Just in case you feel nostalgic for the 1960s–or sorry you were born too late for flower power–art critic Robert Hughes has this stinging piece in the U.K. Times about his sad, tumultous 1967 marriage in swinging London to his now-dead first wife, Danne Patricia. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll were Danne’s watchwords–including a taxicab hookup with Jimi Hendrix resulting in a nearly antibiotics-resistant venereal disease that she passed along to her husband–even though she was the married mother of the couple’s baby son, Danton (Warning: many four-letter words in this yarn):
Almost as soon as Danton was weaned, Danne announced in a way that would admit of no opposition that she needed to ‘explore’, to ‘look around,’ to ‘experiment’ with other lovers — a declaration that caused me, since I was still a Catholic in some parts of my heart, an anxiety verging on dread. I had wanted, by getting married, to reconstitute the safe haven that had been shattered in my childhood by my dad’s death from lung cancer; the dream of untroubled certainty of a woman’s love, which I would repay with my own coin of protectiveness. But Danne wouldn’t admit that she wanted protection, and she interpreted my own desire for emotional security as a form of weakness….
Where was she off to? Oh, to see never-to-be named friends, or to a concert in which I would not be interested, yet another jiggle night at the Roundhouse. Don’t worry, I’ll be home to feed Danton. Or [the nanny] can do that. Don’t worry, for Christ’s sake. And off she would go; and come back, grey eyes blank, wide mouth twitchy, ill-tempered from the drugs, at 10 the next morning. Or not come back for another day or two….
I certainly was no anchorite then. Partly in self-defence and in the hope of a little emotional reassurance — for Danne’s near-programmatic infidelity was devastating — I had several affairs with women myself during this time. But I am glad that I never bought into the absurd ‘f—-and-you-shall-be-free’ ideology that was so common in London and elsewhere at the time. I sensed then, and know with a fair degree of certainty now, that it is an illusion to suppose that sexual promiscuity helps create personal freedom. There is a huge difference between the condition of freedom and that of accepting no responsibilities to anyone.
The upshot? The couple divorced during the late 1970s, after Danne decided that her newest sexual adventure was to become a lesbian. Their son, Danton, severely estranged from his father, committed suicide in 2002. Danne became a cocaine addict and died in 2003 of a brain tumor at age 60. She was so busy being free during the 1960s that she ruined three lives, one of which was her own. Tune in, turn on, and drop out. For Danne and her son, the dropout was permanent.