Without doubt the most interesting person I've ever interviewed, Carlos Lozano was Salvador Dali's playmate, muse and confident in the 20 years leading up to his death in 1989. Carlos is a stage actor, dancer and choreographer in his own right but we didn't even manage to cover that side of his life in our enthusiasm, so sorry Carlos! The interview took place at writer Clifford Thurlow's delightful house in Chelsea on the Sunday morning before the launch of Carlos' memoirs, 'Sex, Surrealism, Dali and Me' and myself and Nic were completely exhausted by the time it finished at midday. Although Dali had limited experience in film, his collaboration with Luis Bunuel and the stories surrounding the stars that visited him will astound anyone. I obviously tried to keep the film line going throughout the interview but it was in vain, and found myself utterly enthralled in privileged gossip glee with this special insight into the life of one of the century's true enigmas. So, I apologise. Whether you enjoy Dali's work or not, this is a terribly interesting tale. The book, written as a series of scenes depicting Carlos' time with Dali, has created a bit of a storm with great interest from production companies and a certain Oscar-winning British director looking to make their second feature. As we've been lucky enough to get a good view of the eye of this storm, we'll keep you informed as it spreads.
What were the circumstances of your first meeting with Salvador Dali?
I was living in Paris, working with the Living Theatre on tour and to my good fortune one of the buses broke down so I had to stay behind. As it broke down it left me with a whole bunch of wonderful people in the French underground. I met Pierre Clémenti who I stayed with at the time in 1969 and had just finished playing the bad guy in La Belle Du Jour and Jean Pierre Calfont but I didn't speak a word of French so we just communicated through sign language. They decided that they would go and see Dali for one of his tea parties, asked whether I'd like to go with them and I said 'sure.'
How much had you heard of him at that time?
Well I knew of him vaguely and I wasn't too worldly savvy but he wasn't someone I was dying to meet.
What was that first meeting like?
Well I knew he was going to be very intimidating. First of all because of the way I was dressed, I was very eccentric with all my haberdashery gear, my long hair and I knew that he was surrounded by this court of top models and the most beautiful people. I knew that I would not fit in but we went and he opened the door and greeted us very cordially, Dali was very civilised and very polite, always and he immediately told us to help ourselves to tea, I thought well that's it, I've met him and said hello. People were running after him calling him 'maestro' and 'master' and everybody was competing for attention and I was, to be quite honest with you, as high as a kite, I was really flying and I thought I'd just sit on my cloud and watch this movie for a while and when its time to go I'll leave. My friends had started to mingle so I just sat down and within minutes he'd come to sit next to me and started to talk to me and to ask me all kinds of questions. Everybody was very surprised at this. First of all he started to analyse me with those penetrating eyes and he told me almost my whole life story in a couple of minutes and then he said that I was like a person in one of his paintings and that he wanted to sketch me. Then he said that I had a very luxurious subconscious, he always had these catchphrases, and I was so unimpressed with all the Rococo, Louis XV and all the gold in the place. You know, I'm a flower child, a simple person who wants to change the world, create a revolution, give flowers to people, stop the Vietnam war and work on plays for the working classes. I wanted to do so many other things in life than be surrounded by all of this which I thought was so put on. Finally he said, "don't worry, my magic will protect you" and asked me if I would come tomorrow. And tomorrow just went on and on because he just kept sending for me and sending for me. It created a big stir. All of a sudden there was this great big limousine to haul me off to meet him.
The book launch at the Dali Universe
Did his 'court' feel threatened by you?
I think that there was a lot of jealousy yes. I was very real with him, I never wanted anything from him and was never out to make any money from him. Dali really felt that I should be pursuing a career and that I should get a proper footing. He was very good friends with a man called Bertrand Costelli who was casting for a play called Hair. I'd actually met him in Los Angeles and seen Hair there, it had played in Mexico and had created a big scandal and had been banned. They had just started casting from about two thousand people who had auditioned and so Dali invited him over to lunch to meet me. He asked me to come over, put a whole bunch of flowers behind my ears and hid me behind the door. When the director came in he grabbed me with violent force, thrust me forward and said, "For hair!". This was my presentation! Costelli said "yes we'll try him" and within a couple of days I walked into the theatre for an audition, had to lead the cast into a dance routine and I was hired. At first I'd said "oh no, this is so boring! I don't want to do commercial theatre." I was right though, after a while it was terribly boring and you actually had to clock in like a factory worker.
A fabulous 'melting clock' TV at the book launch