Chelsea Hotel Arena


Chelsea Hotel

First transmitted in 1981, this documentary looks at the New York's Chelsea Hotel - a haven for some of the 20th Century's greatest talents, from Mark Twain to Dylan Thomas.


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Transcript


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Nigel Finch died last month of an Aids-related illness on Valentine's Day. He was 45.

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As a director and co-editor of Arena with Anthony Wall,

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he was one of the most original and brilliant talents in television.

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Nigel shot his first film when he was still in his teens, cajoling friends and neighbours

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into taking roles for little or no financial reward.

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A talent he was to perfect in later life.

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He began his career at London Weekend Television but moved to the BBC in the mid 70s,

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where he remained, mainly in music and arts, for the rest of his life.

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His earliest films were about the visual arts,

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one of his passions, and even his earlier pieces have a distinctive style and look -

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the hallmark of a unique eye.

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At the BBC he became notorious for his humour, anarchy, ambition and dress sense.

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The first time I saw Nigel, he was revving up a huge black motorcycle,

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his leather jacket shining in the sun,

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his barking laugh audible half a mile away.

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"This man makes arts documentaries?"

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I said to a friend. "Well, not exactly."

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She lent me copies of My Way and The Private Life Of The Ford Cortina.

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Suddenly it all made sense.

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These early films for Arena completely broke the mould

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of what an arts documentary was supposed to be.

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"Make a film about a song?" some bureaucrat complained, "Give me a break."

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Such ideas are commonplace now.

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16 years ago they were considered outrageous.

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But although Nigel's ideas have been copied,

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no-one else has matched his wit or technical verve.

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And now he's gone, leaving behind a treasure house for us -

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30 films packed with memorable ideas and images.

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Nigel had been living with Aids for years and, in his case, living was the operative word.

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He worked to the end on his first feature film, Stonewall,

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which will be released on both sides of the Atlantic this year.

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Nigel wanted to complete a feature film before he died.

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It is somehow typical of him that he got what he wanted.

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Word is that the story of the 1969 gay riots in New York is Nigel's finest work.

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We can't see Stonewall for a while but tonight there's a chance to re-view The Chelsea Hotel -

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Nigel's personal favourite and, I have to say, mine too.

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Nigel celebrated difference in people and loved to get below the surface of things.

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This project offered ample opportunity for both.

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The Chelsea Hotel in New York is famous for the exotic individualism of its inhabitants.

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And, to the outsider, seems an enclosed Bohemia only for initiates.

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Nigel throws open the doors of its rarefied rooms,

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capturing a hothouse world

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with an enchanting mix of satire and affection.

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The roll call of avant-garde artists in the Chelsea Hotel

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is one of the most wide ranging ever assembled on film.

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Andy Warhol, Viva, Nico, Quentin Crisp,

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Virgil Thomson and William Burroughs all put in appearances.

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Funnily, that wasn't the appeal for Nigel.

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He was equally interested, perhaps more interested,

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in the struggling artists no-one had heard of, except mothers and lovers.

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The Chelsea is a haven for those who don't follow the normal rules.

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A place that nurtures non-conformity.

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As a person, Nigel was as unconventional and surprising as his films.

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With The Chelsea Hotel he created a magical world typical of himself and Arena at their very best.

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SIRENS BLARE

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# Every street's full of art in old New York

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# Every street's a highway full of green

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# Why, it's a thrill to shop on 34th Street

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# Or down in Union Square

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# All of the people you meet on Mulberry Street

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# Have you ever been there?

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# Every street's a boulevard in old New York

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# So remember and you'll never wear a frown

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# There's the East Side The West Side, Uptown and Down

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# That's why I'm proud to be the mayor of this town. #

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Thank you.

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I'd like to welcome you to the Chelsea Hotel,

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one of the most distinguished structures in all of New York.

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It takes its name from the area we're in.

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It's a centre of creativity

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you might compare with Florence during the Renaissance.

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Some of the greatest talents of the 20th century have stayed here.

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You'll notice the plaques here refer to Dylan Thomas, Brendan Behan and Thomas Wolfe.

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In fact, Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can't Go Home Again, most of it, in this hotel.

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And both Brendan Behan and Dylan Thomas stayed here when they came to New York.

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They drank themselves to death at the White Horse on 11th Street.

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Then they'd come and collapse here.

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Later they were buried from St Lukes In The Field in Greenwich Village.

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If you've had a tour, you've seen the church.

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Some of the other people were Charles James, the famous couturier,

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Lillian Russell - Diamond Jim Brady was her boyfriend.

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Mark Twain. Henry Cartier-Bresson, he's the man who does

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the wonderful photographs. When he comes to New York he stays here.

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Arthur Miller and his wife stay.

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Janis Joplin did stay here, that's right.

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A lot of people, famous people, have stayed here.

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Of course, Sid Vicious was here.

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You sign your name and from whence you cometh.

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DOG BARKS

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There are things that go on here that are very far from the norm.

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They just...

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I don't think most people realise how strange it is.

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Now, what is it you wanna know?

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Wanna know all the good about the Chelsea Hotel?

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I told you before, I'm not gonna tell.

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The Chelsea's the only place to work.

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If I don't say that I won't be working here much longer.

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What can I tell ya, I won't tell anything about anybody's life.

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It's my business, not yours!

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It's good to have you here at the Chelsea, and welcome aboard.

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It's a little warmer in here, isn't it?

