Citylife’s new column Local Celebrity will be combing the streets of our fair city in search of the people that make this place the virtual Utopia is has become. These paragons of the quotidian and the quixotic may well have been unsung heroes so far, but it is that distinction that makes them the triumphs they are. Interview by James Austin Farrell.
Born on the Swiss side, at the end of the Black Forest, Lucas Villiger enthusiastically pointed out that his hometown was geographically sublime “My first ten years were miraculous … a free childhood with wonderful landscapes, forests, lakes and no cities.” Though his near perfect childhood was cut short abruptly when his mother died at age 11, after being addicted to painkillers for many years. “She took them by the hundreds,” he informed me. In the early stages of the pregnancy she went to see the doctor, who then informed her that she had a shrunken kidney and to go ahead and have the child would most certainly kill her. “Both my parents were extremely conservative Catholics, they wrote a letter to the archbishop to ask for permission to have an abortion, and of course he refused. My mother died, although her child, my sister, lived and is the toughest kind of person today.”
“I became an awful arsehole after her death. I was unbalanced and angry.” As a result of his burgeoning rebellion his father sent him to a Jesuit/Benedictine monastery for his education, “He sent me to the edge of the world, the end of nowhere, 1200 metres above sea level with 200 other boys.” “Did this stop you getting in trouble?” I asked. “Of course it didn’t,” he replied resolutely. “I thought that those authorities that had already made so many mistakes could not be my authority, from the first day there I wanted to find an exit.” Nevertheless, Lucas savs he had friends, in fact, he found his first boyfriend at the age of 11. “Many of us had boyfriends, and if not, they had masturbation clubs.” “In a monastery, wasn’t homosexuality strictly forbidden?” He laughs at me like I have absolutely no idea, “Many of the monks were gay, they knew I had a boyfriend and I had to watch out – we all knew who the predators were, I was good-looking and they were after me, but I managed to deny them . . .no one mentioned it, it was all covered up.” At 16 Lucas wrote a letter to the Archbishop of the region, telling him he wanted to exit the school; exit the church. It was at this point in life his father accused Lucas of being gay.
His reply to his father’s accusatory indignation was, “Well, at least you sent me to the right school!”
After his exit from the monastery he went on to study Marketing & Management at a Swiss professional High School. (These later became universities). “I had girlfriends and boyfriends, and many of them, separately and together. Everything was becoming liberated.” His first job at a pharmaceutical company as advertising manager was perfect, although at 26 he made a life defining decision. “I finished dating women, they were too problematic.” I asked Lucas about his thoughts on sexual preference. Nature or nurture, innate or a consequence of psychological refining? “I am convinced that without convention and stigmas we would choose only human, not male or female. It’s all about personality.” Incidentally, many of his gay friends ended up marrying.
Years later while travelling in Mexico, Lucas met an African American, then only 17 to Lucas’s 34. “Bringing him back to Switzerland wasn’t easy, you can imagine the looks. We wanted to get married but of course we couldn’t, so we married two lesbians. He got his visa and we were happy.” “What about your family?” “I told them the truth, I always tell the truth – then I don’t have to remember any lies.” They stayed together 15 years. In his forties Lucas was made general manager of a company and spent nearly every waking hour working. Having saved some money he left Switzerland at age 51. “I was lost in life, so I went to South America and then to Australia. I lived there for one and a half years with a wine business.” After some persuasion from a friend Lucas visited
Thailand . . . and his life changed.
“And then I met Dang. It had been such a long time since I had fallen in love, met someone who I truly admired with so many similar personality traits.” “He was my boy, my girl, my friend and my lover. We had a free relationship. We’d share men together, sometimes lots of them at the same time. This was how we liked it; freedom with no lies.” After a struggle they both moved to Chiang Mai and Lucas, with his business acumen and knowledge of wine, opened the first wine bar in Thailand; The Darling. “No one knew about wine then, so I opened a place where people could experience wine.” Lucas talked about Dang warmly, but painfully. For at the age of 51, less than one year ago, Dang unexpectedly passed away. “My life was perfect with Dang. After literally thousands of men and women I had found the perfect match.” “Did you live together?” “Yes, and he had had two kids by two other women. We all lived together.” He laughed wryly and pointed out, “Someone once told me that we had the ultimate post¬modern relationship … He was a big, big chaser, just like me. But there was never jealousy, we enjoyed the times and I adored him.”
Lucas felt he couldn’t carry on running the Darling by himself. “Too many memories. Too much of him. At no time in my life had I ever felt that I was a part of someone completely. I did with him. I had to sell the Darling.”
“So, what adventure is next?”
“Life will always be interesting. I don’t know about the future, things come up by themselves . . . everything is possible.”