©2024 By Young Kim

Lauren Hutton wanted Malcolm back. It was 2001 and though I had been with Malcolm for three years, it was of no concern to her. Few men had been able to refuse Lauren much, including Malcolm. I was a fly merely to be swatted away—if even that. They had met in Hollywood in the 80s when Malcolm worked for the film industry. He’d gone to Los Angeles to promote his second solo album, “Fans” and never left. One evening, he was leaving a club with two friends—the photographer Michael Halsband, and Rory when a white limo drew up and two women and a lanky teenage boy jumped out. There was some pointing and whispering of Malcolm’s name before one of the women strode up to the three men. A husky voice commanded each one in turn: “Are you Malcolm McLaren?” No. “Are you Malcolm McLaren?” No. “Well, then you must be Malcolm McLaren! So, are you comin’ or are you goin’?” He was coming, to the dismay of Michael who was aware of Lauren’s reputation as “trouble”, but not before he ordered the teenager, John Cusack, to go home to bed. Years later, John related this story to me indignantly— how he had felt himself such a cool dude—with two attractive real women, until Malcolm came into the picture and humiliated him. The evening apparently ended at a lesbian club called “Peanuts” where Lauren and her friend Beverly D’Angelo were pursued and Beverly created a sensation by standing on a table, and belting out her own composition, “I Can’t Fuck without Falling in Love”.

As Malcolm told it, the next day, he and some friends visiting from New York returned to his hotel to find a trail of rose petals leading from the elevator to his door. Inside, there was a stack of presents, all beautifully wrapped with giant bows. “It must be a mistake!” Malcolm exclaimed to his friends. “It must be for Madonna. She’s staying on this floor… oh hell, who cares? Let’s open them!” He started tearing open the packages with glee when he heard a suppressed giggle. Startled, and somewhat ashamed, feeling he was caught red-handed, he looked up warily, and out from behind the curtains, stepped out a woman: Lauren. “Well, what do you do when a girl gives you presents? Don’t you think you should take her out?” In LA, with star status, you get permission to do anything—even break into a VIP’s hotel room.

Malcolm said Lauren took him to a hotel by the beach, locked the door and threw the key out the window. He said he never had such sex in his life. He claimed she literally caused the hair on his chest to sprout, which had been bare until then! She also trained him to sleep in a normal position. Until then, he’d slept curled up in the bottom of the bed, under the covers, only emerging from time to time “like a whale” for air. Lauren put his head into a lock and held him fast until this habit was corrected. She hadn’t wrestled alligators in her native Florida for nothing.

Though exciting, the relationship was a tumultuous one and ultimately a destructive one. She would disrupt his work—leaning back in her parked convertible in the studio lot with legs akimbo, one foot on the horn, in a skirt, honking away until he came out. His business associates—agent, lawyer, co-workers, urged him to terminate the relationship (“some people sleep their way to the top, some people sleep their way to nowhere and some people sleep their way to the bottom”) but he was hooked. Unknown to anyone including himself, part of the draw was the fact that she would regularly disappear without a word, for weeks and even months at a time. It reinforced his issue of abandonment and the belief that he was unlovable. If his own mother had abandoned him and didn’t love him, who could? Often, he would have no idea where she was or when she would return. He told me he would vomit on the sidewalk from the anxiety. Sometimes a postcard would arrive from Africa or some other exotic clime. Sometimes, he later discovered, she was with Bob, her long-term boyfriend in New York who had been her mentor of sorts since she first arrived from the South. Working in a club or a bar, as a very young woman, she was picked up by the movie star, Steve McQueen, who advised her to take a bus to New York and “be discovered”. The rest, as they say, is history.

Malcolm told me what finally broke the relationship was Bob and an abortion. But he’d had enough of Hollywood by the end of the 80s and needed to return to Europe. “I was losing my sense of language,” is how he put it. “I came with a toothbrush, I left with a toothbrush.” However, Malcolm and Lauren remained on friendly terms. Now, two girlfriends and more than ten years later, she wanted him back.

