Bill Wolf








            The truck and Charlie back in San Francisco, and our theater company semi-active and calling ourselves “Triple-A Acting Company” for lack of a better name, we played around North Beach and a few dives as we could find them.  So I got to know a lot about North Beach and the scene there and went a couple times to a place called the Intersection Theater to see cheap movies on Sunday nights.  It had been a church, long before and now now was somewhat casually run by a couple of guys who started the movies whenever anybody showed up to watch.  Well, I loved the place, of course, and got this idea to try to convince these guys that they really could use an M.C., to like keep it moving.  So I went back stage and talked them into trying me out.  They said, OK, next Sunday.  I pulled out a few of my terrible old sight gags and long-drawn-out jokes and generally brought on the films, the audience so glad to get me off the stage, they’d appreciate anything.

            Well I did it a few times and liked it and talked it up among our friends and then, too, there were all kinds of live acts around who would perform anywhere and I got them slots on the show.  Pee Wee Herman, before he was known as Pee Wee, of course, showed up a couple times and once Woopie Goldberg, long before she was famous, and assorted hangers-on like you used to find in North Beach.

          Pretty soon we were packing them in and our regular audience of kooks and friends were showing up.  Then we started doing skits or tableaus of our own with our gang and settled into two happy years of Sunday shows at the Intersection in North Beach.


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            That summer, for some reason, Ed Weingold was not going to Sharon, Connecticut, but instead had landed a job as general manager of a little stock company in nearby Napa Valley, the Napa Valley Theater Company who had a couple years behind them and a nice space in a converted winery outside of Rutherford.  Again, he landed me a job as costumer and Russell, this time, as actor, and it was close and we could go back and forth to the city on weekends or whatever.

            Turns out this theater was founded and run by one Cara Landry, a young theater type actress who lived in a big house in the middle of a big property left to her by her parents, the very wealthy Landrys, who were dead, and she lived there with a bunch of hippie girl lesbian actresses and other hangers-on and was producing her own theater.  One of her lovers and I guess then ex, was a severe woman named sk dunn, who also lived on the property with her father, Carol.  There was also an actor Jim Neu, and these had all been involved in the Robert Wilson “School of Byrds” Theater in New York, some years before.  I didn’t know who that was at the time but came to know he was a big deal.

            In the costume shop in the theater, I went to work with a couple of young assistants they found me among students in the area.  One was a dingy girl named Adrian and the other a sharp, fun girl named Karolyn Kiisel, who ended up doing lots of sewing for me that season and would go on to be my costumer for years to come, a famous designer in LA and a long-time friend.  She always said that I taught her to sew fast.

            The season was a really mixed bag, I think four shows, “Hedda Gabler” (of all things) in which (guess!) Cara Landry played Hedda, then Shaw’s “Joan of Arc” with (guess again!) Cara as Joan.  Then a ridiculous original musical piece in which all the men wore women’s underwear for costumes (my idea).


            So by that fall, we were back in San Francisco with a whole bunch of new friends whom we had met in Napa, Russell and I in the big house on Vicksburg, occasionally doing gardening around town in our old truck for spare change (we took out an ad in the papers which said “I can make anything grow”).  But mostly being theater type hippies, stoned a lot and doing “Tripledick Monster” in North Beach and loving it all.


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            About that time, too, our new friend Maria Scatuccio, was doing ceramics.  She would call herself a “ceramicist” for years.  Well, they were always fun and kinda silly stuff, her style, like ceramic hot dogs, and ceramic Betty Boops, and such.  And she was doing some great ceramic cup cakes, all different colors and sprinkles on top, and one day she gets the idea that she wants to have a booth in the upcoming Polk Street Fair, and sell her cup cakes, and she gets the idea to call it “Maria’s Bakery,” and wear a chef’s hat and make it a big deal of it.  Right up our alley, I thought.

            “Sure!  We’d love to help, Maria!” everyone said, of course.

            So, we set to building a bakery set, exactly the size of the permits for the booths in the Polk Street Fair.  But that wasn’t enough!  We decided to build a little stage in the back of the booth and build little sets and perform little “Bakery Tableaux” behind Maria selling her cup cakes all day long.  Maria loved it, of course!



            They were silly tableaux, really, and seemed to go on forever, fifteen or twenty minutes each one.  We had Terry MacDonald, and Joy and Dale, and they dressed up in silly cardboard outfits.  Terry was the baker, Joy was the milk, I was the flour and Dale was the egg, and the flour and the milk plotted behind the baker's back, and stuff like that. 



          A particularly good one was called “The Baker Beats the Egg” and had Terry hitting Dale with a wooden spoon on his cardboard shell and Dale crying and crying and his shiny, bald head glistening in the Polk Street sun.  Well, they attracted a lot of attention and added a little bit to our growing reputation.  Mostly, we had a great time.




            Shortly after that we took our “living tableaux” to a mammoth, benefit garage sale at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, and did scenes from “Pals of the Saddle.”  Another memorable chance for Terry and Dale to shine.  Terry played a Chinese coolie, terribly politically incorrect, of course, and Dale was Mrs. Clements, the town’s old lady shrew.  It was called “Sam Louie Catches Mrs. Clements on the Pot” and featured Dale shitting in the outhouse as Terry opens the door with hysterical giggling and pointing.  Dale’s endless and humiliating squirming stole the show.  Russ got to do a furtherly politically incorrect drunken Mexican, Pedro, feeling up the Mormon Missionary’s wife’s dress.  Ah, the theater!



(SEE:  Lots more of "Pals of the Saddle" in TABLEAUX VIVANT)


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            Billy King was in town those days and always coming up with some art project and had got the idea to do “butt prints” and have a big party and invite everybody we knew.  So, we threw it on Vicksburg Street, of course, and a lot of peole came.  Here’s the idea: Billy King bought a long roll of nice butcher paper and some bright blue paint and used a paint roller we had around.  He would have each person as they came to the party, discreetly lower their pants and bend over while he, Billy King, ran the wet paint roller over their butt and then have them “print” their butt on the paper.  Then he would have a damp towel to clean off the butts and a big marker pen and each one sign their name to their “print,” and the “prints” were hung around the rooms for everybody to look at during the party.  “It’ll be fun,” he said.






            That's also when the fabulous actress Diane Racine started hooking up with our group.  We hit it off right away, I guess our antics appealing to her sense of theater.  We would later crown her Queen of Mars.



            Well, you can imagine to carryings-on of our group during all this.  And each one was quite different.  Alma Becker made the daintiest, little imprint while her husband, Ed Weingold’s turned out big and gross and hairy.  You get the idea.



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