Short stories and essays by Shaun Costello, as well as excerpts from manuscripts in progress.

Latest

HUFFINGTON POST’S INFO GRAB CONTINUES

 

AriannaMark

LIKE TWO PEAS IN A POD

Like Bogart and Bacall. Like Gable and Lombard.

Like Madonna and the NBA.

Arianna and Mark – together at last. And the cash keeps flowing.

As a long time reader and commenter on Huffington Post, I was surprised when, in December of 2013, my comments were no longer welcome. Instead, I was told that I needed to sign back in to my Huffington Post account through Facebook. The reason given was that Huff Post needed to verify my identity. After several years as a commenter, Huff Post needed to know who I was. Of course the stench of this deceit was obvious to anyone with any sense at all. Huffington Post had gone into the information business – mine, yours, anyone’s.

By signing in to Huff Post through Facebook, all of the personal information stored in my Facebook account would now be available to Huff Post. Included in this information of course, would be all the personal information stored in the accounts of all those who are on my Facebook friends list. Your Facebook account, in terms of the personal information stored in it, is like a little Ponzi Scheme, with you at the top of the pyramid, and the rest of the structure built from the information about all those on your FB friends list. This pyramid of personal data is available to any opportunistic FB advertiser whose despicable but effective method includes: Click “Like” if you like kittens. Of course, naïve Facebook members who click “Like” are now going to be hounded by the advertiser, who, if they had looked closely enough, turns out to be a pet food and services company who now has, not only all the personal information in their FB account, but all the personal information from all the people on their FB friends list. This is why Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire, folks. And why YOU are NOT.

OK, back to my battle with Huff Post. Feeling a sense of righteous indignation, I contacted Huffington Post to complain about my dilemma, and their preposterous info grab. I sent off two emails, one to the normal channels for reader complaint, and the other to Arianna Huffington directly. Arianna, to her credit, has responded in the past to my emails. Not this time – there was no response. After a week or so of Huff Post’s silence, I noticed an additional possibility to address my frustration. Listed among contact possibilities was DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY. So I sent off an email to this personage, and got a response that very day.

His name was Tim McDonald, Huffington Post’s Director of Community. He seemed reasonable enough, even though he vehemently denied that Huff Post was collecting personal information through Facebook that it would later market in the great, world-wide, internet information bazaar. For the purpose of full disclosure dear reader, I am going to paste in here, my entire correspondence with Mr. McDonald – from my very first plea for reinstatement, to our dubious final agreement that Mr. McDonald himself would personally see to my identity verification without going through the farce of the Facebook revelation which, of course, he never really did. As I assemble this chronicle of complaint, it is Wednesday January 15th, and I still can not comment on Huffington Post. I am no longer a welcome participant in Huff Post’s public dialogue. No, I am cast out into the darkness, a leper without portfolio, because I dared to suggest that Huffington Post was selling information it collects through the naiveté of it’s readership. So here is my correspondence with Mr. McDonald. You, dear reader, should judge this farce for yourselves. You, members of Arianna Huffington’s wretched refuse, are a jury of peers. Read, and judge accordingly:   

     

Shaun Costello

Shaun Costello

December 16,2013

I am a long-time reader and commenter on Huffpost, but can no longer comment and refuse to give up the personal information of many people who have trusted me with it. You can no longer comment on an article on Huffpost unless you verify your ID through Facebook, which automatically releases all the personal information stored in your Facebook account to Huffpost. In so doing you are also releasing to Huffpost all of the personal information of everyone on your Facebook friends list. This is just an attempt by Huffpost to create a bigger archive of personal informarion which Huffpost has every intention of marketing. I lodged a complaint with Huffpost, and CC’d the complaint to Arianna huffington by email. She has responded to my emails in the past. Let’s see what happens. Huffpost used to be the good guys, but they are quickly becoming internet Nazis. It’s been a week now, and no response from Huffpost.

Tim McDonald

Tim McDonald

December 16, 2013
Shaun,

I understand your concerns with privacy and want to assure you that at HuffPost we are just as committed as ever to protect it. Nothing in our privacy agreement has changed. The message you see about access to friends lists, etc., is something we are required to disclose by Facebook. The information we use (Name and verified account token) comes from accessing their data that contains the rest. We don’t pull this other information into our database and we do not disclose any information other than your name (first and last or first and last initial).
I hope you see we are just as concerned with your privacy as you are.
Tim McDonald
Director of Community
Shaun Costello

Shaun Costello

December 16, 2013
Tim,
Are you telling me that no personal information acquired by Huffpost from Facebook in the verification process, other than my first and last name, will be used, disseminated, sold, marketed, used in marketing studies, used to test trends, used in media traffic studies, or used in or sold to any media now known or later to be discovered, now or at any time in the future? Do you take personal responsibility in guaranteeing Huffington Post’s adherence to that guarantee? Will you actually sign your name to it?
Tim McDonald

Tim McDonald

December 16, 2013
Shaun,
I can not promise that. One, I am not in a position to do so and two, because we would never say at any time in the future.
Shaun Costello

Shaun Costello

December 16, 2013
Tim,
On one hand you’re firmly asserting that Huffington Post does not upload any of the peripheral information made available by Facebook, such as personal information about me or anyone on my Facebook friends list. Yet, on the other hand, you can not guarantee what Huffington Post might do with this information in the future. Of course you’re in no position to guarantee Huffington Post’s policies or agenda. I think I can safely assume that you are not a majority share holder. But it IS your responsibility as Huffington Post’s Director of Community, to assuage the fears that might exist in the minds of Huffington Post’s readers, regarding their privacy. Your initial response to my questions regarding the Facebook verification process was that Huffington Post does not actually upload the peripheral information provided by Facebook, only the first and last name and possible middle initial, yet when pressed to guarantee that Huffington Post would not use that peripheral information to some purpose in the future, you could make no such guarantee. This suggests that this peripheral information, while not initially used by Huffington Post, is stored in some way for possible use at some time in the future. This is hardly a guarantee of privacy. Based on what you have said, I can only suggest that I would like to continue to comment on Huffington Post’s articles, as I have done for years, but I can not, in good conscience, release to Huffington Post information now stored on Facebook’s data base, that Huffington Post might put to some purpose, at some time in the future. The ball, as they say Tim, is in your court.
Best regards,
Shaun Costello
Tim McDonald

Tim McDonald

December 16, 2013
Shaun,
If you give me (not our tech team) a link to  your account and your name matches Shaun Costello and you are ok with displaying Shaun C. next to your comments, I can have it done manually, but it may take some time. I can personally guarantee that I will not share your Facebook account with anyone but will keep a link on file. We will not have access to any information that you do not make public on FB.
Shaun Costello

Shaun Costello

December 16, 2013
Tim,
I will give you this link in good faith:
https://www.facebook.com/XXXXXXXXXX (I assume this is the link that you need)
But my main concern is the information that Huffington Post will receive from every person on my Facebook friends list. This was the diabolical genius of Mark Zuckerberg that made him a billionaire, the information flow through friends and “likes” that his codes provided to naive users, most of whom still remain ignorant of what happens when they click “Like”. I’m grateful for your efforts on my behalf, but still concerned about what will happen eventually with all of this information.
Tim McDonald

Tim McDonald

December 16, 2013
Shaun,
That’s all I need. Are you OK with having Shaun C. displayed next to you user name? What is your current HP username? And lastly, is this the email you use to login to HP?  Nothing will change on your account except the addition of your name, and the ability to comment. We will access no information from FB about you or your friends.

Shaun Costello

Shaun Costello

December 16, 2013
My user name is Shaun Costello. I have never hidden behind an alias. Thanks Tim
I hope Arianna knows and appreciates your value.
Tim McDonald

Tim McDonald

December 16, 2013
Thank you. Do you want first and last name or just first and last initial?

This may take a while with many of our tech team on holiday until the new year. I’ll see how fast I can get it done.
Shaun Costello

Shaun Costello

December 16, 2013
First and last name please. Thanks Tim
Tim McDonald

Tim McDonald

December 16, 2013
Thank you. Appreciate you reaching out.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
So, that’s it – the correspondence in it’s entirety. As of today, Wednesday January 15, 2014, my situation with Huffington Post remains the same. I remain an outcast. I can not comment. I am one of Arianna’s UNPERSONS.  Do I think Mr. McDonald was devious? No, I believe he was well-intentioned. If I were to venture a guess, I would suggest that Mr. McDonald, while attempting to rectify my dilemma, brushed sleeves with members of Huffington Post’s legal team, who promptly admonished his sincere attempt to help a reader, rapped him on the knuckles, told him to never correspond with this ungrateful slob again, and sent him back to his office, having been properly corrected.
And so it goes. My faith in Arianna Huffington and her once-extraordinary web post is tarnished, at best. Like Google, and other web venues, whose success has turned their once-great and probably still-valued services into nothing more than greedy info-merchants, Huffington Post joins the phalanx of internet bottom feeders, who prey on the naiveté and ignorance of world-wide web users. Mark Zuckerberg’s Ponzi stratagem has made him a Billionaire many times over. And Arianna Huffington, who once seemed to stand for something admirable,  is instead well on her way to that cozy oceanfront  abode in The Hamptons, that will be built, brick by brick, on information bought and sold, and, on advice of counsel, eternally denied.

Keep SHAUN COSTELLO’S BLOG up and running.
Creating and maintaining this BLOG is time
consuming. If you like what you’ve been reading,
please help me keep it going.
DONATE ANY AMOUNT Through PAYPAL at:
*

SANTA’S RACIAL DILEMMA

SANTA’S RACIAL DILEMMA

The Morality Police busy themselves saving children from reality.

By Shaun Costello

  New Child picBlack SantaWhite Santa

Members of the Liberal press, people I listen to, and read daily, had a communal nosebleed when a Fox News bimbo-clone and a few Republican idiots recently proclaimed that Santa Claus was their favorite color – WHITE. I’m as liberal as liberal gets short of anarchy, but I find no fault in Santa’s being white. Santa Claus, AKA Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Chrismas, etc, is a product of Northern European folklore, and his inclusion in the celebration of Christmas is a product of Northern European culture and tradition. As Europeans immigrated to the New World, they brought their traditions with them, and an Americanized version of the Santa character evolved on our shores. America, unlike Northern Europe, became a multi-cultural nation, and as different nationalities and races assimilated into American society they were exposed to each other’s religious beliefs, celebrations, and traditions. America’s diversity is our greatest strength, and tolerance of our differences, while long in coming, is an American phenomenon well worth the wait.

White kids

The celebration of our individual ethnic traditions by Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, etc, does not make us any less American. I hope that Christmas and Chanukkah are never, at some future date, molded together into a celebration of the ultimate amalgam of political correctness – Christukkah. The Jewish God, with his flowing white hair and beard, and lightening bolts in each hand, ready to toss at some unfortunate offender, would never allow it. Nor should he. Chanukkah, the festival of lights, is a

Jewish kids

wonderful holiday that should remain forever Jewish. As Christmas, a celebration, for those who are keeping score, of the birth of Christ is, and should always remain Christian. That Santa should have no color is preposterous. That the spirit of Christmas should have no color is something to strive for. I can only hope that one day, children will honor and celebrate the spirit of each other’s ethnic holidays and appreciate the wonder of their differences.

Black kids

The commercialization of Christmas in America has turned a once charming tradition into a frenzy of gift giving that borders on the ridiculous. The spike in the suicide rate at Christmas time has a direct correlation to the obligation Americans seem to feel to give the right gift, and the disappointment and shame they feel when they fail to do so. Bargain sale days like black Friday, which allegedly exist to help shoppers fulfill their obligatory purchases for the upcoming gift swapping conflagration that Christmas has become, have become so competitive that gift-hungry buyers line up sometimes several days in advance to assure their purchases at the right price. This holiday season has so far seen three deaths at shopping venues, two by gun shot wounds, as frantic shoppers compete, sometimes violently, for the discounted price.

Traditional icons of the Christmas celebration, like Santa Claus, have lost their luster, and their connection to the idea of Christmas. As commercialization overtakes ritual,

Menorah

Christmas loses the charm of its identity, and morphs into the struggle of buying, and giving, and returning, and the never-ending obligation to succeed in the frenzy of finding the perfect gift. Americans have long ago lost touch with the origins of this Holiday and the traditional characterizations that have always accompanied the

Nativity Scene

celebration. So, Santa Claus, a product of centuries of folklore, becomes a plastic, red and white, bearded face on a front door. We no longer think of him as flesh and blood – the jolly white-bearded, bearer of Yultide gifts, driving his reindeer and sleigh through the skies to bring joy and gifts to the children of the world. He’s been lost in the amalgamation of the idea into the commercialization of the moment.

So just why, exactly, do Liberals think Santa has no color? Are they so guilt-ridden that they busy themselves creating an antidote to offending absolutely anyone? Do they really think that Black children can’t relate to a Santa who is white? Do they

Hasid with paes

really think that black children see the world as grey? Do they really think that black children are oblivious to the fact that there are black people, and white people, and yellow people, and brown people? Are they so lost in the androgyny of their morality that they’ve gone on the permanent defensive against the celebration of anything unique or individual?  Do they really feel that playing the role of the morality police compensates for a lifetime of questionable decisions and behavior? Do they really think they can throw us all in the blender, obliterate our differences, and turn us into them? Just what exactly are they afraid of? Why can’t Santa be white – the guy is from Poland.

Santa in sleigh

*

 © 2013 Shaun Costello

Keep SHAUN COSTELLO’S BLOG up and running.
Creating and maintaining this BLOG is time
consuming. If you like what you’ve been reading,
please help me keep it going.
DONATE ANY AMOUNT Through PAYPAL at:

THE FIRST REVIEW OF “WILD ABOUT HARRY”

Harry cover alternative two

From The Erotic Film Society in London

The first review of:

WILD ABOUT HARRY

by Shaun Costello

For such a prolific director – at least 66 films between 1973 and 1984 – Shaun Costello remained one of the New York XXX scene’s best kept secrets for many years. One reason is the number of noms-de-porn he worked under.

He made more than his fair share of films that are now recognised as classics but not always under the same name – he was ‘Kenneth Schwartz’ for FIONA ON FIRE but ‘Warren Evans’ for DRACULA EXOTICA, for example – and this prevented him from getting due recognition until relatively recently.

For notorious roughies FORCED ENTRY and WATERPOWER, he was ‘Helmuth Richler’ but ‘Amanda Barton’ made the sensitive PASSIONS OF CAROL. At Avon Productions he was ‘Russ Carlson’ and for a while he was even ‘Oscar Tripe’; plus there were numerous uncredited one-day-wonders.

In ONLY THE BEST, published at the dawn of the video era, critic Jim Holliday indicated that one person was behind some of these pseudonyms; but pre-internet it was pretty much impossible for even dedicated pornologists to crack the Costello code.

Public outrage at Deep Throat's popularity

Public outrage at Deep Throat’s popularity

With the advent of the web, the IMDb and IAFD and dedicated discussion forums where smut-hounds could compare what they’d discovered, facts began to surface.

Then something occurred that every film historian dreams about; Shaun Costello himself joined the forums. He posted on IMDb. He corrected. He clarified…   And suddenly his incredible career came into sharp focus.

Not just those 66 films that he helmed but around the same number of appearances from 1971 to ’89 – and that doesn’t include loops – plus at least 50 films he produced and a similar number of writing credits. It’s a wonder he ever found time to sleep.

On the evidence of WILD ABOUT HARRY, his by turns hilarious and moving memoir about his friendship with Harry Reems, during the pre-DEEP THROAT days of Big Apple hard-core, sleep was often the last thing on his mind.

Whether he was editing into the early hours – the only way he could afford post-production facilities – or heroically carousing with his buddies – ‘the Three Musketeers of 42nd Street’ – those years in the late 60s and early 70s seem to have been one madcap adventure, where anything was possible.

Harry and Linda Lovelace in DEEP THROAT

Harry and Linda Lovelace in DEEP THROAT

A voracious film fan, from art-house masters to grindhouse smut, Shaun absorbed everything. He fell into the pornographic loops business by happy accident, just as they were on the borderline of becoming legal, or at least tolerated, in the adult bookstores of the Deuce.

And he was there when a handsome, young, legit actor – still known by his birth name, Herb Streicher – made his debut in an explicit 8mm film destined for ‘under the counter’ sales.

(Assumed names were cast aside faster than underwear: Herb wouldn’t settle on Harry Reems for a couple of years, after he’d tried on ‘Tim Long’ among other aliases.)

It wasn’t just the start of a professional relationship – Shaun cast Herb/Harry as a disturbed Vietnam Vet in FORCED ENTRY, his first feature as director – it was the beginning of a deep friendship.

And now Shaun has published this memoir of those heady days – and that double entendre is very much intended – as a tribute to his buddy, who passed away in March of this year.

Anyone who knows the recipe for Automat Soup (a container of ketchup and hot water, if you’re asking – gourmets break some gratis crackers on top to simulate croutons) will probably already have a copy.

The United States of America v Harry Reems

The United States of America v Harry Reems

But what if you’re not a dedicated devotee of the Deuce and are wondering whether to purchase? Or what if you – horror – have to ask, ‘What’s the Deuce’? Well, let Mr Costello explain…

‘The Times Square subway station, my portal to the neighborhood, was an intense assault on the senses. A sudden, almost overwhelming surge of smells and filth hit you as the train doors slid open to the rush of urine, and cotton candy, and damp humanity, and hot dogs on their revolving spits, and vomit, and baked goods like crumb cakes and bran muffins and pretzels, and the garlicky pungent scent of Gyros slowly rotating, and everything suddenly interrupted by someone chasing a pick-pocket through outstretched hands asking for dimes, and a tidal swarm of the disenfranchised huddled in groups, trying to stay warm. And this entire sensory phantasmagoria was musically scored by the overmodulated sound of Kool and the Gang wailing “Jungle Boogie” from the cheap speakers over the door to the subterranean record store. And then the cold again as you climbed the stairs to the street, and there it was, “The Deuce”.’ (from WILD ABOUT HARRY © 2013 Shaun Costello)

From this vivid evocation of arriving at 42nd Street, you should immediately have discerned that our guide to all this decadence has a very neat turn of phrase indeed, which he puts to fine effect throughout the book.

Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty come to Harry's rescue

Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty come to Harry’s rescue

It’s prose that encapsulates the sights, the sounds, the smells, the animal excitement of the city – and the only reason not to enjoy it is that it makes you break down and cry, lamenting the passing of such delightful debauchery.

Herb being Harry, and enjoying himself

Herb being Harry, and enjoying himself

‘Delightful debauchery’? Well, yes. Shaun Costello is aware of the oxymoron. On the one hand, he’s a cultured chap, dating a wealthy heiress. On the other, he’s working his way up the porn ladder.

And he’s having fun all the way, along with his lifelong friend Jimmy and – of course – Harry, who is seemingly ever ready for an adventure. Such as one hallucinogen-fuelled romp which takes them from Times Square to the East Side via various apartments whose inhabitants are woken at unearthly hours, before disgorging them on a pitch-and-putt golf course by the beach… all described with a panache that matches Hunter S Thompson’s knack for conveying altered reality.

When DEEP THROAT made Harry a porno chic superstar, his world suddenly became a round of press and promotion and personal appearances, followed equally swiftly by the traumas of the authorities’ attempts to prosecute him for merely appearing in the film.

During this period, Shaun lost contact with his buddy, so he has to rely on the interviews that Harry made when he reappeared from anonymity (he’d become a real estate salesman in Colorado) in the wake of the documentary INSIDE DEEP THROAT, to describe what happened.

Initially I was worried that this could turn into a cut and paste job, but Costello has chosen and edited the quotes with great sensitivity.

Fanny was a Puerto Rican stripper who taught young Herb everything he knew about sex

Fanny was a Puerto Rican stripper who taught young Herb everything he knew about sex

It’s rather like that moment in a jazz number, when the star soloist comes forward. We’ve enjoyed Shaun talking about his friend and now we get hear Harry’s own voice.

And what a lovely voice it is, especially talking about his conversion to Christianity and the spiritual belief that saved him from alcoholism (with the aid of a 12 step programme).

This sort of tale could so easily be preachy. And how often have former porners turned on the business, their former friends, their whole past life, when they found God?

But Harry – or Herb – was clearly such a sweet guy – and his story of salvation comes over as so genuine – that even if you don’t believe yourself, you can’t help but feel glad that he found that faith because it saved his life.

And then there’s a coda: a meeting years later; a final phone call. It’s deeply touching and heartfelt. Shaun Costello has written as beautiful a tribute as anyone could imagine. Any quibbles? Just one. I was left ravenous for more of Shaun’s own autobiography. From his contributions to various forums, I know he has great tales to tell and that he tells them in an exceptionally entertaining manner.

Herb/Harry found love, God and happiness in the mountains of Utah

Herb/Harry found love, God and happiness in the mountains of Utah

   WILD ABOUT HARRY

is available as an eBook

http://store.blurb.co.uk/ebooks/384584-wild-about-harry

Keep SHAUN COSTELLO’S BLOG up and running.
Creating and maintaining this BLOG is time
consuming. If you like what you’ve been reading,
please help me keep it going.
DONATE ANY AMOUNT Through PAYPAL at:

WHY I’M NOT SURPRISED THAT MARK JACKSON BECAME A SUCCESSFUL NBA COACH – AFTER ALL, ONCE UPON A TIME, HE SAVED MY ASS AND MADE ME A HERO

by Shaun Costello

I was born and raised in New York City, commuted to High School by subway – a real city kid, and dedicated gym rat. When it came to basketball, I rooted for the New York Knickerbockers. After all, they were the city’s team, my team. Over the years I rode the roller coaster of highs and lows that the sometimes magnificent, sometimes dreadful New York Knicks provided for their loyal and befuddled fans. I remembered the names of all of the players and their many coaches – even some of the assistants. This is the plight of kids who grow up as gym rats, and who, once upon a time, thrilled to the peerless ballet performed on the floor of Madison Square Garden by the likes of Willis Reed, Dave Debuscher, Frazier,

Champ Knicks

Monroe, Lucas, and the rest. You become a hopeless case, who dreams the impossible dream, of your team, the city’s team, returning to its former glory, even though, with passing years, those days of glory had long since faded into the distant past.
During the Eighties, I made a very good living directing television commercials for New York advertising agencies. In early September of 1989 I was handed a story board from Grey Advertising containing their concept for an ambitious television commercial for none other than my beloved New York Knicks. I was beyond thrilled. If my production company was awarded this project, the entire team would be turned over to me for one whole day.

Boardroom pic

OK, long story short; the agency creatives liked my input, the suits gave the go-ahead, and the job was mine.
Now, this was the 89/90 Knicks – the Patrick Ewing/Charles Oakley/Mark Jackson/Trent Tucker/Kiki Vandeweghe/Gerald Wilkins Knicks. The team that came between the Rick Pitino trap and gun blur of the mid Eighties, and the Pat Riley-led NBA Finalists of the mid Nineties. A good, but not great team, filled with journeyman role players. Of course, how good they were was meaningless to me. All I could think about was that the New York Knickerbockers were going to be mine for a day.
The commercial would be a complicated combination of live action (Knicks players) interacting with recognizable pieces of New York City’s skyline

Skyline

(Empire State Building, Pan Am, World Trade Center, etc). The players, who would appear to be hundreds of feet tall, would dribble, pass, and dunk their way through Manhattan’s caverns, using the famous buildings as props. I spent seven shooting days carefully photographing the buildings, so that they would match the intended interaction of the players. We would need the largest soundstage in the city, to accommodate the players, who were taller than I ever imagined, and the building cut-outs with which they would interact. Locked-down cameras were set up in position to photograph the cut-outs, which were carefully constructed to exactly match the buildings I had already photographed, and the Knicks personnel, who would appear as giants, doing their thing. The cut-outs would be painted a color that the computer animation system would recognize, hopefully allowing the intended magic to happen. On the studio floor, the action would appear to be basketball players weaving between huge green set pieces, but on the monitors that were set up all over the building, my original footage of the skyscrapers would be sandwiched with the new shots that included the players at work. Patrick Ewing, and his giant

Ewing Jackson. 2 jpg

shadow, would appear to be three quarters the size of the World Trade Center. To do this right, the camera set ups had to be absolutely exact, and this would take several days. In order to simulate the action during the complicated set-up, crew members and agency personnel stood in for the players. The problem was, that none of our crew people or art directors was seven feet tall, but this didn’t seem to matter at the time. Once we were convinced that the set-ups were correct, we were ready for the players. The team was in training, preparing for the upcoming season, and we would only have them all together for one long shooting day.
I arrived early the morning of the shoot. Everything had been set up by the time we left the studio the night before so, other than turning on all the lighting, and technical gadgetry that covered the studio floor, not much had to be done. I had assigned a production assistant the important task of taking still production photographs of the director, and former gym rat, interacting with his heroes throughout the day. In addition, I handed him my very own personal basketball, with instructions to get every player to sign it – reasonable perks for a lifetime fan.
Whenever celebrities were involved in a production like this, an unusually large number of hangers-on were sure to show up. Between Grey Advertising, the Madison Square Garden handlers and publicity staff, the production company, and all of the personal management people who represented the individual players, there must have been well over a hundred gawkers, who were there for a free lunch and a glimpse of Charles Oakley’s sneer.

Oakley

This was in addition to the twenty five crew members who were already busy warming up the production machinery. And, of the approximately 125 people now waiting for their arrival, I was sure that I would be the only one in the building who knew each and every player by name. A lifetime Knicks fan was about to get his due.
Other than Trent Tucker, who lived in Manhattan, and was already sipping a coffee on the studio floor, the team would be bussed down from their training facility in Westchester. After a pleasant Chat with Trent, I was

Trent

informed that the team had arrived, and were all upstairs in the dressing rooms. My heroes, here at last. The first player I noticed was Kiki Vandeweghe, who was sitting in a chair in the make-up room, having some pancake applied to his face. I introduced myself, and he cheerfully engulfed my outstretched hand in his own, the largest hand I had ever seen. I felt like a three year-old, shaking hands with an affable gorilla. One by one, I met the players, who seemed happy to get a day off from the rigors of training camp and, this early in the day, were in a playful mood.
Down on the studio floor, the players mingled with crew people, asking questions about the technology involved in this endeavor, looking in camera viewfinders, seemingly happy to be there. The two players who took particular interest were Mark Jackson, and Gerald Wilkins, who asked intelligent questions, and seemed genuinely fascinated by the technology involved in the production.

Mark plays

Jackson, who addressed me as “Chief”, which almost made me swoon, was relentlessly curious about everything we did. He seemed amazed by the artistry, and wanted to know all about the technology we used to achieve it. I introduced him to our chief video engineer, and walked over to the edge of the studio floor, where Patrick Ewing was sitting all by himself. Now, I’m just not used to being in the presence of anyone seven feet tall, and have to admit to being intimidated by his knee being level with my waist. I asked him if he needed anything, and he shrugged and said he was fine. A few minutes later, I noticed my assistant director, a woman considerably more sensitive that I, approach Patrick, who still seemed aloof.

Mark plays big

She slid her arm around his sitting shoulder and gave him a half hug, and his face lit up like a Christmas tree. Patrick wasn’t aloof – he was just shy.
At some point Stu Jackson, the newly hired Knick’s coach made a brief appearance. He asked me if everyone was behaving, and left after a few minutes. Actually the players, with the possible exception of Charles Oakley who had on his snarly game face, were a cooperative bunch. As we began the first set-up, it became obvious that something was wrong. When Oakley or Patrick Ewing stood next to our precious cut-outs, the scale was off by a mile. A common practice in prepping a production, we had used crew people as stand-ins when we constructed the sets. The problem, which was now obvious, was that crew people are not seven feet tall, and that none of our carefully constructed building cut-outs would work with the actual players. I had a very expensive disaster on my hands. We told the team to take a break, and had a crash meeting. Everything would have to be at least two feet taller. All the set-ups, that had taken so many long days to achieve, would have to be redone, and in a hurry. The construction crew attacked the task at hand, and we would have to go through the day shooting one set-up while constructing the next; a noisy, distracting process.

New York Knicks v Portland Trailblazers
Somehow we managed slowly shooting set-up after set-up, the crew becoming exhausted and cranky, but the players, again with the possible exception of Oakley, were real troopers and none of them complained about the time all of this was taking. After ten hours of shooting, and well into overtime, we were ready for the final shot, which would be the whole team, forming a semi-circle, standing along the edge of Madison Square Garden’s cylindrical roof-line, high-fiving each other, and exuding the energy and confidence of a sports franchise ready to kick some butt. The enormous cylinder shaped platform that the players would stand on had been raised a good five feet by the construction crew, while we were shooting the other set-ups. This would be the big shot. The players climbed up on the platform, and I arranged them in an order that made sense in the camera. The choreography of this shot took at least another hour and, by the time everyone was in position, they hardly looked like the high-energy butt kickers I has envisioned, but instead just a bunch of tired guys who wanted to go home. We began shooting and, take after take, the team seemed more and more exhausted. Payroll wise, we were now into ‘Golden Time’, the client was grumpy and becoming nervous, the crew was sleep-walking, my heroes appeared very unheroic, and my ‘big shot’ was just not working. Just about the time I considered killing myself, I heard a familiar voice from up on the platform. “Hey Chief, wait a second”.

mARK PIC

It was Mark Jackson, who jumped down from the platform, took me by the arm, and led me off somewhere beyond the earshot of the huge crowd of gawkers who had been watching this disaster in the making. “Look”, he said, “There’s no energy here. It’s late. These guys are beat. You’ve got to wake them up”. I could only nod, grateful for his interest, but almost too tired to respond. “Look Chief, these are performers you’re dealing with here. They need something to respond to. They need a crowd to cheer them on like it’s the last minute of overtime and they’re one point down. They need their fans to get behind them and make some noise”. Of course, he was absolutely right. He saw the situation, found the problem, and came up with the appropriate solution. Mark took his place back up on the platform, and I rallied the troops. I had to turn every crew person, gawker, and corporate freeloader on that studio floor into frenzied, screaming sports fans, rallying their heroes on to victory. I told the exhausted, yet somehow still cooperative players that we would try one more take, while Mark Jackson poked and prodded them into laughing and trash talking. The camera began rolling, and I began screaming at the people on the floor to get behind their team. As the noise level grew louder, the energy level of the players grew as well, until the crowd, who had now gathered close around the platform, was a delirious cacophony of deafening encouragement to twelve tall men who had totally bought into their enthusiasm. Trash was talked, high fives were swapped, someone threw a basketball up to the players and they did mad tricks with it. It was exactly the high energy madness I had envisioned, but was unable to achieve, until Mark Jackson wisely intervened with exactly the right solution. This very expensive disaster, was transformed into an enormous success thanks to a guy who saw a problem, and knew how to fix it.

Mark holds mike
I can remember thinking at the time, that one day, after his point guard days were over, Mark Jackson would have a long and successful career coaching NBA basketball. He was a natural. A leader of men. A fixer of problems. He walks with a swagger that’s been earned. He would be a brilliant coach. But, although he interviewed well, he was turned down by a series of teams because of his lack of coaching experience. After retiring as a player, Jackson chose the broadcast booth over an Assistant Coach’s seat on the end of the bench, and most teams chose from the pool of Assistant Coach’s to fill their Head Coaching vacancies. I knew Jackson’s manager, Steve Kauffman, and sent him a version of this humble scribbling, which he used in his campaign to find a Head Coaching job for his client. I’m sure that my literary plea on Jackson’s behalf had little to do with the San Francisco Warriors final decision to give Mark Jackson his chance as their Head Coach, but I’m thrilled to have helped.
Warriors name Mark coach

After his extraordinarily successful first season, there’s little doubt that Mark Jackson is a coach to be watched, something I knew all along. After all, if Mark Jackson could turn my miserable self into a hero, winning an NBA championship is really not so much of a stretch.

*
© 2012 Shaun Costello

Keep SHAUN COSTELLO’S BLOG up and running.
Creating and maintaining this BLOG is time
consuming. If you like what you’ve been reading,
please help me keep it going.
DONATE ANY AMOUNT Through PAYPAL at:

I’M STILL HERE

I’M STILL HERE

 My flirtation with mortality was obviously unsuccessful. After 12 days in the hospital, I’m still weak and not at all sure about anything. One thing is certain, my situation remains unchanged. I still can not meet my monthly financial obligations. Ridiculous as it might seem, homelessness remains a possibility. But I’m still here, and attempting to remain here.

Keep SHAUN COSTELLO’S BLOG up and running.
Creating and maintaining this BLOG is time
consuming. If you like what you’ve been reading,
please help me keep it going.
DONATE ANY AMOUNT Through PAYPAL at:

AN UNTIMELY EXIT

 

AN UNTIMELY EXIT

This is the 60th and final post on this Blog

By Shaun Costello

EPSON scanner image 

So, it’s come to this. Considering my situation, I suppose that only my pig-headed stubbornness has kept me going for the last few years. The perhaps unrealistic anticipation of a change of fortune. The possibility, no matter how remote, that a publisher would see value in one of my manuscripts, and come to my rescue with an advance check that might just serve to keep the wolves at bay. A television producer might call with an offer I couldn’t possibly refuse. My Blog might grow in popularity to the point where ad

EPSON scanner image

revenues would be offered per site hits received. Even a winning Lotto ticket – Hey, you never know. So I kept on writing, and promoting, and networking, and buying those silly Lotto tickets, and trying not to lose hope. There’s a moment however, when you simply run out of options, and run out of time. And that moment confronts me now.

Since none of the aforementioned possibilities have come to fruition, the crushing financial reality of the situation I face remains unchanged and untenable. Unfortunately, I can not work. My arthritis, while not life-threatening, keeps my physical abilities limited. I have struggled, with some success, to make my handicap as unnoticeable as possible to those around me. But, none the less, it’s there. My small Social Security stipend

EPSON scanner image

does not come close to paying my monthly bills, and sooner than later, the services those bills represent will begin to disappear. Sad stuff indeed. So, like a cowboy wanting to hit the big roundup in the sky with his boots on, I think it more seemly to leave this world with my lights still burning, the water still running, and my internet connection still active.

I’ve spent a good deal of my life fixing problems and overcoming obstacles through sheer bravado. I would beat up on whatever stood in my way until it yielded to me. And until now, I’ve gotten away with it. But this mortality business is something else again. The will to live is surprisingly strong. It can’t be bullied. It has to be finessed.

