Originally posted: July 29, 2012 by CHRISTOPHER RIORDAN
Today's Profile Picture: STUDIO ONE
In 1974, my friend, LEONARD GRANT, called me. He asked if we could meet for dinner, as he wanted to pick my brain. Seems he, and eight other investors were going to go in together and rent the old Factory Building in West Hollywood, and then turn it into a Disco. Only thing was; none of them knew anything about bars, restaurants, or the like. And.... I did!
Our dinner meeting went well, and LEONARD seemed pleased that he had some information to return with.
As it turned out, more meetings ensued, and eventually, LEONARD told me that the main investor wanted to meet me. And so, I was ultimately introduced to a guy named, Scott Forbes. I knew immediately that this was a man with a strong ego.
You certainly couldn't say that he was good looking; but his attitude bluffed his way through many a situation. Anyway, after several meetings and conversations over the new business, Mr. Forbes eventually asked me to come in and be a part of his team. In effect, I was to put the nightclub together. I accepted the offer, and began calling all my former connections.
I'm not going to say it wasn't fun; it was. I picked out the alcohol to be served, and the glasses in which they'd be presented. And then I was asked to do the hiring of the help. Right off the bat, I figured we needed at least fifty-five employees. There was a bar at the entrance, which needed two bartenders, and two bar boys. In the Disco, there were ten other ordering stations for drinks. Each, needing two men to serve, two to bar-back; and then there were the cocktail waiters that roamed the dance area. There was a Game Room, with yet another large bar. We had a small lounge at the other end of this City Long Block Building; then a restaurant, and eventually, a Show Room, called, The Back Lot. And we had to have Security. I hired every one of the original crew. And some, I am still in touch with.
I worked my ass off for this club. I spent as many hours at the club as I ever did on a film set.
Sometime before we opened, Scott came and told me he and his investors would like me to stay on and manage the place. I didn't answer right away, but since film roles were far and few between at this time, I decided to accept.
A line I had in "A Thousand Clowns" was, "There's oddness here." And that about depicts the situation as I took on the new position.
As I said, Mr. Forbes had a huge ego. And he wanted to take credit for all ideas that proved to work. This was an attitude that I would become familiar with when I ultimately worked with the Dancers Organization. Frankly, I was more used to collaborative unions. Such is usually the case in stage and film productions. Of course, there are, and have been, exceptions.
Our group of investors was quite an assortment of characters, as well. The only one I was familiar with, was LEONARD GRANT. LEONARD was a personal manager for several celebrities. He never managed me, but he did work for my friend, ARON KINCAID. For a while, I often saw LEONARD at social functions; and that's how I knew him best. I have to say, he was always a gentleman with me.
There were two young fellows involved in the Disco project; neither of whom seemed very versed in any kind of business. I was told that the 'saner' of the two, was Scott's ex-lover. The bizarre, odd looking child was his current lover.
There were four others who seemingly had rather small amounts invested; and then, for the most part, remained as 'almost' silent partners.
Rounding out the entire roster was a very charming black man, by the name of Ernie Carruthers. I liked Ernie very much; but I later lost respect for him for the way he allowed Scott to use him. In Mr. Forbes's own words, he explained, "Ernie's allowed to be an investor so that we can keep his kind out." This remark is telling of Scott's so called sense of humour. And he repeated this remark often; as HE thought it was very funny. And, very clever of him to think of this angle. ('Why, weren't not prejudiced...we even have a black man as one of our investors.')
Now, originally, the club was talked about as being even a 'step up' from the former, The Factory. They all knew that being in West Hollywood, they were going to get a gay crowd. But Scott didn't want gay blacks. Only famous blacks. And he didn't want any lesbians. All sorts of devices were conceived to keep out Scott Forbes' idea of undesirables.
Scroll down for PART 2.
