Monday, October 1, 2012

We like our horses slow and our women fast

Another interesting newspaper article that I got off ebay.  Not sure what magazine this one comes from (Confidential maybe?).  But it is a good one to read if you have ever wondered what was going on at those parties the Beatles threw in L.A. while on tour.  It was written by an unknown actress/model named Jane Landon and her "strange and boring" time with her friend (also named Jane) at the Beatles party Bel Air in 1964.   The fact that she rode around L.A. for a bit with George driving should have been enough excitement for her lifetime, but nope.    I wonder what the full story behind John messing up the film in that camera was.   I suspect that we don't hear the whole thing here.   Shame that the film was ruined regardless, because it would have been neat to have seen some photos from the party.   The picture posted here and photos that were published with the original article.

We like our horses slow and our women fast
By Jane Landon

Ringo was dancing with three girls at once.  A minute before, he’d been clowning, but now he was quite serious.  Each partner was spectacularly attired in a high-fashioned cocktail dress.  Ringo, by contrast, was wearing blue Levis and a black shirt with silver buttons.  Altogether, the scene had a kookie, dreamlike quality like the Mad Hatter’s tea party in “Alice in Wonderland” Approximately thirty-six other unescorted girls provided a backdrop.  Some were sitting against the wall; some were standing in uncertain little clusters, and a few of the luckier ones were flanking Beatle George and Beatle John, so close to them that they could actually exchange words with the sensations from Liverpool.  Beatle Paul was out of sight.  I don’t know where.

When Jane and I had been invited to a cocktail party, we’d thought it was a little peculiar that the party was set for 9:30pm.  Cocktails?  At 9:30?

But we’d never expected anything as peculiar as this.

The Beatles presumably were the hosts at this strange Bel Air gathering which resembled a cross between a fashion show and a slave auction.

In order to explain how we got there, how this odd gathering assembled, I’d better first explain who we are.  Jane and I are two among the many girls who do a little acting, a little modeling, and who know a great many people at the studios.  One afternoon an agency representative called us and invited us to a party.  “The Beatles are having a party,” our acquaintance said.  “If you can go, a limousine will pick you up at 9:30.”

“I can bring a date, of course, can’t I?”  I wanted to know.

“No,” the caller said.  “You’re to come without an escort.”

So that’s how it was.  A few minutes before 9:30, a highly polished limousine stopped at the door.  The big car was crowded, because six other girls and a driver shared it.

Not one of the girls seemed to know exactly where we were going and only one seemed to know why.  “I’m only going,” she said, “to get the Beatles’ autographs.”

“I hear,” one of the girls said, “that there will be over two hundred guests.”

“Oh, no,” another contradicted.  “We’ll be the only girl there – although I can’t understand why they have invited two girls for each Beatle.  There are eight of us, aren’t there?”

The big car swept up to the gates of Bel Air and was stopped there by a road block.

Five police cars and a group of uniformed officers barred the way, holding back a tidal wave of screaming girls.

When the limousine halted, the officer peered in, and checked our names against a list that he held. 

Meanwhile, the girls who swarmed around the gates charged the car like Indian trying to take a stockade.

The officer waved us on, “Have a good time, girl.” He said.

Then, finally, we reached the house where the Beatles were having a party.  Set well back within spacious grounds, it was guarded by locked and chained gates.  Five policemen stood at the gates.
The limousine finally stopped. “Right this way, please,” someone said and we went in – right into the kitchen!

Bottles, jiggers and mixing equipment filled the kitchen which had been converted into a well-stocked bar.  A bundle of dirty clothes lay in one corner.  Caterers were bustling about while three or four women were serving cocktails.

We were ushered into a small room and were told to wait there for our drinks, then, with our glasses in hand, we  were invited into the living room.

There, at long last, we were face to face with the Beatles – face to face with the Beatles and approximately thirty other girls.  Ringo, in his black shirt and blue jeans, was standing at the head of the room, in front of the fireplace, like a Beatle surveying his ladybugs.  John wore sunglasses (which he kept on the entire time we were there), beige Levis and a black T-shirt.  Paul had on tan Levis and a red T-shirt.  George chose blue dungarees, a blue sweater-shirt and sandals.

Altogether, our hosts were an informal looking crew.

Chairs were scarce – not nearly enough to go around – but I finally found one, and, presently, Ringo sat down beside me.  He smiled pleasantly.

“Would you hand me those cigarettes on the table?” he asked.  “They are probably mine anyway.”
I passed the cigarettes and tried to think of something clever to say.  All I could think of was, “do you like it here?”

“Where?  You mean here?  In Los Angeles? Well, we haven’t had a chance to see anything yet.  We can’t go anywhere really.”

Jane joined us just then.

“What would you like to see if you had a chance?” she wanted to know.

“Disneyland and maybe some of the club on the Strip.” Ringo told her.

Ringo was pleasant, but I continued to feel uncomfortable at a party where four young men were expected to entertain three dozen girls, so I asked him, Do you have parties like this often?”

“No,” Ringo answered.  “This is the first one we’ve ever had like this.  Usually we have a few of our friends in, but we don’t really know anyone here, and we don’t have a chance to meet girls.”
Other girls seemed to feel that the party was peculiar, too, because one complained, “I feel like I’m in a line-up.”

“Yes, it is rather like a line-up,” Paul agreed.  “If I were a girl, I’d hate it, but we like it.  A fast girl would like it – and we like our horses slow and our women fast.”

It was shortly after this that Paul disappeared from the party scene.  Where and with whom – no one seemed to know.

Meanwhile, Jane and I were getting better acquainted with Ringo.  “Have you had any trouble,” she asked, “with fans trying to break into the house?”

“Yes,” he told her.  “Yesterday we caught some girls…”

But he didn’t get to finish the sentence, because a girl interrupted to ask for a cigarette. 

“Ringo,” I begged him, “do you think you could give me our autograph later for my cousin?”
The Beatle balked.

“American girls,” he announced, “are the only girls in the world who ask for autographs at a party!”

I had definitely been put in my place!  Ringo softened a little, though, and added, “I’ll do it for you later.”

Our conversation ended then, because that’s when the three girls came up, grabbed him and insisted that he dance.  He clowned around for a few minutes and then  began, quite seriously to dance with all three at once.

George replaced Ringo in the vacant seat, so Jane and I asked him for his autograph.  “I’ll tell you what,” he compromised, “you look for a man named Malcolm and ask him to give you a picture of us that we have already signed.” 

Jane had brought a small camera to the party, but, because of the difficulty over autographs, she’d been afraid to use it.  “I’ll ask one of the Beatles to pose,” I told her, “and if he agrees, I’ll bring him to you.”

Rather surprisingly, when I ran into Ringo and asked if we could take his picture, he was perfectly agreeable. He posed with Jane while I snapped the shutter.  Then I asked John to pose, and he said, “Fine.”

However, after Jane had taken a picture of John and me, he seemed doubtful.  “I hope,” he said, “that this isn’t for ‘Confidential.’”

I thanked him and assured him that the pictures were just for Jane and me, just for our personal photograph albums.

A little later we took more pictures of Ringo, each time with his consent.

The Beatles didn’t seem to be afraid of Jane’s camera, but it turned out that someone was.  Her flash attracted the attention of an agency representative who was quite disturbed.  “Whose (sic) taking those pictures?” he demanded.  “You’re not going to sell the, are you?  You know, they are very valuable.”

Jane and I told him the same thing we’d told the Beatles, that we were taking them for our personal albums, that we would be willing to sign an agreement not to sell them.  We even offered to turn over the undeveloped film to the agent so he could keep the negatives if, only, he’d give us some prints.   “Well,” he said, “I guess it’s all right.  It’s not necessary for you to sign anything.”  But he seemed doubtful.

Except for the small furor caused by the flash bulbs, the strange party dragged on tediously.  Girls talked with girls – who else? And wondered when they were going home.  “Girls” isn’t exactly the right word, either, because many of the guests were mature women, much older than typical Beatle fans. 

Since the party was definitely a drag, although the three Beatles still in evidence were quite pleasant, I stepped outside to look at the grounds and get some air.

To my surprise, I saw Beatle George sitting in a limousine fumbling with the controls.

“Hi,” I said.  “Are you about to go some place?”

“Yes,” George told me.  “I’m going for a drive.  Would you like to come along?”

And I climbed into the front seat beside him.  George continued to study the dash board, slightly frowning.  Tentatively, he touched first one control and then another.  Obviously, he wasn’t sure just how to start and American automobile. 

While he was peering at the dials, knobs and switches, an agency man came streaking out of the house, hurrying toward us.  “Hey” he called, “where are you going?  Let me get a driver for you.”

“You mean,” George asked, “I can’t drive? I want to drive myself.  I like automobiles.”

“You can drive,” the agent told him, “but I want to send a driver along so that you’ll find your way back.”

He shot into the house and came back out with another young man.  He got into the back.

As we slipped down the hill along the heavily guarded roads, the agency man asked Beatle George, “Have you ever driven in this country before?”

“Yes,” George told him.  “I went for a drive in San Francisco.”

As we approached the main gate to Bel Air, I saw that the crowd there was a little larger than it had been when we came in.

With a concerted shout, it surged toward us.  I was frightened, because I’d never been in a situation like that before. 

George was calm, though and pulled away as fast as he could without hurting anybody.

We drove down to Wilshire Boulevard and then toward town.  George was interested in the new, tall apartment buildings on Wilshire and said that the English are beginning to put up the same kind.  He asked the name of the most expensive American-made car, and when he was told how much a Cadillac can cost, he was amazed.  He said that he drives an XKE and that John recently bought a Rolls-Royce.

After we’d driven on Wilshire for a few minutes, George asked how to get to the Sunset Strip, so we directed him there.

He turned the dial of the car radio to a Los Angles statin that was broadcasting a “Salute to the Beatles,” playing nothing but Beatle records, and when the announcer interrupted the music to say that the Beatles were in complete hiding in Los Angeles, that nobody knew where they were, George laughed.

A few minutes later, he said, “I think we can go home now”

George helped me out of the car and escorted me into the house, and after that, I never saw him again.

Meanwhile, Jane had had her troubles.  In fact, as soon as I stepped back into that house, I realized that the entire atmosphere had changed while I was out for a drive.  Before I left, the party had been strange, almost kookie, but hospitable; now, it was almost hostile.  I didn’t feel at all welcome.
Jane pulled me aside quickly and told me what had happened.

“I saw Beatle John talking with three girls,’ she said, “so I asked one of the girls if she’d like to have her picture taken with him.  Since he’d posed before, I didn’t think he’d mind at all.  Naturally, the girl said she’d like the picture, so I snapped it without asking John’s permission again.  I put my camera b ack into my purse and was walking into the dining room when I heard a shout behind me.  Beatle John was positively screeching! “Where’s that camera? “he was asking while he rummaged through some jackets on a chair.

“Then he saw me walking toward the kitchen with my purse in my hand.  He ran after me, grabbed the purse, opened it and snatched out the camera.  ‘Please don’t destroy the film!’ I begged him!  ‘I have some other pictures on that roll that I took somewhere else, pictures that I may not be able to get again, and I’d like to save those at least.  Please give the film to your agent, and he can give me any prints he wants me to have.’”

“But John didn’t listen.  Instead, he ran out of the room with the camera.  I begged one of the agency men to try to save the film and send me some prints and he said he’d try.  I believe he really did try, but it didn’t do any good.  He returned finally dangling the broken cartridge and the exposed film.  Then John came back to say he was sorry.”

“I’m very sorry about what happened,” he said, “but I didn’t know what you were going to do with those pictures.”

“I told you,” I reminded him, “that I only wanted them for my own album.” “Then a girl I didn’t know broke into the conversation saying something to the effect that I didn’t have any respect for a person’s privacy, and John, to my surprise, defended me.”

“The Beatles,” he said, “belong to the public.”  

“Then Beatle John told his agent, ‘See that she gets a new camera.’”

“I told the agent that I didn’t know for sure that mine was broken, but he said, “That doesn’t matter.  Go get another one, any kind you want and send the bill to the address I’m going to give you!”

A few minutes later, agency representatives began to ask girls if they weren’t ready to leave.  “We have to get these girls out of here.”  Jane heard one of them say.

And that’s how it was when I got back.  Needless to say, Jane and I left immediately.

The next day I heard that after we were hustled out some more people arrived and that the party lasted until 4:00a.m. when Beatle Ringo wound things up by learning to sing, “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”  Beatle Paul even reappeared.

Since the party, everybody has been asking, “Now that you’ve met the Beatles what do you think they are really like? Are you a Beatle fan?”

We’ve thought a lot about it, and to tell you the truth, our answer to both questions is, “We are not quite sure.”

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