“Anti-intellectual political activist” Victoria Jackson reacts to the election on Twitter.
“Anti-intellectual political activist” Victoria Jackson reacts to the election on Twitter.
By 1968, Dirk Bogarde thought his film career was drawing to a close, as his days as a matinee idol were long over, and the offers of work had slowed. With his partner Tony Forwood, he moved to France, and started a second career as a writer. Bogarde proved to be an exceptional writer, producing 15 bestsellers, including volumes of autobiography and fiction. He was also a dedicated correspondent, penning letters to his many friends and fans. Bogarde’s letters are filled with gossip and back-biting, sketches and scintillating tales of his life.
This first letter was written when Bogarde had finished work on Richard Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far, with Sean Connery, Ryan O’Neil and Michael Caine, and was also re-dubbing his voice on Alain Resnais Providence.
Though Bogarde was a prolific writer, he could not spell (ahem…rather like Nigel Molesworth), and the following is presented as was written.
To Bee Gilbert, Clermont, 13 September, 1976
What a lovely long letter to cheer me up on my return, three days ago, from a hellish week of looping in Paris. I got there to find that I had to loop the entire fucking film… 200 loops. The sound engineers were dreadful (from Telly natch) and the birds, dogs and airoplanes which scattered across the locations screwd us up even more. Well… it is done now. Am home again for a couple of weeks before returning to Old Father Attenboroughs Disney-Arnhem. Which I dread. Ah well. It will make a bomb, with all those Stars how can it fail? Adored Sean C and worked very happily indeed with him… and made a surprising new mate in Ryan O’Neil who could not be nicer, jollier and brighter! That WAS a surprise. Tote says it was because he was so bloody respectful to me all the time… but I just liked the bloke. And he’s good too. And THAT was a surprise. Gene Hackman was a bit Methody and got cross if the camera operator was on the set while he was rehearsing… but was very pleasant to me and quite good, not more, when it came to the Acting.
Mike Cain pulled the Movie Star bit a bit much… the big cigar, black glasses and fat Cadillac… but he was pleasant if dull and has to have the ugliest voice in the business… and pop eyes. And that was a surprise too. I dont think I could go through it again for anything. Even the lolly. A woman from The New York Times ruefully mumbled that doing something as crappy for so much loot left ‘a kind of stain.’ I wonder if she was right. Holland was hell. Apart from the van Goghs, Rembrants and the Vermeers it is all a lot of crappy horror… We stayed in a ‘dainty’ little hotel in a wood where dinner started at 6.30pm and was off at 8.45. THAT went down like a cup of cold sick as you may imagine. Especially as the prices were identicle to the Lancaster in Paris! However we had three weeks there and flew back on a beastly Caravelle, which bounced all the way to Nice…
We have had, unlike you, a soaking summer… everything green and lush… while the great trees in the Luxumbourg Gardens are all dead. And now Tote is out mowing acres of white daisies and autumn crocus and I think I’d better go and help him… regretfully. I am so lazy and full of reaction… odd.
God bless you, pretty Sno… all love as ever for ever… as you know.
Bogarde did not have worry too much about his cinematic career, as the 1970s saw him working with Luchino Visconti on Death in Venice, Liliana Cavani on The NIght Porter, with Rainer Werner Fassbinder on Despair and Bertrand Tavernier’s Daddy Nostalgie.
In 1983, Bogarde’s partner Tony Forwood was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and cancer, which led the couple to leave France for England in 1987. Not long after their arrival Bogarde suffered a stroke, and the following year Forwood died. Bogarde was devastated, only his writing kept him from suicide. He maintained his various correspondences, including one to Penelope Mortimer, whom he had written to since 1971.
In this letter from 1991, Bogarde responds to Mortimer’s gentle cajoling, and gives a portrait of his life after Forwood’s death.
To Penelope Mortimer, Cadogan Gardens, 24 September, 1991
Bloody hell, you are difficult. I TOLD you that you would find my letter nausiating, people like you, those who see everything in dusk-tones, would. I AM a sort of Pollyanna… and after years of just keeping away from people on account of millions came to me to watch my cavorting, living a secluded life in my small-holding I suddenly got shoved into FULL LIFE with no protection and in a Foreign Land.
After a time of, shall we say reflection?, I decided that having had one stroke and not much liking the effects, I could very well have another, had to live in filthy UK… had to live in London… where better to be than where I started off at 16 as a Student at Chelsea Poly? Parents had been students there too. And the Slade. I felt ‘right’ in the area. Coming to terms was difficult. To terms with walking quite unprotected in streets jammed with curious people.
‘I think it is. Look!’
‘You ask him. Go on. He cant bite you?’
‘Were you Dirk Bogarde?’
‘Left France, have you?’
‘I remember your face but not the name? Humphry someone… ‘
I ducked into my anorak and tried to walk, as I told you, only at dusk or just when shops had opened. Fewer people. No standing with curious, autograph hunting, housewives in lines at the Check Outs. Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose were soon abandoned. People followed one.
‘He’s buying tinned tomatos.’
‘Thinner than I imagined.’
‘And balding… see?’
‘Pity. But after 50, you know… ‘
‘Could you sign this? Not for me, for my neice, grandmother, wife, son, sister, baby-sitter, cousin Agnes, Eileen, with two e’s please, Anne with an “e”...’
No one, ever, in France behaved like this. Not even in Paris… unless they were British. I felt, all the time, as if my cock was hanging out of my pants: I hunched my shoulders, wore a Purdy cap, scuttled (as far as I could scuttle with a wonky leg) and my doctor thought that it might be ‘obesessional’. Might it? I’d never had an obsession before, save for lizards, frogs, birds, and those kinds of things. So I decided to either go mad or face up to it. I faced up to it. Took off the cap… walk INTO the Check out… smile at everyone because they SMILE at me! Memory jogs them… of some time in which I must have figured in their private lives somewhere… at any age from 10 to 70. My films are always on TV on Sunday. I am counted as a friend. OK. I’ll settle for that. It is far better than hiding in this flat wondering what to do, how to die gracefully.
RAGE. Yes. You make the error of thinking that RAGE has to be manifest, that one shouts and screams with what you call ‘fury’. Balls. RAGE is sometimes inside. Heard of a Rage To Live?
You react to one puny sentence in my letter about 50 years and body-bags on a too small stair-case. But RAGE did’nt remotely come NEAR the thing. Acceptance, humility, fear of ‘what now’, relief that three years of almost unendurable suspense, of desperate distress physically, of loss but relief that it was over. Knowing is so much better, I promise you, than wondering: and hope is pretty hollow when it leaves.
No sense of injustice. Helplessness, yes. To a point. But one is forced by distress and need to rally. No fury. At all. Why? It happens; we are born to die. When Anna, the Night Nurse, and I tried to turn the patient [Tony Forwood] he said, and I could only hear by putting my head against his chest and ‘took’ the vibrations, ‘If you did this to a dog they’d arrest you’. Right. He was being ‘jokey’. But he was right. Which is why I am now the Vice President of VES… and sticking my neck out against Catholics and British Manners and Members of the BMA. IN public. But no Rage. I had the most wonderous 50 years of my life. So did my partner. WE both knew that we’d have to pay. And did. OK?
I have come to terms with my life, I only have an active 10 years reasonably left. Christ! Why waste them? I have just written to Radio Drama. TV [sic] and refused, politely, their kind offer to write a play, or a series, for them. I have quoted the things I watched for homework. ‘Tittmuss’, House of Elliot, Trainer and some dire thing, they adored, which starred my (once) deeply respected Tom Courtney. Impossible to believe any of them. Lowest-Common-Watcher. I’d rather stay with my Telegraph Readers. At least they write back intelligently. I’m off to do a bit of Auschwitch again: then there is RAGE. Then, my love.
