Betty Crocker, Suki, Derek London & John FluevogThursday, August 23, 2007
As a little boy I drank Toddy in Buenos Aires. This "fortified" chocalate drink came as a powder that I mixed with milk. The product was advertised as the drink that made Tarzan powerful. When Toddy announced on the weekly Tarzan radio show (naturally Toddy was the sponsor) that it was bringing Tarzan from deepest Africa for an exclusive parade on Avenida de Mayo I asked my mother to take me. My grandmother immediately pointed out that since it was in the middle of a cold August Buenos Aires winter this man could not be the authentic Tarzan as as he could not survive in our cold. I told my grandmother, "Of course he can, he drinks Toddy." And that is how I saw (from far away, there was a large crowd) the authentic and one and only Tarzan.
Rebecca does not quite know if she can believe me when I tell her that some years ago I managed to photograph Betty Crocker when she came to town. She is ambivalent as her mother has told her that Betty Crocker never existed.
I thought the same about three Vancouver persons who were and are an institution. In the late 70s Mac Parry, then editor of Vancouver Magazine told me to go and photograph Suki. At the the time the exclusive salon for women with money was on Robson. I could not believe that Suki actually existed. In the 80s and early 90s I would pass the salon on Seymour called Derek London. I would peer through the window as the female hairdressers of that establishment were unusually beautiful. Sometimes there would be portraits of women at the window that were signed Derek London. I was a bit confused.
Who was Derek London? And was he also a photographer. I soon found out this was the case as I was told by Vancouver Magazine to photograph Derek London. He was a charmer and we shared an interest in the photography of women. A few years ago Derek London closed his establishment and I would have guessed he moved to some South Sea island to drink gin slings and take pictures of women. That was not the case as London relocated to 1075 Mainland Street (604-684-5905).
It was last year that I took some series of posters advertising "We Shop The Line" for Canada Line. One of them was a person I was convinced did not exist. I had never seen John Fluevog. But whenever I walk on Granville I have always stopped at John Fluvog's shoe store.
There he was on Granville posing for my photograph. And I would have never imagined him to be over 6 ft tall.
A couple of years ago I got to photograph Suki again. This time it was at her Granville at 16th shop.
While I am now sure that Tarzan does exist I can assure you the Great A&W Root Bear did exist. She is very beautiful and when I last saw her she was driving a white Mercedes in Vancouver. How do I know this? Well you see there was this French Canadian singer called Rene Simard and......But that's another story. Or that living Kerrisdale man who was one of the two designers of our Canadian flag.