Camp David

CAMP DAVID APRIL 2008: RADIO DAZE

By • Apr 20th, 2008 • Pages: 1 2 3 4

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RADIO DAZE: THE PALM SPRINGS TRIANGLE

My curiosity was peaked the other day as I happened upon an article in the November issue of ‘Vanity Fair’ regarding the exploits of one Lou Pearlman, known in the trade as “Big Poppa”, a supposedly Svengali-like individual who managed and controlled the most hyped boy bands of the 1980’s. Lou was the guiding force behind the Backstreet Boys, to name the most successful of the many groups he led to fame and riches.

The article went on to detail this man’s reign of terror with allegations of sexual misconduct and fraud towards the boys in the band. The minute I finished the article I felt a strange connection, an uncanny déjà vu, to this man and his exploits.

You see I too knew such a man as Lou Pearlman, and the similarities are simply to startling to ignore. The “big Poppa” in my experience went by the name of Frank Olsen.
By the end of 1999 I chose to abandon Beverly Hills, not to mention the apartment I inhabited for over two decades, to embark on what I hoped was to be new direction for me in the provocative world of talk radio.

As the new Millennium filled the horizon with all manner of change, I was receiving some really encouraging phone calls from an old acquaintance of mine, the former Theatrical agent Maggie Abbott. She had recently relocated to Palm Springs and briefly had some dealings with an up and coming media group known as the Triangle Television/Radio Network.

Maggie is without doubt a textbook example of how to survive and stay above water in both Hollywood and the European film community’s’ sometimes fickle concept of show business success. Maggie’s reputation as a deal-maker had been very much like that of the infamous Sue Mengers here in Hollywood, a well regarded agent both in Rome and London with strong connections in film production, the kind you needed to make it happen.

David Del Valle with Daun De Vore

Maggie’s dissatisfaction with the Hollywood system was especially profound considering she was in a very select company of women excelling in a man’s world. Maggie vividly recalled “My London office was so vast that sometimes I could not even find the bloody telephone”. Maggie was a powerhouse in the days of “swinging London” where she knew Mick Jagger and David Bowie on a first name basis. She was Bowie’s agent during the filming of THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH.

By the time I came to know Maggie, all the rock and roll days of the late sixties were well behind her and, after a less than satisfying attempt to manage the career of Maria Conchita Alonso, not to mention associate producing NIGHTWING (1979) and AMERICAN POP (1981), she was tired of being in “the war zone” as she referred to it. Hollywood was no longer fun anymore, and having been at the top of the heap, the only alternative to surviving the fallout was to exit stage left.

The exit would present itself shortly after a farewell engagement helping her old friend Jackie Bisset, functioning as her confident/assistant. Maggie finally made up her mind and put Hollywood firmly behind her, moving lock stock and scrapbooks to “GOD’S WAITING ROOM,” otherwise known as Palm Springs.

Being Maggie, she quickly caught on to the subterranean ways of the desert community and began keeping a journal about the locals for future reference. Once you strip away the climate, the tourists, and the hype, what you have is a town where people come to reinvent themselves or at least con others into believing they had become something else.

Maggie was enormously supportive regarding my relocating to the desert. She kept advising me “David, you can really make a new life for yourself out here,” After a couple of trial runs into Palm Springs night life, I was still having next to no luck in securing a place to live. Just as I was on my way out of town I stopped by Maggie’s condo to say goodbye and make her a present of a pocket book version of the movie she co-produced, the infamous NIGHTWING that I had just found in a thrift shop, however she simply refused to give up on me, and rang up her friend, real estate broker Ruth Brewer. Soon after that I found myself in front of a desert-style set of cottages owned by Ruth, signing a lease for my new place in the sun. I was now officially a resident of Palm Springs. The next order of business was finding a job, and she had already made overtures with her friend and ally Vivienne Furlong for me to audition at the Triangle Network as a potential host of my own program.

David Del Valle broadcasting live TALES FROM THE CLOSET

Now here is where it all becomes a bit surreal, after all when I arrived in Palm Springs at the end of August 1999 I had absolutely no experience in broadcast radio other than being a guest on various entertainment programs over the years in both Los Angeles and New York. Maggie and Vivienne explained that the CEO of this fledgling gay and lesbian media network was looking for “New talent,” so all I had to do was win over a man named Frank Olsen.

The offices of the Triangle Radio Network were located at the corner of 1000 Tahquitz Canyon Way in what had once been the Sun System broadcasting Company, a 1200 square foot ground floor set of studios and offices with broadcast capabilities.

After a couple of boozy “rock and roll” lunches (Maggie’s term) at Ms. Abbott’s condo surrounded by her newly formed posse of desert divas with priceless names like Ethel Hyde White (call me “Buzz”. A fun lady she was the widow of character actor Wilfred Hyde White of MY FAIR LADY fame) and Vivienne Furlong.

Each of the ladies present that day seemed to have their own take on just how to handle big Frank. Vivienne had come to Palm Springs from Las Vegas already a widow (not a good sign) and had already made a comfortable nest at the station not only with her number two spot on Linda Christian’s chat show, but as part of Franks inner circle (also not a good sign as it would turn out). Ethel, on the other hand, was the real thing in a town filled with wannabes and phonies. She was exactly who she said she was, nothing more nothing less… Ethel was married to Wilfred Hyde White and was also the proud mother of actor Alex Hyde White. She loved films, having spent a lifetime in the highest circles of show business society on two continents, pretended to know little of what Frank Olsen was up to, and really could have cared even less. Ethel was, however, very savvy about what went on in Palm Springs, and it would be Ethel who would ultimately warn me off the place later on. I was now prepared to meet the Triangle mob head-on, so to speak.

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2 Responses »

  1. Hi David

    I am glad to see you are alive and well and in a place with nice weather.

    I miss our get-togethers. In the years since we last spoke, I have gone back to what I know and what you taught me, poster collecting, and continue in that.

    I hope we can get together again sometime, I haven’t been to Palm Springs in ages.

    Victor

  2. Hi David,
    Congrats on your recent books & The del Valle Archives is very impressive.
    We should talk – my cell number is the same – call me!
    I think of you often.
    Your cousin,
    Yvette

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