June 15, 2008 - I reached the respectable age of 65, ready to accept my measly monthly pension from the Dutch government and get free rides on buses and trams, consume the occasional free chocolate ?air and get senior citizens reductions for theatre and movie tickets. Hurrah! I waited all my life for this to happen!! There is an expression that, when you reach this milestone you are ready to retire from the business world and sit behind the geraniums to count your pennies.
GUESTS OF HONOR:
ANNIE SPRINKLE AND BETH
Hell no…. the contrary is true in my case. I have never been busier or happier than at present. After my return from Spain where I produced my first and certainly not my last theatre play about the famous ballet dancer Nijinsky, I decided to continue doing what I have become quite good at: to bring happiness in the way of fascinating theatre to a group of culture starved ex pats living on the Costa del Sol.
But now back to Amsterdam. This 65th birthday had to be celebrated with the biggest party ever in my house and garden on the Stadionweg. Each year my birthday bash seems to outdo itself with the entertainment as well as the number of party animals who show up to celebrate with me- this time about 150 people! The Guest of Honor was the famous ex pornostar and performing artist known for her very liberal sexual ideas; ANNIE SPRINKLE
A well known sex gallery in Amsterdam- Mail and Female -was kind enough to sponsor her stay at my Bed and Breakfast and it was a delight to embrace Annie and her bright and friendly “wife” Beth again. We had not seen each other for many years, but I had been kept up to date with her struggle with breast cancer, which she survived and brilliantly turned the whole ordeal that she and Beth went through into a touching performance.
When Annie made her first appearances in Amsterdam she used to do body art performance that she called Tit prints with her gigantic boobs during the day time at the Foam Gallery, and at night she would do a stage performance where she shared with the audience everything there was to know about sex in a legitimate theatre (as opposed to adult theatre).
Sometimes I would receive an urgent call from her, “Hey Xaviera, can you please come in and help me do those tit prints as your boobs are about my size…” The paint on her enormous mammaries was difficult to remove before her evening stage shows and having a “boob” body double to fill in with her was very helpful. I gladly obliged… Now, many years later, despite the breast cancer, the boobs that once matched mine were almost twice the size of my own… The doctors had obviously NOT removed more than a tiny bit of her tits and, in the intervening years Annie put on more weight, so her tits grew with the rest of her body.
My ex-lover Pauline, who is a writer of funny sketches and also a talented singer, gave a most unusual performance. Wearing a big, curly red wig, she was dressed in a pair of VERY padded leggings and a stuffed black top. She did a parody of all of my idiosyncrasies –in rhyme of course. The party goers were in stitches and howled with laughter. It made me think once more of shedding some weight, something that thus far I have not had much success in doing.
One of the women at the party- Helena, a tall blond girl, managed to convince me and Dia, (another ex from my lesbian days) to join Weight Watchers and let Helena be our assistant coach. So shortly after the party, we joined and now we go there once a week (unless I am away on a trip).
Meanwhile during the last 3 months, Dia, who is already a sporty swimmer, has shed 3 sizes (15 kilos) and I managed to get rid of 7 kilos. Yes, I know- I know, there is a hell of a lot I still need to lose, but this program is an easy way of losing weight- and our main coach has such a stimulating and positive influence on all the participants that it is a delight to stick to the rules of eating sensible food.
Back to the party- the delicious feast was catered by my Indonesian friend and professional cook Gert Lembekker, who, dressed to kill in his gorgeous Indonesian outfit, made an impressive noodle dish out in the back of my garden, and Peter de Hond had prepared all sorts of finger-licking good snacks and salads; meanwhile the lively music was put together by two funny DJ’s from the Hague- 70s style. Philip, my loving husband, had been very busy for days doing truckloads of shopping to get all the ingredients for this unforgettable party. Check out the birthday gallery for more photos
PHILADELPHIA INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL
At the end of June, Philip and I were invited by Steven Greenbaum, the festival’s organizer, to attend the Philadelphia Independent Film festival where my director and producer from Los Angeles Robert Dunlap and John Patti had entered our documentary: XAVIERA HOLLANDER, THE HAPPY HOOKER, portrait of a sexual revolutionary. See trailer of documentary underneath:
Our documentary was competing with 300 other entrants but ours effortlessly won first prize! The festival sponsored our trip which included a stay in the fancy Loews hotel, where somehow mysteriously my expensive reading glasses as well as a pair of shoes and a dirty pair of socks belonging to Philip disappeared from our room!! Who in the hell needs a pair of smelly socks we were wondering! Thank God for good travel insurance, which reimbursed me for all of the lost items except the socks.
