“I don’t know — how can you tell through ski pants?”
— Absolutely Fabulous, The Last Shout, 1996
One Saturday night in June 2007 I met Ivana Trump, the Czech-born fashion model turned media personality who has died aged 73. It’s not a particularly long story but nevertheless here it is. I just hope her pious POTUS ex husband doesn’t come after me for what I’m about to reveal. Sniff.
It was a memorable evening when I was most certainly mixing business with pleasure; reviewing a local friend, George Michael, performing the inaugural concert of the rebuilt Wembley Stadium, the write-up of which appeared in QX magazine, a British gay weekly of some sauce and salaciousness.
The press area of the shiny and new Wembley was fitted out with all the mod cons you’d expect of a multi-million pound national stadium, and at some point during the show I caught sight of two handsome muscular men clad in black making a song and dance in my peripheral vision, two rows behind us journalist scum.
Perhaps it was the free bar playing its part but it took me a minute to realise who the tall blonde lady was in between the two guys. In a private head moment that could have been lifted from an episode of Absolutely Fabulous I thought to myself ‘Who’s that?… Oh, it’s Ivana Trump. The real life Patsy Stone!”
She looked fantastically drag queen glamorous, and with her platinum beehive hairdo and sharp stiletto heels she towered over both men, who I assumed were her bodyguards.
And she made me look positively tiny, he said archly.
Anyway, I tried not to stare, especially as dear Yog was on stage performing his heart out in the other direction, but just occasionally after a few more sips, er, glugs of champers I’d do a discreet half-turn and find myself making fairly prolonged eye contact with one of the handsome hunks guarding this inscrutable former first wife of American businessman Donald Trump.
I think we actually flirted a little — just because. By the concert’s end I struck up some small talk with the one that caught my eye the most: blue eyes, dark Latino features — oh, to say that’s my kinda guy would be an understatement.
It turned out that neither man was anything remotely bodyguard-like in profession. In fact, the one I hit it off with was a Paraguayan jewellery designer and creative director of the luxury accessories brand Tateossian. Yes, sweeties, he was gay.
To cut a very long story short, my companion for the night — my personal trainer cum friend Robert Bray — and I were invited back to Ariel’s gorgeous three-storey townhouse in Fulham Road, almost directly opposite the Chelsea conservation area of The Boltons and Gilston Road where David Bowie had owned an even larger property in the 1990s.
Ivana also came back but it was a fleeting visit while her driver double parked on the pavement. She slipped champagne very slowly and talked about jet set type things as numerous fat lines of industrial strength cocaine were chopped out in one of the many furnished-to-perfection reception rooms.
Let’s put it this way, the only person who didn’t indulge was my super-buff buddy Rob. He’s the one on the left.
Anyway, Ivana was like a homing pigeon; she was gone within the hour. So if I can paraphrase the ABBA song Money, Money, Money, she had to leave, she had to go… to Las Vegas or Monaco or that kind of show on the go bling thing.
My lord, the carriage awaiteth. But to get there the mega-conglomerate “rich bitch” had to catch a helicopter from slightly less glitzy Battersea of all places.
But not before I, slightly under the influence, made reference to my birthday occurring in a couple of weeks and naturally, she was invited, as was Ariel.
To the surprise of no one, Ivana didn’t come — I was probably far too nouveau for her.
Ariel did, though. He was a kind man, and second from the left in the image below.
You will have to excuse the low lighting of the piccie, but then we were in the locker room of a really fascinating restaurant in Clerkenwell called Dans Le Noir (in the dark, en Anglais), part sensory experience and part social experiment, where after storing your valuables you are led into in a pitch-black dining room where you eat from a surprise menu “with influences from French cuisine” with the dishes by blind waiters with guide dogs and walkie-talkies (the staff, not the pets).
In keeping with the mystery of the exercise, gastronomic guinea pigs are left to guess exactly what’s on the plate in front of them, and the darkness is intended to heighten the sense of taste. Let me tell you it totally works, and if you are ever in that part of Central London I can’t recommend the place enough.
I didn’t cross paths with Ivana Trump again, but the brief impression I had of her was of a determined woman who wasn’t well acquainted with doubt or much of a sense of humour, especially about herself.
The latter lack of trait is all the more ironic when you consider that Ivana was the obvious visual inspiration for one of the greatest comedy characters of our times, the Absolutely Fabulous fashion icon and international style guru that is Patsy Stone, friend to Edina and as much cocaine as Edina can afford.
Dominated by image-obsessed, power-playing narcissists, it’s hardly a coincidence AbFab premiered at the tail end of 1992, just nine months after the socialite Trumps divorced. In her first memoir, Ivana wrote that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her, but later recanted after she decided to rejoin the Crazy Train. In other words she sold her soul to the devil.
That’s the way Don likes it (uhuh-uhuh).
And I leave you with one of my favourite scenes from the show’s second episode, Fat.
In other words, another one who’s ballooned.
[Edina Monsoon is at her desk flicking through Hello! magazine]
Edina: “Gah! I can’t find anyone I want to look like, you know,… Oh! Oh, actually she’s not bad. Who’s that?”
Patsy: (proudly) “That’s Ivana Trump.”
Edina: “She’s good, isn’t she?”
Bubble: “Oh, do you think so? Looks like a classic bimbo to me. All that terrible blonde hair piled on top of her head. False tan. She’s far too thin. Always pouting. Absolutely no character. Skirt’s too short. I mean, it’s pathetic these older women struggling to look twenty five… Sorry.
Patsy: “I think she’s tremendous!”
The show is over, say goodbye.
Yeah, cheers, thanks a lot.
George Michael, June 25, 1963 – December 25, 2016
Ariel Meza Thompson, August 17, 1971 – July 17, 2020
Ivana Marie Trump, February 20, 1949 – July 14, 2022
He’s Your Man: George Michael at Wembley Stadium is here