Thursday, October 27, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: London, Part LXXXIII

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

London, November 1966, con't.
After one last visit to a pub, we left London and flew to Amsterdam.

At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport there was a snow storm so violent that it took three attempts circling the field to land at which time every passenger applauded the pilot with wild cheers!

We'd made it!
We checked into The Americain Hotel, a place familiar to me from previous visits. It was a popular rendezvous and hangout for my Dutch friends, Loes Hamel, Ramses Shaffy and the others I'd met during my times there.
I was always invited to stay at Ramses' large house next to a canal and it was during the winter when I'd come from Paris — the days were short and everyone I met was involved with theater. Ramses even had his own, the Shaffy Chantant, and somehow every night was an All-Night party. Whatever was left of the day and after the last curtain had come down we'd begin and no matter how I planned it was always too late to visit one of the great museums!
Ramses Shaffy, ca. 1965
There were a lot of 24-hour clubs however and I became familiar with all of them!
Loes Hamel.
So here I was. Back again in Amsterdam.

And again it was past museum hours so we were invited to visit the clubs.
It was like Carnival! I had the feeling that it was the first time that Amy and Burt had ever experienced anything like this. Paul had lived in Rome so nothing could faze him!
We were only in Amsterdam for two days so there wasn't much time for anything after seeing friends.
Amy at lunch.
And finally a last visit and preparations for the next day: Paris!
Back in our hotel suite, we decided to get organized and Burt, having been the production manager of THE SECRET CINEMA took care of everything we needed to ease our way into France.
As we arrived and passed through customs with Burt taking care of everything, I realized that this delegation of responsibility had caused me to absentmindedly pack my passport in my suitcase!

As Amy, Burt and Paul showed theirs I wondered frantically if mine really was in my luggage!

Suddenly I was surrounded and being questioned by Interpol agents. They asked if I was an American why was I fluent in French? For the first time I regretted that I'd worked so hard to lose any trace of an American accent! Amy, Burt and Paul stood and watched encouraging with fixed (if glazed) smiles as I tried to look calm and assured as I opened my suitcase to find my (let-it-be-there!) passport!
Once in Paris we checked into the Hôtel de Danube in Saint Germain des près, my old neighborhood, and I called my UCLA fraternity brother Herb DeLey who (with his wife Margot) was living nearby.

We met them at my old home-away-from-home, the Cafe de Flore.
Herb DeLey, Amy, and Margot DeLey.
Afterwards we met with my close friend, Edith Moyal, and Fiametta Ortega. Edith would later marry Pierre Cottrell who'd go on to produce the films of Eric Rohmer!
Pierre with Jack Nicholson and friend.
Edith and Fiametta.
We went to Chez Castel and it was as if I'd never left!
Again, it was Carnival Time in full swing! In the downstairs discotheque a woman came dancing over and gave me a hug. I had no idea who it was until "she" told me.

It was Jacques Iskander, the longtime secretary of Chanel! Years before, while talking with him in the Chanel boutique entrance I'd noticed an older woman in the distance striding vigorously down the rue Cambon wearing a complete Chanel outfit — raincoat and all.

As she came closer I recognized that it was in fact Chanel herself!

There she was and Jacques introduced us. With a very firm handshake all she said was, "Monsieur!" and then to Jacquie, "au travail!" ("To work!")

And here, two years later, was Jacques in drag at Castel's!
Amy and Burt and were getting an abbreviated version of what my life in Paris had been! Paul had gone to Rome.
The next day, lunch.
And I went back to the Flore to visit my old friend, Madame Mollet, the all-powerful cashier who ruled the roost!
Still a great place to people watch.
And meeting with my old friend photographer Philippe Billère at my favorite restaurant when I lived in Montparnasse, La Coupole! I was beginning to worry that I wouldn't be able to leave Paris again.

After all, in 1962 I thought I'd be in Paris for a month.

But instead, a whole new life had opened for me, a life unimaginably wider than I could've hoped for!
And the next night I got to see Lola Mouloudji whom I'd met my third day in France at l'Hôtel du Cap-Eden Roc. We went to La Coupole again.

From my first days in Paris Lola let me use her home/office address, 368 rue Saint Honoré (near the Place Vendôme and the Ritz Hotel) and included me in so much of her life!

Through her I met people I'd only read about, Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of Dada, Roman Polanski, who'd become a lifelong friend, and even Jean Genet! Then there were the movie people, Philippe Noiret, Emanuelle Riva — even Roger Vadim!
Lola changed my life!

She said that I made drawing look so easy; she wanted to draw me!
She decided it wasn't as easy as it looked.
The rest of my time was spent in a way similar to when I was living in Paris.
With Margot and Herb DeLey.
Paul had gone off to Rome and Burt and Amy were doing their own sightseeing as I was seeing old friends.
Finally, through my friend Ben Holt, who was the head of Public Relations for PanAm, he surprised us, upgraded us to first class and a car was sent to take us to our flight back to New York.
PanAm's Eve Granger is wearing a SECRET CINEMA button!
I'd received word from Paul that he was returning to New York from Rome and for us to check with the London Film Festival's Richard Roud to see if there were any distributors interested in THE SECRET CINEMA; sad to say, there weren't any.
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