My 22nd birthday party

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Since its my birthday I was thinking back on some of my more memorable birthdays. One I’ll never forget is my 22nd birthday back in 1978, 40 years ago.

I was staying at a friend of mine’s studio apartment at the time. And his little sister happened to be in town for a visit. So she was there too. And she happened to be one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. Then or now. She was 19, naturally blonde — short hair, sort of a modified Beatles moptop though more styled and sexy — big blue eyes and long, long legs. She told me she was making a good living putting herself through college by working as a “go-go dancer.”

Anyways we were all hanging out at my friend’s apartment that night celebrating my birthday. So I was getting a little more attention than usual. She bought me a big jug of California burgundy — which was my drink of choice back then — for a birthday present. And we were all just kicking back and loosening up. When my friend and his girlfriend said they were going out to see a movie for the evening. So suddenly it was just me and her alone in the apartment.

After a couple of tall glasses of wine (I was drinking fast, believe me) she said: “Would you like to see my go-go dancing routine?”

“Well sure,” I said.

“OK,” she said. “Put some music on that I can dance to while I put on my dancing clothes.”
She grabbed a little bundle of clothes and hustled off to the bathroom to change. I went into my friend’s bedroom where he had his stereo — and a great collection of rock albums — and sorted through the records for something suitable to play. For some reason I picked the second side of David Bowie’s “Low” album. 25 minutes of this moody avant-garde synthesizer space-out mood music.

She came out of the bathroom wearing this frilly white negligee that barely covered her butt, fishnet stockings, and shiny black spiked high-heels that made her wobble when she walked. She spent about two seconds trying to dance to Bowie’s space-out music and said: “I can’t dance to THAT!”

She went back into the bedroom and picked out a rock album that actually had a beat and a drummer to it. And as the music filled the room, she lowered the lights to this electric glow. And then she looked at me with a sly smile on her face and said — and I’ll never forget this because she really did — “I am going to blow your mind.”

She shuffled around the room for awhile on her high-heels dancing to the music. While I sat there rigid in my chair, clenching my glass of burgundy in my hand for dear life. And pretty soon she was out of her negligee and wearing nothing but a white half-bra and a tiny white g-string that left very little to the imagination. And then pretty soon there was nothing left to the imagination. As she swayed around the room dancing, she’d stop now and then to strike these very dramatic and erotic poses. All the while looking back at me with an amused and intense smile on her face (I probably had a look on my face like one of those stunned cartoon characters where their eyes are bulging out and their slobbering tongues are going straight down to the floor).

But the picture that is permanently imprinted in the mind’s-eye of my memory: At one point she sauntered over to me, turned around, bent over, and stuck her big round ass just inches away from my face, that tiny white g-string clinging up her crack. I can still see that image to this day clear as a bell. I’ll probably take that image with me to my grave. Ha ha.

After awhile the album side of music finally came to an end. And she stood there in front of me with her hands on her hips, looking straight at me like: “It’s your move now, boy!”

But I just sat there in my chair frozen stiff. I was stunned really. I think it was the first time a woman had ever aggressively sexually propositioned me. Let alone one of the most beautiful and sexy women on the planet. So I was at a complete loss as to how to proceed next. Actually, I always had the worst instincts when it came to navigating through the mating ritual between men and women. I would spend most of my adult life “making my move” at the exact wrong time when I shouldn’t make my move. And NOT “making my move” at the exact time when I should make my move. What can I say? I was hopelessly dim-witted, hopelessly mis-wired, in that regard. And would pay a bitter price for it over the years.

Finally when she realized I wasn’t going to jump on her bones she picked up her negligee from the floor, rolled it into a ball and playfully tossed it at my head. I think she was exasperated and confused that things hadn’t moved to the next logical step. I’m sure it didn’t happen to her very often.

She laughed and went back into the bathroom to change back into her street clothes. And we spent the rest of my birthday drinking burgundy and listening to rock music.

Later I typed up an account of the evening. And sent it off to this local porn paper that published reader’s sex fantasy. And to my surprise they printed it. I think it was the first piece of writing I ever got published. And I mailed her a copy. And ya know what? I wouldn’t be surprised if that blew HER mind a little bit. Because I had captured in words — just like a photographer — all the strange and magical moments of that evening.

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The Lusty Lady

800px-Lusty_Lady,_San_Francisco.jpg

 

Back around 1990 I used to know this beautiful young stripper. She was the girlfriend of a good friend of mine. So that’s how I got to know her.

