Friday, June 27, 2014

I Pursue Her Still: Bern Porter on Anais Nin


Bern Porter’s Wild Sexual Life with Anais Nin or Wild Imaginings?
by Steven Reigns, www.stevenreigns.com


In the late 1990s, Bern Porter, a physicist turned avant-garde publisher in the 1940s, did a series of interviews that became books published by Roger Jackson. These staple-bound, premium paper stock, ink-illustrated editions were formatted in a Q&A style conducted by one Natasha Bernstein, a presumed pseudonym for Sheila Holtz, who was Porter’s live-in companion. In these “interviews,” Porter tells fantastic tales of Nin’s sex life with him and with others.
The first in this series, My Affair with Anaïs Nin, starts off with Porter meeting Nin in the fall of 1935 at an open house conducted by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. He states how Nin made passes at three men and a female, all of whom declined her advances. Porter writes that Nin then sat next to him, drinking tea with one hand while the other hand, under the table, had “a full grip on my penis…very hard and very big.” This scene ends with Porter and Nin getting up to leave the party. According to Porter, Toklas had been watching the scene under the table and “made beckoning signs to me.” As he says goodbye to Toklas, she opens the front of her dress, unzips his trousers, and rubs him between her legs until he ejaculates on her. Nin and Porter then walk a couple of blocks quietly, because Nin “knew what she wanted… It wasn’t necessary to talk,” to a bar with an “hour room.” Porter goes into great detail about the sex he had with Nin, her washing his penis, and her overgrown mass of public hair. Most serious Nin readers would see this story as suspect at best, but those familiar only with the public reputation evoked by her name may find it fitting. What is the reality?
Gertrude Stein was known to be jealous. Would she have let such a scene transpire between Porter and Toklas? Linda Simon, Toklas’s biographer, states, “I have no evidence that Alice had sexual relationships during the time she lived with Stein, or ever with a man” (personal communication). Anaïs’s very presence at the open house is suspect. Looking through the original diaries housed at UCLA, there is no mention of the event in the journals numbered 36, 48, and 49. These journals were searched for falls of 1936, 1935, and 1937. Nin chronicled almost all activities, and it seems nearly impossible that she would not have mentioned attending one of the well-known Stein and Toklas gatherings. One suspects she would have at least mentioned Bern Porter, but his name is absent.
Even the time of this particular story comes into question. According to Porter, the open house started at 4:00 PM. Porter claimed he walked with Nin to the bar at about “quarter after five,” and later states that “She’d been playing with my penis for the better part of an hour” under the table. This means that Nin’s unwanted advances with the three men and one woman all took place within fifteen minutes before she sidled up to Porter. The chronology doesn’t add up.
The second section of this book consists of Porter recounting a meeting with Nin in New York in the winter of 1937. Once again, there is no record of this in the original unpublished diary, numbered 49. He mentions her printing press and the living situation with Hugo. The rest is details about having vaginal and anal sex with Nin.
The series of books in which Porter recounts his “affair” range from Nin orally servicing a line of 40 gay men after a reading in a private home in San Francisco to Rupert arranging lesbian orgies at their house in Silver Lake.
Margo Schevill, widower of Porter biographer James Schevill, believes “Porter did exaggerate details and embellished the truth” (personal communication). Margot Duxler, author of Seduction: A Portrait of Anaïs Nin, said, “[It] made me laugh. It certainly wasn’t the Anaïs I knew. Nor the Rupert I knew!” (personal communication). Tristine Rainer, once a confidant of Nin and now working on a memoir of their friendship, says, “I think the story about Anaïs servicing all those guys sounds spurious; she was too much of a romantic for it to ring true” (personal communication). Duxler confirms, “Anaïs may have used her sexuality as a means to connect with others but connection was the main dynamic…orgies just don’t sound like her at all” (personal communication).



One has to question why Bern Porter would bother to tell such stories. One theory could be that the validity of Nin’s diaries were being questioned at the time of the interview. Maybe Porter saw the unreliability of Nin’s diary narration as an opportunity to spin his outrageous tales. There is no evidence Nin and Porter ever actually had sex. To determine this definitively would require a detailed page-by-page reading of the original diaries. Given the numerous accounts of affairs, one can’t help but think not all the sexual encounters Porter clams to have had with Nin could be fabricated. In the book Questions about Henry Miller No One Ever Asked Me—With Answers, Porter is directly asked about having a sexual relationship with Nin. He only recounts one incident at the printing press. Maybe this was true, but why the fisherman’s tales? Porter, lonely and living in Belfast, Maine, could have wanted to enhance his reputation and desirability to other women by sharing stories about his sexual connection to Nin. Margo Schevill states, “Women found Porter charming.” Physically speaking, he was not very fit or conventionally attractive. By his own account, he was well endowed and sexually skilled. In the first book, we are given a glimpse of the relationship between Porter and the interviewer, “Natasha Bernstein,” after she responds to Porter’s claim that he penetrated Nin anally. “Don’t say ‘mm hmm!’… You see,…it’s clear that whatever I did to Anaïs I have done to you.” The interviewer could have omitted this, and yet it was left in, a moment when even she is aligning herself with Nin’s sexual linage. In an introduction to another book in the series, she states Porter and she are no longer in a romantic relationship.
In the only biography on Porter, Where To Go, What To Do, When You Are Bern Porter, by James Schevill, Porter talks of always being in love with Anaïs Nin but does not mention anything about a sexual relationship with her. Schevill records Nin’s inscriptions written to Porter in her books: “I am learning from your books now” to “With admiration for the way you fuse science and literature” and “Your dual activities, poetry and science are the future synthesis.” These could be seen as evidence of closeness, although in the UCLA special collection is an undated letter on Bern Porter’s stationery giving an address in Alabama. He writes, “Not sure if you still provide autographed copies of your books now direct from you. If so, I’ll buy if autographed to me personally.” He then lists the new titles he’d like.
Porter, though once a scientist by trade, had an interesting concept of the female anatomy and seemed a bit fixated on Anaïs’s in particular.
In a letter postmarked August 29, 1990 to Henry Miller biographer Mary Dearborn, Porter writes that Nin had “an examination by a Russian doctor early—that her anatomy would never allow pregnancy or pills, diaphragms, salves never needed. Resulting in an incredible sex life—4-6 lovers a week at some periods male and female.”
Porter states in The Silver Lake book that Nin had her first orgasm with him. This is a claim that Rupert Pole, Nin’s second husband, once made. Perhaps this was a line Nin had given to more than one lover. Porter states e.e. cummings had sex with Nin and was concerned about her inability to orgasm.
In A Sex Oriented Woman, Porter claims that “Three separate medical authorities stated from the evidence men penetrated Nin from 12 to 16 and as many as 20 times a week for a period of 3-8 months.” One questions how an authority would make such a determination, and if so, why they would release medical records to Bern Porter. In this volume he states Nin never had a natural orgasm, a direct contradiction to his earlier statement in the Silver Lake book. This isn’t the only alarming contradiction, since he also states that “I was not in Paris in the 1930s,” though he “visited later.” The basis of the first book is on his meeting Nin at Stein’s and Toklas’s house in 1935.
In Part IV, the book describing the Silver Lake days, Porter conveniently states how he cannot recall the names of the people he knew attending the parties at Nin’s house. He also mentions that Nin stated, “We will not be going into my bedroom…” This is curious since the floor plan of the house is open and the bed is visible from the kitchen table. The only thing separating it is a folding partition that was usually kept open.
These editions were published by Roger Jackson of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Jackson’s primary interest was in Henry Miller, and he respected Porter’s “publishing and promoting Henry Miller with small, unique editions.” This led to the publication of the interview series and other volumes written by Porter ranging in topics such as food, O.J. Simpson, and Monica Lewinski. Even at the time of publication, Jackson had doubts about the validity of Porter’s stories, but he had also questioned the veracity of both Nin and Miller. Jackson told me that “[Porter] wrote what he wanted, I printed it as received” (personal communication). He published the interviews as a series over a two-year period, publishing them as they came in and does not know why Sheila Holtz used a pseudonym. Though inside each book is a listed number of copies printed of each edition, Jackson states that was the maximum number he’d print, but he never reached that number. “There were never more than 100 copies actually printed/published of the Affair with Nin books and as a result my books are rarer than one would expect reading the colophons” (personal communication). These books were sold to collectors and a few universities. He does not have plans to publish them in a single volume.
As one ages, memory recall, always a slippery element, becomes less reliable. Details become vague. Sometimes with memory, stories are exaggerated to produce interesting “facts.” Repeated retelling sometimes causes the spinner to believe their own tales. Natasha Bernstein writes in the introduction of My Affair with Anaïs Nin: San Francisco Days that although Nin is “the luminary in this relationship…it is really Bern who surfaces as the personality—or—personage—in these chronicles.” This is one fact we can be sure of.



