Saturday, June 17, 2017

INTERVIEW PART TWO: SLEAZY SECRETS REVEALED





Note:
This is Part Two of my 2013 Texas interview (Part One is on the previous post)

Beware: parts of this could be offensive.....but, heck, that's part of my charm.
So why did I chose that header photo? Because I'm baring my ass in this interview.

 

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 ?

A miracle can be anything that we fancy it to be. It's a miracle I could get up this morning after only two hours of sleep. 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 make us write weekly essays and then force us read them in front of the class. Mine were always the most unusual - 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 - in another school - 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 about 90 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 worthy of a book.

Soon I started writing stories for true confession magazines - a genre that is now passe. Later I advanced to porn sleaze. I wrote lots of erotic stories for adult magazines - under various pseudonyms, of course. I'm not exactly proud of these literary endeavors, but it was easy money. And kinda fun. When I made the cover of Screw Magazine, I knew I was a star.

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.
Thanks to the popularity of the Internet, real magazines have lost their potency.

Does that make you bitter?

Not bitter. Pissed. 

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 doing long hours of library research. 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 very proud of that.

Today it's a friggin' free-for-all. Everyone is a - quote - "writer".  Standards and ethics have been greatly diminished. The talented are often being usurped by the untalented. The old school is dead and buried. Wow, I'm undoubtedly sounding like a fossilized relic.

You're far from being fossilized. 

Actually, the standards of the so-called legitimate world of publishing have eroded lately. Some of today's best selling books sorely indicate that the true art of editing has become lax...or in many cases non-existent. Grammatical errors, typos, and poorly-crafted published manuscripts abound.

What are some of the most exciting things you've done? 

With writing?

No. Exciting in general. Unusual stuff.

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 forced upon me by happenstance - - like surviving a tornado in Missouri that was less than a mile from my house. Or my closeup encounter with a mountain lion in Nevada.

Most of my exciting adventures were voluntary - like the time I sailed solo to Catalina Island with very little nautical experience. That was exciting. Or when I lived alone on the beach in Baja. I was actually hiding out from an irate ex-lover.

I got an adrenaline rush of excitement the time I was in a car with a naked actor after 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 - or perhaps enhanced - with various degrees of excitement. The more I ponder, the more I remember.

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, hot, and adventurous. And easy. Those were fantastic years.

When I was young, Hollywood was an entirely different place than it is now - even though it wasn't really so long ago. The Hollywood I knew was real and raw and a lot of the old gilded edges still shone through the tarnish.

Nowadays the entire place seems to have been taken over by outsiders, newbies, and foreigners - who have absolutely no concept of the past and no desire to maintain it. Hollywood has been whitewashed - - rendered into a sanitized, upscale, Disneyesque parody of what it once was. I'm thankful that I knew it when the place was real.

Was Hollywood ever really real?

Well, that's a matter of debate.

Is it true that you were a street hustler?

(nervous laugh)
You must have been talking to some of my satisfied customers. I was very street-wise but not exactly a hustler.  In retrospect I was far too nice. And generous. I sometimes regret not putting a price on pleasure. I suppose I was a coward with a healthy fear of vice cops.
I actually sweet-talked my way out of a sticky situation with a vice cop once. Happened in a notorious cruising alley behind Melrose. 

I'd love to hear about that one.

You won't. But the dude left smiling.  
 
You crack me up. 
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 no big deal. And it was all so long ago.
 
Live dangerously. Be pompous.

My mind is getting muddled in my declining years. Let's see. Here are a random few: 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 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. What were you doing there?

Slumming.
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 one afternoon.

Did you, uh, hook up with her?

Are you kidding? No way! Anyway, she was probably a vice cop. I looked so sweet and innocent back then.
Hey, speaking of hotels, I remember the time Ethel Merman was staying at the old Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Blvd. and she stormed downstairs one night yelling "What the fuck is this extra six 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 neat.

You once mentioned that you had a chance to be in porn movies.

(laughs)
Well, I knew a notoriously successful director of gay porn flicks who wanted me to audition.

