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Salvador Dali’s strange and surreal illustrations for the autobiography of a Broadway legend

Unless you’re a fan of Barbra Streisand movies, then the name Billy Rose probably won’t mean much. Billy Rose was a legendary Broadway impresario and songwriter—now best known for such show tunes as “Paper Moon” and “Me and My Shadow.” If you like la Streisand then you’ll know James Caan played Billy Rose to Barbra’s star comedian Fanny Brice in the hit movie Funny Lady. Billy Rose and Fanny Brice were for a time married. They were a celebrity couple like Brangelina or Beyonce and Jay Z.

That Billy Rose isn’t so well known today just goes to show how being a celebrity don’t mean shit in the long run. We might remember his songs, maybe even read about his stage shows, but we don’t care about the man. What is remembered are those people of exceptional talents who change everything.

Salvador Dali was such a talent.

Dali was talented and prolific. So prolific that he produced posters for the Communist Party the same decade he designed the window displays for Bonwit Teller in New York. Everything was open to the Dali treatment.

However, some possibly more green-eyed individuals thought Dali was only after one thing. His fellow Surrealist André Breton gave Dali the nickname “Avida Dollars.” The name was an anagram of Salvador Dali and was intended as a damning insult. The Surrealists thought Dali was only interested in money. Avida Dollars was a phonetic rendering of the French phrase “avide à dollars” which means “eager for dollars.”

It was Billy Rose who helped the Dali stage his “Dream of Venus” exhibit at the World’s Fair in 1939. This started an unlikely friendship between Dali and the showman known as the “Basement Belasco” and the “Bantam Barnum.”

Dali was so enamored with his new Broadway buddy he gave Billy a series of paintings titled “The Seven Lively Arts.” When these were later lost in a fire at Billy’s home, Dali replaced the work with a new painting called “Rock ‘n’ Roll” in 1956. That’s how tight these two were at one point.

Of course, Dali was shrewd enough to know giving paintings to a big impresario like Billy Rose would establish his name among the celebrity and monied social circuit and bring himeven more fame and success.

In 1948, Dali supplied a series of beautiful ink illustrations for Rose’s autobiography Wine, Women & Words. Rose was like a character out of a Damon Runyon story written by Raymond Chandler. Here’s how Rose opens his autobiography:

I was born the night President McKinley was shot, and a lot of fellows around Broadway will tell you they shot the wrong man.

The coming-out party took place on a kitchen table in a tenement on the lower East Side. When my mother first saw me, she prophesied, “Some day he’ll be President.” My father looked at me and said, “He’s all right, I guess, but what we really needed was an icebox.”

Yet this mix of showbiz wiseguy and Surrealist genius actually worked.

Each chapter in the book had its own illustration—with one (“Poor Eleanor Knows Them by Heart”) having two. Each focussing on some key moment or anecdote from Rose’s career. There was also quite a lot on his relationship with his then wife Eleanor Holm—the woman he left Fanny Brice for—who had been a star of his swimming extravaganza Aquacade at the World’s Fair of 1939.
Billy Rose.
“Look, Ma, I’m Writing.”
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Wild Man Fischer and DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh interpret ‘The Way We Were’

I never cared much for “The Way We Were” as Barbra Streisand sings it, but if you’re going to put on Larry “Wild Man” Fischer’s version when I’m around, you’d better bring a whole box of tissues. There are going to be all kinds of bodily fluids happening.

As Fischer is il miglior fabbro, his is the superior version in every way. In just over one minute—less than a third of the original’s length—Fischer delivers three times the emotion of Streisand’s rendition. He chooses an arrangement that is simple and direct, not smeared over with goopy strings and petroleum jelly wah guitar. And with Babs singing, that opening line about “mem’ries” illuminating “the corners of my mind” never rang true. Wild Man Fischer, now there was a guy whose mind had corners: pointy, dark, unswept intersections where peeled scabs and fingernail clippings fought cobwebs for space. I can picture a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a Christmas painting by Thomas Kinkade and a Bosendorfer in Streisand’s head, maybe even a few alcoves—but corners? Don’t shit a shitter, lady.

According to WFMU, Fischer and Mark Mothersbaugh recorded this tearjerker for the last episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse (“Playhouse for Sale,” aired in November 1990), but the show’s producers decided not to use it. The song belatedly came out on the 2001 promo CD Mutato Meatballs Smorgasbord, a collection of tracks recorded at Mothersbaugh’s Sunset Boulevard studio. That’s Mothersbaugh playing the keys, and it sounds to me like he’s singing harmony, too, though I have only the testimony of my half-ruined ears.

(If you need more Wild Man Fischer, the worthy documentary dErailRoaDed is now quite cheap on DVD.)

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Isolated track of Barbra Streisand singing David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’
03:32 pm


David Bowie
Barbra Streisand

ButterFly is probably the most controversial album in Barbra Streisand’s impressive catalog. It was produced by her boyfriend at the time, Jon Peters, who had been a hairdresser and had no experience producing albums ( credits arranger Tom Scott as the “real power” on the album). On ButterFly Streisand ventured far outside of her comfort zone, covering the likes of Bob Marley (“Guava Jelly”) and Buck Owens (“Crying Time”). Streisand’s majestic treatment of Bowie’s “Life on Mars” might be the most successful track on the album (this guy thinks so, anyway) but in the September 1976 issue of Playboy Cameron Crowe asked Bowie what he thought of Streisand’s version and this was his answer: “Bloody awful. Sorry, Barb, but it was atrocious.”

As an album overall, Streisand has named ButterFly as one of her least favorite; in a February 6, 1992, appearance on Larry King Live a caller asked Streisand what her favorite and least favorite of her own albums were; she cited The Broadway Album as her favorite and ButterFly as her least favorite: “That was pretty lousy. I think that’s the only one that I didn’t love. I just don’t remember the songs. I can’t remember what was on it. I don’t remember doing it.”

I don’t know. I’m no Streisand fan, but from this distance ButterFly looks punk as fuck. The sly album cover reminds me of Alex Chilton’s first album Like Flies on Sherbert, and the choice to do those unusual covers exhibits a certain “eff you” attitude that I enjoy. If middle-aged Barbra of 1992 didn’t agree, who could fault her, really. The whole Jon Peters thing and whatever criticism she received probably tarnished it for her.

Hear Babs cover Bowie after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Cycle Slut’ Barbra Streisand gets naughty in BDSM photoshoot, 1970
11:25 am


Barbra Streisand

Holy hell! I had no idea Babs had it in her! Barbra Streisand looks absolutely crazy-hot here in a series of photos from a photoshoot she did for the 1970 film The Owl and the Pussycat. I mean, just look at her!

In the film, Streisand plays the role of “a somewhat uneducated actress, model and part-time prostitute.” Her character’s name is Doris. There’s a scene in the The Owl and the Pussycat where Doris’ love interest, Felix—played by George Segal—walks past an adult movie theater and is shocked to see that Doris is starring in a “porn” called Cycle Sluts. (I added the YouTube video at the very bottom of the post so you can see what I’m talking about. It’s very short.) In the brief scene you see Felix’s mortified face staring at the posters for Cycle Sluts which features Doris and a few pals in somewhat “naughty” BDSM-type poses.

Annnnnd, that’s where these photos came from. They were basically shot for a prop in a brief scene. It was driving me nuts. My husband suggested that they might’ve been from a Playboy magazine spread promoting the film, but no, in actual fact, they were props.

In other news, La Streisand is about to become the only person to score a number one album for six consecutive decades with the release of her upcoming album, Partners which is expected to top the Billboard 200.

PS - It took me forever to find these images on the Internet. They weren’t that easy to locate. I actually found a few on a fetish thread for dudes who like dominatrixes with big noses. That’s a specific fetish. A new one on me!




More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment