The October 2011 Vanity Fair interview with Conrad Black does not talk about the day Black visited the Montreal gay leather bar Truxx (Photo courtesy Vanity Fair)
(September 11) Montreal-born businessman Conrad Black says cleaning toilets, getting body-cavity searches and forming alliances with Mafia figures in prison has made him humbler — but he also tells Vanity Fair in their just-published October 2011 issue that he's innocent of fraud and blames his former media rival Rupert Murdoch for some of his legal troubles.
But the Vanity Fair feature does NOT include a story Conrad Black — whom I like to call "Connie" — apparently wishes would remain buried: The day Black visited the infamous Montreal gay leather bar Truxx.
In Vanity Fair, Black says that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp "has been for decades a rigorously micro-managed company and Rupert Murdoch has created and flaunted an attitude of unlimited right to intrude on, harass, and, to the limit that may be legally feasible, defame people whom he or his editors target. The News Corp. company ethos is one of lawlessness and unrestrained liberty self-righteously to do what it wants, inflated by notions of decisive political influence. I doubt if he personally ordered telephone or Internet intercepts on individuals, but he must have known that some of his employees did them routinely, going back, at the latest, to some of the famous cell-phone conversations of the Prince of Wales."
Black continues, "Murdoch deserves all the credit for building so powerful a company that most of its institutional self-confidence was justified, and most of the discredit for the sleazy way he operated it. I would add that I was more offended by the cowardice and hypocrisy of those in the British establishment who licked his boots—not to mention other places—for decades, and now swaddle themselves in shock sanctimony, than I was by the offensive activities.”
|Bugs smooches Nick Auf der Maur|
In Vanity Fair, Black says he "developed alliances" with mafia figures and Cubans while in prison, and ruefully notes, "I’m not embarrassed in the least bit I was in prison — not the slightest. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. You can’t talk to Martha Stewart about it, or Alfred Taubman. They didn’t see it as I did, as a nightmarish change in careers. I see it as a temporary vocation.
"What I’ve been trying to do the last eight years [while fighting the charges against him] is to deduce, at a very fundamental level, what is the message of all this? I don’t doubt that I am a humbler, more sensitive person now that I have experienced conditions with which I’d had little experience. I’ve worked hard to find something meaningful."
Upon his release, Black says he doesn't fear retirement since he still has some chump change. "I can live on $80 million. At least I think I can.”
What Black apparently cannot suffer is the following story which I found out back in September 1996, after his wife Barbara Amiel wrote in her Southam newspaper column, "The reason homosexual activists want same-sex marriages is to achieve the legal obliteration of any distinction between the normative sexual behaviour of society and the neuropathology of homosexuality."
Evidently Barbara Amiel is a homo-hating bitch.
I was so incensed that my first mentor, the late Nick Auf der Maur — famed Montreal boulvardier, former Montreal city councillor, columnist for the Montreal Gazette and the father of Melissa Auf der Maur (rock star with Hole and Smashing Pumpkins) — gleefully recounted to me for my Three Dollar Bill column the time he bumped into Black in downtown Montreal one day in 1978.
"Let’s go for a drink," Black suggested.
"I know just the place," Nick replied and mischievously led his old friend to the Truxx leather cruising bar above the Stanley Tavern when Montreal’s gay district was still downtown.
"Are you taking me to Sodom and Gomorrah?" Black snapped as they climbed the stairwell. "Let’s go to the Ritz!"
Just then a bouncer slid open the peephole and eyed Black in his pinstriped suit. "You can’t come in here," he spat.
"Then Conrad slipped into civil libertarian mode and said, ‘What do you mean I can’t come in here!’ So I pulled out my city councillor’s card and got us in," Nick told me. "After a drink I offered to go to the Ritz, but Conrad said, ‘No! Let’s have another drink here!’
"He hates it when I tell that story," Nick added.
I bet Barbara Amiel hates it too. Which is why it is worth repeating again and again.