For photos of this period, click here.
September, 1980—September, 1996
My gentlemanly persona was hardly as lascivious as its earlier incarnations. Actually, the years up to January, 1983 were rather like a romantic prelude or overture to the next 13, which were a horse of a different color. Let’s look at it that way. I’ll try to keep it brief.
My new job sucked me into the weird world of Manhattan, where I lived as alone as I’ve ever been in the apartment of a conductor friend frequently out of town (an earlier guest at the Four Belles). It was on W. 72nd just off CPW, the ritzy Oliver Cromwell, and I worked across the Park on E. 65th. Running every evening in Central Park was just icing on the cake. I loosed my artistic self and dabbled in clay. In December I made my debut appearance on Broadway as a mute Cardinal in Lalo’s “Le Roi d’Ys” (New York Lyric Opera, Beacon Theatre). Then for mad months I wrote on a play/libretto called “Octoroon”.
When the office moved to Santa Fe for the 1981 summer season of operas, within days I met a younger New Mexican guy named Ernesto. He was everything that attracted me to Latino boys, just what I always wanted. Within even fewer days, we were living together in my casita in Tesuque. After the summer he went back to New York with me and the apartment in the tower.
By then I’d decided to leave the job. I couldn’t stand all the moving back and forth like a gypsy. So I (that should be we now) left in December and went to Denver for a job at the Central City Opera House Association (as assistant to the artistic director). Right away I bought a little Queen Anne house on Ogden Street for us to settle down in and started work on restoring it.
It couldn’t have been more than three months into 1982 when the company had to close down for lack of finances, and I worked for a couple more months on the closing, briefly serving as the manager of the entire Victorian town of Central City. Job search was fruitless being a male looking for an arts job in a female culture. So I did many things (like house-painting, roofing…) to pay the Ogden mortgage, as well as for restoration work needed to sell the dear place. It was obvious that Ernesto and I were going to have to move somewhere, anywhere we wanted.
The house sold in December, 1982, and Ernesto and I fled (through a hideous blizzard on Wolf Creek Pass) on a long driving trip to scout out possible new homes. Our route took us through New Orleans to see Mother of course, to Gainesville in January, 1983 for a visit with the family, and to Key West for a visit with my sweet Milwaukee child Roy, now a mature meteorologist. That was where Ernesto suddenly left me and went back to Santa Fe.
Horse of a Different Color:
I was completely disoriented by Ernesto’s leaving and wandered back to Gainesville, where I rented an apartment. I set to work maniacally on “Octoroon” again and spent time with the family. Barbara had remarried and also had a young son by Jack, and my girls were naturally teenagers now, evidence that I was now over forty. Suddenly in February Barbara and Jack’s marriage imploded, and rather than get in the middle of that, I fled.
For the several weeks apart, I’d pined for Ernesto, and when it came time to flee, that’s where I went, back to him in Santa Fe. He agreed to get back together again, and we rented a little house in the barrio along West Alameda. We spent the next 11 years there. After many part-time gigs and contracts with all kinds of arts organizations in town, I finally found a responsible, though not generous, position with an arts organization, the Western States Arts Federation.
For me, those years settled down with someone and with a steady job, no matter what else they may have done, allowed me to get creative. Early on, there were game ideas, then the first draft of a childhood novel. Research on Indian mounds for my first book and artifact drawings were big themes, and then came the fascination with things Aztec and years of drawing for my second book.
Meanwhile, I tried to continue my addictive running regimen for the first year or so in Santa Fe, but soon my knees refused. Instead, I started going to the Santa Fe Spa and working out to keep the aging body fit, the best part of the experience the sauna afterwards, a superb opportunity for socializing in the nude. Since then, it’s been an integral part of my daily schedule, and I believe that and genetics explain my continuing good health, if not sanity.
In addition my art projects, I found many involvements around town, including with the Community Theatre, which gave a staged reading of “Octoroon” and produced two of my plays, the one-act “Special Case” and the short scene “Square Knot.” In the early 90’s I set up Five Flower Press to publish my Indian mound and Aztec books and started making sculptures, getting some pieces into local shows.
Life rolled along smoothly in its productive ruts until later ’94 when Ernesto and I split for good. Blessedly single again, I threw myself into the job and interests, definitely not looking for a new romance. In early ’95 I discovered that one no longer had to dance with a partner. Solo jigs like my beloved Greek dancing were now perfectly comme il faut. After so many years of running and then working out, I began dancing again, free-form disco cadenzas for a couple hours at a time in a series of dance bars, and I still do (whenever I can manage to stay up late enough).
Then in the spring of ’96 as a direct hit by Newt Gingrich’s Contract on America, my arts organization decided for financial reasons to fire all 21 professional staff members and move away to Denver. I kept working through that transition until September, when, unemployed once more at the tender age of 54, I waved goodbye to the moving truck.