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Yes, it was rather cold outside.

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Well, I'm very glad you all turned up on such a terrible day.

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Now, are we all here?

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You're at the end, Mr Freisach.

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Now, we're in the lobby. This was built as an apartment, not a hotel,

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so this would have been the lobby.

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We are going to go in to see the managers office.

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Remember, the manager's office is not just the manager's office

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but at one time it was the home of someone.

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Think of it at as someone's home.

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We're going to go into his office. Look at all of the art work.

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I'm going to walk over here. Here is Stanley Bard, the manager.

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Sorry to interrupt you.

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That's OK. How are you?

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Very well! Nice to see you again.

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-Pleasure to see you.

-Thank you.

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Why don't you all come in here?

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Cluster around, so you can see the office.

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Is everybody in here...?

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Everyone in the group?

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I don't want to lose anybody.

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OK, you can see this is Mr Bard's Office.

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They put up a partition but this would have been a Parlour.

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A front parlour, reception room, for someone's home...

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My job never ends.

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I have an open line connection to the hotel 24 hours.

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I want it that way because I can keep in touch with the hotel 24 hours

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and I know what's happening.

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I believe in flexibility in management.

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I never believed in, um... tight policy-making.

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I'd rather gear my policy making to fit the needs of the individual.

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Suddenly a big bull frog hopped out of the water and sat down on a log beside him.

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Ug! Ug! Ug! Ug!

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Lovely evening.

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Ug! Ug! Ug! Ug!

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I said lovely evening.

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Ug! Ug! Ug! Ug!

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I said bee-yoo-tee-full evening.

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Hello. Ug! Hello. Ug!

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Hello.

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But Tubby just sat.

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"Oh well," said the Frog, "Oh well, if I'm not wanted.

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"Oh!" cried Tubby "Please, Mr Frog, come back.

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"I didn't mean to be impolite."

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Back hopped the frog.

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"Oh, that's all right, I'm used to it.

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"No one pays any attention to me either."

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"Really?" said Tubby.

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"Why of course!

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"Every night I sit here and sing my heart out,

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"but does anyone listen?

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"Oh, no."

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"Can you sing?" asked Tubby.

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"Can I sing? Listen."

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HE PLAYS THE PIANO

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I moved into this hotel 24 years ago

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because I got tired of walking eight flights every night in my tenement.

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And, um...

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I started to raise plants

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because I was in the flower district, on 28th Street.

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And then I decided to put a canary in and this whole mess started of that.

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They became pythons, tarantulas and...things like that.

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And now the greatest animal of all happened to me recently.

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I met a lady, Susan, over there,

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who loves plants and animals.

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I'm not sure how she likes pythons and boa constrictors.

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And the hobby grew, and the hobby grew, and the hobby grew...

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and now I've found that we in New York City can create,

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in this concrete jungle, a place of happiness, of greenery and plants.

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So I've been very happy here,

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thanks to you.

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Lucky man, lucky man, lucky man!

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I actually met George before... I met him on the elevator

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and I fell in love when I heard him laugh.

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I was going down on a Monday to work in a very grouchy mood

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and said something about the elevator, which had broken down.

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George laughed with his great big belly laugh of his... That's funny!

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All of a sudden, I warmed up and the day seemed beautiful.

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I said, "That man has the most wonderful laugh in the world."

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I had no idea who he was and didn't meet him again for two months,

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when I met him down at the good old bar downstairs.

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At which point, he immediately asked me to come up

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and see his jungle, not his etchings!

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My biggest theatrical success in New York

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was a story about a cockroach...

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and an alley cat, Mehitabel.

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And here she is.

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You see, Mehitabel is always being scolded

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by Archie the cockroach

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because he wants her to turn into a nice, tame house cat.

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Mehitabel says, "Oh Archie, why do I want to be a tame house cat?"

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And, er... "I have my problems and I don't try to change you.

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"Why do you try to change me?"

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She said, "Don't change me, Archie."

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And this is the story of my life and all of our lives.

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Everyone is always trying to change us. And Mehitable sings.

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# My youth I shall never forget

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# And there's nothing I really regret

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# The years I have poured down the drain

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# Have sparkled like golden champagne

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# I don't care to dance with a king

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# But with any old beggar I'll sing

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# I'll dance in the sun or the shade

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# To any old tune that is played

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# It's cheerio, deario Prance and pirouette

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# It's cheerio, my deario

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# There's life in me yet... #

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# ..I'll sing all my troubles away... #

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On the very first time I ever came here,

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I think I only stayed five days

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and there was a robbery, a fire and a murder.

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I came here to try to become a resident alien.

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That's my fundamental object.

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I've had my photograph taken

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and I've filled in the forms and now I can't do anymore except wait.

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All people who come back to England from America,

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the first thing they say is,

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"It's more like the movies than you would ever dream."

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And it is.

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From the moment I saw New York, I wanted it.

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Apart from the beauty of the place,

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in New York there are no strangers.

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People warned me that I would be robbed with violence

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and I don't know whether this is so or not,

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but I can safely say that all the people who are not hitting you over the head, are your friends.

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They talk to you in the street,

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they turn back having passed you in order to say, "Welcome to America."

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Can't ask for more than that.

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SIRENS BLARE

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First of all, I unpack...

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..and I unpack quickly

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because almost all my luggage is bottles

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and it's bottles of witch hazel

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and it's bottles of peroxide

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and it's bottles of this, that and the other.

