INTERVIEW — TAPE #63, SIDE #1
Q: Mark Russell Bell
B: Michael Paul Russell, my twin brother
U: James Ulmer, friend
D: David Rosen
( . . . )
Q: Sometimes I really wonder how I can unconditionally love someone who doesn’t interact with me (“YEAH”) in the normal way but I just (“HEAR”) sort of hear breathing on my tapes — (“AN[D]”) doing parlor tricks once in a while. (“THERE MUST”) We must really have some kind of love from some previous incarnation that is sort of making me love Him because it’s a mystery otherwise — a complete and fucking mystery.
( . . . )
Q: I think I know why I’m recording thoughts that really aren’t that significant and important. I think it’s because I’m trying to avoid transcribing tape 54, Side #1 and #2 even though I know that Mighael wants me to do those next because I just know I’m not going to be happy transcribing them but, anyway, (“YEAH” “I’M”) proving — this is how I prove my love. And I don’t know what else to say except I guess I’m going to go back to transcribing.
( . . . )
Q: . . . real quick. Hello?
Q: Cam you hear me?
Q: Maybe the battery is weak. Okay, go ahead. Hello?
Q: Wait, there’s something wrong with this stupid — okay, go ahead. So now what was the special like?
B: It was good. It showed how there are a lot of gay stereotypes in movies through the ages.
Q: Well we knew that. (“YHH”)
B: (You) Know (it) was pretty basic.
Q: What specific stars did they talk about?
B: Well they interviewed people like Shirley Maclaine and Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Curtis, (“RON” “THE”) the author of “Philadelphia,” Tom Hanks, Harvey Fierstein, Barry Sandler.
Q: Your friend.
B: People like that. (“YEAH”)
Q: When’s the last time you spoke to Barry?
B: I saw him a few months ago. I ran into him at a restaurant.
Q: Okay. And so but what are the stars that they talked about who were gay? (“I”)
B: No, they just showed how gays are depicted in movies over the years from silent films. How they were always psychos and they ended up dead. (“NO”) That’s basically it.
Q: That’s all?
Q: Okay, fine. Have you thought any more about being the reincarnation of Valmont?
B: I don’t think I am.
Q: Then why did you say it that night?
B: For fun.
Q: Well, okay, if you were to say — what would the first name that comes into your mind when I ask you who are you the reincarnation of?
Q: Mary who?
B: Mother of Christ.
Q: No, Michael. Stop it.
B: I’m just kidding.
Q: I know but that’s not funny. That’s really not funny. But I will say something that is funny.
Q: Remember how at the dinner that night James was talking about the hunchback of Notre Dame?
Q: Quasimodo? In terms of him being the reincarnation of? Well not only — remember the time we saw the movie—it was that foreign film that went on to win the best foreign film (golden idol) I think—where the woman castrated her husband and there was this funny little red-headed boy that was sort of a hunchback? And it reminded you of James?
B: What was that?
Q: I don’t know. A foreign film that we saw together — me, you and James at the Academy.
B: I don’t remember.
Q: With the castration scene.
B: I don’t remember.
Q: Well I don’t remember what movie it was either but I think it was the one that Max Von Sydow — (“NO”) it had Max Von Sydow in it, I think.
B: Oh that? “The Ox”?
Q: No. Before that.
B: Who knows?
Q: Who knows? But I just remember that James recognized himself in this character. And you did too. You even kidded him about it. . . . My listening device isn’t working. Hello?
Q: But, anyway — and he also talked — he said, “Attila the Hun” the same night. Remember?
Q: So hunchback and Hun have the same letters in it.
Q: Well? It’s like — and —
B: The Hollywood Reporter.
Q: What do you mean?
B: Hollywood Reporter? Hun.
Q: No. Michael, that’s not funny. Okay, so anyway I’ll call James real quick. He’s still up, isn’t he?
B: Uh-huh. (or “UH-HUH”)
B: (O)kay, bye. (Or “[O]K[AY] BYE”)
( . . . )
Q: Oh hi, James?
U: Hi, Mark.
Q: I just spoke to Michael.
U: I know.
Q: Because I’m working on my next book and I wanted to find out your reaction to “The Celluloid Closet.”
U: I liked it very much. I thought it was very strong. I really did.
Q: But they didn’t really ‘out’ anybody. (“OF THOSE”) They didn’t out any of the old stars or anything?
U: No, I don’t think that was the point. I think the point was the — how the social attitudes, (you) know, have changed and evolved and devolved over the years, you know?
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: HERE IS AN INSTANCE WHERE AN INDIVIDUAL CONDENSES ‘YOU KNOW’ TO ‘KNOW’ OR ‘NO.’ IN SOME INSTANCES SPIRIT APPARENTLY VIA THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND IS NEGATING THE PERSON’S CONSCIOUS OBSERVATION.)
Q: So it was an — you saw two good PBS documentaries two nights in a row.
U: Yeah. What was yesterday’s? I forget.
Q: Orson Welles?
U: Oh yeah. And I saw a superb movie tonight. Oh my God. One of the best I’ve seen in two years. “Fargo” by Joel and Ethan Coen. I hated their last movie. I loved this one. It’s my favorite of their movies.
U: Ohh, it’s droll. It’s a kind of comedic tragedy.
Q: Didn’t you used to know someone who worked for them — (“THEIR”) production designer or their producer?
U: Yes, that guy that I — he was — I was with him when you and Michael came up to the Westwood hotel. (“RIGHT”)
Q: Right. What hotel was that again?
U: Oh what are you putting this in your book for?
Q: Because —
U: Mark Silverman. (“WASN’T”)
Q: — wasn’t that La Bel Age or something?
U: He died of AIDS. No, it was the Westwood Marquis.
Q: Uh-oh, there’s a ‘Marq’ in there — okay.
U: I know.
Q: But anyway. Now and his name was — what was his name?
U: Mark Silverman.
Q: Another Mark. Okay.
U: Another Mark.
Q: But you were friends with him.
U: Well, no, I just met him that night. My ex — an old ex-affair of mine who had been his boyfriend insisted we should get together because we’d like each other. And he was very attractive.
U: You know? There’s no question about it but I’m kind of glad now I didn’t because he died of AIDS later.
Q: (laughs) I don’t understand the connection.
U: Well because if I had been with him —
Q: You would’ve just been sad.
U: — maybe I would have, (you) know, acquired a — you know. Anyway, I played it safe. (“YEAH”)
U: So anyway.
Q: Well you still have Michael.
Q: And, let’s see, what else should I ask you about? I had an interesting lunch today with Diana Widom.
U: Oh yeah? How was that? What happened?
Q: Oh we just — I —
U: What is she doing these days?
Q: She’s just, you know, battling multiple sclerosis.
U: Oh so she’s not working?
Q: No. (“UM-UH”) But she’s happy. She went to a psychic who told her that the archangel Mighael is looking over her.
U: Oh come on.
Q: No, I know. I know.
U: Isn’t that funny how people change? She used to be such a hell on heels and now —
Q: Well she gave me — you know, when I was interviewing her for my book, she told me — she named names. (“NO”)
U: What do you mean? Named names —
Q: I mean she — (“SHE” “SHE WAS”) she didn’t hold anything back. (“SHE”) She told me (“LIKE”) which people in Hollywood she didn’t like. So I don’t know. I nean have you heard any good gossip recently? You don’t have to say who but have you heard any good stories?
U: I should be working at the Star. I’d have a lot more for you.
Q: I know.
U: No, but I imagine I’ll get a lot more when I do more Star Power stuff.
Q: When does that happen? (“HAPPENING TO”)
U: I have a meeting with Bob tomorrow over — he called — Fred Gaines called my lawyer, which is a very good sign, because they’re being reactive now. On Friday my lawyer called me. I was at Sundance and I’m meeting with Bob and the CEO/CFO tomorrow to discuss compensation and how much money and stuff like — apart from my legal agreement. You know — just salary, assistant half-time, etc.
Q: Is Jonathan handling your legal on this or someone else?
U: No — Stan Coleman. (“DID YOU”)
Q: Did you hear what hap(pened) —
U: He has David Mamet, Cher. They handle a lot of stars. It’s a powerful agency.
Q: By the way, did you hear about what happened to Jonathan at — (“THE”) in Sundance with the car or something?
U: I was only there. Yeah.
Q: Were you in the car? You weren’t in the car with him?
U: I wasn’t in his car. He fell — you know, he ran into a snow bank and (“NO”) nearly went off a cliff or something.
Q: Oh my God.
Q: I have to interview him but he won’t let me interview him.
Q: Well that’s sort of an exciting scene. You know?
U: But, Mark, what’s all this about? It’s so random — your book.
Q: That’s the whole point. The randomness.
U: . . . no, the whole point is not Dadaism. The whole point in art — artists must forge the connections.
Q: Exactly. That’s the whole point. I’m forging the connections.
U: What is it?
Q: Or trying to.
U: Oh, well that’s — well you’re discovering it. Okay. (“YEAH”)
Q: I’m hoping Mighael will say things on the tape to sort of clue people — well, for example, through — I was just telling my brother — remember that night? (“WHEN YOU”) We were talking about reincarnations? And sometimes people joke but the truth comes out. And you were talking about the Hunchback of Notre Dame/Quasimodo? And then all of a sudden you said “Attila the Hun”?
Q: Well both Attila the Hun and the Hunchback of Notre Dame have H — U — N in their names.
U: Oh. But what does that have to do with anything?
Q: Well, for example, Fiona told me — well, I told Fiona she was the reincarnation of Morgana le Fay. And then she told me that she’s also the reincarnation of Alice Faye. (“SO”)
U: Oh. Which means phallus in Pig Latin.
Q: Whatever. (“BUT”) But I’m the reincarnation of Bel-Marduk. (“SO”) And Marduk is close to Mark so apparently —
U: Well what does Hun, though, have to do with all that? Yeah, there’s Hun (“NO”) in those words. (“YOU”)
Q: I’m saying that it seems to me that people who are reincarnated — there’s some reference to their earlier names in their current names. For example, my — (“MY”)
Q: — physical trainer — my personal trainer at the gym had (“THE”) his initials DAM tattooed on his arm and it turns out he’s the reincarnation of Nostradamus.
U: How do you know he’s the reincarnation?
Q: Let’s just say he bears a (resemblance) — and plus not only that —
U: Why couldn’t he be the reincarnation of Dame Margot Fonteyn? (“OR”)
Q: Well maybe he is — no.
U: No, I mean — or damoisele D’Avignon?
Q: Well, you know, I was (“NO”) talking to him and, you know, I said — and then I, you know, we all said — (telephone line lost momentarily) hello?
U: Sorry, my thing goes out sometimes. So if we get disconnected just call me back because —
Q: No, I know.
U: — you know, my thing . . .
Q: I know.
Q: I stayed in your room. I know.
U: I know. Exactly. Anyway, go ahead.
Q: Well the phone’s possessed. What can I say?
Q: But — no, I’m just saying — like asking him about Egypt because he seemed to — because we both saw the movie “Stargate” and we both had similar reactions to plot points.
U: Now who’s this?
Q: You know, his —
U: You asked who?
Q: Doug. He used to be my personal trainer. He isn’t anymore.
U: Oh right. Okay. (“BUT”)
Q: You know, I — we were talking about Egypt and he — we both saw “Stargate” and — did you see “Stargate”?
U: No, unfortunately.
Q: Well there’s a plot thing that we both picked up on that was something that you had to infer. It wasn’t spelled out in the script and so I said, ‘Well how did you know that? You must have been back in Egypt too.’ And he laughed and said, ‘Well I was a mosquito at the time.’ And he laughed, thinking he was joking but I think he really was a mosquito at the time. I know.
U: ‘You suck a lot of blood.’
U: Did he suck a lot of blood and stick his nose into too many things?
Q: I don’t know but it was a funny moment.
U: It was.
Q: Especially since I’m considering script ideas for my franchise (“OF”) —
U: Mark, let me just tell you, though.
