Snippets From My Book “I’ve Slept With Everybody“ – A Memoir on Amazon.com
by Sondra Lee
I am in awe of people who save articles, reviews and photos from important periods of their lives. Most were given to me by friends. Over the years I tossed them carelessly into a cardboard box in my closet.
When you are young, you never think about keeping them, or that death is inevitable.
I enjoy looking into someone else’s scrapbook the same way friends like to examine my cardboard box filled with memorabilia, cards, bits of ribbon, a dried pressed flower, a compact with Mary Martin as Peter Pan etched on it… Joe Layton’s cigarette lighter. Was it a gift? I don’t remember. The box is so heavy I cannot lift it.
Yellowing paper and mold warn me to go gently. There are letters from Marlon, Stella, Angie, Maureen, Jerry, John, Maggie, Fellini, Jane. I read them and they are still sincere, silly, and yet still mysterious!
What binds us? I ask what binds us?
As a very young dancer, way at the beginning, people would stop and ask me if I was Bambi Linn? At that time there was no one in the whole world I wanted to be more then Bambi Linn! Sooo i would reply “yesss i am!” and I would sign her autograph!!
Yes, it was a very different time. The passion, determination, the bravery. You rarely see it in the same way. When a person was in the chorus, you knew in a year or two they would get a larger role and then another larger role. They served their time!
Indeed, a very different time, even the lights were not the same! We had a real follow spot! I and the foots were in the foots!!! The orchestra was always in the the pit! Today it could be anywhere it wants to be or even run by a computer!! Even the makeup has substantially changed. We would put two red dots of lipstick (especially in the ballet) and apply them to the corner of your eyes to open and enlarge them. Today, it is slightly heavier than street makeup.
Death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down! Who said this? I cannot remember. But in terms of aging when it hits, it can hit hard. Colette said that if you pull your shin up from your hand and its return is very very slow and it doesn’t spring back. . . Age is here to stay!! She said everything drops three inches!!!
Dancers have always been nonverbal. It is hard for them to make a transition to/from dance to speaking roles. Often they can become, sadly, drinkers! Yet I think dancers are the most courageous people in the arts because dancers know the life span they have is so limited!
Back in the early 80s, Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller gave a great party for the “great money year we had.“ Name it! Actors came from all over the place – cabs, limos, subway, drivers, stretch limos etc. It was really something. I overheard ”boobablah I am sooo happy to see you!!! I thought you were dead!!!”
I cannot say that people in the arts can’t work it out. Yet the levels of rejection, frustration, humiliation, and low self-esteem make it difficult to survive when you know you are, in your heart, really gifted!!!
If you paint, you have to exhibit!
If you write, someone has to read it!
If you perform, someone else has to see you!
It is the sense of community. Knowing that a community exists!!!!! We are the community!!!
In this life, the wonderful life in the arts. Together!!!! Together!!!!!