Conan Ronald Hershel Dunham oral history interview

Conan Ronald Hershel Dunham oral history interview

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Conan Ronald Hershel Dunham oral history interview
University of South Florida -- Library. -- Special & Digital Collections. -- Oral History Program


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interviewed by Cyrana Brooks Wyker.

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subfield code a L34-000232 USFLDC DOI0 245 Conan Ronald Hershel Dunham oral history interviewh [electronic resource] /c interviewed by Cyrana Brooks Wyker.500 Full cataloging of this resource is underway and will replace this temporary record when complete.Transcription and timecoding of this interview is underway and will be added when complete. At that time the audio link will be replaced with the OHPi player link (player supporting syncronized audio and full-text transcription).7 655 Oral history.localOnline audio.local710 University of South Florida.b Library.Special & Digital Collections.Oral History Program.1 773 t LGBT Oral History Project4 856 u

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text Cyrana Wyker: This is Cyrana Wyker. I am here with Conan Dunham. Do you mind spelling your last for the
Conan Dunham: D-U-N-H-A-M.
CW: And this interview is for the Tampa GLBT Oral History Project. It is March 21st 2014. Do I have your permission to record the interview?
CD: Absolutely and yes, too.
CW: Okay, letsyou talked a little bit about this off tape, but lets kind of begin with your childhood a little bit.
CD: Well, thats kind of rocky at times, because my mother was a part-time prostitute.  I think Ill put it that way. She used to say she did what she had to do when she couldnt make a regular living. And when I was three, she was in Marysville, California, and she had taken off with one of her tricks, I guess, as you want to call it. And the authorities came and took me away, and my grandparents took custody of me, and they raised me.
So, my teen years, early teen years, I was living with my grandparents, Grover Holt and Viola, and they were traveling evangelists for a church. And so, as a child I was traveling around in their little trailer to different churches and places like that. As I got a little bitwell, and then when I was four I contracted polio while we were living in Monett, Missouri. So, that kind of changed their style, because when we then moved to California. I had to have treatments a lot.
And I would go to theseyou can imagine, at age four, being in a ward where everybody had masks, and they had you in a room where nobody could come, except my grandmother would come in, and pray for me, and things like that. With all these iron lungs The iron lung is formally known as a negative pressure ventilator, which is a form of medical ventilator that enables a person to breathe when normal muscle control has been lost or the work of breathing exceeds the person's ability., good lord, there would be thirty or forty iron lungs. Youve probably never even heard of them or seen them. It was these big huge contraptions that make all this noise. I was a frightened little boy.
We ended up moving to California, where he was going to start a string of churches, and so my early music as a child was playing three-quarter sized guitar at church, up there next to my grandpa. We were I guess you would consider us poor, because he wasnt making a lot of money. He was retired.  But so, we would go out and pick cotton in California.
As a little boy, I loved it, because I was out in the wilds. In the cotton fields you would be pulling your thingwell, there is all these rabbits and pheasants running through the fields. For me it was fun. Im sure they didnt make a lot of money picking cotton. And then when I became an early teen, my grandfather took me to the NRA, or whatever it was, and got me a license, and taught me gun safety.
He would take me hunting, which I just dearly loved, and fishing, which I dearly loved. And that was my early childhood. And then when they gotshe had really bad arthritis, so bad she would scream in pain. And so, they ask my aunt and uncle in Los Angeles if they would take custody of me. Well, that was a horrible thing. I guess I was about twelve at that time. And my uncle was a verywife beater.
It was not a pleasant experience. The only thing about it was My escape was boy scouts. When I was twelve I ended up in the boy scouts. In fact, thats me over there when I had my little puppythat was my escape from my uncle, because he was very mean when he was drinking. He was a very unhappy man. And actually people say, Well, where did you discover you were gay? I says, I guess, boy scouts. Im sure thatyou know.
It went through that, and then finally my uncle had beat me up so bad several times, and I had gone to the police, and they wouldnt do anything, and so I ended up in juvenile hallthe long, long, long story in that. But then my grandparents come back to Los Angeles and got custody of me again, took me back up toAt this time they were in northern California in Vallejo, California, and I stayed with them until I was, I dont know, seventeen.
I just couldnt handle life. I wanted to be on my own. So, they were really wonderful, dont get me wrong. It was just like I had to go to church all the time. By the time I was that, like, church was kind of I wanted to love god and this and that, but with the teachings that if you were a homosexual, like my grandmother used to say, Ronniethat was my other given nameRonnie, aint nothing worse than an old queer. And I looked at her and I says, Even a murderer? She says, Even a murderer.
And I thought, these people dearly love me, but one of my aunts had outted me. One of my aunts, the aunts and uncles did not really want their mom and dad raising one of quote Ediths kids, cause my mother was very notorious in the family. So, I got a lot of stuff from them and then it was always, Well, heres a little bastard, right.
Well, as I got older I thought, Im not going to run from that, so Ive been working on my autobiography for fifteen years, and its titled From Bastard to Believer, and its actually an autobiography of my life kind of like Henry Miller and Tropic of Cancer.
I had this thing going on where I wanted to be free and on my own, and I ended up getting married. It was kind of a thing for both of us, actually. I was in love with her brother. We went to high school together, and he went to Vietnam, and I thought, my best friend is dead. But I married her because I couldnt get a drivers license until you were twenty-one in California, even though I was eighteen by this time.
I had been in and out since seventeen. And so, she wanted to get out of her home, which I later learned because of her father and an incest thing that was going on with her, and I didnt know it. So, we both got married as a matter of convenience and that lasted like six months, you know.
CW: What year did you get married?
CD: I think it was 69. I cant remember. I didnt save any of that stuff. I remember the Beatles album had just come out, their double white album. I cant remember exactly. I know it was New Years Eve and I know we got married by the one-armed judge at city hall up there. I was working for Western Union by that time, as a manager, and you know, I realized more and more that I wasnt really happy.
I wasnt going to face the fact that I was a homosexual, because, you know, that was the last thing I really wanted to be in life, but thats what I was. I tried to deny it and I even when went to psychiatrist. I finally ended upIm juxtaposing years herebut I finally ended up Dr. Harris who wrote a book called Im Okay, Youre Okay, which is transactional analysis, which actually look that up youll see he is quite famous now.
But he told me one day sitting down, You know what, youre going to have to accept who you are and love yourself. He says, And youre going to have to totally break away from everybody that dont like you because of your sexuality. He says, You got to find a new world. Youre going to spend your whole life trying to please other people and cheating yourself out of who you are. He says, Its gonna be painful, but in the long run youve got to do that.
Now that, different years in that, but it ended up my wife and I divorcing, and this and that. I ended up traveling with Western Union as a leaf manager for several years, ended up in Sacramento, went back to college there. And I started realizing that there was other queers in the world besides me, you know. As I was growing up, I thought that I was the only, you know, the one that liked other boys, right, except maybe the boys here, the boys there, the boys that did something, and then pretended we didnt do it.
And itboy scouts it was likeI shouldnt say this, but maybe it was just me, but whenever we went on a camp out with your pup tents, which are shelter halves, Im telling you, I think theres only one time there wasnt a willing participant on the other side of the tent. And thats why if I hadIm going to shut up here before I go to far, but its true. I loved boy scouts, but also because I was a hunter, and I liked to fish, and boy scouts taught me self-survival, how to go out and live off the land.
And many years later when Rusty and I had been together, I think that was in 1990Im going to be jumping around here. We sold our house, which we owned in Oakland, California, bought a self-contained nineteen foot trailer of a truck; and we decided we were going to Alaska, because I had albums out and I had been getting airplay particularly in Juno, Alaska, and they said, Hey, well book you up here for six months just get up here.
So we took that old blooper bus that I had for years and Rusty and I were going to drive straight up through, theres a road between the United States through Canada up and down into the capital there, which is on the lower part of Alaska. Lord, I cant remember the name of the town even.
But we got ready to go to our house there and sale after sale kept falling throughJuno, thats was itand then we thought, Well well just go up and take the ferry across out of up thereoh lord help meup there out of Washington where it meets Canada and they had doubled the price on the ferry over to Juno. I says, Oh my God. I said, Well, lets go north up to lake Shasta. Ive always dreamed of living in the woods and being like a Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Because we hunted and fished. So we ended up going up there and going way back in the wilderness and I wanted to work on my book. Ive got pictures of there in the middle of all the hunting areas, you know, twenty, thirty miles nowhere in the hunting camps where we could just sit there and open the door and look at the dear run through or go fishing in the creek.
We did that for, I think, maybe three months until the snows were about to come in. We had just went all over northern California wherever there was public hunting areas. At that time you didnt have to pay anything to go to these places, and so we went back to Redding, and started over there. But we were playing We hit Redding. We formed a band there. We were playing all those gold mining towns. It was incredible.
All the golden triangle up there where they were growing all the legendary pot farms. And we were playing It was really unusual cause we were meeting all these lumberjacks and these really rough people that were working hard in the lumber industry. We ended up, actually, with a forestry worker as our drummer, who was also a great drummer. But I ended up getting a blood fungus out of one of the creeks up there, while we were hunting.
The temperature got up to 118 degrees, and wed be warned, Do not ever drink out of any of the creeks up there, because of all the lead and zinc mines that are up there. We were down by the flowing creek and we saw the fish in there, I says, Look, I got to have some water. And two weeks later, I thought I had the flu, but it was a blood fungus. And I thought I was going to die.
The doctors kept saying theres nothing we can do for you. These antibiotics arent working. And so, weve got signs all over never drink out of any of these overflows out of the mountains. And so, I made up my mind, were going back to Sacramento where I went to college. If Im going to die, Im going back there. I finally asked the doctor, Youve been giving me all this fancy stuff. Why dont you give me erythromycin, thats what Ive taken all my life, because of chronic bronchitis. Well, ba-ba-ba Well, what do you got to lose? They give me a total of three of them and needless to say two months later the fungus was gone.
But let me go back time wise with my grandparents, and I ended up from Western Union, Im going back to the 67-69 period. I ended up going to work for Western Union. I was already working for them, but I had been on a job there as a night manager, so I could go to college out there. While I was there I discovered something that I had discovered before, on my 21st birthday, accidentlywhat a gay bar was. (laughs)
I was working at the Western Union office in San Rafael, which was right across the street from this old hotel that was on the second floor of this building. I would go over there when I got off work at midnight. And as I was going up the stairs to the hotel room on the left was this old Italian, Irish bar where they had the bartenders dressed up with the red vest and this and that, and I went in there one day and they said, Good thing you came in here, because that other one across there, thats a queer joint. And I went, Oh my! And inside Im going, Yes! (Laughs)
So, I had to be real cautious, because remember back then being gay, youre a walking felon. I mean, they could arrest you, but if they caught you in a gay bar, they would harass you, but if they caught you with any kind of sexual thing, it was a felony for any kind of sexual contact with another male. Like, when I met Rusty in 1980, even then we came to Florida, I said, Rusty, you know, we are walking felons in this country.
