Before Leonardo DiCaprio, there was Leonardo Da Vinci. He was then and now even more swoon-worthy than the former. Everyone likes to think he was a scholarly man, immune to the more carnal charms of existence. But during Leo’s French years (which occurred in the latter part of his life), he was especially prone to succumbing to temptation–specifically the temptation to attempt heterosexuality so as to make peace with God before his death. At Clos Lucé, a small but by no means modest château in the town of Amboise, Da Vinci wasn’t just working, he was also experimenting at playing.
Around dusk, when his best ideas would start to evade him, Da Vinci would call upon his servant to inform him it was time to bring in the best of the brothel offerings. It always took forty-five minutes for them to arrive, which would often lead to Da Vinci’s loss of an erection. This made him so irate and yearning with impatience that he was prompted to invent a way for the prostitutes to fly to his house by creating an ornithopter, which sounds somehow more like the name of a sex toy than a flying machine.
The townspeople were outraged by the sight of them, these winged whores, like clockwork, flying over to Da Vinci’s at 5:30 each day. When formal complaints were made to King Francis I, who invited Da Vinci to Amboise in the first place and often had him over for dinner at the nearby Château d’Amboise, the monarch simply walked through the secret passageway to get to Da Vinci’s house and joined him that evening for an orgy followed by a light supper of goose (freshly killed from the garden) and figs, intermingled with fine wine. Francis went through the motions of telling him that maybe it would be best if the prostitutes reverted back to traveling to his house the normal way.
Da Vinci balked. “The word ‘revert’ is not in my vocabulary. We must always go forward Francis. Always.”
Francis knew it was inane to reason with a man who was himself the king of reason. So he wiped his mouth, smiled and said, “I’ve got to finish a painting I’ve been working on.”
Da Vinci looked at him sadly, knowing full well that Francis was the type of man who coveted the talent of artists, but would never himself be one. Still, his patronage was perhaps an art form unto itself, and Da Vinci couldn’t fault him for trying. He walked Francis back to the passageway and clapped his hands for the light to go on (yes, he was the original inventor of the clapper, named so in honor of a woman who he wanted to see bang her ass cheeks together more closely in the dim lighting of his bedroom).
And so, with Francis’ authority undermined, Da Vinci continued to have his ladies of the evening fly over. In the summer, they would dine and drink in the garden and, when Da Vinci felt ready, he would take one of them to the basement and supply them with his ancient seed. Indeed, later reports of a surge in mentally challenged births traced to around this prolific sexual period of Da Vinci’s are linked to the inventor. The irony, of course, would not be lost on him–a brilliant man spawning dull minds.
Da Vinci’s preoccupation with a sexual revolution was beginning to affect the quality of his output. His entire life had been devoted to work, and now, when he was finally giving in to the notion of just a little bit of pleasure, he felt that God was punishing him. What was he to do? Shirk the lures of the flesh altogether? That would be, to him, a type of reversion and he couldn’t do it. No, he would have to find a way to incorporate the whores into his work. Sure, he had done nudes before, then most recently with “Leda and the Swan,” but he had never showcased the reverence sex itself deserved. He was so accustomed to putting emphasis on the marvel of the human body, that he could never transcend to making his paintings about sex. It was to be his final contribution to the art world.
Da Vinci commenced painting his epically sized “Whores of Amboise” painting just over a year before his death. The women never charged him before, but now they didn’t even bother to collect money from any of their other clients because they were so busy posing on a constant basis. Sometimes Da Vinci would have his apprentice do sketches of him and his women mid-coitus for additional perspective as well.
On Da Vinci’s last day on earth, he had barely finished writing his signature on the painting upon being led to his deathbed by the gaggle of whores he had collected. A priest was summoned so that Da Vinci could give his confession and receive the Holy Sacrament that would make him clean enough to enter heaven. The priest never made eye contact with any of the women weeping over him and quickly left when Da Vinci’s soul passed into another realm.
The painting was given to Francis by the subjects in it. Francis knew instantly that it was Da Vinci’s best work, and that it would not only be deemed too outrageous by the rest of the world, but it would also be likely to unleash a pandemonium of debauchery that could never be undone. The mere sight of it even made Francis want to pull his pants down and masturbate, so what would everyone else in town–with so much less restraint than him–do upon seeing it? No, no. The painting had to be destroyed.
It was the hardest order Francis ever had to make in his royal career, proving his statement that his crown was often too heavy to bear. Worst of all, he had to stay to supervise the decimation, lest one of his perverse minions tried to steal it for himself.
Francis did his best to make it up to Da Vinci, providing him with a breathtaking mausoleum on the Château d’Amboise grounds, where he graciously allowed the prostitutes to come pay their respects to him daily, a tradition that would persist with their daughters and their granddaughters and so on and so forth–each generation more overcome with admiration than the last as they lay down next to his tomb wishing for a man as great as he to copulate with.