Check out our interview with author, entrepreneur and philanthropist Salah Bachir who’s memoir First To Leave The Party; My Life with Ordinary People Who Happen to be Famous chronicles his life through stories of his interactions with some of Hollywood’s most iconic names such as Marlon Brando, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali, Princess Margaret, Mary Tyler Moore, Sean Connery, Ella Fitzgerald and Doris Day just to name a few. The book, which was co-written with former New York Post and Daily News film critic Jami Bernard, will be the first to feature pronouns on the cover. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the LGBTQ+ rights program at Human Rights Watch.
Follow Salah @pasha_bachir
Hi Salah, please tell us a little about you?
I am an entrepreneur and publisher of some of the best-read magazines in Canada. Also a producer, activist, and author of a new memoir, “First to Leave the Party: My Life with Ordinary People … Who Happen to be Famous.”
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate. Angry. Kind.
How did you get started in the business?
I published a couple of the first magazines for the home video business — Videomania and Premiere — in the early ’80s.
How has this changed your life?
Gave me security, stability, accessibility, and a platform.
Tell us about your work as an author.
I have written and edited articles as a publisher for the past 42 years. I wrote this book with the award-winning film critic Jami Bernard, who is also a friend.
What mindsets helped in making you so successful?
Nurturing relationships, being active in the community, giving back, and empowering my colleagues.
What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
Always be active in your community and try to give back whenever possible. Involve everyone you know and work with them in any way you can. Potential clients want to work with people who are good, generous and kind. Maintain relationships and nurture them. Respect people around you — their traditions, culture — and their moods. We never know what people are going through or what they have to deal with. Reach out and see if you can help in any way.
Any advice to entrepreneurs out there?
I think persistence and hard work help but also reach out for advice and guidance. Always try to keep growing, learning, doing your homework and studying situations. Involve yourself in the community; that’s where you will meet a lot of great clients and other dedicated passionate people.
Now tell us about your new book “First To Leave The Party: My Life with Ordinary People … Who Happen to be Famous?”
It’s a unique memoir told through my encounters with more than 50 of the most iconic celebrities, including Ella Fitzgerald, Marlon Brando, Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Diahann Carroll, Bette Davis, Gregory Peck, and Orson Welles.
Why and when did you decide to write about the topic of the book?
I have published magazines about films, film stars and interviewed several of them and had a close friendship with some of them that are featured in the book. I began to reminisce about some of them in posts on social media while I was recovering from a kidney transplant and sepsis during Covid. I turned it into a memoir, revealing a bit of myself with every one of the encounters in the book.
Where we can buy the book?
The book is available everywhere books are sold, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Or go to salahbachir.com, where we have a list of local bookstores where you can find it.
Now let’s talk about your love for art and your art collection. Please tell us about it and how all started?
I have always loved art and I have a lot of artists as close friends. My husband, Jacob Yerex, is a well-known graphic and scenic artist, painter, and sculptor. We had more than 3,000 pieces of art in our collection, and these past two years we donated more than 1,000 pieces to galleries, museums, hospitals, universities, and community centres.
Do you have any special or favorite artist to collect?
Some of these artists include Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jamelie Hassan, Stephen Andrews, Kent Monkman, Attila Richard Lukacs, Betty Goodwin, and Anachar Basbous.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Using my connections with different clients and my extensive network to help raise money for charity, while also mentoring and empowering younger people. Also, using my voice and resources to promote trans and gay rights, refugees, accessibility, health care, and indigenous cultures.
What advice would you give to your younger self, and why?
Believe in yourself. Always be brave, be strong and don’t be afraid. Keep your friends close. Look to friends and family for strength and guidance if need be.
How would your best friend describe you?
Loyal, generous, passionate, kind, moody, funny, and a great goalie.
What’s next for Salah Bachir in the last months of 2023 and for the rest of 2024?
I am going to concentrate on promoting my book for the rest of the year. I have a couple of charitable events coming up and I’m continuing to work on some capital campaigns.
What is your favorite healthy food? And your favorite cheat food?
Fruit. I love all kinds of fruit. Favorite cheat food would be cheese or ice cream.
How would you explain your fashion style?
Dramatic. Eclectic. Elegant. A beautiful canvas for my jewelry collection.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Having a great sense of worth, health, and being loved for who I am. Also, having the freedom to love who I want to love and look how I want to look.
If you could meet someone, living or dead, who would it be?
I would love to have my parents, grandmother, and older sister Grace, who have all passed away, for one last dinner with me and my husband, Jacob.
Best advice ever given?
Be yourself. No one can define who you are. Don’t let the bastards ever win or take advantage of you.
Do you support any charities?
I support many gay causes, including The 519, one of the world’s foremost community organizations, has been active for close to 50 years. I also support healthcare, the arts, food security, refugee programs and native communities.
Where do you see yourself and your career 5 years from now?
With two best-selling books and about to release a third. My next book is called In My Grandmother’s Garden Everything Was Edible. My sequel to First To Leave The Party, will be titled Pearls Make the Man.
What is your favorite song to belt out in the car/for karaoke?
There are so many. Etta James’s At Last, or Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York, Nina Simone’s I Put a Spell on You, or Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s Somewhere. Also, anything by Tina Turner. I don’t usually need to be prompted to belt out a song.
What do you think of social media?
The book first started on social media. I have found it very helpful. Like anything you do, use caution. Check out the facts before you blindly believe any post. It has been useful for remembering birthdays and celebrating events.
Book: salahbachir.com – “First to Leave the Party: My Life with Ordinary People … Who Happen to be Famous.”
Quote: “I will see what I can do to help”.
Movie: Citizen Kane, Cabaret, Ali: Fear Eats The Soul
TV Series: Bewitched, I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Jeopardy or NFL Football
Favorite Food: I eat everything vegetarian
Travel Destination: New York, London, Paris, Beirut
Sports Team: Montréal Canadiens, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers
Photos: George Pimentel @georgepimentel1