Martin Scorsese was a fan of David Johansen’s protean, genre-bending musical career, dating back to his time with fellow New Yorkers and punk-inspiring New York Dolls. But when I witnessed a performance at Johansen’s Café Carlyle, a cabaret retrospective reimagined through Johansen’s strutting crooner Buster Poindexter, in early 2020, the Rolling Stones filming and Bob Dylan’s and George Harrison documentaries, Scorsese found himself making his next musical film. subject.
“There was poignancy and beauty in it,” the director said recently as he sat alongside Johansen, discussing the performance film Personality Crisis: One Night Only, a tribute to rock’s iconoclastic life. rice field.
Martin, your music documentaries always feel like the ultimate art appreciation project.
Martin Scorsese: Music has always inspired me to make my own films. They may even suggest a visual interpretation of the story or story. So it turns out that what David has been doing over the years has been kind of an expedition in terms of music. David, you also had a group called Harry Smith.
David Johansen: Yes, Harry was in charge of the American Folk Music Anthology. All the Bleecker Street folk singers learned their sets from that album.
Scorsese Director: when i did [the concert film] “The Last Waltz” was a liberating experience. I was very naive about many things, such as the roots from which this music came and the beauty of American music itself.
David, collecting a lifetime’s worth of songs is no small feat. What does musical survival mean to you?
Johansen: I’m just letting the mind do what it wants me to do, you see? I am a niche person. You might be like, “Oh, I want to make that much money,” but I never really took it seriously. I don’t think it’s necessary to appeal to a large audience. So cabaret is a good environment. I always think that rock shows are like Hitler Youth rallies, especially when it comes to large fields. You can’t use humor or say anything funny. Cabaret and showroom-goers tend to be sophisticated.
Martin, you’ve been directing big concert films, what were you thinking about doing David’s film? Carlyle show?
Scorsese Director: It’s not just about filming the action, it’s a performance that includes body language, suits, hair, glasses, and the way you move. We had this limited area and we were only confining him. He has no distractions. that would be interesting. We had no idea what kind of movie it would be. Then he got over the new coronavirus 2-3 weeks later.
Johansen: I was hesitant at first when Marty said, “I want to shoot this.” I thought if we filmed this and people saw it, they wouldn’t pay to see it again. Of course, there was the novel coronavirus. [He laughs.] It worked. [Marty] I will also tell the future.
David, did you participate too? Perhaps take a look at the archive footage?
Johansen: My wife, Mara, was heavily involved in this. I didn’t know what was going on and didn’t want to know. [Scorsese laughs.] Because if I start pouring in my two cents, I’ll add it up. Can you see the difference between how you see yourself and how others see you?
Scorsese Director: Mara really guided our co-director David Tedeschi. he said: “1985 or he needs something better than 1973.” She found the film and directed him to the source. Then others will say, “I have something.”like [the song] For example, “Bad Boy”. It was amazing.
In David’s “Personality Crisis” interview, you’re not asking, Martin. That’s his daughter, Leah. Sometimes she sits in the backyard, sometimes on the couch. What prompted that decision?
Scorsese Director: that was another thing. We said, “I want him to talk!” But how was it going to go?
Johansen: People call me all the time and say, ‘Would you like to be in this documentary about punk music…’ and so on. I always say “no!” Every time I see myself answering these questions, I think: what is he talking about ” When I see myself in a movie, I get sick of it.
Scorsese Director: So yeah, it won’t happen. In addition, under the influence of the new coronavirus, [couldn’t] trip. So we said, let’s go with Leah because she’s a great filmmaker. If her daughter does it, he should do it too!
Johansen: And has she been making movies since she was 13?
Scorsese Director: The good thing about her is that it’s a family thing. It created the intimacy it needed as a family movie. She can ask questions she knows will anger him. But she has to ask him!
Because it will be exposed even if it isn’t?
Scorsese Director: that’s right. I didn’t want him sitting in the studio. She gave him the mic as best she could. That’s it. And I will teach you a little bit on the virtual. She said things like, “I can’t get this.” she was worried
Johansen: About getting more to talk about?
Scorsese Director: yes.
I like the idea that Leah has America’s greatest living film director.
Scorsese Director: I said, “Keep shooting!” Soon something will happen! It’s digital so you don’t have to keep loading [film]. Just let that camera run.
Johansen: And as Leah interviews me, she takes me back to being natural. The guy in the interview is essentially me, you see?
David, you’ve done your part. Martin, why didn’t you put him in something?
Scorsese Director: I tried. Was it the same in 1983’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”? I remember seeing you then.
Johansen: It’s yes or whatever!
Scorsese Director: [Laughing] You see, he was a very demanding person. he had his own way.