Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 30

To my readers:
I haven't written one of these bios in some time, because of the time commitment. My main source for this post is written in German, so it was slow going. I was given that book by German friends in 2005, and ten years later I'm just getting around to reading it. Nonetheless, this is an extraordinary story, and few Americans are even aware of Johannes and Gloria (I used to live not too far from Regensburg). Enjoy.

Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis

Dateline 1979, Bavaria. Openly bisexual Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis (1926-1990) was the richest man in Germany and its largest land owner. His fortune cast a web of banks, breweries, enormous land holdings in Brazil, vast private forest lands (80,000 acres) in Germany, extensive fine art collections and eleven palaces and castles. The 53-year-old bachelor prince resided in his 500-room St. Emmeram Palace in Regensburg, some 60 miles northeast of Munich, where his family had lived since 1748.

In the fifteenth century his ancestors had developed a European postal system that earned them a great fortune. Soon the postal coaches began accepting paying passengers, so we get the term “taxi” from the family enterprise. For over 300 years the family held a monopoly on the postal system of the Holy Roman Empire.

The 12th-century Italian Dukes de la torre, based near Bergamo, Italy, were the ancestors of the Thurn und Taxis dynasty. Emperor Ferdinand III recognized the Thurn und Taxis line as successors to the Torriani dukes. The Italian word Torre (tower) became Thurn, and Tasso (badger) became Taxis, and their family tree dates back to 1445.

During WW II Prince Johannes served in German intelligence and was imprisoned by the British from 1945 to 1947. For the next 35 post-war years he kept a relatively low profile among his royal and noble peers. But after the death of his father in 1982, the prince became head of the Thurn und Taxis family as full inheritor, and he began to spend money like a Vanderbilt. His 210,000 sq. ft. palace was furnished with 400 clocks, maintained by a full-time servant whose only task was to wind them in perpetual rotation. All the windows were washed weekly. Johannes retained 70 liveried footmen and parked 20 cars in his garage. But his idea of a fun night out was to troll the gay bars in Munich.

Imagine then the surprise when he announced he was ready to settle down with an impoverished  distant aristocratic cousin, Countess Gloria Schönburg-Glachau, a high school dropout and onetime waitress some 34 years his junior. Upon their marriage she was 20 years old and three months pregnant with their first daughter. A second daughter arrived two years later, but Prince Johannes could not breathe a sigh of relief until Albert, their only son, arrived the next year.

Prior to the birth of a son, Johannes had a pressing inheritance problem. According to tradition, his wife had to be a noble descendant of the Holy Roman Empire who would bear him a son. Otherwise his fortune would be splintered into numerous fractions of its $2.5 billion value. When the prince ran into his distant cousin Gloria in a Munich café, a lightbulb went off. Gloria not only fit the bill of proper lineage, she was willing to accept his sexual preference for men. It was a win-win; she was rescued from poverty, and he would be able to keep his vast estate intact. Young Prince Albert II would be full-inheritor.

The couple lived a life of debauchery, a wild, hedonistic jet-set lifestyle. Gloria drove around town on a lipstick red Harley-Davidson. She sported outrageous clothing, makeup and hairdos, and she proudly bore the moniker “Princess T-N-T.”

Encouraged by her husband, Princess Gloria enjoyed a lifestyle of extreme decadence. In 1986 she spent $20 million on a three-day 60th birthday party for Johannes, crowned by a costume ball held at their St. Emmeram palace, where Gloria appeared as Marie-Antoinette.  She ordered a birthday cake lit by 60 pink, phallus-shaped candles, a not-so-subtle hint at her husband’s sexual preference. 500 guests had been flown in on private jets to enjoy days of over-the-top debauchery. Mick Jagger, J. Paul Getty Jr. and Saudi Arabian businessman Adnan Khashoggi were among the guests.

Prince Albert II was just seven years old when his father died of complications following two heart surgeries in late 1990. That day Albert became the 12th Prince of Thurn und Taxis and the youngest billionaire in the world. The 6'4" tall bachelor Prince Albert II turned 32 years old a few days ago, on June 23. He is an extraordinarily rich business man and professional race car driver (he has crashed a Lamborghini or two). Albert became full-inheritor of the Thurn und Taxis fortune on his 18th birthday in 2001.

Princess Gloria stands above her two daughters and son Prince Albert.

Prince Albert today makes his home at the ancestral Schloss St. Emmeram (below). At 500 rooms, it is the largest home in Europe still maintained by a princely family. It even contains a throne room and a riding hall for the practice and performance of extreme dressage.


Sources: Gloria, die Fürstin (Peter Seewald, 2004), Wikipedia & Tim Allis for People Magazine (1991)


Saturday, June 27, 2015

June 27

Update on an item at the end of this post, which displays Justice Kennedy's words on 6/26/15.

Comments from your blogger:

If you encounter any conservative Christians who state that Friday’s Supreme Court decision allowing same sex marriage in all 50 states violates their religious principles, do your best to relieve them of their ignorance.

To wit: in response to Friday's Supreme Court ruling, two Tennessee lawmakers are drafting a “Pastor Protection Act” to provide legal protection for pastors when they will be forced to perform same sex marriages against their will. I heard on an NPR news report a Christian conservative who said he is now in fear that his pastor will be locked up in jail for refusing to marry same sex couples. All of this is simple fear-mongering, of course, because there is no law that requires a pastor to marry anyone, gay or straight. Pastors may refuse to marry partners of mixed race, or couples who have lived together before marriage, or couples he/she just doesn’t like. No part of the Supreme Court’s decision allowing homosexuals to marry applies to churches at all. Religious institutions only have dominion over matrimony (a holy union as ordained by God), not the secular act of marriage (the legal authority of each state). When a pastor performs a holy rite of matrimony, he/she still has to complete the state (secular) paperwork, which must be handed back over to the state authority, or the marriage is not legal. There is nothing “legal” about a church wedding as a stand-alone. Laws of marriage apply only to state-sanctioned unions.

When/if that same conservative Christian says that he/she has views on marriage that are in accordance with the Bible, dispense this information on other aspects of “Biblical” marriage:

1. No divorce allowed
I Corinthians 7: (10)... "A wife must not separate from her husband. (11) But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife." Yet many Christians opposing same sex marriage are on their second or third wives/husbands. Pastors who marry anyone who has been divorced are thus in violation of scripture.

2. Non-virgin brides shall be stoned to death
(For a woman who is found not to be a virgin on her wedding night) Deuteronomy 22: ...(20) "But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, (21) then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel, by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you."
3. Childless widow must marry her brother-in-law & produce children
Matthew 22:24..."Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ " If your Christian buddy is unwilling to do that, he/she is in violation of this “Christian” principle.

These are biblical rules of marriage. There are numerous other examples, of course. Ask your Christian buddy to join in prayer with you, and pray together that he/she be delivered of this gross ignorance.

But I digress. Back to what you came here to see:

Something for Charles,
our sock fetishist:


You gotta have art:
Kama Sutra Project
Malika Favre

Our celebrity guest, Jake Miller

Dateline June 26, 2015
Justice Anthony Kennedy