Works cited

Porter, Bern. I Pursue Her Still: Bern Porter on Anaïs Nin. Ann Arbor: Roger Jackson (1997).
Porter, Bern, and Bernstein, Natasha. My Affair with Anaïs Nin (Part I: Paris-New York Days). Ann Arbor: Roger Jackson (1996).
----. My Affair with Anaïs Nin (Part II: San Francisco Days). Ann Arbor: Roger Jackson (1997).
----. My Affair with Anaïs Nin (Part III: Berkley Days). Ann Arbor: Roger Jackson (1997).
----. My Affair with Anaïs Nin (Part IV: Silver Lake Days). Ann Arbor: Roger Jackson (1998).
----A Sex Oriented, Woman Connected Guy Doing His Own Thing:
Bern Porter on Henry Miller, a Manuscript Sampler. Ann Arbor: Roger Jackson (1996).


 http://www.artsjournal.com/artopia/porter.jpg















This article was originally published in A Café in Space titled Bern Porter’s “Affair” With Anaïs Nin Fact or fancy?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Eric Lloyd Wright Retrospective May 17, 2014



Eric Lloyd Wright , Frank Lloyd Wright's grandson was also Anais Nin's brother in law. Rupert Pole's mother married his father Lloyd Wright  after his parents divorce. Rupert's half brother, Eric Lloyd Wright designed Nin's "House of Light" in Silver Lake.

Thanks to Suzanne Graeber for sending on this information. Apologies for the slap dash cut and paste of this post. We thought it more important to get the information out since the show will be up for just a week.

Stop by the opening tomorrow:

3939 Cross Creek Rd., #D130, Malibu, CA. MLY Gallery Malibu Lumber Yard - in case U can't see the flyer above.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eric Lloyd Wright is an American architect and the grandson of the famed Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright was born in Los Angeles on November 9, 1929 to Helen Taggart and Lloyd Wright(Frank Lloyd Wright Jr.), a landscape architect and architect who was the eldest son of Frank Lloyd Wright Sr. Educated at the University of California, Los Angeles, Eric worked in his grandfather's (1948-1956) and father's (1956-1978) firm as an apprentice before establishing his own firm, Eric Lloyd Wright Architects and Planners, in 1978.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Guestbook Musings


"I am the keeper of fragile things and I
have kept of you what is indissolvable."
Anais Nin

When our guestbook was inaugurated in 2004 within the first hundred days of the site going live we had had posts from  Manchester, Santa Domingo, Gothenburg, Ohio, California and Texas, Chicago and Lima. The post from Lima was from Daniel Saenz More written on Nin's birthday, February 21, 2004.


Daniel Saenz_More
My grandfather was Ernesto More Barrionuevo, Gonzalo's brother. The More Barrionuevo family was an important family of artists and journalists in Peru. They were investigators and assistant at movement of Vanguard in Paris and Peru. Gonzalo was married with Helba Huara, and he became to be a great artist, but their works have not come to be very acquaintances because seems that in truth never he interest to do it. Precursor of the postmodernismo? Gonzalo is best known by its romance with Anais Nin and its friendship with Paul Eluard and Cesar Vallejo, the great Peruvian poet that wrote the part too important of its work (" Human Poems") in the atelier of Gonzalo. Nevertheless, Gonzalo was an artist that believed and the art lived on. Even I conserve some letters of Gonzalo in which declares its large dreams to integrate the arts. I hope the day arrive in which we can know the true magnitude of its contribute. 

Because of spammers, the Guestbook was forced to close down in 2009. Even though we initiated a number of security and safety measures and had three rotating moderators, the porn and crazed spam messages proliferated and both enraged and saddened our web Amazon being who purged the site daily over morning coffee, carefully allowing the wonderful posts that appeared to be read. Even though the posts couldn't go live, they still had to be quite literally scraped off each morning anew. Despite Nin's dictum of when being trapped in destruction, opening a window to creation, alas, our web maven being threw in the towel and went back to enjoying her morning coffee without thinking of the pornographic spammers. We applauded her choice and copied what we could of past messages.

We are sorry we were unable to communicate with Daniel Saenz More in 2004 however, if anyone is interested in contacting him, before we disable the last vestiges of the guestbook, we can send on the email he used almost a decade ago, perhaps the letters he mentioned of Gonzalo's have been published.

In searching for information on Daniel Saenz More, we found a number of posts (this one below with 604 comments! ) from Perutravelnow.com. Perhaps he could be contacted through this site or through Facebook
@Daniel Sáenz More or his other travel writings if indeed this writer's grandfather was Gonzalo's brother!


