Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stuff I Burned From TCM, Part 5

In the past I’ve written about movies that haven’t seen the light of day on DVD. Some films featured high-ticket stars (i.e., Manpower, Bordertown) and some obscure stars (i.e. The Man With My Face, The Fox), but this time I’m going to list a few films that star immortal film icons and still haven’t been released. With DVDs being on the market for over 15 years you would think everything starring these movie stars would have been available by now.

Rancho Notorious (1952): Directed by Fritz Lang, starring Marlene Dietrich, Mel Ferrer and tons of great character actors, this gorgeous Technicolor action film is about a vindictive husband seeking murder and revenge for his wife’s brutal death at an outlaw ranch named Chuck-A-Luck. There’s tons of whiskey drinking, barroom brawls and pistol toting. William Frawley is on hand to do his grumpy Fred Mertz routine but the show stopper is George “Superman” Reeves playing a scar-faced womanizer!

Trapeze (1956): Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis flying around a circus trapeze in tights barely covering their bulges and this movie isn’t available on DVD? Surely, you jest, madame. This ain’t no Walt Disney family circus extravaganza, either: Our two heroes compete for being the first team to accomplish a triple somersault mid-air but may never attain the honor with Gina Lollobrigida standing in the middle breasts-first and playing both guys at the same time. This one’s just dripping with sex!

Saratoga Trunk (1945): Ingrid Bergman and Cary Cooper plot to fleece oily Southern gentlemen of their millions in old New Orleans with the aid of a French midget butler (Cupidon) and a Voodoo cum Creole maid, this one was so weird I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen, and that’s saying a lot given my dislike for Ingrid Bergman. But, but, but she’s excellent in this one. One of Coop’s best performances, too.

Johnny Guitar (1954): Joan Crawford, surly noir thug Sterling Hayden, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine in a movie directed by Nicholas Ray about an ex-saloon girl now butchified who hires her guitar playing ex-boyfriend to protect her gambling hall from a barn burning harpy (even more butch than her!). This one’s just brimming with hidden lesbian rage! And by the way, of the four films listed above, three of them are westerns, but very hip, ultra-modern ones. Which begs the question: is the Western movie the Red Headed Stepchild of the cinema?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Once A Porno Time

There was a time when we designed leather and vinyl party clothes we were getting a lot of business from the adult film industry, and in the course of going through that weird little era there we met a few, uh, “showbiz personalities”. There were definite heroes and villains:

Traci Lords (Melrose Place/New Wave Hookers/What Gets Me Hot): Rebecca did a fashion shoot with a great photographer named Raoul who loved our clothes. "My friend Traci would probably love your designs. The next time she comes by I'll have you guys come over and show her your book!" Cool.
So one night we sat around his studio and Traci walked up the stairs making cat noises, and as soon as she reached the top of the stairs she saw us and stiffened. She got really serious all of a sudden.
"I'm Traci", she introduced herself and stiffly shot her right hand out for a shake, "-and you are?"
After she shook hands with my wife she followed the same cold greeting to me.
"I'm Traci! - And you are???"
"Traci", Raoul smiled, "Rebecca and Andy make amazing clothes. You really have to check out their book!"
"Well!" she blurted coldly."Okay!"
She opened up Rebecca's portfolio, flipping pages and commenting. "Oh, this is very futuristic. So Mugleresque." Oh brother, an expert on Thierry Mugler now.
"This looks very Venetian Vogue Magazine. And this is goth by way of Pucci." I inwardly rolled my eyes. What a douche.
"Traci, do you think her designs would go well for your next film?"
"Well!" She stiffened like a cigar store Indian. "She definitely shows some potential." Oh my God, I'm going to kill this dumb bitch. And then it happened. She flipped to a page with some nudity and freaked.
"You know, I don't have to do porn anymore, okay? That's all behind me now!!! I'm beyond just showing my tits, I worked really hard to get a straight career and I'm over degrading myself doing hard Core SMUT!!!!" She practically screamed, jumping out of her chair. We left the studio feeling like a pair of child molesters.
"You have to excuse Traci", Raoul whispered, "She's still a little touchy about her past."

Two weeks later we were at Bookstar and as I walked by the magazine racks I froze. Staring straight at me was the cover of Details Magazine featuring a topless Traci Lords covering her breasts with her hands, the headline reading, "Traci Lords Exposed For The First Time". What an asshole.

Ron Jeremy (Killing Zoe/Sex Wish/Cumshot Revue 5): When porn movies had a shortage of men there were only four guys in them, and Ron was one of those guys, and he was so nasty looking you couldn't forget him even if you wanted to. Fat, hairy and downright nasty looking, all he had going for him was that he was a very funny guy. I didn't realize how totally nice he was!

A stylist wanted to direct her own rock video starring my band Cockfight and Ron owed her a favor, so he appeared in our video playing a male stripper who gets booed by a bunch of old ladies. Ron was very good in the video: he wore pink feathered pasties and did a Michael Jackson moonwalk while old ladies threw trash at him and booed him. He was very funny and enjoyed doing the video.

His dressing room was next to ours, and I walked in to his room and saw him relaxing on the floor in his stripper outfit. "Hey, I'm friends with Axl Rose and I know the Motley Crue guys, too. I like your band name - Cockfight, that's pretty rad, dude! Sexy stuff!" He was very eager to make friends, no attitude at all. All around him on the floor he had newspaper clippings of Savannah's suicide. It was sadly weird, he would quietly look at pictures of her and reports of her death with a wistful look on his face.

During the shoot he invited us to his movie opening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills for his movie "John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut". When we approached the front of the theatre Ron ran out and told all the news cameramen, "Look everybody, it's Cockfight, they're a great new band. Take their picture!" What a great sport. He later became a big TV star on "The Surreal Life" where he actually earned a lot of respect with his clothes on.

Jasmin St. Clair (Cock Smokers/I Love You, Suck My Dick/Jizz Junkies): Jasmin St. Clair and Rebecca had a lot in common. They liked heavy metal, hated other girls, and loved Barbie dolls. For awhile they were great friends and we would always have dinner at her house every Fourth of July. She lived in a condo apartment building that had tons of scary fat Albanians. She always took forever to get ready for the swimming pool, but once she did she was hysterical. She would strut out to the pool wearing a 6 year-old girls' Hello Kitty bathing suit on her buxom porn goddess frame. She got in the Jacuzzi and the hairy Albanian women looked like they wanted to strangle her!
"Let's get out of this Jacuzzi, Rebecca", Jasmin sneered, "This pool smells like shit!"

Jasmin got kicked out of a Toys-R-Us once for bouncing around the floor in a Space Hopper, getting the dads a little too excited. The soccer moms were not amused. She didn't score points with the Orthodox Jews in my neighborhood, either. On a Saturday we walked over to Starbucks and these guys went, "Hey where do you girls think you're going?"
"We're going to Synagogue!" she barked. "Wanna come?"
When we got to the Starbucks, some cafe jockey drooled, "Hey you're Jasmin St. Clair! I saw you on Howard Stern!"
Jasmin's chiseled face tightened. "I'm not her, OKAY???"

Actually Jasmin got so much work done on her face and body it ruined her. With her puffy cheek implants, scary Frankenstein jaw job, etc. when Rebecca and her walked down the street Rebecca got the whistles, not her. Jasmin got snatchy about it and her jealousy got the worst of her. She didn't like Rebecca any more and none of the day-long gym workouts could compensate for what was a butchered face. She tried to make a go at wrestling with disatruous results; fuck knows what she's doing now. Friendship can be a fleeting thing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Springtime For Nero

Sometimes things start out loud and simply stay that way. I jumped out of bed to take two early morning phone calls, both temp assignments: One from an agency that only called me once in the past, now offering me a $6 clerical gig in Inglewood. The next one was from an agency that told me I would never work from them again, offering me $6.50 in the USC area, and since it was short notice they’d up my pay to $7.50 an hour. I passed on both. Walking out of the pisspot in my long johns my roommate Thom raced in, excited, “They’re looting the Silo!”
“What the fuck! Why?”
“I got a great set of silverware in the case. I’m going back and copping me a widescreen. Revolution in the streets!” He pumped his right fist, the one he probably masturbated with.
“Have fun. I don’t steal shit”, I burped. Silo was an electronics store on the corner of Sunset and La Brea that went out of business six months after this, uh, looting. (We lived on La Brea and Franklin).
I heard helicopters above me and sirens all over the place. I turned on the TV to see if my cartoons were on. The first thing I saw was a grainy, dark videotape of seven policemen beating on a prone black guy with billy clubs. Then they showed some white guy getting pulled out of his truck in the middle of the street and two black guys bashing him upside his head with a cement block and dancing victoriously.
“Okay”, I groaned, “that explains the job offers. Well, fuckity fuck.”

As I walked down the road to the Korean-owned donut shop a car full of Hollywood gangstas gave me the Tupac Shakur evil eye, and they were procrastinatin’ beating Whitey until some fat illegals threw a rock at their car. “Hey, Puff Daddys get your black asses the fuck out of our hood, motherfuck”. The posey gangstas freaked and sped off.
The lady behind the counter at Yum-Yum Donuts was nervous as a wet cat. “You orda fast, we close soon”, she advised. Her husband duct-taped wooden boards over the windows.
“I’d like an apple fritter and a coffee”. She threw an apple fritter and added a fudge buttermilk and a lemon powdered jelly donut, too.
“You take extra, close your door and lock it. Too dangerous to be out!” She looked like she was ready to cry. The dry cleaners, Korean-owned next to her had the front window caved in and vandalized.
When I got back home there was a message on my answering machine. “Hey, Andy, you may not remember me but I’m only like one of your biggest fans, you know, Debra Sue, and um, we’re here in funky Silver Lake having a Rodney King barbecue at The Miracle Workers' house. Why don’t you swing by? Call me!!!” Well, somebody was having fun.

As I heard umpteen sirens howling past my street and more helicopters shooting spotlights into my window, my hand shook as I ate my jelly powdered donut, jelly spurting on my pants and white powdered sugar flaking all over the carpet. “Shit”, I mumbled, “Thom’s gonna freak when he sees the mess I’m making. Well, serves him right for accusing me of stealing his stupid Germs cassette”. I hate The Germs. I called Jim, my guitarist, who lived three blocks away.
“Jim, I’m a nervous wreck. What are you doing?”
“I’m having a few beers with John – come on over – we have tons of food, we’ll feast like kings while Hollywood burns”. Jim paused to take a drag from his cancer stick.
“Just like Emperor Nero”, I fidgeted.
“Bring your saxophone! Hit the buzzer three times so I’ll know it’s you!” He lived in a security apartment building.

Jim and John weren’t hard to find. They were the apartment with the loudest music. My record, played full blast: “Everybody’s gonna fall, everything must go”, I sang like an excommunicated prophet over the PA. “GRAB A BEER!” Jim hoisted a frosty in the air. Jim and John were camped out on the 4th floor balcony, watching the helicopters flying over the sky and smoke billowing out every few miles from store torching.
“Hey dude, what’s up?” John greeted with a half-pint of Jack in his paw.
“Look at all those fires! The city’s gone crazy!” I marveled at the landscape.
“The girls are coming over. Did you bring your swimming trunks?”
“No, I brought my saxophone.”
“You can borrow my shorts, we’ve got the whole swimming pool to ourselves”, Jim chortled. “Everybody’s gone, they all bailed.”
“Gross, I’m not wearing your shorts.”
“I just washed ‘em last week…I think”, he thoughtfully puffed on his American Indian Light.

Well, the girls came over and we had a dance contest. “Let’s see who dances the best to our songs!” Jim said, hoisting a stained coffee cup, not far from his beer.
“I’ll make burritos!” a girl chirped in the background.
He put on our record, “Silver Surfer”, my voice booming out of the speakers: “I am the Silver Surfer, sky rider of the spaceways”…
The TV was on with the sound turned off, images of angry Korean store owners on the rooftop of their stores, rifles in their hands looking around to “contain” any hooliganism.
“I am the Silver Surfer, sentinel of the cosmic waves…”
The girls danced ferociously, shrieking, and banging their heads faster and faster. The TV now showed SUV trucks slamming into store windows, illegal aliens running out of liquor stores in droves with 12-packs of beer and baby diapers.
‘…I’m ready for the zero hour, I’ve got the power in a meteor shower, ooooh!”
The TV cut to gas stations exploding from Molotov cocktails hurled from SUV’s...then cut to National Guard tanks rolling down Wilshire to the Masonic Temple with gun turrets set up.

I kept my clothes on by the swimming pool, lying on a chaise lounge and seeing the sky get darker and darker with smoke while everyone drunkenly swam in the pool. I passed out from drink, and three hours later the girls and John were gone. Lucas my bass player was now there with Jim, smoking and drinking. Jim was in debate mode now, “The only way the LAPD can save face is if they fired Darryl Gates and hire a black police chief in his place!”
“They’ll never do that, Jim”, Lucas laughed. “Get real”.

A week later the curfew was lifted all over Los Angeles and Jim was sick of looking at my face, me likewise. I trundled off back home. The devastation was bad – my favorite supermarket (The Boys on 6th and Vermont in Koreatown) was destroyed, the one where every minority shopped and got along with each other. Things got back to normal, in some areas at least. We played a show in South Los Angeles with a band from New York called Cop Shoot Cop. After the Rodney King riots the last thing a band should do is drive around a black neighborhood with amplifiers and souvenir t-shirts screaming “Cop Shoot Cop”. They told us during soundcheck about the cops pulling them in for questioning. You could see the fear in these hard-boiled New York faces, heh, as they told us this story. “Well, welcome to Los Angeles, Cop Shoot Cop”, I laughed, “Now go back to New York where it’s safe and normal”.

Post-Script: 2 years later we had the Northridge Earthquake and OJ Simpson. Many of my friends left town soon after. I also broke up my band. Things were never the same again.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Return of the Son of Poetry Corner

The Expanding Eye

Tuesday night at the bohemian club
I came in wearing a raincoat
A snarky hipster sneered, “Is it raining outside?”
“Yeah”, I replied, “Meteor shower”
Snarky guy sneered down his sleeve, petted the club cat
Then he rubbed his eye
He rubbed it some more
And rubbed it like a magic lamp with no magic
Some cat fur got in his eye
And then his eye swelled, and Swelled, and SWELLED
It looked like he got punched real hard in the eye
Which would have been nice
But instead it looked like a gaping vag with a BB gun bullet inside
His eye looked like blinking pocket
A tobacco pouch that blinked
The cat didn’t want him to pet his ass anymore
Now the hipster looked like Quasimodo
And scared the cat
That goes to show you what a meteor shower can do
Meteor shower at the boho club.

Answering Machine Message From An Asshole

Hey pick up
C’mon pick up
I’ve got a great story to tell you
If you call me back I’ll tell you this great story
It’s really important
When you hear this story you’ll really laugh
Call me back
Are you there
So anyway I was thinking
Are you there
This is the greatest story
I was thinking of you when I heard it
Call me back it’s really important
Where could you be
Come on pick up
It’s a really great story
And! hey!
It’s really funny

The Groovy Show

When I was a little kid
KHJ-TV Channel 9 Los Angeles
Had a TV show called The Groovy Show
Taped on Santa Monica Beach
I stood around watching it groove
Kids in bathing suits dancing to The Castaways
“Liar Liar”
The host was Michael Blodgett blonde bubble-headed boy
Bikini contest, Michael:
“What’s your name, sweetie?”
“Trish from Cerritos”
“That’s a far-out bikini you’re wearing Trish”
“And you are?”
“Casey from Norwalk, tee hee”
“A polka-dot bikini, do a twirl for us, hon. What are you taking in school?”
“I’m studying to be a nurse, Michael, titter! Go Bruins!”
“Far out, aaaoooww! Outta site, Foxy!”
After watching them tape for 20 minutes I’d go up the steps to the pier and play pinball
“And now back to our dance contest – Cannibal and The Headhunters”
“Land of A Thousand Dances”

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Tail End of A Nightmare

If there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s the fact that 2008 was a very bad year. Whatever could go wrong went wrong, and I’ve never seen people act so boorish, egocentric and downright rude. Since I've already done a summary of the first six months of 2008 here’s the tail end of a bad, bad, baddest year:

(July): The morning after we came to Palm Springs there was a terrible thunderstorm, which resulted in street lights knocked out and flooded roads. We went home early. Could it get any worse? How about the car radiator ($1400) blowing up?

(August): The blown up radiator burned out my transmission ($1600) so I had to get that replaced, too. Posted a lot of cool boot and belt pictures on Flick*r, and discovered a whole fashion planet there. Got “de-friended” by an idiot on GoodReads because I made fun of Martha Davis of The Motels. Jesus wept!

(September): Went to a cool pinball-playing marathon at Hollywood Park and got photographed for a pinball magazine. Opened up a library card with the amazing Santa Monica Library. Bought a 2007 Toyota Prius, one of the coolest cars ever.

(October): Had a lousy vacation in San Francisco, the hottest anyone’s ever seen it get (85 degrees every day). We attended some awful doll convention attended by fat, drunken housewives. Yum! Got a HP Pavilion laptop for my birthday. Rolling Stone Magazine published a photo of Kurt Cobain holding a copy of Flipside Magazine with me on the cover.

(November): Worked the election polls in Bel Air and helped Harrison Ford, Peter Gallagher and Ally McBeal vote. Some psycho ripped the registration tags off my brand new car and getting new ones was a clerical ordeal.

(December): Had fun at the MadTV wrap party at the Velvet Margarita. While we were waiting for the valet to bring me my new car Dave Navarro was drunkenly staring at me. He used to see Trash Can School play at Jabber Jaw. Saw the greatest piece of art at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM): Jeff Koons' “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” (pictured below).

So what are my new year’s resolutions? Less internet(idiot box), more art and more music. I have to touch my synthesizer more.