He was called Genghis Khan of the ballet, the first gay planet, the sexiest dancer of the 20th century. Indeed, sex meant a lot to this frantic Tatar. But besides sex, there was also love, and not only with a man named Eric Brun, but also with a woman, the great Margot Fonteyn. Nureyev had novels with Freddie Mercury, Yves Saint Laurent and Elton John; The rumor recorded him as lovers Jean Marais and many others.
But the most powerful, passionate and painful love of Nureyev has always been Eric Brun – a tremendous height Dane of unearthly beauty, a world-famous dancer, considered one of the most prominent dancers of the 20th century and the most sophisticated Alber ever danced in Giselle. Their romance lasted until Eric’s death.
SUCH COLD THAT BURNS
It is difficult to say who was the first male lover of Nureyev, but the fact that his first and greatest love was an outstanding Danish dancer, Erik Brun, is undoubted. And Nureyev first fell in love with his dance, and then with himself.
Eric was the ideal for Nureyev. He was 10 years older than him, tall and handsome as a god. From birth, he possessed those qualities that Nureyev was completely devoid of: calm, restraint, tact. And most importantly, he knew what Nureyev could not.
If it were not for Rudick, then Eric Brun might not have recognized the hidden homosexual in himself. Erica had a bride, the famous beautiful ballerina Maria Tolchiff, whose father was an Indian.
Their first acquaintance, Rudik, happened in 1960, when Eric Brun and Maria Tolchiff arrived with the American Ballet Theater on tour in the USSR. Nureyev burned with impatience to see the famous Dane, but it so happened that twenty-two-year-old Rudolph went on tour to Germany, and when he returned, the whole ballet Leningrad only said that about Bruneo.
Intrigued Rudolph got hold of amateur footage of Bruna, made by someone in Leningrad, and survived the shock. It became a sensation for me, ”he recalled a few years later. – Brun is the only dancer who managed to hit me. Someone called it too cold. It is really so cold that it burns.
A year later, Nuriev got burned about this ice no longer on the screen, but in real life. By that time, Rudolph had escaped from the iron embrace of the Land of the Soviets and took the first steps on the road to world triumphs. Fate brought him together with Maria Tolchiff, who shortly before this had survived the break of a stormy love relationship with Brun, whom she said she loved more than life.
Parting with the Dane, she promised him revenge and to find a new partner. Very soon she meets a young and hot Tatar, in whom a thirty-six-year-old ballerina instantly falls in love. And he invites him to go with her to Copenhagen, where her performances with Brune are planned.
On the way, Tolchiff calls Bruno and happily announces: There is someone here who wants to meet you. His name is Rudolf Nureyev, and he hands the phone to Nureyev. So they met thanks to Tolchiff, who soon regretted this.
Eric and Carla Fracci
DANISH PRINCE AND TATAR TERRORIST
The day was coming to an end, it was dark in the room, Brun recalled years later about their first meeting, which took place at the Angletert hotel, where Rudolph and Tolchiff stayed. – I greeted Maria, next to whom was this young dancer, casually dressed in a sweater and slacks. I sat down, looked at him more attentively and saw that he was very attractive. He had a certain style, a certain class.
This cannot be called natural elegance, but it made an impression. He did not speak too much, perhaps because he was not very good at English. The situation was awkward because of my relationship with Maria. We tried to cover it with her, laughing too much and unnaturally. Much later, Rudik said that he hates the sound of this laughter of mine.
After that, they saw each other only in the studio during classes. Nureyev was enraptured by Brun’s flawless, leggy figure, from his infallible technique, from the exterior, resembling a noble prince.
One day, during a break, Nuriev whispered conspiratorially to Brun that he needed to talk. He wanted to have dinner with Brune alone, without Maria. But when Nuriev told her about his plans for dinner, she threw a tantrum, jumping out of the wardrobe with a scream. Nureyev rushed after her, followed by Brun. At that moment, after the morning class, the whole troupe came out and watched with interest how Nureyev, Brun and Tolcif chased each other around the theater.
Eric, Rudy and Maria
But no matter how angry Maria was and how much hysterics she rolled, there was already a powerful attraction between the fierce Tatar and the cold Danish prince, which no one could destroy at that moment. Even the powerful mother of Bruna, who had a great influence on her son.
SEPARATE BEDROOMS FOR ADDICTION
Ellen Brun, as soon as Rudolph moved to live in their comfortable house in the suburb of Copenhagen in Gentofte, immediately disliked Rudolph. She saw in him a threat to the respectability of her son, as well as her rival for his love. And although for the sake of decency, Rudolph and Erik occupied separate bedrooms, Ellen guessed the nature of their relationship. Like many others who saw them together. These two immediately caught the eye, people turned after them, so beautiful and so different.