And did you? Audition?

Hell, no. I heroically spared the perverted, sex-hungry public from ever being exposed to my undercover talents.    

Did you have sex with any famous people?

Hey, I seldom kiss and tell - but 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.
While on the subject of screwing - I've known a few actors who were screwed by their agents. There's humor in that - - somewhere.

Not for the actors.
Where are some of the most unusual places you've had sex?

Are you kidding? This interview is sliding into a sewer. If I answer that I'm going to look sleazy. My fabricated 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. Let's see.....I'm thinking hard.....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. Late at night. 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.

Let's talk a little about your music career.

Being under the piano was only a very small part of my music 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 with a chamber group 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. The singer there was a black woman named April. 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 sort of 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:
This interview was conducted in Lubbock, Texas in 2013.
A few of these questions were printed out of original sequence and some others were omitted.
There is a Part Three to this interview - but I've already said far too much.


26 comments:

  1. Jon, I can relate to what you said about being too generous with strangers. I was often offered cash for sex during my youth, but was more interested in making an honest human connection. I really don't regret the decision - at least I made a few good friends. Money tends to corrupt relationships. Oh, and how well I remember the old days of sending out poems for publication! I often had to wait six months just to receive a rejection! Anyway, I loved reading every word of this interview :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of the things that I HATED about the good ol' days of writing was having to wait six months for a rejection (or even a year!). I always sent simultaneous submissions - even though you weren't supposed to.

      As for sex - - I was NEVER able to coldly turn off emotional feelings during intimacy, like most promiscuous "cruisers" did. Like you said - I wanted "an honest human connection". That is very rare. I harbored too many deeply rooted feelings to ever disconnect them. I've always been a romantic at heart.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview.

      Delete
  2. Interesting and entertaining!! I'll be waiting for part three.
    Yes, you could write a book. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I honestly never thought I lived an interesting life, until I started remembering all the adventures I had (there are MANY things that I've never mentioned or written about).

      I'm not sure about posting Part Three - - but I'll think about it. Actually, what have I got to lose?

      Delete
    2. Nothing! Go for it. :)

      I have told some stories about my past and posted them on my other blog--even some guardian angel and energy work stuff that's pretty wacky to some people. ;) I have not told all my stories, either. Not by a long shot. As they would randomly come up as I blogged people complained they couldn't find them--so I re-post them here.
      http://soulcomfortsstories.blogspot.com/

      You have been published so many times. "Soft Breaths" was published three times in different literary magazines. "Baby Girl" won me $2,000 in a contest. A couple others were published once in lit mags, but that was enough for me. I'm quite happy with that.

      You have had such an eventful, colorful life and also know how to tell the storiees well. You could definitely write a fascinating memoir. :)

      Delete
  3. Jon,

    These two interviews were very enthralling, if I may indulge such a big word. Maybe it is because there is so much I can kind of relate to, even though I'm just a country hick on the east coast. There is so much I agree with and so much I parallel, a word I can never spell correctly. I did my freelancing the old fashioned way, too, pounding out manuscriptes on an ancient Underwood portable and mailing out to the publications hoping I could escape the slush pile. But it makes one feel more worthwhile when something finally makes it into print and sometimes anthologies. Keep up what you do.

    Larry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad that I was able to enthrall you, Larry. Trust me, I don't enthrall too many people....
      I really do miss the good ol' days of freelancing. It was very tough and often frustrating, but I enjoyed it. And I really do miss my portable typewriters. I had two of them and have no idea what happened to either one.

      Delete
    2. Jon,

      I think one of my kids got my Underwood. They thought it was cool, this new invention (gosh, that makes me feel old). My grandmother had given it to me for my birthday, my 13th, I think, because I wanted one so bad because I had decided to be a writer and needed to create typed manuscripts. Many, many moons later I bought a Smith Corona. I have know idea where that went.

      Larry

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  4. I would love to hear more about your life alone on the beach in Baja sometime. I don't recall a post of that, or have you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I've ever written about my brief adventure in Baja. Camping out on an unfamiliar remote beach - - in extremely uncomfortable conditions, amidst unsavory characters who didn't (or wouldn't) speak English, eating food of questionable content and safety....
      Hell, in retrospect, I would have been better off if my ex-lover killed me....

      Delete
  5. Excellent interview, Jon, from one end to the other.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Geo. I can always count on you to sift through all of the negatives in order to find my true self-worth. It ain't always easy.

      Delete
  6. Interesting stuff Jon. I don't agree that the Internet has diminished writing styles though. If anything it's made them better. That's my opinion, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The one positive thing about the Internet is that it has given lots of writers a chance to express themselves and be heard - - which long ago in the "good ol' days" would have been an impossibility.

      The quality of writing (not all, but some) has deteriorated.

      Delete
    2. "The one positive thing about the Internet." Are you serious? There are MANY positive things about the Internet.

      Delete
    3. I was ONLY referring to the subject of writing and writers - - nothing else.
      I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear.

      Delete
  7. Your beginnings as a published writer are really interesting!
    I'm regularly teased for being a grammar Nazi ... as far as best-selling authors are concerned(v. friends and family. Yes, I realize the copy editors are tasked to catch mistakes, but it seems the industry, as a whole, has loosened its standards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could have said a lot more about my beginnings as a writer, but didn't want to be too long-winded.

      I'm only a mediocre writer - at best - but I feel that the quality of writing has basically diminished over the years - - in part due to careless - or dumb - editors.

      Delete
  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview, particularly the part about writing and the changes that have occured. Months on end waitng to be rejected for one. I have never read SCREW magazine but understand your excitement about it. I was published in PlayGirl Magazine, so I had a similar experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I wanted to say a lot more about the subject of writing, but figured it might get too tedious.
      "Screw" magazine is no longer in existence but was once very popular. It was published in New York and the format was similar to "Rolling Stone" - only completely X-rated.

      I remember "Playgirl" and used to occasionally read it (and, of course, look at the photos). I think it's still being published - after 40+ years!

      Delete
  9. If you write a memoir it would be a fascinating read since your life has been filled with diversity. I enjoyed both interviews which didn't reveal too much or too little. I have a question : Will you remain living in rural America - or do you possibly see that changing down the road sometime ? Just curious ...

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    Replies
    1. Helga, I have extremely mixed feelings about living in a rural area - especially now that I'm getting older. My on-going back problems (due to several nasty falls on the ice) are a major concern and have made me extremely depressed - since I can't get around like I used to.

      I absolutely love the peace and privacy here - - but everything else has been an inconvenience and/or a problem. I dislike the insects, the annoying wild animals (trying to live in my roof!), the massive amount of gigantic weeds that I can't control, the slippery and dangerous muddy slopes, and that notoriously scary drive to town (where I have to go today).
      It's definitely not wise to live entirely alone in a remote area.

      Yet, at this late stage of the game, I'd hate to go through the trouble of moving again. I truly think another move would kill me (perhaps not a bad idea...).

      I have no plans to move again in the near future - so I suppose I'll brave it as long as I'm still able to crawl around. I still have a LOT of work to do around here (painting, renovating, cleaning up). Once that's done I'm sure I'll feel more optimistic.
      Sorry for the long rant.

      Delete
  10. Fascinating Jon! I haven't read your first interview (I will) but this one, wow. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the third installment.
    Ron

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ron. I knew you'd enjoy hearing about some of my ancient adventures. I'm not sure when I'll post Part Three(it's not quite as good as the first two).
      I hope your busy work schedule is finally slowing down!

      Delete
    2. I hope there will be a Part Three - and I'm sure I'm not the only one :-)

      Delete
    3. To be honest, Part Three isn't quite as interesting as the first two parts - but I'll probably post it anyway.

      It's amazing how completely boring my life is now compared to my wild youth. I've become a hermit - and my neighbors are cows, 'possums, and coyotes....

      Delete

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