U: You must see “Fargo” if we’re speaking of scripts because it’s droll — it’s amazingly droll. I mean it’s hysterical—the dialogue—and yet Francis McDormand — only occasionally does she just edge a little bit over into characterization. There are just a few scenes that are over — so subtly over the edge but most of the time it’s firmly in command. And I didn’t even know it was Francis McDormand. It was so amazingly well done. (“IS IT A”)
Q: Is it a foreign film?
U: It’s a comedy of manners of the Midwest as well as being a gripping tragedy.
Q: And who directed it?
U: Joel Coen.
Q: Oh right — Joen and Ethan Coen, the Coen brothers.
U: I think it’s their best movie. Extraordinary. I had a smile on my face two-thirds of the way through the movie. I mean two-thirds throughout all the movie when I wasn’t —
Q: Did you see “Barton Fink”?
U: Yes. This is far more in control than that. That was Grand Guignol and parts of it didn’t work at all/parts of it worked wonderfully. But this is far more, I think, even.
Q: Well it’s —
U: I did not see “Miller’s Crossing.”
Q: I didn’t see it either but I saw “Barton Fink” and I saw that other one with Paul Newman and Tim Robbins. “The Hudsucker Proxy.”
U: Oh yeah, I saw that. That was — I didn’t like that. That was a victory of style over content.
Q: But guess what?
Q: That had an Angel in it.
U: It certainly did.
Q: And both “The Hudsucker Proxy” and “Barton Fink” are like my life. (small laugh) Isn’t that weird?
Q: Well, I mean let’s just say there are certain parallels. In fact, I even read that script very early because Larry was hired to do positioning and I helped him with the positioning for that movie.
U: All I can say is that you should really consider doing something with Jessica Lange because Lange is an anagram of angel.
Q: Oh my gosh. James, you say some really amazing things sometimes.
U: L — A — N — G — E, Mark. (“AND SS”)
Q: And sometimes they find their ways in(to) my book like you were the one who said “Michael Angel O” once to me.
Q: Do you remember that?
U: Yes. (“SO’S”) But, Mark, think of Jessica Lange in one of your projects because Lange is angel.
U: Just think of that.
Q: But do —
U: She may have been sent down for some reason. (telephone line lost momentarily)
U: You see how it got disconnected there?
Q: Right after you said “sent down for some reason.”
U: Right. “Sent down for some reason” for you.
U: And then somebody disconnected us.
Q: So which of my scripts — I’m trying to think which of my scripts would be right for her.
U: Well I don’t know but I’m sure one of them was. She’s a very, very versatile actress.
Q: You know who —
U: Need to be for your script.
Q: Did you meet Mamie Van Doren?
Q: Oh okay. (“NN”) I want to interview her for my book. But I don’t know — just remember — if you hear of any good gossip or, (“YOU KNOW”) at any time in the history of Hollywood — like great untold stories of Hollywood, I’m sort of using them in my book and people don’t really have to name names.
Q: But, you know, I mean there are some ones that are very famous —
U: I’ll tell you — I mean you must meet — I told you. Ila. About Ila? Right? Ila von Hasberg?
U: Hasberg (different pronunciation)? She was — Mark, I bonded with this lady. She’s great. You will love her.
Q: How — spell the last name.
U: Hasberg I think. Ila — I — L — A. Mark, she was Fassbinder’s editor on “Chinese Roulette” — on fourteen Fassbinder films. She told me how they all have little code words for Fassbinder—Fassbinder’s was Mary—and Michael Ballhaus was Sonia.
Q: (small laugh)
U: And she has the most amazing — she’s going to be at the party Friday. You have to talk to her.
Q: Which party?
U: My birthday party.
Q: Am I invited?
U: Yes, of course. You’re on the list. Of course.
Q: Are you having any slides shown?
U: I don’t know. Maybe I will just for — just as people . . .
Q: Okay, I’ll put it on my schedule.
U: Actually that’s an idea. Maybe I should — I already have pre- — you know, pre-sorted slides of — actually I have my Shanghai slides. They’re already sorted. That’s right. That’s a great idea.
Q: And I can bring slides of ‘paranormal’ phenomena.
Q: For my book.
Q: And (of) my antiques.
U: Right. That’s a good idea.
Q: Who else is going to be there?
U: Mark, everybody.
Q: Oh God, well that —
U: I’m inviting the star of “Like Water For Chocolate” — I mean I’m inviting all my friends. I’m not inviting them because they’re stars but I mean the only people that are kind of — there’ll be Gabriel Byrne there.
Q: (gasps) Oh my God, James —
U: Wait, let me just finish. Gabriel is the archangel Gabriel.
Q: I know.
U: I know. There’ll be the girl — I’m inviting her. I hope she can come. And her boyfriend. Now she was the star of “Like Water For Chocolate” and she was in — and then her boyfriend is a beautiful, beautiful teenager in “Cinema Paradiso.” And he was also in “Like Water For Chocolate.” But he may be shooting in Italy but, anyway, I mean I befriended her when I was on the jury in Egypt. She was in Egypt. She came home with me.
Q: Okay, fine. (“WELL” “WHAT”) Can I just bring some of my slides that night for you to add in?
U: Well, yeah, the only problem is —
Q: I can come early.
U: — I’d like to do another one for that. The reason is this. I did that with Charlotte and these people that are coming are from Shanghai. A lot of them were on these trips so I want to keep it kind of as much their stuff as mine. And it’s got pictures of all of them in it.
Q: Just a few. Like the ghost — like the spirit one.
U: Well, Mark —
Q: I guarantee it will be good.
U: I know but the point is — no, I don’t — that’s another thing. I want to invite another party. I mean it’s just —
U: I’ll just — I’ll tell you what — because Charlotte did that and, believe me, it never works. It doesn’t matter who does it or why. People can only — it’s like showing two movies instead of one. People can really only get into one thing. And I don’t want to make this a big slide thing. I just want to make it a background thing.
Q: What are you having slides for?
U: I’m just going to have either slides of Shanghai — a lot of people from Shanghai are going to be at this party.
U: So I haven’t really shown those and they have all those people in it so I wanted to make it something that — you know, not everybody will be from my Shanghai trip but I’m inviting Janet Yang, you know, from Oliver Stone’s —
Q: Did I ever show you those — yeah, I showed you those photos like of the invisible aliens and things.
Q: Do you remember that? Of the five transparent aliens?
U: Oh. No.
Q: I mean I just have one slide. I mean I could —
U: Well then just bring the slide itself because these are all set in slide trays. You can bring slides and show them to people up in the light. That’s fine.
Q: Okay, fine.
U: Yeah yeah — no, that’s fine. (“BECAUSE I”) But, you know, I just don’t want you to — if Gabriel Byrne’s there, I don’t want you to try to rope him down for —
Q: Of course not.
U: — and talk about angels.
Q: You know me. No.
U: I know.
Q: No, I would just like to tantalize them with just a few scenes like this —
U: Alright. But Mark — (technical malfunction)
( . . . )
Q: (speaking into tape recorder) Well my batteries died there so I just put in some new batteries. And we were talking a little bit more about James possibly being the reincarnation of Attila the Hun and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. (“ADD” “HE MAY”) He commented that he wouldn’t really want to be somebody who went ar(ound) — who had a female name and went around slashing people. And he said it so quickly that we wondered — we both wondered where that came from. That whole thought about the female name. He said it was like Cammila so it’s interesting.
( . . . )
Q: Also, the movie was entitled “Pele The Conqueror.” James could remember it and that character of the little boy that he definitely could identify with.
( . . . )
Q: Okay, for example like I just turn on my tape recorder and so like this is sort of like the way my book is. I just — it’s my normal day-to-day life and I talk about my life. Like, for example, right now I sort of would like, you know, to rent at Santa Monica Shores. Like various people I’ve worked with on Paramount films have lived there in the past.
D: Okay. So what you want to do is mail me your card.
D: And we’re not renting for about two months.
D: So if you’ll mail me your card.
D: And I’ll — we’ll be in contact with you as soon as we start renting.
