On May 10, 1964, my first girlfriend, Marilyn Godfrey, was issued a green card by the French government. She was
seventeen years of age and living with her sister, a famous French Radical, who was once married to Les McCann’s drummer, Ron Jefferson, and later would co-author the biography of Fela.
Marilyn introduced me to Les who married Charlotte, a French woman who adopted the love of my life. She was a blond cabaret singer who had a Marilyn spend the summers in her home so she could have a reprieve from her mother who was a strict Baptist who forced me to go to church and several Billy Graham Crusades. If our Love Story were to be made into a movie, than I would be the Beat Elvis who is forbidden to see my Beat girlfriend after I refused to go down on to the playing field of the LA Coliseum, and be saved.
When we broke up in April of 64, Marilyn told me her mother had forbidden me to see her again, and if I tried, I would be arrested. If I had told my mother, Rosemary, about this threat, Marie would have been dead, and Mighty Mo, a Catholic, would be rocken in prison, she doing the Jailhouse Rock to a chorus line she choreographed.
Marie and Rosemary were Madonnas in their own right. Both mothers were sinners who transferred their sins on to their beautiful children who were hopelessly in love. All we wanted was to sip tea by the fireplace in our Coffeehouse, as I sketched my Parisian Bohemian. We talked about living in France. We were very hot for one another, but, would not go all the way, because, Marie, Rosemary, and Billy Graham forbid this. While Elvis was encouraged to be sexual and free – with many women – the Beat Elvis was oppressed, hounded, then hunted down.
On January 15, 1964, I quit my job at May Company, and hitchhiked to New York where I lived in the Village. My plan was to get a job on a freighter and go find Marilyn. But, not in the Big Apple a month, my mother tells M has come home and is looking for me. I am not given a phone number.
Above is a photo of Marilyn on board a freighter bound for France. Our schoolmate, Jeff Pasternak, is taking M to see Paris. His father is the famous movie director, Joseph Pasternak. I suspect Joe saw the movie ‘Beat Girl’ that was made in 1960, starring, Gillian Hills. Did he also see
this movie when it came to America as ‘Wild For Kicks’ and thus was looking to make tame sexual exploitation movies that would get past the censors – and Billy Graham?
I conclude ‘Beat Girl’ is the first British Invasion. I suspect the Beatles saw this movie – several times – and thus their name, they all having the hots for Britian’s Brigget Bardot.
Gillian was in the movie ‘Blow Up’. Above is a photo of Marilyn taken by the famous fashion photographer, Steven Silverstein. M was friends of the Silverstein family and made the dress she is wearing. M wanted to be a fashion designer, and studied in Paris. M made the dress my ex is wore at our wedding. Debbie Boone owned the same dress.
Mary Ann Thoraldsen, was married to the Beat Author, Thomas Pynchon, and was a good friend of Mimmi Farina who she did a life-sized portrait of. Mimi is the sister of Joan Baez, who had a close bond with Bob Dylan, who was almost the Beat Elvis. Bob and other Beats were accosted by the New York Police in Washington Square, because they were competing with Billy’s desire to save our youth – in the name of Jesus!
Above is a photo of M modeling at thirteen. She would model at twenty-four. There she is in my brother’s backyard with my famous sister, Christine Rosamond.
The beat goes on! My friend Amy Oles Sargent, is a new age Beat, as is Belle. Amy is kin to the Petty family that Joe Pasternak exploited in his movie ‘Spinout’. Elvis is a NASCAR driver who falls in love with a Tax Revenuer who were the bane of Bootleggers that hopped up their cars in order to outrun the police. Billy and his son do not shake their Bibles at these Redneck Bubbas, because they sit in them-there Southern Baptist pews pretending they got Jesus in their heart so no one can stop these healthy and hot Southern Belles from steaming up those windows parked out at Lover’s Lane.
Meanwhile, a Beat with a dulcimer is running for his life, a NYPC about to knock his brains out with a club. I would like to say we Beat Boys and Girls have come a long way. But, nothing has changed.
While talking to Belle I noticed she had a mole on her neck. This sent me more into a trance because M had a mole on her neck. I suddenly realize this is the end of my biography ‘Capturing Beauty’ that was about our Muses. I asked M where was the mole on her neck. She told me she had it removed eighteen years ago because it was cancerous. I could not tell if she was pleased because I recalled it, or, upset because I finally noticed it is gone.
If the truth must be known, I ran away from Belle. I was going to ask her to join me for dinner, but, I had fallen in love. I did not trust what would come out of my mouth that would overwhelm her, like I overwhelmed Rena, supposedly! But, I suspect she became jealous when she saw M’s daughter, Neisha, reading her poem on youtube.
I suspect the closely guarded secret about women, is, they have incredible memories. Rena has memorized thousands of poems, but, has never recited in public. Neither has Belle, she professing she is so very shy. This is when I fell in love with her. What a darling scene. I ran away before I spoiled it’s perfection, for she is the last one. Not only Belle look like Marilyn, but she is there, in her daughter. These are the Beat Belles who have captured my heart.
On Sunday, April 9, 1961, close to 3,000 “Beatniks,” including a 19-year-old Bob Dylan, came to the park to play their music in opposition of this ban. The protest was arranged by Izzy Young, head of the Folklore Center on MacDougal Street. A group of protestors who sat in the fountain singing “We Shall Not be Moved” was attacked by police with billy clubs. Another group sang the Star Spangled Banner, thinking police would not attack such a display of patriotism- they were wrong. Even the mounted police unit was present. All in all, many were arrested and many more were pushed, shoved, and ordered out. Eventually the ban was lifted after more protests ensued and a 1,500 person petition was signed.
Dan Drasin’s 1961 film Sunday captured the April 9th Conflict. Very little documentation remains from that significant day, other than a 17-minute film taken of the riot by Dan Drasin titled “Sunday” (which can be viewed online) and photos taken by Izzy Young. The legacy of free-spirit and artistic creation in Washington Square Park, however, remains ever-present.
Beat Girl is a 1960 British film about late-fifties youth-rebellion. The title character is played by starlet Gillian Hills, who later went on to have numerous small roles in 1960s and 1970s films, such as Blowup and A Clockwork Orange, and became a successful “ye-ye” singer in France.
The music was performed by The John Barry Seven & Orchestra. It was the first British soundtrack album to be released on an LP. The film also features Christopher Lee as a strip-joint operator, Oliver Reed, and Nigel Green. It features the film debuts of Adam Faith and Peter McEnery.
The film was released in America under the title Wild for Kicks
Born in Cairo, Egypt, Hills was the daughter of teacher, traveller, author, and adventurer Denis Hills. Her mother was Dunia Leśmian, daughter of Polish poet Bolesław Leśmian. She spent her early years in France, where she was discovered by Roger Vadim, who saw her as the new Brigitte Bardot and cast her in a version of Les liaisons dangereuses.
As a teenager, Hills starred in the British film Beat Girl in 1960, the soundtrack for which was among John Barry’s earliest. Her co-star was a young Adam Faith in his first film role. The British Board of Film Censors ordered that cuts be made before they would give an X certificate.
In 1960, Hills signed with the French Barclay Records label and released her first EP entitled “Allo Brigitte..ne coupez pas!”.
In 1961, she appeared at the prestigious Olympia Theatre in Paris on a bill with Johnny Hallyday. She remained with Barclay until 1964, having released both cover and original recordings. In 1965, she signed to the AZ record label run by the radio station Europe 1 and issued an EP that included a cover of the Zombies “Leave Me Be” and her self-penned “Rien N’Est Changé”.
At the close of her recording career, Hills returned to England and film, appearing in Michelangelo Antonioni’s first English language film, Blowup (1966), starring David Hemmings, with whom her character and that of Jane Birkin shared an energetic romp in which all their clothes were gradually removed. This was followed by the film version of the John Osborne play Inadmissible Evidence and the mystery romance Three. Hills also starred, as Alison Bradley, in the 1969 adaptation of Alan Garner’s novel The Owl Service. Other film appearances followed, most notably a cameo in A Clockwork Orange (1971) in which Hills played one of two girls picked up in a record shop by Malcolm McDowell’s character, Alex.
Racecar driver Steve Grayson’s manager and friend, Kenny Donford (Bixby), has mismanaged his winnings and Steve finds himself in deep trouble with the Internal Revenue Service for back taxes. This proves to be a problem for him in his efforts to continue to race competitively and support those who require his generosity.
Susan Jacks (Sinatra) is an IRS agent assigned to keep tabs on Steve and apply his future prize money toward his $150,000 debt. But she ends up taking a romantic interest in him.
Scenes were shot at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The film features guest appearances by several of the top stock-car—better known now as NASCAR—drivers of the day including Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Tiny Lund and more.
This would be the final “formula” musical film of Presley’s career. His later films would be less musical and more adult in tone.
Although the film was completed in the early summer of 1967, it was not released in theaters until the spring of 1968. It was a box-office hit, placing at #40 on the Variety weekly national box office list.