She disappears into her bedroom for ten minutes, leaving me to listen to some classical shit, something depressing, while staring methodically at what seems to be a real Keith Haring. Harings are not uncommon in the homes of the drug or sex-connected. Herbert Huncke once had a manager, a fat American woman, who used to work phone sex with Haring. She had an impressive Haring which he gave her for her birthday one year.
The Duchess eventually emerges with an old photograph of her younger self at an Eighties dinner party with Debbie Harry, Ted Kennedy, and other interesting parties. After we’ve shared her reminiscences surrounding that American moment in time, she resumes the much more gripping tale of the Dimitrios organization.
“Disaster struck us big time in 1982. We let an informer inside our organization – a little Moroccan shit called Abdelkrim – and the entire team got wiped out. Krim looked a little like a punque roquer, a little like a narc. Me and Bill got off the hook because nobody knew exactly what our roles were since we were never seen to put out hands on eitherthe money or the shit. Poor Bill had to leave the country for a year, so he took the opportunity to go see Europe. Me, I sat it out here in my rooms. I had to be discreet about money, they watched me like hawks for the slightest sign of disposables. Luckily I had a few bits of art stacked against a rainy day that I could offload. I lost nothing terribly significant. A Warhol litho, a good Francis Bacon, and some pretty awful Annie Liebovitz prints this junkie gave me to cover his debts. Those Leibovitz ones, they just gave me the creeps, having them on my wall made me feel that I was being spied on. I mean, she is real creepy. Right? Annie Leibovitz? It was like having an informer in my home. Right? Our seven lieutenants – friends or real family – did serious time because of Krim. One girl was Bill Conduit’s then-wife Sadie, who got off light doing two years. My sister’s kid, Tiago, did five. Sadie left Bill when she got out and my sister didn’t talk to me until our father was dying of cancer a year ago. Fuck that Krim. Dimitrios is still looking for the fucker from his Istanbul sickbed. Dimitrios, you see, introduced him into the organization. Dimitrios, who never made mistakes, knew Krim from way way back, I think they went to rich-kid Arab school together in Beirut in the Fifties. Dimitrios thinks he has tracked Krim down to Morocco where he now styles himself some sort of religious nut. Seems he is treasurer to this mad mullah the authorities have under house arrest in a seaside resort – Morocco’s answer to Coney Island. A town – according to Dimitrios who sent his daughter there with a camcorder to track down the shit – rancid with mad mullahs and secret police and CIA. Dimitrios reckons Krim was always CIA, that this explains his treachery. Dimitrios is trying to engineer it so that the mad mullahs discover just what kind of individual he is. Then they’ll stone him to death or bury him alive under ten thousand microwave ovens or whatever it is they do to old punque roquers. Inshallah, as they say! Hah!”
Joe Ambrose has written 14 books, including Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and The Fenian Reader. Joe is currently working on his next book, Look at Us Now - The Life and Death of Muammar Ghadaffi, which is an expanded version of a story first published in the anthology CUT UP! Visit Joe's website for all the latest info: JoeAmbrose.co.uk.