The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Sex Education #109


Ava Gardner

9 comments :

Kreisler said...

Completely devastating -only 'Giant' era Liz Taylor comes close.

R.H. said...

Good heavens. What a set!

She made On The Beach here with Gregory Peck (when everything in Melbourne closed at 6pm). "The perfect place to make a film about the end of the world." That's what she said.

How unkind.

Yes well that's all fixed, we're New York now. Paris too. (Whatever you like.) Universal backlot.

Vanwall said...

"Kitty is innocent! Kitty is innocent!!" Like hell. She could give comprehensive practical lessons on the topic as well.

estiv said...

That expression on her face--she knows exactly how much power she has, and she loves it.

kissingfish said...

that expression on her face is from having just been bitten by the bug. she's young enough here to have recently escaped the bible belt, NC.

(lets just not judge her for being educated in part, at first, by mickey rooney. it was a long way to frank...)

swac said...

Every time I drive down I-95, I think about visiting that Ava Gardner Museum in NC.

Anyone ever been?

kissingfish said...

no i'm dying to go!

Payo said...

Sinatra never stood a chance.

3brad3 said...

This is a bit long, so forgive me. But I thought it an apropos forum to pass along some very interesting history about Miss Gardner.

First of all, I grew up in the same NC town (Wilson) where Ava went to high school - and my family members were VERY close to hers. She's a bit of a legend here, as she is everywhere I suppose. She also had a "bad" reputation back in those days - but in a small NC town in those days? That's not saying much!

I find it interesting in your alluding to comments about Frank, Mickey, etc. with regards to her sexual prowess (and the bible belt comment too). Yes, I am sure anyone who is a fan of Ava's may be aware of the rumors and innuendo surrounding her sexual past and piccadellos. But from what I've been told - that was mainly the tip of the iceberg.

Certainly the Hollywood machine back in the old days protected their stars and images as best they could. Their fleet of PR people were masters and films like LA Confidential only hint at the power of the studio media machines.

In truth, if stars like Ava, Lana, Marilyn, etc. had to deal with the fishbowl of today (with TMZ, InTouch, Egotastic, the net, etc.)? They'd make Lohan, Britney, Paris all look like prudes by comparison.

It was WIDELY KNOWN AS FACT that Ava was indeed a sexual omnivore.

Not just with men either. She bragged openly to several of her past girl-friends back home that she enjoyed the favors of many of the hottest ladies of the day as well. Yes, including Lana Turner (whom Ava said was horribly dispassionate, but willing to try at least! GULP!).

Let THAT image rattle around in your head for a while.

Ava personally told many of her stories to a clsoe confidant from back in NC. This lady was herself quite a rebel in her time, and even worked as a journalist briefly in NYC before becoming an author and correspondent for several Conde' Nast travel publications.

She and Ava went to high school togather and somewhat "partners in crime" in many escapades, and they respected one another massively (which is why Ava trusted ehr so much).

This lady pal of Ava's was Jane Milhart Kramer. And Jane was also my Aunt by marriage - not blood (she married briefly to my Uncle). I myself became a writer in college, and Jane was a mentor, and after some wine would gladly spill the beans on every scandal or story she knew (not in a sensational/salacious manner, but more like telling a good cocktail party story, or biography).

Jane lived on and off in NC and all over the world. But she and Ava talked weekly, and got together monthly for gab sessions and fun.

They were ex-school chums back in NC, and "Aunt Jane" herself was a beautiful and classy lady - and notorious bohemian known for dabbling in Opium, Bisexuality, and Gambling back in the 40s-50s-60s.

Ava admitted to Jane that her older brother-in-law (a photographer named Larry living in NYC with her sister "B") was always hounding her to pose for "art" pictures (which was soft-core porn of the day).

Naively, one day she gave in, and Larry proceeded to take a TON of "nudie" pictures of the then 17yo Ava still in NC. Larry also instigated an affair when Ava came to visit, and was shocked to discover the "angelic" Ava was NOT a virgin (which explained her popularity with many athletes at Rock Ridge HS back home!).

When Ava's sister found the pictures Larry took - she said nothing at first. Then she caught them in bed during a visit back to NC, and all hell broke lose. Ava's sister burned all the photos in the fireplace in a fit of rage. But genius lothario Larry kept the negatives.

