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AN ARCHIVE OF SIGNED LETTERS, OFTEN INTIMATE, PENNED & TYPED by the American actress and former Warhol superstar VIVA to her friend the experimental novelist & screenwriter RUDY WURLITZER. Including a substantial 2-page letter typed on the verso of a MERMAID TAVERN broadside for a performance of Stravinsky's "Histoire du Soldat" in which she played the role of "the princess".
New York & California, circa 1974 through 1984. [1974]., [1974].. Very good. - An archive consisting of 8 substantial signed letters and a signed note on a postcard penned & typed by Viva to her friend the experimental novelist & screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer, author of the cult classic novel "Nog". On the verso of a postcard of Bolt Castle in New York State, Viva writes that she'll be leaving for Nova Scotia or California soon but that "I hate to leave without seeing you - what should I do? I love you" and inquires if there may be room for her and her daughter Alexandra ("Alex") "if so - we can help Roberta with the cooking!!!!!". On February 27, 1974 Viva has typed a substantial 2-page letter on the verso of two 14 inch high by 8-1/2 inch wide pictorial broadsides advertising her performance as "the princess" in a performance of Igor Stravinsky's "Histoire du Soldat" at the Mermaid Tavern in Topanga, California. Directed by Melvin Levy and narrated by Lou Gossett, the production includes Jan Munroe as the soldier. Addressed to "R." Viva writes "I'm writing about Easter eggs, those artificial ones with a cellophane window on one end where you can look in and see a little tableaux in the hollow egg so naturally I'm reminded of you. My egg. Where's the poem you promised to send a copy of? You can give public readings but you can't send a copy to your one true love...." Viva continues with her metaphorical description of Rudy before mentioning that she's "Read the catholic mystics" and inquiring if Rudy's "ever read St. Teresa of Avila or St. John of the Cross? (I don't remember the rest) Padre Pio is somebody you ought to look up, an italian mystic who died recently and used to levitate while saying mass; had the stigmata and all...." and writes of the visions which the "lady across the street" used to have and describes how her son was in love with her [i.e. Viva]. She concludes with a paragraph that describes how "When I was a child I used to hallucinate my favorite aunt's face above my bed in two masks...." "I love you as much as I used to love God" she writes in ink at the bottom, signed "Viva" with corrections penned in ink and a substantial postscript penned in the margins on Friday morning, framing the text of the letter.In a one-page typed letter Viva writes "Every now and then a wave of missing you comes over me...." and about her difficulties writing her current book "The book is very difficult; sometimes I hate the whole thing, find it ponderous and choppy and am cutting down the entire beginning.... I hate writing. I don't know why I ever gave up acting...." closing with the penciled sentiment "I love you, Viva". In an 8-page autograph letter dated June 29, 1975 penned from Tarzana [California] on 4 sheets of Chicago's "The Drake" stationery, Viva addresses Rudy as "My darling genius". "Waiting for Koningsberg to call about a cocktail party...." she writes, and muses on the subject of religion and Catholicism "I think that these professional holy men just keep on and on about sensuality because that's the only thing they are familiar with. They never mention love. Love for the abstract God yes, love for yourself yes, but love for each other - never. They're a bunch of cold fish." She refers to Isherwood's translation of the "Bhagavad Gita" and speaks of sensuality, seduction, love, and writing. "I'm languishing in solitary bliss without you. How can I tell you how much I love you how often I think of you and how beautiful I find you? Quickly - liberate me from this Elizabeth Barrett Browning role you've cast me in..." "Give my love to both Roberta and your mother...."On July 6th of an unknown year Viva writes, in a 4-page typed letter: "I'm surrounded by beautiful male bodies, my brothers-in-law, who are so sweet and sensual that I feel I've entered into the earthly paradise along with Colette and each step into a corridor or a garden or down a staircase is bound to meet with a caress, a subtle pressure on a hip, a touch, a kiss.....will I ever get to that farm?" "In the boathouse the swallows have taken up their annual abode and scream whenever anyone comes in..." she writes and relates how she ran out when "Dr. Boni told me I was inhabited by a dead Vietnamese soldier who was killed while on heroin...." She reflects on culture and symbolism and discussing her struggles when meeting with editors and others who may publish her book observes: "if only I were a man then they wouldn't get hung-up on sex instead of business with me...." She writes of Rajneesh's book which she likes though not the tapes as she finds that he addresses his audience as if they were children. Signed "Viva" with a marginal annotation in pencil writing of her brother-in-law enjoying the Rajneesh tapes.In a one-page Aerogramme, penned from France on March 24, 1984, Vina writes of being "this old trail blazer who just wants to be able to sit and sit and watch the sky and her busy racing mind and see it all as the same dance."Writing on a Friday on 2 sheets of folded "Hotel Bel-Air" stationery, Viva pens very intimate fantasies before recounting her conversations with a Chinese waiter who is serving her a meal as she writes to Rudy about the very subject of writing: "Now - about autobiographical writing. I find it's easier to write about shame, embarrassment, guilt, etc. than it is about love, feelings of power, hope, joy. The more embarrassing the incidents, or feeling, or thought, the more bells it will ring in the hearts of your darling readers...." "Reading Proust is a very great aid - One that can't be denied - Great ideas - the best really...." She delves into the Book of Hours, and how it's full of S & M and quotes Virginia Woolf. She closes with "I love you darling, Viva". In a two page letter dated July 12, typed on wrinkled rice paper, Viva writes "I was happy to get your letter; true to form like your novels; brief, and thought it was nice of you to tell me so much about your spiritual journey...." and writes of the plot for her book which her mother has inspired. "Darling it's all simple. Having been brought up the way I was it's hard for me to stick to or take seriously for long any sort of mysticism; it took me 22 years to break free of it once.... As for Rajneesh, I love him after reading the Book of the Secrets, how could I not? Everybody in the family loves him. It's just the doubt in my mind put there by the babadevotee, by R.K. Narayan, etc...." Signed "I still love you, Viva" with several postscripts and annotations penciled and penned in ink in the margins. On July 22nd, in a letter typed on 4 sheets of wrinkled rice paper of various sizes she states that "The repairman is here" lightning having struck a couple of nearby trees and blowing out the fuses and telephone. She writes that "Sister Faith" was wondering if Walter was afraid of her as he quickly withdrew his arm from her shoulder after briefly laying it there when they were watching the moon. She writes "'Probably, I would say that he's afraid of you because you're a NUN', mom, pillar of the rear guard said, emphatically." "'Well', sister faith continued as the three witches from McBeth slugged down some more Kalua and sister faith asked for some vodka in hers, 'he sent me a bottle of Arpege and you know what that means!'..." She goes on to relate that "Frank K. thinks he's coming to the farm in September; Francois wants to pick me up in his new plane and take me to L.A. where he's renting a house, Nancy wants me to go to Paris with her, stay at Delphine's, Gottlieb wants to know where is the plot, Interview wants me to do more work (they published the Telly Sevelas story this month), a guy called Frank Hallman who published a book of Virginia Woolf's essays wants to publish a volume of my poetry (no advance....)" She notes how a mother duck has been leading her chicks out into the current to teach them how to swim every morning and that she tried to take the children of Bobby's friend out for a boat ride but, since Bobby had removed the distributor cap, they didn't get far. As no one, including Bobby knew the sequence in which the firing caps should be replaced, her father suggested they ask the telephone repair man: "'Do you know which order the caps fire?' I asked the theologically inclined repairman...." She signs off, penning an intimate and explicit note preceding her signature and has penned annotations in the margins of the letter. The American actress, writer and Warhol superstar Viva (born 1938) was born Janet Susan Mary Hoffmann. Her parents raised their nine children as strict Roman Catholics and her father, an attorney and stringent anti-communist, required his children to watch the Army-McCarthy hearings. A model and painter, she was renamed Viva by Andy Warhol who hired her when he began filming "Ciao! Manhattan" in 1967 (the film was not completed until 1972) and she subsequently starred in "Tub Girls", "Bike Boy", "The Nude Restaurant", and the controversial adult erotic film "Blue Movie". She went on to star in Agnes Varda's "Lions Love" and Woody Allen's "Play It Again Sam!" among others. She gave birth to her daughter Alexandra (Alex) Auder who she conceived with her first husband Michael Auder and subsequently gave birth to her second daughter, the actress Gaby Hoffman, while engaged to the actor Anthony Herrera. Her first book "Superstar" offered an insider's look at the Factory scene. She incorporated the use of video tapes into her second book "The Baby". She went on to write for numerous periodicals and narrated Carla Bley's experimental jazz work "Escalator over the Hill". An early pioneer in Video art, she participated in Shirley Clarke's Video Space Troupe. Despite her fame, Viva never achieved financial success. "We lived in a classless society. We'd spend a summer at Gore Vidal's house in Italy, but we were on and off welfare" mused her daughter Gaby Hoffman.Born in Soissons, France, the French photographer Michel Auder (born 1945) was inspired by the French New Wave movement and was influenced by the work of Jean-Luc Godard and Andy Warhol. He met Viva and they were married in 1969. They had one child, Alexandria Auder, whose birth was documented in their film diary. As a video artist, he translated Warhol's ideas into diary format and produced travel logs and portraits of his friends including Alice Neel, Eric Bogosian and Larry Rivers among others.The Mermaid Tavern was originally built as the Sylvia Park Country Club in 1930. It underwent several incarnations and, in the 40's, served as a gambling establishment run by gangster Mickey Cohen. Reborn as The Canyon Club in the 50's, then an American Legion Hall and subsequently a Jewish Boy's School, it saw rebirth as a celebrated concert hall The Mermaid Tavern before falling into disrepair. In 1989, a local artist purchased and restored the property which is now a horticultural retreat.
      [Bookseller: Blue Mountain Books & Manuscripts, Ltd.]
Last Found On: 2018-02-24           Check availability:      Biblio    

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