7 – Blog 25 – Bromley Contingent

Claude Nobs presides over our post-show meal in a private dining room. He settles up for the weekend shows at the Montreux Casino.

“It was a sellout both nights and we cleaned up,” Claude crows. “Bowie’s split goes to MainMan in  New York per their contract. Queen’s split goes to Miami Beach. Mike can’t be paid due to the court order.”

“Back of the bus again,” I crow. Mike never gets paid.

“Here’s two thousand for each of the Knobs and Bowie’s Berlin band,” Claude slaps 100 CH franc notes on the table in front of the musicians. “I guess the rest is for Laz since he played with every act.”

A pile of bank notes sits in front of me. I count 200 of the 100 franc bills. 20,000 francs! I give half to Henri to keep the swim instructors paid through the summer (100 francs a day).

“Here Mike, I’ll pay you 2,000 francs like all the other musicians.” As I slide twenty 100 franc notes under the table. He quickly pockets the cash. I wonder if he has any money of his own after twelve years of Jackson 5 shows and recently starring in Diana Ross’s Wiz musical film as the Scarecrow.

Musicians always get screwed by their managers and Mike’s manager is also his dad. Doubly screwed. Next, I give Duncan 100 francs for his role. He shrugs; money means nothing to him. The remaining 7900 francs I stuff in my pocket. Freddie shakes his head; I hand over all but 1000 francs, saying, “Rent.” He laughs and says he will hold it for me. Money.

I notice security blocking Danny Baker, the NME reporter, at the door. I figure it is my only chance to get a review is with this supposed English punk rock reporter.

“Let ‘em in, s’il vous plais,” I shout at the guard. “He’s an English alien.”

Claude nods.

Baker sits next to me but seems more interested in Mike.

“Why were you running around on stage and occasionally singing high notes no else can reach?”

“Laz is my best friend,” is Mike’s answer.

“Are you lovers,” Baker cannot help being a gossip rag journalist.

Oh, no.

“What kind of friend makes you have sex with him?” Mike scoffs.

“Someone living with Freddie Mercury?” Baker has all the answers.

“Are you jealous? We can go to Taboo after we eat?” I suggest.

“So, you are gay?”

“Will that be your big story, outing teenagers?”

“So, you don’t deny it?”

“That’s your method, guilty until proven otherwise?”

“That’s what interests teens, gay and straight.”

“What did you think of the punk song we did when everyone was leaving?”

Do I care what he thinks?

“You told everyone to go to Taboo, the gay club across the plaza.”

“That proves I’m gay?”

Freddie has been listening. “They love me there. Let’s hit the club. You can see who’s really gay.”

Baker blanches. Maybe he’s a homophobe, afraid he will get turned on?

“Wait,” Henri orders. “We need to decide when the next show will be.”

“Let’s do Geneve,” I propose, “where White D can perform again for the fans.”

“Who’s White D?” everyone shouts.

“She’s my girlfriend,” I cryptically answer.

Mike looks concerned.

“She’s the white dolphin,” I whisper in his ear.

“You’re into bestiality?” he whispers back.

“We haven’t done anything yet. I just know we love each other.”

He shakes his head, maybe he has abandonment issues.

“We can have a three-way,” I suggest.

“I’ll drown,” he complains.

Everyone is staring at us. Henri saves the day.

“I lined up Earl’s Court in London for next weekend.”

That’s jumping ahead of my plan to tour Europe, ending with 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

“I can’t go to England,” Freddie is out. “They’ll tax my ass for everything I’ve got.”

“I talked to Miami Beach,” Claude is on top of it. “It will be a benefit for immigrants. You are performing for free.”

“Everyone is playing for free?” I ask.

“Yassassin,” Claude crows.

“Yassass-crap,” is Billy’s reaction.

I pull Miami Beach aside. “How about free time at Mountain Studios. Claude is building it here at the Casino. He can charge the logistics bill for Earl’s Court to pay for studio time. The guys will profit from what they record.”

“Merdre¸ Laz. You are the Boss, stealing from the immigrants.”

“They get a free show and won’t complain.”

“Illegals never complain,” Miami notes. “When did you learn to screw everyone involved.”

“Just doin’ what comes naturally.”

I break into song

“Okay, Boss. What’s the score?” Billy asks.

“Claude’s giving all of us free studio time to make up for no pay in London when he opens Mountain Studios.”

“Yeah, since he has no other bands signed up, he needs us to promote this next project. It’s a win-win.”

“Let’s go to Taboo to celebrate,” I proclaim.

As Mike and I walk out with everyone, Baker runs up.

“I can’t go to a gay bar,” he moans.

“Afraid you’ll get hit on?” I reply. “What better way to find out who’s gay.”

“Who cares?” Baker complains now that he must personally investigate gayness.

“Gay men love us, regretting their lost youth in the closet.”

Baker finally laughs.

“So, you do have a sense of humor?”

We walk up the plaza toward Taboo. Baker still seems reluctant to go in.

“How come you don’t look like a punk?” Mike asks Baker.

“A poseur tries ‘to look like a punk.’”

“To be punk you have to reject looking like a punk?”

“I’m part of the Bromley Contingent.”

“I’m number 101,” I crow

“I knew you were from LA.”

“Just Hollywood, in my dreams.”

We catch up with Freddie and the Knobs at the door in order to get in for free. David takes Duncan home, way past his bedtime. The queen musicians have no interest in the gay lifestyle even when Freddie tells them we all will be worshipped. Roger is worshipped in his own mind. Deacy just goes home with him.

Once inside we create a big stir. Queen and Bowie are gay favorites and many Taboo patrons were at the show. Just as I told them, they came to Taboo. The DJ has Freddie in his booth, asking him to sing. We all stand in front and back him up on ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’

Half the crowd remembers this new song from the show. The energy builds as the fast tempo gets everyone moving and grooving. We sing ‘Don’t stop me, don’t stop me …’ Freddie echoes ‘we’re having a good time.’ By the end the whole club is rocking.

The DJ plays ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ as Freddie and entourage (us) escape to the VIP section. Champagne is liberally shared.

We drag Baker away from the VIP life so we can watch all the cruising start

“Here’s how you keep from being hit on,” I show Baker by taking Mike’s hand, every time some cruiser looks like they may hit on us. “These Swiss are so polite; and, they are prejudiced against Blacks.”

Mike frowns at me. His celebrity trumps skin color. We keep holding hands as Baker has to fend off half-hearted attempts to grab his attention.

“The Swiss are racist?” Baker isn’t really a journalist.

“Just the adults having been born in the Nazi era of Swiss neutrality. The kids want to break out of the stereotype.”

Mike adds, “Laz and I were doing the dolphin act. Actually, Laz was teaching me to swim and I rode on his back.”

“Yeah, the local kids thought all Americans are racists (which they are). Seeing us swimming together and so comfortable, they looked around, wanting to be supportive. The kid with darkest skin is Amar. They all wanted to be his friend. His popularity soared.”

“So, you fagged off on each other to prove you aren’t racist.”

“No. Mike was riding me in the water. There were no hard-ons in sight.” I explain. “Why are you so fixated on the gay life.”

“I’m not used to people acting so gay when they’re not.”

“We’re not gay. We’re happy,” Mike explains

“Now, let’s watch real gay life as the Knobs get picked off,” I point at my band mates leaving the VIP table to ‘mingle.’

It does not take long for the pitchers and the catchers to pair up.

“Off to the back room where the real action takes place. You wanna check it out?” I ask the horrified Baker to make it real.

He makes a hasty exit. Mike and I are left alone. I pull him into a hug as he nuzzles into my shoulder. That is about as gay as it gets.

“Are we weird that we don’t need to have sex?” Mike asks.

“Science says guys reach their sexual peak at 17. Maybe you should skip checking the sex box on your bucket list.”

“Bucket list?”

“Yeah all the things you don’t want anyone to know you want to do before kicking the bucket.”

“That’s for old people.”

“Well. We’re old if we never want to have sex.”

“I thought you plan to lose your virginity to the white dolphin?”

“Do I hear a hint of jealousy?”

“I’m not planning on a three-way.”

“Maybe a black dolphin?”

“That’s racist.”

“If not dolphins, how about a girl?”

“I made out with a girl on the Wiz set,” he brags.

“Was her name Dorothy?”

“No, And, unlike you, it wasn’t Toto.”

We giggle.

“Let’s get out of here,” Mike suggests. “And, no. I have a crush on Diana Ross but that’s not happening.”

“Good,” I agree. “I was getting jealous.”

We walk out of Taboo with our arms wrapped around each other.

The bouncer winks at me and whispers, “Scored the pop star?”

I sing, “We’re lovers and that is a fact.”

It all reminds me of swimming at the Lake. We walk arm in arm along the Lake Geneva waterfront. The moon is up. I search for any dolphin signs. Mike pulls me closer and whispers, “You are mine tonight.”

I sigh.

We sit under the tree where Bowie teaches guitar. I sing ‘Prettiest Star” to Mike.

‘Cold fire, you’ve got everything but cold fire
You will be my rest and peace child
I moved up to take a place, near you
So tired, it’s the sky that makes you feel tried
It’s a trick to make you see wide
It can all but break your heart, in pieces
Staying back in your memory
Are the movies in the dark
How you moved is all it takes
To sing a song of when I loved
The prettiest star
One day though it might as well be someday
You and I will rise up all the way
All because of what you are
The prettiest star
Staying back in your memory
Are the movies in the past
How you moved is all it takes
To sing a song of when I loved
Prettiest star
One day though it might as well be someday
You and I will rise up all the way
All because of what you are
The prettiest star

Songwriters: David Bowie

The Prettiest Star lyrics © Carlin Music Corp

Mike kisses me. We lay back against the willow tree.

After staying silent a few minutes, I look around and find we are not alone. It is one of the swim lesson kids. I motion for him to join us. He seems shy. We get up and walk over to him.

“How was the show tonight?” he asks.

“You didn’t come?”

“I was not chosen to spin and the tickets were 35 francs.”

“Why are you here all alone?” Mike asks.

“No place to go.”

“Porquoi?”

“Mon pere.”

“La meme pour moi,” Mike sympathizes.

“Come stay with us at Freddie’s,” I suggest.

He just stares at the ground. We put an arm around him and walk up the hill to the Lake House.

Jim finds us in the kitchen and insists he make our midnight snack. Emile (the boy’s name) is ravenous and devours several helpings of scrambled eggs. After having enough, he turns on the most rapturous smile.

He is our prettiest star.

Jim makes up a bed for Emile in the lounge. We are too old for sleepovers with a fifteen-year-old.

In the morning, Mike and I get up early. We wake Emile and drag him to get croissants.

“How many can you eat?” I ask him.

“L’un est bien.” (One)

“Right.”

I order a dozen. The Knobs will need calories after their nighttime escapades. Jim has coffee ready and sits with us as Emile stuffs his face.

“How did the show go?” Jim asks.

“I’m the new Ziggy Stardust,” I proclaim.

“Bowie is retiring?” Jim laughs.

“He’s an adult now and taking up causes, like immigration,” Mike explains.

“He even sang to Duncan on stage, ‘Prettiest Star.’

“I like that one, not too deranged,” Jim asserts.

“It’s our song,” Mike announces. “Laz sang it to me at the Lake.”

“So, you are boyfriends now.”

“No, just romantically-inclined best friends.”

“J’ai vu les deux s’embrasser au lac,” Emile pipes up.

“Emile garde notre secret et nous le nourrissons,” I confess to blackmailing Emile.

“Vous n’êtes pas gay?”

“Quelle dommage

Mike and I stand up and sing ‘Isn’t it a Pity’

Freddie walks in as we sing.

“Why so sad, kids? Nothing should burst your bubble after last night.” He asks.

“This is Emile, one of the swim kids. He saw us kiss and thought we were gay,” I explain.

“Hi, Emile. You’re not the only one confused.”

“Pardon?”

“Oh, oui. C’est le grand mystère.”

Emile breaks out another one of his glorious smiles.

Freddie is enchanted. I stand up and kiss Freddie, then whisper that Emile is 15. He whispers back, “When are we getting together again?”

I wink and sit back down with Mike. Time for swimming. Hopefully White D will straighten out my head.

It being Sunday morning, I am not sure if lessons will happen, or if kids will even show up. Thankfully, there is a crowd near the willow tree by the shore. They cheer our arrival, noting that Emile accompanies us. His friends know he is homeless and seem jealous that he may be staying at Freddie’s.

I ask Amar if Emile can stay with him. “I’ll have to ask mon Popa,” was his response.

“He lets Duncan stay.”

“Well, Emile’s father will have to give his permission. He is angry at Emile.”

“What did Emile do?”

“No one knows, but he has been sleeping at the Lakefront for several nights.”

“How about you work with Emile on his Dervish spinning. He says he wasn’t picked for the show.”

“Okay. Popa will approve. Do you think he wants to be Sufi?”

“As long as he eats, he will be happy,” I explain. “Here’s fifty francs for pizza today. Take Emile and bring back enough for everyone once the swim lessons are done.”

Amar grins and goes to discuss things with Emile.

Mike goes with all the kids who are learning to swim. I look out over the lake, hoping the dolphins will appear. No such luck. I sit with David who is strumming his guitar under the willow tree.

“Do you think it is the music that draws the dolphins?” I ask Bowie.

“Missing White D, your girlfriend?”

“Yeah. I was sure she’d come today.”

“Well, before the swim lessons are done, we’ll try to get their attention.”

“I’m so happy. Last night was so great.”

I sit beside David and lean against him  as he strums, putting my head on his shoulder.

“Thank you for taking over the Ziggy Stardust role. It is so liberating to sing and play with you,” David coos.

“We should rehearse for the London show coming up next weekend.”

“Do we need to? You seem to know all my songs.”

“I don’t mean just the playing, but choosing which songs that clearly show you have evolved past the Spiders from Mars. And, the staging. Think they can have wires so we can fly?”

He smiles and laughs. “You really push it, Laz. Speak with Henri about staging. I can rocket away as Major Tom and you come back as Ziggy.”

“Come to Freddie’s for lunch. We can discuss the set list.”

“You are the Boss.”

Our reveries are interrupted by the arrival of NME’s punk reporter, Danny Baker, the buzz killer.

“Well, you two look comfy,” he has no respect for Bowie.

We just stare at him.

“Well, I found out about your Dr. Jacques. He’s well known for practicing quack medicine.”

This will not end well.

“Do I look like I am suffering from malpractice?”

“Not yet.”

“What does that mean?”

“There may be long term side effects from his treatments.”

“Who told you this?”

“I have my sources.”

Bowie interrupts our argument, “How can justify scaring someone with unverified information. What journalistic ethics allows you to threaten this boy.”

“He’s hardly a boy.”

“You are evading the question. We have allowed you to write about our shows and all you want to do is dig up dirt about our lives. Now you are scaring Laz with information you refuse to verify. I’m calling your editor, Nick Logan, and having you pulled off this assignment. You’ve been nothing but a troublemaker trying to stir up dirt where none exists.”

Baker turns white. “Logan told me to report from a youthful point of view.”

“So, you attack the youth who are younger than you? We’re ready to get these kids singing and playing guitars together while the Dervish spin to the music, and maybe, just maybe, the lake dolphins will come and put on their own show. That’s a story about youth uniting. Get you nose out of your ass and start watching what’s going on.” Bowie continues to chew out Baker.

I feel terrible and walk down to the lake shore. If a dolphin can sense our feelings, I fear this fight with Baker will drive her away. I chuckle at my quoting ‘Heroes’ lyrics:

‘Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day’

I feel better. A sudden joy comes into my heart. Looking out over the water, I see White D’s dorsal fin. I click to her. ‘click click click.’

She dives under and flips out high above the lake. The swimmers run to where I sit. Bowie brings his guitar and everyone sings in German

The swimmers rush into the water. White D’s pod of blue dolphins swim toward them. I strip to my swim suit and swim out to White D, clasping her around the neck. She dives deep and kicks swiftly back to the surface. Both of us fly into the air. I rotate underneath her slick belly as she spasms and vibrates. The connection is complete. I fail to make love to her; she knows that is impossible. Only Greek gods do that.

The dolphins play with us long enough that one swimming novice starts to flail. The dolphins bring her to shore. One of the instructors applies the Heimlich maneuver and she spits up the swallowed water and gasps for breath. Out local gendarme rushes over after calling for help. They take her to the hospital to make sure she is okay. Our session is over. Bowie tells Baker to get his act together.

“We will be in London this weekend at Earl’s Court. I suggest you file your story about Montreux and tell your readers not to miss the London gig.”

Baker just stares at us. I hate what he told me. His brash attitude got him to cover us. Whether he reports the truth is irrelevant. He walks away.

Duncan is with Amar and Emile carrying twenty boxes of pizza. Everyone has plenty. We sit around talking about the dolphins. I try to get them to discuss the previous two nights’ shows, but it is dolphins they want to talk about.

“Did you have sex with White D?” one boy asks, already knowing her name.

“Elle a eu un orgasme,” I admit, “But it was not about sex for me. Non pas pour moi.”

I jump up and sing ‘Ce Plane pour Moi’

I go crazy, jumping all over the place. Fuck Baker. White D loves me. The kids jump around with me.

‘Wam! Bam! Mon chat, splatch

Gît sur mon lit a bouffé sa langue en buvant dans mon whisky

Quant à moi, peu dormi, vidé, brimé

J’ai dû dormir dans la gouttière, où j’ai eu un flash (hou-hou-oou-oou!)

En quatre couleurs

Allez hop! Un matin une louloute est v’nue chez-moi

Poupée de Cellophane, cheveux chinois

Un sparadrap, une gueule de bois

A bu ma bière dans un grand verre en caoutchouc (hou-hou-oou-oou!)

Comme un indien dans son igloo

Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi, moi, moi, moi, moi, ça plane pour moi

(Hou-hou-oou-oou!) ça plane pour moi

Allez hop! La nana

Quel panard, quelle vibration de s’envoyer sur le paillasson

Limée, ruinée, vidée, comblée

“You are the king of the divan!”

Qu’elle me dit en passant (hou-hou-oou-oou!)

I am the king of the divan

Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi, moi, moi, moi, moi, ça plane pour moi

(Hou-hou-oou-oou!) ça plane pour moi

Allez hop! T’occupe, t’inquiète, touche pas ma planète

It’s not today que le ciel me tombera sur la tête

Et que l’alcool me manquera

(Hou-hou-oou-oou!)

Ça plane pour moi

Allez hop ma nana s’est tirée, s’est barrée

Enfin c’est marre, a tout cassé, l’évier, le bar me laissant seul

Comme un grand connard

(Hou-hou-oou-oou!)

Le pied dans l’plat

Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi, moi, moi, moi, moi, ça plane pour moi

(Hou-hou-oou-oou!) ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi, moi, moi, moi, moi, ça plane pour moi’

Written by: Francis Jean Deprijck, Yves Maurice A Lacomblez

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

We collapse on the ground. Amar and Emile take one of the last pizzas to the hospital for the girl who almost drowned. Good move.

Back at the house, Bowie and Freddie converse, then go into Freddie’s bedroom. I feel relieved that Freddie is fully satisfied in the bedroom department. Bowie has a prodigious sexual reputation.

Mike and I lay out by the pool. He seems let down.

“Still jealous about White D and me?”

“If that’s how you get off, I don’t want to know.”

“Don’t worry. My dick has a mind of its own and is not into fish and chips.”

We laugh at my lame joke.

“I’ve been worried my dad will show up and drag me away.”

“He has to get by me,” as I flex measly swimming muscles.

“You can’t fight.”

“Yes I can. You think I’m a wimp.”

“What if you hit your head? Baker said you could relapse.”

That is a buzz kill. I need to speak with Dr Jacques.

We both lay there thinking about our problems. The thrill of swimming with White D fades as I confront possibly being in a coma again.

Mike slides his chaise closer, and we hold hands. We face our demons together.

Bowie walks out onto the pool deck.

“You boys are so cute together. Why the sad faces?”

I sing the Everly Brothers ‘Problems’

Bowie grabs a guitar and all three of us sing

‘Problems, problems, problems all day long
Will my problems work out right or wrong
My baby don’t like anything I do
My teacher seems to feel the same way too

Worries, worries pile up on my head
Woe is me I should have stayed in bed
Can’t get the car my marks ain’t been so good
My love life just ain’t swingin’ like it should

Problems, problems, problems
They’re all on account-a my lovin’ you like I do
Problems, problems, problems
They won’t be solved until I’m sure of you
You can solve my problems with a love that’s true’

Recorded by the Everly Brothers
Written by Boudleaux Bryant and Felice Bryant

Bowie opens his arms and all of us hug. I love my friends. Is that a problem, too?

“I have to see Dr Jacques as soon as possible.”

“Because of what that NME jerk told you?”

“What if it’s true. One day I’ll be brain-dead again and forget all we have together?”

“You can’t live for tomorrow. But we need to plan for the weekend. We have to update the set for London.”

“Can we fly around the stage on wires?”

“I’ll ask Henri. What I mean is we need to tweak the set list. Duncan thinks he’s too old for me to sing a lullaby to him onstage.

“You can sing it me,” I quickly suggest.

“That’s what I mean. We need to add other songs that show how happy I am to no longer be Ziggy.

“You don’t like Ziggy? Everyone loves Ziggy.”

“Look at all the trouble it caused living up to Ziggy,” as he sings, “Jean Genie lives on his back.”

“Well, you were doing drugs.”

“That’s no excuse. I feel so liberated when you are Ziggy, like last night.”

“That’s me, liberated from a past I don’t remember.”

I kind of understand. Bowie has been a Space Oddity for ten years.

“How about this old song, ‘I can’t help thinking about me?’” Bowie sings

‘Question time that says I brought dishonour
My head’s bowed in shame
Seems that I’ve blackened the family name
My mother says that she can’t stand the neighbours talking
I’ve gotta pack my bags, leave this home, start walking
I’m guilty, I wish that I was sorry this time
I wish that I could pay for my crime

‘I’m guilty
I wish that I was sorry this time
I wish that I could pay for my crime

I can’t help thinking about me
I can’t help thinking about me
I can’t help thinking about me’

Written by: DAVID ROBERT JONES

Lyrics © T.R.O. INC.

It must be obscure. I was 7 when he wrote it. Navel gazing never sells records.

“Maybe you can sing it. I don’t know the words. You do it after Major Tom, so I can get hooked up and float down as Starman.”

“We can’t be afraid of our pasts and shouldn’t be afraid of the future. We live in that sweet spot of our own present.”

“We’ll do all the decadent songs from Jean Genie and Rebel Rebel to Panic in Detroit, then use ‘A Lad Insane’s ‘Watch that Man’ to show the transition to who you are today. Think Duncan will put up with being sung to on ‘Prettiest Star?”

“He is dying to be on tour with us, especially if Amar comes too.

“Our token Arab?”

“He’s the whole point.”

“Let’s have him spin while you sing to Duncan, who can spin away as back-up to Amar on ‘Yassassin.’”

“Thus proving our dedication to the immigrant cause,” Bowie crows.

In ten minutes we have choreographed the entire set. David sits at the piano and teaches me ‘Can’t Help Thinking about Me.’

Mike is bored and jumps in the pool. After we run through the song twice, Bowie looks at me, “Show me how you swim with dolphins.”

We jump in the pool and Bowie lays on my back as I swim butterfly for two laps. As I undulate with my dolphin kick I feel his male member start to enlarge.

“Switch with Bowie, Mike. You need to be able to keep up with White D and her needs,” I wriggle out of David’s embrace. He remains submerged to the waist with a somewhat embarrassed red face. I wink at him to show I forgive his normal reaction to riding my undulating butt.

Mike shows no growing attraction to my butt. We are so lame together. I need that.

Bowie finally gets out as we sit with our feet in the water.

“You need to be the lead vocalist in the Knobs,” I tell Mike. “Billy needs to work on his guitar riffs. He also doesn’t care about the Knobs since he thinks he has replaced Brian May in Queen. You can sing and dance without worrying about playing guitar.”

“Can we add some pure rhythm and blues to the set.”

“Sure, but no Jazz.”

He looks disappointed.

“Just work with the Knobs and come up with a set you all like. Why not write a new song. ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ was an instant success.”

He smiles and finds paper and pen to compose.

Next: