Vignettes

Celebrities/People of Note in Last of the Gladiators

By February 6, 2019 April 17th, 2019 No Comments

 

“Mom was a bit of a troublemaker herself. In the winter of 1976, Dad took her to see Frank Sinatra perform at the Westchester Premier Theater, which was owned by Gambino Family associate Greg DePalma. It was an all-hands-on-deck night for the Gambinos. Both Carlo Gambino and his heir apparent, Paul Castellano, were in attendance. After the show, everyone was invited back stage to take pictures with Sinatra. Dad did not want to be photographed and asked Mom to stay put too, but she went anyway. CLICK. The picture of Sinatra and the Gambino clan became one of the most famous and widely circulated photos of all time. What few people know is that my mother was in the original photo, last on the right. Jimmy appeared before a federal magistrate a week later and had Gayle “officially” removed from the negative, though not before I saw the original.”

“Earlier that year, after missing my ride, I was hitchhiking home from school in downtown Greenwich when two golf-attired guys driving a Rolls-Royce sedan gave me an eight-mile ride right to the corner of my street. They barely paid me any notice, but I noticed them. In the passenger seat was the snake charmer and rock star Alice Cooper. The guy driving was his drummer. Cooper had been a well-publicized lush for many years until he gave up the hooch and replaced it with a serious golf addiction. In fact, he stopped touring to play golf.

“Sure enough, when I stuck out my thumb on the southbound side of the thruway to get home after the cops let me go, the twentieth car stopped. “Hey, it’s the kid,” Cooper greeted me, and he and the drummer talked among themselves until they dropped me off on my corner with a “see ya, don’t wanna be ya.” They sped off, their clubs clanking in the cavernous trunk.”

“The famous chef and author, James Beard, lived on my block about ten doors west. He, too, was an early shopper and would make goo-goo eyes at me in front of the butcher while I tried in vain to remain expressionless. He was so over the top, though, I had to laugh, and we became passing acquaintances from then on. He addressed me as “Jimbo-Man.” I, of course, called him ‘Mr. Beard.’”

“Some years after he died, I was invited to his foundation, located in the same townhouse where he had lived, and couldn’t help but marvel at how his oversized presence was in such contrast to the mornings when he and I alone dueled with the Jefferson Market butcher”

“My favorite club, bar none, was the Mudd Club on White Street in Tribeca. I was dancing with some friends when a squirrelly, white- haired little dude with an entourage motioned me towards their couch. Finally, I went over, more than a little wary. There was Andy Warhol in the flesh. Warhol didn’t speak much and had the affect of a person floating on hallucinogens.

“Warhol had a box of expensive-looking pastels in his lap. He asked me to take my shirt off. He wanted to paint a picture on my chest. I let the numbnut go at it and he started to frame this large pastel across my chest. A crowd grew. When he was done, he invited me to sit. His crew made a big spot for me. “Let me use the bathroom first,” I begged my new bud and was out the side door in a shot. When I awoke the next morning, my sheets looked more like a Jackson Pollack than an Andy Warhol.”

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