bill hersey and gregory hines

Bill Hersey’s Partyline, November 1986

As you know, November is usually a very busy month for National Day celebrations. These are Algeria’s on the 1st and Benin’s the 30th. Panama’s Independence Day is the 3rd and Lebanon’s the 22nd. On the 7th the USSR celebrates the Great October Socialist Revolution; on the 29th, Yugoslavia, the Anniversary of the Proclamation of The Republic, and on that same day, Albania their Revolution Day. Our Belgian friends celebrate King’s Day the 15th and Oman the Birthday of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos the 18th. As you know I was not able to attend all these fantastic celebration, but here are some highlights.

Celebrating Panama’s National Day

On the 4th at noon there was a powerful and prestigious gathering of diplomats, businessmen and bankers at the beautiful penthouse apartment of Panamanian Ambassador Alberto A. Calvo. The occasion was to celebrate Panama’s National Day. That afternoon it was mint tea and Turkish sweets with Turkey’s top actress Hiilya Kocyigit, who was here as part of the Turkish Film Festival. She’s absolutely beautiful, super intelligent and a real joy to talk with. Watch for the interview I did with her in an upcoming column.

Kenzo Show at Spiral

Following Kenzo's colorful fashion show: Yohsuke Itoh, Yves and Simone Alemany and Mr. Itch — all of Kenzo K.K.
Following Kenzo’s colorful fashion show: Yohsuke Itoh, Yves and Simone Alemany and Mr. Itch — all of Kenzo K.K.

Kenzo’s show was scheduled that same day for 5 p.m. in the Spiral Building and there was “La Nuit de Paco Rabanne” hosted by French Ambassador and Madame Gilbert Perol in honor of Monsieur Guy Leyssene, President of Parfums Paco Rabanne, at 6:30. I knew I couldn’t stay for the Kenzo show, but did want to drop by and say hello to long-time friend Yves Alemany who heads Kenzo’s operations here, and introduce my associate Hans Shiga, who often buys Kenzo fashion and who would cover the show and take photos for me.

I arrived a little earlier than Hans, so asked one girl working at the show reception table if anyone spoke French as I wanted to make sure I would wear what was right to the French Embassy party and the invitation was all in French. Well; my friends, she let me know loud and clear: We don’t need French, this is Japan! We speak English!”

I politely mentioned that Yves is as French and fashionable as anyone could be and, if my memory served me right, Kenzo, a Japanese got his start in Paris. The funny part of it is I learned the girl’s name was Jung and she’s Korean. The pendulum seems to swing both ways.

Frankly, I would have not bothered writing all this if she hadn’t been so condescending to Hans when I introduced him. He’s a graduate of Boston University, comes from a very good family, is always polite and doesn’t in any way deserve that kind of treatment. Jang’s English may be good, but her manners aren’t—and that day she was certainly not a credit to Kenzo, Korea or herself. Kenzo’s fashions were great and you should visit his new Boutique.


Toto's Steve Parcaro with Ken of Lido Productions; at the Capitol Tokyu.
Toto’s Steve Parcaro with Ken of Lido Productions; at the Capitol Tokyu.

I had coffee with some of the members of Toto this a.m. and they promised to stop in at the Lex Tokyo after their Yoyogi concert – and they did! I had planned on going to a half a dozen parties around Roppongi, but things got so hectic at the Lex, much spent the evening there.There were some great costumes and members of Toto,and the heavy metal group Keel joined Gloria Askew, Nicola Askew (who makes a great Frankenstein) and a guest judge or two from Europe in choosing the most beautiful the most original, the most gross, the funniest and the best drag costumes. Great fun! Main photo, Above, center: the judges in the costume contest included Ron Keel, members of the rock group Toto and Udo Promotions’ Tak; Partyliner Bill Hersey was emcee.

Above, center: the judges in the costume contest included Ron Keel, members of the rock group Toto and Udo Promotions' Tak; Partyliner Bill Hersey was emcee.
Above, center: the judges in the costume contest included Ron Keel, members of the rock group Toto and Udo Promotions’ Tak; Partyliner Bill Hersey was emcee.

Thursday the 20th and trying to get this out before I head over to the Capitol Tokyu for the multi-talented Gregory Hines‘ dinner show. I actually stopped by last night, but only to say hello to a few Japanese showbiz friends I knew would be there. They told me later they really enjoyed the show and I’m sure I will as well.

Bill’s friends: Turkish actress Hulya Kocyigit

Turkish women are noted for their beauty. One merely has to see Aydan Nures, wife of the Turkish Ambassador, to see that. Even so, I was completely capitivated by the beauty, charm and intelligence of Turkish actress Hiilya Kocyigit whom I had the great privilege of interviewing at the Turkish Embassy recently.

Bill and Hulya Kocyigit
Bill and Hulya Kocyigit

Hulya was here to take part in the Turkish Film Festival, sponsored by Seibu Department Stores. One of her films, “Remedy,” was by far the most popular film in the Festival. Reminiscing, Hulya told me that her career as an actress started 23 years ago and she’s appeared in 157 films ranging from light comedy to heavy drama. Her first film, “Dry Summer” (1964), which dealt with the importance of a steady water supply to village life in Turkey, won the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival that year.

In her most recent film, “Frogs,” she’s a village widow who turns to catching frogs and selling them to support her family. Sitting there looking at Hiilya in her chic black leather suit and contemporary hairstyle, it was hard to visualize her in some of the parts she played, but her versatility, “many looks” and, of course, her ability to become so involved in the role she’s playing are what make her a great actress. Her next film project is the portrayal of a “hooker who wants to reform, get married, settle down and have a family” and the many problems she faces in trying to make this transition.

In addition to films, Hiilya has done considerable stage work and would like to get back to this, as it gives her the opportunity to really develop a rapport “with the people out there in the audience,” She also sings with her speciality being old traditional Turkish songs.

Hiilya has no regrets about her career, but says she’d love to spend more time with her I8-year-old daughter who, she said, “needs me now.” In recalling her own childhood, she said, “I hardly remember being a teenager. First I was a child and then a very busy actress and, before I knew it, an adult.” Her daughter acted in three films as a child, but really isn’t interested in pursuing an acting career.

Recently, Hulya has gone into film production and hopes to expand on that. Her husband, to whom she’s been married for 19 years, is also a producer. There are about 40 production companies in Turkey.

They, like in other countries, produce a lot of commercial films that involve sex, action and violence, as this is what the young audience seems to want. She told me the video market is developing in Turkey but, as yet, the quality of video films is not very good.

In respect to the film business in Japan, she best knows and highly respects Kurosawa as a director and Mifune as an actor. She’s always had a keen interest in Japan, but has been so busy she didn’t get to see much — “although we did get down to a festival in Kamakura on Culture Day, and I loved that.”

In closing, Hillya expressed a feeling I certainly share: She feels that films are really a way to see the customs, lives, problems of other countries and people, and can go a long way in creating better understanding among the peoples of the world. “I hope that Turkish films can be shown all over the world,” she told me and added, “that would do so much to help others know my country and my people.”

An exceptional actress, a super lady and it was certainly a privilege to get to know her. Hulya gave me her address and phone number in Istanbul and said she and her husband would like to show me around when I’m there. I may well take her up on that. We already know how sincere Turkish friendship and hospitality are through Ambassador Nurver Nures and his wife Aydan.

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