Friday we take off for New York City after making the rounds to collect money for dope. Joey is upbeat as he greets the local hypes at Alice’s. On the trip into the City he explains what to expect and how to keep out of trouble. We park the VW Bug at the Port Authority in Lower Manhattan and walk over to St Mark’s, where we shop at Trash & Vaudeville. Joey greets many friends. He buys me black jeans and a cool jacket. They are pretty expensive. I wonder if he is misusing the dope money from his friends at home. He assures me we‘ll make plenty of money before the weekend is over.
I say, “Sure,” since he’s already bought me clothes.
“Okay, See that faggy guy watching the tourists get off the ferry. Just go over by the railing like you’re waiting for someone. If he comes over to talk to you, tell him you’re waiting for your brother. If he asks you to go with him or talks about sex, keep him talking, but signal me by rubbing your pants leg. I’ll take care of the rest of it. You just act innocent. Okay?”
“I am innocent.”
I leave Joey and hang around the boarding ramp for the ferry. Pretty soon a different guy comes over and starts talking to me. I tell him I’m killing time waiting for my brother. He asks me how old I am, and when I say fourteen, it kind of puts him off. He keeps talking about New York and asks if I’m having a good time. He goes on forever. Finally he pulls out an envelope and shows me some pictures, crude ones, of nude kids. He asks if I want to make some money modelling. When I start to rub my leg, he thinks I’m getting turned on. He puts his hand on my shoulder and starts to pull me away from the railing.
“What the fuck are you doing to my brother,” Joey yells as he runs up the ramp.
The guy freaks and starts to take off, but Joey grabs him by the shirt and shoves him against the wall.
“Why you touching my brother, asshole?”
The guy loses his voice and looks like a cornered rat.
Joey orders me, “Go to that pay phone and dial 911. Tell him you need Police here, quick. We caught a child molester. Did he try anything with you?”
“Naw, he just showed me some stupid pictures of naked kids. They’re in his back pocket.”
“You’ll pay for this mister. I’m gonna see you end up in jail. You know how old my brother is; he’s fourteen. You’re a real sicko.”
The guy’s really shitting now, begging Joey. I start for the pay phone. He takes out his wallet and offers Joey a twenty to let him go. Joey grabs the wallet from trembling hands, taking all the money and the guy’s ID.
“I got your name and address now. If I ever see you again, I’ll kill you. You people are too sick to be allowed on the streets.”
Joey shoves the guy, who takes off running. Joey hugs me like he’s comforting me from the supposed trauma. The people around us keep going about their business.
Once we’re far enough away, we duck into a doorway and Joey counts the cash we took. It’s over one hundred bucks.
“Man, you’re the best victim. You look so innocent. We scored big time.”
“You showed up just right. I was scared I’d have to go off with that pervert.”
“Here,” he peels a bill, “you get twenty and a lesson about the City: ‘Take them before they take you.’ Let’s go catch a movie.”
In thirty minutes the subway takes us to Midtown , 42nd Street and Times Square. Again, all the local kids know Joey. He tells them about our latest adventure. I’ve only been in the City a few hours and already I have a reputation. We go into Howard Johnson’s for fried clams and chocolate shakes. The sun is fading with the Times Square lights coming on. Joey calls it the ‘Great White Way,’ or, ‘a great way for white boys to score.’
With the darkness, Joey becomes more animated, watching the comings and goings of everyone through the restaurant windows. At last we leave Howard Johnson’s and meet other kids on a corner. He speaks quickly with them, then says we’ll go to a movie. We check the nearest theaters and decide to see “Oh Lucky Man,’ with Malcolm McDowell. It is about to start. Joey comes back with just one ticket, telling me to meet him in front of the theater after the show gets out. His expression says not to ask questions. I turn and go into the theater. As soon as he leaves, I exit and follow him. He meets two other teens. They walk over to a parked car where Joey sticks his head in the window, talking with an older man. He hands Joey something. Joey jumps in and they drive off. I know what’s up and go back to the movie. When it’s over, Joey is waiting outside.
“How was the movie?”
“How was your ‘date?’ ”
“How’d ja know ‘bout that? Ya jealous?”
“I just felt abandoned. You coulda told me.”
“Some things ya just can’t talk about. It was pretty gross, but I made two hundred bucks.”
“Two hundred – how’d you make so much?”
“Hey, give it a rest. We’re doin’ good so far. Now we gotta go meet my connect. Don’t ask so many questions. You’ll fuck things up. They’s real particular about who they deal wid heah.” Then he laughs.
We go by subway and return to the Lower Eastside. Past St Mark’s, we walk toward the Brooklyn Bridge, into Alphabet City. All the brick tenements look abandoned. As soon as we walk into one neighborhood, black kids run up, asking what we want, offering to sell. Joey sends them away, saying he is looking for someone he knows. He asks a Puerto Rican kid for Miguel. The kid has us follow him into a building. The first couple of floors appear burnt out. On the third, the kid stops in front of a metal door. After he knocks, Miguel appears. Joey gives the kid five bucks before we go in. When Miguel looks at me, Joey says I’m his cousin and cool, but I don’t get high. Miguel shrugs. The two of them start talking business. They leave me alone in Miguel’s pad. It doesn’t look like he has lived there long. I sit on a mattress and wait in the dark; there’s no power. It takes them ages to return. Once back, they spread out the brown contents of a baggie. Miguel takes out an old Sears catalog, stripping out individual pages, which he cuts into eighths. Joey starts to mix another powder in with the brown heroin, explaining he has to cut the shit that is too strong for his local hypes. They make forty packages of dope folded into Sears catalog paper. The remainder of the dope they cook up in an old burned spoon. Miguel has a used needle which he cleans with peroxide. They shoot each other up, and nod off for about an hour.
Joey has given me a joint, which I light up on the fire escape, watching the street traffic below. I see a line of hypes going into an alley across the street. I climb up to the roof so I can get a better view of what is going down. Each hype hands his money to the guy at the head of the line. The guy puts it in a bucket at the end of a rope. The rope is pulled up to an apartment on the fourth floor. In a few seconds, the bucket is lowered. The guy gives the buyer his dope. Then on to the next guy. It takes about an hour to get through the line, with everyone waiting patiently. Several hypes can’t wait to do their dope, going down the alley and shooting up right there. They sometimes pass out with the needles still in their arms. There are no cops around, just a mass of junkies and dealers. Joey finally comes up and sits next to me, watching the scene, “Pretty strange, man.”
“’People are strange, when you’re a stranger.’ How you feeling?” I ask.
“Perfectly strange. We’re going to a club over in the Bowery. It’s about midnight, the witching hour. Let the freaks begin.”
We find a cab (I don’t know how) and arrive at CBGB’s. Joey hustles me in with a ten-spot to the bouncer at the door. The club is minuscule and teeming with people. Everyone dresses like a Joey fashion idol – body shirts, platform shoes, tight tight jeans, and tons of makeup. The band has to play in the middle of the club up against a wall. The first band is okay, but then the headliners get up: the New York Dolls. Dressed like women, actually cheap whores, they throw themselves at the pressing fans. The singer, David Johanson, reaches down and grabs me out of the crowd. With his long arms around me so I can’t get away, he sings to me about a ‘Personality Crisis.’
‘About that personality crisis, you got it while it was hot
It’s always hard to know when frustration and heartache what you got
I’m sorta talkin’ ’bout personality, yeah, yeah, yeah, oh….
And you’re a prima ballerina on a spring afternoon
Change on into the wolfman howlin’ at the moon, ooh’
Songwriters: DAVID JOHANSEN, JOHNNY THUNDERS
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
I had smoked so much of Joey’s pot, I let him do what he wants. At the end, he kisses me long and lingeringly. Everyone is whistling and screaming. Then he pushes me away, singing, “Trash, don’t pick it up. Don’t take your love to town….Oh, trash.”
JOHANSEN, DAVID / MIZRAHI, SYLVAIN
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
It’s their last song. David jumps into the crowd, pulling Joey and me out the side door.
“We’re going to Andy’s. Ya gotta come,” as he pushes us into their van.
In a few minutes we pull up to a warehouse near Union Square, with about two hundred people milling around. Inside, there are rooms everywhere. When the band arrives, people turn around and cheer, and then go right back to their drinking and talking. I hope we’ll hang out with the band, but they split in different directions. The guitarist, Johnny Thunders, takes Joey upstairs for a drug deal. I hear Joey telling him, “It’s been cut so I’ll sell ya two for the price of one.” Honesty between dopers. Johnny doesn’t look so happy. When Joey gets back, he is really high.
Soon this faggy guy comes up to me, “Andy heard about your performance with the Dolls tonight. He’d love to meet you.”
I’m led upstairs where a blond, mutant/albino man is holding court. I sit next to him, while he holds my hand. Others come and go, trying to make lame jokes. He asks me how old I am. When I say “fourteen,” he shrieks in mock horror, pushing me aside.
“Come back when you’re legal. I’ll make you a star.”
Joey has disappeared down a dark corridor, which I follow to find him. I walk into a full-on orgy, mostly guys. Joey is really going at it. As I stand there watching, all five are going at it at once.
A girl with long blonde hair comes over to me, pointing at Joey, “He’s such a stud. I saw him fuck three people at once last week. He kept the girl going with his tongue, wouldn’t let go of the guys’ dicks, while he fucked them one after the other. Do you want him?”
“He’s my cousin.”
“Do you go for guys?”
“Well, I’m not going to lie.”
“Oh, and I thought you’re so cute.”
“I didn’t say I hate girls or anything. I just think it’s weird having sex in front of everybody.”
“I know where we can be alone. I have a key. Ya ain’t leading me on?”
“Give me a chance. I’ll show you how far I can lead.”
She takes me into a music studio, then into the control booth. There is a couch where we sit down. I don’t know how to begin, so I kiss her gently. She puts her hands under my shirt, rubbing my chest and stomach. It makes me twitch, which gets her laughing. Then she was tickling me, which quickly gets out of control. After getting hysterical from the tickling, we sit back and talk a bit to calm down. She says she’s sixteen, so I say I’m eighteen.
“Why are you lying? I know you’re younger.”
“I don’t want to seem too young.”
“Well, I’m sixteen, so you’re not going to be too young.”
“Even if I’m only fourteen?”
“You kidding? You don’t look or act it.”
“See. There goes my chances with you.”
“I didn’t say that. When I was your age, I went with a lot of guys older than me. It’s just different ‘cause you’re a boy.”
“Are we that much different? Everyone else is a lot older.”
“Yeah. Isn’t it weird how they think of themselves? It’s like they have their ways and expect everyone else to be just like them.”
“Yeah. They’re all so groovy.”
“Like, what’s happening, baby?”
We keep talking and laughing.
We laugh some more. She starts to take my shirt off but gets shy when I try to remove her’s. She worries I’ll laugh at her tits. I don’t. I stroke them gently as her nipples get hard. They aren’t too big. I like how they stick up instead of hanging down. She unbuttons my jeans, like the junkie girl’s in Pittsfield..
“You’re one fine fucking animal,” she gasps, after it is over. “Who taught you to fuck so hard?”
I remember Joey’s kiss and tell stricture, “You did.”
“You mean this was your first time with a girl?”
“Yeah. I guess I’m no longer a virgin.”
She hugs me tightly, “It’s special for me too.”
We go out the warehouse door. Joey is sitting against a wall, with a girl’s head in his lap and two guys leaning on either shoulder. He looks beat. I feel great. He looks at Sweet Jane and starts to grin.
“You scored celebrity, you little shit.”
Jane kicks his boots. “No. I scored the big multiple orgasms. Better get used to not being the number one family fuck.”
“You want to do some comparison shopping?”
“You look too beat to me. It’ll be no competition.”
I kind of wish she hadn’t started this conversation.
Joey gets up. We leave the group at the door.
Looking back, he laughs, “Look at ‘em, our fucks for the night, gathered to wish us god speed into the dark.”
“It’s morning, Joey, in case you haven’t noticed.”
“Oh, yeah, well, that’s where my head’s at, man.”
Somehow we get to the Port Authority.
Joey tosses me the keys, “I’m way too fucked up to drive. Home to New England, my young stud.”
I don’t protest. After stalling about a dozen times we make it back to Stockbridge. We go straight upstairs and sleep all day in the water-bed.
Joey wakes me up about midnight.
“Let’s get something to eat.”
We go downstairs and make sandwiches, which we eat in his room. I eat most of Joey’s, while he drinks coffee and looks wiped out.
“So, whatcha gonna do with the rest of your life?” he asks.
I look at him and the strangest feeling comes over me. It hits me that I’m leaving the next morning, to start my new life in Florida. I put both arms around his neck.
“I love you, man.”
“Hey, they all say that.”
“Com’n Joey. I’m serious. I never felt this way. Look at all we’ve done together.”
“You’re ‘sposed to love me, I’m yer cousin.”
“Don’t play it off. I know what I feel. You’re special.”
“Okay. Okay. I just don’t fall in love. It’s bad for business.”
It confuses me. I guess I don’t understand his feelings. I’m embarrassed for being too sentimental. I take my arms off him and move away.
“Hey, don’t push me away. I just asked what’s up. You know I love you, too. No wonder Jane thinks you are such a stud. I just let my dick do the talkin’. So, can you go back to being good old Timmy?”
My feelings calm down. “I just have to settle down. I start high school in the fall.”
“That sounds really cool.”
I punch him in the arm. “Come on, man. You’re the one with the future. Whatta you gonna do? Eat Aunt Helen’s cooking and deal dope forever?”
“It’s working out.” Then he shows me his stash of cash, about $2000.
“Don’t you want to live in the City? It’s so cool.”
“That city will chew you up.”
“All your friends are great. The Dolls, Andy Warhol. You got it made.”
“Those people don’t care. It’s sex, drugs and money. Once you let any one of those get to you, you’re a goner. Maybe once I get enough cash I’ll go to LA or Paris.”
He seems so jaded.
“Just for an example,” he continues. “Remember that guy we ripped off for one hundred bucks for trying to perv on you?”
“You think it was cool ‘cause we got the cash and did nothing for it. But he got his cheap thrill from your innocence. You’re what he wants. You know why? Because you’re young and still have real feelings. He copped a thrill showing you porno. See how sick that is? If you live in the City, that’s what you have to put up with. You sell yourself to whoever wants you, until the innocence is gone. Then, you’re just like them. I go down there for drugs, money and sex. The longer I stay, the higher the price.”
That’s longest thing he’s ever said to me.
“Man, you sound so bitter. I know you love it there. Did something really bad happened to you?”
“No, dude. I just don’t fit here in Middle America. New York’s for the twisted. I’m definitely turned.”
“When did you start having sex with guys?”
“It happened all at once – guys, chicks, group sex, kinks, drugs. I got kicked outta here in 10th grade for getting caught skipping school. I took off for the City, met the crowd at St Mark’s, where I found out what’s up. A week on the streets, doing it all, hustling, scoring chicks, doing drugs, I was ready to come home. Helen almost died from worry, or so she says. They took me back, but I kept going down to the City. I got the Bug for scoring dope for the locals. It’s all too easy.”
“Don’t you think you’ll get busted big time?”
“Eventually everybody gets busted. But I’ve got a plan. That’s why I save my money. Here, I owe you this for setting up that john,” and he gives me fifty bucks. I think I should refuse, then realize it’s the price of my innocence.
“But what about the sex? I know you enjoyed it when we did it. And you’re good with girls. How can you say it’s just business?”
“You don’t think about it. That’s all. Sure, it’s good, but look at you, you think sex equals love. I ain’t never gonna fall for that love crap.”
Again my feelings go snap, as he pushes them aside. I know what I feel about him. He’s denying he feels the same. How can I love him when he doesn’t love me back?
He takes out his pot stash, “We’ll smoke a joint before you get all teary,” as he rolls a number.
I put on the Ziggy Stardust album. We lit up the joint, and jump up, playing air guitar to ‘Suffragette City.’
We bounce on and off the couch, singing the words, “Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am…you can’t afford the ticket back from Suffragette City,”
BOWIE, DAVID /
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, TINTORETTO MUSIC
While I pretend to play the heavy riffs, Joey grabs me from behind and shouts the words in my ears. All of a sudden we heard a loud banging on the door. Uncle Terry yells at us to quiet down. It’s three o’clock in the morning. We laugh hysterically but quickly turn the stereo down and collapse on the couch.
“I feel like a kid again,” Joey says.
“You are a kid, but you think you’re all sophisticated and mature ‘cause you do hardcore sex and drugs.”
“So when did you become my shrink?”
“Yeah, shrink your dick. It won’t be such a big problem.”
“Sounds like penis envy to me.”
“After this week I’ll be surprised if I have any penis left.”
“Not at the rate you give it away.”
“You’re the one givin’ it away. I’m not talkin’ dick, man.”
“You think I’m a slut?”
“I know you are.”
At that, he picks me up and throws me on the water-bed. We start wrestling, with the bed moving up and down while we roll over and over. All of a sudden he pulls away, runs to the window, and barfs the little he ate.
“I guess I’m too much of a junkie to be a kid no more,” as he lays down gingerly.
“Roll over,” I say sliding on top of him. I pull his tee-shirt over his head and start to lightly tickle him on the back, tracing my nails along his ribs and backbone.
“That feels so good,” as I tickle the small of his back, then massage along his spine. My thumbs stroke his neck, pushing into his red hair, rapidly massaging his neck muscles into the base of his skull. He rolls around to face me, then kisses me fully on the lips.
We go at it. High pitched oh’s and ah’s come from my lips. I hear them and can’t believe it’s me. The pitch and loudness increases, as I repeatedly cum. Just as I’m winding down, a loud knock breaks our concentration.
“I told you boys to turn down that rock and roll music. There are people who sleep at night in this house,” Uncle Terry yells.
We uncouple in a flash, with Joey clamping his hand over my mouth. We look at each other, both covered in sweat, spit, and cum; now tears of laughter roll down our cheeks.
“Okay, Dad, we’re done making rock and roll. You can sleep now.”
We hear him stomp away. Joey gets a towel to clean us off. Then he wipes it into our hair. As he turns out the lights, we both look like horror movie victims. I crawl into the space between his arms and knees and fall asleep with his arms around me. In a couple of hours there is more knocking on the door. I have to leave for Miami. No long goodbyes. Joey won’t wake up; He just mumbles he’ll see me next year.