Here's the story behond the Vancouver video taping, written by Dennis Del Torre
When Bukowski arrived in Vancouver in 1979, his legend preceded him. He’d been here 2 years previously and sold out. But unfortunately there was no record of it I could discover. I had attended it with hundreds of others. It made such an impact on me that afterwards I gathered a coterie of friends who hadn’t been there and set up a private showing at “The Western Front” where it had been held. Upon arriving we sat down and the manager went to find the tape and play it. Well, when he returned he looked perplexed and slightly disconsolate. “I’m sorry” he said, “ there isn’t any record of the tape. It seems that it’s gone missing, lost or stolen.” What could I do? I decided to write Bukowski and tell him what had happened and if he would be willing to come back and try it again. Would he do another reading? This way my friends would get to see him live and I would film it and make sure that his visit would be recorded for posterity.
He answered and said yes, he would come back. I had my answer. I had a lot of work to do. What followed were 7 months organizing flights and hotel and renting a hall and advertising and so on. I set the date October 12, 1979 because the summer would be long over, everyone would be back in the city. It was set for a Friday night.
Hank and Linda Lee Beighle (later to become Mrs. Bukowski) arrived the night before. There was a dense fog that night and they were forced to land 50 miles away in Abbotsford and were bused to Vancouver International. My wife and I were there to greet them. I was sweating bullets, as they say. They came through arrivals several hours late – but, they were here! We took them to their hotel, The Sylvia; a heritage building, where they freshened up and we went out on the town and got to know each other.
The reading was set up at an old hall in the Downtown Eastside on Hastings Street. It was a hall used for weddings and dances and was perfect since it reeked of life and use and was layered with nostalgia. We set up chairs and put Hank at the front with a bank of mics and filmed it. It was raw, raucous, and raunchy. Also sublime. 650 people came. There was plenty of yelling and screaming and applause and repartee. There were also plenty of tears and shouts resounding with love and adulation for this man. It’s all here. I hope you enjoy it. It was the last time he performed outside the United States. It was and remains a testament to a great poet and writer.
FOOTNOTE: It’s worth noting this film sat in Bukowski’s archives for over 20 years. It was “discovered” by John Dullaghan during the making of the documentary “Born Into This”, the story of Hank’s life. He used a portion of the film and contacted me to have it released for use in the story. Subsequently it was returned to me. Time and circumstances had shuffled it off to a back corner where it was forgotten.