A LOW LIFE IN HIGH HEELS

THE HOLLY WOODLAWN STORY

Crime, drugs, prostitution, sexual ambiguity, and the cinema take center stage in this funny but relentlessly self-indulgent memoir by the self-proclaimed ``Venus de Warhol.'' Born Harold Ajzenberg, Woodlawn geared up for a ``roller coaster ride of life'' when he discovered he was ``a shy, skinny kid with buck teeth who happened to have a passion for tight pants, mohair sweaters, and mascara.'' Pressured by a homophobic Catholic upbringing, he ran away at age 15 from Miami to New York with hopes of becoming a ``Superstar.'' The N.Y.C. underground of the late 60's and early 70's is the perfect backdrop for Woodlawn's raucous accounts of rising to fame from the welfare rolls, doing bouts in the slammer, winning the title of ``Miss Donut of Amsterdam, New York,'' and, finally, riding ``the Warhol gravy train''—all told with mirth and untiring vulgarity. During the pandemonium, he managed to hobnob with the choicest of celebrities and ``hangers- on.'' Great stories abound, such as George Cukor's petitioning for an Oscar nomination for Woodlawn's role in Paul Morrissey's Trash (the film that won Woodlawn international recognition); and Woodlawn escorting Jim Morrison to the ``Mine Shaft,'' a once- notorious New York gay sex club. He also takes delight in sneering at such drag cohorts as Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and one-time roommate Divine. Woodlawn is most interesting when he gets serious about the craft behind being a ``star of Stage!, Screen!, And Max's Kansas City!'' Preferring a stiff martini to method acting, he developed a style that combined ugly clothes, hysterical rant, and absurd posing and that won him audiences at cabarets throughout N.Y.C. But the self-aggrandizing tone wears thin, especially when he piles on clichÇs like ``Oh, so many men, so little time'' and ``I was fit to be tied!'' An enjoyable, sometimes mind-boggling document not only of Woodlawn but of those pre-MTV days when ``the bad, beautiful and voracious New York underground'' were truly shocking. (Sixteen pages of photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 1991

ISBN: 0-312-06429-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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