Back at work after a two-week holiday, it was going to be a busy day. The Cambodian donuts shop owner was happy to see me back, his regular customer. I bought extra donuts for all the staffers, not just Landis. The message machine had over fifty messages. First I called Jay in Miami.
“Hey, boyfriend. How was your holiday?” I greeted 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?”
“No. I’m getting Bronfman Jr. to set up Universal Music.”
“He needs a corporate lawyer then.”
“You’ll just represent the artists. I want to hire them to work on my movie.” I sounded 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 left a message at Edgar Jr.’s office, in the main building to call me. I was going through the telephone messages when Landis arrived.
“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 was back in his good graces. “Can we talk?”
“Why so serious.”
“I have staffing recommendations.”
We went into his office and shut the door. It had been 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 smiled. “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 called me. Eleven was starting time for the bosses. I told him to wait for me in his office.
“What’s up, Tim, my man,” he was being cool when I arrived.
“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 considered 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. If this is 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’d 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 laughed. No horse heads in my bed. All my ducks were in a row. Time to go tell Joan.
“Get dressed. Your fans await,” I ordered.
“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 hopes and dreams.”
“You are too into yourself.”
“Keeps me from becoming a junkie,” I meowed.
As soon as we walked in, all the girls screamed and came running over. I had fulfilled their wildest dreams.
“How do you know Tim?” Joan asked 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 sighed.
They pestered us so much, we hardly had a chance to eat. Joan wasn’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 laughed. “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 gave 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 laughed. “You’re the only one who’s ever admitted he enjoyed 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 got back to the studio, Tom was waiting for me. All three of us went into Landis’s office for their job interview. John was more intimidated than the two musicians. He tried asking them normal interview questions. It was hopeless. They had never really worked. Finally, Tom sang him a song, ‘Learning to Fly,’ explaining why he wanted to learn about film making.
Joan seconded the idea. Landis just looked 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 was all excited, putting his arm around Joan and telling us to come with him to ‘score.’ I had them first call Jay and agree that he represent them as an attorney, not an agent. They both were anxious to get high. I told them I had to work. Joan took off with Tom. I was relieved not to have to tell her I had a dinner date with Jake that night. She got her guitars and amp out of the Wreck and into Tom’s beat-up van.
“Come jam with us after your date,” she told me as they were leaving.
“How did you know?”
“He called this morning before you got back.”
The two of them took off in a cloud of burned engine oil.
Jake met me at Anna’s in West LA.
“Who was the girl at your place this morning?” was 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 was cool – low lighting and mellow painted walls. Perfect for an intimate date. We discussed my activities since he dropped me off at the Whiskey. What I assumed was memorable, he assumed was normal. Nothing fazed him. It was a turn-on. Soon we were holding hands, staring into each other’s soul. I went back to his place. We made love under the stars up on the roof. I spent the night, after telling him I was off to Portland momentarily to check locations for work. He told me it was a turn-on that I worked so hard.
“The hardest working musician in rock n roll,” I told him. Sorry, James Brown.
Once in bed, he gave me a blow job. I think I fell asleep before cumming. He assured me we both got off. While I showered, he made breakfast which we ate on his patio. It was 7 am. Jake admitted to liking country hours – up at the crack of dawn for milking.
Work was hectic, drawing up plans for scouting locations in Oregon. Miller insisted he come, in order to have an accurate visual reference for his script writing.
“You’d be better off working on getting the script approved by the end of the month, rather than running off on this road trip,” Landis warned him.
“I got it under control,” Miller claimed.
When he learned that John and I were driving, with a stop in San FranCrisco, as he called it, Miller said he’d fly and meet us in Portland. I was relieved. The set designers would fly as well, rounding out the team. Jay sent me contracts to be signed by the location owners. It took all day to work out these details. Debbie was hired as the costume designer. Her first design was a toga for Belushi, made from a bedsheet. It would satisfy his demand to perform ‘Louie Louie’ in his underwear. Nobody liked that visual.
John asked me to join Debbie and him for dinner after work. We went to the Formosa. I made the dragon lady manager show John the special fortune cookies we’d 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 took turns reading the crazy fortunes, until the food came. Debbie loved that I ate everything, including their portions.
“Busy day at work?” she asked as I was finishing up the various dishes.
“Well, don’t let us keep you.”
“It doesn’t start ‘til ten,” I explained.
I asked them how they met and if John was a romantic. Debbie went on and on about how great their marriage was. Little did she know that I was dragging her hubby off to the gay house of S&M horrors that was San Francisco. John said nothing about our plans.
I went by the Canterbury to pick up Nicky and Alice. Nicky had 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 convinced him. I needed to see Jimmy for a resupply.
