Chapter 6 - Las Vegas Fantasy

Julian Ritter - Las Vegas Fantasy

"Las Vegas Fantasy"

Julian Ritter's Painting's always have "sub-text" in the images.  Layered with images in the forefront  or the background are clowns and depictions of Lucifer, the devil. Sometimes even God himself makes an appearance.  Julian liked to say that a beautiful woman makes a clown out of all men. Beautiful women and Clowns were his forte.

The concept of the Las Vegas Fantasy came about soon after I met Julian. When he was working on the portrait of my then wife Yvonne, I mentioned to him about doing a commission with lots of Showgirls, and a  Clown. We sat together one day bin his studio and he did some quick "study" sketches in Conte. As the concept percolated I became the Clown. I wanted real Showgirls and Julian suggested Janet Boyd should be in the painting. He had painted Janet for her famous full length portrait and many times subsequently.

Julian introduced me to Janet, and we began a lifelong friendship. She was invaluable in helping me put together everything needed to make the painting happen.  Originally I wanted to bring all the Showgirls to Julian's studio in Summerland, California. Julian wanted all the girls to be there, interacting, at the same time. It soon became apparent, the girls schedules were not  going to cooperate. Julian agreed, and we made plans to go to Las Vegas.

The Showgirls in the painting are, Janet Boyd, and three other girls named Theresa, Helen, and Ronnie.  Helen was an exceptionally Buxom blonde I had met while photographing a car race at the Caesars Palace Grand Prix. Helen was the lead Showgirl in the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel.  Janet had been a performer in Vegas, and Paris, since she was young and knew everyone in town.  At this time she was the Lead Showgirl in the Bal du Moulin Rouge show at the International Hotel. One of her co-dancers was a stunningly beautiful girl name Teresa. Ronnie was also a performer in the Moulin Rouge with Janet and Teresa.
This would be Julian's first trip back to Las Vegas since be rescued from the infamous "boat trip, on the 'Galilee'. His personal paintings had changed a great deal since his heyday years of Showgirls and Hookers.  His painting was now darker, more spiritual, sometimes questioning God's promise of good in the world.  Nudes  were still the most sought after subject by his customers. I was thrilled when he said he'd go to Las Vegas with me.  But again the logistics of the girls schedules, we would only have one days to get all the [Show]girls together at the same time.

"Portrait of Janet"

Janet knew a photographer in Las Vegas, Bob Hooper, who I contacted and worked out a deal to photograph the scene for us, with Julian there to pose and coordinate.   Our time frame really wouldn't allow Julian to sketch each girl, so he agreed to work off the photos Bob took.  All Julian really needed the photos for was for reference to the faces and some color notes.

So Julian and I fly to Vegas the night before. We get to see Janet performing in the Moulin Rouge show, and then had back to our room at the Tropicana. Instead Julian heads to the Bar where he stays till the wee hours of the morning. Smoking his Pipe, drinking Brandy, and  flirting with every woman in the Bar. Finally as early morning approaches, I tell Julian I'm going to the room to sleep.  I left him there as happy as a man can be, with women draped all around him.  I only got a few hours sleep, and have no idea if Julian ever came to the room.

The next day, Julian is `bright-eyed and bushy-tailed' , we show up at Bob Hooper's studio, my makeup artist Christine Boyar  is there, and the other three girls show up. Janet is there coordinating, making introductions and moving things along.  Janet had managed to put together a room full of lingerie for the girls to choose from. She borrowed all the costumes and wardrobe from Penny France, who owned a store in the Fashion Show Mall, called Midnight Lace.

We spent the next few hours, Bob and his wife Teresa putting together the set and lights. All the girls trying on outfits, and getting their makeup and hair done by Christine.  And then me finally, in makeup.  Julian all the time was observing the girls. The movements, their expressions. How they held their bodies, moved their arm, legs, hands and feet.   He was truly a Master and observed the smallest detail  of each girl from the time they arrived at the studio, long into the evening when we finally departed.

It was probably mid afternoon, when we actually got on the set, to start shooting. We started off goofing around, and even Julian got into the act. Sitting in a chair, with Janet sitting on his lap. Me and all the girls around him. As Julian was prone to, his hands were never still and I wondered what mischief he was getting into with Janet, sitting on his lap.   We shot pictures for hours. Various configurations with Julian overseeing each and every one.  Once I got in the center of things , well, things got worse.  I was a terrible "model" .  I was stiff, almost frozen.  Bob tried relentlessly to get me to be more animated, and to loosen up.  But finally we got what we needed.

It was a long, exhausting, and totally exhilarating day .  We flew back home, me to Culver City, and Julian to Summerland. About a week or so later, I sent photos to Julian from the photoshoot we did. It was about four months later that Julian finally finished the painting. I had been up to see him several times during the time he was working on the painting, but he would not let me see it, until it was finished.

When He called and told me it was finished, I rented a truck, and went up the next weekend. On first sight I was wrought with emotion.  I was dumbfounded.  Julian had truly been rejuvenated with our trip back to Las Vegas. He had outdone himself with one of his very finest works I'd ever seen.   And as a special treat, he had gilded the painting in 22 karat gold leaf, all around the perimeter.  Trying to describe the painting in words is frivolous.
`Las Vegas Fantasy' must be seen  to be appreciated. 





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