Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan

January 1, 2008 § 9 Comments

(Photo: Dario Robleto)

“When Theresa Duncan, 40, took her own life on July 10, 2007, followed a week later by her boyfriend, Jeremy Blake, 35, their friends were stunned and the press was fascinated: what had destroyed this glamorous couple, stars of New York’s multi-media art world, still madly in love after 12 years?” –The Golden Suicides, Vanity Fair

I couldn’t help but become completely enveloped by this article after reading that first sentence — it’s a complicated, confusing, and heartbreaking story. Theresa Duncan was a video game designer; Jeremy Blake was an artist; their lives over 12 years would intersect with Fugazi, David Sedaris, Bikini Kill, and Beck; I’m boiling this down to its core, but the bottom line is, somehow, it seems, they went mad. The day after I read this article, Scott and I went to the Corcoran to see an Annie Leibovitz only to discover Wild Choir, an ongoing exhibition by Jeremy Blake, and I’ve been soaking in their story ever since. If you read the article and then, like me, want to know more, see more, and more:

A long NY Mag article about the pair, written shortly after their deaths (along with some amazing photographs; to say they were photogenic is an understatement).
Theresa Duncan’s personal blog, The Wit of the Staircase (she had written and scheduled two posts to publish before her death, hence the startling dates on the two most recent entries)
The History of Glamour, Theresa Duncan’s 40-minute film, which Jeremy animated.
–A not-updated-since-September site called Theresa Duncan Central.
–More on Jeremy Blake’s Wild Choir, which runs through March at the Corcoran in DC.
–The ‘Punch Drunk Love’ trailer — Jeremy Blake created an animated sequence (and, I would think, some of the title art).
Beck’s Sea Change album, for which Jeremy Blake designed the art.
–Two posts from Rigorous Intuition (here and here), which speculate on who might have been harassing Jeremy and Teresa and suggest a conspiracy was afoot. And, artwork by Jeremy’s ex Anna Gaskell, which lends disturbing credence to the conspiracy theory. (And, also, it seems that both Anna and Theresa were preoccupied with Alice in Wonderland, maybe a bit too much — while living in LA, Theresa was working on a script called Alice Underground, about two girls who kidnap a rock star … Theresa often claimed Beck was on board to play that role, which he denies in the VF article).
–Oops! NY Mag reports that in a 2003 Italian interview, Beck talks about getting into acting: “It will be full of energy and full of characters: some kind of Alice in Wonderland set in the seventies. It still doesn’t have a title. The director is a friend of mine, and it will be her directorial debut. But I trust her. We will begin shooting in the fall.”

If that isn’t enough, it turns out that now the Vanity Fair piece is stirring up its own pot of controversy. The Society of Mutual Autopsy has questioned the writer, Nancy Jo Sales, and her relationship to the story — given that she’s the ex-wife of Father Frank Morales, who was very close to Theresa and Jeremy before their deaths. SoMA has published an account from Morales’ ex, Melinda Hunt, who tells a different story about the night of Theresa’s death, and alleges that he unethically used his access to the couple to help Sales write the VF piece — as well as an email from Jeremy Blake’s mother confirming that Morales introduced her to Sales. And then, of course, Sales responds, and then Morales responds. There is much, much more going on here than meets the eye.

Seriously, if this story doesn’t suck you in, chew you up and spit you out, then you are not easily sucked in, chewed up, and spit out.

§ 9 Responses to Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan

  • I met her at a party at the beginning of 2006 at my friend Kate Coe’s house. Kate was a friend of Theresa’s (although has been accused of being otherwise) and wrote about it for the LA Weekly. If you google her name and the LA Weekly, you should be able to find it quite easily.

    Also, Sales and Morales were supposedly not legally married, but this story is hinky from start to finish.

  • styro says:

    Maybe the scientologists were out to get them. I mean, I wouldn’t put it past them. That’s one cult that is very powerful and very rich. Beck is a scientologist, but you probably knew that.

  • Mary says:

    The SOMA Review emails speak for themselves. After reading all of the threads there , it is sadly evident that Fr Frank Morales has issues* in the Lady’s Dept. Looks to me like Sales got herself right where she wanted to be to get that story, even if it meant using her female wiles to do it.

    In the gush to back up Sales, Morales seems to have forgotten his humble interview for the well written article by Lincoln Anderson of The Villager:
    “Artists’ double suicide casts a pall at St. Mark’s”
    Volume 77,#10 Aug08-14,2007

    Certainly it’s a better piece than Sales’ has done; her emails on SOMA opened up the issue of journalistic integrity in how she reported her relationship with Morales and how she went about getting this story, to the dismay of others.
    So what does he do? he backs her up and trashes Ms Hunt, who has Blake’s mother in her corner and an email to prove it.

    On a comment there, we find that Morales is still married to a criminal named Lisa Walker.
    who adopted the name Antoinette Millard in the beginning of May 2004.

    If I were Sales, I would shut up and help Morales get that long awaited divorce he keeps promising but never gets.

    ok, now back to Beck… he’s lying, you know.
    That 2003 interview comment of Beck’s is clearly about Theresa Duncan and her film, Alice Underground.

  • shampoo solo says:

    Wow — I’ve seen Kate Coe’s name both slagged and revered for that LA Weekly article. Crazy how six degrees works.

    And, Styro — yeah. Supposedly Beck talked to them about wanting to leave Scientology, which he denies. Oh, and HI! I’ve been wondering where you lived.

  • anon says:

    That Lisa Walker (in the Wiki link) is not the person who was married to Morales. She was a New Yorker writer who met him when she came to interview him for a story, and some say she got into drugs and is now a squatter in NYC.

    Nancy Jo Sales wasn’t the first Vanity Fair writer to be assigned to the story, which comes out in SOMA’s older posts.

    Certainly no one should underestimate the evil ways of the “church” of LRon, but there seem to be other factors preying on Blake and Duncan.

    Is Nancy Jo Sales looking to sell a movie?

  • […] 6, 2008 · No Comments After all I learned in researching this post, I couldn’t resist firing off the following letter to the editor of Vanity […]

  • Sue DeNymme says:

    Apparently Sales was looking to sell the film rights to her Vanity Fair piece. She’s done so and the wheels are in motion….

  • shampoosolo says:

    That is fascinating news, especially that my boy Bret EE is writing the screenplay. I’m intrigued.

  • Thompson's Twin says:

    Sounds like a crock of spin to me. How can you sell the rights to public knowledge? Does Sales Have info no one else has?

    Do tell.

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