Off The Fence: Kevin Spacey Is Back?
Details from a Mayfair dinner within
Good afternoon, and welcome to Off The Fence, a newsletter in its prime. We’re delighted to see so many of you sharing snaps of Issue 16 out and about: we asked for unusual locations and destinations and my word, some of you have tackled that brief. Out to Andrew Butler (see what we did there) for taking his copy to The Oval and wondering, quite rightly, where Axel Tuanzebe’s piece is. Grace Browne took us for a scoot around Vogue House before tucking in – no doubt presaging the multi-million pound offer that we’re waiting to receive from Condé Nast that will make all our newslettering worthwhile. Considering the cricket theme – this is a summer issue after all – Tom took us to perhaps the most vital match in cricket this year: Italy v. Germany at a field in Edinburgh. And over on Instagram, we’ve had lovely stories shared from Patrick Galbraith, Max Bayliss, Alex May Hughes – now, as is the way with Insta stories, all sadly lost to wind. Keep ‘em coming, folks; there’s plenty of weird places you can take your copy, from civil trials, to dinner with the in-laws, to sites of astonishing natural beauty. That bottle of Aldi champagne remains up for grabs for another fortnight.
If your copy is yet to arrive, then firstly, commiserations, you must be going mad, and secondly, drop us a line at email@example.com and let us know so we can endeavour to get you your hard-earned mag. But if your copy is yet to arrive because you haven’t ordered one yet, well the solution, blessedly, is a simple one – head on over to the-fence.com/subscribe and snatch yourself a subscription for the irresponsibly low price of £24.99. (Or get a taste with just one copy for the similarly miserly price of £7.50, at the-fence.com/shop)
In we go! This week we have a dispatch from Mayfair, we also have some vids of some hammered painters, and we finish with a tribute to Tony Parsons.
Plan Nunn For Outed Space
The conversation was wide ranging, it was only unfortunate that The Fence’s mole only managed to hear snippets of it. Last night, the Colony Grill at the Beaumont in Mayfair played host to a meeting of the recently cleared Kevin Spacey and the be-mulleted brahmin of Shakespeare, Sir Trevor Nunn. Over fried chicken and Bananas Foster, anecdotes were exchanged. Spacey, we can confirm, does a superlative impression of Jack Nicholson, ‘the best’ that his dining partner had ever heard. Advice was given and all things theatrical were debated: Spacey even performed a short Shakespearean soliloquy for Sir Trev.
The pair began with champagne, toasting Spacey’s recent courtroom successes. Later on, a refreshed patron of a nearby table raised a glass of congratulation to Mr Spacey, which he bashfully acknowledged. Aside from such interventions, the main thrust of the conversation between the two though was managing a theatrical comeback for the almost-disgraced star. Nunn praised his innate connection with audiences. Specifically a plan involving the Hollywood superstar taking on a regional British theatre as part of his redemption arc was discussed. So, if you’re in a cash strapped repertory theatre somewhere in the provinces, then a mysterious benefactor might well be coming your way soon. Some strings, however, may be attached…
Cruising In The Trenches
One of the lead features from Issue 16 is now online: an anonymous insider spent months in Ukraine, and has reported on how the country’s LGBT community have continued to hook up even as the bombs fall. It’s full of fascinating detail: Soviet linguistics have now been inverted; many Ukrainian gays speak Russian, the language of the invader, in the bedroom. You can read it here, and we are very, very proud of the piece: it’s possibly the most expansive thing we’ve ever published.
In The Court Of The Earl Of Tarica
Our big smash hit of last week was Josh Mcloughlin’s uproariously funny piece on the truculent Shakespeare truther, Alan Tarica, and his relentless pursuit of, well, pretty much everyone who has ever written about the Bard, and quite a few people who haven’t. As the feedback revealed, Tarica’s ire has been fired about hither and yon for what must be decades – and so, too, did it come to our door, with some textbook vituperation heading our editor’s way after publication. Cowed as we are, we would like to say, unequivocally, that we renounce Stratfordianism, and will be burning our fraudulent folios later this afternoon as a middle finger to ol’ Billy Shakes, whoever he may be. If you’d like to have your world flipped upside down, take a read of it here.
Now, you’ll notice that these pieces are now back behind the paywall – we’re only putting pieces in front of it for a short while, three days at most. If you want to read nearly all of Issue 16 at your leisure, and also gain access to the archive, then do buy a digital subscription at just £14.99 for the first year. Or buy a print sub – the magazine’s even better when it’s in your hands, and makes for a comely prospect on your coffee table.
Stars In Their Cups
One absolute gem we’ve found in the archives recently is this clip from 14 July, 1989, when the longtime landlord of the French House, Gaston Berlemont, retired after nearly 40 years of serving half-pints and pastis, and an impromptu street party was held, and look who turns up at the three-minute mark: Francis Bacon himself, just shy of his 80th birthday, and apocalyptically pissed.
You could write an essay on this video – it certainly seems a pretty unique view of the terrifying nihilism that pervades Bacon’s works, but allow us to share with you another video of another blue-chip painter under the influence. Here we have Brice Marden, whose canvases regularly sell for north of £10 million, talking just pure bullshit about the nature of the ‘artist as poetic, mystic, philosopher’ in a manner that would make a first-year undergrad squirm.
Need for Seed
Marching on in the spirit of collaboration we’ve been fuelled by this year, we are delighted to be paired up with our dear old friends at Dirt once more, with this exceptionally stupid piece about the startups that will dominate 2024. Dirt, set up by the legendary Daisy Alioto, have been tireless supporters of ours since day dot, and just so happen to be the brightest, most forward-thinking publication to come out of New York in aeons. Leading the way for taste-making journalism, every piece on the site is rapier-sharp and sumptuously written, apart from our one, which trades in the kind of daftness you’ve grown to expect from us. We’d really recommend signing up here.
This one was a real all-hands effort, with silly gags coming in from every editor at our neat little outlets – we feel confident enough to say that it would be really, really funny if an angel investor were to reach out and try to bring StetsOn, NonceBashr or It Takes Tooze to life. Should you be the angel investor of our dreams, feel free to reply to this mailout and let’s get talking. No timewasters.
She Walks In Beauty
As Twitter wobbles under Elon’s aegis, there’s going to be a lot more going on our Instagram, so do join us there – last week we published ‘Are You A Yimby?’ by Bertie Brandes, which is by some distance the most popular post we’ve ever done: something short and sweet for the iPhone crowd. Join us here.
In Case You Missed It
Regarding LGBT Ukraine, we’d be remiss not to mention this stirring short doc on LGBT fighters on the frontline the very same day.
Andy Greene nabs a an oral history you might not have thought you needed for 1992 Action Thriller The Fugitive.
Paige Williams tells a tale cut straight from the Coen Bros canon, in this tale of a small town paper landing a very big story.
Apply some sequins and unsheathe your digits, with Hugh Morris’ history of the double clap.
John Herrman has one question about the coming AI Apocalypse? Is ChatGPT getting dumber?
Most of us whippersnappers here at Fence Towers first became properly aware of Tony Parsons from his parodic surrogate Tony Parsehole. A recurring columnist for Viz, Britain’s fourth best magazine, Parsehole files deadeningly repetitive copy, always abruptly ending with an in-article pronouncement that he’s reached his word limit, invoice enclosed.
As with all such cases where a parody’s subject is encountered after the parody itself, it’s always a joy to see his real, true self in the wild, acting so precisely like his fictional counterpart that any liminal gaps are impossible to discern.
Come for footage of our humble scribe regarding his Airport colleagues with squinting munificence, and the effusion of cliché with which he exalts a large building filled with planes.
But stay for touching shots of him having a jolly old time wearing hi-viz, big ear defenders, and having a go at the on-site fire truck, in the manner of a neglected pilot’s child, on whom an entire staff is forced to take solemn pity. It’s almost as if – alright, that’s 310 words, invoice enclosed.
Done, done and dusted, there we go. That’s it for this Tuesday – join us again next week, same time (roughly) and same place. As ever, tips, tidbits and tearful exchanges accepted herein, with a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch you next time.
All the best,