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And one is terrified...

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Most of all, one is terrified that the dye with which I do my hair will have broken.

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In that case, everything in the suitcase will be bright purple...

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forever.

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Style, as I would define it, is never, of course, elegant.

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It is simply an idiom which arose spontaneously from you

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and everybody has an individuality.

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All you have to do is to learn how to present it

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because you've nothing else to give the world

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which no-one else can give, except yourself.

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Of all the cities I've ever visited,

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the one most totally given over to the idea of success

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is New York.

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All those people down there

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are either hurrying or sauntering

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towards what they call the big time.

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If my voice were loud enough, I would now shout down

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to explain all they need

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is to have a lifestyle of their very own

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and it's appropriate that I should be standing on this balcony

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to discuss this matter,

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because this is the hotel where the great stylists have lived.

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Also, when Brendan Behan stayed here, he was outrageous.

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He wrote a play called Borstal Boy and he was rather a drunk,

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so they say, and he used to stand in the halls

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and holler up the staircase.

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He used to like to hear the echo, the hollering. Arrhhh.

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And loved to hear echoes. You could hear the echoes.

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Hello, there!

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This is one of the tenants coming down...

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And he also had a habit of chasing chambermaids.

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I understand he was rather a sensuous man

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and finally got to the point that all the chambermaids,

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when they straightened up his room, made sure he was dressed.

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I gather he was an exhibitionist.

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I don't know what to say, except I absolutely must decline

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to dance through the streets like Gertrude Stein.

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As for Alice, I'd sooner shake a beer in a great big box of chocolates.

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She said when she was dying, "What is the answer?"

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Then she said, "What is the question?"

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# I will give you a golden balls

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# Off with the children in the hall

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# If you'll marry, marry, Marry marry,

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# If you'll marry me.

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# I will give you the keys of my chest

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# And all the money that I possess

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# If you'll marry, marry Marry, marry

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# If you'll marry me. #

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Brendan was in New York, was being thrown out of one hotel after another

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and just wasn't able to write.

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And Bernard, who I had known from other writers and from other poets,

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called me up and said, "Stanley, I wonder if you can help me out.

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"We have a real problem with Brendan Behan,

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"I'm sure you're aware of what's happening with him in his life." And I said, "I really am."

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"I tell you, Bernard, I don't know if we can manage that,

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"because what I hear about him, or what I read about him, he's in a sad, sad shape."

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He says, "Would you do me a favour and give it a shot?

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"I mean, if there's any place he could possibly put himself together, it would be The Chelsea.

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"Would you do me a favour?"

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And reluctantly - because he was in the papers almost every other day

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getting in trouble with the police,

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with just a lot of different people - I said OK.

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# I will give you a watch and chain

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# To show the children in the lane

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# If you'll marry, marry Marry, marry,

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# If you'll marry me. #

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Brendan thought that he could not have children,

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that his wife was infinite, his wife could not conceive.

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His wife thought he was impotent and he couldn't conceive.

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No-one knew what the situation was but his wife came over,

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Bernard brought his wife over

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and wanted to make his life, sort of, a homely type atmosphere

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to finish these last two books.

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Beatrice spent one year here

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and the ironic part of that is, she conceived here in the hotel.

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And I always shocked and kidded Brendan about it, see,

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The Chelsea is so creative, we can do these miracles.

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The shopper can use this place as a place to rest.

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A lady could be shopping,

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cos this is the height of the shopping district,

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it was where the ladies mall was, and where Coopers was

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and they could stop here for a breath of fresh air.

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OK, now we're going to go to one of the many floors.

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We'll work our way down and talk about people on the floors.

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On this floor, at one time, Brendan Behan lived,

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and Virgil Thompson lives on this floor right now.

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I'm sure you've heard of Virgil Thompson.

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In fact, there was a spread about his apartment in the New York Times.

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Well, I write music here,

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or somewhere else if I happen to be travelling.

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Things having to do with theatre or a public appearance...

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that involves rehearsals and performances in other places.

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I have rehearsals here for say, chamber music,

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but I can't have a full orchestra rehearsal here.

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It's a photograph of Gertrude Stein, taken in Florence, I think.

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Alice Topliss gave it to me some years ago.

0:24:230:24:27

I knew Gertrude Stein for 20 years and Alice for 40.

0:24:270:24:31

When I was a student, Alice B Topliss's recipe for cake was famous.

0:24:310:24:36

Oh, marijuana brownies!

0:24:390:24:41

Well, there's another recipe that came out in the English edition of her cookbook,

0:24:410:24:46

which was suppressed in America...

0:24:460:24:49

for hashish fudge.

0:24:490:24:53

Hashish is normally eaten with chocolate.

0:24:530:24:57

The classical pot smokers will eat a chocolate with each cigarette.

0:24:590:25:04

Did you ever eat Alice B Topliss's cookies?

0:25:040:25:07

No! I don't think she ever made them.

0:25:070:25:09

I think she put it in for fun.

0:25:090:25:12

This apartment was lived in, before I took it,

0:25:210:25:27

by the manager of the hotel.

0:25:270:25:30

He had been careful about the flat

0:25:300:25:33

and hadn't had the woodwork painted over.

0:25:330:25:37

This is the original woodwork.

0:25:370:25:39

The mantelpieces in the building, bookcases and all that.

0:25:390:25:44

It's period stuff and it's very handsome.

0:25:440:25:48

Hotels are extremely good working places because you can cut off the telephones.

