sec's to . you and her were all chatty work stuff while i layed there having an induce labour and then the fetus came out and was getting cold between my legs. i didn't know what to do or say as no one had explained anything 2 me so i just laid there looking and you and mum chatting and laughing, and then you left. X
Gulp! Powerful and heartbreaking stuff. It makes me feel quite ashamed. It was like Alfie in
. Did Alfie get his comeuppance? It was the dark side of the sixties and, sadly, I was one of many men who were making it so.
In the 1980s, Siobhan became the doyen of the music video business. She ran a successful company called Limelight with her brother Steve Barron, a director, and they shot Michael Jackson's âBillie Jean' video, as well as innovative videos for Dire Straits' âMoney For Nothing' and A-ha's âTake On Me'. Steve also directed
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
, which was the highest-ever grossing independent film at that time, and
, which starred my mate Dan Aykroyd, so I was able to go on location. Steve has also directed many mini-series including
When Siobhan and I lived as neighbours in Malibu during the 1990s, she would delight in introducing me to people as “my first abortion”. I was only twenty-eight; I can't be blamed for being young and naive, can I? I mean, I hadn't even experienced Hollywoodâ¦ yet.