In other words, in half this country, in 1983, you were a felon if you were a homosexual and having any kind of contact with other people. Im going to get back though, back to where I was in the sixties in college. And so, I ended up discovering that, you knowat that bar, I went down in there. I was sneaking down there and having to make sure nobody saw me.
About the second time I went in there, I was sitting way at the end of the bar at the back, bathrooms on the left, and the right was this store room where they had a million boxes they would break open cases of beer and stuff, and then later they would crush them. I was sitting there, and coming out of the bathroom I heard this, Alright, you faggots, get your hands where I can see them and get over against the wall. And I went, Oh crap!
And I just dove back in there underneath those boxes and worked my way underneath. And I was just scared to death, because I thought What was I actually? I dont even think I was twenty-one at the time. And I was back in there, scared to death, and they were just rousting people, checking their IDs. They werent beating them up, but they were rousting them. But my life was on the line, my career. When I finally came out of there and they left, it was like it reminded me I was a walking felony.
So if I put these pieces back together again, I ended up And then I went to San Francisco, later on while I was staying there, and there was only one gay bar I could find there. I believe it was called The Black Cat, and it was notoriousactually, The Black Cat goes back to 1933. And Ive since done research, but when I went in there it was all these drag queens. Well, I didnt know what drag queen was, Im going, Okay, this is a comedy thing, right.
But I realized that the drag queens were kind of the spirit of all this stuff. They had a lot of balls, if I can use that phrase, to go out and do this and not be afraid, because they were always getting arrested. But I went in there and I was kind going, Wow, this is gay life, these men dressing all this.
But recently I did research on all of this and in 1933 to 1948 the Black Cat had an ongoing court thing going with the state of California, the city and county of San Francisco, because they tried to close them down since 1933 as being atheir liquor license as being a meeting place for perverts, homosexuals, deviants, and they had fought it through the courts all the way to 1948.
The state Supreme Court ruled in a marvelous ruling, and I cant remember it, you can look it up, Ive got it here somewhere, they ruled you can not revoke their license because its a meeting place, a social meeting place for a group of social people. You cant do it. The Black Cat, its closed now, but back in the sixties when I went over there, that was the only gay bar I knew. I got back to college.
Im back in college now this is 69, bout around there, and I start discovering in college, Theres homosexuals here. Theres a what?! Theres gay bars here, more than one? Well, what I discovered, because remember its still a felony, the college people had a coffee house, a gay coffee house in an old house, where you could go meet all ages of people. And I went, Wow. And I started to meet all these other young people and college aged people that were meeting.
Well, then I also discovered there was gay bars all around there and also there was an afterhours over in west Sacramento. Well, during this period of time, I had a lot of weird jobs, you know. My first degree was in police science. I wanted to be a parole officer or a policeman. Thats just what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a game warden, first of all, because I like being out in the outdoors, but because of my leg, which I had polio.
I was looking for a way to be a police officer, and go out and get these bad guys that are poaching, and all that. But, you know, one thing led to the other, and they said, Well, you can be a parole officer. I go, Well, you know, Ill do that. So, Im studying police science, thats what its called. Now, its called criminal justice. Well, I had to do so many things in law enforcement right.
I ended up working for California Youth Authority, CYA, as a counselor, but also going in thereremember they got armed guards; its like a prison for some hard core kids between maybe fourteen and twenty-one. These are people that have killed people. I mean this is It was another amazing place, too. I ended up doing that and then I also ended up doing ride-a-longs with the police department.
Well, the reason I did that was because I can get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Because one of the things that happens to you when youre a queer is a lot of people want to beat you up or other things. And like my songs says, Ive got another song that Ive recorded, from my grandpa, watching my grandpa pray. He taught me as a kid, dont ever let anybody beat you up just because they want to, unless youve asked for it.
And Ill tell you another little story if you want to know how I come up with that, cause you know, its part of my autobiography, too, but I remember being in third grade or whatever it was, and this young kid, Ill never forget his name, Michael Roche, he used to hit me. Getting off the bus, he would punch me in the stomach and I would go down. I couldnt breathe. And sometimes I would fall in the mud. Well, one day this happened and somebody took me home to my grandfather.
He took one look at me and said, Who did that to you? Well, the old man says, They did it to him almost every other day. He hasnt told you that? I see my grandfather taking this deer rifle off the wall, and hes a preacher at the time, right, hes pastoring a church. He says, Get in that car, boy. And I remember crawling in the back of that 48 Desoto and my grandmother is crying, Im crying, No, dad, dont do this.
And he made me go down to where they were. And he opened the door of that old 1948 Desoto and left the gun laying there. He didnt take it there, but he pounded on this door, and he said, You see that boy over there? I want to talk to Michael. Bring him around here. And they were just all freaking out, because it was a place where a lot of people lived.
He says, You see that boy. If your boy beats up on him, Im coming for you. And theyre going (makes high pitched noise). He says, Do you get it? (makes high pitched noise). And he put me back in the car, and I never forgot it, because Michael Roche after that day never came near me. In junior high something similar happened to me. I was waiting for a bus, and there was a lot of water there, and the teacher came up, and this girl is pointing me out.
The teacher comes up and says, Walk home. And I went, What are you talking about? And she is sitting there, on her breast its wet. And he is holding this orange. He says, You threw this orange at her. I go, What? And she is standing behind the teacher going (makes face) like that. And I knew she had set me up and the guy that did it was her friend. And Im sitting there, No, no, no. And the teacher pushes me, pushes me, and I went flat down over that board face down into the mud.
Girl, when I come up I was a pissed off thirteen year old, whatever I was. And I man, I come over that board and I wacked that teacher. I was so angry. I didnt hit her and theyre laughing at me, and the teacher not only told meI lived about three miles from the junior high, and I went down, I thought, Oh god, I dont care. Well, when I got home my uncle found out and beat me until he couldnt stand up.
Thats the way he used to whip me. He would whip me with leather belts, and he would only quit when he would run out of breath. And then I went back, and in those days the principal would make you bend over, and grab your ankles, and he had this huge paddle that was plain down. It wasnt like a light paddle. He was a golfer that could hit you, and he would put your name on it, and every time, if you went back, you got two.
When he hit you it felt like your eyeballs were coming out. So, it was unusual. And then, of course, my uncle, one day the kid next door and I got caught in the garage doing what two young homosexuals are doing, and his mother had to look through the garage window, so next thing I know Im getting beat from one end of that house to the other, You little faggot. Ive got a faggot on my hands. And so, that led up to me ending up to my grandparents. Okay, back to college days. I get off on these stories.
CW: Its okay.
CD: But as a homosexual, even from early days, it was like, you know, it was part of me, but in college I started realizing I wasnt the only one. There was a lot of us out there. Well, I was playing music at the time, too, and working with the police department, and working at CYA. And so, I couldntI was way in the closet, girl. I was way in the closet. (laughs)
Then at CYA, it was dangerous, because I had to go into rooms behind bulletproof glass with some like thirty or forty very dangerous criminals that were teenagers. Ill never forget this one boy. I felt so sorry for him. I had to watch him, because these other ones were trying to punk him, because we had showers, and we had to watch it, because they would grab the young ones and make them do things. We would have to watch them.
I finally They were all in electrically locked doors, and I went in one day and looked at his profile, and I thought, Hes in here for murder, this little fourteen year old kid. He weighed about ninety pounds. I went back out, and I went back out and said, I want to talk to you for a minute. I says, Im looking at your profile. Who did you kill? He says, My grandpa. And I went, What? What did you do that for? Well, I was out on a farm. You have no idea the things he was doing to me.
He says, I told my teachers and they wouldnt do anything. He says, I went to the police, and they went back and told my grandpa, and he beat me. And I thought, Oh my god, Im living my life over. This kid is me. He says, I didnt know what to do. I waited until he was asleep. I got his gun and I shot him. Killed him. Im sorry, sometimessometimes when I go through some of these things, its like, you know, thats another reason I liked being in law enforcement for a short time.
Because when I had authority, it was like for some reason I was getting back at some of these people, you know. The thing though when I was a ride-a-long, my job was I didnt arrest people. I stood outside the car with my hand on my weapon and a radio, so if a police officer got shot or something, then I would return fire and that. I did do a short stint up in a small town as a deputy sheriff.
They deputized us and took us up there for the summer, wanted to know if we wanted to become officially fulltime deputy sheriffs up there. By the time I was up there something else had happened, and I ended up (laughs) arresting an elected official, what we call here a supervisor. You want to hear this story?
Well, they brought us up and swore us here. We were all in a dormitory. One of the first things the sheriff did, swore us in, and Im going to be real graphic on what he said, so please dont get offended, it is what he saidWe dont want no nigger and faggot hippies up here. I was going, What? You know, and Im kind of going, Ah. I was shocked that law enforcement sheriff would talk like this, right.
He says, We got ordinances up here.  Now, this is what you do. He says, You see them up there, like these hippie faggots that come up here, they like wearing knives on their belt; well, we passed an ordinance saying that you can arrest them for doing that. Well, having two years of criminal justice, and knowing the laws of the state of California, I made the mistake of saying, Excuse me, sir, doesnt that supersede state law? Where ya from boy? Are you some faggot hippie sympathizer?
He says, We dont want them up here. You want to be a sheriff? And Im going, Well, yes, sir. He says, Well, shut up and listen. He says, You arrest them and we hold them for seventy-two hours, and thats usually on a weekend, so they cant get out of jail until Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and get out Thursday. We just want them to hate us and not ever come back here again, got it? And all of us were going, Oh, okay.
So, I was working long hard hours and I started seeing all this crap coming down with these rednecks up there. One day I was assigned over where the stockyards were and nobody was allowed to go in through the back no matter who you were. And here come this drunk guy with about five people, he says, Were going through. He shows me his badge. He was an elected county supervisor.
I says, No, you aint going in there. He says, Who the hell are you? He says, Im an elected official and Im going in. I says, No, youre going to jail if you mess with me. Right. He was gonna mess with me, so I pulled a gun, and I proceeded to arrest him. Well, that didnt last long, because the sheriff come out there, and that was one of his buddies. He says, You aint arresting him. He says, One more trick like this and youre gonna be out of here. I go, Okay.
I was pissed off. I was pissed off. The very same night we get a call on the radio, Be looking out for a hippie with a brown fringe leather jacket, a blue work shirt and blue jeans with long hair, Caucasian male, six foot two-six foot three, weighs about a 130 pounds maybe. He pulled a gun on some cowboys, threatened to kill them. So, were all on the alert for anybody coming or going that fits that description.
Now, Ive worked sixteen hours. Im not only pissed off about the supervisor, Im pissed off about what the sheriff had said. I had only been there a couple weeks, I guess. I am tired. I am irritated. I remember one little brat coming up there that was shooting off his mouth to me. Im having to stamp everybodys hand. I thought, what a disgusting job.
Okay, its almost clear, and all of a sudden this tall six foot two, six foot three skinny hippie comes up, and he says, You got a light man? Im going, Yeah, I smoked back then, I give him a light. Im half asleep. He says, All these people here are crazy. Im going, Wait a minute. Woah, boom, pull a weapon on him. Get over there. Get against that fence.
Well, I didnt have a back up. Well, me being a homosexual, I wasnt about to really frisk this guy. I did what I was supposed to do up and down the leg. I wasnt gonna get around his crotch, right, so I go, Alright, look man, Im sorry. That was a little reactionary. Im so really sorry. He says, Alright, youre cool, man. I forgive you. You just dont understand what its like. And I go, What do you mean?
He says, Well, I came up here from the bay area. My lady and I, my woman, my old lady,I cant remember the hippie thing. I was a hippie later on. And he says, These cowboys slapped her, punched me and called me a hippie faggot. And he says, What the hell would you do if somebody slapped your old lady? And I says, Jesus crimity. I go, What did you do?
He goes, Well, I pulled a gun on them. And I went, Oh my god. Here, we go again. Wheres the gun. Its in front. So, I radioed in. I took the gun. I look at this, its a brand new lama 380, right. I sat here thinking, I hate this place. I says, Where is your drivers license, your ID? He says, Well, its out in my van. I says, Go get it.
And I thought if this guy has got any brains he is going to get in his van and get the hell out of town. It was three different roads out of town. And I had radioed in the serial number on the gun. Well, CI and I, which is criminal identification and investigation down in Sacramento, said, We got a thing down. We cant run a check on the weapon right now.
So, I says, Okay. I turn around and here comes this hippie back with his license. I looked at him, I says, Well, I ran the check. Youre lying. Its not your gun. He says, Youre a fucking pig just like the rest of them. He says, That is my gun. I bought it legally. Its registered to me and you know it. Go ahead handcuff me. Well, by this time I do have a conscience. I looked at him.
I says, They had already Now remember, I had called this in, so the sheriff is sending a prisoner van to pick up my prisoner. I took the clip out of the gun, I says, Here, get the hell out of here really quick. I says, There is three roads and if I was you Id find a back road I would pull into it and hide until tomorrow. I says, Because I know I just lost my job. Just get the Fout of here, right. And he got out of there.
Well, sure enough it took about a half hour later they showed up. Wheres the prisoner? I says, I let him go. You what? I says, I let him go. You cant do that. I says, Oh, yes I can. Under California penal code, having a concealed weapon, particularly if its registered to you, is a felony or a misdemeanor arrest. The arresting officer has the jurisdiction. He can deem it a misdemeanor and let him go if he wants to. I deem it as a misdemeanor and I let him go. You can kiss my ass.
And I knew I was fired anyway. I was so pissed off, and needless to say that was bye-bye. And on top of that I had bronchitis. I was just like, I had had it will all of that. I thought I dont want to be a cop. Id been playing games with myself. You know, and so. Anyway, I go back to my college and all this stuff. I ended up the same thing kind of happened with me realizing my homosexuality.
I had a band that was playing fairly good places in Sacramento and we got booked at one of the best rock and roll joints going there. I wish I could remember what the heck the name of it was. Its still in business today. But it was like the primo place to play. And were getting ready to rehearse for that night, and the keyboard player comes, and looks at me.
He says, I heard a rumor and I got to hear it from you. Now, remember Im deep in the closet. I said, What is it? He says, Are you gay? And I go, Wait a minute, where are you going with this? What difference I need to know right now, cause if you are I aint playin with no queer. And he picked up his shit and left. Parapow Palace Saloon, Ill never forget it, the Parapow Palace Saloon. It was a premiere rock and roll place foryou know, and I was so pissed off. I was so pissed off.
I says, Im getting the hell out of here. Ive had it. Even though there is a lot of gays in Sacramento. I was tired of being in the closet and this just flipped me out. By this time, I didnt even have a car. I had met a gay guy coming outthis was just a few nights later. I had been to a gay thing. I met this guy at Dennys of all places and its two in the morning, really handsome young dude.
He is sitting there and hes looking at me kind of nice. Im looking back at him kind of nice. And he says, Where you from? I says, I was going to Afterhours, I dont have a car, and this and that. He goes, Oh. And it was like he realized. And he says, Well, Ive got a car and wanting to sell it. He says, Im going in the Navy in about a week and Ive got to sell it.
I says, Well how much you asking for it? He goes, Fifteen dollars. I go, Wait, wait, wait a minute. Youre going to sell me a car. Does it run? Well, yeah, but all it has is low and high gear, but it runs really good. I go, Fifteen dollars. He says, What it is, is a 53 Chevy four door sedan. Its outside. And I go, Really? His name was Cliff. Some things you never forget. He says, I need to stay for a few days.
And Im going (makes noise) Well, I happen to have a place. And after we got over to my place, it was kind of like I was headed for my room. He says, Well. You know, there was other people living there. He said, Well, can I sleep with you? Im going, Oh, yeah. Well, needless to say Cliff and I had a wonderfulit was about two weeks. And it turned out he was married, and his wife was going to have a baby, and he was only nineteen.
He did not want to be married, did not want to have a baby. He realized he was gay. He was going into the navy, and he had told his wife, Im going into the Navy. And she says, Good, get lost. So, while he was waiting to go into induction, he stayed with me and sold me this fifteen dollar car. And I says, Thats how Im going to Los Angeles. Because the engine was really good for an old car.
So, I spent about four days sawingit was a four door sedanwith a hack saw. I sawed the entire top of that car off. It was like the Beverly Hillbillies, I kid you not. I took the entire top off, and I called one of my friends who was gay, who wanted to get out also. He was a really good friend. He wanted to go to Hollywood. I says, Good, thats where I want to go, where all the queers are. There is a million of them down there I hear. And so, we headed for Hollywood.
We pawned our money together. That trip to Hollywood was amazing, because there was a leaky radiator. It only had low and high gear. So, about every half hour I had to pull over and refill the radiator right. So, we get all the way to the grapevine, which is a really steep thing, same thing. I have to drive in low gear for about maybe a mile or so before that thing would run out of water.
We would pull over, this was a night by that time, fill up the radiator, got clear to the top. I says, Oh, thank goodness, now we can coast down into Los Angeles. So, I ended up in Hollywood, California. He knew an older man there that had been wanting him to live with him, so we made it to his house. Well, the older man had a Winnebago and wasnt ready to put me up really.
He was after Raymond. And he said, You can stay here for a couple of days, but you got to get out of here. Well, I ended up at that halfway house, and thats how I ran into a lot of people that helped me out. I ended up getting a job, first of all, at a gay porno theatre. This is in my book, too. And I didnt know how to get a job.
Well, the weirdest part of Hollywood was Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas Boulevard, right there on Hollywood Boulevard, and its a very famous gay place called The Gold Cup. Now, this will go down in history, because it waslater on, I find out it is where all the hustlers hung out, right. You know, anybody that wasyou know.
Across the street was the gay porno place. It was real interesting, because this was where the young hustlers went to pick up tricks and older trolls went there to pick up young hustlers. For a week or so, I was like working there, all I had to do was go backthis was when they had those big 16mm behind the screen, and because of all the dirty old men in there with their raincoats literally whacking off and stuff.
I had a large flashlight, because as you would go from the front door to get back there, a steel door to get in there, youd always have some hands reaching out. So, I wouldthats why you had this flashlight, whack their hands. But when I got back, that was incredible, because it was steel door, there was an old upright piano, an hour and a half, all I did was change, and I could work on my music there.
I thought, Wow, Ive got it made. Im making minimum wage, which was $1.65, I cant remember what it was, but it was like, I can live off of this, stay in the halfway house, you know. Then I started realizing I liked going to the Gold Cup, because I was meeting a lot of really interesting people. Well, I realized that that place above the ice cream place across the street had some camera lens coming down.
People saying, Oh, yeah, thats the FBI and the military. Whats going on? Oh, they got twenty-four hour tapes running here, because usually deserters from the Vietnam War all come here if theyre gay and they want to pick up people or get picked up. This is where they come. So, the military is looking for deserters and the FBI is also looking for gay people that are on the run from the FBI. They are filming twenty-four hours a day. You go in the Gold Cup, youre on film.
I go, Oh, what the hell have I got to hide? I havent broken any laws. At least they havent caught me. And maybe two weeks later, I hear this (makes noise) really pounding on that door, Los Angeles Vice Squad, open the door! And I go, What? They open the door and I go Sure enough here is these guys with badges and guns. And I go, Whats here? Says, We come here to pick up that print. There was two big cameras there. They says, Weve got a warrant on that print.
I says, You going to take me to jail? They says, It depends. Have you ever been arrested here before? I says, No. They says, Let us explain something for you. You are working for the mafia, the gay section of the mafia.
He says, This is the story: We come in and we have a warrant on that print. Before we even get everybody booked in the van, there is going to be somebody else walk right past us with another copy of this movie and start the thing up again. All these old men whacking their meat will never know what happened.
Youre not going to arrest them? No, we cant. We dont have a warrant on that print. It will take us a month. He says, In the meantime, were taking everybody up front except one, because weve arrested them before, and were taken them in. Now, this is the way it works.
Oh, yeah, they will bail you out immediately. There will be a lawyer there before we book you; theyll have a He says, But before its over, if we come back again, like this guy that is out in front there, this is his third time, theyll bail him out, but theyve already got him on stays of whatever it is. He says, But this time he is facing three strikes and the mob will dump him. The young ones, theyll move them to another state with another identity.
And he says, Once they get you they own you. Theyll take you to another state, put you to work, but they own you. He says, Were going to let you go. He says, But if you come back here, youre done. I says, You aint never gonna see me again, dude, Im out of here. As Im going through the guy said, Dont worry about it man, were gonna get you out. These fucking cops blah, blah, blah.
He says, They cant touch you. Youll have a lawyer when you go to trial. Theyre not going to touch you. I says, Goodbye, man. Well, it was real interesting, about six months later Im in a gay bar, and all of a sudden I see the manager that got arrested that night, and he is just getting drunk as hell.
I says, What are you doing here man? He says, My life is over. I says, What are you talking about? He says, Im too old. They were going to send me to another town. This was my third strike and they are cutting me lose. Im going to prison. And I looked at that and I thought, Jesus, you know. So, after that, my next job I got was with UPoh, what is it calledrecords. They are out of business now for god sake. Ive still got my ID with a record company. Jesus.
I got a job with a record label. Don Mclean had a hit out back then calledoh lord, what was it calledoh, he is famous for it, Don Mclean. He had one that was written about Michelangelo. Wait a minute, no. Before I got that job, excuse me, Ill think of it before Im over. I got a job with a part-time dental place doing mail delivery. I had gotten an apartment down on Hollywood, back behind __(?) Chinese Theater, which was a very unusual place.
CW: So, what years did you work at the Golden Cup?
CD: The Gold Cup, that had to have been in 72, because Nixon was running for reelection and beyond the record label I ended up getting a job at CBS television as a script typist, because I remember the election was there. It was Nixons second election, because I remember I was in the script department. I was a typist. And we had to assemble scripts and type all night long.
And I remember having to take a bunch of stuff to the election returns, because Walter Cronkite was hosting the elections returns. As I went in there, we werent allowed to talk to anyone unless we were talked to, and when I went in there all these typewriters and this and that, and there is Walter Cronkite sitting there. He took a break.
He come over and he says, Thank you, boy, where are you from? I says, Script department, sir. He says, You eaten tonight? I says, No, sir. He says, Well, you got to eat, boy. You come over here. Walter Cronkite takes me over to this chartered, all this food, whatever you call it. Not chartered, brought in. He says, I want you to eat, boy, and dont you go back in there to work, because I know theyre working you long hours. He says, We thank you for your hard work.
I was kind of going, Walter Cronkite shook my hand. It was kind of like that. So, it had to have been 72, because I was working at CBS Television at the time. And that had to have been November, either 71 or 72, whenever that election was. I think it was 72. It was right before that, because I didnt work very long at CBS Television, because something else happened to me. They had us working sixteen-hour days.
During the summer seasons they paid you really well, though. I mean, I was making more money than I ever made in my life. They paid you for eight hours. For four hours overtime, they gave you time and a half, but for four hours after that it was called golden time, which was double time and a half. Unbelievableplus, catered food, plus a twenty-dollar bill for a cab home whether you drove or not.
It was unbelievable the money I made during that season. Well, I went home, which wasnt that far away. I only did about four hours sleep. I mean, I would go back in. I had Murphy bed that came out of the wall. I would get out, take a shower, I really wasnt awake, drive right back over to CVS Television, and go back to work.
Well, this night I didnt want to take the thing back and they had these old fashion beds connected to thesewhat do you call it windowsthese you know, French windows with little panes. And I took an old fashion catch where you used to pull it forward, and it let down into a bed, and I just stretched out. In the middle of the night the spring that held that together broke.
I was on this side. And all I knew is all of a sudden I heard this (makes noise), and Im rolling down towards the floor, and I put up my arm to stop rolling, and it went right through a pane and come down. I cut my arm half off. I cut my arm half offbe with you just a minute, Susan. Well take a pause in just a minute. My life, as I knew it, ended. Blood was going all over. I screamed.
Actually, there was a young man lying on the floor, sleeping there. He had been staying with me come to think of it. He was a full-blooded Chippewa Indian from Wisconsin or Michigan. And he got all this stuff stopped and I called. Somebody took me right down to the stairs, the first aid station. The cops said, You queers, this is the way you always do it. Why do you do it there? Why dont you cut it this way, so we dont have to patch you up?
I couldnt believe it. Very frightening for me, because I thought, you son of a bitch, you think I tried to commit suicide? I was making more money then I ever made. And the next thing I know Im on my way in an ambulance headed for the main hospital and the guy at the ambulance back there says, Sit up, asshole. And I was going, what? And by this time, Im scared to death, but Im so pissed off.
He says, Dont lay down and close your fucking eyes. He says, Sit up. I thought, you bastard, when I live through this Im going look down and Ill never forget you. You and I will be talking, right. Well, they got me to the hospital. They got me hooked up with the thing and all that. He come back and says, Man, I hated to talk to you like that.
He says, But the problem is you were going to die if you went into a coma. You were about to go into shock. You were going back, and you had to sit up, and breathe. He said, The only thing I know how to do it is piss them off. He says, I had to piss you off to keep you alive. He says, I really apologize. He says, The only way I could keep you alive, youve lost so much blood.
So, when I got done with there, that was likeI went back after five days in the hospital, my landlord, they had burglarized my apartment, and people had told me they saw him carrying all this stuff out. I thought, Shit, Ive got to get out of this town. Im going to have to get back up to Sacramento and find help, because I had this giant cast on my arm.
They had to sew tendons together. They had to sew my ulnar nerve, and to this day I only have 50 percent in that. And I completely severed an artery, which they couldntno, they put back together. It was the ulnar nerve they did 50 percent of that. So, I ended up back in Sacramento. So, lets take a little pause here.
CW: Okay.
CW: Okay, and were back.
CD: Were back from Hollywood. Now, there are some things that go in and out a little bit. I actually went to Hollywood twice from Sacramento, because I went down and I got very much injured, and I went back again, but I started to tell you awhile ago about the first time I ever went to um See, we jumped up to when I worked at CVS in Los Angeles and Hollywood.
When I was in Sacramento and had a band, there was a Reverend Ray Brochures who was a gay minister, who had contacted me in Sacramento, if I would play from Harvey Milk, and I went, Who is Harvey Milk? You dont know who Harvey Milk is? Well, hes running as a gay supervisor. I says, Oh, thats cool. And so he says, Well, have your band down here. So, the first time we went down there What honey? No, no, Im fine, thanks.
The first time I went down there was I think when I showed you that picture and my band didnt know what to expect. I just knew there was a big crowd and we were on this big stage. And I walked out there, and we started to play, and there was cops all around this place. The band says, Whats going on here? I says, I dont know. I went over, I says, Reverend Brochures, whats going on here right now?
And he says, Oh, dont worry about it. Harvey Milk and I are both supposed to be assassinated today. And I went, Okay, right. I went back and they said, Whats going on? I says, Oh, dont worry about this. Theyre supposed to get assassinated. I says, The guys probably a lousy shot anyway, so just strike up and lets get this music going. That was the atmosphere. And Harvey Milk was somebody who came out and spoke really quick and he was gone.
He wasnt an engaging person as far as one to one, because he was on a quest. He had a thing. Ill get in more of that later on. So, we played at that. Then we would come up several times after that, and as a matter of fact Ray Brochures brought us to a gay day parade and it was Harvey was there at that time, and it was another one of those things where the police were surrounding the place, but that didnt really bother us. We didnt take that serious at all.
He brought us back for several other things. So, my band, I was the only gay person in my band and they didnt care. All my band knew I was gay. By this time I was careful the musicians I picked. And so, we had go into different places, too. I dont want to get lost at the San Francisco thing, but I got to where I was real comfortable there. Milk was there in 72.
He had come from New York with Scott. Scott Smith was his lover, and he had come out there in 72. Now, he was forty years old when he came out, right. And he came out there and started running for stuff. Well, you know, the people that talk about Saint Harvey, and Saint Harvey, this, those people back then didnt like him. The main political organization was the Alice B. Toklas club.
They flat told him, You dont go into a thing and think youre going to be the leader. You need to come in, and put in your hours, and sweep floors, and set up chairs. They went against him in his election. That was the biggest club, gay club, in San Francisco. The biggest newspaper nationwide was The Advocate and its still out there.
David Goodstein was a publisher, very rich man. He said the same thing to Harvey. He said, Why dont you just sit down? Something to this effect. I mean, I wasnt there, okay. You can Google this and find all this stuff out yourself. He basically told him the same thing. Im putting my money into your democrat opponent. And he did. So, like the gay community, Harvey was a real interesting man, because he knew, he went out to the labor unions. He went out to the everyday people.
The Haight was the real hippie movement. Remember it was free love and free speech and all this. Now, Im not saying that they were a gay organization, the hippies, by any reason. They were just really open minded and he made sense to them when he came out there, talking about legalizing pot and this kind of thing. Harvey was a person that was somagnetism.
He just drew people, and when he said something it was short and sweet, but he meant what he said. He wasnt running for any re-election. He had a vision of where he was going with everything. Not only that, but when he got elected, he did it. You see, but he really had to fight the gay establishment when he came there. I encourage you and any readers to look what Im saying and look very, very carefully.
You know, after Harvey was elected, everybody wanted to jump on the bandwagon. But see, he didnt even come out of his closet until he was forty. So, heres a guy from New York City, forty years old, and he just came out of his closet, now hes going to liberate all of us, so you know what, you can kind of in a way understand them. But see, I ran into a similar situation when I cut my album and did all this stuff.
Now, Im going to bounce around a little bit. I got on Harvey now. But see, I went on the road in the late sixties. I realized my sexuality was a tiny bit of who I was. My obligation was to my talents of songwriting and recording and playing music. So, I knew good and well that I wouldnt make any money playing for gay affairs. Whatever they did, and probably still now, they want you to do it for free.
The only people that have invited me to a gay pride thing is the Philippines about four years ago. They offered to fly me over, and put me up, and give me a car, and somebody to show me the place. The ones in three other major cities, which I wont mention, Oh, yes, we would like to have you, but as a good soldier. Something to that effect. You need to fly yourself here.
And I went, Bullshit. When those rock and rollers brought me out two years ago from city rock and SS records, it was like they flew me out there. They set it all up. They had an incredible party, which I cant(laughs) put on tape really. But it was like you can go on my website and see some footage there, people screaming and yelling trying to get on the stage and stuff. I was shocked at the end of the first song.
I says, Wait a minute, how many of you people were even alive in 1981 when I recordedRock and Roll! That was a different genre that had nothing to do with being gay. I had become an icon through the colleges and stuff here and well, you just have to look it up on Google. Its unbelievable. Even Singapore and Vietnam Heart of the City, I looked at it yesterday. I think its fifty dollars for that and sixty dollars for Tell Ole Anita.
But the peopleit was something that was happening, because I write songs See, when I put out Tell Ole Anita, disco was it. Gays are very trendish, now and always. Trendish, you know, whatever is in. Justin Bieber is in and, you know, everybody would like to see him in a thong, you know. Hes young. Hes cute. David Cassidy was young and cute. Theres a lot of them.
But back then disco was what was going on and my music is very scattered. Tell Ole Anita is a ballad, where I had a really good nylon string guitar player, and I had written that for Anita Bryant. Ill get into that in a minute. That takes me back on the road, how I got into being a full time gay activist. Uh-oh, Im lost, where was I?
CW: You were saying that youabout
CD: Never mind, I got it. When I did put out the Tell Ol Anita album, it was like, even the main newspaper there called it banal and inane and absolutely not worth putting in a toilet, or something. That was BAR, by the way, Bay Area Reporter. When I contacted them recently about going out there I had the very first broadcast television show on 26 called Gay News and Views. I showed you the picture on there with a different people on there.
They werent interested in any of the things Im telling you and I was out there. Shes tried to get ahold of them. The woman really didnt know anything going on. I said, Did she know what the very first bank was, the gay bank? I choose any of these people that are marching and things. There was an actual gay bank in the old Hibernia bank building on Castro. Not only had everything, I mean, it was federally ensured, they had stock and bonds.
It was like, it didnt last very long though, because the people doing it made the mistake of a lot of gay business people, they get so wrapped up in gay politics, and pretty this and pretty that, rather than capable of this or that, and its no longer there. But I find almost nobody I know of or talk to that can even tell me what the banks name was. I challenge somebody to tell me that. You know, but there was a gay bank there.
And SusanSteven Mathews approached me. Im back and forth. At this point Im living Ill go back in a minute. At this point I am living in San Francisco. This is 79, 78, 79. I had recorded Tell Ol Anita. It was out. I had gotten a lot of airplay, because of the Pacific Network Radio, but the people in the gay movement, as far as the trendy people, wanted nothing to do with it; This is a horrible album.
