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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Robert Mitchum and the Monkey in Zen City


It was some time before he (Robert Mitchum) saw Huston again, crossing paths with him again in a hotel bar in London. John gave him the reproving fish eye.

    “I’m pretty disappointed in you, Bob,” he said. “Turning me down like that.”

    Mitchum said, “What are you doing with that creature, John?”

    Huston had a little pet monkey with him at the bar. The monkey’s red-striped penis was extended and the director was plucking at it as he stood there, a drink in the other hand.

    Huston smiled. “Well, kid, I think he likes it.”

    All was forgiven, the friendship continued. Huston soon
offered him another role –  


That bizarre meeting between the two heavy drinking swashbucklers is described in Lee Servers’ brilliant bio of Mitchum, Baby I Don’t Care. 

It inspired me to pen an unlikely encounter in Zen City, Iso:  

“Evening, Baron,” I say, nonchalantly. “What’s up with the monkey?”

     The Baron goes to fetch a schooner in a proper thin glass. “Bernard?” he says. “He’s still traumatized. So, I’m trying to coax him back into normality.”

     “Bernard the monkey is traumatized?”

     “Last night we had two blokes in here,” he explains. “This Dutch roughneck from an oilfield down Java way and this Cochin gunrunner. They started arguing over our cigarette girl. Next thing you know they got into a terrible argument here at the bar and started knocking seven bells out of each other. Then there was an awful scream as the Cochin bit off the Dutchman’s ear. He ran outside, clutching the side of his head and blood everywhere. Like Vincent van Goff. Next thing, the Dutchman roared back in with this bit of piping in his hand and knocked out the Cochin who’s still got the ear between his teeth. The Dutchman grabbed his ear, carefully wrapped it in a hankie, put it in his pocket and staggered out. The monkey was sat here the whole time and saw it all.” 
     "And now Bernard is completely traumatized?” 
     “Yeah, hasn’t spoken a word since.”       
     The monkey looks up and I swear to God the little blighter is smiling at me.
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison


Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Amazing Photographs of Mister Herzog


Immigrated from Germany to Canada in ’52. Hooked up with a medical photographer called Marincowitz and learned the art. Self-taught and camera in hand, from Vancouver to San Francisco. And beyond.



Street life in the 1950s and 60s. ‘He used colour, to get over the way he saw the city and the way he wanted others to see it.’


I love his work. No social agenda or bullshit.

Just the streets, the everyday people.

In the zone.

Clarity.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Jack Fielding does Something Stupid


'Recently found a long-lost video on YouTube. Back in the 80s a guy took some photos of me in a rock and roll club in north London. Weeks later I found myself making a full-page appearance in trendy mag The Face. I led the Teds in an article on urban street styles, alongside rockers, mods, punks and skinheads. It was all very tribal then.

Amazingly, the article led to part-time modelling work for 'Z', an agency working out of Gee Street. Specialised in models with a non-classic street look. A few years in, Z asked me to go to a casting for a pop video. A German singer called Inga Humpe doing a cover version of Frank Sinatra’s fine song Something Stupid. They needed a lead who upsets his girlfriend then flirts with Inga. I said I could manage that. 


Filming, I think, took place at the Brixton Academy. A day’s shoot, cash in hand and the chance to demonstrate my complete lack of acting talent to the world. One of the other part-time models, a thick-set, silver-haired guy, claimed to have been a plumber who once fixed an outside lavatory belonging to the Krays. 

To be honest, Inga’s song didn’t do particularly well when it was released – nor did two other videos I did for Boy George and Pete Burns. The Jack Fielding kiss of death. Looking at it now, I reckon one of the best scenes in the video is at the end when Inge pays homage to Rita Hayworth in Gilda. Or is Marilyn? My performance at the beginning is vaguely reminiscent of Ronald Reagan in The Killers...


So for the next ten years I popped up in various modelling assignments. Mostly in the poorer parts of London but also Japan, Paraguay and what was then Czechoslovakia. Zane was my booker and he tended to give me the assignments nobody else wanted. I never really came to terms with being a fashion model. There was always the uncomfortable feeling I was going to be arrested for fraud. Zane also kept asking me back to his place. To see his imported water lizard.


The last assignment of my unlikely career was a commercial for German TV about the wonders of Thailand. I flew out with a plastic dinosaur in my pocket – I’d become very superstitious by then – to work with a snobby French model called Adrianna. Between takes she drank mineral water, ate delicately sliced avocado salad and complained about the heat and dreadful locals. To piss her off, I wore my retro England footie shirt, wolfed down hamburgers, drank bottles of Amarit beer and yawned a lot.


The first day of the shoot involved a scene sipping pretend cocktails watching the spectacular sunset. The next day was a bummer. We were filmed in the annual Songkran parade supposedly enjoying the Thai New Year. In fact, a group of lanky transsexuals in high heels took a dislike to Adrianna and assaulted both of us; they broke eggs on our heads and threw powder in our faces. Adrianna became hysterical and we had to escort back her to the van. I lost my hat.           



No one was more surprised than me. 

Anyway, here’s the link to the video on YouTube (I’m the one who looks like Ronald in a drape jacket). Actually, a nice version by Inge, I'm sure you'll agree: