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The Star, No. 3, December 9, 1983
File 010
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The Star, No. 3, December 9, 1983 - File 010. 1983-12-09. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. February 24, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/gcam/item/2397/show/2393.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(1983-12-09). The Star, No. 3, December 9, 1983 - File 010. Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM) Digital Archive. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/gcam/item/2397/show/2393

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

The Star, No. 3, December 9, 1983 - File 010, 1983-12-09, Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM) Digital Archive, University of Houston Libraries, accessed February 24, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/gcam/item/2397/show/2393.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title The Star, No. 3, December 9, 1983
Contributor
  • Martinez, Ed
Date December 9, 1983
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
Place
  • Austin, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 783846406
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM) Digital Archive
Rights No Copyright - United States
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 010
Transcript DEC. 9, 1983/The Star 9 Not Quite Priest, Not Quite Nobleman Commentary By Patrick Franklin Frederick William Serafino Austin Lewis Mary Rolfe will not disappear. His flamboyant writing and even more flamboyant character have always branded him as a "minor" prosodist, and yet after many of his more highly regarded contemporaries have been relegated to the dusty corners of old libraries, Frederick Rolfe, "Baron Corvo," bursts forth every few years when a new group of avid readers discovers his florid soul and acid words. Rolfe was born in London on July 22, 1860, and died in Venice on Oct. 25,1913. Between those dates, he managed to write 18 books, innumerable stories, dabble in several other arts and alienate anyone who came to him in friendship. He was a staunch Catholic who revelled in orthodoxy and a socialist who hated conservatives. He indulged himself in making up new and wonderful words, while writing in an antique style that is nearly imdupli- catable. He was born into a family that was at best "shabby gentille." His ancestors had founded a piano manufactury that furnished instruments to the royal family in George Ill's time, but had in following years come the full round to poverty once again. Rolfe never even had the satisfaction of calling the capital his home; economics forced a move to the provinces when he was very young. Nor could he claim the distinction of a university education. He says himself that "all the education I ever had took place in third-rate schools and terminated by my fourteenth birthday." All those elements combined to create a personality that simultaneously loved and hated the advantages it had been denied. Despite his lack of formal schooling, Rolfe found employment as a teacher in a provincial boy's school. He was regarded as eccentric even then, and his attachment to an obscure local saint, "Little Saint Hugh," was thought strange. So was his depiction of another boy-saint, William or Norwich, in which he painted over 100 fibres that bore a resemblance to the child, who in turn had an uncanny similarity with his own features. He .somehow wheedled an appointment to the Scots' College in Rome, where he was to take up holy orders. His eccentricities and abrasive personality made him as unpopular there as it had elsewhere, and he was soon ejected from the school. That turned him against his fellow Catholics, but he maintained his deep affection for the church. It was then that he took to signing his name "Fr. Rolfe," an ambiguous autograph that could be understood as "Father Rolfe" or "Friar Rolfe," as well as "Frederick." Back in England, he worked what in our own times would be called "confidence games" He assumed the title "Baron Corvo" and pretended to be a nobleman. Using the bogus title for entree, he drew funds from naive acquaintances for fictitious projects and lived by cadging meals and lodgings from kind-hearted friends. However, some of Rolfe's projects weren't bogus at all; they merely sounded that way to suspicious ears. He tried to raise funds to finance underwater photography, something thought laughable at the time. Rolfe had become fascinated with the new art and pioneered some methods of camerawork and film developing. The underwater scheme never came to much. His writing was better accepted, if narrowly published. The Yellow Book, famous for its Beardsley covers and associations with decadence, accepted several of his stories, and of all the short pieces in those volumes, Rolfe's tales stand up today as still interesting. He devised ways of telling Biblical tales as if they were pagan legends and also managed a turnabout that made tales of Romans and Greeks sound as if they were stories of the Saints. After gulling so many important people, he found it prudent, as well as cheaper, to move to Italy. There hecontinued his practice of taking lodging wherever possible, often from unwilling but