It was one of the "portrait" pix of Ava which Larry had re-printed that landed her big break in NYC and got her into showbiz. Her sister "B" forgave Ava and offered to take her under her wing (because all she cared about was a meal ticket and piling guilt onto Ava about screwing her hubby).

Ava said her first casting couch gig was at MGM, in the form of a "test" to see if she could be a "romantic star". (How cheesy!).

Ava told Jane that she had her first 3-way with womanizing husband and big-band leader Artie Shaw and Artie's own ex-wife Lana Turner. She said it confirmed Lana's hatred for Shaw forever.(But one must recall that bandleaders in those days were akin to rock stars today - and not far at all from the jazz/bebop/heroin/sex crowd).

Ava also became "friends" with many in the "jazz scene" which was the height of hedonism in the 1940s.

Ava told Jane that in the 50's, while making a film in Africa - she caught Grace Kelley (not yet a Princess) fooling around with a producer one night in Kelly's bed.
The producer was complaining that Grace wouldn't let him go all the way (dry humping according to Ava) and so Ava said she'd be glad to help.

She propositioned Grace Kelly, and proceeded to strip naked in front of her. Grace thought Ava was joking, and then she bent down and planted a deep wet kiss on Kelly's lips.

Kelly didn't push away, so a very naked Ava slid into bed (as the producer probably thoguht he'd won the lotto!). Realizing Ava was going to really do this - and rubbing all over her - dear sweet Miss Kelly flew into a huff, and grabbed her clothes and ran off to her room while Ava stayed and finished the job!

Then wild Miss Ava admitted to her first MFM "sandwich" with Cary Grant and an Agent!! She said (in her typically sarcastic tone according to Jane) that she (Ava) may as well not have even been in the bed at all after the first few minutes!

Then Ava elaborated the stories about Sinatra's "blessings" and manhood (and Ava publicly said that Frank weighed 10 lbs. - and his giant cock weight 170 - or something to that effect!). But Frank was overcome with self-image issues, and often could not satisfy or get it up, feeling overwhelmed by Ava's aggressive and experimental behavior.

She laughed boldly about her frequent "massages" she and Frank would give one another with their hands under the table in nightspots while others thought their grins were because of happiness!

Ava also said that Howard Hughes offered her a fortune in cash if she would have sex with Katherine Hepburn while Hughes watched. Ava declined, saying Hepburn was "too dykey", but she'd do it with Jane Russell for free!! lol.

She lamented that the one time she was rebuffed (aside from Princess Grace) was from the young Natalie Wood, whom Ava hit on at a party in the early 60s. Natalie admired her, but "not in that way", still Ava found her irresistable.

Ava also experimented with drugs, which left her with an unfortunate dependency on Opium-related drugs (legal and illegal). She dabbled in Heroin, smoking Opium, and finally stopped. However, strong medical preparations of Codeine and an early form of Oxycodone led her to hardly going a day without some type of "fix".

She even admitted it was one of the things which led her to a love of Europe (looser prescribing laws and awestruck doctors). She said she even "secured" her "relationship" with her Europen doctor intimately to guarantee his compliance.

Remarkably she managed to keep her dependence under control - only coming close to OD one time accidentally with Dilaudid. Ironically, she never had any long-term negative effects from her use (which I suppose is a testament to not using IV shots but oral preparations instead).

She also was quite notorious not only for the quality of her lovers, but the quantity as well.
She admitted to at least one major group sex encounter while in Spain filming Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises".

Ava was enthralled with bullfighters, and typical of her appetities - she didn't want to limit herself. So she took on four in one night - at the same time. Not alternating, but all participating at once. This event was alluded to in Robert Evans' autobiography too I think.

But according to Jane, when she visited Ava in Europe the only big regret Ava professed was allowing herself to be "filmed" in a sexual escapade one night while drunk, high, and past inhibited. Yes, Ava even seemed to pioneer the "Celebrity Sex Tape" as we know it today!

Supposedly (as Jane says Ava recalled hazily), dear Ava and an aspiring young Latino-looking director got together at a nightclub one night (either Ciro's or Mocambo or something odd like that). Ava had her fetish for daring escapades to fulfill, and she and the young artiste' stopped by the FOX studio lot off Olympic Blvd. after leaving the club.

They drunkenly proceeded onto one of the empty soundstage sets where her date discovered a "Second-Unit" camera lying around the set.

In those days, these were little more than upgraded versions of Super 8mm or 16mm home movie cameras. They were used mainly to shoot tests, newsreel shots, location work, stock footage, or insignificant other shots.

They were battery powered, and lightwieght - easily portable. This date/"director" found one already with film loaded from the earlier days' shots.

So the drunken, high, horny movie star and her stud decide to fool around. He grabbed the camera and managed to encourage and film Miss Gardner doing a sexy striptease, then used the old hand-held camera to film her performing fellatio, masturbation, and then shot the entire "act" from his POV. How he held onto the camera is beyond me! lol.

Well, then the morning comes...and with sober remorse, apparently Ava decided it was NOT such a good idea the next day when she remembered it. She demanded the young auteur hand over the film they used. He reluctantly agreed, only to discover the small camera he had absconded and took home that night was empty.

Oops. Guess he didn't have any film in it after all. Miss Gardner, apparently not totally convinced, called her pal (and ex-casting couch king himself), Mr. Darryl Zanuck - head of FOX.

She explained the situation, which he promsied to contain and resolve. A few tense days later - the aspiring stud director/boyfriend/porn date urgently decided to take a vacation to Europe. For a long-ass time.

Mr. Zanuck called in Ava and he assured her all was well. He boldly even screened her performance for her in his office - telling her it was the greatest show he'd ever seen!

Not one to be embarassed, Ava was more concerned about who else had seen it. Zanuck told her NOBODY but one geeky kid. That the film was still in the original dinky camera from that same night.

The drunken director took home the wrong camera it seems. A small-time dollar-an-hour camera assistant was the one who found it - processed it himself, and brought it to Zanuck personally (to score a better-paying job and security for himself).

Zanuck paid the kid off, and was assured no other copies were made (which was a chore to copy those films in those days requiring more than a week to accomplish).

Feeling relieved, and even a bit proud of her smoldering sexual performance in what HAD to be the most Taboo of things even in Hedonistic Hollywood...Ava told Zanuck to keep them film.

She knew personally that he had far more incriminating things in his personal vault, not just of her - but many more.

Nothing was ever thought of it for many years, until Ava recalled the whole affair one day in the 1980s and wodnered what ever became of it.

But what IS known is that when Zanuck died, all of his "personal" files and contents were legally passed along to his closest advisor, an ex-mob lawyer named Sidney Korshak.

Even Zanuck's son Richard was bypassed and Korshak received all of those "personal" items for safekeeping. (Which legend has it was sort of like the Hollywood version of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI files!).

Korshak himself passed away about a decade ago. According to someone who knew him very, very well - Korshak had everything technologically "preserved" and passed along to the only person he trusted in his life...a young director and poker pal.

This guy was an up-and-comer filmmaker and producer, who was the youngest member of a circle of Rat-Pack-like old Hollywood pals which included guys like Sidney Korshak, Jack Nicholson, Robert Evans, etc.

This "kid" was a hack director, crappy filmmaker, but was "one of the boys" inside this elite circle. So Korshak bestowed the "Zanuck Collection" among other rare items, upon this young man.

He seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of the highest paid, big profile directors in Hollywood. His name is Brett Ratner.

So somewhere out there this original home porno movie of Ava Gardner exists, and was even transferred to VHS and/or digital DVD.

I wonder if anyone has seen it or even knows it exists. I wonder what it would be worth today (along with God-knows-what-else Zanuck and Korshak passed along).

Kind of reminds me of the closing scene of the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie when the government misplaces the friggin' Ark of the Covenant into some giant military warehouse somewhere - never to be seen again! lol.

I do know one thing though...Brett Ratner is a horrible director. Yet he continues getting bazillions at the helm of big blockbuster films. I wonder why? Hmmm. Maybe his home movie nights are really popular?? lol.

Don't feel sorry for Ava and the others - they courted scandal, and relished in living their Bohemian life. Which is partly why Ava chose to live her life's final days in Europe. So she could continue her debauchery without the gaze of American prudes to judge her.

I love this woman, and love the style she used to LIVE life - not just exist. I treasure all the history Aunt Jane has shared with me. But I sure would like to see that film! lol (for history sake, ya know ;-)!