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DIARY 1293



John's brought his pipe and pot, and Sergio and Kenneth refuse to smoke because it makes Sergio sick, and Meg doesn't like it, but takes a few puffs, so it's mainly John and Alcides and myself who pass around two pipes-full, starting about 11:30. Inhale deeply, taking care not to inhale the bubbling water which I did at first, causing me to choke terribly, and get quite high by the time we all decide to go, about 11:50. Down the street, and John and I exchange exclamations about how high we are, and are made even more aware of how high we are when we look around and find they're not following us. Wait for them, and finally they appear, but it's midnight, and we get to Greene and Grand, check that it's across Grand, and I find it's the first building, but there are no names on the doors, and everything is locked. I find three bells, and in desperation ring them all, and it seems that only one works. We're about ready to leave, and Meg and John are saying we shouldn't be ringing the bells, and a window on the second floor opens and asks if there are any lights on the top two floors, since that's where Jack Smith lives, though he suspects he's in Buffalo. I back up and say there's a light on the next to the top floor, and the guy closes the window. There are a few other people standing with us, an older man who followed us about and across the street, a younger couple who stand together. I'm back to ring the bell, and suddenly the door's opened, and a gaunt man with a crew cut, wearing baggy trousers and a loose yellow shirt with a bizarre black and silver-threaded yoke, appears in the doorway, after the fellow from the second floor exits, leading a dog on a leash. John says, "That's Jack," since he'd been there once before for a play, and I go up to him and ask "Are you one of the Reptilians?" since the Voice ad said the play would be "Withdrawal from Orchid Lagoon," by the Reptilian Players Company, at midnight on Saturday, free, and they didn't even give a phone number, only John recognized the address as being his own loft.
"Yeah," he said, stoned out of his mind. "I just got back from Buffalo about 20 minutes ago. You want to see the play?"
"Yes," I said, though some of those with me started a movement away from the place. Meg hadn't wanted to come in the first place, and she looked inclined to leave.
"Well, I don't know," Jack Smith said vaguely, scratching his scruffy hair, "I don't know where the people are, but maybe I can call someone and they'll come over. Or maybe we'll have to do the play without the actors." This began to sound more and more intriguing to me. "But we won't be able to get started until about 1."
I turned and asked John if that was OK, and then back to him to ask if he had anyone else to watch the play upstairs. "No," he said, "you can wait down here if you want to."
"Well," I said, not wanting to stand around in the street for an hour, "do you have room upstairs where we could sit and wait?"
"Yeah, I guess so," he said, looking uncertain. Another group of four or five came up, and one of the guys asked if this was where the play was. At that point, John seemed to get excited and said, "Yes, let's go up," and I had the feeling that someone in the group was a critic that he knew, or a "Beautiful People" person that guaranteed it would be quite a show, even if we DID have to wait an hour.
I said, "This is Jack Smith," to the new stranger, and they shook hands, and Jack invited us all up. We filed into the oddly-painted hallway, and followed each other up the winding wooden stairs, and the top flight was in complete darkness, making me feel my way along the wall, and my heart gave a dizzy jump as I looked down and saw the window next to the stairs, and the stairs were rather floating free, and I felt vertiginous passing that point. At the top of the flight, people milled around in confusion, and someone said, "This is someone's apartment."
There were other apartments in the building, and I remarked the name "Caterpillar" on the door to the second floor, where the fellow had come out, and John barged right on in, whispering to me that the play had started already, or rather that I had started the play with my conversation with Jack in the street, and I thought that was an amusing idea, but got a bit hung up in "Hi, Mom," the movie where the white crowd is terrorized by the black "acting company," they're beaten, raped, robbed, pummeled, and then gather outside the theater to say what a great show it was. But that only occurred to me as I got to the darker portion of the stairs.
The blond fellow who'd asked me if this was the play went up the further flight of stairs, which were lit, but paused at the corner, uncertain, and came back down, saying "There's nothing up there." I was intrigued with exactly what this "nothing" looked like, but John was ushering me into the apartment, so I didn't have the chance.
A television set, turned on to "Nothing But a Man" on some movie series, struck my eyes first, and then the naked light bulb which hung above a sort of kitchen to the left of the entryway. A guy was sitting at the table, profile to the door, and I said "Hi" to him as we came in, but he didn't respond, and I figured he was part of the company. There were two others sitting on stools in front of sort of a bar at the side, and they looked impassively as we five (Meg HAD finally gone home), the other group of five, and a few other couples straggled in.
We strolled uncomfortably past the "living area," where Jack was busily pouring water from a kettle into a pitcher, ostensibly making "lemonade," and there was an unclear jumble of sitting furniture in about the center of the huge loft-room, and beyond it, under a gaping hole which made most of the upper floor a balcony to the lower, was a huge, dimly-lit, magnificently disarrayed pile of objects.
I was drawn to the objects, seeing first a toilet seat covered with blue silks, on which a dirty baby-doll's body displayed a horn-like phallus covered with jewels. This "display-piece" was bathed in a dim blue spotlight, and the rest of the "set" was lit only by reflected light from this and from the living area. There were old Christmas trees with dirty silver tinsel ribbons hanging dejectedly from browning bare branches; there were chests of drawers with clothing, hardware, books, and other junk hanging from the drawers; on the floor was a mélange of plaster animals, fallen plaster from the ceiling, and books carelessly thrown around. Toward the back, four or five menhirs were thrown together in a fragmentary Karnack, above which floated a blank painting canvas which seemed to possibly serve as a movie screen. Potted plants and palms were there, piles of newspapers on which sat an old record player, its cord highly visible as it was connected somewhere on the second floor, and there were other cords strung from what looked like farm implements, with Christmas tree lights hanging from the cords.
Nearer the back, where the light was stronger from the lights in the street than from the apartment, there was a huge old dressing table, more like the back of a fireplace, with pots and jars of open cosmetics on the mantel, interspersed with molding pieces of cloth and fragments of old fur pieces, and an enormous mirror mirrored the cluttered remnants hanging from the rear wall. To the side, there were huge signs reading "Only $2 per day," and "Today only, FREE gifts." On the left was a spot-lighted gorilla head on a calico-swathed mannequin of a woman, and there were other funhouse-like items which immediately made me think I was in some sort of "live-in funhouse," and there were remarks that as we stepped into the "stage area" we automatically became the players.
"Today is December 25," proclaimed one calendar, and that, coupled with the Christmas trees, zapped me back to my childhood, and in my stoned state I was back in the garage, constructing a funhouse for the kids, and that was exactly what Jack Smith had done, and now we were looking at the results of his constructions. John and I had talked about feeling things, and I wandered about, pointedly sticking my fingers into the cold cream, wiping them on the feather boa, touching the dusty, cold, metal sculptures outlandishly filling the outposts of the room, touching the stone sill under the window to get a glimpse of the surrealistic reality of the outside small-factory streets, with a few cars clustered around this corner, and uncertain people wandering down the streets.
I was back into the loop, back to childhood, half-debating setting up some sort of cheer or song to attract everyone's attention to me, and become the show, or being impacted by the great thought that Jack Smith HIMSELF was the play, and we were brought into his LIFE to observe his LIFE as a play, and then the thought of "ALL life as a play" was inevitable, and I began praising him for presenting that idea so felicitously. I knew I was stoned, knew that the evening was very uncertain, and was enjoying the combination of things immensely.
The blond fellow was wearing shorts, and he seemed to be an alter-image of myself, since it was he who asked me if this were the right place, he who saw the "nothing" on the stairs above the landing, and now I saw him coming down from the balcony on the rickety metal ladder, and asked him what was upstairs, and he gave a noncommittal answer that it was something between "just like down here" and "the lights are up there." We wandered back to the "seating area" and John was sitting on a chest, squarely facing the stage.
"It's amazing how stereotyped we are," I said to John, "because IF this were a theater, and IF this was a stage, we automatically took what THEN would be the best seats for seeing the show, IF there's a show." This seemed to disturb him, and he looked over his shoulder at what Jack was doing, and what he was doing was filling the contents of the pitcher into a small champagne glass, and slurping it noisily. I had the instant "awareness" that this was LSD, and that he was going to get truly stoned out of his mind, and he would offer some to the audience, and then I knew that I would take it.
"Do I really WANT to take LSD at this point?" I asked myself, and the answer was a thumping "YES" which I accepted as a sign of my health, and I followed John around to sit on the sofa facing the "living area," where the first "stooge" was still sitting, but everyone else was facing the "stage area." Jack was still messing around, there were other people moving in and out, others came to the door with puzzled faces and added themselves to the crowd, until we were about sixteen people, sitting facing wherever we felt the most action was.
Someone had turned the TV set around to face the seating area, and I immediately latched onto the combination of movies and TV as something I would make lists of and which summarized the loops I get caught in, and John was sitting with his eyes closed as I rummaged on the seat and found two very old (1965) copies of some lesbian magazine, which I first intended to put down, but then glanced through, and there was nothing interesting in them. Time passed, Jack moved around, people chatted, John and I moved back to the other direction when Jack took some shopping bags he'd brought from the kitchen areas into the playing area.
He moved something here, placed something there, and I suddenly saw the conglomerate of items in the center of the floor as growing up over a period of time, and was sorry to hear John tell me the next day that it was essentially the same as the last time he'd been there. Jack turned on a green spotlight and compared the light on his fingers with the light on the green potted palm, moved around a few items, then put a record on the record player (I just tried it, and that's what he did), put a 45 off center on a regular player, and the sound was very strangely changed, as testing will disclose.
But the choice of music was perfect: a soupy, super-sentimental mixture of violins and brass, sweeping and swooning up and down the scales as if accompanying a magenta Hawaiian sunset, and I rocked back and forth, caught up completely in the 40ish schmaltz of the music. When it came to the end, there was the scratch-scratch-scratch in the final groove, grumbles from upstairs, and he came back down to change it, searching through an old suitcase full of old records to find other 45's. The next time the music went off there were coughs, shuffles, grumbles enough to make the "audience" laugh from upstairs, and he came down again to change it, putting on some sort of abortive cha-cha record, to whose accompaniment he flashed lights around on various set-pieces in the heap in the middle of the floor. "Is there anyone down there?" from Jack, blew my mind, since we were all downstairs, and I thought he was upstairs, but then I found he was leaning out the same window I'd leaned out, on our floor, asking if there were any more viewers ringing from the street.
"Do you want some lemonade?" cheerily asked the girl in front of me. She'd asked me for a cigarette before, but I hadn't any, and we'd played mistaken footsy for a bit, I thinking she was the groovy blond boy she was with.
"Sure," I said, "but isn't it a prop?"
"I don't care," she said, "do you want me to get it?"
I was back in LSD land, and there was LSD in the lemonade, and I wanted some, so I told her to get it. She returned with the single glass, and I asked if it was for me. "It's for everyone," she said, cryptically to my ears, because how could anyone know how concentrated the LSD was, and how big a dose each person would get? But I sipped, passed it on to John, and everyone but one of the girls tasted it. Drat, it WAS lemonade.
There was a light beside John, hanging beside an old iron stove, and I asked him if it worked, and he turned it on, saying as he shut it off "And that's MY part in the play," reminding he'd previously said, "I think WE are the Reptilian Acting Company," and I agreed with him.
"Would anyone be willing to help?" he asked, when he'd come down for the third time, and the blond went up to help, and that reminds me that Jack looked at the guy sitting on the stool and asked "Would you like to be my assistant?" and he said "Yes." John later said that the only thing HE could see him do was turn to face wherever Jack walked.
The next record also freaked me out, because it was the "Ultimate Seashore" from the record I just bought, and I played with the idea of just staying in this apartment for the rest of my life, calculating that at "$2 a day" as the sign read, I could stay for pretty close to 20 years, and that sent me off investigating where I was, where the book was, what people had been saying to me about the book, and about getting money. But I just looked at Jack, who obviously worked only at what he wanted. True, he was very thin, but he had enough to eat to keep things together, and he didn't charge for admission, but I was sure people gave him things, and maybe he charged for some things, wrote about them, or did other odd jobs to keep him in money. He didn't seem disturbed that he wasn't doing anything, and that seemed to be pretty good for me.
At a certain point, about 1:30, people began whispering to themselves and filing out, until only our group and the larger group were left, and John rather quickly sensed that it was all over, and that we should leave. (I forgot about the Jack O'Lantern that he lit, bringing back MORE memories of childhood). The blond was up talking to Jack, and John went up to listen, hearing him say "You have to come back when the whole thing is more together," and that epitomized Jack's style for John, who was so completely living his work of art, that even the stoned impression at the start was completely perfect.
I wanted to talk to the blond, so we dawdled about (the TV had been turned off), and finally he followed at a discreet distance, we again got turned on by the stairway (yes, and I'd seen a radical newspaper addressed to Caterpillar, which implied to me that even the guy on the SECOND floor had been part of the play), and we chatted a bit, and though he was very intense, he seemed not the least bit interested, and he went off to join his ugly boyfriend and three girlfriends.
Sergio and Kenneth had left earlier, so we got to the car, talking about the play, I wondering how people would review it, and John said probably if I'd been straight, I'd have hated it. That just might be the case.

