Former Factory Boys and identical twins, Richard and Robert DuPont, were just a pair of 17 year-old Connecticut prepsters when they found themselves at the center of the drug, booze, and sex-induced intoxica-tion that was Andy Warhol’s New York City in 1977.
More than 35 years later, one-half of the DuPont twins and Reserved Magazine’s West Coast Editor, Richard DuPont, shares some of his most treasured memories with us. To our delight, his experiences were indeed laced with all the glamour, seduction, and power that one would expect of the era. In taking a closer look, however, we discovered vulnerability, heartbreak, and fragility of spirit at the core.
When unraveled, Richard’s stories of friendships, fashion, and fetes all reveal one common thread—the pursuit of love and magic. Today, Rich-ard has a new tale, a memoir that celebrates this quest, entitled I Found Somebody to Love Me.
These are the stories he reserved for us, shared via text message conver-sations.
ON HIS EARLY DAYS:
My twin brother, Robert and I, like my dear friend Whitney Mercurio, grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut. We were adopted and our parents divorced when we were very young. After the divorce, Mother was al-ways looking for the next husband, and we were constantly moving from home to home. There were maybe 20 homes until Robert and I left at 17. We basically took care of ourselves and never had parents at home. I knew I was gay when I was 15 when I went to my first gay bar, The Brook Café in Westport. I met a Yale graduate student there named Bill. After one night with him, he began to blackmail and threaten me, saying he would tell my parents, the whole town of Fairfield, and everyone in my school that I was gay. It lasted for several months.
I was scared to death of being “found out”. I couldn’t sleep. My grades were horrible along with my attendance, so I started drinking and do-ing drugs. I had to get a job to support my cocaine and heroin habit, so I started working for Martha Stewart, who had just started a catering company.
Robert and I both worked for Martha. We also worked at her gourmet shop in Westport called The Market Basket. There I met Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who were on the board of The Westport Country Playhouse. They got me a telemarketing job there; I was raising money for the playhouse’s renovation. I was also an usher; I worked all the time. I just wanted to run away from my life in Connecticut, move to NYC, and become an actor.
Anyway, back to Bill (the Yalie); I just wanted all of his tormenting to end. It did, one weekend in P’town, in the summer of ‘76. We were at The Crown & Anchor and I was crying at the bar when Bill went to the bath-room. A gentleman beside me asked with a thick Southern accent, what was the matter. I told him what Bill was doing to me, and boy, oh boy, was he angry! He said to me, “you won’t have to worry about Bill again. Go home, do your best in school and get a good education.” I never saw Bill again, but I did see that fine Southern gentleman again. It was Tennessee Williams, who became a dear friend.
Back in Fairfield, I took Tennessee Williams’ advice, and started to do better in school. I took an interest in art and photography (David LaChappelle was in my photography class.). At this time, I also discov-ered Alcoholics Anonymous and started going to meetings. They say, “You’re only as sick as your secrets,” so I shared my homosexuality there, and I made some friends.
I discovered my love for theatre and dance. With the money I was mak-ing with Martha Stewart, I started taking dance lessons, and going to New York to see every Broadway show I could—this was sure better than buying drugs. But I eventually lost that drive when my disease caught up with me and I was drinking and drugging every night at Studio 54. It was after working a party in NYC with Martha that we went to Studio. Two waiters working the party asked us to go with them. It had been open for, maybe, a week.
ON HIS FIRST LOVE:
At seventeen I took my first trip to Paris with my first true love, Rudolph Nureyev. I met Rudolph in ‘77 after an evening of dancing at Studio 54 at Doris Duke’s apartment. We danced for hours together in Doris’ Disco Den. And had fantastic sex there for hours. The next day we were flying to Paris together where I stayed with him for five months.
Life was so grand in Paris with Rudolph. He introduced me to caviar and dressed me in fur coats and Saint Laurent. His Paris apartment was like a Czar’s dream palace. The apartment occupied an 18th-century building overlooking the Louvre. He adored objects—paintings, fabrics and carpets. We went shopping almost every day. He would take me to his dear friend Yves Saint Laurent’s salon and dressed me in the most marvelous suits: lots of velvets.
I knew it wasn’t going to last with Rudolph. I had the best five months with him and the greatest memories. We had a great friendship. He taught me to enjoy life and really appreciate the arts. There were always guys around more handsome than me, though, with better bodies. Most were dancers. I feel, now, that my jealousy ruined the relationship.
The relationship ended after a trip to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge’s home in Marrakech. We were there for three nights, or so. Ru-dolph invited two other guys to join us that I didn’t know about. It was ‘The End.’ I remember crying into the arms of Loulou de la Falaise who was there, in Marrakech. She said to me, “You’re young, my love. One day you will find the true love of your life and it will be magical.”
I used to joke that Rudolph broke up with me because of my long dis-tance phone calls to Andy and Truman (Capote) in New York. Andy and Truman always gave me great advice, especially when it came to relationships. Rudolph would say, “You talk for hours and have these marathon calls. What do you talk about for this long?”
I was not thinking about continuing my education at all. I was still work-ing for Martha, who was constantly saying, “Where will you be going to school? Where are you applying?” I did not tell her about Robert and my new life in NyC. But I did confide in Dorian Leigh, who worked with Martha. Dorian was the original ‘Fire and Ice’ girl for Revlon. She was Suzy Parker’s sister; (Richard) Avedon’s favorite model. They say Audrey Hepburn’s character in Funny Face was based on Dorian; and apparent-ly, so was Holly Golightly.
Dorian Leigh became my best girlfriend and closest confidant. She taught me about fashion; she worked with the best designers. We talked about fashion photography and she showed me all of her Avedon and Dahl-Wolfe photographs. We also chatted about men, “Take ‘em and leave ‘em,” she said, “there will be lots, my darling.” I told her about all the fabulous people I was meeting, like Egon von Furstenberg who gave me a job producing his and Nikki Haskell’s cable TV show, The Nikki Haskell show. Dorian said, “Sweetie Pie, you will, like me, meet lots of fabulous and interesting people in your life. I certainly have. They all are your friends. But you know, Sugar, at the end you can only count on one hand who your ‘true friends’ are. Take that from me.” I learned this. She said, “You don’t need college. You’re getting the best education you can get from me and all the people you are meeting.”
ON ANDY WARHOL:
Andy worked hard; he painted every day, Saturdays and Sundays, too. It was all about work for him. He was always working on getting ads for Interview, or trying to get portrait commissions. He was so generous with his time with me. He taught me how to be a good listener. He would say, “If you’re not having fun with the work you’re doing, then don’t do it.” Maybe that’s why I’ve had so many careers.
When I met Andy, l felt really drawn to him. He said, “you’re so hand-some. You should be in Interview.” I used to walk sometimes from his home on 66th Street to 860 Broadway. We’d be carrying copies of In-terview and these kids, who were my age, would want his autograph. He’d say, “Get Richard’s, too, he’s famous.” He always made you feel so special. If the kids were cute, Andy would say, “Come on up for lunch at The Factory. We’ll put you on the cover.” I don’t remember any of these kids getting in, though. You had to be buzzed in by Brigid (Berlin), who was Andy’s closest friend and confidant. When I lived with Brigid a few years ago, I used to call her Mrs. Warhol.
Andy liked youth. And I think he would still be with the kids if he were with us today. He appreciated anybody who was creative and young, and helped them. Andy would say to me, “Hard work will never kill anyone. Idle time will.” He had a great work ethic.
I think the biggest misconception about Andy is that he was shy. He was incredibly talkative and hilarious. I would laugh so hard around him, or when I was on the phone with him. I’d cry; he was so very funny.
We’d chat about what went on at Studio 54 after he went home, and what went on at Halston’s house later. He wanted to know everything about what was going on. Andy was very curious.
ON FREDDIE MERCURY:
Andy was a great matchmaker. He fixed Freddie Mercury and me up. I met Freddie at Trader Vic’s one evening. I was there with Salvador Dali and Gala. Freddie came up to me and asked me for a cigarette. We smoked our cigarettes and I told him I had to go to a dinner at Regine’s; that a friend had invited me to. I asked if he would like to join me. We walked over to Regine’s to join Andy, Diana Vreeland, Fred Hughes and Catherine Guinness.
Andy said to me, “You don’t know who your friend is, do you? That’s Freddie Mercury from Queen,” he said. “you must make him your boy-friend. He’s famous.” I didn’t know Queen. I knew Barbara Streisand and Diana Ross and my favorite, The Carpenters. Also any Broadway show album. Andy was saying to Freddie, “Richard is so fabulous and fun to have around, He will keep you laughing all of the time, and really is so charming.” I turned beet red. Freddie was laughing, as was the rest of the table. Freddie looked at me and said, “Do you want to keep me laughing for a while, and come back to my hotel?” I did, and that was the beginning of a relationship that lasted over a year.
I was young and impressionable. I remember being at Halston’s house one evening, and Bianca Jagger was there. She was staying there when she and Mick split up. I remember saying to her how in love I was with Freddie and that I hardly saw much of him because he was working all of the time. I remember Halston saying, “you’re a rock star wife, get used to lots of lonely nights in bed. And, sweetie pie, he must be seeing other people don’t you think?” Bianca was sympathetic, I remember. I was now becoming more insecure about our relationship. Freddie would fly to New york and stay with me at the St. Regis hotel. My brother and I were living there as guests of our friends, Salvador Dali and Gala. I would fly to London and stay at The Dorchester. I couldn’t stay with him because of his cats. I’m so allergic.
