Twice over lightly part 2: Joseph Papp and the Public Theatre

Darlings

Do you recall our fun project about re-enacting Twice Over Lightly, the 1972 book from Anita Loos and Helen Hayes, that we started before the storm hit?

We have not forgotten it.

To jog your memory banks, we set out our intent here and then went to re-visit the famous writer and her glam blonde sidekick, the famous actress and benefactor, as they tripped gently around the (then) scary east village.

And then, last night, we went to Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre for something of a cabaret setting but Victorian style Improving Lecture crossed with a live Radio program(me) on the BBC talking to a Writer and a Writer/Performer about Art and The City.

It was marvel(l)ous.

But firstly, let’s look at what Anita and Helen found at Joe’s Pub (as it is now called).

Remember this was 1972 (or just before as the book was Published in That Year). How brave and enterprising and glorious Anita Loos and Helen Hayes were. Read on for their adventure into the heart of downtown hippie-and-hip-cats territory where they probably saw more bell bottoms (if there are young people reading, and we know a few of you are from your kind emails and texts and ‘re-tweets’!) these were trousers. If you are an American Young Person you would call them pants (no sniggering from London, please) and they had swoopy flared bottoms usually in engaging carpet-like textiles.

The party in honor of Joseph Papp’s birthday would be at his Public Theatre on Lafayette Street in the heart of Greenwich Village. Joe’s theatre is much more than one mere theatre. It is the ancient Astor Library which he, backed up by generous theatre lovers, has converted into a theatrical complex.
P. 248: Twice Over Lightly

On this occasion, Anita and Helen had charming male companions……let’s read on…..

On the evening of any large supper party in New York, the custom is for guests to attend small private dinners before the main event. Our dinner before the Papp party was really small. There were four of us: Helen and me with our escorts, Mort Gottlieb (the successful Broadway producer, taking a look at how off-Broadway lives) and our host Guy Monypenny, who is editor of a stylish magazine of interior decorating.
P. 249: Twice Over Lightly

Yes. We stopped dead at the mention of Guy Monypenny. For a start – delicious name (very teamgloria, we think).

The honour of being the first U.T.S. Old Boy to make his name in the world of the Theatre belongs to Guy Monypenny. Guy was a graduate of ’24 U8 years at the time and, after several years of further study, settled down to make his living by selling hand-made lamps in a store in Toronto’s Greenwich Village. He made a trip to New York in June, 1933 with the intention of staying two weeks, to sell some songs which he had written and to write new ones. But while he was there he became interested in the Group Theatre, which in its turn became interested in him and gave him a part with Philip Merivale in “Valley Forge.” When the run of this play came to an end, our young actor had so impressed the Group Theatre that he went, with Mr. Merivale, into the cast of Maxwell Ander- son’s “Mary of Scotland,” in which was starred that great American actress Helen Hayes. While visiting Miss Hayes last summer, he met Noel Coward, and that amazing and Versatile gentleman took a further…..

sadly the online scanned excerpt from the 1935 Yearbook of the University of Toronto ends there! But oh! how tantalizing…….and how Unsurprising that our guardian (for tis how we like to think of Noel) was Involved….

We digress.

Their dinner ended in Little Italy where they drank a cappuccino (which must have been surprising enough to ladies up Uptown – or midtown as Anita Loos lived opposite Carnegie Hall by this point) to mention.

After….we strolled in true Italian contentment along West Fourth to Lafayette Street and there came upon the Public Theatre, ablaze with floodlights. Helen stopped us to view it from afar. “Look! Just look at this truly great example of turn-of-the-century elegance!”
P. 249

We presently learned Joe’s party had already begun in the largest of the four playhouses which comprise the Public Theatre. It had once been the main hall of the old Astor Library and is still crowned with a great domed ceiling of stained glass. This is, moreover, the historic location where HAIR began – minus its silly nude scene.
P. 252

We forgive Anita here, of course, knowing that she was a fan of Paris Couture and probably not of seeing the Young and the Beautiful weaving in and among each other enjoying Free Love and a strangely potent enjoyment of what must have been imported incense.

