William Burroughs Conversation – 14


Beeson Carroll (“BJ”) (1934-2018)

Errol Flynn ( 1909-1959)

John Huston (1906-1987)

AG: Yes,  I think.. we have to go back to Paris to the.. to Darryl Zanuck and John Huston and the scheme to get (the) Naked Lunch into the movies directed by John Huston in 1950..1957. [Editorial note this story is discussed at length by Ginsberg and Corso  – here also}

WSB: What?

AG: Yeah, you remember that? Bill

WSB: Oh I don’t even remember it

AG: Ok, now..

GC: Ok. I’m out

AG:  Well now, Gregory and I were walking along a block..

GC: I”m in

AG: ..from, a block away from our Gît-le-Cœur address when, who walks up the street but John Huston, the old director.

GC:  Right, with that African Queen

AG:  And so with Peter and Gregory and I, we went into the nearest bar..   (to GC) Did he salute us for did you salute him?

GC: I don’t salute that motherfucker!

AG: Well, who said hello to who? Who recognized who? (I didn’t know who he was)

GC: I recognized him.

AG: You knew him   Gregory actually knew who he was..

GC: Of course

AG: … in the first place. So we all went into..

GC: I said to him, “Why do you always have a gun in your movies, man?” And he said, “Don’t you call me “man” (they’d just finished doing Roots of Heaven, that’s where we met Errol Flynn..)

AG: Right. Now, wait, wait, tell the story properly. So we took.. Gregory and I and Peter went into a bar and we were telling him about Burroughs who was now in…

GC: We were playing with Tristan Tzara

AG: No, I don’t remember that.

GC: Yes BJ with the beard?  (Beeson Carroll)

AG: No, wait, wait

GC: Tristan Tzara was there playing pinball with John Huston.

AG: Was BJ there then?  at the beginning? at the bar?
GC: Yeah, at the bar.
AG: We didn’t bring him later?
GC: The Bonaparte
AG: We didn’t bring him later?
GC: No
AG: He was there at the meeting with Huston?
GC: Yeah,  wake up. The time is good
AG:  I don’t think so.  I think it was you and me, Gregory but we brought him later.
GC; But Peter came
AG: Yeah
GC: Art Buchwald got us on..
AG: No no wait
GC: No.  He did not get us on. Art Buchwald..
AG: No, you’re…   slow, slow down
GC: Roots of Heaven was finished
AG: Yeah, Roots of Heaven was a movie
GC: Right
AG: It was..It wasn’t Roots of Heaven, it was The African Queen
GC: It was Roots of Heaven!
AG: It was a movie made in Africa with John Huston.
GC: It was.  Errol Flynn was in Roots of Heaven!
AG: Well, you might be right. Does anybody know?
GC: I’m very right.

Ted Morgan: Yes, I think it was Roots of Heaven because that’s why he was in Paris.

AG: Okay

GC: Come on!  The Baton Rouge had a big party there. Juliette Greco’s in love with the fuckin’ Zanuck. Watch the ballgame there. There’s fuckin’ Daryl Zanuck’s worried about his movie and I’m saying, “What about the atom bomb?” –  He said,” What? atom bomb? what about my movie!”

WSB: Of course.

GC: Well, of course, I’m giving him bullshit.

AG:   I want to just fill in the gap. It was because we met Huston in the bar and then we talked to him about Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, and the plan was to get Huston interested enough to read Naked Lunch and conceive of the idea of making a movie. And Bill was in Paris at the time. So we were invited either by Buchwald (but I think by Huston) to the boat on the Seine where there was this big movie party with Errol Flynn, Daryl F. Zanuck, Huston, Juliette Greco and many others

GC: Trevor Howard, he didn’t give a fuck about nobody,. They introduced me to him. He didn’t give a fuck, he wanted to dance.
AG: So we had…
GC:  (They had)  such beautiful asses, man. They didn’t want too talk to these fuckin’ poets and all that shit!
AG: So we brought a young actor, a young romantic actor, onto the boat on the Seine, BJ
AG: ..who was living around the corner  you remember BJ, Bill?
WSB: Of course
GC:  Yeah, and he blew… he blew the shot.

AG: Well now describe what happened.

GC: He blew it.He went up to Errol Flynn and said “Hey, man, I hear when you were flying an  airplane, somebody popped a popper under your nose”.  He grabbed his beard and said,”Hey, my business is my business”. And there were a lot of blacks around Errol Flynn (because they were doing Roots to Heaven, that was a lot about the blacks in Africa). So they kicked Allen and him off. And I’m, and Art Buchwald…

AG: No.. this
GC: Wait.They kick you both off
AG: No, no, you missed the..
GC: Wait a minute (to know) what happens.
AG: What happened between BJ and Errol Flynn is the interesting thing.

GC: He grabs his beard, man!  They were going to fight!
AG: Who grabs who’s beard?
GC: Errol Flynn, man
AG: No, you’ve got it all wrong!  BJ hit Errol Flynn!
GC: He hit him?
AG: Yes that’s why he got kicked off the boat. He went up drunkenly to..
GC:  He swerved..

AG: Well, I was there, ok. Our young Romantic friend, who was an American expatriate kid in Paris who read Rimbaud and wanted to be an actor. So we thought this is the great occasion for him to meet these great movie stars and producers, he’s got his chance. And I had a crush on BJ, I think, it was a reason I took him along.

