Ah well, how time flies. What was meant to be a quarterly newsletter is now becoming more of a twice a year item.
In the week we were in London for the musical I wrote about in my last newsletter, Warren had arranged various tickets for us to shows like Priscilla, Queen of the desert and Oliver. In fact the producer of the latter play, John Cohen, has since become our agent and lawyer of our musical. I had seen the Priscilla film and was most impressed by the great talents and originality of this colorful and most sympathetic musical, full of crazy camp performers and what spectacular costumes. After the show we were introduced by Warren to the leading lady= man. I had arranged for some of my best friends I know in London, all gay and in the theater world to join us. There was Ernesto Tomasini, also a performer with an incredible voice that reaches several octaves. Who ten years ago did a great solo show for me in Amsterdam about the castrati singer called Farinelli in "True or Falsetto.” and Giuseppe di Iorio I met even longer ago when I attended the Edinburgh theater festival with my ex John Drummond . He now does light and sound for major music shows all over the world. We remained friends for life . Both men are Italian and did like each other instantly. Then last but not least I should not forget to mention a night out to see David Benson in a play he was performing in. Who had just done two shows in my Spanish productions Star Struck as well as Mourning Glory and he lives in London.
“aviv" in hebrew means "spring". ('tel' means 'hill', thus tel-aviv is a spring hill). Soon after our arrival in Marbella, my usual summer retreat, early May we were invited to attend the DOCAVIV film festival in Tel Aviv where my documentary was shown for a full audience. We got a warm welcome and were treated very generously by the organizer who had even arranged a private chaperone to take us around town.
She took us to the "shuk hakarmel". there is also, twice a week, an open artist street market nearby, named after the street "shuk nahlat benyamin" We were given many food vouchers for some great restaurants in town where I invited several of my best friends in Israel to join us. Great to see Daphna Arod again, a charming and warmhearted lady, well known for her beautiful paintings and hospitality. Also a former Tunesian Jewish theater owner from Amsterdam, Pierre Tobiana who now lives in the desert with wife Gelbrich and 3 kids, came specially over to join us for an evening . It felt like I have never been away . My distant family member Jacques Grunwald who also lives in Tel Aviv invited us to his home for luncheon and to my surprise his son Gad who usually lives in Amsterdam had just come to visit as well. One day we went to Jaffo to visit an artist couple Ernesto Levy and his wife Edith in their spectacular spacious atelier who took us to a picturesque Arab restaurant on the beach.
Furthermore a dear old friend I used to know in Holland many years ago OSHRI , who makes animated movies and spends his time between Amsterdam and Tel Aviv invited us to drinks at a very bohemian style cafe Tamar in the center of town, a well known hangout of the so called “bohema” artists, writers, directors etc. And it is considered a leftist resort, in other words a colorful mixture of interesting character. The owner, a fiery and temperamental octogenarian lady, called Sarah and she is a legendary figure. She was born in the nahalal, a galilee agricultural settlement (known a.o as the home of Moshe Dayan,) she joined the "palmah", a jewish resistance movement which became a base of the idf (israeli army). During the WW2 she voluntarily served in the British armed forces as a lorry driver, etc. quite a lady! She obviously knows EVERYONE by name and was full of great stories.
Tel Aviv these days reminds me of Amsterdam of the early seventies - open, friendly and youthful atmosphere, easy going and liberal. Philip in particular took a liking to an elderly hippy with waving long gray hair in colorful clothes leaning on an oddly shaped wooden cane. He had sparkling eyes. But his speech was a bit difficult to understand. Phillip discovered after he struck up a conversation with this man Yosy Flug who had been a diving instructor in the Netherlands and so he spoke some dutch. He was highly intellectual and entertaining. Too bad he had recently been struck by a massive stroke which left him partially paralyzed. He still had a lot of energy in him and when I asked him what he liked most about Tel Aviv and in particular this cafe he said: ”FRIENDS” and he apparently disliked the paranoia oriented, ignorant and racist attitude, which currently became ruling politics.
We went back to Spain after a week in Israel. The end of May I produced a few shows of Earl Okin who had performed for my Dutch theater about 15 years ago as well. He is extremely witty and super British, a humor not everyone can understand unless their knowledge of the English language is very good. This show of Earl Okin was held at the romantic el Campanario Golfclub theatre as well as the tried and tested Black Box Theatre. It was Philip's suggestion to organize the last days show at our own house. After all a dear friend of us Hans van Raam had just moved an entire sound system in his van from Holland to our villa. Warren the composer has been kind enough to let me use his electronic keyboard for as long as I wish so a new formula to my theater shows has been created. Dinner/luncheon and theatre show at the spacious Villa Caprice!!! We gathered about 40 enthusiastic people in our garden, and Earl performed on our terrace.
