Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Steve!

9 comments:

Todd Mason said...

What vintage photo are we looking at there? And who might be whom?

Anonymous said...

Arrrrrrrrrr....looks like two pirates and a rabbit.

K. A. Laity said...

LOL -- might help, eh? That's me and my brothers, Steve on the left, Robert in the middle and me, of course, on the right. What year? Hmmm. That's harder to guess: 1967 or 1968?

K. A. Laity said...

Not so much a rabbit as, er, a bunny obviously. I had no idea. Must have absorbed the image from the media...

Todd Mason said...

It was your Gloria Steinem costume. Your next step was to go hang out with boys dressed as Terry Gilliam and Harvey Kurtzman...

K. A. Laity said...

LOL, yes, that's obviously it! My feminist roots, though tipping toward MAD.

Todd Mason said...

(Just for the mildly intrigued, Steinem and Gilliam were Harvey Kurtzman's assistants at his most sustained post-MAD magazine, the early-'60s HELP!, which was a pretty remarkable confluence of all kinds of talent (ranging from Woody Allen and John Cleese and Orson Bean as "fumetti" actors to Bernard Sher-Cliff, Algis Budrys, Robert Sheckley, Gilbert Shelton, Jay Lynch and others as writers/cartoonists, even if publisher James Warren, he of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and CREEPY, wasn't paying anyone nearly enough to ensure their consitent best work.)

I wrote most of the WIKIPEDIA article on HELP! that has survived so far...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help!_(magazine)

K. A. Laity said...

I didn't know Steinem worked on HELP! I just read an interview with Gilliam where he went into detail about the chance meeting that led to his working on the mag. Very cool.

Todd Mason said...

http://www.tcj.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=36&Itemid=48

WARDLE: What was it like working for Harvey? Was he a tough guy to work for, or was he very easygoing?

GILLIAM: It was easy 'cause he was a really sweet man, and basically Help! magazine consisted of Harvey and me as the editorial staff. Harry Chester was the production guy. He had his own production outfit and he would handle Help! production, and I was earning two dollars a week less than I would've earned on the dole.

WARDLE: But you were doing what you wanted.

GILLIAM: Right. So I was getting $50 a week basically, working for Harvey, and the magazine was coming out bi-monthly at the time, which left me a lot of time to do other things.

WARDLE: Gloria Steinem worked there too, didn't she?

GILLIAM: No, she was the first assistant editor of Help! She sort of hid this part of her career, which is a great pity because she was brilliant. The early Help!'s always had famous people on the cover, and that was Gloria who would get them on. Except I got Woody Allen. Gloria didn't get him, but she did get Dick Van Dyke.

WARDLE: You got John Cleese.

GILLIAM: Yeah, and Gloria was brilliant at getting famous people to be in Help! magazine. She was also brilliant at doing the caption pictures. Very funny lady.

WARDLE: How did you run into John Cleese and get him to be in that fumetti [photo story with word balloons], "Christopher's Punctured Romance," about the man who falls in lust with a Barbie doll?

GILLIAM: Well, the thing with fumettis is that we paid actors the giant sum of $15 a day to appear in these little photo stories. So we were very good at getting out-of-work actors, and John was appearing in Cambridge Circus, which had arrived in New York on the coattails of Beyond the Fringe. Now, unlike Beyond the Fringe, which was a big success, Cambridge Circus was not, and ended up in [Greenwich] Village Square East or one of those kinds of places, and I went and saw it. I thought it was wonderful, brilliant stuff, and John, as usual, just stood out from the crowd 'cause he was so grotesque.