Camp David

CAMP DAVID MARCH 2006

By • Mar 1st, 2006 •

Share This:

THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT

No one could have imagined what kind of an impact the now notorious film version of Gore Vidal’s novel “Myra Breckenridge” would have on my future life in Hollywood or the career I would chose once I arrived in the City of the Angels.

During the long hot summer of 1970, MYRA BRECKENRIDGE the motion picture became the ultimate celebration of pop culture nihilism, opening across the country for a fast Warhol fifteen minutes, leaving 20th Century Fox in a daze of bad counter-culture films made by suits without a clue what EASY RIDER had done to the business they thought they were a part of….

I managed to see MYRA in San Francisco at a midnight sneak preview with an audience of freaks that tripped through the whole thing making it a “happening”. My favorite observation regarding ‘Myra” was that her personality was really “Werner Erhard with a sense of Irony.” Anyone familiar with EST knows what that means… Naturally I will always love this film.

The following morning I was off to Rome for a summer semester of college Italian style. MYRA was also in Rome that summer…the media hype was nearly that of CLEOPATRA in the sixties “At last the book that couldn’t be written is now a motion picture that couldn’t be made”. A huge billboard of Mae West as the statue of Liberty towered near the coliseum. Regardless of the disastrous reviews, everyone wanted to know if Mae West was really a man or did Raquel Welch indulge in catfights between takes as Rex Reed let it all hang out in his diary. Well… the scandal passed into legend with those diaries of Rex’s locked away never to be heard from again. However the memory of Mike Sarne’s third and last attempt at filmmaking would linger in the images of the amazing cast of actors that populated MYRA. I would wind up representing at least three of them as well as recording Mike Sarne’s recollections of Myra on video tape nearly twenty years later for my Sinister Image series.

Calvin Lockhart, who was playing a cameo role as the very fey “Irving” in MYRA, was on his way to becoming the cinema’s great black hope. The Nassau-born actor had once been a pupil of the legendary Uta Hagen in New York, where he caused a minor sensation on Broadway with “A Taste of Honey” with Angela Lansbury. His friendship with Mike Sarne began with JOANNA, a strange 60’s mod time capsule that Gore Vidal would later say resembled “a collection of cigarette ads.” Peter Max did the poster art and for a time it seemed Calvin and Sarne had the best of everything. Calvin arrived in England to prove himself worthy performing at Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford, as well as filming projects like A DANDY IN ASPIC for Anthony Mann/Laurence Harvey, and LEO THE LAST with John Boorman.

Calvin always maintained a kind of arrogance that was tolerated and somewhat balanced by his then physical beauty. I would meet Calvin Lockhart during the first months of opening my own Talent Agency in Century City. My new assistant, Susanne Gordon, was an English blonde of great experience in show business having worked for Shirley Jones and the impossible Jack Cassidy. Susanne had discovered through one of her contacts that Calvin was in town looking for a new agent so she arranged for us to meet at La Scala Boutique in Beverly Hills for dinner. That night in the fall of 1978 would remain in my memory forever as a favorite moment since Calvin would never again be so charming, and times would never be as glamorous as they were in Beverly Hills in those days before laptops and cell phones, and packaging for TVQ would render the business light years away from the supper clubs of Beverly Hills and “Old Hollywood”.

What made our first meeting work so well (looking back after all this time) was the fact that I knew next to nothing about Calvin except that he had been in MYRA as a gesture to Mike, and had turned down the TV series “Room 222” after a rather unfortunate experience on a film entitled HALLS OF ANGER which in his view was directed by a racist and caused Calvin to walk off the film more than once.

Susanne and I arrived at La Scala that evening to find Lockhart already seated at a table with a Blonde actress he was ready to dispose of when we reached our appointed table. Calvin excused himself and moved over to our table explaining that he ran into her while waiting for us to arrive. Before we could order our cocktails the Blonde came over, asking Calvin when he might be free later on…and would not take no for an answer. Finally Calvin looked at the water glass on the table and said to her “You know my dear, even this water can contain itself; why can’t you?”

What became apparent during this first of many adventures with Calvin was the attraction my assistant held for Mr. Lockhart and vise versa. So began the Susanne/Calvin affair that would for a time find Mr. Lockhart moving into her apartment at the Chateau De Fleur on Franklin in the heart of Hollywood (The city that has no heart).

Calvin had been away from Hollywood for quite some time, living in Jamaica, after turning down the ‘Room 222’ series. So the first order of business was to let the casting directors know he was back and ready to work. Tim Flack over at Fox called to offer Calvin a guest spot on the cop series “Starsky and Hutch” in an episode entitled “Cover Girl,” with former model Maude Adams. He played a hired killer with a kink for model airplanes. While working on the Fox lot Calvin arranged for us to screen the first film he’d made for Mike Sarne, JOANNA, as well as the still unreleased THE BARON, also known as BARON VON TRIPPS. This oddity boasts not only Calvin in his usual cad mode, but a star turn from actor Richard Lynch who pretty much walks away with the film as Lockhart’s adversary, with a great death scene to boot. The wonderful Joan Blondell is in it as well, always referring to Calvin as “Hotdog.” It seems all the women in this film are under his spell in one way or another. To this day THE BARON has yet to turn up even on DVD! After the Fox show we needed some new photos of Calvin to send around town. Calvin insisted he knew just the right photographer, and the results are here for the record….Calvin dressed up like a pimp, complete with hat and cane! As sophisticated as Calvin Lockhart could be as a personality and world traveler he still saw himself in Hollywood as a pimp.