When she found out I was Korean, according to Malcolm, she told him Koreans were dangerous, violent gangsters, who would chop up people, throw them into Oyster Bay (since I came from Long Island) and he should watch out! Today, I would laugh at this but at the time, I was hurt. How could Malcolm repeat this—about my family, the kindest, gentlest, people? One day he informed me, “Lauren’s offered to buy you a house in the Hamptons if you will leave me. She said, ‘She’s from Long Island, tell her to go back to Long Island.’”

She called him regularly at his office in London. One time, I picked up the phone and heard her low gravelly voice with its unmistakable old-fashioned American intonation announce, “It’s Lauren”. People always go on about how “Mad Men” is so authentically 1950s and 60s—the style, the haircuts, the décor, the music. But that’s not really true. What betrays it as contemporary is the way the actors speak. Their cadence, intonation, even body language, jars with the way they look. But not Lauren’s. Her voice would fit right in with the golden years of America. She really embodied the American dream. No wonder Ralph Lifshitz took her name and created an empire.

“Do you want to go to St. Barths?” Malcolm asked me. “Lauren’s renting a house there again for a month over Christmas and New Year’s. She’s invited me—and you. She has a three-bedroom house, right on the beach. Wouldn’t you love it? You love the ocean. You’re a crab!” When we first met, Malcolm would study his astrology book—a child’s version—and read me passages from it over the phone, telling me why or why not we were compatible; that I was a crab and liked to be near the water and build homes; that because he was an Aquarian, he was air-headed.

“I don’t know,” I answered warily. I love the ocean but I was a bit unsure about the set-up. “Well, think about it,” Malcolm said. “It could be nice. She might have her friend, Carrie Fisher stay in the other bedroom. She’s a real man-eater. We’d need to find someone to share the room with her. Can you think about anyone who would be good to invite?” I thought for a moment, “Maybe Giles Kavanagh? My friend from Yale? He’s really sweet, he gets along with everyone and he’s good in the water—with boats and everything.” Malcolm liked Giles a lot. “Good thinking, Tonto,” he said approvingly. He looked bemused as always when I answered deferentially, bowing my head, “Thank you Lone Ranger.” Malcolm loved the idea that I was Mongolian and therefore related to “Red Indians.” He adored Geronimo and Genghis Khan. “That’s why you have bow-legs,” he’d explain. “Your ancestors rode on horses across the steppes!” He bought me a pretty antique Tibetan saddle rug to reinforce this idea.

I sent Giles an email, “… so you might have to share a room with Princess Leia who is apparently man mad…” I was referring to Carrie Fisher’s role in “Star Wars”. Poor Giles thought I meant some kind of Polynesian royalty!

In any event, Princess Leia wasn’t able to make it. Malcolm decided, “It can’t be just you, me and Lauren, it will be too weird. We have to fill up that third room.” Even minus Princess Leia, Giles agreed to come, cancelling a skiing holiday with his current squeeze. Malcolm convinced his Welsh friend, Stephen Williams, a genteel architect based in Hamburg who would create no waves, to share the room with Giles.

Lauren was incredibly generous and organized our tickets to fly on Christmas day from Paris. Since St. Barths is a French island, it is easy to get to from France—take a flight to St. Maarten (which is half Dutch and half French) or Guadeloupe and then take a short connecting flight. Stephen and Giles wanted to know what gifts to bring for Lauren. “You should bring things for the house, for us to cook and have meals together. She loves hot spicy Mexican food. Bring cookbooks…” Malcolm and I found beautiful gifts for Lauren. From a charming little store near the Pompidou Center, Facteur Celeste, we found magnificent African printed fabric to use as tablecloths (“She loves Africa”, Malcolm explained), a candleholder in the shape of a series of flat metal stones made of the same wrought iron as the Eiffel Tower along with slender white tapers tipped in fuchsia, funny postcards by a local artist, Nathalie Leté, of animals drawn over Parisian monuments and an entrancing silver parasol. At the Christmas market we bought a delicious Corsican ham and sausage made of boar’s meat. “Sanglier! Sanglier!” Malcolm would chant, as excited as if he had hunted the boar himself. He adored the idea of eating such a wild animal.

