Friday, May 28, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-12

May, 1981

Dear Lázaro,

Now I know I really am in Hollywood. I just lived a scene from a movie.

I'm driving home last night after taping the show. It's like two or three in the morning. You know how I've told you that to get to my neighborhood you gotta pass all these factories? So you know at three in the morning no one's there. So I'm zooming through the streets. I do this a lot to avoid the low riders. There are these Mexican guys out here with these crazy cars. They have teeny tiny steering wheels made out of chains and fuzzy huge dice hanging from the rear view mirrors. The cars have these tiny tires too, but when you stop next to them at a red light somehow the cars bounce up and down. I don't know how they do it but it really scares me.

Anyway a cop stops me. Right away I thought...My God the door! My picture must be in every precinct in California and they finally nabbed me.

Out comes this twenty-five year old version of Christopher Atkins in "The Blue Lagoon." I mean sparkling blue eyes and this tight curly, blond hair. Lean and trim and a killer of a smile. Of course let me tell you, there are no ugly people in Los Angeles. I guess they ship them all to San Diego or wherever. Everybody here is gorgeous. It's the movie thing, I guess. Most cops look like GQ models. This one was spectacular.

He says to me, "You were goin' maghty fast theah, son."

I said, "Sorry! It's just that there's nobody on these streets at this time and..."

He interrupts me, "But theah are a lot of train tracks. That could prove maghty dangerous."

He said all of this with a slight Southern drawl that was so endearing. He snapped me back into reality when he asked to see my license.

And then he says, "Ah see you live around heah."

I said, "Yep. Three more blocks and I'm home."

He then asks, "Hurry to get theah, are ya?"

So I said, "Yeah! I guess that's why I was a little fast."

So then he asks, "Someone waitin' for you at home that you are in such a hurry to get to?"

I said, "No."

"No wahfe?"

"Not married."

"Live with yoah parents?"

"No...all by myself."

"Ah see."

He goes to his car to do that thing that cops do with their pads and their radios. I'm wondering what weird questions he was asking. But this was cheery California; maybe he was just making conversation before giving me a ticket.

He comes back and says, "Look, son, you seem lak a nice kid so Ahm going to give you a break. Ahm not giving you a ticket. Just be careful with those tracks."

I am so relieved. "Thank you officer. I promise it won't happen again."

So then he says, "Ba the way. Ah get off duty in an houah. If you are not too tired Ahd lak to speak to you a bit about safe driving techniques. Just because the street is empty is no reason to speed."

I gulped, "Tonight?"

He beams at me, "If you are not too tired."

I said, "No. I'm not."

So he says, "Okay then, Ah'll see you in about an houah."

I was feeling a bit strange about all of this, you know what I mean, Lázaro? This has never happened to me before but I kinda got the feeling that he was flirting with me. Now I was nervous. If he was and he came over, I didn't know what to do.

He showed up an hour and a half later, looking gorgeous without his uniform. He had on a white linen shirt; open three buttons down to reveal his well defined hairless torso and form fitting black jeans. If this is going to be my Mrs. Robinson scene, I don't think I'm going to put up much of a fight.

The feel of his muscular arms around me felt so natural. I just folded myself into them. His beard stubble scratched a little but it kind of excited me too.

Anyway, all that's left to say is that I am no longer confused.

June, 1981

Hey Buddy Boy,

My head has been swirling since that incident with the cop. By the way, I've never seen him again. I kind of thought I wouldn't but I kept hoping I would. I didn't want my first time to be a one-night stand. But at least he was wonderful and very gentle. I really can't complain.

I'm also glad I haven't bought clothes for the dolls yet. Can you imagine want he would've thought of me if he saw them in my car? Especially since I can’t get their mouths to close. Maybe he wouldn't have shown up at all. Or maybe shown up with some strange ideas.

I've been hanging around a lot with Tostita. She's the daughter of a friend of Dad’s. Remember him? It seems that he took some time off from running around with his paramilitary friends in the Florida Everglades and made some acquaintances in Washington D. C. Unfortunately not those kinds of acquaintances.

Tostita is this friend's daughter. She lives in Downey. Yeah I know, just like the fabric softener. That's where the Carpenters are from, remember them?

She knows a lot of bigwigs. She's a secretary for Tom Hayden's political organization. You know he's the guy who's married to Jane Fonda.

We've been taking aerobics classes in Beverly Hills. Let me tell you, that's a trip and a half. To be taught aerobics by Barbarella. But we don't mention that 'cause she hates that movie.

She also took me to see Donna Summer at the Hollywood Bowl. Of course we were a hour late due to this incredible L.A. traffic. We had to wait outside until intermission. It was so frustrating to hear my woman singing inside and not be able to see her.

We also went to the Pantages to see "A Chorus Line." I loved the play. I mean it was so full of the love of dance that I've always had. But I was a bit freaked out to fully enjoy it. We were sitting on a balcony and all I kept thinking about was the fact that if there was an earthquake that balcony may fall off. That's not how I want to make my debut on stage.

I got myself an agent. He's out in Century City. This is a place built on what used to be the backlot of 20th Century Fox. It looks like Avenue of the Americas. All gleaming towers and stores.

He called me in the other day. I thought he had a job lined up for me. I was so excited I forgot to take the parking ticket at the underground garage.

He says to me, "Well, son, we have a problem fitting you in. You see, when casting directors see your Spanish surname, they automatically put you in the Latino know, Mexican migrant worker, Puerto Rican drug dealer, that sort of thing. Then they look at your picture and they see white skin and green eyes and you don't fit the bill. If you considered changing your name to a non-ethnic sounding one, I know I can get you work."

Isn't that a whopper? You always told me that I had it easier because I looked so white.

Now I look too white.

I'm gonna have to change my name, you know. I mean, movie stars do it all the time. Look at Raquel Welch. Her real name is Raquel Tejada. And Rita Hayworth was Margarita Cansino.

I told the Dragon Lady and of course she freaked. Mom said that if I changed my name how could she tell her friends that I was her son. It's not like I've had plastic surgery or something, right? Any suggestions?

A Legend in His Own Mind-11

April, 1980

Dear Lázaro,

There's this beautiful blonde girl doing the show. She has her hair corn rowed just like Bo Derek. She says it took her eight hours to do. Can you imagine sitting still for that long a time?

She plays my sister in this other show about a hippie holdout. “LSD and Me.” I play this psychedelic guy with a tutti-frutti Afro and a dog leash. I’m starting to do character parts. That’s good! ‘Cause you know when the leading man looks start to go….

Anyway, she invited me to a party somewhere in the Valley (that's the San Fernando Valley for you East Coasters). When I got there I noticed this blue and white cylindrical thing in the middle of the coffee table. It was real pretty and it was smoking. And people were grabbing it and sucking from it.

I found out it is something called a bong. You put hashish in it. It's amazing all the intricate ways that these people have of getting stoned. They all looked like the Caterpillar in "Alice in Wonderland." Circling around this object that had a few straw looking things also made out of porcelain.

You should have heard the uproar when I said I didn't want to participate. It was like chanting "Hell no! We won't go!" at an army recruiting office.

I think I made it even worse when I said I'd never done it nor cared to. I had offended the mighty Lord Cannabis and his reefer wielding followers were not having it. Except for the girl that invited me, the rest just shunned me. I stayed for about a half-hour more. I didn't want to offend the host.

I'll never understand the desire that people have to make fools out of themselves. At least I know when I've been an ass. Maybe that's why they do it. So they can't remember.

Can you imagine if Mother had ever found a joint in my room? She would have strapped me to the front pew of Our Lady of Perpetual Pain and left me there for a month. The nuns and priests hovering over my body like vultures waiting for me to die.

I could hear the Dragon Lady screeching, "I left Cuba so jou would not end op a feelthy Communist and now dees contry has torned jou into a feelthy drog addict."

A seminary school in Spain would have been my future. What a horror! Locked up in some windowless building with a bunch of men dressed like executioners. No electricity. I wouldn't be able to play my disco records. Can you imagine? Living without Donna Summer!

As if this party hadn't been eye opening enough, the following night I went to see "Pink Flamingoes." Have you heard about it? My friend Don took me. I told you about Don. He's a commercial writer from Cleveland and he has this really warped sense of humor. I met him in the show. He's actually a close friend of Wendy's. I think he's writing comedy material for her stand up routine.

Anyway he just says the strangest, funniest things. So when I asked him what this movie was about and he said, "Oh it's about this three hundred pound drag queen that eats dog shit.” I didn't believe him.

I should have. He wasn't kidding. I had never seen anything like this in my life. Not even when we snuck into the Show Palace at Times Square and saw that lady pulling a pearl necklace out of her vagina. Remember?

Anyway this movie! My God! They had two people making love with a chicken in between them and these women with pubic hair dyed like tutti-frutti ice cream.

I told Don that I wouldn't leave until the last person left. I didn't want to be seen leaving this theatre. Now I know how Abuela felt when I took her to see "Lipstick." She put on her dark sunglasses the minute Chris Sarandon took Margaux Hemingway from behind and never took them off. She left with this kerchief wrapped around her head. She looked like a fortune teller incognito.

I knew Don was slightly strange but I didn't realize how much. He took me to this store called the Pleasure Chest. It's a sex toy store. Can you believe that they actually have that in West Hollywood? It's like FAO Schwartz. But instead of toy trains and marionettes it sells French ticklers and ben-wa balls. I didn't know things shaped like rubber oranges were inserted. Who would want to do that? You think I should have second thoughts about Don after that?

I managed to make some use out of this store. I bought two inflatable rubber dolls. A man and a woman. You see, people were always telling me to be careful driving all alone so late at night through some of the desolate areas that I had to go through. So I figured if I dress these two up and put them in my car, it will look like I'm driving with other people.

Don took me to my first gay bar. The Apache in Studio City. It looked like a barn. It had wooden planks for walls. I was bug-eyed staring at everything. This didn't look like the Studio 54 I had seen in pictures. No big strobe lights and no bare-chested boys in jeans. It was dark, dinky and full of old men.

Don went to the bathroom and didn't come back for hours. I think he got lost coming back. He couldn't be in the bathroom that long. That would be one hell of a line.

So I sat on a barstool waiting. A man with very wide sideburns asks me to dance to Donna Summer's "Love to Love You, Baby." This is the same song that got Megan so excited that night at Osko's.

I was kind of freaked. I had never been asked to dance before. Especially by a man. I didn't know what to do. I mean...who leads? But I didn't want to offend him so...

As the song begins its multiple orgasms, he attempts to pull me closer by my hand and ended up tangled in my extra long sweater sleeve. Am I ever glad that my observant uncle brought a sweater for me from Milan that was three sizes too big.

This guy looked very strange. He was a cross between John Lennon after Yoko and Mike Nesmith from the Monkees.

On the ride back, Don told me that he wanted to start his own commercial writing company and would like me as a writing partner. I had helped him with a Taco Bell ad already. I was flattered that someone as intelligent and witty as Don would even consider me helpful.

We sat in his apartment on Mulholland Drive overlooking the Hollywood Hills. Let me tell you, that is an incredible view. Once you get above the smog, L.A. can be quite striking.

He set fire to brandy inside these beautiful snifters. Told me that was the only way to drink it. I didn't want to offend him and tell him that I don't drink. The revenge of the pot worshippers from the Valley loomed over me. So I took little sips. It actually tasted like warm licorice.

We spent the night brainstorming while listening to the soundtrack to "Gigi." Every time Maurice Chevalier would sing "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," Don would substitute the word boys.

It had never occurred to me to do that to a song. I guess that's why I always preferred songs sung by women.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-10

March, 1980

Dear Lázaro,

I've decided to do something about my situation. I'm going to find out. Gary invited me to his apartment on Saturday night to watch the Ann-Margret special. I accepted.

Saturday night came. I was so excited that I locked myself out of my apartment. I realized it before I got into my car so I went back up and tried to slide open the window. I managed to crack the glass and cut an artery on my hand. I had to climb over the broken glass on the windowsill to get inside. Then wrap a handkerchief around my hand to stop the bleeding. No hemorrhage was deterring me from my meeting with destiny.

I got into my car and drove off to Gary's house. The pain in my hand was incredible; I couldn't grab the stick. If I put my hand down it would start throbbing. I had to drive the whole way to Studio City with my right hand up in the air like the Statue of Liberty.

I got to Gary's with my heart in my throat. I found him very cute. An older, experienced man of thirty. He would clear my confusion. Oh my God! What if when I touch him I’d rather be touching Megan?

As I'm going to sit down on his couch he asks, "Did you just get fucked?"

I was shocked by the question.

I said, "No! Of course not! Why do you ask?"

He said, "The blood stain on your pants."

I must've stained myself as I was climbing over the windowsill. But what does that have to do with intercourse?

I freaked. "Oh my God! Can that happen?"

He asks me, "What makes you think that you're gay?"

That question came out of nowhere.

I said, "I don't know if I'm gay but I go with whatever I feel."

So he said, "You sound very young and very confused and I'm not going to be the one to clear up your confusion."

I was crushed. He didn't want me and I'm still confused. I mean I like him a lot. He makes me tingle all over whenever I see him. Nobody had ever done that before. So if I didn't like being with him afterwards, that would have cleared up my confusion, right?

I sat in silence watching Ann-Margret go through her gyrations with her Vegas dancers, the whole time thinking up reasons why he didn't want me.

Driving back I don't know what was more hand or my ego. I felt so ugly and unwanted. And so disappointed. Between my being lost in my own thoughts of inadequacy and the throbbing of my hand; plus the fact that my body was slightly askew to allow for my left hand to drive and shift; my car sort of moved a little to the shoulder. Before I could do anything, I saw a door fly over the roof of my car. It was a highway patrolman who had stopped to give somebody a ticket. I took a cop's door! I freaked! I did the only thing a kid from our neighborhood could do. Turned off my lights so he couldn't get a good look at my license plate and sped off the Hollywood Boulevard entrance. I took off in the direction of the Capitol Records building and disappeared into the night. I don't even know where that door landed. I hope it didn't land on the cop.

I'm a loser in love and a fugitive from the law. If any feds come asking you about me, you don't know where I am.

A Legend in His Own Mind-9

February, 1981

Dear Lázaro,

You got a freaked out mind, man. I'm not "tying my dick down and putting on a dress". I do those numbers in a bathing suit. That's what makes it funny. I'm a guy, looking like a guy, doing the girly numbers. I don't expect a New Yorker to really appreciate the artistry of that. This is real California.

I'm enjoying it too. I get to dance and I get to pick whatever songs I want to do. And I get to sing them to this Robert Redford look-a-like named Larry. See he plays Chaps Posse, the Texas cowboy who moseyed in here by accident. But he seems to enjoy Go-Go's performances so much he comes back every night just for the show.

I think I'm going to do "Big Spender" from "Sweet Charity" next week. I can see myself climbing all over Larry with that one.

Now I know I'm playing a gay go-go dancer but Gary is always looking at me and making innuendoes. I politely turn him down. You know it's not cool out here to say get outta my face or anything like that. Everybody's like walking, talking smile buttons. And he's really a nice guy. Besides the attention feels good either way.

Speaking of attention, Megan, the nymphomaniac, has been taking me dancing. She says Dudley doesn't like to. We went to Osko's the other night. That's the disco where they filmed "Thank God, It's Friday"

That was wild to be inside that place. You know I had to touch the stage where Donna Summer sang "Last Dance," don't you? That's the woman of my dreams and she was actually, physically there. I don't think I can wash that hand ever again.

I had been noticing two Japanese girls staring at me all night. So when Megan went to the bathroom, I asked one of them to dance. She wasn't a hot dancer but she was real cute and kept staring at me like I was John Travolta or something.

Well Megan came back and saw me. She was not having it. She yanked me away, clasped her thighs around mine and started to gyrate her pelvis up and down my thigh. I felt like the whole disco was looking at us. I know, I shoulda known better. Everybody was too whacked out on coke and screwing someplace else to really care. But I was still embarrassed.

She looked like something out of a bad B -movie. She's dancing all over me, wetting her lips with her tongue and rolling her eyes. Is that supposed to be sexy? If she did that to me in bed I'd call 911. It looked like she was having a seizure or something.

She got down on her knees and tried to unzip my fly with her teeth. I pulled away. Enough was enough, don't you think? I couldn't let her expose me to this whole disco. Especially not in front of the stage where Donna sang. That's like a shrine.

As we're moving around the dance floor, I could've sworn that I saw Dudley in the crowd. I know some blond man waved at us. I wouldn't be surprised.

Do you think they're like Hollywood swingers?

Then something really mind blowing happened and I don't know how to tell you this. I don't even think I want to. But who else can I tell this to? I mean we've been together forever, right?

We went to Norm's on La Brea to eat and she grabbed me and started to kiss me in the car. She started playing the Pointer Sisters "He's So Shy" on her car stereo. I froze up. I kept seeing police lights all over me. It turned out that Norm's is a Hollywood version of a doughnut shop. All the cops hang out there.

All I keep thinking about is that we're going to get arrested for indecent exposure. We're not kids, you know. I'm twenty-one. I don't want to go to jail.

I didn't say anything though. I just kept doing whatever she told me to. I didn't want to offend her. At one moment she takes my hand and puts it between her legs and then puts her hand between mine. She's grabbing me. I mean, all of me. And I'm grabbing...her jeans. The rough, Levi kind too. And I keep thinking one thought over and over...I want to grab what she's grabbing.

Lázaro, I hope you're still there. I hope you didn't drop the flashlight from the fire escape and hit Carlucci's Dalmatian on the head with it. He'll wake up the whole neighborhood.

I'm freaked out, man. I had never thought anything like this before. That clearly anyway.

You know I used to look at the Playgirl centerfolds but that was to check out the celebrities. I mean after Burt Reynolds did Cosmo every major male star went nude. I was studying poses for my turn.

And I used to hang out at the locker room for a long time but you know it was 'cause I admired those swimmers’ bodies. I always wanted to look like that.

I have never been with a girl (I lied about Tina Theocarides) but that was 'cause I'm very shy. And besides Abuela always raised me to be a gentleman and respect girls. Right?

What does that mean? I'd rather be touching what she's touching. I don't think I meant my own. Hell I've been doing that since I was ten.

Of course always while watching “Lost in Space”. Usually when Major Don West was ranting about something.

Oh my God! I think I meant another guy's. Lázaro, what did I mean?

February, 1980

Dear Lázaro,

What do you mean you always suspected? Why didn't you tell me? Don't you think it would've made things clearer for me? Like why I never wanted to pick up the girls' skirts and look underneath them. Or why I always wanted to be close to George Everett even though he was such a jerk.

You think I'm gay? You think that's why I enjoy playing Go-Go so much? And climbing on top of Larry? And Gary's attentions?

I've been thinking about all of this for days now. I don't know which way to go. The other day we were filming a scene for "Queen's Reich" where this actress attacks Go-Go and tries to seduce him. When Rose Petal climbed on top of me and began to kiss me I closed my mouth. I had read in an acting book somewhere that the proper way to stage kiss is to press both sets of lips together with a closed mouth and then move your chin. This gives the illusion of deep tongue kissing without any actual penetration.

So that's what I did. Well her tongue was all over my lips. The more she licked the tighter I pressed them together. Finally after the show was taped she asked me if I was gay. I thought I was just being a gentleman and not taking advantage of the situation. But now I don’t know. Did she spot something that I missed? I'm so confused.