She was about 19, with a wholesome, girlish beauty. She had big, glassy cat-eyes, and short but thick black hair, and long long legs. She was a number. Generally she dressed fairly conservatively when she wasn’t working. But — like a lot of off-duty strippers — she usually had this subtle, little extra dash of sexuality to her look that hinted at her possible availability.

She worked at the Lusty Lady Theater in San Francisco. One of the hipper strip clubs (lot of women with tattoos and piercings). And we would sometimes have long conversations on the telephone, and she liked to titillate me with stories about some of the weird things her customers asked her to do (like pissing in a bucket or doing weird lesbian acts). I had worked at the Mitchell Brothers strip club when I was a young man (no, not as a stripper). So we had that mileau in common. So we would trade stories about some of the weird stuff we had seen. I was fascinated with the subject of sex back then and used to think about sex all the time (every now and then I could also think about sports, but that was about it).

We also both wrote columns for one of the more prominent punk rock zines of the times. So we had that in common, too. And we would exchange gossip about some of the local hipsters and scenesters that we both knew.

But I think the main reason she was interested in me was because I was good friends with her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend — the one before her. And i think she sort of viewed the ex as a potential rival. So she would sort of ply me for information about her character (and potential weaknesses) in case she ever got into a cat-fight with the ex over the boyfriend, and needed some weapons in her arsenal. She was kind of Machivelian like that, viewed the people around her as kind of chess pieces on a chessboard, And you always sensed that her interest in you was tied into whether you were useful to her. She had a cute, girlish manner, but you could sense a definite hardness under the surface. Something I guess you needed to survive in her profession. With its underlying premise of: You can use me if I can use you.

Like a lot of young lovers, she and her boyfriend had their fair share of drama and spectacular fights. And sometimes they’d break up, and she’d be crying and wailing and imploring him to take her back. I think my friend could never get used to the fact that his girlfriend was a prostitute (she was too classy to be a streetwalker, but I think she usually had a string of sugar daddies lined up on the side).

Anyways, they finally had one last big fight and broke up for good. And that was the last I ever saw of her.

Until around 1998. I was walking across the Berkeley campus when this attractive, young co-ed stopped in front of me and said “Ace??” Turned out she was using the money that she earned stripping to put herself through college. Which I thought was admirable. So many of the women in that mileau get stuck in that sexual underground. And when they lose their sexual attractiveness they’re pretty much used up. But when youre beautiful and intelligent and full of ambition (like her) all sorts of doors open up to you.

We sat on a campus bench and talked about old times. Her ex-boyfriend — and my friend — had ended up killing himself. “I don’t know what I saw in that loser,” she said (like I said, she was a bit of a hardened case).

And we talked about the punk rock zine we used to write for. I ended up having a falling out with the publisher, concluded he was slimy and dishonest and disassociated myself with his magazine. But he had recently died, so the local punk scene was buzzing with glowing tributes and hagiography in honor of the allegedly great man. So she asked me if that had changed my opinion of him. “Hell no,” I said. “I still think he’s a dirtbag.” (I guess I’m a little hardened myself).

And that was the last time I ever saw her. I have no idea how her life turned out. But if I had to take a guess, I’d say she married some rich guy and lives in a suburb somewhere, and is a prim and proper and respectable middle-aged lady. And most of the woman at the local PTA would probably never guess about her colorful past history.

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Brushes with Greatness Part 2: The Secret Origin of “Ace Backwords”

Originally published 2002_11_27Carol Connors Autograph

The first famous (or semi-famous, I’ll let you decide where the cut-off point is for true celebrity) person I ever met was Carol Connors. Connors’ claim to fame was, she played the nurse in Deep Throat, the number-one-selling porn movie of all time at that point (I’ve heard its recently been eclipsed by The World’s Biggest Gang Bang starring Annibel Chong).

I was working for a sleazy porno tabloid from Los Angeles at the time. Impulse was the paper’s name, and it really was sleazy, even by porn’s standards. From some of the ads, you had to wonder if it was a front for some kind of  underground sex  ring or something. This was 1979, and there was an anything-goes feeling at the times, especially in decadent Los Angeles.

