Photo of the day: “THEY GAVE ME A FUCKING CHIHUAHUA?!” – The classic Bette Midler joke…
Two women go for a walk with their dogs one day.
One had a Doberman; The other a Chihuahua.
“Look, there’s a bar open. Let’s go in. Have a drink,”
“We can’t. We’ve got dogs,” Chihuahuawoman said.
“Just watch me. Do as I do,” Doberwoman said.
She put on her D&G shades, Walked boldly to the door
Where a bouncer said, “Sorry lady. No dogs. It’s the law.”
“You don’t understand!” Doberwoman said, “This is my seeing-eye dog.”
“A Doberman?” The bouncer asked.
“Yes, they’re using them now. They’re very good!”
The bouncer shrugged And opened the door. Across the street,
Chihuahuawoman thought Convincing bouncer Chihuahua was seeing-eye dog may be a stretch But whatheheck—
Wearing her DKNY shades Strolled warily to the door— “Oops!” The bouncer said,
“No pets. Sorry.” “You don’t understand,” Chihuahuawoman said, “This is my seeing-eye dog.”
“A Chihuahua?” the bouncer asked Shaking his head.
“A Chihuahua??” Wailed Chihuahuawoman. “THEY GAVE ME A FUCKING CHIHUAHUA?!?!?”
Photo of the day: TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE – Enjoy the Bette Midler lyrics ~
My analyst told me that I was right out of my head.
The way he described it he said,
“You’d be better off dead than alive.”
I didn’t listen to his jive.
I knew all along he was all wrong,
and I knew that he thought I was crazy,
but you know I’m not. Oh, no.
My analyst told me that I was right out of my head.
He said I need treatment.
But I’m not that easily led.
He said I was the type that was most inclined
when out of his sight to be out of my mind.
And he thought I was nuts. No more if’s or and’s or but’s. Oh, no.
They say as a child I appeared a little bit wild with all my crazy ideas.
But I knew what was happenin’, I knew I was a genius.
What’s so strange when you know that you’re a wizard at three?
I said, “Baby, this is meant for me, me, me, me.”
I heard little children were supposed to sleep tight.
That’s why I drank a fifth of vodka one night.
My parent’s got frantic, didn’t know what to do.
But I had saw some crazy things before I came to.
Now, do you think I was crazy? I may have been only three but I was swingin’.
They all laughed at A. Graham Bell, they all laughed at Edison, and also at Einstein.
So why should I feel sorry if they just didn’t understand the reasoning and the logic that went on in my head.
I had a brain, it was insane. So I just let them laugh at me when I refused to ride on all those double-decker buses all because there was no driver on the top. Aaaaaaah.
“Did you ever hear a story like that in your life? Honey, that chick is bananas. Do you hear?
Bananas. Oh, waiter, bring me another banana dacquari, would ya?” Ba, ba, ba, ba! “Oh, here she comes again.” Badada, badada, badada. Wo!
My analyst told me that I was right out of my head.
But I said, “Doctor, I think that it’s you instead.
‘Cause I got a thing that’s so unique and new,
it proves that I got the last laugh on you. ‘Cause instead of one head, ooh, I got two.
And you know two heads are better than one.”
Mondays on Memory Lane: 1981-2103 ONE NIGHT ONLY AT THE RITZ WITH HOLLY WOODLAWN
– Thirty three years ago I saw advertised in the local underground magazines that Andy Warhol’s outrageous transgender star Holly Woodlawn was to appear in Terrence McNally’s play ‘The Ritz” co-starring then infamous gay porn star Cal Culver better known as Casey Donovan. The show was at Xenon Disco, the strong competition to Studio 54 at the time. Xenon (as Studio 54 was) was also inside an old Broadway theater with huge pinball bumpers that came down from the ceiling that you had to bump with your hip so that alarm bells would go off, part of the current ‘the bump’ dance craze.
‘The Ritz’ was based on Bette Midler’s 1971 unusual meteoric rise to fame in the gay bathhouse ‘The Continental Baths’ owned by Steve Ostrow in the Ansonia Hotel. The Broadway play garnered Rita Moreno (as third rate Puerto Rican actress wannabe ‘Googie Gomez’) a Tony award and her role was reprised in the hilarious 1976 film.
The fact that Holly Woodlawn, herself Puerto Rican, certainly not ‘third rate’ but campy as hell, was performing in this play had me immediately buy tickets for the first night of previews (I couldn’t wait for opening night!). The show was a perfect fit for Holly and she was hilarious. After the show we danced the night away, in the early morning hours, on my way out of the disco I tore this poster off the wall – unbeknownst to me at the time, the show opened and closed that same night due to lack of funding.
For those of you too young to know who Holly is, but the name still sounds familiar, singer Lou Reed refers to Holly Woodlawn in his iconic song “Walk on the Wild Side
,” in the opening lyric “Holly came from Miami, Florida.” Her antics and connections to a now much revered Andy Warhol past are legendary. I seem to be the only one who remembers that when iconic 1960’s/70’s music club Trude Heller’s at 418 6th Avenue (SE corner of 9th Street and 6th Avenue) started placing hand prints of the famous performers on their sidewalk, Holly placed her ass prints in the side walk. The block was framed and hung on the side of the club.
AIDS and changing tastes wiped out this entire glorious and glamorous era and the people and it’s clubs simply disappeared. But there is one of the few tough survivors – Holly Woodlawn. I was stunned and excited to receive a notice that she was going to make a super rare appearance at the Laurie Beecham Theater (Joan Rivers’ fav hangout) on Friday, May 17. I bought a ticket immediately and sat 2nd row. I brought with me my theater posters of Holly’s shows such as ‘The Neon Woman’, Women Behind Bars’ – both starring drag legend Divine. But my ultimate treasure is the one night only appearance of ‘The Ritz’. The posters caused quite a stir amongst her fans and old friends, taking pictures of them with their iPhones. Then 7:30 came, the lights were lowered and out she came, thirty three years after I had seen her – Holly.
She is the embodiment of a survivor! Now battling near crippling spinal stenosis, it was heartwarming yet hard to watch her cheerfully be helped on stage by two of her friends. “I am home!” she cried. Now 66, nothing else had changed, the sly wink, the double entendres, the off-the-wall humor, and above all, the immense amount of love streaming between her and her audience. She is sharp as a tact. Funny, irreverent, reflective and above all determined to have a good time. It was a mutual love fest. With no disrespect meant to either women but Holly has sort of morphed into long gone comedian Totie Fields. It was endearing. After the show she was helped from the stage in her wheel chair and her long time friends such as actress Brenda Bergman and fans surged towards her, some wanting autographs, some a photo and some just to recall one of the incredible Warhol days with her. She was able to sign only one autograph and she chose my ultra rare poster, “I can’t do it so well you know, Hans is your name? You know I am part German too,” she said with a determined smile. I was left speechless as I watched her struggle to lovingly sign my poster in hot pink ink. In that moment I was transported back to that first night of previews of “The Ritz”, I could hear “You’ll be swell, you’ll be great! Gonna have the whole world on a plate.” Holly Woodlawn does have the whole world on her plate – and I was lucky enough to be at her feast!
“The Ritz” The farce is set in a gay bathhouse in Manhattan, where unsuspecting heterosexual Cleveland businessman Gaetano Proclo has taken refuge from his homicidal mobster brother-in-law, Carmine Vespucci. There Gaetano stumbles across an assortment of oddball characters, including a rabid chubby chaser, go-go boys, a squeaky-voiced detective and Googie Gomez, a third-rate Puerto Rican entertainer with visions of Broadway glory who mistakes him for a famous producer and whom he mistakes for a man in drag. Further complications arise when Gaetano’s wife Vivian tracks him down and jumps to all the wrong conclusions about his sexual preferences.
Photo of the day: MEET BETTE MIDLER IN PERSON MAY 9, AT KORVETTE DEPT. STORE – 36 years ago! May 9, 1977. It was a Monday afternoon, I am sure I played hooky from college, and I got there early and got in line with all my Bette Midler memorabilia which she gladly signed (in those days, stars did that!). It was the advent of Bette’s much anticipated ‘Live At Last’ 2lp record set. To capture the escence of 1970’s bawdy Bette – you need to hear her live, up till then there had been only three studio recordings of her. The ‘Live’ record album became one of the most quoted and mimicked in every drag queen’s act in those days. “Hello Cleve-land!”