Nicky’s grumpiness disappeared when I let him drive the Wreck. The tires squealed when he took the corner at Sunset and Highland. Sitting between us, Alice’s squeals matched the tires. We pulled into the Starwood parking lot and were quickly surrounded by potheads, expecting free joints.
“Check me later,” I gave them hope.
Tony ran up, all excited. “We’ve got an English band tonight – the Jam. Doug wouldn’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.”
“They may disappoint the hardcore kids.”
“Yeah. None of the local bands wanted to open for them.”
That was 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 ran upstairs to the Green Room. Jim and his boys were looking very serious.
“You’re gonna get a great crowd.”
“Ya got that backwards. The Crowd’s gonna be great.”
We laughed. He asked if I had 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 confessed. He took me into the bathroom and loaded me up. We shared a joint.
“Where ya been?” I hadn’t seen him since going back for finals. “You pass yer tests?”
It seemed ages ago. “I don’t know. Probably. I went home fer Christmas and then got the old band to play a New Year’s party in Miami.”
I had our Miami Herald review in my back pocket but didn’t need to impress Jimmy
I ran back to the Green Room and got The Crowd wasted. Jim grabbed me around the neck. I was afraid he was about to molest me, but he was strictly business, thanking me for getting them the gig. I told 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 trendys moved back as all the OC kids rushed the stage. Jim ran out and took the mic from me. I jumped into the crowd, pushing my way into the pit. Before any music was played, we were thrashing around. The littlest kid went down, got pulled up and carried around above our heads. The Crowd started playing ‘Just Another Crowd’
Followed up by ‘Operation Ivy’
The ska beat got everyone moving in one direction. I was afraid the kids would break out jitterbugging with each other. No problem – OC self-hate meant no OC kids liked dancing together. Everyone was too sweaty, anyway.
I took a break and smoked out the LMPs in the bathroom. We all charged out into The Jam fans, waiting for their heroes to appear. Eddie led the charge, knocking over anyone just standing there. Two skinheads were looking out of place until Steve, the Battered Housewife’ pushed them. They instantly sprang 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 looked happy that his friends had saved him.
The Crowd played ‘Friends’
Steve jumped up onstage and sang with Jim, ‘when your friends are one.’ He still had the bathroom joint, which he lit up and passed to Jim. The power was cut instantly – no drug activity allowed onstage at the Starwood. The kids booed; the Crowd left the stage thinking the boos were directed at them. Fame can be fleeting.
I rushed back to the Green Room and gave them my critique that it was the Starwood management that was being booed for stopping their show. They seemed relieved. The next time they opened for an English band, it was The Clash at the Santa Monica Civic. The Jam guys came over and we all shared 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, said.
Jim was frustrated that they hadn’t played their ‘hit’ song, “The Right Place.” He did it a Capella right there in the Green Room for The Jam
Weller plugged in to a practice amp and did ‘In the City’ a cappella.
Everyone was in a good mood. Time for another joint. I left them to appreciate themselves. Musicians!
Tony was by the bar, enjoying his successful booking.
“The bands are singing to each other in the Green Room,” I informed 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, but no horse heads in my bed please.”
While we were laughing, Jimmy came over and joined us.
“Glad yer back, Tim. Doug’s been complaining that we no longer meet his every need.”
“Typical bottom complaint.”
“So, when can you spend the night?” Jimmy was pimping me.
“I leave for Portland sometime this week.”
“Who’s idea was it to make him the bottom?” I asked.
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 laughed so hard, they never said if I should add to our four-way.
The Jam had set up and were ready to start. The pit was claimed by the OC kids. The Mods left a small DMZ between the pit and where they didn’t get pushed and shoved. A détente.
They opened with ‘Down at the Tube Station’
It confused the pit thrashers with varying tempos. A few kids started to pogo which spread to all the others. Some of the mods, familiar with the radio song, joined in, breaking down the barrier between Mod and surf punk. The next few songs were ballads, losing the kids who were replaced upfront by Mods who just waved at the band, their heroes. It turned into a concert, reminding me of their Mod roots, the Who – back to the sixties.
I left Tony and Jimmy, promising to meet them the next night, after my Church group. Nicky and Alice were ready to go, finding the Jam less than exciting. I tried to explain the connection with The Who, to deaf ears.
We collected the LMPs and invaded Oki Dog. With the Starwood show still going, we were the only ones not selling ourselves, at least not that night. I paid for Oki Dogs. Yoki made 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 filled up the parking lot, paying for their dogs with their allowances. The trade stayed up front, now intimidated by teenagers. Joints were passed around and the night ended.
“You guys havta take the bus home.” I informed 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 demanded.
“Joan Jett,” I told them, even though I wasn’t sure she’d still be there.
“How’s that work?” Steve wanted details.
They looked distressed and left for the bus stop.
“Really?” Alice needed to know.
“No. She’s not really a lesbian. I just told them that.”
“Really?” Alice seemed to have a different opinion.
“And when are you going to book The Bags?” she demanded.
“It’s Tony who does the bookings,” I tried 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 offered as a sop.
“Do we get paid for that?”
“How about a joint?” I offered.
She pocketed it. Nicky did 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 get in or pick you up.”
“And, maybe you can use the phone when I’m not home.”
“Thank you,” he was unusually effusive. “That would be great. I promise not to call long distance.”
Alice and I both laughed.
“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 worked, planning on soon becoming rich rock musicians.
Finally, I was in bed, stretched out to the full extent of the Murphy. Joan obviously stayed with Tom. She was a heartbreaker. It was so unusual to sleep alone. I doubted I would get used to it. In the morning I went over and had breakfast with Jake. He’d learned that I like Eggs Benedict. He attempted to best Isabelle’s preparation. His presentation was better, with fine china and hollandaise sauce drizzled just right. It wasn’t better, but the eggs were divine. I almost thought about not going to work. In the back of my mind, Dad’s voice reminded me it was 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 came up with a list of ‘hot’ bars – leather, daddy, S&M, glitter/disco. He asked if John was 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 were in a frenzy. John announced that we were leaving the next day and would be gone for a week. All requests had to be submitted and approved before we could leave. Universal’s travel department had made flight reservations. Miller and the set crew would meet us in Portland on Monday, giving John and me the weekend in ‘Frisco. When Miller started to mock me about ‘Crisco, a look from John shut him down. He had mostly ignored me since our boxing match. I was to be at John’s Woodland Hills house early the next morning. He had nixed traveling in the Wreck, convinced it was about to break down.
I called Father Paul at St Viktor and asked him to dinner. We agreed to meet at the French Marketplace on Santa Monica. He was totally tuned in to West Hollywood gay subculture. He was quickly becoming my favorite priest. It was pleasant having normal conversation while all around us everyone else was cruising each other. Maybe wearing a collar disqualified him. I got lots of looks, but mostly they seemed sorry for me. Good preparation for the Dignity meeting.
The group was excited that I had returned, welcoming me like a long-lost friend. I promised not to preach this time.
“Will Teen Jesus appear?”
“He just arrived.”
The typical glow emanated from just about everyone, even Father Paul. Jace made the rounds, tapping everyone on the head, except the youngest got a kiss on the cheek. We could have turned off the lights and not be in the dark.
“I’m going to San Francisco tomorrow,” I announced. “My boss wants to meet the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”
They all knew all about that Order. I got addresses, even telephone numbers and directions to the Castro. John Waters’ ‘Pink Flamingoes’ was the midnight showing at the Castro movie theater. Someone had 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 would bring their kids.”
“You were told not to attend certain masses?” I looked directly at Father Paul.
“It’s not his fault. Last year we kinda got carried away, with the Tra la la la las.”
“Next year, we’ll have a Dignity celebration and invite the parents to show that we’re all Christians,” Father Paul promised.
Maybe Dignity’s not the right name for the group, I thought.
We gossiped about Jake and Jack. They were scandalized that I had a girlfriend now. I explained that Flo and Trudie were also my girlfriends. They assumed that the girls were all fag hags. I told them about Joan’s strap-on. They were in further shock.
“Are you bi-curious?” one asked.
“You mean a tourist to gay life?” I joked. “That’s a cop-out. All gay teens pray they are bi, until they finally wake up and smell where their dicks have been.”
Father Paul put 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 noted they stay in contact with their high school girlfriends. Others felt guilty that they had deceived the girls by denying their true sexuality. Sexual confusion reigned. Father Paul allowed 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 cheered. Jace hugged him, turning him bright red.
“Do you believe celibacy has relevance?” I asked 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 shut us up. Since Father Paul was not gay, it really was of little interest how he got off. I wanted to defend my friend, the priest. Jace went over and sat with him. Father Paul looked totally contented. I was glad for him.
Before I left, I gave out my new phone number. Several guys wrote out places to visit in San Francisco.
I got to the Troubadour in time to catch the last show. I ended up smoking out with Tony in Doug’s office. He walked in on us, happy that I was spending the night with them. He had the bartender close out the deposit as we waited for him at Dan Tana’s. We were already eating pizza when he arrived. He ordered another pizza, reveling in his faux-teen appetite. We made quick work of the slices and headed to the house. It seemed so big, now that I lived in a shoe box. Not that I was complaining.
We all took showers, Tony with Doug, Jimmy and I together. After jumping into Doug’s king-size bed, we proceeded to oil each other up. I had been absent long enough to notice how Doug’s libido had changed. He let us take charge and reveled in being dominated. Tony and Jimmy tied Doug’s arms and legs up, with him lying on his back. We worked his dick, butt and mouth, alternating until Doug was steaming. He was so hot and horny. He started to beg us to invade him. Turning him on his side, Jimmy was working his butt hole with one, then two, and finally three fingers. To stop him from writhing, Tony started giving him head. Doug was thrusting upward into Tony’s mouth, while riding Jimmy’s fingers. I sat on his chest with my stiff dick slapping his face. He soon began sucking me off while continuing to ride Jimmy’s fingers and being sucked off by Tony. We were a clockwork sex machine, with all parts moving in synch. Finally it became too much for Doug. He shook Tony off his dick and I slid down far enough for his dick to tease my asshole. Tony grabbed Doug’s dick and smeared it across my anal lips, pre-cum lubricating the entrance. Tony stuck the dick into me so my ass was invaded by just the tip. I squeezed it as it started to pulse. This went on as Jimmy continued massaging Doug’s asshole. Doug was still on his side, to give Jimmy access to his ass. I wrapped my legs around Doug’s waist, continuing to be teased by his dick, only an inch or two inside me. I was milking the dick, waiting for deeper penetration. Jimmy didn’t hesitate, removing his fingers and thrusting himself deep inside Doug. Doug’s dick swelled until I couldn’t resist him any longer. My legs pulled him into me, all the way.
“Stop. Stop,” he yelled, about to cum.
Tony grabbed my dick, giving me a reach-around. I reached back and had his dick in a vice-like grip of death, jerking it vigorously. I had stopped squeezing as Doug panted breathlessly inside me, close to orgasm. Jimmy continued to pump him from behind. We were all waiting on Doug who was holding his breath in an attempt not to cum. His hips went into involuntary humping, sending him over the edge. I could feel the squirting deep inside me, getting me off as I came all over Doug’s stomach and chest. Jimmy made several jerks into Doug’s ass and came. Tony waited until the three of us were done, pushing my hand away, he brought himself to climax all over me. We all collapsed into a spent pile of monkey bodies. I fell asleep, but Doug pulled out, shaking me,
“Untie me before you all go to sleep.”
We laughed and ran off to shower. Tony knew it was his job to untie Doug. After showers we all climbed into his bed and were soon asleep.
I woke up about 5 am. Kissing all three of my lovers, I drove home, waking up Nicky (or, at least Alice), telling him to drive me to the Valley, so he could use the Wreck while I was gone. A cup of coffee and he was ready to go. I worried how to protect my Gibson SG while I was gone. He pretended he was Mr. Responsibility. We were at Landis’s house by six. Debbie had breakfast ready, but Nicky just wanted to go home and get back to sleep. It was the only time I ever saw him refuse free food.
“You’re eighteen. Do you want to sit here and sightsee the entire trip. Just be careful.”
I was extra careful, for about five miles. It was rush hour when we headed north. I attempted to be polite to the stream of lane-changing, middle finger-pointing, road rage idiots unhappy about going to work. Landis said nothing until I used the breakdown lane to pass on the right. I just grinned when he yelled at me.
“Enjoying your sightseeing?” I countered when he spewed a list of what I was doing wrong. I slowed down from 80 to 65.
As soon as we passed Oxnard, the traffic thinned out and the sun came out from behind the morning overcast. I pulled over and put the top down on the Roadster convertible. The joy of the open road.
We stopped for lunch in San Luis Obispo at the Madonna Inn. The coffee shop had the same pink glass tables and wire chairs that Bailey’s had in Cambridge. I reveled in telling John about my Smith girlfriend, who accepted sharing me with Jack. He was shocked that we all had sex together. I claimed it was liberating and we never pressured the girls.
After lunch we debated taking the more scenic Pacific Coast Highway versus the 101 Freeway. John said we’d stop at Hearst Castle on PCH where ‘Citizen Kane’ was shot.
“Rosebud. Rosebud,” I kept nagging him, mocking his inexhaustible knowledge of classic film history.
“Do you think ‘Animal House’ will someday be considered a classic?” I mocked him. It was so ridiculous an idea that we were still laughing as we drove up the long driveway to the castle.
The tour was boring. John knew more than the guide. We split off to wander the grounds. I stripped off and swam in the large pool, doing laps. John was impressed but worried we’d get kicked out. He enjoyed watching me swim but was embarrassed that I was in my briefs and not real Speedos. Finally the guards chased us, yelling that we were arrested. We hopped into the Roadster and left them in our dust.
He decided to drive the next leg. To our surprise, PCH was closed due to landslides just south of Big Sur. It was the year before the first El Nino kept PCH constantly blocked. We checked the map and attempted to drive around the blockage on a road into the hills. After encountering more road closures, we finally broke down and asked someone if there was detour that wasn’t blocked. The old man we asked, scratched his head, and finally said, “Ya can’t get there from here.”
