Friday, October 3, 2008

Paris by Schulenberg

To Robert, your work is truly wonderful! — Robert Freiman, Paris '63.
1963. The story that goes with the drawing of Robert Freiman is either funny or sad, depending. He was an American artists – profoundly deaf, he couldn’t hear anything at all!

I was having a late supper with Loes Hamel, the Dutch Cardin model, at chi-chi old Chez Castel, and Robert sat down to visit with us. He could read lips but that was all.

Then Genevieve (Mme Jacques) Fath (wife of the French couturier) came in with three others – including her young Turkish lover – and everyone said hello. Robert started drawing her portrait and then asked her to sign it – which she did. She handed it back to him and he then took it and tore it up.

She asked him how she’d offended him, and he turned his back cutting off any hope of communication! So she asked me to ask him, which I did; and he turned his back on me too.

Genevieve became LIVID! She shrieked about having never been so insulted in her life! And by “these strangers/ foreigners!” and she and her party stomped out.

A short time later, Jean-Marie Riviere, the manager came upstairs and said to Robert, “Monsieur, I must ask you to leave.” And since Robert’s back was turned, he totally ignored Jean-Marie. After repeatedly requesting Robert to leave, Jean-Marie then lifted Robert bodily from the banquette.

Have you ever heard the screams of a person who is profoundly deaf?
Au Flore 3-2-63.
And across the room and around us were people like Catherine Deneuve, Marcel Carne, Francoise Sagan, the Maharani of Baroda and her gay obnoxious son “Princey” who died young – suicide or murder – throat slashed; a high profile audience.

Jean-Marie hustled Robert downstairs from where were heard a LOT of noise. He – Jean-Marie – then came back up and said, “Bob can you come downstairs and help us?” I said, “bien sur,” and said to Loes, joking, that it’d “probably end up being my fault.”

When I got downstairs, Genevieve tore into me – screaming that she knew this “dear talented man” (Freiman) and “Monsieur (me) – Je VOUS ne connais pas!” (I don’t know YOU!). And they all stomped out with Robert while he, with that deaf accent kept repeating: “All friends, all friends!” En anglais yet.

So I went back upstairs to Loes and said, “I was right – it was all my fault!”

Then Jean-Marie came back up and sat with us, apologizing to me and saying over and over “I didn’t know he was deaf!” Dinner was on the house that night.
28 Jan 63.
Later, I heard that Robert had tricked with the Turk and thought that Genevieve had teased him about it.

At the Cafe Flore the next day, I ran into Nicholas Vogel (who was a DeBrunhoff; whose mother, Colette was the first Editor of Vogue Francais, sister of Michel de Brunhoff, another editor of Vogue, wife of Lucien Vogel, founder of Le Gazette du Bon, who worked with Poiret and did the Diaghilev programs.

Anyway, Nicholas and the actor Michel Audair (“Beauty and the Beast” – Cocteau) were having coffee and asked me to join them. When I did, the first thing they asked was if I’d heard about the previous evening’s “riot” at Chez Castel? I told them that I WAS the riot from the previous evening at Chez Castel. It was the talk of Paris.

A few weeks later I met Helen Rochas and her daughter for lunch at Chez Maxim, and the other luncheon guests was Genevieve Fath, of course one of Helen’s best friends – the two were mannequins who married the boss.

Karl Lagerfeld later told me he’d been at a resort where Robert Freiman was also a guest, and that Robert woke up the whole place while he was having sex. (Have you ever heard the screams of a person who is profoundly deaf?).
Au Flore 1-9-63. Café Rue Boileau, Le Molitor, 31-1-63, 5:00 PM.
Café, Rue De Val De Grâce, 1-30-63. Café, Rue Des Petits Champs, 3-2-63.
Chez Colette de Jouvenel, 28-1-63. Hôtel Beaujolais, Palais Royal, 3-2-63.

Click here for NYSD Contents