Saturday, February 5, 2011

Balls, life's Secret scenarios #6 Fritz & Babs Take It All The Way

Forty years ago, at age 36, Dubake was in Stockholm, Sweden, sitting in one of two large leather chairs in a TV screening room at Sveriges Radio Two, National Swedish Television studios. On the large TV monitor in from of him, Fritz’s two-hour Lenny Bruce Collage, all the materials for a documentary film he’s working on, unfolds before him.

Nini Mathiesson, sitting with a clipboard in a chair next to Fritz, wearing headphones, is taking notes as Lenny Bruce’s stand-up performance footage runs, clip after clip, on the giant monitor. Nini, in her mid thirties, is that blond, blue eyed totally gorgeous Swede who also happens to be the very efficient Assistant Producer to Ingmar Bergman, the great film director. And Bergman—right along with Fellini and Antonioni—is Fritz’s lifelong filmmaker idol of all time! 

Nini, smiling at most of Lenny’s shtick and bits on the TV screen, while Fritz guffaws on every Lenny punch line and hip quip.
“This material on Lenny Brooce is quite phenomenal Fritz. . .really excellent!
I have Mr. Bergman on my headphones, he’s watching your collage too in his office, and he says he’s delighted!  How did you possibly manage to find so much material? We couldn’t find one foot of film on the man here in Sweden or in Europe for that matter.”
Fritz, excited by what she said about Bergman watching too.
They talk with their eyes glued to the images:
Fritz lights a cigarette. “I knew him personally. When I met him in 1964, we became quite good friends. Then when he overdosed and died—he passed away not two years later in ’66—my wife Barbara and I decided to collect as much film and TV footage on him that we could find, taking us four years to unearth it all. We traveled cross-country to all the TV stations, police stations and all the local jails and courtrooms where he was constantly being arrested or tried in various on-going court procedures all over the States, both for obscenity and drug charges. Absolutely totally ridiculous persecution of this extremely funny talented bright individual. Some of this stuff was truly very hard to first of all find, and then, to come by, acquire.”

They watch as the full collage of film clips come to an end.

“Nini, this is a dream for me. I’d never in my life expected to come face-to-face with this man himself. He’s the master. I know every scene in every film he has ever made.  Do I actually get to meet him?”
“He’ll be in very shortly Fritz. . .and all of the actors, too, the ones working with him on his five-part program we’re making; he wants us to run it once more—all the way through so that he and the actors can come watch in this studio with you. Of course, if you don’t mind?” she tells Fritz.


The lights now go dark in the screening room and Dubake’s Lenny Bruce footage begins to roll again.  Slowly Fritz becomes aware of first two or three people entering the darkened room, then more people moving silently behind them, sitting to his left or right all around he and Nini.  The full Lenny Bruce collage is run again without stops or comment from anyone in the room. 

The clips finally comes to an end, the 16mm tail leader flipping in the projector. Lights come up very slowly; Fritz begins to recognize all of the Bergman film actors smiling at him—“just other ordinary people mind you!” Nini had warned him not to make a fuss over them.  And here they are all sitting cross-legged on the floor.  Fritz searches past them to catch his very first glimpse of Ingmar, standing in the doorway. Fritz muses, "he must have been there all the time, watched all of it again?"  As the room lights come fully on, a milling of heads and applauding hands and compliments swirl at Dubake.  Smiling, staring in awe at all of them, he is overcome with fast flash-cut visions of all of these very actors, their faces flying at him from every Bergman film he has seen and studied a hundred times.

Fritz, came to see me to tell me about it when he was back in the Apple a week later:
“That was the first time I swear it Dutch that that ever happened to me. I remember Timmy Leary telling me that after you drop a lot of acid and then don’t take any for a while, you can have these sometimes unwanted fast cut lucid moments that come upon you even without the drug. In that screening room scene in Stockholm last week, I had it really happen to me—but it was completely totally wanted and enjoyed, believe me—I definitely did not freak out!”

Dubake from Stockholm is on the phone to Barbara in New York City.  Barbara, now 34, is juggling the call while serving supper to Sheara and Natalie, her matching set of nine year old twin girls and Jeffrey, her seven year-old baby boychicle.

