Monday, May 16, 2011
DEKE’S FAVORITE MIX-TAPE
Deke worked the dark third-floor at The Odyssey disco in West Hollywood, mining the bad-Daddy chickenhawk trade for tens and Tuinals, a thirteen-year-old midnight cowboy in clothes to match, not counting his Teenage Jesus & the Jerks tee-shirt. A boyish shag blond, his face became even more angelic from the free plastic surgery he'd endured, rumor had it, after his father broke his jaw one night in the grip of passion.
Above all things, Deke cherished the sound and image of David Bowie. The music, especially songs such as “We Are the Dead” (from Diamond Dogs), “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars), and “All the Madmen” (The Man Who Sold the World) validated his emotional geography, while Bowie’s shifting exotic looks affirmed Deke’s desire for a mutable exterior of easy-access beauty that, in his mind at least, might for an evening negate the squalor he knew.
Until his stay with Good Uncle Vic, Deke had found lodgings in the filthy basement below Frederick’s of Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard, a veritable underground railroad for punks, runaways, kid hookers and other distressed youth. There were other places that charged negligible overnight fees in even worse areas, places like the Canterbury Arms, a 20’s German film industry émigré hotel gone to seed. Even more desperate lodgings were offered by borderline cases like Andrew Collar.
Collar worked at a computer video transfer place he claimed was aligned in some technological manner with George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic facility, and with whom Deke found lodgings for a spell during the bad spring of ’82, two years ago. He owned a co-op in Universal City, the place was always packed with tow-headed early teen multiples of TV’s James at 15 star Lance Kerwin. (In 1999, Kerwin was arrested for crack after two failed marriages he currently lives on an all-Christian rehab ranch.)
All Collar wanted was company and the right to the occasional candid Polaroid. Then there were outright monsters like Good Uncle Vic, Deke’s ultimate destination before fate beat sheer velocity.
Good Uncle Vic, whose handle people always pronounced in full, was a prescient post modernist who could have told you what that meant. Looking like a screenwriter’s idea of a child molester—half bald, bug-eyed, and perpetually sweaty—he did everything he could to make his appearance even more loathsome, which he correctly guessed would gain him the admiration of kids who thought they looked worse and did everything they could to emphasize it. Good Uncle Vic—a displaced native of Germantown, MD—owned a six-bedroom house in Van Nuys, CA, and a storefront in Flushing, New York. Being an interested party, Good Uncle Vic kept up with the latest trends in youth culture.
This was 1981, and so the kids were excited about the New Romantic movement, which featured made-up androgynes fronting bands with colorful names such as The Teardrop Explodes, Visage, and Ultravox. Because of scattershot US release patterns, the dour urban trance rock of Joy Division, whose lead singer Ian Curtis had recently hanged himself at the age of 23, was also in favor. (The band had gotten its name from the World War II novel The House of Dolls by Karol Cetinsky; in the book, 'joy division' was a term applied to young concentration-camp inmates forced to prostitute themselves for Nazi soldiers.) With further research, Good Uncle Vic discovered that all these groups enjoyed a primary influence in the works of David Bowie.
And so, to create the veneer of being in the know with kids who respected little else, he played New Romantic sounds, along with every David Bowie record available. He had permanent guests running both residences, and who kept a Super 8mm projector wound with Swedish Erotica loops intercut with bottom feeder boy porn (shot on-premise) showing at all times, some of them staring Deke. In two years, Deke’s partially decapitated body would be discovered in an apartment on Franklin Street by West Hollywood Sheriff Department Vice, a one-room completely lacking in personal effects except for a small tape player and smashed cassette tape in pieces and unraveled in a wild perimeter of the room. Their report would list the cause of death as "shot-gun wounds to mouth, self-inflicted."
[extracted from my novel, GONE. ]