He was the perfect gentleman both on as well as off stage and we never saw him disheveled for one moment. Always impeccably dressed in his three piece formal suit and spats. My dear girlfriends Anna and Hanneke assisted us with the ticket sales and bar while Philip cooked a wonderful Indonesian meal for everyone. My friend from Holland Rolf, a good chum who assists us with many different activities came along to Spain to have a vacation as well as be of help during the shows. He is a talented, though not yet recognized artist and he sure decorated the pillar in the middle of our living room with the most bizarre figures. His specialty is designing MOOIE MUREN= pretty walls and or tables and this pillar will be like his visiting card for Spain.
Back in Holland in June I decided for the first time in many many years NOT to throw an immense birthday party for myself to the dismay of many who had been looking forward to this event but have a coffee and cake party for no more than 30 people. It was an intimate affair with my friends.
ROBERT JASPER GROOTVELD co-founder of the Provo movement in Holland died February 26, 2009. He was “the man who put Amsterdam on the map” and the Marijuana Library holds the Provo movement responsible for the Netherlands’ current drug laws. The man who artist Max Reneman called “the first Dutch philosopher of the spoken word since Erasmus and Spinoza.” [...] The man who according to Remco Campert released the youth from its chains. The man about whom comedian Freek de Jonge said in 2005 that “the sole reason the twentieth century did not pass by this country entirely was one man, one man who gave this country an entirely different image, who looked at the status quo and changed it.” When the 1960s faded from public view, so did the Provo leaders. Grootveld often claimed it was “incomprehensible” that he and his actions weren’t recognized anymore. And fame had eluded him also, he complained in the weekly magazine De Groene Amsterdammer in 1997: “Famous, famous… those who are famous are honoured, and I was never honoured. I was well-known, infamous perhaps…”
SIMON VINKENOOG July 18, 1928 – July 12, 2009
Simon was the very incarnation of the inspired poet who lives an inspiring life, profoundly concerned with libertarian values, a translator and performer of international stature, delighting in the loves and pleasures of the world, and exploring states of consciousness beyond the quotidian fabric of existence. His many books of poetry will remain — powerful, tender, unique, inviolate. He was a fore fighter of legalization of marijuana in Holland and a very positive cheerful youthful human being. He was great and enthusiastic performer of his own work in writing and on video.
His funeral was one big happening with a lot of stoned friends and fans of all ages gathering around his open coffin. Birds of different feathers, a lot of lived in character faces and many colleague writers/poets. I called it jokingly a high 'PLOOI GEHALTE'. In other words there were a lot of wrinkles that had not been ironed out by the hands of agile plastic surgeons, but at least these were people where you could see on their faces what influence life has had on them: good or bad, happy or sad Philip and I of course attended this spectacle as well together with Dia. Exactly a year ago we celebrated his glorious 80 th birthday seated next to him and his 6th wife and love of his life Edith. It took place at the new Amsterdam library and was one continuous performance of devotees of Simon Vinkenoog. We shall miss you Simon!!!
In the summer of 2009 I met a wonderful new woman Destini who had approached me via the internet. She is a feisty brunette in her late thirties, a femme lesbian, American and now living in the Netherlands with her legitimate dutch wife Lesley and their two children who Lesley gave birth to herself. Destini and I clicked right away the moment we met. I needed a brainbox with a heart and boy oh boy or rather girl oh girl.... does she have a heart of gold. She had just started her own publishing company and published her first book Secretly Bound by Jade. Secretly bound is a steamy, sexy lesbian erotic thriller. She is so to say the MAN in her household, while sweet yet tough and somewhat conservative, Lesley is the ultimate housekeeper and mother of the two boys. Destini is the one who clearly wears the pants and has all the economic responsibilities for the entire household. Philip and I were shortly after we met each other invited to a lovely meal at their house. The kids were cute and well behaved and we loved not only the delicious barbecued food we were offered but also admired the spacious villa with the enormous garden and even a swimming pool....
Destini and Lesley have since visited us on various occasions amongst others to join us when I was chosen to be the judge at a fun very camp and gay DRAG QUEEN OLYMPICS in Amsterdam July 29. I had to pick the most whorish and original drag queen. The competition consisted of a high heel race as well as handbag throwing match. My dear gay friend Raul, who has just recently started a career as a drag queen performer, did the catwalk and a song in a most charming way. The winner was a truly gorgeous drag queen who imitated Lisa Minella perfectly and had a most cheerful personality. The atmosphere at the gay monument where this took place was relaxed and fun and of course veeeery gay. Even I had to walk along on the catwalk with the participants for the finale. The onlookers were enthusiastic and well behaved. On the front row the organizers had arranged 8 chairs for me and my girlfriends as well as a few nice bottles of bubbly. There was my ex lesbian lover Dia, who also recently published her own book RAW and Gloria and Ankie and Philip was mostly running around taking pictures of the contestants. A lot of fun was had by all.