Dubake’s phone call home is from Nini Mathiesson’s bedroom; who is fast asleep next to him. Her flawless back is being stroked softly by him as he speaks to his wife.
“Fritz. . . don’t tell me you met all of them?  Bergman himself, Liv Ulmann, Bibi Anderson. Von Siddow?  You’ve gotta be kidding!?”
“Absolutely not kidding!  Also, coming home with a $28,000 check made out to you from Sveriges Radio 2…Swedish National TV!”
“I don’t believe this!  You’re a fucking genius, my Fritzledick!”
“I’m looking at the check right now in my fat fist!”
“This sounds good. Great! I can get the twins into Professional Children’s School. Wow!—what a major gas for all of us Fritz.  Congratulations darling!. 

Fritz, happy with her delight.  "Yeah I'm's very cool."

"So tell me, from Amsterdam and the ‘First Annual S.U.C.K. Film Festival’ to Stockholm and Ingmar Bergman—how does that happen, unfold, tell me?”

He fills her in: That his film "Room Service" won best prize for a documentary in the Festival and that he also for the first time last night showed his 1200ft 16mm Lenny Collage at the American Hotel in Amsterdam, on the wall, in the night club—a place that goes wild till dawn every night....and then "much too early this morning I get this remarkable wake-up phone call from Stockholm, from a Nini, Production Assistant I figured, telling me that an Ingmar Bergman 'spy' in Amsterdam saw the Lenny Brooce footage last night, called Bergman about it and that, Mr. Behrgmahn, her boss, who is presently making a five-part TV series on Lenny, would like for me to fly up to Stockholm today to show him my collage reel, all expenses paid by Swedish TV?"

Barbara goes on,
“Wow..that's so heavy Fritz!   
By the way, Vinnie Caves tells me Janie and you were in a sex orgy just the other night at The American Hotel in Amsterdam?  True?”
“Yes!  Hey, word gets around the world pretty fast these days, don’t it?”, Fritz jokes with her.
“Well, Fritz.  You do know that Janie’s trying to hurt Vincent in every way she can these days. I think they’re gettng very close to breaking their marriage up?  She called Vince today to tell him about meeting you, and hanging with you at the Film Festival in Amsterdam, and the wall-to-wall orgies—she also called me this AM when you suddenly flew off to Stockholm, waking me up.  She’s leaving him you know and was crying to me about all his blatant philandering.   Did you fuck Janie?  Vince called me earlier today, told me she told him you did—he’s pissed with you about that!…me too…why are you such a fucking slut Fritz!”

“Babe, I can’t wait to see you. Tell you about it, see you tomorrow before noon. Swedish TV’s flying me to Kennedy first class on a Red Eye tonight. How are my little girls and the my little man?  Please kiss them all for me momma. . .okay?. Bye. . .I love you.”
“I love you too. . .Fritz be careful with that check. Twenty-eight thousand!  Is it on a U.S. bank?  American cash Moanay?”
“Yes, yes, mon cherry!  Cash monait!  Certified.  I can finish putting ‘Lenny Without Tears’  together now—you’ll help me”

They had one great thing going these two, eh? This is not to say they didn’t also live through battles and stormy events in their relationship; one, remarkably, which lasted intensely for nearly thirty years. Read on! 

For starters, they showed their parents absolutely no resistance to getting married in 1954. They demanded it and even if F&B personally didn’t believe in the sanctity or necessity of marriage, they accepted it and—being in love and committed as they were to each other—gladly succumbed to it. It was about their having kids and making a family that began some very early on fights and stubborn tugs of war between them but, eventually, within five or six years together, Babs gave in beautifully in her own loving devoted way and, at age 26, she presented Fritz with the most wonderful set of twin girls, and then twenty months later, with a baby son—all of them growing fast and gloriously into these three remarkably, well-behaved, artistic, beautifully talented kids. 

This, even after she did three aborted pregnancies conceived from whence they began living together on University Place in Greenwich Village.  They fucked like bunnies these two; they never used protection.   So, in addition to being extremely  fertile, one could also say about my Fritz and his Lady B—especially him knocking her up so many times—they also could be extremely stupid!

The first pregnancy was when Barbara just turned 20, a week after they got married. She deeply felt she wasn’t ready for kids yet—and she probably wasn’t.  It was something Fritz didn’t handle all that easily about Babs and he began brooding over it, having deep depressions with it.  It was very tough for him accepting the idea of aborting all these pregnancies in her early 20’s, especially since she and her father made all the decisions on that course of action, each time—and Sol had the bucks to back her up, pay for them—they went about getting the abortions done on their own, only telling Fritz about it after the fact.

She found him crying to himself a few times and knew how hurt Fritz was about it and then, finally, she brought herself mentally into the full perspective and commitment of their relationship in 1959 when their marriage was into its fifth year. 

