Over the past month, America has watched a soap opera unfold: the untimely death of former Playboy model and reality television star Anna Nicole Smith and the media circus surrounding the legal battle over her final resting place, custody of her daughter and, ultimately, a stake in the potential multimillion-dollar estate.
I was in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when television stations interrupted their regular programs to report that the model had been found unconscious in her room at the nearby Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel. Within minutes of the announcement, my phone began ringing as friends across the country called for the latest updates.
I never saw Smith’s spreads in Playboy magazine and only remotely recall seeing the blurbs in the papers announcing the model’s 1994 marriage to octogenarian billionaire J. Howard Marshall. But, like many Americans, I did get sucked into her reality television show on E! Network.
Reality television was still in its infancy and it seemed obvious that the impact was lost on Smith, who appeared frequently to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs as she slurred her speech and stumbled around her multimillion-dollar Los Angeles mansion. Her life was dysfunctional and the daily dilemmas, like decorating her bedroom or going to an amusement park, almost pedantic; yet, America tuned in. Smith’s contributions to society were questionable (unless you were a heterosexual, middle-aged man who read Playboy) and she, like Paris Hilton and so many others today, had become famous for being famous.
As a gay man, I guess there was a natural attraction to Anna Nicole Smith. She was the personification of camp, from her clothes to the pink feathers that adorned the pillows in her pink bedroom. She was over the top without even realizing it(or maybe she did). She became a sharp-tongued drag queen every time she donned makeup. If you don’t believe me, just look at the hospital pictures after the birth of her daughter.
Anna’s body lay in the Broward County Morgue, just a few miles from my Fort Lauderdale condo, for three weeks as the courts struggled with the question of where she would be buried.
The court proceedings reinforced, once again, the case against cameras in courtrooms. The judge, a friend tells me, was a great guy who just got a little swept up in the drama. His “performance”—and it was—could not have helped his career. Then there was the mother, who turned out to be exactly what one would have expected from a small-town former sheriff’s deputy. Throw in the photographer ex-boyfriend with Hollywood good looks and the longtime lawyer, who obviously held a long crush on his employer, and well, you’ve got quite a cast of characters.
Finally the judge made his ruling and allowed Smith to be buried next to her son, Daniel, in the Bahamas. Within a day, the body was released and flown to Nassau for a Friday service that would draw thousands of curious tourists and Bahamians who found their tiny island nation under a global spotlight.
Whether it was fate or just plain serendipity, my boyfriend and I ended up in Nassau on Saturday morning, the day after pop culture icon Anna Nicole Smith was finally laid to rest.
On arrival in Nassau, we took a cab to the cemetery (the driver knew exactly where to go), hoping to get there early and avoid the crowds. After all, just a day before, throngs of fans, tourists and admirers had lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the spectacle.
As the cab pulled in to Lakeview Memorial Garden, we were shocked to discover an empty cemetery, save for two security guards dispatched to protect the still fresh pink roses piled on the site. Apparently, we were the first to visit her gravesite since the ceremonies the day before. Maybe we were the first eager homos to make the pilgrimage to Anna’s grave (assuming that queeny interior designer Bobby Trendy, the snake who dissed Anna Nicole in the media for the past three weeks, hadn’t attended in an effort to extend his five minutes of fame just a moment longer).
Fame apparently is fleeting and the armed guards at the gravesite barely batted an eye as we took photos and even climbed onto a nearby gazebo to get an aerial view.
Now that Anna Nicole has been laid to rest, I suspect she will finally rest in peace as the media circus turns its attention to the inevitable custody battle and Anna’s estate.
Anna Nicole was a stunning beauty who found her place in the pop culture of today. Now history will be the judge. In any case, for a moment, we had our brush with fame....

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