Currently reading : Chadd Curry chooses his ten most profound suicides
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I became. People think of my make up as a mask but its the opposite, I think we have the opportunity to make ourselves up each and every day. We can create our identity and its a privilege that we live in a world where we can do that.”
If you live in London you may have seen Chadd walking the streets of Hackney after midnight draped in black and white from head to toe, face painted religiously, with excessive monochrome drapery trailing off his body.
Chadd Curry changed his name to Dahc Dermur once arriving in London in 2011 from New York where he had lived for eleven years. In New York, Chadd opened the first Rick Owens stateside boutique, was a stylist and eventually had his own collection and collaboration with artist Maria Intscher (who is now head designer at Calvin Klein) called The Ghost has No Home.
On leaving New York Chadd gave away all of his belongings, cut up his credit cards and had all but ten euro. Aged 45 and starting afresh in London he says that he knew he was home, he felt ‘an overwhelming sense of belonging. When you remove yourself from any attachment the universiverse always steps in , it was a way to restart life again’. London was Chadd’s rebirth – and there is really no one else like him not only in London, but the entire world.
Now a fixture on London’s club scene Chadd regularly DJ’s and can be seen in the likes of KAOS and at his own bimonthly event N.U.N at Sketch. Chadd’s dedication to his subversive lifestyle filters into every aspect of his existence, and at Sang Bleu we are big fans of him so we asked him to choose a topic which he felt was important to him to speak to us about. Chadd chose the morose topic of famous and profound suicides, he articulated this controversial topic as a way of us challenging how we perecive the depressing basis of this act but turning our attention to how it can also be seen as a form of rebirth and performance.
Here Chadd guides us through his top ten suicides by cultural renegades.
On June 2nd 1961 the writer Ernest Hemingway committed suicide with one gunshot wound to the head.
His brother said of his suicide that ‘Ernest felt like his body had betrayed him’ and that he said hunting was like giving an animal ‘the gift of death’, which he then gave himself.
The granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway suffered from alcoholism, depression, bulimia and epilepsy.
On July 1st 1996, one day before the anniversary of her grandfather’s death, Margaux died from an anti-seizure medication overdose, aged 42.
At the time, her family disputed the claims that her death was a suicide but later made a statement of acceptance about the cause of her death.
Gregory Gloria Hemingway
Hemingway’s son suffered from bipolar disorder, substance abuse issues and gender dysphoria. In his sixties he had a sex change operation, becoming Gloria Hemingway.
In 2001, Gloria was arrested in Florida for appearing drunk and naked in public. Five days later she was found dead in her jail cell and the cause of death was cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
Yukio Mishima is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka, a Japanese writer, poet, playwright, actor and film director. Mishima committed suicide on November 25th 1970 by seppaku or ‘abdomen-cutting’.
Mishima was a member of the Tatenokai, a private militia in Japan dedicated to traditional values and veneration of the Emperor. On November 25th 1970 Mishima and four other members of the Tatenokai visited the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp, the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces. They tied the commander to a chair, unrolled a prepared manifesto and banner and Mishima addressed the soldiers in hopes of inspiring a coup d’etat to overthrow the order and reintroduce the Emperor to Japan. Mishima was mocked and jeered by the soldiers and then walked back into the room and committed suicide by seppuku.
Seppuku is a Japanese ritualistic suicide by disembowlment. It was originally reserved for samurai so that they could die with honour or as a form of capital punishment. It is performed in front of spectators and involves plunging a short blade into the stomach and cutting left to right.
His Kaishakunin, an assistant in the suicide, then decapitated Mishima. Another member of the Tatenokai then committed suicide through seppuku again.
Mishima had planned his suicide meticously for more than a year.
The writer Virginia Woolf suffered from boats of depression throughout her life and was briefly institutionalized. The onset of war and the bombing of her London home in the Blitz worsened her condition considerably.
On 28 March 1941, Woolf put on her overcoat, filled its pockets with stones, walked into the River Ouse, Sussex, near her home, and drowned herself. Woolf’s body was not found until 18 April 1941.
Rigaut was a French Surrealist poet and often wrote about suicide in his work.
Aged 19 he pronounced ‘in ten years I shall kill myself’. In 1929, aged 30, he shot himself, using a ruler to make sure the bullet would pass through his heart.
“There’s no reason to live, but there’s no reason to die, either. The only way we can still show our contempt for life is to accept it. Life is not worth the bother of leaving it. Out of charity, one might spare a few individuals the trouble of living, but what about oneself? Despair, indifference, betrayal, fidelity, solitude, the family, freedom, weight, money, poverty, love, absence of love, syphilis, health, sleep, insomnia, desire, impotence, platitudes, art, honesty, dishonor, mediocrity, intelligence – nothing there to make a fuss about. We know only too well what those things are made of, no point in watching for them.”
”• Jacques Rigaut
Pierre Molinier was a French Surrealist painter, photographer and ‘maker of objects’ and is known for his fetishistic eroticism.
He commited suicide aged 76 on March 3rd 1976 with a gunshot wound to the head after taking photographs himself masturbating. His boastful epitaph said ‘here lies Pierre Molinier. This was a man without morality.’
Evelyn Francis McHale
Twenty three year old Evelyn Francis McHale’s suicide is immortalized in art.
On April 30, 1947, Evelyn took the train from New York to Easton to visit her fiancé, Barry for his 24th birthday. All seemed well between the couple, and the next day, Barry kissed his fiance goodbye as she boarded the 7:00 AM train to Penn Station. “When I kissed her goodbye, she was happy and as normal as any girl about to be married.” Their wedding was set to be held that June.
Upon arriving in Manhattan, she left Penn Station and walked across the street to the Governor Clinton Hotel at 31st Street and 7th Avenue. She obtained a room, and set about writing a note. It read (strike-throughs included), “I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies.”
She folded her note, and tucked it into her small purse along with a few dollars, her make-up, and some family photos. At 10:30 AM, she walked to the Empire State Building, and purchased a ticket to its famous 86th-floor observatory. She slipped off her coat and placed it along with her pocketbook on the floor against the railing. And she jumped.
That morning, Patrolman John Morrissey was directing traffic at 34th Street and 5th Avenue. At 10:40 AM, he noticed a white scarf fluttering down from the upper reaches of the tower. Just a moment later, the day’s serenity was interrupted by a terrific crash that sounded like an “explosion.” A crowd formed on 33rd Street beneath the building as pedestrians swarmed to see what had happened.
A young photography student by the name of Robert C. Wiles happened to be across the street at the time of her demise. Stunned by her beauty, even in death, he snapped a photo of her just 4 minutes after her crash. Almost overnight, she became a pop culture icon: a symbol of tragic beauty. Warhol later did a series of Wiles’ photo called ‘fallen body’.
George Dyer was artist Francis Bacon’s lover and committed suicide two days before the opening of Bacon’s retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris.
George Dyer was a gang affiliated East end petty crook who had a turbulent relationship with Bacon and suffered from alcoholism.
He overdosed on pills in their hotel room on the 24th October 1971.
Bacon was haunted and preoccupied by Dyer’s loss for the remaining years of his life and painted many works based both the actual suicide and the events of its aftermath. Triptych, May–June 1973 is a portrait of the moments before Dyer’s death. He admitted to friends that he never fully recovered, describing the 1973 triptych as an exorcism of his feelings of loss and guilt.
Freddie Herko was an artist, musician, actor and dancer. He performed in Warhol’s films and was was associated with a group of habitués to Warhol’s Silver Factory on 47th Street nicknamed the ‘mole people’ on account of their intensive speed usage and subterranean habits.
On October 27, 1964, Herko was strung out and homeless. He went to Johnny Dodd’s apartment and took a bath. Mozart’s Coronation Mass was playing as Herko emerged from the bath and danced naked in the loft, occasionally making a run toward the windows. Herko had been promising a suicide performance in the weeks prior to his death. As the music climaxed, Herko leapt through the open window. It was five flights down to Cornelia Street below.
On the floor in his room there was a book by Mary Renault open at the page where the king leaps into the sea where the ritual to renew the world is described.