Fritz was in out-of-town tryouts in Boston for his next Broadway show—he got himself a featured role in “Silent Night Lonely Night” by Robert Anderson, directed by Peter Glenville, and starring Henry Fonda and Barabara Bel Geddes—when Babs came to visit Fritz; arriving early AM one starry night in his Boston Hotel, she whispered some delicious news in his ear.
They made love until well past dawn; she whispered to him that she was pregnant again. She began kissing him so deeply, so meaningfully, that he held her strongly in an endless embrace, she said this time " I want to have the baby."
They both were ecstatic, and they had the longest deepest orgasm together, totally, way down there and screamingly so high as well, so together.  

Fritz always felt, in his own way, this very heightened loving night in Boston was the actual conception that led to the stupendous birth of their gorgeous twin girls; Natalie and Sheara, born prematurely some 7 months later during the Broadway run of "Silent Night Lonely Night".

So through it all they worked uncannily to preserve this remarkable connection between them. Now, they would be a family of four, and within two years, a second conception was carried through to term, and in 1961: Baby (Jeffrey) Made Five For The Dubake family!

But, did any of all that change them in any way? Not a bit!  Both Fritz and Babs were beautiful but both were quite in-stone stubborn individualists.  Because in some ways—remember this was their era these 60’s, this so-called “sexual & social revolution’, which they thought they personally started, and now it was resonating world-wide and gaining ground and really happening—and F&B were still this very wild couple and they had made their pact of personal realities; they meant to keep it and weren’t about to give it up!  Some of their friends and acquaintances thought it total bullshit, a married couple with three kids; most thought it some form of mutual madness, their idea, this pact. Some felt they were flirting with disaster; this idea that they both could have myriad sexual peccadilloes, whilst on their own—only when apart in different cities—and perhaps, even do an occasional menage a trois or quatre when together—like with Janie and Vince—but always based on their “non-unfaithful ” pact.  One had to wonder did this wild craziness of theirs, even during their early child rearing years, give their long-time relationship this breath of spring they both craved; this continuous mysterious excitement between them?  Unfathomably, they did manage to have this ongoing deal between them: that they could play around ad infinitum; but never talk about it, neither to each other nor to anyone else.  Never sleep out on each other whilst in the same city, and always, I mean always, tell the person or persons you are about to get it on with that you’re married with children and make sure that particular fuckee will never call you at home since nothing could ever come of it because ‘I am a person who is taken for life’ is what they'd say—that’s what they both had to tell any other sexual partners. 

Something I’m sure made it freeing and so much less fraught and complex sexually for their mutual oobjays duh desiray.

Great, for them I thought!  Just some juicy intense, hot pussy and cock, spectacular novel sport-fucking, possibly to be remembered or not, as in a dream, a momentary orgasmic sexual rainbow, but afterward, absolutely meaningless, meaning nothing more to either of them, except when Babs and Fritz got it on together, only then did love and sexuality come together, mean something very deeply, ‘for just us two in the whole world,’ so to speak.

Nobody else could bring this idea off without some pending disaster; so how and why could they for 30 years?  I ask… jealously, I guess?  I tried with my wife and family, but I couldn’t.

This 'pact', tatelleh Da Bake claims, was the juice between himself and Babs that made their life together work; certainly their sex together.  Constantly exciting them, consistently intriguing them to nurture more deeply erotic, unassailable heights of sexual experimentation, and excitement in each other.

And, luckily for them it just kept getting stronger and stronger from there—from the day they first met at Louis Tavern in The Village. Right up to the end of 60 day furlough when he had to go back to duty and be processed to ship out overseas.  They never stopped making love to one another hour upon hour to the very last minute when he had to board the ship.  He'd even rented a motel room for the last week near the US Army’s Camp Kilmer in New Jersey—the Northeast's deployment depot for US forces being processed to Europe—where, to be with her, he would sneak out of camp nightly, slipping under a barbed wire fence next to the motel; she waited for him there to spend afternoons and their nights together in that room.

Or, just anywhere they could find a spot—in a bathroom or bedroom at some party in the Village; and once or twice even on a deserted BMT subway car having to take her home very late some nights to Brighton Beach.  This was everyday for them, 24/7, their last two weeks together, to the last moment she walked him down to the dock to board this awful smelly US Army troop ship, The USS Brooklyn, to sail across the Atlantic; his first stop Casablanca, North Africa for a half-day on shore and then back on ship across the Mediterranean to debark in Pisa, Italy for what would prove to be a very lucky assignment as a US Army Entertainment Specialist—theatrical show-making duties—in post WWII US-Allied occupied Europe. Even so, all the way across the ocean and the first weeks being processed in Italy for his home base duty in Linz, Austria, he would never stop thinking about her, knowing full well she was also thinking about him.

