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Terence Stamp on Being, Nothingness, Acting and the Devil: A rare interview from 1978

Terence_Stamp_as_Dracula_1978
 
Terence Stamp and Michael Caine once shared an apartment in the early 1960s. Stamp was the star, with Billy Budd, Term of Trial and The Collector to his CV, while Caine was still on his way up. The turning point came when Stamp knock-backed the title role of Alfie, a role he had made his own on Broadway, but didn’t want to reprise on film. Caine spent a long night trying to change Stamp’s mind. He failed and the role was given to Caine.

Years later, Michael Caine wrote how he sometimes dreamt of that long night trying to convince Stamp to take the role, and “still wakes up sweating as I see Terence agreeing to accept my advice to take the role in Alfie.”

Stamp made Modesty Blasie instead, which on paper sounded fabulous - directed by Joseph Losey; starring Monica Vitti and Dirk Bogarde; adapted by poet and writer Evan Jones from the best-selling Peter O’Donell comic strip. Sadly, it flopped, and the blue-eyed, angelic Stamp was slowly eclipsed by his former room-mate, Caine.

Yet, Stamp was no longer interested in making films for the sake of making films. He was beginning to choose roles because he wanted to make them. He turned down an incredible amount of work, as he later explained in an interview with Valerie Singelton in 1978:

‘I didn’t accept a lot of work because I was of the opinion, if one wanted the long career, one should do good, interesting things. One shouldn’t do anything.

‘So, that was a kind of a political decision really, apart from the fact I enjoyed to do things that interested me. It didn’t interest me to play Tate and Lyle lorry drivers, you understand? I did that already. I didn’t want to do that in a movie. I wanted to play princes and counts, and intellectuals and things that I wasn’t, rather than something I was.’

After Modesty Blaise, Stamp opted to work with radical film-maker Ken Loach, on his first movie Poor Cow, which co-starred Carol White. The film was a surprise hit in America, largely down to Stamp’s casting.  He then appeared in John Schlesinger’s Far From the Madding Crowd with Julie Christie, Alan Bates and Peter Finch. Yet, for all his success, there was something missing.

‘And this thing which came later was a feeling of an inner emptiness success didn’t fill. I had assumed that this inner poverty would be transformed when I became rich and famous. And it took me a few years of being rich and famous to understand that the inner void was very much there.

‘And, you know, if I couldn’t fill it with one Rolls-Royce, I couldn’t fill it with three.

‘I started traveling and looking at myself. Looking, thinking the answer was outside still in a form of, you know, I transfered from beautiful female companion, to highly, holy, spiritualized person. So I was kind of looking for that in truth - it was an inner odyssey that was going on.’

Stamp moved to Italy and then onto an ashram in India, where he found he could get ‘Groovy Kashmiri hash or groovy golden guru - you get what you’re looking for.’ Here he was “transformed from Terence Henry Stamp to swami Deva Veeten.”

The years passed and the roles had dried-up, until (as in all good tales) one day in 1977:

‘On this particular morning, as we enter, I am hailed by the concierge who showed me to my original room.  Apparently he remembers me. “Mr. Terence”, he says in an accent worthy of Peter Sellers. “We have a cable for you”.  He extricates the telegram from the depths of his nightstand and presents it to me. Dog-eared, with tickertape strips glued onto the square envelope and smeared with dust, I have no idea how long the urgent missive has been waiting. However, as it is dropped into my palm it has the psychic weight of the English breakfast I am about to order. I read the typed front piece and realize why. It is addressed to: Clarence Stamp, The Rough Diamond Hotel, Dune, India. It is a miracle that it is even in my hand. Goose pimples spread up my arm and I have a sense that my life is about to change. The telegram is from my long-suffering agent James Fraser, who came across me playing Iago at the Webber-Douglas Drama Academy in 1958 and, bless his heart, has represented me ever since. The telegram reads: ‘Would you be prepared to travel back to London to meet Richard Donner regarding a role in the Superman films 1 & 2. You have scenes with Marlon Brando. Could you stop over in Paris to talk to Peter Brook who is going to make a film of George Gurujieff’s Meetings With Remarkable Men. I read it again. Can hardly believe it, but yes, it’s there, in the palm of my hand. And yes, my life is about to change.’

After Superman, Stamp was cast as the Count in a London production of Dracula, (one of several productions about the great undead vampire that had appeared on both sides of the Atlantic). It was during this production that the following interview with the BBC took place, where Terence Stamp explained, to interviewer Valerie Singleton the attraction of Count Dracula.

‘I always think of evil and the Devil being terribly groovy - not unattractive at all, they have to be really interesting and really seductive because that’s the magnetism of evil, you know, it has to be outwardly beautiful and fetching.’
 

 
With thanks to NellyM
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Lindsay Kemp’s ‘Flowers’: A legendary dance production inspired by Jean Genet’s novel

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Jean Genet wrote Our Lady of the Flowers while in prison in 1942. It was published anonymously the following year, and sold around 30 copies. It wasn’t until after the Allied Forces liberated France in 1944 that the bulk of the copies were bound and sold.

Due to its sexual content Our Lady of the Flowers was sold as high class erotica, but Genet never intended it as such. It would take until the book had been revised and reprinted by Gallimard in 1951 that Our Lady of the Flowers received the critical accolades it richly deserved - even if Jean-Paul Sartre described it as “the epic of masturbation.”

It was an over-the-wall conversation with a neighbor that led Lindsay Kemp to create and produce his now legendary dance production of Flowers in 1974. As Lindsay recounted to Dangerous Minds last year:

‘I’d just rented a little cottage, a country retreat, in Hungerford in Berkshire, and my next door neighbor - it was one Sunday morning and we were listening to Round the Horne, we all did on those Sunday mornings - and my neighbor across the fence leaned over and said.

“Oh hi, I think this book might interest you.”

And it was Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers. And I began to read it, and as soon as I began to read it I could already see it on the stage, and I could see myself as Divine, the central character. And two weeks later, we opened it.

Only someone of Kemp’s incredible talents and vision could have produced Flowers, and the production put Kemp and his dance company literally “on the map.” Since then, Kemp and Co. have performed Flowers all across the world to incredible acclaim.

In 1982, a video was made of the Lindsay Kemp Dance Company performing Flowers at the Teatro Parioli, Roma. It is rarely been seen since, and the video is a incredible treat for anyone interested in dance, performance and theater.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Lindsay Kemp is on the ‘phone: Scenes from his life from Genet to Bowie

 

Lindsay Kemp: Seldom seen interview about his production of ‘Salome’ from 1977

 

David Bowie and Lindsay Kemp’s rarely seen production ‘Pierrot in Turquoise’ from 1968


 
With thanks to Lindsay Kemp’s Last Dance
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Brice Taylor: Mind-controlled Sex Slave of the CIA, Bob Hope and Henry Kissinger
01.02.2013
03:13 pm

Topics:
Kooks
Television

Tags:
Brice Taylor


 
Another segment from my Disinformation TV series that originally aired on UK television’s Channel Four network in 2000 and 2001 has been posted on YouTube. I wish it was streaming on Netflix so more people could see it, but you can still buy the DVD from 2006 on Amazon.

This piece, one of my favorites, focuses on the self-proclaimed “mind-controlled sex slave” of the CIA, “Brice Taylor” (not her real name) but actually did not make it to broadcast. “Brice” is the author of one of the craziest books I have ever encountered, Thanks For The Memories: The Truth Has Set Me Free! The Memoirs of Bob Hope’s and Henry Kissinger’s Mind-Controlled Slave in which she alleges being a victim of the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program, specifically something called “Project Monarch” which groomed “mind-controlled sex slaves” for rich and powerful people.

This was the SOLE piece, the only one out of all the shit I dropped in their lap for two years (“Uncle Goddamn,” Kembra Pfahler sewing her pussy shut, the extreme porn segment, etc, etc, etc) that the Channel Four lawyers docked from the show. They were amazingly lenient with me for nearly everything—I can’t believe what I got away with, looking back on it—but this one could not be salvaged because British libel laws are such that you can’t knowingly publish a false claim or untruth, and the law is pretty cut and dry on this.

But weren’t her claims of making mother/daughter dolphin porn directed by Sylvester Stallone a little too preposterous to be believed? The fact that no one would believe any of it didn’t really matter, as corporate lawyers, they very simply just could not let this story run. None of it. I was so happy with the way that it had turned out that this seemed like a bitter defeat at the time. Oh well, it’s now 12 years since the show was produced and anyone who wants to can see it on YouTube. Ultimately, I have no complaints.

So the backstory behind this is that I contacted “Brice” via email and told her about the British show and invited her to be on it. After an initially wary exchange, I suggested that we speak on the phone.

Her concern, she told me bluntly, was that I was going to make her look like a kook and I gave her my standard rap that I gave to every kook I wanted to get on camera: “Brice, if I have video rolling and you are saying kooky things, look, I’m a television producer, so I’m probably going to use that footage, yes, but if when the cameras are on, you’re true to yourself, you’re poised, you stay on message and you’re satisfied when I leave that you didn’t embarrass yourself, no, I’m not going to go out of my way to make you look like a nut. How would that work anyway unless YOU give me kooky footage? So just don’t act like a kook on camera, okay?”