One time driving through France, he told me he had stopped in the forest when a boar came charging after him. Fortunately the sunroof was open and he jumped inside the car—a sturdy old Mercedes– through the roof! From our favorite food market, “Le Marché des Enfants Rouges” (“The market of red children”, something to do with Communists) he chose two bottles of an exquisite muscadelle. On Christmas Eve, as we walked across the Madeleine, we noticed a giant truck, painted in the emblematic pistachio green and gold of Ladurée parked outside the tea shop. Its back was open with trays and trays of candy-colored macarons for Christmas. We bought a beautiful big box, all pistachio and gold with a gleaming satin ribbon, to take with us to St. Barths.

In spite of all these preparations, I wasn’t quite prepared for what to expect. Before we left, we had dinner with Marc Jacobs, who had known Malcolm since he was a teenager, shopping at 430 King’s Road with his then boyfriend, Robert Boykin. Marc’s favorite restaurant at the time was an adorable soufflé restaurant near the Bon Marché. It turned out that Marc was a St. Barths regular. He warned us, “When you arrive at the St. Maarten airport, you’ll think you’ll never leave it!”

We didn’t understand what he meant until we got there. The airport was renovated a few years later and now it looks completely normal and modern. But in 2001 it was still like a shack. You couldn’t figure out what was going on, where, how, and what flight was leaving when. But Lauren had booked a VIP transfer service who found us and somehow miraculously, our checked luggage, and shepherded us onto a tiny plane to hop to St. Barths. The flight into St. Barths has the deserved reputation of being terrifying and is not for the faint of heart. The descent is made, seemingly in a narrow space between the peaks of two hills, with an abrupt swoop (not dissimilar to a roller coaster dip), to land and stop on what is probably the shortest runway in the world. (Because the landing strip is so small, only tiny planes, perhaps a 12-seater at most, are allowed to land.) Often, people wait on top of the adjoining hill to witness the arriving planes and a few reckless ones will ignore the warning sign and lie on the strip of beach at the end to watch the planes taking off.

Lauren had sent a friend of hers, José, to pick us up. He drove us down the road to St. Jean Beach and dropped us off in her yard. The familiar voice called playfully from behind the bushes, “Oh my, you’re here already and I’m naked as a bluejay!” I wondered what kind of holiday this would turn out to be. Thankfully the owner of the voice revealed herself wrapped in a big towel. The famous gap-tooth grin on that well-known face shone as she saw Malcolm. She ushered us into the house, pointed out our room at the end and said we could go for a drive to visit the island before it got dark.

The house was very simple and on Saint Jean Bay. We had the far bedroom with its own door leading to the front yard. This bedroom connected to a bathroom that was shared with the second bedroom with two twin beds which gave onto the living room and kitchen. The living room had a front door to the driveway and a back door to the beach. Lauren’s bedroom with its en suite bathroom was in a separate wing off the kitchen.

When you walked out the back door, there was a little yard with a gate that opened onto the glittering bay. The year before, Lauren had suffered a serious motorcycle accident on a ride in the desert with Jeremy Irons and Dennis Hopper and had recuperated in this same house. She moved a bit stiffly and carefully but seemed remarkably fine otherwise. We climbed into the very cool looking white Mini Moke she’d rented and took off for Saline beach, or officially, Anse de Saline, named so because of the salt flats surrounding it. Perhaps at some point salt was cultivated from these dead, dark, murky pools but now, they act as a remembrance of something somehow real and authentic that adds to the charm of the island. A large branch, bleached white from the salt and sun rises dramatically petrified in the middle of it.

Over the years, Saline Beach came to be the one Malcolm and I preferred, the best bathing beach. A few times, a donkey was found grazing at the entrance by the parking lot. We would speed back to the villa and return with a snack that Malcolm would happily feed to it, admiring its rough fur, gingerly petting it. “Just look at him, Young! Just look at him!”