0:25:540:26:00

Just tell the operator not to ring you.

0:26:000:26:04

A lot of people here have said that they get a lot of excitement

0:26:040:26:07

from being in a building where other people worked before them.

0:26:070:26:10

-Could be.

-Do you get that yourself? Is that important?

-Not at my age.

0:26:100:26:15

They're more likely to get a thrill out of the fact that I'm here

0:26:150:26:20

than I get a thrill of their being here.

0:26:200:26:23

How are you, Larry?

0:26:250:26:26

-I'm all right. Will you fill out that form?

-I'll fill out this form.

0:26:260:26:30

The reason why I I asked you down is because I'm having great difficulty.

0:26:300:26:34

I never knew the actual title of the painting.

0:26:340:26:37

The title out in the lobby. The title is Dutch Masters And Cigars -

0:26:370:26:43

Shaped I.

0:26:430:26:46

1964.

0:26:460:26:48

-OK, I see this signature.

-Where?

0:26:540:26:57

I see Dutch Masters.

0:26:570:26:59

Dutch Masters is not a signature.

0:26:590:27:01

I saw Rivers. Oh, here.

0:27:010:27:03

Where?

0:27:030:27:05

You're blind. In other words, the signature must be on the back.

0:27:050:27:09

Unless you want me to sign it now, on camera.

0:27:090:27:12

Yeah, I'd like you to sign it.

0:27:120:27:13

-Right there.

-I finally got you to sign this, after all these years.

0:27:130:27:18

All right... Larry.

0:27:180:27:19

Now I sign with two names.

0:27:190:27:21

At the time, I would have signed it Rivers.

0:27:210:27:24

I don't know what had got into me.

0:27:240:27:26

Somewhere along the line, I think Peter Beard said...

0:27:260:27:29

Should I put 64?

0:27:290:27:31

Peter Beard said, "You know,

0:27:310:27:34

"Barney Newman, he doesn't sign Newman." Barnett Newman, so...

0:27:340:27:38

-So, since about 1975, I've been signing...

-"Larry Rivers."

0:27:380:27:43

There it is, Stanley.

0:27:430:27:45

Now it's official. This proves I really did it.

0:27:450:27:48

-OK.

-Here in the Chelsea Hotel. My home away from home.

-What?

0:27:480:27:52

I liked the days that I stayed here, Stanley.

0:27:520:27:55

It was a nice time. It was funny.

0:27:550:27:57

It was sexy. It was interesting.

0:27:570:28:00

A lot of time has passed.

0:28:000:28:02

I still feel this.

0:28:020:28:03

Arthur Miller is coming back.

0:28:030:28:05

-Viva is back now. Remember Viva?

-I certainly remember Viva.

0:28:050:28:09

In that chair, she was breast feeding her child and there was a commotion.

0:28:090:28:13

I had to grab her into the office.

0:28:130:28:15

-What, somebody objected to it?

-Yes.

0:28:150:28:17

-Breast feeding was not permitted in those days.

-That's what I mean.

0:28:170:28:20

A lot of people think the Chelsea is full of freaks.

0:28:200:28:23

At the point that I was here, it had a very substantial,

0:28:230:28:26

conservative element in this hotel,

0:28:260:28:29

-mixed with the bohemian...

-It was the avant-garde.

0:28:290:28:34

The Chelsea was avant-garde.

0:28:340:28:35

The forefront of every kind of creative....

0:28:350:28:38

-Why do think it all took place? Cheap rooms? No?

-Cheap rooms.

0:28:380:28:41

-Fun people. Flexible management.

-That's what I meant.

0:28:410:28:45

-Viva also...

-Will I have fun, if I come back?

-Larry, I promise.

-Can I knock on any...?

0:28:450:28:50

Walk down the hallway, knock on any door and get a welcome?

0:28:500:28:53

-Only if I go first.

-All right.

0:28:530:28:55

Good afternoon and welcome,

0:28:550:28:59

British viewers and cosmic viewers, to the Chelsea Hotel short story hour.

0:28:590:29:05

My name is Bernard Lyce.

0:29:050:29:09

Room 822, Chelsea Hotel.

0:29:090:29:13

Our story today involves a snake.

0:29:130:29:18

SINGING IN DIALECT

0:29:200:29:23

Once upon a time,

0:29:530:29:55

a snake descended to the earth from the heavens.

0:29:550:29:59

It took the form of a beautiful man in order to be more at ease with the inhabitants of earth.

0:29:590:30:06

Besides the art of disguise, the snake had many, many powers.

0:30:060:30:12

The snake moved with magic,

0:30:120:30:16

allowing the earth people to see many things they had forgotten.

0:30:160:30:22

I think that, myself being a dancer,

0:30:580:31:02

I'm probably the sum total

0:31:030:31:05

of all the teachers and other dancers that have made definite influences on me.

0:31:050:31:10

This is my way of making a personal tribute to all those people

0:31:120:31:17

who have been influential, as far as my career goes.

0:31:170:31:21

And so I, would like to mention George Balanchine,

0:31:210:31:26

Doris Novikof, Mary Staton, Diane Doretti, Rodney Swan,

0:31:260:31:30

Mary Lewis, Muriel Stuart, Walter Nicks, Irene Larsen, Charles Wideman.

0:31:300:31:36

They're all here in me somewhere.

0:31:360:31:39

On this floor, at one time, Oscar Wilde stayed here. He didn't live here, of course.

