elsa
Home Up

 

Elsa, you have been reading my Fourth Draft... and I am so grateful for your support!   Meanwhile, I have been working on the Fifth Draft. 

Recently the Fifth Draft caught up with where you are in the Fourth Draft, so I am going to switch you over to the Fifth Draft.

Since you said you love the Bee Gees, I will start with an upgraded version of some of the ground you have already covered.  I think you will like it.

Rick

 

 

 


DESTINY


CHAPTER SIXTY SIX: 
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Written by Rick Archer

 


SUBCHAPTER 282
-
SUPERNATURAL SITUATION 40

 


Rick Archer's Footnote:

My book Destiny is about the unusual events that launched my dance career.  In order to demonstrate my theory that certain things in life are pre-determined, I will continue to offer descriptions of situations that seemingly defy the laws of probability. 

The story about how Saturday Night Fever came to be filmed is extremely important to my book for two reasons.   First of all, as we shall see, Saturday Night Fever served as the booster rocket that launched my dance career into orbit.  Consequently, later in life I went back and studied the events that led to the movie's creation.  To be frank, I was so astonished by what I learned, I believe the making of this movie is just as much a Supernatural Situation as the events surrounding my own story. 

Saturday Night Fever became the career-defining moment for eight different men - Producer Robert Stigwood, Actor John Travolta, the three Bee Gee brothers, Story Writer Nik Cohn, Screen Writer Norman Wexler, and Magazine Editor Clay Felker.

Seven of these men would become rich and famous beyond their wildest imagination. 

And one man failed to make a dime.  He was ruined in the process.  Keep your eye on Clay Felker, the one who was decimated.  In his search for redemption, Felker would one day have a direct impact on my life.

The story of how Saturday Night Fever came to be serves as the most perfect example of 'Synchronicity' I have ever witnessed.  Therefore I have listed it as Supernatural Situation 40, Five Stars.  I understand this is a very bold statement, so I will share the unusual story of Saturday Night Fever and let the Reader reach their own conclusion.

I hope you will enjoy the 'Robert Stigwood Synchronicity'.

 
 


SUBCHAPTER 283 -
PRODUCER ROBERT STIGWOOD

 

When it came to Saturday Night Fever, Robert Stigwood was unbelievably fortunate.  However, he wasn't just lucky, there is considerable evidence that he also benefitted from 'Dumb Luck', i.e. when someone succeeds in spite of themselves.

Robert Stigwood (1934-2016) began his career as a music producer.  Born in Australia, Stigwood moved to England at age 21.  Stigwood had a college degree, but no idea what to do with it.  After a series of dead-end jobs, Stigwood discovered he had an interest in promoting local rock bands in Portsmouth. 

Climbing the ladder, Stigwood got his start in the mid-Sixties as the manager of future rock star Eric Clapton.  It was Stigwood's idea to pair Clapton with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.  This led to Cream, the superstar rock band that briefly rivaled the fame of the Beatles and Rolling Stones. 

Along the way, Stigwood managed The Who (Tommy, Pinball Wizard) as well as the Bee Gees from Australia.  The three Bee Gee brothers were in awe of Stigwood.  They described him as a creative genius with a very quick and very dry wit.

Stigwood was an aggressive manager who wasn't afraid to take chances.  Stigwood had a favorite saying. 

"There are a lot of ways to become a failure, but never taking a chance is the most effective." 

Unfortunately, Stigwood's bold style got him in a lot of trouble early in his career.  Stigwood was the victim of a bad move that led to one of the funniest anecdotes in rock 'n roll history.

In 1966, Robert Stigwood tried to poach another manager's act into his own fold.  The manager, Don Arden, took exception. 

Don Arden:  "I had to stop these overtures – and quickly!  I contacted two well-muscled friends and hired two more equally huge toughs.  The five of us went along to nail this cocky impresario to his chair with fright.

There was a large ornate ashtray on his desk. I picked it up and smashed it down with such force that the desk cracked – giving a good impression of a man wild with rage.

My friends and I had carefully rehearsed our next move. I pretended to go berserk.  I lifted the impresario bodily from his chair, dragged him on to the balcony and held him so he was looking down at the pavement four floors below. I asked my friends if I should drop him or forgive him.  In unison they shouted:  'Yeah, do it!  Go ahead and drop him!'

Stigwood went so rigid with shock, I thought he might have a heart attack.  Immediately, I dragged him back into the room and warned him never to interfere with my groups again." 

Stigwood learned his lesson.  From that point on, Stigwood stayed closer to the rules and enjoyed considerable success. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 284 -
CLAY FELKER

 

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere,
Come on, come through, New York, New York.

         -- Frank Sinatra, 'New York, New York'
 

Clay Felker (1925-2008) as the embodiment of Sinatra's New York, New York.  If Felker could make it there, he could make it anywhere.

Coming from Missouri, Felker was an outsider who wanted to be an insider.  He succeeded royally.  From his position as editor of New York Magazine, one of the city's most influential magazines, Clay Felker became the ultimate New York insider.    

Clay Felker was said to be one of the best-connected people in the media business.   A celebrated man about town, Felker made it his job to know every influential person in news, television, politics, theater, music, fashion, Wall Street and Hollywood.  As his writer friend Tom Wolfe put it, "Clay Felker was the man who invented New York".

Throughout his career, Clay Felker was known as a trend-spotter.  His special genius was seeing what was breaking before anyone else.  Felker was quoted about his love for trend-spotting.  "Journalism is very often about the future.

This was a fitting observation about a man who time and again practiced what he preached.  Felker tried to stay ahead of the curve.  As a magazine editor, Felker understood the importance of reporting on interesting developments well in advance of his competitors.  Therefore he honed a keen eye for stories that would capture the public's interest before they became obvious. 

 

Sometimes Felker went one step further.  He would see something that was ready to happen, then authorize a story to help ensure it actually did happen.  Taking pride in spotting cultural trends before anyone else, Clay Felker's extra attention often provided the spark that lit the fire.

Intimately connected to the pulse of America, Clay Felker was one of the most influential journalists of his time.  Back in the Sixties and Seventies, Clay Felker was the legendary editor of New York Magazine.  In 1977 Felker moved on to Esquire magazine.  Felker not only helped found the The Village Voice, he also helped his friend Gloria Steinem start Ms magazine. 

Two subjects near and dear to Felker's heart were Status and Subcultures.  Or 'Haves and Have Nots' as he put it.  Status was came first.  Felker was fascinated by ambition and social climbing.  This preoccupation developed because Clay Felker wanted to be just as famous as the people he associated with.  They say one is defined by the company they keep.  Constantly surrounded by important celebrities, Clay Felker became a celebrity in his own right.  He found a way to make himself important.

Felker was intensely curious about the rich.  Fascinated by the nuances of power and status in the city, he found a unique way to obtain the inside information New York Magazine was famous for.  Felker had a fabulous apartment at 322 East 57th where he threw the most lavish parties in New York City.  His parties were said to be the ideal place to rub shoulders with the rich, the elite and the talented.  Tom Wolfe joked that Felker's vast fireplace was such an inviting place to be noticed that 'fourteen status seekers would sit there all at the same time'.

