June 2, 2023


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Book Interview: Halvor Buck - Lost the Joy of Life

Book Interview: Halvor Buck – Lost the Joy of Life

Mom is the one who finds the note. Halvor’s handwriting is fixed on a sheet of paper, tucked under a plate and an empty milk glass on the bedside table at home in the boys’ room.

The note is hidden, but the message is clear:

“I don’t want to live anymore”

Halvor Bakke walks barefoot around the apartment in Frogner, a black pearl with a rooftop terrace and city view. Sitting on the Halvor Bakke sofa, he places a book on the Halvor Bakke coffee table and pours coffee from the Halvor Bakke pressure cooker. In the book “Meet Room” opens the door to life ups and downs.

– Perhaps I was 12-13 years old and mom and dad noticed that I was sad, but I could not put my thoughts into words: “Why do I not have any friends? Why am I not like the others?” In the end I just wanted to leave.

He adjusts his glasses. I think it’s hard to talk about the bad chapter in life. On TV, he creates harmony in other people’s homes. He had accumulated his own chaos long ago in his consciousness.

It was hard to find again what I just wanted to forget. I cried a lot.

“Oh! Femi!”

He grew up on the Bakke family farm in Brunlanes, a rural seaside community in Larvik. Green fields, white church spiers, salty sea and sweet strawberries. Parents who were always at home, and children on all the neighboring farms.

From the outside, it was poetic, but the elementary and high school years are the worst of my life.

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When the school bus stopped, he ran with his sister. But already on the bus he felt a lump in his stomach.

“Hey! Vemi! Is Assen Going?”

Comments hit like a needle. Little notes whispered as he passed by, screaming voices in the gym class. He felt different and unwanted.

It was a form of psychological bullying. I couldn’t talk about it when it was happening, and I almost can’t talk about it now.

While working on the book, he invited some of his old classmates home to talk about their school years.

– They became my time witnesses. Because when I had to write a book for the first time, this part of my life also had to be included.

burn in hell

How he went through these years is not known.

– It’s hard to understand now, I just stood there. This was the way my life was.

He grew up in the environment surrounding the Free Church. For a long time it was a good place to be, but when he realized that he loved boys, his relationship with the church fell apart.

loop stopped. He was probably fourteen years old. Halvor sits anxiously on the solid wooden bench in the church. He raises his hand hesitantly, and says he’s asking for a friend he thinks is gay. What will happen if he keeps his promise?

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The priest said it frankly: The boy will burn in Hell.

– I was scared scared. Because I didn’t ask for a friend, it was all about myself.

He did not tell those close to him that he was gay until the age of twenty-seven. He was so certain that he would be refused that he booked a plane ticket to Paris the next day.

– I decided it could bear or break, he says.

He and his family cried, but instead of rejecting him, he was met with care and love. Then the parents traveled around relatives and friends to tell them the news. In the days that followed, the trams at the farmhouse filled with home-baked goods and flowers, in sympathy for the Bakke family, who has a gay son.

– This is how care appears in the village. Being gay was a tragedy.

Church Time: Young people were tough.  Halvor Buck grew up in a liberal church society where gays are not looked down upon.  His father sat in the church elders.  Photo: Frank Carlsen

Church Time: Young people were tough. Halvor Buck grew up in a liberal church community where homosexuals are not considered kind. His father sat in the church elders. Photo: Frank Carlsen
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When he established himself in Oslo, he said he was visited by a devotee priest who wanted to heal him.

– He said that if I pray diligently I will be cured. It felt like an assault.

Big Love

In Oslo, he finally dared to be himself. He landed his dream job as a flight attendant at SAS, and was on the job when he met businessman Stein Erik Hagen in Svalbard. Soon, the billionaire and the hostess became a couple.

I had a great time with Eric Stein. It was my great love.

– Why weren’t you?

Eric Stein wanted to keep the relationship a secret, and that was the main reason I finally went. I finally came out of the closet and fell in love, and I wanted to scream as loudly as I could: Hey! Hey me! It was frustrating not to allow it.

Hagen previously said that the relationship became difficult, because he did not want to admit that he was gay. Almost not for himself, and at least not for the outside world.

– There were rumors lately that you two found your way back to each other again?

– Yes, but this is not true. We were just two friends on a boat trip.

The king of the interior

It was through “Homsepatruljen” that the Norwegian people got to know the prolific aristocratic boy. On the TV show, five gay men are tasked with helping heterosexual men with everything from appearance to interior design, the latter becoming Halvor Buck’s domain.

The program was a door opening, and Halvor Pack is today one of the country’s leading interior designers.

An apartment in Oslo is like a showroom for everything he sells. Dark, masculine walls and ceilings, furniture and accessories match the dark tones. The only things that are chalky white are his teeth and the outfit he wears all day.

– The apartment does not get a meter larger if it is painted white, I am trying to convince the Norwegian people of that.

He laughs and says his products are sold for a staggering 400 million annually.


A picture of Manhattan fills one wall, and on another hangs a huge picture of a naked man.

– After all, there are two men living here. Many people think that the photo is of Julian, but it is not.

Julian Bjornarm laughs as he sits down and follows him at the dining room table. Recently appointed as brand manager, he is practically Halvor Bakke’s right-hand man when agreements are nailed and concepts are developed. They own the apartment in Frogner together, and they recently purchased a property in Cape Town together.

Collaborators: Julian Bjornarm and Halvor Buck live together and are best friends.  Photo: Frank Carlsen

Collaborators: Julian Bjornarm and Halvor Buck live together and are best friends. Photo: Frank Carlsen
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– I’m about to ask: Are you a married couple?

No, we are not lovers. But we are very close friends, and we do most things together. After Julian came into my life, everything is flowing better.

Have you given up on chasing the man of your dreams?

Twoness is beautiful, but there are two more ways than traditional love. Having a best friend like Julian is great too.

I lost the joy of life

Autumn three years ago was full of lead. There was high pace and pressure from all sides, and one November day it was just too much. Halvor Buck hit the wall hard. For several weeks, he spent his days under a fleece blanket on the couch, completely drained of energy. He hardly ate, did not speak, only cried.

– If it weren’t for the GP and my family, I don’t think I would have survived.

It is believed that it was a difficult stress of time that led to the interruption, as it also happened when he was a boy in his house on a farm in Larvik.

– It feels so awful. For the second time in my life I felt like life might end.

– Were you afraid of yourself?

– Yes, I thought there was an alternative to living. I lost my enthusiasm for life.

The doctor gave him antidepressants, but the drugs made him overdo it. Was this supposed to be life from now on?

– I was afraid I wouldn’t be happy again.

Success Factor: Halvor Bakke has become one of the nation's top interior designers.  Photo: Frank Carlsen

Success Factor: Halvor Bakke has become one of the nation’s top interior designers. Photo: Frank Carlsen
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New tools

The run up to Christmas that year was tough. But in the new year the happy Halvor outweighed the dark year.

Halvor shows the way to the rooftop terrace.

– a look! There is one of my lamps hanging!

He points to an apartment across the road, where a dark pendant light hangs in the window.

– Are you afraid that it will be dark again?

– No, because now I have taken some measures. I hired Julian and my psychologist gave me some great tools.

He laughs.

– I’m not afraid anymore.