0:31:550:31:59

He stayed here when he was visiting.

0:31:590:32:01

I've a wonderful story about Oscar Wilde.

0:32:010:32:03

When Oscar Wilde was going through American Customs,

0:32:030:32:06

someone asked him, what did he have to declare. He said, "I have nothing to declare but my genius."

0:32:060:32:11

Another person who lived on this floor, was Sarah Bernhardt.

0:32:110:32:15

When Mark Twain came here he'd frequently stay at the Chelsea Hotel.

0:32:150:32:20

On the next floor, one of America's greatest playwrights lived at one point.

0:32:200:32:24

That was Tennessee Williams.

0:32:240:32:26

He stayed here, probably when he first came to New York.

0:32:260:32:30

Notice the painting. It looks like a Jackson Pollock.

0:32:300:32:33

At one time, Jackson Pollock stayed here.

0:32:330:32:36

So, all the immortals of the 20th century, at one time or another, have probably stayed at the Chelsea.

0:32:360:32:41

Mr Cole, what do you think of modern art?

0:33:220:33:25

Yes. I'm not modern arts drawn.

0:33:250:33:29

No more modern art.

0:33:310:33:33

What's wrong with modern art?

0:33:350:33:37

WHAT'S WRONG WITH MODERN ART?

0:33:390:33:42

Everything.

0:33:440:33:45

It makes me laugh.

0:33:490:33:51

You think modern art's funny, do you?

0:33:530:33:56

It is, all over.

0:33:560:33:59

Its day is over.

0:33:590:34:01

What they call modern art.

0:34:010:34:04

Who is your favourite artist?

0:34:080:34:10

Sargent.

0:34:100:34:12

I am so old that I don't care really about any art.

0:34:170:34:22

How old are you?

0:34:240:34:25

104.

0:34:270:34:29

PIANO PLAYS

0:34:320:34:35

# Join us for the feast

0:34:550:34:57

# New York is a

0:34:570:35:00

# Sunday brunch

0:35:000:35:02

# East, young man, go east

0:35:030:35:06

# We're having

0:35:060:35:08

# A Sunday brunch

0:35:080:35:10

# Wine and dine your dreams until they all come true

0:35:120:35:16

# Romance 'em, in a handsome, down Fifth Avenue

0:35:160:35:20

# At St Patrick's buy 'em diamond rosaries

0:35:200:35:24

# Hence a confession up at Tiffany's

0:35:240:35:28

# Pleased ease into New York and join us for Sunday brunch

0:35:280:35:36

# Drop your knife and fork, it's only a naked lunch

0:35:360:35:43

# You can have your fairy-tale and eat it too

0:35:450:35:48

# Happily ever after hours All night through

0:35:480:35:52

# Drop in any time

0:35:520:35:53

# We just love having you for

0:35:530:35:57

# Sunday brunch. #

0:35:570:36:00

What's it like, living in a pyramid?

0:36:020:36:04

My razor blades stay very sharp.

0:36:040:36:06

I have incredible flashes of creativity, just sitting, right here on the second floor of this house.

0:36:080:36:15

What do they say? One-third of the way up in a pyramid

0:36:170:36:22

in the centre is where the most energy is concentrated.

0:36:220:36:25

So, I have my working chair here, I have my piano here, I have my desk over there.

0:36:250:36:30

I come out with things that I can't even believe are coming out of me when I'm writing or composing.

0:36:300:36:35

Sunday Brunch is the theme song for my latest play.

0:36:350:36:38

It's about a tourist who comes to New York and he meets all these outrageous people.

0:36:380:36:43

It's...semi-cannibalistic.

0:36:430:36:46

He becomes eaten alive in the streets of New York.

0:36:460:36:49

-Is that your own experience?

-What?

0:36:490:36:52

My own experience! Oh, every day.

0:36:520:36:55

# Please ease into New York and join us for

0:36:550:37:01

# Sunday brunch

0:37:010:37:03

# Drop your knife and fork It's only a

0:37:030:37:08

# Naked lunch

0:37:090:37:12

# You can have your fairy-tale and eat it too

0:37:120:37:16

# Happily ever after hours All night through

0:37:160:37:19

# Drop in any time We just love having you for

0:37:190:37:24

# Sunday brunch

0:37:240:37:27

# Sunday brunch

0:37:270:37:30

# We'd love having you for Sunday brunch

0:37:310:37:34

# You'd be delicious for Sunday brunch

0:37:360:37:40

# We're so hungry

0:37:420:37:45

# We love having you

0:37:450:37:48

# For Sunday brunch. #

0:37:480:37:52

It's cream sauce.

0:37:580:38:00

Come on, don't you know the colour between mustard and cream?

0:38:000:38:05

This is the first time I've ever had hare.

0:38:050:38:08

-Hare?

-Yeah, it's really good.

0:38:080:38:11

-It's unusual.

-It's a rabbit, isn't that a hare?

0:38:110:38:14

What is the official name of the meal?

0:38:140:38:17

It's supposed to be lapin a la moutarde.

0:38:170:38:19

There's a lot more cream than anything.

0:38:190:38:22

Where did you find a rabbit?

0:38:220:38:24

They order it.

0:38:240:38:26

'And on this floor,'

0:38:260:38:29

this is where Andy Warhol made his classic, the Chelsea Girls.

0:38:290:38:32

Andy Warhol was originally a woman's shoe illustrator.

0:38:320:38:36

Then, he painted some tomato soup cans and went on to fame and fortune and glory.

0:38:360:38:40

This man is making repairs. There's wet paint.

0:38:400:38:44

The other favourite food is Texan food, though.

0:38:440:38:46

You like that food or not?

0:38:460:38:49

I do like that type of food.

0:38:490:38:51

-Not chilli but the chicken fried steaks...

-Not chilli. Sort of....

-I had one the other night.

0:38:510:38:56

What is a chicken-fried...?

0:38:560:38:59

'And on the next floor,'

0:38:590:39:01

we're going to see the apartment where William Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch.

0:39:010:39:05

Naked Lunch was quite an important seminal writing.

0:39:050:39:08

When it came out, it was considered very scandalous.

0:39:080:39:11

Today, a book like that hardly raises a blush on the cheek of your aunt from Debuke.

0:39:110:39:17

What is chicken-fried steak actually made out of?

0:39:170:39:20

It's just a thin slice of steak...

0:39:200:39:24

breaded and fried very quickly.

0:39:240:39:27

Why does it taste like mush?

0:39:270:39:30

It depends on what they serve it with, how it tastes.

0:39:300:39:34

What I particularly like is the, erm...

0:39:340:39:38

-biscuits and gravy.

-Right.

0:39:380:39:40

Gee, I never had a chicken-fried steak.

0:39:400:39:43

We can do it any time you want.

0:39:430:39:45

Really? It's actually a steak.

0:39:450:39:47

-It's not a tenderised steak.

-Really? Oh!

0:39:470:39:51

They give you a big chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes and beans or peas and stuff.

0:39:520:39:57

That's sounds really great. Mashed potato and beans are my favourite.

0:39:570:40:01

-But you can eat the steaks.

-Yep.

0:40:010:40:04

So, we're right in the middle of dinner.

0:40:060:40:08

'The tension in here is weird. Andy Warhol is wearing a pair of headphones which he brought with

0:40:080:40:13

'him and hasn't taken off since he sat down.

0:40:130:40:15

'William Burroughs is looking relaxed. He's wearing a beautiful suit and Warhol's telling him that'

0:40:150:40:21

he's the best-dressed man in New York.

0:40:210:40:23

Burroughs, slightly bemused by this chic approach, has given Warhol

0:40:230:40:28

a proof copy of his new book, Cities Of The Red Night.

0:40:280:40:30

-Can you do drawings?

-Oh, yes. Sure.

0:40:300:40:33

(Great.)

0:40:350:40:37

And has just signed in it and drawn a painting.

0:40:370:40:40

Warhol's telling Burroughs he should be a painter.

0:40:400:40:42

My God! Oh!

0:40:420:40:46

More, more. On this side, right here.

0:40:460:40:49

Here, here. My God!

0:40:490:40:51

There we are.

0:40:530:40:55

-Thanks a lot.

-You're so lucky.

0:40:550:40:57

Great!

0:40:570:40:59

I'll get back to you in a few minutes and let you know what else is going on.

0:40:590:41:03

Tell Henry to come.

0:41:030:41:05

Tell him it's really fun.

0:41:050:41:07

# What do I find?

0:41:160:41:17

# Oh, healthy balance

0:41:190:41:22

# On the credit side

0:41:220:41:27

# Got no diamonds, got no pearls

0:41:270:41:29

# Still I think I'm a lucky girl

0:41:290:41:32

# I've got sun in the morning and the moon at night... #

0:41:320:41:35

-Are you comfortable?

-Yes.

0:41:350:41:38

I wasn't talking to you, pig face.

0:41:380:41:41

Yeah, OK.

0:41:410:41:43

Maybe she's kind of screwed up.

0:41:430:41:46

Oh, really.

0:41:460:41:48

I know pig face isn't being pretty.

0:41:480:41:53

What you mean is you have no taste.

0:41:530:41:55

Oh, do you like pig face?

0:41:550:41:57

SPEECH DROWNED OUT BY MUSIC

0:41:570:42:00

You're not paying attention.

0:42:030:42:05

MUSIC: Chelsea Girls by Nico

0:42:050:42:09

# Here's room 506

0:42:150:42:18

# It's enough to make you sick

0:42:180:42:24

# Bridget's all wrapped up in foil

0:42:240:42:26

# You want to heave

0:42:260:42:28

# She can uncoil

0:42:300:42:32

# Here they come now

0:42:350:42:38

# See them run now

0:42:400:42:42

# Here they come now

0:42:440:42:46

# Chelsea girls

0:42:480:42:51

# Pippa, she's having fun

0:42:530:42:57

# She thinks she's some man's son

0:42:570:43:02

# Her perfect loves don't last

0:43:020:43:05

# Her future died in someone's past

0:43:050:43:12

# Here they come now

0:43:120:43:16

# See them run now

0:43:170:43:20

# Here they come now

0:43:220:43:24

# Chelsea girls... #

0:43:260:43:28

I'm singing about my friends that were staying here with me.

0:43:320:43:38

That's why I keep coming back here, when I'm in the country.

0:43:380:43:43

You said to me, when we first met, "I am the person that made this hotel famous, for Chelsea girls.

0:43:430:43:49

I'm one of the persons. I mean,

0:43:490:43:51

aside from the people

0:43:530:43:56

that are now...

0:43:560:43:58

in heaven,

0:43:580:44:01

or in hell,

0:44:010:44:04

or...

