Stalin, Dietrich and the Porno Star – Part 2

by Shamus on June 18, 2018

Well, I think it was this festival in Romania in about 1977 when we were arrested by the Romanian secret police. I’d gone back to Bucharest with Konrad Klebb and we were due to fly to Sofia in Bulgaria a couple of days later. Konrad told me he had some business to conclude first, something to do with knickers I think. Or it might have been shoes, I can’t remember. I do know that the Romanian President at that time – he went by the name of Ceaucescu as some of you will no doubt remember – well, his wife, I can’t remember her first name, but apparently she was a bit like Imelda Marcos, you know, the wife of the president of the Philippines. One had about 5000 pairs of shoes and the other had about 20,000 pairs of knickers. I forget who collected what now. No, I tell a lie – it was definitely knickers. That’s right, I remember this guy telling me that Ceaucescu’s wife was turned on by the execution of political prisoners. She bought a new pair every time a dissident was shot or beheaded, or whatever they did in those days. It sounds a bit far-fetched I know, but I could relate stranger stories – I once met a one-legged tap dancer called Zbgniew Szprnad who came from a remote village in Moravia, or was it Bohemia and he… but I digress. Anyway, I don’t know what happened to the knickers after the revolution. They were probably very expensive ones from Paris or New York. Maybe they found their way to England. They’d have probably gone down well in Chelsea or somewhere like that. Of course, there’s the possibility, remote I grant you, that one or two of the ladies reading this blog are actually wearing a pair. Maybe, the odd chap too, you never know – it’s a strange world.

Anyway, we had dinner at the Athene Palace Hotel and were walking down this narrow alleyway that runs off the main square, when these guys in leather coats came up and bundled us into a car at gunpoint. Well, I spent goodness knows how long locked up in this cell. Not a cell exactly. It was a small windowless room with a barred window on the door, with a tiny hatch located underneath. The only furniture was a rather comfortable single bed, which was on wheels. But here’s the strange thing. On each wall was a huge poster. The one opposite the door was a drawing of Stalin gazing up at a hammer and sickle, with the Red Army marching behind him. On the left wall, there was a huge photograph of Marlene Dietrich taken, I should guess, just before she died, perhaps only seconds before she died, and on the right wall there was another photo, this time of some gay porno star with an erect, unfeasibly enormous penis.

It was puzzling. A room that was bare except for three large posters and a bed on wheels. They were obviously trying some kind of psychological trick, but to what end? I have to say that they actually treated me reasonably well. I was expecting to be slapped about, maybe a bit of brutality, you know the sort of thing, but nothing like that happened. I spent the first night quite comfortably in fact. The following morning, the hatch opened and someone placed a small glass on the shelf. It looked like water, but was kind of thick and syrupy. Well, I’d had nothing for quite a few hours, so of course, I downed it in one gulp. About 30 or 40 minutes later, I started to feel very strange and after an hour, I realised that they’d spiked the drink with acid. Yes, LSD. Now this may not come as a surprise to many of you and I expect that quite a number of readers will have experienced this extraordinary substance; maybe ecstasy, cocaine and other stuff too. And it’s possible that some of you are tripping at this moment. In fact, what follows may not seem out of the ordinary at all – but I’ll continue anyway.

So there I was, all alone in this room; in complete silence and tripping off my head with nothing but Stalin, a nearly dead Marlene Dietrich and a gay porn star for company. I got tired of pacing up and down, so I lay on the bed for quite a while. I’d positioned it so I was facing Stalin. I knew they were playing games with me, so I tried to make them think I was, kind of, sympathetic to the cause.  As I didn’t know any Russian songs, I tried humming the French horn theme from Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony, but stopped half way through when I vaguely remembered stories about him being apparently gay. This seemed a little risqué, so I tried whistling softly to myself, but after a while I realised that not only was I whistling very loudly, but that it was the waltz music from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. As most of you will know, this was the first ballet Rudolf Nureyev performed immediately after he defected from the U.S.S.R. to the West, so I was in great danger of being perceived, not only as risqué, but extremely rude as well. To make myself appear more normal, I broke into a lusty and extremely loud rendition of the Beatles’ All You Need Is Love. It occurred to me that this was a song that would meet with Stalin’s wholehearted approval.

A little later, I realised that I’d been staring at this picture of Stalin for quite some time and that he was now becoming more and more attractive. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. In a short space of time, he’d become one of the most sexy, romantic human beings I’d ever clapped eyes on. I suppose I must have known it had something to do with the stuff they’d given me, but it was very powerful. I remember crying because the guy wasn’t around anymore. He was dead and in my dreams, I knew I’d never see him again.

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