Monday, February 14, 2011

Yes, I was hoping to work for Alain Delon in Paris.

 He was the most handsome actor in the whole world. Now he has morphed into an old man.

 I thought I was going to work for Alain Delon in 1973, as his personal secretary. His manager, George Beaume, told me to fly there, and talk to him. I spent around six weeks in Paris, which I thoroughly enjoyed, although I never saw Alain once. He was away filming a movie. I got to meet him later in Hollywood, at Universal Studios, where he was filming "Airport Concorde '79." He signed a photo for me, and he recently sent me an autographed, color photo from Paris.

Although I didn't see Alain, I did see his ex-wife Nathalie. I was in a cafe, when across the street in an apartment building a girl came rushing through a second floor balcony door, practically naked. The waiter, who knew I was waiting to see Alain said, "That's Nathalie Delon, Alain's ex-wife." So, I crossed the street and went to her apartment to talk to her about Alain. She was very friendly and invited me in to her apartment. I had taken many books on Hollywood on my vacation tour, biographies, and film books, i.e., Films of the Fifties. I later loaned her some of the books and told her I would pick them up later. When I went back for them, I was told she had left them up in the mountains, whatever that meant, and I never got them back. But, Paris was grand. I stayed at a cheap hotel called the Dragon Hotel, which was in an alley near the Dragon theater, (pronounced Drahhhgoon), and was right off Rue St. Germaine, a main street in Paris. The hotel had been suggested to me by someone in London. "Paper Moon," was showing at the Dragon theater, and I saw it three or four times. At least it was shown in English with French subtitles.

The French are very loving and passionate people. I awakened one morning and looked out my window and I could see directly into the apartment across the way, and a couple were fucking, with their two kids running around and playing in the room, as if nothing were happening. (Now that's sexual education). French people were always embracing and kissing, on the streets, in the theaters, at bus stops, everywhere. A very loving country. But, their public restrooms were very different from ours. In some, you pissed against a ceramic tiled wall, and it ran down into a trench on the ceramic tiled floor. There would often be a hole in the floor (no toilets) and you had to squat and shit into the hole. Real crude, to say the least. I waited until I got back to my hotel, which was a few blocks away. And they had what they call pissoirs all over. You just walked up to a urinal on the street and pissed. On the Rue de St. Germaine, there was a drugstore around the corner from Dragon where I would buy Time and Newsweek magazine, in English. This area was also where male hustlers hung out, looking for tourists, and they spoke "several" different languages.

I went on the Eiffel Tower, walked along the Champs de Elysee, passed the Notre Dame Cathedral, saw the Arc de Triomphe, went to Montmatre, and bought my first chestnuts (that were roasted on an open fire). I went to the famous drag bar, La Cage Aux Folles, but found it disappointing, compared to the drag show here in the states. Most of their drags had hairy chests, showing above their low cut gowns. And the place was small, like a large dining room, and the prices for dinner were expensive too.

I went to a bar near Rue de L'Opera, and Rue de four, (close to Alain's offices) on New Year's Eve. I wasn't aware that the French don't start celebrating New Years at midnight like we do. I believe they start around 4:00 a.m. But, at midnight, I started yelling "Happy New Year," and was tooting a horn, when suddenly someone spoke out in English, "Leave it to an American to screw everything up." It was a bar/restaurant and I had ordered, mashed potatoes, vegetables and a small steak. It cost $75 and this was in 1973. I was pretty soused as I left the bar and when I left it was raining, pouring down. So, naturally, I had to start singing, "Singing In The Rain," and was splashing water around. People on the street were amused and were watching me until I forgot the words to the song. Drinks in all the bars were expensive. If you had a soda pop, beer or mixed drink, they all cost four dollars. Probably similar or even lower, than bars here today. But, that was in 1973. I was told that many people saved their money and only went out about once a month.

Alain Delon's relationship with the public and the media, has been ambivalent and often hostile. However, few can deny, that in his heyday, he was the most popular actor in France and an international celebrity. He retains a strong fan following and is still highly regarded by many. In recognition of his exceptional contribution to French culture, he was awarded the "French Legion Of Honour" in 1990.

In the mid-1970's, his career began to suffer a gradual decline, which was partly due to some excessive negative publicity in the press. This revolved around his perceived association with criminal gangs and his alleged complicity in the murder of his bodyguard. Delon was also severely lambasted when he expressed sympathies for extreme right wing politics.


