In this media frenzied, money grubbing, kiss ass world, the ultimate chic is to remain unknown…..and courageous enough to cultivate the condition. It is a sacred place where the freedom to be authentic can still be exercised. Under the radar. Nobody’s watching too closely, so you can really blast off. I would love to open an Unknown art gallery, an Unknown theater, an Unknown Jazz Club. You must be unknown to participate. If you have a list of accolades you don’t get through the velvet ropes. I guarantee you’d see some phenomenal talents evolve. Everybody was famous for 15 minutes, then everybody was famous for 15 years, and now everybody is famous all the time. The only thing left is being not famous and it’s so much easier.
Tonight, a call from a friend who wanted me to get dressed and go crash some Providence Oscar parties. A Providence Oscar Party? Think of it. The damp cheeses, the gaudy jewelry, the Rhode Island accents. I suppose the flat screen maxi-t.v. set is front and center, and the couches are set right, so that the women can chatter about the fashions on the stars and the men can stand far enough away from them to enjoy a cigar and a glance at the bodies of the stars. Celebrity obsession. Have you ever seen a celebrity in person. Except for Barack Obama and Audrey Hepburn, they are mostly pimpled and pale, gaunt and vacuous. I worked as an extra on Working Girl and spend several days standing near What’s Her Name– you know, Tippy Hedren’s daughter – and she was very nice because she was very high on coke. On camera, as Mike Nichols gazed at the Daily’s, she looked sweetly plump. In person, with her head in her hands between takes, trying not to vomit, she was red-eyed, bloated, blotched and bleached. I saw first hand what cameras could do, and editing, and several takes of one scene. I understood publicity, and marketing and money. I remember passing Mike Nichols in the hall. He stopped and said, “Well, you are particularly beautiful.” There I stood, in panty hose, dull suit, with over-sprayed hair and a plaster of face numbing make-up, unable to answer because I had lost myself in the role of an insignifigant. Being an extra kills your personality, let alone your talent. I merely smiled blandly at the greatest film director in the world, and shuffled past like a cardboard cutout. That being said, I enjoy watching movies and the Oscars, but I don’t think that getting dressed up on a Sunday night in Providence in order to “crash” an Oscar Party full of fluffies is a can-do. Even if a local celebrity or two shows up. Would might that be? Kitty Litter? Buddy Cianci? I have long ago come to understand that no introduction, no connection, no job offer, no party can take the place of focused work and honest performance, even if the honesty demands that you remain unknown.
For years, I’ve tried to keep my 2 week relationship with the late Andy Warhol private. Andy also did not want his friends to know of our casual meetings in Brooklyn at a time when Brooklyn was considered gauche. All my memories of that opiate period in my life are a jumble, but I do recall that that Andy found me slightly interesting because I resembled Louise Brooks and ate Campbells soup out of the can, cold. I did not hang out with his gang in public because I was in the process of having a sex change operation and didn’t want any media coverage. I was hopeful that Andy and I might become lovers if I had an appendage. When the operation failed and I remained a woman, and a real bitch of a woman at that, Andy drifted out of my life forever, but not before memorializing me in a print. He created the work of art from a headshot I was then using for Soap Opera auditions. In order to keep our liason secret I suppose that Andy told everyone that the print was of Louise Brooks. I don’t know for sure because, to tell the truth, I had completely forgotten about the print until I recently spotted it on a wall in a museum. I feel better, now that everyone knows the truth.