Georg Diez und Christopher Roth
This is the gayest non-gay movie ever made. This is a homosexual-heterosexual conspiracy. This is sex as asthetics. This is color in the place of emotion. This is surface and sound. We can still feel it today. We live in a world that was defined by it. American Gigolo.
The year is 1980. Anything goes. Sex is for free. Sex is without fear. But not for very much longer. It is the year of patient Number One, it is a year before the world learns of Aids. But now is now. Who cares about tomorrow. The car. The body. Blondie. It all came together at that magic moment.
The strange thing is that the men who made this movie did not really match at all. Paul Schrader, the brooding, doubtful, megalomaniac director. Giorgio Moroder, the friendly, flinging, down-to-earth composer. And Ferdinando Scarfiotti, the genius of color, of décor, of inner sentiment as found in a building, a room, a setting. Scarfiotti was the asthetic force behind American Gigolo, Moroder pushed it forward with his very own, succinctly European beats. He brings a Disco sensibility to existential confusion. Schrader called them his axis-powers.
GD: Mister Moroder, what was your car in 1980?
GM: I drove a Mercedes SL.
CR: The one from American Gigolo?
GM: A Mercedes SL 650, to be precise. I always drove Mercedes, it is a good car. You can drive it open. And I only needed two seats.
GM: I did not need it.
GD: Which color?
GM: Black, like in American Gigolo.
GD: Do you remember what kind of suits you wore?
GM: I know they were too gay. Too European for the Americans. For them it is always a problem if somebody is dressed too elegant, too much color. That’s automatically gay.
CR: Gay as in glamour?
GM: No, no, my suits were blue, just a little more color here and there than you were used to see. I also wore a tie from time to time and always a jacket. If you did not wear a t-shirt, you were automatically glamorous.
GD: The clothes you wore on your album covers, did you wear them also on the street? They were pretty racy. These huge shirt collars?
GM: That was all back in Europe. By the way, there is this commercial for Coca-Cola Zero and the movie Avatar and in the very first scene they show a poster with a picture of me from the 1970s.
CR: All mustache and sunglasses. Did they contact you?
GM: No. It looks as if they worked a bit on it. And the background is new.
GD: Did you wear Armani like everybody did after American Gigolo?
GM: The film made Armani in the US, that’s right. This was the moment when it became a global brand. Before that he was just another Italian designer.
American Gigolo, thirty years on. Schrader is directing one dark movie after another. Moroder is making music for the Olympics (one after the other), Scarfiotti died of Aids very early on. The Calvinist from Rapid Springs, Michigan, going through the eternal cycle of sin and redemption without any hope of Hollywood hailing the king. The workoholic from Ortisei, Südtirol, just doing what he is doing and changing the way the world dances and does the things it does to music. The hedonist from Milan, Italy, creating a Los Angeles that never was.
CR: What is the color of American Gigolo?
PS: Well… (there is a long pause) I can’t really say. No, I never think in these terms. I couldn’t say of any of my movies.
CR: Is it true that Ferdinando Scarfiotti took a German Löwenbräu can as a pattern for most of the light blue walls, the shirts and things?
PS: Yeah, yeah, that’s true.
CR: That’s why I remember the film as Löwenbräu bluish.
PS: Yeah that is… But there are other sets. Like the Polo Lounge was all pink. Richard Gere walks into this big pink vagina. But he actually enters the Beverly Hills Hotel. And everybody knows what the Polo Lounge looks like but Nando had to turn it into his own Polo Lounge. (laughs)
CR: I will never forget Lauren Hutton’s yellow sweater in the record store.
PS: Yeah, that was Nando. He had a lot of talent and power. I really deferred to him. They call a lot of people ‘production designer’ but he was it in the true sense of the term. It was originally used for Dick Sylbert on Chinatown[i], as a person who would oversee all elements of the visual.
CR: Was Chinatown something you had to turn upside down, because it was this big famous California-style LA movie?
