Six degrees

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am
 

Frank Gehry has left his expensive mark on our city's skyline with the Opus Hong Kong residential block on The Peak. The Canadian-American architect (below) became a household name with his design for a certain Spanish museum/art gallery, which, according to Vanity Fair, was a 'signal moment in the architectural culture', because it represents 'one of those rare moments when critics, academics and the general public were all completely united about something'. The building, in Basque Country, is named for the philanthropic family that funded it: the Guggenheims ...

The family's major contributors to the arts were Solomon and his niece, Peggy, who, along with her slice of the family fortune, inherited its bulbous, potato-shaped nose, an attribute she detested and overcame by sleeping with as many men as she could get her hands on. When asked by an interviewer how many husbands she had had, she dryly replied: 'Do you mean mine, or other people's?' The book Great Women Collectors draws similarities between Peggy's alleged shallow aesthetic sensibilities and deep pockets with those of Catherine the Great ...

The German-born empress of Russia presided over the age of Russian enlightenment. A collector of young lovers even in her dotage, Catherine was a generous benefactor and many of her conquests were rewarded with palaces and high ranks. A playground rumour that she died during coitus with her favourite pony is, unsurprisingly, not true but her sexual exploits were nonetheless impressive. The poet Lord Byron seemed to agree and he cast Catherine as one of the many lovers taken by his Don Juan ...

The legendary lothario has been reincarnated countless times since his first outing in 1630, and his name has become synonymous with sexual conquest ('Don Juanism' is a term used to describe satyriasis: hypersexuality). The story of a free-thinking nobleman so endowed with charisma that he is able to woo women of any status is an undeniably intriguing premise and it has been embraced by audiences of all tastes, from opera-goers enjoying Mozart's Don Giovanni to action film fans lapping up James Bond ...

Despite having been told no less than 35 times that he is going to die, the spy has gone on to make love 81 times (in settings that include a hospital, a submarine, a gypsy tent and, naturally, a motorised iceberg), leading the Bond girls to moan, 'Oh, James!' a total of 16 times, although not all together. The action-packed movies have become a genre all of their own and are regularly sewn into pop culture: a James Bond-themed video for the song Honey was created in which the lead role of a 'very sexy agent M' was played by Mariah Carey ...

Making the video, which involved jumping off buildings and into water and other spy shenanigans, was an exhausting experience for Carey. Proving that chronology should not stand in the way of a good diva exaggeration, Carey whinged that she 'got up at 3am every day and worked until nine in the morning the next day'. Carey's handlers developed a taste for exotic music-video locations and the promo for the song Sweetheart included the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed, of course, by one Frank Gehry.

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