“I couldn’t do this last year,” Lauren explained as she leaned on Malcolm to climb the rocky hill that led to the ocean. The beach, with its stretch of pale sand and nothing else is a paradise. The waves are usually gentle—a bit too gentle for my taste. Every afternoon, once the sun had started to set, Steve Martin and his friend, the artist, Eric Fischl would come to the beach and body surf. How they did that in two feet of water, I never understood, but they took it very seriously. Malcolm knew Eric Fischl and one day we went over to say hello. Steve Martin shook my hand and introduced himself very gravely, “Hi, I’m Steve”.

Once in a while, the sea would be stirred up and the waves would be big enough to body surf, which is what I love. Then, you saw who were the fearless wave lovers who embraced them. I would line up in the water, mostly with men—the wonderful artist who always reminds me of a romantic cowboy, Brice Marden, the last of the Mohicans, Daniel Day Lewis and his family—looking intently out, to catch the waves. Malcolm was not a great swimmer. (Though he had often gone to the South of France as a child with his grandmother to visit her lesbian sisters—who had apparently retired from operating a traveling circus—he was not allowed to swim in the sea, only the pool. She told him that the sea was dirty and that fish peed in it.) Sometimes he’d join me but often enough, if there were interesting people to talk to on shore, which was usually the case, he’d stay on dry ground. There are no sharks in the water in St. Barths, only on the beach!

After showing us Saline, Lauren decided to take us to another beach, Gouverneur. St. Barths is a very hilly island with some treacherous roads—steep and narrow, littered with potholes. You’d think St. Barths is rich enough to pave its roads properly but apparently the potholes are its idea of speed bumps and rustic charm.

The Mini Moke started up a steep incline as Lauren gunned the gas. Halfway up the hill, the Moke gave up and wouldn’t go further. It kept slipping backwards no matter how hard she ground her foot on the pedal. “It was fine yesterday!” she grunted as she pushed the car. Yesterday, did you have three people in the car, I wondered… (I learned afterwards that the Moke is a glorified beach buggy meant only for flat land. In later years, I noticed it was completely phased out of the car rental choices.) The car kept bouncing forward and falling backwards. “Jump out of the car!” Malcolm ordered urgently as he leapt out the side. I hesitated. I was sitting behind them. If I jumped out, the car could slip on me. But I felt that the car might well explode so I followed. Lauren kept her foot on the gas but the car had no momentum. A big jeep with a couple of young men drove down towards us on the other side of the road. They stopped and helped Lauren turn the Moke around so we could go back down the hill and return home. The next day she traded it in for a Suzuki jeep.

Lauren had prepared a Christmas dinner, catered from Maya’s, the best traîteur in town, for us the evening before, having gotten the day of our arrival confused. She had simply thought Christmas. The French celebrate Christmas on the Eve whereas Americans celebrate it on Christmas Day. So we ate it together that evening, Christmas Day. We brought out all our various presents for her and laid the table with the African tablecloth, and lit the candles… She had gifts for us too—fur gloves and shearling slippers for Malcolm and me. Somehow, the sizes were perfect and we wore the slippers for years until they wore out. In fact, Malcolm wore his in our Paris apartment to the very end of his life. I thought they were curious gifts not only since we were sitting in the Tropics, but because Malcolm had told me that until he met me, and I got him into them, he had never worn gloves. His hands were always toasty warm no matter how cold it was outside. He attributed it to his Scottish blood. Before we went to bed, Lauren explained that every morning she had to go to physical therapy in Gustavia, the center of town, for a few hours.

“Wake up Young! Wakey wakey! Get up!” Malcolm shook me.

“What is it?”

“Hurry up! Lauren’s gone out. We’ve got to clean up the kitchen before she returns.”

The kitchen indeed was a bit scary. Though a maid came in daily, in the two weeks that Lauren had been staying in the house, it looked like (fortunately for me) no other kitchen I’d seen before in my life. On top of the refrigerator was a bowl of decaying fruit with fruit flies circling around it. Inside, was an uncovered bowl of beans in cloudy water with a moldy film, soaking—presumably since her arrival. There were half-drunk cartons of milk, wads of foil with nodules of foie gras… Bits and pieces of half-eaten food filled the entire refrigerator. The cupboards held similar wares.

“We’ve got to throw all this out!” Malcolm declared. He was always very clean and abhorred saving, much less hoarding, anything, sometimes to an extreme. “Are you sure, Malcolm? This isn’t our business,” I protested. “Out! Out! Out!” he ordered. “We’ll walk to the supermarket near the airport and get new food.” He pulled everything out of the refrigerator and handed it to me to dump in the trash. We cleaned everything out until the kitchen was spotless and then re-stocked it all before she returned.

“Hmmmmm….” growled Lauren, inspecting her transformed kitchen, but she didn’t say anything more. At least not for the moment.

Giles was next to arrive. Dutiful to Malcolm’s instructions, his tribute to Lauren consisted of a cookbook, a set of fine Porthault linens in Wedgwood blue bought on a trip to Paris intended originally as a wedding gift for someone—four napkins, four placemats, and some super spicy Mexican chilis. We used the linens once and then we never saw them again.

Later that evening, Stephen arrived. Being British, he brought a Jamie Oliver cookbook and a Gerhard Richter print. He, too, came with some spicy chilis. We were a full house and a full car. In retrospect, I don’t know why Malcolm and I didn’t just rent another car and tool around on our own—maybe because we were unfamiliar with the roads and they can be treacherous. As it was, only Giles rented a scooter, which seemed a bit unstable on those rough roads. Every morning, he seemed to be sporting a fresh scrape or bruise. In later years, Malcolm and I rented a Smart convertible. He loved the look of it and the idea of it. He wasn’t very good at driving it because it was semi-automatic and it would slip back if you stopped on a hill so I generally drove—slowly and carefully. That car is like a toy. I once nudged against a jeep backing out and an entire piece broke off! I’d always think to myself, “I have precious cargo in here—Malcolm.”

So we all normally piled into the Suzuki together and took off, Lauren usually at the wheel with Malcolm sitting next to her. I would sit in the back between Stephen and Giles. I pictured us—a motley crew– as the Flintstones, going for a drive, in our open vehicle powered by our feet.

We established a routine, similar to the one we had in Paris or New York. In the morning, while Lauren was at physical therapy, we would all walk to either Kiki e Mo, the Italian café at the end of our driveway, for a coffee, or we would walk a bit further to the bakery. We’d read the Herald Tribune, chat with some of Malcolm’s old art world friends like the artist Francesco Clemente or the gallerist Tony Shafrazi, and hang out a bit until Lauren returned and would decide what we would do the rest of the day.

Lauren had chosen the house on St. Jean Bay because unlike most villas in St. Barths, it was directly on the beach. The gentle bay was just a few steps from the door. Sometimes we’d all lounge on the sand with our towels. Malcolm retrieved the silver parasol that Lauren was clearly not interested in, and walked along the shore twirling it and enjoying its glittering frivolity. I realized he’d chosen it for himself.

Malcolm always loved the idea of a gang and now he had one captive—at least Stephen, Giles and me. Always curious, he studied the map and found out about the different areas of the island and various walks we could go on. Like a general, he marshaled his troops and led us forth—to Colombier Beach, inaccessible except on foot or boat, or the hills in Toiny. Lauren couldn’t join us because of her injuries so she would meet us at an appointed time and place in the jeep.

I was never a fan of these walks as I’ve felt that the Caribbean is not the place for trekking. It’s hot! But Malcolm insisted. I couldn’t let him go on his own for fear something could happen to him, so I would reluctantly follow after slathering sunscreen on his face and ramming a hat onto his head which he would accept with a grimace. “Come on! Come on!” he’d shout, urging us on, suitably dressed in his Indiana Jones outfit—khaki canvas safari shorts from the Ralph Lauren shop in Gustavia (the center of St. Barths) belted with a swathe of brutish leather by Martin Margiela, pastel striped Corgi socks and a long-sleeve cotton shirt, cuffs flapping. Malcolm rarely wore short sleeves, much less shorts– only occasionally on the seaside. “Wearing less clothes doesn’t make you cooler” he explained. He would wear simple plimsoles, not proper hiking shoes. “Social climbing shoes, not rock climbing shoes”, observed our friend, the architect Lee Mindel, who accompanied Malcolm on one of these (what he termed) “death defying” walks. And rock climbing is exactly what the trip would become.

