Korla Pandit
KUMAR. 1951
THE SWAN. 1951
Director: Louis "Duke" Goldstone

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Korla Pandit, an effeminate organist in sikh turban, sits at his organ playing the instrumental Miserlou (1951) with a statue of Buddha placed in the background of the set. A piano is at his left & at some point he will be playing the Hammond organ & the Steinway piano simultaneously.

MiserlouThe number is nearly five minutes long, which for a Snader telescription is quite long, most of them being around three minutes.

It sounds like it ought to be played live at a revival of some silent film starring Valentino set in the desert, or at a skating rink for little kids to skate around to. It's a tacky recording, but gads, I have to admit I like it. Lots. The fact that Korla looks like a girl trying unsuccessfully to pass as a young man is bewilderingly sexy.

Another Snader telescription starring Korla Pandit is the Kumar (1951) which uses the organ rather purcussively. It's a similarly hypnotic excursion not as fabulous as Miserlou, but once you get to like this guy's strangeness, anything he does is cool.

In 1949, he provided the music for the Time for Beany puppet show for early television, & had his own fifteen minute television show, local to L.A., Korla Pandit's Adventures in Music, on which show he never spoke, but only gazed just like in the Snader telescriptions.

This & other Snaders featuring Korla are presumedy fragments of his television show & not new productions original to Snader. The show in its entirety was known only regionally in California, but the telescriptions had broad distribution as filler programming for television stations nationwide, as well as for play on visual jukeboxes in Europe.

"All things to be desired are not to be compared unto him," said the mystic voice announcer of Korla Pandit's late-40s pioneering television series. The same introduction could as easily have been used for his Snader telescriptions, including the two & a half minute The Swan (1951). With one hand on the organ, the other on a piano, he plays the slow classical composition by Camille Saint-Saens.

The SwanReally the Saint-Saens number isn't all that much to boast about, but add the mesmerizing gaze of the lovely musician, & you have something kitschily aesthetic.

Korla concocted a tale of being born in New Delhi the son of a Brahman priest & a French opera singer. It was glamorous schtick only, & he was actually black, or a "yaller boy" for looking nearly white, born John Roland Redd in St. Louis. It was not revealed until after his death that he was in reality African American.

His exotic beauty is really something to see, & it's no surprise he was a popular performer in blues & jazz clubs, though he played neither blues no jazz really.

It doesn't seem even distantly possible such a girl of a boy could've been straight, but he had a great partnership with his wife Beryl June DeBeeson who helped concoct his image, making him "the godfather of exotica." Which doesn't mean they couldn't both've been bi; in fact, my fantasies insist on it.

Their circle of friends included notorious sadomasochists, transgender, bi, & gay fringe-celebrities such as the Amazing Criswell, Ed Wood, Richard Simonton, pretty much the entire Ed Wood circle. But that proves only that Korla didn't mind that weirdos found him greatly appealing.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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