Schulenberg’s Page: Coming and going with Lennon, Streisand and Picasso

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The scene at Upstairs at the Downstairs, April 2, 1973.

March 23, 1973: John Lennon was ordered to leave the US within sixty days while Yoko Ono was granted permanent residence!

Lennon’s deportation stemmed from his conviction in 1968 for possession of marijuana, although it had more to do with Nixon’s fear of Lennon’s political views and his influence.

The same day there was a nuclear test at the test site in Nevada!

After Mary Milton and I had seen the performance of Ubu Roi at The Night House theater (see NYSD post), we went to the Trattoria da Alfredo on Eighth Avenue at 12th Street that had opened a few years earlier but was currently getting a lot of favorable exposure.

We’d read that the food was delicious and very fresh because Alfredo himself was the chef and bought his provisions at Balducci’s, the popular retail Italian market in Greenwich Village! Alfredo shopped retail!

I had a busy week with a project for Buddah [sic] Records whose boss, Neil Bogart, was leaving to form Casablanca Records which he named after his favorite film and whose leading man had the same last name! (Bogart died of cancer just nine years later at the age of only 39!)

I received a commission to paint a sort of going-away-gift for his departure from Buddah! Unfortunately I don’t have a reproduction of it.

I also worked on a project for Money magazine that was a lot of fun!

The text was written by a writer who’d made a fortune by analyzing the semantics of stock offerings! I got to paint caricatures of famous writers giving him inspirational counsel!

Later in the week my good friend, photographer Craig Simpson, came to town from Los Angeles where he’d returned after living in Manhattan.

He’d photographed Streisand with me back in 1961 taking photographs that have been reproduced many times and which have become iconic!

Barbra was just 18 and soon to be 19 and it was her first shoot with a photographer who was a professional fashion photographer!

A funny memory concerning this black dress: One night when Barbra was still performing at The Bon Soir on 8th Street in Greenwich Village, I was waiting for her to get dressed and noticed the black dress she was wearing. It zipped up the front and had a half turtleneck. It was nice but I had an idea that I thought would make it more interesting and I had her turn it around with the zipper in back. I tucked in the turtleneck turning it into a cowl neckline which better framed Barbra’s elegant features. She loved it, wore it onstage that night and later had it copied!

With Barbra’s genius talent and charisma I couldn’t stand to think of her as presenting herself as merely attractive or nicely dressed. I wanted her to have the quiet restrained elegance of at least a queen, if not a goddess!

I thought that her clothing should have the ease and natural elegance that her voice implied, a complicated bill of goods for a young woman not yet even 20!

(I’ve never told this story of the little black dress and, in fact, just remembered it!)

Anyway, Craig and I went to Rumpelmeyer’s at the Saint Moritz Hotel!

Over ice cream he told me about his life in California where he and two partners were opening a studio shooting high end commercials! He was also recently married!

Over the weekend, Ray Smith assembled some friends to act as crew and we went to the farm to shoot Ray’s short movie, Party Girls, and I was going to be the de facto cinematographer!

When we got to the farm on Saturday we decided who would do what.

Juliann Jules Martinez became the caterer/craft services (food snacks) provider and spent virtually the whole weekend in the kitchen!

We worked around the clock and even faked a “daytime” reaction shot in the middle of the night!

We even rigged a dolly shot with an additional crane shot which involved me being wheeled in an — ahem! — “appropriated” shopping cart and slowly and as smoothly as possible standing up in it without falling and/or breaking bones!

Later, in Manhattan, we discovered we needed another dining room shot and rigged up a facsimile as well as we could in town. It looked nothing like the farm but somehow, through movie magic, it worked!

Ray eventually entered it into an amateur film festival and told me that the cinematography received very positive comments!

In any event it was fun for all of us and I think that even Juliann had a good time!

Back in town on Monday, Richard Amsel called to tell me that John C. Attle was going to be performing that night at Upstairs at the Downstairs.

Richard Amsel’s poster (from a photograph by Ken Howard) of Attle at Upstairs at the Downstairs.

Richard and I met John in the small dressing room where John asked Richard if he would do his makeup. John was used to doing makeup for theater performances and was worried that if he did it himself it would be too heavy for the intimacy of a club!

Richard would simply paint a portrait of John using makeup. And doing it on John’s face!

“He’s either Upstairs at the Downstairs or Downstairs at the Upstairs, but anyway he’s a scream.” Lee Lorenz for the New Yorker.

Two days later on April 4th, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony for the completion of “the tallest building(s) in the world,” The World Trade Center. At 110 stories, which contained 350 firms employing 55,000 people, the construction had cost $350 million!

Since one dollar in 1973 is equal to $5.62 in 2021 you can do the math!


On April 8th Pablo Picasso died at the age of 91!

Like his vast contribution to art during the 20th century I had thought he would himself live forever!

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