FROM BILL IN NYC - 2015
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you being such a brave compassionate witness in a world that seemingly always needs all it can get.
Living, Dying, and Mr. In-Between: A Biographical Fragment Of Robert and Richard Locke
is not only an important work about AIDS, it is an important work about Death and Dying. Perhaps even monumental. I will always treasure it. It has moved me deeply and has caused me to shed more than a few tears. It is haunting (in a most beautiful way). It is a wonderful rendering of family drama that never forgets love. The personal histories that are woven into the days that surround a man's dying are mind-blowing. Wow. A secular spiritual light pervades the writing. Simply lovely!
Richard was a deeply spiritual man. That emanated from him - in his films, his writing, his interviews. I'm certain you know this. And you too are of that same spirit.
"Mr. In between" - are you aware of the concept in Tibetan Buddhism concerning The Bardo? The between stage of life life-death? It can also be a between stage such as sleep-dream-awakening. It is usually a period of 49 days after the body has ceased to function in the physical.
As promised please find attached the jpeg of Richard.
Earlier email brom Bill...
Hi Bob, I very much enjoyed your story about your brother Richard and would like to read more (as per your note at the end of the page). In turn I will send you a jpeg of a drawing I did of your brother (gimme a few days).
I always enjoyed Richard's work. On many levels. He conveyed a tenderness and warmth (besides the heat he was aiming for). Not many guys in that line of work did that. Not then, certainly not now. I had a CADC (Certified Alcohol and drug Counselor) who knew your brother (not sure how well) from the trenches of AIDS awareness work. Richard's little book was helpful in my coming out. Which I did late in life and in recovery (I have 20 years). Anyway , the story is great and I enjoyed it with my coffee this morning quite by accident, looking forward to rest of it.
All Best and with warm regards.
Yes, Bill, please do send me that drawing you did. I'll put it onto my DEAR-BOB LETTERS webpage along with your email, if you approve. I visited your website and your art is beautiful.
By Robert Locke and Richard's admirers
Through the years since I put "Living, Dying and Mr. In-Between" on the web I have received many requests for the rest of the story. These people have arrived at my webpage usually by googling "richard locke" and then in turn have posted the link through various other databases such as Wikipedia and IMDB, or perhaps in their own blogs.
What has impressed me most in these requests is how articulate these people have been in expressing their admiration for Richard, which is why they sought him out to begin with. Of course they have a far different appreciation of Richard than would his brother and our emails back and forth have helped me understand Richard's impact on the world.
The first couple of letters above —FROM BILL in NYC - 2015— get first position on this webpage because of that wonderful drawing that Bill did of Richard. I can't express what it did to me internally to open up that file and see Richard with that halo. No face, but the blankness becoming a part of his halo. Oh, Bill, what you have done to this bereft soul. Thanks so much, Bob.
Just last week (April 20, 2016) my heart leaped into my throat when I opened my inbox and saw these words:
Was my brother writing me an email from his grave? Really, that was my first thought. How strange. But I gulped and opened the email and it was from another richard, but a richard who did once know Richard Locke. Here is what this richard wrote to me almost twenty years after my brother's death:
I just discovered your wonderful web site. I knew your brother Richard when I was in the desert around 1975, and stayed many times at his cabin in Desert Hot Springs. The cabin with the open-air bedroom on the roof. I believe Richard was a very deep and old soul, maybe even some sort of an angel. I don't believe that even he was aware of the depth of his being, but to me it was immediately apparent. It was like I was in the presence of someone dropped here from another planet.
Now I must go search for Bill DeNoyelles' emails so that I can let him know that he is not alone in perceiving my brother as an angel.
Aha! (April 29, 2016) Yes, Bill DeNoyelles immediately replied as always in his characteristic perceptive, artistic and enthusiastic way:
"Bob. What a joy to wake up to this morning's email from you! WOW. You just blew my mind. Big time. A couple days ago I was tapped onto your page to look for some new entries, letters etc. and was, once again, riveted by those pictures of Richard and had, quite literally, the same train of thought as the richard who wrote you this letter...I mean...uncanny! I think he nailed it. To me (and my spiritual side is my predominant side) this is a real, solid truth about your brother. I've said it before. It radiated from him everywhere - his writing, his films, his voice even. I never told you this : I had a straight friend who watched all yr. brother's movies w/me and was quite taken by him as an actor but mostly as a deeply spiritual human being. The light sometimes flows easily out of some folks..."
Not long after Richard's death I got a cassette in the mail from Lou Harrison, the magnificent American composer. He had composed a Concerto for Pipa and had dedicated one of the movements to Richard. That was another of those climactic moments for me that I wish Richard could have known about. And maybe somewhere he did, perhaps in the Bardo (which Bill describes in his later letter above, and which, no, I did not know about when I gave the title Living, Dying and Mr. In-Between
to that story — sometimes we just fall into luck.
Richard laying the foundation for his beloved geodisic dome near Desert Hot Springs,
me taking the shot.
