Jul 16, 2014

The Chilean Bad Boy and his Boyfriends

George de Cuevas (1885-1961) was the son of a Chilean diplomat, but he wasn't interested in politics.  He wanted a Ronald Firbank life of opera, ballet, lavish outfits, opulent parties, and men.  Especially men

In 1920, he moved to Paris, where he met and fell in love with Prince Felix Yusopov (1887-1967), who helped assassinate the "Mad Monk" Rasputin, and now led a coterie of Russian expatriots.   Yusopov was gay, although married; he and his wife Irina founded a fashion design business, IrfĂ©.   They hired George as their assistant.

But George was really more interested in the ballet.  Not as a dancer or choreographer, although he dabbled in both.  He wanted to be a producer, like Sergei Diaghilev, who founded the Ballet Russes in 1924, and showcased the muscular physique of his lover Nijinsky in The Afternoon of a Faun.

George got his chance when he met Margaret Strong, the granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, a bookish intellectual who had accompanied Howard Carter to Egypt for the famous King Tut expedition of 1922 (her second cousin, gay anthropologist Michael Rockefeller, died in New Guinea in 1961).

They married in 1927, and began throwing opulent parties, to which all of the Parisian glitterati were invited. In 1940, they moved to the United States, and divided their time between Palm Springs and Toms River, New Jersey.

George founded a ballet company and showcased young performers like AndrĂ© Eglevsky.  His productions didn't receive a lot of critical acclaim, but they were eccentric and flamboyant.

In 1958, ballet director and choreographer Serge Lifar became angry when George changed one of his dances, and challenged him to a duel.  Although 72 years old, George consented.  The duel went on as scheduled, although no one was injured (except Lifar hurt his arm), and the two ended up in an embrace.

He and Margaret continued to court handsome young men, such as the Dutch adventurer Jan de Vroom, who acquired several Ferraris, a Rolls Royce, a boat, and finally an airplane as they competed for his affection.

In 1958, Jan de Vroom (left) founded the North American Racing Team to promote Ferraris, along with his lover George Arents (not pictured), one of the founders of the Mattachine Society, the early gay rights organization.

George and Margaret's last lover was Raymundo de Larrain Valdez (left), a rent boy who claimed to be a marquis, and a scion of one of the richest families in Chile. Soon he became the director of the Ballet de Cuevas, where he helped Rudolph Nureyev (right) defect to the West.

 After George died in 1961, Margaret and Raymundo continued to compete over men.  They finally married in 1977, when he was 42 and she was 80.

See also: The Nutcracker; The Afternoon of a Faun.