Thursday, August 11, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part LXXII

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

Con't ... New York, 1966. After our afternoon shooting at The Raided Premise discotheque sequence at Arthur, we spent that night celebrating at Bobby Goldstein's (today, to avoid confusion it's "Bobb Goldsteinn") "Lightworks," the private discotheque he'd set up in his large loft near the Hudson River on Christopher Street.
He had had success having written a song, "Washington Square," that even became popular in Paris while I was living there. It was a worldwide hit!

I'd first heard it played at a club in Montmartre and told a French friend that it was adapted from an old American folk song updated to the 1960s. It wasn't until I returned to New York that I learned Bobby had written it with David Shire and produced it!

His light and music disco creation was the first time that ANYONE had combined theatrical effects of synchronized lighting, ultraviolet lights, smoke, strobe effects, and psychedelic projections to music for dancing.
There were even assistants moving among the dancers showing ancient pornographic films, home movies and silent comedies with 8 millimeter movie projectors attached by harnesses to their shoulders! These were projected onto the clothing of the dancing guests.

Some progressive artists at the end of the 19th century had played with lights and music but never as completely and environmentally as Bobby!

Loie Fuller was one, an American dancer who captivated Paris at the beginning of the 20th Century with her inventive choreography which incorporated theatrical colored lights, many effects of which she herself invented.
Loie Fuller in a Folies Bergères poster by Cheret and a painting by Toulouse Lautrec.
Lights were embedded in the floor of Bobby's loft and would unexpectedly flash in time to some of the rhythms of the recorded music! Writer Albert Goldman enjoyed the experience and referring to it, invented the term "multimedia!"

Andy Warhol and Paul Morrisey ripped off Bobby's idea and an old Polish dance hall, the Dom, on St. Mark's Place, became The Electric Circus. But it was never as realized as Bob's even though they appropriated all of his inventions! Even the home movies!

Bobby called his place "the Lightworks" and his control center "The Tower of Power." He should've copyrighted the names but I don't think he did — and both names were eventually co-opted by Helena Rubinstein Cosmetics' "Lightworks" and other commercial businesses.
Dancing at "Bob Goldstein's Lightworks."
One Christmas he transformed Henri Bendel's first floor into an elaborate light show, the apotheosis of his "Lightworks." Journalists called it "Christmatheque!"

After our "Raided Premise" sequence we had to prepare the next weekend for the sequence of Jane meeting her mother for lunch at the legendary Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel.

James Brady
But the Monday after our Saturday at Arthur, I was thrilled and surprised to see that Women's Wear Daily had given us their prime double page spread, an article with drawings by one of their star artists, Jack Geisinger.

My old Paris collaborator James Brady had been made the publisher of Women's Wear Daily and I told him that we were making a movie and using Arthur as a location.

I asked if he could send someone to possibly write about us. With Brady, Women's Wear Daily had become a crossover publication documenting the dynamic new lifestyle of the '60s, expanding its subject from the world of women's clothing! He subsequently developed the idea of W magazine. Even though the article about us making our movie wasn't much help, it encouraged us to keep going with renewed enthusiasm!

So I started inviting people again to a "Picnic At The Plaza" encouraging them to pack something to eat or drink and they'd be in a movie!
It took forever to light the vast space of the Palm Court and before long, everyone had eaten whatever they'd brought and were wondering how long into the night they'd have to be there!

Tom and Dale Krumwiede had brought their young sons, Adam and Mark, and it was getting way past their bedtime!
Paul made the rounds, visiting with people and attempting to distract them from the perception that nothing appeared to be progressing.
Johnny Meyer entertained by playing the piano, I played the piano, and finally, after we'd run out of options, we were ready to shoot something.

We shot the master shot first so that the people who'd been so patiently waiting could go home. It was around 10:00 p.m. and they'd been there for hours.
There was one couple who brought a bottle of whiskey. Watching the movie, it's amusing to see them in the background as they become increasingly tipsy. The scenes weren't shot in sequence so they appear to be in quiet conversation, then raucously laughing, then sober reflection again and on and on.
Finally it was over and the next weekend we shot the Secret theater itself. We used the York Theater on the Upper East Side and to get a "secret" audience we invited the guests from Arthur and showed the footage we'd shot of the discotheque sequence there.

When I saw the footage, I realized to my dismay that our cinematographer Fred Wellington hadn't photographed any of the gorgeous models I'd enticed to be there but had photographed friends of his and other people who were rather ordinarily dressed. The contrast between the "Beautiful People," our "in crowd" and Jane's drab ordinariness was not readily apparent.

During the following week I borrowed Fred's movie camera and in the Krumwiede's apartment shot close-up reaction shots of "beautiful people" reacting to Jane's entrance to the club.
Dale Krumwiede had a wonderful mod-style mini dress to which she and husband Tom had hand sewn 6000 spangles (they said). I shot an extreme closeup of Dale wearing it while dancing and my very handsome friend, Gary Van Kirk, wearing a mod English suit he'd worn in a photograph in LIFE magazine in an article on the "new English fashions." He was on page 82a and Mara, my girlfriend, always referred to him as "Gary 82a!"
I glued metallic paper to Dale's eyelids, added false eyelashes, gave Fred Wellington's wife Margo the false eyelash treatment, a glass of 7 Up-champagne and a bit of fur, and photographed closeups of them all — our "in crowd!"

Every frame I shot was used in the final cut!

And at the York Theater as they exited our Arthur/Raided Premise screening, we photographed them as the audience leaving a screening of "the Secret Cinema!"
"Jane" (Amy Vane) goes unnoticed by the "In Crowd" audience as "Mr. Troppogrosso" (Buddy Felio), Jane's traitorous friend "Helen" (Connie Ellison), Jane's boyfriend "Dick" (Philip Carlson), and even her mother Estelle Omens. Everyone in Jane's life were audience members of The Secret Cinema!
Even me and Mara!
And poor Jane, the brunt of it all. We'd built the separating wall, one of our major expenses!
The young man in the middle is Maurice Jacobs, our man from KUKU FURS who'd arranged for us to have all the fur coats for the film. Paul named him "Maurice Kuku!"
And Fred Wellington captured it all.
The next morning, just after dawn, we went up to the west side on Broadway and shot Jane's morning — after The Raided Premise discotheque humiliation.

Just Fred, me, Amy, and Paul — too early on a Sunday morning — but at least it wasn't raining. The only weekend it didn't! The Movie Gods smiled on us.
I'm making up Amy to look wasted.
Finally we are setting up the shot!
And shooting it!
After, we went for breakfast.
For Jane's psychiatrist's office, we used my dentist, Arthur Phillips' office.
He introduced me to painless dentistry by using laughing gas and I introduced him to painful movie-making! I actually looked forward to appointments with him and more than once had transcendental insights while getting a tooth filled. He was the best dentist I've ever had!

For the last we see of Jane — her fate — we used our UCLA friend, my closest friend, Bob Stone's photo studio!
And then, all that was left to do was edit it.

And figure out how to promote it to make it all worth it!
Contact Bob here.
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