They reallynow, the Voice, Paul Hardemans the Voice was really good to me and they saidbecause I write different kinds of music. I write country and western. I write big band. I write reggae. I definitely used to write a lot of rock and roll and still do. But they trashed the album. A lot of them did me really good though. It was like a played the gay day parade there in 79 at Kezar Stadium. Well, Kezar Stadium was a big venue to where one time it was, like, where all the big football playersthe 49ers played.
I was really honored to give a concert out there. Thats me with the toilet seat guitar and the yellow suits that I used to have handmade. They treated me really well. And then the people that had announced the March on Washington in 79, they contacted me and said, Hey, would you be an entertainer on a chartered train? I said, What? Says, Yeah, we are chartering an Amtrak train from San Francisco to Washington D.C. I says, A train full of queers, yes! (laughs)
And so all of this was happening. Seventy-nine was a really good year for me musically and everything. And so Im just going to continue with that story right now for a minute. I believe it was October the 12th, October the 13th, It was my landladys birthday. Her son was playing bass in the band. He also played on Tell Ole Anita. He was a dear friend and a gay friend. So, we were entertaining in the car and all of that.
Well, we leave San Francisco. I think it was three in the afternoon or something. Its a slow, beautiful ride up to Sacramento. Made the stops, and we stopped in Sacramento, and then were climbing the mountains up to Reno; and by the time we got to Reno, we see this press conference. Every stop we were having a press conference. People would go out the reporters would be there. I was one of the people that would go out there and talk and this and that.
We got to Reno, and went out there, and there is railroad police, and theyre coming onboard the train. The conductor says, Yeah, we need some law and order on this train. I says, Oh my god, theyre scared of a train full of queers. I said it really loud right. I thought it was hilarious. So, we go back on the train, and we go across the desert, and we get to Salt Lake City. I cant remember what time it was when we got there. They brought on Federal Marshalls.
The railroad police thought they were inundated with this train full of queers. And it was hilarious because being up in We had taken over the dome car, like you can see in the picture I gave you. We were in the entertainment there. It was wonderful. People were having a ball. And we get there and the Federal Marshalls come on, and Im up in the Dome car, and they come up there. Somebody was smoking dope or something.
One of them comes, Alright, I smell it. Youre all gonna go to jail. Well, we all of a sudden, we were so full of ourselvesWhat do you mean all of us? Who are you? You talking to me? It was one of those movies where you see, Are you talking to me? And this federal marshal is real brash, he is going, What? No. Who are you talking to? No, who are you talking to? And so, he starts backthere was two of themhe starts backing down the stairs. People are just smoking pot.
So, the train takes off. Well, they didnt leave the bottom, but they didnt come up there no more, right. Were having a ball. Well, I cant remember, it was the third day, the third night, whatever it was, fourth night. We have a stop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and its about three in the morning. Its freezing cold. Its absolutely freezing cold. And we go off, and we are setting up the cameras for the press conference, and all of that. Im freezing.
All of a sudden I look out here, and here comes my uncle, one of the uncles I loved since I was a kid, one of the few uncles that treated me really well, and took up for me when people were coming at me. He goes, What are you doing here? He says, Have you seen your auntie ba-ba-bah? And I go, What? He say, Yeah, shes on the train. She come from San Francisco. About that time she looked like Cruella Devil walking in her heels, her full-length mink coat.
She grabs him and says, Get me out of here. Click-click-click-click. He said, Whats going on? I saysand it dawned on me she was the one that outed me to my grandmother, remember that story, way back, and broke my grandmothers heart, told her, Your grandson that you love is a little queer, and it broke my grandmothers heart.
Later on, the good story is though, her and I reconciled way back in a family reunion twenty years ago, when the family had accepted Rusty and everything. And actually, I think shes turned ninety now. I was glad there was a reconciliation. She didnt reconcile with everything. She loves Rusty. Everybody loves Rusty. Youll meet him. Youll understand.
But it dawned on me, cause I told her after she did that to my grandmother, I wrote her a letter, I says, One of these days, one of these days, whatever you did to me to really hurt me, hurt your grandmother, my grandfather had only been dead a month when you did that. Shed been married fifty-seven years, and you come and laid that shit on her. Why would you hurt your own mother, and break her heart, and do that? Why? I said, Someday youll get paid back for this, right.
And I realized one of my other aunts says, You have no idea. You cured her of her fear of flying. She would never fly on an airplane. She had taken that train because she was afraid to fly. We got to Washington D.C. and it was amazing. I had no idea of what had transpired. First, we went to D.C. and we stayed at the Harrington Hotel, which was really intriguing, and we went to the march.
They say half a million, 300,000 people, all I know is that it was a sea of people as far as you could see. Sea as far as you can see. I was doing radio shows. John and I stayed back there and I says, Im getting all this airplay. Im going to stay here and Im going to do all these radio shows. So, the first one I did was the Pacific Network in D.C., and from there we went to New York City, because WBAI had been real good to me.
That album had been out five months and this guy named David Winyard at WBAI WBAI is a part of the Pacifica Radio Network, broadcasting at 99.5 FM in New York City. sent me a letter and said, Hey, you need to send me another album. Ive worn Tell Ol Anita out on both sides. I went, yeah, right, in four months, right. So, I get to WBAI at midnight. He had a shift from midnight to six in the morning or something, had to go through all the security, and go up, and I said, Whats all this? He said, Everybody is threatening to kill me cause Ive got this gay thing.
Well, WBAI has a signal that goes all the way to Boston, very powerful thing. It was something like ten lines on the thing. He said, Youre going to co-host it with me. For hours, those lines never go, Conan, this, Conan, that. I go, Good, god. He had made me famous back there in the gay community. Unbelievable. And a lot of people didnt like him.
They would call in and scream, We love you, Conan. We love your music, Bah, bah, bah, bah. Cause one of the things that No, I need to shut up. Davids still alive and hes been a good friend. Actually, David is now running a I got a hold of him four years ago, and it was real hard, because he is a real hard person to reach now, and he is running a deli-bakery, where he is doing his own things that he bakes, but he was so good to me.
David, if you ever hear this I want you to know how much I love you and thank you for what you did for me. Cause he really did. He had worn out the album. We went on up to Boston from there, and did another one at the gay station up there, and it was the same thing. At that time, it was a limited thing. If you wanted to hear a gay album, you had to go to a gay station. There was only very few of them.
Thats amazing now I cant even get WBAI to answer my emails no matter what I do. I tried to send them copies of the albums Ive made over the years. He left, he left. If you Google all this youll see other people there that did me really good, too. Its the same thing back at Berkeley with Fruit Punch. Fred Brungard was running it, and Fruit Punch just did me really, really good. Its like, a lot of these old radio stations, theyre not interested in what Im doing. Well, its trendy.
Like I said, many, many gays follow the trends. They dont make the trend, they follow it. Thats not all of them, because there is a lot of good people out there doing everything right, so please make that clear. But of the gay radio programs, Ive had a horrible time. Ive got a single that just came out and Im getting airplay all over the world actually because J.D. Doyle, who is a major, major gayhe programs gay programs all over the world even satellite going into Russia.
Ive had emails from Russia and Pakistan. I have to watch it because of homeland security. The pinkwhat do they call in Pakistan? The pink something, and I had to quit doing email there, because it was something weird happened. Somebody warned me. Thats either their secret police or homeland security checking this out, cause it was like two weeks before you would get it, two weeks before they would get yours. But J.D. Doyle, he works out of Los Angeles, but hes kept everybody alive.
He has weekly broadcasts. Youd have to look up J.D. Doyle. And hes also part of the gay museum in Virginia and a lot of my stuff is in there. He is another one whos worked very, very, very hard. Hes the one thats kept me alive and I didnt even know it. And there is somebody back in Virginia that was telling me, Hes supported me, too. I cannot believe I cant remember his name. Im going to call you with it though. Im so embarrassed. When I was a teenager, I used to listen to Tell Ol Anita, and I would go, Wow. And now he is part of thispause please.
pause in recording
CD: You know what I was saying, actually the person that I told you when he was a kid he listened to Tell Ol Anita, I recall his name is Lyn Rogers and he is a part of the Stonewall Society. In your research you really need to check out, if you havent already done that, the Stonewall Society, because they are a conglomerate, representing all of the gay culture over the years. I mean, history, everything.
Theyre one of our most powerful institutions and they kind of represent all of us. When you go there youll find out that its the recording people, the writers. Its a historic place. If you really want to go beyond, like, what we are talking right now, go to the Stonewall Society and youll see Lynn Rogers. Tell him that Conan referred you. Seriously, because he has been a wonderful supporter.
Lets see, okay, we went back to Virginia. We got all that stuff done. Don fell in love with New York and he really wanted me to stay there. He waswe werent boyfriends, although we had kissed a few times. We were best friends though, and right now to this day, I am still best friends with his father, who is still alive, and his brother Max Morales.
Incidentally, Max Morales is one of the most talented gay artists I know. And you need to look it up. If you see my stuff online, youll see where he has done a lot of stuff. He is the one that did all of the work, not all of it, but most of the work on my video for this new video, This Queer Dont Run. And that was just realized last year. Thats the one Im getting a lot of airplay from in other countries. But he is an amazing man and he is very much into the art world and the San Francisco-Berkeley scene.
You know, all the major museums and stuff, he is very well known and he is very much still there. Name is Max Morales. He lent me some of his prize artwork to put on This Queer Dont Run. You know, and if you have a moment before you leave Ill play the video for it. I want to give him credit, the whole family. Jon was a dear friend, he died of AIDS, and that was heartbreaking and I was there.
It was part of the things that when it was all over I basically quit music andIm going back and forth. I went into hospice care, because I thought that I owed the gay community something, because I lost several absolute dear friends. I was with one of them when they actually died, and that was Jon, and it was heartbreaking to go through all of that.
So, I ended up in a Seminary, get my degree in Theology, my bachelors, and I ended up working in homeless ministries and particularly in hospice. I was at a church called Love Center Ministries in Oakland, which welcome gays. And actually I was doing hospice work with them. I would go out actually to peoples homes when they were dying and I remember one.
He had chosen me as one of three people to sit next to him when he couldnt function. You had to change their diaper. You had to put morphine, squirt it down there when they got to where they couldnt talk. That really meant a lot to me. I did that for about three years and I felt I was making a difference in myself. I was going from being self-centeredand I talk about that in my website and things, about an epiphany change.
I really wanted to do things for other people. I had the womens prison ministry over there. I actually I had a TV show in Honolulu called Helping Hand Presents. Ive got them on some of my videos and one of them particularly when its on, youll see that I got an incredible rapport going. Were not talking about county jail here. These women were in prison, and some of them for life, and I went in there to lead the choir, the womens prison choir.
They had found God in prison, right. It was amazing, because the warden bringing, once a month, these six or eight women in the choir in shackles, with all their stuff, over to the television studio down in Honolulu, which is about fifteen miles from the prison, bringing them in there. Ill show you a video in just a minute, just part of it, of them singing on my show. It was just absolutely wonderful, these gals, you know.