I burst out laughing, remembering my good ol’ boy days in Norman NC. The old man got angry and stomped off. We decided to go back to San Luis Obispo and take the inland 101 Freeway. By this time, the road crews were getting off work. They were driving around the barriers on PCH to get out.
I had a brain fart. “Let’s go around the signs and see if we can get through.”
John wasn’t sure he wanted to drive his classic roadster through a construction zone but I humiliated him into it.
He drove cautiously up PCH. All the workers were gone. The sun was going down, with twilight descending, especially on the bends around the cliffs and canyons as we drove by.
“Hurry up, John,” I warned him. “It’ll be dark soon and you won’t be able to see if the road is totally washed out.”
He just glared at me for getting his pet car into this situation.
“Well, you wanted to go to the Citizen Kane site, which got us into this mess in the first place.”
We slowly made our way up PCH without encountering any blockage or washout. Around a bend we found a large earth mover blocking the whole road.
“We have to turn back,” John insisted.
I jumped out impetuously and ran around the earth mover. The road was no longer paved and had washed out on the ocean side, leaving a narrow strip against the cliffs.
“We can make, John,” I yelled to him.
He shook his head, refusing to risk it.
“Com’n,” I encouraged him. “This is an adventure. I’ll walk ahead to make sure the road’s secure.”
“We made it,” I yelled.
“Fuck, no. There’s not enough room to get around that Caterpillar,” John pointed out.
He was right. We needed an extra foot to get around. I jumped into the Caterpillar’s seat. The keys were in the ignition. I looked at John. He began to realize what I was about to do, shaking his head. Before he could say no, I turned the key. I forgot you had to push in the clutch. The Caterpillar lurched forward, toward the oceanside cliff. John screamed. I jumped off. The Caterpillar lurched to a stop. We had enough room to get by it. John yelled at me all the way to Monterrey. We decided to stop for the night. John wasn’t as adventurous as he thought. A fancy fish dinner helped calm him down. When Clint Eastwood walked in, his movie fanboy gene kicked in. Clint walked by our table. I jumped up and introduced myself and Landis, explaining we were on a location scouting trip for our movie, “Animal House.’
“Is it about zoos?” Clint was an animal rights activist then.
“Sort of,” Landis waffled.
“Thanks, Clint,” we were now on a first name basis.
“Sandra’s waiting for me,” he excused himself to meet his current wife.
“More fun than going to Chassen’s,” John remarked.
“You are so Hollywood,” I knew he was glad I had stopped Clint to chat.
After eating, we drove to Santa Cruz and got a motel room. We walked through town and ended up at the pier with its old fashion fun-zone. I discovered I had a joint in my coat and convinced John it would be okay to indulge since we weren’t driving. After getting stoned, we played all the games. There was a psychedelic art booth where you made your own mandala by spinning the paper which repeated the patterns into concentric circles. We congratulated ourselves on being so creative. They had a Ferris wheel at the end of the pier. We were the only customers, so they stopped it once we reached the top. Rocking back and forth, we could see all the way to Monterrey. I claimed I could see the Caterpiller hanging over the cliff further down the coast by Big Sur.
“We should have stopped at Arthur Miller’s place,” he regretted.
“So you could chat up Marilyn Monroe?” I joked.
“I’m a big fan,” he admitted.
“I love the scene in ‘The Misfits’ where she’s hitting the paddle ball and her ass is jiggling back and forth.”
“You are so perverted.”
“You probably like Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis cross-dressing in ‘Some Like It Hot.’”
“I guess we’re all perverts in some ways.”
“It’s totally normal.”
“Unless you’re Chris Miller.”
“What a jerk.”
Continuing our movie shop talk, “What did you think about Kuprick’s Lolita?” I asked him.
“James Mason was incredibly believable as a pervert.”
“What about Lolita herself?”
“The book goes into those details. The movie is toned down.”
“That makes Humbert Humbert even more of a pervert. The audience is forced to imagine what he does with her.”
“It’s not really a movie for teenagers. It was rated X. I’m surprised you like it.”
“It hits home. I’m falling in love with a 42-year-old.”
“You are so crazy. You almost drove yourself off a cliff this afternoon. And swimming in your underwear at the Hearst Castle. No wonder Debbie is so in love with you.”
“The truth is out. But I know it’s strictly maternal.”
“I’m not jealous. I am a bit worried about San Francisco. Your Hollywood sluttiness may get you into trouble.”
“You’re supposed to be showing me gay Frisco.”
“Some repressed need?”
“Yeah, I need to show gay life as comedic, not tragic.”
“You think I’m heading for tragedy.”
“Only when you do Shakespeare.”
“I already did Shakespeare. I was the mandolin player.”
“You should act.”
“My life is an act.”
“All the world’s a stage..”
“And all the men and women merely players upon it.”
The Ferris wheel jerked and we rotated back to earth.
John bought me cotton candy. I won a teddy bear in a bottle tossing game for him to bring to Debbie. We walked back to our motel and went to sleep.
We ate breakfast in a vegetarian restaurant in Santa Cruz. I had an omelet with way too many vegetables in it. The raw egg was clumped to the broccoli. John’s whole wheat pancakes were marginal. We both agreed the Du-Par’s flapjacks were far superior. Then we laughed at our superior attitudes. We only ate vegetarian in order to please Debbie, the food Nazi. Driving into San Francisco from the coast meant the first landmark we saw was the Golden Gate Bridge, welcome to America for millions of Chinese railroad workers. We drove past Golden Gate Park on Geary, stopping on Portero Hill to check into the Majestic Hotel. It was shabby majestic, with marble floors and tacky red velour wallpaper. We walked down to Market Street in Union Square. I wanted to visit City Lights bookstore in North Beach. The owner was impressed that Bill Burroughs was my jerk-off buddy. We had a long discussion about the magic typewriter; I swore it was an accurate fortune-teller. I bought Landis a copy of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road,’ in recognition of our road trip. He bought me ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’ by Tom Wolfe in recognition of my drug use.
We took a street car to the Castro, having lunch at a sidewalk café and observing the street scene. It seemed self-contained, constrained by the hills that surrounded it, just off Market Street. We confirmed that the Castro movie theater was showing ‘Pink Flamingos’ at midnight. I hoped that there would be more of a street scene by that time. Walking to Haight-Asbury, I noticed that many of the three-story Victorian homes were in the process of gentrification. I finally ran into a couple of Deadheads, panhandling on the street. We sang “Touch of Grey’ together: ‘I will get by.’
John was amusing himself by taking photos of our exploits, becoming an observer. I asked directions to one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Sister Mary Boom Boom. She lived near our hotel on Geary. The intercom didn’t list her drag name. I pushed all the buttons and finally was told to ring Jack Fertig. He answered in a booming male voice. I prepared to be disappointed. He buzzed us up. When he learned we were from Hollywood, he excused himself and changed into his nun’s habit, returning as Sister Boom Boom. She turned on the charm for John, referring to me as his little pet. He was only a couple of years older than I was. John hoped the Sisters would perform, explaining he was making a comedy with John Belushi. Sister Mary claimed Belushi was not funny because he was so straight. I doubted John could get him into a dress for Monty Python style comedy.
“We could make the togas more stylish,” I recommended.
“Tell Debbie,” John ordered.
“Can we be in the movie,” Mary asked politely.
“Will you audition?” John answered.
“Just a stage performance while we’re here.”
“We don’t need a stage to perform. We’re our own scene wherever we go.”
“How about before tonight’s midnight show of Pink Flamingos?” I suggested.
John refused to go drag but I got dragged into the bathroom and reappeared as a nun in habit. They had to use mascara to pencil in a mustache over my hairless lips.
“I’ll call Glenn and get him to attend the movie. Those gay boys will go crazy.”
“You’re not gay?” I asked.
“Oh, honey. If I wanted to be gay, I’d dress up as a priest. I am definitely a heterosexual drag queen.”
No one believed her.
After dinner, we visited Glenn Milstead’s apartment in the same building. He was an overweight thirty-year-old. He also took a liking to John, dismissing me as John’s boy toy. When Glenn heard that the Sisters were attending Pink Flamingos and making a scene, he insisted on coming. The girls joined him in the bathroom to put on his makeup and drag outfit. We settled back on the couch and waited for what seemed forever. The bigger the body the longer it took to transform into a woman.
“They don’t seem to like you very much,” John had noticed that I was getting no attention.
“They’re just into themselves. Hollywood is the place for boys. San Fran seems to accept women with mustaches better than teen neophytes.”
“Let go of your sugar daddy, boy. He’s mine tonight,” she latched onto Landis.
We walked out into the night, six nuns in drag followed by a Mae West drag queen hanging onto the chagrined, straight Landis. I stayed with the Sisters. It was too early for the movie, so we hit the bars along the way. Once the patrons learned Divine was attending her movie, we had a crowd joining us as audience. John played the perfect straight guy, while Divine flirted with him and the nuns warned of the coming apocalypse if he strayed. The crowd grew as we continued to troll the Castro bars. Finally, we descended into what I learned was a gay bath house. The men inside stopped fucking each other and gathered as Divine teased and flirted with them, telling everyone that her ‘date, Landis’ was visiting the baths for the first time. The nuns started praying for him on their knees. Several bold bath attendees grabbed their dicks and approached the kneeling nuns. I knew what to tell Father Luke in my next confession. The bath’s manager spotted me and rushed us out of the place. The nuns scolded me for ruining their opportunity to give blow jobs. I was getting a complex for being blamed for everything and not appreciated for my youth. San Francisco was definitely an older scene.
It was time for the midnight showing of ‘Pink Flamingos.’ We situated ourselves in front of the theater. The sisters were passing out flyers for places known for indulging, including the bathhouse where I had gotten us evicted. Divine was shilling herself and her movie. Our crowd had grown to several hundred. They started bantering with Divine, asking for details on her performance and her sexuality.
When asked if she was a true transexual, she replied, “Honey, my plumbing’s completely intact.”
The main obsession was the dog shit she ate at the conclusion of the film.
“Sugar, that dog had stage fright. We waited around all day for her to produce the goods. We kept feeding her laxatives to no avail. Finally, I stomped my foot and ordered her to shit. She whined a bit but came through in the end. Yes, that was real dog shit.”
The movie was great. Divine was the star of the show, mostly stereotypical trailer trash melodrama. My favorite was Edie the Egg Lady and her affair with the postman. The nuns carried on throughout the movie, leading cheers for specific scenes. I remembered stopping for breakfast in Baltimore on the band’s roadhouse road trip. Little did I know how exciting rural Maryland was. Divine took a bow at the end and was besieged by adoring fans. Everyone marched out of the theater together, heading for the bars. Landis needed to escape Divine’s possessive clutches. We took a cab back to the Majestic and sat in the bar recounting our day’s exploits. I was feeling unappreciated in San Francisco. My boyish looks were not a selling point.
The next morning we had a decadent hotel breakfast to make up for the failings at the Santa Cruz vegetarian coffee shop. We planned to drive to Portland that day to check out Reed College, a hippie refuge for the rich that had some sort of festival going on, called Paideia. It was the interregnum period between terms when students taught each other weird subjects like underwater basket weaving.
“Sounds pretty hippie to me,” I remarked.
“Let’s hope they’re celebrating more than studying this weekend.”
It reminded me that Jack was pursuing Harvard’s version, a single intensive subject, completing a full semester’s study in just four weeks.
“They don’t pay much attention to you.”
“It feels like junior high when all the older kids said we had missed it – the Beatles, the summer of love.”
“It appears that the gays are catching up on that summer with their own winter of debauchery.”
“Gay life didn’t really start until Stonewall in 1969. These Frisco gays seemed to be making up for lost time – middle-aged adolescence.”
“I felt like a prop in a play, the straight guy.”
“At least they liked you.”
“They’re so into their lifestyle, it’s like nothing else is important.”
“They act so entitled, like rich kids.”
“You would know.”
“Naw. I grew up in the military. Everyone was basically the same.”
“I don’t let that change me. Jack hates that I won’t take limos in the City.”
“Such a sacrifice.”
We drove north on I-5. The fields of farms slowly gave way to forests and mountains. John wanted to stop at a Napa winery. I convinced him we needed to keep going. I pretty much hate wine. Just a beer guy. I said we’d stop on the way back.
Reed was on the southern edge of Portland. The buildings didn’t have the 17th century look of my Ivy school. It looked more like a summer camp in the tall Sequoias. We sat in a quad and observed the students coming and going. Many seemed as old as Landis. I asked several who said they were on their 9th and 10th year of undergraduate study. When asked, I told them I was a sophomore at Harvard, racing my way through in two years; my major was entertainment business and law. They felt sorry for me. Again I was outside looking in. They assumed Landis was a grad student. When asked, he said he’d never attended college.
I started saying I was in a band, avoiding any mention of Harvard.
Back at the dorm, I decided to play the Sham ‘Kids United’ song. It wasn’t too fast and had a hippie vibe.
The heavy chords got their attention. As always happened, everyone had their arms around each other, bouncing up and down. 30-year-old slackers and actual twenty-year-old kids. My popularity spiked. The other musicians joined me. I asked if they knew the Kinks’ ‘Apeman.’ I thought I could link it with my monkeyshines’ song
Makes a stand
To take his joy
Going hand to hand
Flying out free
Branch to branch
Through the trees
“Free to be
A monkey like me
Ha ha ha
He he he
Haw haw haw
Chee chee chee
The band had been playing the simple chords to the chorus.
“Com’n back up here,” their leader said. “Do you know the ‘Signs’ song?” – an anthem of rebellion.
“Of course,” I nodded.
I was standing between long-haired hippies playing bass and guitar.
“Stuck in the Middle with You,” I selected the next song.
I bowed and walked off, carrying my guitar. The band went into their Deadhead medley. Landis was sitting with a long-haired, barefooted and smelly hippie.
“Hey, cool foot gear,” I kidded him. “You a Blackfoot Indian?”
“Yeah, I just got back from India.”
“Steve’s got something you’ve gotta see,” Landis was being hustled.
It was a box with a button on the top. It made a bell tone.
“You use it to pay for long distance calls from a pay phone,” Steve explained.
“Did you make this?” I asked.
“No. Woz did,” he pointed to a fat, curly-haired hippie, who was unsuccessfully trying to hit up young co-eds. Steve was just the salesman. I left him to Landis and went to help Woz. The girls perked up when I walked up – someone their age. We chatted until Woz tried to make his move on one. They all left, to go ‘study.’
“You made that box in India,” I pointed at Steve and John.
“Naw. We work at Atari. Steve went here before running off to India. He promised me co-eds.”
“You need to work on your sales technique.”
“You’re right. Do you go to school here?”
“Naw. I’m at Harvard.”
“Oh. I went to Berkeley.”
We had determined our academic pecking order.
“Cool.” I didn’t know what else to say. “Wanna get a drink?” There was some punch on a table.
Soon after having imbibed what I later learned was a psilocybin-laced punch, we were talking gibberish and enjoying what we each thought were deep thoughts, totally unrelated to each other. I felt I should meet actual Reed students, so we started to mingle. The ‘shroom punch made us incomprehensible to non-imbibers. Luckily most of the students were like-wise incoherent. We conversed easily. Woz wandered off with three co-eds, thanking me for making him socially acceptable. I kept spacing out on the craftsman style of architecture. I went and found Landis who was still engrossed in conversation with Woz’s partner, Steve. Apparently, Steve wanted to make Landis a distributer of his phone toll-cheating boxes.
I pulled John away from the snake-oil salesman, telling Steve where he could stick his boxes. He was unfazed by my lack of appreciation of his genius.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” he claimed.
Yeah,” I answered, “if you wanna screw your mother, Ma Bell.”
Landis laughed and followed me as I tried to describe the glories of American Craftsman architecture. He wasn’t listening. He asked a couple of students where the frats were.”
“Fraternities are the oppressors from the ruling class. They sell you on their entitlement by making you bend over for them with hazing rituals.”
I found that image impossibly funny and couldn’t stop laughing.
“What’s wrong with you,” Landis asked.
“Try some of the punch. It has an unusual after-effect.”
“No. This is hippie-land. Mushrooms. It’s okay. They’re all natural.” At which point I threw up the red punch and the remaining natural ingredients.
“Okay, sonny. Your evening is coming to a close,” as he led me away from the party.
I didn’t feel so hot in the morning. Coffee with breakfast helped.
“We can’t use Reed as a location,” Landis informed me.
“Don’t blame Reed for getting me so stoned.”
“No. That was on you. Beware of hippies and weird punch bowls. They don’t have fraternities at Reed.”
I was only concerned it was my fault.
“What’s the plan, Stan,” I switched to flippancy.
We’ll go back to Eugene and check out the university there.”
“Can I drive?”
“Are you seeing double or anything else weird.”
“You’re the navigator, then.”
Somehow we made it to the University of Oregon. No hippies there. We asked about frats and got a tour of Fraternity Row. They were so fancy, Landis rejected them as inappropriate by Animal House standards. A student told us we should check out Oregon College, on the other side of town. It was more downtrodden. There were several frats that exuded shabbiness. We went to Phi Kappa Psi, a three-story rambling boarding house. The students were enthusiastic. The only problem was where to relocate the residents during the shoot. They suggested we rent the abandoned frat house next door. The Phi Psi’s would let us use their party room. They were excited to be extras in our film. Next door was another shabby three-story. Looking in the windows, we noted that the place was totally trashed.
“Perfect,” was John’s opinion. We’d contact the school’s administration on Monday.
Next we asked the Phi Psi’s where there was a nightclub for off-campus partying. One of the younger frat boys directed us to a bar on Dexter Lake, outside Eugene city limits. He rode with us, sitting on my lap in the two-seater Roadster. He had assumed I was Landis’s boyfriend, being from Hollywood. His butt cheeks couldn’t help themselves and started twitching as he sat on top on my dick. My dick was happy to respond. While Landis negotiated with the bar owner, we found a secluded spot near the lake. Afterwards, he confided it was his first gay experience. I reassured him that being fucked meant he was no longer a virgin. His name was Trevor; he must be a rich kid. We left him back at his frat. He waved goodbye. I was relieved to be rid of him. Landis knew what was up but said nothing. We were sure to see him during the movie shoot.
Our tasks completed, it was time for pizza. No problem finding a pizza joint in a college town.
“You want to invite Trevor?” John asked.
“I think it best to let that sleeping dog lie.”
“Well, at least, you’re in a better mood.”
“Sex does that. But sticking around to get to know your victim can be depressing.”
“Those old queens had no interest in me. You, on the other hand, were a big hit.”
“Every princess needs a prince.”
“Even those with mustaches?”
“They were probably jealous of your girly looks.”
“I’m eighteen. I’m not ‘sposed to look old.”
“You wear it well.”
I sang him the old Rod Stewart ballad.