May 21, 2022

The Golden Suicides

In 2007, the lives of two promising artists ended in tragedy. Their journey takes us from Los Angeles to New York by way of paranoia and conspiracy. This, is the story of The Golden Suicides. 

the golden suicides

Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake met in 1994. They were both activists involved in the punk-rock scene in Washington hanging around bands. They both would move to New York a year later and run into one another yet again backstage at a concert. Duncan would go on to hire him as her illustrator and art director for her CD-ROM’s. Both each other’s artistic inspiration.

Duncan and Blake seemed like the perfect couple. Happily, together for over 12 years until their untimely end. Duncan was a very prominent actress, game designer of multiple award-winning CD-ROM’s such as Chop Suey and Zero Zero, film director and over all beautiful. Blake was a growing digital artist with his moving artworks very quickly gaining popularity. The pair, although seemingly talented artists, appeared to also become enthralled in rapid paranoia and a much wider story. The couple had been living together in New York since 1995 and moved to Los Angeles in 2002. Both riding a high of fame and talent, each gaining large scale deals in their careers at that time. Duncan also was struggling to get her script for Alice Underground made, between 2002 and 2004 which was only upsetting her more. In her attempts to find backing for her film Duncan openly would boast how she had acquired rock star Beck to act in the movie. She stated they had met repeatedly to discuss the movie and his involvement. Beck, however, emailed Vanity Fair to say that this was not true. He had read her script but never agreed to act. Duncan continued to say how close the couple was to Beck and his wife and sent photos showing the two couples hanging out together on Malibu beach. Beck’s wife was clearly pregnant in the images which dated the photos showing that they were no longer friends. Duncan was very frustrated and upset over this setback and would blame the Church of Scientology once again which would later make more sense when Beck publicly told The New York Times about his involvement with Scientology but stated that he had nothing but good things to say about them and would never have told Duncan and Blake that he wanted out of the church like they would claim.

The Golden Suicides 

Only a few years later in 2006, Blake had sent an email to a friend of his depicting how the couple had decided to move back to New York after having to leave their Venice bungalow upon receiving notice from their landlord that they were not allowed to stay. Blake went on to tell his friend that Duncan and himself had been harassed and “defamed by crazy Scientologists,” and threatened to the point of needing to leave. The Church of Scientology has since denied knowing the couple. Blake continued to appear paranoid towards the Bush administration who was in power at the time as well as calling out a few media companies for leaning towards Republican. It appears that one of their neighbors, also a couple would go on to state how Duncan continuously would show up at their apartment while Blake was away to harass, accuse the girlfriend of being a “cult whore” and even went on so far as to send letters to her filled with defamation and implications that the girlfriend was involved in Scientology. 

Duncans paranoia would only continue to increase. Feeling that she could trust no one and that men were following them and stalking their home in New York. Her accusations increasing and going so far as to say that one time while walking their dog a man had said, “Hey, what a sweet dog. It would be too bad if something happened to it.” She also said that they found a dead cat on their roof as if someone had put it there. Constant phone calls with no one on the other end of the line. She was terrified and Blake wanted to protect her. Friends said they had believed her since they had never seen her this way before. The paranoia was unlike her. Blake, however, would tell friends that it would die down and she would be fine. She unfortunately would not be. Duncans behavior would become erratic, ruining friendships and business opportunities for both herself and Blake. Duncan would go on to write a 27-page document to be used for a lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. She blamed famous actor, Tom Cruise, for ruining her film project deal with Paramount, Cruise denied this claim. She would call out people on her blog she launched in 2005 about conspiracies, Blakes ex-girlfriend, old friends and others. 

In early January of 2007, the couple would move into the St. Mark’s Church rectory in New York and almost immediately befriended Father Frank Morales. Morales was also quite interested in conspiracies. The apartment at the rectory was quite beautiful and said to be haunted by famous individuals such as Edgar Allen Poe and Harry Houdini. The couple had one issue though, finances. Morales felt that they belonged there and after they borrowed money for the deposit from family the place was theirs for $5000 a month. Blake had a very important art show coming up and need money so he would accept a consulting job at Rockstar Games, famous for creating Grand Theft Auto where he had worked 10 years prior. He did not want to go back but they needed money. 

They both were drinking more frequently, paranoia only continuing. Morales claimed that Duncan would reach out to him about what troubled her. She would often ask Morales to share his conspiracy theories when out with friends which in night club settings felt odd to him. Blake told Morales he had purchased a gun for protection as the couple’s worries grew and grew. A psychiatrist friend of Blake’s was concerned for him although interview footage of the couple with Blake talking about his art works showed them as happy and just as in love as they always had been. Duncan would organize a fundraiser for the church as they become frequent attendees to Sunday mass. They would, however, not make an appearance that night which Morales found odd. The night before Duncan’s death, the couple had met at a restaurant with film producer Cary Woods and George Pelecanos. They seemed interested in their ideas for a new movie called Nick’s Trip. Things seemed promising for the couple. The next day, July 10th, Blake had come home to go for lunch with Duncan like he normally did. No one knows where they went or what they talked about. Later that night, at around 7pm, Blake returned home from work. He invited Morales upstairs who he had met in the church’s garden. Morales said he would join them in a few minutes. 10 minutes later, the police arrived at the home. Morales rushed up the stairs to the apartment to find Blake hysterical, screaming “this can’t be happening”. Duncan had been found by her boyfriend dead in bed. Empty bottles of pills and a glass of champagne on the bedside table. Her face seemed frozen in a smile, one hand reaching up to her face. Morales would stay with Blake until the body had been removed and friends arrived to care for Blake. Her death was too hard to believe or understand for those that new her. Blake would continue for his upcoming art show and stated he would have it once he recovered which unfortunately, he never would. 

A week after Duncan’s suicide on July 17th, Blake had been meant to travel to Detroit with friends the next day. He went to work like normal, insisting to friends he felt ok. He never came home. He said he was going to visit a sound designer friend who lived in Brooklyn but also never showed up. It turns out that after leaving the Rockstar offices Blake had taken the train to Rockaway Beach, where his mother had been born. He stripped his clothes, left them on the beach and walked into the water. Around 8pm, a woman called 911 saying she thought she had seen a man matching Blakes description walk naked into the water and never come back. On the back of a business card left with his clothes it read, “I am going to join the lovely Theresa.” On July 22nd, fisherman would find his body washed up in New Jersey. 

 The couple’s tragic love story peaked major media attention in New York and even peaked interest in a film. At this time author of American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis, was hired to write the screenplay. Talks on twitter by Ellis implicated that Ryan Gosling may have been meant to play Jeremy Blake alongside Naomi Watts as Theresa Duncan. The directors would go on to say that they did not feel the pair were a good casting choice and since 2011 we have not heard more about this possible film.

 

Jason Horton

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Jason Horton

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