Will that do? Hope that you are not vexed that I shoved R. Fox the Handle? It’s only a nudge of course. But he’s bright, clever, and very sharp. Also his track record is amazing, and his wife is to die [for,] she is so adorable, tough, beautiful and can act! Wow!
HT to the Telegraph
I always thought David Niven was Scottish, mainly because this great, charming actor regularly claimed he had been born in the town of Kirriemuir in 1909.
Kirriemuir is known as the birthplace of Peter Pan author, J. M. Barrie, and AC/DC frontman Bon Scott. It is also famed for Walter Burnett’s Kirriemuir gingerbread, which I recall eating in thick buttered slices as a child, thinking this tasty treat was the very stuff Niven must have lived off as a bairn. Of course it wasn’t and Niven hadn’t been born in Scotland, rather he was a son of London, born in 1910. Still, it only added to his tremendous style and charm, which made me find him so likable as an actor and raconteur.
That and the fact his films, in particular The Way Ahead, A Matter of Life and Death, The Elusive Pimpernel, Around the World in 80 Days, and Separate Tables were regularly screened on local TV during the sixties and seventies, possibly in the misguided belief Niven was Scottish.
Some of this great charm can be seen here in this brief interview with Sue Lawley, from 1973, where Niven discusses his childhood, pot, alcohol and good luck.
With thanks to Nellym.
It’s likely some of you have already seen this. But even after being on YouTube for six years, I managed to miss it. I saw the 1970s Mandom commercial featuring Charles Bronson for the first time the other night at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. It was part of a reel of short subjects the theater screens in lieu of the kind of gag-inducing “real” ads shown in most movie theaters. Watching a vintage Japanese commercial in which Bronson slathers himself with deodorant while making sexy talk is lighyears better than one of those shitty Fandango ads.
The doorman is played by the wonderful character actor Percy Helton.
Enjoy the Mandom theme song (“Lovers Of The World”) by Jerry Wallace after the jump…
Peter Sellers didn’t know he was dying, he believed he was going to live until he was seventy-five. That’s what his spirit guide, the ghost of Victorian Music Hall performer, Dan Leno had told him.
Sellers was terribly superstitious, his film career had often turned on the say-so of his clairvoyant, Maurice Woodruff. By the early 1970s, Sellers believed he was similarly able to communicate with the spirit world. He also recounted to his friends how he had been various famous people in various past lives. His colleague and friend Spike Milligan, poked fun at Sellers’ beliefs, pointing out that he was always Napoleon, or Ceaser, or Leonardo da Vinci in his past life, rather than some ordinary joe.
Perhaps Sellers should have listened to Milligan, for he may not have been so credulous. He may even have uncovered that his faithful clairvoyant Woodruff was in the pay of the film studios, and his advice on starring roles was not inspired by Tarot, but rather on the size of check Woodruff received. Similarly he may found out his beloved Leno had died babbling insane, a victim of tertiary syphilis.
If Sellers had stuck more to the real world, then he may have accepted Dr. Christiaan Barnard’s offer in 1976 of open-heart surgery and the bypass that would have certainly lengthened his life. Though he attended a heart operation and photographed Barnard at work, Sellers was fearful he would die on the operating table as he had in 1964, after suffering 8 heart attacks.
Come 1980, with the failure of his third marriage to Lynne Frederick, and a grueling work schedule, Sellers was physically exhausted. As before at such times, he reached out to those people who had created some of his happiest working days: his fellow Goons, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe.
Two months before he died, Sellers wrote to Milligan in the hope that the 3 of them would once again work together on some new comedy shows. Sadly it wasn’t to be, as hours before the 3 men were about to meet, on the 22nd of July, Sellers suffered a fatal heart attack.
28 MAY 80
MR SPIKE MILLIGAN
DEAR SPIKE I AM DESPERATE TO HAVE SOME REAL FUN AGAIN WITH YOU AND HARRY. PLEASE CAN WE GET TOGETHER AND WRITE SOME MORE GOON SHOWS? WE COULD PLACE THEM ANYWHERE I DONT WANT ANY MONEY I WILL WORK JUST FOR THE SHEER JOY OF BEING WITH YOU BOTH AGAIN AS WE WERE.
Now a classic Goon Show sketch, “What time is it, Eccles?”
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Via Letters of Note, with thanks to Tara McGinley
Merv Griffin was always known for having slightly more outre guests than most of the other daytime talkshows of his era, but this October 6, 1965 interview with a nearly mute Andy Warhol and a much more talkative Edie Sedgwick must’ve been quite perplexing to American housewives when it originally aired.
An extraordinary essay by Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonikovoy has appeared on the Free Pussy Riot website. You can follow a blow by blow description of what is taking place at the Pussy Riot trial on Twitter. Kafkaesque? It’s that in spades, see for yourself. I thought it was important for this to be read by as many people as possible, so I am reproducing it here in full (but not block quoting it, because it would be a mile long)—RM
Art and the Human Manifesto of Nadya Tolokonnikova
The punk band Pussy Riot, which I belong to, is a musical group that conducts unexpected performances in different urban spaces. Pussy Riot’s songs address topical political issues. The interests of the group members are: political activism, ecology, and the elimination of authoritarian tendencies in the Russian state system through the creation of the civil society.
Since its origin in October 2011, the band played concerts in the subway, on the roof of a trolleybus, on the roof of the detention center for administrative detainees, in clothing stores, at fashion shows, and on the Lobnoe Mesto on Red Square. We believe that the art should be accessible to everyone; therefore we perform in diverse public spaces. Pussy Riot never means to show any disrespect to any viewers or witnesses of our punk concerts. This was the case on the roof of the trolleybus and on the Lobnoe Mesto, and this was the case at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
On 21 February 2012 Pussy Riot band performed its punk prayer “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In the early March 2012 three members of the group were imprisoned because of the music and political activism. The themes of our songs and performances are dictated by the present moment. We simply react to what is happening in our country, and our punk performances express the opinion of a sufficiently large number of people. In our song “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” we reflected the reaction of many Russian citizens to the patriarch’s calls for vote for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin during the presidential election of 4 March 2012.
We, like many of our fellow citizens, wrestle against treachery, deceit, bribery, hypocrisy, greed, and lawlessness, peculiar to the current authorities and rulers. This is why we were upset by this political initiative of the patriarch and could not fail to express that. The performance at Cathedral of Christ the Savior was committed not on the grounds of religious enmity and hatred. Equally, we harbor no hatred towards Orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christianity worships the same as we do: mercy, forgiveness, justification, love, and freedom. We are not enemies of Christianity. We care about the opinion of Orthodox Christians. We want all of them to be on our side - on the side of anti-authoritarian civil society activists. That is why we came to the Cathedral.
We came with what we have and can: with our musical performance. During this performance we intended to express our concern: the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church - the patriarch - supports a politician who forcefully suppresses the civil society, which is dear to us.
I would like to emphasize the fact that, while at the Cathedral, we did not utter any insulting words towards the church, the Christians, and the God. The words we spoke and our entire punk performance aimed to express our disapproval of a specific political event: the patriarch’s support of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who took an authoritarian and antifeminist course. Our performance contained no aggression towards the audience, but only a desperate desire to change the political situation in Russia for the better. Our emotions and expressiveness came from that desire. If our passion appeared offensive to any spectators, we are sorry for that. We had no intentions to offend anyone. We wish that those, who cannot understand us, would forgive us. Most of all, we want people to hold no grudges against us.
Photo: Austin Young; Make-up: Travis Pates
Usually when we get requests for Kickstarter, we have to say no because this entire blog would just be Kickstarter links, but Ann Magnuson’s “The Jobriath Medley: A Glam Rock Fairy Tale” project is different because they’ve actually already done most of the thing they want to raise money for, so you can just go online and buy it basically.
For years now, Ann has done a loving musical/spoken word tribute in her live cabaret shows to obscure 70s glam rocker Jobriath Boone (rock’s first out and out “fairy”) and recently she and longtime collaborator Kristian Hoffman have recorded it, with a small orchestra. The new project “combines good old-fashioned storytelling with extraordinarily pretty songs from Jobriath’s phantasmagoric catalogue. Think Mother Goose on LSD!”
Kristian Hoffman and I both bought the Jobriath albums when they first came out in the early 1880s. Uh, I mean early 1970s. Me as a baby glam rock hillbilly hippie back in West Virginia, Kristian in his suburban enclave in Santa Barbara – where he would sometimes appear along with his best friend Lance Loud on the first TV reality show, AN AMERICAN FAMILY. (FYI: Lance also appears as a character in a pivotal TRUE story told in our glam rock fairy tale!). Oh, and Morrissey also bought the Jobriath albums when he was also a teenage glam-rock-groupie-budding-music-critic-future-rock-star in Manchester England England! (That’s a HAIR reference, by the way. Did you know Jobriath played “Woof” in the original L.A. production? You will when you hear The Jobriath Medley!) Morrissey would later reissue select songs from Jobriath’s two solo albums on the CD “Lonely Planet Boy”. But when we created The Jobriath Medley in 1996 we were unaware of the Morrissey connection (until that Japanese import showed up with the photo of The Moz holding the original Jobriath LP under his arm. A culturally significant moment that was quickly integrated into the text performed at the next live performance of The Jobriath Medley.)
“Grandma, tell me more about the 70s…”
Don’t worry kids, you’ll learn all about that decade of debauchery when you hear The Jobriath Medley! But suffice it to say that back in the early 1970’s everyone was blow, blow, blowing away in platform shoes, glitter eye make up, downing Quaaludes and red wine while being insanely & dangerously promiscuous as we dressed up in glad rags we found in thrift stores so we could emulate the movie stars of the 1930s and 1940s that we watched on The Late Late Show on TV. We were making like Liza Minnelli in CABARET (“divine decadence darling!”) and all we wanted to do was live our lives like we were in a Ken Russell movie!
Jobriath, just like David Bowie and Marc Bolan and Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls among many others, was one of those flaming creatures in the glam rock 70s who didn’t care what other people thought about them. Maybe they really were spacemen from Mars or androgynous aliens or strangers in a strange land OR just glorified hippies dressed up like Christmas trees…
With Kieran Turner’s fab documentary Jobriath A.D. (I loved it) turning a new generation of music fans on to Jobriath, there seems little doubt that Jobriath Boone will be “the Klaus Nomi” of 2012/2013, so jump on the bandwagon NOW and support Ann and Kristian’s DIY tribute to the lonely planet boy.
The Kickstarter page for “The Jobriath Medley” has a number of really great packages for any budget, from a digital download or CD all the way up to one of a kind paintings (Ann is quite expert in painting “fake Basquiats”—I mean to say that she’s fucking genius at it—and one of the packages offers a Basquiat-glam rock themed original artwork).
Dangeorus Minds readers will appreciate knowing that Sparks’ Russell Mael has contributed backing vocals to Ann and Kristian’s cover of Jobriath’s “I’maman.”
Read more about it on Kickstarter.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Lonely Planet Boy: An interview with ‘Jobriath A.D.’ director Kieran Turner
Below, Ann talks Jobriath:
‘...I’m from an old school that believed that music and musicians could change things - maybe not radically and maybe not quickly, but that the seeds for change could definitely be sown with songs and videos and shows and interviews.’
Niall O’Conghaile aka The Niallist is talking about the music that inspired him to become a musician, a producer, a DJ, a one-man-disco-industry, and a Performer Extraordinaire.
