Tuesday, March 24, 2020

From The Vault: The Day Hollywood Came Calling

so many Marilyns

Dear reader, cast your mind back some decades. 1980 to be exact.
Whispers was living in a small but cute Mews flat just off London's famous Portobello Road. To be exact, where the real antique shops began and before the bits & pieces stalls started. Saturday was always a joyful day as the Portobello Market began in full swing early in the morning.

In our quaint street we were always awakened by the sound of a Tuba on a Saturday around 10am. A neighbor taught the instrument and it really was the most pleasant and reassuring way to be awakened and one always knew it was market day,
Whispers had a pal staying. His name was Ben and he worked in films organizing transport. As a bonus he would take a side job of driving around whatever star was in town at the time and filming at Pinewood Studios. While he lived in the country, Notting Hill was far more convenient for obvious reasons.
I had also moved in the legendary rock manager Kit Lambert who had fallen on rather tough times and who I was working with attempting to revive various music projects. Kit had discovered and nurtured one of the most famous and enduring bands on the planet, The Who along with legends like Jimi Hendrix.
This was the era of The Blitz. A Tuesday night club in London's West End, operated in a small restaurant by a budding entrepreneur named Steve Strange (pictured). The Blitz Kids had grown out of the Punk era and the kids wwo flocked to the club called themselves the New Romantics with their colourful and inventive outfits. It was really just kids from the suburbs dressing up. Innocent but a lot of fun
I had convinced Lambert that there were bound to be future stars and musicians to come out of the very creative Blitz scene. And they surely did. Boy George with Culture Club was one. Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet began there as did Strange himself who had a huge hit with his band Visage. Another was Phil Collen, my personal discovery who I hired for a band and who later went on to join one of the biggest groups on the planet Def Lepard. I took Kit to The Blitz once and he was hooked. Together we decided there was a gold mine of talent there.

Living in Notting Hill had distinct advantages because of it's close location to central London. Most of the teenagers who went to the Blitz on a Tuesday night, after planning their exotic outfits, lived in the outer London Suburbs. George O'Dowd ( Boy George) was one. Peter Robinson who called himself Marilyn and styled himself after the Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe was another, Inevitably half a dozen or so would choose to flop on my Mews flat floor having missed the last tube home.

And so it was on one such night when we had been partying at The Blitz that around 8 souls descended upon my tiny flat, along with flatmate Ben who had accompanied us to The Blitz for his first visit. Ben was now working on a film called Saturn 3 staring two Hollywood greats - the late star Kirk Douglas and the former Charlies Angels star Farrah Fawcett Majors. Ben had also nabbed me a job as Kirk Douglas' "gofer". Such an easy job although one had to be available at all hours. Douglas was popular with film crews. He had a reputation as being easy going, very professional often only needing one shoot of a scene, treating the crew respectfully and a great tipper when a project had been completed.

Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett Majors in the Sci Fi flick Saturn 3