1969 — Vice President Spiro Agnew was still saying that the press was biased reporting against the Vietnam War and encouraged the public to complain. Meanwhile, there was a second landing on the moon’s surface and Joseph Kennedy, the father of JFK and RFK, had died.
Hope and Frank Mell were in New York to attend the awards given by ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD, an animation society.
I had gotten a Master’s Degree equivalence at UCLA achieved by making a short animated film. I described it as being the most difficult thing I had ever done — like designing a rocket, building it and flying it into space!
Paul Bartel had a similar passion for animation and while in high school had even “worked” as a volunteer, thanks to his father, with UPA, the production company that had revolutionized the animation industry with their modern creations of Gerald McBoing Boing and The Nearsighted Mr. Magoo!
McBoing Boing was originally a story by Dr. Seuss about a little boy who doesn’t speak words but makes sounds! Despite being bullied by other children he eventually becomes very famous doing sound effects for radio programs!
The movie was a great success and UPA’s srylized design-y look had given the Disney Studios a run for their money!
Paul had persuaded the powers-that-be at UPA to let him use their facilities to make his own short animated film! When I met him you can imagine how impressed I was that a young UCLA freshman had made his own 35 mm animated film! With music!
And at UPA yet!
Hope and Frank Mell invited me to the awards ceremony!
I don’t know for sure but Frank Mell may have also been the underground comics artist working in a style somewhat in the same vein as Robert Crumb — just not as well known.
Later, I met with Paul and Elinor Silverman as we visited with Everett and Cathy Aison.
Working in public relations Ellie Silverman had been helpful trying to promote our movie, The Secret Cinema, but I never knew the details of much about Everett Aison. He was Paul’s friend.
The following Saturday there was a premiere at the Billy Rose Theater. Something called Other Voices but it didn’t last long and I have no memory of it. The audience was more memorable!
There was a birthday party for Dick Barsam, a surprise organized by David “Army” Roggensack.
Johanna Roosevelt arrived wearing vintage platform shoes with a minidress! During the 1960s high heeled shoes weren’t worn with mini-length dresses. There was something about the proportions that made it look funny; kind of streetwalker-y! Johanna bent rules and took most things lightly.
For some reason, these high heels were nicknamed “f**k-me” shoes! Or sometimes, “find me, f**k me” shoes!
We started thinking of ways one might advertise them and since advertising was getting more and more risqué we played at disguising the name if we were designing an ad campaign!!
Something tantalizingly foreign sounding! We thought we were being so cute and clever!
Actually, the recently opened and very sexy “nude musical” Oh, Calcutta! had a title that was a rather louche french compliment (of a sort)!
It was an anglicized version of the french, “Oh! Quel Cul tu as!”*
*(“Oh! What An A*s You Have!”).
You might say that this was privileged information although the show was blunt with rape, simulated sex acts and total nudity! In a mainstream theater!
It kind of gives a hint of how New York was beginning to resemble stories of pre-Castro Cuba or pre-Hitler Weimar Germany!
Connie Bartel, certainly a veteran of advertising, said that she would not be surprised to see a new perfume soon that would frankly be just named “F**K”!
So Johanna was wearing these shoes!
I’ve always thought that the basic silhouette of the ’60s for women was a reference to prepubescent girls: Mary Jane-type flat shoes, knee socks, big hair giving the body parts a different relationship to each other, and of course, the short miniskirt! And didn’t Diana Vreeland continue talking about a Youthquake!
I guess that’s why it seemed so naughtily sexy to see the whole with erotic high heels!
Ed Galligan nicknamed Johanna the more dangerously exotic name, “Tanya Ganyika”!
Amazing that for such a seemingly free epoch a change in reference could elicit so much interest and comment!
The following evening I was at the home of Don Simonelli and his wife.
Don was a very successful women’s clothing designer who at that time was selling a lot to Lord & Taylor.
His clothing was very much of the moment with bright, vivid colors that screamed YOUNG!
They had an angular quality that implied vigorous movement when worn.
It was fascinating to be with him and his wife in a civilized domestic setting; in the furiously frantic world that was New York trendy fashion they seemed more like a suburban couple beginning family life!
What a calming thought it was and artfully, effortlessly achieved! I felt refueled and ready for any hoopla the coming week might offer!