Once he shipped out, Barbara, now 18, with a pretty good pair of ca-hones of her own, got her father to give her a thousand dollars so she could follow Fritz to Europe to cement being his ‘old lady".  To hook up again, set it even stronger now and be with him even in the army—if she could. To be his camp follower all over Europe, perhaps even helping him with his Special Services duties.  These far flung non-military show-biz duties took them both to every major Western European capital city.  Wherever all those hundreds of thousands of soldier-boy and girl GIs were victoriously stationed and quartered, in dire need of some good ole American entertainment—like, in Paris, Vienna, Munich, London, Berlin, Rome, Venice, Hamburg, Frankfort, Paris, Florence, back to Vienna, and Paris!  They spent over a full year traipsing all over Europe together.  Pretty much all on Uncle Sam’s and Poppa Sol's nickle and dime.  Fritz staged Variety Talent Beauty Pageant Shows and a full musical of "Down In The Valley" using out-of-work French and German operetta performers together with American soldier boy singers, dancers  and army musicians. Babs turned out to be a phenomenal Assistant Director and Stage and Business Manager for Fritz.  

The US Army pay was peanuts so Solomon sent Babs another thousand bucks and then Dubake got super lucky again. 

"Something about that earthquake I was born in Dutch " he told me in his weekly overseas phone call telling me all about it, as follows:

Major General Ken Nakagawara, Fritz's Camp Commander in Linz, Austria—Fritz's home base—really appreciated having Fritz as his Entertainment Specialist..  The General thought he was very funny, a good guy and a boast able "Broadway star" to boot!  So at a big US Army brass shindig in Munich, he meets a Mr. Bert Balaban of Hollywood, a film producer, who was in Europe to shoot some TV films in Munich on the cheap—for USA and Canadian late-night TV, avoiding the high union shooting rates at that time in NYC.  He was looking for American actors for featured roles.  Major Nakagawara calls Fritz in, tells him he wants him to try out for Balaban's runaway films.  Says it's all set up and flies Fritz (and Babs too, as an Army Dependant) on a MATS Army Transport flight, in a harrowing P-38, low-flying flight down to Munich to meet Mr. Balaban.   Based on his Broadway background alone, Fritz wins himself two featured co-starring roles in a couple of 6-day wonder ‘runaway’ TV film productions.  In the first, playing a US Navy Submarine Officer starring Don Ameche, and, in the second shoot, 2 weeks later, to play a young American jazz drummer on the loose in post-war Berlin.  In this one, something called "Doorway To Suspicion”, he got co-star billing after Jeffrey Lynn, Akim Tamiroff and Hildegard Neff.

They both were quickies, slickly thrown together by a hack British Director, Nigel something or other, and as films left much to be desired. 
But Fritz got to make DM 50,000 cash (approx $18,000 US) combined for both six-day shoots at the Bavaria Filmkuntz Geiselgasteig Studios, outside Munich.  The same old 1920's film studios where Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and "M" were made in German cinema's Golden Age before the Nazi Fascists came into power.

He and Babs were picked up and limo’d back and forth daily from their hotel in Munich for the three weeks of work.  And almost every night, while Fritz was taking off his make-up and Babs hanging up his uniform or costume, they were inevitably asked out to Parties by the really friendly German actors and crew members.  Some of these late-night parties were bashes at immense old German Castles in the countryside, given by wildly rich and very weird old-world German Counts and Duchesses—right out of Luchino Visconti's "The Damned".  These bacchanalian goings-on were attended by some really terrific post-war European stars who were also doing films at Geiselgastieg at that time: a very young Hardy Kruger, a younger Mr. Goldfinger, Curt Juergens, and sometimes, the stunning Hildegard Neff...Akim once tagged along.  Don Ameche and Jeff Lynn, not. 

When they returned to the Apple—first to get back was Babs at the behest of her father who was running out of money and patience.  Fritz was discharged Honorably at Camp Kilmer after having completed his tour, just 3 months later. 

They both claimed to have suffered actual physical pain being apart from each other for those three months! 

Once Fritz got got out of his uniform, within a day or two of The USS Brooklyn docking in Hoboken, New Jersey, they both dove headlong back into their passionate affair the moment they could meet and catch sight of each other again.  And again, it was In the Village—right out of buddy-boy Fritz’s dramatic playbook—they arranged to reunite at Louis Tavern.

