Andy and A Very Smart Cookie
Every so often, the worlds of art, fashion, and culture pause to have an Andy moment. This time, Francois NARS has sounded the bell with the NARS Andy Warhol Collection that captures the stardust of an era in a compact. With a palette as motley and as cheeky as Warhol’s tastes and iconic lithographs, NARS celebrates the factory girl, the artistic deviant, and other ghosts of a New York past that deserve tribute thanks to Mr. Warhol’s vision. In true Andy moment fashion, we look back to where the pop art magic began, this time revisiting one of our favorite pieces– a conversation between Andy and Bette Midler in November 1974 .
Tuesday October 1st, 1974. The restaurant at the Alonquin Hotel. Andy Warhol, Bob Colacello and Patricia Lawford are sitting in the circular corner banquette in the rear of the room, trying to work out if they are early or BM is late. Bette arrives in a flurry of carrot red hair. Candy Leigh, her publicist, guides Bette and her friend/secretary Patrick over to aforementioned corner table.
BM: Good afternoon, hello. Sorry we’re late, we ran into some trouble. (pleased-to-meet-yous, how-do-you-dos) Well, three for you and three for me… Let’s eat. (seating)
AW: We miss having you on Broadway. Going to see you was great.
BM: I’ll be back.
AW: When you were at the Palace we went to see your show two or three times. We really loved it.
PL: When you made your entrance from that huge platform shoe and then walked down the instep to the front of the stage it was wonderful. Who designed that set?
BM: It came from an idea from an old friend of mine named Ted Titilo. He’s a photographer & artist, he suggested I come down to a show. Then I had my old set design teacher – I used to take all those of kind of classes – design it. He’s in Honolulu. His name is Dick Mason.
AW: It was great.
BM: Thanks I had no idea you came.
AW: Three or four times. We brought a couple of princesses, too.
BM: My my my. I thought a princess was a queen under 4 feet tall.
AW: We were up in the balcony.
BM: That’s a good place to see from.
AW: The Palace is a good theater, you can see from everywhere.
BM: You should have come backstage afterwards. Gone but not forgotten. What are you going to have? What are we going to eat? Let’s order, I’m starved… I must say you look terrific. This is the best I’ve seen you look in – fifteen years. (laughs) To say nothing of your companions.
AW: Oh no, you really look good.
BC: You look so – young.
BM: Thought I was old, huh? A tired old bag? No, I always look old when I work because I get so upset and tense that my face wrinkles up like a prune, I can’t stop it.
PL: You look more mature on stage.
BM: And not as relaxed.
PL: You look wonderful in person.
BM: Oh bless you my dear, bless you. “Bat those eyelashes.” How sweet. I had no idea it was going to be so Friend-ly. I thought you were going to drag out the barbs, that we were going to dish everybody we knew. Well, everybody I knew is gone, long gone.
PL: You just came back from Hollywood, didn’t you?
BM: Yes. It was very mad. Insane. Generally I suffer there. Terribly. No one to talk to, you know… But I did allright this time.
PL: What were you doing? Making a record?
BM: No, I was just making a deal to make a record. At Motown.
AW: You’re going to work with Motown?
BM: Yes, isn’t it wonderful?
AW: Do they have white people?
BM: I’m one of the first. We’re hoping to cross the line. That’s our dream. We might not succeed. And I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t because hardly anybody can. I’m not going to be on the Motown label, but it’s the first time they let one of their producers produce a non-Motown act. His name is Hal Davis and he does all the Jackson Five, and Marvin Gaye sometimes. He has an arranger named James Carmichael who I think is a genius, who’s going to do the arrangements. So I’m real excited about it. It’s a little on the sexy side. Do you know that record, “Pillow Talk?” I’m looking for a record like that because I was crazy about that record. It wasn’t a Motown record but it had that sexy sound that people play in discotheques. And I’m crazy about that kind of music.
BC: Who did “Pillow Talk?”
BM: Sylvia Robinson. Did you ever meet her? One of the greats. You should interview her, she knows everyone.
WAITER: Can I take your orders?
CL: I think whoever’s ready?
BM: Aren’t you brave?
WAITER: There’s no fruit pie and no lamb, so …
AW: Broiled bass.
PL: Steak Tartar. It’s to give me strength. It’s the only food that I really feel’s doing me good whilst I’m eating it.
BM: Broiled bass. That sounds good… Chef’s Salad. I will have a Chef’s Salad with no cheese. No cheese. Russian dressing.
AW: Before we came here Pat was reading from the third page of today’s Daily News about “Undertaker Food”. That’s what they called it. They take old food and they shoot it up again.
BC: Where? Here?
AW: No. Anywhere. All over town. All over the country.
BM: You’re making this up.
AW: No, you have to read this article. It’s in today’s paper. They take gray and green meat and they wash it in baking soda and re-dye it and salt it and put paprika on it and make it pink again.
BM: Can’t you get sick eating it?
AW: Yes, that’s the thing. We’re all getting sick.
BC: I think this bullshot tastes sort of like M-B-T. (laughs)
BM: Yes it does, doesn’t it? I’m addicted to that kind of stuff. Processed foods. We all were. Everyone was. Have you ever been to Hawaii?
AW: Yes. As soon as you get off the plane it smells like sex.
BM: Is that what your sex life smells like? Gee… Where’ve you been hanging out?
AW: No, but it does smell like sex, doesn’t it? And everybody goes there for sex because it smells that way. Don’t they? I think they do.
BM: Well Hawaii doesn’t smell like sex to me. It’s the only place in the world that smells like that, but it’s not sex, it’s – freedom.
AW: That’s what I mean. People go there for that.
BM: Absolutely. I miss it. Every six months or so I get a wave of homesickness. You know? It comes right over me and everywhere I turn I see signs that tell me I should go back… I go back once a year. My folks are still there. Schlepping.
BC: Did you read that article on Clare Booth Luce in Esquire a while ago?
BM: I’ve read a lot of stuff about Clare Booth Luce, but –
AW: It was her old girlfriend writing it. Helen Lawrenson was Jerry Lawrenson’s mother, I don’t know if you know Jerry Lawrenson.
BC: I think it’s great that she wanted all these things and got them. Especially for her time and especially for a woman.
AW: She’s one of those girls who, as soon as they know they’re going to meet somebody, they run out and buy every book about the person, and then when the person comes they sit there talking to them and know every little detail that nobody else knows and it’s –
BM: Oh I do that all the time! You must! I mean, it’s embarrassing to sit next to someone who really has a reputation in life and not know about them. You wind up asking, “What do you eat for breakfast?…”
AW: Well these girls you wouldn’t have to ask. They’ll tell you what you eat for breakfast. If anybody will know what you eat for breakfast, these girls will. They know every little detail. Yeah…
BM: (to PL) How long have you been with Mr. Warhol?
PL: Well I’ve been here in New York for four months, nearly five. And I used to write things from London for about a year, I would say…
BM: Is that right? I’m dying to play over there?
PL: You should do a concert at The Albert Hall.
BM: I’d like to. I’m terrific anglophile. I’m nuts for English people. I love to listen to them talk, to read what they have to say about each other. I lover their literature.
AW: Everything they say sounds so intelligent
PL: Have you ever worked outside the U.S.?
BM: No. I once did a television show in England, but that’s as close as I got to it. The Burt Bacharach show. It had its moments. Steve Wonder was brilliant. Stole the show with his harmonica. I did all three Andres sisters. They filmed all three, different outfits, different hairdos, and then they spliced me together. You would have loved it. My mother saw it in Honolulu and she looked at the screen and she said, “Gee, that’s terrific. They found two girls who look just like Bette.”
PL: Did you see the Manhattan Follies?
BM: No. But I’ve heard lots of things about it. I heard – Well, I don’t want to dish, don’t want to be rude… I heard all the costumes in that show were the leftovers from Rachel Lily Rosenbloom. (general laughs) You see, I told you something you didn’t know! I asked Robert Stigwood for those costumes. He said, “No. Absolutely not.” I think he was pissed off that I didn’t do Rachel Lily Rosenblum in the first place.
PL: The titles role was written fro you, wasn’t it.
BM: Well, actually it was written for Paul Jabara. Paul Jabara wrote it himself. (laughs) But he couldn’t quite make it into doing all the parts himself. If he had gotten up on Broadway stage with just a piano and him sitting at the piano doing the whole show all by himself, he would have been smash.
PL: He’s doing the album like that.
BM: I told him that he was so charming sitting there doing all the parts by himself, but he didn’t want to do the show that way. He should have. (to AW) Did you see it before it closed?
AW: No, I was out of town.
BM: Some of the songs were good. The melodies are all good, but the lyrics are a little on the tasteless side. But the melodies are terrific. I saw it on closing night, I was there. I was schlumped down in my seat, like this (demonstrates).
PL: The original concept was very brilliant.
BM: He could have a success, if he did it as a one-man show. I’m convinced of it. Because it’s very funny. And he’s a very funny, very charming performer. He’s going to be in DAY OF THE LOCUSTS.
PL: I saw photographs. He plays a drag queen and does a Carmen Miranda-type number.
BM: Actually it’s from BLONDE VENUS from the Paris nightclub scene. I always wanted to do that number – you know, the one where she comes in the gorilla suit and takes her head off? “Hot Voo-doo.” When I was in France I went to all the drag shows, because that’s almost all they have in France. Lip-synch and drag shows. I saw Michou. And there was a guy there who was dying to impersonate me. But he had never seen me. So I met him and we had a chat and he said could he please do it, and would I help him. He didn’t speak English, not one word. He couldn’t understand what I was doing because his knowledge of English was so small that he would lip-synch and his mouth couldn’t form the words because he didn’t know what the words were. So I wrote down all the words for him and I came in one day and choreographed his dance. I never did see it, but here’s this fellow who has never seen me work, in France somewhere, doing me.
PL: And you taught him.
BM: Yes, I taught him, and it was the most bizarre experience I’ve ever had.
AW: Maybe what you should be is a director.
BM: I would be a great director. Want to give me a job?
BC: When are you going to do a movie?
BM: When am I going to do a movie? As soon as Mr. Warhol gets himself together and writes a tasteful script with tasteful lines and tasteful scenes for a person as tasteful as myself. You see, I love cheese and I love sleaze, but you can’t go too far with me; it has to be light. The touch has to be very light. It can’t be too gory. Because I can’t deal with that. I mean, I never even saw a horror movie until I was twenty-two years old. I won’t even go to see FRANKENSTEIN, I refuse. I heard it was worse than PINK FLAMINGOS.
AW: PINK FLAMINGOS is great.
BM: PINK FLAMINGOS made me cry. I sat in the Elgin Theater and managed to bring down the entire audience. Everyone came to laugh, but I brought them all down. I cried. I was so upset. I was sobbing so loud, wailing. And pretty soon everyone else started wailing, too. I brought the whole theater down. And Divine! I thought I was divine, and there she was, so enormous, and she was also divine. So I just thought, “Oh God, we can’t both be divine, I give up.” Anyway, I don’t come from that school. It’s got to be very up, very light, very amusing. High British parlour humor. British drawing room comedy is my idea of true comedy. (PL disagrees)
BM: That’s because you’re British. I find it highly amusing. Americans are always fascinated by it because it’s so alien to them – class business, and all that. (to AW) Did you watch Upstairs, Downstairs? Yes? And have you heard about Lincoln: The Man, the Car, and the Tunnel? (laughs) Isn’t that great? My friend Martin Mull is writing it, he’s going to sweep the boards with that one.
PL: You’re not going to do any shows?
BM: I’m looking for one, I just haven’t found it yet. I’ve some wonderful offer, I’ve been very flattered but I – I’m very shy. Nervous about it. It’s all public knowledge. Everybody knows what I’ve turned down. Mostly nostalgia musicals. If I do a nostalgia musical I want to do it when nobody’s doing nostalgia musicals, not when everybody and their brothers is doing one. So I’ll have to wait about twenty years to do one. And then it’ll be about the 60’s… One thing that didn’t work out was the Mike Nichols movie, FORTUNE.
AW: Yes, we heard about that. Why did that happen?
BM: Well – It’s about two men who try to kill a very plain woman, and she won’t be killed. Like Martha Raye in MONSIEUR VERDOUX. Which is a terrific part. But I said, “Why don’t you have two women kill this real plain main for his money,” and they didn’t want – I’ve been dying to see a movie about strong women who out-do men instead of strong men –
BC: But the girl couldn’t be killed, so doesn’t that make her strong?
BM: Well… it does and it doesn’t. She wasn’t killed, but not because she was strong. She wins in the end because she is a good person and they turnout to be shitheads. But I wanted to do something that hasn’t been done before. I’ll wait to see it. There’s very good possibility I made a mistake. But that’s the ball game…
PL: Are you looking for something with music in it?
BM: I’m looking for something that gives me a chance to stretch. Because I have my own work, and I can do anything I want in my own work – juggle, tap dance, anything I want.
AW: It doesn’t matter if you wait, because there’s always something else.
BM: Right. It doesn’t stop.
(waiter serves main course)
Two livers at one table… The liver looks great. What healthy people.
AW: Broadway now needs it more than ever. I saw GYPSY and Angela Lansbury works so hard.
BM: She comes through, doesn’t she? Were you excited by it? I was. And that little girl, wasn’t she wonderful? My heart went out to her. Everyone shrieked!
AW: Wasn’t she?? Wasn’t she?? I loved her!!
BM: We could have watched her all night. She squeaked, that little girl. I never heard anybody squeak like that. At least, not in person.
AW: And her foot went over her head so easily. She really did entertain me. Watching this little girl was like watching a person in perspective, you can’t believe it. It’s so cute, this little freak up there dancing.
PL: I’ll have to see it here in New York, because it was a very cheap production in London.
BM: It’s one of the best of the genre, the score is terrific, there isn’t a bad tune in it.
AW: It’s just like the original, they don’t change any of the sets, and they haven’t made it dirtier – you know, now they could have done it dirty, but they didn’t.
BM: And the three strippers were terrific. I thought Mary Louise Wilson was hysterical. Hysterical. That was the part that Maria Karnilove originally did.
AW: This girl was really good.
BM: She was funny, wasn’t she?
AW: Yes. Where did she come from? Is she somebody who’s been around for years, or –
BM: Are you kidding?? Just because people don’t meet you doesn’t mean they’re not out there breaking their asses trying to get around.
AW: Have you always known her?
BM: Well, I don’t know her personally but she was working when I was doing FIDDLER. I used to work that circuit too.
PL: You were in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF?
BM: For years. I played the oldest daughter, Tzeitel. But it was Ellen Stewart at the La Mama Theater who really did me a good turn. She’s always been very kind to me.
BC: What play were you in?
BM: It was a Tom Eyen play called Miss Nefertiti Regrets. He used me for four shows one year and I had a great time, I really enjoyed myself. That was the first time I met Jackie Curtis. Those were the days.
AW: Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn are both working a lot now. They have nightclub acts and they sell out.
BM: Isn’t it wonderful? You know, in the 60’s everyone was trying so hard to find out what they could do to survive. And almost everybody has come through. It’s really exciting. It makes me very happy anyway.
PL: This was all before you went to the Continental Baths and became a sensation, right?
BM: Yes. But I used to work in nightclubs before I went to the Baths. I worked every club in town before I went to the Baths. Singing nothing but torch songs – “I lost this person/I lost that person.” I was really unhappy. I was lucky to wind up at the Tubs, really lucky. It was the tight thing at this place called the Improvisation on 44th St. a great place. Most people who go there are in the business. The Improv is traditional show biz. In those days, you’d see these comics and not too many singers. It was so hard… I used to cry every night. They wouldn’t listen. They were drinking, throwing things at one another. It’s mostly for comedians, you know? If you don’t get up and tell a joke, they are not interested. And one day this guy whom I used to take class from – Bob Elston – said, “Listen, I know this guy who runs a steam bath and it’s a very popular place for homosexuals to go to gather, and he’s looking for entertainment, would you like to work there?” And I didn’t even think twice. I mean, have been in those circles ever since I was fourteen years old. That’s why I’m so amazed when I meet people in show business who say, “How could you do that? What made you do that? Sing in a place like that with men in towels?” To me it was just another place, it wasn’t anything to write home about.
AW: I wrote home about it.
BM: Of course you did, my dear, you would. But there’s no one there to get your letters. (laughs) They all left town. “I don’t know why my letters keep coming back…”
BC: From Czechoslovakia.
BM: You’re too rude. Anyway, the first act at the Baths was a folk-singing act and they really loved them. Rosalie Marks and her husband. I was the second act. Friday night, Saturday night. When I was there, it was really a bath. Tiles everywhere. The steam used to come out of the room, the pool was going all the time, you had to sing over the noise of the pool. Then I came, and for some reason we hit it off real well. Then Steve Ostrow started redecorating. He’s a great guy, the kind who can’t leave anything alone. Every week he has to have something new. I was there a good year-and-a-half, on weekends. I’d come into town, play for six weeks, go out of town to this club and that club. But I’d always come back to the Tubs. And every time I’d come back I never knew where I was: this wall was gone, there was a chandelier, birds, musclemen – I never knew where I was. The only thing that didn’t change was the crowd.
BC: And that’s when you changed your act?
BM: Yes, they didn’t want to hear torch songs: they had enough troubles. I had to try to get everybody happy, which was good because I was indulging myself too much. We had a good time. I have that sense of humor. My sense of humor is a lot like theirs. I mean, what they think is funny, I think is funny… Actually, everybody has the potential for that humor. I used to go to the Riciculous Theater and die laughing. But most people are never exposed to that kind of humor. In their day-to-day living they don’t see it. They’re not told, “This is funny.” I’m talking about “camp.” But as soon as they see it, they – change. And they – learn. Which is why I’ve had the success that I’ve had. Because I’ve played to audiences that are not gay, and I give them that type of humor (which happens to be mine as well) that they haven’t been exposed to at all, and they see that it’s funny. Running around in your underwear with bananas and castanettes, it’s just amusing.
PL: Plus the fact that you have an amazing voice.
BM: It’s not bad.
PL: Your friends call you Dolores, don’t they?
BM: How did you find that out?
PL: I’ve been doing my homework.
BM: Oh. Yeah. Well, my girlfriends call me Dolores. It’s my uptown name. My next act is going to be called “Dolores Jalopenia and the Clams-on-the-half-shell-Revue.”
BC: The girls that were in your act at the Palace, do you still have them?
BM: We haven’t worked together in nine months.
BC: Because I saw you once at the Baths, I was with the Italian ambassador’s wife and some friends and they refused to take off their sable coats. They were sweating, saying, “Theez eez fantazdick. Eet’s like pagan Rome…”
BM: Well, they would know.
BM: Those were good days, weren’t they? But you’ve got to move on.
BC: That’s New York especially.
PL: I never saw your act at the Baths. Has it changed much since then?
BC: You had those funny girls in the background.
PL: The Har-lotts?
BM: “Har-lots!” Har-lettes. I wanted something like Harley Davidson. I wanted “harl” in there somewhere. They are good. They’re all professionals. I don’t use amateurs. With amateurs, you get – too much. Too many things that you don’t need. Which is a real strong sound. And discipline. Amateurs don’t have that. They have to learn that. And these girls are great, I’m very proud of them.
PL: Who writes your material?
BM: Bill Hennessy wrote for me all during the Baths. Now he works with Gotham, but he worked for me for four years, and still contributes little pieces. And Bruce Vilanch does a lot of it. And then I make a lot of it up myself while I’m on the boards. It depends. Sometimes your audience is so great that they feed you and it just comes out. And they’re always amazed and I’m always amazed. But I start with a basic script and I take off from there.
PL: One would like to think that it was impromptu.
AW: Well, why don’t they write you a show then, these writers?
BM: Well they can, but I don’t want them to write me a show in my own style. Because I don’t need anyone to write me a show in my style, I would like to do a show in a style that wasn’t my style, because that’s the only way I can grow up and grow out.
AW: But say you gave them the idea!
BM: I may do that. Because most “show” writers don’t come up with what I want. They come up with things that they think are me, and it’s never close enough that I could say “I’m not ashamed to do that.” I listen to their lines and think, “That’s what you think I am??” And I’m so insulted that I have to leave the room. Because for me or my people to make it up is one thing, but for someone else to make up cheesey lines is a whole other thing. You know? It makes me feel bad. I can’t accept it. But maybe with my own writers… You know, Theater-goers are the kind of people who’ll listen to almost anything. But it has to be solid and it has to be good. Broadways has been trying to pawn things off on people as if they were idiots. And they’re not. They’re always underestimated.
