A Viking in my Dustbin. #90. NEW YORK in LEEDS.

Two days later with a copy hot from the processing lab, ‘Kremmen the Movie”, subtitled, “The Short that doesn’t need a Feature” had a premiere in London, a real glitter do at the BAFTA theatre. Kenny was there and Ray of course and Barry Cryer, and all our team were also invited.
The auditorium was packed with a glitzy invited audience, Kenny in person was the real star of the evening, and this was his first movie.
The film got laughs in all the right places and was received really well. It was obvious to everyone that this was no great work of art and that it had been turned out on the cheap by some studio no-body had heard of up in Leeds. Stan and Dave sucked it all up though, their names were up on the screen along with Nigel’s and mine and the rest of the team.
I wasn’t bothered with all the fuss. I just had this lovely warm feeling that we’d done it and felt very proud. I was glad for Stan and Dave of Norwood, who’d taken on a hell of a risk, which would have ruined them too if we’d screwed up.

So where’s the value in doing such a stressful thing? Sure you take on something like that for the money and to say you’re the people who did it, but in the end it was just thirty fairly artless minutes of cheap jokes and innuendo, hardly worth the effort, there and gone, one scene after another.
No, the real value for me anyway, was not in the thing we’d made, but in the doing of it, all the rest is ephemeral as insubstantial as show-biz bubbles.

I remember very little of the BAFTA event it didn’t make much impact on us, I think I we were too exhausted, but there was another more important Premiere scheduled.
The Producers of ‘Can’t Stop the Music’ had decided, to have its’ big premiere in Leeds of all places, not London, not until it had gone out. I guess they’d thought that Northerners wouldn’t know the difference between art and rubbish.
The shallow explanation offered for a Leeds Premiere being that this was where the ‘B’ film was made. The truth was however, they wanted it far away from the London glare of bad publicity.
Whatever the reason, it made for a spectacular and bizarre night in Leeds, the likes of which the city had never seen. It was held at the huge ABC Cinema an auditorium capable of seating a couple of thousand people.
The event had been promoted through the regional media and the ‘Village People’, the actual group who arrived into the city from the local airport in full costume, probably thinking Leeds regional airport looked a little small for Heathrow. They were all there along with their entourage piling out of a cortege of black shiny limos, lined up outside the cinema, flanked by Leeds police motorcycle outriders (happily not wearing make-up).
There was the one dressed as an Indian chief, another a hells’ angel biker, another a construction worker, the G.I. a New York motorcycle cop and lastly the cowboy.
That night of the Northern Premiere, the cinema and the street were barricaded off and huge spotlights swept the sky (just like you see in the movies)! It was the full works, with a red carpet, paparrazzi and reporters from the press, radio and television doing interviews, and thousands and thousands of screaming fans; it was the real thing, a sort of Leeds version of a Hollywood event.
Meanwhile, Stan, Dave and me and the production team, all in tux’s, apart from Mucky Nigel who was still in the same jumper with a black bow tie, arrived in our own little motorcade of hired limos. We followed the superstars down the red-carpet and into the cinema. The crowd still cheered but they had no idea who we were. The one person missing from this extravaganza was Kenny, but it wasn’t his night, it was the guys from the Greenwich Village, New York City.
The theatre was jam-packed with screaming teenagers. Over which announcements were made from the stage informing the audience that ‘Kremmen the Movie”, the first film they would see, had been made right there in Leeds, – that got a big cheer.
Then the lights dimmed and the huge curtains began to pull back as our opening music filled the place with it’s electro beat. God it was a great moment! Absolutely thrilling, it was our moment, far more so than at BAFTA.
For the next thirty minutes it was a case of “do you think the audience will get it”, will they find it funny, will they laugh in the right places.
This was the first time I’d ever seen anything of mine blown up so large. In that sense it was daunting, you could virtually see the coffee cup stains and Nigel’s finger prints. But I shouldn’t have worried because as the film progressed, the audience really got into it, laughing, cheering and at the end as the titles rolled up applauding as our names and Norwood Studios, Leeds, rolled up in the credits.

It was, as it turned out, the real premiere of our little film in our home-town, and by far the better film, but not by much.
The main Feature, crap though it was, was saved by great songs, which the whole place joined in with. ‘YMCA” performed by the group on the screen and two thousand fans in the cinema, almost brought the roof down. The songs were the lighter more enjoyable moments other than that it was a diabolical and totally embarrassing experience. And this time we had to sit through it all, there was no escape. We didn’t know where to put ourselves and couldn’t wait for it to be over. I mean I shouldn’t get too superior, after all our effort was no masterpiece either, when all’s said and done.
At the end of their movie, the Village People came out onto the stage in front of the curtain and mimed to a couple of their numbers. The crowd went wild and forgot about the pile of rhubarb they’d had to sit through to get to see the ‘real’ deal.

After that extravaganza, we were all delivered by motorcade to a civic reception at the Queens Hotel (aptly named), where conservatively suited councilors and the Mayor in his chain chatted with the fabulously gay men in outrageous fancy dress, he sort of blended in I thought. It was worth being there just to witness the spectacle.
We all got drunk on Leeds taxpayers champagne and enjoyed ourselves tremendously. For a while I got to speak to the chief in his headdress, I don’t remember a thing that was said as don’t speak Comanche, all I remember is his feathers.
It was truly bizarre, especially looking back from now three decades later, I too would be connected with the ‘Village’ in New York where I’m sitting and writing this in the bar I co-own with my wife, (Life Café corner of East tenth Street and Avenue ‘B’). No Indian chiefs in this morning though, maybe later.
And then that was it. All that effort, gone like tired bubbles in the flat champagne.
(to be continued)

A Viking in my Dustbin. #90. NEW YORK in LEEDS.

John Sunderland

New York, United States

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The night the ‘Village People’ direct from the East Village in New York, turned Leeds, Yorkshire, little ole England into Hollywood!

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