DIARY 1538


Admired the model of what I thought "could" be done with downstairs, and was surprised to hear that's what they DID with downstairs, to make the most interesting seating arrangement in town. Told indirectly to sit on a tiny podium just inside the door, and I went around finishing "Mount Rushmore" with "You mount who you want to mount, and I'll mount who I want to mount," and when I got back to my seat, putting "Zolnerzak IS writing this" as a paradoxical chalking beneath it, upside down. None of the actors are particularly appetizing, except the little girl who sings the song that John later says has some connection (sexually) with Schechner, and the fellow who undresses from his droopy long-johns had a droopy pot to match.
The sections of "plot" about the Sharon Tate murders were most anomalous: we were supposed to empathize with the crew, but with them as murderers? We were supposed to feel revulsion for the killings, but the quotes were so lubricious, the acting so fetching, that rather than revolting us, the killings titillated and amused us, or at least "entertained" us. Bruce White became sexy as he stripped down to a slip for his immersion in the water, and Al remarked about John's being dragged off in the parcel that was murdered in the middle of the floor, and again when he was singled out for knifing, being grabbed from behind: he went, he said, in his characteristically silent, puzzled way, and fell when they killed him, which surprised them, since they wanted to hold him up, and only later lowered him to the floor.
The group of togethernesses on the top, whom I thought to be a production crew, turned out to be a group of Italians who commented afterward through a translator, and the production was stopped thrice, twice by actors who messed things up, missing their own lines, once by Schechner, who insisted that the "improv" section be louder, so that the whole audience could hear the key lines. I was annoyed by it, seemingly only Schechner's rather vicious exercise in audience-bilking, headline-grabbing, and masturbation.

DIARY 1620


1) How self-conscious I feel when the inappropriateness of "attending to" a concert of "new music" whelms over me. I'm suddenly conscious of MY sitting in THIS hall with THESE sounds flowing toward me. The SOUNDS are quasi-revolutionary, but nothing's happening to ME. I'm sitting, not lying, walking about, making music myself, and it seems "not right." It WAS all right the NEXT evening, when we reclined on rubber cushions, shoes off, gawking at the unusual staging of "Tarot" at the Chelsea Public Theater in Brooklyn, and---possibly because it was a better performance---THAT seemed like the way to "attend to" something quite new in concept.
2) At lunch the "category" homosexual seemed suddenly so INADEQUATE. And I thought it necessary to write a portion of a novel that would propose whole legions of names to DISCRIMINATE among people unfairly LUMPED (for luck of better terms) as "gay." When science develops to a point, it can DISTINGUISH between different kinds of minerals, feelings, sensations, experiments, diseases, microbes---as knowledge increases about snow, the Eskimo invents more words for snow, said to have about 60. When the US has about 60 different words for "queers, faggots, gays, queens, fairies," it will have been through the study and understanding necessary to ADEQUATELY categorize them.
3) I loved Lanza's conducting the conductor, implying endless Chinese boxes of "conducting." Sometimes he's obviously useful in guiding the musicians, but at other times he waves his arms in a "directed" way merely for effect, and this must, even if only subconsciously, affect the musicians, who will then play differently, maybe necessitating a different orientation from the conductor, and even for the composer, who might CAPITALIZE on these interactions.
4) I get spaced out during Lanza's "Penetrations V"---the lights on the backdrop and strobe flashing led me to think they'd OPEN onto the "new world." The ENDING of "tiny sounds" was very nice, little ticks and flicks and toots and blats and tocks. [Random noise STILL better than audience talking---I STILL get VERY annoyed, even during most cacophonous sounds, at people behind me chattering, John scratching his beard, other "non-scored" sounds.
5) A "bathroom plunger" mute on a trombone, coupled with quick wrist jerks, produces a LOVELY "gobble gobble," which is one of the best ideas of Part 1.

DIARY 1638


A solitary paper airplane, made out of the Beethoven on the front of the Carnegie Hall program, lazily floats down, and there's a riffle of applause from the audience, and then a barrage of them sink, wobble, loop, soar, coast, fall, and Immelman down on the delighted audience below. Then scraps of torn programs are interspersed with whole dropped ones, and one can see all the legs and feet draped over the plush red of the boxes, and when the lights go down, there's the "London is burning" flare-ups of dozens of joints lit, and by the time the program's half over, there's a haze floating between the audience and the stage, and someone in the group makes a joke about the "Green green grass of home." The first program is rather dull, and though the audience shouts and screams, and the ushers wander up and down the aisles saying "Put it out, please," and clears the front where the groupies cluster, there's one encore, someone says "Take care of yourselves," and the auditorium empties.
For the second performance I smoked a pipe and a half, and steeled myself for the ride down in the elevator, telling myself it would SEEM long because it IS long, and it did, because it was. Out onto the street and retain admirable control into the theater, and sit down on the aisle and see that everyone else's stoned, too, so I don't get any kick from the audience. I'm silently grooving on everyone walking down the aisle, looking at the cutie across from me, and there's a rasping voice at my shoulder, and I look straight left, surprised, seeing Nina standing there right at my side, freaked out of my mind to see someone talking into my ear while I'm SITTING and she's STANDING. Bob comes down to talk with me for a bit, and I'm surprised and incoherent, and Bob says, "Can't you see he's stoned?" and they talk for a bit more and go back to their respective aisle seats, Bob sitting next to two friends, Nina sitting alone in front. I survey the faces around me, and they're all looking at me strangely for having attracted such a bizarre figure from the audience to talk with me. But I'm too far gone to care much, hoping to get spaced WAY out when the acts come on.
But nothing terribly out of the ordinary happens. I don't use my binoculars as much as I did the first time, because I've SEEN what they look like, and none of them except Justin is much fun to look at, grown slightly seedy and potty and bald since their photos were last taken for their albums. They sing the songs in the same way, and whenever I look forward to a rush from the pot, everything stays strictly under control, and I feel vaguely that the evening isn't as exciting as it could be.
When the set is over, I tell Bob that this is just what happened, and then they do their first encore, and I tell Bob what happened after that, but it didn't work this time, the audience is still demanding, and the announcer comes out and AGAIN announces their return, so I dash down the aisle and sit about two rows back on my haunches, but I get a view just about as plain as I got through the binoculars, and there's very little contact with the audience except for throw-away lines, and there's very little electricity except among some members of the audience, and I hear what seems to be male groupies talking about their chances of going up on the stage after the performance. Then the announcer says that we're really an exceptional audience because the Moodies had never done a second encore for any of their performances: this was the first time. The audience cheers and begins to leave: perfect audience-personnel relations.
Out into the cold and it's started snowing, and people oh and ah at the phenomenon that the Moodies brought with them, and I'm starved, having paid 654 for the listed 504 roll which cost THEM 104, and stop in at the Egg'n'Burger for a bacon and egg sandwich, and others from the concert come to lord it over the patrons, not even knowing that I was at the concert, and again I had the "Gee, look at the funny guy who's older than anyone else" feeling I had when the usher directed me down the wrong aisle and I had to crawl over everyone, feeling old and "put upon," and here again I was tempted to pull out my program, but figured it wouldn't amount to anything, so I finished my sandwich, poured milk onto my rice pudding, and slept next to John.

DIARY 1783


"Deafman Glance" by Robert Wilson starts with a black in black before a painted curtain depicting an indented concrete wall, with one child with his back to the audience, still, one child in the sheets at her feet, moving (surprising me), and one child from the wings, whom she doesn't kill slowly with a knife (as she does the other two), and who seems to be somewhat the center of the rest of the action, sitting wiping his eyes in the dust kicked up by the extraordinarily felicitous dancing and arm-waving by Andy DeGroat (who Adolph tells me subsequently has taken his movement from Kenneth King, and is very beautiful, and sadly is Robert Wilson's lover), looking at the fish in the tank being drawn back and forth, looking at the archetypal Mammy playing Chopin with wavingly limp arms, bored during the interminable Mad Tea Party staged by Charles Addams with the cocktail-swilling frog, the disgusted-looking older lady, the Vampira type, Bayrack's wife, who speaks in tongues, many of them forked, and the man with a large eye, who's so far away that John doesn't recognize him as that, served by a red-headed Frankenstein and a fat nurse. Then the little black boy is strapped into a swing and suspended, while he holds a fishing reel that reels in nothing, while people continue to creep across the stage in different time zones, left to right, and people, including Andy, who's just BEAUTIFUL, walk across from right to left---forest movers, they're called, who become glass carriers, and then Andy strips and dances naked with bare-bosomed girls, so who'd care to guess where my glasses are? The other striking person is a fish-finned fellow with a hidden wooden leg and strikingly handsome face with lovely beard (would I like to shave and wipe and care for him? Maybe for a day, but not much more) who moves rocks with his fins. Then there's an apotheosis of people in white, apes in black, a dancing Mammy. Then there's the bible touches, with the ox and the boy who's shot, the foot washing, obviously pregnant women pass by, the pyramid is striking, people are carried across stage, as are babies, and I'm alternately bored and impressed, but it just goes on TOO LONG, even John agrees.

