17 September 1996
Oscar Moore, who has died aged 36 from an Aids-related illness, was a journalist and novelist who wrote a column, PWA (Person With Aids), for the Weekend Guardian during the last three years of his life.
Born in Barnet, his father was a technical author while his mother, the daughter of a Dutch artist, was a housewife. He was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's School for Boys, in Hertfordshire, where he emerged as a flamboyant and witty character with an interest in drama. While he was an object of heart-flutterings for girls in Haberdashers' twin school, he discovered that he was gay.
Moore read English at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and whereas he enjoyed the hedonistic side of university life, he could often be found in the university library first thing in the morning while other inveterate partygoers lingered in their beds. He knew that he wanted to be a writer and made several efforts at stage drama. One production - a revue, Happy, Happy - was taken to the Edinburgh Festival.
In his late teens, he divided his time between studying for his A levels and Oxbridge and exploring the adult world of rent-boys in London. Such activity put improbable amounts of cash in his pocket and gave him a worldly air that his fellows lacked.
Many of his Cambridge contemporaries knew about these exploits and regarded them as exotic and amusing, though it was undoubtedly hard for his parents to discover, in a single swoop, his homosexuality, his past career as a male prostitute, and the diagnosis of his HIV status, when the paperback of his largely autobiographical novel, A Matter of Life and Sex, was published in 1992. (The hardback had been published the year before under a pseudonym.)
After graduation, Moore supplemented his income from teaching English as a foreign language with occasional drama criticism for Plays and Players and Time Out and by working for male escort agencies: he once found that he had been hired for the evening by Russell Harty's boyfriend as a birthday present for the TV personality.
He found more conventional employment, however, as a journalist specialising in the film and television industry. He was editor for a few years of a monthly trade magazine, The Business of Film. It seemed an unlikely direction for him to take, since his interest in films was primarily aesthetic, but he none the less steadily acquired an impressive knowledge of the industry, and in 1990 he was recruited to be deputy editor of Screen International. Thirteen months later he became editor and presided over the magazine for the next three years.
Moore was diagnosed with HIV in 1987 and in 1993 he developed full-blown Aids. Soon afterwards he began writing his monthly PWA column. He brought an unflinching critical eye as well as an irrepressible sense of humour to his plight, completing a couple of dozen columns over a 34-month period. The only break was for three months, ironically when he felt too well rather than too ill - he was not comfortable with pontification and needed something to report. He loved writing the column and especially appreciated the mail he received, not only from Aids sufferers but also from other people in difficult circumstances who found his attitude inspirational.
Two years ago he nearly died when his weight fell to eight stone, but he somehow clawed his way back to health. He exercised regularly in a gym and twice a week he swam 40 lengths. One friend recalls visiting him during a hospital stay and finding him doing press-ups while attached to various drips.
Moore forced himself to eat normally, despite a lack of appetite and the loss of his sense of smell and taste, and he was always fully informed about new drug therapies. Indeed, the intensity with which he clung on to life was similar to the intensity with which he had earlier experimented with sex and drugs.
Right up until the last, Screen International continued to pay him as a consultant, though Moore scorned sympathy and earned his salary by working on special projects, particularly electronic publishing.
In the final stretch, he became increasingly preoccupied with the sheer struggle to keep his body alive. He lost his sight in one eye, then in 1995 the retina of his other eye became detached. Although practically blind towards the end he was still seeking treatment for his eyes once a week in Oxford.
Moore possessed a wide circle of female as well as male friends, though not the kind who are stereotypically attracted to camp homosexuals. He could "do" camp, but that was not his persona: there was an underlying seriousness and self-will which complemented his exuberance and sensitivity.
He is survived by his parents, two sisters, and his partner, Jorge, a cinematographer. Oscar had met Jorge a little over three years ago and in the opinion of close friends had truly fallen in love for the first time.
Oscar Michael Moore, journalist, born March 23, 1960; died September 12, 1996
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