Jason Lake: Our house was a hotbed of drugs and orgies
Jason Dors-Lake reveals truth about childhood in new book Connecting Dors: The Legacy Of Diana Dors
Jason ’s bedroom was filled with toys, he was denied almost nothing and was constantly fussed over by his parents’ famous friends – from Hollywood star Gregory Peck to associates of the Kray twins.
After two disastrous marriages to controlling men who were only too willing to live off her fame and considerable income, Diana met the love of her life in her late 30s.
Alan Lake, nine years her junior, was different. He had a flourishing career and she could depend on him to earn enough to support the family. For much of Jason’s childhood his parents managed to make sure one of them was at home with their much-loved son.
The problem was that although Jason had been born in 1969 at the very end of the swinging Sixties, neither of his parents were inclined to curb their party lifestyle. Alan, when left alone with Jason, would often push his pram to the pub and, when the toddler got restless, slip a little champagne into his bottle.
A s for his mother, her fame was built on the full figure and smouldering sexuality that she had been exploiting since she was herself a spoiled only child in Swindon, entering beauty contests with the encouragement of her adoring mother.
Many of the rooms at the Berkshire family home Orchard Manor were fitted with spy cameras and two-way mirrors. Starlets who came to Diana’s legendary parties were encouraged to seduce famous guests and it was said Diana enjoyed reviewing the filmed highlights.
Bob Monkhouse, one of her most enthusiastic regular guests, later commented: “The problem with going to an orgy is that one is never quite sure who to thank.”
Jason can recall waking late one night and finding his father hosting a drugs party with friends, one of whom was Andrew Ray, a close pal of the infamous Krays. “I want a funny candy too,” Jason said as he saw something that looked like a giant white jelly bean being handed round and everyone who put their nose to it laughing like a drain.
“Let the lad have some fun,” shouted Ray. “Here, take a sniff of this,” he said, breaking open the jelly bean to release a white smoke. Jason recalls laughing until his tummy ached. He still isn’t sure what it was but is certain it shouldn’t have been given to a five-year-old.
His parents seemed oblivious to the dangers to which they were exposing their son. On a visit to America to stay with his two teenage half-brothers in the Los Angeles house his mother had rented , he found his father smoking cannabis from a water pipe with Mark, then 19, and Gary, 17, the children from Diana’s marriage to Hogan’s Heroes actor Richard Dawson. Jason had learned from an early age that if he pestered long enough, his parents would eventually give him what he wanted. He demanded to join in and persisted until his father agreed. He was nine.
Diana knew what was going on but was reluctant to rock the boat. Her ex-husband had won custody of the two older boys when she divorced him to be with Alan and since for once she had all her boys together, she wanted no friction.
The cannabis sessions continued whenever Jason was home from boarding school and he became an expert spliff-roller for his father and for Gary who was then living at Orchard Manor . When Diana did voice concerns Alan simply said: “Better he does it among friends rather than strangers.”
In Connecting Dors, the book of Diana’s life and Jason’s childhood, he tells of a celebrity upbringing in which he never doubted he was loved but in which he also came to imagine that hosting a drug-fuelled orgy several times a month was what all parents did. ‘‘I thought it was all fairly normal. I thought everyone behaved like that at parties.”
Quite how things would have worked out had his parents lived to old age, Jason will never know because life at Orchard Manor came to a sudden and tragic halt.
The family’s happiness had already been blighted by Alan’s alcoholism but then his mother became ill. Diana died from ovarian cancer in 1984 at the age of 53. Five months later his grief-stricken father, unable to cope without her, shot himself while Jason was at school.
The only adult relatives Jason had left were his half-brothers now back in America. Within days of burying his father, closely watched by the world’s press and refusing to shed a tear for the cameras, he went to live with Gary, then only 22, and embarked on an aimless journey into adulthood.
He became a father when he was 22 but abandoned the mother and child shortly after . He was overtaken by addiction and alcoholism and even made a drug-fuelled suicide attempt by jumping off a girlfriend’s third-floor balcony.
Now 43 he lives a quiet life on the Kent coast surrounded by a small group of friends. He attends regular Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and is trying to turn his life around.
Diana Dors built her career on smouldering sexuality and privately her parties were equally racy
I thought it was all fairly normal. I thought everyone behaved like that at parties
He has built a relationship with his daughter and sees her regularly. He has acquired the rights to his mother’s estate and created a small business selling Diana Dors merchandise to her many loyal fans . He is also trying to revive the musical talent his mother once hoped would provide him with a future.
The friend who wrote his story for him, Niema Ash, recalls a rare outburst of grief from him over the death of a pet bird he had raised by hand after it fell out of its nest. “Everything dies on me,” Jason told her. “Everything leaves me. My mother died, my father died.”
She believes it was possibly the first time he had ever been able to mourn the loss of his parents. Even at his father’s funeral, the 14-year-old Jason had only been able to mutter “I love you” into the grave, hoping no one would hear.
It took weeks of mourning for his dead chick before he told Niema: “It’s okay. I’ve stopped crying now.” He was almost 40 years old. It had taken him more than a quarter of a century to cry for his lost parents.
Connecting Dors: The Legacy Of Diana Dors by Niema Ash, Purple Inc Press, £14.99. To buy this book directly from the author with autograph and dedication, visit www.niemaash.com