Then they would take them back. Then we did a big concert out on the beach at Wikiki and I said, Id really like you to bring these girls out there. I says, I know its not a secure location, but youve been letting these girls come and do my show now for a year, year and a half. They brought these girls down, and allowed them to come in, no shackles on, and let them walk around
Pause in recording
CW: In Honolulu, I think, is where you
CD: Okay, I was telling you about Honolulu. Lets back up now and go back to San Francisco after I left the gay march on Washington. I went back there and Jon stayed back in New York City. I decided to go back there. I knew I had to record another album, cause I already had this stuff started, and so my focus at that was on my career, more than any gay things. I had to get back into music.
Something I left out was the time I was on the road the years in between, when I was just playing commercials, and I hadnt come out of my closet. Ill cover that in just a second. Or, actually I should. Lets take it back a jump, okay. After I come back from Los Angeles, I had a horrible healing time with two tendons and an ulnar nerve, and a main artery severed. And they told me I would never play guitar again. And I was determined I was going to one way or the other. Excuse me just a minute, let me just get a lozenge here.
CW: Okay.
CD: Who has taken the lozenges and not put them back? Probably me. You want one of those, honey?
CW: No, thanks.
CD: Okay, Im sorry. You know, some women get offended when I talk to them. Everybodys, like, my sister, my brother, whatever. There are times though when people get weird that I can change quickly, particularly if somebody is trying to assault us. My motherIll tell you more. Go ahead.
CW: We are on, were good.
CD: And I just kept working really hard at what I was doing, mostly singing, and we were doing pretty good at places like the Eagles, the Elks club, you know. They pay pretty good, three to five hundred dollars a night, but that was weekend. We had to play during the week. Theres a place called the Mai Tai Club in Sacramento, which is a real interesting place, because gays, straights, prostitutes, male and female, were hanging around there, and they get kind of mouthy sometimes.
There was one lesbian there who used to always give me a bad time, thinking that I was straight, right, because I was not talking about being gay or anything. The guy says, Weve got to come up with a gimmick. He says, Youre playing the same stuff over. He says, Get a hook. I go, Alright. So, we went out to all the Salvation Armies and bought up all the bras we could buy for twenty-five cents each.
I mean, we come backnow this is a Tahitian type, or tahiti type place, with palms and stuff, and tacky little things. I told Jerry, Let me run with this. That was the owner. And we had bras all over every place of that two rooms and then said, Watch for the boobie contest on Saturday night. He says, What do you mean, boobie contest? I says, Let me go with it, Jerry, I really dont know at this point, but between now and then every night that we play here, its gonna keep them asking.
So, every night same thing going on and, you know, this one woman always coming up, real kind of pushy, this and that. What do you mean boobie contest? And I says, Honey, youll find out when it happens. I didnt know myself, right, but I knew more people kept coming in. So, we went to the toy club where they sell sex toys and stuff. Im not kidding you, they had a candy penis that was probably sixteen inches long with testicles below and a big stick.
I mean, it probably cost ten dollars and back then ten dollars was a lot of money. I says, We got to take this out of the band fund. I says, This is gonna save the night on Saturday night, and its gonna shut somebody up. We kept it in a box with a bow on it. And they kept going on about the boobie contest, Well, whats it all about. I said, How big they are? No. How do you feel about your boobs?
You know, Id ask different women. It was one of those kind of bars where everything was really illicit and this one woman kept coming up. Okay, whos the judge? I said, Im the judge, of course. Boo. At ten minutes to two they says, Okay. She comes up and says, Alright, who is the winner? I says, You are. Everybodys going, (makes noise). Shes looking puzzled. I pull it out and I says, Its for you, honey. Lick it.
And theyre going nuts, and she turns around takes the thing off, and goes, You lick it first. I says, Okay. (laughs) We owned the place after that. But that was just one of the weird things. That wasnt anything to do with gay. So, we went going on the road. We got booked. We ended up in Pocatello, all of the states, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, particularly, god is that big. And then we ended up in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada.
Now, this is just playing clubs. So, this is the part of my life where Im a little bit gay, and my music has to go, because I had to play music. The funny part is the drinking age was eighteen and the band used to give me a bad time all the time. Theyd say, We oughta kick your ass. You get laid more than all of us. I says, Well, thats cause I swing either way. You know, I was teasing them right.
It was interesting, because every time you go into these cowboy towns and stuff with the rodeos, youd see these real tough guys, you can always spot the gay ones, because theyd be wearing the stuff with the snuff in back, but theyd be the ones at the hanging by the banjo and just looking at you. They werent dancing with the girls. They would sit there. I picked that up.
Well, the first night we were out there we had the bus parked, right, it was at the Pocatello Hotel. We had free rooms and all that. We had the bus and there was another band playing that was going to take over. I met this gorgeous thing, and we were back partying on the bus, and looking out. All of a sudden some guy comes out of the bar and I hear these shots. Bang! Bang! This is downtown Pocatello.
He fires four shots in the air, drunk as hell. Im going, what the hell? The band members come out and say, Where did you get us? I said, I dont know. Puts the gun in his back pocket, walks back in the bar, cops show up. I says, Oh, this ought to be real interesting. All of a sudden, he comes out with the cops, gun still in his back pocket. They didnt take it away from him. Theyre talking with him, got a drink in his hand, and he had to send him back in.
They brought him one in the cup back out there, and theyre telling him to go home with his gun, and his drink in his hand. He gets in his truck and drives off, and I went, Boys, I dont know what I got you into coming out here in the Midwest but this oughta be interesting. Another time. But we did really well there. It was twenty dollars for shooting a gun in downtown. He had the gun in plain sight, so it wasnt a crime.
The cowboy that was with me, it was like his dad owned a ranch out there, so I stayed in touch with him. We went to other places and the same thing happened in other places. There are stories that go on and on, you know, where a guy come out, and fired a shot gun over our van one night, and forced his way on the bus, and took this eighteen year old girl out that one of the band members was messing around with.
What the hell is going on? I dont even like girls anymore. Im not getting shot, because of you guys. It was a rich old sugar daddy, and he thought he owned her even though she was always going off with bands. When he fired that shotgun off, and then went on the thing, then I got the cops down there. They go, Well, that was old blah, blah, blah. He owns the Magnavox dealership.
Says, Hell, everybody knows that girl. She goes from town to town. She lives here, but she sleeps with everybody. She was really cute, too, eighteen years old. Ive a picture of her somewhere in my scrapbook. She come up to me one night, How come Ive never had you. (laughs) They says, its only a twenty-five dollar fine just like down there. He says, oh, blah-blah-blah, He thinks thats his girl.
And says, you know, Dont you have a gun with you. Youre in a band. You travel. You dont have a gun? You need to get one. I said, Well, there is a gun in the car, but its not mine. That wasnt the only thing that happened to us out there. Im going to run another story past you real quick. We were in Glendive, Montana. I was working on my book a couple months ago and I happened to call the Mayor of Glendive, Montana.
Now, this is a dive. This is a dive with rooms upstairs they were going to give us, really popular. The city attorney owned it, Harry. We got there, and Yeah, you got all that upstairs. Well, somebody says, Dont go up there. There is a crab lice infestation in this town, because the Indian reservation is out here. They come in an cash their checks every month, and even the bus depot is quarantined, because of crab lice, because you cant get rid of them, because you get rid of them, and then they come in.
Somebody says thats racist, well, thats a fact. That really happened. And whether that is today or not. The story goes on. I decided Im going to sleep out in the bus. Eighteen-year-old drinking age. There is two stories in this, actually. One is we are playing on a Friday nightthis is another gun storyand its packed. And we hear that boom, boom, boom. Five times. Were hitting the floor, were getting behind our amps, people are going over tables.
Over by himself is another old man in his seventies, gun laying there smoking on the bar, I told that son-of-a-bitch to leave my girl alone. Wait for the cops to show up. They showed up and arrested him for murder. I thought, I called back there a couple months ago, because I was working on Glendive, because that was one of the strangest, and the
He says, Its still going. He says, You know, there was a historic society come through here and they said of all the cowboy states this was the most dangerous bar anywhere. There was more people shot, stabbed, or beat to death in this bar over the last eighty-ninety years. Ive got this all down in my manuscript. Im not done at all. Ive got to find a publisher. Ive been working on it for years. It keeps going on, you see.
Were there for three weeks. I met this really cute cowboy. He was eighteen years old, and he let me know he wanted, you know, he liked to go whatever. It was really cool. Well, the bass player was always pulling tricks on me. I know him, were still friends today. He is still a musician. He is married and got all this stuff going, and doing really well. And I knew he had met this eighteen-year-old girl, who was a Mormon back in Pocatello, and she had fallen in love with him.
She is a wonderful, wonderful gal. So, she is going to drive all the way from Pocatello, clear across the state to be with him that weekend. This eighteen-year-old girl There is always these young ones wanting to do something with the band. Back then it was wild. She is wanting to have an orgy. That was commonplace. I mean, in my hippie days that was commonplace, but I didnt like participating in that kind of thing.
Im too, with my polio leg and all of that, I dont feelanyway. So, I said look, Lets rent a motel room right around the corner here, And I told that kid, I says, This time well have a bed over there. He says, Oh, okay. He says, Youre going to do it with me and her. I says, Oh, sure, Max. You know, Im bisexual right. And so, we get in the room and I told the kid, I says, Just be yourself. Dont be freaked out here. Nobody is going to know what is going on. You live here.
The town was only twenty-five hundred people at the time, small town, dangerous. So, afterwards we go over there, were sitting on there, him and I on the floor doing our things, and all of a sudden he goes, Okay, your turn. I says, My turn, Im busy down here. He goes, You son-of-a-bitch you just wanted to get this on me, didnt you. You want to tell Tonya, dont you? And I go, Yeah. So, its a big joke. Thats on a Saturday night.
Monday, we have the detectives come over and want to talk to the leader of the band, the guy with the derby. And I saysthey point at meWhats going? He says, Youre in really bad trouble, all of you. Youre going to the chief of polices office right now. And I go, What? You know what for? You dont argue with those hillbilly redneck cops. He wasnt old and fat. He was like a detective.
We got in there. Were waiting for the chief of police to come. What the hell is going on here? They all says, Okay, you ready to proceed? You ready to tell us what you did? I says, No, but I am sure as hell waiting for you to tell me what I did. He says, The girl, you know, the girl. The girl at the bar, the one you took out to the river, had sex with, the seventeen year old. And all of a sudden we all started laughing.
We had been so afraid. All of a sudden we start laughing so hard. Police says, Son-of-a-bitch, whats so damn funny? They looked and says, Hes queer. He dont sleep with women. And they were laughing like hell. I says, Oh yeah, I got a great alibi. Matter of fact, I got three witnesses. It turned out the guy I was with was the chief of polices nephew, and I had outed the poor kid, because I had to use him as a witness.
CW: Oh, wow.
CD: I felt so sorry for that boy. The people around knew that he wasnt straight, but the chief of police and I dont know if his parents even knew, but anyway, now thats a story. Maybe theyll make a movie out of it, who knows. But anyway we went up to there we did all this. We made two tours of the Midwest and it was right around 1977 and Anita Bryant was going whole-hearted with her Save Our Children campaign.
