by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
To be honest, I had forgotten Reichen Lehmkuhl… and apparently a lot of other people had too. That’s the kiss of death for Reichen, a boy who has spent untold hours getting to be “known”, only to slip back into the unfathomable depths of obscurity.
If Reichen doesn’t know about the Myth of Sisyphus, he should. Sisyphus was a figure of Greek mythology, a man condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. It is a tale of frustration, futility, and despair.
Is it better to inform him about Sisyphus, or not? A scene from Sam Spiegel’s epic film “Nicholas and Alexandra” (1971) frames the issue.
The Bolsheviks of Ekaterinburg have decided to assassinate the entire Romanov family, Nicholas II, his Tsaritsa Alexandra, and their five children, along with some members of their court, even their dog. Their jailer knows this. He has been holding a sack full of their mail, wondering whether it would be “kind or cruel, cruel or kind” to give it to them…. He stands in the doorway of “The House of Special Purpose” musing. It is engrossing cinema but difficult to decide in real life…
I am faced by a similar conundrum. For it is painful to see what Reichen will do — and has already done — to capture the “bitch- goddess success”. William James, a Harvard man, coined the phrase in 1906 here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “The exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess success is our national disease.”
James was celebrated worldwide when he made the celebrated observation. He was a man of family, education, worldwide renown, and substantial achievements.
All that he and Reichen Lehmkuhl have in common is the slender thread of Massachusetts birth, though James’ insight is crucial to understanding Reichen.
Reichen, you see, will do anything, everything for the love and admiration of unknown people… this is his curse, and it is painful watching, and wincing, as he grasps at straws which cannot turn into enduring, useful bricks. He is the bitch-goddess’ prisoner… no parole, no escape.
Born Richard Lehmkuhl, December 26, 1973.
Lehmkuhl’s parents, a policeman and a nurse, divorced when he was five years old. Thereafter his mother moved to a trailer park on the Norton, Massachusetts Reservoir, near Wheaton College geographically, but a world away from its privileged youths. He was known as Richard then; “Reichen” he adopted after 2002. It sounded butch.
At age 16 (so it says in Wikipedia) , he received and accepted an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. After graduating in 1996, he served five years and attained the rank of captain before his honorable discharge.
That’s the official story.
The unofficial story is more difficult, more important, and changed Reichen’s life.
In his first autobiography “Here’s What We’ll Say: Growing Up, Coming Out, and the U.S. Air Force” (2006) , Reichen tells the tale of being a gay cadet at the Air Force Academy, living a secret life that didn’t remain a secret and the harsh reality of harassment based on sexual preference. Writing this book with total honesty was perhaps his finest moment.
But the bitch-goddess success never makes things easy. She exacts a terrible price from those who worship at her shrine and want another dose of addictive fame, success, and the love and admiration of people they will never meet.
That dose, for Reichen, came when he and his “spouse” Chip Arndt were selected for “The Amazing Race 4″ — and won…. a cool million the richer. Life wasn’t only good; it was idyllic. Youth, recognition, fans, money, love… it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Reichen was about to learn just how true that was.The bitch-goddess came with her I.O.U…and, as always, it was staggering.
He and Chip, the picture postcard perfect duo, split.
The money, easily acquired, was quickly dispersed, easy come, easy go.
Worst of all, Reichen, an officer and a gentleman by the act of Congress, a man of goals, deadlines, missions accepted, missions accomplished, now was at loose ends, careerless, without the structure successful people know is crucial to their achievements and emotional well-being. The Air Force Officer who once flew high wasn’t grounded anymore.
For immediate recognition, strip and show all.
Reichen was gifted by God and hard work with an eye-catching bod. Now he decided it could be his passport to greater glories… not to mention lots of dates. And so, no doubt after due deliberation, he decided to put that body, all of that body, on display. Someone should have reminded him of a scene from “Saturday Night Fever.” (1977). A character named Annette wants a relationship with John Travolta’s character Tony. But he warns her, “Good girl or slut,” you can only be one or the other.
Stripped, Reichen started his descent, one provocative image at a time, flexed, nude, the sex tiger…
He was buff, he was tan, he was chiseled, he was out-of-control.
And the bitch-goddess was grinning in the background… she was enjoying her work.
Every time you saw Reichen in the media, and Reichen sightings were frequent, he had less on, showed more beefcake and was with yet another, always younger guy friend. He made the West Hollywood party scene, where he party-hardied. There were the usual rumors of drugs and the usual frantic dissipations.
Then Reichen found love, or so he said. Lance Bass, younger, richer, celebrated (but dowdy), himself a former ‘N Sync band member wanted what Reichen had in spades… sex appeal to the max. Now there were endless Reichen and Lance sightings. For a while… then this relationship, too,tanked, so fast. It got ugly, it got messy, it got in the papers.
Now Reichen is shopping a new autobiography “It’ll Be Great Exposure.” On Twitter and Facebook, he says he’s dedicating this volume to “all who get fed this line.” In short, Reichen has become the “older but wiser boy”; or at least he says so.
The flesh is older now, though still alluring. It isn’t go much fun to do the party thing either. And it gets old, just ask him, being asked to strip and smile. He was after all an Air Force Officer, a order giving man of spit and polish, destined for more than an aging boy toy. Now he’s angling for a second chance, a reformation. Only the bitch-goddess success knows whether he can have it… If you don’t see him in the papers, unclad and oiled, perhaps he got it after all.
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About The Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at worldprofit.com and JeffreyLantArticles.com
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Author: Jeffrey LantThis author has published 572 articles so far. More info about the author is coming soon.