A new biography about former Olympic Gold Medalist in Figure Skating John Currey reveals much concerning his traumatic childhood, later slid into homosexuality, and eventual death from AIDS:
From his very earliest years, John Currey had wanted to be a ballet dancer — a former au pair with the family, remembers him skipping constantly from room to room or waltzing silently through the house. But his hard-drinking, domineering, factory-owner father Joseph was implacably set against such things. He did, however, agree to allow the seven-year-old to take ice-skating lessons, although he rarely made the time to watch him. John himself would later recollect that his father seemed to spend his time either recovering from a drinking bout or planning the next one. But in 1965 the family’s life was thrown into turmoil. On the morning of December 30, John’s father’s lifeless body was found by a chambermaid in a bedroom at a hotel in London. At the inquest, it was ruled that “Joseph Curry, 50, an engineer, had taken his own life by poisoning, self-administered.” The effect of his father’s apparent suicide on the then 16-year-old John was extraordinary. “We were delighted,” he later told a close friend. “We were happy. We were free of him.”
By the age of 18, Curry had moved to London to take up skating full-time and had signed up for the longed-for ballet lessons. He had also, after some years of confusion and uncertainty about his sexuality, fallen in love with another man: a Swiss skating coach named Heinz Wirz. However, Curry’s personal life had a darker, more sinister side, too. Heinz Wirz refers to it as Curry’s “dangerous appetite:” a private need for extreme — and often violent — sex. It would ultimately lead to his destruction. On a visit back to England for an eight-week run of a new — and successful — skating show, Curry was badly beaten up in west London. He never fully recovered from the injuries. In 1987 Curry was diagnosed with HIV, and in 1991 with AIDS. Before his death, he spoke openly to the press about both his disease and his sexual orientation. He spent the last years of his life with his mother. He died of an AIDS-related heart attack on April 15 1994; he was 44 years old. Currey died penniless, somewhat forgotten, and with few to mourn him.
Author’s note: The John Curry story, sad to admit, is a tragic, but hopelessly familiar one: an effeminate little boy who grows up with an unapproving father, gets into homosexuality, and then dies frustrated and lonely. This is most heartbreakingly revealed in Currey’s first lover, an older authority figure, his obsession with violent sexual practices, and his extremely poignant attempt to find an ever elusive happiness.