 

Felker was the quintessential New York insider with custom-made clothes and his swashbuckling air of confidence.  Using his stunning movie star wife Pamela Tiffin as the perfect arm decoration, Felker certainly had no trouble holding his own with the Beautiful People.  Thanks to his position at the magazine, Felker was just as interesting as they were... which was the idea all along. 

Felker discovered if he could get enough important people from different power corridors in contact with each other, they would begin to gossip and unleash a treasure trove of trade secrets.  Felker typically exchanged ideas with a martini in one hand and a beautiful woman in the other.  As the stories became juicier, no doubt Felker would snap his fingers to ensure another martini would be produced on demand.  Felker smiled as people dropped one story after another in his lap.   Felker knew exactly what he was doing... and so did his guests.

New York Magazine was his baby.  Clay Felker understood that the movers and shakers of New York were obsessed with Status and were dying to be Noticed as often as possible.  To see the best and be seen by the best.  So Felker paid his dues and worked his way to the editor's position at New York magazine.  Once there, Felker parlayed his unique position to grant attention to the most interesting people he could find. 

New York Magazine became the direct extension of those smart Upper East Side dinner parties.  Felker's parties and his magazine were practically synonymous... each in turn supported the other.  By engaging in peppery talk on a wide variety of topics such as politics, real estate, business, and prominent people misbehaving, Felker used his dinner parties to keep a close finger on the pulse of the town. 

 

On Monday morning, Felker would transform the various loose lip tidbits into his next set of stories.  He would quote anonymous sources of course, but a cursory scan of his most recent guest list would typically suggest the identity.

Felker made his magazine a must-read for the movers and shakers of America's premier city.  New York Magazine became the style guide for every hip artist, wealthy socialite, ambitious politician and shrewd businessman looking for an angle.  Everyone knew that each issue would contain something sharp, well-informed, and 'trendy'.

No one turned down a Felker party invitation.  Felker's parties at his tony East 57th Street apartment were a popular destination for glamorous people vying for a cover story.  Others came in hopes of hearing a lucky tip.  Everyone knew a chance conversation with the right person could lead to a career break. 

Felker was curious about finding hidden nuggets as well.  Felker understood the sub-cultures were not going to come to him, so he was on the lookout wherever he went.  Clay Felker always had a stable of creative writers to choose from.  As the ultimate 'trend spotter', Felker made it his business to notice something interesting, then go find one of his gifted writers to poke his or her nose into it.

 

"New York was a magazine that helped create the notion of the writer as star," said Ken Auletta, one of Felker's writers, to the Washington Post in 1993.

Tom Wolfe and Gail Sheehy were two of Felker's first breakout stars. 

New York always seemed to reflect the heady confusion of the difficult Seventies.  Felker took special delight in stories where the Ins and the Outs interfaced awkwardly.  One such story was Tom Wolfe's "Radical Chic" which described a strange fundraiser for the Black Panthers at the apartment of conductor Leonard Bernstein.

Wolfe's scathing story, which coined the term 'limousine liberals', became a classic example of the New Journalism.  Six years later, Wolfe summed up the entire era when he called it the 'Me Decade'.

Gail Sheehy was another writer Felker encouraged.  Sheehy was an early feminist.  She was fascinated with writing about how women negotiated a Man's World during the Sixties.  Like her counterpart Tom Wolfe, Sheehy had a gift for the clever phrase.  For example, writing about women in singles bars in the Sixties,  Sheehy wrote:

"Booted, pant-suited, birth-controlled and pleasure-goaled."

A good example of Felker's style was Gail Sheehy's vivid 1971 reporting on prostitution in New York.  Felker suggested to Sheehy that she investigate from an unusual angle.  Gail Sheehy took the hint and put away her notepad.  Sheehy took to the streets wearing hot pants, white vinyl boots and a revealing top. 

Behind puffed up hair and too much makeup, the disguise worked perfectly.  Gail Sheehy was able to mingle with the working girls and get some straight talk.  What Sheehy brought back to Felker was an astonishing eyewitness account of the sex trade.  What she found out caused a firestorm of controversy.  It seems many of the city's richest, most powerful families and corporations benefited directly and indirectly from the illegal sex business. 

Be it Gail Sheehy or Tom Wolfe, stepping on people's toes was a Felker specialty.  Their stories and others like it created sensation and controversy.  Someone was always mad at Clay Felker for something one of his writers had written about them.  This was what Clay Felker lived for.  It did not take long until Felker's magazine was on the tip of everyone's tongue.  Who would be 'Felkerized' next?

It can be said that Clay Felker's New York helped New York discover its own identity.  Felker even changed the face of magazines.  Be it counterculture, feminism, obsession with status, Clay Felker encouraged the citizens to take a close look at themselves.  By noticing what was interesting about everyday places and people, Clay Felker became the inspiration for adding the Lifestyle section to the American newspaper, a feature we now take for granted.  

Gail Sheehy, who married Felker in 1984, said her husband was an inspiration to many writers.  Sheehy said that Felker presided as an editing God to an explosion of creative nonfiction back in the Sixties... Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Jimmy Breslin, Norman Mailer, Hunter  Thompson, Nora Ephron, Gloria Steinem, Aaron Latham, and of course herself. 

Indeed, Gail Sheehy's 1976 book Passages was named by the Library of Congress one of the ten most influential books of our times. 

Tom Wolfe, one of Felker's first superstars, turned a Felker suggestion into The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a fascinating book on the counter-culture.  Wolfe went on to become a best-selling author with books like Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff.

Tom Wolfe never forgot who his mentor was.  In a 1993 interview with the Washington Post, Tom Wolfe called Clay Felker "the greatest idea man that ever existed". 

 


SUBCHAPTER 285 - NIK THE SLICK

 

Nik Cohn was the next piece of the puzzle.  Born in London in 1946, Cohn got his start as a rock critic.  Always the clever guy, by the age of 18 Cohn was a fixture on the swinging London Mod scene of the late Sixties.  He partied with rock stars and hung out with his celebrity friends on tours. 

With an ear for gossip, Cohn figured out a way to make money off the fame of his companions.  He contributed briefings about mods and rockers to The Observer.  Along the way, Cohn wrote a 1969 book about the history of rock 'n roll in Britain.   

Nik Cohn had an odd claim to fame.  Cohn was a close friend of Peter Townshend, lead singer of The Who.  Cohn was an avowed pinball maniac and Townshend loved watching him play.  Cohn's obsession with the pinball machine became the inspiration for Townshend’s classic song Pinball Wizard

Cohn was an adept social climber.  He parlayed his media position into a circle of important contacts within the British music business.  One of the men he rubbed elbows with was Robert Stigwood.  Since Stigwood was the manager and booking agent of The Who at the time, this illustrious rock band became Cohn's connection to Stigwood's business operations. 

Nik Cohn spent time on the set during the 1974 filming of Stigwood's film version of Tommy featuring The Who.  In the process Nik Cohn became a close friend with Bill Oakes, president of RSO Records (Robert Stigwood Organization).

In 1975, Oakes invited Cohn to come join him in New York.  After crossing the Atlantic, Cohn crashed on the couch in Oakes' apartment.  Cohn soon landed a job with Clay Felker's New York magazine to cover the New York music scene.

One night Nik Cohn followed a tip and took a taxi over to Brooklyn.  He visited a nightclub known as 2001 Odyssey, a Disco hotbed.  Previously Disco had been a phenomenon limited to New York's gay bars.  Now Cohn heard this new style of dancing had migrated to a working class neighborhood.

Cohn's visit to the Disco gave him an idea.  It seemed that Disco was spreading like a virus.  Cohn's experience with the music scene suggested there was a story here.  Cohn went back to Oakes' apartment and immediately started writing.

Cohn's first idea had been to pitch this idea to Clay Felker at New York magazine.  Then it crossed his mind that perhaps the Stigwood organization would be interested in his story as well.  As an afterthought, Cohn handed the story to his friend Bill Oakes and asked him to pass the story on to Kevin McCormick who was in charge of film development for RSO.

Kevin McCormick knew who Nik Cohn was.  The two men had worked together on another movie project.  The moment McCormick read the story, he saw the potential.  McCormick made sure the story reached the desk of Robert Stigwood.

Stigwood was sold from the start.  This story just might be the answer to the huge John Travolta gamble he had just taken.

 

 

After Nik Cohn finished his story, he went to work on getting it published by Clay Felker at New York magazine.  Cohn actually went to the trouble of tracking Felker down while the editor and several friends ate dinner one night at a posh New York restaurant.  Talk about aggressive!

Cohn told Felker his idea depicted a world of lower-middle-class, lower-IQ youths who lived in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx in the mid-1970s.  These teens and young adults wrapped their entire lives around Saturday nights in the Disco clubs. 

To Cohn's dismay, Felker just laughed in his face.  Ridiculous.  Then Felker rubbed in it.  With Cohn standing there, Felker embarrassed the young man by asking his dinner guests what they thought about a story covering the Saturday night dance ritual of young working-class Italian-Americans.

These important cognoscenti all scoffed.  Who gives a flip about a bunch of poor kids who like to dance on Saturday night?  They had heard it before.  That story was as old as Beach Blanket Bingo, Motown and Elvis Presley.  Felker said forget it.  To him, Disco music was a fringe phenomenon exclusive to boring lower-class youth. 

Cohn was crushed, but he wasn't going to give up that easily.  He approached Felker's partner Milton Glaser who decided to champion the story.  Despite mixed feelings, Felker gave in and let the story run.  Nik Cohn's story, Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night, was published on June 7, 1976. 

 

When Robert Stigwood saw Cohn's article appear in New York magazine, he panicked a little.  He had just signed John Travolta to a million dollar contract and needed a movie for Travolta to star in.  Stigwood could not take a chance of letting this story get away.

Stigwood told his lawyer friend Fred Gershon that this movie could be worth a hundred million dollars.  Gershon wasn't quite so confident, but negotiated rights to the story nonetheless.  To his surprise, Nik Cohn played hardball.  Cohn was not only a good writer, he had the touch of a gambler in him.  He had heard from his friend Bill Oakes just how interested Stigwood was in this story as a script for a movie. 

Previously Nik Cohn had agreed to $10,000 as the price for an option on his article.  Kevin McCormick was already on board to produce the movie.  To Stigwood's surprise, at the last minute another producer materialized who had heard about the story before the Cohn deal was finalized.  Gosh, too bad, suddenly the price had gone up.  Gershon smelled a rat.  He suspected that Nik Cohn was pitching this story to everyone with a phone number.  Sensing they were being hustled, Gershon suggested that Stigwood back off.

Stigwood wouldn't hear of it.  He had to have this movie, so he personally took over the negotiations.  "I'm going to pay the kid whatever it takes."  Stigwood nailed the deal down by offering Cohn a first shot at the screenplay for a guaranteed $150,000, as well as percentage points in the soundtrack album. 

Fred Gershon was aghast.  He had never heard of music percentage points for a writer.  Stigwood said this was at Nik Cohn's insistence.  Cohn was very shrewd.  Using his own instincts plus the inside knowledge his friend Bill Oakes unknowingly passed on, Cohn could see the soundtrack would obviously be important to a dance movie.  Give the lad some credit.  He bet the farm on his Disco story.  This incident was very likely the first time a writer had ever gotten points for a music album, certainly when the property was little more than a magazine feature. 

Nik Cohn was a born hustler.  Now we know why Cohn pushed Clay Felker so hard... he was trying to run up the selling price of his story!  Cohn's greatest accomplishment was getting Felker to print his story.  Since Felker was dead set against it, Cohn had to move mountains to get Felker to move on his story.  However, once the story was published, Cohn was off to the races.  Now he had the credibility he needed to raise his asking price. 

Here is what is interesting.  Given Clay Felker's initial lack of enthusiasm, it is a small wonder the story ever got published in the first place.  However, even more amazing, the story was a complete fraud.  That's right... the Tribal Rites story was a total fabrication. 

Twenty years after Saturday Night Fever came out, Nik Cohn admitted the story which inspired the script was a fraud.  However Cohn swore he had a good excuse.  Cohn explained that he had run into a serious language barrier.  Raised in England, Cohn complained he could not understand a single word the uneducated Brooklyn teenagers were saying.  Their accents and terms were such a complete mystery to him, Cohn gave up trying to understand.  He simply observed for a while, then went home.  Cohn decided to fib.  Facing a deadline, what else could he do?  Cohn said he based his story on Rebel Without a Cause

Put on your dancing shoes, James Dean.  "You're tearing me apart!"

Believe it or not, two years later Cohn changed his story again.  This time Cohn admitted the problem had nothing to do with the language barrier.  In reality, Cohn never even set foot in the nightclub.  On the night he visited 2001 Odyssey, just as the taxi pulled up, there was a fight breaking out on the sidewalk.  Cohn decided it was safer to stay in the taxi and watch.  To his surprise, one of the fighters lurched over to Cohn's cab and threw up. With that, Cohn told the driver to get him the hell out of there. 

As they drove away, Cohn caught a glimpse of a tall, confident figure standing in the club doorway.  Dressed in flared crimson pants and a black body shirt, the man was coolly surveying the action.  Cohn was impressed by the man's aloof demeanor.  There was a special quality to this mysterious figure as if he was operating on a different plane from the rest.  On the spot, Cohn had his hero.  He wrote a completely fictional story using 2001 Odyssey as his location and the unknown figure as his star.  

Cohn had once hung around a charismatic street hustler named Chris at a spot called Shepherd's Bush in London.  Basing his main Disco character on Chris, Cohn worked from there.  When Cohn was finished, he added a note that insisted 'everything in this article is factual.'

That, my friends, is the very definition of chutzpah.  Yes, sad to say, there was no real-life Tony Manero.  Just add Tony Manero to the list of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and many tooth fairy fibs.

Nik Cohn had pulled off one of the great scams in literature.  Lying through his teeth, Cohn had parlayed a 15-page short story into a small fortune.  There were countless other perks as well.  As a reward, Nik Cohn got to hang out with the biggest stars and attend premieres with beautiful singers draped on his arm.  Not bad, huh?

Let's face it, there’s nothing quite like seeing the words ‘based on a true story’ in a movie.  Great selling point, yes?  No doubt there was much sanctimonious criticism when the truth came out that the entire story was imagination.  But in reality, there was only one real victim - Clay Felker.  Nik Cohn leapfrogged to the stratosphere using Clay Felker's unwitting shoulders as his springboard. 

Although Nik Cohn did not personally bring about Clay Felker's ruin, he was responsible for the greatest indignity Felker ever suffered.  Felker built his reputation on his ability to spot things before they happened, to spot trends, to identify sub-cultures and bring them to light.  New York magazine was not only directly responsible for bringing the Disco sub-culture out of obscurity, the sensation caused by Cohn's article led to Saturday Night Fever, the major cultural icon of the Seventies.

Clay Felker was given credit for the spotting the most important trend of his career... the Disco energy.  And yes, Felker did not mind taking credit for it.  But in his heart, Clay Felker knew that he did not deserve the credit.  Felker had completely missed on this story. 

 


SUBCHAPTER 286 -
the bee gees

 

Robert Stigwood parlayed his early success in the music industry into productions on stage and in film.  Stigwood learned early on to mix music with drama.  Nearly every one of his productions involved music. 

Among Stigwood's stage credits were Tommy, Evita, Sweeney Todd, Hair, Pippin, Oh Calcutta and Jesus Christ Superstar.

His movie credits would include Grease, Tommy, Gallipolli, and Jesus Christ Superstar as well as musical film extravaganza Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Stigwood's main passion was to do Grease, the exciting 1971 Broadway musical.  By a twist of fate, Stigwood's efforts to bring Grease to screen would accidentally lead the man to produce an even more famous project, Saturday Night Fever.  

The Bee Gees were an the Australian rock group that consisted of three brothers, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb.  The Bee Gees had gotten their start in the late Sixties.  With Robert Stigwood as their manager from the start, the group quickly scored some initial hits such as 'To Love Somebody', 1967.

Thanks to their instant success, the Bee Gees were said to be the next Beatles.  However, they fizzled almost as fast as they sizzled.  You know the story... drugs, booze, distractions.  By the time the mid-Seventies rolled around, the Bee Gees were toast.  As of 1974, the Bee Gees were washed-up has-beens who were being referred to in the past tense.

Fortunately Stigwood had enduring faith in the Bee Gees Stigwood had a real soft spot for these guys.  They were always his pet project.  The problem was that once a rock band loses its momentum, it is very difficult to regain it.  Although they were terrific songwriters, they had not had a major hit in years.  Their music consisted of gentle ballads at a time when Hard Rock was the dominant sound. 

It didn't look good for the Bee Gees, but fortunately Stigwood stayed by their side.   Telling the three brothers that he believed in them, Stigwood encouraged them to keep writing songs.  "You know what they say. The harder you work, the luckier you get.

Stigwood promised that sooner or later their luck would turn.  Stigwood had a suggestion.  Why not move away from ballads, the Bee Gees staple, and take advantage of the growing American interest in dance tracks?  Good idea.  The Bee Gees moved to Miami and began experimenting. 

In 1975, they crafted a dance-oriented disco song titled Jive Talkin'.  To their surprise, it became their first #1 hit in four years.  Jive Talkin' started their comeback.  The band liked their new sound, so they stayed with it.  You Should Be Dancing was released released in 1976 and quickly became their second dance track to hit #1.

Robert Stigwood was pleased his suggestion had worked out so well.  At the same time, he was surprised at the amount of interest in this unorthodox dance music.  Disco music was hardly his cup of tea, but Stigwood understood that success in this business was unpredictable and difficult to attain.  His advice was if it works, stick with it.

The script for Saturday Night Fever appeared on Stigwood's desk out of nowhere.  This should be referred to as 'Luck', a wonderful accident so speak.  The moment he saw the word 'Disco', one imagines his fondness for the Bee Gees played a major role in his snap decision to pursue the SNF project. 

However, as we shall see, it turns that out the Bee Gee's last-minute inclusion in the movie soundtrack would be the perfect example that Robert Stigwood was the beneficiary of extreme Dumb Luck in addition to his considerable Good Luck.


 


SUBCHAPTER 287 - JOHN TRAVOLTA

 

Although Robert Stigwood should be considered an unusually Lucky guy, there can be no doubt the man possessed considerable talent as well.  His 1976 decision to sign John Travolta to a three-movie deal was sheer genius. 

Welcome Back, Kotter was a 1975 television sensation.  The show was based on a sarcastic, street-smart high school teacher who takes a group of incorrigible yet loveable teenagers under his wing and shows them the light.

From the start, John Travolta had been the undeniable break-out star of the show.  However, he was not without his critics.  Some suggested Travolta couldn't act his way out of a paper bag.  Ironically, since Travolta was a high school dropout, it was said he was just playing himself. 

Maybe so, but his popularity was off the charts.  Travolta could not go out in public without being mobbed.  By the second season, Travolta received more than 10,000 fan letters a week.

What was Robert Stigwood thinking?  Producer Stigwood had just placed a million dollar bet on this young TV star.  A million dollar contract for some kid with no longevity, no track record? 

The insiders thought Stigwood had gone nuts.  In the history of television, so far no one had ever made the transition from TV star to movie star.  Therefore the idea of paying a million bucks to an untested actor was quite a stretch, especially since many assumed that Travolta was barely more talented than Vinnie Barbarino, his dumb but sexy TV character. 

Fortunately, Stigwood was privy to something others were not aware of.  Stigwood had been a fan of Travolta well before Welcome Back, Kotter.  Back in 1971, Stigwood had auditioned Travolta for the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar

Although Stigwood noticed Travolta had oodles upon oodles of talent, there was one problem... Travolta was only 17.  Too young for the part.  Nevertheless, Stigwood penciled a note on a yellow pad: “This kid will be a very big star someday.

Around the same time as Travolta's youthful audition, Stigwood had his eye on something else: Grease.  Stigwood was a huge admirer of the musical that debuted in 1971.  Based on a hunch, Stigwood had taken out an option on Grease.  He planned to make it a movie after the play ran its course.

When Stigwood saw Travolta, he immediately visualized Travolta as a great fit for the movie version of Grease somewhere down the road.  Once Travolta confirmed Stigwood's initial instincts with his Kotter breakout, Stigwood decided to lock up Travolta to do Grease before the kid's price climbed any higher.  Stigwood was convinced that Grease was the perfect vehicle for the cocky teen heartthrob.

Then came the bad news.  Grease was suddenly off-limits!

There was a clause in the contract for Grease that said Stigwood's option would have to wait until 1978 in case the musical was still going strong.  Was Grease still going strong in 1976?  You betcha.  It was Stigwood's bad luck to take out an option on the longest running play in Broadway history.

No problem.  Stigwood assumed for a little cash, the producers would let him start filming sooner.  Wrong.  The producers refused to let Stigwood proceed early.  Uh oh. 

Stigwood was heartsick.  He had signed Travolta based on the gamble the show would be available soon.  It was 1976 and he would have to wait until 1978 like the option said.  To wait two years was utter madness.  Travolta was hot right now!

This was serious bad luck.  Or was it?  Stigwood certainly thought so.  However, anyone familiar with Fate knows that sometimes bad luck has a way of turning into good luck. 

In this case the Stigwood's ambitions were rescued when Nik Cohn's Disco story appeared on his desk out of nowhere.  Stigwood quickly realized that Cohn's story would be perfect for Travolta's talents.  Now wasn't that a nice little coincidence??  It almost makes you wonder if Fate was involved.



 


SUBCHAPTER 288 - JOHN AVILDSEN AND NORMAN WEXLER

 

Robert Stigwood was in a serious hurry to take advantage of the handy appearance Cohn's story and Travolta's contract.  He wasted no time finding a director.  To his surprise, the talented John Avildsen was available.  Avildsen was chosen to direct Saturday Night Fever based on his recent work directing Rocky After seeing a rough cut of Rocky, Stigwood hired Avildsen on the spot. 

Stigwood knew he was taking a chance with Avildsen.  A keen observer of talent, Stigwood could see Avildsen was abundantly gifted.  However, Stigwood wondered why a director of Avildsen's caliber was available.  Was Stigwood missing something?  He checked around and discovered Avildsen had been fired as the director of Serpico, a movie with Al Pacino that was a surefire hit.

In other words, Stigwood knew full well he was taking a risk with the temperamental director when he hired him. 

 

Sure enough, almost from the start, Stigwood regretted taking a chance on Avildsen.  To begin with, the temperamental director quickly insisted on hiring a temperamental writer. 

Avildsen wanted screenwriter Norman Wexler.  Not so fast!  Stigwood pointed out that Nik Cohn was already working on the script.  Avildsen replied that Wexler was a genius.  Did Stigwood want his movie to rest on the talents of an amateur with his 15 page magazine story or hire a proven talent? 

Stigwood saw Avildsen's point and relented.  Then he asked his director a question.  If this Wexler guy was so good, then why was he available?  "Because Norman Wexler is a madman."

Avildsen wasn't kidding.  Wexler was a real-life Jekyll and Hyde.  A Harvard graduate with an IQ of 180, Wexler had done brilliant work on Serpico, a truly superior movie.  At the same time, his psychosis made him fearless with delusional grandeur.  He was a vicious, vindictive paranoid who was shockingly uninhibited. 

Throughout the filming, Norman Wexler terrorized various people on the set with his antics.  When Wexler was off his medication, he could turn very aggressive.  One day Wexler showed one of the female extras the .32 caliber pistol he was carrying.  He was trying to impress the woman, but it had the exact opposite effect.  No one gave Norman Wexler the slightest bit of trouble after that.  

 

No one in the industry would touch Wexler, but Stigwood decided to roll the dice.  Wexler was not only a genius, he was desperate for work.  Stigwood had a hunch Wexler was likely to pour his soul into the project.  Indeed, Wexler's SNF script was so brilliant one has to wonder if his own pain gave him so much insight.  Wexler captured the bleak lives of the oft-struggling Brooklyn street kids far too well. 

In the meantime, Stigwood had growing doubts about director John Avildsen.  Rocky had just been released and Avildsen was getting a ton of press.  Perhaps Avildsen's success with Rocky had gone to his head.  Avildsen seemed to be getting John Travolta confused with Rocky's Sylvester Stallone.  Taking a page out of West Side Story, Avildsen told Stigwood he wanted to use Travolta for a big fight scene inside the club.  Avildsen's vision was some sort of West Side Story rumble, the Disco version of Sharks versus Jets.  Stigwood,s assistant Kevin McCormick tried to explain this was a different kind of movie, but Avildsen was adamant.  Trying his best to be patient with the volatile director, McCormick offered a compromise.  Why not let some of the extras have the fight if it was that important? 

Avildsen wouldn't listen.  It had to be Travolta throwing the punches.  No one else would do.  McCormick asked the writer Wexler what he thought.  Wexler said the fight was not consistent with Travolta's standoffish character.  McCormick put his foot down and said no. 

Angry at Wexler for not backing him, Avildsen pointed out that Wexler was insane.  What did Wexler know?  To Avildsen, Wexler's disloyalty justified bringing in a third writer.  McCormick said no and gave Avildsen the 'too many cooks' cliché.  However McCormick's logic went right over the prima donna director's head.  Avildsen put his foot down, so now Saturday Night Fever had its third writer.  

Avildsen's next move was to irritate Travolta.  He decided Travolta was a rotten dancer, physically soft and way too fat.  He told Travolta to lose 20 pounds and find some muscles.  If you're going to be a stud, try looking like one.  When Travolta didn't move fast enough to please Avildsen, he brought in Sylvester Stallone's Rocky trainer to accomplish the feat.  Although Travolta was incredibly insulted by Avildsen's blunt criticism, to his credit, the actor decided to cooperate.

The final straw was the music.  This was a movie about music and dancing.  They were about to film, but there was no music.  Everyone noticed the problem, but they were so frightened of John Avildsen, they kept their mouths shut. 

What was the hold-up?  Where were the Bee Gees like Stigwood had insisted?  Indeed, John Avildsen had been told to line up the Bee Gees, but had ignored the suggestion so far.  Why was this?  Avildsen could not stand the Bee Gees!  He considered them to be washed up has-beens plus he couldn't stand grown men singing in falsetto.  So he had chosen to disobey what was more or less a direct order. 

At the time, Stigwood was nowhere to be seen.  During the pre-filming stage, he was preoccupied trying to sign the Rolling Stones to his record label.  Somebody on the Rolling Stones side of the negotiations was getting very greedy and Stiggy was sick of dealing with Piggy.  Finally Stigwood had his fill and walked away from the deal.  On the return flight to New York, Stigwood was still really irritated over the blown deal.  So was Stiggy in a good mood upon his return?   Probably not.  But his mood was about to get worse. 

 

One has to understand that Stigwood had two major reasons to pay extra for the rights to Nik Cohn's story.  First, he had John Travolta on board and needed a vehicle immediately. 

Second, the Bee Gees were Stigwood's protégés.  In fact, Stigwood was so close to them he probably felt like they were his own kids.  Not only had Stigwood developed the Bee Gees, for more than ten years he had directed their management, their record label, and their music publishing rights. 

Stigwood had personally overseen the Bee Gees' comeback by recommending they concentrate on dance tracks.  Since Stigwood had embarked on the SNF project specifically to help assist the Bee Gees with their new Disco music career, getting them on board was a foregone conclusion.  When Stigwood learned that Avildsen had refused to contact the Bee Gees, he blew his top. 

Screaming at the top of his lungs,  Stigwood called Avildsen into his office for a meeting and demanded an explanation.

 

Avildsen did not back down.  First he told Stigwood he could not stand the Bee Gees.  Then he called the Bee Gees a bunch of washed-up white guys who sounded like teenage girls when they sang.  Not surprisingly, Stigwood nearly had a stroke. 

That is when something very strange happened.  Just as the arguing reached a fever pitch, the telephone rang.  It was Fate calling.  Stigwood answered it himself and started to smile.  Grinning, Stigwood turned to Avildsen. 

"Well, John, guess what?  I have good news and I have bad news. 

The good news is that you have just been nominated for an Academy Award for directing RockyCongratulations! 

The bad news is that you're fired."

 


SUBCHAPTER 289 - dumb luck

 

John Badham was hired to take Avildsen's place.  However, amidst the chaos of this change on the eve of filming, everyone seemed to forget there was still no music chosen for the film. 

One day as Travolta was doing dance rehearsals, someone put on the Bee Gees song 'You Should Be Dancing,' a hit which had been released the previous year.  

Travolta said, 'Hey, that's a pretty good song.  Nice beat.  Why don't you see if these Bee Gee guys have any other songs?'

When Stigwood heard what Travolta had said, he had a panic attack.  Despite his direct orders, Stigwood was astonished to find the Bee Gees had still not been contacted! 

Try to imagine how Stigwood felt upon learning that the Bee Gees were completely in the dark.  So far no one had agreed on a single song for the movie.  Stigwood was staring at a Musical without Music.  This was worse than the Sound of Music without Edelweiss or Do-Re-Mi

As for the Bee Gees, they had no idea what was going on.  They were busy mixing a live album in the north of France

His heart racing, Stigwood immediately got on the phone.  Stigwood told the Gibb brothers that the song You Should Be Dancing was great and that Travolta liked it.  Then he told them a little bit about the movie... it was a low-budget film with Travolta playing the cocky but aloof dance stud surrounded by countless adoring women. 

Then Stigwood got to the point and asked the guys if they had any other songs they could contribute.  Or if they felt like it, maybe they could write the entire soundtrack.

The three brothers were fairly shocked.  This request was completely out of the blue.  The Bee Gees looked at each other and nodded, 'No way, we're busy, forget it!

Feeling a bit guilty, the brothers spoke up.  

'Look, Stiggy, you can't just ring us up and expect us to drop everything we're doing.  You know damn well we can't just snap our fingers and pull a hit song out of thin air.  Besides, we have our own album to do.

We're sorry, but we don't have the time to sit down and write music for your film.'

With regret, Stigwood said he understood and hung up. Stigwood was at a complete loss.  What was he going to do without the Bee Gees?  Stigwood was forlorn.  He wasn't mad at the brothers, but it hurt to know he taken on this project to help them and now the opportunity had gone to waste. 

After the call, the brothers kicked it around.  Barry pointed out that Stigwood had been their friend through thick and thin.  Even when things were rough, Stigwood believed in them. 

They all started to nod.  It was true, Stiggy had always been there even when they totally screwed up their career.  With their conscience prodding them in the right direction, the brothers changed their mind.  In an extraordinary show of loyalty, the Gibb brothers stopped what they were doing and began to work 'feverishly' on this out of the blue project.

The thing is, the Bee Gee's sudden change of heart wasn't ordinary Luck, this was Dumb Luck.  Everyone had dropped the ball on the Bee Gees and yet at the very last minute, Stigwood got his guys on board with his desperate SOS plea.

What happened next was crazy.  Once they got started, their imaginations were on fire!!  The three brothers wrote five songs in one weekend, every one them destined to be mega-hits.

Staying Alive
How Deep is Your Love?
Night Fever
More Than a Woman
If I Can't Have You

In addition, the Bee Gees decided their two previous dance hits, Jive Talkin' and You Should Be Dancing, should be included.  One week after the phone call, Barry Gibb handed Stigwood seven dance tracks.  This is how they became the featured artists on the upcoming SNF music album. 

Destiny was breaking right for the Bee Gees.  Despite having no idea how their music would be used, these catchy songs would lead to an amazing comeback in their career. 

Thanks to their uncanny burst of creativity, the Bee Gees would soon become the hottest group on the planet.  They would be rewarded beyond their wildest dreams when they

Ah, Fate and its twists and turns.  The blockbuster soundtrack would become the top selling album in history.  Not bad for a last-minute effort. 



 

 
 


SUBCHAPTER 290
-
SUPERNATURAL SITUATION 40

 


Rick Archer's Footnote:

In 1976-77, like Magic, everything came together for Robert Stigwood.  Three parts - perfect story, perfect actor, perfect music - fit together so perfectly that one might actually be tempted to give the concept of 'Synchronicity' a closer look. 

Synchronicity is a term synonymous with 'meaningful coincidence'.  To believe in Synchronicity is to believe the old saying there are no accidents.  Not everyone agrees with this far-fetched idea.  Synchronicity is one of those mumbo jumbo terms like esp, mojo, sixth sense and voodoo that skeptics relegate to the dustbin of pseudoscience. 

So is there any reason to believe in Synchronicity?  Good question.  In my opinion, the easiest way to make a case for Synchronicity is to point a finger at Saturday Night Fever

 

Not much was expected from this movie.  Keep in mind this was supposed to be a low-budget throwaway project.  All Stigwood was trying to do was keep Travolta busy until Grease became available.  And yet by complete accident, Stigwood was able to hit a gold mine with Saturday Night Fever because he caught three talents... Travolta, Bee Gees, and Wexler... at the absolute hungriest part of their careers.  Working together, Stigwood and his talented men came up with something transcendent. 

People might ask if anyone knew in advance how special the movie was going to be.  Bill Oakes, right hand man to Robert Stigwood, later said his boss was certain this was going to be a big hit.  However, to everyone else at Paramount, the success of Saturday Night Fever came as a huge surprise.  Before the release, the smart-ass muckamucks at Paramount thought the movie was a joke.  Oakes was especially resentful of their condescending attitude. 

"Paramount didn't care a lick about our movie.  They gave us an office on the lot the size of a broom closet and called Fever the studio's 'little disco movie'.  I could not stand that phrase.  Senior executives for Paramount would visit the Fever set.  They would snoop around, complain about this or that, then ask disparagingly, "Well, Billy, how's your little disco movie doing?"  

The suits thought the whole thing was rather silly because they believed Disco had run its course.  Actually, there was some truth to that.  Back in 1976 when the Nik Cohn article appeared in New York magazine, many people in the music industry believed that Disco music with its repetitive electronic background and vapid lyrics was on the way out.  If anything, Disco was trending down. 

In the years to follow, Saturday Night Fever was credited with kicking off the Disco Era, but in truth it was a little more complicated that that.  What the movie did was breathe new life into a dying genre.  Saturday Night Fever did not jump on a swelling bandwagon, but rather resuscitated something on its way out.  So in that sense, SNF really did create the Disco Era. 

Although I speak of 'Luck' as a major factor, there was clearly a great amount of skill involved as well.  Another smart move Robert Stigwood made was to release the soundtrack before the film's debut.  This strategy was both innovative and brilliant.  No soundtrack had ever been released in advance before. 

Here is an anecdote that bears out the effectiveness of Stigwood's move nicely.  Michael Eisner, head of production at Paramount, was skiing in Vail, Colorado, in December two weeks before the movie opened.

 

"I heard Staying Alive at the bottom of the ski lift.  Then it was playing at the top of the lift and I heard it again in the restaurant at the top of the mountain.  Something was definitely going on, so I called my boss Barry Diller, head of Paramount.  I said, "Barry, what do you think?  Do we have a hit here?" 

Then the movie opened.  Travolta was the biggest damn thing that ever happened.  In the first 11 weeks, the movie made $11 million.  Over time, it would gross $285 million.  The soundtrack was not only the best-selling soundtrack of all time, it would hold the record for 14 years, an eternity in this business.  Someone really knew what they were doing with this music."

Oh boy, they sure did know what they were doing with the music, didn't they?  Let's go ahead and wait till the last minute, then call the Bee Gees.  Well, if you can't be smart, then be Dumb Lucky.

Robert Stigwood caught all kinds of breaks.  Say what you will about Director John Avildsen.  He was wrong about the Bee Gees, but he was right about a lot of other things.  Take the script for example.  Nik Cohn had written a fairy tale off the top of his head, then insisted he be allowed to write the movie script as part of his deal. 

However, Cohn had little experience at writing a movie script.  Stigwood was fortunate that Avildsen recognized the limitations of Cohn's work and insisted on hiring Norman Wexler over Stigwood's strenuous objections.  To Stigwood's amazement, Wacko Wexler took a fake 15 page magazine story and gave this low-budget movie a truly extraordinary script.

Avildsen told Travolta that he was fat and couldn't dance a lick.  Deeply offended, Travolta worked his butt off to prove Avildsen wrong.  The point is that the so-called disgraced director John Avildsen actually made a huge, largely uncredited contribution to the success of this movie.

However, Stigwood's most incredible break of all had to be the inclusion of John Travolta.  It was uncanny how Travolta was tailor-made for the role as the cocky yet moody dance stud.  Dinah Manoff had this to say.

"There was an energy surrounding John unlike anything I had ever experienced.  It wasn’t even lusting  on my part.  It was being in the presence of something epic.  I had never been around a charisma that was at its peak that way.  I cannot describe it to you.  There is no other movie star I have ever been around who carried the energy John did in those days with Grease and Fever. And the funny thing is that John didn't even know how good he was.”

 

 

Every once in a while a movie comes along that no one expects much from, but somehow becomes special.  Most people point to Casablanca as the best example.  In a similar fashion, Saturday Night Fever became a classic as well. 

Despite the low expectations for Stigwood’s scrappy low-budget Disco movie, this hard-hitting story of directionless youth with Travolta as the Dancing James Dean packed quite a punch.

Travolta was very convincing as the ambitious young man who yearned to make something of himself.  Saturday Night Fever struck a chord with audiences all over the world

The movie changed John Travolta’s life.  What Marlon Brando and James Dean were to the Fifties and Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison were to the Sixties, Travolta achieved equal status in the Seventies.  Saturday Night Fever gave the decade its cultural identity and John Travolta became a pop culture icon. 

Thanks to Robert Stigwood's gut-feeling about his boys, Fever revived the career of the Bee Gees.  Their original music score anchored the best-selling movie soundtrack album of all time.  

And the box office?  Saturday Night Fever would go on to gross $285 million.  Its combined box office and soundtrack sales would make it one of the most lucrative films in history. 

Lost in the all the hoopla was the original budget... $3.5 million.  Robert Stigwood truly had the Midas Touch.

As for me, considering the importance Saturday Night Fever had on my life, I studied Robert Stigwood with intense curiosity.  How do successful people become successful? 

In Stigwood's case, it was obvious that he had a keen eye for talent.  Another characteristic was Stigwood's willingness to bet on his own instincts.  Of course talent and original ideas are a prerequisite to success.  However, often the difference between a successful person and an unknown is the courage one has to bet on one's ideas and take a calculated risk. 

Most of all I could not escape the feeling that Stigwood was Lucky.  In fact, I am surprised at the number of successful people who cite 'Luck' as a major factor.  Many tales of successful people involve being in the right place at the right time.  Thanks to a lucky break, they were chosen for a position ahead of other people just as talented and just as ambitious.

To me, the story of Robert Stigwood is pure Fate.  At this one magic time in his life, everything turned to Gold.  Even when Stigwood screwed up... John Avildsen and the Bee Gees story for example... things worked out to perfection.  The way I see it, someone up there liked Robert Stigwood. 

To me, the funniest thing of all is that the entire phenomenon started on a fake story.  Without Slick Nik and his brazen nerve to pass off a fairy tale as the Real Thing, Disco would be little more than a footnote as silly music from the Seventies. 

There would be no Bee Gees megahits, no Travolta superstardom, no Disco acrobatics, and no nostalgic Disco parties complete with ugly clothes, bad jokes and funny hair. 

All this because some English stiff made up a wild yarn and sold it as truth.  Barry Gibb once said to Nik Cohn, “This is all your bloody fault, isn’t it?”  Cohn just nodded.

I don't approve of Cohn's methods, but Nik the Slick was clearly Destined to play a major role in this unusual story.  I daresay Nik was taking a Magic Carpet Ride of his very own. 

Nik Cohn definitely got lucky.  But you know what?  So did a lot of people!  Stigwood, Travolta, Cohn, Wexler, the Bee Gees to name a few.  Throughout the behind-the-scenes story of Fever, I got the feeling that everyone involved suddenly became smarter, more instinctive and creative than at any other time in their life.  Everyone was at the top of their game. Using a sports cliché, it was a career year for everyone.

The way Fever worked out so perfectly defies the imagination.  In fact, so many things clicked, one might believe Robert Stigwood had the Wheel of Fortune spinning in his direction and brought everyone else along for the ride.

Do you believe in Synchronicity yet?
 


 


 

 


THE MAGIC CARPET RIDE

CHAPTER SIXTY SEVEN:  CROSSROAD 

 

015 030 045 060 075 090 105 120 135 150
INTRO CSU HUBRIS MOONDANCE CATASTROPHE TREACHERY COINCIDENCE DR. HILTON CHILDHOOD TERRY

001

002 003 004 005 006 007 008 009 010
ABANDONMENT ST. JOHN'S FATE TWO MOTHERS INFERIORITY BASKETBALL MR. SALLS LEPROSY PAINT IT BLACK COMEBACK
011 012 013 014 015 016 017 018 019 020
LOSING MY MIND LITTLE MEXICO COLLEGE FEARS SELF DESTRUCT ABYSS VISITOR M BALLANTYNE TWILIGHT ZONE PROPHECY FINISH LINE
021 022 023 024 025 026 027 028 029 030
HEARTBREAK JOHNS HOPKINS BLIND SPOT SUSAN & WITCH MAGIC MYSTERY RIDERS STORM GOOD BAD LUCK LRNED HELPLESS CONFRONTATN COURTESAN
031 032 033 034 035 036 037 038 039 040
PHOBIA LOVE POTION RIVER OAKS 7 PROPOSITION KARMIC TEST REMATCH HELEN GLORIA MARK RACHEL
041 042 043 044 045 046 047 048 049 050
INTERVENTION STRANGER LOVE TRIANGLE MORLOCK MANIMAL CELESTE KATIE BLACK JACK WANDERER GODZILLA
051 052 053 054 055 056 057 058 059 060
PATSY SWAYZE ELENA YEAR OF CAT RUBAIYAT OPPORTUNITY SNF CROSSROAD      
061 062 063 064 065 066 067      
                   
 
  TIMELINE
   1977: December  Saturday Night Fever debut, Robert Stigwood Synchronicity (40)
   1977: October  Opportunity Three: Disco Line Dance class at Stevens of Hollywood, the Three Doors of Opportunity (39)
   1977: September  Opportunity Two: Disco Line Dance class at Memorial JCC
   1977: August  Graduation Night at Rubaiyat (38)
   1977: June  Opportunity One: Disco Line Dance class at the JCC
   1977: April  Bomb Scare class: substitute dance class in JCC parking lot (36), I write a line dance syllabus,  Rosalyn's Gift of summer dance class (37)
   1977: February  Dancing with Elena at the Rubaiyat
 

1977-1979: Magic Carpet Ride

 
   
   1976: December  Lunch with Rosalyn
   1976: October  Rosalyn's line dance class at JCC
   1976: September  Patsy Swayze explains I do not have enough talent to join her dance company
   1976: June  Godzilla plays volleyball
   1976: April  Patsy Swayze's jazz class
   1976: January  Lance Steven's Whip demonstration at Stevens of Hollywood, Roberta's request asking me to take over her class (35)
   1975: September  Gaye Brown-Burke at Vocational Guidance Service (34), Ted Weisgal, Becky at Sundry School Line Dance Class
   1975: August  Katie Disaster at Melody Lane, Mark says goodbye (33)
   1975: July  Sundry School Ballroom class, Katie
   1975: April  Disco Dave ends his class, Phoney Baloney Dance Studio, Morlock Dominates Rice Volleyball
   1975: March  Lucky Break at Rice University (31), Manimal (32), Celeste, Second Office Club
   1975: February  River Oaks Seven vanquished (30)
   1975: January  Farmhouse, Mark's Love Triangle
  1974: December  Juicy and Lucy, Talk to Elena Project, Mark meets Sean, Stranger in a Strange Land
   1974: November  Rachel (28),  Casa Mark, Mark and Donna's Dance Intervention (29)
   1974: October  Gloria (27), Mark
   1974: September  Dilemma, The Prize
   1974: August  Rematch with the River Oaks Seven
  1974: July  Dance Path Synchronicity (24): Courtesan Book (21), Yolanda, Stalled Car Incident (22), Drag Queen Lynn (23), Rejection Phobia activated
 
Dance Class from Hell (25):  Gay Gauntlet, River Oaks Seven, Disco Dave, Parking Lot Inferno, Charles Manson, Magic Mirror (26)
  1974: June  Couch Catatonia
 

1974-1976: The Lost Years

 
   
  1974: May  Dismissed from graduate school
  1974: April  I teach my experimental Psychology class
  1974: March  Debbie and the Cow Eyes Incident
  1974: February   Jason takes me under his wing and tells me to keep trying, Learned Helplessness, Negative Self-Image, Point of No Return
  1974: January   I begin five months of therapy with Dr. Hilton, Epic Losing Streak
  1973: December   Rocky Mountain Menstrual Cramps, Vanessa leaves for Portland, I receive a 'D' in Interviewing, Jackie reveals the truth about Vanessa
  1973: November   Love Affair with Vanessa begins, showdown in Fujimoto's office, Vanessa makes one excuse after another
  1973: October   I meet Vanessa, Portland Woman song (20), butting heads with Fujimoto
 

1973-1974: Colorado State

 
   
  1972-1973: Interlude  Arlene, Mental Hospital, Letty and the Cooler incident
   
  1971-1972:
  Senior at Hopkins
 Disillusionment with the Magical Mystery Tour due to problems at Colvig Silver Camp the summer of 1971
  1970-1971:
  Junior at Hopkins
 Camp Counselor Daydream (19), Colvig Silver Camp in Colorado
  1969-1970:
  Sophomore at Hopkins
 Connie Kill Shot, Dr. Lieberman, Depression Realization, Susan and the Witch at Quaker Meeting, Magical Mystery Tour,
 Antares-Astrology eye injury (17), Séance with Vicky, Ghost of Terry (18)
  1968-1969:
  Freshman at Hopkins
 Emily at the Train Station (16), Sanctuary at Aunt Lynn's house, Car stolen in December, Night School Computer class
 

1968-1973: Johns Hopkins

 
   
   1967-1968: 12th Grade  Mr. Salls asks me to apply to Johns Hopkins, Mom's Cosmic Stupidity regarding child support check (09), Little Mexico, Cheating in Chemistry
 Christmas Eve blowup with mother
, Father gives me Edgar Cayce book at Christmas, Foot in the Door Strategy, Father's $400 insult,
 Off Limits Chemistry Restroom, Caught cheating in German (10), Lost Jones Scholarship to Katina, Edge of The Abyss,
 Mrs. Ballantyne fails to connect with me at SJS for 9 years (11), Cosmic Meeting with Mrs. Ballantyne at Weingarten's (12),
 Ralph O'Connor hands me a scholarship to Hopkins, Close Call Car Accident (13), Senior Prom Cheryl (14), Heartbreak with Terry,
 Senior Year Blind Spot (15)
   1966-1967: 11th Grade  New identity forms at Weingarten's, I buy a car
   1965-1966: 10th Grade  Locker Room fight, Set of weights appears (07), George Broyles is paralyzed, Second skin operation,
 Father denies third skin operation, Weingarten's job (08)
  1964-1965:  9th Grade  Profile of Mr. Salls, Acne Attack (05), Basketball strike on swollen face (06), First skin operation
   1963-1964: 8th Grade  Knocked unconscious playing football due to blind eye, quit 8th Grade basketball team, Caught stealing at Weingarten's,  
 Granted full scholarship to SJS, Summer Basketball Project, Discovery of chess book (04)
   1962-1963: 7th Grade  Katina Ballantyne joins my class, Illness at Boy Scout camp leads to invisibility, I feel I don't belong at SJS, Uncle Dick pays my tuition at SJS
   1961-1962: 6th Grade  Mom's suicide attempt at the bayou, Terry runs away in Hurricane Carla, Blue Christmas (03)
   1960-1961: 5th Grade  Dad remarries, Obsession with the St. John's Mother's Guild, Comparisons between my mother and Mrs. Ballantyne begin
   1959-1960: 4th Grade  Divorce, 4th grade at St. John's, Mom begins to fall apart, Dad abandons me for  his girlfriend
 

1959-1968: St. John's

 
    
   1955  Cut my eye out (01), Near Death experience with Stock Car (02)
   1949  Born in Philadelphia
 

  

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