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Mystical Journey

Gurdjieff Meets Christine Jorgensen

by Dr. Derek Lamar

I had no idea what a Fourth Way School was when I began. I went to a few lectures, found out about classes and met a lot of people. The first thing I observed was that everyone kissed hello. Yeah, on the lips with no concern for gender. Cool. I was immediately struck by Thane and his manner. There was something "real" about him. I didn't know anything about Gurdjieff so Thane being the student of this Russian mystic meant nothing to me. But there was a lot of talk of psychology and spirituality and metaphysics. I was no stranger to this. I had read some books on the occult, been involved with Transactional Analysis for a time, and had an overall sense of having been there doing that sort of thing before, even though I had no reason as to why I felt that way.

Right: Eloi-Sun(circa 1935) aka Rev. Wayne Walker aka Donald Wayne Walker aka Kenneth Walker aka Thane Walker aka Thane ("The Teacher") aka Thane of Hawaii (1909 ~ 1989)

It was like being transported to the Enterprise and everyone you passed in the halls seemed to have a job to do without regrets and everyone had a purpose and followed the dictum of such duty that it brought immediate pleasure. Michael didn't go with me to that first lecture. I would figure that one out later. But it wasn't long before Michael and I would come to heads and he would go his way and I would go mine. Suddenly "direction" had made its way into my life, even if only subliminally, and changes were happening as the pieces continued to fall into place.

This wasn't one of those cult groups with everyone wandering around in a hypnotic daze. What I began learning was that no matter what information you were presented with, it was up to you to prove it to yourself before accepting it. This, apparently, was straight out of Gurdjieff's handbook of rules regarding the study of the self, which I knew nothing about at the time. I wasn't a joiner, as they say, but suddenly "life" had brought me into a situation that felt comfortable and seemed to say that it was where I belonged. This was against my rebellious nature yet it was answering questions I had entertained for several years.

Hadda Brooks was a familiar personality among this Fourth Way group in Santa Monica. In many ways Hadda symbolized the human struggle with emotions and creativity and spiritual realization.*

One night I was visiting my actress friend and we all sat around the coffee table drinking wine and laughing and joking about things. Frank Ralston, the former vice president of ABC Television, was there. Barbara poured us all another glass. Frank could be as funny as Barbara Gates was beautiful and he was on fire that evening. In Frank's Texas twang he told us about losing his leg in World War II. That's not the funny part. He proceeded to relate the night his buddies nailed his foot to the floor while he was busy drinking and carrying on telling stories. Finally the evening came to a close and as they all got up to leave, Frank, of course, fell flat on his face.

Left: Hadda Brooks album "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere"

Hadda Brooks: "The Queen of Boogie" (1916 ~ 2002)

But it wasn't all just drinking and telling stories. There had been one go around where the discussion focused directly on the teachings that went on in this "Fourth Way School". Some of the discussion centered around the concept that there were people being born whom were called "proto mutants." These were children born around the time of the launching of Sputnik. This was man's first success at lifting himself up and being free from the gravity of this mudball, at least through his technology, and thus it represented a spiritual leap for all of consciousness as we knew it. Young people, having been born at that time, were "wired" differently. Their outlook, perceptions and creative abilities, as it pertained to thought and the forming of new ideas changed. These so-called "proto mutants" pretty much represented what is currently termed "the Indigo Children" or the "almond eyed children" referenced by Edgar Cayce in his writings. The important thing to recognize was that humankind is undergoing a tremendous change in consciousness. That change is reflected by our entering into the space age and triggering the knowledge that: "space, the final frontier," is a living reality.

I did feel different from other people. So I immediately identified with this line of thinking. It drew me into the material like a magnet. There was more discussion about classes that taught tools and techniques that allowed people to actually take charge of their life and make changes in ways that seemed supernatural. It was said that the teaching gave one the ability to prove to themselves what was real and what was not and how to make leaps in consciousness revealing who you really are in a divine sense. I was primed and ready to go.

