About Shaun Costello
After a lifetime in the film business, followed by a brief and failed career as possibly the worst real estate broker in the history of the Hamptons, I am now in Southwest Florida. My first book, a biography entitled; WILD ABOUT HARRY – A friend who knew him well remembers HARRY REEMS, is now available on Amazon/Kindle; and two more, both memoirs, are in the works. The first: RISKY BEHAVIOR – Sex, Gangsters and Deception in the time of ‘Groovy’ is about my life in the film business in 1970’s New York. The second: THE LAST TIME I SAW JESUS – Surviving God and Elvis in the time of ‘Duck and Cover’ is about my confrontations with puberty and racism during the 1950’s, back when almost everyone liked Ike. Please feel free to leave comments on my posts here. While many thousands have viewed my posts, very few have commented on them. I guess it’s a flaw in the system. Just leave a comment. I won’t hold it against you. Well, I might, come to think of it, but leave a comment anyway.
The photograph above was taken during the first Gulf War. I was sent to the Middle East to make
a film for Time Magazine two weeks after Iraq invaded Kuwait. The film, WRITING FOR TIME,
winner of two International Monitor Awards, and nominated for the Grand Prize at the New York Festival, is linked
below. It was shot in Egypt, Jordan, New York and Washington D.C. in August and September of 1990.
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I really love your writing. I’m so fond of the old Hollywood stories and the Arthur Hornblow party reminded me so much of the stories in Garson Kanin’s “Hollywood” and David Niven’s “Bring on the Empty Horses,” two of my favorite old Hollywood reads.
January 30, 2011 at 10:28 pm
Another great Hollywood read is Frank Capra’s Bio ‘The Name Above the Title”. Probably the best Hollywood book ever. Although, toward the end of his career, Capra becomes disenchanted with movies, he has good reason. Wonderful stuff here, of Capra’s days as a gag writer for Sennett, and his first feature Silent, “Fultah Fisher’s Boarding House” If you can find it, pounce.
January 31, 2011 at 9:59 am
I just finished reading “The Name Above the Title.” Wow! What a great read! Thanks so much for turning me on to a Frank Capra I never knew. What a life! What a man!
Although he ended frustrated and bitter he still offered hope.
His last line of the book —
“Friend, you are a divine mingle-mangle of guts and stardust. So hang in there! If doors opened for me, they can open for anyone.”
Thanks again for this masterpiece!
March 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm
I’m glad you found it, Jeff. Before Capra’s undone by Glenn Ford, the book is an amazing ride. I loved it all, particularly Harry Cohn, “Dago, you can make shit taste like pineapple”. And The early days with Sennett, and Fultah Fisher’s Boarding House, which I actually saw in a theater in NYC, back in the early Nineties. Capra’s Magic Carpet.
March 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm
This story was really cute, it captured me right from the beginning. I wanted it to keep going. Thanks for sharing.
March 9, 2011 at 7:08 pm
Very enjoyable reading, love it when you can get lost in the story and actually be a part of the story. Writing has become somewhat of a lost art but Shawn, you have the gift. Keep on writing and we will keep on reading!
March 18, 2011 at 9:23 am
Thanks Faith. Your comment means a lot to me.
March 18, 2011 at 9:45 am
What a wonderful list and commentary. I so remember how your Mom loved to watch “her movies” in the basement.
May 26, 2011 at 8:58 pm
Hello Mr. Costello,
I was wondering if you would be interested in participating in an interview that would be done via email.
I would love to ask you questions on your impressive and extensive filmography!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
September 17, 2011 at 3:33 am
This blog ain’t navigable enough. Where’s “The Last Time I Saw Jesus”? Was gonna tweet it again.
October 22, 2011 at 11:24 am
You’ll find it. This Blog has grown to the point where sometimes you just have to look for stuff.
October 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm
Carter needs to be careful now that the word is out. Great fun reading your blog! But tell me, how do you imagine this stuff? LOL!
January 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm
I don’t know, Suz. Do you suppose there’s an herbal cure?
January 24, 2012 at 3:17 pm
thanks, shaun, for the expose’ on wgcu-hd2 dropping classical music programming – it confirms my suspicions, and your candid comments are refreshing. i suspect there was a good reason for wnps coming into the fort myers/naples/marco market with the same mpr syndicated programming as wgcu-hd2 . . . . if you ever find out what it was, please let us know! c.