I have few regrets. Until my illness in 1993, my life was going according to plan. I couldn’t have written a better script for myself. I was doing the work I loved, surrounded by people whose company I found blissfully stimulating, and being well paid for my efforts. But the parasites my body collected, while I was in the Middle East making a film for Time Magazine about the first Gulf

EPSON scanner image

War, took their hungry toll. Although I recovered after a year of treatment, my body was never the same. The poison given me to kill my little passengers also did damage to my immune system, which gradually sped up the onset of those maladies normally associated with aging, like my arthritis. My body clock’s rhythm increased exponentially after the bugs. Again, not life-threatening, but certainly life-limiting.

Since I was outed in 2005, regarding my porn involvement back in the Seventies, and with the help of social media, I’ve been able to reconnect with old friends long absent in my life, and have made new friends who have become surprisingly important to me. I’ve enjoyed the daily Facebook banter, even though the site, because of its popularity and the greed of its controllers, has lost much of its initial luster. Maintaining almost constant contact with friends across the US, and all over Europe has been fun.

EPSON scanner image

In an attempt to maintain my legacy, such as it is, I have taken steps to protect those two elements that comprise the body of work I leave behind; my Blog, and the publishing rights to my writing. My friend Alan Hoffman in Chicago has generously agreed to maintain my Blog, which exists under the domain names – http://shauncostello.worpress.com and http://shauncostello.com I have assigned all publishing and media rights to everything I have written in my lifetime to my friend Thomas Eikrem in London, with the understanding that he will pass on any revenues to my daughter, who lives with my sister in Sag Harbor, New York.

So, that’s it then. My affairs, such as they are, are in order. My only regret is the timing of my exit. I would have enjoyed continuing to live my life, finishing my manuscripts, contributing to my Blog, harassing Republicans on Huffpost, creating an internet ruckus whenever I felt it necessary, and interacting with friends. Other than living with sore joints and needing another new hip, I’m actually surprisingly healthy for my age. But I’ve been living on borrowed time, and that time is up. Life is a luxury I can no longer afford. I’m doing nothing, more or less, than playing the hand I’ve been dealt, and I’m afraid it’s time to fold.

 EPSON scanner image

© 2013 Shaun Costello

 

Keep SHAUN COSTELLO’S BLOG up and running.

Creating and maintaining this BLOG is time
consuming. If you like what you’ve been reading,
please help me keep it going.
DONATE ANY AMOUNT Through PAYPAL at:

 

WILD ABOUT HARRY

WILD ABOUT HARRY

A friend who knew him well

remembers HARRY REEMS

by Shaun Costello

AVAILABLE NOW

WILD ABOUT HARRY (Coiver)

AVAILABLE NOW

On March 19th, just three weeks ago, HARRY REEMS, the star of Deep Throat and many other adult films of the 1970′s, died of pancreatic cancer, at a VA Hospice in Salt Lake City, Utah. Before the media circus that surrounded Deep Throat created the fast talking, Burleaque-comedic actor know as HARRY REEMS, he was just a young man, trying like so many before him, to make it in show business. He was born Herbert Streicher to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, and was a close friend of mine. When I read the news of his death I was devestated. So many rich memories. Such an important friend. I knew I had to do something, so I put everything else aside, and sat down to write a personal reminiscence of my friendship with Herb. I have worked almost around the clock, since the day after his death, and finished the text yesterday. I’m very pleased with how it came out. I think Herb would be too.

Herb and Harry – a dichotomy he leaves behind for the rest of us to puzzle over. As Herb he was a son, a brother, a Bar Mitzvah boy, a High School track star, a student, a Marine, an aspiring actor, and a loyal and generous friend. As Harry he was a porn icon, an international celebrity, a darling of the TV Talk Show circuit, a victim of judicial overreach, a convicted felon, a finally-absolved and victorious defendent, a drunk, a drug addict, a Twelve Step Champion, a converted Christian, a successful real estate executive, a scratch golfer, a semi-pro skier, a loving husband, and, at long last, a happy man.

WILD ABOUT HARRY is a hard cover, eight by ten, four color book – text driven, and including over a hundred four color and black and white, fun images of HARRY’S life. It’s being printed on an on-demand basis and is available now at the link below:

http://www.blurb.com/b/4214470-wild-about-harry

 I’m quite pleased at how this story came out, and, for those of you who have a fascination with the Seventies, the birth of the adult film industry, the First Amendment trial and media circus that surrounded the prosecution of Deep Throat, and the complex character that was HARRY REEMS, you will be too.

AVAILABLE NOW – CLICK ON LINK BELOW

http://www.blurb.com/b/4214470-wild-about-harry

****************

NOW AVAILABLE AS AN eBOOK FOR iPAD: $ 9.99.
Keep SHAUN COSTELLO’S BLOG up and running.
Creating and maintaining this BLOG is time
consuming. If you like what you’ve been reading,
please help me keep it going.
DONATE ANY AMOUNT Through PAYPAL at:

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 548 other followers