This next bit gave us a hoot.

Tonight the great auditorium had become a Viennese cabaret, with tiny candle-lit tables spotted among the rows of red plush theatre seats.
P. 252

As. It. Was. Last. Night!

It was So Dark (and atmospheric) that we could not take a good shot – and we did not have the grown-up-camera as we were sure none were allowed so this is the best we could do – forgive.

We weren’t sure what to expect from the Event. But we’re a Huge Fan of Anna Deavere Smith (we saw her show Let Me Down Easy about the state of healthcare previously and was struck by her Talent and force and general genius). Friends of ours who own Televisions adore David Simon (as you know, we do not own a telly – far too distracting – and we should tell you that – as who we are in RL – we got Very Far into the interviewing stage for a Big Job in Television before we had to pull out when a friend said, “when are you going to tell them you don’t own a TV?” oops…excellent point.)

Apparently David Simon’s work is utterly brilliant if rather Real (and we’re not big on Real unless it’s set in Paris and perhaps has an interlude of a musical number) but we feel it’s our Duty as a Popular Culture reporter to watch it so we’ll let you know.

The discussion on stage ranged gloriously from Cities to Creating Art to writing Television in New Orleans and somewhere called Baltimore (isn’t that where Mr. J. Waters is from?) and Storytelling and Disasters (we had a silent moment and paused to reflect, perched on the stool at the back as Anna D-S and Mr. Simon talked about visiting Rockaway and NJ shorelines which have been devastated and destroyed this past week).

The two performers embodied compassion and Empathy and Anna boldly proclaimed about the creativity unleashed when re-making your life after a disaster and the room became silent and slightly uneasy but she had a good point. She also talked about how she embodies her characters:

“I desire them – or there’s something about their world that I desire”

We feel the same about the characters who have written themselves into our screenplays through our fingers. Sometimes we think about calling them up, to chat, to see when they’re in Town next – and then we take our hand off the baby pink princess phone and remember that it’s not that they don’t exist – they do – its just we don’t know their phone number. We say this because we’ve written out characters and then met them in real life – not them, exactly, but people that have a similar Feel to them. It’s rather odd and best not to share this information at first, if ever.

Back to Anna DS – she told us the three questions she asks people when she starts to create a show around a theme using monologues drawn from Real Lives:

Have you ever come close to death?

 Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do?

 Do you know the circumstances of your birth? 

We were almost going to answer these questions for you – about us – but we paused. Two of them are not suitable (no bright spots or Doris-Day-like pastels shiny memories to impart – just a cold reality that we’d rather Not remember) and the other we already shared with you about Tobias. For if Tobias had grown, undetected, and found his way up and into and through our main artery. Well. Heads would have exploded. Shudder.

It appears Mr. Simon is Terribly Dark himself and writes a blog (quelle joy!) called: The Audacity of Despair (tres Rimbaud). It’s here.

We move on……..back to the Theatre.

Actually we can sum up now, just in case you’re wondering if there’s time to make tea and come back – no – we’re almost Done.

The most exciting part of the evening was not just the sheer joy of watching fascinating people talking about Smart Things in a very intellectual and yet also Visceral blood-filled-and-Real way but the bubbling up gorgeous feeling that here were two people who make their living as Storytellers.

Anna D-S and Mr. Simon pay close attention to Life and to People and their pain and joy and the Feelings that they have and the Adventures and the Sorrows and the sheer excitement at being ALIVE and they share it, through their Craft and their Art into stories which bring these small pockets of humanity to people across the planet (we heard that Mr. Simon does awfully well in Foreign Syndication you see).

Paid to tell stories.

Isn’t that the most delicious way to spend a lifetime?

thank you to Joe’s Pub aka the Joseph Papp Public Theatre for a Most Engaging evening of thought and ideas and storytelling.

divine.

another in a series of goodbye to new york from teamgloria.

cue titles.

fade to black.