I represented Calvin from the end of 1978 through the first part of 1980, during which time we attended many parties with amazing guys like the late Lawrence Cook (THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR), Roscoe Lee Browne (A hoot!) and Brock Peters. It was a difficult time for Calvin as his return also brought him face to face with how much it really cost him to leave Hollywood in the first place. He left on the verge of stardom and now he saw co-stars like Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby already major stars while he had to struggle all over again, all the while getting a bit older and more desperate. We found him a pad in the Barham Apts, overlooking the Hollywood freeway yet close to the studios in Burbank, an ideal location. The only scare Calvin gave me during our working relationship was his heart attack brought on by the news that both of his sons had lost the use of their legs, one from jumping under a train and the other from some kind of drug related incident. This news, along with the the pressure of trying to make it in Hollywood, put Calvin in intensive care at Cedars Sinai…Brock Peters took care of particulars at the hospital and got him admitted even though his Screen Actors Guild insurance had been in doubt as he’s left town so many years ago. We left Calvin on the mend and within days he was back at his apt and ready for work.

On Sundays I would organize a brunch for some of my clients at a popular eatery in Venice known as “Roberts,” positioned directly in front of the Pacific Ocean on the Santa Monica boardwalk. It was there that Roscoe Lee Browne made his now famous remark when asked he if was an Afro-American. Roscoe replied “No Honey, I’m am Aphrodisiac!” Later Roscoe tapped Calvin on the shoulder and the two had an impromptu waltz, such was the atmosphere in “Roberts” after a few mimosas, with the likes of directors Paul Bartel, Paul Mazursky, novelist Christopher Isherwood, Fellini star and hustler Hiram Keller, Bond girl Martine Beswick, and Viva, a real mix of Warhol superstars and sixties icons. Also in “Roberts” that afternoon was actor Monty Landis who also had a small role in MYRA as a wacko acting coach who clutches a tree, saying the immortal line “A tree God-Dammit”. Monty became a client that day and later he and Viva would be cast in LOVE AT FIRST BITE, only to wind up on the cutting room floor, or, in Viva’s case, fired over a long standing problem regarding CISCO PIKE. (She flew to New York to promote the film and just kept on going to Paris).

There were more good times during this period with Calvin introducing me to the great Hugh Masekela (South Africa’s musical ambassador to the world) who kept a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont to receive friends after a gig. Khaliah Ali, the amazing daughter of the “Champion,” was a good friend of Calvin’s as well. I will never forget meeting Hugh Masekela’s mother that evening, a very funny lady who tragically was killed by an elephant while in South Africa a few months later. One incident stands out from that evening as an example of what might have been had Calvin become the star many thought he should be…We left Hugh and started toward the driveway at the Marmont when a young man who worked as a valet in the garage recognized Calvin and insisted on locating his car. Calvin chose a white Rolls Royce that was sitting near the lobby archway. Within minutes we were all in this stolen Rolls driving down Sunset, Calvin laughing his head off at the absurdity of it.

Calvin Lockhart will always be a Casanova best remembered on the silver screen, who stepped down from it occasionally to have a few laughs with mortals like myself, only to reappear perhaps in Jamaica on the arm of another man’s wife.

THREE DANCING SLAVES

The new film by Gael Morel has arrived on DVD in a sparking transfer complete with photo gallery and original trailer. The film is displayed at 1.85 anamorphic widescreen and looks beautiful. This is a film about young men and their transitions into manhood, and although gay themes are explored here, that is not the main focus of the film as each young man has issues beyond that with the destructive lifestyles that exists in and around their family and friends. There is very little overt sex with more erotic byplay between the young men. The location photography is stunning with the French Alps as a backdrop against which the angst unfolds. A sexy film with good performances, especially Thomas Dumerschez as Oliver, the capoeira fighter in love.…The jacket tell us it is a gay RUMBLEFISH, and so it is! Worth a look.

UNTIL DAWN OPENING NIGHT

On January 21st the Darkroom Gallery exhibited the first ever exhibition of photographs from the Horror film. The images ranged from Caligari to Bergman as the black and white photos explored the silent films with their Germanic overtones to the influence they would have on Hollywood in its Golden era of sound with Dracula and Frankenstein.

The attendance was high and among the first to arrive was actor Clu Gulager with director C. Courtney Journer, both well versed in Hollywood history. Clu was dazzled by the Clarence Bull portrait of Peter Lorre as Dr. Gogol from MGM’S MAD LOVE (1935)

David and Courtney Joyner

The sales went on through the night, so by nearly midnight we toasted the evening a success. The kudos must go first to John Matkowsky who runs the gallery. John also did the printing, which made outstanding images even more amazing, as they were framed and lit for the show.

The success of UNTIL DAWN has already paved the way for another exhibit from The Del Valle Archives and The Dark Room Gallery……The first-ever exhibit of images from The Mexican Horror Film: THE HAUNTED HACIENDA, to begin on Cinquo De Mayo (May 2nd) Camp David will cover the event has it happens.

UNTIL THEN REMEMBER MAY ALL YOUR DREAMS BE IN 70 MM

Tagged as: , , ,
Share This Article: Digg it | del.icio.us | Google | StumbleUpon | Technorati

Leave a Comment

(Comments are moderated and will be approved at FIR's discretion, please allow time to be displayed)