September 13 I have been asked for an interview at Amsterdams one and only fun small transvestite cafe called Lellebel. Of course my lesbian friends won't give up that chance to meet again and so will probably a fun and talented new performer on the gay Drag KING scene Sexy Galexy, an Australian chick in her thirties who talked the entire show together with the organizer Jennifer Hopelezz. Both Destini and I are now trying to help Sexy Galexy in getting her staying papers so she can work in Holland. As she is a notorious drag KING that should add some new entertainment to the night life of Amsterdooooooom.
Last but not least Philip and I are back in Edinburgh for another week to attend MY 32nd Edinburgh Fringe theater festival and Philips 4th. Last weekend we took a few days off from the madness of visiting 3 to 4 shows per day and rented a car. We drove toward Loch Lomond, found a cute B&B and had a nice sunset boat trip of 2 hours on the Lake. We saw some fascinating old castles, one of them which has been converted to a deluxe hotel. Then there was a small island owned solely by one big Scottish family who farmed and lived there with their kids and grand children and also had constructed a dozen guesthouses and a fancy restaurant for the summer guests. In the afternoon we drove around the place and discovered this lovely old castle which had a cafe restaurant and a nice terrace overlooking the spectacular lake Lomond. We were quite fortunate to witness a true Scottish wedding where every man including a two year old boy was clad in tartan kilts of their own clan. Haunting Scottish music was playing in the background.
The show we liked most this year was FASCINATING AIDA with three mature but excellent English female singers/comedians who belted out incredibly naughty and funny intelligent songs. See link 1, link 2 and link 3 about this show.
What was even more fun was to virtually have one of the lead singers, charming Adele come over to our flat for breakfast. She has been with Fascinating Aida for almost 30 years but also does solo shows, for which she writes her own text and songs, sometimes accompanied by Warren Wills, the composer of my musical and apparently she was a great fan of me and my books. With a bit of luck I can convince her to come and join me in my home theatre in Marbella in a little while. She was a riot to chat to and her voice that reaches 4 octaves still lingers in my memory. Most impressed were we by one very young Frenchman who did an excellent performance of the Shadow orchestra. He played several instruments did some fun mime and was a talented magician as well.
The project that intrigued me most was a show called BODY GOSSIP where much like with the Vagina Monologues a group of 8 people gathered on stage and each discussed their struggles with their eating disorders. All stories were real and a young 28 year old woman Ruth Rogers was the producer of this unforgettable emotional performance. None of the actors got paid for their work. All the money that would come in would go to an organization that tries to help people with eating disorders. I was so impressed with what I saw that after the show was over and the audience was being asked if they had any comments, I stood up and told them about my own lifelong battle against the bulges. I handed Ruth my visiting card and soon after received an email with the request if I would be willing to produce a similar show in Europe. Holland and or Belgium to begin with and YES... this would be one of the greatest ideas to realize for me. It will mean lots of work, and trying to reach an enormous public. So...if you or someone you know struggles with weight issues: be this bulimia, overeating or anorexia please ask them to send me an email with a story about their life and this problem they have or are still facing. No more but also no less than 1000 words. I will probably also approach the press about this in Holland and will contact some famous people with eating disorders... also those who have had the gastric bypass are welcome to write their story.
Back to Holland another famous person in Holland just died: Henk van Ulsen. This little man had a voice that will long be remembered, he was one of Hollands greatest actors and lived to be 82 years young. Up till the week before he died peacefully of a heart attack he had been active as a performer, art connoisseur. His most famous role was that in: ”Diary of a mad man”. Even for my home theater in Amsterdam did he perform during one entire week for full audiences in PLAYING with WORDS. Philip and I went to the Wester Church where an impressive and solemn morning was devoted to his death and more so to his very active and creative life. Barely home and still quite depressed about the death of Henk, I opened the newspaper and when I looked at the obituaries I read that another dear friend I had gone to school with died, Hans Verhoeven, also for years involved in the theater world. He died suddenly of a massive stroke, aged 67. So today off to yet another funeral.Time for some cheerful news like the new show I will bring to Spain in October
October 1 there will be another showing of my documentary this time close to home and well in Marbella at the docu festival. Then the end of that month for the first time ever I will do THREE continuous shows of TALLULAH AND THE BOY....at our new home theater at the Villa Caprice.
Ah well. This is it for the latest update and this September 2009 newsletter.