0:44:040:44:07

not staying here,

0:44:070:44:10

I am, I would say, virtually, the only person that really

0:44:100:44:16

has something to do with

0:44:160:44:19

the hotel in the sense that we've done the movie.

0:44:190:44:24

We've done...

0:44:240:44:26

I've done the record.

0:44:260:44:28

I'm still getting royalties from it.

0:44:290:44:33

So, I guess

0:44:330:44:35

I am the person - the Chelsea Girl, right?

0:44:350:44:39

# Dropout, she's in a fix

0:44:470:44:51

# Amphetamine has made her sick

0:44:510:44:55

# White powder in the air

0:44:550:44:59

# She's got no bones

0:44:590:45:02

# And can't be scared

0:45:020:45:07

# Here comes Johnny Bore

0:45:260:45:28

# He collapsed on the floor

0:45:280:45:33

# They shot him up with milk

0:45:330:45:36

# And when he died

0:45:360:45:38

# Sold him for silk

0:45:400:45:42

# Here they come now

0:45:450:45:48

# See them run now

0:45:490:45:52

# Here they come now

0:45:520:45:54

# Chelsea girls. #

0:45:560:46:02

'Well, there always seemed to be rivalling groups of alchemists and magicians, as I recall.

0:46:350:46:41

'At one point, there was a 15th century chemical manuscript that

0:46:410:46:46

'somehow was stolen or misplaced.'

0:46:460:46:49

There was a point where everyone was casting spells on everybody else and

0:46:490:46:53

throwing a tarot before they left their room...

0:46:530:46:56

It was hysterical. The magicians denouncing one another in the lobby.

0:46:560:46:59

That's right.

0:46:590:47:01

Because he really didn't give a damn.

0:47:030:47:06

He must have seen the menu a thousand times.

0:47:060:47:09

# Night and day

0:47:090:47:14

# You are the one

0:47:140:47:18

# Only you beneath the moon

0:47:200:47:25

# Or under the sun

0:47:250:47:27

# Whether near to me or far

0:47:300:47:35

# It's no matter, darling, where you are

0:47:350:47:40

# I think of you day and night

0:47:400:47:47

# Night and day

0:47:500:47:52

# Why is it so

0:47:530:47:56

# That this longing for you

0:48:000:48:03

# Follows wherever I go... #

0:48:030:48:09

And the next floor is very exciting.

0:48:100:48:12

That's where Arthur Clarke wrote the Year 2001.

0:48:120:48:15

He's one of our most prominent space writers.

0:48:150:48:18

Remember that marvellous movie that Stanley Kubrick did, called 2001.

0:48:180:48:23

It's based on Arthur Clarke's particular book.

0:48:230:48:25

We saw the model of Arthur Clarke outside, down the lobby.

0:48:250:48:29

Remember, the little figure floating in space.

0:48:290:48:33

MUSIC: Theme From 2001: A Space Odyssey

0:48:330:48:38

MUSIC: Theme From 2001: A Space Odyssey

0:48:470:48:52

SHE PANTS

0:49:540:49:58

'Don't worry. Don't worry. Don't worry.'

0:50:050:50:07

Yeah.

0:50:100:50:11

Doctor...I can't. Ooh!

0:50:110:50:15

-Does that hurt?

-Yeah, something hurts. Yeah.

0:50:170:50:19

SHE SCREAMS

0:50:200:50:23

All right, all right.

0:50:300:50:32

< SHE BREATHES HEAVILY

0:50:330:50:38

How are you? You're fabulous.

0:50:400:50:42

'Yeah.'

0:50:480:50:51

You recognise this?

0:50:510:50:53

When did you last see it?

0:50:530:50:55

A few weeks ago. What's that?

0:50:550:50:57

Your head coming out.

0:50:570:51:00

Did I feel you inside?

0:51:000:51:02

When I came out, did I feel my feet in you?

0:51:020:51:05

Yeah, you felt your feet in me, your skin against me. Your head.

0:51:050:51:09

You didn't know what it was.

0:51:090:51:11

You didn't say, "This is my mother."

0:51:110:51:13

But you felt...

0:51:130:51:15

me as you came out. You probably

0:51:150:51:19

wondered what was happening to you.

0:51:190:51:21

Oh! And were probably very scared, don't you think?

0:51:210:51:26

I don't know.

0:51:260:51:27

I think you were terrified, wondering what was happening to you, and felt like you couldn't breathe.

0:51:270:51:33

Oh no, you don't breathe until they cut the cord anyway.

0:51:330:51:37

You probably were afraid you were gonna die.

0:51:370:51:40

With all that pressure in your head.

0:51:400:51:42

And then you saw this big room, all full of light.

0:51:430:51:48

It probably hurt your eyes.

0:51:480:51:50

It was probably the worst thing that ever happened to you so far.

0:51:500:51:54

-It felt like a boy.

-Yes, we're there.

0:51:560:51:58

It's a little girl baby.

0:51:580:52:00

Look at the way he's treating you. Isn't that awful?

0:52:030:52:08

Isn't that just awful? How did you turn out to be so un-neurotic after

0:52:080:52:12

an introduction to the world like that.

0:52:120:52:15

Look at the way he's treating you.

0:52:150:52:18

Isn't that disgusting?

0:52:180:52:20

God, look at that. From being in the womb to being thrown up in the air like a fish.

0:52:200:52:25

Just flung and then tossed down to somebody's body.

0:52:250:52:28

Isn't that awful?

0:52:280:52:29

We bought this Sony Portapack and I happened to be pregnant at the time.

0:52:320:52:36

It turned into a whole idea of filming the pregnancy, the birth and Alexandra's life.

0:52:360:52:43

Plus, the life of the parents - a social document.

0:52:430:52:47

I thought it would be interesting to look back and, especially for her,

0:52:470:52:51

to look back and see herself being born.

0:52:510:52:54

See herself growing up, see her parents' arguments.

0:52:540:52:57

See where she lived.

0:52:570:52:59

And so on and so forth.

0:52:590:53:02

Besides, it's been fun doing.

0:53:020:53:06

I'm just thinking it must be quite strange for you to see yourself being born, Alex?

0:53:090:53:13

It's funny for me to look at photos of me when I was a little boy.

0:53:130:53:16

What's it like actually seeing yourself being born?

0:53:160:53:20

Um, it doesn't look like me.

0:53:200:53:23

I don't know. It seems boring now cos I don't remember, um...

0:53:240:53:30

what it was like when I first saw it.

0:53:300:53:35

Have you enjoyed doing all this videotaping with your dad?

0:53:350:53:39

Yes.

0:53:390:53:41

Which is your favourite piece of video tape that he's done?

0:53:410:53:45

Um...

0:53:450:53:46

The birth.

0:53:520:53:54

Because it's exciting.

0:53:540:53:56

It's fun to watch because...

0:53:590:54:02

you see how you and how you were born and everything.

0:54:020:54:08

Oh, you are so cute!

0:54:170:54:20

Such a cute little girl.

0:54:200:54:22

Look at that! So cute.

0:54:220:54:26

Look! Oo, doo, doo, doo!

0:54:260:54:28

'She became so used to being taped, she would start demanding to be taped.

0:54:280:54:33

'She would get an idea and say, "I'm going to do something, turn on the tape."

0:54:330:54:37

'She began asking questions.'

0:54:370:54:38

She came home from school and said to me, "These kids don't know anything."

0:54:380:54:43

"They think babies are born in cauliflowers. They think the storks bring them.

0:54:430:54:47

"I know everything cos I've seen it all on tape."

0:54:470:54:49

You know, you're going to ask me if I don't think I've dramatised.

0:54:580:55:01

That's what my mother accuses me of.

0:55:010:55:04

When she looked at the tape of the birth, she said, "Oh, stop dramatising, oh, stop dramatising."

0:55:040:55:09

I never felt I was dramatising any more than I would feel...

0:55:090:55:12

-What's dramatising?

-Making more out of something than it is.

0:55:120:55:17

-Oh.

-Heightening it, like, you know how Barbara Steele talks.

0:55:170:55:22

"Oh, I had a perfectly horrendous day.

0:55:220:55:25

"You can't imagine what happened to me."

0:55:250:55:27

That's called dramatising.

0:55:270:55:29

Oh!

0:55:290:55:32

I never felt that I was dramatising any more than I ordinarily do, being an actress, after all.

0:55:320:55:39

I've always been rather self-dramatic.

0:55:390:55:43

It's other people who say, "You are dramatising."

0:55:430:55:45

To me, I always seem to be telling a story exactly the way it happened or expressing.

0:55:450:55:50

I think it is not the time dramatising, it's that everyone else is depressed.

0:55:500:55:55

Repressed and constipated.

0:55:560:55:59

Everyone else gets no fun out of life.

0:56:010:56:04

So, I seem to be dramatising when in reality, I'm merely reacting to

0:56:040:56:08

an incredible world that I can't believe.

0:56:080:56:12

# The rug is in my hotel room is old but it's clean

0:56:460:56:50

# I make believe I'm living on a putting green

0:56:500:56:55

# My door has got a lock

0:56:550:56:57

# Only I have a key

0:56:570:56:59

# I keep it in my pocket

0:57:000:57:02

# Like a treasure

0:57:020:57:04

# Oh, the stories they tell

0:57:060:57:09

# Oh, the dream hotel

0:57:100:57:15

# Oh, the stories they tell

0:57:150:57:18

# Oh, the dream hotel

0:57:190:57:23

# The maid, she so fragile I'm afraid to ask for towels

0:57:310:57:34

# The lady at the switchboard She's not answering now

0:57:340:57:38

# The playwright down the hall has just turned 83

0:57:400:57:45

# Swears that at every moment is a pleasure

0:57:450:57:50

# Oh, the stories they tell

0:57:510:57:54

# Oh, the dream hotel

0:57:550:57:58

# Oh, the stories they tell

0:57:590:58:04

# Oh, the dream hotel

0:58:040:58:07

# Living in a dream

0:58:140:58:18

# The stories we tell

0:58:240:58:27

# The stories we tell

0:58:290:58:31

# The stories we tell

0:58:340:58:35

# The stories we tell. #

0:58:380:58:40

Subtitles by BBC Broadcast - 2005

0:59:090:59:11

E-mail us at [email protected]

0:59:110:59:14

First transmitted in 1981, this documentary programme looks at New York's Chelsea Hotel, a legendary haven for some of the 20th Century's greatest talent, from Mark Twain to Dylan Thomas. With appearances from Andy Warhol and William Burroughs, who have dinner in the room where Arthur C Clarke wrote 2001, and Quentin Crisp, who lived in the hotel for more than 35 years.


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