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Digital Subscriptions > DNA Magazine > #197 - Travel Special > GODS AND MORTALS


He’d been a star of the silver screen and dreamed of a return to former glories, but Ramon Novarro’s final scene was an agonisng, brutal death. The rent boy who killed him blamed his Catholic upbringing. Hollywood’s lurid press blamed Rudolph Valentino’s Art Deco dildo! And the rent boy’s defence lawyer blamed the victim himself. Where gods and mortals collide, real life and legend flirt, and sensationalism reigns supreme. Jesse Archer recounts the final screams of a silent star…

A HARDBOILED COP looms over his suspect; a wise-guy type who sometimes sells his 22-year-old body for cash. Los Angeles Sergeant Robert Smith is grilling (Robert) Paul Ferguson about a gruesome murder up at 3110 Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

“You bang these fruits really hard frequently and you stomp them?” he insists. The year is 1968, but the line of questioning feels like it’s swiped straight from a 1940s crime noir.

The frame tightens in on the hothead youth. “That’s a lie!” he shoots back. “There’s nobody in the world that ever said I stomped a fruit or hit one.”

Paul Ferguson confesses to having been at the residence in question, along with his troubled 17-year-old kid brother, Tommy, but he denies having anything to do with “stomping the fruit”.

The interrogation intensifies as the sergeant intends to prove bias and establish clear motive; to find out how the scrappy Paul really feels about these fruits. But the kid is tough, and smart, and he’s not taking the bait. Either that or he has a genuinely open mind on the subject of homosexuality.

“They’re no different from anybody else,” Paul states for the record. “They’re my friends. If I meet one on the streets, I don’t cross the street.”

“Novarro, the man who set female hearts aflutter,” instructed the defense lawyer, “was nothing but a queer.”

He did, however, cross town.

Paul and Tommy Ferguson had hitchhiked to the Laurel Canyon address, but the owner wasn’t a friend. They had never even met. He was a Mexican-American; a Catholic, chronic heavy drinker, and, thanks to savvy real estate investments and an extensive stock portfolio built up during his heyday, he was rich.

His name was Ramon Novarro, and he was a legend of the silent silver screen. In his prime Novarro was heralded as “Ravishing Ramon”; a leading ladies’ man and natural successor to the original Latin Lover, Rudolph Valentino. Novarro was friendly with Valentino before his untimely death and, if you believe the rumours, the two were briefly lovers.

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About DNA Magazine

It’s our Travel issue and we take you to France, The White Party in Palm Springs, steamy Havana and romantic Budapest. We’ve got the hottest guys from our model search finals, sexy travel accessories, and we pay tribute to Prince. We have a great in-depth feature on the murder of screen legend Ramon Novarro, and we speak with the gay politicians who are shaking up “the House” Down Under. Adam Garcia is this month’s Straight Mate, and check out the amazing photos of cover star William alone in his hotel room. Plus you get 40 extra pages not included in the print edition. Go you!