Originally posted: July 31, 2012 by CHRISTOPHER RIORDAN
STUDIO ONE, Part 2
Today's Profile Picture: Scott Forbes
I often got credit for having our handsome help wearing nothing but tank tops (with their names on them,) and very short shorts. Truth is, that was Scott's idea. In fact, in the beginning, he wanted the guys to be topless. I told him that would definitely offend, and go against the Health Department.
There were meetings about every little thing. But the end result was almost always in whatever Mr. Forbes wanted. He had the most shares, and his vote dominated.
The one thing he and I always agreed upon, however, was the hiring of the help. In fact, when the club opened I got written up as having hired the crew as M-G-M used to cast a film. "Not surprising, since MR. RIORDAN began at M-G-M in the first place."
When word got out about the exceptionally good looking staff, Scott immediately began taking credit for the hiring. I don't know when he could have done this; as he was still operating his optometry business, while I was taking care of most of the pre-opening problems.
Not an easy task, by the way, since while I was working, I had the many investors dropping by, inspecting, asking questions, and volunteering their opinions. They never did seem to learn that Scott was eventually going to have it ALL his way.
Scott figured the life of the club would be about four years. In actuality, it lasted for fifteen. I, on the other hand, stayed for less than a year. Coming into my office by ten in the morning, and staying until three or four the next morning was one thing; but that's not what caused my demise.
Most people would have quit for a number of other reasons. Somehow, I stayed through all the quarrels, all the disastrous decisions, the opening of the restaurant, the hiring of the chef, how to arrange the showroom, who should open it, the idea of Happy Hour; and perhaps most of all, how do we deal with the landlady, Phyllis Morris?
Ms Morris owned the property where the former camera and munitions factory stood. Phyllis was a former actress, of sorts. She eventually got into interior design, and had married well. A very nice attorney in Beverly Hills, whose name escapes me at the moment.
Phyllis seemed to hate everything, and everybody. She especially hated Scott Forbes. Consequently, she hated everything to do with Studio One. Including me. Even though I had never done a thing to offend her.
The manager of her design business would come to my office daily. Always a new complaint from Phyllis. I asked him one day, "Is that woman every happy with anything?" He was such a sweet guy; and sheepishly, he replied, "No, CHRISTOPHER. She hates. That's what she does best." I asked how her employees felt about her...."You reap what you sow," he answered.
One day the parking area on my side of the building was closed. Therefore, I parked on the south side of the building. As I was getting out of my car, Phyllis and her husband drove in next to me in their black Lincoln Continental. I smiled and tried to walk on. But Phyllis quickly got out of her car and asked me in a demanding tone, "CHRISTOPHER, what year is this Bentley?" "It's a 1950, right hand drive, Phyllis." Standing icily straight she then asked, "And HOW did YOU get this car, CHRISTOPHER?" I gave her an equally icy stare and replied, "I smiled a lot." This infuriated her. However, her husband tried to muffle a big laugh.
There was one time when I really loved this woman though. It was the Christmas season, and Phyllis and her husband, and her daughter came into my office with a gift for Scott. She handed him a very large box. She then ordered him to, "Open it NOW." I loved this, because I could tell from the look on his face, that Scott thought she had actually gotten him something wonderful. Instead, he opened the box.... and there was thee biggest dildo I'd ever seen. Scott didn't know how to react. I was loving this more and more, every second.
"Read the card," she next instructed. And so he did, but he couldn't say anything. I think he wanted us all to think it said something complimentary. After all, he was always hinting as to how well endowed he was.
Somehow, I had the nerve to take the card from his frozen fingers. I read it, and I laughed hysterically. It said, "One big prick to another." She didn't even realize, of course, that could have reflected on her, as well. The hatred between these two was monumental, to say the least.
Scroll down for PART 3
Originally posted: August 3, 2012 by CHRISTOPHER RIORDAN
STUDIO ONE, Part 3
Today's Profile Picture: THE FABULOUS FRANCES FAYE
One morning, way before Scott could get to the club, Phyllis even went so far as to put her signature, in cement... right in front of the entrance of the club. Scott bristled at this, alright. He was livid. But there was nothing he could do about it. And so, he purchased a large mat to cover her name. We had to remove it quickly though; when someone tripped on it and almost got hurt.
Studio One turned out to be a heartbreaking experience; and I never received the monies owed to me. Still, I do have some great memories from the gigantic chore. Thank goodness for my sense of humour.
From the beginning, I met some wonderful waiters, bartenders, etc. And, I got to give jobs to people I knew. These people I either hired again for another project in the future, or people who, over the years, provided me with more than excellent service in my many years as a customer wherever I went.
Some of the customers even became long standing friends. My strongest connections, however, came from the performers who played The Backlot. Of course, I already knew CHITA RIVERA, and CHARLES PIERCE, for example. It was great getting to know PEGGY LEE, WAYLAND FLOWERS (and Madame.) It was I who suggested BARBARA COOK, and JANE OLIVOR.
Scott balked at first, because he'd never heard of these singers. And another singer he had to be talked into, was FRANCES FAYE. MS FAYE, however, got her booking shortly after I had left the club as the General Manager.
I became aware of FRANCES FAYE in the 50's, when she played often at the Crescendo, on the Sunset Strip. And then I enjoyed her when she performed at The Riviera Hotel, in Las Vegas. I was in the big showroom at The Dunes Hotel at the same time. Therefore, I often dashed down the street, either between, or after my shows, to catch her act. I loved her.
As I said, be the time MS FAYE'S booking at The Backlot came about, my tenure was over. But in spite of my resentment, I was determined to re-enter Studio One, and see FRANCES FAYE. At least once.
Word of my appearance traveled fast the night I showed up. Needless to say, Security at the door did not make me wait in line. My friends and I were escorted to the wonderful freight elevator that was used to enter the club upstairs. I later found out that the news of my arrival traveled through the 'walkie-talkie' system at breakneck speed. By the time those vertical elevator doors opened, there were two floor Security men waiting for us.
Poor Mr. Forbes. He no doubt lost a couple of dollars that evening, as all the waiters came to say, 'hello.' The bartenders also left their stations for the same reason. Thus, there were probably a few drink orders that had to wait.
It seemingly took forever to get across the disco floor, and all the way to the other end of the building where the showroom was located. So much time was taken with warm greetings from the help; and by now, some of the customers, that the majority of my group went ahead and secured our table reservation. One friend stayed behind to help me get through the crowd. And when I reached the entrance to the Backlot, Steve, the host, greeted me with a warm hug. "SO good to see you here," he said. "There's a special seat waiting for you." And he, himself, waled me through the audience, and to my table. On the way, I turned to the bar and waved to Gary, the bartender, and Jimmy, his bar boy.
Almost as soon as I sat down, the lights came up, and MS FAYE took to the stage, and her piano. The crowd went wild. I couldn't help wondering if Scott now realized what a good draw FRANCES FAYE was in this town.
As always in her act, FRANCES would sing a few numbers, in that singular style of hers....all the time, playing a bit shamefully with the audience; and then she'd introduce the many celebrities that had attended.
MS FAYE was full of lyrics with double meaning. And often her timing and pauses turned a ballad into an almost X-rated pronouncement. Thus, the very sophisticated stars loved to come and see her. And, see her often. No night was ever the same. But she always announced the famous that sat as near to her as they could. She say things like, "And tonight, BETTY GRABLE is here. I love you, BETTY." And, "The fellow over there, the one that almost became my third husband. What's your name again? Oh, right, JOHNNY RAY." When the laughter died, she'd add, "We couldn't marry because we found out we were related.... in some ODD way." Those who knew of their proclivities would laugh their heads off.
This night was no different. About half way through the show, FRANCES began introducing the notables sitting near by. Each, received a warm applause. Then, all of a sudden, after the fourth or fifth star was introduced, I heard FRANCES say, "And tonight," she purred, "We have CHRISTOPHER RIORDAN..." Before she could finish, there were screams and hoots, and much applause. This, naturally, came from the staff. All those young people that I had hired. Good thing the boss wasn't there that night. He'd not have been happy to see half of his employees standing in the showroom, and arranging this introduction.
When the ovation did die down, MS FAYE continued her comments about me, and asked me to stand. As I arose, the noise started all over again. And when it stopped this time, FRANCES leaned into her microphone and said, (sounding like MAE WEST,) "Oooooh, he must STILL be good."
Needless to say, it was a grand evening. What a pity they all weren't like that when I was working there.
Scroll down for PART 4.
Originally posted: August 7, 2012 by CHRISTOPHER RIORDAN
Today's Profile Picture: Scott Forbes (And more about this picture....later.)
STUDIO ONE, Part 4
My days at the club (in my office) were filled with the usual business problems. And, as always, it's bad enough when you work for an egocentric, border-line sociopath; but I also had to deal with the landlady's daily complaints, and diva attitude. Not to mention the situations the two of them continually cooked up to aggravate each other. Ultimately, I think these antics affected me more than it bothered the two of them. They.... seemed to thrive on such bad behaviour.
Once we had opened, I never had a day (or an evening) off. We opened on time; if only by the skin of our teeth. We had many celebrities, political big-wigs, and the cream of the mid 70's society in attendance. Everybody loved it; and we were written up most favourably the next day. We were NOT a one night wonder. The club was a success from that very first evening. I don't remember having one down day, or a slow night there after.
With all this activity, and seeing cash cross the bars seven nights a week; the investors all began to anticipate their 'kickbacks' sooner, rather than the later. And always, when asked, Scott could come up with thee cleverest of excuses as to why no monies could be paid.... as yet. I knew immediately that this was going to be a huge problem. It was definitely forthcoming. I also wondered how Scott was 'somehow hiding' each night's full receipts. All, but the two lovers, past and present, were asking to see the books, receipts, and whatever else that might shed light, or the truth, if you will, on what we were actually taking in.
On top of juggling the figures, Scott was also juggling his relationship(s.) Now that the club had opened, the ego of Mr. Forbes took a whole new dimension. It knew no bounds. It seemed as though he was thinking that all the people came to see HIM.
In the block-long living room of his, he had the celebrities 'visiting him.' All the young 'twink types;' as I called them, simply came into parade in front of him so that he could make his choice. Soon, the club was taking on a whole new ambiance. And it was one that I wasn't particularly fond of. I loved hosting the celebrities; but frankly, if I want to witness cheap behaviour, there were any number of bars I could go to in the West Hollywood neighborhood.
There are so any stories I could tell about my time at Studio One. I thought it would be easier than it was. The investors liked me, the crew liked me, the customers liked me; but Scott somehow felt intimidated. He was always looking for something that he thought I'd done wrong. Later, someone told me that he hated that I got so much attention; and that many people thought the club was mine. (And, in a way, it was one of 'my children.')
One story I have to tell.... It was a typical busy evening, with customers from all walks of life. I was making my usual rounds, going from one station (bar) to the other, and checking every area.
At one point, I walked down the rather long hallway that led to the Men's Restroom; and I came upon a man that seemed to be pacing in front of the 'Gentlemen's Entrance.' I passed him, checked the restroom, walked the entire hallway, and returned to re-enter the Disco. The little man was still pacing at the Men's Room entrance. I decided to ask him if he needed help. He hemmed and hawed, and finally confessed that he, being a 'straight man,' was afraid to to into the men's room when there were, 'so many of THEM in there.' His connotation was ignorant and insulting. I stepped back, gave him a long look, and repeated my favourite line from "Dinner at Eight." Very drying, I said to him, as I looked him up and down, "Oh, my good man, that's something you never need worry about." Why this troll thought ANYONE would ever approach him, I'll NEVER know.
The fateful night however, was when, in the middle of my rounds, I returned to my office ... for whatever reason; and I interrupted Mr. Forbes when he was on his knees in front of the large safe. It was then that I noticed that the safe had a false floor. THIS is where the 'receipts' were going. The scene, and the look on his face, told me EVERYTHING. I tried to pretend that nothing was out of the ordinary, but I knew, that he knew, that he was busted. When I returned to the dance floor, I couldn't help but wonder how this was ultimately going to played out.
I didn't have to wait long. Two nights later, a woman came in with three men. I'd never seen her before. From the beginning, I was told, she had one complaint after the other. Eventually, she asked for the Manager. My question? Why not the Owner?
Anyway, I was called, went to see what the problem was, and concluded that there was nothing anyone could do for this person. She was Hell-bent on creating a scene, and a problem. And THEN, she asked for the Owner. How did she know he was there? Most weeknights, he was not.
The woman had her act down pat. When she paused, Scott led her to the next grievance. This happened at the end of the evening, so it was easy for the woman to leave; and for Scott and I to have a discussion. End result: I was fired. Though later, at the Unemployment claim, he brought along my secretary to testify that I had quite. 'Gooch,' as we called him, wasn't even there the night in question. Gooch worked for me in the daytime. Sadly, he was someone that came to me in desperate need of work. He was about to loose his apt., etc. (I've been there.) You know.... the usual story. And THIS was how he paid me back. I was shocked, and needless to say, hurt, when I was him at the hearing that I had to fight for, in order to get my payments.
Not to worry, I won the case, and I got my unemployment. What I didn't get, and have never seen a penny of, was the more than Ten Thousand dollars that Scott owed me in percentages.
I eventually went to an attorney about this. But I was told that the only way they could look into this matter, under the circumstances, was to shut the place down, at least for a while, and try to do an investigation of the books, etc. I couldn't help but wonder which set of books would be examined. I pondered all this for at least two or three weeks. Eventually coming to the conclusion that I would actually be putting the very people I'd given employment to... out of a job. I couldn't do it. And my ego, at the time, told me, 'Oh Hell, I'll do a couple of TV episodes and make that Ten Thousand back in two or three days.'
That didn't happen, by the way. I did get a gig on a film called, "Night Moves;' but it was not much of a part, and never led to anything. of course it didn't help that Warner's kept the final print on the shelf for over two years after the shooting had finished.
Without the Studio One job, I was at least available to spend more time with my son, and with Papa.
Both, were thrilled.
Studio One continued with great success without me. In spite of Scott's bad manners, and ill advised behaviour, he seemed to dodge all the bullets coming his way. And, believe me, he did a lot of foolish things. Many times he put himself, and his employees, in danger of going to jail. I was often asked, "What do you think will be the one thing that brings Scott Forbes down?" "Greed," I always answered. I thought that was rather obvious.
Once more, I was wrong. Some years ago, a friend informed me that Scott had gone in for a facelift. Studio One had closed by now, so he didn't have that to collect his 'twinkies.' He never did get accepted into better society. He never became the film producer he said he wanted to be. Even 'buying out' his partners didn't elevate him to much status.
Obviously, he figured, 'if he could improve on those looks....' So, he scheduled a date. And, as karma would have it, he died on the operating table. When I was told, I said, "Well, I was wrong. He didn't die of Greed. He died of Vanity." Whatever, he was gone; and I can't say as I was sorry. For years, it was said that Scott Forbes was a 'carrier.' Too many of his bed partners, lovers, tricks, etc. had died of AIDS. He prided himself on ruining people's lives, or bringing much unhappiness.
What he'll never know is..... by dying he gave a lot of us much pleasure, and a greater sense of happiness. There are just some things, and some people, that shouldn't infect the good in this world.
Scott Forbes was one of those. He, along with people like Bob Street, and Don Feld, should go down in the medical annuls of the nations top diseases.
I must add, that when I first saw this photo, oh so many years ago, I said to myself, "My goodness, he can't even hide his guilt." Look at that face. This is the face of a man that cheated many out of their hard earned money. A man that did more than his share of destruction to the human race. He even looks guilty in trying to take full responsibility for the success of Studio One. As well he should.