Gay History Month #1

By Charles Alexander

Parting Glances

Until about a year ago there was hope that Anastasia Romanov, daughter of Tzar Nicholas and Tzarina Alexandra had actually survived the royal family's bullet-sprayed murder at Ekaterinburg in March 1917. DNA testing proved that hope false.

(I remember as a teen seeing the 1956 movie "Anastasia," starring Ingrid Bergman as Anna Anderson, claimant to surviving assassination by the revolutionaries of her father, mother, sisters Olga, Marie, Tatiana, and brother Tzarevich Alexis.)

The Romanov family was a closely knit union of truly exceptional, breathtaking photogenic beauty. The Tzar autocratically handsome. German-born Tzarina, regally refined. The daughters joyously lovely in their virginal innocence. The Tzarevich, a good-looking teenager.

Alexis was a hemophiliac, a genetic inheritance from his grandmother English Queen Victoria. His hemophilia occasioned a fascinating page in the collapse of the Romanov Empire that had stretched back some 300 years. Players in the drama were a crossdressing prince and a well-hung faith healer.

Villain was Grigori Rasputin, a wandering orthodox monk and a sexual libertine who believed that salvation was reassured by repeated sinning in exchanged for ongoing pardon. (His mental ploy for laying females of the royal entourage.)

Rasputin, as "saint du jour," was introduced to the Tzar and Tzarina in a psychological moment of private panic. The Tzarevich Alexis was having an ongoing bleeding episode that was extremely life threatening.

The couple turned to Rasputin for prayer. He prayed for Alexis and, it is now believed through hypnotic suggestion, cured him. The bleeding stopped. Rasputin became spiritual advisor of the rapidly tottering Russian throne. (He was thought by many to be Alexandra's secret lover.)

World War l erupted in 1914 and during the next four years Tzar Nicholas proved to be an inept leader. The Tzarina began to badger him with advice; and Rasputin warned if anything happened to himself the royal family would not survive.

It was decided by members of the Russian governing Duma that Rasputin must be eliminated.The self-appointed task fell to a member of the entourage surrounding the royal family, Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov (1887 - 1967). Yusupov, though later married, was gay, loved dancing with gypsies, was an occasional stunning crossdresser.

Yusupov loved to attend the ballet and opera in drag. As Princess Fedorova he was gorgeous. And one glorious night of theater deception "she" sat at the opera in a box opposite that of England's ever-horny King Edward Vlll, who initiated an unexpected flirtation.

It was a bit much for Yusupov, who waved hasty adieux before an international scene became a possibility. As for Rasputin's murder, Yusupov got the monk alone, fed him cyanide poisoned cakes that surprisingly didn't do the job, had him shot, tied him up, and threw him into the winter icy Neva River.

Astoundingly Rasputin rallied. Clenched his fist, than sank for good. The body was recovered. His eleven-inch penis hacked off, and as a footnote to history is currently treasured as an item of curious collector veneration.

In 1932, MGM made a movie about Rasputin's murder. Yusupov sued unsuccessfully for defamation. (Original long-suppressed newsreels of Nicholas and Alexandra are being shown Thursdays at 7:30 during October/November at the DIA film series program.)
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