courteous hosts. He also found an outlet for his taste in boys in the street urchins ofthe city; one of them he called "Toto," and he collected his stories as Tales Toto Told Me. Toto exists for us today on film. There are numerous studies of naked youths that Rolfe took in Venice and elsewhere. He used their personalities as thinly-veiled girls in his books; The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole, and Nicholas Crabbe. He continued his interests in painting and even built himself a boat with beautifully- painted sails so that he could travel the canals and lagoons of Venice. And he wrote. His fascination with the Borgias resulted in an extraordinary book. The Chronicles of the House of Borgia, which he frankly admitted to writing as a whitewash of a family for which he felt respect. The book recounts the family history from early beginnings in Spain through its 19th century descendants. The Borgia book fascinated some, infuriated others. He did not limit himself to strict history, but made other comments along the way, such as his claim that the rightful ruler of England was Vittorio Emmanuele of Italy because of a tenuous connection with the deposed Stuarts. He used exotic words and spellings, insisting that the "Sistine" chapel was more properly the "Xystyne," and peppered his prose with terms such as "fumicables" for tobacco, "fylfot" for swastika, and so on. Rolfe might have described his life as "contortuplicated." The sheer effort of maintaining his precarious independence and .self-esteem in face of continued poverty and disdain from critics took its toll. He died at the age of only 53 and was buried in a free plot in the cemetary in Venice. If his talent had been totally expended in cadging a living, he would have soon been forgotten. But his exquisitely-written prose still attracts readers. Its attraction is never enough to insure commercial success; The Modern Library published an edition of A History of the Borgias which remained on the list for only a few years. Alfred Knopf put out several luxurious editions of his novels which couldn't quite stay in print. Sill, periodically, he becomes rediscovered. A.J. Symonds renovated his image with "The Search for Corvo" in 1934. Broadway, in the 70s, produced Hadrian VII> & dramatized version of his best- known book. Biographies came out in 1971 and again in 1979. Toast his memory with a bottle of the Sicilian wine from which he drew his title. "Baron Corvo" was a fraud and an unprincipled rogue. But he was a writer of great talent .and a stylist of incomparable skill. Franklin, of Carmel, Calif, is the director of Stonewall Features. &1983 Stonewall Features Syndicate. Playboy Proposes Male Bunnies When New York's Playboy Club reopens early next year, some ofthe scantily-clad bunnies serving drinks may be men. Company executives are considering a proposal to add the male bunnies, and some old-timers are hopping mad about the idea. But many Playboy officials reportedly feel it's time to update the clubs image, reports the New York Post. All Aiuvrivan lloy* New boohs from ALYSON PUBLICATIONS D THE MOVIE LOVER, by Richard Friedel, $7.00. The entertaining coming-out story of Burton Raider, who is so elegant that as a child he reads Vogue in his playpen. "The writing is fresh and crisp, tbe humor often hilarious," writes the L.A. Times. "The funniest gay novel of the year," says Christopher Street. □ ONE TEENAGER IN TEN: Writings by gay and lesbian youth, edited by Ann Heron, $4.00. One teenier in ten is gay; here, twenty-six young people tell their stories: of coming to terms with being different, of the decision how - and whether - to tell friends and parents, and what the consequences were. a THE BUTTERSCOTCH PRINCE, by Richard Hall, $5.00. When Cor- dell's best friend .and ex-lover is murdered, the only clue is one that the police seem to consider too kinky to follow up on. So Cordell decides to track down the killer himself - with results far different from what he had expected. D ALL-AMERICAN BOYS, by Frank Mosca, $5.00. "I've known that I was gay since I was thirteen. Does that surprise you? It didn't me ...." So begins All-American Boys, the story of a teenage love affair that should have been simple — but wasn't. D CHINA HOUSE, by Vincent Lardo, $5.00. A gay gothic that has everything: two handsome lovers, a mysterious house on the hill, sounds in the night, and a father-son relationship that's closer than most. D THE ALEXANDROS EXPEDITION, by Patricia Sitkin, $6 00 When Evan Talbot leaves on a mission to rescue an old schoolmate who has been imprisoned by fanatics in the Middle East, he doesn't realize that the trip will also involve his own coming out and the discovery of who it is that he re-ally loves. D DEATH TRICK, by Rich.ard Stevenson, $6.00. Meet Don Strachey, a private eye in the classic tradition but with one difference: he's gay. TO ORDER _; please send the books I've checked above. (Add Enclosed is $_ $1.00 postage when ordering just one book; if you order more than one, we'll pay postage.) D Charge my (circle one): Visa Mastercard acct. no.: _ expiration date:_ signature: __^____„ name _ address ALYSON PUBLICATIONS, Dept, P-5, 40 Plympton St., Boston, MA 02118
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