On March 19th dandy, agent provocateur, and epigrammatist, Sebastian Horsely, on a book tour, was denied entry into the United States for “moral turpitude.” After eight hours of severe interrogation by the customs official, they packed him on a plane and returned him back to London. Thereafter, he and I began a series of correspondences and ultimately decided that I should interview him about his book, Dandy in the Underworld, and on his various other passions. In 2007 we met through the artist, Duggie Fields when I was planning my book, Style File: the World’s Most Elegantly Dressed (Harper Collins) 2008/9 and happily included him. He was one of the wittiest and most outrageously intelligent individuals interviewed in my book.
Before his sudden death earlier this year, he was in agreement when I proposed that we do a kind of Platonic Dialogue book. Now, our numerous email correspondences over the years will need to suffice. Beyond his penchant to shock, to please by displeasing the philistines, feminists, bourgeoisies, and the politically correct, he was a surprisingly gifted artist/writer, aphorist, raconteur and a contemporary Count D’Orsay-type of dandy. Sebastian’s death on June 17th 2010 was due to an accidental heroin/cocaine overdose—contrary to rumors of suicide. He was looking forward to the critical and general reception of the one-man play, Dandy in the Underworld, written and directed by Tim Fountain, which opened at the Soho Theater, London, on June 15th shortly before his death. Moreover, he had a considerable number of sound projects scheduled for completion. I plan to organize our correspondences into slim volumes and publish them serially. His girlfriend Rachel Johnston invited me to attend his funeral on July 1 at the St. James, Piccadilly. Though I was unable to attend his funeral I heartened with the opportunity to write this introduction and share my interview of the brilliant star that was Sebastian Horsely. Fundamental to the appreciation and genuine understanding of Sebastian is the attitude, “Thou Shall Not Judge.” Freedom is a drunken whore. I hate free speech. I like to pay for everything. Freedom of speech is irrelevant.
Freedom is a drunken whore. I hate free speech. I like to pay for everything. Freedom of speech is irrelevant.
Sebastian didn’t share the moral sympathies of the hypocritical, disgraced, “moral authorities” like the Vatican/Catholic Church, our politicians, or the righteous middleclass. He knew that their thick masks were as vile as they were foul. He became our collective mirror, an imperfect Christ-like persona who elected to be crucified in the Philippines. He also acknowledged the futility of our existence: that we are involuntary born and most of us die involuntarily too, and that in between birth and death, there is not much going on, except in the arts and songs. He believed that most of our existence is awfully repetitious, terribly tedious and alarmingly inartistic, and that no matter how healthily we eat, how much time we spent at the gym, the excellence of our health insurance, whether we smoked, used drugs, drank or not, we will all undeniably end up dying. Sebastian lived fully as only he could. One can even conjecture that he died, peculiarly enough, at the right time. Besides his singular autobiography, he will always be remembered for his color, wit, pleasure principles, dandyism and devil-may-care attitude against the futility of our collective existence. Victor Hugo once said that “we are all condemned to death, but with an indefinite reprieve.” Thus, it is not how long or short we live that matters but how intensely, how lively, how colorfully, how brilliantly and joyously we live.