My weekend with Belushi ends with a conga line singing ‘Louie Louie’ snaking into the jetway at LAX. It’s time for the locals only Sunday afternoon at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go. I park the wreck at the curb out front. It is my new Max, the star of my own fame. Once inside, Safety and his gang spot me and glare. Somehow he feels Forming deserves a shot at my movie. One of his groupie posse, Gerber, is the only girl to climb the Hollywood sign early Saturday morning. I sense a certain spirit of adventure. It’s time to bond.
“Hey, Gerb, did you see Safety almost fall off the sign. He did coke and lost it.”
“You guys were doing coke up there?”
“Yeah. You picked the wrong guy to follow. Tony and Jimmy only had joints.”
“Next time tell me. Bobby didn’t say anything.” She looks accusingly at Safety.
“I didn’t fall,” he claims.
“Yeah. But you looked happy when I grabbed you.”
“You feel that way? I’ll let you fall next time.”
“I don’t need to be rescued.”
“You do need to get over your fear of homos.”
All the girls laugh.
“Wanna smoke out now?” I pull out a joint as peace-offering.
Everyone moves over to the blind spot at the left side of the Whiskey stage. One joint only makes it around once. I raided Jimmy stash and pull another out from behind my left ear. It feels like high school all over.
Safety notices my safety-pin, still in the right ear lob. “Ya didn’t take it out.”
“Can’t. Got called out on it at work. If I give in, I’ll look weak.” I then sing a couple of lines of Petty’s ‘Won’t back down.’
‘Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of Hell
But I won’t back down’
Gerber grabs me. “Whose song is that?”
“Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers. We’ve been jammin’ all weekend.”
“Belushi and me. We hung out. Just left him at LAX.”
She looks at me with stars in her eyes, or at least a TV star.
“You always just start singing?” he asks.
“Ever since swim team pool parties.”
“Yer a jock?” he has to know.
He turns all red. I know he will be easy prey for super-sexual me. Later.
I can tell they all want a third joint. Time to make new friends. I notice Nicky Beat, the Weirdo’s drummer, hanging out with a killer-looking latina chola, in heavy mascara and a scary glare. I walk up, as they are just chilling between sets.
“Hey, Nick. You guys playing today?”
“You. How come we didn’t get the movie gig. John says it was a setup. We got screwed as always.”
“No way. You guys had the energy. You got the moves. Just that we went with the black guy ‘cause we need 50’s rock and the Weirdos don’t do covers.”
“We would for a movie gig.”
“Don’t sell yourself short. And don’t sell out, either. I wanted you to show Hollywood what you can do. It’s unique. It’s crazy.”
“Is this yer girlfriend?”
“Yeah. Alice meet Tim. He promised us a movie gig. Now is trying to talk his way out of it.”
“What ya got ta say ‘bout it, puto?”
“No importa, guapa.”
“Down with nostros mexicanos?”
“Si, perro mas con los puertorriqueños.”
“Oyai, es genial.”
“Fuck this,” Nicky isn’t happy to be left out of the Spanish only chesme/gossip, starting to walk away.
“Sorry. I had two latina girlfriends in high school. I need your help. Where can I find a cheap apartment in Hollywood?”
“You wannna be a local boy?”
“Yeah, just not a wannabee or un muchacho loco.”
We all laugh.
“Come by our place at the Canterbury. We’ll set you up. Hundred bucks a month. You can charge the weekend tourists ten bucks a night to sleep on the couch.”
“Not really,” Alice notes.
Nicky writes down the address, at the corner of Cherokee and Yucca.
“It’s furnished, tres trashy chic,” Alice seems to like me. Nicky glares.
I offer up a joint, but Nicky says he doesn’t do that shit. Alice seems disappointed.
Some nerdy guy comes up to me and asks if I was with Belushi at Jack Nicholson’s that afternoon.
“That wasn’t me. It was my alter ego, Jace,” I avoid lying. I have to learn to keep my mouth shut.
I have PTSD. Once the Whiskey afternoon show finishes, I go to Doug’s and collapse into bed by 8 pm. Mass, band jams, sorority sorties, orgies and refraining (mostly) from hard drugs takes a toll on a young boy.