It was just so intense again this time.  They decided that night to halt all charade and immediately move in together in the City. They got a copy of The Village Voice classifieds, poured over it at Louis, and that evening, found a small pad on University Place and East 11th Street.  A top floor walk-up with a slanted ceiling, a one room efficiency studio apartment, very sparsely, simply furnished.  Fritz, with a bunch of cash from the TV film jobs, paid the deposit plus one months rent and they both moved in that night with only what they were wearing.  It was $68 per month plus gas and electric.  When they awoke the next day they both called home to Brooklyn and told their folks they were no longer living at home—they were living together.

Almost immediately, at noon, a flock of Brooklyn Jewish seagulls arrived, cawing and screaming at them all at once.  Both sets of parents and Julie, her older sister, came down on them, an intervention convention; with one loudly unequivocal demand: 
That Fritz marry Barbara.

Barbara at The Waldorf, October 1954, Fritz & Barbara's Wedding 

It was October of 1954, she was 20, Fritz was 22.

Both had been extremely promiscuous since their early teens, and if they were to marry—both easily agreed to do so, without argument, right away—what they had more importantly to sort out was for both of them a deep mutual desire to cement a relationship that would never falter, and would never break apart.

They firstly swore never to abandon each other—that was the number one clause in the pact; two, to have a marriage-partnership in which they both could be abjectly honest with each other about their most personal feelings and mostly true to their sexuality; not only as lovers but also—and this became the basis it all—letting go, not expecting or accepting that which they both truly believed was always stupidly hypocritical: the ludicrous expectation of sexual monogamy. To pledge to so-called ‘fidelity.’ would be impossible for them, these two avidly honest people, they knew that so clearly about themselves. They knew money would never be an issue between them, so to their mutual minds-eye thinking the whole 'sexual fidelity' BS was the major bugaboo threat not only to theirs—as they saw it—but to almost all other broken and failed relationships and marriages—either on the one hand as a result of abject boredom or the other green-eyed monster, jealousy.   Realizing who they were, as I have said, a couple of sprightly nymphs, they would not restrict their own separate sexual quests for pleasure, never let go of those thrills, life’s natural experiential excitements and amusements. They could not be untrue to themselves and deny each other the right to feel free in your own body with whoever and whomever turned your head, turned you on, fancied you, got your dick or nipple hard or your pussy wet, as long as it wasn’t with relatives, competitors, or anyone too close to their inner circle. 
Clause Three: they would, without fail, come home to each other to sleep together any particular night of any dalliance if they were both in the same city, and to do so strictly at a decent hour.  Primarily, and most important to it all: that they would never begin or have any affairs with anyone they fucked for fun. Never go back for seconds.  One-offs only!

This early ‘50s pact they made before they married with this strictest clause of non-abandonment, a covenant in their fast growing love and sexual heat for each other: nobody leaves nobody in this relationship, ever!  They swore that to each other!  And that by no word or gesture or whisper to anyone else in the world would they ever cause pain or hurt feelings diminishing one another; or by boasting about any given peccadillo or encounter they had indulged in.  In other words, the now very famous Clintonian “don’t ask, don’t tell” school, enabling and empowering each other to play around as much as they wanted, but strictly never in any manner to hurt or cheat on each other. 

At its utmost, the non-abandonment and self-identity freedoms clauses would in tandem preserve what they both felt was their life’s most positive purpose:  The Pleasure Principal rationale—never repress your own growth and experiences that freedom and independence can bring to you with your own body and mind. That you own your own life. Man or Woman, even within an intimate partnership!

Of course, it never exactly all worked out that way.  Babs was gorgeous, in her 20’s now, and, in the early years of their fantastic marriage, she still had guys coming on to her one after the other, as well as calls from any number of men who couldn’t forget her or didn’t want to forget her. So what if she did meet and marry this wise guy actor-filmmaker she loves, Fritz Dubake, and has three wonderful kids with him?  So, what if some one ‘gorgeous’ comes on to her—or him—someone very attractive comes on to either of them in a nice, hot, sexy way?  In that case, neither Babs nor Fritz would ever refuse their own immediate curiosity and the pleasure would be taken; and That’s The Way They Were.

And of course there were glitches and problems, and arguments and fist fights, about some unfairness or some other hurtful slights between them, but, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, it worked brilliantly for these two friends of mine for nearly thirty years!

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