I went to Berlin for a few weeks, after giving up on waiting for Alain. I liked Berlin. It seemed like it was the closest thing to being in America. Well, at least by seeing the people and the stores. It was cold there too, with a bit of snow. I stayed at a small hotel, where no one spoke English. I guess money talks. I had a small room with a shower. The maids were always sweeping and mopping the floors. They were squeaky clean. I went to a place on Kurfurstendamm called the Drugstore, to buy something I thought a drugstore would have. But, it wasn't a drugstore, it was a restaurant! Their menu said they had chili, and I was dying for some chili. I was disappointed when they served it. It was only bean soup. I asked to see the manager. I wanted to give him the recipe for chili. He said the owner ran another place nearby and I could go there to see her. I went there and talked with her and I gave her the recipe. She said she could get everything except the red kidney beans, and thought she could buy them at the American Army Commissary store. So, if she has chili, real chili, in Berlin. Yours truly introduced it- smile

I was surprised to learn that prostitution is legal there. I had been approached by several young, pretty women. They carry health permits and ever so often they have to be medically approved. There was a neat bar near the Drugstore called, "The Cockpit." The front door was like the door on an airplane. Inside it looked like the interior of an airliner. The ceiling was curved, like airplane ceilings and the seats and tables on the sides, had windows on the walls, like windows on an airplane. And the dance floor, in the front of the bar, had a cockpit, like an airplane, with a full instrument panel. Ever so often a voice would announce where we would be landing. Berlin bars were very creative and competitive.

The Tanz bars, were sex bars. They were showing hardcore films using a 8mm projector. These bars were usually closed during the day, then open all night, into the early morning hours. Some had topless girls dancing and then they would sit down next to you and ask you to buy them a beer. That old line again! They wanted me to start a tab, but I never fell for that. And some of the bars had back rooms where you could take the girls.

I stopped into one of the smaller bars, and it was empty, except for the two female employees who were kissing as I walked in. No porno movies there. They were showing Tom & Jerry cartoons.

I often went to a bar near the hotel, called "The Banana." The bartender was a tall, odd type of person. He wore a ring that looked like a bent nail. He understood the word beer, but didn't seem to know English. One time a girl sat next to me and she did speak English. Then she introduced me to the bartender, who started speaking excellent English. He was a musician and showed me an album, with his picture on the cover. You could also see the bent nail around his finger. An older guy started playing a piano. He was very good. I was told he had been a top pianist but had been in an accident and his mental capacity had diminished, although he could still play the piano. An old woman walked up to me and spit at me and said, "Americans...bah!" I guess this is why the bartender had ignored talking to me when I first went there.

I inquired about Check Point Charlie, which led into the East Berlin side, that was occupied by Russia. They said it took German people a month to get a pass to go over but as an American I could go through at anytime. So, I took a cab to the Berlin Wall, to Check Point Charlie. The American military officer said to just walk across the bridge to the other side. I noticed crosses all along the shore, where people escaping East Berlin, had been shot and killed. I asked the officer if he was going to take my name or passport information? He seemed reluctant but he took a few notes. What if something had happened to me and I couldn't get back? When I got to the Russian check point, they searched me. I had a book in my pocket, something like, "See Europe on $5 a day." They made me sit in a small room, while they perused the book in a back room. They finally came out and gave me the book and told me to go on. So, I started walking into town. I was surprised to see that buildings that had been bombed, were still collapsed into a pile of bricks. There were bullet holes in the concrete walls in many of the buildings. There were no neon signs or bright lights. Everything was gray and dark. I was about the sole person on the street. The bars had closed early. I just walked and looked at every thing. I passed a cemetery, then came to a wire fence that said Verbotten (forbidden). It led into a neighboring country. Then a couple of Russian soldiers came out of the shadows. I gave them my passport to look at. Then they pointed for me to go back the other way. They were young, around eighteen years old with rosy cheeks. I was turned on.

When I got back to the Russian check point, a woman officer talked to me. She spoke very good English. She asked me if I had a good time? Nothing was open! How could I have had a good time? Then I asked her the dumbest thing. I asked if she had ever been "to the other side?" She just looked at me without saying a word, then turned around and went back into the office. I took a cab back into town. The check point was quite a ways from downtown Berlin. A couple of days later, I went back during the daylight hours. I heard you could take Berlin marks and trade them for East Berlin marks and make a lot of money doing that, although it was illegal. I put some marks inside my shoes but when I took them out, they had ripped. They weren't made strong like American dollars. And nobody wanted to exchange them anyway. Actually, you couldn't even use them. You were permitted to exchange a few at the bridge, on the Russian side, and that was all you could spend.

