Back at work after a two-week holiday, it is going to be a busy day. The Cambodian donut shop owner is happy to see me back, his regular customer. I buy extra donuts for all the staff, not just Landis. The message machine has over fifty messages. First, I call Jay in Miami.
“Hey, boyfriend. How was your holiday?” I greet him. “Any news on the baby front?”
“I need you, Tim. My wife looks like the Goodyear blimp. No action there.”
“You missed your shot when I was in Miami for New Year’s.”
“I can’t keep up with your plans.”
“Maybe you can come out here. I’ve got two musicians that need representation to get out of their current contracts, so they can sign with Universal.”
“Universal? They need movie contracts?”
“He needs a corporate lawyer then.”
“You’ll just represent the artists. I want to hire them to work on my movie.” I sound like Chris Miller.
“How long have you been back?”
“Sixteen hours. Things move fast out here.”
“I’ll be sure to bring my track shoes.”
“The artists are Joan Jett and Tom Petty, your buddy from Gainesville. Joan’s band is breaking up, and she needs to get out of their contract. Tom’s band is called the Heartbreakers. They are signed with Shelter but get no support.”
“Sounds like enough to keep me busy. I’ll do some research. Have the artists call me, so I can officially represent them.”
I leave a message at Edgar Jr.’s office, in the main building to call me. I’m going through the telephone messages when Landis arrives.
“You bought donuts for everyone?”
“Just happy to be back. Only those who come to work on time got one.”
“I saved you your favorite.” I’m back in his good graces. “Can we talk?”
“Why so serious.”
“I have staffing recommendations.”
We go into his office and shut the door. It was repaired over the holidays.
“I want to hire Tom Petty and Joan Jett as PAs.”
“Why not? Debbie will be pleased about Tom. But, isn’t Joan in a band on tour?”
“The Runaways are history. I told her my plan to have Tom on set to learn film production. She wants to do it, too. Music videos must evolve from the limits of taped performances. Songs tell stories best in video.”
“That’s interesting. Maybe I can direct music videos when our movie flops.”
He smiles. “Okay but run it through Legal.”
“I already have our lawyer on it. It’ll be great to have more musicians on set.”
“By the way, are you ready to drive to Portland this week-end? We have to check on locations.”
“Oh, god. What will Debbie think if I end up in some gay parade?”
“Don’t worry. She’ll love upgrading your wardrobe.”
Bronfman calls me. Eleven is starting time for the bosses. I tell him to wait for me in his office.
“What’s up, Tim, my man,” he’s being cool when I arrive.
“I’ve been telling you to sign these two artists. Now’s the time to start Universal Music. We’ll put them on the movie as PAs so they can learn how to film their songs.”
“Music videos are boring. They’re just documentaries of performances. They don’t sell.”
“That’s why you have to sign these two. Their songs are stories. They’ll be like cartoons or short features. It’ll be a revolution.
“Maybe,” he considers it. “Who are you talking about?”
“I told you, Joan Jett and Tom Petty. You were so hot to sign Elton, but these guys are the future.”
“They’re already under contract. I checked. And Joan Jett’s in a band.”
“The Runaways are breaking up. And Tom’s band gets no support from Shelter. I have my lawyer working on renegotiating.”
“Yeah. My guy in Miami.”
“Legal’s not going to like it.”
“You deal with Legal on setting up your label. My guy will strictly represent the artists. In the meantime, we’ll hire them to work on the movie.”
“You seem to have it all thought out. Is this the takeover of MCA-Universal? That’s my plan, so butt out.”
“Don’t worry, Edgar. This is strictly about the music. I owe you from not really giving you a chance at signing Elton.”
“He was more interested in his fairy boyfriend than talking with me.”
“You came through for Marty, so I owe you.”
“I heard Marty said you’ll never work in movies again.”
“We’ve made up.”
“You made up with the Italian mafia? Did they make you an offer you can’t refuse?”
We laugh. No horse heads in my bed. All my ducks are in a row. Time to go tell Joan.
“Get dressed. Your fans await,” I order.
“I don’t have any fans, except in Japan, and they don’t count.”
“You have no idea. You can tell them I’m your new boyfriend. It will crush their little hopes and dreams.”
“You are too much into yourself.”
“Keeps me from becoming a junkie,” I meow.
As soon as we walk in, all the girls scream and come running over. I’m fulfilling their wildest dreams.
“How do you know Tim?” Joan asks the girls.
“We recognized him from the photo of you playing with Elton John.”
“He gets the DJ at the Starwood to play Runaways.”
“He comes here with his boyfriend.”
“Ah, that’s so sweet,” they all sigh.
They pester us so much, we hardly have a chance to eat. Joan isn’t hungry anyway.
“Job Interview. You need a career upgrade.”
“I should go home first.”
“No way. Give those junkies a day or so to clear out.”
She laughs. “So, what’s my new career?”
“Movie production trainee. You’ll be a PA.”
“Oh, the horror.”
“Tom’s gonna be one too. You can both learn how to make interesting music videos.”
“He’s a junkie, too.”
“Call it rehab, then.”
“Tom’s excited and full of ideas about making 3 minute films of his songs.”
She gives me the silent treatment.
“At least pretend you want to do it. My boss has to hire you, so don’t be a mope.”
“Will we be working together?”
“Oh, you really like me? I thought it was just the dildo that was happy to be inside me.”
She laughs. “You’re the only one who’s ever admitted he enjoys it.”
“You are so weird.”
“So, you’re up for this? Music videos can’t get any worse.”
“Sure, sure. But I ain’t getting up at 8 o’clock in the morning.
“Don’t worry. It’ll be awhile before we start to shoot the movie.”
When we get back to the studio, Tom is waiting for me. All three of us go into Landis’s office for the job interviews. John is more intimidated than the two musicians. He tries asking them normal interview questions. It’s hopeless. They’ve never really worked before. Finally, Tom sings him a song, ‘Learning to Fly,’ explaining why he wants to learn about film making.
Joan seconds the idea. Landis just looks at me. I gave him the thumbs up and a big smile.
“Okay. Okay. You’re hired. We’ll start shooting as soon as I’ve tied down the locations, probably next month. Now let me go back to reality. This is not a Disney movie.”
Tom is all excited, putting his arm around Joan and telling us to come with him to ‘score.’ I have them first call Jay and agree that he’ll represent them as an attorney, not an agent. They both are anxious to get high. I tell them I have to work. Joan takes off with Tom. I’m relieved she doesn’t know I have a dinner date with Jake that night. She gets her guitars and amp out of the Wreck and into Tom’s beat-up van.
“Come jam with us after your date,” she tells me as they’re leaving.
“How did you know?”
“He called this morning before you got back.”
The two of them take off in a cloud of burned engine oil.
Jake meets me at Anna’s in West LA.
“Who was the girl at your place this morning?” is Jake first question.
“That’s Joan. She’s my new girlfriend.”
“That why she laughed when I told her to remind you of our date tonight?”
“There are no secrets in LA.”
“Good. But she did sound a bit surly.”
“I call it gnarly.”
“What? Like knotty wood?
Anna’s is cool – low lighting and mellow painted walls. Perfect for an intimate date. We discuss my activities since he dropped me off at the Whiskey. What I assume is memorable, he assumes is normal. Nothing fazes him. It’s all a turn-on. Soon we’re holding hands, staring into each other’s souls. I go back to his place. We make love under the stars up on the roof. I spend the night, after telling him I’m off to Portland momentarily to check locations for work. He tells me it’s a turn-on that I work so hard.
“The hardest working musician in rock n roll,” I tell him. Sorry, James Brown.
Once in bed, he gives me a blow job. I think I fell asleep before cumming. He assures me we both got off. While I shower, he makes breakfast which we eat on his patio. It’s 7 am. Jake admits to liking my country hours – up at the crack of dawn for milking.
Work is hectic, drawing up plans for scouting locations in Oregon. Miller insists he come, in order to have an accurate visual reference for his script writing.
“You’d be better off working on getting the script finalized by the end of the month, rather than running off on this road trip,” Landis warns him.
“I got it under control,” Miller claims.
When he learns that John and I are driving, with a stop in San Fran Crisco, as Miller calls it, he says he’ll fly and meet us in Portland. I’m relieved. The set designers will fly as well, rounding out the team. Jay faxes me contracts to be signed by the location owners. It takes all day to work out these details. Debbie is hired as the costume designer. Her first design is a toga for Belushi, made from a bed sheet. It will satisfy his demand to perform ‘Louie Louie’ in his underwear. Nobody likes that visual.
John asks me to join Debbie and him for dinner after work. We go to the Formosa. I make the dragon lady manager show John the special fortune cookies we used to get the legal guy off our backs. We read the whole catalog; there were sycophant fortunes (‘you are so beautiful’ and ‘everyone knows you are a genius), advice fortunes (‘now is the day to make a fortune’ and ‘take advantage of the opportunity seated across the table’), and miscellaneous fortunes for difficult occasions (‘don’t despair. Seize this as an opportunity’) We take turns reading the crazy fortunes, until the food comes. Debbie loves that I eat everything, including their portions.
“Busy day at work?” she asks as I’m finishing up the various dishes.
“Well, don’t let us keep you.”
“It doesn’t start ‘til ten,” I explain.
I ask them how they met and if John is a romantic. Debbie goes on and on about how great their marriage is. Little does she know that I’m dragging her hubby off to the gay house of S&M horrors that is San Francisco. John says nothing about our plans.
I go by the Canterbury to pick up Nicky and Alice. Nicky has to be convinced to come.
“I’m sick of watching you and those OC kids get high and run around causing trouble.”
“Don’t worry. I’m out of pot,” I convince him. I need to see Jimmy for a resupply.
Nicky’s grumpiness disappears when I let him drive the Wreck. The tires squeal when he takes the corner at Sunset and Highland on two wheels in front of Hollywood High. Sitting between us, Alice’s squeals to match the tires. We pull into the Starwood parking lot. We are quickly surrounded by potheads, expecting free joints.
“Check me later,” I give them hope.
Tony runs up, all excited. “We’ve got an English band tonight – the Jam. Doug won’t let them play the Troubadour. It’s their first show outside England.”
“Are they punk?”
“They didn’t say Punk. They claim to be Mod.”
“That may disappoint the hardcore kids.”
“Yeah. None of the local bands will open for them.”
This is my opening. “Hey, You shoulda asked me. I know the perfect band.”
“Way ahead of ya, Tim. I booked your friend Jim from OC.”
I run upstairs to the Green Room. Jim and his boys are looking very serious.
“You’re gonna get a great crowd.”
“Ya got that backwards. The Crowd’s gonna be great.”
We laugh. He asks if I have a joint to get the band toasted.
“I’ll go find weed. Did you bring the other OC kids?”
“Yeah. Those gangbangers from LaMirada.”
“I’m outta stash,” I confess. He takes me into the bathroom and loads me up. We share a joint.
“Where ya been?” I haven’t seen him since going back for finals. “You pass yer tests?”
It seems ages ago. “I don’t know. Probably. I went home fer Christmas, gettin; the old band to play a New Year’s party in Miami.”
I have our Miami Herald review in my back pocket but no need to impress Jimmy.
I run back to the Green Room and get The Crowd wasted. Jim grabs me around the neck. I’m afraid he’s about to molest me. He is strictly business, thanking me for getting them the gig. I tell him to thank Tony.
“Hey, West Hollywood. Y’all here to cheer the English? Got your Mod gear on? All into the Mod Squad? Well, before The Jam plays, to quote Alice Bag, ‘We Don’t Need the English,’ we’ve got The Crowd, from Huntington Beach. So get outta the way of the beach kids, before your brothel creepers get stepped on.”
The trendies move back as all the OC kids rush the stage. Jim runs out and takes the mic from me. I jump into the crowd, pushing my way into the pit. Before any music is played, we’re thrashing around. The littlest kid goes down, gets pulled up and carried around above our heads. The Crowd starts playing ‘Just Another Crowd’
The ska beat gets everyone moving in one direction. I’m worried the kids will break out jitterbugging with each other. No problem – OC self-hate means OC kids don’t dance together. Everyone is too sweaty, anyway.
The Crowd keeps up a frantic pace throughout their entire set. I take a break and smoke out the LMPs in the bathroom. We all charge out into The Jam fans, waiting for their heroes to appear. Eddie leads the charge, knocking over anyone just standing there. Two skinheads are looking out-of-place until Steve, the Battered Housewife’ pushes them. They instantly spring into action, knocking him down and stomping him with their Doc Martens. The other LMPs let him take a beating before rushing in and dragging him away. I swear Steve looks happy that his friends ‘saved’ him.
The Crowd plays ‘Friends’
Steve jumps up onstage and sings with Jim, ‘when your friends are one.’ He still has the bathroom joint, which he lights up and passes to Jim. The power is cut instantly – no drug activity allowed onstage at the Starwood. The kids boo; the Crowd leaves the stage thinking the boos are directed at them. Fame can be fleeting.
I rush back to the Green Room and give them my critique that it’s the Starwood management that was booed for stopping their show. They seem relieved. The next time they open for an English band, it’s The Clash plus Bo Diddley at the Santa Monica Civic. The Jam guys come over. We all share another joint. They complimented Jim on his show.
“We’re bloody surprised to hear a Ska Band in LA. Makes me feel right at home,” Peter Weller, their singer, says.
Jim is frustrated that they hadn’t played their ‘hit’ song, “The Right Place.” He does it a Capella right there in the Green Room for The Jam
Weller plugs in to a practice amp and does ‘In the City’ solo.
Everyone is in a good mood. Time for another joint. I leave them to appreciate themselves. Musicians!
Tony is by the bar, enjoying his successful booking.
“The bands are singing to each other in the Green Room,” I inform him.
“Mods are so nice. Those OC kids thought it was Punk that The Crowd played.
“It is. He never knew it was ska until the Jam’s Weller just told him.”
“I suppose Jimmy’s to blame for all the joints going round.”
“We have a deal. He supplies. I distribute.”
“Well, don’t let Eddie Nash know you’re cutting into his territory. He’s a major West Hollywood drug dealer.”
“He’ll never compete with free weed.”
“I’ll tell him to concentrate on hard drugs.”
“How else can it survive. These kids sneak in, never buy drinks, and expect you to smoke them out.”
“Tell Eddie I’m open to any offer I can’t refuse. No horse heads in my bed please.”
While we’re laughing, Jimmy comes over and joins us.
“Glad yer back, Tim. Doug’s been complaining that we no longer meet his every need.”
We all really laugh.
“So, when can you spend the night?” Jimmy is pimping me.
“I leave for Portland sometime this week.”
“Who’s idea was it to make him a bottom?” I ask.
They both yelled, “You!”
“Oh, well. I’ll come over after Church Group tomorrow night. I may havta bring reinforcements, if all three of you are in need of servicing.”
We laugh hard, but they won’t agree that I should add to our four-way.
The Jam has set up and are ready to start. The pit is claimed by the OC kids. The Mods leave a small DMZ between the pit and where they don’t get pushed and shoved. A détente.
They open with ‘Down at the Tube Station’
It confuses the pit thrashers with varying tempos. A few kids start to pogo which spreads to all the others. Some of the mods, familiar with the radio song, join in, breaking down the barrier between Mod and surf punk. The next few songs are ballads, losing the kids who are replaced upfront by Mods who just wave at the band, their heroes. It turns into a concert, reminding me of their Mod roots, the Who – back to the sixties.
I leave Tony and Jimmy, promising to meet them the next night, after my Church group. Nicky and Alice are ready to go, finding the Jam less than exciting. I try to explain to deaf ears their connection to The Who.
We collect the LMPs and invade Oki Dog. With the Starwood show still going, we are the only ones not selling ourselves, at least not that night. I pay for Oki Dogs. Yoki makes me promise to keep Alice at the side, so as not to ‘spook away the trade’.
Such antediluvian attitudes for the sexual revolution. Soon the troops from the Starwood fill up the parking lot, paying for their dogs with their allowances. The trade stays up front, now intimidated by teenagers. Joints are passed around and the night ends.
“You guys havta take the bus home.” I inform the LMPs, with Steve giving me a beseeching look. “Y’all can’t stay with me. I’ve got a girlfriend now.”
“Who’s yer girlfriend?” Eddie demands.
“Joan Jett,” I tell them, even though I’m not sure she’ll still be there.
“How’s that work?” Steve wants details.
They look distressed and leave for the bus stop.
“Really?” Alice needs to know.
“No. She’s not really a lesbian. I just told them that.”
“Really?” Alice seems to have a different opinion.
“And when are you going to book The Bags?” she demands.
“It’s Tony who does the bookings,” I try to avoid responsibility.
‘Well, he’s your boy. Tell him we’re ready to make our Hollywood debut.”
“I did quote your English line on stage tonight,” I offer as a sop.
“Do we get paid for that?”
“How about a joint?” I offer.
She pockets it. Nicky does not look pleased.
What is that line about trying to please everybody all the time?
“You should give me spare keys to your room and the Wreck. You never know when an emergency may come up and you’ll need me to pick you up.”
“And, maybe you can use the phone when I’m not home.”
“Thank you,” he is unusually effusive. “That would be great. I promise not to call long distance.”
Alice and I both laugh.
“I’ll have keys made tomorrow. You’ll need to go to Rent-a-Wreck with me, to get you on the insurance. You do have a license?”
“Oh, yeah. I’m going to start driving for Yellow Cab soon.”
“You’re going to work?” none of our friends work, planning on soon becoming rich rock musicians.
Finally, I’m in bed, stretched out to the full extent of the Murphy. Joan is obviously staying with Tom. She’s a real heartbreaker. It’s so unusual for me to sleep alone. I doubt I’ll get used to it. In the morning I go over and have breakfast with Jake. He’s learned that I like Eggs Benedict. He attempts to best Isabelle’s preparation. His presentation is better, with fine china and hollandaise sauce drizzled just right. It wasn’t better, but the eggs are still divine. I almost consider not going to work. In the back of my mind, Dad’s voice reminds me it is almost eight o’clock.
“I’ll be out-of-town this weekend. We’re scouting locations in Portland, and stopping in ‘Frisco on the way up. Any suggestions?”
He comes up with a list of ‘hot’ bars – leather, daddy, S&M, glitter/disco. He asks if John is gay.
“He’s terrified that his wife will find out we’re checking out San Fran.”
“Naw. I can tell. He’s just comfortable with it. The gay hater is flying to Portland. John’s my defender.”
“Nice to have the boss in your pocket.”
“And not in my pants.”
At work, we’re in a frenzy. John announces that we’re leaving the next day and will be gone for a week. All requests have to be submitted and approved before we can leave. Universal’s travel department has made flight reservations. Miller and the set crew will meet us in Portland on Monday, giving John and me the weekend in ‘Frisco. When Miller starts to mock me about ‘Crisco, a look from John shuts him down. He has mostly ignored me since our boxing match. I’m to be at John’s Woodland Hills house early the next morning. He nixes traveling in the Wreck, convinced it’s about to break down.
I call Father Luke at St Viktor and ask him to dinner. We agree to meet at the French Marketplace on Santa Monica. He’s totally tuned in to West Hollywood gay subculture. He is quickly becoming my favorite priest. It’s pleasant having normal conversation while all around us everyone else is cruising each other. Maybe wearing a collar disqualifies him. I get lots of looks, but mostly they seem sorry for me, sitting with the priest. Good preparation for the Dignity meeting.
The group is excited that I have returned, welcoming me like a long-lost friend. I promise not to preach this time.
“Will Teen Jesus appear?”
“He just arrived.”
The typical glow emanates from just about everyone, even Father Luke. Jace makes the rounds, tapping everyone on the head, except the youngest gets another kiss on the cheek. We could turn out the lights and not be in the dark.
“I’m going to San Francisco tomorrow,” I announce. “My boss wants to meet the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”
They all know all about that Order. I get addresses, even telephone numbers and directions to the Castro. John Waters’ ‘Pink Flamingoes’ is the midnight show at the Castro movie theater. Someone gives me Divine’s address and phone number.
“Enough about me. How was everyone’s Christmas?”
“Didn’t the Church celebrate?”
“They asked us to stay away from ‘family’ masses, so the parents can bring their kids.”
“You were told not to attend certain masses?” I look directly at Father Luke.
“It’s not his fault. Last year we kinda got carried away, with the Tra la la la la’s.”
“Next year, we’ll have a Dignity celebration and invite the parents to show that we’re all Christians,” Father Luke promises.
Maybe Dignity’s not the right name for the group, I think.
We gossip about Jake and Jack. They’re scandalized that I have a girlfriend now. I explain that Flo and Trudie are also my girlfriends. They assume that the girls are all fag hags. I tell them about Joan’s strap-on. They go further into shock.
“Are you bi-curious?” one asks.
“You mean a tourist to the gay life?” I joke. “That’s a cop-out. All gay teens pray they are bi, until they finally wake up, with their butt in the air and smell where their dicks have been.”
Father Luke puts a stop to our sensationalizing ourselves.
“I’ve known since I was fourteen that I’m gay. I just don’t know how to stop liking girls. It’s just so much easier to have a boyfriend. Girls love gay guys. It solves the parent problem of insisting they stay virgins until marriage.”
Several note they stay in contact with their high school girlfriends. Others feel guilty that they deceived the girls by denying their true sexuality. Sexual confusion reigns. Father Luke allows our discussion to proceed without his/Church input, explaining, “the Church has little relevance to current sexual mores. We stay out of the debates for fear of seeming clueless.”
Everyone cheers. Jace hugs him, turning him bright red.
“Do you believe celibacy has relevance?” I ask him.
“Certainly it does for me. It makes it easier dealing with gay parishioners.”
“Quite possibly, but for the Church, the concept of priests becoming Christ’s bride answers the conflict about sexual feelings.”
“You have gay feelings for Jesus?”
“I have a spiritual connection instead of a sexual one.”
That shuts us up. Since Father Luke is not gay, it really is of little interest how he gets off. I want to defend my friend, the priest. Jace goes over and sits with him. Father Luke looks totally contented. I’m glad for him.
Before I leave, I give out my new phone number. Several guys write out places to visit in San Francisco.
I get to the Troubadour in time to catch the last show. I end up smoking out with Tony in the office. Doug walks in on us, happy that I’m spending the night with them. He has the bartender close out the deposit as we wait for him at Dan Tana’s. We’re already eating pizza when he arrives. He orders another pizza, reveling in his faux-teen appetite. We make quick work of the slices and head to the house. It seems so big, now that I live in a shoe box. Not that I’m complaining.
We all take showers, Tony with Doug, Jimmy and I together. After jumping into Doug’s king-size bed. I notice how Doug’s libido has changed. He lets us take charge and revels in being dominated. Tony and Jimmy tie Doug’s arms and legs up, as he lies on his back. We’re a clockwork sex machine, with all parts moving in synch. Finally, it becomes too much for Doug.
“Stop. Stop,” he yells, about to cum.
We’re all waiting on Doug who is holding his breath in an attempt not to cum. He does not last long. We all collapse into a spent pile of monkey bodies. I fall asleep, but Doug shakes me,
“Untie me before you all go to sleep.”
We laugh and run off to shower. Tony knows it’s his job to untie Doug. After showers we all climb into his bed and are soon asleep.