June 23, 2007
If it sounds like I’m dropping names…I am! Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Will Smith, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Depp, Rod Stewart, Luther Vandross, Sean Penn, Jodie Foster, and Forrest Whitaker were just a few of our customers.
On any given night, I could walk into Genghis Cohen, the Hollywood hot spot I named and hosted, and feel like I was walking onto a movie set. While my friend Allan Rinde, who owned the restaurant, was making sure every customer was having a wonderful Chinese dining experience, I was paying a little extra attention to the stars. It was about this time that I had begun working with 3- dimensional acrylic fabric paint to create a new look for myself. I started enhancing old Hawaiian Shirts with 3-dimensional acrylic paint…which patrons bought right off my back! It wasn’t long before I had a profitable little sideline.
I remember while recording across the street at Cherokee studios, Bruce Willis and his producer, Robert Kraft would come in for egg rolls during breaks. This was during the end of the run of his hit TV show “Moonlighting” when Bruce was also performing around town with his blues band doing vocals and playing harmonica. From the conversations I had with him, I found out he liked blues and early Rock And Roll singers, so I made a special shirt for him of his favorites who passed away. It was called the “Rock and Roll Heaven” Shirt, based on the classic song my friend Alan Day wrote with the late Johnny Stevenson.
It was a black T-shirt, ripped a bit here and there, with with a stenciled “Heaven” on the front, with hand painted signatures of his favorite artists. I happened to give it to him on the same night he signed a 7 million dollar endorsement for Seagrams Whiskey. To be perfectly honest, later when he thanked me and said goodnight, I don’t think that the patented smirk he was wearing on his face was for the shirt!
Another actor/ musician who would drop in from time to time, was Johnny Depp. He owned a club up on the Sunset Strip, “The Viper Room”, and whenever he had yen for Chinese food he’d come down to Genghis. The first night I met him, we talked about music. Then I asked if he would mind if I asked him a personal question? “Can I see the tattoo?”
The tattoo I was talking about was a hot topic in all the tabloids. When Johnny broke up with Wynonna Ryder, he altered a tattoo he had on his arm that said “Wynonna Forever” to say “Wino Forever”. When he rolled up his sleeve and showed me, I knew he was cool!
One night when I came into work, I saw Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey, Jr. sitting at a tiny table for 2 in the middle of an empty restaurant. I introduced myself and asked if they would prefer to have a booth?
When they finished dinner, I sat with them and told them how much I enjoyed Sarah in “Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun” and Robert in “Weird Science”. They told me that they appreciated how they were treated at Genghis Cohen. Other restaurants, wanted them to get in and out because they weren’t of drinking age and could only spend so much. I told them whenever you or your friends wanted to come in just call me. I assured them that “At Genghis Cohen, your wish…Is your problem!”
They laughed and not only became restaurant regulars, but became enthusiastic supporters of my wearable art.
One night Sarah was trying on one of my creations in the wine room at Genghis Cohen. She dresses and flicks off the light switch but it’s NOT the switch for the closet it’s the switch for the ENTIRE restaurant! Allan throws open the door, turns the darkened restaurant lights back on and GLARES at me. Sarah confesses and Allan smiles…after all who can stay mad at Sarah Jessica Parker?
(To Be Continued)
Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne
To read an article on Barbra Streisand at Genghis Cohen http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/08/04/barbra-streisand-and-the-price-of-egg-rolls/
Glowing Memories Of Genghis Cohen http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/07/29/glowing-memories-of-genghis-cohen/
Peaking In A Chinese Restaurant http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/peaking-in-a-chinese-restaurant/
To some of my wearable art. http://artiewayne.com/art.html
November 23, 2006
As we decide if we should have another piece of pumpkin pie or another glass of egg nog, the moment of truth draws closer…Black Friday! It’s the biggest shopping day of the year in America, and the official beginning of the Christmas season. I remember just a few years ago, it was wiser to buy presents closer to, or even after Christmas, to get the best deals. Now they’re advertising sales that are starting at 50% off!
Heaven forbid you waited to get your Playstation III or the new “masterbating” Elmo… Now it’s going to cost you a kidney to get one before Christmas! I was considering going to Petco today and getting a remote controled mouse for my cats, Whoppy and Streaker, but I think I’ll wait until the excitement dies down. I don’t want to be held up at gunpoint in the parking lot by some “catnip crazed” crook who’ll do anything to get a remote controlled mouse!
As I sit and think about some memorable Thanksgivings I had in the past, I flashback to one in particular. In the early ’80s, my friend Allan Rinde, owned a chinese restaurant in a Jewish neighborhood in Hollywood, which I named Genghis Cohen. This is the place in which Larry David (co-creator of the “Seinfeld”) based the episode, “The Chinese restaurant”, where he was kept waiting by an “arrogant host” for what seemed to be hours!
On the first Thanksgiving night after it opened…I was “humbly hosting” the place. There must’ve been 6 or 7 reservations that night, instead of the usual 100, so I assumed it would be like this all weekend. I didn’t even bother to have as many of my hand painted shirts, which I sold to customers from $75 to $350, onhand as I usually did. I thought that on Black Friday there would be as few customers as there was on Thanksgiving night.
As I sat back to enjoy the night, a publicist friend of mine came in for an early dinner, and left me an incredible trip…I mean tip! She gave me a capsule of MDMA ( Ecstacy) which was legal then, and I took for the very first time a few minutes later. It wasn’t long before a smile swept across my face and I felt an emotional connection with everyone I came in contact with. I even engaged in long conversations with Chinese and Mexican workers in the kitchen, even though we didn’t speak each others language!
Then the place started to fill up with our regular customers who were out shopping and asked if they could come in without a reservation. Lana Turner , came in with a party of five, Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey , Jr. with their friends, Luthor VanDross and his entourage, Rod Stewart, so on and so forth! Every time someone would show up at the door, I’d greet them with a glazed look in my eyes and say, “Welcome to Genghis Cohen, where there’s always room for one more!” It wasn’t long before I started to answer the phone, ” Hello. Genghis Cohen, where your wish…is your problem!”
I stopped taking reservations and advised everyone on the phone to order take out because there were about 60 people waiting for tables. In my chemically induced “loving” state, I was determined to make this a night to remember for everyone I encountered! I read the menu aloud to the hungry crowd on line, while the waiters took their orders promising the food would be ready by the time they were seated.
“Tonight we have Romeo and Juliet, fresh asparagus and schezewan string beans lying side by side…on a steamy bed of lettuce. If you order this dish you must be over 18, so please have your ID ready!
We also have our world famous, “Duck with no Name”. Why doesn’t it have a name? Because there’s no guilt when you eat a nameless duck. I mean, would you order it if it were called Daffy or Donald?
Finally, our special tonight is “Terminator Chicken”, a dish so powerful that if you don’t order it…it’ll come out and get you! If you Do order it, but don’t finish it, it’ll look up at you and say, “I’ll be back!”
Then things started to get serious, I ran out of one liners as well as hand painted shirts! Chef Lin stormed out of the kitchen waving a kichen knife and cursing in chinese, about the huge orders that kept coming in, so close to closing time. Although the walls were starting to pulsate and close in on me, I managed to calm the chef down and introduced him to patrons that kept gushing about his incredible food. He was absolutely beaming as he returned to the kitchen amidst a standing ovation! Chef Lin fortunately convinced his staff not to walk out at their usual quiting time and the bus boys not to beat my ass for making them work late!
I knew how much Allan hated for me to keep people waiting on line, so I made sure by the time he was expected, everyone had been seated and served. He asked how the night was…coming down from all the excitement, I quietly said, “OK, I guess.” I bid everyone goodnight and went outside where my little Genie and her magic carpet were waiting to take me home!
Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne
Thanks to Elliot Weiss for letting me borrow the title of one of his songs for this article.
I was in the music buisness as a songwriter, artist, producer, publisher and promoter from 1960 to 1996 and met many people who have become legends. One CD and record producer who particularly stands out is Richard Perry. His track record is astonishing! From Tiny Tim, Harry Niilson, Barbra Streisand, Ringo Starr, The Pointer sisters, to the last four Rod Stewart “American Songbook” albums…he’s been consistantly on the charts for the last four decades!
I talked to him a few months ago after not being in touch with him for ten years ( I was quietly recovering from a spinal operation ) and have begun to submit songs to him again. I’d like to share a couple of stories with you from my forthcoming book about some of my experiences with him.
Richard Perry and I became friends in the mid-sixties when we were neighbors at 1650 Broadway. He was producing the “God Bless Tiny Tim” album and recorded one of my songs, “Daddy, Daddy What Is Heaven Like?” His first Gold Album, and mine. Since Richard isn’t a songwriter and depends totally on outside material, he became the number one producer that songwriters and publishers would persue. When I ran the professional department at Warner Bros. Music in the early ’70’s, Richard was always the first to hear our best songs. My boss, Ed Silvers, suggested that I update the old Johnny Burnette hit, “You’re 16,” with a New Orleans feel for Richard’s upcoming Fats Domino session. Richard loved it, but didn’t cut it with Fats. Over the next two and a half years it was turned down by 122 artists and producers. My little piano voice demo became an ongoing joke at Warner’s….until Richard Perry finally cut it with Ringo Starr and sold five million records!
The next story…
In 1971, the single “Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand was in the top ten, but her album wasn’t finished yet. Richard Perry, who was the producer, called me up on a Sunday afternoon and asked if I wanted to listen to the final mixes on Barbra’s album.
Needless to say I was thrilled, but as I sat in the studio listening to the playback something was bothering me. I couldn’t hear the lyrics loud enough over the track!! As I sheepishly told Richard what I thought, his engineer, Bill Schnee, jumped up and said, “I told you Richard……You can’t hear the lyrics !!” Richard looking a little stunned, smiled, thanked me for coming down and started re-mixing again.
The already overdue album was finally released a month later. My friend Allan Rinde, who was the Columbia Records’ West Coast Contemporary A+R director, told me that I’d be banned from the company forever if I ever interfered with any of their producers again!
When my late partner Lou Reizner, the man who discovered and
produced such diverse artists as the Singing Nun and Rod
Stewart, developed a taste for larger than life productions,
there was no going back. Still riding the success of his
stellar recording of the Rock opera “Tommy” that he produced
with a cast that included Roger Daltry, Elton John, Tina
Turner, as well as the London Symphony orchestra… Lou was
determined his next project would be as spectacular!
Lou was larger than life himself. At 6’4″ he looked more like
an action hero than the transplanted American who once ran
Mercury Records International in London. I remember one time
when I was staying with Lou and his wife Pam in Knightsbridge,
he sat me down in a futuristic cocoon like chair, with a
built-in stereo speakers and proceeded to play me a dozen or
so tracks he just produced on the Bee Gees. Robert Stigwood
had hired him to be the musical director of his soon to be
produced film, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
and these incredible recordings of John Lennon and Paul
McCartney songs were to be part of the sound track.
Several months later, when Lou was staying with me in
Hollywood, the project had developed into something else. It
seems that Robert Stigwood and Lou couldn’t make a deal, and
Stigwood gave the rights to the tracks back to Lou, including
3 performances by the Bee Gees as some kind of settlement.
Our lawyer and manager, Marty Machat, Russ Regan, who was
head of 20th Century records, and Lou got together and came
up with the idea of putting some of the biggest stars of the
day over the cuts and use it over WW2 newsreel footage from
20th Century Foxs’ vast archives. Talk about larger than life
…”All This And World War Two”!!!
The next few months were quite exciting, Lou was going back
and forth to London, putting Brian Ferry on “She’s Leaving
Home”, Leo Sayer on, “The Long and Winding Road”, then coming
back to Hollywood to work with Bob Gaudio, and Frankie Valli
on “A Day in the Life”. I recruited my friend, Helen Reddy,
to do “Fool On The Hill”. Elton John gave his friend, Russ
Regan, the man who discovered and signed him to UNI, the
rights to use his number one record “Lucy In The Sky With
Diamonds”. Russ also got 20th Century artists, Ambrosia,
["Biggest Part Of Me"], to record “Magical Mystery Tour”.
While Lou was in London, I was at Cherokee studios in Hollywood
watching Rod Stewart put his classic vocal on “Get Back”, that
became number one in the U.K. I’m sad to say that the reggae
version I did of “Give Peace A Chance”, that I did with Art
Munson and Joe Klein, plays over the film credits but was
recorded too late for the album.