I guess a guy doing work on the ground who looks up at the person with the camera who calls out, "Hey, Bob," or "Hey, Richard," will have pretty much the same expression and same shoulder angle, but I just came upon this picture of me looking a whole lot like the shot of Richard above, and I remembered that when we were kids I thought we were twins.
Once, just about the time this shot of me was taken, 1977, I was rehearsing "Fiddler on the Roof" in a dance studio where there were mirrors all around the room. I was studying my script, surrounded by other actors sitting or kneeling, also studying their scripts, and I looked up and saw Richard across the studio also surrounded by actors. I was so surprised to see him there that I jerked upright to wave to him, only to see my reflection in the mirror across the room, jerking upright to wave.
Another time Richard joined me on a date —yes with a girl— and she was sitting between us and commented, "Wow, stereophonic Bob Locke." Richard's voice was lower than mine, I think, but there were resemblances in tone and timbre.
FROM BRYAN IN UK - 2015
I was at first stunned to find literally 'anything' about Richard, let alone anything so in-depth. Yes, please send me the rest of the story.
Of course it's been said many times, in many forums, that Richard was the epitome of masculinity. I have never believed that this was due to Richard's inherent masculinity (of course, he had that in abundance) but for me, it was definitely his completely unabashed and unapologetic portrayal of a man who just happens to enjoy sex with other men. He is clearly engaged in what he's doing and completely comfortable with being who he is. For me, his mystique far surpasses that of 'stars' who seemed to be playing the part that was demanded. That's not to say that Richard didn't act in his films, but he just never seemed to have to. Richard just seemed to be himself. And boy, did I love him for it!
I'd really like to read more and would be so grateful if you could send me the remainder of this completely unexpected but oh so welcomed piece.
Thank you in advance.
PS. is it so very shallow of me to say that I was secretly pleased
reading your bio that you're a gay man too?
MORE FROM BRYAN THE NEXT DAY
Last night, I read the rest of your recollections from your final days with your dearest brother.
What can I say? I'm not as good with words as you are - that would be difficult (some flattery there of course). But I'll use some words to try to describe how I felt whilst reading it, and in the immediate aftermath as I sat for a while and pondered. Fascinated (in a respectful context); privileged; enlightened; emotionally moved.
But mainly sad. So very, very sad. Sad for Richard of course, and for you. But also your parents and your other family members. No one should have to go through such experiences. But of course, in the 'real world', people get sick and die. People from all walks of life are admitted to hospital and they and their loved ones have to face and deal with the awful realities that having illnesses and dying from them delivers. But as Gay men know, the concept of illness and dying due to HIV contraction isn't just about any disease, it's 'our disease' and I think it resonates more vividly as we have felt its devastating impact more acutely than the generation(s) that have followed.
Richard was, in many respects (and remains) a 'public figure'. In this, we (the porn viewers) think we knew who he was. But reading his final days from your viewpoint as his loving brother, his on-screen prowess lost none of its strength. Strength. Yeah, that's the word to describe the on-screen Richard and the Richard I read about last night.
If I am to be very honest and why the heck not, I wasn't sure what to expect when I emailed you and asked for the rest of the piece. In fact, I nearly didn't because it was clear that I would receive a very personal and moving piece of writing. And in that, I was completely correct.
I thought I knew Richard Locke. I had read a few scant snippets of information over the years from various sources. I think he did an interview for a gay magazine (Advocate? Honcho?) that detailed how Richard was somewhat a 'loner' and 'lived in a shack by himself in the desert'. I recall the article was accompanied by a naked Richard sitting on a crash helmet, outside by what looked like a shack, and although no direct comment on this was made, it was clear that this photo depicted the hill billy type guy that the article suggested that he was. And of course, that type of information directly underscored the image that his character in the three Gage so-called 'Road Movies' portrayed. Perfect! We knew that Richard was in fact the same in real life as his porn persona. We could all rest easy now that that was understood as 'fact'. But reading your words yesterday, I was introduced to Richard the sick man; the brother; the son; the uncle; the brother-in-law; the patient. I knew Richard had died. And I knew why. I thought I could guess the rest. I was wrong. Everyone's story is unique. Everyone's life and death is so very personal. You made Richard 'real' yesterday. Really real. A man; not just a 'porn star'.
I was also left feeling gladdened and yet somehow selfishly sad that Richard had such loving family around him. 'Selfishly sad' because in parallel to my own experience, I could never imagine any of my family to be so supportive in any similar situation. Ever. And that fact that Richard had done porn, and hard-core Gay porn at that (and very successful too!) did not prevent his family, especially his parents, from simply being their son's Mom and Dad. And the rest of the family too.
Hang on, Richard used his own name in porn; so unusual. How did he come to get into porn and what motivated him to continue doing so? Did he regret it ever? Questions questions. Perhaps one day, you will enlighten us all with your accounts? There are biographies of both Al Parker and Casey Donovan which are really fascinating but as far as I am aware, they were not written by anyone that could claim to have the perspective that you have. I am also unashamedly fascinated to know exactly what family members thought about Richard's foray into porn. Did they ever see any? Have you in fact ever seen any of his work?
But. but. Is that the way to document Richard's legacy? Is it not better to leave the body of work he has and leave the rest to history? Something tells me 'no'. His work on-screen is remembered, all these years later. He is still written about and still gives people pleasure! And I am sure that he would have liked nothing better than to know that people still remember him through his work and indeed, still find him a very hot man! I know I do.
Best wishes to you Bob,
Here's a photo just for you, Bryan. Think of it as "Richard in Love".
FROM BREWSTER IN CAPE COD - 2015
I ran across a short video online that I thought was Richard, but hadn't seen it before so I started googling and found you and spent about an hour reading your entire Richard Locke site, including the interview. I am so sorry you lost your brother and the stories you shared about his last days were sad - but his humor made them full of spirit and life in the face of death.
I'm 43, married, live on the east coast, and have always enjoyed Richard in movies. Enjoyed is putting it mildly, I guess. He's in a league of his own. There was just something about him that was bigger than the movies he was in. I don't think I've ever felt a connection to someone in a porn before - usually it's just something I use for a quick release. But that guy moved me - and still does.
I felt very ashamed of being gay, growing up, even in a liberal state like Massachusetts. Sex was often a drunk, desperate act filled with shame about my body and my actions. Richard helped change that. I don't know whether it was just the great acting or what, but to see Richard do what he did on screen - especially the submissive oral stuff - allowed me to let go of the shame and allowed me to be comfortable with my own identity. I thought, "I can be a real man AND still like sucking cock. A handsome, regular guy is doing the things I feel so depraved about, with no shame, and obviously enjoying it. He's owning his sexuality, and he's just as much of a "man" as any straight man, if not more, because it takes a real man to be that intimate on screen with other men. To not hide."
And so, I didn't feel like I had to hide.
So, the less soppy part about this is that I feel like his stuff was such a turn-on in that Joe Gage trilogy because he really looked like he absolutely loved sex!
Here's a picture for you, Brewster, of Richard with his dog inside his dome.
FROM LOUIS IN SACRAMENTO - 2015
Hi there. I recently joined the Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus, and their portion of the Aids Quilt was displayed in the lobby of the Memorial Auditorium at our concert last Friday. The panel included Richard's. So I googled him and found your piece regarding you and your brother. I was very impressed with your ability to help people see the entire man, not just the screen Richard. I too was a partner to a past porn actor, Jack Lofton, who passed this past January. Although he was not ashamed of it, he was so much more than his past and those that got to know him, appreciated that. I would love to know more about Richard.
FROM PAUL IN LOUISIANA - 2014
I happened to stumble upon "Living, Dying, and Mr. In-Between" At the end of the piece it stated that there was more that could be read by contacting you at this address.
I'm of an age to easily remember Richard from the 70's and 80's. I've never forgotten him but only now managed to look
him up which in turn has stirred my curiosity about his life. Truly, I am sorry for your loss. From the little I've read, I gather that the two of you had an extraordinary relationship.
I was hoping that I could read more about your brother. He left quite a mark on me and I'd love to share in your memories. I suppose it's how he lives on now. If you could please direct me to the rest of the story I've started or point me towards a book or internet articles it would be greatly appreciated.
Again, you have my sincere condolences. Late though they are, they come from my heart.
Thank you for the story. It was, well, heartbreaking. And yes, you may forward my letter to the Swedish woman writing the book. In fact, you can forward her anything that I send to you (of which I promise there
will be more).
WEEKS LATER - MORE FROM PAUL
Well, the truth is that your story is still with me and you've helped make Richard a person rather than a handsome face in a magazine to me. There's depth and a personal touch to him now. There's another character in your account that I just can't shake and he is the one in the Emergency Room that you call Mr. Blase. I feel that with a few short words and a minimum of interaction that you
defined him well. Maybe it's because I've run into his type before but I understand what you were dealing with. Some people leave behind the feeling and taste you get when you've bitten tinfoil.
That said, I'd like to ask you a musical question. My life has always had soundtrack and songs always have memories and resonance for me. I now know that Richard enjoyed classical music but I hear very little of that in my day to day life. Could you tell me a song from the 70's or 80's that Richard particularly liked?
I listen to mostly 70's music (with some 80's, 90's and newer songs thrown in for good measure) and I'd love to be able to associate a song so that when I hear it I'll think of Richard. I'd really like that.
And here's a photo just for you, Paul. A favorite song? "You Can Get It If You Really Want".
TOM IN SEATTLE - 2015
What a great interview you did with Richard, Bob: "My Brother the Porn Star". I salute you for honoring
him as you are doing. My wife took some art classes with him in college. She pronounced him one of the handsomest men
she has ever seen.
More letters to come. This is laborious work. But I do it for Richard and his admirers. And it is, after all, kind of fun, too. I really love hearing from all these people who were so personally affected by Richard.
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