Niall makes music that moves you “physically, mentally and emotionally. Dance music, for want of a better term!” But it’s always been about more than that.
Let’s turn to the history book…
When Brian Eno was working with David Bowie in Germany, he heard Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” in a record shop. Eno bought the single and ran, holding it aloft, back to Bowie in the studio, where he announced, like a pop John-the-Baptist, ‘I have heard the future.’
Niall is part of that future and his musical output is quite phenomenal and brilliant.
But it’s not just music that Niall has made his own, you’ll know him as a star blogger on Dangerous Minds, and perhaps through his work on the blogs Shallow Rave, Weaponizer, Menergy and his site, Niallism.
Niall also DJs / organizes club nights with Menergy and Tranarchy, and is the keyboard player with Joyce D’Ivision. All of which, for my money, makes The Niallist one of the most exciting, talented and outrageous DJ/producers currently working in the UK. Not bad for a boy who started out spinning discs on one turntable at school.
Now, it’s strange how you can spend much of your working day with someone and yet never really know that much about them. Wanting to know more about the extraordinary Niallist, I decided to interview him for (who else?) Dangerous Minds, and this is what he said.
DM: Tell me about how you started in music? Was this something to moved towards in childhood?
The Niallist: ‘Yeah, music is something I remember affecting me deeply as a kid. My sister, who is older than me, was a huge Prince fan and naturally that teenage, female, pop-music enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I would read all her old copies of Smash Hits and create my own scrap books from the magazines, even though the bands were, by then, either non-existent or pretty naff.
‘My brother was into more serious, “boy” music, which I didn’t like as a child, but which I really appreciated when I hit puberty. He had a big box of tapes that was crucial to me, even though he didn’t like me borrow them, but he had pretty much all Led Zep’s albums in there, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Bowie, The Stone Roses, and I particularly remember him getting a copy of Nevermind when it had just come out, which was a key discovery. That box smelt of Dettol and musty cassettes, and to this day the smell of Dettol still takes me back!’
What were your early tastes in music? What were those key moments when a song a record made you realise this was what you wanted to do?
The Niallist: ‘Well, Nevermind was definitely one. I think that record started a lot of people on a musical journey. But also, I really identified with Kurt Cobain, as he was an outsider in the pop music landscape who spoke up for gay and women’s rights, which really struck a chord with me. He was a man, but he also wasn’t scared of being seen as feminine. He was a pop star, he looked scruffy and spoke with intelligence and passion. He was different. As someone else who was different, and a natural outsider, I guess I saw music as maybe a place where I could fit in and still fully express myself.
‘Call me hopelessly naive if you will, but I’m from an old school that believed that music and musicians could change things - maybe not radically and maybe not quickly, but that the seeds for change could definitely be sown with songs and videos and shows and interviews. Looking back on the early 90s now, it seems like an incredibly politically-charged time for music and pop culture. Public Enemy, NWA, Ice Cube, Huggy Bear, Bikini Kill, The Prodigy with “Fuck ‘Em And Their Law”, Pearl Jam telling Ticketmaster to fuck off, Spiral Tribe, massive illegal raves, Back To The Planet, Senser, Rage Against The Machine, the fact that RuPaul was a pop star, even Madonna’s Sex book and Erotica album for God’s sake! If you weren’t politically active or at least aware back then, you were terribly uncool. That spirit seems to have disappeared from music altogether now, which is sad.’
More from Niall, including his Top 5 picks, after the jump…
Muhammad Ali is a riveting storyteller and has undeniable presence in this entertaining, gutsy and inspiring interview conducted for Irish TV on July 1972. Interviewer RTÉ’s Cathal O’Shannon does a fine job of navigating the enormous personality of Ali and much of what the boxer has to say is painfully true and often way ahead of its time.
The interview took place while Ali was in Dublin to fight Al “Blue” Lewis 16 months after suffering his first defeat at the hands of Joe Frazier.