I’ve always believed that Lou Reizner’s, “All This And World
War Two” was ahead of it’s time. The new Hip-O records double
CD Re-issue is excellent. How many CDs have you bought
recently that you can sing along to almost every song?
Hopefully the DVD of the Film can’t be far behind.
Here’s the complete track list:
1-Magical Mystery Tour – Ambrosia
2-Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – Elton John
3-Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight – The Bee Gees
4-I Am The Walrus – Leo Sayer
5-She’s Leaving Home – Bryan Ferry
6-Lovely Rita – Roy Wood
7-When I’m 64 – Keith Moon
8-Get Back – Rod Stewart
9-Let It Be – Leo Sayer
10-Yesterday – David Essex
11-With A Little Help From My Friends/Nowhere Man – Jeff Lynne
12-Because – Lynsey De Paul
13-She Cam In Through The Bathroom Window – The Bee Gees
14-Michelle – Richard Cocciante
15-We Can Work It Out – The Four Seasons
16-The Fool On The Hill – Helen Reddy
17-Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – Frankie Laine
18-Hey Jude – The Brothers Johnson
19-Polythene Pam – Roy Wood
20-Sun King – The Bee Gees
21-Getting Better – Status Quo
22-The Long And Winding Road – Leo Sayer
23-Help – Henry Gross
24-Strawberry Fields Forever – Peter Gabriel
25-A Day In The Life – Frankie Valli
26-Come Together – Tina Turner
27-You Never Give Me Your Money – Wil Malone & Lou Reizner
28-The End – The London Symphony Orchestra
For more information… Go to Hip-O records at
July 4, 2006
IRVING GREEN 2/6/16 – 7/1/06
What do Sarah Vaughn, The Platters, Brook Benton, Patti Page,
The Diamonds, Del Vikings, James Brown, Dinah Washington,
Roger Miller, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Laine, The Troggs,
Wayne Fontana, the Mindbenders, the Troggs, Leslie Gore, Blue
Cheer, Manfred Mann, Steam, Freddie and the Dreamers, Dusty
Springfield, Keith, Paul Mauriat, Jay and the Techniques,
David Bowie, The Blues Magoos, Spanky and Our Gang, Crispian
St. Peters, Jerry Butler, Bobby Hebb, Louie Armstrong. and
Rod Stewart all have in common?
They all recorded for Irving Green, who owned Mercury Records,
a little indie who could… and did… become a major label!
He also owned Smash and distributed Phillips records and all
of their subsidiaries. He was one of the first champions of
Rock and Roll and Mercury was the first major company to
promote Black artists to crossover into the Pop mainstream.
It also was the first to have an African-American as Vice-
President of A+R, Quincy Jones.
Although he repeatedly asked me to call him Irv, I always
called him Mr. Green, out of respect for his daughter Kelli
Ross, who was my partner in Alouette Productions. Not many
people knew that Mr. Green was a silent partner in our
publishing and administration firm.
He was one of the few CEOS I’ve ever known who an artist
could talk to. Although he wasn’t a producer, I remember
when James Brown recorded briefly for Smash, he wouldn’t go
into the recording studio without Mr. Green being there.
From time to time he’d ask me to go “undercover” for him. In
the last days of Cameo-Parkway records, he asked me to
introduce him to my friends Neil Bogart, who was running the
label and Bob Reno, who was with the publishing company. He
wanted to get them to come over to Mercury, but Neil and Bob
wound up going to Buddah Records instead. A few years later,
Bob Reno did have a successful stint at Mercury, as head of
MRC publishing and later as head of A+R.
When the Lovin’ Spoonful were about to re-sign with Kama-Sutra,
Mr.Green sent me to Wilkes-Barre to meet up with my old pals
and offer them a check for a million dollars to defect to
Mercury! When I mentioned to him that he hadn’t signed it, he
said, “When they sign a contract…I’ll sign the check!”
The last time I saw him it was 35 years ago hanging out at
Quincy’s house. He said he would leave the music business
when it stopped being fun. I guess it stopped being fun when
a big conglomerate bought him out. A few years later he went
into semi-retirement and moved to Palm Springs.
Although I’d heard he had become a top land developer, I will
always remember him as one of the greatest developers of pop
music and the human potential. Thank you for believing in me
and helping me to believe in myself.
Respectfully, Artie Wayne
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