August 19, 2012 at 12:11 am
I came across your blog because I recently wrote an article on my own blog about my love of Westerns. I was interested to read your top 10. Generally as a rule I don’t think there are that many genuinely good ones before the early/mid 1960s. Prior to this they are almost all too pulpy. The morality is over simplified and they tend to be racist and misogynist on many levels. They are just not credible or interesting before this in my view. I am more of a revisionist Western fan, by that I mean films which have a more positive representation of Native Americans and a more complex presentation of morality and the causes and effects of violence. My own blog post mentions some films which I rate quite highly. I really ought to post a more detailed list of what I think are the best Westerns. Do you blog exclusively about Westerns?
January 13, 2013 at 2:29 pm
Unfortunately Scott, you criteria automatically rules out just about all films by John Ford and Howard Hawks. This post is about Hollywood westerns, warts and all. I do movie lists in many categories, as well as political essays and satire, and personal grievances I care to squawk about. There are now 57 posts on my Blg. Keep scrolling. Have a look:
January 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm
So good to find that you breathe and can share your hilarious reminences of Fifties Forest Hills.
Chuck P and Tim H
January 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm
Wow, Chuck. Or as Brother Victor used to call you – Mr Poochy. Great to hear from you.
January 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm
Shaun, I’ve been looking for someone else who knew about the Hamburger Express on Austin Street for years! Do you have any source of information and/or photos of the restaurant? Is the photo your blog actually from that restaurant? I asked my Mom about her memories of Hamburger Express, and she told me that the man who owned it had a serial number tatooed on his arm, indicating that he’d been in a Nazi concentration camp. If you have any info/photos to share, I’d sure appreciate. I grew up in the neighborhood. Am also a writer (and a therapist). You can find me on Facebook if you want to communicate further. Thanks so much!
April 30, 2013 at 9:29 pm
Sorry Jiji, I didn’t see this comment until today. The story you read is based on my recollections. Although I looked, I found no source material for the events in the story.
January 12, 2014 at 10:25 am
Shaun, I dont understand why more people are not reading you, the titles alone for your up and coming books are wonderful and should be drawing people to the table covered with them… Good luck, your my favorite writer!
January 12, 2014 at 10:11 am
It’s a mystery to me, Elizabeth.
January 12, 2014 at 10:26 am
Hey, buddy…..good on ya for sticking it in Huffington Post’s eye (or, up their ass or whatever is acceptable on your site).
I just went through the same bullshit with them when I suddenly realized they wanted to rape not only ME, but all my FB friends in order to “verify” my FB account.
Yeah, right. I’ve belonged to your blog/site for over a year, now suddenly you have to “verify” me……but “don’t worry, we won’t USE any of the information you give us.”
Are ya f’ing kidding me??!?!?!?
Some peoples kids are just insane.
I’m not only not COMMENTING on HP anymore…..I’m not even READING the bloody thing. And that’s probably a GOOD thing, since it really IS TRASH JOURNALISM anyway!
(P.S. DO give some thought to finding a theme that doesn’t require the reverse text. White type on a dark background is VERY sexy….but VERY hard on the eyes.) Cheers, bud!
January 16, 2014 at 4:25 pm
Thanks Michael. An hour after I posted the Huffpost thing, Tim McDonald emailed me, saying he’s still working on it and please be patient. He never mentioned the post, which of course others at Huffpost saw and brought to his attention. As Captain Willard said, “Ahhh the bullshit piled up so high you needed wings to stand above it.”
January 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm
To anyone clear thinking and mature the whole fb thing was set to crash… its for kids, its great to find old friends and so we love it but the price paid must be cautioned. You are right about HP, it used to be news etc, now just trash. I will say it once again, “The higher you stand the further you fall”.
January 16, 2014 at 7:42 pm
You go girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
January 16, 2014 at 7:44 pm
I always enjoy reading anything you write, Shaun. Your stories and even rants always fascinate me.
February 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm
Shaun, my favorite of your films is More Than Sisters, which I saw back in 1979 and got to meet Leslie Murray (pseudonym) who was there promoting it. What ever happened to her? She is particularly unsung among ’70s starlets but along with Joan Devlon was among my faves back in the day.
September 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm
She moved to San Francisco and married a Dentist, Larry. She was the girlfriend of Bob Dolan, who worked for Reuben Sturman, and put up the money for that movie. She was actually a nice girl. I liked her.
September 12, 2014 at 5:56 pm
A “user review” of Venture into the Bizarre (1976) at imdb.com claims you were involved in the production. How involved were you?
January 16, 2015 at 11:47 am
As I remember, it was made by Ron Dorfman, who was a friend back then. The movie was a take off on The Plaster Casters, an early 1970’s documentary about a woman called Cynthia Plaster Caster, who made plaster casts of rock star’s penises. Ron had been the cameraman and editor of the original documentary. Ron had a six plate Steenbeck editing machine in his apartment, which we all used, so I was around for most of Ron’s movie projects, but had no active role in any of them.
February 9, 2015 at 12:51 pm
Really enjoying your blog and your book about Harry Reems. Is there any release date for “Risky Behavior” and “The Last Time I Saw Jesus” yet?
September 6, 2015 at 11:23 pm
Thanks Dave. Both books have been rejected by every publishing entity in the universe. Anything connected in any way to porn is anathema to publishers. They will no longer touch it. And childhood memoirs don’t sell. I’ll have to self publish, which is actually expensive.
September 7, 2015 at 5:43 am
Sorry to hear that. Don’t know if you’ve heard of BearManor Media, but they just recently published (fairly lengthy) memoirs by Richard Pacheco, Seka, and Serena. I’m not sure what they pay or if they’re an honorable publisher, but they seem to have published quite a few memoirs of people from adult film’s Golden Age and have done a lot of other excellent film / pop culture books. Another one you may consider is Scarecrow Press, which has an equally wide variety of smart, eccentric pop culture books. Scarecrow tends to lean more towards the scholarly, but not snobby or academic in my experience.
In any case, even if you publish “Risky Business” and “The Last Time I Saw Jesus” as ebooks, I think it’s worth doing for what it’s worth. You’re an excellent writer and are one of the few survivors of that era who not only did a lot of important things, but survived with your intelligence and sense of humor intact. Since you actually lived this, it’s crucial your voice survives.
September 7, 2015 at 11:34 pm
October 31, 2015 at 11:14 am
What’s inconceivable to me is that David Simon never got back to you. Your stories (which are informative and entertaining) are so rich in source material, and so specific to his project, I can’t believe he wouldn’t even respond.
September 7, 2015 at 12:16 pm
I guess it’s cheaper to just make it up. Jeff. Simon is probably more concerned with producing something entertaining, than something accurate.
October 31, 2015 at 11:16 am
I’m at design student from Fashion Institute of Technology and I am currently working on a project related to the Stork Club and was hoping if I could have permission to use the photos from your blog, “A Bronx Tale”.
On a separate not the post was a fascinating read. I love how they went from playing gigs in small time places to becoming favorites at the Stork Club. Haven’t read anything non-new related in awhile. So it was a nice break to read some stories. Thanks for that 🙂
October 21, 2015 at 9:36 am
Hi Karen…..Of course you have my permission to use the pics. Good luck on your project.
October 31, 2015 at 11:13 am
Hey Shaun, You probably don’t remember me Georgie Scherf, I was in awe of you as a kid you gave me and some friends a ride in Forest Hills in your convertible and told us amazing stories. I was watching Donald Trump and having known him at Kew Forest I thought he reminded me of George Legget and I googled & found your story about Jimmy Kriegsmann. His mother was also my Sunday School teacher at The Church in the Gardens. What a wonderful lady! Bill Schutz did live up the alley from us & my dad who was first generation German used to kid about Bill working in the grocery store staying the ” superman in the supermarket” I too remember the anti-Semitism & hypocrisy of the time & place.
December 7, 2015 at 11:49 pm
Thanks for commenting. Is Belle Scherf your sister? Jeff McGann started The Forest Hills Club, which I think is accessible at: foresthillsclub.org
I’ve gotten in touch with many childhood friends through Jeff’s venue. If you haven’t, give it a visit.
December 13, 2015 at 10:21 am
Shaun, to conform is boring and that my friend you never were or are….glad to see and read you still have spirit and no sign of an institutional lobotomy.
Sounds like you against the machine over Eye stuff.. Fingers X on that. Bloody wankers!
Query for the day is a myth a female moth,?… Answer on a postcard please.
Hugs n more
July 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm
HI Shaun currently making documentary and would be interested to speak to you. Please let me know if you have a few mins to chat.
July 19, 2022 at 9:56 pm
Who are you? Documentary about what?
July 20, 2022 at 7:04 am