My iCalendar told me that today would be Howard Arthur Faye’s 57th birthday. I was startled, and then even more startled when I checked and saw that Howard had died over 21 years ago (born 12/30/59, died 6/2/95).
I came to know Howard through the lgbt newsgroup soc.motss (way back), where he was a notable presence: funny, perceptive, contentious, sharp-tongued, full of enthusiasms (for music, food, ideas, and, especially, wines). (We finally got to meet face-to-face in L.A. in January 1993.) Howard lived life fully, no matter what came his way. I was reminded of my great admiration for the way Carrie Fisher, Prince, and George Michael lived their lives, openly and fearlessly.
A stunning photo of Howard with Max Vasilatos, both in drag:
Note Howard’s achievements in accessorization.
For a touching view of Howard in action, you can watch this 1 hr. 12 min. documentary video containing material from 1991-1995 (shot and edited by Ken Rudolph for a memorial service at Justin Winery, Paso Robles CA on August 26, 1995). Warning: the video is unsparing as it approaches the end of Howard’s life. Loving, but unsparing.
I don’t know if Howard ever put together the Arthur from his middle name with the Faye of his family name to imagine himself as an amalgam of the great king of Arthurian legend with the sorceress Morgan le Fay of those legends, but it tickles me to imagine Howard as Arthur in Morgan drag, as the synthesis of the two opposed characters.
Morgan le Fay … is a powerful enchantress in the Arthurian legend. Early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate her character beyond her role as a fay or sorceress. She became both more prominent and morally ambivalent in later texts, in particular in cyclical prose works such as the Lancelot-Grail and the Post-Vulgate Cycle, in which she turns into a dangerous enemy of King Arthur and antagonist of some tales.
And then, into the comic strips:
Morgan le Fay is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character, created by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely, is loosely based on the Morgan le Fay of Arthurian legend. In this version of the character, she is the half-faerie half-sister of the mythic Arthur. Her elven heritage granted her immortality, and she used this time to master the mystic arts. She occasionally tries to take over the world. She has been an opponent of The Avengers, and in the 1970s, she was the major villain in the original Spider-Woman comic, and was opposed by a reincarnation of her “ancient foe” and former lover of Magnus and Doctor Doom. (Wikipedia link)
From the Marvel database, Morgan and Arthur Pendragon: