Thursday, January 14, 2016

SECRETS REVEALED: INTERVIEW PART TWO





Note:
Part One of my 2014 interview can be found at this link:
Interview Part One 

 
(interviewer - Douglas Elliot)

Interviewer:
Do you believe in miracles?

Jon (laughing):
The first thing that comes to mind is Kathryn Kuhlman the evangelist. Do you remember her? She used to begin all her TV shows with the question "Dooo yew beeLEEAVE-AH in MEERACLES?" It was hilarious. She stretched out "believe" into about six syllables.

Interviewer:
I do indeed remember her.

Jon:
She was based in Santa Ana, wasn't she?  Dino Kartsonakis used to be her pianist. I thought the guy was gay as a lark. He's married now and lives in Branson, MO. I've been to Branson numerous times. Not because of Dino.

Kuhlman believed in miracles. Do you, too?

A miracle can be anything that we fancy it to be. It's a miracle I could get up this morning after all the booze I drank last night. It'll be a bigger miracle if I can ever sell my friggin' Texas house. Life is filled with the persistence of imaginary miracles. It's what keeps us going.

You've often said that writing keeps you going. Expound.

Writing, for me, is a great catharsis - an emotional outlet. I couldn't live without it. I express myself far better through the written word than through verbal communication.

Where did you get your start writing? Where have you been published?

I suppose I first got interested in creative writing when I was eleven or twelve. My 7th grade English teacher Mr. Taylor used to force us to write weekly essays and then made us read them in front of the class. Mine were always the best - and the funniest. I inevitably made Taylor laugh, and he was a notorious sourpuss. That was in Dale Junior High, Anaheim, California. I eventually became the editor of my high school newspaper, and later worked for the local city newspaper. Hell, I was only sixteen.

And later you became a freelance writer.

It was a long and tedious process. I initially yearned to see just one of my efforts in print. I eventually had nearly 100 poems published in literary journals and magazines. When I was in my early 20's, an editor from Grosset and Dunlap happened to see some of my published poems and requested to see more samples for the possibility of publishing a poetry book. Being brutally - and perhaps foolishly - honest, I told him that I didn't have enough good poems to be worthy of a book.

Soon I started writing stories for true-confession magazines. Later I advanced to porn sleaze. I wrote lots of erotic stories for adult magazines - under various pseudonyms, of course.

Finally I started publishing legitimate articles. True West, Wild West, The New Jersey Monthly, The Atlantic Monthly. I wrote an enormous amount of things for movie magazines. I was published in The Hollywood Reporter, Movie Star News, Classic Images, Movie Collector's World, and a lot more. Strange that I can't even remember half of them now.

How has writing changed since you first started out?

It has changed drastically, especially after everyone became computerized and electronic books came into vogue. It's a different world now - - and not necessarily a better one. I miss sitting at the ol' portable typewriter and sending genuine manuscripts to real editors. I paid my dues by going through the old system of being published - - having my work evaluated by professionals and gaining the respect of editors. I'm proud of that.

Today it's a frickin' free-for-all. Everyone is a - quote - "writer". Everyone is a blogger. Everyone has published an ebook.   Standards and ethics have been greatly diminished. The old school is dead and buried. Wow, I'm undoubtedly sounding like a fossilized relic.

You're far from being fossilized. What are some of the most exciting things you've done? 

With writing?

No. Exciting in general.

Excitement manifests itself on many different levels. I could never comprehend narrowing it down to one thing. Excitement can be spiritual as well as sexual.

I've done a helluva lot of exciting things in my time. Some were mandatory - like surviving a tornado in Missouri that was less than a mile from my house. Most were voluntary - like the time I sailed solo to Catalina Island with very little nautical experience. That was exciting. Or the time I lived alone on the beach in Baja for a month.

I got an adrenaline rush of excitement the time I was in a car with a naked actor at midnight in Hollywood and a cop pulled us over. I jumped out, leaped over a fence, and never looked back. Luckily I was clothed. Happened in an alley near Santa Monica Boulevard. Behind the Circus of Books. You remember that bookstore?

Sure. It's still there.

My entire life has been fraught with excitement.

Your adventures in Hollywood were a big part of your life, weren't they?

Perhaps not a big part, but definitely an incredibly wonderful part. I was young and hot and adventurous. And easy. Those were fantastic years.

Who are some of the famous people that you've met?

I was privileged to have met many famous people when I lived in California. Rattling off random names seems so - - I don't know - - pompous. It was all long ago.
 
Live dangerously. Be pompous.

My mind is getting dangerously muddled in my declining years. Let's see. Here are a random few in no particular order: Groucho Marx, Shelley Winters, Ann-Margret, Ann Miller, John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Sonny and Cher. Uh, Patty Duke, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Frampton, Liza Minnelli, Ronald Reagan, Raquel Welch, Burt Reynolds, Joan Rivers, George Burns....there are really so many that I couldn't possibly begin to list them all. Hey, I saw Mick Jagger's luggage once, at the Continental Hyatt House.

That used to be the in hotel in Beverly Hills.

It was the in-hotel for wayward rock stars, that's for sure. I saw the Led Zeppelin entourage there. Rumor hazzit they rode motorcycles on the 8th floor. A female hooker accosted me in the lobby of the Hyatt House once.

Did you, uh, hook up with her?

Are you kidding? Hell, no. Anyway, she was probably a vice cop. 
Hey, speaking of hotels, I remember the time Ethel Merman was staying at the old Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Blvd. and she stormed downstairs yelling "What the fuck is this extra twelve dollars on my bill?"

Ethel Merman?

Yup. She sure as hell never needed a microphone. 


How did you manage to meet so many famous people?

I had a fantastic network of friends when I lived in Hollywood. It was surprisingly easy when you know somebody who knows everybody. At parties, in restaurants, on movie sets. I suppose I was privileged. Strangely enough, at the time, I didn't think much about it. Now, in retrospect, I think it's pretty damn interesting.

Did you have sex with any famous people?

Hey, I seldom kiss and tell. I will admit I've screwed a few actors.

So, you're a "top"? (laughing)

I'm anything you want me to be, if I'm drunk enough. Let's not get too personal.

Where are some of the most unusual places you've had sex?

Are you kidding? If I answer that I'm going to look sleezy. My delusional sterling image will be tarnished forever.

Well, just give a few random examples. For the sake of posterity.

Very funny. Half the time I was so soused that I don't remember where I had sex. Or with whom. Well, here's one for the records. I once had sex on the altar of a Catholic church. I'm not kidding. It was in Long Beach. You want the name of the church?

Good heavens, no.

Heck, it was long ago.  I've had sex in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, near the mausoleum where Rudolph Valentino is ensconced. They have since renamed that place the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Really tacky.

I had sex two different times under two different grand pianos. One was a $60,000 Bosendorfer Grand. I also played that piano.

Which happened first? Did you play the piano first, or have sex first?

You know, I can't remember. I think I played first....and it led to sex. Sometimes my playing is irresistible.

Let's switch gears......

Not a moment too soon. I've just single-handedly destroyed my reputation.

Let's talk a little about your music career.

Being under the piano was only a very small part of my career.

Name some of the places where you've performed.

Holy crap - - where to begin? I often performed with chamber orchestras, choirs, and I accompanied soloists - - in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Diego. I remember giving a series of concerts in Ojai and Santa Barbara.

I performed at the L.A. Music Center during a Christmas concert. I was a harpsichordist. I performed at UCLA and USC. I played a piano concerto at Cal State Fullerton. I played at churches. And restaurants and cafes in Hollywood. There was a bar called Main Street in Laguna Beach where I used to play. That was aeons ago. Nowadays I play for my cats.

Do you miss those days?

Immensely. I miss everything about my youth except my naivety and carelessness. I yearn for my past because it was so starkly different from the mundane present.

You were an extremely colorful character.

I'm still a character but now I'm monochromatic. A bland, blase shadow of my former self, existing in a hopelessly uninspiring west Texas ghost of a town.

Is everything lost?

Just about. But I still have my imagination, my memories, and smidgens of hope. Only smidgens.


Note:
a few of these questions were printed out of original sequence. 
There is a Part Three to this interview. I'll probably post it next. 
 
































17 comments:

  1. Our lives are a collection of experiences,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As my life advances, my collections are more sparse. I seem to be downsizing....

      Delete
  2. So YOU were the guy who wrote all those crazy letters in Penthouse Forum??? !!!

    :-)

    -Andy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, forgot to mention, I met Count Basie when I was in high school...

      A bunch of us went to his big band concert at U of MD, and we waited for the Count to come out. He was this little guy about 4'11" or so. We all gushed at him about how great he and the band were, and he sort of grunted at us as he walked by.

      I also got George Shearing to autograph an LP after a show in DC.

      :-)

      -Andy

      Delete
    2. I suppose a grunt from Count Basie is better than nothing. I never knew he was that short.

      Penthouse Forum?? I'm guilty!

      Delete
  3. Oh yesssssss, you and I will get along just fine!!!! Enjoyed the interview very much Jon. And have I ever told you I adored Ethel Mermen?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a strong feeling we'd get along.....

      Delete
  4. Don't you DARE ever complain that you've led a boring life! (No, I know you wouldn't dream of saying it. Would you? WOULD you?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boring is not in my vocabulary.

      It's ironic that I was once immersed in the excitement of Hollywood - - and now I'm cleaning kitty litter boxes in the wilds of Tennessee.
      Fate is a bitch.

      Delete
  5. Ah! The wild and colorful past. Don't we all have one? Yours has famous names scattered through it, though. LOL! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe that everyone's life is worthy of being a book. We all have interesting stories to tell.

      Delete
  6. Excellent post, Jon. Kuhlman was expert in vocal embellishment, but I belie-e-e-e-ve Christine McVie at least equaled that in the same line from "You Make Loving Fun" (Fleetwood Mac).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't heard that song in a loooooong time. I think Kuhlman would have identified with it.

      Delete
  7. Have we seen this photo of you before?
    I liked this, Jon. Especially your take on miracles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heck, it's a miracle that we haven't seen the photo before (*smile*).

      Delete
  8. I second what Mevelyn317 said about the photo of you. I don't remember seeing it before, either, but it's a terrific one, and a great accompaniment to this post, which I DO remember from before. It was terrific then... and it's still terrific, now. And you DID get your bigger miracle... you got OUT of Texas!

    You interview yourself beautifully. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That truly was a miracle. I never thought I'd get out of TX alive.
      The interview was done by an editor friend of mine from Los Angeles.

      I'm always cautious about the photos I post because they often look crappy.

      Delete

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