On this day May 9: Denny Fouts


denny fouts may 9

Born on May 9, 1914, Denny Fouts found fame as possibly the most expensive male sex worker in the world. He preferred his own description of  ‘the best-kept boy in the world’.

Denny Fouts grew up in a reasonably well-to-do Florida family. He left school young and by the age of 20, worked in a Manhattan store. He became friends in Manhattan with the writer Glenway Wescott. Already cognizant that people who found him attractive would pay for his company, he asked Wescott how he could best capitalise on that.

“Now, Glenway, you know everything. I want you to tell me: how does one manage to get kept?”

Wescott laughed and then offered advice.

“To begin with, you must never use that word ‘kept’. Think of something you want to do that takes money to learn. Then ask someone for help and guidance. You’ll get much more money that way than by coming at it straight on.”

And thus began Denny Fouts’ career as a male courtesan: the intelligent and attractive companion of rich and powerful men and women, though mainly men. He soon met a wealthy German baron who he accompanied to Europe. Following an argument with the baron, he met an elderly Greek shipping tycoon while hitchhiking. However, after he fell in love with a sailor on the tycoon’s yacht, they stole a few thousand dollars from the old guy and lived the high life in a Capri hotel. At least, until the money ran out and the sailor bailed.

But in a stroke of amazing good luck, as police dragged Denny Fouts through the hotel lobby for not paying his bill, a wealthy English lord set eyes on him.

“Unhand that handsome youth,” ordered Lord Tredegar, “He is mine.”

Opium

Denny Fouts joined Lord and Lady Tredegar and their extensive entourage on a world tour. Unfortunately, in China, he became addicted to opium, an addiction that would blight his remaining years.

Back in England, Denny met 23-year-old Crown Prince Paul of Greece who enticed the American away on a Mediterranean cruise.

During his travels, Denny Fouts sent postcards home to his mother in Florida. A relative later said, “Sometimes he would send photos of him with a glamorous woman or a handsome man… But he never would give anybody an address to write back.”

Denny was good at his job. Christopher Isherwood wrote, “He really understood how to give pleasure, to make daily life more decorative and to create enjoyment of small occasions.”

He also enjoyed renown for being very good sex and according to Truman Capote’s biographer, Gerald Clarke, he never even had to work at it. It was all effortless.

“One of those people whose only ambition was to attract other people, Denny was superb at his job, affording it no more thought or effort than a flower gives to enticing the bees that buzz before its fragrant blossoms, or than a tropical fish gives to those who admire its peacock fins from other sides of the aquarium glass.”

In 1935, Denny met Peter Watson who inherited a fortune at the age of 22 following the death of his father, the inventor of margarine. Watson spent a fortune on him and continued to support his former lover even after they broke up over Denny’s opium addiction.

During these years, Denny Fouts also became friend, lover, confident, muse — or all four — to some of the most famed writers of the 20th century. Gore Vidal, Truman Capote and Christopher Isherwood all subsequently included him in their writings.

Denny Fouts died in Rome at the age of 34 of a heart complaint.

Truman Capote later wrote “to watch him walk into a room was an experience. He was beyond being good-looking; he was the single most charming-looking person I’ve ever seen.”

Henry Dunant <— On this day

On this day May 7, Tchaikovsky.

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