The hills of Toiny can be very steep. Though he was uncoordinated and had poor balance on any kind of machine, including a bicycle, Malcolm was incredibly sure footed. He zoomed through the brush and rocks like the goats he adored. He kept going and going, higher and higher. He would never trip or fall. Big birds would circle above, sometimes becoming aggressive if we approached a nest. He would be thrilled by an iguana, and point excitedly at the little spotted kids that jumped adroitly from one rocky perch to another. Malcolm considered them his kin though he wouldn’t turn down a good Colombo de cabri at the café. Grabbing an odd broken branch, he’d use it to hack at the cacti that grow abundantly. If you looked closely, you’d see giant black and red spiders an inch and a half in diameter nestling amongst them. “I wish I had a machete!” he’d shout. “I’d just whack all these cacti and make a path!” When “Kill Bill” came out with Uma Thurman traveling on a plane with a Japanese samurai sword, I pictured myself sitting beside Malcolm on a commercial jet with a giant machete beside us.

The three of us would trail behind him as closely as possible in the wake of these felled cacti— me, looking anxious for Malcolm’s safety and watching out for the giant spiders and scratches. (Invariably, I would be in a thin sundress as I would have forgotten to pack a pair of trousers for the trip.) Giles would be game and smiling, marveling at Malcolm’s uncontained zeal. Stephen would look a bit concerned as the slope grew steeper, though caught up by Malcolm’s excitement in spite of himself. We were Malcolm’s artful Dodgers, just as the Pistols were his artful Dodgers, as were the members of Bow Wow Wow, and even later on, the girls in Jungk. Malcolm loved children’s adventure stories—cowboys and Indians, pirates, all manner of exciting heroes and outlaws. He felt the artist was the ultimate outlaw. This theme was woven into the pantheon of his work—whether as song lyrics (“Give me a Cow! Give me a boy! Give me a Cowboy!”), design motifs (the Apache pattern in the Pirate collection), fringing on trousers from the Sex collection, his imagining himself as James Bond in the “Paris” album… and here he was, on the hills of St. Barths, as some kind of intrepid explorer clearing a path!

Invariably the rock climbing became more and more dangerous. I started to measure the fall to the rocks at the bottom of the mountain and imagine a helicopter coming to pick up Malcolm’s broken remains. It was time to pull the brakes. “Malcolm, we’ve gone far enough,” I shouted. “We have to stop now and turn back.” He’d ignore me. “Come on Malcolm! Stop! It’s really dangerous,” I’d plead. “Stop being such a worry wart!” he’d retort and charge on even faster, to get as far ahead as possible before the inevitable. Giles would intercede— “I think it’s a bit dangerous Malcolm”. Stephen would echo this sentiment in relief.

“See Malcolm! We have to stop!! Stop!!” I’d rush over and grab him by the arm. “Stop Malcolm! I don’t want you to get hurt. It’s dangerous. Everyone agrees!”

“Oh!!! Al-right Young!” he’d splutter and shake me off. “You’re so boring!”

“I don’t care!” I said, making a face. “Come on. Let’s go back. We can go have a swim at Salines and get a piña colada at the Grain de Sel. Wouldn’t that be nice?” I coaxed him.

The subject successfully changed, he’d brighten up, utter a few grumbles to make it clear that he thought I was a spoilsport– that a manly man like him was only giving in to accommodate a weak woman– and head towards the swim and iced drink with fresh enthusiasm.

Lauren had spent a considerable amount of time on the island and was well acquainted with the social life as befitted a woman of her status. We went to a few parties and restaurants but often, we stayed at the house and prepared our own meals. Malcolm would take charge and tell us who was doing what. He would choose the wine—he had trained to be a sommelier and was an expert on the subject– and make the salads. I wouldn’t say that Malcolm could really “cook” but he could prepare things beautifully and cook simple dishes like pasta or pan-fried fish. His talent lay in assembling things—a collage of food, just as he created collages of music, film, or T-shirts. Even if we bought some prepared food from a caterer, he would always lay it out properly in an attractive way, garnishing it with parsley or lemons. Never did we ever eat out of take away containers or jars. If we served mustard with a meal, a portion would be put properly in a bowl with a serving spoon. As for his salads, they were like artworks. No wonder he could arrange flowers so well. Whatever it was on hand—dandelion, arugula, endive, cucumbers, tomatoes, he would expertly balance the flavors and make sure it was gorgeous in all senses of the word—the way the British use the word—delicious and visually attractive. Everyone seeing Malcolm’s salads always exclaimed at their exquisiteness.

