An interview with Maya Korzybska. Harris Smart writes…

While I was in Kalimantan, I was fortunate enough to do a long interview with Maya Korzybska, who as we know is the Deputy CEO of the WSA Executive Team (used to be called ISC). Part of that interview dealing with her Subud work has already been published. This part, in keeping with the theme of this issue, is mostly about her life in the music industry. But first, some background…

Her ancestry is interesting. She has been able to trace it back to the 16th century to a Portuguese sailor, named Bernardes, who washed up in Scotland following the ruin of the Spanish Armada.

Maya – along with her twin sister Osanna of course – grew up on the island of Jersey in the English Channel, because it was a good environment for their father who had been seriously injured in the war. Then, when the twins were 10, the family moved to Spain because their father needed a dryer climate.

She went to high school in Spain, but did not finish. (Children, although Maya has turned out well, you must not follow her example in not finishing high school.)  Instead, aged 17, she went off to join Osanna in Paris where, because both girls are tall (somewhat gorgeous and vaguely capable of dancing !!!), they became dancers at the Lido.

But she really wanted to be part of organizing rock ‘n roll concerts, and through a series of events and contacts was able to achieve her ambition. Then followed several years when she worked for the major rock and roll concert promoters in Paris.

During this time she met and married Thierry and they had two children; Giome whom we know because of his tendency to thrust microphones in people’s faces at World Congress and ask them provocative questions for Congress TV, and her daughter, Angelina, who has completed a degree in Cinema at the Sorbonne University in Paris, but is more interested in following her mother into the concert business.

For a time Maya and Thierry lived a very creative and successful life, setting up companies and coming up with all kinds of original schemes and ideas related to music, art, entertainment and culture, “ we were probably one of the largest employers of Subud Youth, selling t-shirts at concerts “, but then the marriage came to an end. Some years later, Maya met Halim Korzybski, an architect, who had bought and renovated La Source, the retreat center in the Pyrenees, where many exciting youth, cultural and family, Subud events have been held.

Now Maya and Halim live in Kalimantan and they are both particularly involved in the development of the Rungan Sari Resort Hotel. In the meantime Maya continues her role with the WSA Executive Team. If you ever want anything done or sorted out, go to Maya. You will be met with clarity, common sense, directness and decision (along with a nurturing quality).

When I interviewed her, I asked her about famous people she had come in contact with in her role as a concert organizer. She told me…

“John McLaughlin the avant-garde guitar player is one of my favourite people from that time, we used to talk about Subud and other spiritual things… I am still in touch with him, the other long term friend is Carlos Alomar 20 year band leader of David Bowie. Paul McCartney was very friendly, and Carlos Santana and many others.

Bill Graham the concert promoter was not only a powerful and influential figure in the story of rock ‘n’ roll but also a very fair and decent human being. You know he created these venues like the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, which was one of the launching pads for all those great bands and artists like Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and so on.

Once, while I was working with him on a Santana concert; it was an important concert because it was being televised; two groupies had attached themselves to members of the band and had got themselves up on stage where they were dancing, flailing their arms about and so on. It was not appropriate, and the stage manager asked me to stop them.  They were not part of the act.

“I went and told them, very politely, that they should desist and watch quietly. They said, very rudely, ‘Who do you think you are to tell us what to do.  We are with the band. Get lost.’ Or words to that effect. It had been a long tiring week and I was so upset, I was reduced to tears.

“Bill Graham came upon me crying and asked me what was the matter and I finally had to tell him what the girls had said to me while I was trying to carry out my job. Later, when everyone was gathered in the dressing-room and the two girls were present, Bill Graham said to them, “No one treats people who work for me like that.  Get out.” and they had to leave

“Some years later, Bill Graham, like others in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, died tragically, in a helicopter accident, piloted by the above mentioned stage manager Steve Killer Kahn, another good guy.”


I was particularly interested to hear of any encounters Maya might have had with Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones. Maya told me that at her lowly level, she did not always have a lot of personal contact with such illustrious figures as the Rolling Stones.  Nevertheless, she had had two experiences with them.

“On one of their visits to Paris, the Rolling Stones wanted to have some Parisienne showgirls on stage with them for their opening number. I was given the job of finding these fascinating creatures.  The budget was 250 francs per dancer, not a big sum.  I searched around and I was told that for 250 francs I could have the dancers, or their costumes, but not both. Still I persevered and I found, not just ordinary showgirls, but the Can-Can dancers from the Moulin Rouge.”

But the performance did not go well. It turns out (here is some secret knowledge) that when the Rolling Stones go on tour they take with them a special stage that is tilted and has a slippery surface to enable Mick Jagger to accomplish his famous moves. (Once the great Russian ballet dancer Mikhail  Baryshnikov remarked,  “There are two great dancers in the world, myself and Mick Jagger.”)

But when the Can-Can dancers tried to perform on the surface, it was a disaster; they could not keep their footing and went slipping and sliding and slithering all over the place, even ending up on their ‘behinds’, and the experiment of showgirls on stage was not repeated.

“My other exchange was with Mick Jagger himself, the only time I got to speak to him personally. The Rolling Stones were performing at night in an open-air stadium in the South of France and Mick Jagger told me that he wanted a ceiling of light over the stadium (the next day).

“I found out that there was an air base nearby which possessed extremely powerful searchlights.  The searchlights that are used to locate aircraft in the night….. I began to negotiate, to obtain some of these lights, but in the end I was unsuccessful, not enough time for the permits and authorizations. I had to go and tell Mick Jagger that he could not have his ceiling of light.”

Thus, Maya, a Subud member, enabled Mick Jagger to experience a human emotion that is all too commonly felt by the rest of us, but which is probably only rarely experienced by Mick Jagger: That human emotion known as disappointment.

Maya adds, “We can save the story of my wild night with Diana Ross and party at the Lido for another time….”