Brun, a tall and aristocratic blonde, resembling the appearance of a Greek god, with a high forehead, a regular, sharply outlined profile, subtle facial features, and sad gray-blue eyes, was refinement itself. He attracted the eyes of almost all women … Rudolph, with burning eyes, flowing hair, wild temper and sharp cheekbones, resembled an erupting volcano.
Their attitude towards sex was also very different. Eric was both thirsty and afraid of intimacy. Secretive, cautious, he did not allow a single emotion to appear, and besides, he was not ready for the sexual frenzy that Nureyev showed. Rudolph always wanted sex, twenty-four hours a day. And he thought it was natural, and Eric quickly got tired of this carousel. Therefore, their novel initially developed furiously and violently. One came, the other ran away.
Rudolph, when it seemed to him that something was wrong in their relationship, could frantically scream and throw things around the apartment, and Eric, shocked by this surge of emotions, ran away from home. And then Rudolph rushed after him, in search of his lover. In a few years, Brun will assimilate their meeting with the collision and explosion of two comets. (Fragment from the memoirs of the famous Bulgarian ballerina Sonya Arova, Eric’s close friend)
If Brun was the only dancer whom Rudik recognized as equal to himself, he was also the only one whom he allowed to exercise power over himself. Teach me this, he always told Eric. If Eric brilliantly played a certain role, Rudik did not calm down until he began to perform the same role just as brilliantly, Sonia says. – For him, it was the greatest incentive for a very long time. Equally bewitched by him, Brun helped him in all possible ways, transferring all his knowledge, even when Nuriev threatened to overshadow him.
Their relationship from the very beginning was stormy and endlessly intense. Pure Strindberg, – Brun estimated them in a few years. Rudolph was overwhelmed with feelings for Eric, Arov says, but Eric did not know how to deal with him. Rudolph was exhausting him. In addition, Rudik constantly and painfully jealous of Eric for women, because Eric, unlike Rudik, was bisexual and not gay and he often felt attracted to some duvushki. Violet Verdi notes: Rudi was so strong, so new, so hungry after the Russian desert. He just wanted what he wanted. He tried his best to subdue the gentle, delicate Eric.
Their relationship has never been easy, Arova concludes. – Erik kept himself under complete control, and Rudolph obeyed the mood. Eric tried to make him understand all sorts of things, and when it didn’t work, he was upset and they had quarrels. Rudolph wanted a lot from Eric. He always demanded something from him, and Eric said: But I give everything I can, and after that I feel squeezed.
Soon Brun came to the conclusion that Nuriev wants more from him than he can give. Close friends knew the warm, generous Bruna, with a lively, dryish sense of humor, but one of them says that he could change in a second, becoming cold and extremely hostile when he felt that someone was approaching him too close
EAT’S BOYS AS A PANCAKE
Having escaped the taboos and prohibitions of the socialist homeland, Nureyev longed for a taste of the sexual paradise he found in the West. There were no complexes or remorse of conscience: seeing something you liked, Nureyev had to get it. His desires were in the first place, and he satisfied them under any circumstances, day and night, on the streets, in bars, gay saunas. Sailors, truck drivers, traders, prostitutes were his constant targets of hunting. By the way, the appearance here did not matter much, the size and quantity were important. He loved it to be a lot. There is a mass of jokes telling about Nureyev’s sexual excessiveness. Here are a few.
One day, while having lunch at Rudolph’s house in London, where respectable friends of the artist had gathered, his housekeeper reported that there were two young men at the door. A few days ago, Rudolph gave them a date and apparently forgot about it. Rudolph jumped up from his chair and ran out of the dining room. The guests, having heard how he went upstairs with the visitors, fell silent, there was an awkward pause. Here the secretary Rudolph, laughing, exclaimed: “He is always like this!” He eats them like pancakes! Soon the front door slammed, and Rudolph, reddened, with a mischievous and contented gleam in his eyes, returned to the table. This is very tasty, he said ambiguously when his cook served him a dish.
Somehow, leaving the service entrance of the Paris Opera and seeing a crowd of fans, Rudolph exclaimed: Where are the boys?
Dancing in Giselle, Nureyev struck one of the artists with his exhausted appearance. What’s wrong with you? – asked his dancer. I was very tired, fucking all night and all morning, right up to the rehearsal. I have no strength left. Rudolph, – asked the artist, – do you never have enough sex? – Not. Besides, at night I fucked myself, and in the morning I was.