We had been listening to different kinds of music as part of Malcolm’s research for “Diorama” (our theatre project) and we brought along a CD of romantic French and German songs from the 30s sung by such glamorous chanteuses as Zara Leander and Marlene Dietrich. The candles, the music, the pretty bits and bobs from Paris created a convivial atmosphere. It would all go a bit sour though as the evening wore on. Somehow, we would invariably end up discussing the South—the Confederate South, a subject Lauren was passionate about. We all had to sit and nod as she explained that Atlanta was saved from General Grant’s wrath because the South sent the most beautiful girl out to meet him. Bedazzled by such never-before-seen comeliness, apparently, Grant turned his troops away and it almost seemed as if the South had won the war.

“I must have been mentally ill” said Malcolm to me, his eyes wide, his hand clasped to his head in a dramatic gesture.

“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.

“I must have been mentally ill!”

“I don’t understand.”

“To have been with a woman like that! I don’t understand myself. I feel really disturbed! Let’s go out Young! Let’s go out and have a coffee.” And so we would sneak out the side door of our bedroom unbeknownst to anyone. Giles told us Lauren would look for Malcolm and get angry that he’d disappeared. Sometimes all three of us would go out and leave poor Stephen behind to face her wrath. In her state of recovery, Lauren couldn’t go chasing us easily.

Malcolm, like the giant child that he was, didn’t care that he might be rude. (But then again, they had been a couple; there are things one can do with someone that close that wouldn’t be permissible otherwise.) He just wanted to get away when he could. He didn’t want to be pinned down if he didn’t want it. But it made Lauren angrier and angrier as our visit went on. And naturally, that anger was directed at me.

One morning, around New Year’s, I came out to the kitchen for breakfast when Lauren attacked me with an accusation: “You threw out all my Equals!” Confused, I asked, “What do you mean?” “My Equals! You threw them all out when you cleaned the kitchen. Malcolm said so,” she added. I looked reproachfully at Malcolm, who had a guilty look on his face. “You can’t find Equals on St. Barths,” she ranted. “That’s why I brought them with me from New York. They’re not like other fake sugar. They’re natural—made of bananas or something. I have them with my tea and now there are none!” “I’m very sorry,” I said, not knowing what else to say. “But I don’t think I threw out your Equals. They were in individual paper packets. I wouldn’t throw out anything like that.” And, I thought to myself, I didn’t throw anything out except on orders from Mr. Malcolm over there… Anyway, you must have eaten them all… “What are you going to do about it?” Lauren glared at me. “Well, I’ll see if my friend can send a box over by Fedex from New York”. And so, I had my loyal and reliable friend, Pam, Fedex a box of Equals over but due to the holiday, it took a few days, much to Lauren’s satisfaction.

I couldn’t blame Lauren. First of all, Malcolm shouldn’t have blamed me for the missing Equals. He should have told her we didn’t throw them out, much less make me the scapegoat. But secondly, I knew Lauren was just frustrated. She was used to getting her way and somehow, it wasn’t working out as planned. Lauren really adored Malcolm but simply didn’t understand how to get through to him. She hung on his every word and she believed literally in everything he said.

One evening, we were at Eddy’s restaurant having dinner. “The special of the day is an octopus curry—” announced the waiter. “You can’t eat octopus!” ejaculated Lauren. “The octopus is very smart and saves people from drowning!” she lectured the astonished waiter. Stephen looked mystified and Malcolm nodded sagely in agreement. I had to control myself from laughing. The intelligence of the octopus was the subject of a long-running dispute between Malcolm and myself. He had told me that they were incredibly smart, and led lost frogmen to safety. I scoffed at this ridiculous tale and asked where he’d heard such a thing. Apparently in a Jules Verne story! I told him it wasn’t true—they don’t even have backbones! Actually, Malcolm was partially right. Octopi are unusually intelligent. They can navigate mazes and learn to open a jar though I am not sure that they can sense lost or drowning humans, much less save their lives.

