Chapter Four – 1964
With Investors Overseas Services
Geneva, Tripoli, and Cairo.
A Christopher Isherwood Detour in Berlin, and
Sexploits in London and Rome
(Equivalent to 41 Pages)
February 1964 - From the end of Chapter Three:
I laid out my case to W. Thad Lovett, Executive Vice President of IOS, that there were lots of problems in the field and that…
“I’ve come all the way from Hong Kong to show you how much you need me...”
Before he could say anything, I rose and said, “It’s been a pleasure meeting you. I’ll be in my hotel and I’ll wait to hear from you no later than tomorrow. If I don’t hear, I’m off to the United States.”
I left and went to the hotel.
I had bet my foreseeable future on that phone call. I had no money, no job, and was awaiting in a small, dark hotel next to the large, dark, railroad station in very cold, gray, Geneva, Switzerland.
The next morning, Thad called, “Would you like to come and see your new office?”
I grabbed a taxi, and went to IOS headquarters.
Thad had placed a folding, card table against the front of his large desk.
“How do you like your new office? You are now the Executive Assistant to the Executive Vice President of Investors Overseas Services! Does $25,000 per year sound alright?”
“You bet!” I said.
Thad was a charming man with a ruddy face, a ready smile, and a military brush cut. He dressed elegantly and sported a large tiger’s eye and gold ring on his ring finger. Even though his sophisticated manner commanded respect, his gait was slightly shuffling which immediately erased any apparent pomposity.
He treated everybody in the manner of a doting, great aunt of enormous patience, virtually patting them on the head as he eased their problems.
The perfect foil for Bernie’s obvious Jewishness (that applied to virtually everyone else in the headquarters building), Thad was the WASP protector of image and influence.
In a word, he was a kindly queen!
Years before I came on board, Thad and his boyfriend were touring Europe making memories. Stepping back to better frame a photograph of Thad, the boyfriend went over a cliff backwards and died in front of Thad’s eyes.
Christian, a blond, bright, Swiss, United Nations, simultaneous translator (with the necessary taut, flat stomach) came into Thad’s life and stayed. Everyone liked him.
They had an apartment in Parc de Budé, behind the Intercontinental Hotel on the hill behind the office. It was a luxurious place with red velvet walls and many closets to hold Saville Row suits, and sweaters… lots of cashmere sweaters!
Parc de Budé
Thad, always full of stories, had some about the apartment: their cat that fell to the ground from their top-floor balcony, and scampered back up all the stairs; and the IOS Regional Manager who ground out his cigar against the living room velvet wall during a company cocktail party!
I was in the apartment only once – Thad maintained professional distance from the staff.
Toward the end of my first week, when Thad was at lunch and I was sitting behind his desk, Bernie stuck his head in the door and said,
“Kicked him out, did you?”
I was still in the hotel next to the railroad station. Thad introduced me to another rookie, Jim Daly, who worked in Commissions; I moved into the spare room in his teeny flat. He had an old Fiat in which we explored Geneva and its environs. Turned out to be a pretty place.
Thad arranged for me to have a small office on the fifth floor. I guess it had been a bedroom when the building was an apartment house. It had a balcony on which I used to sit dictating letters into a Dictaphone to the hundreds of salesmen we had scattered around the world. I averaged 35 letters a day.
I was also enrolled in the University of Geneva for work permit/visa purposes. Although my shadow never darkened its portals, I used to put it in my C.V.
Of course, ever since June of 1962, I had been working on my Stafford MS in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Now, in Geneva, I had the opportunity to visit many restaurants, hotels, and tourism attractions to further my studies.
I was setting up the Field Liaison Division. The typing pool had twenty-five gals, and the commissions department was run by a smart, energetic girl called Vicki who took all the data to nearby CERN for computer processing. Andre Mousallous oversaw awards and contest prizes. I’m not sure what Art Russell and his boyfriend, Bob, did, but everyone was working almost 24/7. IOS was the fastest growing financial services company in the world, and we were only just getting started.
The company began in 1956 when Bernie Cornfeld,
a Turkish-born American, moved to Paris from New York to be the only overseas sales effort for the Dreyfus Fund in New York. In Bernie’s Brooklyn, every other taxi driver was a mutual fund salesman, and who wants that kind of competition?
He put an ad in the International Herald Tribune:
“Do You Sincerely Want to Be Rich?”
A handful of American ex-pats responded. This burgeoning army of salesmen were trained to seek out American G.I.s and ex-pats who had had little opportunity to invest in the U.S. market. Dreyfus was the best performing mutual fund and it was easy to sell that kind of past performance.
Victor Herbert was part of that first messianic handful, and set off around the globe selling programs of long-term security, and making vast sums himself (see Chapter Three).
Gladis Soloman, who later became the head of the IOS Foundation – “Giving more than money away”, also joined.
The Foundation donated to many good works with both money and work - the local IOS Associates would help build the new church roof for which the money had been donated - admirable.
Other early leaders were Allen Cantor who later became head of world sales.
Harvey Felberbaum ran operations in Italy. Just as every other manager, he had personally recruited and trained an initial team of salesmen who developed into supervisors who trained their initial teams, etc., etc. By 1969, he and his groups of teams and managers were selling approximately $25 million per month, producing, I would guess, an override income to him of about $25,000 a month.
George Tregea headed a part of South America. In 1962, his was the largest commission check each month. Lord knows what he was earning by 1969.
Eli Wallitt’s German operation produced about $100 million a month; you can guess what he earned!
George Landau invented the Dover Plan, IOS’s profitable and popular, equity-linked, life insurance policy, that enabled the formation of the International Life Insurance Company (UK) Ltd.
George, along with his partner, Don Q. Shaprow, carved up much of Africa and the Netherlands.
Dick Gangel ran Japan. He was my favorite trainer. He smoked French, Gaulois cigarettes. These were hard to come by, and were very expensive in the Far East. Dick would "chain-smoke," taking only two or three puffs before putting it out. This display of extravagance was a very real recruiting tool!
Jack Himes ran Hong Kong. One of his Associates, Clement Ng, used to write a guarantee on IOS stationery that the Fund of Funds would achieve 20% annual growth! No wonder he won many of the sales contests. He was fired when this totally unauthorized "guarantee" was discovered.
C. Henry Buhl, III ran the IOS Banking operations. He grew up in Grosse Point, Michigan and his mother was the richest woman in the United States. Henry and I worked together in New York City many some thirty years later.
As you have already learned, Bill Masse ran Okinawa. He was a smooth executive who could speak Japanese without an accent. Bill was also the General Manager of the E.G.L.C. Racing Team.
Roy Kirkdorffer ran the UK, producing about $25 million a month; and so it went...
In 1962, IOS was operating in perhaps 60 countries. In the ensuing years, that number grew to more than 180.
By 1969, sales passed $3 billion, and IOS went public that September through the third largest public offering in history - $100 million!
Bernie said that at least one hundred executives and managers became millionaires!
Why is this man laughing?
Corporate statistics at the time of the underwriting:
• Assets - $66 million.
• Sales - A rate of $3 billion per year.
• Mutual Funds - $2.5 billion in assets.
• Life Insurance - $1 billion in force.
• Real Estate - $260 million in assets.
• Banks and Finance - $200 million.
• 30 General Sales Managers directing 18,000 career salesmen.
• $30 million projected as year-end profit…
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
It’s March, 1964.
Thad called me up to his office; between guffaws, he chortled out that he’d been dictating to one of the typing pool girls, and when he spoke a sentence that contained “IOS,” she stopped him and asked, “How do you spell that?”
We produced a regular Sales Update Information Sheet that we called an Informogram. I included sales and recruiting tips and news of home-office activities and the like, to help our far-flung “Associates” feel part of our growing family. It instilled membership and encouraged direct communication – I was dealing with dozens of letters a day.
Of course, our Associates were not like the members of a typical large company. They didn’t need much motivation or coddling. IOS was a meritocracy. If you succeeded, you succeeded. If you didn’t, you left. All told, I’d guess that we recruited and trained more than one million salesmen who, by making at least one sale, were registered and given an ID number!
No one in the field was paid a salary or expenses – everyone was on commission; and each level of management above each sales Associate, got override commissions. Years later I asked Bernie for the free use of his jet to make a big sale. He said, “Nope, you pay for it. Who’s going to get the commission anyway?”
So, each man in the field planned his actions and his budget against the potential commission.
Upon $50,000 in sales, the beginner would graduate to “Basic” and get a black attaché case; the next $100,000 would propel the Basic Associate to “Advanced.” Another $150,000 and he became a “Senior” Associate. His Supervisor, and the Supervisor’s Branch Manager, and the Branch Manager’s Regional Manager, and the Regional Manager’s Divisional Manager, and, finally, at the top of the tree, the General Manager for the entire operation, would each receive an override commission on each sale.
The mutual funds and insurance policies we sold were “front-end loaded” – 50% or more of the first year’s payments or premiums were deducted to pay the sales structure and other management expenses.
Commissions were paid on the program size of the mutual fund or the face value of the insurance policy. For example, a systematic, capital appreciation, mutual fund program that called for a monthly investment of $100, would be classified as $12,000 in sales volume ($100 x 12mos. x 10yrs.).
Senior Associates (with at least $300,000 in cumulative sales) who had the ability to teach by example, train, and motivate, were usually promoted to Supervisor status. It was their responsibility to continually recruit and train and supervise the largest and most productive group they could develop and manage.
When their group achieved a certain, on-going volume of sales, they would become a Branch Manager and receive an option to acquire 200 shares of stock through the IOS Stock Option Plan. More volume and they’d go on to the next level – Regional Manager, and receive a gold, Patek Philippe watch, and an option for 1000 shares. And on again to Divisional Manager level, and then the ultimate of General Manager.
The stock options kept everyone working - the cost of the options were deducted from the monthly-paid commissions. So, the sales force stayed hungry and striving, and the company grew like topsy!
In March, I got my own apartment in Les Palettes, a condo in Grand-Lancy, a district on the western outskirts of Geneva. It was a bright, 2-bedroom affair that had partial use of the terrace on the roof, and I furnished it from a large second-hand furniture store in town.
Our group of IOS Admin people were a happy lot and entertained a lot. We showed off by knowing the latest gossip, or partying the loudest. I remember having several different bottles of expensive whisky, each refilled with the same cheaper brand I bought in the mini-market downstairs. Is that called creative marketing or… fraud? That’s the kind of question that was asked of IOS often in later years.
Also downstairs, was a restaurant of the same name – Les Palettes. I ate there often, usually opting for the “Chinese Fondue.”
Chinese Fondue is a hot pot of bouillon in which one cooks skewers of beef, having dipped them first in various sauces. When the meat is gone, rice goes into the bowl, and one finishes the meal with the resulting soup. Somehow, because the normal order of dishes is reversed, it is call “Chinese.” I don’t quite get it either.
One evening, I noticed a familiar-looking face across the room, a man dining with whom I assumed were his wife and child. I stared, he smiled; it was Juan Manuel Fangio – the world’s greatest Grand Prix driver - world champion five times! His is the only autograph I have ever sought…
Life was agreeable – barbequing on weekends, clubbing in the bôits in the old town, wine-tasting along the lake towards Lausanne, and sunning on my roof-top terrace.
One Sunday while I was “soaking up the rays”, two guys peroxided my hair. I thought it was fun – I became “La belle blonde”, and caused quite a stir at the bars in town that night.
Looking quite smart, I thought, in my light beige suit and blond hair, I walked into Thad’s office the next morning. He shrieked, picked up the phone, and made an immediate appointment for me at a hairdresser down the street. I was back, brown-haired, in an hour.
All day long people peeked around my office door, then went away muttering and shaking their heads.
There was one gay bar in town – The Embassy. It wasn’t very interesting - little music, and no dancing, but Jim Daly and I went a couple of times a week. I don’t remember meeting anyone there in 1964, but the next year was altogether different.
The middle of May, Stafford University wrote that they would send the final exam c/o the U.S. Consular Agency in Geneva. The officer in charge of notarizations agreed to let me sit in his office to take the exam. This would satisfy the university.
A month later I received my diploma. I had achieved my Master of Science degree and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Grade Point Average of 3.62.
Bob and Ellen Nagler, Bernie, and Ted Carter
Much of our time was spent at the Intercontinental Hotel. We put up our “visiting firemen” there,
many of our directors and staff would swim there on weekends,
and we used its conference facilities for regularly occurring meetings and seminars. It had the best simultaneous translation service in town and many small conference rooms that were ideal for training sessions.
Another bonus was that Gina Lollobrigida maintained a suite on the top floor. She was one of the highest profile, European actresses of the 1950s and early 1960s, a period in which she was an international sex symbol. Our managers and Associates were always glancing around hoping to get a glimpse of her.
One of my jobs was to sort the commission checks in descending order of amount. In 1962, George Tregea, managing a large structure of managers and supervisors in South America, usually had the largest check – about $40,000 (a month!). Lots of people were earning staggering amounts of money.
The GM’s of Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, etc. would drop into the office from time to time, and I’d put face to name and… monthly commission. It didn’t take me long to think that if they could do it, I could do it.
August: I helped coordinate a Supervisors Conference and met many of the Associates with whom I had been writing. Again, I began to feel I was missing out on something important; how else to earn significantly more money, enjoy the thrills of building a sales team; how else to get Stock Options?
I discussed going back to the field with Thad - he said he knew it was coming. I talked with Bernie. Of course, he encouraged me, but he was skeptical. I’d left the field to come to work in Geneva, and now I wanted to go out again.
He basically said that if I was going to succeed, great; but if I wasn’t, get it over with as soon as possible so I could come back and continue leading my growing Liaison Division.
I agreed and he assigned me to Mr. S. C. (Sam) Welker who didn’t have time to give me much supervision; it would be sink or swim.
And where would I be working?... Tripoli, Libya!
Bernie said, “I’ll give you a cash advance of $200 and a one-way air ticket to Tripoli via Rome. If you do well, you'll earn enough to buy a ticket back to Geneva and pay me back."
Talk about getting thrown in the deep end; Tripoli, Libya. I mean, really!
Sam was in Geneva for the Supervisors Conference and we met the next day.
Six foot four in his white, athletic socks, and much taller in his customary cowboy boots, Sam was a big man.
Sam was an oil man. Well, not really, but he looked like an oil man. Actually, he was an insurance broker for oil companies like Halliburton (think Vice-President Dick Cheney) and Schlumberger – the world’s largest oilfield services company which had field operations in North Africa. Sam sold insurance and re-insurance to these companies, and hob-nobbed with real oil men.
Sam was larger than life. His large home was in Flims-Waldhaus, Switzerland, up in the Alps south of Zurich. Flims was a few miles up the road from the little village of Chur, through which Hannibal marched his army, including war elephants, from Iberia over the Pyrenees and the Alps into Italy at the outbreak of the Second Punic War in 183 BC. The sidewalks of Chur have painted tracings of elephant feet!
Sam also drove a large Cadillac with a tall, whip antenna attached to the rear bumper!
He explained his IOS sales territory covered Libya, Egypt, and the islands of Malta in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between North Africa and Italy. His operation wasn’t very big – he concentrated on selling mutual funds to oil workers; Dean Brinkman, an American tennis player who had played at Wimbledon, was working under him in Benghazi, and Carl Iliff, his other trainee, was in Malta. Maybe they each made a sale a month… I would be most welcome to join the team.
I needed an atlas!
“What’s the market in Tripoli,” I asked.
“Mainly, American and British Embassy personnel, the occasional ex-pat, and anyone else who might float through.” He smiled. “You coming?”
“Yep.” I said. “I’ll fly to Rome on the 21st. Can you meet me in Tripoli on the 28th? I’ll need a decent hotel and a rental car.”
We shook on it and… my life took another new turn!
My time in Geneva certainly helped me focus. I was taking a big risk but I felt ready for it. As I said, if all those Associates at the Conference could build an exciting and rewarding life, so could I. Even if my work in Geneva was appreciated, there certainly wasn’t enough excitement.
It was Leap Year – I leapt.
I flew to Rome on August 21st and, using my Europe on $5 a Day, found a cheap, cute “pensione” – Pensione Riviera. I had never been in Rome before.
Starting at the Spanish Steps, I perused Via Condotti. Today it has an amazing number of Italian fashion retailers; in 1962, the most fascinating shop was Caffé Greco established in 1760. It is the oldest bar in Rome.
After dinner on Via Veneto, I discovered Pipistrello’s, a few doors down from the Excelsior Hotel.
It’s a night club named after a bat, and inside were a bunch of crazy Canadian school teachers. We got very drunk, danced most of the night away, and pledged to meet here every Leap Year. (Never did.)
I spent the rest of the week walking the city especially the Forum. I spent hours in the Forum every day. On the 28th, I flew to Tripoli.
Wikipedia: Libya: King Idris led the country into independence in 1951 and became its first head of state.
On 24 December 1951, Libya declared its independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris, Libya's only monarch. The discovery of significant oil reserves in 1959 and the subsequent income from petroleum sales enabled one of the world's poorest nations to establish an extremely wealthy state. Although oil drastically improved the Libyan government's finances, resentment among some factions began to build over the increased concentration of the nation's wealth in the hands of King Idris.
Sam meets me and we taxi to the Del Mehari Hotel.
The public areas are dark and dank, there are several ponds in the rambling lobby; it was too dark to see if there were fish.
My room is six feet by six feet with a three-foot by six-foot bed – less appealing than an Army cot – leaving a space of three feet by six feet in which to move about. A headless shower pipe, a small basin, and a dirty commode makes up the attached bathroom.
I leave my bag and head off with Sam to rent a car. I get a VW bug.
Sam says, “Well, that should suit.”
He gives me Martha’s (his wife) contact numbers in Switzerland, and leaves. He maintains a flat here but I don’t know where. (!) So much for my being “supervised.”
Thankfully, there’s a front desk guy at the hotel who shows me, on the map that came with my rental, where the U.S. and British Embassies are.
I walk around the corner, buy a pair of loafers, and an appointment book…in Italian – it’s in front of me now.
I turn to Agosto 28, Venerdi (Friday) and make my first entry: “11:00 AM, Arrived Tripoli.”
I made my first sale, a $12,000, Fund of Funds CAP (Capital Accumulation Program), on Monday evening at the U.S. Embassy. More appointments followed and on Saturday, Settembre 5, six presentations resulted in three sales totaling $35,200 in volume!
I had cockroaches in my room! Not bad… good!
I held the top of the shoe box (from the new loafers) in my left hand, and the bottom in my right. I’d get a cockroach under each and… on 3, would lift the boxes and they’d race to the wall! What else, there was no radio or TV.
I was told by the front desk man that the Del Mehari had been built by Italy’s Dictator, Mussolini, during WWII, as a brothel. The cockroaches had probably been here since then.
Wikipedia: On 10 June 1940, with the fall of France imminent, Mussolini officially entered the war on the side of Germany, though he was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity and resources to carry out a long war with the British Empire. Mussolini believed that after the imminent French armistice, Italy could gain territorial concessions from France and then he could concentrate his forces on a major offensive in North Africa, where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces.
No radio, no TV, no movie theatres, certainly no gay bars. I got out my international gay guide, Spartacus, and looked up Tripoli. Nothing except for a rather cryptic entry that said something like, “perhaps the easiest way to meet someone is to wear or carry a white flower and saunter the port.”
I did, and in no time a Mercedes pulled up and, risking all, I got in. I don’t remember any conversation; we drove a long twenty-five minutes out into the desert, pulling up in front of a long, low building. There was no landscaping, just endless desert. He led me inside.
The house was extraordinary - a huge, square, Roman-style edifice with colonnades on each side, surrounding a mosaic, roofless, courtyard. It looked to be an authentic Roman villa.
Suddenly, we were both very embarrassed. We returned to the car, and wordlessly retreated to the port. I leaped out, jogged back to the Del Mehari, and collapsed on my little bed – none the worse for wear, thank God!
I made my first Dover Plan sale on September 24 in the British Embassy. I didn’t have a clue what it was all about except that the currency involved was English Sterling instead of US Dollars. By the end of the month, I had transacted $37,200 in sales and had $53,200 that were pending completion.
Dean and I finally got together. We lunched on fresh calamari at a restaurant on the shore of the Mediterranean not too far from downtown Tripoli. He was a nice guy who looked like a tennis player. He was selling to ex-pat school teachers in Tripoli and Benghazi and doing rather well. He hardly ever saw Sam.
I needed some money. Sam sent me twenty pounds Sterling and invited me to lunch at his home.
On the 15th of October, we lunched. Sam gave me 25 pounds and, because I had been doing well, suggests I go to Cairo – he’ll pay my rental car and buy me the ticket to Egypt - 155 pounds! He said if I continued to do well, I should consider going to Malta after the first of the year.
My total sales in Tripoli were $98,600!
On the 18th, I picked up some sales materials from Sam and got a two-month, United Arab Republic visa, good for two months. This was getting fun!
October 21, I returned the VW, Sam picked me up at the Del Mehari and we went to the airport.
At 4:00 PM, I flew to Cairo, and checked into a clean hotel with telephones in the rooms!
The next day, I went to the U.S. Embassy. “Do you have a telephone list I could photocopy.” I asked.
“Oh no, I couldn’t do that.” the Receptionist said, quickly putting something on her desk into a cubby hole.
I went back to my room, got my raincoat, waited for noon, and returned to the Embassy. Sure enough, there was a different girl at the desk. Laying my raincoat over the edge of the reception station, I chatted, and then picked up my coat… with the telephone directory underneath!
Had breakfast at the Nile Hilton the next morning and made phone appointments.
The Nile Hilton
Presentations at both the Embassies yielded a number of sales. By the end of the month (one week’s sales), I had sold $82,400!
On the first of November, I met Nigel Helgerson, a nice, straight, young guy at The Safari, the best bar in the Nile Hilton; we lunched.
That evening we went to the Sound and Light show at the Pyramids.
Wikipedia: Egypt has among the longest histories of any modern country, emerging as one of the world's first nation states in the tenth millennium BC. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest worldwide.
[My mother used to take me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City when I was a very young teenager. Our cousin ran the Egyptian Wing and he would regale me with tales of the Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings.
[I have always assumed that Howard Carter was a distant cousin – he was the English archaeologist and Egyptologist who became world-famous after discovering the intact tomb of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, Tutankhamun (colloquially known as "King Tut" and "the boy king") in November 1922.
[So, besides the fact that everyone seemed to be wearing pajamas all day long in the city streets, this was an extraordinary culture and I was very interested in seeing the Egyptian Museum and other great sites.]
On the 13th, I reached the IOS career total of $310,000 – Senior Schedule! This would mean higher commission and the chance to become a Supervisor. Maybe Malta would be a great opportunity!
The same day, I met with the Assistant Agricultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy. He said a U.S. Senator was coming to Cairo and would be visiting ex-King Farouk’s farm, would I like to go?
Wikipedia: King Farouk (11 February 1920 – 18 March 1965) was the tenth ruler of Egypt from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty and the penultimate King of Egypt and the Sudan, succeeding his father, Fuad I, in 1936.
His full title was "His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and the Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan and of Darfur". He was overthrown in the 1952 military coup d'état and forced to abdicate in favor of his infant son Ahmed Fuad, who succeeded him as Fuad II. He died in exile in Italy.
His sister Princess Fawzia Fuad was the first wife and Queen consort of the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Farouk was enamored of the glamorous royal lifestyle. Although he already had thousands of acres of land, dozens of palaces and hundreds of cars, the youthful king often travelled to Europe for grand shopping sprees, earning the ire of many of his subjects. It is said that he ate 600 oysters a week. His personal vehicle was a red 1947 Bentley Mark VI, with coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi; he dictated that, other than the military jeeps which made up the rest of his entourage, no other cars were to be painted red. In 1951, he bought the pear-shaped 94-carat Star of the East Diamond and a fancy-coloured oval-cut diamond from jeweler Harry Winston.
(Many people’s impression was that I was a financial expert, temporarily visiting from Geneva, with special connections to the U.S. and British Embassies. Didn’t hurt.)
I said, “I certainly would.”
On the 17th, I met him on the steps on the Embassy. There was a motorcade of Cadillac limousines!
Rushing over to me, Mr. Parker said that the Senator hadn’t arrived from New York and would I take his place?
I got into the first car and we drove north nearly to Alexandria, some three hours.
The motorcade drew up outside a huge sign that arched over the road. On either side were acres of palm and citrus trees. We were met by a crowd of Egyptian dignitaries and I tried to hold my own against a barrage of questions –
“what did we want to see, which one is the Senator, etc.?”
Mr. Parker fielded the queries and we walked into the field. The citrus trees were mainly grapefruit. The evergreen, grapefruit trees were very tall, much taller than I would have thought, probably nearly 50 feet. Did you know that the grapefruit used to be called "the forbidden fruit?" True, thanks to Wikipedia.
The farm consisted of 2000 acres of fruits, Australian pine trees, peanuts (they turn the sand to soil in just two years), and 150 different species of cactus!
We went to the cactus section. There were some that looked just like Sea Urchins.
The farm director told me to put my foot about six inches away from one of them. It rolled over to my foot! I did it again - same thing! Amazing; it is called “Magnetic Cactus.”
[I didn’t think anyone had ever heard of it until I tried Wikipedia today. Wikipedia doesn’t mention it moving, but I saw it happen… twice! I assume that the spines that are underneath get sustenance from the ground through their tips because there were obviously no roots. The plant illustrated below in the Wikipedia piece does not look like the Sea Urchin-like ones I saw in Egypt.]
Magnetic Cactus Experimentally Demonstrates Mathematical Plant Patters. In 1991, Levitov proposed that lowest energy configurations of repulsive particles in cylindrical geometries reproduce the spirals of botanical phyllotaxis. More recently, Nisoli et al. (2009) showed that to be true by constructing a "magnetic cactus" made of magnetic dipoles mounted on bearings stacked along a "stem." They demonstrated that these interacting particles can access novel dynamical phenomena beyond what botany yields: a "Dynamical Phyllotaxis" family of non-local topological solitons emerge in the nonlinear regime of these systems, as well as purely classical rotons and maxons in the spectrum of linear excitations.
Crisscrossing spirals of Aloe polyphylla
But, of course!
The next day, I went to Shepheard Hotel to see this famous, journalists’ watering hole. The original Shepheard's Hotel was the leading hotel in Cairo and one of the most celebrated hotels in the world from the middle of the 19th century until it was burned down in 1952 in the Cairo Fire. Five years after it was destroyed, the new one was built nearby and was named the Shepheard Hotel.
Visiting this journalistic place, I was thinking James Bond, and started to imagine I was being followed. After all, I did make daily visits to the Embassies and very well might have become a “person of interest.”
One day I got so paranoid, that I jammed my hand under my jacket and twirled around into a doorway. I was sure someone behind me also spun around and ran away down the street. Ah well, fun in the Middle East!
On the 22nd, Nigel and I went to the Egyptian Museum.
Tutankhamun's burial mask is one of the major attractions of the Egyptian Museum.
All Nigel could say after seeing all the sarcophagi - “What a way to go!”
November 26, Thanksgiving Day; I went to The Safari Bar in the Nile Hilton. I met Peter Mansfield, the Middle Eastern Correspondent for London’s Sunday Times, and the author of a Penguin Series book on Egypt. I told him I was with IOS and he seemed very interested. We arranged lunch on the 28th.
Later, Nigel and I were having a drink in the Safari. About 5:00 PM, there was an enormous explosion – we looked at each other.
Congolese students had blown up the American Embassy!
On Saturday, the 28th, Peter Mansfield called. He really wanted a $12,000 FOF CAP but he was in Alexandria and couldn’t see me until Wednesday morning. I told him I was departing Cairo on Wednesday morning, could he meet me in the lobby of the Hilton no later than 8:00?
Peter said, “Yes.”
Sunday, Nigel and I went to the Citadel and into the Alabaster Mosque in the morning and rode camels at the Pyramids in the afternoon.
Mosque of Muhammad Ali
The great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha or Alabaster Mosque is situated in the Citadel,
commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha between 1830 and 1848
Wikipedia: The Giza Necropolis is Egypt's most iconic site. It is also Egypt's most popular tourist destination since antiquity, and was popularised in Hellenistic times when the Great Pyramid was listed… as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Today it is the only one of those wonders still in existence.
Tuesday, December 1, I picked up my air ticket for Rome, did my end-of-month paperwork – November 1964 - 11 Sales, $84,000 in volume, and met Nigel on the Hilton Roof for dinner.
Wednesday, December 2, I’m in the lobby of the Nile Hilton hoping to meet Peter Mansfield to close the $12,000 FOF sale. Just as I am heading outside for a taxi, he rushes up and… gets in the taxi with me! We did the paperwork on the way to the airport, and I went into the terminal as he took the cab back to town.
[In the ensuing years, I've told this story hundreds of times as part of motivational speeches I gave to conferences around the world. Many people took this to be “more motivational than factual” until one evening in London in 1970.
[I was hosting a party in my disco basement in Montague Square. Hundreds of IOS Associates and Managers were dancing their hearts out, when someone tugged my sleeve – Peter Mansfield!
[In a lull in the music, I took the bandstand and introduced him to the crowd. He repeated the taxi story, and jaws dropped.
[A spokesman for the crowd came to the microphone,
“Don’t tell us that all those stories are really TRUE! Absolutely Amazing!”]
Rome, Wednesday, December 2:
I am striding down the red-carpeted steps toward the large bar in the Excelsior Hotel; the bartender, watching, says, “Double Dewar’s on the rocks, Mr. Carter?”
I was more than surprised – I’d never been here before. Turns out that the bartender in The Safari Bar in the Nile Hilton had mailed his buddy my description and favorite drink. Such was travel in 1964!
Bliss Eldridge, a pal of mine from Lake Placid Club days in the 50s, worked in the U.S. Embassy and we met for a drink at the Café de Paris on Thursday. I sounded him out on Malta, he thought it would be a most interesting place to visit.
Friday, I wandered the so beautiful city, went to Pipistrello’s for a drink, and to bed early.
Saturday, December 5: I got up at noon, breakfasted, and continued my walking tour of this magnificent city – Victor Emmanuel Monument, Trevi Fountain, and the Colosseum.
Saturday night turned out to be a milestone. A couple of guys I knew from my previous visit in August took me out to dinner near Piazza Navona.
The restaurant, Artists’ Café, had a bizarre reputation – if you were young, friendly, and stayed very late, the chef would let you leave without paying. I didn’t believe it – it was true!
We went to Pipistrello’s. The following is word for word from my 1964 diary, 53 years ago:
“I met Sergio right away. He was absolutely beautiful. He didn’t speak English.
“He took my hand and led me outside to his tiny Fiat 600.
“ ’Hotel?’ he asked.
“I showed him the way.
“He said, ‘Dollars for benzina?’
“He took 2000 Lira ($3.20) out of my hand (that wouldn’t have bought much “benzina”).
“His body was virtually hairless but with black, very wavy – not curly – hair, huge eyes and lashes, wonderfully soft mouth – great kisser.
“Age 22, 5’10”, great smile, really perfect.
“Slightly heavier than A-1, but only by 10-15 pounds.
“Face is really remarkable – completely clear complexion, full lips.
“In hotel for 45 minutes.
“Wouldn’t let me buy him a drink.
“Found two crabs down there! That seems to be all.
“Said might be in Pipistrello’s again tomorrow night.
“It’s almost too good to believe.
“Read myself to sleep.”
Sunday: Diary says I went to Pipistrello’s. It doesn’t say anything about Sergio.
Monday, December 7, I boarded the train to Munich at 10:00 PM.
Diary says: “Met Chilean on train, 18 yrs, Ricky. Finally slept at 3:30 AM.”
Tuesday, December 8. After a beautiful trip through the Brenner Pass, I arrived in Munich, and checked into the Bunderbahn Hotel right inside the main railway station.
My diary says: “Nothing happening.”
December 9, Wednesday morning, with “nothing happening,” I took the train to Berlin, arriving at 11:30 AM. There was lots happening!
That evening, following a guide book I had bought in Rome, I went to see a drag show at the famous El Dorado.
Tranvestites (sic) at Berlin's "El Dorado" club - 1920s
“The "El Dorado" was situated at 29, Lutherstraße, and mainly attracted members of Berlin's high society, adventurous foreign tourists, and provincial artists and writers. It had a lavish floor show.
In 1931, It featured regular performances by the likes of Marlene Dietrich, and was widely known to be a regular venue for transvestites and transsexuals.
However, the golden age of the gay bar and club scene in Berlin was rapidly coming to an end. In July 1932, new Chief of Police Kurt Melcher began implementing the strict catholic policies of the new Von Papen government and announced “an extensive campaign against Berlin’s depraved nightlife”. All “amusements with dancing of a homosexual nature” were now subject to an earlier closing time of 10pm and many bars and dance halls turned themselves into private clubs in an attempt to sidestep the new laws.
In October 1932, the gay scene was dealt an almost fatal blow when the Chief of Police ordered a ban on same-sex couples dancing in public. It was the end for The Eldorado.
The Eldorado played a central role in I am a Camera – the 1955 film adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin.
Well, it was open in 1964, crowded and bustling with same-sex couples, but it wasn’t quite for me - everyone knew each other; I felt a real outsider and couldn’t make eye contact with anyone.
Wikipedia: Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood (26 August 1904 – 4 January 1986) was an English-American novelist. His best-known works include The Berlin Stories (1935-39), two semi-autobiographical novellas inspired by Isherwood's time in Weimar Republic Germany that were adapted into the acclaimed film Cabaret (1972); and his 1964 novel A Single Man.
Christopher Isherwood’s Haunts
Christopher Isherwood first came to Berlin in March of 1929, for a week’s visit with his friend, the writer W.H Auden, at the age of 25.
I had known Christopher Isherwood in London; we were introduced by Joel Grey who played the M.C. in Cabaret, the film. Christopher was also a great friend of Allen Warren, an excellent portrait photographer who was part of my London group (some would say “entourage”).
On his first visit, back in March, Auden had introduced him to a boy bar called The Cozy Corner, at Zossenerstraße 7. It was formerly a neighbourhood restaurant called Nosters and its interior was shielded from the outside world by a heavy leather curtain across the door.
Christopher Isherwood by Allan Warren
Speaking in the 1970′s, Christopher Isherwood said:
“Well, The Cozy Corner is now a dentist’s office, but I’ve heard the Kleist Casino is still the Kleist Casino.”
I went to Kleist Casino. Again, the place was a bit too much for me. Unlike Rome, these were full-fledged, gay bars with hustling guys, pretty boys, and undignified, older men. The atmosphere here in Berlin was frantic. I went on to Le Punch.
This place was more my speed; I picked up a cute, Chinese guy. Breaking my long-standing rule, I agree to go home with him. Normally, I don’t go to someone else’s place - I don’t like losing control.
We left after a couple of drinks and dances, and taxied far out into the unlit suburbs of West Berlin. I was nervous. Anyway, I paid the taxi, and went up the concrete steps of a pre-war apartment house.
We climbed several floors. He opened his door and… said “goodnight!” Slam! I couldn’t believe it.
It was 2:00 AM; I didn’t have a clue where I was; I didn’t speak the language. It may have been “Merde” in Geneva, it was “Scheisse“ here!
I went out on the dark street, and felt forlorn.
A taxi! I stepped in front of it; he stopped. Somehow, we found our way back to my hotel; it was 4:00 AM – I’d never break that rule again!
Up at 1:00 PM: Had a beer in the Hilton, taxied to Brandenburg Gate to see “The Wall,” then ordered two shirts at a shirt maker. Had dinner, and in no time, it was “club time.” I wasn’t going back to Le Punch – I might see the Chinese again. I went back to Kleist Casino. As I was a bit frantic, I seemed to fit right in.
I danced with a young, blond German called Hans. He had the tightest bell-bottom trousers I’d ever seen – very sexy.
A guy came up to me, “I recognise you from your ring. I’m the hat-check boy from the A&B in London. Name’s Dave.” The gay world is especially small.
Hans and I had coffee on “Ku’damm” – Kurfürstendamm, one of the most famous avenues in Berlin not very far from the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
I went home to bed alone at 6:00AM.
Friday, December 11: Up at 2:00PM and to the shirt maker for a fitting. The collars were too low. They’d be ready on Monday. Met Hans at Kleist Casino at 9:30; we danced. Dave was there with a guy from Maine, who is studying in Poland, whom he had met on an East Berlin tour bus earlier in the day. The tour sounded like a good idea. I went to bed alone at 4:30AM.
Saturday, December 12, I take a tour into East Berlin. I sat inside Checkpoint Charlie awaiting permission to enter the Zone. The East German propaganda leaflets were very persuasive in justifying the wall.
The bus proceeded; we stopped in front of a modern hotel. I no sooner got off the bus when a ten-year-old bellhop rushed up to light my cigarette. The small group of us walked to the entrance. It was locked. A man fumbled with keys, and finally opened the big glass doors. As I went in, he turned on the lights. This was all so weird - the place was a show piece for foreigners – a new hotel with a bar that never does business!
Met Hans at Kleist Casino, we danced, and I went home alone.
Sunday, my last full day in Berlin, I woke at 3:30PM, had a ragout snack; and an Irish Coffee with Hans at 4:30. We met again later at the Kleist Casino; I asked him if he’d like to visit me in Malta? He said he’d be thrilled.
Monday, December 14, I picked up my new shirts, and boarded the train to London at 11:00AM. I was in a 2nd-Class couchette. We arrived at Victoria Station by boat train from Ostend at 8:00PM. I checked into my old friend, the Morton Hotel in Russell Square.
I went to the A&B from 9:00 to 11:00, then The Place at World’s End – dead, then Le Gigolo – a new place but also deadish, and went home alone at 1:30AM. Welcome back to London. :-(
Tuesday, I went to the American Express on Haymarket – my bank and post office. I picked up my mail including a letter from Mom and Dad with $100. Went to the Golden Egg in Leicester Square for a gammon steak and eggs, then saw Goldfinger.
At cocktail hour, I went to the A&B, had a drink, said “Hi” to Dave, the hat-check boy I’d last seen in Berlin, and then to the theatre to see Agatha Christie’s, decades-running, The Mousetrap – great! Checked in to the A&B again, then home alone at 11:30PM.
December 17: In the Sterling areas of the world, IOS does business through its Luxembourg subsidiary, the International Life Insurance Company, and its subsidiary, the International Life Insurance Company (UK) Ltd., by offering the Dover Equity Plan Policy. The Dover Equity Plan Policy is a 10-year life assurance policy which offers the policyholder an opportunity to participate in the long-term growth of capital invested in commerce and industry.
Through the life assurance element, the policyholder has guaranteed death benefits. Through “Equity Units,” the policy holder is guaranteed a participation in the Company’s portfolio of investments underlying all Dover Plan Policies.
Only a very small percentage of the premium is needed to provide the guaranteed death benefit, the remainder of the premium is invested primarily into fully-managed unit trusts (mutual funds).
The Plan resembles an IOS Capital Accumulation Plan with Program Completion Insurance – CAPINS. Which is identical to the Dreyfus Fund SAPINS – a Systematic Accumulation Program with Program Completion Insurance.
Program Completion Insurance is the Guaranteed Death Benefit paid upon the death of the policyholder into the Program to pay up the outstanding monthly payments due to complete the ten-year program.
Say one has a One Thousand Pound Sterling Dover Plan. The plan calls for 120 monthly payments of 8.33 Pounds, or one hundred pounds per year. Assume the full first year’s premiums have been paid by the insured, and he dies. Upon his death, the insurance company will pay into the Plan the nine years of premiums not yet paid. The beneficiary then receives the guaranteed 1000 pounds plus the value of the underlying Equity Units.
Therefore, if the Equity Units grow at the rate as experienced in the past, the policy continually gains in value to help meet the increased financial needs of the beneficiary. For example, the value of Equity Units from October 1962 through January 1965 rose 45%! In 1965 alone, they increased 23.5% in value!
Why all this complication? You might ask why we didn’t just sell what we sell all over the world. Well, it is against the law to sell mutual funds direct to the public in the United Kingdom!
IOS got around this by turning a CAPINS upside down and making it a life insurance (“assurance” in the U.K.) policy with Equity Units. A brilliant piece of invention by IOS Manager, George Landau and his team.
With the Chancellor’s approval, IOS created the International Life Insurance Co. (U.K) Ltd. (ILI UK) in 1962 with its headquarters on Park Street in London.
I went to Park Street and met many of the managers and executives I had known from my Geneva days. They were all very excited I was going to open an operation in Malta – I would be selling the Dover Plan!
I met Gil Phillips, a very amusing salesman in a tight-waisted, furled-skirt, Savlle Row tweed suit. He called the flared jacket, “his crinolines.”
Gil was portly and bald, and a big queen. He was into boys in the Queen’s Royal Horse Guards Regiment.