NIGHTMARE ON BOARD PLANE
At the same time, Rudolph believed that sex was one thing, and intimacy was another. But for Eric it was the same. He was frightened by casual encounters and anonymous sex, he could not understand the illegibility of his friend, whom he considered a betrayal. He was terrified of Rudolph’s exorbitant physical hunger for lovers. Eric was very choosy and could not get used to this licentiousness.
This boiling cocktail of love, jealousy, resentment, irritation was mixed with another component – the alcoholism of Bruna.
It was his dark side, which opened after drinking, which happened ominously often in the 60s. Alcoholism was one of Eric’s painful secrets, says Violet Verdi. – In a drunken state he had bouts of cruelty, he became very sarcastic, he liked to hurt.
Frustrated by the constant rumors about Rudolph trying to push him, Brun once accused him of coming from Russia just to kill him. He understood that he had said a terrible thing, but he felt a certain need to say it. Hearing this, Rudik was upset that he cried, Brun recalls.
– He said: How can you be so angry? At times cruel, Brun was unusually generous; Many dancers owe their careers to his leadership, which Rudolph himself always admitted.
But he continued his love chase for Eric, who was so tired of the Tatar tiger, that he ran from him to the ends of the earth. When Erik flew off on tour to Australia, Rudolph almost every day called him from London, wondering why he was not very kind to him by phone. Should I call once or twice a week? – advised friends Rudolph. “Perhaps Eric wants to be alone.” But Rudolph did not understand this, and finally decided to fly to him in Sydney.
During the flight, Rudolph experienced one of the strongest shocks. He never forgot that the KGB is looking for him all over the world in order to steal and return him to the socialist homeland. On the way to Sydney, this nightmare almost happened. While the plane was stopping at the Cairo airport, the pilot suddenly asked the passengers to leave the plane, explaining that with some technical problems.
Nureyev was internally cold, feeling the trap. He did not go out, convulsively pressing into a chair. When a stewardess approached him to get him out, he begged for help, convincing that he was afraid to leave the plane. Then the stewardess, seeing two men approaching the plane through the window, quickly took Nureyev to the toilet. I will tell them that it does not work, – she promised. Nureyev was there while the KGB officers searched the plane and knocked on the toilet door. I stared at the mirror and saw how gray it was, he later recalled.
When Nureyev met Eric in Copenhagen in 1961, then the famous English dancer Margot Fontaine entered his life. Here, as in the case of Brun, a telephone call also played a role. Once Rudolf came to visit his teacher Vera Volkova, and the telephone rang. Volkova picked up the phone and immediately handed it to Nureyev: This is you, from London. – From London? – surprised Rudolph. In London, he did not know anyone. That says Margot Fontaine, ”said the voice in the phone. – Would you like to dance at my gala concert?
In the history of ballet there is no more elegant, courageous and wise ballerina than Fontein. A slight smile, a hot glow of the eyes, a temperament, and also a steel back and an iron will is Margot. Her husband, Roberto Tito de Arias, was from a family of prominent Panamanian politicians and at that time served as Ambassador of Panama to the UK.
After Rudolph performed at her gala concert, Covent Garden’s leadership offered Fontaine to dance with him Giselle. Margot first hesitated. She first appeared in Giselle in 1937, a year before the birth of Nureyev, and by the time of his escape from the USSR, she had been a star for fifteen years. Wouldn’t she, a forty-two-year-old prima, look ridiculous next to a twenty-four year old tiger? But finally agreed and won.
Their performance led the audience into insanity. Nuriev’s sensual fervor was the perfect contrast to the expressive purity of Fontein. They merged in a single dancing impulse, and it seemed that their energy and musicality have one source.
When the curtain closed, Fonteyn and Nureyev were summoned twenty-three times. Under the roar of applause, Fonteyn pulled a red rose from a bouquet on a long stem and presented it to Nuriev, who, touched by this, fell on his knee, grabbed her hand and began to shower with kisses. The audience from this sight lay in a swoon.
But that evening did not become a complete triumph for Nureyev. Although Brun and rehearsed with him the role of Albert, but tormented by jealousy, left the theater. I ran after him, and the fans ran after me. It was very unpleasant, – Rudolph later recalled.
TREE OF WHITE CAMELIA
Oh god I never did half the things that I do now in the dance, Fonteyn confessed in surprise, speaking of the influence of Nuriev on her. And Rudolph confessed: If I had not found Margot, I would have disappeared. Soon choreographer Frederic Ashton created for them the ballet Margherita and Armand after the Dame with the camellias Dumas-son to the music of the piano Sonata in B minor Liszt. This ballet was the most long-awaited event of the 1963 season and gave rise to a lot of rumors and gossip on the topic: were there Rudolph and Margo lovers in life? Some categorically argue that yes, others just as vehemently reject it. There are those who say that Fontein bore the child Nureyev, but lost because of a miscarriage. But this is rather from the realm of fantasy, since Margo by then could not have children.
