Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping and Fucking hit British theatre like a…
Random circumstances brought Kevin Davies into my life. He modelled for Jay Eff, so I’d seen his face in Jay’s studio. He stared out from club flyers and glossy magazines. When he walked onto a dancefloor, topless and grinning, it was hard not to gawp. He had a very attractive, slightly anarchic energy.
He had a loud, filthy laugh and a face fit for Disney. Beauty and innocence animated by big blue eyes. Kevin was rarely as happy as he seemed, nor as innocent as he looked.
One night, while drowning my sorrows, I ran into Kevin. He needed a job, I needed a swift replacement for the QX photographer, who’d been my lover, but done a runner. It had proved unwise to become romantically involved with a colleague. Now, I was self-loathing, drunk AND understaffed
Kevin started work the next day. The transition from one photographer to the next was swift and seamless. Grief and shame can prompt impressive efficiency.
As Kevin was so attractive and skilled in his new post, few questions were asked. Order was restored. One night, at a queer rave in south London where Kevin was taking photos, he pointed at a punter.
‘A friend of yours?’ asked Kevin, mischief dancing in his eyes.
‘Well, Greg’s no friend of YOURS,’ laughed Kevin. ‘You should hear what he said about you.’
This ‘friend’ had savaged my character for 20 minutes, before sticking his hands down Kevin’s trousers.
‘Shall we teach him a lesson?’ asked Kevin, giddy and grinning.
It wasn’t really a question.
‘I’m gonna blank you for the rest of the night. Go along with it,’ he added, before walking off.
I sipped on my plastic pint glass of vodka and flat lemonade and wandered into dry ice and lasers. Kevin had surprised me. It wasn’t just his sense of loyalty. The Machiavellian tactics were totally unexpected.
As I slumped on a sticky podium, Greg sidled over to solicit my views on Kevin.
‘He’s a good photographer,’ I mumbled, nodding along to hard house.
‘Not THAT!’ squealed my ‘friend’, gurning with exasperation.
‘He IS easy on the eye,’ I conceded.
Greg then reminded me of the trouble I’d got into with the previous QX photographer. An unnecessary memo.
After a sympathetic look, he then invited me to a party at his place, after the club.
‘Kevin’s coming,’ he added, with a sweaty wink.
The after-party at Greg’s house had all the predictable elements. 3 queens in damp vests were arguing over the music. CDs littered the taupe carpet, glinting in the sunrise. The soundtrack swung from German trance to trip-hop. Someone was baking ketamine in the oven.
‘We don’t have time to sun-dry it,’ sniffed a man with an army of tribal tattoos and passion for steroids.
The plastic pint glass from earlier was still in my hand. Evidently, I’d walked out the club and down the street with it. I topped it up with Absolut and added fresh ice.
Kevin somehow managed to spill a carton of orange juice down himself.
There was much flapping and dabbing of dishcloths. Greg addressed the juice incident like a Code Red emergency. Suddenly, Kevin was in underpants, while Greg stuffed juice-splashed jeans in the washing machine.
Greg 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. The music got louder. I sat on a sofa, surveying the scene, exhausted, but mentally hectic.
Greg flirted with Kevin, who was now dressed like an actor in a sports themed porn film. He seemed to be enjoying himself. Suddenly, Kevin jumped up, crossed the room and snogged me, without warning. It was brief, passionate and shocking
There was a nuclear silence, tension rippled around the smoky room.
‘Let’s go,’ said Kevin, pulling me up from a beanbag. ‘To yours.’
I didn’t see Greg’s face, as we made for the door, but I felt the upset.
‘WHAT ABOUT YOUR CLOTHES!?’ our host screamed, as Kevin pushed me down the hall.
I stood blinking in the sunlight, confused. Kevin was doubled over laughing.
‘Back to yours, then?’ he said, hailing a cab. ‘May as well see it through’.
That’s how the affair started; in the back of a cab at dawn, following scenes at a chill out. It was a secret for months. Kevin relished the subterfuge.
During our fling, he convinced many people that he could barely stand to be in the office with me.
Kevin loved mischief, but was a firm believer in friendship and didn’t trust many on the scene. He looked like a wide-eyed hunk, but he felt like an outsider and was drawn to those on the fringes.
While muscle boys vied for his affections, Kevin could usually 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 would be a ruse to help one of his friends. Obviously, he was attractive, but he had many other qualities and a wealth of talent. People underestimated Kevin, but he usually got the last laugh.
We were lovers for a while, but the friendship was forever. For many years, I’d run into him in a club and after some chat, he’d ask, ‘Back to yours, then?’
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, ‘May as well see it through’.
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.