Monday morning at work starts with an inquisition on the havoc I supposedly caused the movie’s development company. I see the fingerprints of Chris Miller all over the studio’s complaints that I had sabotaged their oversight of the script development and handling of the movie’s (only) star. My allies on the production staff inform me that Belushi has violated various tenets of the morals clause in his contract. I had instigated homosexual behavior and drug use, as documented in supposedly authentic gossip rags, specifically the National Enquirer. I tell the execs they’re welcome to wait in Landis’ office, but he may not arrive for several hours. I promise to call them as soon as he gets in. Several execs give me the evil eye, although they are surprised I showed up for work so early. I’m not asked to explain my actions. I’m just a lowly PA.
Once they leave, I call Jay in Miami. More than moral support, I need legal advice about Belushi’s contract, Dewayne Jessie’s proposal sheet, hiring back-up musicians, and rights to the songs I want on the sound track. I’ve been there a week and know exactly what I want to do about the music in ‘Animal House.’ Jay advises me to call PJ in the City to keep him in the loop. Jay says I’m on firm ground, but to admit nothing about Belushi’s wild weekend. He enjoys my description of all the pranks and antics, plus the actual music we made. Jay is the best ally. He confirms he’s ready and able to deal with the legal issues. When I call PJ and explain, he laughs and says we really have Miller by the balls now. He says he’ll contact Belushi at NBC for his confirmation and support in dealing with the studio. If he backs out, the studio is on the hook for a sizeable cancellation penalty to the National Lampoon. With all the attendant publicity, it’ll be no problem renegotiating with other studios. To make sure all my ducks are in a row. I call Kurt in Cambridge. He wants to gossip about Jack’s meltdown at Harvard Stadium. It sounds fantastic to me. I laugh about Minehan scoring his total tuition bill with the playing cards. I have little sympathy for the football team, but The Game lived up to its reputation.
Landis shows up at eleven. He actually has been working with the props and costume departments. I tell him that Miller is using tabloid grist to stoke his campaign to oust me.
“Well, are any of the accusations true?”
“The only incident on the record was a warning I got driving erratically down Santa Monica Blvd. There were four orgies but they all involve girls and no fags. Belushi was rescuing me from going to Hell.”
“What about drugs?’
“Drugs were around when we were playing at various studios, but that’s a Hollywood hazard. Nicholson spiked his punch with acid. All I remember was I had the greatest orgy of my life in his cabana. He took the bows. Only the girls let it be known that I was the real stud.”
“Say nothing about the details. As far as I’m concerned, you did what I asked you to do, auditioning bands for the movie as well as getting Belushi to screen test (sort of) his singing and dancing talent. You were his studio minder and kept him out of trouble. Tabloid gossip is never considered legally admissible. It’s good publicity for the upcoming movie.”
“Also, I have my lawyer working on contracts, music rights and royalties, and hiring the back-up band for Dewayne. If the studio threatens to sic their lawyers on us, tell them to call Jay in Miami.”
Landis laughs. “Did you have all this planned in advance.”
“Hell, no, I put hundreds of miles on the Wreck just to get burgers. It was an al fresco weekend. After the Troubadour auditions, Belushi wanted to hangout. I even took him to mass yesterday in the Valley.”
“He didn’t complain?”
“Surest way to cure a hangover. God forgives our sins.”
We’re still laughing when the suits show up. Miller is right there as the big snitch. Edgar Bronfman Jr is at least partly on my side. Let the inquisition begin.
“What is going on here, John? Chris says you have locked him out of your office. This weekend’s press said our star, John Belushi, was involved with drugs. Why is a college student of questionable morals leading our star around to LA drug houses.”
“Where are you getting all this information? We had a very successful working weekend, auditioning bands for the movie. The craziest thing to happen was Belushi loved riding around the LA Basin in an old convertible. Instead of eating at Chassen’s, he hit all the burger joints in town as well as several stops at Du-Par’s for pancakes. Hell, Tim even took Belushi to mass at St Catherine’s in Van Nuys yesterday morning.”
“Don’t think you can convince me that Belushi’s a choir boy. Miller got a call from his agent saying our star insists he be given a singing role in the movie, as well as insisting he sing in his underwear. This movie is quickly going south.”
“That’s the first I’ve heard about underwear. No one wants to see him undressed. Why is he calling our screenwriters? And, you didn’t tell me where Miller got all this salacious information.”
“The tabloids called me to verify details. I was flabbergasted. We denied everything.”