AS IF, but that line of reasoning did seem to win her over a bit, although she still wasn’t convinced. I upped the ante: “Okay, what if we do the piece from YOUR point of view? In fact, aside from me asking you a question or two off-camera or something minor, the entire piece can be in YOUR voice—we can use the introduction to your book [Scroll to page 40] as the VO, it’s perfect, we’ll just mic you up and have you read it in a closet a couple of times—and you being interviewed on camera. You have my word that I will basically keep myself out of it. You’ll write the piece, how’s that?”

She was very definitely “in” after that and the very next day, the fearless cameraman and editor I worked with on the show, Nimrod Erez, second cameraman Brian Butler and I drove to a place in San Diego where she was staying (it was a gorgeous home in the hills that belonged to her therapist, who she also worked for doing some sort of New Age water/memory retrieval therapy thing that I didn’t really understand).

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by 6’4” retired FBI Special Director Ted Gunderson, a name well-known to fans of the most far-out variants of conspiracy theory. Gunderson, now deceased, but then about 75, was known for being an idiotic bigmouth who hounded the producers of shows like Geraldo! and A Current Affair for appearances. We were told that he was there to provide “security” for “the little lady” as he called her and he’d also invited himself to be on camera (something that she seemed to want, too) to bolster her bona fides. I was only too delighted to accommodate a blithering fucking idiot who would have a lower third identifying him as a former FBI bureau chief! This was a gift.

A few asides about Gunderson: One, he lived in Las Vegas (where he had a ham radio conspiracy theory show) and brought along three framed photographs on his long-ass drive to San Diego. One was him with Gerald and Betty Ford. Another was of him with Ronald Reagan. The third was a portrait of John Wayne, just a regular studio promo shot, not even signed to him or anything. Listen to him speak in the piece. He thought he sounded like John Wayne and he wanted me to somehow connect him to the actor in my mind. Maybe I’d even compare him to John Wayne, he told me.

The second thing was that it was OBVIOUS—and I mean OBVIOUS—that Ted thought he was going to get laid. He followed “Brice” around like a male dog sniffing around a female dog’s ass. When I wanted them both on camera at the same time, she balked and took me aside to admonish me not to “make it look like we’re a couple.” She wasn’t into him, but she wanted him there on camera to make her seem more credible… or something.

With a guy like Ted there to buck up your credibility, you ain’t got much to begin with! The best way to describe Gunderson is that he was like “Jethro Bodine” pretending to be a “double-naught spy” on The Beverly Hillbillies. At one point during his career he oversaw 700 plus officers of the FBI’s Southern California bureau, and yet frankly, he’s one of the stupidest people I’ve ever met. Whenever someone asks me how he got in such a position, I tell them, “He was big and he was pushy.” (I’d run into him a few more times over the years, including when I interviewed him about Satanic cults for another spot on the show. He was a comic foil for me twice in the series).

As the lights were getting set up, an anxious “Brice” asked me where the show would be seen and I told her what Channel Four was and I said “It’s network, not cable” and explained that there were fewer television stations in the UK than in America and this caused her to perk up. “You mean like they’ve only got four or five channels? And that’s what everyone basically watches? Do you think the Queen of England watches Channel Four?”

I was confused about where she was going with this and I demurred “Well, yeah, I’m pretty sure, of course, that she’s seen Channel Four, yes…”

“OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! TED! TED! He says the Queen of England might see this show. Maybe I can get a message to her about my son!”

She turned to me, obviously cycling maniacally at this point: “So you really think the Queen of England will see this???”
 

 
Not wanting to dampen her instantaneous enthusiasm for the task we about to embark on, I replied that if the Queen of England was up watching late night TV and flipping channels while the Duke of Edinburgh snoozed, then, yes, perhaps there was a certain mathematical possibility of that occurring… (!)

I don’t want to give too much away for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but we discussed beforehand that when I would feed her the question about the Queen, she would shift from speaking to me, to addressing the camera/Queen directly for some added dramatic oomph!

With the interview, the B-roll and the voice-over in the can, we decamped to Kinko’s to get color photocopies of her family photographs. Gunderson came with us, at one point comically showing off that he was packing heat to try to impress her, but by then it was obvious that she’d gotten what she wanted out of him (the drive from Las Vegas to San Diego is hardly trivial) and she started making “Well, I’ve got to be getting home now” noises to clue him in that we wasn’t getting any of that Project Monarch pussy anytime soon.