Towards the end of our stay, Malcolm decided that we should have a party and invite all our friends. We prepared a big barbecue which Giles oversaw. Malcolm always knew how to create a fun ambiance and it was a big success. He lit all the candles, laid the printed African cloths, chose the music and planned the menu. José brought a big fish he had caught himself and showed me how to make a ceviche. Jacqueline Schnabel, a very chic Belgian woman who was close to Lauren came with her Argentinian polo player boyfriend. We’d gone on a boat ride with them.

Pretty Lisa Marie came with her friend Cherry Vanilla. Lisa adored Malcolm as he had made her a star in his song and video, “Something’s Jumping in My Shirt”. One of my favorite songs by Malcolm, the stylish black and white video made by a protégé of Bruce Weber with Lisa singing and dancing is brilliant. Malcolm said Quentin Tarantino loved it so much, he fell in love with Lisa.

Another admirer of Lisa’s, Tony Shafrazi, came as well. He had introduced Malcolm to the 80s artists like Basquiat, Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring. This had led to Malcolm commissioning Keith to create artwork for his first solo album, “Duck Rock” and the “Witches” clothing collection, one of the last he did with Vivienne. Quite a wild man, Tony was legendary for having defaced Picasso’s “Guernica” when he was a student. (When we went to his 60th birthday party a few years later, at Mr. Chow’s, a couple of sexy girls carried over a big birthday cake to him with a picture of “Guernica” frosted onto it. He took his finger and defaced it all over again.) He had been coming to St. Barths for over two decades and always stayed at the same villa.

Other old habitués of St. Barths, Brice and his wife, Helen came. Ever the artist, I noticed Brice studying the playful over-drawn postcards from Paris. Brice told Malcolm that what made him happiest was to be in a room with a pencil. Helen’s voice tinkled with laughter when Malcolm suggested she stay with Lauren when we were gone. She was looking for a villa to rent when Brice left. The two were good friends, after all and the house would be empty. “Oh, no, that wouldn’t work!” she protested, “You can’t have two Alpha Dogs in one place!”

Somehow, we squeaked through the holiday without any major drama. Over the years, Malcolm and I would see Lauren again from time to time—in New York, in Paris, in Los Angeles. I was grateful to her for inviting us to St. Barths, and introducing us to it. It became one of our favorite places to go to and we must have returned another ten times—in the summer, in the winter– in the following years. We always had a wonderful time.

Though I knew there was no love lost between us, I knew she really cared about Malcolm. I had to like her for that and I knew it was hard for her to like me. And so, I felt it my duty to call her when Malcolm died. She, like most people, had not known he was ill. Three days after his death, when I returned to Paris, I called her. She already knew, of course, as it was in the press within an hour or so after his last breath. Her old flame, Steve McQueen, had died of the same thing. “Did Malcolm have a lump on his chest?” she asked. “No,” I answered. “Steve did,” she explained. “You couldn’t tell there was anything wrong with him until the last couple of weeks of his life. At least his suffering was minimal,” I tried to comfort her. She said she wouldn’t be able to come to his funeral because of her work. I told her not to worry. I didn’t think such things were important. It’s just one day after the person is gone. It doesn’t change what you feel about them. What is important is what you do for someone while they are alive and I know she loved him in her own way. In any event, I believe Malcolm conjured up the volcano ash so few could travel to a funeral organized by his son that he would have shuddered at.

About a year later, I stepped out of the elevator at Bergdorf Goodman’s to go to Glenn O’Brien’s book launch. Standing in front of me, waiting to take it down was Lauren. I tried to catch her eye to greet her. After all, we’d both loved the same man and we hadn’t seen each other since he died. But she feigned not to see me as we passed. The doors closed behind me and I made my way into the reception.