WSB: (He was a man)

GC: I’m going to have to interrupt him, I was there.
WSB: Why should you. Let him go on with his story.
GC: I was there, and the beard was grabbed..
AG: Were you there when BJ hit Flynn?
GC: He never hit Errol Flynn, otherwise he’d have been dead!
AG: No, he did

GC: There were about five black bodyguards there..
AG: No
GC: Errol had around him. Errol died five days later, laughing.
AG:No that’s not true
WSB:  He died years later
AG: I know
WSB: He died about three or four years later, or more than that.

AG: No.. I was.. I watched.. BJ was drunk. He insulted Flynn, and then.. and Flynn said “Go away, sonny”, or “Don’t bother me” and  BJ was angry that Flynn was ignoring him and BJ was coming on drunken and aggressive, (as many people have come on to you and me), and then.. then BJ actually hit Errol Flynn..
GC: Alright, hit.
AG: And then the bodyguards grabbed him and they were going to bounce him off the boat.
GC:  Then what happened?  You went off with him, didn’t you?
AG: I was so ashamed that I had brought him so I went off with him, because he was..
GC: Alright  I’m stuck on the boat and they’re my friends so I know what happened..
AG Alright, then what happened (on the boat)?

GC: I was sitting with Art Buchwald

AG: So we were covered with shame, and the Beat Generation was a public scandal and embarrassment, with no manners at all in the houses of the wealthy and the mighty, 1957.

GC: I had the fuckin’ manners..

AG: Yes!

GC: And so, I said, you know, “Eh, I’m brought up Italian, I can’t stay here with you guys, I love ya, but I’ve gotta go with those guys”.  So (they) let me off at the next stop. That was that. (That was nothing about his (Burroughs’) fuckin’ book!)

AG Okay. Now…as far as I’m concerned, that was actually a crucial incident in social history, because..because Huston had been taking us quite seriously as intellectuals. We’re invited aboard the boat as sort of like young poets in Paris, and the solecism was so great in this…solecism?  with our young friend actually attacking Errol Flynn of all people (because everyone wants to pick a fight with him, or every neurotic, would want to pick a fight with Errol Flynn. And this kid who was in our company did it, at a time when we were actually talking to.. I was actually talking to Huston (and so were you, I remember) about Burroughs, trying to connect the literature of our own time with those intellectuals (not Zanuck, but certainly Huston was, like, a big, amazing, intelligent man. So when BJ attacked Flynn actually, I think the general ideas was “these guys are flakes, the whole scene is nowhere, you invite these beatniks to a party and they piss on your guests..”

GC: Errol Flynn was somewhere
WSB: We’re not saying that, Gregory..
GC: Errol Flynn was somewhere
WSB: We’re not talking about that.    

Ted Morgan. Allen, I have a question..

AG: Yeah

Ted Morgan:.. What happened to this BJ?

GC: Nothing, He got on tv and got fat.

WSB: I never heard what happened to him. The last I heard he was some kind of a vague tv actor but I never saw him after Paris.

AG: I did. He wound up in the Lower East Side in 1960, living about three blocks from me. And when I reminded him of this he said, “Is that all you can think about me?”

GC: Yeah but that’s early, I’m telling you what he did in the late ’70’s..

WSB: That’s very typical of him, that’s very typical of him, you know. Any criticism of him.. Yeah, I mean, that opposes his thinking…

GC: Remember you wrote to Kerouac about meeting him and what Kerouac wrote back?

AG: What?.. I did write to Kerouac, yes.

GC: Yeah, he said, “I don’t have to see this BJ”  (I saw them).

AG: Yeah. – Well, it was an error of judgment on my part. I thought he was a new American Rimbaud!)

GC: Alright..alright, let’s go somewhere, lets go somewhere where we can hit a shot.

AG: ok ok what”s next?

Audio for there above can be heard here beginning at approximately forty-nine-and-three quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in


One comment

  1. Delightful and spirited exchange. They don’t craft conversations like that any more. Everybody is too fucking busy hiding their face in an LCD or running around like a chicken with its head cut off, pursuing career or crack or cunt or cash.

    ERROL’S ERRORS was a performance I organized at the Western Front in Vancouver-by-the-Void, commemorating in a backhanded fashion the arrival and prompt death of Errol Flynn in sleepy, prim, more-British-than-Britain-British-Columbia. He stepped off the propjob with one Beverly Aadland, aged 22 (but rumored to be 16, to maintain Errol’s rascally rep) and a pert young miss reporter from The Vancouver Sun (dreadful as it sounds, yep, in a place where the sun she don’t shine) this reporter blocks him with a challenge “Mr. Flynn, it is said that you like the company of young girls. Why is that?” The overweight, puffy-faced star, barely able to ambulate at this point, blinks and replies with utmost honesty “Because they make such good fucks”. Tragically, The Vancouver Sun did not report this riposte.
    He sat down in the West End apartment of Dr. Grant Gould (uncle of famed Canuck pianist Glenn Gould) and tried to sell the good doctor his yacht. He was hard up in 1959, having been swindled out of his movie earnings (and drank the rest). Then he gave his farewell address: “I’m going to lay down on the floor in the other room”. Beverley [“Beaverly” we called her in my naughty perfromance] goes in to check on him and pops right out, declaiming “Errol’s turning purple” and that was that.

    As if Vancouver had not been scandalized enough by his showing up with this young chickie (not that young, fellas, sorry) dying there completed the shame of the moment. Coroner: “He had the body of a man of seventy”.

    He was barely 50 years old.

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