Anyways, I wrote a column for Impulse called; “Sin Francisco: Your Bay Area Porno Report” (how’s that for cheezy?) And I’d go to the local strip clubs and interview the latest porn stars or whatever. This was my first and only “success” at that point, age 22, writing a column and doing a comic strip for a sleazy porn tabloid from Los Angeles. I had some hazy dream in my head of being a professional underground artist. But the world mostly refused to cooperate with my dreams. Quite simply, I couldn’t deal with the world. I was a hyper-sensitive, art-fag kind of guy.  I had all these strange and tender feelings whizzing around in my head, and that’s what seemed real to me. The so-called Real World outside me seemed un-real. I had gotten a few comics published in the Berkeley Barb, the latest remnant of the ’60s underground. But aside from that, the world seemed completely indifferent, if not outright hostile, to my strange and tender feelings.  I sent out my work here and there. But the only encouragement I got was from this sleazy porn tabloid from Los Angeles. They actually printed a couple of my comics: stuff like Dagwood and Blondie having sex and then appearing on the Dick Cavett show and getting in a bitch-fight. “Phil Olsen” — the one-man editor/publisher of Impulse— sent me a postcard along with a $25 check: “Send more stuff. Let your imagination run wild.” And somehow, that postcard inflamed me. I still remember it clearly, 23 years later. For it was the first real encouragement I had gotten.

So I came up with the pen-name “Ace Backwords” — to save my family name from the disgrace of being associated with a sleazy tabloid from Los Angeles (they would do a good enough job disgracing themselves on their own later). Little did I realize that 23 years later I would literally have BECOME Ace Backwords, that almost everyone I knew would know me and call me by that name, that I would cash my checks made out to that name, and that my “real” name would basically cease to exist as an entity in this world.

So anyway, I came up with this column, “Sin Francisco,” and I would hack it out in sort of the style of a second-rate Hunter S. Thompson imitator. He was one of my heroes. And, like Thompson, I was beginning to see how working in the media, even on the minor league level of this sleazy porn tabloid, could be a ticket to ride. For one thing, I got into all the porn clubs for free. And on the months when “Phil Olsen” couldn’t afford to pay me in cash, he’d pay me with a big box of sex toys; huge dildos with accordion-like pieces in the middle that were battery operated and went up-and-down when turned on the vibrator mode (made a great coffee-table conversation piece).

I had done a comic strip take-off on the Mitchell Brothers, called “The Bitchell Brothers” (pretty clever, huh?) which they had liked, so they gave me a free press pass to their club, The O’Farrell Theatre, to snoop around and write about whatever I wanted.

The Mitchell Brothers were among the first pornographers to really cultivate the press.  They’d set up the reporters with free passes, hook ’em up with naked chicks, and take out expensive ads in the local papers. I think their underlying assumption re: the press was along the lines of Lyndon Johnson’s classic line: “Better to have them inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” And they were rewarded for their efforts with over a decade of generally favorable, if not fawning, press from the Bay Area’s finest.

Every two weeks, when the new issue of Impulse hit the newspaper racks, I’d grab 20 copies and carefully stack them in my closet. Then I’d cut out my column and comics and paste them into a big scrapbook. Then I’d intricately color them in and decorate the margins with magic markers. I’d moon over that scrapbook, like I was a real writer and my work was being compiled in this glorious collection. The whole porn business was kind of like that. It was sort of a minor league version of the mainstream media, a Bizarro parallel media universe. And we had our own stars and celebrities and fan-clubs and movie premieres and even our own version of the Academy Awards. And we were just like real stars, except that the whole thing had an aura of loser-dom and shame.

And this, too. It was 1979, post-’60s Sexual Revolution, pre-’80s AIDS epidemic. So everybody was having sex with everybody in every possible combination. Hell, even I was getting laid back then. And, in some circles, the Mitchell Brothers were seen as the vanguard, the cutting-edge of the new Sexual Revolution. They were heroes almost. Not just pornographers, but promoters of sexual freedom and liberation. And there was considered something wrong with you if you weren’t jumping into the sack all the time. How repressed and un-liberated.

At the time, I considered Sex to be the holy grail that would lead me to Happiness, if not downright Enlightenment. So the Mitchell Brothers, to my 22-year-old eyes, seemed to be the Kings of the Party; the ones with virtually unlimited access to the most beautiful young sex-pots in the world. They were the Kings, and the O’Farrell Theatre was their Harem. So I took it as a given that they must be having the greatest time in the world, an assumption I clung to right up to the moment when Jim Mitchell took out a handgun and blew the brains out of his brother Artie.

Anyway, that night Carol Connors was the featured attraction. She got up on stage of the main theatre within the theatre, New York Live it was called. She was wearing a bright white nurses uniform and white nurses cap, and her white mini-skirt barely covering her fat wobbling ass. She looked like some kind of Viking Goddess Amazon. An inflatable love doll robot. She was sort of a cross between a brassy Mae West and wholesome blonde Daisy Mae sex appeal. With a strong jaw and big bones, big curves, tiny waist. She put on a very athletic, energetic show, bounding across the stage, unbuttoning her nurse’s uniform and stripping naked.

After the strip show it was announced over the P.A. that Connors would be appearing in 15 minutes in the Kopenhagen Lounge (how’s that for class?). There were like 4 different theatres within the O’Farrell Theatre, including a big video store. It was truly a porno arcade, one of the first of its kind. All done up first class; red wall-to-wall carpeting, “the Carnegie Hall of smut.” All that was missing was the chandeliers. The Kopenhagen Lounge was an intimate little room; about 50 plush chairs lined the four walls with a little mini stage the size of a bed in the middle. The “dancer” would strip and pose while the customers shined flashlights (provided by the theatre) at her. After her routine, the stripper would go from person to person offering herself for a lap-dance for a couple of bucks. You could stick your hand in her cunt for a couple of bucks, okay? That’s what it really boiled down to once you got past the wall-to-wall carpeting. And the line stretched down the hallway waiting to get in for Carol Connors show.

While the show was going on I talked to her manager/agent, Jack, who looked just like you’d expect a Hollywood porno star’s manager/agent to look; in other words like an undercover narc, with the shades and gold chains and shirt un-buttoned to show off chest-hair, etc. He and Carol were a team, and he talked enthusiastically about their up-coming deals and projects, visits to the Playboy mansion (they actually met with Hef!), etc. I couldn’t help wondering what he thought about his woman in the next room being mauled by 50 slobbering jack-offs with flashlights. What did they talk about at the end of the day when they were in their hotel room? It was a strange, brutal business, the porno business.  Everybody involved was either grabbing for money or grabbing for sex. So there were so many angles whizzing by, it was dizzying. Like a big, multi-dimensional jerk-off. And me, I was the most confused of all, for I had somehow added “art” and “love” into this potent mix. I had fallen in love with a 19-year old blonde Swedish stripper, so I was surely the biggest fool of all. There was another guy, a customer, who was always there at the Theatre, a nice Asian guy who was madly in love with this one stripper, Wendy.  He’d bring her hundreds of dollars worth of flowers and candy and expensive stuffed animals. He’d pay for a lap dance until his money ran out, and then watch forlornly as she left him, his beloved, to work the rest of the crowd of men. I had a line in my head that sort of made sense at the time: “Even at its most sordid, life is a profoundly spiritual affair.” And that line kind of saved me, for I never lost sight of where I was at, even as I was destined to spend the next 23 years in the gutter, or one small step above. Even in the cut-and-dried world of this haunted hall of neon zombies and sex and price-tags, there was love. And that was the most sickening and painful thing of all.

Later, I stood there in the hallway, interviewing Carol Connors, wearing a robe and not much else. I can still picture her baby face, so milk-fed wholesome, and her Hollywood false eyelashes (just the touch to make her seem like a glossy star). I don’t remember what she said. But I suppose I could look it up in my scrapbook; I still have it somewhere. That’s the weird thing about me: I’ve documented in one medium or other just about everything that’s happened to me over the last 25 years. Mostly I remember thinking: “I’m getting paid money to talk to one of the most beautiful, voluptuous women in the world. Me, the guy who never even had the courage to talk to the girl sitting in the desk next to me in high school.” And from that moment I was hooked on the whole media business. This whole crazy game.

I went back to my apartment and wrote up the interview in a style that was sort of a cheap, second-rate imitation of Hunter S. Thompson (“I was there to Cover The Story…”) who was one of my heroes, the big underground media hipster star. In a weird twist of life-imitating-art, Hunter Thompson Himself would come the O’Farrell Theatre 5 years later, and spend a year hanging around the club, ostensibly working on a big book about the club for Playboy, but mostly ending up too coked-out, and too whored-out, to produce anything.

Brushes with Greatness Part 2: The Secret Origin of “Ace Backwords”

Originally published 2002_11_27Carol Connors Autograph

The first famous (or semi-famous, I’ll let you decide where the cut-off point is for true celebrity) person I ever met was Carol Connors. Connors’ claim to fame was, she played the nurse in Deep Throat, the number-one-selling porn movie of all time at that point (I’ve heard its recently been eclipsed by The World’s Biggest Gang Bang starring Annibel Chong).

