Sunday, 8 May 2016

For Michael and Roberta Findlay fans: an article from their City College days

Most hardcore Michael and Roberta Findlay devotees know that the King and Queen of 60s roughie sleaze first met with studying at New York’s City College. Vintage movie fanatic Michael ran a program of silent movies on campus, and advertised for a pianist to accompany the films. It was 16 year old music major Roberta Hershkowitz who volunteered - thus fuelling the beginning of an intense decade-long personal and professional relationship which bore a series of distinct, ultra low budget S & M tinged sexploitation product before both partners branched off directing XXX fare. I’ve unearthed some historical gold here – a thankfully digitally preserved copy of City College’s student newspaper ‘The Campus’, dated December 6, 1961, features an article on Michael and Roberta’s collaboration.  Go to Page 5 to read about this pivotal moment in time...

Roberta has discussed recording these music scores in several interviews. A few choice quotes:
“I’d never seen a silent film. I could have cared less but I think we started with Birth of a Nation – what a nerve! I improvised a score based on all the music I had studied. I didn’t make up anything; these were just pieces that were famous compositions. I didn’t know what I was doing. I played for about 25 films during that year (presumably 1962 – M.A.). The music department was on my case that it was demeaning, and I was giving a bad name and reputation to the music department.  They wanted me to stop...I kept playing. It was challenging and interesting, and then we ran a program in the East Village after we got out of school for silent films at a coffee house. I played again. This is the mid-late 1960s.” From Golden Goddesses by Jill C Nelson.

On playing piano accompaniment live:
“I did that once. Michael had a film festival running in a coffee shop down in the Village. And I was so nervous, it was terrible. I drank a pint of vodka during the whole thing. It was The Kiss with Greta Garbo and I threw up as the film was ending, all over the floor. Very embarrassing.” From Take One, September 1978.