“I’m completely satisfied with all the work that got done this weekend. You attended the auditions and saw how well Tim managed the four bands. It was his idea to get Belushi on stage and sing with the band we selected for the film.”
“A negro band?” one exec objects. “And the only other band considered was a bunch of weirdos. How are we going to sell this movie to a normal audience? You really trust a sodomite to make your decisions?”
“What do you think, Edgar? You’ve worked with Tim before. Does he have any musical talent.”
“Are you kidding me? When I was at MGM, he sold that Scorsese movie for six million bucks, on the basis of the song his band wrote, ‘New York New York’. It’s nominated for best song this year. How much are you paying him to work seven days and nights a week?”
“How much is Miller making?”
“They won’t tell me. How much is it, Chris.”
Landis speaks up, “That’s the problem. I’m director and Miller wants to micromanage the whole development process. Tim was told to keep him out of my hair after I made him stick to the screenwriting.”
He places Miller’s contract on his desk.
“I don’t have time for any arguments,” the senior executive pronounces. “I don’t care if we hire Negros or gays. If you, Landis, say we’re on track, that’s all I need to hear. If you, Miller, can’t work for my director, I’ll let you out of your contract. We brought in this kid to coordinate the music. The only problem seems to be my star wants to be in the band. Work it out. If you can’t, talk to the legal department about it. We can always stop production.”
Landis speaks up. “That works. We have our own legal representation. I’ll have them call your legal department if there are further snags.”
“When did we authorize you to obtain counsel?”
“Tim has always had representation, Michael Antonio LLC in Miami.”
“He’s a civil rights attorney.”
“Well, you’ve already stated you object to an African-American band and accused my staff of sexual misconduct. Sounds like civil rights to me.”
Edgar laughs outright. Miller stomps out. The studio exec looks bamboozled, finally agreeing “it’s no more than a tempest in a teapot.”
“Please tell Miller he needs to listen to me and follow simple protocol in the office. It is his idea from his college days, but it’s the studio’s movie. He just the screenwriter.”
The execs nod and walk out. Edgar stays behind.
“You’re more fun than the studio hacks. Any new bands I should check out? The Weirdos?’
“No. They need a few years for the music industry to catch up with them. You should buy Tom Petty’s contract from Shelter. They’re living in a double motel room in the Valley and practicing in a storage unit. We’ll put him on set to learn the trade. You can become the visionary in the music video field when he learns how to shoot three-minute videos of his songs. He’s a Dylan from the South.”
“Any more advice, Tim?”
Landis and Bronfman look at each other and laugh. “You are out of control, Tim,” Landis observes.
After Edgar leaves, Landis leans back and calls PJ in New York, telling me to join in the conversation.
“Tim and I kicked butt,” Landis crows. “Tim even has legal representation, so we’re out from under the Universal law hacks. You should shop the production to a few other studios. But wait to see what kind of shit storm Tim stirred up with Belushi this weekend.”
“Something about an LSD punch at Jack Nicholson’s?”
“That and hustling on Santa Monica, Coke at the top of the Hollywood sign, Belushi being fired from SNL, and multiple orgies at the Chateau, Pomona college, and Nicholson’s pool party.”
“Blame that on the LSD,” I meekly suggest.
“Don’t say anything, just shop the script around. I’ll keep Miller under my heel. Until Tim showed up, it was a full-time job.”
It’s time for lunch. I suggested Du-Par’s but Landis decides we’ll hit El Coyote across from Paramount. We stop in at Paramount to see a friend of his. Word is sure to get back that we’re shopping the script. He has no intention of abandoning Universal, just that it’s wise to keep them anxious.
My secretary friends recognize me and surround our table, hoping for word on their idol, Joan Jett. I make up lies about Japanese fanboys crushing on her and ignoring Cheri Currie. They’re sure that the Runaways are breaking up. Landis is not up on girl bands and their lesbian friends. We enjoy the Mexican enchiladas and chili rellenos.
“Why does everyone say you’re gay. From what you said about this weekend and from the girls that mobbed you here, there’s nothing gay about you.”
“I told you I had a boyfriend until this weekend.”
“He lets you cheat on him with girls.”
“He’s just learning to like girls. It’s out of his comfort zone.”
“I feel like I’m living in a science fiction drug-induced fantasy porno.”
“I haven’t a clue about the music. What do we need to do now that Miller’s neutralized?”
