Saturday 30 August 2008

How gay was Rene?

The rumours are flying around now that Rene Rivkin and Gordon Wood were lovers.

Hmmm, have to delve into the memories of my halcyon youth to think about that.

When I first arrived in Sin City from the Wild West, I was taken under the wing by a group of friends who were almost all plugged into Rene in one form or another. I don't know why they took me in - they had wit and charm and threw wonderful parties, whilst I was crass and loud and better at throwing up than throwing a party. We had sunny picnics in the grass by the Hawkesbury River, arrived at nightclubs by Rolls Royce, and generally lived a Brideshead Revisited style of life, even down to the teddy bears that one of the girls collected.

They were the perfect dinner party crowd - lively, witty, chatty, cultured, learned, well-off, absolutely hilarious to be around and overflowing with gossip. The food was good, the wine was good and the conversation sparkled. Two of them had worked for Rene, and were still very close to him, and everyone else in the group caught up with him from time to time.

By complete accident, I even ended up living across the street from him at one point, although I never met the guy. However, he was all we heard about on some days, because the boys just worshipped the ground he walked on.

Here's the rub - the guys in the group all thought the world of Rene. You might almost say that they loved him (they were not what I would call the most robust of men - they loved testosterone pursuits, like drunkenly crashing Rene's speedboat onto some rocks - but they were not in the same league as the uggboot wearing, roo-shootin', ute driving, flannel shirt wearing, footy-playing beer scullers that I was used to. When I put on my tux, it was to go to a B&S, get filthy drunk on Bundy and Coke and perhaps to roll around in the mud on the side of a dam at 3am - if I lasted that long. When they put on a tux, it was to attend a ball at the University and Schools Club, followed by brandy and cigars.

The long and the short of it was that me and a few of the girls were absolutely sure that Rene was doing at least one of the boys on the side. We'd meet for dinner at someone's house and the first few G&T's would be drunk listening to a regurgitation of the wit and wisdom of Rene. Rene had said this, Rene had said that, Rene was buying something or other - so they did to.

Rene ended up buying one of them a Harley Davidson for his birthday. At that point, me and the girls looked at each other and said, "That has to be the final straw - he must be taking it up the bum to get a Harley from Rene."

We were furiously shouted down by two of the other boys in the group, but they were always a bit suss. Neither had a girlfriend, or showed any interest in women, for all the time that I knew them. They took holidays together to Europe, coming back with bags full of Versace. They never set the gaydar off, but years later, I ran into one of the girls, and she told me that they eventually came out of the closet as lovers, so their protests that the Harley-recipient was also not a semen-recipient ring a bit hollow. I have seen the odd photo of Rene and his boys published in the paper, and have noted some familiar faces in a few of them.

From what I can tell, Rene loved to entertain. He loved the company of other people - except that those other people were almost always men. The group I hung with were 50/50 male and female, and they were as tight a group as you'd get, given that they all went to the right schools, grew up in the right suburbs, went to Uni together etc etc etc - but whilst the men were invited to hang with Rene a lot, the women never were. They'd certainly met him quite a few times, but women were not part of his circle.

So what can I say, except that back at that time, I was sure he batted for the other team on a regular basis, and that he was doing a few of the boys in our group. We even used to rag one of them, calling him a toyboy and the like, and he took it pretty well. He might have even be proud of the term. The only evidence I have is circumstantial, but it was just so suss, it wasn't funny.

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