I sat on the bed in my cold, little room on the wrong side of the Bronx; I heard shouting, men hitting women, women screaming at the men... The familiar coughs and cries of the scum of the city... The pimps, the Joes, the dealers, the addicts... It all disgusted me, but where else was a runaway supposed to go?
The glitz and glamour of New York City seemed so appealing for a girl from Pittsburgh... Ha... glitz and Glamour? The only glitz I get these days is the costumes they made me wear....
My phone rang, another job, but in the good end of town... Manhattan? Nice... I quickly noted down the address and put it in my coat pocket. Maybe I should shower? Then maybe not, you never know what to expect with a profession like mine...
It was Manhattan though? It might be fancy, they might even treat me like a person... A girl can dream. Yes a quick shower and I'll even treat myself to a taxi...
So after cleaning myself up, carefully applying my make-up and getting changed, I locked and bolted my room - My place wasn't exactly the place you leave your keys under the doormat if you catch my drift - and headed out to hail a cab.
I got one quite easily and headed up town. I checked my reflection in the glass... Was I ready to put myself through this again? Was I really?
The traffic was clear and we got to Manhattan in good time and without too much of a fare... I must start charging my clients cab fare I thought... Suddenly a nag of self doubt crept across my mind, after all this time I still got nervous before seeing clients... I asked the driver to stop a couple of blocks away, I still had an hour to waste and a walk might clear my head... and doubts.
I walked up 8th, the air was cool and refreshing, but I needed a drink, you had to be 21 to get a drink in this town, but I knew people. I spotted a club I recognised, I done some favours for the owner, now he could do me a favour... of a shot of bourbon perhaps?
The sign outside read "Poetry Reading, special guest Harry Northup" ...?!
Harry Northup? Actor? Poet? The actor that had been in some of the most iconic movies ever made?! Could it be him?!
Why was this?
My dad worked for the civil service, so when there was a better job opening on another base, he would take it & we'd move. After we lived in Amarillo for a year, we moved to San Gabriel, Ca., where my parents, my sister & one of my 3 brothers & I lived in a converted chicken coop behind my aunt's big house. Mostly, we lived in Ordville, the housing project of Sioux Ordnance Depot, & Sidney, Nebraska. Did it affect your friendships?
The friends from my youth whom I have stayed in touch with over the years are from S.O.D. & Sidney where I graduated from high school in 1958."
So, when did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Great God Brown," in which I played Billie Brown. I did it just like I had done it in college & it was too artificial. Frank liked me a lot & he suggested, for my second scene, that I do a scene from "The Grapes of Wrath," with Hector Elizondo. I was Tom Joad; Hector, the Uncle. Hector simplified acting for me. I used a personal memory, learned how to place my inner concentration, relax, believe in the scene & behave realistically on stage. Everything clicked. Frank loved the scene & me. Frank Corsaro gave me the foundation of acting, & poetry, by teaching me how to use my own experiences in my work. He was a brilliant teacher; he had deep erudition in theatre, opera, film, literature & human behaviour. I have stayed in touch with him over the years. I love Frank Corsaro."
Doesn't Live Here Anymore": He came to a poetry reading I gave for the publication of my second book, the jon voight poems. After the reading he said, "I have a part for you in my next film. I went in to the studio & read for a part that I didn't get, but got Jim & Joe's Bartender.
Girls," the Preacher. In 5 "Knots Landing" episodes, I played Wayne Harkness, who killed Sid Fairgate, played by Don Murray. When I get hired to do a character, I do my research & try to do it in the most honest, real & deepest way that I can.
Do you have a favourite?
The best part I ever did was Sgt. Doberman in "Over the Edge." It was the only time in my career that I got top billing in a film. I love that part, I will always be thankful to Jonathan Kaplan, the director, for casting me & to the producer, George Litto, who hired me."
"When I met Jodie on the set of "The Silence of the Lambs," she held one hand across her forehead & one below her face, both parallel to the ground & said "Jonathan likes to shoot close, does that bother you?" "Doesn't bother me," I replied. We shot the exterior when Clarice comes up to me & says, "Mr. Bimmel?" & I said "That's me." In the script, Mr. Bimmel is adding a wooden segment to his pigeon coop when she arrives. When I arrived on the set, Jonathan asked me, "What do you want to do
remember one was a photo of me in a cowboy shirt. There were also movie photos of the actress who played Fredrica & of me in the room. Jodie was a real professional. She's a real pro, one of the top ten film actors in the history of film in my opinion. We had been in two previous pictures before, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" & "Taxi Driver," though not in the same scene. We talked about that. When I wrapped, I shook her hand, said some nice things to her & she said, "Let's make it a fourth film soon.""
... And late, great Richard Pryor...
And does your acting experience help?
Yes, it helps me to be centered & relaxed.
And do you have a favourite poem?
We've talked a lot about acting, film, filmmakers; I would like to talk about
I noticed harry checking his watch, he must be preparing to read again, excellent, I thought... I might not miss it after all... But I could squeeze in one more question, sure I could... And since finding out where he was from, I just had to ask...
I spotted the clock behind the bar... Crap, I was going to be late if I didn't get a move on... Damn I was going to miss the reading, but money was money... I thanked Harry and rushed out. That had been amazing and for a just a moment there, for just a moment, I had forgotten what I was about to do... Forgotten about this crazy life I'd mapped out for myself... I'd forgotten about why I was sitting here... For a moment there life was... great...
I checked the address on the crumpled up piece of paper in my pocket, it was only across the street now. I took a deep breath and walked over the crossing - didn't want to get done for jay walking, not now! - I got to the door and rang the bell.
My client answered the door, he was young, mid thirties I guessed and not bad looking...
"I hope you're ready" he said "It might get messy"
"Oh I'm used to it" I replied and smiled, straightening my pink tutu and popping on my red nose "I'm ready for them!"
"I don't know how you do it" he said with a smile as six little 8 year olds ran towards, me dragging me and my balloons inside....
Nor do I.... Nor do I...