When we were dating, Freddie wanted to see where I grew up. So, we drove to my home on Spruce Street in Southport, CT, the pretty, upper-class little section of the already upperclass town of Fairfield. We stayed for two nights. Freddie said to me, “I want to dress like my Prepster,” so I took him shopping at the Fairfield Department Store, where he bought several Lacoste shirts. We had a great time in Connecticut. We even danced at the legendary Brook Café in Westport, where someone said, “Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Freddie Mercury?” Freddie said, “All the time.” Freddie wanted to have fun with this guy, so he sang a few lines from a Queen song. The silly guy then said, “you wish you could sing like Freddie Mercury, he is the greatest there is.” This guy didn’t believe it was Freddie Mercury sitting there at the Brook Café in Westport. We had a great time there. We laughed so much.
Back in those days, in the Disco Era, the men I was falling in love with all wanted ‘open relationships.’ I remember the evening Freddie said to me, at Mr. Chow in London, that he wanted to see other guys and that he already was. I got so upset. “Why can’t we have a Doris Day/Rock Hud-son relationship?” I asked (Omg, was I pathetic.) He responded, “I heard Rock Hudson is gay. you should go out with him and also other people.” I got into my drama queen mode and threw a drink in Freddie’s face. He and I started arguing and my dear friend the late Tina Chow came rush-ing over to our table. “Will you two stop it? Behave yourselves. You two are like George and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf’,” the divine Tina Chow said. We began calling ourselves George and Martha after that. But it became so unhealthy that we ended it.
I was talking to a friend the other day about Andy. He asked me if I think Andy would be on Facebook, or the computer. Andy would say, “Isn’t this so great? It’s so Joe Modern.” But I think he’d have people around who were able to use the computer, and do Facebook for him.
When I was living with Brigid Berlin, in NYC a few years ago, she didn’t understand texting. She would get annoyed with me when I was texting. I don’t think Andy would be texting on a cell phone. Like Brigid, he would pick up the phone. Texting would be too modern. He loved chat-ting on the phone.
Brigid and I were producers on the film Factory Girl. We spent a lot of time with the film’s stars Guy Pearce and Sienna Miller. I remember being out to dinner with Brigid, Guy, and Sienna. Sienna had a few phones and was texting. Brigid was amazed at how she could be texting on several phones and Sienna offered to teach Brigid how to text. Brigid wasn’t interested. “It’s too modern. I prefer to go out on the phone,” she said. Like Andy, Brigid likes talking on the phone.
Dali did a wonderful, large drawing of Robert and me. It’s gone now. When I found out I was positive in ‘94, my addiction really got the worse of me. I was drinking heavily and doing every drug available: heroin, co-caine, crystal . My life was unmanageable. I was really sick and weighed 155 pounds. I had the lowest element of people in my life then living in my apartment. Streemetht urchins. One of the guys went running down Sunset Blvd. with it under his arm. This jerk knew what he had under his arm and sold it for a quick fix of drugs. Anyway, it’s just a thing.
A possession. I remember having lunch with two good friends in L.A. at Spago, Truman Capote and Lester Persky. It was just before Truman passed away. Truman said, “Possessions are obligations. What’s import-ant is wonderful friends and great loves.” I have to agree with my friend Truman.
Robert and I were living in Beverly Hills and we decided to find our natural mother who had put us up for adoption. We ended up moving east to Connecticut, where she lives, to get to know her. It didn’t work out too well. After giving birth to us, she became a nun for several years. She’s no longer a nun, but couldn’t accept that Robert and I were gay, so Cornelia and C.Z. Guest (who we met through Truman) said, “Get out of that unhealthy situation, and come and live with us for a while.” As Dorian Leigh said, you only have a handful of people you can call true friends. I hold my friendship with C.Z. and Cornelia close to my heart.
ON SAYING GOODBYE:
A memory I will always cherish is one from 1989. I moved to LA that year and decided one day to drive the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francis-co. I checked into the Mark Hopkins Hotel there. I hadn’t seen Halston for several years. I was in the elevator going up to my room, the elevator stops, the doors open, and there is Halston in front of me.
He was living at the Mark Hopkins and was sick, It was a year before he died. He smiled, and in Halston manner said, “Darling twin, Richard or Robert.” He said, “Honey, want to go for a ride with me?” Of course I said yes, after giving him a hug and big kiss.
We drove around San Francisco in a black Rolls Royce for about an hour or so, just driving and reminiscing of the great times at 54, his home, and friends that were gone. He told his driver to put in the Studio 54 tape. Halston said Stevie (Rubell) gave it to him years before and he still played it. The two of us sang along to some of the songs. I remember singing to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.” I guess you could say that was my last dance with my friend Halston. “I’m getting back on my floatie. Two hot guys in the pool, and I want to meet them. At this moment, I’d be up for a three-way.”
introduction and edit by quynh dang
illustration Mitja Bokun