Arthur Laurents Extended

Charles Kaiser and Arthur Laurents continue their conversation.



But did Stonewall change anything for you?Tom was more active than I was -- he went to the meetings of the Gay Activists Alliance at the old firehouse. It was so familiar to me from all the left-wing meetings I had gone to. Point of order and all that. The only thing that was different -- and it's probably true to this day... there were those -- you can't quite call them transvestites. They wore a kind of tunic over jeans and boots. And screamed, "You don't want us showing our faces in the parade." Oh they were angry. There was one named Marcia -- he was the roughest of them all. They were absolutely right. Nobody did want them in the parade. I remember having an argument about gay liberation with a guy who shall be nameless about the trucks. [In the 1970's, there were nearly nightly orgies in empty trucks in a Greenwich Village parking lot]. I don't think that's gay liberation. We fought about it. And it's interesting what happened to him. He went to Israel, lived on a Kibutz and came back an orthodox Jew. Now he teaches at the Harvey Milk School. That's a far cry from fucking in the trucks.

But there was this whole thing in the '70s that somehow fucking as much as possible in as many places as possible was proof of our liberation. This compulsive behavior.God knows I'm all for fucking. But I don't think [what happened in the trucks] that's liberation. I didn't then and I still don't. Some terrible things happened in the trucks. I do know a theatre director who was beaten up while he was in the trucks -- and he said he fell out of the balcony.

Did you encounter a lot of people in the theatre, actors and not actors, who were nervous about being known as gay people? And has that changed?PBS just did a documentary on Jerry Robbins. It must be at least 10 years old, why they suddenly showed it now I don't know. It said that the reason he informed was that Ed Sullivan was going to expose him as a gay. Can you in your right mind think that anyone would think of exposing a person in the ballet as gay. Could it have an effect?

Even in 1954?In the ballet! Nobody thought anybody in the ballet was straight. I remember I did this picture, Turning Point . I swore I was never going to do another movie after The Way We Were. But Nora Kaye, who I had an affair with and who I really loved -- she was married to Herb Ross, of dubious sexuality -- she begged me. I said OK and they said, you can be a producer, and that'll protect you. There was a whole gay subplot, most of which is not in the movie. It was quite obvious. The showdown came. I was living with Herb and Nora in Beverly Hills. We were on their "lanai" when I talked about all this gay stuff disappearing. This in the '70s, and Herb said to me, "Well, nobody in the ballet is gay anymore." I said 'Herb, we've known each other for 20 years now-and we know everything about each other.'

How much of the cast of West Side is gay? Not as many as you think.

Tags: Theater