The theme of ‘Openings’ fuelled the launch of Exhibitionists- the…
A tangle of circumstances brought Kevin Davies into my life. He modelled for Jay Eff, so I’d seen his face on Jay’s walls, on club flyers and in magazines. When he walked onto a dancefloor, topless and grinning, it was hard not to gawp. He had a loud, filthy laugh and a face fit for Disney – beauty and innocence animated by big blue eyes. He wasn’t always as happy as he seemed, nor as innocent as he looked.
While Editor at QX, I found myself dating a broke, semi-criminal hustler. I tried to fix the issue by employing him as Club News photographer at the magazine. This nepotistic ruse was supposed to ease cash issues and give my wayward lover a purpose. Like a Greek tragedy, blind faith was the fuel for a catastrophic final curtain. Love can make a fool of anyone.
Bad Boyfriend embraced his new status. He was out 7 nights a week, snogging porn stars, necking drugs and ‘borrowing’ money from my wallet as he fell in the door at 5am. As a photographer, he was experimental, sporadic and unstable.
Unsurprisingly, that relationship crashed in an ugly, public fashion. It was a mess of my own creation and led to fits of self-loathing. Bad boyfriend left me. And the job at QX.
While weeping and cursing, I sought a new photographer. One night, while drowning sorrows, I ran into Kevin Davies. He needed a job, I needed a swift replacement for my absent lover. Kevin started work the next day. The transition from one photographer to the next was executed with the cold efficiency of a kid putting an empty sweet wrapper back in the box.
As Kevin was so attractive, charming and skilled in his new post, few questions were asked and order was briefly restored. One night, at a queer rave in south London where Kevin was taking photos, he pointed at a punter and asked if they were a friend of mine. They were.
‘Well, Greg’s no friend of YOURS,’ laughed Kevin. ‘You should’ve heard what he said about you.’
Apparently, my so-called ‘friend’ had savaged my character for 20 minutes before sticking his hands down Kevin’s trousers.
‘Shall we teach him a lesson?’ asked Kevin, a glimmer swimming in his eyes.
It wasn’t really a question.
‘I’m gonna blank you for the rest of the night. Just go along with it,’ he added, with apparent glee.
I sipped on my plastic pint glass of vodka and flat lemonade and wandered into the dry ice and lasers. Kevin had surprised me. It wasn’t just his fiery sense of loyalty. The devious streak and Machiavellian mischief were wholly unexpected.
As I slumped on a sticky podium, the aforementioned Greg sidled over to solicit my opinion on Kevin.
‘He’s a good photographer,’ I murmured, nodding along to hard house.
‘Not THAT!’ squealed my acquaintance, gurning with impatience.
‘Well, he IS easy on the eye,’ I sighed.
Greg then reminded me of the trouble I’d got into with the previous photographer. It was an unnecessary memo on many levels. He gave me sympathetic look, then declared that ‘as a friend’, he’d ‘put a good word in’ for me. Greg then invited me to a chill-out back at his place following the party.
‘Kevin’s coming,’ he said, with a sweaty wink.
The after-party at Greg’s house had all the predictable elements. 3 queens in damp vests were arguing over what music to play. CDs were scattered all over the taupe carpet, glinting in the sunrise. The soundtrack swung from German trance to trip-hop. Someone was baking ketamine in the Aga.
‘We don’t have time to sun-dry it,’ sniffed a man with an army of tribal tattoos and clear passion for steroids.
Greg was mixing drinks in the kitchen while stage managing a queen in hot pants, who was focussed on a pile of white powder and a Tesco Clubcard.
‘Do thin lines,’ hissed Greg. ‘But big ones for me and Kevin.’
I still had the plastic pint glass from earlier. Evidently, I’d walked out the club and down the street with it. I topped it up with Absolut and added fresh ice. Kevin was also in the kitchen and somehow managed to spill a carton of orange juice down himself.
There was much flapping and dabbing of dishcloths. Greg addressed the juice splash like a Code Red Emergency. Suddenly, Kevin was in his underpants, while Greg stuffed juice-splashed jeans in the washing machine. He then ran upstairs to find Kevin a fresh outfit. Tribal Tattoo looked up from the chopping board and asked, ‘Was it 8 lines or 9?’
Curtains were closed, people disappeared to bedrooms and the music got louder. I sat on a sofa, surveying the scene, physically exhausted, but mentally hectic. Greg flirted theatrically with Kevin, who was now kitted out like an actor in a sports themed porn film. He seemed to be enjoying himself, but suddenly jumped up, crossed the room and planted a passionate kiss on my shocked and waning face.
There was a nuclear silence, punctuated by a kick drum pumping from the stereo.
‘Let’s go, ’said Kevin, pulling me up from the cushions. ‘Back to yours.’
I didn’t see Greg’s face, as Kevin dragged me out the door, but I felt the outrage.
‘WHAT ABOUT YOUR CLOTHES!?’ our furious host screamed, as Kevin pushed me out the front door.
I stood blinking in the sunlight, wondering what had just happened. Kevin was doubled up laughing.
‘Back to yours, then?’ he said, while hailing a cab. ‘We may as well see it through’.
That’s how our affair started; in the back of a cab at sunrise, following an orchestrated drama at a chill out, and against my better judgement. We kept it secret for months. Kevin seemed to relish the subterfuge. During our romance, he convinced quite a few people that we had nothing in common and that he could barely stand to be in the office with me.
Evidently, this fib led to many taking Kevin into their confidence. Like a double agent, he’d report back with gossip, facts and tales of backstabbing. He loved the mischief, but he also had a firm belief in reliable friendship. He may have looked like a wide-eyed hunk, but he often felt like an outsider and was attracted to those on the fringes.
While the muscle boys vied for his attention, Kevin could often be found bitching with the drag queens, femme boys and misfits. He wasn’t above using his looks to get what he wanted, but often, it was his only option, ‘cause most were blind to his other qualities. When folks underestimated Kevin, he used their shallow perceptions and questionable motives for his own sport, and possibly their downfall, as he did with my ‘friend’ Greg.
We were lovers for a while, but the friendship was forever. Years later, I’d run into him in a club and after some chat, he’d say, ‘Back to yours, then?’
Inevitably, I’d raise a sceptical eyebrow. I’d be in drag. Or have work in the morning. Or be unable to string a sentence together.
He’d just grin and say, ‘We may as well see it through’. I’d fall for it every time, how could I not?
I miss Kevin. He was a complex, hilarious, big-hearted man. The world is much emptier and less beautiful without him. Big love to Jay Eff and Kevin’s family.
There’s a GoFundMe to raise money for a a bench in Brockwell Park with a bronze plate in memory of Kevin.