Saturday, September 22, 2007

Some of my favourite men wear tights

The Guardian today runs an extract from the autobiography of Carlos Acosta (picture above shows him without said credit by Tristam Kenton, from The Guardian).

When the news reached my father's ears that I was running around the streets with gangs, he said to my mother, "We have to do something, Maria, otherwise we're going to lose the boy." Our neighbour Candida, whose nephew was one of the principal dancers with the Cuban National Ballet, had a suggestion: "You say he likes dancing? Why don't you send him to ballet school?"

My father's eyes lit up. Ballet! Suddenly there was hope. I was only nine, but I still remember that day when my parents told me their plans.

"What's everyone in the neighbourhood going to think? They'll say I'm gay!"

"Listen, you're my son and the son of the tiger shares his father's stripes. If anyone calls you gay, just smash his face in, then pull down your trousers and show him what you've got between your legs."

"But Papito, I want to be a footballer."

"Your mother and I have made up our minds, and that's that. It's your future, my boy!"

Meanwhile I have a hot date with my tv tonight: special documentary Nureyev: From Russia with love on BBC2 at 9.30. Watch clips here. And BBC4, the digital channel, is showing the Fonteyn & Nureyev film of Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet immediately afterwards. Is Acosta the closest thing we have now to Nureyev? I reckon so...

Nureyev, for a while, had a house about ten minutes walk from where we live. Sometimes I stare over the wooden gate towards the door that was once his, trying to imagine a creature as self-willed and wild as that living somewhere as ridiculously bourgeois and uneventful as this suburb. Not that he stayed long. One biography tells the story that he decided to move after an occasion when he left late for a performance at Covent Garden and jumped on the District Line at East Putney in the wrong direction.