The Last Playboy: The High Life of Porfirio Rubirosa by Shawn Levy - review by Nicholas Haslam

Nicholas Haslam

Hey, Good-Looking

The Last Playboy: The High Life of Porfirio Rubirosa


Fourth Estate 356pp £12.99

All right, all right, I know. I know what you’re dying to know. How big was it? Well, Shawn Levy doesn’t give the answer precisely in feet and inches, but quotes several ladies and one or two gents who were quite literally gobsmacked when the custom-made, palest-blue, monogrammed Sulka boxer shorts came off. One wife, Doris Duke, compared it to ‘the last foot of a baseball bat’; another wrote that Rubi was ‘grotesquely proportioned’, and that it ‘could have been a carnival attraction’. Truman Capote made a sighing stab at sizes, while Jerome Zerbe, more accustomed to photographing the members of El Morocco, described it as ‘Yul Brynner in a black turtleneck’.

I mention this somewhat indelicate subject first because I imagine it’s about the only thing people now associate with Porfirio Rubirosa. This riveting, often very funny book should put paid to that, as it focuses not only on the breathtakingly bold materialist manoeuvres of this sensationally attractive man (‘fair-skinned enough

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