Red head Bette was in true camp mode and kibitzed with everyone. Dig the groovy 1970’s graphics in the background of the smaller photo. Doesn’t her assistant look like ‘Laurie Partridge’?? I stayed a while and took some photos of the, then, rising superstar. On the way out of the old Korvettes Department Store – I grabbed this sign with the photo, right out of the standing sign holder and raced for the door. Today the sign is one of the few artifacts left of the long gone (then one of the first) discount department store Korvettes located at 575 Fifth Avenue/47th Street, to the consternation of SAKS Fifth Avenue, which was just two blocks up on the swanky avenue.
Eugene Ferkauf, owner of E. J. Korvette department store, standing outside by storefront on Fifth Avenue
(The store used both spellings: KORVETTE and KORVETTES.)
Now today, 36 years later, you can see blonde Bette on Broadway in the play “I’ll Eat You Last.”
Queen Elizabeth II Prince Philip and Marvin Traub
Mondays on Memory Lane – Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip ‘shop’ Bloomingdale’s 1976: It wasn’t your average advertisement in the local papers ‘Come Meet the Queen at Bloomingdales’! This being 1976, the height of the disco era it could have been any one of dozens of queens. Divine, Sylvester, Craig Russell, Holly Woodlawn, Rollerena, Charles Pierce, Danny LaRue, Jim Bailey?
No, this was THE Queen to beat out all other queens, The one that always carries her handbag wherever she goes. Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Phillip. (As Bette Midler once famously asked: “What has she got in that handbag?! A card that says ‘I am the Queen?!’) Bloomingdale’s then CEO and president Marvin Traub had pulled off the media stunt of all stunts and convinced the Queen to visit his store. This was quite a coup for him. She wasn’t visiting Macy’s, SAKS, or Bonwitts, Tiffany or Bergdorf’s, she was visiting the store that was so hotly in vogue at the time. The Queen “didn’t choose Saks, and she didn’t choose Bergdorf — she chose Bloomingdale’s,” Traub once boasted in an interview with The Post.
As part of the city’s 1976 bi-centennial celebrations, on Friday, July 9th, 1976, the Queen first decided to participate in a little historical reenactment herself. Most famously, the Queen graced the steps of Trinity Church to receive back rent owed the crown — 279 peppercorns. A bronze plaque presently marks the spot at Trinity where she accepted the peppercorns.
After a luncheon at the Waldorf, the royals fit in a couple unusual stops. The first was a spot of afternoon tea at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Harlem, accompanied by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Afterwards, they sped downtown for a tour of Bloomingdale’s, not only stopping traffic, but reversing it on Lexington Avenue, to allow the Queen to exit her vehicle from the right side.
She quietly moved from floor to floor, admiring the many displays of products of British make, particularly the pottery and furniture. She was also greeted to a private fashion show, as Her Majesty was led through a room of mannequins garbed in the latest stylish trends from 1976. Along the way, a few American designers made appearances to greet Queen Elizabeth, including Calvin Klein.
I recall it was in the mid afternoon and many office workers made it a long lunch to see the famous couple. I got there several hours early to get a good viewing spot on one of the upper floors where a museum exhibit had been set up. The aisles were narrow here so therefore the best spot to snap a picture with my little instamatic camera with the square flashcubes. The buzz on the floor was heightened but polite, no shoving or pushing – after all, it was the Queen! She graciously perused the exhibit but her eyes and his swept across the crowd as they truly tried to connect to the people of New York, it was quite remarkable. (Remember, this is before John Lennon’s 1980 assassination and security was still very lax in those days.) A representative of Bloomingdale’s remarked, “we thought — and the Queen agreed — that it would be a very American experience for her to go amidst all the crowds and just pretend she might be shopping.”
It was a surreal ‘pretend shopping excursion’ but it was a thrill for me, but alas…no…she didn’t do the royal hand wave 🙂
Story told in honor of her 87th birthday yesterday April 21.
THE PERSIAN ROOM AT THE PLAZA HOTEL, 1974: Where were you 38 years ago on November 29, Friday night, 1974? I was 18 years old and took my friend Amy Hernandez to see a drag revue at the Plaza Hotel’s Persian Room, one of the most magical places within the Plaza. For more than forty years, from 1934 to 1975, the Persian Room was the place to be in New York City. An unparalleled array of performers graced its stage—everyone from the incomparable Hildegarde Shirley Bassey, Ethel Merman, The Mills Brothers, Kay Thompson (mother to Eloise), Eartha Kitt, Bob Hope, Liberace, Diahann Carroll, Julie Wilson, Andy Williams, Josephine Baker, my dear Celeste Holm and Marlene Dietrich’s last New York appearance.
It was done in high Persian style in deep iridescent tones of blues, greens and purples – nowadays we would view the decor as high camp/kitsch, but it was divine! The entrance looked like a golden gate to a palace. Today it is where the main lobby of the hotel is on the left side as you enter the Plaza Hotel, with sadly not a hint of it’s decadent past.
Amy Hernandez’s mother owned an east side townhouse bar and restaurant called ‘The Beef & Bourbon’ and the bourbon, her mom’s (and Amy’s) favorite drink of choice, flowed freely. Amy had an uppity twin sister named Carol who never liked anything I had to say and would just say “Oh Hans…”.
‘Manhattan Follies’ was the talk of the nightclub world and I just had to go! Impersonated that night were the then staples: Dietrich, Garland, Ross, Channing, Marilyn and Mae and that new sensation Bette Midler. The headliner was up and coming drag star Craig Russell who would go on to make the hit 1977 film called “Outrageous!”
The room still had a ‘cigar & cigarette girl’, a shapely woman with a tray strapped under her bosom selling smokes for high prices (Lena Horne started out as one). A Weegee-like man went from table to table with a huge old fashioned flash camera an offered souvenir photographs.
Some of the photo’s fun details: I am wearing a black and white polyester Marilyn Monroe print dress shirt with an awfully huge white poly tie. The suit is black velvet bell bottomed and huge platform shoes (that you can’t see here) that had silver stars on them. The program pictured here on the right, is next to me by my seat. Amy’s polyester print blouse was black and white to match me. Note my index finger is extended on my lap because I am trying to show off a silver ring in the shape of a man’s head wearing a turban which I felt was appropriate for the evening’s occasion. Amy and I didn’t know we were partaking in history because sadly the ‘Manhattan Follies’ was the last and final show to play at The Persian Room.
The 1970’s was a glorious era. My era. A decadent era of nightclubbing, dancing, glitz and glamour. Studio 54, Xenon, 12 West, Ice Palace and the Paradise Garage. Huge shoes, hair sprayed hair, big eye glasses, bell bottoms and that wonderful disco music.
Where where you November 29, Friday night 1974?…
FRIED EGG OR A PURPLE WIG – IT’S ALL THE SAME: (From Bette Midler’s 1977 “Live At Last” album)
“I was walking down 42nd street one day, I wasn’t workin’42nd street I was walkin 42nd street. And this amazing thing happened to me. It was July it was about 98 degrees. It was hot, hot for New York You know and I was walking east and this humungous person was coming west. And she had this big blue house dress on peppered all over with little white daisies. She was almost bald but sitting on top of her head, forehead you know on her forehead was this fried egg. Which I thought was really unusual. Because in New York City the ladies with the fried eggs on their heads don’t generally come out until September or October you know. Here was this lady this demented lady with a little fried egg on her head in the middle of July. God what a sight and ever, ever since I saw that lady not one day goes by that I don’t think of her and I say to myself “Oh God, don’t let me wake up tomorrow and want to put a fried egg on my head. Oh God. “Then I say real fast I say ” Oh God, If by chance I should wind up with a fried egg on my head”;cause sometimes you can’t help those things you know, you can’t. I say to myself “don’t let anybody notice.”And then I say real fast after that “if they do notice that I’m carrying something that, that’s not quite right and they want to talk about it, let ’em talk about it but don’t let ’em talk so I can hear I don’t want to hear it.” Cause the truth about fried eggs, you can call it a fried egg, you can call it anything you like, but everybody gets one, some people wear ’em on the outside, some people they wear ’em on the inside.”