When the piece was first edited, I invited my pot delivery guy, a fat queeny dude (think “Cam” on Modern Family) to watch it. When it was over, he looked at me and said “You know you’re going to Hell, right?”

Perhaps he’s right, but at least I kept my word about letting this utterly demented woman tell her “own story.” Although the piece did not air on Channel Four as I’d hoped, when “Brice” got a VHS of the segment, she seemed thrilled and sent me a copy of her book inscribed with a thank you.

Over the years, when I’ve been invited to screen the Disinformation TV shows at museums and repertory cinemas, the most ridiculous question anyone has ever asked me about this piece—and it gets asked nearly every time!—is “How much of what she says do you think is true?”

Um…. how’s about none of it?

And now, without much further ado, take it away Brice Taylor, mind-controlled sex slave of the CIA…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
From Opera and the Avant-Garde to Pop: The Musical World of Mikael Karlsson

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There are those who are late developers. Paul Gauguin was in his mid-thirties before he quit his job as a stock-broker and gave up his middle class life to paint pictures; Augustus John was twenty-eight when one summer, he dived into the sea, hit his head and emerged from the waters a genius; Mikael Karlsson was twenty-one when he decided to quit his job at the liquor store and become a composer.

Mikael Karlsson: ‘It was very late, it wasn’t until twenty-one when I dropped out of Law School. I’d always been playing piano and drawing, but I didn’t have much to say.

‘Three years into Law School, I realized I really hated it. I wasn’t performing well. So, I dropped out of Law School and found a piano teacher. I didn’t tell my parents that I had dropped out. For a year, I worked in a liquor store to pay for piano lessons, and then I started to bang things out on the piano and record them.

‘Two years later, I realized finally that here was a medium with which I had something to say with. Before then, I had pretty much succumbed to the idea that I wasn’t going to do anything artistic. It wasn’t in the cards for me, even though I had an urge. But I didn’t feel the confidence to do it until I was twenty-one and I was grown-up.’

Mikael Karlsson was born in Sweden in 1975. When he started playing the piano in the mid-1990s, it was more than apparent he had an incredible affinity with music. But without any academic grounding in music, Mikael was unable to enter any of Sweden’s music schools. He, therefore, decided to move to New York

Mikael Karlsson: ‘I’ve lived in New York since January 8th, 2000. I moved here to study. In Sweden admission to music school is centralized and as I was very much outside of that system, I would have not been admitted because I had no background in music.

‘On the other hand here in New York, you kind of pay-your-way into it. So I went to the cheapest possible stage school that would allow me to enter. I went to Queen’s College. What I loved about it was that it was easy to get in, and you could get a lot out of it. I spent 5 years doing that, getting my Masters here.’

Karlsson earned a masters degree in composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music and graduated Summa Cum Laude with departmental honors in June of 2005.

Mikael Karlsson: ‘When I graduated, I realized that the musicians I kept collaborating with lived here. So, I needed to stay.’

Since graduating, Mikael has produced an incredible array of work: writing and releasing albums; contributing tracks to the films of Bruce LaBruce; composing music for the Cedars Lake Dance Company; collaborating with designer and film-maker Anna Österlund; scoring and producing for Black Sun productions; writing music for video games; working with Lydia Lunch;  and composing an opera.

Karlsson wears his success lightly. He delights more in other’s good fortune, rather than his own achievements. He makes his life seem like a series of happy accidents, rather than the product of his incredible talent and dedicated hard work, which make him so productive, so successful and such a brilliant composer.

If this weren’t enough, Mikael has the looks of pop star and a wicked sense of humor, which sparkled throughout our interview.

Paul Gallagher: How did you first start composing?

Mikael Karlsson: ‘My friend Niklas showed me how to sequence things on a computer, and I had been writing these little musical sketches, and now I was finally able to hear them.

‘I remember spending an evening programming pieces I had written but never heard performed on his computer, and when I played it back, it was one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever had. I was just sitting in my apartment on the floor listening to it over-and-over-and-over again.

‘Finally hearing that there was something there mattered to me. It was a very different feeling. I finally felt content pouring out of me, and it made me curious. It made me wonder what the hell I was saying?

‘I was just exploring where music can go, and in a non-experimental way at first, because I wanted to figure out what the language was. I didn’t know any music theory, but it was now possible for me to replicate something that I heard. So, like any artist at the start, I learnt through copying. Eventually I accumulated a palette of what music I seemed to prefer, and my own language started growing out of that.’

Paul Gallagher: What was your early music like?