We left Philadelphia on the Fourth of July- America’s Independence day- which is a major part of this city’s identity. There is a huge bronze bell- the Liberty Bell- in the heart of the city, which symbolizes the concept of freedom. Thousands of Americans dressed in T- shirts covered with stars and stripes, all pay homage to this icon. Philadelphia, a rather relaxed city, has a lovely museum of art with a great variety of the art of the masters from all centuries.
One is also struck by the somewhat prudish mentality in this otherwise peaceful city. We were most astounded however by the huge numbers of enormously obese people, mostly among the black Americans that we encountered. And of course what shocked us was the preponderance of horrible, fattening junk food which was conspicuously available just about everywhere we went, but especially in the poorer districts. Hence the obesity problem amongst the very poor.
One afternoon we were invited to a delightful luncheon with Bernice, an ageless woman of 95, who still writes the New York Times crossword puzzle. She is the mother of a dear friend of mine, Ben, who lives in Spain. While her son, in his early seventies, acts like a real old man, this woman is youthful and lucid and clear of mind. She lives in a super elegant flat overlooking the city and she still moves around quite easily. Bernice is a dainty, charming hostess who would not even let me move a finger to assist her in clearing up the dishes after luncheon. If we all could age so graciously!!
As we had some extra time to kill, Philip and I took a train to Manhattan and stayed for one week with our friend Hugh Loebner. We had our usual kosher meal with Bryan and Shannon, who was expecting her first child any moment She was radiant and happy to see us. During that week we were there, she gave birth to their child. In the meantime we had a few get-togethers with my dear friend Veronica Vera (also a sex goddess of a kind; as she started a finishing school for boys who wanna be girls) and her man Stu. Veronica is the best friend of Annie Sprinkle. They took us to a fun theatre production and then to dinner afterwards. During our last day in Manhattan Lisa Lipkin, the story teller, -who lives part of the time in the Catskills of New York and the rest of the time in Amsterdam, suggested that we all get together at a quaint and really old fashioned Hungarian Jewish pastry shop where all manner of European intellectuals and artists hang out. It had that old worldly touch of fun chatting groups of people gathering around big tables, all with latte or hot chocolate and cookies and cake, of course. I declined the offer of those fattening goodies and stuck to my glaesele tea (glass of tea in Yiddish).
Philip and I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and were surprised to see Jeff Koons’ cheerful art displayed on the roof garden of the museum. There was also an amazing collection of Egyptian art, most of it no doubt looted from the original pyramids.
Two weeks later, back in Amsterdam, I learned that we were invited to the West Hollywood International Film Festival to show our movie there as well, so off we went again- just barely over our jet lag. This time we had to pay all our own expense and with those sky high air fares, I am glad to say that I managed to sell so many books at the various events held around LA that the income from the sales covered at least one airline ticket- mine.
Hollywood was a lot fun, especially as we have so many great friends and family in Los Angeles. When we weren’t at the festival, Philip and I were invited to attend the launching of an enormous and impressive erotic photo book created by Will Santillo. The fancy party was held at a beautiful villa called Naresh, which belonged to a most charming top Venice Beach chef who was from India.
The villa was located way up on a rocky ledge overlooking the spectacular coastline. Will Santillo and I had been exchanging emails for weeks - as he lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife and kids – and our secret kinky fantasies with matching pictures (not taken by him) flew back and forth over the net during the late- or should I say early- hours I spent on line. Remember the time difference between Canada and Holland is 6 hours…
My cousin, Dr. Patti Britton and her man, Robert Dunlap, treated us to various lovely meals at the Grove where we watched a parade of most gorgeous young women…. who were not yet touched by the scalpel of plastic surgeons. During a book signing event for my own latest book …at one of the most authentic bookshops called Booksoup in the heart of Hollywood- I met a sweet devoted fan who showed me his visiting card which had a glamorous photo of the famous old movie star Mamie van Doren, who- now at the age of 75 and still very much alive- looked not a day over 45. It so happened that this young man, Alan Mercer, who turned out to be 50 and also did not look a day over 40, was one of Hollywood’s most well known glamour photographers. and this link
LATEST AMSTERDAM NEWS:
October 30 at 7:00 p.m.
SEX BOUTIQUE MAIL AND FEMALE
Nieuwe Vijzelstraat 2 hoek Weteringcircuit has invited Xaviera to give a workshop predominantly for MEN who want to learn how to become better lovers. She will also read from her new book with tips for men and is available for questions and suggestions. Please ladies bring your man, fiance, lover, toyboy along. Entrance only euro 10.- more info >>
PREMIERE OF XAVIERA'S documentary in the Netherlands:
November 6 at 8:00 p.m.
November 8 at 9:30 p.m.
Address: Ketelhuis , Amsterdam Westergasfabriek
XAVIERA HOLLANDER, THE HAPPY HOOKER, portrait of a sexual revolutionary. This impressive and most emotional documentary will be shown at the Jewish Film Festival click this link in Amsterdam. Tickets available via www.ketelhuis.nl or 020-6840090
He offered to do a photo session with me in between my many commitments and wanted to do this all for free! I accepted- laughing; I said, “If you can make Mamie van Doren look like 45, surely you can make me look like 35?”
And he kept his promise. The following day we went to the divine and most tastefully decorated apartment of my friend, the gay painter Thomas Ellis, who draped scarves around my neck and face while I took care of all the makeup.
The pictures were taken outside in the cool garden surrounding the flat as well as inside his home. The results were stunning I must admit. Alan and I are now probably friends for life. Too bad he lives so far away from Amsterdam! Ah well. With photographers like him and my friend Peter Edel, both masters of ‘photoshopping’... WHO NEEDS PLASTIC SURGEONS?” Check out this gallery for more photos of Philadelphia and Hollywood
FRINGE AND FRIENDS
Back to Holland for just a few weeks, and it was time to go to Edinburgh again... this time I found a lovely apartment with all the comforts one could ask for. Knowing Tomek Borkowy and his charming wife helped us greatly in seeing at least half a dozen interesting shows- as they are in charge of two theatres in Edinburgh: the Universal arts and the Hillstreet Theatre.
It was Tomek who finally opened my eyes to the fact that, after all those years as a theatre producer, I was entitled to get a promotors’ pass which gave both Philip and I free access to most theatres. If only I had known this many years ago I could have saved quite a lot of money on expensive tickets!
Philip and I were particularly impressed by an English actor/writer Justin Butcher who did a haunting performance of the play he wrote not too long ago, called SCARAMOUCHE, about the life of a 100 year old clown who looks back at his colorful but tragic life. I hope to bring this one man play to Marbella in 2010.
Of course we enjoyed my friend David Benson in his frivolous show with songs by Noel Coward. More about David in my next short newsletter as I am bringing him to Marbella in January 2009 with two different shows.
Tomek, who is a close friend of the composer and friend of mine, Warren Wills from Australia, opened not only his heart for us but also his theatre, so one morning Warren and the songwriter Richard Hansom, who had flown in from London, treated Philip and me to two finished songs for the musical about my life as the Happy Hooker. Plans are in the make to finalize the entire musical by mid June 2009, when we will probably spend a month in Melbourne for the casting and some workshops…
The last night of our two week stay we had a ball at the SPIEGELTENT where there was a night of the BEST OF THE FEST called LA CLIQUE, with some of the most hilarious and professional acts of the entire Fringe Festival.
DUBROVNIK’ S HISTORY
The history of Dubrovnik is a fascinating study of the rise of a great maritime power that allowed its citizens to live in peace and prosperity for nearly five centuries.
Dubrovnik was originally called Ragusa and was formed in the 7th century when coastal residents took refuge there during the onslaught of barbarian invasions. Walls were quickly built to protect the new settlement.
Over the next four centuries Ragusa expanded its influence over the coast and became increasingly prosperous by trading with other Mediterranean cities. In 1205 it fell under the control of Venice but it managed to break away in 1358.
By the 15th century the Republic of Ragusa was a major rival of Venice for control of the Adriatic waterways, trading with the Near East and Europe. It maintained its independence through canny diplomacy and used its wealth to expand its cultural and political influence.
In 1667, Dubrovnik was devastated by a major earthquake which destroyed most of its Renaissance art and architecture. Only the Sponza Palace and the Rector's Palace survived the destruction. The city was reconstructed in the baroque style that still exists today.
After the earthquake, Dubrovnik fell into decline, hastened by the emergence of other European naval powers. It was Napoleon who finally put an end to the republic in 1806 when he entered the city and announced its annexation. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna ceded Dubrovnik to Austria to whom it remained attached until 1918.