“Dewayne Jessie – he needs a backup band and probably a stage name. His relationship to the Coasters is not working for him. Second, we need to choose the songs the band plays and get rights and royalties worked out, including a soundtrack album. We need someone to compose a score to play as background atmosphere when the band is not on-screen. My friend Jay at Mike Antonio’s office will help on all these issues. Doug Weston will help find the backup musicians. I think we need an all-black band just to show the studio they’re so wrong to blackball black musicians.”
“You have this all worked out? I’m giving you another $10 raise.”
“Thanks, Boss. I need to find my own place. I’m worn out from working non-stop for the whole last week. How about the afternoon off? I have someone in mind for the movie score. I’ll check-in with him to set up an audition. Is it okay that he’s gay?”
“Half of Hollywood musicians are gay, and the others are all addicts. And most are both.”
“You are the best, Boss.”
He knows how Hollywood turns fantasies into nightmares.
I call Jake and make a date for dinner. He suggests Anna’s in West LA, on Pico. I plan to seduce him into composing the score, a touch of class for our gross-out frat movie. Anna’s is an Italian restaurant, with its upholstered booths, more family atmosphere than Dan Tana’s . My appetite says pizza, but Jake insists I try a veal dish. High school cafeteria veal Parmigiano was never a favorite, tough and over-breaded. Jake suggests the veal piccatta, which comes in a light sauce, with well-cooked tender young veal. It has spaghetti on the side. Once I quickly finish off my entrée, Jake insists I order a second dish. I chose the beef lasagna, another good choice. I realize we have only spoken about our food, which strikes me as superficial. Jake assures me that any passion is exciting to him. What a cheese bag. I need a shoulder to lean on, after my first week at work.
“Seriously? I got the impression it was a kids movie.”
“I don’t mean to belittle you, but I need something classier to balance the party rock by the band that plays at the frat house. Also there’s a Fourth of July patriot parade sequence where a float goes out of control. I can send you the current script to give you an idea of its point of view in order to create a motif throughout the movie.”
“Like a leit motif?” he laughs.
“Light liet motif,” I joke.
“You are a most interesting boy,” he smiles at me. “What were you doing at Paradise that night?”
“Having fun. The question is why do you go there. My friends say you never try to take anyone home.”
“Never?” he arches his eyebrows.
“Well, I’m the exception to the rule.”
“Definitely,” as he holds my hand and we search each other’s eyes. Anna’s is definitely romantic with soft light and yellow shaded walls. At least there are no candles or strolling musicians. Otherwise it’s our Lady and the Tramp moment. I lift a string of my spaghetti and we slurp each end into our months until our lips touch. I can’t help but chastely kiss him. The other diners ignore us. I have to bite my lip to keep from crying. I must be overwrought. Jake wipes away a tear and glows. I admit that I needed a Hollywood moment, even if it is based on a Disney cartoon. We have tiramisu for dessert. It’s better than crème Brule. That makes me sadder. Jace whispers that it’s okay to have new experiences, even if they erase more precious ones. Teen Jesus is a romantic.
I follow Jake home. I know to park the Wreck a block away. We make passionate love on the roof garden, laying on a blanket with the stars above. There’s a show at the outdoor Greek Theater, with the spotlights searching the heavens. I swear I see Jace darting in and out of the spotlight beams. I don’t feel guilty from falling asleep after sex, even though I keep thinking how much older he is than me. Jace tells me to stop thinking and just enjoy the feelings – safety, togetherness, intrigue, and fulfillment. I certainly feel full. Jake is so pleased that I enjoy bottoming so much, yet surprised how well I top. He avoids calling me boyish or cute. I don’t find him too mature or overly stylish. We seem to intrinsically understand each other. We have no trouble keeping our orgasms simultaneous. He insists in using rubbers, arguing that because he’s old (which I dispute), he must harbor strange and debilitating organisms and viruses. He has traveled enough to have seen people his age who have been struck by mortal diseases. I think it’s a sardonic idea but don’t complain. The whole protocol of wrapping our dicks in rubber somehow seems Japanese. Thank you, Dr Kamikaze. Afterward I speak about Dr Kam and our samisen lessons.
Jake is impressed, just shaking his head at how weird I am. I love it. He brings out a sitar from India. I show off my George Harrison licks. I play him my Daytona Beach ripoff of Bangladesh. The sitar is amazing on that number.