• Day 162: Sailing with the Ghosts of Ari, Jackie & Callas

    Date: 2010.08.07 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    What can you say about a gorgeous evening spent on the Mediterranean just off Monte Carlo – aboard one of the most famous yachts of all time, the Christina?

    For one, desserts are the last thing on your mind.  Even if you’re a candy addict, it’s so exciting to be on board a ship drenched in the ghosts of legends that’s it not hard say no to the exquisite little truffles-in-a-cup, sorbets, macarons and milles feuilles framboises served on the upper deck.

    That’s me eating some chicken teriyaki above.

    We swept up and down the spiral staircase; the library with the lapis lazuli fireplace; the grand living room where Maria Callas and Frank Sinatra sang and where telegrams from American gossip columnist and Callas confidante Elsa Maxwell are framed next to a display case containing the gold wedding rings worn by Callas and her cuckolded husband.   Where Jackie O came to lick her wounds and make a deal with the devil after Americans murdered her husband and brother-in-law.

    That’s me below in Ari’s bedroom.  What happened here years ago??

    We sat on the barstools in Ari’s below-deck bar where the stools were made of whale foreskin so he could tell Greta Garbo she was sitting on the biggest cock of all time.   A yacht that could be the ultimate symbol of what we’ve lost when it comes to true fame, true scandale and true talent.

    Btw, I say “cuckolded” in reference to Callas’ husband because this is where Maria Callas and Ari Onassis first had sex according to supercool and knowledgeable ship historian Kate Braithwaite who gave us a little tour of the ship.  Braithwaite said that Callas’ husband and Ari’s gorgeous then-wife Tina Niarchos Onassis were on the boat with Ari and Maria when sparks flew and they somehow went ahead and began an affair then and there.

    Anyway, Kate Gosselin and all you reality TV stars currently hogging the covers of American celebrity magazines, eat your insignificant hearts out.

    For me, tonight was heaven.  There is no place on earth I’d rather be than on a boat, preferably a powerboat, even though I’ve crewed on an amazing 100-year old classic sailboat in vintage regattas in the south of France for 5 years.

    But being on the Christina was bittersweet in a way that had nothing to do with confectioner’s sugar.   It’s hard to describe being at sea, with light from “the Rock” (the jutting promontory where the Palace stands) and the Casino/Opera ablaze in the distance.  The air so warm and dry, the ultimate Mediterranean climate.

    I think of Grace Kelly, aged 26, sailing into port here to become Princesse Grace. I think of a world I was never part of which seems so glamorous and exciting compared with the Facebook-ready planet we now inhabit.

    This is my favorite photo of all the ones we saw on the walls of the Christina.

    It’s a photograph of Onassis driving Winston Churchill, a frequent guest, on the Grande Corniche with a remarkably composed Tina Onassis in the back seat next to her husband’s lover, Maria Callas.

    Who were these people?  Who compares to them today?  Some of them actually wore white gloves.  To me, it’s as if we’re going backwards sometimes, not forward.

    What a trip to be right where they all once were.


    Who needs chocolate on a night like this?   (And was that gorgeous but she-male appearing woman who was being photographed every two seconds by her “companion” a “working girl” like someone suggested?)

    This is what I like about this part of the world.  It’s not that everyone has a story, everyone has a story.

    R.I.P. Ari, Maria, Tina and Jackie.  You all knew how to live!