Is this the perfect time for a Ritz revival?
At this year's London Book Fair I was in the Random House area having a cup of tea with a Fleet Street obituary writer. She was in the middle of advising me to publish all my old Ritz interview tapes (the laundry list includes Sammy Davis, Jr, Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Frank Zappa and Anthony Perkins who successfully persuaded me to come off sugar), when a man at the next door table got out a copy of Ritz. I immediately pounced on him, saying I used to write for the rag. It turned out he was a literary agent called Robert Smith, who represents ex-Ritz editor David Litchfield, incidentally the best editor I've ever had.
After Robert Smith informed me copies of Ritz now go for £50 a copy, he confided he was at the Fair touting Litchfield's idea for a book on Ritz. I promptly told him, the copyright of all my old gossip and film columns plus all my old Ritz interviews belong to me. Mr Smith informed me Litchfield is banking on his friends letting him use their stuff for free.
At the Book Fair, there had been useful seminars on how to put one's books on Kindle which makes me think maybe I should put all my old Ritz stuff on a Kindle book before Litchfield helps himself to my material. If I do decide to do this, I would have to use footnotes explaining who the Cafe Society figures in my old columns were, as most of them are long dead and forgotten.
This week, I was invited to the Soho Hotel for a screening of Celebrity Exposed, the documentary featuring Richard Young, my old photographer on Ritz. It is produced by John Osborne and well directed by Don Letts (they are both directors of Brassneck TV, the documentary's production company). The doc comes out on Sky Arts 1 at 8pm on 8th May and it's worth recording just for the amusing Vivienne Westwood, David Bailey and Elton John interviews alone.
'Andy said everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, now it's more like 15 seconds,' Bailey quipped on screen, referring to the current Big Brother-influenced Celebrity Culture.
After the very entertaining doc, Peter York who has known Richard Young since his first snaps appeared in Ritz interviewed him on stage. I noticed all the high maintenance women in evening dress (Heather Kerzner, Kelly Hoppen, Yasmin Mills and Nancy Dell'Olio included) stayed on for the talk instead of going ON.
Richard took great relish in explaining David Litchfield had warned him from the very beginning he wouldn't be paid a penny for his Ritz Gossip snaps, but as compensation would be given permission to sell all his photographs to Fleet Street. According to Richard's gospel, Fleet Street were amazed how he got into all the Ritz parties where no Fleet Street hack would ever dare to gatecrash.
Richard also expressed nostalgia about all the naked ladies who were prevalent at parties and clubs which according to him simply doesn't happen now. Going OUT during the late Seventies and early Eighties was much more spontaneous than the Social Scene now, which seems to be completely controlled by the publicists and the Media.
After the screening, Kelly Hoppen (with the best hair in London) kindly gave me a ride in her chauffeured car to the after party at a 'secret rendezvous' in nearby Soho. I know certain people 'around town' won't invite her to their homes as she is known as a "Hello Girl" but I thought she was adorable. Especially when she told me at the very start of her career as an interior decorator, Richard took a snap of her, which she feared would embarrass her when she become 'famous' in later life.
'I shall never forget what Richard did for me. I told him I wasn't happy with the picture and he deleted it on the spot,' she said.
At the champagne fuelled party, organised by Susan Young, the power behind Richard's throne, Richard's family, fans and friends including Gary Kemp, the zany jeweller Stephen Webster and Nancy Dell'Olio were there. I don't know why she is so unpopular as she was lovely to me asking what Richard and I got up to during our Ritz days - as if I can remember. After all, our crazy days on the Beat is getting on for 40 years ago now.
After I informed Nancy DO my old Gossip job was to write bitchy things about my victims, she shrank away from me, which was quite a relief as I was afraid her extended eyelashes were about to poke into my eyeballs during our cosy tête-à-tête.
One of Frances Lynn's websites - click here