A graffiti seen on the restroom wall at Elaine’s gives a pretty good idea of what the mood of the late ’60s was in New York. There was also the exact opposite mood of anti-Vietnam War fury seen on the streets during protests and demonstrations!
But life continued with people in laundromats, at markets and doing the daily things that they’d always done.
Annie Rieger’s friend Rachel Waters came to New York from Los Angeles.
She’d been married to a man who was an oil executive and with him had lived in Saudi Arabia. She had interesting stories to tell about giving formal dinner parties for other visiting oil executives and government people — ours and theirs — but eventually tired of it all and, feeling trapped, left Arabia and her marriage! Now she wanted to see and feel the ’60s in New York.
We had to take her downtown to Katz’s Delicatessen for an initiation to the real New York!
At least one of the real New Yorks!
I was still working with Connie Bartel as she edited Hair Trends magazine. And the Trends were very complicated and elaborate and like nothing seen since the 18th century! Connie asked me to go see Lupe, a young hairdresser who was making a name for himself.
His specialty was working with hairpieces that every woman interested in fashion wore. He let me draw as he worked with one of his clients.
It was fascinating! He showed me a lot of variations and explained that many women had an extensive wardrobe of extra hairpieces! It was really a golden time to be a hairdresser and they were all bringing home a lot of that gold!
Another trend that was beginning to be seen was a variation on a late 19th-century hair style that was sometimes called “the washerwoman” but Connie thought the name “concierge” was a bit more picturesque!
The next day, back to the routine.
My friend Joyce MacDowell came to New York again on business. She was a buyer for I. Magnin in San Francisco and I’d known her since I was in my teens when she was just beginning a career in fashion.
She really looked like she knew what she was doing with a very elegant but still casual simplicity to the way she dressed. Even though San Francisco was then living through the height of Flower Power and LSD-fueled hippies Joyce maintained the classic chic that symbolized an older more sober San Francisco!
She invited me to go with her to visit the designer Don Simonelli and his wife Caroline.
There was also a young woman named Peaches — and as I’d previously mentioned hair styles, Peaches’ hair was extraordinary!
I was fascinated by the way she looked!
If Clara Bow had typified the 1920s, certainly Peaches looks were busy summing up the ’60s!
After leaving the Simonellis, we all went down to Max’s Kansas City.
We left Max’s and took a cab up to Elaine’s where something unthinkable happened. This couple, ready for a really big night, waited for a table at the bar. As we passed the bar and moved to our table they asked Elaine how long it’d be until they got a table. Elaine gave them a long look — up and down — and then she leaned closer and in a low voice growled, “I don’t think you’re gonna like it here!”
They didn’t give up and kept waiting until Rudolph Nureyev walked through the front door. The woman scurried in front of him and asked him for an autograph.
That was it!
Elaine vaulted toward them and ordered them to leave!
She ran a tight ship!
Nobody noticed, Nureyev sat down with friends and the evening continued uninterrupted.
The next night we went to a new club, Kalabash.
Another strange moment: for some reason a man started shouting “I’ll pay 10,000 dollars. I don’t want to see you dancing here. Go home!”
Rachel was seeing another aspect of New York!
I think it was the writer Ed Gardner who said something like, “In New York City there’s a one act play on every street corner!”
Something like that!