(yes, we’ve been re-watching The Hour, over and over again – it’s Jolly good).

oh! we just realized – Mr. D. West is not just in The Hour, he’s also in Mr. Simon’s rather Shocking expose of the underbelly of Baltimore. how clever.

not another manic monday: east coast portraits and twice over lightly part 1

darlings

well.

mondays (not in a skyscraper) are a Revelation.

we toured the city, doing portraits and picking up emails and sending out notes and frowning (prettily) while Helping answer Important questions but also spent a Great deal of time in cafes, picking over the best marmalade* to have on one’s bagel.

by the way, this post Might well be a long one – are you prepped with – if in London – a hot buttered crumpet – in Los Angeles – a raw carrot juice – and Berlin (guten tag, Berlin) – a black coffee and a cigarette? Off-season in the Hamptons? What does one imbibe up there? A hot apple cider perchance? Do. Tell.

lovely.

then we’ll begin.

firstly we took some (modestly speaking) splendid portraits to add to our east-coast-portaits-series

may we share?

This is our Good Friend Joseph (who is many things, but also a Poet, and the splendidly-bearded performer Brian Boucher, is seen here, reading one of Joseph’s works). We asked Joseph if we could meet him outside the main NYPL (near the Lion-on-theLeft, if you’re familiar with the Fifth Avenue location, in manhattan). But our photograph looks awfully as if we Stumbled upon Joseph while on a competing Tour of the Ancient World and we stopped, a while, to say:

“Oh! Did your tour go as far as Thrace?”

and he shared his latest translation from the original of Plutarch (with all the naughty bits helpfully explained with a wink and a sigh and a nod to the cleverness and allusions of times gone by).

Or perhaps we read too much into things (but we think not, actually, plus it’s fun to think-like-this-constantly – if a Tiny bit exhausting – for others, mostly).

Then we went back downtown – to the West Village – to meet up with Mary (who had a twinkle in her eye so we caught up on everything-that-has-been-going-on before we said, “quick! the light is going!” and we snapped two shots and luckily love them both).

we need to digress a tiny bit (do you need to make another pot of tea in england? we’ll wait…)

hello. again.

so, where were we?

oh yes.

on instagram (we’re there, under teamgloria, do “follow us” and we’ll follow you, darlings) we had a lovely exchange – may we share it with you?

A SPY!

isn’t that splendid?

(because we did actually want to be a Spy – and still do – apart from the fact that we hear it actually entails not that much poker in a tuxedo in cascais and probably more paperwork in a dark office off the streatham high street than we’d like – but we got dejected in early exploratory discussions regarding the Foreign Office as we have Foreign-born Parents and apparently, in those days, that was Not Allowed by the Crown – shiver – isn’t that awfully glorious?).

what else can we tell you about the past day or so?

we started our re-enactment of Twice Over Lightly – picking the East Village – although their definition of the East Village was rather Broad so we’ve done the same – as our first port of call (not strictly a Port, we know, but you understand what we’re driving at – although we weren’t driving – we walked there).

so here are our photographs to accompany the words of Anita Loos and the observations of Helen Hayes from their 1972 book.

This particular expedition had an incongruous start at the Spanish Pavilion, an expensive restaurant on Park Avenue frequented by sybarites. Our publisher and host, a man of tremendous dynamism, spoke up briskly. “Of course you’ll go to the East Village,” said he.

Helen and I had already discussed that idea so she was ready with her answer. “Not under any circumstance.”

………..”the night people of the Village were abroad after the show, and on our way to the parking lot it was downright scary……….they were clustered among their motorcycles smoking homemade cigarettes, and we knew what those were. Several of them were locked in alarming embraces…….I am really too cowardly to be of much use in the East Village.”