He took me to Tattersall’s, a pub frequented by men of similar persuasion, and their “targets.” The Guards were straight but enjoyed the attentions of men who would pay them for favours. This was all new to me – I prefer romance.
We went to dinner. Gil had a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and he used to augment his IOS commission by taking American Ladies “of a certain age” around Europe in his lovely motorcar. He did very well. He had a flat at Belgrave Place, one wall of which was covered floor to ceiling with a fake tapestry – it was painted not woven. His fridge was filled with sparkling wine – the guards thought it was Champagne. So, his life was full colorful smoke and glittering mirrors.
After dinner, he insisted on returning to Tattersall’s and launching me in a new direction. He introduced me to Peter from the Royal Horse Guards, and said I must take him back to my hotel. Peter was 19, very naïve, and totally passive. After fifteen minutes of fully-clothed, blank stares and awkwardness, I sent him on his way with one pound to pay for his taxi back to the barracks. I went to sleep at 2:00AM.
I spent the next few days going to the A&B and the Rockingham - I enjoyed the camaraderie and the openness. I saw Mary Poppins, and got invited to Christmas dinner. My diary has me having regular fun with “Edward from Sao Paolo” whom I no longer remember.
December 22, Sam came to town and we did some strategic planning about Malta.
Sam said, “The IOS Board of Directors have approved the creation of the International Life Insurance Company (Malta) Ltd. as a subsidiary of ILI (UK), and a Maltese lawyer, Dr. J. Ganado, was taking care of the incorporation. We’ll meet him when I get to Malta.”
He went on to say, “Mr. and Mrs. John Shand are my best friends in Malta. Cable John when you know when you are arriving and ask him to book a room for you at The Phoenicia Hotel, the grandest in the country.”
In spite of all this, I had the distinct impression it was going to be another “sink or swim” situation.
At the A&B that evening, I met Wayne, a businessman originally from Chicago; he said he knew Bernie Cornfeld. He was a regular at the club and had a large following. I also met Colin Heather – wildly attractive and sexy. Bars and clubs closed at 10:30 in London those days, but every now and then there were “extensions.” Tonight, there was an extension at the Rockingham and I took Colin there.
Christmas Eve, some of us went to the Carlton Tower Hotel, a five-star beauty that was serving a special duck dinner with oysters and Rosé. Tonight, was A&B’s extension, Colin won the door prize.
Christmas, dinner with Wayne and several male beauties at his lovely apartment looking north onto Hyde Park.
Boxing Day, went to a race meeting at Brand’s Hatch; drove to Greenwich and went aboard the Cutty Sark; drove around London over Westminster Bridge, past Scotland Yard and the Parliament Building; into Westminster Abbey; visited the War Museum; had a drink at Trader Vic’s and tea at the Hilton. Went to the A&B – Colin arrived, we went to his flat in a snow storm, and stayed the night.
“Wonderful!” Jesse P. Peel (from Army days in Okinawa - the best so far) was displaced as my yardstick! Colin was the new benchmark!
December 27, Colin left my hotel at 8:30 that morning; I slept until 11:30. We met at the Baker Street tube station and went to Regents Park. We’d been invited for lunch by a friend of Colin who was an architect. His home was very modern - a detached, small, white, wooden house in the middle of the park. Extraordinary!
After a delicious chicken lunch, we retired to the drawing room in which a clavichord and a harpsichord were placed back-to-back. As gorgeous music filled the air, Colin and I spent the afternoon making-out on the floor underneath the instruments.
Ah, how brief the moment; how fleeting the idea - the next day I saw Colin with someone else at the A&B; ouch! I went back to the hotel with a friend of another friend.
December 29, I met Nigel, my pal from Cairo, with his girlfriend, Maureen, for lunch at the Golden Egg. We puttered around town and I took them for drinks to the Rockingham! They thought it was a nice gentleman’s club. Ha!
I met Wayne at the A&B and we had a marvelous dinner at The Hunting Lodge. We “did” the clubs and I went home alone at midnight.
December 30, my last day in London: Got my air tickets from BEA (British European Airways – a lousy airline that deserved to go out of business), said my goodbyes at all the bars, clubs, and dance halls, and my diary says I wrote thank you notes to many, including a note to Colin. I wonder what I said.
December 31: Arrived in Geneva at 1:20 and went to my apartment which I’d named Zabuton, and celebrated my return and the coming New Year with Jim Daly and others. Closed out the night at the Embassy, the Hippocamp (another gay bar), and Whisky à Go-Go. Bed at 2:30, alone.
January 1, 1965: Happy New Year! Up late, dinner at Auberge de Trois Bonheur (cute Chinese waiter), then Embassy, Hippocamp, and Whisky and bed at 2:30 AM, alone.
January 2: Wayne flew in from London, and Jim Daly and I had dinner with him at the Gentilhomme in Le Richemont Hotel. Wayne was rich. We took him bar hopping.
The next day, I packed up the Stasha Halpern painting I had bought from John Herbert in Paris in 1963 – my only piece of art with me at the time, and everything else I would need in Malta.
Le Richemont with the Jet d’Eau spurting over the trees on the right.
In the morning of January 4, I flew from Geneva at 1:30 PM and arrived in Rome at 3:00 PM. Checked American Express for mail, went to Café de Paris for dinner, Pipistrello’s for a drink and bed at 2:30.
Tomorrow, I'm off to Malta and the start of another new chapter in my life.
END OF CHAPTER FOUR
Untitled by Stasha Halpern
That summer, IOS created The Fund of Funds. Inevitably, when a fund performs well, people pour money into it until it gets so big, it loses its nimbleness and ability to grow in relationship to its carefully chosen, soaring stocks. Therefore, this year’s best performing fund would inevitably bog down with massive cash injections from hopeful clients, and not be next year’s best. The answer was The Fund of Funds whose portfolio continually consisted of the best performing funds. It was also diversification of diversification; that meant safety. Easy to sell.
Here I am at The Fund of Funds launch party, just behind Bernie who's talking with Bob Nagler and his wife. Bernie’s secretary is looking on. Bob conceived the concept and was the head of the fund.
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