I was working for a sleazy porno tabloid from Los Angeles at the time. Impulse was the paper’s name, and it really was sleazy, even by porn’s standards. From some of the ads, you had to wonder if it was a front for some kind of  underground sex  ring or something. This was 1979, and there was an anything-goes feeling at the times, especially in decadent Los Angeles.

Anyways, I wrote a column for Impulse called; “Sin Francisco: Your Bay Area Porno Report” (how’s that for cheezy?) And I’d go to the local strip clubs and interview the latest porn stars or whatever. This was my first and only “success” at that point, age 22, writing a column and doing a comic strip for a sleazy porn tabloid from Los Angeles. I had some hazy dream in my head of being a professional underground artist. But the world mostly refused to cooperate with my dreams. Quite simply, I couldn’t deal with the world. I was a hyper-sensitive, art-fag kind of guy.  I had all these strange and tender feelings whizzing around in my head, and that’s what seemed real to me. The so-called Real World outside me seemed un-real. I had gotten a few comics published in the Berkeley Barb, the latest remnant of the ’60s underground. But aside from that, the world seemed completely indifferent, if not outright hostile, to my strange and tender feelings.  I sent out my work here and there. But the only encouragement I got was from this sleazy porn tabloid from Los Angeles. They actually printed a couple of my comics: stuff like Dagwood and Blondie having sex and then appearing on the Dick Cavett show and getting in a bitch-fight. “Phil Olsen” — the one-man editor/publisher of Impulse— sent me a postcard along with a $25 check: “Send more stuff. Let your imagination run wild.” And somehow, that postcard inflamed me. I still remember it clearly, 23 years later. For it was the first real encouragement I had gotten.

So I came up with the pen-name “Ace Backwords” — to save my family name from the disgrace of being associated with a sleazy tabloid from Los Angeles (they would do a good enough job disgracing themselves on their own later). Little did I realize that 23 years later I would literally have BECOME Ace Backwords, that almost everyone I knew would know me and call me by that name, that I would cash my checks made out to that name, and that my “real” name would basically cease to exist as an entity in this world.

So anyway, I came up with this column, “Sin Francisco,” and I would hack it out in sort of the style of a second-rate Hunter S. Thompson imitator. He was one of my heroes. And, like Thompson, I was beginning to see how working in the media, even on the minor league level of this sleazy porn tabloid, could be a ticket to ride. For one thing, I got into all the porn clubs for free. And on the months when “Phil Olsen” couldn’t afford to pay me in cash, he’d pay me with a big box of sex toys; huge dildos with accordion-like pieces in the middle that were battery operated and went up-and-down when turned on the vibrator mode (made a great coffee-table conversation piece).

I had done a comic strip take-off on the Mitchell Brothers, called “The Bitchell Brothers” (pretty clever, huh?) which they had liked, so they gave me a free press pass to their club, The O’Farrell Theatre, to snoop around and write about whatever I wanted.

The Mitchell Brothers were among the first pornographers to really cultivate the press.  They’d set up the reporters with free passes, hook ’em up with naked chicks, and take out expensive ads in the local papers. I think their underlying assumption re: the press was along the lines of Lyndon Johnson’s classic line: “Better to have them inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” And they were rewarded for their efforts with over a decade of generally favorable, if not fawning, press from the Bay Area’s finest.

Every two weeks, when the new issue of Impulse hit the newspaper racks, I’d grab 20 copies and carefully stack them in my closet. Then I’d cut out my column and comics and paste them into a big scrapbook. Then I’d intricately color them in and decorate the margins with magic markers. I’d moon over that scrapbook, like I was a real writer and my work was being compiled in this glorious collection. The whole porn business was kind of like that. It was sort of a minor league version of the mainstream media, a Bizarro parallel media universe. And we had our own stars and celebrities and fan-clubs and movie premieres and even our own version of the Academy Awards. And we were just like real stars, except that the whole thing had an aura of loser-dom and shame.

And this, too. It was 1979, post-’60s Sexual Revolution, pre-’80s AIDS epidemic. So everybody was having sex with everybody in every possible combination. Hell, even I was getting laid back then. And, in some circles, the Mitchell Brothers were seen as the vanguard, the cutting-edge of the new Sexual Revolution. They were heroes almost. Not just pornographers, but promoters of sexual freedom and liberation. And there was considered something wrong with you if you weren’t jumping into the sack all the time. How repressed and un-liberated.

At the time, I considered Sex to be the holy grail that would lead me to Happiness, if not downright Enlightenment. So the Mitchell Brothers, to my 22-year-old eyes, seemed to be the Kings of the Party; the ones with virtually unlimited access to the most beautiful young sex-pots in the world. They were the Kings, and the O’Farrell Theatre was their Harem. So I took it as a given that they must be having the greatest time in the world, an assumption I clung to right up to the moment when Jim Mitchell took out a handgun and blew the brains out of his brother Artie.

Anyway, that night Carol Connors was the featured attraction. She got up on stage of the main theatre within the theatre, New York Live it was called. She was wearing a bright white nurses uniform and white nurses cap, and her white mini-skirt barely covering her fat wobbling ass. She looked like some kind of Viking Goddess Amazon. An inflatable love doll robot. She was sort of a cross between a brassy Mae West and wholesome blonde Daisy Mae sex appeal. With a strong jaw and big bones, big curves, tiny waist. She put on a very athletic, energetic show, bounding across the stage, unbuttoning her nurse’s uniform and stripping naked.

After the strip show it was announced over the P.A. that Connors would be appearing in 15 minutes in the Kopenhagen Lounge (how’s that for class?). There were like 4 different theatres within the O’Farrell Theatre, including a big video store. It was truly a porno arcade, one of the first of its kind. All done up first class; red wall-to-wall carpeting, “the Carnegie Hall of smut.” All that was missing was the chandeliers. The Kopenhagen Lounge was an intimate little room; about 50 plush chairs lined the four walls with a little mini stage the size of a bed in the middle. The “dancer” would strip and pose while the customers shined flashlights (provided by the theatre) at her. After her routine, the stripper would go from person to person offering herself for a lap-dance for a couple of bucks. You could stick your hand in her cunt for a couple of bucks, okay? That’s what it really boiled down to once you got past the wall-to-wall carpeting. And the line stretched down the hallway waiting to get in for Carol Connors show.

While the show was going on I talked to her manager/agent, Jack, who looked just like you’d expect a Hollywood porno star’s manager/agent to look; in other words like an undercover narc, with the shades and gold chains and shirt un-buttoned to show off chest-hair, etc. He and Carol were a team, and he talked enthusiastically about their up-coming deals and projects, visits to the Playboy mansion (they actually met with Hef!), etc. I couldn’t help wondering what he thought about his woman in the next room being mauled by 50 slobbering jack-offs with flashlights. What did they talk about at the end of the day when they were in their hotel room? It was a strange, brutal business, the porno business.  Everybody involved was either grabbing for money or grabbing for sex. So there were so many angles whizzing by, it was dizzying. Like a big, multi-dimensional jerk-off. And me, I was the most confused of all, for I had somehow added “art” and “love” into this potent mix. I had fallen in love with a 19-year old blonde Swedish stripper, so I was surely the biggest fool of all. There was another guy, a customer, who was always there at the Theatre, a nice Asian guy who was madly in love with this one stripper, Wendy.  He’d bring her hundreds of dollars worth of flowers and candy and expensive stuffed animals. He’d pay for a lap dance until his money ran out, and then watch forlornly as she left him, his beloved, to work the rest of the crowd of men. I had a line in my head that sort of made sense at the time: “Even at its most sordid, life is a profoundly spiritual affair.” And that line kind of saved me, for I never lost sight of where I was at, even as I was destined to spend the next 23 years in the gutter, or one small step above. Even in the cut-and-dried world of this haunted hall of neon zombies and sex and price-tags, there was love. And that was the most sickening and painful thing of all.

Later, I stood there in the hallway, interviewing Carol Connors, wearing a robe and not much else. I can still picture her baby face, so milk-fed wholesome, and her Hollywood false eyelashes (just the touch to make her seem like a glossy star). I don’t remember what she said. But I suppose I could look it up in my scrapbook; I still have it somewhere. That’s the weird thing about me: I’ve documented in one medium or other just about everything that’s happened to me over the last 25 years. Mostly I remember thinking: “I’m getting paid money to talk to one of the most beautiful, voluptuous women in the world. Me, the guy who never even had the courage to talk to the girl sitting in the desk next to me in high school.” And from that moment I was hooked on the whole media business. This whole crazy game.

I went back to my apartment and wrote up the interview in a style that was sort of a cheap, second-rate imitation of Hunter S. Thompson (“I was there to Cover The Story…”) who was one of my heroes, the big underground media hipster star. In a weird twist of life-imitating-art, Hunter Thompson Himself would come the O’Farrell Theatre 5 years later, and spend a year hanging around the club, ostensibly working on a big book about the club for Playboy, but mostly ending up too coked-out, and too whored-out, to produce anything.