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[personal profile] jjmaccrimmon
Yes this is a rare, public post of my personal activities, but for very good reason.

I was going to get this update done yesterday but due schedules, stomach ick and getting on a serious photo editing roll at home; it had to wait till today. This past week(end) was very low key and mostly relaxed. There were notable exceptions though. On Friday night, I journeyed down to the El Cid in Los Angeles for the Brian Chic memorial celebration of life gathering. It was very heart-rending for me in many ways. Cut for length, only - please read.


First off, Brian and I were professional acquaintances and relatively cordial but not the kind of friends who would hang out and be buddy-buddy. Even so, I sincerely liked and respected this gentleman. We shared a common back-ground and (as I continue to learn) many common interests. On Friday night, Lolita LeVey hosted a remembrance for him which included friends from all the various groups and industries Brian was associated with. I was astonished at the diversity represented. Brian Chic was a rare individual whose interests, activities and backgrounds spanned, Vaudeville, music, motion picture history, writing and probably more than I may ever know about. I knew Brian as a master bullwhip artist and comedy performer, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.

He worked for Paramount Pictures for 17 years and was considered by his co-workers and apparently the company as the expert on the studio’s film archives and historical production information. Brian was so knowledgeable and had such a base of information according to other guests, that the American Film Institute routinely contacted him for assistance. Furthermore he was owner of several (original) film reels which AFI used to update their archives. In Brian’s typical quiet and unassuming disposition, many of his co-workers at Paramount didn’t know that he was a skilled performer till after his passing.

According to attendees, Brian Chic was also involved in numerous film history and performer historical groups. I believe he was involved with the Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson historical societies according to other guests at the memorial. In fact, Brian had also regular contact with a number of the actors and performers from the Golden Age of movies (and Vaudeville) right up to their deaths. He’d apparently interviewed luminaries such as Carey Grant and George Burns.

All this was complimenting his substantial and certainly varied performance skills. Brian’s expertise with a whip is without doubt. He was regarded by other performers as the master whip artist/performer in this field, period. In my searches for info, I found that he was involved in judging two separate Guinness World Records for whip cracks (over a period of time). Beyond the whip, Brian was a musician who performed with a score of different instruments. He was also a composer with several published works. Add to this, that Brian was a comedian and impressionist and the picture becomes a little clearer about the all around showman he was. Astonishing isn’t it?

See, I knew Brian due to performance photography and association with the Vaudeville and Burlesque community in Los Angeles. It was into this amazing background I found myself immersed that night. Hearing the stories and the memories is something I will treasure for years. It was into this that I found myself (kindly and gently) asked to document the occasion. When I went to the memorial I brought my camera gear, but when I got there, I didn’t have the heart to bring it out of the car and take any photographs. At best, I personally didn’t feel it was the most appropriate thing given the situation. At worst, I felt I’d be nothing more than cheesy, paparazzi scum circling around like a vulture and feeding on the grief of others. Lolita and several others convinced me however to get my camera. They told me in no uncertain terms that the images should be available to his family and that Brian himself would want the event recorded if he could say such. Hesitantly and with more than a little discomfort, I shot more than 50 images that night, documenting the joy and sorrow of his passing. At the end of the night, I was emotionally spent and physically shaking by the time I got home. The pictures have already been edited, uploaded and links provided to the family and several close friends. Brian’s brother, Patrick who attended the event has seen and approved the photos.

I doubt that I will ever post these images publicly. Why? If anything, simply to allow for a degree of privacy and respect to Brian, his family and the feelings of the various entertainers who attended the event. If you were in attendance or were a close friend of Brian, please contact me via e-mail and I will arrange to give you access to the gallery the photos are loaded to. I will also note to anyone who was in attendance and felt my photo work was inappropriate, please accept my sincere and genuine apologies for intruding on your reflection. Offense was never intended.

Part 2 – the rest of the weekend coming shortly.

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