PS: We were trying to figure out how to make Los Angeles look new. Chinatown came out of a Noir tradition––you know, rainy streets at night––and we were looking for a more Roman or Tuscan feeling. The idea was to import people who saw it differently. Most important was Nando Scarfiotti. He had done several films with Bertolucci, Conformist[ii] and Last Tango. He and Bernardo had just had a falling-out over Novecento[iii]. It was a perfect timing. I went to Rome and convinced him to come. I had done two films before that, Blue Collar and Hardcore, neither one of which was really directed. I hadn’t really learned how to think visually. I was illustrating those movies. But under the influence of Nando I actually directed a film. I thought a film through visually.
GD: This is European sensibility in American Gigolo.
PS: We tried to see Los Angeles through their eyes, through Italian eyes. Of course between the wars there were a number of films that saw Los Angeles through German eyes, but there weren’t any Italian driving style films. For example, the opening scene was a house in Malibu, and we were planning to shoot there on the first day. I kept saying: “Nando, where is that Malibu house?” There were like 30 houses stacked up on the beach, but he went: “No, no, no.” One day he came into my office and said: “I found the house, let’s go.” So we went to Malibu and he said it had just been constructed, Ignore the inside, I will build a flat with all kinds of bricks and stained glass but the scene where the two are talking, that should be on the porch, out on the beach. They had just sunk these huge concrete pylons, with the cardboard moldings just taken off. Nando said: “If you shoot this scene in the afternoon, the sun is right between the two pylons and if you do it all in one shot ––or steady cam quite quickly–– you won’t have continuity problems because of the descending sun.” And I was looking at the location and realized it was an arcade in Milan. Nando found an arcade on the beach. He was home.
Paul Schrader is sitting in a chair in a room of the Chelsea Hotel in New York. Is he ever at ease? In 1970, Paul Schrader had to decide between staying a film critic or becoming a scriptwriter. His writing on film already included some serious stuff on Budd Boetticher, Film Noir and a wonderful praise on the films by Charles and Ray Eames. And Schrader was the only one who would slam Easy Rider. His fine book on Yasujiro Ozu, Carl Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson, The Transcendental Style in Film was just published and his mentor was the Grand Dame of film critic Pauline Keal, who didn’t really forgive him that he finally chose a Hollywood career. In just ten days Paul Schrader writes Taxi Driver. All chronicles of the time, like Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, would describe him as the nerdiest in a sea of nerds: “Short, with greasy black hair, a broad, fleshy nose, and geeky, Groucho Marx glasses, he carried all his childhood frailties with him into young adulthood. He suffered from nervous tics, ulcers, and asthma. A speech impediment made him mumble self-consciously, eyes cast down, staring at his feet. He was even claustrophobic.” But they would also describe him as the most brazen hustler.
CR: Does it have to do with your religious background that Gigolo develops from a car commercial to something more ‘transcendental style’?
PS: I’ve always felt a little uneasy about the ‘transcendental style’. I think it is more a car commercial. It’s a film about surfaces, about a man who lives on the surface, who can’t look into himself, who takes cocaine in order to get dressed. It is that kind of film where a wrinkle in the shirt requires you to do another take. A wrinkle in the shirt is the same thing as a fluff in the dialogue. That’s how surface driven it was. Then I had this perverse idea, just taking the ending of Pickpocket[iv] and slapping it on this very superficial film.
CR: I like the spiritual essence coming from nowhere.
PS: In retrospect I think it is more perverse than our authentic interests, than anything integral.
CR: It’s grace. Something from nothing transcends.
PS: I don’t know. It’s just the ending it shouldn’t have.
CR: You regret it?
PS: I probably would do it differently now.
PS: It wouldn’t be as commercial.
CR: In the beginning?
PS: At the end. It would be much darker.
In the script of The Yakuza[v] are some of the best lines ever written in Hollywood and among them is a saying which will stand for Paul Schrader’s entire oeuvre: “When an American cracks up, he opens up the window and shoots up a bunch of strangers. When a Japanese cracks up, he closes the window and kills himself. ” All of Paul Schrader’s films seem to be about this ying and yang, about homicide and suicide. And when the window is already open, in moments of grace something happens. While in Mishima[vi] the window is closed, Schrader adds that suicide has “a lot to do with the artistic impulse to transform the world.” BAM! And his brother Leonard, with whom he wrote The Yakuza, says: “This is what we grew up with. We had Dutch Calvinism, which an expert told me is a permanent form of mild depression, just nudging us toward suicide, and then we had to keep this secret from everybody, that my dad’s only relatives were blowing their brains out all the time.”
CR: What happened to you between Taxi Driver, which you wrote in 1972, and Gigolo?
PS: I wrote Taxi Driver as personal therapy. Until today I see screenwriting as a way to address any number of personal problems that are running through your life. At the time I wrote Gigolo I was in psychotherapy and I was also teaching a course at UCLA. One of the issues in psychotherapy was the inability to express my feelings. When you have a problem–– like loneliness in Taxi Driver–– you are looking for a metaphor. The metaphor for loneliness is the taxicab. Beautiful! And in my class at UCLA we talked about somebody’s script. And I said, What does this guy do? Is he a businessman, a salesman? Is he a teacher? Or is he a gigolo? Boom! Gigolo––I said the word. That’s it! A metaphor for a man who cannot express his feelings. Perfect metaphor! The wires touched. So it wasn’t meant as a commentary of the times, I would just work through something that was bothering me.
CR: Would you say the taxi driver and the gigolo come from the same point?
CR: Same problem?
PS: No, not problem. The taxi driver’s was loneliness; the gigolo’s is the inability to express his feelings, to express love. It’s the character I returned to again and again. Travis Bickle, Julian Kay, John Latour in Light Sleeper and Carter Page III in The Walker[vii]. At 20, 30, 40 and at the age of 50. It’s a very similar character. These characters are not so much people as souls, they drift around and things happen to them. They watch and are acted upon. As I get older my views about this character change.
CR: Is Taxi Driver the image of America that people didn’t want to see anymore, and American Gigolo the image that supersedes it?
PS: You can say that in retrospect. I think authors who try to speak to their time usually fail. The author who most effectively speaks to his time is actually speaking to himself. He just happens to live in that exact moment. Tennessee Williams wasn’t trying to say something about the 1950s. He was in it, he defined it. Then the time went away and his talent went away. But I don’t think for a second to define my times, I don’t think this is how it works.
Giorgio Moroder on the other hand always only did what he did. He was Mister Disco. He was never Mister Zeitgeist. He won three Oscars, Best Original Score for Midnight Express in 1978, Best Song for Flashdance… What a Feeling in 1983 and for Take My Breath Away from Top Gun in 1986. Three Grammys. He made Donna Summer with I Feel Love; he made Munich with the Musicland Studios and Munich Machine; he became an icon of his time with his mighty mustache and his ferocious sunglasses. His face was like a logo. Today he is wearing an aubergine down jacket as if we were meeting après ski in Gstaad. But this is the coldest day in years in Los Angeles and it is raining. We are at the Palihouse Holloway in West Hollywood, one of these new boutique hotels made for people who need to communicate, to create, to be a part of the zeitgeist. Giorgio Moroder looks out of place among the skinny boys and girls. He is maybe the most underrated and overrated music producer of his time. But he is back. Quentin Tarantino just used Putting out the Fire––Moroder’s collaboration with David Bowie on Cat People––for Inglourious Basterds. And Sofia Coppola wants to work with him for her new movie. This is 1000 on the hipster scale.
CR: Did you have a certain sound in mind?
GM: No. I think Schrader wanted something like Midnight Express[viii].
CR: But there is this American Gigolo sound.
GM: The only thing I really like is the song.
CR: Call Me.
GM: Blondie. The score is very typical. Synthesizer and all these things you are tired of hearing today.
GM: The problem was that after the Oscar for Midnight Express a lot of movies had this synth sound. Synthesizers were cheaper than a whole orchestra. Maybe it was my mistake to keep that sound for too long.
GD: This cool, technical sound.
GM: And very few different sounds. In the end it was always a similar sound.
CR: Did you use samples?
GM: No, this was purely electronic music. The first samples were used in 1984 or 1985.
CR: So the synth modulated the sounds that were already there?
CR: You worked mainly with Rolands?
GM: Mainly the Roland JP8-series[ix].
CR: Was it difficult to work with only one sound?
GM: There were thousands of sounds. But you love only one sound and that you work with.
GD: How did you come up with the Munich sound? Disco?
GM: It all started with the big Moog[x]. On Midnight Express I had somebody who created this sound for me. It was rather exaggerated, with noises and effects. On American Gigolo I already had the Roland with a lot more sounds. It was much more pleasant, with violins and piano.
CR: But the main difference between you and other electronic people, like Kraftwerk, was that you used the Disco beat.
GM: The first song that used synth for a dance song was in 1977, I Feel Love[xi] by Donna Summer.
CR: Did you know Kraftwerk?
GM: Of course.
GD: But there was no exchange, no contact?
GD: And other bands?
GM: These three guys. What was their name again?
GM: No. Tangerine Dream.
CR: But they were hippies!
GM: Well… But they were also very modern. They had the hottest rhythm of all. Kraftwerk only had tschak boom tschak.
CR: There is even a song called Boing Boom Tschak.
GM: Jean-Michel Jarre also had a very nice rhythm. Not really pushing forward though. Tangerine Dream[xii] did have a certain drive.
GD: How did you find your sound?
GM: I had come up with Disco a lot earlier. Donna Summer, Love to Love You Baby. There was this beat, but there was no synth. I had used synthesizers in 1972 for my hit Son of My Father. But the people did not really seem to like synths, too many people used it to create weird sounds.
CR: Spheric. Hippie Style. The Moroder Sound was pushing forward, aggressive, driven.
GM: I wanted to use synth for songs that were set in the future.
GD: The cold, mechanical beat of the future.
GM: American Gigolo was not that cold. I used the synthesizer more like an instrument.
GD: And how did you decide to work with Blondie?
GM: Blondie was big, she was number one. You look for the best singer. And she had this great image, absolutely hip, absolutely cool.
CR: You sat down with Schrader and Scarfiotti and talked about what is cool?
GM: This was not very philosophical. I sent her a demo tape, she liked it and made the lyrics. We recorded the song. And we did not time the song to the movie, we had the tempo that we wanted.
GD: The opening scene existed already?
GM: Yes. Some directors even use their own music when they cut the movie. On tip tracks. But Schrader did not. And he did not change anything.
GD: The black SL, the road, the light, Richard Gere with sunglasses. Like a car commercial.
GM: California, driving, the sun, rock music, and Debbie found some really good lyrics.
CR: Blondie on the other hand wasn’t Disco, she was more New Wave.
GM: After Donna Summer’s I Feel Love she had her first real Disco hit, Heart of Glass. De de deee de de de deeeee. Not dudddelduddddelduddddel.
CR: What is what?
GM: The first one is Donna Summer: De de deee de de de deeeee. The second is New Wave Blondie: dudddelduddddelduddddel. Heart of Glass was her second biggest hit, absolutely Disco.
So, yes, these were strange years. Ferdinando Scarfiotti had just made with Bernardo Bertolucci the only communist Hollywood production ever: 1900. These were pre-Aids year, pre-Yoga, pre-Reagan. And here we have Julian Kay, the esotherical prostitute caught up in a complot of politicians and pimps, saved in the end by an almost religious kind of grace. The message was clear. Something was about to change, something was about to happen.
CR: Did you feel the change? That was about to happen? Partially you even caused it.
PS: To an extent. I remember running into Richard Gere a period later and he said that I had told him back then that we were in for kind of a Neo-Edwardianism in men’s fashion. After the 1960s and 1970s we were in for kind of a cool Classicism to come back and this is how I wanted to dress this character. Richard said he didn’t believe me, but that I was absolutely right. I know the kind of lineage of Gigolo. Not only was it very ‘Warholian’––ironically we are in the Chelsea Hotel–– Andy Warhol hat a lot to do with it. Interview magazine championed it. Andy loved it and once Andy started talking about it, it became kind of a Studio 54 film, that whole crowd. It was the magazine that set the trend in motion.
CR: Gigolo was a very gay film.
PS: Nando was gay, and the whole environment was. He was a Count, a very charismatic man who tended to draw people to him. He had a house on Melrose Drive and on weekends people would come there. It was predominantly gay. It was my world at the time. This was just before AIDS. It was also at Nando’s house that he was trying to tell me about this thing they were calling ‘gay cancer’. I just said: “What are you, fuckin’ crazy? There is no such thing as gay cancer.” That was the first time I heard of it. It was a matter of two or three years and everybody knew and I lost many friends. Nando Scarfiotti among others. Half of the people I knew. That put an end to that kind of cultural moment.
CR: What fascinated you about this moment?
PS: Well, I come from a religious background, I was a very conservative kid, who got to be liberated by the 1960s coming out here, got involved in radical politics. But I still was rather shy when it came to men and women. I wasn’t gay but I was shy. It occurred to me that women kind of wanted the same thing that gay men wanted, which was just somebody to talk to, somebody to hold, somebody nice and somebody to be around. I learned the conflicts about dealing with women by dealing with gay men, because I knew in the end nothing would happen. I mean you were dancing all night long, you stripped to the waist and you swayed and in the bathroom, you did cocaine but in the end it was just a walk on the wild side. Nothing would happen. But I was driven into it because it drove my inhibitions. I wanted to break into the world of human contact. With women. I was just too inhibited by my upbringing. This was so outside of my upbringing. I’d come in through the front door and somebody would say: You know, there is a back door. And I’d say: Yeah, this is cool.
CR: Richard Gere has this special walk in American Gigolo.
PS: That was the whole idea. I had a tough year before Gigolo. I had worked for Warren Beatty. That film never happened, like most projects with Warren. And then there was this Warren sensibility: “I just walked into this room. This room is now a better place than it was ten seconds ago because I entered it.” That kind of grandiose confidence.
CR: You developed a this-room-is-now-a-better-place-walk?
PS: You have to walk on the balls of your feet keeping the weight off your heels, that kind of John Wayne thing.
CR: This is the Richard Gere walk. He still does it.
PS: Does he?
Paul Schrader pretends to not have seen any Richard Gere movie since Gigolo.
I told Richard, you know all great stars have a pansexual appeal. Parker Tyler[xiii] pointed out that great stars have pansexual appeal. The women know how to play the women, the men know how to play the men. And I said to Richard, Look at the great stars. They are not ignorant of their homosexual appeal. John Wayne was not ignorant of that kind of walk he is doing, that prancy-Nancy walk he does. Like he was holding something up his ass. He is no fool. He knows what he is doing. Look at Gary Grant, look at these guys. Even the straight ones.
Things changed for Schrader in the 1980s. After his three masterpieces, American Gigolo, Cat People[xiv] and Mishima, Paul Schrader was forced out of the studio system and became against his will an “independent”. He continues to that day to make these small, dark and often dangerous pictures. With one exception: In 2003 he found himself again on the set of a 40 million dollar movie, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist[xv]. A subversive film emphasizing spiritual agony over horror ecstasy. John Wayne with moral angst quoting The Searchers in the final shot. “The price of vengeance is that you have no home.” All of Paul Schrader’s films are infused with metaphor and doubt, with many other films hidden under the surface.
CR: Where does Julian Kay’s name come from?
PS: I think I should have gotten a better name. The Julian is from The Red and the Black and (with a deep voice) Kay is from Kafka’s Joseph K. (laughs)
CR: He is doing drugs.
PS: These were the harmless years. I didn’t know anybody in 1979 who had a drug problem. Scorsese was the first person and that started on New York, New York. Two years later almost everybody had problems.
CR: In Gigolo it is still very casual.
PS: I thought it is kind of cool to take a line to get dressed. (laughs)
CR: It is cool because it is not commented.
PS: That’s how it was at the time. It wouldn’t be commented. I don’t think anybody at the studio said anything. (laughs)
CR: Is this what defined the time?
PS: Sure. Cocaine was huge. This was all a drug built system. At the time everybody had this illusion that it wasn’t like heroin addiction. But it was, psychologically; it was not chemically addictive. You would go to major parties, Sue Mengers[xvi] kind of parties––the most important agent at that time––and there would be cocaine on the table. So it was not a stigmatized environment, it was a restaurant up here on Sunset Strip. All of the tables had mirror tops and curtains you could close. So it was the right time to do good cocaine.
CR: And you left a line as tip for the waitress?
PS: No, I didn’t do that. I was never that generous. (laughs) I remember exactly the moment it all ended. In 1982 I was in a meeting at Universal about the ad campaign of Cat People and somebody walked into the room and said: “Did you just hear?” “Hear what?” “John OD-ed, he died in the Chateau.” I immediately knew it was over.[xvii] Anybody who tells me the first two years are bad is lying. The first two years are great, then maybe the next year or two, but by the fourth and fifth year you start to have problems. I was starting to have problems and then I heard that John died and I said: “Ja, it’s over. It-is-over!”
[i] Chinatown (1974) directed by Roman Polanski, produced by Robert Evans, written by Robert Towne, who later won an Oscar for the film. Starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston. The story, set in 1937, was inspired by historical disputes over land and water rights that had raged in southern California during the 1910s and 1920s, in which William Mulholland acted on behalf of Los Angeles interests to secure water rights in the Owens Valley. A sequel, The Two Jakes, was released in 1990, starring Jack Nicholson, who also directed, with a screenplay by Robert Towne.
[ii] Il Conformista (1970) is one of the five best films ever made. Written and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, based on the novel by Alberto Moravia, from 1951. Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is haunted by the memory of a sexually traumatic childhood experience. As an adult with repressed homosexual desires, Marcello conforms to the expectations of Italian society, so he marries the very bourgeois Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli), and joins the Fascists. On his honeymoon he has the order to assassinate his mentor, Professor Quadri. Marcello is attracted to Quadri’s bisexual wife Anna (Dominique Sanda), who is attracted to Giulia. The cinematographer was Vittorio Storaro, who later worked with Paul Schrader on Dominion, Prequel to the Exorcist.
[iii] 1900 another Bertolucci masterpiece from 1976, starring Robert De Niro, Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Sanda, Donald Sutherland, Alida Valli and Burt Lancaster. Set in the Emilia, the film chronicles the lives of two men during the political turmoil in Italy in the first half of the 20th century.
[iv] Pickpocket is one of the masterpieces by Robert Bresson, released in 1959.
[v] The Yakuza was written by Leonard and Paul Schrader and re-written by Robert Townie, directed by Sydney Pollack in 1974. The Story: Harry Kilmer (Robert Mitchum) returns to Japan to rescue his friend’s kidnapped daughter-–and ends up on the wrong side of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. In an auction the Schraders got 325,000 dollars for the script.
[vi] Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985). Paul Schader in Schrader about Schrader: “It’s the film I stand by. As a writer it’s Taxi Driver, but as a director it’s Mishima. There is an element of perverse joy in it––just the fact that no one had done anything like that before and no one thought I could do it. Preminger said directors always love their bastard children most and there’s an element of truth to the fact that it’s just so implausible I actually got it done.”
[vii] The Walker (2007) mirrors Gigolo. Even the DVD cover looks like a horizontal flip of Gigolo’s poster. The Walker is also like the backside of West Wing. Carter Page III (Woody Harrelson), in his 50s, is a walker in Washington DC, a Jerry Zipkin-type character (Nancy Reagan’s walker). Schrader on Zipkin: “A larger-than-life guy, homosexual, very funny, with a nasty sense of humor. He would be photographed with Betsy Bloomingdale and Jackie Onassis.” One of the women Carter Page III escorts, Lynn Lockner (Kristin Scott Thomas, reminiscent of Lauren Hutton in Gigolo), is the wife of a US senator (Willem Dafoe) and is having an affair with a lobbyist (Ned Beatty). When the lobbyist is murdered Carter is the prime suspect. His superficiality is now put to the test by the circumstances. Brian Ferry sings: Which way to turn? In another Schrader coup of grace, Carter protects Lynn Lockner until the end and we don’t really understand why. The ending is formalistically Bressonian, but without the emotion. It is colder, much darker, but still transcendent. There are more references to Bresson: The top shot of the hands in the car, the cat called Lancelot… There is a dressing montage like in Gigolo, but it lacks the certitude. It is a very entertaining film with great dialogue, but my problem is the character of Carter’s lover, Emek Yoglu, played by Moritz Bleibtreu. He is the good homosexual (in contrast to the gay villains in Gigolo). Emek Yoglu is an artist producing huge Guantanamo prints, balancing in a weird way Carter’s superficiality. The kiss with Harrelson and Bleibtreu is great though.