DIARY 1932


Get off the Goethals Bridge exactly at 4, and drive down Richmond looking for Richmond, some such corner, and park at the end of the street, decide we've spotted the barge on which the concert is being held, and go around the corner to walk across a rickety gangplank to a small porch where everyone had left their shoes, and inside the sliding glass doors, paying the $2, and stand around where he's already started his chanting, very low in pitch and volume, weaving his hands around him as if he were wafting smoke from incense from a pot in his belly out into the audience, flanked by a female and male instrumentalist on tambour and sitar. And it turns out that the sitarist is LaMotte Young, who invited John to the thing so he could pick up his artistic dossier for John's book. The pandit seems very sensitive to the movement around him, at one point stopping so that everyone can move in to allow room for the latecomers (who show up even after 5 pm), and to ask that someone stop smoking, and someone about fifty people distant moves out onto the porch. Boats pass in the channel, making the whole room rock back and forth, and I figure this is woven into the chanting, as are the beer drinkers who seem to be there for no reason at all, and the puzzlement with the nuts who are sitting in front of me: a bald unpleasant-faced fat fellow with an orange shirt who rotates his head, and, as at a signal, the lovely eyed awful faced fellow to his left jerks his head around more violently, and the cute tall fellow to HIS left spasms back in a grand mal gesture, grunts forced from his throat, neck snapping in a truly dangerous way. But the host and hostess (identified by being the ones who went onto the porch to talk to the fire inspector when he came snooping) seemed to know them, and they held hands for some moments. Then about 4:10 he stopped, and people moved around even more freely, and John said I should go upstairs, and there was a low-ceilinged bedroom with great glass windows looking at the sea, low bed with oriental hangings, and shelves filled with books on orientalia and occult, clothing, shoes, cabinets, trinkets, jewelry, peacock feathers, fans, artistic lamps, cushions, leather chairs, naturally finished woods, everything quite lovely. Downstairs, down the spiral staircase, there was a kitchen where people were getting drinks, an over-used bathroom, and another staircase down to the hold, where there was sleeping space for 20, so they said, behind hanging purple curtains. But the ornaments on the floor and shelves didn't seem adapted to rough crossings, and it would take hours to make the craft sea-worthy, and I feared even the rocking of the boat from passing craft would shake things off the table. But the people were the best part: starting with the fellow with Bruce Marks looks, only larger and more beautiful, came in with yellow corduroys over huge boots, and long blond-haired boys were with beautiful girls, and I couldn't take my eyes off one fellow with large lovely eyes and beautiful hair until I decided he looked like the fellow with the love beads wrapped around his cigarette in the attractive advertisement that doesn't succeed because I can't think of the name of the cigarette. Then some Arabian looking fellow came in with a startling girl who had no eyebrows, but painted the entire area with silver paint, wearing a black felt cape over violet silk trousers and a deeply-plunging neckline over her flat chest, with excessively made-up eyes. Other girls were there with bits and pieces belted and pinned and tied together for clothing, but mostly the fellows were good-looking, and the companion of the lovely Marks-like person kept looking at me, and I wanted to talk to him just to get into the CIRCLE, but that seemed not satisfying, so I just stood around and looked at everyone, getting angry with the fireboat that came, sympathizing with the very rich girl who owned the whole thing who wasn't able to get a living permit for the water, ridiculing the fire marshals by saying "Your suit's not fireproof, it could burn, too, couldn't it?" when they said the boat could burn and everyone could die. He insisted that they were "just my age, 20-30" and I said I was far older than that, and THAT might have been the thing that jolted him must during the day. John had what he wanted and everyone seemed to be leaving, so we did too.

DIARY 1956


We're disappointed with the choice of seats, since ALL the good ones are $8, but finally we get the poorest side non-balcony seats for $5, close to the center, anyway, and he calls Pope to find about his clown friend, who's in the next edition, and we get into the menagerie to find they only have the string of elephants, grubbing after peanuts on the fairly clean floor, four or five bears being fed four or five whole loaves of bread, one tired giraffe warping his cage with his neck in bending down to lick peanuts from proffering hands, and a couple dozen small lionesses sacked out in too-small cages, a few wandering back and forth past each other in compulsory "one walks, we all gotta walk" rhythms in the enclosed space, and a sleeping gorilla who later turns out to be Garguantua II, and a small more active one in his air-conditioned cage. Far in the back with the ponies are shirtless men carrying hay and water back and forth, but they don't come close enough to enjoy, but it's nice to know they're there. Buy peanuts for myself (since I'm not gong to squander 30 peanuts for 304 on stupid ELEPHANTS) and we tired quickly of the kids running around and getting lost, and went to our seats. Madison Square Garden didn't seem overwhelmingly large, though the pictures downstairs seemed to imply it would be (but it is expensive, as the Hall of Fame was $1 and the art gallery was 504, and the whole tour was only $1.50, which included the two, but that didn't start until 3, which I thought was poor planning), but the rigging areas were dwarfed by the space anyway, looking even smaller because even the highest acts would take place UNDER our level of view, which wasn't even up to the balcony yet. It was partly a play for safety and compactness, but it diminished the whole affair (until the lights and spots made the space seem larger and more effective by pinpointing just what to look at) to a child's construction set below the tent-like encompassment of the round hall, which I was seeing for the first time. From a distance, it looked neat and color-coded with its seats and vastness, but a good look at the floors, sticky and dark-splotched with dried soda, tacky with mustard and beer and peanut shells and ice cream droppings, showed that the place had severe signs of wear already. I went back out to buy a program, large and nicely pictured even though it was $2, and the clowns were nice enough to come out early, at 1:30, and entertain the kids, and I started off my binoculars, noting to Arnie that the makeup seemed precise and well-done, the costumes were more individualized, and in all, the new College of Clowns seemed to be making a significant change in the clown population. Add to that the fact that many of them seemed like young guys with handsome faces and well-developed bodies under their clown garb, it was pleasant to watch them, particularly now in the pants-dropping scenes, where knobby knees and skinny shanks were NOT the routine sight. The ringmaster's voice was pretty bad for his being a "new, talented" one, and Wolfgang Holzmair wasn't the prettiest of lion tamers, but the act was pretty good. Pio Nock was diminished by the distance, and I don't see how the reviewers could have heard his "chirps of fear" above the roar of the crowd and the blat of the band. Gunther Gebel-Williams was scrawny-chested and pimpled in his Roman Post riding gear, but later came out in fetching blue tights to be quite sexy with his long blond hair and angular face. The farm production number was quite forgettable, except for the hay wagon that collapsed, leaving the team driver perched on a barstool of arresting height, and La Toria (Vicki Unus) wasn't exerting herself by doing 70 arm swings, since she's supposedly able to do about a hundred MORE than that. The King Charles Troup was funny and talented on their unicycles, playing basketball with grand élan, and the jugglers produced the usual exasperation with three rings when I wanted to watch Picasso with his mouth-ping-pong-ball juggling, but had two other families from Rumania and Poland in the other rings. Doval went up across the ring, so though he was pleasant to look at, he didn't cause much titillation to my binocularing vision. "Building a Circus" was rather fun, with enormously spangled costumes and swinging girls and elaborate floats, though the Hippie Happening was too much hokum and not enough real imagination, though again the clowns were physically attractive enough to look at. The intermission was announced over in 10 minutes, but we really didn't believe it, and dawdled getting our ice creams at the soda fountain, and got back to see the balancers on, and I couldn't use my binoculars and wield my ice cream spoon at the same time, so it gently melted while I watched the balancers and watched Gunther Gebel-Williams do it with Bengal tigers and an elephant, sitting atop both of them in lovely tights. The trapeze acts weren't as spectacular, neither were the people, as I'd wished, and the Ionel bears were fun, but certainly not comparable to the Moscow Circus bears. The singing, the music, and the production reached a simultaneous high and low with Gunther G-W (Gee-Whiz?) as the "Peerless Potentate of Pachydermia," and the elephants went into a hand-stand in front of Arnie, who was amazed at the square yard of snatch, enough to say "I'm glad I'm not a male elephant," and "I don't think I'll forget that sight as long as I live." The Bulgarians and Hungarians monopolized the spotlights for the teeterboards, and again I wanted to watch everyone and could only watch one at a time, and I think at this point the headache really started building, coming to an apex for the Flying Gaonas, who had TWO sexy pairs of guys on either side of the arena, swinging back and forth, and they usually managed to fly at the same time, and in my efforts to catch both I usually missed the best parts of either, and it was really the epitome of disgust with the multi-ring concept of the circus. But the guys were great to look at anyway, and the double triple-somersault was so fast that it couldn't really be appreciated anyway, and the high point was the landing of the bouncing dismounter on the OPPOSITE trapeze, SITTING. The final pageant, Flying High, with a flying horse, left a carpet of horseshit on the floor as the nervous horse was ponderously hoisted thirty feet off the ground, and it seemed merely silly. Then everyone screamed one last time and slowly shuffled and squelched and crunched toward the exits.

DIARY 1989


There aren't any shirtless men wandering around the elephants, so John's a bit moody about that, but the fellow at the gorilla cage is talkative, and we get into our great seats to watch the clowns and frown at the disgusting little boy and girl sitting in front of us, the fat father on my right, and the cigarette smoker on John's left. Harold Ronk is even a worse singer and ringmaster than the other was, but Charley Bauman is very business-like with the lions. The King Charles Troupe was a surprise repeat, though they were fun again, there were a lot of clown antics cut out, the dogs were as usual, but "Bicycles Built for Two" was fun, since I didn't watch it at ALL, watching the incredible Elvin Bale (young, beautiful, and LOVELY skin and body) catching himself time after time on his HEELS. Then the horses and the chimps and the bears and the balancers, and Seitz and Mendez stand out as non-balance-pole high-wire artists, and they did some truly incredible things, like playing leap-frog on the high wire! The Birthday Dreams Come True was fun for the historical references, and then Dick Chipperfield is very good with black panthers and leopards, which really look quite beautiful. The teeterboard people in our ring were lovely to look at, but nothing on talent, missing almost everything, and for some reason Joe Guzman and Monique didn't show up, maybe having been hurt elsewhere. The Flying Waynes and Braytons were all so lovely it was impossible to watch any one of them for much of the time, and there were just sky-fulls of flying white filled crotches which were most enjoyable, particularly when they stood on the ground, sweating and stacked, and bowed to the panting audience. The greatest birthday cake on earth blocked the last clown act, and I felt terribly sorry for the poor littlest elephant in the last act, for he spewed out his liquid dinner in a wet vomit when he had to go up on his head for the finale, and I thought of the poor dumb animal, night after night, day after day, throwing up his dinner for the cheers of the audience. The clowns didn't stand out nearly as much this time, and maybe it's merely true that the FIRST circus in 5 or 6 years is better than the SECOND one, no matter WHAT order they're seen in.