Mikael Karlsson: ‘My early pieces were very romantic, and there’s something of that even now, and there’s also that Scandinavian darkness that doesn’t seem to want to leave.

‘None of my pieces are about me. It’s not like I’m expressing something that’s just about me, I’m watching where the music want to go, and that’s what keeps it fresh, that’s how I keep wanting to do more.

‘I’m interested in seeing where elements of Classical music can fit into Pop music, and where Experimental music can fit into more conventional classical music. Such combinations became more interesting as I went along and I became able to do things.

‘Because I was very insecure about what I had made, I hardly allowed anyone to listen to it. But when I did, they seemed to be affected by it, and that was a fantastic kick for someone who had spent twenty-years refusing to go there.’
 
Mikael Karlsson has made a special sampler of his music for Dangerous Minds readers, which you can download here or click on the image below.
 
Mikael_Karlsson_Dangerous_Minds_download
 
Find out more about Mikael Karlsson here.
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘Danach’: A film by Anna Österlund featuring music by Mikael Karlsson and Black Sun Productions


More from Mikael Karlsson, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
An Introduction to the World of Noise Artist: Elizabeth Veldon

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Inspiration is hard work.

It’s early December and the first snow of winter is falling across the west coast of Scotland. Friends tweet their excitement, their child-like hopes for a white Christmas, posting images of blurry snow on lamp-lit streets. At her home in the north of Glasgow, Noise Artist Elizabeth Veldon stands in her garden, recording the sound of the snow falling.

Veldon is one of the most prolific and talented Noise Artists working today. Her work includes some of the most beautiful, brilliant, challenging and powerful soundscapes recorded. Her albums, such as A Blasted Victoriana, work on multiple levels offering up an intelligent critique of history, politics and sex. Others, including the beautifully mesmeric Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, a haunting celebration of the winter solstice.

When asked about her background, Veldon says there’s not much to tell. She was born in Scotland, into ‘a poor village with massive unemployment and a strict demarcation between Catholic and Protestant .’ This she says ‘probably led to my less than forgiving approach to religious belief.’ Veldon moved to Cambridge to study English Literature at college. It was as a student that her interests in the themes of gender, sexuality, feminist critical theory, poetry and politics, which would influence her musical work.

Returning to Scotland, Elizabeth met her partner 8 years ago. Her partner has been ‘a guiding force in my music.’ Over 6 years ago, Veldon started recorded her first CD. It sold out, and was collected by the Scottish National Library. From this Veldon started recording on a weekly then a daily basis. ‘I launched my bandcamp site around a year-and-a-half ago and since then have uploaded over 100 albums to it. I also formed my own label Black Circle records’ around 1 year ago, as a way to publish music based upon ideas of co-operation, collaboration and community.’

Paul Gallagher: When did you become interested in music and creating noise music/soundscapes? What were the key moments/influences?

Elizabeth Veldon: ‘I’ve always been interested in music, but I suppose this really took off when I met my present partner and two people obsessed with music got together.

‘I don’t know exactly when I became interested in making music but I remember why: I wanted to show that it was possible to make music without studios or finances, a kind of democratisation of the music making process. I began posting these on myspace (back in the days when everyone used myspace) and got positive feedback so I kept going. Originally I improvised tracks by playing multiple pieces by other artists over each other and recorded this to tape using a stereo with no speakers connected. This was then recorded back to my computer and then used as one of the tracks in a second layer and so on and so on until I had a completed piece.

‘As I began taking this process seriously, I started to think of it in terms of John Cage’s Fontana Mix, and began half-jokingly referring to it as Fontana Mix Without A Score, and John Cage has stayed my primary influence since then. I think it’s his belief that music is that which is produced by an artist or composer that most captures my imagination.

‘This led me to try to produce music that echoed the ideas of Pure Abstraction that is something which was not inspired by an external object or sensation. It was this that led me to experiment with feedback and wave forms.

‘More often than not the germ of a work comes from something read in a book or something I hear. For instance The English And Their Dogs came about from my partner saying ‘The Germans love children the way the English love their dogs’. While Satan Is A Very Poor Fellow was inspired by the cover of a book about German artists in exile during and after World War Two.

‘Other influences have included geometric abstractionism (in that it gave me a way to think about producing abstract music), 90’s feminist punk such as Bikini Kill, Derek Jarman (for his fearlessness) and early music.

‘That sounds like the most pretentious list of influences ever.

‘Lately I’ve found myself interested in landscape and finding inspiration from that and then, of course, there’s politics which is always present in everything I do.’

For more information about Elizabeth Veldon and Black Circle.
 
 

 
More from Elizabeth Veldon, plus an introduction to her music, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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