WAITER: Coffee and dessert?
BM: If you give audiences something that has a universal truth somewhere in it, they’re going to come to it. But people don’t know how to manufacture that or put it together so that anyone who pays money can look at it and get something from it and feel that they’ve spend their money well. So people don’t spend money any more, because they’ve been burned too many times. And it’s because of HAIR. HAIR was a terrific piece. I really enjoyed it. I saw it three or four times, I always got off. But how many HAIRs can you have? There was only one.
AW: The next show that’s really a hit will be like “the” Broadway show for the next twenty years.
AW: The next new kind of hit will do what Oklahoma did about 28 years ago. Have you seen the Alice Faye show on the road yet? GOOD NEWS?
BM: No. I haven’t, have you?
BM: But you are going to.
AW: Yes. We met her the day she was leaving. She was really great. Very sweet.
BM: She is great, isn’t she? Works very hard… Who do you have that’s still working for you?
AW: Oh – well – just –
BM: Besides you.
BM: Did Candy Darling ever do a movie for you?
AW: Yes. She did WOMEN IN REVOLT for me, and she was in FLESH, too. It was a small part in FLESH, but she had the big lead in WOMEN IN REVOLT.
BM: WOMEN IN REVOLT. Are you going to release that again?
AW: Maybe. It’s the kind of movie that could really become great. When it came out one reviewer said, “It’s a classic: it should go right into the archives.” And it did. It’s a movie about Women’s lib and we cast female impersonators as the three female leads.
BM: (laughing) Could you have a screening of that?
BM: I’d love to see it. REVOLTING WOMEN. – Oh, I’m sorry. When can we see it?
AW: Whenever you want. It was originally called SEX, and then it was “P.I.G.s” for Politically Involved Girls.
BM: Oh I must see this.
BC: We’ll arrange a screening. You know what’s delicious here are the snowballs. Do you want a dessert? Do you like ice cream?
BM: I’ll split a snowball with you. I know you don’t want to eat alone.
BC: Chocolate? Okay? Do you want one AW?
BM: Good. Good.
PL: You live in the Village don’t you?
AW: The Village isn’t safe anymore. You better move out.
BM: Well where am I going to go??? I put a lot of money into my place. When I moved in it was like a bomb shelter, there was nothing there.
AW: You can rent it out. Move uptown into a townhouse. It’s safer.
BM: Then I would feel like I didn’t belong any more, though.
WAITER: One snowball?
BC: Right here.
AW: It’s really not safe in the Village any more. It’s changed.
BM: Well it changed a lot but now it’s getting better.
BM: Last year when they had the Village murders everyone was real scared. What a sad case. We caught a prowler the other day trying to get in my window. My friend held on to him until the police came. It was terrifying. He had a wire-cutter, he was wearing gloves, getting ready to go into the window. I was in another room, I didn’t know what was happening. Then I heard my friend screaming at me to get the police. So called the police. Such a drag.
AW: And they really got him?
BM: Yes, they took him away and he pleaded guilty and that was the end of that. He got a bath, lucky fellow. He needed one, too. Hew was – – Oooggh. You know, you never know whether they really need to get in, whether they really need to take your things or not. If they really need it, I don’t mind giving it to them. I mean if they’re starving or can’t get a job or – But how do you make those distinctions? It’s like watching a movie.
AW: Oh I know.
BM: It’s Paul Muni: “How do you live?” “I steaaal.”
AW: Well, real life is getting – – Right on TV yesterday they showed the dismembered body of the policeman who was killed and then chopped up! They showed it in a plastic bag on television!
BM: They didn’t! They never used to do that before!
AW: Well now they do. Just in the last – few months here in New York. And the newspapers are starting to look like the old Inquirers and Midnights. On television they showed the blood spot on sidewalk and everything.
BM: They should never do that! This is why people are going crazy! Because the newspeople show you everything. And if they don’t have it to show, they make it up.