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Spirit of Place: A New Italian Site Luoghi d'Autore: Private World Maps of Famous Authors Features Anais Nin



“Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonably clear. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life; those maps of our private world we use every day; here I was happy, in that place I left my coat behind after a party, that is where I met my love; I cried there once, I was heart sore; but felt better round the corner once I saw the hills of Fife across the Forth, things of that sort, our personal memories, that make the private tapestry of our lives.”  ― Alexander McCall SmithLove Over Scotland




As readers of Anais Nin know. Anais writes effortlessly about her private world maps in her Diaries.

A new site, Luoghi d'Autore writes about this gift in their new blog. We look forward to the upcoming articles on Nin's experiences in Bali and later, Mexico and Japan.

We relate to the Fez connection. When in Fez staying at Riad 9, we carried Xeroxed copies of her Fez writing and shared with friends we were traveling with-all were enraptured by Nin's writing and her ability to describe so accurately the labyrinthine nature of the streets we were walking. It was as if she was beside us
as a timeless spirit of place guide.



                                                          www.luoghidautore.com

 The goal of our new site - Luoghi d’Autore - is to link the world of tourism to the literary  passions of artists known and unknown.  Luoghi d’Autore explores the complex relationship between a place, its landscape, its people, and artists who has chosen a specific destination as  their  ideal place to create a work of art. We believe that the sensitivity of artists provides them  with the ability to describe the spirit of a place. We always look for a connection between a trip  and a literary work, between locales and art. An example is the journey of Anaïs Nin to Bali;  we made the same trip while reading her Diary 7, her article The Spirit of Bali,  and the book A  House in Bali of Colin McPhee (Anaïs Nin loved it); in Sanur we stayed in the same hotel that  Nin had chosen.  It was a very special experience.

We  have  already  published  two  articles  on  her  trip  to  Morocco  (Anaïs  Nin  e  la  magia  del Morocco)and  her  stay in Los Angeles  (Anaïs Nin a Los Angeles:  gli  ultimi anni  raccontati  da Barbara Kraft). We will publish an article about her experiences in Bali and are working on  her trips to Mexico and Japan. We try to discover and describe a place through an artist’s eyes  and to explore the inner world of that artist through the places they visit. The aura of travel is  beautifully  described  by  Anaïs  Nin’s  writing  on  Fez in  Diary  7.  She  writes “The external life  matches or harmonizes with the inner one. Fez did. It matched the dreams, so I was able to unite  them. That is why it is so important to create the outer life to match one’s inner longings, so that  they reach a marriage.”

Emanuela Riverso
https://www.facebook.com/public/Emanuela-Riverso

Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy Birthday Anais!


Anais circa 1934 source blog post These Little Words

"I knew a woman lovely in her bones"
Theodore Roethke
from the poem

born February 21, 1903

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;   
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:  

Monday, November 04, 2013

Always Your Fan: Interview with Barbara Kraft on Anais Nin: Her Last Days


Alerting readers of this blog of a interview with Barbara Kraft we mentioned earlier in the blog, now available on You Tube




I am in the midst of watching it now, and wanted  to share it with fans,
who I bet like me, say Nin to rhyme with Tin, enchanting to hear Kraft refer to her as Nin sounds like Neen!

Wonderful interview with author Barbara

Actual You Tube link is below for those who may be frustrated by non link in years to come!
if servers change.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Barbara Kraft Interview: Santa Monica Public Access Station 10/2/2013

Barbara Kraft

former reporter for Time magazine

Former reporter for Time magazine and contributor to the Washington PostUSA Today and Architectural Digest, whose interviews with leading literary figures Henry Miller, Anais Nin and Eugene Ionesco have been published in scholarly journals; classically-trained pianist and author of radio plays and opera libretti, she has written concert program notes for the Music Academy of the West, Pasadena's Ambassador Auditorium and UCLA's Center for the Performing Arts; producer and narrator for KCRW’s 2006 documentaryTransforming OC, on the opening of the newSegerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, California


For those blog readers in the Santa Monica area, Barbara Kraft will be interviewed for a half hour over Santa Monica 's Public Access station which goes to Time Warner users in Santa Monica tomorrow. She 
will be discussing her beautiful paperback edition of Anais Nin; The Last Days which has just
been published by Pegasus Books.



Please remember to purchase the book on Amazon so you can post a review that notes you are an authenticated buyer. Of course it still makes a great gift and even if you have already read the electronic version, think seriously of buying a copy for your local library. Help make this gorgeous paperback a best seller on Amazon so they will consider making an audible version.