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Whatever Happened to Jorge Saralegui

What ever happened to Jorge Saralegui?

How many artists and writers have made Paros their home, either permanently or for a season over the past forty-seven years; a thousand; more?

In 1974, Jorge Saralegui took six months off from his studies at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, to concentrate on his writing at The Aegean School of Fine Arts. Jorge was my first writing student then, and his writing interest at the time was vampire stories. It was an obsession that anticipated Rice’s Interview with a Vampire by a couple of years, and a dark theme quite sympatico with my own lurid imagination then. Yet, whenever I think of Jorge, the first image that comes to mind is of four swimmers from the school--- Jorge, Mary Koneff, Richard Shipley, and I --- rising and plunging in a tremendous swell, an arm’s length from the jagged, vertical west wall of Aghios Spyridon.

Earlier that morning, we'd hired the Antiparos ferry, between runs, to take us to the jagged, rocky Spyridon to spearfish and take pictures. The morning sea had been like oil, but the wind came up after lunch; nevertheless, we decided to gear back up with snorkels, masks and fins and circumnavigate the west side of the island before our ride came for us. Jorge swam "point" --- Mary his wife to be, and Richard swimming in line between us. By now a wind out of the north had created an incredible swell; a rough, roller coaster ride, half fun until, mid-way way along the west wall, the crashing up and down started ripping off our gear, first the mouth piece of a snorkel and then one of the swim fins. There was no hope of surviving without fins to keep us off the rocks, and not wanting to come back shy any swimmers, we decided to turn around; and managed to flounder back under half power to the protected cove where we'd started. Jorge had gotten out of the water last, sputtering, chuffed, and excited about what a great premise for a story it had been.  

After graduating from Antioch, Jorge and Mary, an artist in her own right, relocated to a Women’s art collective in San Francisco, --- no heat; no water --- there, by virtue of Mary’s status, Jorge had the distinction of being the only man in residence. Over the course of the next ten years, Jorge worked his way up the ladder of an art house theatre as usher, then manager then booker; meanwhile, siring two literary novels, and three thrillers, all three of which were published.

It was in the course of his time at the art house theatre, that Jorge’s became friends with the person who persuaded him to move to LA to work as a Hollywood script reader.

Thirty-five years after the Spyridon adventure, Jorge and I have lost touch when one evening I'm kicking back in front of the tube to watch a sci-fi film called Red Planet with Val Kilmer, when lo and behold, "Jorge Saralegui - Executive Producer" is scrolling up the screen in big red letters. The penny doesn’t drop until the title disappears into the upper margin, and then I’m doing a search on line which reveals that Jorge’s credits as producer include at least nine films over the past 15 years. In addition to Red Planet, I find films like The Time Machine, Queen of the Damned,  and Showtime with Robert DeNiro and Eddie Murphy.

On top of his film work, Jorge continues to write and is now working on a novel called See-saw.

“My God,” I sometimes think, “that snorkeling trip to Spyridon must have been my finest lesson!” 


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