Anti Diva


Sky ejaculates


Diva Diaries
Convergent with memoirs not of a diva
-- if certainly of no small ego

Anti Diva
An Autobiography, by Carole Pope
Random House Canada, 2000
Cover photo: George Whiteside

"Carole, why now? Why this book now ... why?"

Ejaculations from the Charm Factory
A Memoir, by Sky Gilbert
ECW Press, Toronto, 2000
Cover photo: David Rasmus

"I write this with trepidation. Mainly, I wonder why you would want to read it. What is there about Sky Gilbert's life that's going to hold anyone's interest through a whole book?"

They both start with the same question: Why? One could suspect them a bit disingenuous. I don't. Carole Pope and Sky Gilbert aren't really famous. Not, say, by the standards of Hollywood. I have a brother there, gay and au courant; he's never heard of them. Well, they are Canadian... if not Celine Dion or Michael J Fox.

But they are divas, well known; Sky locally, Carole perhaps more widely -- if poorly known for their true gifts. Both are pioneers of the erotic: Pope a pervert before her time; Gilbert too queer for times of "respectable" gay smarm. Both, also, are familiar with the potential use, and abuse, of celebrity. Carole writes:

"I'm obsessed with show biz and the cult of personality. The cutthroat food chain of flesh and fantasy that destroys everything in its path. It's a world where I feel so at home, a world where a diva, like me, gets to live in a bubble of her own creation.

"I embrace my sick world. I crave all the trappings of success, and yet I'm so disdainful of them. I admit it: I'm a hypocrite. Most of us are fascinated by stardom, even the tasteless no-talent brand that takes up so much of popular culture today."

And they both have big egos. Big enough to be fragile, often injured. They abound with insecurities. No surprise I guess, much as I wish it weren't so fashionable these days, even obligatory, to bare them. Carole herself wearied of it, saying late on: "I'm so over me, I don't want to write about me. That me was so self-obsessed." If, like Sky, with talents worthy of obsession.

But enough about them (for the moment). Let's talk about me.

I'm no diva. No smashing presence. I'm an unassuming person of (as I once said, explaining my sanguine acceptance of relative poverty) "modest tastes and no fashion sense." But I do have an ego.

"Once at the Y, Ricky told me, Paul Pearce and Billy Sutherland were having a discussion about Ricky, and in the middle of it Paul said something to the effect of 'Oh well Rick, as we all know, is so very arrogant.'

"Billy, taking this as an insult to his good friend (and partner in gossip) stopped Paul right there and scolded him. Paul, realizing that Ricky was within earshot, shouted out 'Oh Ricky?' 'Yes, Paul?' Ricky's voice came from the locker room around the corner.

"'Ricky, are you arrogant?' Paul shouted.


"Paul turned to Billy. 'You see?'"

-- Michael Wade's journal, May 13, 1980

Michael was my boyfriend then, Paul Pearce a good friend for years. I recall the same scene if not in that setting, at a party, not the Y. (Well, that's vagrant memory for you. Or maybe Paul thought the line worth playing more than once.)

So, I confess to no small ego. And gladly. I like big egos. They let me know someone's there. And that they know it. True ego bestows an awareness crucial to civil life: I'm myself, in the world -- but the world is not all about me. Those who go on in raging self- obsession, well... they're not big. Just big bores.

Sky and Carole do go on. But not to boredom. They know the world is about lives beyond their own. Both go on, and on, about lots of them.

Though not a diva, I did keep a diary. More or less: journals at first, letters to friends later, copies kept since the early 1980s. And I've turned them to, if not quite autobiography, then certainly memoir. And big: Promiscuous Affections: A Life in The Bar, 1969-2000. It's online, many links to it in the pages here, including one right at the end.

Sky and Carole's books caught my interest for covering much the same moment in time. (As Sky said, easing trepidation, "If this book has any value, it will be because of the important period of time onto which my life has trespassed.") Also, much the same Toronto turf. And, best of all, some of the same people. Few were famous, many wondrous; their times too, and the world we made together.

I wrote that memoir in large part to celebrate those people, those times, that world. The chance to go on celebrating was just too good to pass up.

Go to: Contents page

Links to specific chapters of Promiscuous Affections appear as relevant in the following pages of Diva Diaries. The one below, which also appears on those pages, links to its Introduction, leading to its Contents page -- where you'll find key people and events highlighted in bold.

Go to Promiscuous Affections / Introduction
Go to my My home page

This page:
January 2001 / Last revised: June 1, 2003
Rick Bébout © 2001-2003 /