DIARY 1991


"Fanny" makes a lot of noise, but there's nothing to distinguish them from lots of other sounds, despite the fact that all the voices are female. Maybe the excessive amplification has something to do with it, but a VERY loud voice sounds like every other VERY loud voice. But the thing that really turned me on were the LIGHTS, which were just incredibly done by Joe's Lights. Many of the effects I had never seen before, in addition to the regular "water-droplet with suspended droplets of other stuff pressed between two plooping plates of glass," and one of the things seemed to be two kinds of distorters of anything: one of which would take a simple area and multiply it dozens of times and overlay them in various fashions, so that the image of one poker chip would be distorted into the image of piles of dozens of poker chips, all transparent, in a circularly ordered series of heaps. The other distorter seemed capable of taking a simple three-dimensional object: once a white cog, once an elongated paddlewheel, and make almost infinite elongations and distortions and topological warpings of the objects, so that the spokes of the cog would lengthen, then warp and split into two or three, and then would further warp into a number of spikes, which would grow into a milky halo, which would grow into Lumia-like fronds of filmy crepe-like streamers which languidly flowed across the enormous cycloramic screen. The new systems seemed capable of large variations of magnification: little "pinpoint" blobs of color could be zeroed in on to loom into color splotches overwhelming the screen. And the paddlewheel was capable of alteration, too, since it started out a pristine white, then attained an orange band on one blade, and then the band widened and decreased in width, and tinged various other paddles, but the whole image COULD be very hard-edged in focus and non-distortion, or it could be stretched out to the tenuosity of star-systems flung out in the Milky Way. And then there was what I dubbed the "free flow," which was a non-cyclic, non-symmetric flow of colors and fluids which could only have started from several colored sources and ended going down some drain, though the colors seemed to refrain from running together, though the effect was less precisely separated at the end than at the beginning. But in time with the music, there would be an arteric rush of red between two hilly green masses, and then a stream of cyan would flow down one side, and the hills would dissolve in swirls of violet impelled from one side or the other, and then another glob of blue would sweep down from the top, possibly to be enveloped by a more enormous sweep of brightest yellow, and then other streams would swirl past, and the motion would slow for the music into a country-stream image, then to rush in torrents of storm clouds when the music up-tempoed. And then there were effects SUPERIMPOSED on each other, as if the patterns were painted with light, rather than with color so that they added in brilliance, rather than agglomerated into darkness. There might be seven things going at once: two separate images of flashing blinking liquids, over all of which a pattern of some sort would be swirling, highlighted by filaments of cosmic crepery from some tremendous distortion, and there might be some sort of local swirl in one corner, and then there would be quick strobe flashes at points of peak volume, which would tend to obliterate all the other displays and make the eyes blink, and then these would be superimposed on some pattern from a photograph, such as a fence, or a string of lights in a tunnel, or blinking taillights on cars. They used some real-life photography, but no nudes, and at one point they showed a short NYU film that got rather perfunctory applause, scattered with "What's THAT thing up there for?" Humble Pie was quite a bit sexier, and I even looked at the guys, particularly the humpy number in the center with the very tight trousers and big box who didn't do much (he must be Greg Ridley on bass), and the thin vocalist was cute and thin and sexy, and the husky vocalist was cute and husky and sexy with his wide-open-to-navel shirt. Lee Michaels and his sidekick drummer were epitomes of hippy scruff, in their most unappealing form, and there was no sexiness and very little good music, though (because they were featured?) the audience seemed to be wild over them.

DIARY 2020


"Head Over Hells (don’t know if this is a typo or not)" was the first act, and though they didn't have good music, at least they had a sexy first guitarist, with a pattern above his knee, and a nice wail to his voice, and floppy blond hair which kept covering his youthful face. The bassist was nice-enough looking, but he did next to nothing. The drummer seemed the best instrumentalist of the lot. They played for only 35 minutes, and the Hampton Grease Band came on, having one guy sitting just off the wings in a cap over his eyes, playing with a golf driver for the entire show---just for visual attraction. He seemed cute. Then Hampton himself came out, blue trousers and darker blue suit coat, violet shirt with a horrible yellow-blue tie, and a figure somewhat like Lou Costello's. For his last number he jumped around, doing flying splits, ripped off his jacket, and screamed like Chubby Checker. Is this what the rock field is coming to? Another "singer" came out shirtless, sang some manic lyrics, did a stumbly hora, and gained the undying applause of the audience. Someone said "Too much" and I quite agreed with them. The audience's shouts of "more" brought them out for a southern version of something like "Tennessee Waltz," or something even MORE standard than that. Simply dreadful. They played for 35 minutes and then there was a film with Chubby Checker and others of that era, and then "The Mothers of Invention" had to replace a drumhead, taking more time. Frank Zappa had a very unpleasantly wide hip-base, but a nice head of hair and mustache, and about the fifteenth time he hopped off the ground to direct the band, I rather liked it. The drummer was the perfect model of body beautiful, with a swinging dangly crotch into the bargain, big biceps swelling in his strap-undershirt. The patter was interesting, but the singing goons were THE most: one terribly fat, tiny titted, fairly funny, the other could have been handsome without the BLACK beard and the BLOND hair, under his brown space-suit, but the antics were fun, culminating in the epic "Billy the Mountain" which might become a classic. One encore, and Zappa said "Goodnight" with authority, and I'm glad I don't have more than one ticket left.

DIARY 2037


"The Grass Harp" isn't very good, and the Pig Light Show doesn't seem to be much good either, though its main lighting effect seems to be effective: a series of what look to be small crystal marbles on an expandable sheet, which can be flexibly manipulated in three dimensions, turning and twisting upon itself, while lights from various directions, changing colors as the object moves through space, produce arresting patterns of blues, greens, yellows, and reds on increasing and diminishing portions of the surfaces of the spheres. They use the same "whirlpool-distorter" that Joe's Lights uses, and also go back to the old "water-drop between glass slides" with depressing regularity. They don't have the extreme object-distorter, nor the fantastic color-falls, so I'd say Joe's Lights were the best. The drummer for Grass Harp went into a long solo which was pretty good, and the lead guitarist did some nice singing effects on his electric instrument, but the voices just had nothing to distinguish them from another dozen mediocre groups. Then Alice Cooper came on, and all thoughts of mediocrity went out the window. With "her" Twiggy eye-makeup, the primped tousle of black curls, the almost Zappa-like angularity of nose and chin, and the black leotard unzippered from the neck to halfway below her stomach-operation scar below her navel, she was something to look at even when she wasn't caressing her ass in the direction of the audience, crooning about "how much she has to offer." And it didn't stop there, because in quick succession came a live lively snake, which coiled most effectively around her upraised arm, a strait jacket put on offstage by a kindly "nurse" who came to take him away, a stuffed bemedaled general in a high chair which he stabbed with an assegai, then throwing sheets, strait jacket, posters---both whole and torn into pieces with his teeth---into the audience, which stood and screamed for more, and seemed about to kill each other for the pieces: the one who first touched it almost invariably got it snatched away from their surprised fingers. And for a finale, there were the ripped pillows with which he tantalized the audience before the stage erupted into a feathery flurry of chicken-smelling fluff, which was then boosted into the air and out onto the audience with fans, brooms, and tanks of what seemed to be both compressed air and fire extinguisher carbon dioxide, which sent up billows of white clouds when they hit their own strobe light-banks at the footlights. Bits of feather continued to float down from the rafters during their encore number, but most of them were swept off during the intermission. They'd been on an hour, and I could have seen them longer, provided they had enough to keep me interested. The costumes of the others were equally amazing: the drummer, who looked like an equally thin and ugly Bob Jesske, had heavy lids of blue eye shadow, the bassist, the doll of the lot, looking like a Tom-drawn set of thighs under his violet lamé trousers---though he was so masculine he could get away with no makeup on at all. The lead guitarist was somewhat like a thin Keir Dullea, who was wearing an ornate gold choker and earrings, and the other was too thin in his gold pants to be very attractive, but the bassist presented a rounded ass seldom seen for peer. But, again, the singing was negligible in quality, though with a production like that, it wasn't the important thing. Then Bloodrock came on, and though I feared they might be an anticlimax, I hardly looked at the light show for gazing on the MOST handsome and skillful drummer of the lot, with absolute perfection of arms and chest under studded leather bandoliers which rode up slightly to marvelously outline his lovely pectorals. The lead singer was perfection in his blue-pink-blue-pink coveralls without a line of underwear anywhere, and the lead guitarist was a bore with his western-style hair and hat, and the organist was puny in a Lee Michaels way, and the other two instrumentalists faded into the background, but with the drummer and the lovely blond hair on the dancy lead singer, they had all the male pulchritude my binoculars could absorb. Pot smokers next to me were quickly flashed with the light and told no smoking, and the two 5-year-olds on the other side were very well behaved during the whole thing, though I can't imagine why their parents, let alone them, came to see ALICE COOPER.

DIARY 2532


Since one of the reviewers gave away the hammerlock, I wasn't startled by the hands around my neck as I entered, was told "Step Up," and sat on the side in front of the cage, hoping I was led to a good seat. There were strange things: he used the word "cunt" but said "sex" instead of "cock." There was fellatio of Christ, symbolic shitting of a woman on a man, asses bared for a three-cornered shit in the cell, cock flopping under the campy ballerina, tits played with by the mute, a simulated male anal scene, a straight caressing scene completely nude, and the final execution was done on a nude man who pissed into a bowl from which blood was then scooped to be wiped on faces. There was spitting into a bowl of breakfast, the prisoner groveling in it and drawing back with the other man's saliva keeping mucus-strands about a foot away from the plate. These were shocks, but the emphasis of these MEN being in PRISON for 23 years was even more horrifying. How COULD they still be there? What malice could KEEP them there? How many other places in the world is this true? When will it happen in the US and will I be smart enough to get out before it's too late? And then the stupidity: men KNEW they'd be put into prison while fighting for "freedom," so why were they stupid enough to FIGHT? One symbology: mute shouted and fought, then was condemned and was so FRIGHTENED he stopped shouting and fighting. Then, when it was IMPORTANT enough to him, he regained his voice and resumed his shouts and fights. A man must do what he FEELS he must do, and for me at this time I feel I would rather escape, but there's no telling what I might do if PUSHED. And then there was the pathetic announcement at the end that this valiant company, who obviously drew blood from themselves due to their commitment to the play (and it's one of the few plays that ISN'T wrecked by bad acting, since it could NEVER be perfectly acted unless the actors actually killed themselves, so there's always the feeling of "My god, they're doing all that and they're only ACTORS: what would they do if they had the Cue for Passion---" and I go off into Shakespeare just as ARRABAL did at one point in the play. But these people so obviously DESERVE help: it's a play by a great playwright who DIRECTED it, something that's rarely happened: they're obviously COMMITTED to it, and do it CONVINCINGLY, but they can't afford the money for publicity. In the blue funk in which I found myself on the way back in the car (since John wasn't about to talk about it either), I found myself writing a letter in my fantasy to the Rockefeller Foundation, saying that there should be a system of SMALL grants, awarded by an indefatigable theater goer (me), who would ferret out these poor but enormously deserving companies and give them about $1000 to get through the next week and HOPE for the best. Twenty gifts of $1000 to each of twenty companies would obviously be better than one large gift of $20,000 to a company which would probably survive anyway. But then I was also impressed by the contrast: here were John and I worrying about where our next earned dollar was coming from where he had hundreds and I had thousands in the bank, we both had lavish apartments and hundreds of friends and relatives we could borrow from, and we were worried about money. And here were people with MUCH MORE to worry about, and if we opened up and let them into our lives, we'd kill ourselves getting these men out of prison; but if we closed up completely, we wouldn't even go, or would forget completely about it. But, being rational people, we did neither, and chose some central path, and I ended up being depressed for the entire evening, and didn't care to drink because that might lead to sex that I wasn't interested in at all, so I showered and lay dismally in bed, finally suggesting that we smoke, and for the dozenth time it worked perfectly as a sleeping potion, putting me to sleep before I even realized I was high, which was great, because the danger was emphasizing the mood I was in then, which was LOUSY, and it never got the chance to happen!

DIARY 2867


Hamp recognized John first, and I introduced Francis Thorne to everyone, while he looked somewhat embarrassed, and we all went inside, where we had the corner of the loge to ourselves. Mrs. Parkinson had bought the hall, as John told us, giving her daughter a chance to play for us, but the first two pieces: Schubert's "Duo in A major for Violin and Piano, Opus 162" and Schumann's "Kreisleriana" Opus 16, were either so terribly boring as not to be worth playing or played so badly as not to be worth hearing. I could hardly keep from falling asleep, except that when I closed my eyes, I was seized with a feeling of such vertigo and nausea that I had to open my eyes immediately and get a good grip on myself to make sure my stomach didn't empty itself of everything right there. I tried to go into fugue, but couldn't think of much of anything, but reminded myself that I was making ANOTHER mistake: obviously it was more fun to listen to the music of MY choice, not her choice, at MY apartment, not at her rented hall, and the seating was more comfortable, the audience more select and friendly, and what was I doing here ANYWAY? Well, I was entertaining Hamp, who'd flown in only for two days, and he'd bought our meal at Nirvana. I suppose I could have called it even, but I cursed myself every minute I sat in that audience, thinking of the better things I could be doing, telling myself not to get into this again: but I HAD refused the tickets that John offered originally, it was only the prospect of a free evening that made me call him back, and the knowledge that John and John Casarino were having a thing at his place that we didn't want to disturb. After eating at Fine and Shapiro afterwards, we got back to John's early, to catch John C. just leaving, and Hamp didn't really want to get into bed, camping about the apartment in his birthday suit, grabbing at everyone, joking at John doing his exercises, but settling down when he tried to imitate him. And again I have trouble getting to the bottom of these pages, and add to that the idea that there seem to be TOO MANY extra pages through these days, something ELSE that I'll have to do something about, and quickly.

DIARY 2870


Again, I'm disturbed that I'm taking so many extra pages, but since this was the first (and probably the last) dress rehearsal, reserved only for patrons and sponsors of the City Opera, I think it's interesting enough to be described in some detail. I got there at 12:45 to find the performance delayed until 1:30, and managed to find a seat in the full first ring in the center, and looked with amusement at the scattered VIPs in the orchestra who jumped up and down and shouted throughout the performance. The second ring appeared to be full, and the third had people sitting around the sides, so it was probably full, too. 80% of the audience was female, of the older sort, but there were a couple of hippy girls and a leather number with clanking keys, and a couple of neat blue-jeans on guys who might have been interesting, but I couldn't bring myself over to talk to them. It was fully staged (except for an anatomy chart and a handkerchief, unless they don't intend to use them, which I doubt, since the feeling is for one of realism), but the only sound was the piano, except in the recorded backstage orchestra scenes at the Moonlight Gardens and the party, and the INCREASE of appreciation when THAT music played made me realize how MUCH I missed the orchestra, and wondered what "Mefistofeles" would sound like in piano transcription. But the directions were interesting, the fluffs amusing (gal forgot her lines, lighting wrong, guitar had to be relocated backstage), and the animosity of Rudel to the stage directors, the back-talk by Reardon when he got annoyed with a delay, the sotto voice of the Rosa, I guess saving her voice for another part, the repeats of silly parts again and again for no good reason, made it a rather tedious thing. During the first intermission, the nice lady next to me asked if I was enjoying it, and I had to say it was INTELLECTUALLY stimulating, but hardly engrossing of my emotions. The second act was much more dramatic, however, and I felt really sorry for poor Alma toward the end, and the looney mother was always good for a laugh, as was the "reading" scene, where the faggoty Vernon tries kneesies with John Reardon, and, yes, Alan Titus IS cute and goodly-voiced, as Alan Rich of the New York Magazine has pointed out in some review or other.

DIARY 2972


We're to meet at the 66th Street entrance to the Juilliard Theater at 12:15, and Arnie moves in ahead. After we're chased out of the orchestra, we're up to the balcony to chat, then down to the center when others sit there, then over to the side when John Houseman orders us all to move. The performance is so strange I take notes during it: he writes music in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan for Murray, English folksongs for Tom Moore, "Those Endearing Young Charms" for Tom Moore, "Ach du Lieber Augustine" for Byron, La Marsaillaise for Byron, Auld Lang Syne for all, a Noel round, "Comin' Through the Rye," in the orchestra, the "Goodnight" from West Side Story, and an orchestral Bronx cheer. In the first act, Byron's frowning about England, and he ends a sentence with a flamboyant remark about one kind of architectural ERECTION which can't be avoided noticing. The poesy of the librettist rises to some sort of height when some female character insists that a man should be one to "admire Faith, inspire Hope, and acquire Charity." Then they talk on and on about "kisses from his misses, and kisses from his sisses" even though the child doesn't have any misses, only mothers. James Thomson wrote "The Seasons" and the words to "Rule, Britannia," is probably honored in Poet's Corner in Westminster, though he's buried in Richmond, and thus he belongs with the other five ghosts that Virgil Thomson puts on stage: Spenser, Dryden, Milton, Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson. Fancy himself putting a Thomson in THEIR company! John Houseman quoted the reference "Houseman needed Welles like a nursemaid needs a baby" with satisfaction, but said that the poet's name was spelled with a P. Byron and his sister have a sickening duet: "How we two do get on better just together than with others," and the whole thing seemed to tread a rocky road between camp, seriousness, and great farce. Audience laughed appreciatively when the woman said "What a lovely room," when it patently wasn't, and when some woman pulled a knife melodramatically, and when Byron leaped on his wife on the settee. It was supposed to start at 1, but the first act went 1:20-1:50; second 2:15-3:00, third 3:24-4:26, with a horrible classical ballet by Alvin Ailey for 15 minutes ending at 4, even awfuler than the music that Virgil wrote, which was admittedly better than the awful libretto and directing.

DIARY 2995


HE even admits that he's been through light shows and videotape experiments and has returned to a "simple" thing with people and instruments and sounds, but he sits around in an "Om" circle, which is pointless for the people sitting about observing, then does a series of mirror games, where I find out more about the PERSONALITIES of the people: the weary girl jealous of her partner's good looks, the partner's facile way of dealing with tiredness by high beeping noises; the phoniness of the HAPPINESS the two guys show (you just think they're stoned, not happy) with their instruments (MUSICAL instruments, though the point is taken)---and that's general about ANY kind of improvisations, and why I don't LIKE them: they're either "up" which is rare in New York, where so much is down, and they almost BEG for someone to put them down because they seem so CONTRIVED and seem to show that the person is HIDING SOME INNER SADNESS BY BEING HAPPY. Or they're openly depressed, unwilling to extend themselves, physically exhausted, mentally depleted from repeating the same sort of exercise again and again for themselves and for audiences, and I don't care to look in on THAT. It would take a FANTASTIC personality to carry it off to my liking, and there just aren't that MANY fantastic personalities in existence at one time: usually it's connected to physical beauty: I WOULD pay to see Joe D'Alessandro freak out, and probably Anselma D'Allolio, but these are MAGNIFICENT creatures of BEAUTY. These schmucks onstage now? Who cares? Then he conducts the audience in sounds and melodies and mumbles, and I bet everyone thinks he's ignoring them, but I REALLY think it, and it's a kiddy game which would probably be more fun at a party with lots of wine, and since there are contributions requested only (on an EMPTY box), the whole thing has been underwritten by the New York State Council on the Arts (for THIS we're paying taxes? But I might as well SEE what it's going for, since I AM paying for it), and by Salzman's parents, in whose house he still lives, and the whole evening is a downer, though I don't go into detail with John, but it's just another hammer in the avant-garde as far as I'M concerned. I'd rather see a BAD Royal Ballet performance than a GOOD improvisation---and I DO, lots of them.

DIARY 3188


The place is quite crowded, and the necks crane from the orchestra as the ceiling lights are raised as the curtain prepared to rise. A strictly directional (front-right, then rear-left, then rear-right, then front-left, where I'm sitting) antiphonal chorus comes in very avant-garde Gregorian in style, and I'm hoping for a great show. But David Cryer's substituting for the charismatic Alan Titus, and I wonder what I'm missing. He starts by singing his amplified simple song, gets a shawl, and he gains bits of regalia gradually, culminating in an enormous silver and gold cope that seems literally to weight him down. He starts for himself "Consciousness I," then gets very institutionalized with ranks and files and establishments "Consciousness II" and then has "an accident" where he falls and drops things, then "descends into hell" under the orchestra pit, from which he rises with a pot-dreamer's fugue on connectivity, where all the songs are reprised and all the strings of memory (from the play, racial, and collective) are plucked to elicit their harmonious musics, and he emerges into a "Consciousness III" jag of practicality. So the story operates on a half-dozen levels: a play, a Mass (with emotions bolted onto Latin words which don't mean anything LIKE the emotions, which is one of the poorest things in the book), the life of Christ (even to a sort of crucifixion), the parade of an individual through "Greening of America," the history of the church (from simple to overbearing, back to simple), and the history of the earth (from primordial chaos while I was stoned, to over-synchronization to jazzy dances and orchestrations which break down from sheer neural overload, to some sort of Nirvana when everyone links up TRULY with everyone else (not just the first row of the orchestra, and he sure had to strain to reach across the aisle), in Nirvana or orgasmic Cosmic Consciousness). With ALL the plots going, most of the transitions seemed arbitrary: a new character would wander on and change an action gratuitously: the changes didn't STEM from preceding actions. But there were marvelous moments: the dance-orgy of frenzied movements by EVERYBODY, the shout of "awakening" and the final chorus of song. Some of the songs are recordable, but some of the "in" jazziness (slapped hands, black signs) grated, it seemed based TOO solidly on "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Hair."

DIARY 3339


She starts at 8, but we don't pay our bill until 8:20, and then drive over to Cornell through the dark streets and Fran doesn't know where the hall is, and we walk around and around, Joy trying hard to keep up on her short fat legs, and finally we get to the hall, in which we can all find seats, and by the time the talks go on for another hour, there are lots of empty seats, making what she's saying about the apathy of "certain people" rather poignant. I feel rather guilty since I've come to the events as a sort of a "circus viewer," and find that many of the students are obviously there for the same reason: munching candy bars, feet up on railings on dusty seats in front of them (the hall must have been chosen because it's so uncomfortable to sit in), contributing nothing to the money pots being passed around. Tom Hayden's on when we get in, and he rambles and rambles, refusing to make good solid points, and the audience is listless and chattery behind his speaking. Then Jane's up singing a banal song from FTA, which she encourages us to see when it's released, and then SHE starts on 1) personal impressions of John Wayne, her father, John Ford, and someone else playing cards with guns on the table, 2) her marriage in France, where she had to bleach her hair, wear falsies, and finally listen to American peaceniks to "wake her up" about the plight of the country, 3) tells tales of her visit to Hanoi, passing on the "information" given her, and the problem with saying that the ESTABLISHMENT is telling lies is that the audience has to decide just where, or whether, or how much, or inadvertently in good faith but with bad sources, THEY are telling lies! She talks about the tortures, the actress who relives being stomped on with her stomach filled with water, the troupes performing Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams through the countryside to convince the people that the US GOVERNMENT, not the US people, are against the Vietnamese (which seems like a VERY sophisticated tactic, if it's true), and the questions show the audience's stupidity, we leave before the crush, then drink whiskeyed tea in the warm apartment while talking about how the evening affected us, and we cozily crawl into bed at 12:16. YUGH!

DIARY 3489


"That Simple Light May Rise Out of Complicated Darkness" started marvelously with "Rocky Mountains" lit by a mobile arc light on a huge pole by a black-robed non-personage. Some of the "Original Crawling" was good, but the moment the huge plastic covering was discarded, it began to go downhill. Johnny, a lumpenpuppet in a chair, was cute, as was the army of johnnies, but the soup didn't come across, and two images, though momentarily almost archetypical in their power (the two hand-creatures with Picasso sleeping faces with bug-eyes meeting again and again; the forest of enormous masks moving in on the person who was the audience), just dragged on MUCH too long to be effective. We gathered before downstairs and looked at everyone, and during intermission looked at the portable crèche of puppet-figures, with the prizefight watched by a huge-toothed monster the best of the lot, but after intermission it was just longer, and it took all the chips Marty and I could eat (admitting they were medicinal tasting, but habit-forming) to sit through the tea party of the clouds, the hurricane, the inappropriateness of the Pierrot figure with "Simple Light" in her whiteness, and the clatter-clatter-bang-bang of the percussion instruments they used so often. There was a better show on the subway going home, because the gift John had got was a plastic puzzle like the one I'd played with last Christmas at Henry's, and he started playing with it, and a black man, leaving his date, literally took it away from him to play with it, making Shirley quite paranoid, but I knew the female date would keep things under control. A CUTE kid with a bulging crotch under tight blue jersey bells kept looking, and the black guy next to me kept talking about it and looking at it, and other couples far across the car kept watching as John played with it, trying to get it apart. But we were all very tired by the time we got home about 11:30, and I had two days of office parties to look forward to for the rest of the week, and thankfully Shirley was leaving very early tomorrow morning, and returning sometime, if at all, next Thursday, unless, as she implied, she found somewhere better to stay.

DIARY 3531


In the pit, which is set up with dozens of chairs along the skirts for visiting dignitaries, is a twelve-man orchestra, comprised of four viols, two cymbals, two "deep viols," and drums, metallic harpsichord, cello, which shines mightily in the lights, and flute. Then about 7:46 there's a bilingual introduction from a stiff Chinese girl in a bosomless but very finely-make light blue suit and a bosomy vivacious Italianate girl in a darker blue suit. Then there's a one-minute "cast introduction" which is stolen, in my eyes, by a girl riding a unicycle on the twirled rim of an umbrella held by a most unconcerned man walking below her. The Lion Dance (7 minutes) displays marvelous, silky foo-dog lions, rolling, begging, scratching, balancing on a ball, yawning, snoozing, and having a fun-filled ball. Plate Spinning (8 min) produces fantastic BEAUTIFUL designs; they simply PLACE their heads on the floor between their feet and turn OVER, both frontward and sideways, while still spinning their plates. The guy in the picture on the sawhorse is balancing one leg on a TEACUP! Long Pole Tricks (4) has men acting as flag on the pole, in doubles, and they BOUNCE on the pole, lift and spin. People STILL were coming in at 7:45, audience VERY loud and shouting and chattery. Jade-lime suit with pink flower on introducer. Diabolo (7) HUMS like a flying saucer, and the tricks are varied: 2 on one string, climbing string for two dozen feet, back and forth; catch it, but I still HAVE it! Lovely girls. Bicycle Stabilizing feats on a raised stand (7) is fairly standard, except for a handstand on a head on a gal standing on the spokes of the front wheel---wires on all---a most UNHURRIED approach. Conjuring (6) is MADE to be hard to see, Goldfish from the near right audience runway: and from my angle you can SEE glass pop from "solid" boards, he EXCHANGES cylinders at table; he gets a load of fish from the BACK of the stand with the FIRST pass of scarf, then dumps them IN with the SECOND pass. I could SEE glass behind girl's tray when she leaves, and he "has" it under his handkerchief. Pagoda of Bowls (7) topped when SHE does handstand on his neck while HE does handstand on rickety chairs. Taking them OFF with her feet isn't great, but putting it BACK is something ELSE. He hoists her on hands, then lies on ground and rolls over, she high in air. Quick SPINS by gals must be rough. Trick cycling (7) is amazing when they get ON and OFF cycles through the center without breaking STREAM. 3 up, four at compass points, then 3 up, three off EACH side for 9! The photo stunt, in motion, is just BEAUTIFUL. Lovely fan effect (no wires). Unicycle-bicycle twirling, lying across top, but HE'S phony with "isn't that SOMETHING?" Pity. So the ACTION in Act 1 was only 53 minutes in TOTAL. National Wu Shu ends with a seven-man pyramid (or pailou, Chinese arch-gate) with ONE man supporting 6. Balancing on a roller (9) starts with three minutes of a cascade of 5 and a juggle of 6 balls. A turning gyroscopic point-to-point knife and two spinning plates is mind boggling, and a lot of time is spent on a five egg-into-glass snap, and it's their only bogey: one of the plastic supports which kept the egg on top of the board which was balanced on the glass-tops landed on the floor. Tsk. And all the last stuff WAS done on the roller, but not terribly fast. Foot Dexterity (4) showed them EXCHANGING enormous pottery jars, and they seemed able to tumble them any which way. Balancing on Free-Standing Ladder (3) had a four-man pyramid, lovely tiptoe step motions, and head on head balancing with the help of a tiny black velvet cap. Flowery Sticks (6) were fun with TWO sticks going at once alternately, two gals on one stick, and throwing and tumbling with them. Balancing on chairs (7), the guy had ROCK-STRAIGHT balance, on chairs, bench, blocks, blocks OFF into handstand: fabulous. Hoop-Diving (4) was ECSTATICALLY BEAUTIFUL, looking more like rabbits than swallows, seeming infinitely VULNERABLE moving through the delicate hoops, furry and cuddly as they risked embarrassment of knocking over something, pausing, looking, almost wrinkling their noses above their grins, like hamsters, utterly charming, who have mastered their tricks perfectly. Though I DID wish to see someone sail, unaided, through TOP hoops as they went through BOTTOM ones. Flowers of Friendship (3) unrolled flags and flowers and LIT lanterns from a box, fun, everyone wanting to hug EVERYONE. Great show!

DIARY 3535


Labeled with nice things like "Ghosts," "Mummies," "Astrology," Personalities," "Pornography" (though this wasn't there, or I would have looked further), and a shelf of books that I would have liked to have, all over a desk, with pigeon holes and cornices and stained glass lighting fixtures. Out from this was a small stage with candle-flame footlights, a hanging with an abstract silver Christmas tree, and a canopy of looping unlit lights in whirls and candy canes. It was like a neat Jack Smith's loft, the sort of place you'd like to live yourself, or at least where you'd like a FRIEND to live who'd invite you to his party. It WAS like a party, and as more people came in, loosely interrelated to those who'd arrived first, it WAS like a party, and I had fantasies about the humpy numbers who'd been there at the start, lounging on the bed in the back, going into the back eyrie to put on more records. I peeked back there and it was an ear-freak's fantasy of tapes and cassettes and films and records. Then some bubbly wine came out and I started drinking that, and John was chatting with some cute guys, and he came beaming past me, and I beamed incandescently back at him, saying that I UNDERSTOOD, for once, the lack of structure, and I was PREPARED for nothing to happen, looking FORWARD to watching the audience react when it turned into "a party," and drank more wine. There were little things of candy and chewies passed around, and some were even passing around joints. There was a marvelous glow in the air and EVERYONE seemed to fit into the crowd: no one was uptight---until the host, Bob Goldstein, started wending his way through the "audience," asking people to get up to give ladies a seat, and then some slides started on and off, and there were some films, which were OTHER'S trips to music, as I'd described back in "Controlled High" on pp. 349x or 348x, and though they weren't MY trip, it WAS a trip, and I enjoyed it. Then Bob started to sing, something about a "Cowboy and his Friend," and I thought it was going to be gay, as he was, but it wasn't, only funny and so thoroughly out of tune, rhythm, and beauty, that it was a rock equivalent to Florence Foster Jenkins, and I LOVED every minute of it. More films, and the rest of the evening was lost in a haze, but I started drinking too much wine, wishing there were sex, and then we left about 12:30, splendidly high.

DIARY 3538


"Melodies" was the same piece played on TV New Year's Eve, but in the studio, with only one dancer, with the tape-delay not working properly, it seemed even more pointless than when the TV produced shadow-images of four or even six dancers posturing through the tootly music. "Raga 3" seemed pretty much the same as the crescendo of simple noise that he played for us on tape in his apartment, and though the speakers were in better shape than those in his apartment, still there was not enough pleasure in the sound to make a second hearing seem worthwhile. "Raga 2" was James Fulkerson again, and though he might be some fantastic virtuoso on the trombone, I just don't dig the sound, and I'd rather Sergio ignored him. Then there was an intermission, and the washed-out creature beside Tom Johnson turned out to be his wife, and I said hello to her without feeling. We stood outside and talked about nothing much in general, and then returned to an audience that looked much smaller, except that most of them comprised the 7-man ensemble that played "From the Earth." I was immediately struck by the similarity of the sound to Mahler's: deep mysterious bass and brass sounds, over which flute notes and clarinet ripples struck like sunlight off deep waters, or like solitary birds consoling themselves in thick pine forests. The sound got louder without getting any denser, and the similarity to Mahler increased: now the music was like a set of ominous clouds which hid the sun, though flashes of light and silver hinted of enormous powers behind, if only the clouds would part to reveal the glory of what they hid. Notes changed and sounds changed, but still I was rapt by the sounds. I'd timed the music: it started at 9:07 and was over just a minute after 9:30, and I went to the music stand to find that the music was scheduled for 35 minutes. And that in fact it WAS the last few notes from Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde," which he stated never got developed, though to me it seemed like the undertow supporting the entire tidal forces of Mahler. I felt sheepish when I found it was so DISTINCTLY Mahler, as if it were more credit to me to see the similarity when it WASN'T so pointed. I made the statement that I definitely wanted a tape of the music, and at THIS point I thought Sergio was a genius.

DIARY 3690


The orchestra starts off with an ominous low buzz which could launch into "Also Sprach Zarathustra," but it doesn't. The vocal lines are more vocal hairpin turns and gulps and swoops and screams and whispers, and the only bits of melody come in the old dances with the elegant couples posturing about the stage, segueing into gloopy modernistic shadows and chasms of melting notes that seem tremendously foreboding. Justino Diaz seems to have lost the magnificent voice he used to have at Carnegie Hall, and the makeup almost makes him look like a caricature of a Japanese Noh actor in his lion-makeup, which is a bit much. Saunders is good, and Killebrew best of all as the Mother, but as the critics said afterward, the best part of the whole was the setting and gimmicking. Movies careening tipsily through Roman streets and diving into vaults and up the nostrils of gargoyles, baleful black-and-white slides of an Ivan-the-Terrible-looking head, later engorged with a sick orange-red, a parchmenty scrim which sadly cut the sound, but which made the whole opera look like it was transpiring inside a cobwebby brain; constant use of dissevered heads as décor: caught in web-like tree trunks in a garden scene, draping the back of his throne, possibly even as part of his costume; what looked like the blood-stained negligee of a giantess used for a table covering of a marble slab which was unevenly split in two, as if sundered by a rising Dracula; the white curtain dropping, fluttering like panic, around the incest scene, then dropping again to the floor like a de-tumescent cigar wrapper to reveal her, aghast, on the bed before the curtain; music which growled and belched and farted, an orgy scene with cock and balls, and lovely naked maidens with forms straight from Bosch: thin tubular legs, pelvis rounded and thrust forward as if offering fetuses, and tiny spherical breasts on sallow chests under narrow heads streaming lank blond hair. Mastiffs, howls from wind and tomb, tortures on the wheel, blood sacs under nightshirts during some enthusiastic stabbings, black capes of assassins swirling into the dim spotlights, semen-globs that changed to eyes and back as backdrops, all this made a marvelously macabre feast for the audience as decadent as Rome's.

DIARY 3713

POLISH MIME THEATER "Menagerie of the Empress Filissa"

Danuta Kisiel-Drzewinska is a pretty blond with classical ballet training and neat bare feet, and the Major-Domo is another woman. Czeslaw Bilski is the "Black man" who looks like an American Indian, and has NICE legs, the first pair to be bare 3/4 through the performance. Performance 8:11-9:37 without intermission. They use puppet-movements in some places, balletic leaps, lots of FEMALE-crotch grabbing. There are lovely lighting effects of colored gel on white silk tunics of boys; they have the old woman-piggyback-with-long-skirt-so-guy's-legs-look-like-HER-legs trip; an ever-flanking chorus which blocks off the side views on occasion, and toward the end the stage is LITTERED with discarded clothing from the many changes. The treatment prescribed for her womanhood is "Marriage," the only English word (written) in the play. Casti Piani shoots himself in 1st tableau; Ludovico in the second has the most ASTONISHINGLY flexed naked chest, though he's thinnish and narcissistic without a good face---Jorge Donn would have been perfect, and at the end he's pushed out with the trash by brooms. His silver-lamé codpiece was nice, and the "Tannhauser" music apt, though the wedding of the seashell and peacock tail halos was too much. Napoleon in 3rd was better done by Tavel with his Hercules riding in on a cannon, and Napoleon got caught with his sword between his legs and was carried off. Mr. Adison in 5th is a sexy character (second chest appeared on a gypsy violinist in 4th), and his bearer is an OK Indian in loin cloth (GOOD sound here; babbly voices which is a fast-sung Minute Waltz) [4th ends where she EATS him, ending up with HIS mustache on.] 5th guy has good arms, clothed, however, with a genuine Apache dance, hinted before with Indian. They steal her diamonds in 6th. 7th is most effective, with a strange, staring shaved-skull hypnotist. Clothing stripped from black Leather guy, who has a good body, though he wears woman's black underpants AND her red robe with the white feather boa trim. "Love Story" played between guitar and guitarist. Black Angel dusts his motorcycle with a giant Q-tip (open shirted). Stolen from Prague: motorcycle, headlights blazing, into audience and CRASH with Major Domo calmly knitting black wool. At end, she goes MAD, returns to "dressing-up" of childhood, music marvelously askew, and the TEN lovers emerge FROM the bed again and a ROBOT, at the end, just TOUCHES her arm. FINIS.

DIARY 3717


"The Kimono" stretches interminably from 8:12 to 8:40, dominated by Marcel Marceau walking; and their facial expressions are so SILLY with their squinting eyes and down-turned mouths frozen into place; it takes so LONG, that I wonder why they DO it. The threesome played by one character is VERY confusing since he plays EXACTLY the same character with the SAME facial expressions, the wife, played by Jerzy Kozlowski, is awful, though the Tailor's Apprentice of Andrezej Szczuzewski is cute and Zbigniew Papis as the Magician has FANTASTIC calves. And I'm sure the Japanese NEVER use their odd bow-legged run. The BEST part was the marvelous fluttery silk kimono itself, but that's hardly worth a half-hour of thespian tortures. "The Labyrinthe" was done in muscle-patch leotards, with dense movements, TOTALLY uninvolving, INCLUDING the deadpan, motionless, single bow at the end. Anti-sexual, kitsch nothingness from 8:45-8:55. At least it was short. I wonder, through this, if they've gotten AWFUL reviews, HATE the audience (or FEAR it enormously) and are feeling miserable, which feeling is then translated faithfully to the audience? 9:15-9:50, "The Departure of Faust" was almost so dreadfully bad as to pass over into high camp, but it wasn't (nor was the audience) so lucky. Leszek Czarnota might have made a sexy Faust about 20 years ago, but his puffy belly, overly lined face, and stereotyped expressions made it hard to believe he was even having FUN in his camp role. But HERE are the nudes: one of the tempters being quite lovely, Stefan Niedzialkowski as Homunculus is a bulky blond, near-nude, and the whole thing is done part in costume, with emphasis on capes) and part in hippy clothes, with no underlying unity that I could see. Sadly, too, it's the WHOLE story, grossly condensed, massacring Berlioz's music, and the story into the bargain. The red-henna wig and the long silk scarf were an UTTER transvestite's dream, and all he needed was platform silver pumps. The nude men were fun, though there were no cocks, and the bodies weren't even THAT interesting that you wanted to see more---it was pitifully poor, and now I know it's NOT what I thought it was, even in the SEX department.

DIARY 3720


Pamela Hebert started the evening with her astoundingly Junoesque features and Wonder-Woman red lips and black eyebrows, and Thomas Jamerson as Ottone and Norma French as Drusilla made such a COLORLESS pair as the couple who would ORDINARILY be the hero and heroine (the "good" guys who get japped by the "bad" guys) that the beauties of evil were convincing indeed. Frances Bible was bulky and properly "frigido" or whatever the word was, not to mention "sterilo," but her costume was enormously ugly in two colors, while Drusilla managed to combine light orange, pale blue and pallid purple with vomit-like dressing. But as for the Carol Neblett, tall and thin of waist and with the "mammelles" to make Nerone's aria to them both bulky and pointed. And then she stepped behind her peacock's fan to bathe, and one rosy breast peeked out, and practically had to be manually extracted from her MAN-servant who was directed to wrap the shawl around her when she came out of her douche. As for Alan Titus as Nerone, who cares what his voice sounds like (and it actually doesn't sound bad) when he has such enormously sturdy legs, a narrow waist and hips, and a broad chest and manly arms for which the Roman togas are expertly tailored and deliciously designed? At one point, just before the coronation that all the opera is about, he stands in semi-shadow, and his columnar neck with sinews and cords masterfully placed, the planes of his face, strong and deep-eyed, make him look like the bust of truly noble Romans indeed. The settings were fun: a bed would pop out of the right wall, out of the left wall, upstage (where two MEN would hastily part company and attend to their wine cups), and center stage, where everyone and sundry would carouse, head to head, or head to toe. The whipping of the slave was tacky, the comings and goings of goddi funny, and the costumes lavish, and up to the final scene, Nerone had MORE than Poppea, and Ottavina had to settle for the same one (though, indeed, there WAS yards and yards of it) for the whole of the two acts. The choral work by the senators was VERY good, and the few duets were pleasant, but the singing was MARVELOUSLY static and unexciting, and NO one could vibrato or trill like they should have.

DIARY 3722


Even the program starts promisingly with names like Sharp, Harethrasher, von Mucket, von Hoofnail, and Muriel Greenspon playing the Baroness von Greenweasel. Betty Allen has little to do as Begonia, and does it magnificently in her debut, and Rudolf Bing, surprising me, is very good in his part, so far from overacting as to UNDER act. Richard Fredericks as his secretary is so properly colorless that he's hardly noticed, and AGAIN the secondary interest of the Wilhelm of Gary Glaze and the Luise of Patricia Wise are so pallid as to make the evilness of the other characters the more attractive. Ruth Welting is a marvelous spinto soprano with a thin tingling top which Henze writes so well for, and Lord Barrat (or Bharat?) by Kenneth Riegel, is a marvelous actor and a SUPERB singer with ringing screams of agony that are marvelously orgasmic in their unspellable aiiieee's. And the story is luscious about the foisting of the ape onto the citizens as Sir Edgar's nephew, and it's a BIT unfair that the dancers, in APING him, are far more simian than HE is. The sewing party of Scene 2 is a gem, and the chorus of the first scene in the main square ACTUALLY looks like the populace of a small town, which is more than could EVER be said about the chorus at the Met. There are fairly questionable handsome men-servants around the unmarried Sir Edgar, and when the ape throws off his clothing at the finale, and the dancers follow, there are some nicely pallid chests bare, but I envision the opera production of the future which will call for unbridled onanism to make the point PERFECTLY clear. Sarah Caldwell, dressed in a larger version of my Indian scarf, got the largest share of the applause, and Bing and Rudel seemed actually cordial. The curtain calls were taken by as many as 17 performers, designers, directors, and managers, and it was a glorious event, marred somewhat by the fact that most of the MUSIC wasn't enjoyable to listen to, and once the STORY is seen, that's it, because the MUSIC wouldn't draw you back a second time, nor would the production, good as it is. So much for the immortality of the Grand Opera. Next week, "Tales of Hoffman," and I'm in the mood for "Aida."

DIARY 3728


Queen Rosemonde is big and fairly good; and the rest are not even of high-school play quality. The audience, too, was young, except for one gray-haired father of someone, I was by far the oldest of the crowd, though I enjoyed my stick candy when they passed it around, though I did NOT take any of the shit they were peddling from candy trays during intermission. I went because it was "the last week" which it is again THIS week. Hope it goes on forever, just for the audience which would make this remark: "I'm going to recommend this to people; it's really bizarre." Surprisingly like Macbeth, it's hard to say how much of the play was changed to MAKE it like Macbeth, however. The introduction with "There will be 10 one-minute intermissions" was funny, and then I started copying lines; decorated by the spread eagle of Poland (either helpless, being fucked, or shitting, take your choice); his green candle is a phallic candle and balls with a long WHITE drippy wick; Mrs. Ubu looks like a Green Meanie from the Yellow Submarine. Pity the poor person who's the Queen of Poland! I get IN for the student rate of $2.50, thereby saving $2. Bless the English Students' League! One DOES get tired of "Shit" as a response to everything, but the audience kept on laughing. "Et tu, Ubu"; "What's the matter, Mater?"; Adieu, Ubu, (SNAP) (SNAP) ado-ado!; and then they start adding letters, so we get "Buffroon!" "Isn't injustice just as good as justice?"; you'll be disembrained; Justice must be TAMPERED with mercy; Saint Nickel-Ass; I'll cut off your ear-ries; Frinance or Flynance; GOOD final image of soldiers under woman's skirt, ripping, and army gathers candy falling from tummy; "By God's Short Hairs!"; In the hoosegrou; you have a well-hung tongue; drungeons; at death's droor; burning crandles; by God's middle leg; "am I snapping my twig" the best laugh; then bigger one for "when dawn breaks" (SNAP) ha-ha; then once MORE was a bit too much with Ohmigod; haha. Don't make a preep; but there were LOVELY waves at the front and side of the boat at the DEAD end, with continuous hand motions. "Slap - how-you-say - stick"; If you breathe your last 10,000,000 times---and as the final lights come UP the lid SLAMS shut for the last time, which is effective, if planned that way.

DIARY 3745


William Chapman is a greenly-made-up Lindorf, Coppelius, Dappertutto, and Dr. Miracle, singing well, but the "Scintille Diamant" was unaccountably slow and unaffecting. Bernard Fitch did well enough with the four flunky roles, but Andre Turp was old and ponderously-voiced as Hoffman, taking too long to attain the proper pitch, and wavering uncomfortably when he got there, so that it was easy to think that Sills, playing all the parts, was disgusted with him as the partner. As the doll she was VERY funny, though I don't know why she lapsed into graceful movements when no one was "watching" her. The aria wasn't sung well at all, the highest notes lopped off as if she were strangled---though she did it twice, so maybe it was rehearsed that way, but it wasn't very pretty. Her Giulietta was truly beautiful, but the sextet lacked something, and even the stunning silence wasn't terribly effective. The Nicklausse of Hilda Harris was bright and ringing, and her solos, anytime, got me to applaud for the rare times I'd applaud for this performance. Diane Curry couldn't even manage to get pathos into the part of the mother, and the little Spanish castanet dance that Chapman TRIED to do during the "last" act was an embarrassment to everyone. At least Avi and Arthur stayed for the whole thing, the first time this year, and they liked it. I argued with the talkers to my side, and he even apologized to me, after Avi chewed me out for SAYING anything to him, and then HE got angry with OTHERS talking around us that hardly bothered ME. But Marty said that next year he was looking forward to the new Sutherland production with Bonning restoring everything at the Met, and I guess it WILL be a return trip for that, since I didn't see them at all this year. It wasn't the best way to end the season, and the sets weren't spectacular at ALL, I didn't think, and WHY would they want the reflecting Mylar of the canal during the TAVERN scene I don't know. Next year I shouldn't try to see as many as four, and leave myself some interest for the last in the lot, so I wouldn't be so sour: but the audience wasn't going out of their minds, except for Sills, either, so I'm not alone in mediocrity.

DIARY 3747


Since it's the THIRD last (before Henry VIII and Cymbeline) of Shakespeare that I have to see, I take copious notes: Prologue: new plays and maidenheads are delicate; I1: Pay no heed to rotten kings or blubbered queens. About to marry, Queens win Hippolyta to postpone her wedding to Theseus to conquer Creon, who murdered their husbands. I2: Cousins HATE Creon, but support him anyway. I3: Emilia is GAY, and SUSPECTS Pirithous and Theseus! I4: Theseus LOVES the Cousins! I5: Queens bury the dead. II1: ALL admire the Cheerful prisoners---"together, together." "We are an endless MINE to one another, brother husbands, brother heirs; we shall live long and loving." Is there any record of two that love as we. We ARE one. So unlike a Noble Kinsman to love ALONE." II2: Palamon FALLS for Emilia and then Arcite does and they fall out. II3: Arcite, disguised, after Pirithous banishes him, joins "gamesters." "He has a tongue to tame tempests." II4: Jailer's daughter loves Palamon. II5: Arcite GIVEN to Emilia, for winning games. "His 'virtues' like a hidden sun, breaks through his baser garments." II6: Jailer's daughter frees Palamon. III1: Arcite aids freed Palamon. III2: Jailer's daughter mourns. III3: Arcite helps Palamon. III4: Jailer's daughter goes mad. "Oh, for a prick to lay my head against." III5: Clowns and Revelry. "Hawk's bells cut away." Arse-site! III6: Loving, they fight! Theseus says "They die." Hippolyta: "I, who surpass ALL women, and almost all men, in Theseus's vision." Theseus: "The other loses his head and all his friends." First section, to here, from 8:10-9:25; then 9:40 to 10:30, and the whole thing runs less than a WEEK, so very FEW have even EVER seen the play! IV1: Summary of story by clowns. Jailer's Daughter: "Lose my maidenhead by cocklight." IV2: Emilia can't decide. IV3: Wooer to impersonate Palamon with Jailer's daughter. V1: GOOD scene before the altars, IDIOT laughing audience. Theseus: Your ire is more than mortal's, so shall your help be. (They kiss.) Arcite's speech to Mars sounds straight from Velikovsky! V2: Wooer WINS Jailer's Daughter. V3: ARCITE wins the battle. V4: Palamon to die, Mars has won for Arcite; then Arcite's HORSE falls on him! VENUS wins for Palamon. Hippolyta: "What pity that four eyes so fixed on one, that two must be blinded." Arcite: "Palamon SAW her first, but the gods became my executioner! Epilogue: "None smile, then it goes HARD. Oh, that's queer." STUPID crux to the whole play: Emilia can't choose ONE; Theseus wants to kill BOTH; then "duel" and winner gets Emilia. Audience laughs at the impossibility of it all, particularly when Emilia sighs, and "I surely can't have BOTH of them." How PRODUCED the tragedies were because of their stupid sexual REPRESSIONS. Three fabulous sets of gowns for ALL of Indian silk. Harvey Fierstein is painted and garish, but FITS as the schoolmaster. Peter Subers is cute and a HORRID singer. Don Weiss is awful as Theseus. Mary Woronow as Hippolyta is GOOD, and even speaks her lines well, but when she flubs, the audience thinks she's camping and over-reacts. Amanda Davies is blond and bland as Emilia. Richard Camargo has a good mustache, looking rather like my friend from Long Beach. Lee-David Frank is the straight-haired Palamon with a good voice, but rather stiff and poker-faced. John Edward is the wavy-haired Arcite, cute and somewhat better, but still quite an amateur. Janice Miller as the Jailer's Daughter steals the show, getting applause every time she leaves the stage, talking to the audience like a plump Joan Rivers, enunciating the words so that it sounds like modern-day speech, making her love and anguish believable, and even her madness, except that the audience insisted on the play's over-dramatization of her madness, yet she DID it well. Henry Cohen with a bushy beard was Baboon, funny in a paisley phallus, stuffing his thin tail down one of the wench's bosom while Fierstein crawled the walls in embarrassment during the Morris Dance of rather pleasant stepping, choreography by Gabriel Oshen. And the whole thing was directed by Harvey Tavel, who seemed to be worrying in the back of the theater with the 3/4 full house, everyone in for $2.50, and I'm glad they at least waited for TONIGHT to close it, since it only OPENED on March 30, after about a week of previews, and a fairly good writeup in the Voice.

DIARY 3817


We ride home, then go down to the Promenade to see the view of the city, then home to drink beer and water to fill in from the meal, everyone takes their turn in the showers, and then we drive down to 230 Canal Street for "Dr. Hero" by Israel Horovitz. Park and walk and then drive and park and walk again, past the fringes of Chinatown, and into an old loft building with the oldest elevator in New York, wired in on three sides, past which pass the floor entrances, the cruddy windows looking onto the descending street outside, and tiny doorways, some open and some closed, giving onto bizarre storage rooms, some crammed full of things musty beyond any possibility of usage, To the very top, into a nicely painted lobby of the show, and they recognize John as having been there before. Sad that he's telegraphed the fact that the ball playing is to involve the audience, and it STARTS OUT on a poor key, the Everyman telling his own story, but then with the entrance of Alan Nebelthau as Tommy, hanging his head to one side and moving as if he had no ankles, to whom the Hero is so INCREDIBLY cruel, yet the boy, truthfully, needs ANYONE so badly that he's willing to put up with Hero's shit. There are good parts and bad parts, and when people FIRST appear they seem dreadful, but when they later appear in a part totally unrecognizable from their first appearance, my respect for them begins to grow. It's uphill all the first act, but the intermission
leads me to read the review with great interest, though I don't want to know the ending, but it slips into my eye that he loses the contest for the Most Greatest Man on Earth, which I think is sad. But then it gets bathetic, just as Jim Milton says it will, and the TRUE wit of the college degree-conferring-ceremony is replaced by the painfully witty pantomimed sales meeting where they decide to sell dirt to the housewives so that their detergent can be used effectively. Then he begins to get older, and there's a painful scene with the woman Laura, where he tried to seduce her but doesn't succeed because she goes after Thurst, and he finally gets the best of him, but the ending is beginning to loom in sight, and the prophetic quiz, WHICH HE WINS (which leads me to wonder if they changed it, if the critic misunderstood, or if I misread the review), ending with the question "What goes up and NEVER comes down?" with the response "YOUR age" (emphasis MINE), and at the end of the play, the crux of the matter is obviously HIS age, or even worse, the age of everyone in the audience. I was physically aware of the cramps in my legs when I went out during intermission, a sign that my legs are no longer serving me without ANY twinge of recognition as they have for these years, and I felt so MUCH empathy for the character of the charismatic "Greatest Man in the World," that when we left I felt quite silent, and then felt that Fran and Joy shared my depression, which they did, and we joked feebly about THEIR entertaining US with the devastating Jane Fonda's peace show, and OUR entertaining THEM with THIS brand of devastation. It was so CLEAR from the play that EVERYONE ages and goes to their death, no matter HOW much they've got going for them (even if they DIDN'T pass the salt and pepper, a running mysterious line), and no matter how much they try to hide it. Springing from my latest Man's Country visits, when I sometimes felt out of it, to feeling out of Mattachine, to the office where Barbara mentions how she doesn't THINK of me as being over 30, and it was only JOHN'S pointed intention to have sex which got me out of it, so we smoked and sexed, and I was so tired I slept over my gloom.

DIARY 3841


Home after delays on the subway, same as before, to eat and get out to "The Tooth of Crime" at 7:10, deciding not to smoke because there'd be too much time before the performance starts at 8:10. The lobby is interesting with the nude pictures of the heroes, but that's not the way they appear in the show, sadly, though Spaulding Gray DOES come through with his chrome-plated jockstrap, with pink danglies sticking down that John just can't take his eyes off, and when he walks there are views of the spaces between his balls and cock, and some of the women sitting below him roll their eyes and smile stiffly and steadfastly look in another direction when he comes close to them. This is one of the most successful "audience can move around" shows that I've seen, with the beginning somewhat stilted with the "Come around, move around here," which interrupts the play of the play, but people fall into it, and I seem to have SEEN it before, since I stand right NEXT to the spot where Crow appears for the first time, and get a marvelous view of his inside left nostril through his scene, and then decide to see the "hand-in-glove-raping-herself" scene from ABOVE, and it turns out to be the PERFECT place, just as below, on the floor, was the perfect place for the golden shower (or gold dust) just before the end of the first act. Joan MacIntosh talked to us nicely during the beginning, saying that there was a firm script, but the DIRECTING and the AMBIENCE WAS THE TOTAL CONCEPT OF THE Performing group, and John said he didn't care for Schechner's view of the thing, but I thought it was interesting enough. (No, I guess I DID smoke for this, and it was Jeff's "View" that I DIDN'T smoke for). Lovely fellow in baggy jeans with his older keeper made nice viewing across the way a couple of times, too. Then I sort of moved UP from where I stood JUST before the trap door opened for the grave scene, though I had no way to knowing it was coming, and then the final blackout was done with the hero, fatally cute, staring at the placid-faced guy just IN FRONT OF ME, and the enormous pause before the blurted "Wish me luck" before the final blackout was tense as I glanced back and forth in the mirror to watch the fascinated gaze of the poor out-of-towner caught in this delicious dilemma. The double-talk was clever, the actors all around taking various parts were very good, and the movement, I think, added something to the play which a static production couldn't have had. Some of the little old ladies perched on balconies, old men climbing ladders, wives searching for their wandering spouses, all made for interesting side-vignettes. I was in the way a few times, and they came out with a Roadrunner "Meep meep" to get through. Found myself JUST opposite John a couple of times, watching him watching the play as I was watching the play. The guy in the dress as the doctor was a bit much, sadly. Think it's a mistake to give discount tickets for such things: the matrons from Westchester just AREN'T ready for this, many leaving when the cast said "We'll do that again, and if you're leaving, leave now, since you bothered me before." Mirrors around a VERY nice touch, though their insurance agent must BLANCH to think of audiences clambering all over.