Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Ritz Newspaper is BAAACK! Frances Lynn explains all


Frances Lynn
Once upon a time, in the 70s and 80s, there was this big ol' cafe society newspaper and it was called Ritz. Clive James and Peter York were among its contributors. And its scurvy gossers included Nicky Haslam, Amanda Lear, Stephen Lavers and... Frances Lynn, London's bitchiest social scribe. Why, Nicholas Coleridge once described her as 'absolutely crazy'. You thought Ritz was dead? You thought wrong. Frances Lynn has spotted a revival and this ain't no zombie....

Is this the perfect time for a Ritz revival? 

At this year's London Book Fair I was in the Random House area having a cup of tea with a Fleet Street obituary writer. She  was in the middle of advising me to publish all my old Ritz interview tapes (the laundry list includes Sammy Davis, Jr, Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Frank Zappa and Anthony Perkins who successfully persuaded me to come off sugar), when a  man at the next door table got out a copy of Ritz. I immediately pounced on him, saying I used to write for the rag. It turned out he was a literary agent called Robert Smith, who represents ex-Ritz editor David Litchfield, incidentally the best editor I've ever had.

After Robert Smith informed me copies of Ritz now go for £50 a copy, he confided he was at the Fair touting Litchfield's idea for a book on Ritz. I promptly told him, the copyright of all my old gossip and film columns plus all my old Ritz interviews belong to me. Mr Smith informed me Litchfield is banking on his friends letting him use their stuff for free.

At the Book Fair, there had been useful seminars on how to put one's books on Kindle which makes me think maybe I should put all my old Ritz stuff on a Kindle book before Litchfield helps himself  to my material. If I do decide to do this, I would have to use footnotes explaining who the Cafe Society figures in my old columns were, as most of them are long dead and forgotten.

This week, I was invited to the Soho Hotel for a screening of Celebrity Exposed, the documentary  featuring Richard Young, my old photographer on Ritz. It is produced by John Osborne and well directed by Don Letts (they are both directors of Brassneck TV, the documentary's production company). The doc comes out on Sky Arts 1 at 8pm on 8th May and it's worth recording just for the amusing Vivienne Westwood, David Bailey and Elton John interviews alone.

'Andy said everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, now it's more like 15 seconds,' Bailey quipped on screen, referring to the current Big Brother-influenced Celebrity Culture.

After the very entertaining doc, Peter York who has known Richard Young since his first snaps appeared in Ritz interviewed him on stage. I noticed all the high maintenance women in evening dress (Heather Kerzner, Kelly Hoppen, Yasmin Mills and Nancy Dell'Olio included) stayed on for the talk instead of going ON. 

Richard took great relish in explaining David Litchfield had warned him from the very beginning he wouldn't be paid a penny for his Ritz Gossip snaps, but as compensation would be given permission to sell all his photographs to Fleet Street.  According to Richard's gospel, Fleet Street were amazed how he got into all the Ritz parties where no Fleet Street hack would ever dare to gatecrash. 

Richard also expressed nostalgia about all the naked ladies who were prevalent at parties and clubs which according to him simply doesn't happen now. Going OUT during the late Seventies and early Eighties was much more spontaneous than the Social Scene now, which seems to be completely controlled by the publicists and the Media.

After the screening, Kelly Hoppen (with the best hair in London) kindly gave me a ride in her chauffeured car to the after party at a 'secret rendezvous' in nearby Soho. I know certain people 'around town' won't invite her to their homes as she is known as a "Hello Girl" but I thought she was adorable. Especially when she told me  at the very start of her career as an interior decorator, Richard took a snap of her, which she feared would embarrass her when she become 'famous' in later life. 

'I shall never forget what Richard did for me. I told him I wasn't happy with the picture and he deleted it on the spot,' she said.

At the champagne fuelled party, organised by Susan Young, the power behind Richard's throne, Richard's family, fans and friends including Gary Kemp, the zany jeweller Stephen Webster and Nancy Dell'Olio were there. I don't know why she is so unpopular as she was lovely to me asking what Richard and I got up to during our Ritz days - as if I can remember. After all, our crazy days on the Beat is getting on for 40 years ago now. 

After I informed Nancy DO my old Gossip job was to write bitchy things about my victims, she shrank away from me, which was quite a relief as I was afraid her extended eyelashes were about to poke into my eyeballs during our cosy tête-à-tête.

One of Frances Lynn's websites - click here

32 comments:

Ciaran Rehill said...

Here is me facing jail over Ched Evans Twitter storm. Come and visit!

Who? said...

Good heavens! I LOVED RItz. Bring it back now, typos and everything

Frances Lynn said...

Nothing's changed! I've done another bloody typo! It's BRASSNECK TV Productions (not Brassnecks).

Anonymous said...

Oh MADAME, after signs of improvement.

Madame Arcati said...

Ciaran - who? I'll pop over later.

Madame Arcati said...

Corrected poppet - my blood sugar's a bit so I'll suck a sugared almond or something. I bet Litchfield said similar in his day.

Frances Lynn said...

Nothing's changed! I've now done a bloody typo. It's BRASSNECK TV (not Brassnecks TV). I hope Don Letts and John Osborne forgive me!

Frances Lynn said...

If only I had recorded Litchfield's bon mots at the time! They would have made a great book except it would be sued for libel.

Frances Lynn said...

I also forgot to mention that the writer Paul Gorman was at the "Celebrity Exposed" screening. His book on Mr Freedom will be launched in June. Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

I love this ..... I used to get my hands dirty every month reading Ritz. Bring it back. All if forgiven!

Anonymous said...

This is an improvement. I love it!

The late Vicky de Lambray said...

Frances Lynn used to be a big Bitch. What happened? This is tame stuff compared to when her pen used to drip vitriol. Bring Her back!

Anonymous said...

The Bitch ain't back. this is tame!

Real Bitch said...

I think I am right in saying that Ritz sold about 3 copies per issue and was written about by 10 people in the media. On such stuff are legends fabricated.

Frances Lynn said...

Thank you 'the Real Bitch'. This proves to me I don't have to go back in time to dig out all my (priceless) rotting copies of Ritz to take another look at my ancient stuff ..... also in Ritz's defence, according to its Wikipedia entry, 25,000 copies were published each month ...... and Wikipedia is never wrong, eh?!

Ex-Ed said...

I adored the Ritz magazine and can never forget the interview with N Coleridge which was riddled with typos from start to finish. He couldn't have been pleased because in addition to the typos the interview repeated all his ums, errs and arghs, which may explain why his TV career never happened.

Dorothy Digital said...

Loved Ritz in its day (still have countless copies up the attic) and Fran's column was the main reason for reading. Someone should blackmail her into writing a book about her experiences or at least collect and reproduce the magazines as a coffee table book.

Madame Arcati said...

I totally agree Dorothy. Imagine the launch party and all the slebs and media coverage.

Frances Lynn said...

Hey Dorothy Digital! Would like to leave me your Ritz copies in your will? Mine are all jumbled up. And what a great idea about the coffee table book. I can think of nothing more nostalgic than flicking through the regurgitated Old Days.

Frances Lynn said...

..... and Madame! The idea of a launch party is a beautiful nightmare - what does one wear at such a To See And Be Seen event?

Madame Arcati said...

Something bionic - the next fashion thing. I'm certain of it. Eventually.

Frances Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Late Nigel Dempster said...

Frances once became 'tired and emotional' in my office at the Daily Mail. I knew I shouldn't have proposed her for the NUJ.

Frances Lynn said...

Bring back Ossie Clark ..... he once gave me a beautiful evening gown which Amanda Lear had modelled. He later begged to borrow it back for a photo shoot. Like an idiot I lent it to him and I never saw it again.

Madame Arcati said...

Fascinated by Amanda Lear - did you know her before the procedures?

Frances Lynn said...

I first met Amanda in the early 70s.She was all woman! When I fabricated a character called Jet Spray Cooler in my column, saying he was a big admirer of hers, she used to call me all the time saying Who is this Jet Spray Cooler and when can I meet him? In the end, I told her I made him up.

veritas said...

who was the very nice and very rich Irishman who wrote a column in Ritz?. He drove a white Rolls Royce. Put me in his column but that bitch Frances never did.

Frances Lynn said...

'Veritas' - I know exactly who you're talking about: James Kelly. He later became a showbiz agent. I would love to see him again! And you should count yourself lucky I didn't plug you in my column ..... I lost a lot of friends Bitching everybody out each month!

Ciaran Rehill said...

Ched Evans is a footballer (Sheffield Utd and Wales).

Frances Lynn said...

Ciaran Rehill, footballers weren't written about in Ritz with one exception: George Best but that was only because he was a permanent fixture in Tramp.

Anonymous said...

Play any Amanda Lear record and when you hear her open her laughing gear, you'll instantly twig that no woman was ever born that way.

Anonymous said...

What's all this obsession with Amanda Lear being a sex change? Even if she did reinvent herself in Morocco (?) so what? She's a legend minus an Adam's Apple.