4 – Blog 24 – Taxi Driver

I call Andy’s assistant, Blair, while Jack settles in with his cynical cousins. Blair tells us to meet Andy for cocktails after 5 pm at Max’s Kansas City. I hope Patti Smith will be there but don’t want to run into her boyfriend, Robert Maplethorpe. I call Jay who gives me a number to call Marty’s assistant. All these assistants make everyone seem so much more important than they were before.

Brett and Trent are sitting on the big couch mimicking the idiot grin that shows Jack is happy and needs nothing.
“Why are they ignoring you?” I sign to him through Jace
“They always mock me by mirroring my adolescent behaviors. It makes them feel superior by showing they can be as weird as I am by barely trying.”
I sit on the couch with the brothers.
“Y’all look like a portrait of ‘the Idle Rich’,” I tell all three of them.

‘She started to hate every n******and Jew
Every Mexican that gave her a lotta shit
Every homosexual and the idle rich’

Writer(s): John Duchac Nommensen, Christine Lee Cervenka

“Why won’t he speak to us?” Trent asks.
I sign to Jack, “Do you want to answer that?”
“Why do they care?” He signs.
I translate for the cousins.
“Our friends think you’re famous,” Trent speaks directly to Jack.
“Those photos with Andy in the Post last Easter,” Brett adds.
“Does that make me famous, too?” I ask.
“No. You’re not related to us.”
“Cool, I’m just the translator.”
“What if he refuses to speak to our friends?”
“Then, they have to speak with me.”
“How do we explain who you are, then?”
“Tell them Jack and I got married in Monaco, making me family.”
“Who’s the wife, then?”
“We don’t do that. We’re partners. You want to know who gets fucked?”
Brett speaks up again, “Yeah. Who?”
“It’ll be you, if you don’t shut up,” Trent tells him.
“You both seem rather inexperienced in queer culture. The obvious answer is both of us do. I fuck for you. You fuck for me.”
They turn bright red.
“Well, we’re off to meet Andy,” I grab Jack.
“What? Where? When?”
“Max’s at five, but be fashionably late.”
“We can come?”
“Only if you keep up those idiot grins you’ve been practicing all afternoon.”
“Should we call a car?”
“If you want. We always take the subway.”
“Have you even been to Union Square?”

We get up to change. Jack is surprised my stuff is in the brothers’ room. We move it to a room facing the Park. Mummy has sent Jack’s wardrobe ahead. We just put on our Iowa farm duds.
“Your cousins are kinda creepy,” I say.
“Why did you sleep in their room?”
“They asked me to. Bent slept with Trend. Wanna ditch ‘em?”
We just walk out the front of the Dakota, leaving a message with the doorman that we do not know when we will be back.

Instead of going to Union Square, we walk across Central Park. It’s warm for mid-winter, no snow and birds already out scrounging for seeds. I need to check on the Jace’s Place at St Patrick’s. I ask for Father Frank at the office. He’s not there. We are sent to Cardinal Cooke’s assistant. With only assistants dealing with us, we seem to have outlived our celebrity. I take Aaron’s handwritten note from my wallet and call him. He is excited to show us the Jace’s Place at his temple. He and Paul will meet us there immediately. Kids never forget.
Temple Emanu-el turned over an apartment building for homeless housing near the 65th & Park synagogue, just blocks from St Patrick’s. The boys are outside, holding hands. It makes me feel at home. They are so proud together. We explain to the staff that we’re Jace’s band mates, which brings a crowd of kids to the reception hall. Guitars appear. Jack and I strum Pink Floyd chords, while I relate the Jace story. They ask us to play ‘Dark Side of the Moon’

and ‘Crazy Diamond’.

Jack is only playing guitar. When we get to the Sid Barrett random noises and bird calls, he’s able to do those. I hug him so hard that I break down crying. The kids are already emotional. Jace floats above the group. He starts shedding diamond tear drops. Kids being kids, a scramble breaks out to collect the tiny gems.
“They’re worthless. Only those who have Jace in their hearts can touch them without the diamonds bursting like bubbles.”
The rabbi who supervises their Jace’s Place comes over. “You Catholics. Always with the miracles.”
We all laugh.
It’s time to leave for Max’s. Aaron and Paul beg to come along, so they can tell us everything about the homeless program. They just want to be with us.
We take the familiar subway to Union Square.
“Do you want hear about problems or successes at Jace’s Place?”
“Both, but not just about the Emanu-el one. We’re interested in opinions about other places. Just tell us if we need to investigate.”
“Why isn’t Jack saying anything,” Paul asks.
“He gots snake-bit in Iowa,” I drawl.
Their eyes grow wide, thinking we are from the wild west.
“I can speak with him through Jace. You guys should be able to, as well.”
“Hi Jack,” Aaron takes a shot. “What’s it like living with cowboys and Indians?”
After a second, he translates Jack’s answer.
“He said it’s not like that. They even have bowling and football there.”
All four of us plus a ghost are smiling.
At the Factory, Blair rushes downstairs to meet us.
“You’re early.”
“We want to talk the business end here. Then just socialize,” as I kiss Blair on the cheek.
He goes all a’twitter, so we just walk up to Andy’s office.
“Boys, I’m just finishing up to meet you in Union Square.”
“You mentioned you have a proposition for us. Best to talk business here, then socialize at Max’s.”
“Come with me,” he says. Our entourage of two keeps up as we go into a downstairs studio, where there is a contraption called a Big Shot.
“It’s new from Polaroid, for taking portraits,” Andy explains.
It looks like something out of the 19th Century. You have to move the camera to focus on the subject. The photos already taken are large and show clear images with surprising depth. I instantly know how to utilize this new technology – we can take the photos all over the country of the kids in Jace’s Places. Rather than tell stories, we will just show beautiful kids who need to be saved. Teen Jesus genius.  

“So, you want to take our picture?”
He frowns. “Can’t you come up with something better than a photo shoot.”
“Of course, we’ll spotlight the kids in Jace’s Place. With your eye, you’ll make stunning portraits. I want Martin Scorsese to use the film footage to tell the story. Your faces. Marty’s story.”
“I recommend Paul Morrissey over Scorsese,” Andy argues.
“If you want campy porn,” I counter.
“Ew, that hurts,” Jack says.
“You’re talking,” I exclaim.
“Oh, yeah. Just so happy to be with Andy,” Jack hugs him. “You know, Andy, Tim calls himself Andy in Iowa.”
“New York just isn’t big enough for two Andys,” I giggle.
Andy seems to get that I am not idolizing him. He may be a False God, but that is not an issue here.
“Use Marty as director and you get the whole movie already made. The original purpose was to tell the story of Jace’s Place. Think of it as an infomercial like you did as an advertising man, but on a bigger scale.”
“Please. Don’t remind me.”
He turns to Aaron and Paul. “And who are these pretty boys.”
“Meet Aaron and Paul, from St Patrick’s and Temple El Manu-el. They started a Jewish Jace’s Place .”
“Have a seat in front of the camera, boys, and tell me your story.”
Andy quizzes them and snaps photos with the Big Shot for about an hour. Their whole story captivates him. He expects boys to be burnouts and throw-aways. He loves how Aaron went to Catholic youth group to be with Paul. Aaron is a Jewish Teen Jesus.”
We finally get to Max’s around six. No sign of Trent and Brett, or as I now call them, Trend and Bent.  we warn Aaron and Paul about all the paparazzi. They are shy in the spotlight. Jack and I take over, escorting Andy and making his every wish come true.
“You know they wanted to arrest Jack in Florida after all those pictures of you two at Cannes.”
“How could they. I was a perfect gentleman.”
“Perfectly delicious,” Jack speaks again.
“While I was living in the Everglades, on catfish and rice.”
“With Swamp Boy.”
“Jack rushed to Iowa when he learned I had a new boyfriend.”
“Now the story gets better.” Andy rubs his hands.
“You chose me over him. End of story.”
“I think you lost your voice because Jesus abandoned you to the devilish serpent.”
“I almost died. You saved me.”
“You stopped talking to punish me and make me follow you to meet Andy in New York. I should be the one who’s jealous.”
“Aren’t you glad?”
“Boys, no need to argue in public.” We are embarrassing Andy.
I reach across the table and french Jack deeply. The boys look thrilled, while Andy smiles benignly. The flash bulbs are popping. I look into Jack’s eyes, as devotedly as I can muster. We turn and kiss Andy simultaneously on opposite cheeks. More flashes.
Trend and Bent chose to arrive at this moment, seeing us kissing the art icon. They rush over to get into the photos, total gossip sluts.
“How nice,” Andy observes. “More eye candy, and so preppy.”
They sparkle in the spotlight, but have nothing to say. I look them in the eye and give them the idiot grin. They immediately revert to mute clown idiots .
“These are my cousins, Trent and Brett,” Jack introduces them.
Their mouths drop open at hearing Jack speak, making their idiot grins look even scarier.
“Let’s interview them as the Upper Westside opinion on throwaway kids,” I suggest.
“Not until after we have at least another drink. What are you boys having?” he asks the brothers.
They have caught Jack’s mute condition.
“Get them teeny martinis,” I suggest.
“You boys no longer smoking pot?”
“Sorry. We’ve grown up.”
Trent pulls out a joint and silently offers it up.
“Prep school boys are always holding,” Andy observes.
I worry that Jack, having overcome the speech-phobia, will regress with a pot-inspired meltdown. It does not take long. Aaron and Paul love watching Jack go into sexual overdrive. Our whole group goes back to the Factory for the brothers’ photos. I lead Jack to the control room where I fucked Velvet Underground celebrity Lady Jane every which way to Sunday. I’m inspired enough to repeat the performance. Jack remains totally fucked up. We break up the party. From the signals I observe, Aaron and Paul may be staying on. Good for Andy, but that is against my same-age-only sex rule. Celebrity trumps rules. I just hope the boys will not be disappointed. They look really pleased as we leave. The brothers remain idiot-faced, muted clowns and follow us.
I promise Andy to get back to him with Marty’s response about the Jace infomercial.
It isn’t that late, so we drag Trent and Brett to Ho-Jo’s in Times Square for fried clams. I love sitting in the window, watching a rerun of my 14 year-old self. There do seem to be less kids on the street, but there are still plenty of druggie, prostitute adults to pick up the slack. Times Square is like Trafalgar Square, not the crossroads of the world, just its cesspool.
We are back at the Dakota before midnight, just in time for a lecture from Mummy.
“He’s speaking now,” the brothers try to explain our escapade.
“How’d that happen?” she asks.
“Andy Warhol took us for drinks,” Jack explains.
The brothers are now mini-celebrities by proximity. Wait until the morning Post comes out. Their friends are devoted to Page Six.
As we attempt to get to bed, the brothers create a contretemps about sharing our bedroom.
“There’s two beds there. We know you both only need one. Why can’t we use the other? We often sleep together.” Trend obviously wants gay sex lessons.
“What part of privacy do you not understand?” Jack counters.
“Please,” is the best argument they can muster.
We shut and lock the bedroom door. I swear I can hear them breathing as they lurk on the other side of the door. We mimic actual sex noises with squeals and moans. As we reach a fake climax, we throw open the door, catching them jerking each other off to their fantasies about us. They scurry back to the closet.
All these diversions do not dull our need to fuck each other. Jace joins in as well, happy we’ve gotten our groove back. I’m not ready to be fully penetrated yet, residual rape reluctance. But Casper’s ghostly dick is okay, comforting, not invading. He is glad to be the meat in our fuck sandwich. The sun is coming up over Central Park by the time all our hormones are satisfied. Sitting together in a big bay window, I realize how special the Dakota is. Jack tries to make excuses that it’s on the ‘wrong’ side of the Park, sounding too much like Trend and Bent. I hush him, saying the view alone is worth more than anyone else’s opinion. I carry him into bed, with Jace hovering until we both are sound asleep. I wake up in a couple of hours. Jack is in need of more beauty sleep. I remember that I have to return to Ames in just a two days.
I meet Mummy and Daddy in the dining room for breakfast. They are slightly upset that I dragged Jack off to Bohemian Downtown Manhattan. On the other hand, they are relieved that his speech has returned.
“Was there something you did that helped him recover?” Mummy asks.
“My therapist thinks I’m mostly to blame by putting so much stress on Jack, causing him to flee Switzerland to confront my new boyfriend. His subconscious was rebelling and punishing me.”
“It wasn’t the snake bite?”
“That was another thing from which I was to protect him. But I failed. He really almost died.”
“If you hadn’t stepped in, he would be dead,” Daddy defends me.
“The subconscious doesn’t think that logically.”
“Is he completely cured now?” Mummy is still anxious.
“Dr. Kam would caution that he may regress. I knew that seeing his old friends would help.”
“How are you getting along with the cousins?” Daddy asks.
I just laugh.
“Well, you continue to make the news,” as he picks up the Post.
Never shy, I eat up the multiple photos of our Andy tryst at Max’s. We are no longer old news. It reminds me that I need to speak with Marty. Fame can be fleeting. I only have a few days to line up the infomercial.
“You know I have to leave on Sunday. I promised the moms I wouldn’t stay longer. Do you think Jack can come back with me?”
“I don’t know, Tim. We’ll see what the doctors say. At the very least, he needs to recover more. I can’t help but think that the snake incident was a hate crime.”
“More like a trap we naively walked into. Ames is not like that rural town. Our Baptist Church is very supportive, believing that their prayers brought us into the fold.”
“We think that Catholic services are more appropriate.”
“My mom feels estranged from the local parish, as they condemn her relationship with Molly. But maybe Jack and I can switch back for mass. I see the snake incident as a warning about intolerance.”
“I’ll ask Father Frank to fly up. He’s back in Miami mostly. You and Johnny really bonded with him.”
“Great,” I answer but wonder why he is not taking the lead with the Jace’s Place project at St Patrick’s. Maybe I can do some convincing of my own.
“Is it okay to use the phone? I need to speak with Martin Scorsese.”
“He dumped Johnny fairly quickly after the movie failed at Cannes. I blame him for having to send our boy to the monastery in Geneva.”
“Well, without me to shill for the film, there wasn’t much for Johnny to say. I blame Social Services in Miami.”
“All’s well that ends well.”
Unless you have to live in a swamp for four months, which makes me think of Tommy. My heart feels conflicted. My dick reminds me that I have my mojo and sex drive back. Tommy is still in my heart.

I call Marty’s office first. The assistant demurs about a meeting, saying Marty is too involved with Academy promotion of ‘Taxi Driver’ in April. I drop Andy Warhol’s name and get a few minutes scheduled that morning. Marty is coming in around eleven. I have to be there to wait and hope he will see me. I tell the assistant to look for our photos in the Post, to assure him that my fame is reviving.

“Hi, Auntie Em,” I greet Tommy’s foster mom. “How’s Tommy doing?”
“To be honest, Huck, all he does is mope since he come back from Iowa. I’s afraid it was too much for the boy.”
“When’s a good time to call him?”
“Well, he’s home from school ‘sick,’ if you believe it.”
“I’ll try a quick cure on him.”
After a second for her to call him to the phone, he comes on with a hopeful hello.
“Hey, little bro. Are you really sick?”
“Naw. Jist sick o’school.”
“I’m in New York right now.”
“Kin ya come here, too?”
“Not ‘til I’s 18, but it ain’t that fer off.” It feels comfortable to fall into my country twang.
“I misses ya sum’thin’ terrible, Huck. I knows ya don’t means to be so mean, but it rilly hurts,” he sniffs.
“Don’t be a’cryin’ now. Ya cain’t say ya didn’t haves the bestest times a’fore ol’ Jack showed up. Remember snow angels?”
Now he is bawling into the phone. “I loves ya so much, Huck.”
“Y’all gots ta learn to share me. It’s a part o’growin’ up.”
“I wants ya ta love me as much as I loves you.”
“It don’t work that way. Ya cain’t deny we’s always had great times tagether. We gots ta build on that.”
“I gets so depressed thinkin’ ‘bout you’s.”
“Listen ta me, boy. Ya gots ta love urself first. Yer so cute and loveable, but if yer mopin’ all the time, I cain’t feel anything but sads ‘bout ya’s.”
“I ain’t that tough.”
“Yes, you are. Suck it up. And don’t be playin’ hookey from school. Jist go to see yer friends and have sum fun. Fergit yer troubles. Nothin’ gonna change ‘til I’s 18 and yer 16.”
“Ya think?” he sounds hopeful.
“’Course. We’s the Hillbilly Brothers.”
“Makin’ babies wid each other.”
“Better now?”
“Yeah, Hucky. Ya always knows how to git me a’goin’.”
“And a’goin’ to school taday, right?”
“Okay, yer right.”
“Luv ya, Tom.”
“Ya makes me so happy, Huck. But yer jist so damn mean, too.”
“That’s how I loves ya.”
“I ain’t never gonna be mean ta you’s.”
We hang up.
I call Jay and tell him to get a copy of the New York Post to show Mike Sr. He isn’t surprised we are getting publicity again.
“They diagnosed me as an Attention Addict in Iowa.”
“Sounds about right.”
“Tell Mike I’m tryin’ to get Marty to release the film to Andy Warhol so we can use it as an infomercial for Jace’s Place. I need his advice.”
“He’s tied up in a trial today. I’ll get the paper and tell him what you want to do. Call me tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Jay, as always.”
“You’re my favorite washed-up rocker.”
Not feeling washed up enough, I decide it’s time for a shower. In our room, Jack looks grumpy, with his cousins ensconced on our bed. I know how to get rid of them.
“Hey, have you seen Page Six today?”
They jump up and run to the dining room, Jack immediately brightens.
“Why do you let them run all over you?” I ask him.
“Typical habits of the idle rich, they feel entitled. What’s in the Post?”
“Perversion of idle youth by NYC’s most famous artist. They even got our names right – the return of the wunderkind.”
Jack breaks into song, ‘The Book of Love’,

‘……I wonder, wonder who, who-oo-ooh, who
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)…
I love you darlin’
Baby, you know I do
But I’ve got to see this Book of Love
Find out why it’s true
(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, who)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)
(Chapter One says to love him)
(You love him with all your heart)
(Chapter Two you tell him you’re)
(Never, never, never, never, ever gonna part)
(In Chapter Three remember the meaning of romance)
(In Chapter Four you break up
(But you give him just one more chance))
(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, wWho)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)
Baby, baby, baby
I love you, yes I do
Well it says so in this Book Of Love
Ours is the one that’s true’

Lyrics by Warren Davis, George Malone and Charles Patrick
Label – Mascot / Argo/Chess

I am kneeling in front of him on the bed, singing from the heart. The cousins rush back in with the newspaper, jumping into bed with us. I figure I can stand them a few more days. Jack seems totally recovered. We jump in the shower together, making sure we are thorough in all the right places.
We arrive at Martin’s office before eleven, prepared to wait for him. His assistant is pleasant but not exactly gay-friendly. There’s an Italian guy also waiting.
“Hey, it’s the mail box bomber from ‘Mean Streets.”
“Yeah. Well, I’m a psycho in the newest one. Hi, I’m Bobby.”
“You were our favorite in that one. You still off-kilter in ‘Taxi Driver‘?”
We all laugh.
“Yer the fags in Marty’s rock n roll movie.”
“Yeah. That was a real bomb, not just a mailbox one.”
“Glad I could inspire ya.”
“We wanna get Marty to re-edit it with Andy Warhol. Make it an art bomb.”
“My pops is an artist. But his career never blew up.”
“Andy has the Midas touch, everything turns golden.”
“I pretty much hate artists, too arty.”
“What’s that mean? Maybe being an artist makes ya arty?”
“Naw. They always try to make things bigger or more important than in real life.”
“Yeah. They’re so superficial and act self-important.”
“That’s Pops.”
Marty walks in on our gabfest.
“Well, looks who here, last year’s sensations and this year’s model,” he kids us.
“We’re discussing how you make bombs.”
“Hey, you missed Cannes. We never had a chance without your star-power. Why are you in the Post today?”
“We’re plotting our comeback.”
“That movie’s dead, boys.” What a great name for a band, I think.
“We got Andy interested in using it for his latest art project.”
“Warhol can’t seem to get enough of you boys.”
“We like kissing him.”
“On the ass, yeah,” Bobby quips.
“Who’s side are you on?”
“Whoever’s winning.”
“Last year’s winners are today’s forgotten memory.”
“We need you to let Andy Warhol turn Jace’s Tribute into an infomercial for the Jace’s Place project.”
“Andy always was an advertising hack.”
“He needs your genius to make the show relevant.”
“I got work backed up for years.”
“Success breeds contempt.”
“What, you little shit?”
“Hang on, Marty. Listen to what they have for you,” de Niro comes to our defense.
“Don’t be turning queer on me.” Marty attacks back.
“Hell, that would be the day all the saints and sinners in Little Italy roll over in their graves.”
“This has nothing to do with gay-lib. It’s about homeless kids,” I stop their diatribe.
“Who sell their asses to survive.” Bobby laughs.
“Give Andy a chance to show you the work he’s already created. It will not be in theaters, but in museums and galleries. Your film will be called art and be the heart of the exhibit.”
“How will I get my money back?”
“By making it seem like you really care. They’ll be lined up out the door for these shows.”
“Hey, the kid sounds like he’s from Hollywood.”
“He is. He got Doug Weston to sell Bill Burroughs’ ‘Wild Boys’ to MGM.”
“And you’re turning them down because?….” de Niro pushes Marty.
“I always bust chops.”
“Well, chop, chop. You and I havta be somewhere by noon. Tell them yes to whatever they want.”
“Okay, tell Warhol to send me a written spec sheet and proposal. You got your deal.”
“His assistant will contact your assistant. Thanks Marty. How’s yer Mom?”
“Get outta heah. This is no business for kids or my Mom.”
Jack and I look like we are about to hug him. He makes it known that is not going to happen. Instead we high-five each other.

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