Here we were in Rome, like lost angels in a ruined paradise! Sarah had more money than she could handle. As I said before, she was a teen idol and a serious movie star. She paid off all my bills, my airfares, my debts, my clothes, everything and anything, no object was too big or too small to purchase.
She was a rich bitch, and she knew it. Despite all her generosity, I couldn’t stomach seeing Sarah being pursued by ‘pain in ass’ Bobby. Bobby was a real goose despite being an exceptional talent, he was a natural showman. He was fucking Italian for Christ’s sake! Nevertheless, Sarah and I were still very much in love with each other and we both fell in love, heavily in love with Italy!
It made us forget about the filth that was the US of A. After seeing Rome and the rest of the country, you could never look back and see your home country the same way again. Italy was full of mystery and pleasant surprises, so rich in her history and culture and an attitude to life which was invigorating and refreshing.
We bought a vesper as you do in Rome, and rode through the streets of the ancient capital like a couple of wild street urchins. I took some ‘arty’ photos of Sarah in the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Forum and inside the catacombs. At the Trevi fountain, I persuaded her to pose naked in the early hours of the morning when the Piazza was devoid of any human soul, save for a stray cat or two.
In one of our many antics, I helped her climb up to Bellini’s magnificent sculptures and then lay like a chameleon , camouflaged amongst the white Tuscan marble in full glory. It was a rather daring antic since here we were in the heart of paparazzi territory where a photographer would have given his arm or a leg to have a snap at an opportunity moment such as this. Stupid yes! Did we really car no! We enjoyed many irreverent moments in Italy, the sanctimonious outbursts from her press agent, Marcella never perturbed Sarah from doing more or worse, in fact it enticed her to rebel even more so.
It was Sarah at her very best. In many instances between filming, we would join the local population, something international film stars and the rich and famous never even contemplated. Their hospitality, home made cooking and great wine and great scenery were a joy.
It was our way to keep our two feet on terra firma. As films were a priority, we would never miss a premier especially the European productions, the Cannes and that Venice Film festivals were only recent additions to the world of movie ceremonies.
We were always bumping into other movie stars and celebrities but hobnobbing with the rich and famous would sometimes be such a bore, even for the likes of a movie ‘psycho’ like me. I could never quite make the connection between the celebrity in the flesh, which was nearly always a huge disappointment and the larger than life screen personas, with the exception of Sarah and may be Audrey Hepburn, of course.
After Sarah went through a rather exhausting schedule of filming and public appearances, we decided to take a real ‘holiday’ down to the Amalfi Coast to Naples and further south to a seaside ‘village’ Portofino. We stayed in a luxury apartment overlooking a majestic Mount Vesuvius to the east and the hole of Capri to the West. It was a far cry from the view from my bedroom window in upstate New York and Sarah’s single room flat in Hoboken, New Jersey.
We applied for extended visas through the American embassy in Rome. Sarah was about to embark on a film career in Europe after being offered the role of Jean Orbeck in the New Wave, French feature, ‘Blow-out’ alongside the gorgeous Alain Delon.
She was growing weary of Hollywood and the studio system which was fortunately for her beginning to change with the times. I just wanted to stay in Europe for as long as humanly possible. Bobby Breslin went back to California in December, 1960 much to my relief; he was as popular as a fart in a space suite, totally unbearable and a pain in the proverbial.
There were many occasions when I could have planted my fist into his face but to save Sarah s integrity and mine, I refrained but only let loose privately carrying out my frustrations on our pillows and taking long walks in and around the city’s marvelous architectural masterpieces. I was training to be a pacifier but it was so fucking laborious, something had to give.
After my folks had died, I evolved into this belligerent youth, hell bent on mischief. Sarah described me as pansexual, a supernatural sex fiend with magic hands. I felt impervious to pain and death, a several hand or arm war only a flesh wound but toying with my emotions was declaring war on my soul.
My life was already littered with ambiguity, on one hand I was this cultured, articulate individual but I however on the other hand there was this psychotic monster/beast with a penchant for sexual depravity coupled with a thirst for extreme violence. You would think that having an intense interest in movies would calm the savage beast but on the contrary it intensified the inner sanctuaries of my soul.
So on the surface everything was sublime, my surreal relationship with Sarah, my love affair with Italy, the way I looked, the way I dressed, the way I spoke. Maybe I was hell-bent on self destruction, so in a macabre way, I wanted to end the wonderful reality and go back to being a schmuck with no future.
The villa where we stayed was next to a 13th century monastery where once Oscar Wilde and Lord Douglas sodomized the local boys. In the early morning we would hop on our vespers and travel the winding road to the sea, the views were the manifestations of every traveler’s dreams picturesque villages on mountain tops, rocky outcrops, and jagged cliffs with majestic ruins of medieval fortresses hanging precariously on the edge of a precipice. Sarah looked ravishing as her hair blew in the wind; her classic profile contrasted beautifully with the deep dark blue of the sea and French blue skies.
At the back of the villa, everything went down to the cove, where the sea came into a small round lagoon of such transparency that one could see the coral reefs and unusual plants. The local fisherman thought we were a bad influence on the local youth based on past history. They had a deep mistrust of foreigners especially the Americans and the British.
There was still intense resentment left over from the war, Montecassino which was only midway between Rome and Naples, where in 1944 allied forced advancing towards Rome were halted by German defensive positions in which the fortified towns of Cassino played a major part.
The allies succeeded in capturing the site only after four months of bitter fighting and heavy losses on both sides.
This was also Mafia territory, ruled by the Cosa Nostra, where the murder rate was higher than New York and Chicago. Vendetta, honour killings and crimes of passion were the chief motive for murder in Naples and its environs. . In Naples and most of southern Italy, playing with their women was more dangerous than messing with guns…
Here we were in Rome, like lost angels in a ruined paradise!