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Barbra, suffering from a few personal poltergeists herself, slips easily into the psychoanalytic ambiance of modern times. "I think sensory," she says. "I don't have any trouble turning myself on or off. I just hate to become too intellectual. I always tell Elliott, talk to me sensory." Ray Stark, with an exhausted expression, says that "she'll drive you bats with too much analysis. It's not arrogance, but doubt. She is like a barracuda. She devours every piece of intelligence to the bone." One of her actor friends says that "she is like a filter that filters out everything except what relates to herself. If I said, 'There's been an earthquake in Brazil,' she would answer, 'Well, there aren't any Brazilians in the audience tonight, so it doesn't matter.' "
She still has the haggling instinct of her Brooklyn childhood and sometimes puts the weight of her new fame behind it, often insisting on discounts at local stores ("Listen, don't I deserve a discount or something? I mean, after all"), or ordering a secretary to "tell them that if they want my business, they'd better knock $2 off that bill."
Whatever I Am. Sure that she want ed to become a star, Barbra Streisand is now not sure that she wants to be one. "I had to go right to the top or nowhere at all," she says. "I could never be in the chorus, know what I mean? I had to be a star because my mouth is too big. I'm too whatever-I-am to end up in the middle. The exciting part has been trying to get to wherever it is I'm going. It was exciting to get kicked out of all those casting offices."
More than willing to forsake her anonymity, she has nonetheless felt the pain of its loss. People who recognize her in the street and ask for her autograph have always made her uncomfortable. Some of these people wear their hair like Barbra Streisand and display a glassy, communicant look when they see her, for she is a godhead in their most privately inarticulate reveries. Others who stop her are just impious strangers. They see her tasseled yellow blouse showing through under a South American skunk coat, her white wool slacks and dirty sneakers, her induplicable face, and they say, "Hey, you look like Barbra Streisand."
"Yeah," says Barbra, "someone else told me that."
*Now 83, Nicky lives in a seedy downtown Los Angeles hotel, where he declined to talk about Funny Girl because he had a heart attack last month and "the doctor says I'm not to get excited."