Thursday, May 13, 2010

Samson De Brier

This interview is with Samson De Brier, who was an old friend of my father. He was a long time resident of Los Angeles and a local hipster. He died sometime in the late 90s. As I was thumbing through Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon", I noticed a picture of him with Mr. Anger standing over the grave of a dead starlet. It was a shock to instantly recognize him, the same man who visited our house sporadically when I was kid. He always brought some weird antique toy for Alex and I, which at the time, being only 5 years old, usually held little interest for me. In retrospect, I wish I could remember what those toys were! If you look at his intriguing place in the video, when the camera is permitted to wander, you can get a sense of all the amazing stuff this guy collected over the years. He might have been the first 20th century goth hipster.

Within my scattered memories of Samson's visits, and even of my father, the most salient one occurred one evening by the swimming pool. As I was swimming, my father and Samson were chatting only feet away. It was twilight and it had become chilly outside. Perhaps out of laziness or finding the outside chill too daunting, I didn't want to fetch a bath towel on my own. I remember asking my father to get a towel for me and every plead went unanswered. They just kept talking, ignoring me. Just as I had probably transitioned into a whiny overture, Samson yelled "SHUTUP!". In the following seconds I felt confident my father would castigate Samson for yelling at me, and with great urgency fetch a towel for his shivering son, but they simply resumed their conversation. Oh the humiliation! I ended up taking my shivering ass to a towel on my own. Thanks Samson. Cool house, though.

1 comment:

Willo Clare said...

Thank you for writing this article and posting this interview in honor of the fabulous Samson! My mother (Diane Varsi) was close with him (as your father was) and had shared many tales of intriguing times spent in his 'salon'. When I moved to LA in 1990 it was my turn to visit with Mr. DeBrier, which I did as often as possible before his passing. These were always memorable occasions and I always left with some unusual antique relic he would hand off upon my departure, culled from his towering stacks of odd and beautiful objects. I still cherish an old velvet skirt he gave me as a parting gift, as well as an strangely kitschy souvenier plate from The Grand Canyon. Samson was such an unusual and special mix of story-teller, wise-man, charming gentleman and fun goof-ball. I still miss him.