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YV Media interview with "First To Leave The Party" Author & Entrepreneur Salah Bachir

YV Media: Tell us a bit about your memoir "First To Leave The Party; My Life with Ordinary People... Who Happen to be Famous"?

Salah Bachir: I wanted to write my memoir uniquely as a compendium of stories about the remarkable individuals I have encountered through philanthropic and fundraising endeavors, art collecting pursuits, and insider status in the film industry. Within its pages there are intimate connections with luminaries such as Muhammad Ali, Liberace, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Warhol, Eartha Kitt, Aretha Franklin, Marlon Brando, Orson Welles, and so many others, all portrayed through a lens of profound empathy.

YV: Through the book, you come to realize that some people, despite their tough exteriors, reveal their true warmth when trust is established.

Salah: I think my friend David Hajdu, the New York Times bestselling author of Lush Life and Positively 4th Street, put it best:

“Why would so many great and powerful people warm up to Salah Bachir? Clearly, for comfort in the personal warmth that permeates this lovely memoir of his life among the famous, as well as the sensitivity and intelligence that make this something extraordinary: a celebrity book without fawning or hype.”

YV: Share with us one of your favorite moments that you wrote about in the memoir.

Salah: Bringing homemade Lebanese food to Ella Fitzgerald when she was performing in town and staying in touch and hanging out with her while she cooked for me. How she was concerned about my diabetes while battling diabetes herself. There’re so many stories like this sprinkled among 54 chapters, including hanging out with Doris Day, who gave me advice on my love life and pet ownership, and taking Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward on a road trip to Niagara Falls.

YV Media: Who are some of the entertainers that we can expect to read stories about in your book?

Salah: You’ll read about Marlon Brando stopping by for a barbecue; Elizabeth Taylor trying on my pearls; Princess Margaret lighting my cigarette, Princess Diana showing how it’s done; Bette Davis towering over them all; Mia Farrow as a flight of grace, Harvey Milk setting me free while I was still at university, and ending with k.d. lang singing at my wedding. I also talk about my affairs with Keith Haring and Edward Albee. You can read the chapters in any order and still get the big picture.

YV: How did you and Jami Bernard team up to write the memoir?

Salah: We have been friends for over 30 years, ever since she was the film critic for The New York Post and New York Daily News. I have long admired her work, and she was present at many of the events we cover in the book. It was natural that I should reach out to her. We had a great time collaborating and became much closer.

YV: You are an accomplished entrepreneur and author; however, tell us how you began your career in publishing.

Salah: Videomania and Premiere were our first publications when the new home video market arrived on the scene in the early ’80s. It was more about the latest hardware trends in the industry and the movie releases onto video. Our first issue covered the upcoming Internet and the incoming information highway. We covered video art and ran reviews of movies and interviews with the stars and filmmakers as more titles became available on home video.

I have since published some of the best-read magazines in Canada, including Premiere, Famous, and Cineplex magazines in both English and French.

YV: What is the main goal of your multimedia company Phamous Characters?

Salah: Phamous Characters is involved in digital media, marketing, naming rights, sponsorships, and publishing. We also run numerous charitable events in capital campaigns.

YV: You are an avid art collector, with more than 3,000 pieces from Canadian artists in your collection. When did you first discover your love for art?

Salah: I have always loved hanging around artists. Collecting art became an addiction. My husband and I love to donate art to public spaces — not only galleries and museums but also hospitals, community centres, and universities, so it can be seen and appreciated by others.

YV: Are you currently working on any projects that you can share with us?

Salah: I will continue my work as an honorary patron of the 519, one of the oldest and most renowned queer community centres in the world.

I am also working on The Woodland Cultural Centre capital campaign. The Woodland Cultural Centre serves to preserve, promote, and strengthen indigenous language, culture, art, and history. The late Robbie Robertson of The Band served as honorary campaign chair. The Centre is part of the Six Nations of the Grand River reservation just outside of Toronto. Robertson frequently visited there as it was the birthplace of his mother and still the home of a large extended family.

YV: What are your social media handles?

Salah: You can find me as Salah Bachir on Facebook and LinkedIn and as @pasha_bachir on Instagram.

Publicity Photo Credit: George Pimentel

*The book is also available everywhere books are sold


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