Left & Right: Torch singer Johnnie Ray (Mick Jagger of the 50's)

Days later I got a call from Frank telling me that I needed to get over to the Teacher's house right away. I needed to speak with him. I changed my clothes and got in my '67 VW and drove over to Thane's house on Tower Grove. I would learn later that Frank's nickname was "helpful Frank" because he was always being "helpful" and getting things messed up. I arrived at the house and Thane sat down and we started to chat. Halfway through he got up to fix his drink. Frank leaned over and said: "Tell Thane about the time you got arrested for drugs and everything that happened to you." Thane returned and I told him the story of the Rivendell commune and how the house was raided and we were thrown in jail "Why are you telling me all this?" Thane acted annoyed. I felt like an idiot. But I didn't want to say: "Because Frank told me too." I knew at that point it would not make me look any smarter so I just sat in stunned silence and felt myself shrinking. I wished I were invisible. Odd that when we are young we so much want the focus on ourselves until a moment like this when we "fall on our face" and we wish the attention would turn to someone else.

Wild Party Near Sharon Tate's House~~~Sticky Fingers From BBQ Wings
Peggy Lee Yells "Is That All There Is?"

But the pain of moments like that didn't deter me and I continued my quest. A couple of weeks later Thane had a party at the house and the place was packed. The whole event was alive with activity. There was food and liquor, people swimming naked in the pool, music and unusual Hollywood types wandering around. Norma Keller, a personal student of Thane's was there in all her glory. She was the mastermind behind the BBQ'd chicken wings. A decision she and Thane would argue about later. Often there would be late night confrontations that rarely had to do with the events being discussed. It was usually dealing with the emotions within consciousness on an entirely different level.

Christine Jorgensen (above) and Right: Christine (left side) with singer Johnnie Ray in middle

Left to right: Norma Keller with Johnnie Ray,
Johnnie Ray with Judy Garland, Elvis with Johnnie, and Johnnie Ray alone .
Hollywood Blvd. Recording Star of Fame

Hadda Brooks, well known jazz and blues singer and close friend of Thane's was at the piano belting out a few of her numbers on the grand piano. One of the lines I will always remember was "I don't give a damn for lost emotions" from her song "This Is My Life." The crowds continued to move about as moods changed and songs played on. Marion Bell was there as well and she sang a few numbers. I remember being nearby when Thane got on the case of one young man, Calvin Harris, about his moustache. Something he was "hiding behind" and how it obscured his androgyny. Something clicked inside of me and I shaved off my moustache the next day. In Fourth Way studies it is revealed that Gurdjieff would sometimes discuss an issue with one particular student while in actuality it was being directed toward someone else in the room. I didn't know anything about that at the time but I felt its affect.

Later someone got up and introduced Johnnie Ray who was there. He went to the piano and performed some of his better-known songs. Johnnie Ray had been a torch singer back in the early 50's. He was famous for his song "Cry" and a lot of other hits. He was one of many who graced the famous Copacabana and would always ignite his audiences. But his presence wouldn't be the torch that set fire to this crowd. Instead it would be his friend and companion, Christine Jorgensen: the first "sex change" in modern history. This was great for a group who honored the divine nature of the androgyne. I ran into Christine a short time later at a club in Hollywood. I introduced myself and told her we had met recently at Thane's party to which she responded: "Oh yes, wasn't that party wild!" I agreed but I could hear myself musing: "It was wild alright because YOU were there!!!"

Left: Poster from The Christine Jorgensen Story. Below: Christine Jorgensen biography. Also Dare magazine with Christine Jorgensen article displayed.

Saga continues: Barbara Gates, Peggy Lee, Joe Williams, in The Hall of Mirrors.

© Copyright Derek Lamar 2004

Below is Shirley Bassey singing "This Is My Life" until I find the Hadda Brooks version.

Shirley Bassey's version is excellent of course.

*This Is My Life by Hadda Brooks ( Music written by B. Canfora, Original Italian words by A. Amurri,
English lyrics by Norman Newell. )

Funny how a lonely day, can make a person say:
What good is my life
Funny how a breaking heart, can make me start to say:
What good is my life
Funny how I often seem, to think I'll find another dream (or to think I'll never find a dream)
In my life Till I look around and see, this great big world is part of me And my life

This is my life
Today, tomorrow, love will come and find me
But that's the way that I was born to be
This is me, This is me

This is my life
And I don't give a damn for lost emotions
I've such a lot of love I've got to give
Let me live, Let me live

Sometime when I feel afraid, I think of what a mess I've made of my life
Crying over my mistakes, forgetting all the breaks I've had In my life
I was put on earth to be, a part of this great world is me and my life
Guess I'll just have to score, and count the things I'm grateful for In my life

This Is my life
Today, tomorrow, love will come and find me
But that's the way that I was born to be
This is me, This is me

This is my life
And I don't give a damn for lost emotions
I've such a lot of love I've got to give
Let me live, Let me live: This is my life This is my life This is my life

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