Friday, October 6, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXXX

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

A friend introduced me to Howard Blechman,
a young industrial designer who lived near me on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He was very friendly and sociable and one afternoon invited me over for drinks.

He had frequent very casual late afternoon at homes where friends gathered to unwind and chat after their workdays.  I would begin working at night when there were fewer distractions and the night felt timeless and infinite — perfect for completing my deadline assignments!

The idea of knowing someone in my neighborhood who was witty and a generous host was a wonderful way to alleviate the solitude of my workload which was becoming very busy and I was happy to note, regular with work for National advertising campaigns, magazines and LPs.

And Howard had a large music library with a great sound system!
The next day I met Pema, my illustration rep midtown where she wanted to introduce me to some art directors at Grey Advertising where she had previously worked.

I met her at Best’s Department Store where there were her favorite public telephone booths. She carried quantities of loose change for the phones and called the booths her office!
As aforementioned, I was working regularly with good assignments for national magazines, advertising campaigns and LPs.  
Some weeks I’d have a deadline a day!
I enjoyed it and was thrilled to be getting well paid for something I enjoyed doing!

I met my friends, Janet and Bernard Bossom for dinner;  they were always fun to be with and reminded me that there was still a big, attractive world out there while I was squirreled away working.
The next day I met Paul Bartel at the L&H (German) Restaurant/Bakery on Second Avenue near my apartment.  
Paul had arranged for The Secret Cinema to be booked into Tambellini’s Gate downtown with another independent film by a young unknown filmmaker.

His film had a similarly sinister theme dealing with movies and Paul felt (correctly) that the two films together would make a compatible program.  The other film was Murder à la Mod and the young unknown director was Brian De Palma!
I went with Annie Rieger to visit her friends, Bill and Carole Castagnoli.
And a few days later, I had a coffee date with Susie Slocum.
Again, it was a welcome interlude before going home to work. We ended up having a quick dinner at the neighborhood Burg-a-Cue.
I dropped by Howard Blechman’s apartment again and met another friend of his, Harry Lutrin.
The next night I met my old Dutch friend Maurice Hogenboom and Caterine Milinaire for dinner at Elaine’s with their friends Caroline Kennedy and Joe Wemple. I’d first known Maurice in Paris and now he was living with Caterine in New York.  She was working with Vogue magazine and Maurice was busy working as a photographer. He and Caterine frequently did marvelous projects together once documenting a long trip on the Orient Express!

They’d also come to Arthur for our Secret Cinema disco sequence but didn’t end up being seen in the movie!
Joe Wemple, Maurice Hogenboom, Caroline Kennedy, and Caterine Milinaire at dinner.
Later, we were joined by Richard and Luba (Rudenko) Marks. They had started the very successful fashion firm, Elite Juniors, after Luba had had an amazing career as a ballerina soloist with les Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo!  She’d even been drawn by Matisse!

She introduced pants suits before Yves St. Laurent and just that year, 1968, had won the very prestigious Coty Award for womenswear! What was more, she was funny with a great sense of humor!
The next afternoon I took Paul to Howard’s apartment.  It was becoming a kind of ritual.
Annie Rieger was another person who was relaxing and fun to be with.  The war and protests were making relaxed, fun friendships more important than ever!
I met Mary-Robin Redd for lunch at Daly’s Dandelion.
After leaving Robin I went downtown to visit my old friend, actor Tom Lacy in his fantasy jewel box Village apartment.
The next night, Brian De Palma was shooting another independent movie and he invited me to be in it.  He was shooting in the elegant apartment of his friend and producer, Chuck Hirsch’s mother. Brian told me that I was to be the host of a party in the film.

Knowing Chuck’s mother was the art equipment (Bocour paint) family, I assumed the party host  {ME!} would be rather elegant so I decided to wear a tomato red cashmere turtleneck with velvet pants and wine-colored patent leather shoes! These were my own clothes; we dressed like that in 1968!

When I got there I was dismayed that the guests all were dressed as if they were in a rural amateur production of HAIR!  And they all looked like they were very tired twelve-year-olds! I felt that I was dressed for a different movie but just then, Brian called us all together for a camera rehearsal.

The young star «Bobby» came into «my» apartment, walked by while greeting me (as I toyed self consciously with a crystal object treating it as a kind of kaleidoscope) and then strolled through the group of «my guests» when then Brian yelled "CUT!"

To my dismay, it wasn’t a «camera rehearsal» it was a take!

And I felt that I appeared to be a rich, décadent pervert being a host to possibly potentially seduced runaways!

To cap it off, I learned later that «Bobby» was Bobby DeNiro.
Much later, Brian called me and asked if we could meet. We did and Brian told me that he had an idea for another movie wondering whether I’d be interested in being in it. It would be an important part.

Finally — I thought my childhood dream would be realized.  I would be a movie star!

I asked him what it was and who would my character be.

He told me the character —  my character — would be a lesbian.

"A lesbian?" I asked.

"Yes, a masculine lesbian living as a man."

I told him I was sorry but didn’t think I could do it. In the world in which I grew up, it was difficult enough to pass for a man even if you were a man!

Years later, I was walking down the street and some young people from out of town stopped me to ask for directions.  The street was dark but one of them looked at me and said, "you were in a movie!" I said that I hadn’t been, but he said, "Yes you were!  And you were wearing velvet pants and a réd turtleneck!"

The jig was up!
Ed. note: On Thursday, October 12th Bob will be honored with a show of his drawings at the Patrick Parrish Gallery in Tribeca (

"Bob Schulenberg: The Secret Cinema" will open with a VIP reception from 6-8 PM on that night. The show runs through the 18th as a companion event to a week-long tribute to director Paul Bartel, screening October 13-19 at Anthology Film Archives in the East Village. Now based in Northern California, Bob Schulenberg is flying in to attend the opening reception.
Contact Bob here.
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