Friday, April 27, 2007

Sic Transit

Jack Valenti is dead, arbiter of ratings and motion picture fan. He was also a lover of my mother's. Little men particularly were heated up by her, because she was so tiny and flirtatious she made them feel tall. At least until she had them in her grip at which point she cut them down to below size.
She met Valenti through Leo Jaffe, a family friend, who was treasurer of Columbia Pictures, Vice-President towards the end of the Schneider regime, and mad for her, after her for years, in spite of or maybe because of the fact that she and his wife Terry were friends. He schlepped my first musical, written when I was twenty in Paris, from Max Gordon's, the producer's office, to several other offices with my stepfather Puggy, who lugged a huge machine--they were then--so the tape of my creation could be played. When one person didn't like it, Leo said "Then we'll find someone who will," which sounded very heartening and helpful to one who was twenty, and thought all things were possible. What wasn't possible was that Leo would ever land my mother, though he tried up to the end of his life, and, for all I know, after, since they are all now in Little People's Hereafter, or Not. And if so maybe they get to have all their dreams come true, even the carnal ones.
Valenti nailed her in Rome, and she told me it was the first time she had an orgasm without foreplay, not the kind of thing a mother usually discusses with her daughter, but as most of you know by now, she was not the usual mother. So he must have been a spicy little Sicilian, and Leo would have had a heart attack earlier than the one he had if he had known that Jack had been where he so wanted to go.
Jack also hit on my friend Wendy, when I introduced them in DC. Wendy was young and adorable and with NIH and he was after her 'Big Time,' in Wendy's words, inviting her to Mexico. He seemed brusque and unsexy to me, but then, what did I know-- certainly less than my mother. Wendy turned him down. I wonder how she is. She was one of the first women working on AIDS.
As for the musical Leo Jaffe schlepped, it finally got a hearing when my agent at MCA got me an audition with Frank Loesser, my idol who wrote 'Guys and Dolls' and a trunkfull of wonderful songs, some of them allegedly other people's. I sang a few numbers for Frank, and he said "Kid, you're the biggest talent since me. Write me a musical." So I pulled out the one I had written when I was 20, made it better, added some new songs, and sent it to Frank. After some weeks I called to find out what had happened with it.
"Moss and I are working on this musical in Boston, and we've used some of your stuff."
Shocked but flattered, I finally managed "What about money?" "Write your family," Frank said.