We were in Cody, Wyoming, and it was a Sunday night. We had been playing at the Bronze Boot there, which was a resort, and actually right down at the bottom of the cliff was Buffalo Bills old spa. It was still there with the running water. It was an amazing place. We had a motel room there, way out of town, and we used to take our 22 rifle there, and shoot at tin cans on the other side of the canyon there, right.
Thats how rural it was. By that time, I had a gun. That was the second time I had been back there. And we were out at the motel. There was nothing to do in that little town, trust me, after you went to the Buffalo Bill thing. We got through off the golf course, because my lead guitar player was always getting mad and breaking clubs. He wouldnt punch anybody. Hes a wonderful man, actually. He is the one who co-wrote Tell Ol Anita, and it started back there. Alex Lund.
He said, Well, what are you going to do about it? You see all this stuff about Anita Bryant. I go, Yeah Well, see the whole thing, and I told his wife about this here, about the interviews and stuff, she says, Oh, tell it. When I was coming out of my closet in college back in the sixties, I was so embarrassed about being gay. Well, one of the guys in one of my classes, history or something, said, Oh, I got a friend of mine, just got out of the army thats looking, plays guitar, wants to be in a band.
Well, he introduces me to him. They take off and we spent the weekend over there. He has this real romantic thing set up at the house. I go, Whats going on right now? He says, Well, you said you were gay. I says, Yeah. He says, Its okay to be gay. I go, Oh my god, this guy that I thought was really, really straight, and very handsome. Hes got all this wine and stuff out. I kept Well, needless to saybut I had been visiting a psychiatrist.
Matter of fact, remember, I had told you about transactional analysis. And I had been trying not to have sex with guys. It had been about three months and I was going (makes noise). Before it was over, I was bouncing across the floor. But he told me its okay. And, of course, we did our thing and we played music. I fell in love with this guy, right. And then after I fell in love with him, and were starting to practice music, he says, Well, we need to get a house together, so we can form a band. And I think we are going to be boyfriends and all of this.
We rent this old house and hes after the guys sister. He says, Well, you know Im bisexual. Actually, I like women more than I like men. Im going, you son-of-a-bitch. (laughs) Now, I am moving into a house here and I felt like, Oh, I had been made a fool of. But over the years, the early years, he taught me to take pride, and he turned me on to a lot of different things I didnt know and people in the music world that we either bisexual or swinging, and Mick Jagger and his cocksucker blues days. Are you aware of that?
CW: No.
CD: Are you serious? You did not know that Mick Jagger had a private film that they made on tour that was called cocksucker blues. You need to google this, because he was chasing, his detective were chasing this film guy around. What it was, was they hired this guy to do personal films on the plane and everywhere else, all over the tour. And this guy made a copy for himself. You need to research this. I dont want to say too much.
Just google cocksucker blues and Mick Jagger because, see, Mick Jagger went through a period where him and David Bowie were performing together. It was the bisexual age, and all of that. I dont want to get deep into this. I could get killed for or sued. You just google that. So, anyway, he was telling me about all kinds of cool things and people. He taught me how to take confidence in myself. I ended up playing music with him and then traveling.
Even on the road, he was with me when I was doing all that. He was just chasing women all the time. And he has been married several times. He died a couple of years ago, and he was a wonderful, wonderful friend. Okay, Alex Lund and I were out there and came up with the idea. We got to do this or that. And I says, Okay, well what do we do? Well, lets do a song. What about a play or stage play or this or that?
So, we had planned we were going to write a song about Anita Bryant and then more songs. We were going to have a stage play, a gay stage play, when we got back to California. Well, we were going to all pool our money. By the time we did our thing up in Canada, and then come back, we had plenty of money.
Lewistown, Montana was our last gig up there, and by the time we got back to Sacramento and everybody had their money, everybody decided, well, theyre going to do this and that, this and that, all went different ways, and nobody was going to do anything. So, it really didnt go beyond that. We had started writing the song there and that was fine.
So, I made up my mind though, while we were out there, I needed to become a gay activist. I had been in the closet. I had been in the gay community, doing things, and all of that, but I needed to come out high profile and throw my hat into the ring. So, first of all, we came back and we reformed the band. We were going back to playing all the local gigs and I got in the a-track studio there, moon studios in Sacramento.
He is still in business as a matter of fact. And we did about two-thirds of the songs to Tell Ol Anita in his little studio, which was a garage studio. Amazing. He has a real good ear. Actually, at one point my uncle from the Jordanaires was there and he came in to sing base with us on one song. We did the best we could.
These guys were obviously going to do their own thing, so I says, Well, Im headed for San Francisco. Ive got the tapes. And I had come into a bit of money. I had come into a bit of money and I said, This money has to go into my project. When I cut my hand on that, I sued the landlord. For five years I sued the landlord with a lawyer down there and I was having to hitchhike down there when I didnt have money with a cast on my arm part of the time.
It was amazing. Its another story, because he was also Ray Charles personal attorney. We ended up staying at a motel across from the Musicians Union, and the guy there I knew was a gay boy from the streets and stuff, and his boyfriend was running, and they let me in through Ray Charles personal room there when he was in town.
At the union he would go in and all this stuff. I got to play his piano. Of course, he didnt know that. I went back down there and back and forth. I had come into a piece of money. I come into ten thousand dollars. And I says, this money is going to fight Anita Bryant. Ive got to follow my music and this. So, I had a month before I could cash the check.
I says, Im moving to San Francisco. Im buying a pinto wagon. I love the little pinto wagons. I know people didnt like them. That was cause they were driving the heck out of them and they wouldnt take it. I found a place in San Francisco. There is another story that has to do with Divine. Do you know who Divine and John Waters is? You want to hear a quick one on this?
CW: Sure.
CD: Well, my boyfriend, back in Sacramento, when he was young and cutehe is still around matter of fact. I met him on the mall. Cause on the K street mall is where if you wanted to pick somebody up, you know, you couldnt go to the bars, youd get busted or your head beat in. I met him, real cute little kid. He just fell in love with me, but all I wanted was the play. I didnt really want to live with anyone.
He came from a really wealthy family there. He loved to freak his mother and father out. They were very passive, very wealthy people. He would take me out there. I says, Robert, Im so embarrassed. Theyre going to know Im gay. Oh, it doesnt matter. And one day they were having a party and I went out there. Robert goes out and hes got heels on, real cute. Hes got heels on. Hes in full drag.
I go, Robert, what the hell are you doing? Im not going anywhere with you. He says, Yes, you are, darling. He says, Just come with me. I was shocked. Well, he had the smoke, he had everything. I said, What am I doing? Takes me into the party his parents were having with their socialite friends. I went, Oh, my god. He walks right up to them and says, Hello, father. Hello, mother.
He reminded me of that movie, um, Harold and Maud, where he is always trying to kill himself and freak his mother out. She was rich. I dont know if youve seen the movie. But, he goes up there. He says, Mother, do you like my new pumps? My red pumps? And the father is acting like hes not seeing it. Obviously, he had done things like this many times.
Im just dying. Im just standing there, what the hell is going on? And my purse, mother, do you realize I spent a hundred and fifty dollars on this outfit? Its okay, Robert. And I put it on your charge at Macys. Fine, Robert. I got in the car, I go, What the What did you do that for, you little asshole? I said, If you are sleeping with me, get the hell in there and get that shit off you. Oh okay. Well, he ended up going to the city, right.
Thats were I stayed when I first got there. Now, he is a male prostitute, advertising in the paper. When I first got there I didnt have anywhere to sleep. He says, You can stay with me, honey. He always introduced me to his friends, This is my ex. This is my ex. And I got another appointment one day, calls me, What are you doing? Because we are a block away. I says, Im sitting here. He says, Youre not going to believe who is in my bed.
Well, another time I was thereIll break before this. His parents used to come up every month to give him a huge check for his rent, for everything, so he would stay out of Sacramento. And he was there that day, he says, Well, mother, you know Im a prostitute. She said, Robert, please. Well, I am mother. I just do what I have to do. And I was going, you little bastard. Youre just rolling it, arent you, Robert? But this is a separate time.
I was there that time and he says, Youre not going to believe who is in my bed. I says, Who? He says, Divine. I go, Divine, who? You dont know who Divine is? I says, No, Robert. I dont know who all your queer friends are. Well, hes got a new movie out. Its just debuting. You want to go see it? You want to meet him? Hes such a mess. Hes so fat. He couldnt get a hard-on.
I was kind of going, What? I says, Robert, are you crazy? I says, Okay, well, Ill go see the movie with you in Berkeley. And so, we went to see the debut and Id never heard of Divine or his movies. This was his second movie, and I cant remember the name of it, actually, it was the one where he ate dog shit. Literally. And its filmed. Its filmed such close up. It was not spliced. Its a gross movie. It was his second movie.
His first was Mondo Trasho, which was nothing, but thishe dresses up in drag and he burned a trailer. This was in color and they were getting arrested in every state, because they had young man that was underage that used to do things with himself. They got arrested in two or three cities up in New England, because of this movie. Lord, Ill think of it in a minute. And so, we went over to the debut in Berkeley and it was packed, absolutely packed.
I watched the whole movie, and then at the end he shows somebody leading this dog along, and literally Im sitting there getting sick at my stomach. And I says, I cant handle this Robert. This cant be real. So, he allowed us to come up and ask questions. I says, Why did you eat dog shit and chew it and swallow it? Why? Im just curious. Im queer and I thought I was crazy. He says, Well, look around you, darling, you think all of you would be here if it wasnt for the movie?
I was going, Oh god. Later on though, he used that fame and he did all the others, and he became very famous. John Waters and all of that stuff did him really well. But see I met him and all of that. This is anotherand my friend Robert now is doing quite well. Hes with some organization that I cant name, very fashionable, and his boyfriend is the pilot of the Learjet that takes all of the contestants around the country and around the world at times. (laughs) Anyway, Ive gotten lost somewhere in all of this.
I want to get back to the thing with Alex Lund and the record. I went back to San Francisco, stayed with Robert, got my own place, recorded the album, and finished it there in San Francisco. Processed it. Well, during this time, Ive got it out there and one of the hustlers from the street that was always hanging around the place is knocking on my door saying, Hey, I need to talk to you, Conan. I says, For what?
He says, Somebody wants to talk to you. I says, About what? He says, Your album. Okay, what do they want? Theyre going to make you famous. Its one of my costumers. And I go, Roberthis name wasnt Robert. His name was AJ. I say, AJ, youre going to get me killed. So, I go around the corner into this apartment and I see this guy sitting there, the guy who you saw at the TV studio looking at me kind of cute like, Oh yes, we share taste I see. I go, Okay, whats the story?
He says, Well, I have a television show that I just won in a lawsuit on channel 26. I have two channels. He says, I have the studio on top of the mountain every Saturday night with technicians and I need you to host it. I want to promote your album on the show. Its the very first gay television show ever. I go, Are you really serious?
Well, through that man, it just went. And the people that came on there was a famous football player who come out gay. He was a thing at the Ford dealership. He set him up with a free car for us to advertise. It was amazing. And then the other stories come down. I got on the train. Thats another story. All the way backthe other is Arthur Bresson and somebody.