[viii] Midnight Express. William Hayes (Brad Davies) is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison. He is sentenced to more than 30 years. Directed by Alan Parker in 1978, it won two Oscars. Giorgio Moroder for the best original score and Oliver Stone for the best screenplay.
[ix] The Jupiter-8 was Roland’s flagship, an analog or eight-voice polyphonic synthesizer that still had no MIDI control.
[x] Moog (to rhyme with “vogue” in correct German, though often anglicised to be pronounced “moo-g”). Designed by Dr. Robert Moog and Moog Music one of the first analog and digital music synthesizers. The first rock recordings to feature the Moog were Strange Days by The Doors, released in September 1967, followed by Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. by The Monkees and Cosmic Sounds by The Zodiac, both released in November 1967. At this early stage the Moog was still widely perceived as an electronic keyboard, for example in its use by Simon and Garfunkel on their 1968 LP Bookends and by The Beatles on Abbey Road.
[xi] I Feel Love is from Donna Summer’s concept album I Remember Yesterday and constituted the ‘future’ segment whereas the title track Love’s Unkind represents the 1940s. I Feel Love was number one in the UK, number six on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and is ranked #411 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It is a gay anthem.
[xii] Germany was foremost in electronic music and synths. There was CAN, NEU!, La Düsseldorf, Munich Machine and Kraftwerk and on the other side Amon Düll, Popol Vuh, Guru Guru, Birth Control, Kraan, Faust and Tangerine Dream, all of it Krautrock influenced by Karlheinz Stockhausen. In the 1970s one would call West Germany California without Sun.
[xiii] Parker Tyler was an American author, poet and one of the few film critics to write on experimental and underground film. His Screening the Sexes (1972) is the first book-length study of homosexuality in film. Other books include The Hollywood Hallucination (1944), Magic and Myth of the Movies (1947), Classics of Foreign Film (1962), Sex Psyche Etcetera in the Film (1969), and The Shadow of an Airplane Climbs the Empire State Building (1973).
[xiv] Cat People (1982). After the interview on the way to the Chelsea’s elevator, Mr. Schrader tells us that even though he didn’t write the script, Cat People would be his most personal film. Paul Schrader in Schrader about Schrader: “As we developed the character (of John Heard as the zookeeper) he evolved more and more along the lines of myself, and then during the shooting of the film I became involved with Nastassja Kinski and became obsessed with her.”
[xv] Even though Paul Schrader shot quite precisely what was written in the script, in a unique act the production company Morgan Creek fired him after seeing the finished film and reshot the entire thing with the same lead actor Stellan Skarsgård, and the same cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and new director Renny Harlin. What a horror.
[xvi] In the late 1960s, Mengers was at Creative Management Associates (CMA), with clients Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Robert Redford. In 1974, the agency became International Creative Management (ICM). Mengers represented Candice Bergen, Peter Bogdanovich, Michael Caine, Cher, Joan Collins, Brian De Palma, Faye Dunaway, Bob Fosse, Gene Hackman, Sidney Lumet, Ali McGraw, Steve McQueen, Mike Nichols, Nick Nolte, Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd, Barbara Streisand and Gore Vidal.
[xvii] On March 5, 1982, John Belushi was found dead at Bungalow Number Three of the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. The cause of death was a speedball, a combined injection of cocaine and heroin. On the night of his death, Robert De Niro, Robin Williams and Cathy Smith visited him. Smith met Belushi through Ron Wood and Keith Richards and was contacted by Belushi to purchase the drugs. Smith injected Belushi with eleven speedballs. According to Bob Woodward’s Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi, Robin Williams was on the scene, and was “creeped out” by Smith, whom he thought to be a “lowlife.” Between 1986 and 1988 Smith served 15 months for manslaughter and several drug charges.