Q: Okay, fine, (“BUT”) but maybe for my book could you tell me some of the celebrities who have lived there over the years? Like I know —
D: No no no no — I —
Q: You’re not interested in doing that?
D: Not at all. That’s — whoever’s lived there, that’s up to them.
D: I — (“SO”) you got my address or mail it over to the building and they’ll send it over. (“UM-HUH”)
D: Okay, thanks.
Q: Okay, thank you.
( . . . )
Q: So I began my conversation by asking him if he was any relation to Deborah Rosen at Universal and it turned out he wasn’t so — I then called Lori Castorino at Santa Monica Shores who I’d written a letter to on January 11th, telling her that Doris Moseley suggested I contact her about renting apartment 1506 as I understood it will — (“BE”) it would become available soon. “I’m a friend of Doris and also can provide many other personal and professional references. As a marketing writer, I have worked on more than 100 Paramount Pictures films including “Fatal Attraction,” “Ghost,” “Forrest Gump” and “Braveheart.” I am thirty-nine years old, single, do not smoke and have no pets. Regards.” So I just put in a call to her to let her know I spoke to David and to make sure that she sent my letter over to him. And when she calls me back, I’ll just let her know what I discussed with him. She was on the other line when I called her. I hope she wasn’t speaking to David. I hope — I don’t think that would make him nervous — what I asked. It was sort of a good-natured call. I explained it wasn’t — it was just sort of a-day-in-the-life book. Since I’d worked on a hundred Paramount films, I know just about everybody. Anyway, we’ll see. If it’s meant to be, it will be. If it’s not, it won’t be.
( . . . )
Q: So I checked in with Maxine and my mother called me just to make sure that Michael was alright — my brother. And just as I was hanging up, the UPS man was at my door with my comic book order. Sometimes I just wonder if I’m — I mean I know I’m not insane but this is craziness. I mean the things that I choose to record today I wouldn’t choose to do tomorrow and this is hardly — (“I ME” “IN TERMS OF WHAT”) what people think of as various ways of God proving Himself, this would not be one of them. I cringe. As I transcribe, I’m just cringing. (“I”) It’s like today I felt very loving and I don’t know if the Entity feels very loving. I don’t know anything. Okay, I got this letter from Bill — I can’t pronounce his last name. (“HH”) It says: “Many thanks for your order. Hope you enjoy all the enclosed. It was good talking with you on the phone. Thanks for sharing and special greetings to your resident angel. Being a card-carrying Taurean, I wouldn’t know if this place has a resident ghost or not. Of course, he might appear to my Gemini rising side. I like your idea of the Sig Barbarellaesque situation. At this point though, it would probably call for a more inventive imagination than I can muster. Still, I’ll keep it in mind. After all, Sig could always have a dream wherein all sorts of things might happen. Best Wishes, Bill” Am I out of my mind? It’s pouring raining. I guess I’ll go to the gym. It’s like I was telling Maxine. I just wish Mighael would just shine a spotlight down from heaven on me to make my job a whole lot easier. (sighs) My only prospect right now is Gabriel Byrne, who I hope truly is the angel Gabriel or is very close to his energy.
( . . . )
Q: I almost forgot to record a very important and insignificant memory and I didn’t remember until this afternoon — my afternoon love channeling session. I just do this every afternoon when I get home from either my volunteer work or from the gym. I just sit down for a few minutes and channel love to the Entity. And last night I remembered during my afternoon session that Mighael touched me several times last night. I was too tired to really appreciate it but I remember waking up early again but I was too tired to read gay love poems or any other love poems or any other of my books but I just appreciated feeling this Loving Presence so, of course, when I woke up today I felt totally relaxed and at peace and I felt pretty much this way all day today even with all the usual intrigue going on. I just am feeling very happy right now and I don’t have eyes for anybody else. I’m just very happy living in my little condo with my little Soulmate Who doesn’t speak to me except on the cassettes and even then I don’t understand what he’s saying. (“AT LEAST”) I hear him breathing (on the microcassettes) so I know He’s there. So I’m happy. (“AN[D] I”) Somebody with this much (“IN”) intimacy and commitment I could never even hope to cheat on because we have so many years together.