“You know I directed Laura.” said Mr. Mamoulian to me matter-of-factly.
See, here’s the thing. I had been under the impression, ever since I was a kid and actually read the listing in TV Guide, that the director of Laura was a guy named Otto Preminger. But here was The Old Man sitting knee to knee with me, announcing right out that he was—what’s the Variety word?—the helmer of that glamorous but nutsy picture with Gene Tierney.
So what did I do?
I was twenty-three. I was on a job. I nodded.
Forty-five years ago today—even down to the day of the week—I moved to New York and took a shared room at Sage House, a genteel women-only boarding house on 49 West 9th Street in Greenwich Village. With 2 meals a day included it came out to $33 a week. You read that right. A place in Greenwich Village, breakfast and dinner, for thirty-three dollars a week. Try to imagine the mischief I got into with all the money I had left over from my weekly paycheck from my first job at ASCAP, that it’s summer in NYC, it’s 1973, I’m eighteen, cute as a button and old enough to drink, and gorgeous men are everywhere. And imagine too that I’m singing a song (in my heart and sometimes while bounding down the street) that every American girl of my generation inspired by Julie Andrews sang:
I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have con-fi-dence in meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
The producer of my last movie took this on his patio near the jacuzzi. The lips of a top-tier fluffer, don’t you think? Sorry, but he kept the nude shots.
Remember what it was like to go to a closing night cast party? When it gets really late and the booze is almost gone and the coke is certainly gone but no one’s tired and no one’s ready to go home? And then around three a.m. what’s left of the chorus crowds around the piano and sings songs like “I Enjoy Being a Girl” and “A Boy Like That” with cheesy accents—only they’re all guys? Well, imagine my surprise to find Lin-Manuel Miranda and Raul Esparza re-enact what I thought was just a bourbon-induced hallucination of my early womanhood.
“Country Gardens” is one of the few piano pieces I could play all the way through (not like the fine player in this clip, much more basically) so I have a special affection for Grainger’s arrangements and compositions, as well as an admiration for his drive to create a truly “English” school of music. I also liked that he married his wife at the Hollywood Bowl after conducting a concert (in 1928).
But ever since music school I’ve also known about Grainger’s unusual sexual drive—his taste for Nordic blondes and being flagellated—plus the fact that in his twenties he was kept as a semi-willing love slave by a fortyish society dame (shades of Joan Crawford!)—and I can’t deny it: The fantasy of pleasuring, of possessing a boy like this, talented and handsome, is definitely arousing.
Listen. Creative people are not normal. People who create music are in another world. But consent is everything. I had a friend years ago, a young musician, who was hit on persistently by an up-and-coming stage actor at the Public Theater, and not in a nice way. I can’t bear to watch this guy in anything now. Fuck. And I love O’Neill.
Update 22 Nov 2017: Now it can be told. It was Kevin Spacey.