The playboys’ last hurrah . . . more on Porfirio Rubirosa

Why is this bunch of endlessly naff, morally dubious, sun-damaged sex addicts so beloved by the media? asks Tanya Gold in the Guardian. I missed this article last month, but here is yet another look at Dominican playboy’s Porfirio Rubirosa’s questionable career. This one, at least, mentions his problematic relationship with dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Last month Gunter Sachs, a 78-year-old German photographer, shot himself. Sachs has the enormous misfortune to have Taki Theodoracopulos as his informal obituarist. Taki is a writer – mostly for the Spectator – who fulminates under a byline displaying a small gnome-like creature with a man-tan and seriously over-whitened teeth. He calls Puerto Ricans “semi-savages”, thinks Kenya is called “bongo-bongo land” and believes Jews control the world.

Taki is rhapsodising about Sachs because he was, due to inherited wealth and a brief marriage to Brigitte Bardot, an international playboy, like Taki. It is depressing to see this sorry pile of sun-damaged sex addicts have a last media hurrah so I will have a go at them. Taki would expect no less from a lower middle-class Jewish columnist in the Guardian.

Playboys, a term I can’t use without thinking of Leslie Phillips saying, “ding-dong”, are the most morally dubious and naffest “icons” in the history of mass media; it is only justice that eventually they gave their collective name to a porn mag. Take, for instance, “the greatest playboy of them all”. These are Taki’s words, not mine, because whenever I hear the words “legendary prowess with women” I reach for my pistol, because clearly it just means “slag”.

Anyway, the greatest playboy of them all was “the Dominican diplomat and sportsman Porfirio Rubirosa, five times married, husband of three of the world’s richest women and two of the most beautiful …” The first three were obviously dogs, which puts Taki’s boast of old-fashioned gallantry towards women under threat, as does his assertion that Cherie Blair is too ugly to be a hooker.

Rubirosa was actually a diplomat who worked for Rafael Trujillo, the murderous dictator who ruled the Dominican Republic; Rubirosa’s job was to sell Trujillo at the sort of embassy receptions celebrated in the Ferrero Rocher ad. But never mind. Rubirosa had style; he is even the subject of a biography called El Ultimo Playboy, which is illustrated by a photograph of him styled as Paul Henreid, the dull one in Casablanca.

Playboys tended naturally towards tyranny and often profited from it, as you do when you are from a wealthy family and Hitler rules Europe. I don’t think there were any social democratic playboys, but if you know of one, please write in. Gunter Sachs was the son of a German industrialist who supported the Nazis. Gianni Agnelli, the Italian version of Sachs, inherited Fiat, a business made fat by producing vehicles for the Axis countries.

Prince Raimondo Lanzo di Trabia, the model for the Ricardo Montalban character in The Colbys, fought for Franco in the Spanish civil war – so glamourous! – which reminds me that Taki has lamented that he wasn’t a Nazi officer living in occupied Paris in 1940. Perhaps he would have liked to have been in the SS? They had by far the nicest uniforms; in fact, stylistically all playboys seem to model themselves on Erwin Rommel. When Taki writes like this I wonder if he is actaully a Communist proganada machine, hatched in some vault in the Kremlin.

The playboys were enthusiastic users of women, despite’s Taki’s boast that they were “first and foremost gentlemen”. Taki relates how he and Rubirosa would usually go to a brothel, after lunching with a wife or girlfriend. (Please remember he tells this anecdote in what is supposed to be a loving homage to his friend.)

Taki yearns for this innocent time, when hookers stayed in brothels; today “Arab kleptocrats and vulgar Russian oligarchs” actually take them outside, where they can see daylight. Taki is particularly confused when talking about prostitutes. He rhapsodises about the placid beauties of Madame Claude’s, but when he is angry he says Hillary Clinton’s “terrible” ankles would bar her from the profession. Perhaps he would prefer a horse as US secretary of state. Then he could play polo on her.

But there is hope for the playboy. Hugh Grant, who looks like a playboy, appeared as one – he was the evil champagne heir Bruno de Lancel in the mini-series Till We Meet Again – and probably thinks he is one, confessed a playboy mantra on Newsnight last week. (Although Taki would no doubt point out that Grant grew up in Chiswick).

“Men are naughty,” Grant said. Note the adorable term, “naughty”, as in, “my three year-old has been naughty. He pissed in my eye”. Rich men, says Grant, who paid the prostitute Divine Brown for sex, will be naughty, and if they are, it shouldn’t be reported in the newspapers; that is just Taki, I mean tacky. They have a right to privacy, just as Divine Brown presumably has a right not to be invited to pleasure Hugh Grant in a car. Taki and Rubi would be thrilled by this timely intervention. Ding-dong!

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