Rudolf and Margo themselves talk about their relationship: “When we were on stage, our bodies, our hands joined in a dance so harmoniously that, I think, nothing of the kind would ever happen again,” Nuriev recalls. – She was my best friend, my confidant, a man who wanted me only good. A strange attraction to each other arose between us, which we never managed to explain rationally, Fonteyn admits, and which in some sense resembled the deepest affection and love, given that love is so diverse in its manifestations.
On the day of the premiere of Margarita and Arman, Rudolph brought me a small white camellia tree – it was intended to symbolize the simplicity of our relationship in the terrible world around us.
But in the relationship with Eric this simplicity was not. Brun, tired of Rudolph’s disorder, complained to friends: I cannot be with him, we are ruining each other. But Rudolph continued to pursue Eric. Speaking in Copenhagen in 1968, Rudolph met with choreographer Glen Tetley.
Tetley was invited to dinner with Bruno, who warned him not to say anything about this invitation to Rudolph. But Nureyev, as if guessing where the choreographer was going, imposed himself on him as a companion. Tetley refused, but Rudolph got into his car. When the car drove up to Eric’s country house in Gentoff, a smiling Brun stepped forward to meet the car. But when he saw Rudolph, he ran into the house, disappeared upstairs and did not appear all evening.
I am sure that Rudolph was very upset, ”recalls Tetley,“ but he never let it be understood. And he told his friends that he would have bound his life forever with Eric if he had allowed it. To which Eric answered: Rudolph declared me a model of freedom and independence – I always did what I wanted. Well, what happened between us in the early years — explosions, collisions — could not last long. If Rudolph wanted it to be different, well, I’m sorry.
Soon, their tumultuous love affair finally collapsed when Rudolph learned that in Toronto (where Erik was then in charge of the National Ballet of Canada), Eric had an affair with one of his students, who eventually had a daughter from him. But although everything was finished with the love relationship between them, the spiritual connection lasted until the end of life, having survived all the betrayals, conflicts, separations.
My Danish friend Eric Brun helped me more than I can express, ”Nureyev said in one interview. – I need him the most.
When in 1986 Brun was dying of lung cancer, Nureyev, leaving all the cases, came to him. They stayed up late, but when Rudolph came back to him the next morning, Eric could no longer speak, but only followed Rudolf with his eyes. Rudolph grieved for Eric’s death and was never able to recover from this blow.
Together with Eric, young recklessness and ardent carelessness left his life. He was left alone with himself, advancing old age and a deadly disease. And although Nureyev somehow passionately quit: What is this AIDS to me? I am a Tatar, I will fuck him, and he will not fuck me, – Rudolph understood that he was given time to spare.
I SHOULD HAVE BEEN married TO HIM
Five years after the death of Eric, Rudolph bade farewell and with the lady of his heart, Margot Fonteyn. Prior to this, Margot experienced a terrible tragedy. In Panama, a car was shot in which her husband was. Two bullets stuck in the chest, another pierced the lung, the fourth hit the back of the neck, near the spine.
According to one version, it was a political order, according to another – in his forty-seven-year-old Arias his party colleague shot for sleeping with his wife. Paralyzed, wheelchair-bound, Arias became Margot’s constant concern. She did not allow him to become a body in a wheelchair, so she took him on tour, on yachts to friends. Margot earned a living and medical care for her sick husband by dancing.
I will dance as long as they walk on me, she told reporters. And she dances, and after returning home after dinner in the evening, before she eats, she prepares food for her husband and feeds, like a small child, with a spoon. By the way, the last time Margarita and Arman Margo and Rudolph danced in Manila in August 1977. And then she retired with Arias on a farm in Panama, where she was dying of ovarian cancer. Only Rudolph knew about this, who anonymously paid her medical bills. In 1989, Margot buried Tito Arias, underwent three surgeries and was almost bedridden: I used to tour the theaters, and now I tour in hospitals, Fontaine joked.
Margot died on February 21, 1991, twenty-nine years after the day she and Rudolph first danced in Giselle. After that, he was her partner almost 700 times. They say, having learned of her death, he exclaimed bitterly: I had to marry her. But it seems that it was just a phrase of a man who knew that he himself was dying of AIDS. Rudolph outlasted Margot by two years. He died on January 6, 1993, on the eve of Orthodox Christmas, he was fifty-four years old. Christmas Eve went down to the earth without him.