May, 1969. I met Paul Bartel and Bunny Dexter for coffee.
Bunny had “played” the part of the patient on the operating table when we made our short movie, Naughty Nurse. She didn’t have to do anything but lie on an operating table and Paul was hoping to have the kind of limited attention we’d gotten when we made The Secret Cinema. He felt that if he could continue making any kind of movie it might attract the attention of someone who would offer to pay for and help to make a full length feature film! So far nothing had happened since showing The Secret Cinema at Tambellini’s Gate downtown on Second Avenue.
Brian de Palma had invited me to meet with him to talk about a project. I met with him and he told me he had an idea for another film; a story about a woman living and passing as a man and being a murderer! I thought he was going to ask me to design it but then he said he wanted me to BE the woman passing as a man!
Thank you very much, Brian!
As a child growing up in the Movie Capitol I’d dreamed of being a movie star like several neighbors — but this? It wasn’t what I’d had in mind!
I told Brian that I wasn’t really comfortable with the idea but if he needed me as a Production Designer that would be different!
Years later he made Dressed to Kill and I guess Michael Caine played a variation of the part I would’ve played!
Later I met Howdy Hoeffding and Dick Amann for dinner downtown at St. Adrian & Co. in the Broadway Central Hotel that five years later collapsed onto Broadway killing one person.
After 100+ years the Hotel was finally demolished!
My friend and UCLA classmate Bill Ezelle-Jones had come to New York and quickly regretted having rented a car! I went with him to return it and we then took the subway and went to Yellowfinger’s near Bloomingdales.
I met Paul’s aunt, Connie Bartel, in Greenwich Village at Julius’ Bar. We had a beer as Connie reminisced about her young days in the Village when she hung out at Julius’ with jazz musicians. She smiled while telling me that years earlier at Julius’ she was given small packages to deliver to other musicians and it was only many years later that she realized she was being used as a sort of unknowingly innocent bag lady delivering marijuana!
After, we took the subway uptown to the west side and Paul’s apartment.
Connie was working as a copywriter with Paul’s father, her brother, at the advertising agency, West, Weir & Bartel. One of her clients was Good Housekeeping — doing the newspaper advertising for them. They were in a furious competition with McCall’s magazine that had undergone an extreme redesign that was relevant to the Swinging Sixties whereas Good Housekeeping still had the air of a more conservative Middle America publication.
Before becoming a copywriter she’d been the Editor-in-Chief of a second tier fashion magazine. I seem to remember that it was Charm. Laughing, she explained that she was a good editor and fashion writer because she knew nothing about how anything was done!
If she could understand it, she said, anyone could understand it!
Connie was so much fun; I felt as close to her as Paul did and closer to her than to my own aunt!
An uneventful month passed with me getting a lot of work! Finally taking a break, I went down to Howard Blechman’s apartment on East 76th Street for drinks like before.
Jesper Nyboe was there as usual.
It was always comfortable and Howard was a wonderful interesting host. We went for burgers and parted company and I went back home to work!
The following day, I invited Annie Rieger to come with me — first, to meet my cousin Adrienne Albert at the Brasserie.
Then we went to a Columbia Records recording studio where Adrienne’s husband, John McClure, was producing a recording with a new group called The Flock.
In 1968, John had won a Grammy for producing Leonard Bernstein conducting a Mahler album , the Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand. He also won the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album in 1986 for the revival of West Side Story. Additionally, John was the record producer for Igor Stravinsky where he met Adrienne when she was a soloist on a Stravinsky conducted recording.
As it turned out, I was doing a lot of LP album art for Columbia Records at the time.
I was fascinated watching their reactions as they listened to the recording playback.
It was so interesting — but unfortunately the group, the Flock, didn’t have the success they’d hoped for. What a complicated business!
So it continued — life in the big city!