Dubrovnik began to develop its tourist industry in the late 19th century. Luminaries such as Lord Byron, George Bernard Shaw and Agatha Christie were awed by the town and Dubrovnik became a major tourist centre in post-war Yugoslavia.
In December 1991 the world watched in horror as Serbian and Montenegrin gunners trained their artillery on the beautiful, historic city of Dubrovnik. As it was without military value, the only purpose seemed to be to break the morale of the Croatian people by destroying the Adriatic's most historic city. The shelling of 1991 lasted intermittently until June 1992 and caused substantial damage to the roofs, the marble streets and the Renaissance sculpture. Fortunately UNESCO and other international organizations rushed to the rescue. Teams of skilled workers laboured throughout most of the 1990s and now the treasures of Dubrovnik are beautifully restored.
A short description of Dubrovnik, which I hope you will find useful.
George Bernard Shaw was enchanted by this beautiful city: for him, it was paradise. Millions of people also take home happy memories from this "jewel of the Adriatic." Setting sail from Dubrovnik inspired the old local saying: “Stick a finger in a sea, and you are in touch with all the world.”
LE PETIT FESTIVAL DE DUBROVNIK
Three years ago, an eccentric jewelry designer and theatre maker Vinco- also known as Dr. Zhivago (who lives both in Amsterdam as well as Dubrovnik)- invited me to attend for the first time this cute little theatre festival in Dubrovnik. I had only just met Philip in Amsterdam, so I went to the festival on my own.
This time when I received a second invitation to come to the festival and produce a play as well as to show my own documentary, I insisted that Philip join me in this little paradise where the people are polite and civilized... even the thousands of tourists that come in for a few hours from their cruise ships to visit this amazing place surrounded by ramparts!
On our flight into Dubrovnik Philip happened to sit next to a charming brunette who had been juggling prior to departure with four fancy looking mobiles. When he enquired what kept her so busy… she smiled and said “I am the mayor of Dubrovnik.”
The Petit festival went on for almost a week and I was happy we were able to remain for its entire duration. We were treated to talented young singers, musicians, a female dervish dancer and of course Vinco’s original ideas of throwing parties with ball masque at the finale of the festival. His main attraction and love of his life has been for the last years a life size, very attractive doll named NORA who showed up at various locations.
Vinco had just opened a darling boutique with his glorious, glittery, artsy designs. You name it, he had it: rings, earrings, necklaces and a beautiful collection of eye glasses... (move over Dame Edna) not to mention hats and caps and multi colored shawls draped around sexy female dolls.
We even managed to do a nationwide TV talkshow inside his tiny shop, a show which had one of the highest ratings in Croatia. Vinco, forever patient and friendly no matter how much running around he did, is one of the most gracious people we know.
He introduced us to a charming and well known painter from Zagreb, Isabelle, a woman of great charm who shared with us a lot of information about Dubrovnik and its unique history.
On our second night in Dubrovnik I produced the play MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART with Stephen Rappaport, who specially flew in from Stockholm to do his one man show.
Stephen had come to Holland about 10 years ago- and it was great seeing him again! He had hardly aged a bit and was still sinewy and wiry as before. We shared the same flat for a few days.
The ice cream in Dubrovnik was fabulous and most tempting, specially as during the day the temperature was quite hot. Even though I had managed to shed quite a bit of weight with Weight Watchers while in Holland, I must admit this ice cream added another kilo to my waste.
One afternoon, all invited friends, guests and performers for this festival who had come from all over Europe to attend - were taken in several buses and cars to a beautiful little beach about half an hours’ drive from Dubrovnik, where we were treated to a great, mostly fish themed meal.
Then round 10 p.m., the ageless, gracious Michou, director of the theatre, announced the start of my documentary, which was shown on a big screen outside on the beach terrace of the restaurant. The public reacted most favorably. Afterwards we had long discussions and I signed all the books I had with me, and shortly after we returned to Holland I received the first bookings for my bed and breakfast from some of those people I met during this incredible week.
Closing night- our last moments of the festival- was truly impressive. Vinco had copied one of my favorite recent portraits onto a mask and it was a bit surreal to see other women carry MY face, like Isabelle the painter. I was one of the few judges and had to pick the prize mask wearer/maker of that night. A Croatian couple won; they actually spent days making their masks. Most of people, who were all dressed up in fancy and elegant outfits wearing their masks, went to the beach bar down a steep hill, but Philip and I had enough parties for that week and ate our last multi-colored and enormous ice cream.
Check out this gallery for more photos