|05-29-2013, 08:35 PM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 304Rep Power: 43
'Inside the Actor's Studio' Host James Lipton reminisces about being a pimp
James Lipton says he found himself working as a pimp after WWII when neither the women nor the men could find work in ‘male chauvinist Paris.'
Inside the Actors Studio Host James Lipton on His Favorite Interview and Pimping in Paris
MAY 28, 2013
On May 29, Inside the Actors Studio — seen in 94 millions homes and in 125 foreign countries — celebrates its 250th episode with a special two-hour retrospective on Bravo. We spoke with its host, James Lipton, at his elegant Manhattan home, where he lives with his wife, Kedakai Turner, a real estate executive.
Your 250th show is coming up on Bravo. What do you have planned?
“The 250th is different from any show we’ve ever done. I have brand-new interviews with Conan O’Brien, Barbara Walters, Christopher Walken, Ellyn Burstyn, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jennifer Lopez, Dave Chappelle, Jay Leno, Spike Lee, Katie Couric, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro — we’re going to their homes, their workplaces.”
The show has played for 19 years. Who did you most want on the show who turned you down?
“Marlon Brando. He was reclusive in the last years of his life. He said, ‘I’m never going to do your show. The [Actors] Studio’s always taking credit for me. I was trained by Stella Adler.‘ I said, ‘So was I. Come on. We’ll talk about Stella.’ I’ve had a pretty good roster of guests without Marlon.”
Of the people you’ve interviewed, who was best?
“What I’ve waited for is that one of my graduated students has achieved so much that he walks out and sits down on that chair next to me. It happened when Bradley Cooper walked out on that stage. We looked at each other and burst into tears. It was one of the greatest nights of my life.”
What are the criteria to be a guest on the show?
“Does this person have anything to teach my students? Period.”
You teach acting. What makes a great actor?
“A great actor is a combination of two things: talent and technique. When you have a person with enormous talent and you provide them with a great technique, that’s what makes a great actor. What you bring to the table is your talent. We provide technique. Marlon was a great actor because everything he did was unpredictable yet, in the end, inevitable. That’s my definition of [great] acting.”
How do you recognize a good actor?
“Would you recognize your sister in a crowd? When you’ve seen 1,000 auditions, and somebody is different, you notice it. When you see it, you spot it immediately.”
You grew up poor in Detroit.
“I always had to work, from the age of 13. When my father left, we had nothing. [Lipton’s father, Lawrence, was a Beat poet].”
You began acting as a kid.
“At the Catholic Theater in Detroit while I was a copy boy at The Detroit Times.”
After you graduated from high school in 1944, your first big acting role was playing the Lone Ranger’s nephew on radio. Yet you actually wanted to be a lawyer. Why?
“I was going to be a lawyer because that was as far away from my father’s lunacy that I could imagine. He was nuts. He abandoned us. I was afraid of being like that.”
You wanted stability?
“Yes. I came to New York after the Air Force to get the law degree. But I thought, ‘I’d better take some acting classes if I’m going to earn a living so I can be a lawyer.’ Stella Adler accepted me for her [drama] class. About five years later, I said to myself, ‘Stop kidding. You don’t want to be a lawyer. This is what you want to do.’”
But you later gave up acting to be a TV producer and writer?
“I never gave it up! I love acting. I’m in Arrested Development. Watch it, my friend. [Lipton is reprising his role as Warden Stefan Gentles on Netflix’s Arrested Development].”
Is it true you were a pimp in Paris in the 1950s?
“I was. It was only a few years after the war. Paris was different then, still poor. Men couldn’t get jobs and, in the male chauvinist Paris of that time, the women couldn’t get work at all. It was perfectly respectable for them to go into le milieu.”
“Young women desperately needed money for various reasons. They were beautiful and young and extraordinary. There was no opprobrium because it was completely regulated. Every week they had to be inspected medically. The great bordellos were still flourishing in those days before the sheriff of Paris, a woman, closed them down. It was a different time.”
How did your involvement come about? You became friends with one of the prostitutes in Paris?
“We became great friends. When I ran out of money, I said, ‘I have to go home.’ She said, ‘No, you don’t. I’ll arrange for you.’ So she arranged for me to do it. I had to be okayed by the underworld; otherwise they would’ve found me floating in the Seine.”
Did you represent more than one girl?
“Yes, a whole bordello. I represented them all, but her especially. I did a roaring business, and I was able to live for a year. The French mecs didn’t exploit women. They represented them, like agents. And they took a cut. That’s how I lived. I was going through my rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life.”
Do you think people should buy sex?
“I really don’t. I think if you can’t earn it on your own, then you don’t deserve it.”
What do you most fear?
“I worked with Bob Hope for 12 years [Lipton produced Bob Hope TV specials for NBC]. I said, ‘You know, Bob, I had a nightmare last night that I was poor again. Do you ever have nightmares?’ Bob answered, ‘Always.’ I have money now, but it doesn’t matter. [The fear] never goes away.”
Barbara Walters, who is on your 250th show, has announced she’s retiring. Will you?
“I’m not retiring!”
I brought it up because you’re no longer head of the Actors Studio Drama School. You became Dean Emeritus.
“Yes. After 10 years. I have a great connection with the school. I’m there. I greet them at orientation. I make the same speech I made when I was dean.”
What is your greatest achievement?
“No question about it — marrying Kedakai.”
How did you meet your wife?
“We met at the ballet. I took one look at her and I fell madly in love. I called her the next day and asked her to have dinner with me. Nine months later we were married.”
Why has your marriage lasted 40 years?
“Because Kedakai is a masterpiece.”
Only one question left, one you always ask.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive?
“I want Him to say, ‘You see, Jim, you were wrong. I exist. But you may come in anyway.’”
|05-29-2013, 11:59 PM||#2|
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 514Rep Power: 75
"I was a pimp, but a good pimp, I helped women become whores that otherwise wouldn't have, but now I train empty shells of human beings to be actors because they're the closest thing I could find that are dead inside like prostitutes."
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