AW: But they never used to show it. I was shocked. I was shocked last night. When I saw that plastic bag. I was shocked.
PL: I read about dismemberment in the newspaper, and even reading about it was horrific. They described it in such detail.
AW: I know. And then they said on television, “Authorities say that it looked like the work of an amateur,’ and that makes you think, “You mean there’s a professional way to do it???” And then it turns out that the guy they arrested the next day was an exconvict who’d had vocational training as a butcher while he was in Attica State prison!”
BM: They make their money telling us about these things and showing them to us, and they’re driving us all crazy! Some people buy the newspaper every single day and read it from cover to cover. That’s what they do. New Yorkers especially. It’s a habit. People in other towns don’t do it as much, but New Yorkers do.
AW: But they never used to show it, they’d just talk about it. Now they show the blood spot! Right on tv! It’s really strange.
BM: WAIT A MINUTE, WAIT A MINUTE. (to AW) You are crazy. Let’s talk about you. You are really out to lunch. I just realized. You are sitting here telling me that it upsets you that they now show a dismembered body on the news but what about PINK FLAMINGOS!, and what about FRANKENSTEIN? You helped bring it to this point.
AW: It’s just like a movie.
BM: (laughs) “It’s just like a movie.”… I don’t like violence. I get sick from violence. Do you think people are excited by violence?
AW: Well – I think they are. Look at the box office figures. I like comedy, not violence, but violence is making a lot of money. But comedy is what I like. Comedy is the answer.
BM: Comedy is the answer. Or at least, laughter. Violence takes no intelligence at all. Violence is the lowest. Charlie Chaplin was cruel a lot of the time, but he was so charming he got away with it. And Harry Langdon, oh my dear, ohhh.
AW: But why don’t girls do slapstick? They’ve always had funny lines and stuff, but they never…
BM: There were never any female stars doing slapstick. It was always the men. I guess because it hurts you. I mean, to fall down and do all those stunts really hurts you. But, I would love to see that brought back and to be the one to do it.
BC: Lucille Ball does some pretty physical stuff.
BM: And Joan Davis! But she was never as huge as Charlie Chaplin.
AW: No, no, she was never Charlie Chaplin.
BM: Lucille Ball came the closest.
AW: A little bit, yeah.
BC: I’ll never forget her and Ethel in the chocolate factory.
BM: Oh please! Don’t even talk about it! That one sends me A-WAY! I go OUT when I think about that one. (to AW) She’s a nice lady, too, I’ve met her. You should interview her. Honey, she would turn you upside down and shake you. Grab you by your ankles and –
CL: Do you have to be there at 3:00 sharp?
BM: Nnno. I have a little bit of time. What time is it?
CL: Quarter after.
BC: Where do you have to go?
BM: I’m going uptown to record. I’m going to make a record.
PL: What record?
BM: A single with Paul Simon (who wrote it), and Jesse Dixon singers who’re great.
PL: It’s going to be a single? A Paul Simon/Bette Midler duet?
PL: How did that combination come about?
BM: Well I met him and I liked him a lot. He’s a very charming man, very very bright, really good with language. And it’s hard to find people who’re good with language. People generally today say, “Far out” “Great” “Good” “Right on” “Left out.” They don’t talk to you, they agree with you. Paul’s a good man with words. I really like to listen to him talk, we hit it off real well. So one night I said, “Why don’t we do something together,” and he said “Allright.” He sat down the next day and about four weeks or a month-and-a-half later he said, “I have a song we can both sing and let’s go sing it.” So we’re going to do the single and see how it turns out, and if we don’t loathe each other by the time the single comes out, we’ll do something else.
PL: What’s the flip side going to be?
BM: I don’t know yet. Maybe “Hello, Dali.”
BC: Are you friends with Dali?
BM: I’ve never met Mr. Dali?
BC: When he’s in New York he has teas every Sunday.
BM: I know Ultra Violet, who’s a great friend of his, but I haven’t seen her in years.
AW: She was away all last year and she just came back on the scene yesterday.
BM: “Yesterday?” (laughs)
AW: But you know, Reno Sweeney’s is such a great place. That’s a place you should always go to.
BM: Yes, I’ve seen a lot of people there. I like to go on Monday nights, you know, the talent night? The greatest. You’re always surprised. You get a couple of drinks and you just watch them and they get up and you say, “Where do they come from?” You don’t know who they are but they’re always terrific.
BM: Yes? Can’t have any dead spots.
PL: So, you’ve come a long way from The Tubs.
BM: Yes, Seventy-four blocks. I’m happy. I’m a happy person.
AW: Why don’t you write a show? What you have to do is – We’ll get a tape recorder –
BM: Is that how you do it?
AW: A day in the life of you. You write your own songs, you write your own story, you get your own situation, and you just go on recording because your life happens, tape it all, the whole twenty-four hours and then –
BM: Are you kidding? You must be joking. ARE YOU JOKING?? WHO WANTS TO LISTEN TO THAT?? I’m glad when it’s over and gone. Do you mean you listen to all this crap that you record all the time?
AW: No. But I mean, to do a musical, you can never tell what’s going to happen in your day, and it could be the most exciting day of your life, so you tape it before it happens with the idea of doing a musical or play if it is good. Some of your days must be very interesting.
BM: Oh I see, you mean to do a musical or a play or a movie…
AW: Yes, one of your days, because you have so many funny lines and funny scenes. For instance, you’re working very hard right now, giving a lot of lines and having good timing and being commercial, so you should be catching some of them before you forget them. Then you could use them and make a whole day of tour life.
BM: Yes, but the best lines and the best situations, I always remember. And the rest of it I don’t want to remember.
AW: But then you need a way to put them all together.
BM: Yes, that’s true.
AW: Say you get a theme and it’s a political issue, and you have to give an interview that day and you bring up the issue and your make a situation to go with your theme. You invite the right people for your theme and you pick your right subjects.
BM: Oh I see…My God, I’m getting inspiration…
AW: It could be just a love affair. Say you fall in love with Paul Simon this afternoon or on one of your dates or something…
BM: Please….please…gimme a break.
AW: And then just give us the tape and we’ll type it up and work on it.
AW: Oh yes. Just think of a good subject.
BM: Do I have a deadline?
AW: You can do it tomorrow. Write it tomorrow and we’ll start tomorrow. Plan your day.
BC: And get the atmosphere, and…
BM: That’s the way you yourself work, isn’t it.
AW: We’re trying to, but we never really get that way. But you can do it, you know what you want and you could just plan your day very well. It must be very interesting.
AW: No, but I mean before it even
AW: Make it up as you go along and have people who with the situation who’ll make it interesting. But finding the subject matter is the hardest thing.
BM: You mean what to talk about?
AW: Not exactly, finding the theme is the hardest. Say it’s a love affair-
PL: How’s your love-life?
BM: How’s yours? Don’t ask anybody at this table how his love-life is. God…I don’t think there is any such thing any more.
AW: I don’t believe it either.
BM: I think the older you get –
AW: Oh I know.
BM: – the more wary you are.
AW: Oh, Is that it? Well, we tried to figure our what makes a woman the happiest and we looked around and it’s if they marry their hairdresser. Right BC?
BM: (laughs) My hairdresser’s already married, thank you.
BC: Well AW learned from Liz Taylor to use the word “hairdresser” very loosely. It’s anybody who helps you. Everyone who works for her is sort of her hairdresser.
BC: We think they all get ten percent.
AW: But then some other girls we know want to marry maitre d’.
BM: I don’t know any maitre d’s. I’d like to marry a short order cook. I’d be so happy if I could find a cook.
BC: The tape recorder will arrive tomorrow.
BM: Do you have an in with the Sony people?
AW: No, but they’re not that expensive.
BM: Do you really want to do something together? It has to be very serious, my dear, because –
AW: We’re serious. We’re serious.
BC: We’ll show you our portfolio.
(leaving the restaurant)
BM: Are you going to the corner?
AW: No, we’re going toward Fifth Avenue.
BM: Allright my dear, my pleasure.
AW: So you’re going to write us a play.
BM: I will. I’ll take care a’ya. Good-bye Bob…Peter…Bye.
(AW, BC and PL start walking toward Fifth Avenue)
BC and PL: Isn’t she great?
AW: Yes. She’s a very smart cookie.