Monday, August 3, 2015

What the Hell is the 'Gay Lifestyle'?


When someone says they don't approve of the 'gay lifestyle' I have to confess I have no idea what that means. Is there some notion out there that gays are some monolithic group that marches in lockstep?  There are a lot of us of a certain age who like Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, I'll give you that, but I'm single, spend most of my time writing, all of my close friends here are straight, haven't been to a gay bar in this century and (sadly) haven't had sex more than 10 times during that period.  Is it the Castro / West Hollywood leather boys? I'm pretty disdainful of them as well but to each his own.  Is it the pervs trolling park bathrooms for sex? I've got news for you the majority of those guys are generally closeted married men and ministers. I've only known one person in my entire life that did that (and that Detroit motherfucker will be liking this post).

There is no more a gay lifestyle than a straight lifestyle. Not approving of the 'gay lifestyle' I'm guessing is akin to saying you don't approve of black people but like your black friends, we all know folks like that. Is it anal sex you don't condone? I don't go for it myself but who gives a fuck what people do in bed, you don't have to clean the sheets. That two people who love each other can get married, cohabitate? Why would it make any difference to me or you?

Is it that homos are controlling the narrative? Looking over Wikipedia's list of prominent American gay activist I don't recognize 90% of those names, they certainly aren't on your TV every week like dozens of anti-gay commentators are. A majority of those running for President have made being anti-gay a major plank in their platform. Is it the drag queens? They're easy to avoid. I haven't been to a gay pride event since 1994 but it's just one weekend a year, obviously easy to avoid because I never even know when it is! Is it the gay small business owner who employs dozens of people, gay and straight, then devotes time to charity? Musicians like Michael & Spider who enjoyed a 40+ year committed relationship but are denied pension benefits a straight couple takes for granted... or those old guys in Texas who've been together 54 years and can now finally make it legal? 

Effeminate guys and butch ladies? There are plenty of hetero examples. Hell, I can't tell half the time who's gay or straight anymore and it really doesn't matter much because odds suggest I'm not getting any! Sex obsessed men cruising Craigslist to hookup? Again not limited to this side of the aisle (you wouldn't believe the number of married men posting on Casual Encounters m4m). Who represents this 'gay lifestyle' - Ru Paul, Chaz Bono, Billie Jean King, Lindsey Graham, George Takei, Barney Frank, Elton John, Dan Savage, Dr. Smith on Lost in Space? Me? What have any of us done to offend... just exist?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Artist Musician Ron Artis



At least half the time I google someone from my past they are passed away, this was no exception. My exploration started after watching The Wrecking Crew documentary. Gold Star Studios in 1981 was no longer the powerhouse it had been in the previous 3 decades where hundreds of hits were recorded so they would rent studio time to anyone. I think overnight was $90 an hour.

Living in North Hollywood my next door neighbor in '81 was Ron Artis who was in Shalamar, one of those late-70s LA bands that had like 14 members, they had a soul hit but shed members every album like my cat sheds hair. Or so he said, he may have just done a session for them, he a world class bullshitter. As you do. Ron would have Taka Boom over to his home to record, I met her there, he was really serious and passionate about music - jazz, rock, new wave, soul. He turned me on to Millie Jackson. You couldn't help but come under his sway, he connected in a way few can. The guy on the corner who owned a pizza parlor (best slices I ever tasted) was really impressed with Ron, wanted him to record an album and offered to pay for studio time at Gold Star, late night hours. 

Susan and I went to visit that first night. He invited everyone to come by the studio which I thought was strange, how would anything get done but whatever. When we arrived after midnight cocaine was flowing and Ron was teaching some kid, on studio time, to play a guitar. Not play the song... he was teaching basic fundamentals of how to play a guitar! Needless to say nothing came of those sessions. 

In 1994 I was wandering around Beverly Hills when I came across a shop that had just closed, I believe it was Ron Artiz Studio Gallery where they offered original air brush t-shirt designs. I wondered if it was the same guy, that he once again found someone to get behind his big dreams. It was.

Not long after that Ron moved to Hawaii, becoming famous there as an artist, especially popular in the Haleiwa surfing community. A really exceptional muralist and a brilliant pianist and composer with a large discography, much of it recorded with his kids. (He had 11 children which surprises me not a bit, the ladies loved him.) When I knew him he had a wife and two lovely kids Susan and I felt close to who separated from him during the year we lived there. Ron was wrong wrong wrong but Ron was Ron Ron Ron.

He died in 2010, an exciting, gifted fellow living to the fullest who possessed the talent and the chops to back up his grandiose schemes. Played the game like a champ and ultimately won. That's the Ron Artis I wish I'd known...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Julia Roberts on Heroin!


In a piece about Actors No One Wants to Work With Julia Roberts' name comes up. Death & Taxes says:  Apparently, when she was 23, Julia Roberts was a hot mess on the set of “Hook” in 1991. She fought with director Steven Spielberg, according to the New York Times, which many suspected was her emotional outlet for a “Fellini summer” of drugs followed by a nervous breakdown after splitting with Kiefer Sutherland. People Magazine at the time suggested that all the celebrity visits to the set, which included Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Prince, may have been to see if “Tinkerhell,” as crew members nicknamed Roberts, “was as emaciated and emotionally fragile a Tinkerbell as rumor insisted.”

She was a mess all right. I was working on the poster for Hook when Julia Roberts' photos from the set came in, the crew did their best in lighting and camera but she was a toothpick, haggard. The next day someone came to my drawing board and asked for all of the prints with Julia in them, then confiscated the lot. 

Production was shut down on her scenes, I was told, so she could go into recovery, put aside the needle. Reportedly she met Lyle Lovett, a heroin addict, on a flight after her break with Kiefer Sutherland and was strung out come time to shoot Hook. Footage and photos from the set were destroyed to protect her career and the big budget movie. Now I wish I'd kept a copy of those pitiful pictures.