MONTI ROCK - UNMASKED
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK AND FILM - PART 1
Monti Rock III – unpredictable, notorious, unprecedented, famous columnist, one of the former top ten hairdressers in the world, author, designer, architect of lifestyles, misunderstood by the general public, and a legendary icon of all times.
Circa 1960’s-----the jet-set era that led to the disco craze. Before that time period, there was a terrific movement in café society – the jet-setters, the women who lunch, the fashion priests and priestesses, and the stylist to them all – the “Rebel with a Comb” – Mr. Monti of Saks Fifth Avenue... who then became his own brand with his own salon on East 65th Street. Diana Vreeland – the archduchess of Vogue; Baby Jane Holzer – the heiress who swung the light fantastic; Richard Avedon, Francesco Scavullo – who caught the images of those models and figureheads of the era through their lenses... Monti was their favorite hairdresser, friend and co-creator, giving them covers to shoot for Vogue, Bazaar, Mademoiselle, and live runway collection after collection of the fashion leaders of the ‘60s and early ‘70s.
The world was in a whirl – and Monti decided to walk away from his huge success and experiment with other realms. He was being backed for an emporium of his own by a world-famous design and art company, but the need to take the next step in his journey to the future became a must for him. It was a leap of faith and whatever would happen, if he did it, was going to have a positive affect on his life. He bought a one-way ticket to Paris, boarded the jet, was discovered by Dorian Leigh Parker (Suzy Parker’s sister) and she introduced him to the culture, the renaissance of Monti, and to her world of European celebrities. They embraced him unconditionally! He learned their languages, not just their native tongues, but the way they expressed themselves – Monti was now on the rise to becoming a superstar. At this point, he took the pseudonym of Monti Crespi – an Italian would-be Count! He explained to all who inquired that he was a noble whose mother was born in Puerto Rico, on way to Venezuela and her family’s villa. Bottom line: Monti was re-created in Paris and then he returned to New York City.
In New York, his friend and confidant, Barbara Condos, one of the most beautiful women in the world, re-named him and christened him Monti Rock III. The rest, my friends, is history – or “his story.”
The beginning of his powerful and spellbinding newly formed personality was in Fire Island, NY. Fire Island was the playground of the New York artistic set. There, by chance, over a joint at Monti’s house, the illustrious Trude Heller, offered him a residency at her downtown club, which at that time was not doing any business. Trude Heller and Monti Rock forged a friendship made in hell! They were combustible buddies. Nevertheless, the gig was tremendous for both parties! Lines would form around West 9th Street and Sixth Avenue (later Avenue of the Americas) and crowd into her tiny club, just to experience the Monti phenomena...the singing hairdresser – did hair by day, and sang and partied throughout the night.
In order to be a non-stop person, any human being would need a little help...and so, coming into the picture of the 24-hour non-stop life were the ‘good’ doctors who provided “Vitamins” and enzymes, B-12, and something magical in the potion that was injected into Monti to create the superhuman figure. These were the “Feel Good” doctors – the greatest of all was Max Jacobson, MD (whose patients were leaders of this country, famous composers, and the like); Richard Freymann, MD, and “Shoot ‘em Up” Bishop, MD (MD may stand for mental developers – ‘super humans’) and I stand by these words 1,000%!
The MONTIFESTO is the steel spine that will endure through the ages.
Remember back to 1964, the days of Il Mio – the crystals hanging from the walls – the cave of fantasy – the already legendary Monti Rock III walks into the club and everyone knows him – he is aloof to all, but has his inner circle of friends. His hair slicked back in a ponytail – miles ahead of the times and journeys that others will follow...his suits are Edwardian and designed by John Meladandri and he wears them like they were poured onto his skin – like a ballet dancer – his movements are precise – extraordinary, fascinating – alluring – but then he smiles and he becomes human – his mystique still intact – like a mannequin that was brought to life.
The people, the names, like a ship’s manifest, seem to flow and then fall away: sweet Annie Gill, a lady who was tossed around by others like a ragdoll, but she was pure in heart; Nurse Tracey, who was an enabler to the icon – a lady who would not have been there if she was not a nurse; Carl Gurevich – a friend who still loves the Rock and always will adore him (an unconditional friendship) – myself, an observer of the world of Monti Rock and also an unconditional lifelong friend...this was the beginning of my relationship with Monti – 50 years ago – a half of a century – it is cemented in time...
Monti and Johnny Carson, Monti and Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin – those folks at home stayed awake at night to watch their architect of the sixties expound and tell anecdotes to enhance their lives – his singing, his dancing, his fashions – his designing the path to take the world from the frozen shell of the fifties to where we exploded that shell and ran free, like birds hatching from eggs.
Trude Heller – an owner of a club in Greenwich Village on West 9th Street, where minions would flock to see their hero on stage and dance the night away... The clubs’ velvet robes turned into ashes when Monti came to the doors of the exclusive boites – Il Mio, Salvation, Arthur, The Scene, Ondine, Cheetah, Nepenthe, Basin Street East, The Trip, The Eighth Wonder, The Electric Circus, and so many more, too numerous to mention...
Rodney Dangerfield’s club up on Second Avenue on the upper East Side – the stage was set – it was packed every night – Monti was performing – a heady sense of sexuality was enticing the crowds – the feeling of “anything can be done if the time is right” was the banner that heralded his appearances – and he was right – RIGHT ON!
~To be continued…