Hydra in early 1970s: Disco, Orgies & “Weekly Poker Games With Regular Attendance By Leonard Cohen”


Hydra had its heyday, and people talk about it with an almost tragic nostalgia. Victoria Zevgolis now has a gravelly voice, but in the early 70s she was a young woman in Hydra, when the real decadence was just starting up. She came to the island on a whim and fell into the circle of Alexi Bolens, a superbly handsome retired diamond smuggler and mercenary whose fortune waned and waxed with his gambling luck. It was said he smuggled arms, but Zevgolis never believed it.

In his Hydra circle-an ever-changing mix of industrialists, artists, models, and assorted royalty-you lived a variation of the high life. Zevgolis remembers getting up shortly before noon, wandering down to the port with a dozen or so friends to hire a sea taxi to a deserted beach for the afternoon, away from the tourists. They rarely wore bathing suits. Back at the harbor by 4 p.m. to buy yogurt from the nuns who had hiked down from the mountain convent, Victoria et al would sit in a cafe, eat their yogurt, and drink ice tea. Then they’d take a swim in Alexi’s pool (which he won in a poker game) to wash off the salt water and go take a nap. In the evening there would be drinks, followed by dinner for at least a dozen around the table, “and then the big decision was, would we put in an appearance at the disco. You’d never dare to show your face before 2 a.m.” If you did go, the evening would wind down around 6 a.m. with warm milk in a port cafe.

There were orgies (“although we didn’t call them that; we called them ‘partout,'” says Zevgolis), and then there were weekly poker games with regular attendance by musician Leonard Cohen and artists Brice Marden.

Excerpted from Hydra’s Uncertain Turn from Cosmopolitanism to Solitude (Odyssey: Issue #43, September/October 2000) posted February 10, 2007 at Hydraecoloists:

Ira Nadel in Various Positions also reports Cohen (as well as George Johnston and other artists) playing in the “legendary poker games” organized by Alexis Bolens, “a wealthy Swiss bon vivant.”

Video: Victoria Zevgolis & Charmaine Dunn Visit Four Corners & Leonard Cohen’s House Hydra: September, 2005

Victoria Zevgolis is featured in the excerpt above. Charmaine Dunn is the daughter of Ann Dunn who founded Matador, the Toronto club where Leonard Cohen hung out and where the official video for “Closing Time” was filmed.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Herbert Ortner, Vienna, Austria (own image, scan from slide) [GFDL, CC BY 3.0 or CC BY 3.0 at], via Wikimedia Commons

Note: Originally posted Aug 23, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Hydra Stealth Bench

bench2As many Cohenites know, the proposed Leonard Cohen Hydra bench project, undertaken in commemoration of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s 80th birthday, has been placed on hold due to objections from a local homeowner. Now, however, Russian Intelligence (in the person of Roman Gavrilin aka Hermitage Prisoner) reports from Hydra that recently arrived Dutch and Irish agents have surreptitiously deployed this stealth bench, constructed of exotic materials and embedded with sophisticated cloaking technology to create the illusion to the naked eye and in photographs that the massive facility is little more than a board and a couple of stones.

Update: See Leonard Cohen Hydra Stealth Bench – Report #2


Continue Reading →

Leonard Cohen’s Finest Memory Of Hydra: “Just that feeling of being grown up, with somebody beautiful that you’re happy to be beside and all the world is in front of you.”

What is your finest memory from Greece, from Hydra?

I remember Marianne and I were in a hotel in Piraeus, some inexpensive hotel and we were both about 25, and we had to catch the boat back to Hydra, and we got up and I guess we had a cup of coffee or something and got a taxi, and I’ve never forgotten this. Nothing happened, just sitting in the back of the taxi with Marianne, I lit a cigarette, a Greek cigarette that had that delicious deep flavor of a Greek cigarette, that has a lot of Turkish tobacco in it, and I’m thinking, I’m an adult. You know. I have a life of my own, I’m an adult, I’m with this beautiful woman, we have a little money in our pocket, we’re going back to Hydra, we’re passing these painted walls. That feeling I think I’ve tried to recreate it hundreds of times unsuccessfully. Just that feeling of being grown up, with somebody beautiful that you’re happy to be beside and all the world is in front of you.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From  Interview with Leonard Cohen by Kari Hesthamar, Los Angeles, 2005 for Norwegian Radio. Accessed 12 June 2015 at LeonardCohenFiles

In Situ Signs Of Leonard Cohen At Hydra Harbor: Leonard Cohen Tribute – Hydra June 13, 2015

poster3About the Tribute:

The Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 21.30 Hydra celebrates the great artist Leonard Cohen with an event taking place at the Port. The event was organized by the Municipality of Hydra in celebration of Miaouleia 2015 in collaboration with the Canadian Embassy and international clubs Friends of Leonard Cohen.

Excerpt via Google Translate from Η Ύδρα τιμά τον Leonard Cohen by Spilios Spiliotis (Hydra News: June 5, 2015)

Credit Due Department: Thanks to Peter Torbijn of the Netherlands, who took these photos, and to his son Lennard Torbijn, who forwarded them our way.


The online version of the poster can be viewed below: