Eighteen – Chapter 4

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, was 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.”

She looks surprised I know her name, not sure she likes how I shorten it. She is small and does look like the girl on the Gerber Baby Food label.

“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.”

“I’m not like you, fag.”

“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.”

“Who’s we?”

“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.

Safety gets possessive. She winks at me.  Later.

“You always just start singing?” he asks.

“Ever since swim team pool parties.”

“Yer a jock?” he has to know.

“Yeah, check out my muscles,” as I pull off my tee-shirt and flex. tim-888

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.”

“Typical Hollywood bullshit,” he grumps.

“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 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.”

“Sounds cool.”

“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 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 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 called 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 had made. Jay is the best ally. He confirm 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’d 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 laughed 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 had 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.”

“Jesus.”

“Yes, my son.”

 

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.”

“Why are you responding to the tabloids?  I’m sure we can work out wardrobe issues.”

“Why not put everyone in bed sheets and call it a toga party,” I pipe up.  Miller gives me his meanest look. Landis is not happy I’m fighting his battles.

“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?”

“$210 bucks.”

“How much is Miller making?”

“They won’t tell me. How much is it, Chris.”

“That’s confidential,” my nemesis answers. “This is my movie.”

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 discrimination 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 exec 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?”

“Get your dad to buy Universal and start a music label for you to run. People need more than Canadian Club  to entertain themselves.”

Landis and Bronfman look at each other and laugh. “You are out of control, Tim,” Landis observes.

After Edgar leaves, Landis leans back and called 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?”

“You’ve heard?”

“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.”

“You’re welcome,” PJ takes all the credit.

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.”

“Welcome to Tim’s World.”

“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.”

“Okay. That would be Springsteen.  But take a few minutes to catch your breath. I need you to not burn out on me.”

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 parmigiana 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 had 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.

“I wonder if you’ll compose the score for our movie,” I go directly to the point.

“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 need 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 whisperes 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 us. 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 disputed), 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 spoke 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.

 

I feel so great in the morning, arriving to work at 8 am. It’s a shock to see Jack sitting at my desk. He looks up anxiously,  trying read my feelings. I don’t have him in my heart.

“Jesus, Jack. Don’t you have class today?” I ask as I hustled him into my boss’s office and lock the door. I don’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.”

“Kurt said it was incredible. You had a crowd of 30,000 football fans eating out of your hand. He says Minehan and the Neighborhoods  rocked out in the Yard.”

“You talk with Kurt?”

“That’s why I’m here. Have you 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 appears.

“So many sad faces,” Jace observes. “Life not as much fun as you have come to expect.”

I need 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.”

“I don’t believe you. You’re on drugs and hate me,” he sniffs.

“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 insist 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.”

Jace looks chagrined.

“I told him to tell you that when you were having a meltdown about the football game.”

“Why did you lie?”

“Why did you lock my heart out, which cannot lie?”

“Your first night in New York, you had Burroughs in your heart. I was jealous.”

I just shake my head. Burroughs was four times my age.  Was I wrong to jerk him off after the rent boy abandoned him?

Jace translates 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 is 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’s 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 proceed to break down the door with his fists and feet, breaking through the flimsy plywood panels.

I call security and tell them to hurry, explaining that Miller was breaking into Landis’s office.

“Stop it, Miller. Don’t be an idiot. Security is on the way.”

“I’m gonna kill you, fag. This is my movie.”

Jack is cowering in the corner, while Jace smiles at the adult drama. Miller continues to smash the door apart. I prepare to defend myself. Luckily, Security arrives in force, knocking Miller to the floor and subduing him. They ask what to do with him. I call Landis at home. He tells me to wait until he gets there. I have Miller taken to the Security office by the main gate and held there.

Landis appears in thirty minutes. I introduce  Jack, my roommate from Harvard. I explain that Miller became 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 are 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 confesses.

“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 looks at me to make sure I’m serious. I nodded. He gets on the phone to United Artists which still has the set from the original Rocky on their lot.   We walk over to the Security office and confront Miller.

“I’ll kick your ass, you little faggot,” he remains rowdy.

“This faggot is going to give you a choice. Get the ring or be arrested”

 

 

“Man up or go to jail.”

Landis adds, “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 glares at me. He has me by at least fifty pounds, but it’s all flab. My juvenile hall fights will serve me well. My only fear is I’m too cocky for my own good. I believe this my own Rocky movie. Jack can play Paulie, my cutman,  Landis is definitely Mickey, my trainer. I know Joan Jett is my Adrian, as she is missing in action.

Miller agrees to the boxing match, sure he can overwhelm a scrawny gay musician. All I have going for me was misplaced gay pride. Also I know, no matter the outcome, Miller will 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 snorts. Jack cowers. Landis called Bronfman Jr and gets him to be the ring referee. He’s Canadian. He’ll be fair to both sides.  All of us, including five of my ‘fans’ from the office pile into the Wreck heading for United Artists. Miller is alone in his Beamer. He has no one in his corner, self-righteous prick. The ‘Rocky’ ring is first class. They know there will be sequels. It was number one at the box office this year. There’s even fake blood on the canvas footing. I bounce into the ring, stripping off my shirt and flexing my miniscule muscles.   Miller can’t understand why no one is cheering for him. Jack has been mostly silent since our fight was interrupted. He runs over to the studio canteen, recruiting a posse of young women to cheer me on. He tells  them it’s a grudge match between a bully and me. It’s right out of a Hollywood play book. Landis mans 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 tells 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. He takes it as a threatening gesture and swing at me. I ducked and dance away from him. He looks confused. We’re wearing the original ‘Rocky’ gloves, which are huge and protected both of us from real injury.  It is not going to be a street fight with bare knuckles which can do real damage, as well as end the fight with a knockout punch. I know I’d need to wear my opponent down before my knockout punch would be effective. Enough thinking, it’s time to fight.

Landis rings the bell to start round one. Miller charges out to smother me and end it quickly. I go into a defensive stance but at the last moment slip sideways once he is in range. Sticking out my foot, Miller trips as he rushes by me and goes down.  Edgar glared at me for my illegal tactic. He gives Miller a standing 8-count, time to recover from his trip. Enraged he attacks again, which I fend it off in a crouching position with raised gloves deflecting the pummeling. ryan kelley 02 Once he tires from the assault, I unleash a flurry of jabs, backing him up with stinging blows that only annoy him more. In the middle of the ring, I dance around him, taunting him and making fun of his ineffectiveness.  Every time I sense he’s about to attack, I unleash more jabs, keeping him off-balance. Landis rings the bell to end round one.

My corner team is ready with water and towels to wipe off my sweat. Jack doesn’t know what to tell me, so he kisses me as I leave my corner at round two’s opening bell. The crowd gasps. Miller is in a full rage. He sat on his stool with no one to encourage him.

Time for me to attack.  I rush him from the bell, pushing him back into his corner, with jabs and  overhand rights. He’s stunned and doesn’t raise his gloves to protect himself. My jabs are relentless. Five straight left jabs spins him around, at which point I aim a right hook to his temple.  He collapses like a bag of potatoes. He lays there moaning that he’s gone blind. Edgar calls the bout a TKO, technical knock out, as Miller is  unable to defend himself. I skip the victory ceremony and get down on my knees and hold Miller’s head,  to keep him from furthering injuring himself. His eyes are wildly looking about, seeing nothing. I speak to him, “calm down and look at me.” Slowly his eyes return to normal and he recognizes me staring at him a foot away. We get him to his feet and sit him on his stool. The crowd has been silent after the knockout. With my opponent okay, they cheer and clap. Most leave as soon as possible, not wanting to be part of someone being injured. Jack brings over water for Miller.

Edgar recognizes Jack from our ‘New York New York’ days. “What are you doing here, Jack? How’s your grandfather?”

We laugh. “He’s still my dad. How’s your’s?”

“Still refusing to sell the liquor business. I work at Universal now.”

I walk away from their inane conversation. I lead Miller around the ring, until he’s 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. All three opponents were fucked up.”

“Do 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 the other guards.

“Here,” I undo the safety-pin and remove it. “Happy now. I only kept it in because you made such a fuss about it.”

I go over to Landis’s mic and tell the girls to come back to the ring. I sing my latest cover song, ‘Won’t back down.’

 

 

Jack suddenly gets his mojo back, grabs the mic and sings 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 our new theme song.”

Landis watches us perform and again just shakes his head. All the canteen girls returned when we started singing. I’m a singer, not a fighter.

“Com’n, we’ve got a movie to make,” Landis rounds up his troops. We leave Miller with all the girls, sitting on his stool, holding my safety-pin in a hand.

Edgar asks if those are our songs. He’s 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 give him Tom’s number and promise to get Tony to book them. He assures me that I will get great props for beating down my fag-baiting nemesis.

 

Back at the office, Landis shuts the remains of his door and asks us what had caused the ruckus.

“Were you using my office for sex?” he is direct as always.

“No,” I refute 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.”

“Why is it always about drama with the gays?  After defending you with the studio as not gay, your boyfriend shows up the next day. How do I explain that?”

“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,” is Jack’s first comment.

“Yeah. He’s already given me two $10 raises.

Driving the Wreck south on the Hollywood Freeway, Jack asks me, “Are we really breaking up?”

“Can’t you just enjoy the California sun in an open convertible cruising the Hollywood Freeway?”

Other cars are abruptly changing lanes or weaving within or slightly outside their lanes, making me actually concentrate on my driving. East Hollywood is becoming Little Armenia, with Little Korea just to the south. What better place for me and immigrants to learn how to drive.

Jack laughs. “You fucked up that old guy.  You’re always fighting. I love it.”

“You’ve got to learn to stand up for yourself, Jack.”

“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 admits after thinking about it.

‘About Burroughs?’ I laugh, forgetting about all my other slutting around since I left Harvard. “Come here,”

I reach and pull him next to me. With my arm around him, I feel like a farm boy from Iowa in a pickup with his girl, as we cruise Hollywood with the top down. Jack snuggles into me. For the first time in ages, I can 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 have our tryst in Jimmy’s favorite spot on the roof of a Wilshire office building.

Landis complains he had been waiting for his lunch for too long. Seeing the disheveled clothing, he knows why lunch is delayed. Afternoon delight is a Hollywood tradition.

“You didn’t get to work until eleven. You snooze, you lose.” We all laughs. He takes all his calls himself and tells me I’m relieved of PA duties for the day.

“Go back to school, Jack,” he orders. “I need Tim’s full attention here.”

We hold hands and waltz out of the office.

“Hey, Champ,” one of my staffers yells.

Time to really celebrate. But first I have to see Nicky Beat and his girlfriend Alice at the Canterbury to help rent an apartment. At $100 a month, I can certainly afford it. The location is right off Hollywood Blvd. I’m not looking for luxury. I can visit Jake for that. Which reminds me of our meeting that night to discuss the movie’s score. Would Jack’s jealousy raise its hateful head when they met. I’ll warn Jake that Jack is only there for the night; he can be discreet. Would Jack sense my real feelings towards him because he is back in my heart? All I can do is navigate the still but dangerous waters of cheating. The truth is my success in Hollywood depends on my sexual attraction to almost everyone I meet. I need to not become the typical player I see around me.

As we drive down Cahuenga Blvd, I sense Jack examining why I suddenly became so quiet. He slowly expands the trust that allows him to sense my true feelings.

“So much has changed,” he complains, “in just the few weeks we’ve been separated. Will you ever come back to Harvard?”

“We have 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 smiles, knowing I’m not lying. Trust is powerful. Then it bites you on the butt. Jace reassures me that the truth will out, so why delay the inevitable. Jack’s expression changes when he realizes I’m struggling with something to do with us. I give him a smile and our hearts are one,  at least until the next crisis.

Nicky is glad to see me. He is really friendly, happy to meet my band mate. Finding out that I’ve been the Mower band’s drummer, he insists he give me a lesson on the Pearl set he has in their one room apartment.

“You can play drums here?” I ask.

He flexes and assures me no one complains. tim-874 Jack claims he needs the lesson, as he had to take my place on the Mower drums. While they bang away, Alice leads me to the manager’s office. Without the Chola makeup, she looks normal and quite striking.

“You like Latinas,” she notices.

“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 know a long distance relationship is 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 introduces me to the manager, who looks harried and none too happy to oblige me. Alice assures her that I have a job and am reliable. She says I’m 21. The Canterbury is a big square, white, five-story apartment building. The hallway carpets are tattered and lead down dingy, narrow corridors. The room she shows was on the third floor with one window looking across at a similar room in the opposite wing. The bathroom has a ventilation window that opens on a narrow shaft leading down to the basement and up to the roof. It is furnished with a Murphy bed that folds out from a wall, a couch and a table with four chairs.  There’s a walk-in kitchen with stove and refrigerator. The bathroom has a tub with a shower curtain. My own place – a first. I’ ecstatic and write her a check for $200, first and last month’s rent.

“Let me know when you’re moving out,” the manager says, stoically accepting I’m just passing through.

I know Jack is not that happy for me, fearing I’ll never return to Harvard. I ask Jace to tell him we’ll all inaugurate the bed together. He smiles at me once Jace makes the suggestion. I thank Alice and Nicky for all their help.

“Are you getting a phone?” Nicky asks.

“Why not?” I’m floating on air.

“Think we could use it sometime.”

“Why not?” ‘m 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 hallway and everything else once we’re behind a closed-door. Jace is struggling with the Murphy bed. Ghostly muscles are not up to the task. It doesn’t take long working together to get it down. Our dicks display complete readiness to go at each other. Jack stretches out on the double bed as I bend over to lick the tip of his leaking dick.  Jace takes advantage of my exposed ass and lathers it up for immediate penetration. As Jace slides into me, I bob on Jack’s shaft while he pushes upward into me. Jace wiggles his butt against one of Jack’s outstretched toes, impaling Jack’s big toe about an inch into his ass. Then he impales me to the hilt. It’s like riding a teeter-totter. It’s not a stable fucking position. I’m the center of a three-way fuck sandwich.  Murphy is showing its age with groaning spring squeaks. We roll from one side to the other, so Jack and Jace alternate being on top. Jace nears his typical rush to climax without slowing down. He ignores my messages for Jack, blinded by his own orgasm. I try to reach Jack myself.

“Don’t stop just because Jace is going to come,” he orders from his horny heart.

I laughed. “You’re next, then.”

I squeeze and hold rigid for Jace as he explodes inside me. He fell off my back. I roll him to his stomach and position Jack on top to fuck him. I remain deep inside Jack, riding his fucking rhythm into Jace. I run 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 can’t breathe with both of us on top of him. I rolled us sideways, with Jace taking a fake gasp for air. I laugh at his efforts to not seem dead.

“Why are you laughing?” Jack demand without missing a beat on Jace’s ass.

It’s too macabre to explain, so I quicken my strokes into him. My dick twists back and the first spurt erupts. Jack is right behind me (actually I is right behind and in him) as we both come simultaneously. Murphy stops squeaking and groaning. I want to fall asleep but know 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’s in East Hollywood on Sunset and Western. Jack goes crazy on the BankAmericard, insisting it’s a house-warming gift.

“From the Homecoming Queen,” I joke.

All three of us sing ‘Daydream Believer,’ in the store.

 

Nobody stops to listen. Shopping is serious business at Sears. Riding back in the Wreck, Jack cuddles next to me while Jace  perched on top of the back seat, waving at everyone, as if anyone can see him. We carry 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 need to go eat.

“Two Guys,” I announce.  I feel totally at home with my own pizza hangout, a block away. Nicky makes me order three pizzas and takes one home for ‘later.’ He’s not a ‘one day at a time’ guy. Also, he isn’t a pot guy, so no post-pizza joint. We do finish off several pitchers of beer. No one is carded.

Then I remember I was to meet Jake that night for dinner. I call him and explained that my ‘college roommate’ has shown up and we reschedule. I feel badly that I treat him as second best date for that night. Jack’s renewed ability to read my feelings makes him suspicious.

“Who’s Jake?” he asks.

“He’s composing the movie score. We were to have dinner tonight.”

“Should I be jealous,” Jack instantly loses access to my heart. Nicky and Alice seem confused about Jack and me, the straight orgy king.

“He’s 42. You’re in better shape.”

There would be more questions later.

Nicky asks his burning question, “Are you guys homos?”

“Is that a problem?”

“I never knew anyone gay,” he confesses.

“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 gossips.

“He’ll come around. That’s why I changed his name.”

“Let’s get more pizza,” Nicky changes the subject.

“What about the one you set aside?” I ask.

“That’s for later.”

We pig out again with more pitchers of beer.

Walking back to the Canterbury, Nicky asks if we were going to Punk night at the Starwood. “Wouldn’t miss it,” I claim.

“Give us a ride in that convertible.”

“The Wreck?”

“Don’t call it that. It’s a 50’s classic.” Nicky is 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 every 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. Saves ya $10 every time.”

Gas has recently jumped to over a dollar per gallon. The old pumps only showed a max of $9.99. When you pump more than 10 gallons, they add $10 to the reading. Nicky reminds me of Joey’s hustling in the City, except he doesn’t do drugs.

Nicky shakes his head when we got to the Wreck. tim-892

“Don’t leave it with the top down. Yer gonna get robbed.”

“Ain’t nothin’ in it.”

“That’s not the problem.” He jump into the driver’s side. Fiddling under the steering wheel, he has it started in under 15 seconds.

“Hop in,” and we take off with Nicky driving. We pulled into the Starwood parking lot.  It’s early. The bouncers recognized Nicky, so we could park there. It doesn’t feel safe now, leaving it anywhere, so we hang out in the car. It reminds me of our southern road trip at the road houses. I half expect Iggy to show up on a stolen motorbike.  Other punks come over and hang out. I share more of Jimmy’s joints. Nicky doesn’t seem to mind, even though he refuses to partake. John and Dix Denney arrive, giving me the evil eye. The long stare is part of their stage act.  Nicky explains that I ‘m‘cool,’ even if I screwed over the band about the movie. The brothers smoke my pot and leave. Gerber had been with them, but she stays, taking an instant liking to Jack.

“I have a boyfriend,” he exclaims when she tried to stick her hand down his pants.

“Well, he ain’t around now,” she continues to pester him.

“Untrue. He’s sitting next to me.”

“I wondered about you,” she doesn’t seem fazed. “Wanna have a three-way?”

She has the body of a twelve-year-old with tits.

“He’s all mine tonight. He’s flying back to Boston tomorrow,” I demur. Jack looks surprised about his early exit.

“I can stay longer,” he whines. “Minehan’s taking class notes.”

“How’s that working out?”

“Jill complains 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 whines.

“You boys are too boring,” Gerber complains and leaves to go inside the Starwood.

“She’s right,” Nicky agrees. He and Alice go inside as well. We follow them and get in for free with reentry stamps. While they go upstairs, I take Jack into the Disco portion. The Paramount secretaries are there and surround us. They remember Jack as another of Joan Jett’s friends. tim-719 He turns on the charm. We had five girls dancing with us.  I take the youngest looking secretary over to Rodney who is DJing as usual.  He’s glad to play Runaways songs for her, insisting she come up and chose the tracks to play. ‘Cherry  Bomb’ gets everyone out on the dance floor.

 

 

‘Queens of Noise’ scares all the disco dollies away with its heavy metal overtones. We drag the girls to the live stage area. They scream and try to run away when they see the art/punk band making noise on stage. We convinced them to come up to the balcony where we order pitchers of beer. They all have IDs; nobody asks us. Nicky and Alice come over, impressed that we lured straight girls to sit with us.

“They’re our fan club from Paramount,” Jack brags.

“You have a band?” Nicky is 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 comments. Joan has a reputation.

The heavy mascara Alice wears and general chola look  distresses the normal Paramount girls, who edged away from Nicky and her.

I kid Alice in Spanish that she’s 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?”

“Si.’

One of the girls is upset knowing we’re talking about them.

“It’s not fair speaking Spanish,” she complains.

“?No este normal en El Ay? Solamente chesme, perdonne me.”

All the girls look disgusted. They get up and go back to the disco side.

Alice and I laugh. Jack looks distressed.

Nicky asks, “What just happened.”

“Culture shock,” Alice explains.

“Anyway, they need to lose the Farrah Fawcett hair.”

“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 practices his charm. Alice beams. She is stunning when she smile, which she only does about once a week.

“You should be in a band,” I remark.

“Gonna put me in the movies, also?” she mocks 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 observes.

“You’ve noticed,” we both laugh.

 

A new band comes on stage. Alice gets excited.

“That’s the Zeroes. They’re from San Diego. They’re all Mexicans.”

We all ran down and stand 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 start pushing each other. Alice is in high heels, but it doesn’t stop her from pushing with us. At first the people around us move back, only to be shoved forward by those behind them. It becomes chaotic,  until Nicky shows up to reclaim Alice. He is a classic pogo-er, tall and athletic. Some order is restored as we no longer are shoving anyone in our way. Jack and I join arms and pogo together. Alice takes off her shoes so she can jump up too but soon is knocking people’s heads with her stiletto heels. No one confronts Alice with Nicky there to defend her. The Zeroes have a short set, apparently recently formed. No one cares that they aren’t Anglos. I figure everyone in San Diego is probably Mexican.

After they finish, we follow them upstairs to the green room. All six of us are chattering away in Spanish. Jack and I are criticized for sounding Puerto Rican. When they find out we were from Miami, they complimented us for not sounding Cuban. Alice is in ethnic heaven. Nicky gets bored and wandered away again. Jimmy shows up with two pitchers of beer plus he pulls out a joint. The opening band remains standoffish until they smell dope. We all revert to Spanglish, the language of the stoned.

“Jimmy, my man. Meet Alice, the leader of the Bags,” I introduce her.

“Hola, Bag Lady,” Jimmy cann’t help himself.

“Get Tony to book the Bags for a Sunday afternoon.”

“No problemo,” Jimmy exhausts his Spanish knowledge.

“He has to talk with Craig, our guitarist,” she reminds me.

“He’s gay,” I tell Jimmy.

“Then I’ll handle it. Gay’s my way for fun and play.”

“My brother’s gay,” Robert Lopez from the Zeroes wants into our exclusive club.

“We’ll make it all-gay all-day at the Whiskey,” Jimmy decides. “Any other gay bands?”

“Well, there’s the Screamers,” Alice notes.

“They’re from Frisco, just gay poseurs,” Jimmy already knows. He takes out another joint after the other band moved back to their corner of the green room, fearful of catching the gay.

Pot trumps plotting the gay takeover of the punk scene. The show is over and everyone piled into the Wreck, driving down Santa Monica a few blocks to Oki Dog.  Pot plus pogo equals punks with the munchies. No one pays. Jack has never received charity before. His standards are slipping. We sit in the Wreck renewing our vows to each other – a Santa Monica Blvd. engagement. He vows to no longer be jealous of me and I vow to always keep him in my heart. He even admits that he misses Minehan. I tell him that isn’t enough to make me jealous. Nicky comes over and congratulates us on our Hollywood engagement. He tells Jack to buy everyone more Oki Dogs. Jack is happy to comply, getting over the guilt of receiving undeserved charity. Nicky eats three. The four of us drive back to the Canterbury, all sitting up front. Jack makes me promise to spend Thanksgiving in Miami with him. It is in two days. I haven’t been back since my escape from the Everglades. Jace is excited about a reunion with Tommy. Jack gets jealous and I call off our engagement. We need to grow up more, I agree with my better self.