There are some words that defy too much definition.
Only the other day, I was trying in vain to explain the concept of cheekiness to a Latin American friend. The dictionary explanation – ‘Being slightly rude, but often in a funny way’ – just didn’t quite capture it.
And so it is with ‘playboy’, an almost quaint term – very rarely heard these days, but still in currency when I started my career as a gossip columnist in the mid-1990s.
All of us following the London social scene knew, somehow, exactly what ‘playboy’ meant and it wasn’t the bone-dry OED effort: ‘A wealthy man who spends his time enjoying himself.’ No, it was something more mysterious and glamorous than that. A touch of disapprobation often accompanied its use, together with the envious implication that this was a man who was perhaps just a little too accomplished in his dealings with the fairer sex.
A playboy was an adventurer. A lounge lizard, yes, but also a man of action when the moment required. He needed style, courage, charm and a carefree attitude towards everything and especially money – preferably somebody else’s.
Rather than dive back into dusty dictionaries, let me offer you Wikipedia’s summary of the life of Porfirio Rubirosa (1909-65): ‘Dominican diplomat, race car driver, soldier and polo player. He made his mark as an international playboy for his jet-setting lifestyle and his legendary sexual prowess with women. His five spouses included two of the richest women in the world.’ Most of us would settle for that.
Rubirosa – the doyen of his trade – died in 1965, but in the three decades that followed, the roulette tables of Monte Carlo, the slopes of St Moritz and the banquettes of Annabel’s played host to plenty of his successors.
One such was Argentine playboy adventurer Luis Sosa Basualdo (19452020). Known to English society as ‘the Bounder’, Basualdo, who died in December, having somehow made it to 75, was my father-in-law for the ten years I was married to his daughter, Charlotte.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
What is... a nail house?
Don’t confuse a nail house with a nail parlour. A nail house is an old house that survives as new building development goes on all around it.
Kent's stairway to heaven
Walter Barton May’s Hadlow Castle is the ultimate Gothic folly
The book that changed the world
On Marcel Proust’s 150th anniversary, A N Wilson praises his masterpiece, an exquisite comedy with no parallel
RIP the playboys of the western world
Charlie Methven mourns his dashing former father-in-law, Luis ‘the Bounder’ Basualdo, last of a dying breed
My film family's greatest hits
Downton Abbey producer Gareth Neame follows in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandmother, a silent-movie star
A lifetime of pin-ups
Barry Humphries still has nightmares about going on stage. He’s always admired the stars who kept battling on
Travel: Retreat From The World
For his new book, Nat Segnit visited Britain’s quietest monasteries and islands to talk to monks, hermits and recluses
Art comes to life during the Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach’s annual Pageant of the Masters.
What happened when some indigenous people took their lands back from the state
20 razones para amar a Berlanga
Un especial elaborado con las firmas de Luis Alegre, Josetxo Cerdán, Luis Parés, Elena S. Sánchez, Enric Albero, Sol Carnicero, Fernando Méndez-Leite, Manuel Hidalgo, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, Félix Tusell, Andrea G. Bermejo, Rubén Romero Santos, Yago García, Carlos Marañón, Toni Vall, Santiago Alverú
LESSONS FROM LUIS THE MONEY LAUNDERER
What drives one to cross continents the hard way? Is this what Overlanding is about? That persistent feeling that we'll never be caught if nothing can catch us? The optimist in me sure hoped that was the case. And after riding a battered old KLR650 35,000km from Canada to the southern tip of South America I'm still unsure what the purpose or motivation was. Worthwhile? Absolutely. Why? No idea.
HE'S THE ONE
REAL HOUSEWIFE TERESA GIUDICE GOES INSTA-OFFICIAL WITH HER NEW BUSINESSMAN BEAU, WHILE HER EX POSTS A PIC OF HIS OWN.
Top rookies receive an “incomplete” because of the 60-game season
HOPE FOR FREE MARKET REFORM IN URUGUAY
ALTHOUGH THE GLOBAL media barely covered last year’s elections in Uruguay, President Luis Lacalle Pou’s victory was significant for ending 15 years of governance by the leftist Broad Front.
From Dreams to reality with Nina Ameri
L.A. Ovation Award winner Nina Ameri has been doing an amazing job making a name for herself in the movie industry. She is most known for her role in Venice Bound, Jack the Dog, and her most recent gig starring on Atypical, a Netflix Original TV series. As an Iranian refugee, Ameri was forced to move to the states with her family and start her life over. However, from the age of five, Ameri knew what she was destined to become.
La sonrisa de mejor repostero de Latinoamérica
De jornadas de trabajo de 20 horas al día, a convertirse en el mejor repostero de América Latina, Luis Robledo sonríe al recordar su más reciente condecoración.
MICHAEL BUBLE - Counting His Blessings
WITH HIS SON’S CANCER IN REMISSION FOR OVER A YEAR, THE GRAMMY WINNER AND HIS FAMILY HAVE A NEW LEASE ON LIFE