I had my own objections to going there. “I haven’t got anything to wear,” I said.
(P. 57)

P. 59: “The East Village is the neighborhood most recent populated by the now set.”

Isn’t that lovely? The Now Set. We might have to start using that one…..

here’s where the Now Set still go to eat (and we nibbled on their delicious appetizers a few months ago with someone Very Glam – we ate – they sipped a beverage in a frosted glass of course)

and here’s where the Now Set stock up on Barthes and Derrida, darlings.

and here’s where the Now Set go for their Theatre-fix (and a dose of cultural theory in action – we’ll be there for this event – will you? Fancy a black coffee in the lobby beforehand?)

and we tried to find a picture to go with this quote from Anita Loos:

P. 62: “That’s the great thing about the Village: everybody has always thought his bag was just as important as the other fellow’s. The Village is no place for those who enjoy competition and belong in the thick of things. The Village is Paradise for the insecure.”

but the nearest we came is The Smile (the photograph above is the tea-lights-in-mason-jars twinkling on the ironwork steps leading down into the cavernous welcoming bistro itself).

we cannot say whether The Smile is part of the Paradise for the Insecure (although there were plenty of people with moleskine notebooks, scribbling furiously, so it probably isn’t far off – and yes, our own moleskine – #141 – if you’re curious – was Most definitely out on the wooden, wax-dripped-on, table by the window).

but there were a few Ezra Miller beauteous and androgynous types therein.

so this final quote from Anita feels apt:

“Greenwich Village is the only spot in New York where you can go out for the Sunday newspaper in your pajamas and bare feet and nobody pays you any attention.”
P. 62

we’re dying to find a photograph of someone in their PJs and a copy of the Sunday Times under their arm……..if we do, we’ll update this post and let-you-know.

so – gosh – a long one for today!

it’s raining horribly in manhattan and we’re safely and warmly enveloped in the local library – surrounded by chaps in black t-shirts and beanie hats staring at their screens and a woman in a vintage Burberry trench coat reading a romance novel in the corner.

waving from here.

to you.

until tomorrow……

*re. Marmalade Question: we think it’s this one – what do you think?

a fabulous night with Lady Rizo: hanging out with our fellow refugees from the banal into a world of glitter, blonde beehives and ballgowns and chanteuses.

not to share Too many details, but we have therapy on Saturday mornings (such a reflexive way to start the weekend) and the revelation de jour is that perhaps we have been drifting back into the world of glitter, drag queen ballgowns, fierce females, dark and twisted torchsongs and late night walks through twinkly manhattan to sit awhile and talk outside a closed cupcake bakery until almost midnight, wrapped up tight against the cold, because we are looking for our Tribe.

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We definitely want to be in the same tribe as Lady Rizo.

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We took the elegant jsT to the cabaret to see Lady Rizo. The lady was electrifying. What a voice! Quelle delicious banter! Such a fierce and naughty persona. And yet. And yet. If you close your eyes, the lady’s songs will make you weep. Open them and she’ll make you obey her every whim. Especially when she strokes her blonde up-do back into place and we, the devotees, must sigh seductively.

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The disheveled state of undress by the climax of the show is utterly charming.

“it’s hard to do this without my lashes, bitches. But I will try, darlings.

Isn’t she Just Delicious?

gender warriors: something a little different, and utterly disarming.

last night we went to the Cabaret to see Justin Vivian Bond.

we know! so Christopher Isherwood and between-the-wars Berlin (many of those darling 30s haircuts in the audience in fact)! the experience was uplifting and unsettling and curiously exhilarating.

as an event, it was also a return to some of the more questioning periods of our life around Gender and Identity and Sexuality – yes, the big questions (we draw your attention for this one to Julie Andrews – no, not as the nun or the nanny but when she donned a dashing chap’s suit and then sequins and life was never the same again under the spotlight).

so – last night – with our friends HH (in from the Other Coast just for the evening – tres glam) and mC and koC (both native east coasters and also deeply experienced in the NYC cabaret scene) – we took our seats for a Most Enlivening evening’s entertainment.

waiting at Joe’s Pub (next to the famous Public Theater on Lafayette) for the night to start (we had just seen David Byrne in the lobby so life was already gleaming and starlike in a very chic way).

