Bond is back! After a
six-year convalescence on some far flung politically incorrect
bikini-ridden paradise, James Bond 007 is back ‘on the job’. The prolonged
recuperation and the intravenously taken Vodka Martinis have healed the
wounds of a few slightly tarnished celluloid missions, and our James is a
new man (in more ways than one).
But six years was a long time to be ‘out of the field’. The question was:
“Will double-o seven still be able to pull the birds, save the world – and
rake in the big bucks at the box office?”
One man always believed he could, and his name is Rye, Graham Rye (cue
Bond theme). For the past 12 years Rye has been President of The James
Bond 007 International Fan Club & Archive and editor, designer and
publisher of 007 MAGAZINE. What started as a spare time hobby has now
exploded into a very full time occupation. The JBIFC’s 007 MAGAZINE has
over 4,000 readers in more than 40 countries worldwide, and its Archive
has more information on agent 007 than SPECTRE, SMERSH, or any other
megalomaniac hell-bent on world domination could dream of.
"Since The JBIFC and 007 MAGAZINE have gained publicity around the world
it’s as though I’ve become a conduit for everything and anything concerned
with James Bond,” said Rye when I met him during a rare lapse in his busy
schedule at his offices in a secret location somewhere in Surrey.
First impressions are that Rye would make a great Bond villain. Ian
Fleming would have penned such phrases as ‘the face was tense, strained,
and the eyes were watchful and hard’ along with, ‘the finely drawn but
cruel mouth rarely smiled.’
Surrounded by a bumper bonanza of Bond memorabilia – and not an anorak in
sight, Graham Rye is a pleasant, enormously creative hard-working human
being who is dedicated to the world of James Bond, and woe-betide the
cynic who would call him a sad man. They’re just asking for hospital food!
Like so many Bond fans, Rye was introduced to 007 (never pronounced oh oh
seven he reminds me) by his Dad, who took him at the age of 11 to see
Dr. No when the film was originally released in 1962. Two years later,
around the release of Goldfinger, he discovered the Ian Fleming
novels. From then on he became a permanent passenger on the gadget-laden
Leaving school at 16 with just an O-level in art (or should that be
Double-O level?) and the headmaster’s boot print still wet on his
backside, Rye entered the world of advertising. During the next two
decades he amassed a wealth of experience as a graphic designer and
photographer, learning from the many leading West End advertising art
directors he dealt with on a daily basis. This experience would prove
invaluable in later years when he would design and publish 007 MAGAZINE.
Rye was 11 years old when he saw his first Bond movie, he is now old
enough to know better, but the bond with Bond is strong. Why has this
fictional character influenced so much of his life, and for so long? Rye’s
reply seemed almost rehearsed. “Bond is a loner. A man who is out there to
do a job, and he does it to the best of his ability. I’ve always tried to
follow suit in as much that I believe that everything I turn my hand to I
give 100 percent – no, make that 110 percent!” And he does. He’s like a
shark that lurks in many a Bond adventure, in that creatively, he can’t
keep still for long.
In addition to producing 007 MAGAZINE and dealing with the constant flow
of enquiries from around the world, he organises yearly conventions in the
form of a Christmas lunch at Pinewood Studios, film showings at The
National Film Theatre, interviews with Bond directors and stars, and also
takes part in countless TV, radio and press interviews worldwide.
He has written and designed the book ‘The James Bond Girls’ (a subject
that’s close to his heart, he says), a colourful Bond babe feast that
would even impress the most ardent non-Bond fan. ‘The Most Famous Car In
The World: the complete history of the James Bond Aston Martin DB5’ is one
of the best-selling automotive books in the last four years. No prizes for
guessing who was responsible for the design and edit on that one either.
There is much memorabilia that fights for space on the wall’s in Rye’s
office, but there is one piece missing, not that you could get it through
the doors anyway. It’s the restored Moon Buggy from Diamonds Are
Forever. Finding it rusting away in a farmyard in Kent, he purchased
it, had it renovated, and proudly delivered it to the Las Vegas branch of
Planet Hollywood, where the vehicle sits on loan with another 007 movie
prop from his Archive – Oddjob’s deadly steel-rimmed bowler hat.
Fascinating as that may be, it’s Graham Rye I want to know about. Does he
want to be James Bond? He grins (or is it a sneer? A Rye smile?). “If most
of the male population was to be asked that question and they all gave an
honest answer it would be a resounding ‘yes’. It’s the ultimate male
fantasy, the girls, the cars, the girls, the glamour, the girls – not to
mention a hefty expense account!”
He’s side-stepped the question, so I ask it again. Does Graham Rye want to
be James Bond? Does he want to sip vodka martinis among the scent, smoke
and sweat of a casino at three in the morning, with a throwaway Bond girl
hanging from his arm? Has James taught him a thing or two when it comes to
relationships with women?
It’s definitely a sneer now. A view to a kill even. “No, I can honestly
say that Bond has had no influence on my view of women. Experience has
taught me that I’m not the kind of guy who can settle down with one woman
– or at least I haven’t found her yet.” Interesting. Is there a Tracy
waiting out there somewhere for Rye? I would have delved deeper had the
phone not rang. From what I could hear, it was an enquiry about
GoldenEye and the new Bond.
As Rye shares his encyclopaedic knowledge with the caller, I pick up and
flick through ‘The James Bond 007 International Fan Club & Archive Fact
File’, the most recent addition to the Rye output. Produced specifically
as a research document for the publishing and broadcast media – and also
‘well-thumbed’ by many visiting students studying for their course
projects – it has over 180 pages packed with every conceivable fact
pertaining to James Bond. For example, did you know that Ian Fleming took
the name of M’s secretary, Moneypenny, from ‘Moneypenny Farm’ on Romney
Marsh, not far from where the author once lived in Kent.
The phone is slammed down and mutterings of “if I had a tenner for every
time I’ve answered that question this week” is heard, which prompts me to
ask if he ever gets fed up with Bond, and if he only lived twice, would he
do it all again?
He sighs and glances at the framed autographed photos of Sean, George,
Roger, Timothy, and Pierce – all of whom he’s met. “The incessant exposure
to Bond seven days a week can take it out of you, but then again I suppose
to a large degree it’s self-inflicted. On the other hand though, I don’t
have much time to get ‘fed up’ or pursue other outside interests, and over
the last 12 years as President of the Club and publisher of 007 MAGAZINE,
I have met so many interesting and nice people.” “This last year has been
very pressurised because of the release of GoldenEye, and if I
hadn’t taken on an assistant I probably would have been in a mental
institution by now!” He indicates with a certain amount of pride to a
stack of letters held down by a slightly chipped but not broken 007 mug.
“In any case, the feedback and support from the Club members makes it all
worthwhile.” He suddenly remembers the rest of my question. “If I only
lived twice, would I run the Club again?” There is no pause only a
committed “yes.” Nobody could really do it better.
The interview is almost over and I’ve deliberately avoided the most asked
questions, Who is your favourite actor to play James Bond? What’s your
favourite 007 film? Who’s the sexiest Bond girl? But I do need to know
where this is all going. What’s the ultimate goal for Graham Rye and The
James Bond 007 International Fan Club & Archive and 007 MAGAZINE?
“I’m convinced that people will still be watching Bond movies on some form
of audiovisual display when we’ve all faded from human memory,” he says
with enthused conviction. “That’s why it’s one of my ambitions to be
instrumental in establishing a permanent exhibition or even a theme park
in the UK or USA to celebrate the James Bond phenomenon, and all the many
talented people who have been part of it. Like diamonds, Bond is forever!”
Judging Rye’s past record, a walk around the ‘007 Museum’ or a day out at
‘Bond World’ are ambitious projects that may very well succeed.
A few days later I’m watching GoldenEye and ponder on the thought
that Pierce Brosnan is now the fifth actor to portray Bond, but there is
only one, James Bond man.
Graham Rye can be contacted at: