11.1.10

Peter Padrón Hernández : Älskaren / The Lover


Peter Padrón Hernández

TeaPaper, Copenhagen, 11 Jan 2010
Some years ago, when I was still living on the wrong side of Øresund (so to speak), a dear friend of mine introduced me to Bo Cavefors. For those of you who may not have heard of Bo, he is probably best described, quite simply, as the heart of the Swedish countercultural underground.
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As a publisher way back in the 60’s and 70’s, he unleashed a torrent of highly flammable literature unto the unsuspecting public – including Pasolini, Lautréamont and Ezra Pound; not to mention the writings of the Rote Armee Fraktion, back when their guerilla war against the German state was still most definitely going on.
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The importance of Bo’s work as a publisher can not be overrated – those books truly made a difference. I myself remember digging around in my father’s bookshelf as a kid, on a frenzied hunt for any- and everything that seemed or felt either weird or truthful – only years later did it strike me that all the best ones had at least one thing in common: The “Bo Cavefors Förlag” logo on the back cover…
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Amongst my greatest finds, come to think of it, were Salvador Dali’s delightful autobiography – which I would skip school in order to read, and re-read – plus a collection of sharp, brainy essays by the late great Harry Järv, which included not only a fascinating excerpt from Kafka – the sex scene from The Castle, no less, which certainly made a strong impression on my young mind – but also an old black-and-white photograph of a naked Native American woman hanging upside down from a tree, about to be cut apart by bored-looking white men with machetes. (The essay itself dealt with colonialism – but it was the picture, of course, that really got to me.)
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So, anyway: When I first got to know Bo, over in Malmö, he had recently moved back to Sweden after some twenty-odd years of Italian exile (long story), and was probably glad to see himself and his work appreciated by a newer generation: We promptly started hanging out – me, him, and the friend who introduced us; talking the deep talk, etc. However – sadly – we abruptly fell out of touch as soon as I moved out of the country, and never heard from each other again.
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Until now, that is.
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Just weeks ago, Bo got in touch again, wondering if I could recommend a good Copenhagen venue and some fitting actors for his latest project – a live action (yep, the man does that, too) called “Gilles de Rais. Älskaren.” He told me it was going to be something quite special, something out of the ordinary – it would require a lot of guts, a lot of passion; a lot of people giving their blood, sweat and tears; and yes, there would be “active gay sex” on stage. Naturally, I enthusiastically offered my support right away – and then had a look at the script.
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It is strong stuff – wild, brutal, ecstatic; essentially an ultraviolent piece of medieval homoerotic action, of “Dionysiac indulgence, body and sex, distress, surrender, blood and hangmen.” It’s all there – it all hangs out; nothing is covered up, or swept under the rug. A pig gets brutally slaughtered by a gang of knife-wielding naked boys, who then proceed to hack off the animal’s genitalia, and scatter its guts about the floor. Pedophilia is dealt with, frankly and matter-of-factly. Defecation happens (although for noble alchemical purposes). And of course there’s near-constant man-on-man fucking – dirty talk, sweet caresses, lusty blowjobs and all the rest of it. (Those of you with a decent understanding of Swedish can read the script in its entirety by clicking right here.)
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Of course, anyone familiar with the history on which the play is based wouldn’t exactly be surprised at any of this: 15th century Europe was not exactly for the faint at heart – and that goes doubly for the world of the French nobleman Gilles de Rais, compared to whom the celebrated English decadents, from Dashwood to Crowley, seem positively Amish. And yet this is Bo’s world as much as it is de Rais’ – the play itself, tellingly, takes place many decades after de Rais’ death, and Bo himself (!) plays the part of de Rais’ favorite former boy toy, now grown into an old man who, like his erstwhile master in his prime, surrounds himself with a wide variety of hard cocks and shapely asses. History is repeated, then – and traditions passed on. Stories are told, and lessons learned. There are rituals, there is alchemy – there is poetry, there is song. But first and foremost: Bo speaks, and the kids listen. That’s the strength of the work: Hiding not a jot – consequences be damned – a “man against time” speaks his mind.
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And yet, here we are, a modern audience with modern sensibilities – easy to shock, easy to rule, easy to scare away; myself, as I was quite annoyed to find out, most certainly included. And yet when I told Bo about these first impressions – of shock, and revulsion – he seemed absolutely giddy: “Wow, is the script really that strong? That’s nice…!”
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I’m running out of space here, so let me try to quickly wrap things up: Really, I could go on and on about Bo’s world – we haven’t even gone into his lifelong Catholicism, for example, nor have I mentioned the fantastic magazine he used to publish – but what is truly of the essence is that I promised to help the man with his live action, and intend to do so.
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Therefore, a theatre venue here in Copenhagen has been recommended, and promptly contacted – if they turn the thing down, we’ll just ask the next one, and then the next one, etc. Essentially, the same goes for actors, prop folks, etc.
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In the meanwhile, anyone wanting to help out with the project, in any way, is welcome to contact me at shitlicker@teapaper.dk – come on, folks, step right up: The nation needs heroes.


Copyright©Peter Padrón Hernández 2010

Collage by Bo Cavefors.

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