I was approached in a restaurant, by a man who wanted me to take a letter to mail to a relative on the American, or free side. He was very scared to talk and said the KGB might be watching us and that they could read lips. When I said I would take the letter, tears came into his eyes. He was so happy that I would do this for him.

Of course Berlin has their share of gay bars too. I asked a cab driver to take me to a gay bar. He took me to a spot and pointed to a brick wall. All the gay bar's names and addresses were painted on the side of the wall and showed how to get to them. The first one I went to was called the Bow-Wow club. There was a poster of a dog out front, like the old RCA dog that was so popular. It was packed with young, gay guys. They were all singing along with the American songs on the juke-box. I had forgotten there was still a language barrier and started talking to someone in English. I learned they were all singing phonetically to the songs and didn't understand one word of English.

I went to a few other clubs. Most were for members only, but when they looked out the peephole in the door, they recognized me as being an American and let me in. And like the straight Berlin bars, they were all different, with different themes and very creative.

At a straight club, I was given something that looked like a stick of chewing gum. It was hash. They called it shit. You would crumble it up and then smoke it. I mailed a few sticks back home. It fit inside an envelope, like a stick of chewing gum.

Andy Warhol's, "Frankenstein," was playing there in 3-D. Although it was in German, the visuals were enough to understand the film and the 3-D looked great. I also went to see "Funny Girl." It was strange to see Barbra talking German. But, of course her songs were in English, in her own voice. And a new adult bookstore was opening in Berlin. I went inside and recognized the magazines as those of Harry Mohney, whom I had sold my Cinema I theater to in Lima, Ohio. I asked the manager if this was Harry Mohney's store?, and he said it was. Harry sure gets around.."the world."

Berlin was the only city where I took a bus tour. I saw the Brandenberg Gate and went to a few museums. I wanted to buy some Nazi war souvenirs, but it was illegal, (at that time), for anyone to sell those items. As a kid I always thought the Nazi Swastika was cool, as well as the Nazi uniforms. They looked so cool compared to our army's uniforms. Fuck Hitler. I just loved their insignias. The Swastika is really an Indian sign in reverse.


(On the Kowloon side on Nathan Road)

I was running out of money and decided I wanted to go to Australia. I thought this would be the closest to living in America. I bought a ticket and was on my way. I made friends with a young guy on the plane and we hit it off right away. We stopped over in New Delhi, India and Bangkok, Thailand. We got off the plane to buy souvenirs. In New Delhi, I decided to stay aboard. Then I noticed the "cleaning crew" that came aboard were stealing things passengers had left behind, when they left the plane to buy souvenirs. I was appalled, but couldn't say anything. When the plane would leave, and the passengers would find things were missing, it was too late. The plane sure wasn't going to turn around and go back for them. When we got to Hong Kong, to switch planes to Australia, I wasn't allowed to get on. I hadn't been vaccinated! In addition to getting vaccinated, I had to have a visa for Australia. They never told me that in Berlin. I had to stay over and missed the flight and my "new friend" flew on without me. He looked sad and disappointed and so was I. Subsequently, after I got my vaccination I learned all flights to Australia had been booked solid with vacationers from England, for three weeks. I was nearly out of money. I was also told I had to have a return ticket "leaving" Australia. I only had enough money for a ticket to Singapore. They accepted that. Being nearly broke, and with no flights available to Australia, I traded it in and bought a ticket to San Francisco. I was in Hong Kong for about ten days. There was an excitement in the air that is hard to explain. You could just stand in the street and feel the electricity in the air. I was on the Kowloon side, the older part of the city. I had a room at the Y.M.C.A. that was quite reasonable, ($12 a night) with double beds and a private bath. Everything was in English and Chinese, since it had been a British colony. And the English were very rude to the Chinese. I was on the elevator at the Y and two Englishmen were on it with me. A Chinaman started to get on and they told him to take another elevator. We were in China and they acted like they owned the place. (I guess being a British colony at that time, maybe they did own it).

I felt like a giant walking the streets. I was a head taller than most people. The Hilton Hotel was just being built and on the second floor, that was completed, there was a dance hall. I wanted to hear some Chinese music and was disappointed to hear the singer singing- Tom Jones's songs. Many of the young Chinese boys were very handsome. Some had mixed blood, half British and half Chinese. I went to a restaurant called the James Bond. When I first walked in the fish smell about knocked me over. I was surprised that after a few minutes I had adjusted to it and it didn't seem to smell bad any longer. I ordered a pepper steak, which was delicious, with a Korean beer. The Chinese didn't make their own beer. It was rice beer from Korea, in a large bottle. I went there three or four times.

I had to cross the water on the Star Ferry, to go to the Connaught Building for my visa to Australia. Although it was in the modern part of Hong Kong, I didn't have any money to spend and came right back. On the ferry there were signs that read, "Don't spit on the floor. Watch out for pick-pockets."

I would walk the streets late at night and it was very quiet. I asked two Chinese policemen where there was a restaurant that was open? They pointed to a place across the street. I walked upstairs and knocked on the door. It opened and there was a red light on inside and a couple of girls were sitting on a couch. I said I wanted food, not women.

At night vendors would set up tables in the street and sell all kinds of food and items for the tourists. All the oil paintings of celebrities looked good, except for the eyes. They all had slanted, Chinese-like eyes. Elvis looked funny as a Chinaman. I bought a few dragon shaped cigarette lighters to send back to the states, for Dad, Grandpa, and a few other people. They were very cheap to buy. I learned you don't pay the first price they ask for. They like to barter and are disappointed if you pay them what they ask for the first time. I walked past a hotel called the Peninsula. I didn't know it at the time, but that was where the gay people hung out.

The airlines wanted $1,000 for a ticket to the states. I was told to look in the newspaper for bargains. I ended up purchasing a ticket for $250 on Air Siam airlines. What a bargain. (I had to switch planes, to Delta airlines, in Hawaii). When we landed in Japan, everyone on the plane applauded. I guess there had been some rough landings in the past. I later learned Air Siam had only one plane at that time.

After three months abroad, I was glad to be back in the states. San Francisco was good for three months. I had managed the Stagedoor theater for Walter Reade theaters. I left without prior notice (although I left a letter of resignation on the desk, along with the payroll report and concession inventory) and I told a few people, who turned out to be the wrong people, that I was leaving. Someone switched the night depository money bags, the last night I was there, and I was blamed for it. I had rented a car across the street from the theater and told them I was going to Los Angeles, which I did, and had a phone in my name there yet, they blamed me for stealing the days receipts. The story of my life, trusting the wrong people. And a few days prior to this, I had gone to Finocchio's to see the drag show and was surprised to run into Earl Berry, (from Butterfield theaters in Flint) and his wife Vivien, who were there on vacation for a Lion's convention. We spoke a few words and went our way.

I frequented a small bar called the Hob Nob. I liked the owner's son. He was supposed to be straight, but one night at closing time, he kissed me on the lips. I also liked the bars that had the Go-Go guys dancing. I hadn't had sex, while in San Francisco, and only once, going around the world. The Road Runner bar was across the street from the hotel I was staying in. It had just turned gay. The bartender bought some of my movie books I had. When I left Hong Kong, they wanted to charge me duty on my luggage and contents. I had flown around the world and that was the only place they wanted to charge me extra. I had five suitcases. I had to have them shipped to San Francisco by freight and pick them up later, C.O.D.

San Francisco was exciting when I first arrived there. I guess after three months overseas, anything in the states would look good. San Francisco had become too repetitious so I ended up back in Hollywood. Many persons whom I had met in San Francisco, were dying from pneumonia, which I now believe was due to AIDS. AIDS wasn't diagnosed to the public until around 1982, but with so many deaths there for pneumonia, I now know that's what caused them. Today there are discussions whether Steve McQueen and Howard Hughes may have died of AIDS.

What surprised me most in Hong Kong was the talk among certain persons there, about actor, Danny Kaye. I had no idea he was gay, but he was. And recent revelations has named him as a lover of Sir Laurence Olivier. I liked Hong Kong and wish I had had more money to stay there longer, while it was still a British colony.



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A note to my fans: Thank you for supporting my book. It's been a long time coming and finally 

arrived for your approval. Maybe Book II will be coming later this year. I hope you have enjoyed it and will tell all your friends. Wish I could autograph your book, but that seems an impossibility.
Bill Dakota

( Hollywood Star Newspaper