Baron Von Luxxury on His Friends' Double-Suicide, Five Years Later
Blake RobinBlake Robin and Theresa Duncan, circa 1997
Blake Robin is a nu-disco producer and DJ who performs under the name Baron von Luxxury. In the summer of 2007, his close friends Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, a glamorous couple who were fixtures in the New York art scene, both committed suicide. She died from an overdose of Tylenol PM combined with alcohol on July 10; a week later, Blake drowned himself in the Atlantic Ocean.
Robin has released well-regarded albums and remixes, and written songs that have appeared in commercials, reality shows and episodic dramas like CSI. But now, five years later, he's seeking closure on his friends' deaths.
On a Tumblr blog called "The Lovely Theresa," Robin has posted snapshots of Duncan, recounted his memories of her and linked to the couple's work. The project is culminating with the video release of the song with the same title, starring Brad Breeck from the Mae Shi. (See above: Its premiere is an exclusive to West Coast Sound.)
"It all had to be that way. There had to be words I wrote, there had to be images and there had to be music," Robin says, drinking hot tea in front of Silver Lake's Casbah Café. "Writing songs was therapeutic, but I wanted to tell people more. You can't get that volume of material into a song. A song is designed to be evocative -- you can't have a lot of detail."
Robin had met and become close friends with Duncan in Washington, D.C., in 1994 and with Blake after they all were living in New York. Duncan -- called "Silicon Alley's dream girl" -- was awarded Entertainment Weekly's 1995 "CD-ROM of the Year" for her game for girls, Chop Suey. Blake, an artist who merged abstract paintings and digital film, had created a dream sequence for Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love and been asked by Beck to contribute art to his album Sea Change.
The dramatic nature of their suicides, their hip profiles, their paranoia that Scientologists were harassing them -- the media gobbled it all up, and long features appeared in LA Weekly, Vanity Fair and New York magazine, the latter entitled "Why Did Artists Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake Commit Suicide? - A Chronicle of Their Descent Into Madness."
Robin did not like the stories; he believed they got the facts wrong and sensationalized their deaths. There was also news that Bret Easton Ellis had written a screenplay called The Golden Suicides, and Gaspar Noé was slated to direct.
"When you have this knowledge that people are getting wrong, it's like, I can carefully try to insert some facts and personal opinion, but I want to do it in a way that I'm not coming across as being self-aggrandizing," he says. "Fuckin' hell, a fear of being accused of that is what kept me from going forward with my whole album being called The Lovely Theresa."
Robin's Tumblr is, actually, lovely itself, a history of a friendship, a scrapbook you give your closest friend on a birthday.
An affectionate smile plays on his lips. "I'm sure they love that their story is still living. Even the bits that are super bizarre and certainly bordering on character assassination? I think their attitude would not be 'How dare they?' but 'It's amusing how we're being talked about.'"
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