My weekend with Belushi ended with a conga line snaking into the jetway at LAX. It was time for the locals only Sunday afternoon at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go. I parked the wreck at the curb out front. It was my new Max, the star of my own fame. Once inside, Safety and his gang spotted me and glared. Somehow he felt Forming deserved a shot at the movie. One of the groupie posse, Gerber, had been the only girl to climb the Hollywood sign early Saturday morning. I sensed a certain spirit of adventure. It was 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 looked accusingly at Safety.
“I didn’t fall,” he claimed.
“Yeah. 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 laughed.
“Wanna smoke out now?” I pulled out a joint as peace-offering.
Everyone moved over to the blind spot at the left side of the Whiskey’s stage. One joint only made it around once. I had raided Jimmy stash and pulled another out from behind my left ear. It felt like high school all over.
Safety noticed 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 sang 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 grabbed me. “Whose song is that?”
“Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers. We’ve been jammin’ all weekend.”
“Belushi and me. We hung out all weekend. Just left him at LAX.”
She looked at me with stars in her eyes, or at least a TV star.
“You always just start singing?” he asked.
“Ever since swim team pool parties.”
“Yer a jock?” he had to know.
He turned all red. I knew he would be easy prey for super-sexual me. Later.
I could tell they all wanted a third joint. Time to make new friends. I noticed Nicky Beat, the Weirdo’s drummer, hanging out with a killer-looking latina Chola, in heavy mascara and a scary glare. I walked up, as they were just chilling between sets.
“Hey, Nick. You guys playing today?”
“You. How come we didn’t get the movie gig. John said 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 and 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 wasn’t happy to be left out of the 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 laughed.
“Come by our place in 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 noted.
Nicky wrote down the address, at the corner of Cherokee and Yucca.
“It’s furnished, tres trashy chic,” Alice seemed to like me. Nicky glared.
I offered up a joint, but Nicky said he didn’t do that shit. Alice seemed disappointed.
Some nerdy guy came up to me and asked if I was with Belushi at Jack Nicholson’s that afternoon.
“That wasn’t me. It was my alter ego, Jace,” I avoided lying. I had to learn to keep my mouth shut.
I had PTSD. Once the Whiskey afternoon show finished, I went to Doug’s and collapsed 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 started with an inquisition on the havoc I had supposedly caused the movie’s development company. I saw 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 informed me that Belushi had 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 told the execs they were welcome to wait in Landis’ office, but he may not arrive for several hours. I promised to call them as soon as he got in. Several execs gave me the evil eye, although they were surprised I had shown up for work so early. I wasn’t asked to explain my actions. I was just a lowly PA.
Once they left, I called Jay in Miami. More than moral support, I needed legal advice about Belushi’s contract, Dewayne Jessie’s proposal sheet, hiring back-up musicians, and rights to the songs I wanted on the sound track. I had been there a week and knew exactly what I wanted to do about the music in ‘Animal House.’ Jay advised me to call PJ in the City to keep him in the loop. Jay said I was on firm ground, but to admit nothing about Belushi’s wild weekend. He enjoyed my description of all the pranks and antics, plus the actual music we had created. Jay was the best ally. He confirmed he was ready and able to deal with the legal issues. When I called PJ and explained, he laughed and said we really had Miller by the balls now. He said he’d contact Belushi at NBC for his confirmation and support with the studio. If he backed out, the studio was on the hook for a sizeable cancellation penalty to the National Lampoon. With all the attendant publicity, it would be no problem renegotiating with other studios. All my ducks were in a row. I called Kurt in Cambridge. He wanted to gossip about Jack’s meltdown at Harvard Stadium. It sounded fantastic to me. I laughed about Minehan scoring his total tuition bill with the playing cards. I had little sympathy for the football team, but The Game had lived up to its reputation.
Landis showed up at eleven. He’d actually been working with the props and costume departments. I told him that Miller was 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 involved 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 and 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 and is 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 laughed. “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 were still laughing when the suits showed up. Miller was there as the big snitch. Edgar Bronfman Jr was 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 and 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 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. I 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 objected. “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 spoke 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 placed Miller’s contract on his desk.
“I don’t have time for any arguments,” the senior executive pronounced. “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 and 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 spoke 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.”
“You’ve already stated you object to an African-American band and accused my staff of sexual misconduct. Sounds like discrimination as well.”
Edgar laughed outright. Miller stomped out. The studio exec looked 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 was his idea from his college days, but it’s the studio’s movie. He just the screenwriter.”
The exec nodded and walked out. Edgar stayed 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 and 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 looked at each other and laughed. “You are out of control, Tim,” Landis admitted.
After Edgar left, Landis leaned back and called PJ in New York, telling me to join in the conversation.
“Tim and I kicked butt,” Landis crowed. “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 suggested.
“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 was time for lunch. I suggested Du-Par’s but Landis decided we’d hit El Coyote across from Paramount. We’d stop in at Paramount to see a friend of his. Word was sure to get back that we were shopping the script. He had no intention of abandoning Universal, just that it was wise to keep them anxious.
My secretary friends recognized me and surrounded our table, hoping for word on their idol, Joan Jett. I made up lies about Japanese fanboys crushing on her and ignoring Cheri Currie. They were sure that the Runaways were breaking up. Landis was not up on girl bands and their lesbian friends. We enjoyed 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 and we can set up an audition. Is it okay that he’s gay?”
“Half of Hollywood musicians are gay, and the other are all addicts. And most are both.”
“You are the best, Boss.”
He knew how Hollywood turned fantasies into nightmares.
I called Jake and made a date for dinner. He suggested Anna’s in West LA, on Pico. I planned to seduce him into composing the score, a touch of class for our gross-out frat movie. Anna’s was an Italian restaurant, with its upholstered booths, more family atmosphere than Dan Tana’s . My appetite said pizza, but Jake insisted I try a veal dish. High school cafeteria veal parmigiana was never a favorite, tough and over-breaded. Jake suggested the veal piccatta, which came in a light sauce, with well-cooked tender young veal. It had spaghetti on the side. Once I quickly finished off my entrée, Jake insisted I order a second dish. I chose the beef lasagna, another good choice. I realized we had only spoken about our food, which struck me as superficial. Jake assured me that any passion was exciting to him. What a cheese bag. I needed 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 laughed.
“Light liet motif,” I joked.
“You are a most interesting boy,” he smiled 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 arched his eyebrows.
“Well, I’m the exception to the rule.”
“Definitely,” as he held my hand and we searched each other’s eyes. Anna’s was definitely romantic with soft light and yellow shaded walls. At least there were no candles or strolling musicians. Otherwise it was our Lady and the Tramp moment. I lifted a string of my spaghetti and we slurped each end into our months until our lips touched. I couldn’t help but chastely kiss him. The other diners ignored us. I had to bite my lip to keep from crying. I must have been overwrought. Jake wiped away a tear and glowed. I admitted that I needed a Hollywood moment, even if it was based on a Disney cartoon. We had tiramisu for dessert. It was better than crème Brule. That made me sad. Jace whispered that it was okay to have new experiences, even if they erased more precious ones. Teen Jesus was a romantic.
I followed Jake home. I knew to park the Wreck a block away. We made passionate love on the roof garden, laying on a blanket with the stars above us. There was a show at the outdoor Greek Theater, with the spotlights searching the heavens. I swore I saw Jace darting in and out of the beams. I didn’t feel guilty from falling asleep after sex, even though I kept thinking how much older he was than me. Jace told me to stop thinking and just enjoy the feelings – safety, togetherness, intrigue, and fulfillment. I certainly felt full. Jake was so pleased that I enjoyed bottoming so much and surprised how well I topped. He avoided calling me boyish or cute. I didn’t find him too mature or overly stylish. We seemed to intrinsically understand each other. We had no trouble keeping our orgasms simultaneous. He insisted in using rubbers, arguing that because he was old (which I disputed), he must harbor strange and debilitating organisms and viruses. He had traveled enough to have seen people his age who had been struck by mortal diseases. I thought it was a sardonic idea but didn’t complain. The whole protocol of wrapping our dicks in rubber somehow seemed Japanese. Thank you, Dr Kamikaze. Afterward I spoke about Dr K and our samisen lessons.
Jake was impressed, just shaking his head at how weird I was. I loved it. He brought out a sitar from India and I showed off my George Harrison licks. I played him my Daytona Beach ripoff of Bangladesh. The sitar is amazing on that number.
“Jesus, Jack. Don’t you have class today?” I asked as I hustled him into my boss’s office and locked the door. I didn’t expect Landis for several hours.
“Is this what drugs are like, you hate me and am ashamed of me. I love you, Tim.”
“I love you, too, Jack. How can you doubt that?”
“You shut me out of your heart when you’re high. I had the most horrid weekend when you stood me up.”
“You talk with Kurt?”
“That’s why I’m here. It’s like you’ve had a mental breakdown.”
“I did. I’ve given up music.”
“You can’t do that. It’s Jace’s gift to you. You love to perform.”
At mention of his name, our co-conspirator appeared.
I needed some of his 15-year-old attitude. Damn the consequences.
“Can’t you go two weeks without me? In two more I’ll be back in Cambridge for finals and Christmas.”
“If you had learned to check me in your heart, you’d know that’s not true. All the time in New York, I tried to reach you in my heart. You insisted we use the phone. I don’t have time for that here. I’ve been here eight days, working day and night, which I love. This is my passion, Jack. Kurt knew it and separated us, giving me the chance to go for it.”
“Jace said you were on drugs, passed out in some sleazy Hollywood apartment.”
“I told him to tell you that when you were having a meltdown about the football game.”
“Why did you lie?”
“Your first night in New York, you had Burroughs in your heart. I was jealous.”
Jace translated my thoughts to Jack, just as I had done for him when only I saw him.
“Jealousy defeats you, Jack. I was jealous of Maplethorpe but it never threatened our love. You need to grow up and…”
There was a loud knock on the door, interrupting our fight.
“I know you’re in there, Landis. Let me in. Your little faggot’s not at his desk.” It was Miller.
“Go away Miller. This faggot’s not afraid of you.”
“I’m going to kick your ass, Castle. That’s not your office.” He proceeded to pound on the door with his fists and feet, breaking through the flimsy wooden panels.
I called security and told them to hurry, explaining that Miller was breaking down the door.
“Stop it, Miller. Don’t be an idiot. Security is on the way.”
Jack was cowering in the corner, while Jace smiled at the adult drama. Miller continued to smash the door apart. I prepared to defend myself. Luckily, Security arrived in force, knocking Miller to the floor and subduing him. They asked what to do with him. I called Landis at home, and he told me to wait until he got there. I had Miller taken to the Security office by the main gate and held there.
Landis appeared in thirty minutes. I introduced Jack, my roommate from Harvard. I explained that Miller was incensed when I wouldn’t let him in his office, becoming increasingly hostile and threatening to harm me.
“What did he say?”
“He did say he would kill me for being a faggot.”
“Did he catch you two having sex in my office?” My loose ways were ruining my reputation.
“No. Jack’s mad I didn’t come to Harvard this weekend for the Yale game.”
“Oh, The Game. Is that all?”
“I thought we were breaking up. I came out to confront Tim. I love him,” Jack confessed.
“Enough details. Do you want him arrested for assault.”
“No way. Only losers arrest their assailants. Isn’t there some morals clause about killing faggots in his contract so he can be fired?”
“Not specifically, but probably I can fire him. Can’t you forgive him? I don’t really need him for the script. I like that it’s about his experiences at Dartmouth.”
I had a brain fart. “I need to defend my honor. Set up a three-round boxing match. I’ll let him know he can’t easily beat up this faggot.”
Landis looked at me to make sure I was serious. I nodded. He got on the phone to United Artists which still had the set from the original Rocky on their lot. We walked over to the Security office and confronted Miller.
“This faggot is going to give you a choice. Get the ring or be arrested”
“Man up or go to jail.”
Landis added, “You’ll be through here if you are arrested, Chris. This is your chance. Tim isn’t intimidated by homophobia. I think he deserves the chance to kick your ass for all the insults and disrespect.”
Miller glared at me. He had me by at least fifty pounds, but it was all flab. My juvenile hall fights would serve me well. My only fear is I was too cocky for my own good. Jack could be my cutman, Paulie. Landis was definitely my trainer, Mickey. I knew Joan Jett was my Adrian, but she was missing in action.
Miller agreed to the boxing match, sure he could overwhelm a scrawny gay musician. All I had going for me was misplaced gay pride. Also I knew, no matter the outcome, Miller would be put in his place.
“I win, Miller, and I own you. If somehow you win, I’ll take off this safety-pin in my ear that upsets you so.”
Miller just snorted. Jack cowered. Landis called Bronfman Jr and got him to be the ring referee. He was Canadian which meant he’d be fair to both sides. All of us, including five of my ‘fans’ from the office piled into the Wreck heading for United Artists. Miller was alone in his Beemer. He had no one in his corner, self-righteous prick. The ‘Rocky’ ring was first class. They knew there would be sequels. It was number one at the box office that year. There was even fake blood on the canvas footing. I bounced into the ring, stripping off my shirt and flexing my miniscule muscles. Miller couldn’t understand why no one was cheering for him. Jack had been mostly silent since our fight was interrupted. He ran over to the studio canteen and recruited a posse of young women to cheer me on. He told them it was a grudge match between a bully and me. It was right out of a Hollywood play book. Landis manned the bell, ringing it repeatedly to make the ringside introductions.
“Good afternoon, fight fans. Live from the Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Palace, the main event today is a three round lightweight championship bout for the All-Hollywood Ivy League title. In the white corner, hailing from Miami FLA and representing Harvard University, we have Tim ‘the Fly’ Castleman, weighing shy of 135 pounds, trained by the Universal Studios music department, with a degree from the rock school of hard knocks. And in the blue corner, from Brooklyn NY, and representing Dartmouth College, is Chris ‘Pinto’ Miller, weighing slightly more than 135 pounds and training at the National Lampoon writers guild of irrelevant details. Refereeing this afternoon, from Montreal Quebec in the English colony of Canada, is Edgar Bronfman Jr. Boxers approach the referee for your instructions.”
Bronfman told us to “keep your guard up at all time, no low blows, and there is a standing eight-count for all knockdowns. Hitting after the bell at the end of each round will be cause for disqualification. Any questions?”
I put my gloves out to touch Miller’s, but he took it as a threatening gesture and swung at me. I ducked and danced away from him. He looked confused. We were wearing the original ‘Rocky’ gloves, which were huge and protected both of us from real injury. It was not going to be a street fight with bare knuckles which could do real damage, as well as end the fight with a knockout punch. I knew I’d needed to wear my opponent down before my knockout punch would be effective. Enough thinking, it was time to fight.
Landis rang the bell to start round one. Miller charged out to smother me and end it quickly. I went into a defensive stance but at the last moment slipped sideways once he was in range. Sticking out my foot, Miller tripped as he rushed by me and went down. Edgar glared at me for my illegal tactic and gave Miller a standing 8-count, time to recover from his trip. Enraged he attacked again, which I fended off in a crouching position with raised gloves deflecting the pummeling. Once he tired from the assault, I unleashed a flurry of jabs, backing him up with stinging blows that only annoyed him more. In the middle of the ring, I danced around him, taunting him and making fun of his ineffectiveness. Every time I sensed he was about to attack, I unleashed more jabs, keeping him off-balance. Landis rung the bell to end round one.
My corner team was ready with water and towels to wipe off my sweat. Jack didn’t know what to tell me, so he kissed me as I left my corner at round two’s opening bell. The crowd gasped and Miller was further enraged. He had sat on his stool with no one to encourage him.
Time for me to attack. I rushed him from the bell, pushing him back into his corner, with jabs and overhand rights. He was stunned and didn’t raise his gloves to protect himself. My jabs were relentless. Five straight left jabs spun him around, at which point I aimed a right hook to his temple. He collapsed like a bag of potatoes. He lay there moaning that he was blind. Edgar called the bout a TKO, technical knock out, as Miller was unable to defend himself. I skipped the victory ceremony and got down on my knees and held Miller’s head, to keep him from furthering injuring himself. His eyes were wildly looking about, seeing nothing. I spoke to him, “calm down and look at me.” Slowly his eyes returned to normal and he recognized me staring at him a foot away. We got him to his feet and sat him on his stool. The crowd had been silent after the knockout. With my opponent okay, they cheered and clapped. Most left as soon as possible, not wanting to be part of someone being injured. Jack brought over water for Miller.
Edgar recognized Jack from our ‘New York New York’ days. “What are you doing here, Jack? How’s your grandfather?”
We laughed. “He’s still my dad. How’s your’s?”
“Still refusing to sell the liquor business. I work at Universal now.”
I walked away from their inane conversation and led Miller around the ring, until he was back to his normal senses.
“Don’t be embarrassed. I’ve been fighting for years. It’s quite fun. I’m the fighting faggot. When I went to juvie I was in three fights my first night. I never threw a punch and all three opponents were fucked up.”
“Did you always win?”
“Naw.” I decided not to tell about the guard who gave me the blanket party, on whom I turned the tables by fucking him in front of his buddies.
I went over to Landis’s mic and told the girls to come back to the ring. I sang my latest cover song, ‘Won’t back down.’
Jack suddenly got his mojo back, grabbed the mic and sang Petty’s “Yer so Bad” to me from the center of the ring.
“When’dcha learn that song?”
“Jace taught it to me, when I was so sad on Sunday, saying it was your new theme song.”
Landis watched us perform and again just shook his head. All the canteen girls had returned when we started singing. I’m a singer, not a fighter.
“Com’n, we’ve got a movie to make,” Landis rounded up his troops. We left Miller with all the girls, sitting on his stool, holding my safety-pin in a hand.
Edgar asked if those were our songs. He was ready to sign us, ‘The Fighting Faggots.’”
“No. I told you to buy Tom Petty’s contract from Shelter. The boys are dying out there in the Valley. His songs are perfect for movies. They’re like three-minute stories.”
I gave him Tom’s number and promised to get Tony to book them. He assured me that I would get great props for beating down my fag-baiting nemesis.
Back at the office, Landis shut his door and asked us what had caused the ruckus.
“No,” I refuted his initial impression. “This is Jack, by the way, my boyfriend. We were arguing about our problems. I was supposed to be at Harvard vs Yale, The Game, this weekend. Instead, I worked for you on the auditions and driving Belushi around.”
“You blaming me for your relationship problems.”
“I chose to work. We were separated by the Lampoon because I was always getting us into trouble with the administration. Anderson thought I’d get us both kicked out. I have no respect for arbitrary authority. Jack loves Harvard. I love Hollywood. We were about to break up when Miller thought you were in here and broke down the door.”
“That’s why we were in here behind a closed-door. Jack has no clue about homophobia in the office. At least we’ve got Miller under control now.”
“Jesus, welcome to the Twilight Zone. Do you need my office to work out your problems?”
“I think we’ll go to lunch and celebrate my All-Hollywood Ivy League boxing championship. Wanna come.”
“No. You take care of your personal business. Bring me back a Tommy’s and cheese fries.”
“Your boss is cool,” was Jack’s first comment.
“Yeah. He’s already given me two $10 raises.
Driving the Wreck south on the Hollywood Freeway, Jack asked me, “Are we really breaking up?”
“Can’t you just enjoy the California sun in an open convertible cruising the Hollywood Freeway?”
Other cars were abruptly changing lanes or weaving within or slightly outside their lanes, making me actually concentrate on my driving. East Hollywood was becoming Little Armenia, with Little Korea just to the south. What better place me and immigrants to learn how to drive.
“That’s why I skipped class to come here. I need to fight for you.”
“Then why have you locked me out of your heart? You don’t trust we always will love each other.”
“I get jealous,” he admitted after thinking about it.
‘About Burroughs?’ I thought, forgetting about all my other slutting around since I left Harvard. “Come here,”
I reached and pulled him next to me. With my arm around him, I felt like I was a farm boy from Iowa in a pickup with his girl, as we cruised Hollywood with the top down. Jack snuggled into me. For the first time, I could feel him in my heart. We beat rapidly in synch together. No more talk about breaking up. Damn Burroughs and his magic typewriter. Before Tommy’s, we had our tryst in Jimmy’s favorite spot on the roof of a Wilshire office building.
Landis complained he had been waiting for his lunch for too long. Seeing the disheveled clothing, he knew why lunch was delayed. Afternoon delight was a Hollywood tradition.
“You didn’t get to work until eleven. You snooze, you lose.” We all laughed. He took all his calls himself and told me I was relieved of PA duties for the day.
“Go back to school, Jack,” he ordered. “I need Tim’s full attention here.”
“Hey, Champ,” one of my staffers yelled. Time to really celebrate. But first I had to see Nicky Beat and his girlfriend Alice at the Canterbury to help rent an apartment. At $100 a month, I could certainly afford it. The location was right off Hollywood Blvd. I wasn’t looking for luxury. I could visit Jake for that. Which reminded me of my meeting that night to discuss the movie’s score with him. Would Jack’s jealousy raise its hateful head when they met. I’d warn Jake that Jack was only there for the night; he could be discrete. Would Jack sense my real feelings toward him because he was back in my heart? All I could do is navigate the still but dangerous waters of cheating. The truth was that my success in Hollywood depended on my sexual attraction to almost everyone I met. I needed to not become the typical player I saw around me.
As we drove down Cahuenga Blvd, I sensed Jack examining why I had suddenly become so quiet. He was slowly expanding the trust that allowed him to sense my true feelings.
“So much has changed,” he complained, “in just the few weeks we’ve been separated. Will you ever come back to Harvard?”
“We’re taking finals in two weeks. I’ll be there for Christmas and the St Paul’s Choir performance. And don’t we want to be in Miami for the holidays?”
He smiled, knowing I wasn’t lying. Trust was powerful, and then it bites you on the butt. Jace reassured me that the truth will out, so why delay the inevitable. Jack’s expression changed when he realized I was struggling with something to do with us. I gave him a smile and our hearts were one, at least until the next crisis.
Nicky was glad to see me. He was really friendly, happy to meet my band mate. Finding out that I had been the Mower’s band’s drummer, he insisted on giving me a lesson on the Pearl set he had in their one room apartment.
“You can play drums here?” I asked.
He flexed and assured me no one complained. Jack claimed he needed the lesson, as he had to take my place on the Mower drums. While they banged away, Alice led me to the manager’s office. Without the Chola makeup, she looked normal and quite striking.
“You like Latinas,” she noticed.
“I still love my first girlfriend from when I was 14.”
“You’re still together?”
“No. She lives in the Bronx. I finally realized my best friend there was pining for her but would never say anything that would ruin our friendship.”
“Sounds like junior high.”
“By that time, we were in high school. I knew a long distance relationship was doomed. I told them both to get over me. They kissed right there in front of me. It was so innocent. Now they’ll be married before I see them again.”
“You set up your girlfriend with your best friend?”
“He was the kid next door.”
“In the Bronx?”
“Well, down the block.”
“Ei, miyo, que lactimas.”
“Si, estoy un pendayo.”
Alice introduced me to the manager, who looked harried and none too happy to oblige me. Alice assured her that I had a job and was reliable. She said I was 21. The Canterbury was a big square, white, five-story apartment building. The hallway carpets were tattered and led down dingy, narrow corridors. The room she showed was on the third floor with one window looking across at a similar room in the opposite wing. The bathroom had a ventilation window that opened on a narrow shaft leading down to the basement and up to the roof. It was furnished with a Murphy bed that folded out from a wall, a couch and a table with four chairs. There was a walk-in kitchen with stove and refrigerator. The bathroom had a tub with a shower curtain. My own place – a first. I was ecstatic and wrote her a check for $200, first and last month’s rent.
“Let me know when you’re moving out,” the manager said, stoically accepting I was just passing through.
I knew Jack was not that happy for me, fearing I’d never return to Harvard. I told Jace to tell him we’d all inaugurate the bed together. He smiled at me once Jace made the suggestion. I thanked Alice and Nicky for all their help.
“Are you getting a phone?” Nicky asked.
“Why not?” I was floating on air.
“Think we could use it sometime.”
“Why not?” I was oblivious to excess phone charges. I became their new best friend.
We literally ran down the hall to my new room, stripping off our shirts in the hall and everything else once we were behind a closed-door. Jace was struggling with the Murphy bed. Ghostly muscles were not up to the task. It didn’t take long working together to get it down. Our dicks displayed complete readiness to go at each other. Jack stretched out on the double bed as I bent over to lick the tip of his leaking dick. Jace took advantage of my exposed ass and lathered it up for immediate penetration. As Jace slid into me, I bobbed fully down Jack’s shaft while he pushed upward into me. Jace wiggled his butt against one of Jack’s outstretched toes, impaling Jack’s big toe about an inch into his ass, and then impaling me to the hilt. It was like riding a teeter-totter. It was not a stable fucking position. I was the center of a three-way fuck sandwich. Murphy was showing its age with groaning spring squeaks. We rolled from one side to the other, so Jack and Jace alternated being on top. Jace neared his typical rush to climax without slowing down. He ignored my messages for Jack, blinded by his own orgasm. I tried to reach Jack myself.
I laughed. “You’re next, then,” as I squeezed and held rigid for Jace as he exploded inside me. He fell off my back. I rolled him to his stomach and positioned Jack on top to fuck him. I remained deep inside Jack, riding his fucking rhythm into Jace. I ran my fingers through Jack’s longish hair, pulling and massaging his scalp as I thrust into him. Jace had his face smothered by a pillow, pretending he couldn’t breathe with both of us on top of him. I rolled us sideways, with Jace taking a fake gasp for air. I laughed at his efforts to not seem dead.
“Why are you laughing?” Jack demanded without missing a beat on Jace’s ass.
It was too macabre to explain, so I quickened the strokes into him. My dick twisted back and the first spurt erupted. Jack was right behind me (actually I was right behind and in him) as we both came simultaneously. Murphy stopped squeaking and groaning. I wanted to fall asleep but knew we needed to shower. But there were no towels. In fact, there was nothing there but a dirty mattress. Time to hit Sears, ‘where David Bowie shops.’ It was in East Hollywood on Sunset and Western. Jack went crazy on the BankAmericard, insisting it was a home-warming gift.
“From the Homecoming Queen,” I joked.
All three of us sang ‘Daydream Believer,’ in the store.
Nobody stopped to listen. Shopping is serious business at Sears. Riding back in the Wreck, Jack cuddled next to me while Jace perched on top of the back seat, waving at everyone, as if anyone could see him. We carried up all the supplies and set up the apartment, inviting Nicky and Alice to be our first visitors. They oohed and ahhed about how nice we made it. Naturally we all needed to go eat.
“Two Guys,” I announced. I felt totally at home with my own pizza hangout, a block away. Nicky made me order three pizzas and took one home for ‘later.’ He was not a ‘one day at a time’ guy. Also, he wasn’t a pot guy, so no post-pizza joint. We did finish off several pitchers of beer. No one was carded.
Then I remembered I was to meet Jake that night for dinner. I called him and explained that my ‘college roommate’ had shown up and we rescheduled. I felt badly that I had treated him as second best date for that night. Jack’s renewed ability to read my feelings made him suspicious.
“He’s composing the movie score. We were to have dinner tonight.”
“Should I be jealous,” Jack instantly lost access to my heart. Nicky and Alice seemed confused about Jack and me, the straight orgy king.
“He’s 42. You’re in better shape.”
There would be more questions later.
“Is that a problem?”
“I never knew anyone gay,” he confessed.
“You’re in a Hollywood band and know no one who’s gay?”
“Ya can’t be in a punk band if you’re a fag.”
“There’s rules about being a punk?”
“Yeah. No muscles, no money, and no homo tendencies.”
“Must be an exclusive club.”
“We have our standards.”
“That why old Safety Pin seems so conflicted?”
“You mean Bobby Pin. He’s just a high school kid. He does seem confused with all those ugly chicks who follow him around.”
“We call them fag hags. It’s a sure sign.”
“He don’t like you,” Nicky gossiped.
“Let’s get more pizza,” Nicky changed the subject.
“What about the one you set aside?” I asked.
“That’s for later.”
We pigged out again with more pitchers of beer.
Walking back to the Canterbury, Nicky asked if we were going to Punk night at the Starwood. “Wouldn’t miss it,” I claimed.
“Give us a ride in that convertible.”
“Don’t call it that. It’s a 50’s classic.” Nicky was into classic cars.
“No. It’s a Rent-a-Wreck. I Love the Wreck.”
“Have you filled it up yet?”
“I just put in $10 worth once in a while.”
“Let it get down to empty. It’s got a 30-gallon tank. The dumb gas jockeys will only charge you $10 over what the pump says. Save ya $10 every time.”
Gas had recently jumped to over a dollar per gallon. The old pumps only showed a max of $9.99. When you pumped more than 10 gallons, they added $10 to the reading. Nicky reminded me of Joey’s hustling in the City, except he didn’t do drugs.
“Don’t leave it with the top down. Yer gonna get robbed.”
“Ain’t nothin’ in it.”
“That’s not the problem,” and he jumped into the driver’s side. Fiddling under the steering wheel, he had it started in under 15 seconds.
“Hop in,” and we took off with Nicky driving. We pulled into the Starwood parking lot. It was early. The bouncers recognized Nicky, so we could park there. It didn’t quite feel safe now, leaving it anywhere, so we hung out in the car. It felt like our southern road trip stops at the road houses. I half expected Iggy to show up on a stolen motorbike. Other punks came over and hung out. I shared more of Jimmy’s joints. Nicky didn’t seem to mind, even though he refused to partake. John and Dix Denney arrived and gave me the evil eye. The long stare was part of their stage act. Nicky explained that I was ‘cool,’ even if I screwed the band over about the movie. The brothers smoked my pot and left. Gerber had been with them, but she stayed, taking an instant liking to Jack.
“I have a boyfriend,” he exclaimed when she tried to stick her hand down his pants.
“Well, he ain’t around now,” she continued to pester him.
“Untrue. He’s sitting next to me.”
She had the body of a twelve-year-old with tits.
“He’s all mine tonight. He’s flying back to Boston tomorrow,” I demurred. Jack looked surprised about his early exit.
“How’s that working out?”
“Jill complained that no one can read them, including Minehan.”
“I really have to work, Jack. I’m under suspicion for being gay there. You saw how that played out with Miller.”
“You want me to leave,” he whined.
“You boys are too boring,” Gerber complained and left to go inside the Starwood.
“She’s right,” Nicky agreed. He and Alice went inside as well. We stayed with them and got in for free with reentry stamps. While they went upstairs, I took Jack into the Disco portion. The Paramount secretaries were there and surrounded me. They remembered Jack as another of Joan Jett’s friends. He turned on the charm and we had five girls dancing with us. I took the youngest looking secretary over to Rodney who was deejaying as usual. He was glad to play Runaways songs for her, insisting she come up and chose the tracks to play. ‘Cherry Bomb’ got everyone out on the dance floor.
‘Queens of Noise’ scared all the disco dollies away with its heavy metal overtones. We dragged the girls to the live stage area, but they screamed and tried to run away when they saw the art/punk band making noise on stage. We convinced them to come up to the balcony where we ordered pitchers of beer. They all had IDs; nobody asked us. Nicky and Alice came over, impressed that we had lured straight girls to sit with us.
“They’re our fan club from Paramount,” Jack bragged.
“You have a band?” Nicky was clueless.
“Sure. We backed up Liza Minnelli and Elton John at the Troubadour last summer. Joan Jett played with us. These girls love Joan.
“That explains everything,” Alice commented. Joan had a reputation.
I kidded Alice in Spanish that she was too much for straight girls.
“Pense que yo esse una puta?”
“Esse una chola.”
“Si. Yo soy de East LA.”
“Me gusta tu moda.”
“Me gusta tu espanol.
“No gusta las gringas?”
One of the girls was upset knowing we were talking about them.
“It’s not fair speaking Spanish,” she complained.
“?No este normal en El Ay? Solamente chesme, perdonne me.”
All the girls looked disgusted. They got up and went back to the disco side.
Alice and I laughed. Jack looked distressed.
Nicky asked, “What just happened.”
“Culture shock,” Alice explained.
“So, why are you gay,” Alice asked. “You seem to be babe magnets.”
Nicky wasn’t interested in our answer, going to find the Denney brothers.
“We have good taste,” Jack smoothly practiced his charm. Alice beamed. She was stunning when she smiled, which she only did about once a week.
“You should be in a band,” I remarked.
“Gonna put me in the movies, also?” she mocked me. “And, I have a band already.”
“You want an audition? What’s the band’s name.”
“We just call ourselves the Bags until we find a better one, And no, we don’t play covers.”
“Good for you. You want to play here.”
“Better to play the Whiskey on Sunday afternoons. Too many joke bands here.”
“The Bags are serious? I’ll get Tony to book you there.”
“Our guitarist does the booking. He’s older. And he’s gay, too. You interested in him?”
“We have each other. When we were in our Glitter phase, we started fagging off on stage. We had a gay posse following us.”
“You had groupies?”
“We told them we had each other and they should go after themselves.”
“Gays are such sluts,” she observed.
A new band had come on stage. Alice got excited.
“That’s the Zeroes. They’re from San Diego. They’re all Mexicans.”
We all ran down and stood at the front of the stage. They opened with ‘Don’t Push Me Around’, all classic rock chords, like the Ramones. It was high energy but not too fast.
Jack and I started pushing each other. Alice was in high heels, but it didn’t stop her from pushing with us. At first the people around us moved back, only to be shoved forward by those behind them. It became chaotic, until Nicky showed up to reclaim Alice. He was a classic pogo-er, tall and athletic. Some order was restored as we no longer were shoving anyone in our way. Jack and I joined arms and pogo-ed together. Alice took off her shoes so she could jump up too but soon was knocking people’s heads with her stiletto heels. No one confronted Alice with Nicky there to defend her. The Zeroes had a short set, apparently recently formed. No one cared that they weren’t Anglos. I figured everyone in San Diego was probably Mexican.
After they were done, we followed them upstairs to the green room. All six of us were chattering away in Spanish. Jack and I were criticized for sounding Puerto Rican. When they found out we were from Miami, they complimented us for not sounding Cuban. Alice was in ethnic heaven. Nicky got bored and wandered away again. Jimmy showed up with two pitchers of beer plus he pulled out a joint. The opening band had been standoffish until they smelled dope. We all reverted to Spanglish, the language of the stoned.
“Jimmy, my man. Meet Alice, the leader of the Bags,” I introduced her.
“Hola, Bag Lady,” Jimmy couldn’t help himself.
“Get Tony to book the Bags for a Sunday afternoon.”
“No problemo,” Jimmy exhausted his Spanish knowledge.
“He has to talk with Craig, our guitarist,” she reminded me.
“He’s gay,” I told Jimmy.
“Then I’ll handle it. Gay’s my way for fun and play.”
“My brother’s gay,” Robert Lopez from the Zeroes wanted into our exclusive club.
“We’ll make it all-gay all-day at the Whiskey,” Jimmy decided. “Any other gay bands?”
“They’re from Frisco, just gay poseurs,” Jimmy already knew. He took out another joint after the other band had moved back to their corner of the green room, fearful of catching the gay.
Pot trumped plotting the gay takeover of the punk scene. The show was over and everyone piled into the Wreck, driving up Santa Monica a few blocks to Oki Dog. Pot and pogo equals punks with the munchies. No one paid. Jack had never received charity before. His standards were slipping. We sat in the Wreck renewing our vows to each other – a Santa Monica Blvd. engagement. He vowed to no longer be jealous of me and I vowed to always keep him in my heart. He even admitted that he missed Minehan. I told him that wasn’t enough to make me jealous. Nicky came over and congratulated us on our Hollywood engagement. He told Jack to buy everyone more Oki Dogs. Jack was happy to comply, getting over the guilt of receiving undeserved charity. Nicky ate three. The four of us drove back to the Canterbury, all sitting up front. Jack made me promise to spend Thanksgiving in Miami with him. It was in two days. I hadn’t been back since my escape from the Everglades. Jace was excited about being with Tommy again. Jack got jealous and I called off our engagement. We needed to grow up more, I agreed with my better self.