Roman Escapades

Alex’s guest post makes it sound as though I spent two weeks gallivanting through Rome with nary a care.

That’s not entirely true.

I spent two weeks gallivanting through Rome with precisely one care, namely, the dearth of tea in Italy.  I was nearly forced to drink a cappuccino, the horror.

No, but really, it was a rollicking good time.  And I suppose I should explain a bit more fully what I was up to.

You might recall my mentioning, earlier in the summer, that I was slated to appear in a fashion film for Richard’s line, Cavalier.  Normally, we advertise by dressing as piratical gentleman and commandeering pleasure yachts in the Mediterranean.  (No, I know.) But Richard decided he would like to try his hand at land-based conquests, and so this film was born.

The script was…well there wasn’t really a script.  There was merely a scenario: two Lotharios, one gay, one straight, go to a party as each other’s wingmen where they end up meeting their objects of pursuit and proceed to chase them across the gorgeous Italian countryside until conquests are made and everyone falls in love.

The bloke playing the straight lead–this sort of vaguely rakish Ken-doll who insisted upon calling himself ‘Britain’–thought it was charming.

His counterpart–a spunky American model named Molly with hair straight from the 1930s and a queer girlfriend named Lamplight–thought it was horseshit.

And I, as well as my counterpart Fox, saw it for what it was–the absurdist theatre of Richard’s most tongue-in-cheek dreams.  We were able to convince Molly of this, with Lam’s help, and so filming began.

The first day of filming was a bit stressful, I must say.  I’m quite used to being dressed up and paraded about at this point, but moving cameras are quite different from stationary ones, and the pace was arduous.  Then there was the lack of tea.  And the fact that I can’t ride a damn bike let alone a Moped.  And the sheer weight of performing ‘macho’ all day, as Fox played the more effeminate role on account of his delightfully elfin appearance.

But I hit my stride fairly quickly, and ended up rather enjoying myself.  The countryside is truly magical, with all its rolling hills and climbing cypress.

roman countryside

Now imagine a warm breeze ruffling your hair…

Marc joined me on set at least once a day, as well, to giggle at my ‘sexy face’ and make eyes at me whilst I marched around in jodhpurs and jackets.  And Fox was a delightful companion once he overcame his nerves about playing opposite ‘Mr. Brutus’, as I’m known throughout ghost Italy.

Meanwhile, the kiddos took to Rome with renewed fervor.

J went about everywhere in his little tunica and bulla, accepting parcels from townsfolk with the seriousness of mind that becomes the son of a Roman priest.  He also quite bonded quite with Claudius this visit and spent a great deal of time in the barnyard, learning to corral animals and read weather.

Mira did a bit of solo wandering, getting to know the land and the landscapes.  She also spent some time on horseback, introducing Nox around–Marc’s sneaky method of drawing her out into the town and forcing her to socialise.

And in all, we managed to use the time away to check in with a number of other friends.

Marie and Girafe came down from France for a ‘picnic’, which I should have known wouldn’t be a mere picnic.  They arrived with a boatload of lavish pillows, which Marie flung about a clearing in the countryside while Girafe made mysterious calls on his feather-covered mobile.  All of a sudden we had an oddly poofy, organic gazebo effect happening, and a vast array of food trucks from which to choose.

Delphi came out from the city no fewer than three times a week for afternoons that bled into suppers that bled into cocktails.  He and Claudius are no longer hiding their item-hood. They were as cozy as could be, and utterly sweet besides.  My favourite detail of their relationship: as Claudius is prone to forgetting to clean his spectacles, Delphi wears a soft cloth as a pocket square these days.  My heart!

And at the end of the trip, yes, we did go laze about in New Zealand with Matiu and Teddy and their son Miri.  I was quite ready for the time away from cameras and back in nail polish and loose tees.  Marc was ready to shed the immediate responsibility of representing Rome back to itself.  Mira and J were greedy for our time after all the excitement–quite gratifying, hehe–and I scarcely went ten minutes without a tiny hand in mine or a sleepy little face on my shoulder.

Now all that remains for the end of the summer is Marc’s participation in the war games.  He didn’t ‘play’ last year on account of the WWII theme, and he’s actually not leading any troops this year, either, to give other generals a chance to enjoy their moment in the sun.  But he will be providing live commentary from the stands this weekend, which is bound to be both enlightening and hilarious.  It’s a sea-battle, and he’s hoping they provided for ghost sharks to eat the fallen, because of course he’s hoping for that.

sea battle

Oh shit is ghost shark get out! – Marc

Oh, and I suppose I also have a birthday coming up, but I’m not terribly anticipatory.  It’s 199 this year, and I begged for a small gathering since I know for a fact I’m not escaping some monstrosity for my 200th.

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Swash Swash, Buckle Buckle

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently signed with a new line that specialises in Cavalier fashions.  The process of signing, at my stage in the game, goes something like this:

First, my personal assistant–Danny–looks for open contracts and does some recon on the lines.  He checks for responsible designers with promising futures, overall sales numbers, Fashion Week reviews, and, if he likes what he sees, he sends my book around with my print ads and numbers.

When I first started, this was terribly worrisome–followed up by in person fittings, interview, and trial runway walks.  Now, it’s primarily a formality, expressing my interest in their designs.  Like a calling card.

After my “card” is sent off, we wait to hear back from the line.  If they feel I’d be a good fit for the line, then they send along my requested materials.  I always ask for clothing from the line, so I can see how I feel in it and check the fit, and I also ask for letters of recommendation from the current models, expressing the personality of the line and their experience as a part of it.  I also get a copy of a current contract, so I can get a sense of their requirements and policies.

Finally, if I like the clothes, the letters, the base-line contract, then my company enters into negotiations.  When I first started at AMMA (Afterlife Magazine and Modelling Agency), HR took care of this, but my heightened position within the company now leads to high profile negotiations, which the director of the company–Robert–likes to take care of himself.

Robert is loud, shrewd, and very willing to ask all of those “but what will you do for us?” and “can we add another zero?” sorts of questions.  He’s a businessman through and through, and his own sense of fashion–dad jeans and ill-fitting white button downs–requires a bit of sprucing when the negotiations exit the land of email and close in person.  His long-suffering PA attacks him with a suit, always some shade of green for some reason, and threatens to quit if he won’t put it on.

Robert always puts on the suit.

I am not actually involved in the negotiations.  I really couldn’t give a ruddy raincloud how much the contract ends up being worth–that’s Robert’s area of avarice.  And all my riders–primarily relating to family considerations–are clearly outlined and clearly required.  So I just wait for the contract to land on my desk, have Marc check it over, and then immediately begin planning my next charitable contributions.

I also immediately set up to meet the designer and shake hands with the models who sent along their letters.  Provided everything feels right, I sign the contract and leave a copy with the line.  This is also primarily formality.  I have never not signed a contract at this stage–my company (Danny, especially) does a brilliant job of setting me up with the right people.

However, I have never signed a contract quite so quickly as I did this one.  As soon as I met Richard, feet up on his enormous beat-to-hell scrolled desk, looking for all the world like a seventeenth-century Errol Flynn, I asked for a pen.

Literally the only man who can make that mustache look good.

But with boots, a gold-embroidered waistcoat, and a rapier.  No, I know.

He handed me a quill and grinned, and I about forgot how to write.

As I muddled my way through my own goddamn name, he airily commented that my riders were rather interesting, and that I must be the sort of bloke with thousands of pictures of his children.  I admitted as much and passed him my phone so he could flip through a few while I finished crossing Ts and dotting Is.  He giggled appreciatively a number of times, and I fell further in love.

Contract signed off, and phone back in my pocket, we chatted a bit about the line and its origin and direction.  It became known to me in the course of this conversation that Richard had dabbled in nearly everything under the sun–including piracy, women, and men–and that he could wear the hell out of an earring.  I was suddenly very glad that I had worn mine.  Made me feel more credible, haha.

I asked toward the end of the conversation why he had hired me, and he threw his hands behind his head and said, “well, you’ll have to forgive me if I hired you on account of you being a choice piece of finery.”

And then he eyed me up and down.

And smirked.

I managed to smirk back–quite proud of myself on that count–and told him no apology necessary.  He laughed and said, “but don’t worry, I know who your husband is,” and held his hands up to display their innocent intentions.

Flirtations finished, he took me down to the next level of his offices where I found a cloistered, smokey, velvet bar.  Truly, right on premise.  And at the bar were a number of devilishly handsome models, two of whom Richard introduced to me as the blokes who wrote recommendations.  Jeremiah, like Richard an actual cavalier, has cascading blonde curls and quite the reputation as a casanova.  And Lucius, a dandy from the 1920s, surveyed me akin to Richard and then reintroduced himself as Fox–he’s quite taken with the Batman films, you see.  I noted that he should drag as Luscious Fox, and he determined that we would be quite good friends.

And then…I learned how we advertise…

As it turns out, we engage in piracy.  We dress up to the nines, head out into the Mediterranean on Richard’s pleasure yacht, roll up to rich-boy party boats, forcibly board them, and then proceed to drink them dry, throwing a festivity using their own liquor and niceties and leaving business cards behind after we boisterously sell the brand.

I’m not sure I can even express how much I am in love with this.  I love pirates.  I love fashion.  I love drinking.  And now I get paid to be a drunken fashion pirate.

Like this, but with...well, with similar numbers of gay men, likely, but...no, similar amounts of liquor, too...newer boats. We'll have newer boats.

Like this, but with…well, with similar numbers of gay men, likely, but…no, similar amounts of liquor, too… Newer boats. We’ll have newer boats.

I just…

I can’t.  But I will.  But I can’t.

But I will.