we couldn’t get any closer from our supper spot so here’s a better close-up shot of the lovely JVB by Amos Mac from the lovely blog fashion beyond fashion.

here’s how Justin would like to be addressed…..(from justinbond.com)

Key Terms

prefix: mx

pronoun: V

gender: trans or T

full name: Mx Justin Vivian Bond

Many years ago while I was sitting at Cafe Flore in San Francisco, one of my favorite places on earth. I was approached by a transexual woman who engaged me in conversation and during our chat she said to me, “Justin, sooner or later you’re going to have to come down off the fence.”  I was quite taken aback by this statement as I hadn’t really thought of myself as being on a fence. But after some thought I realized what she was saying.  By saying I would have to come down “off the fence” she was saying that sooner or later I would have to make a choice and conform my identity to embrace the gender binary and validate her choice to climb over the fence to the “other side”.  Personally, for me, I have never believed there was another side for me to cross over to.  Sometimes I wish I did.  If I felt there was a clearly defined place for me to go, where I would be welcomed and at peace, I would surely have gone there many years ago.  At times I’ve almost been able to convince myself there was, but for me to claim to be “a woman” would feel just as false as the charade I’ve been asked to play for so much of my life of being “a man”.  Having said that, I will affirm that I do believe there is another side for others; for transexual men and women who fully embrace and are comfortable subscribing to the gender binary -to a polarized notion of gender. But please don’t assume that aspiring to pass is “realness”, because as far as I can see “realness” too is a construct built on shifting sand.  If you insist on serving “realness” don’t be surprised if it is declared to hard too swallow and sent back to the kitchen.  This applies to “real men”, “real women” and all of their enablers.  I’m not interested in the expression of “realness”.  I would like to be afforded the luxury of being free to be as honest as possible and to have my truth be respected.

So I remain on the fence but I am beginning hormone treatments not to become a woman but in order to actualize what I’ve always known myself to be -a trans person.  I want my body to be a declaration and physical manifestation of my transgendered spirit.  When I was younger I used to refer to myself as a “non-op transexual”, meaning I was a transexual who didn’t need to have surgery to assert what I was.  But I was wrong because without assertions people can only make assumptions and I no longer wish to indulge or refute the assumptions or labels other people choose to place on me, I simply want to inhabit my very clear vision of myself.

more here. 

isn’t that lovely?

we’d like to inhabit a very clear vision of ourself too.

and, darlings, that’s Exactly what we are digging into right now, post-surgery. who are we? and why did the blood test results come back with such a bad prognosis? and what are we doing wrong (if anything)? and can our body cope without desperately looking for the missing pieces and trying to overcompensate? where will we be happiest? doing what? is the skyscraper existence merely inspiration for a movie? it is a comedy (we hope so)?

and – in the meantime – through – there will be Cabaret. and Lots of Art and Writing and other glorious stuff.

 

 

the night of a thousand judys and one fabulous justin sayre

 it’s a school-night (not that any of us are still schoolgirls….) so forgive the brevity of this post as team gloria should really be tucked up in brooks brothers PJs with a mug of hot (1 per cent, darlings) milk BUT we had to tell you about a new member of the list of glorious people, places and things – justin sayre.

justin is the host of “the meeting” which was held at joe’s pub this evening with the theme of “night of a thousand judys” (we thought judi dench too, but it was garland, keep up, love ;-) and he’s a riot! witty, naughty, beautiful singing voice, delightful baritone when interpreting for the straight people and a generally convivial nightclub (late) 1940s persona that would have gone down so well at the cafe de paris all those eons ago

we took the charming englishman JW with us who thoroughly got into the spirit with his pink drink, we were proud and pleased.

we laughed, we cried (especially after all the tributes and then herself came on – via the miracles of video-on-the-interweb – oh – such talent – such a drastic response to reality – but we get it…), we hummed along quietly in the ballads and (*blush*) even clapped along (NEVER seen before in public) with the more raucous tunes. good lord.