Now, this goes back though, before I moved to San Francisco, but its very relative. Arthur Bresson is probably one of the most respected gay film producers for porno. Hes produced a lot of classics and Ive not ever been a person that was really into porno. I wont say never, but my cousin, the one you saw there, his older brother is Richard Locke, very famous in the older gay world.
It was for obvious reasons. But he had made Actually, it turned out I just found out recently, he did a show on Laverne and Shirley one of their last __(?), where he played the part of a policeman. I was blown away, because most of his stuff But Arty Bresson had been producing all kinds of films for gay porno, but he was always into real story lines and stuff, and my cousin suggested I do the script, the sound script, for this; and I went, Okay.
And he says, Well, Im in San Francisco. Youre in Sacramento. Do you mind, Ill take a bus up and well talk about the song? I thought, Oh god, what is this? Somebodys going to put the hit on me, I thought. He was the perfect gentlemen. He came in so soft-spoken. I had my baby grand piano there. We were playing on songs that Id wrote. He says, Yeah, this will work, that will work. Okay, so now you need to come to San Francisco and record the songs in the studio. Im paying for it. And he said, Your cousin is the star in it, and its called Forbidden Letters.
Thats the name of the film and its still all over the place, Forbidden Letters. And it was shot, most of it, in San Quentin prison. And I said, How in the heck did you ever get permission to film all this porno shit inside these prison cells? And he says, Well, you got to know somebody in the park system. I went, Oh my god. And its about somebody writing letters from prison to somebody else and all of it. So, I wrote part of the soundtrack to Forbidden Letters and Arthur Bresson produced it.
Well, later on, I meet Rusty in 1980. The movie has been out. And I told Rusty, he called me one day and says, Its debuting at the Castro Theater and then its going to be at the Strand. Well, the Stand was the major everything, Rocky Horror Picture, you name it. United Artists Records was the company I worked for down there. I knew it would come to me. Im bouncing around. That was Hollywood though. I said, Rusty, Im not sure about this. Ive never seen it.
And he stopped and he says, Im going to give you seventy-five dollars for the songs you wrote. He says, The best I can do. He says, You know there is no money in the gay world for people like you and I. Your fame is whatever your art is. I said, Thats fine with me. I told Rusty, Its playing at the Strand next week. I said, We go there So, we go clear up to the back. There is a balcony, the back.
We used to go up there for Rock Horror Picture, and it was the number one, because they were doing their acts down there. It was like packed every Saturday night, right. We go down there and this filmed afterwards. And you are used to seeing boys and girls, and men and women doing all this stuff, right, handcuffing each other to the seat and a lot of weird shit.
So, were sitting there way up, I says, Okay, were up here where nobody else will spot us. Were sitting there watching all this. Well, there is a scene where there is about fifteen men standing around a swimming pool, flogging themselves in kegs. And Im going, Oh my god, and Im feeling so embarrassed, and Rusty is leaning up against me, Oh god, this is weird right?
Well, when it went to that it was bright, because it was shot in the daytime, and I looked around and the back wall, I went, Oh my god! We turned around. It was going on there. And there was somebody I spotted up there in the middle of all of it, who was a city official. I will not name that person, because that person also ended up in the Jimmy Carter administration.
I said, Lets get the hell out of here. I says, This is too bizarre for me. So, we get all the way We go to London and Scotland, and we went to France and all this stuff. We come back and I get a thing from Arty: Oh, by the way, this was nominated at the Berlin Film Festival and your song was part of the award. Tell Ole AnitaNo! Passing Strangers, that was one of the songs I wrote for that, Passing Strangers. I was going, Wow. And it got an award at the Berlin Film Festival.
CW: Wow.
CD: So, I got a lot of stories.
CW: So, you had already met Rusty by that time?
CD: I met Rusty in 1980 when I was working on Heart of the City, after I had come back from New York. I was really sincere. I wasnt going to any gay bars. I wasnt trying to participate in anything. I just wanted to write my music. My saxophone player, who plays on This Queer Dont Run, he is still my friend. Hes still playing in bands. He was recording with me.
We were working on this project, and he was also a professional bicycle rider, and he was in Tour de France, which he won the California version of it. But he had a big bike race up in Sacramento and he says, Why dont you go up with me to the bike race? He says, I got to go to Sacramento. I saysWell, my lawyer friend, who was also the drummer, Ron Castro, who is still lawyer at seventy, and he is so very wonderful.
Rob Castro has been a dear friend over the years and I want to give him credit here, too. He would say, Why didnt you mentionbubbles, why didnt you mention my name in all of this? Hes wonderful, heterosexual that always has the women going crazy even at this age. Did you hear that, Ron? But anyway, I went up there and I thought Id go visit my friend Alex, the guitar player and all of that. He was alone, living by himself.
And so, I go to get my credit card from somebody, that had been sent to their house, and they wouldnt let me in. I had used them and then left them. And so, I basically got thrown out of that. I got in my car and then went over to my lawyers house and theres a really gorgeous woman sitting on the couch. I says, Well, listen Ron, I really need to stay here tonight. Not tonight, Bubbles, I have things going on as you can tell.
I says, Okay, well, Ill come back later after youre done. And he says, Theres another one tonight, thank you. You will not come back tonight. And Im going, You whore! This is, said the pot to the kettle, right. So, Im feeling really scared, right. Im down to about twenty dollars in my wallet, something like that. So, I say, Take me over to Alexs apartment. He is the one I can always depend on, the one who brought me out and all that.
So, I go to his house and we were doing this and that. I says, Look, I got to get back to San Francisco. This is the worst day of my life. Its absolutely horrible. He says, You can stay here, man. You know, it was a small place. I said, No, just take me to the bus station. Ive got to get out of here. He says, Alright. Im very sorry this happened.
So, I go to the bus station. Its probably seven oclock, eight oclock, something like that, and Im sitting there, and the bus coming from Reno to Sacramento is not due until midnight. Im going, Oh, crap, here it is again, another roadblock. And Im sitting there watching the television, and here is this beautiful blonde boy, as you can tell from the photograph sitting over there, and one of the television things, is just going like this (gestures).
I go, Oh, Ill go over, and impress this young man, my briefcase, Ill just open it up and let my album come up. Hes sitting there, just looking straight ahead. I go, Whats going on? Nothing. I go, Oh, okay. I says, Are you wired on speed or something? No, why? I says, Whoa, dont bite me. I says, You look like youre really pissed. He says, You got that right. What would you do if your roommate was with someone else and kicked you out? He didnt say male.
I go, Whoa, okay, okay, where you headed? Im going back to Florida. Im waiting for my dad to wire me a bus ticket. I go, Wire you a bus ticket? Yeah, its coming to Western Union. I go, Really? Well, I worked at western union, which was two blocks down. I says, You got any money? I got fifteen cents I got from walking fifteen miles and hitchhiking and two bottles I turned in.
I go, I says, Son, I hope you got some stamina, because you aint getting out of this town tonight. How would you know? Because I worked at Western Union. Whenever you get money wired, they dont give you money, they give you a money order; and on Monday you got to a bank and cash it. They didnt have check cashing places in those days.
He says, Yeah, Ill believe that. I says, Ill tell you what, Im waiting for my bus. It comes in at midnight. Take a walk with me. Lets just go toIll introduce you to everybody at Western Union. It was probably forty employees. It was a really big office. Hey, hey, Ron. Hey Conan, whats going on? I go by different names. I says, You see they all know me. I said, Would you please tell this poor boy here what happens when his dad sends him a money order, if he sends him one.
Says, Oh yeah, well, we give you a money order, and give it to you, and you go to the bank or something. You dont cash it here? No, you have to go to a bank on Monday. And I says, Okay, okay, okay. By this time he is like this. We get back to the thing. I says, Man, Im so sorry. But his dad had never actually wired him one at that point. When he left town, he was kind of, like, came out of his closet.
And his dad was kind of, like, waiting to see him come back with his tail between his legs after coming out in front of everybody saying, Im gay and all of that, and Im gonna go be free in California. He got out there and his boyfriend double-crossed him after a couple months living in California. So, I said, You know, I got ten dollars left to my name and the bus ticketand he can tell you this exactly, is seven dollars and seventy-seven cents.
I says, I will buy you a ticket to San Francisco and you can hang out on my couch until your dad sends you the money. Oh, thats so nice of you. I says, Oh, dont kiss my ass. I said I had basically said something like that, because I was so burnt out, I wasnt going to play any games, and I wasnt trying to play no games with him. I says, I had ulterior motives, but forget it. Oh, Ill go.
So, I thought, we need that money to eat on. So, I says, This is the way we are going to do this kid, I says, This bus driver, the bus is out there, he is taking a break, and then he is going to get back on. Were going to get on the bus, go to the back, and no matter what I say or what I do, dont you move. Keep your head down like youre sound asleep no matter what I say.
I said, We need this $7.77 for food when we get to San Francisco. Okay. So, a guy comes down the aisle, walks up to me, and Im like this, Ive got my derby on my head. Hey, you. What the fuck do you want? Let me see your ticket. What are you talking about, you son-of-a-bitch, you half-way kill us coming down there, and you wake me up to ask me for my f-ing ticket.
I says, You son-of-a-bitch. I says, You almost killed us way back up there on the curve back above whichever you call it road. I just got right in his face, really loud. Well, alright, man, you got a problem? I says, Yeah, Ive got a big problem, you! I was scared to death. I am scared to death, right. He goes, Alright, never mind. It was like, oh shit, thank god.
He said, Man, youre crazy. I said, I was desperate, boy, shut up. So, he starts the bus up. We start to get up. He stops the bus. I go, Uh oh, he is going to call the cops. He says, Everybody off the bus. He says, The brake system is going down. We got to get on the bus next to us. I go, Okay, when you go past him just act like youre half asleep. Dont even look at him.
We get on. He just glares at me, doesnt say We get on the bus. Oh, thank god again. Were sitting there. Vroom, Vroomvraam. I says, If this is happening again, we are so screwed. Alright folks. He went inside. He said, We got to goand it was one of the really old fashioned with the tiny window. We got in this thing and it was trashed from one end to the other. I went, Oh god, no bathroom on it. I says, and I seriously told myself, This is the day Im gonna die.
Its just too many weird things have happened in one day. I was superstitious back then. I says, Were gonna die. So, theres all these causeways the bus has to go over. I kept thinking, Okay, where are we going to die? Its probably on the causeway. I really did. I was scared to death. We get all the way to San Francisco. We made it. We had to walk all the way up There was no buses running where I was.
We walked through the most dangerous part, which was the Haas Valley projects, where everybody was getting killed all the time. We got there. And so, we went there and I told him, Go sleep on the couch, man. My place is back here with those big fancy doors. When Im sleeping on my bedknock, knock, knock, knock. Hello? What do you want, man? Its four thirty in the morning. Its scary out here can I sleep with you? Really? Sure.
So, the next day I wake up, after it was over, I go, Im in love. Ive got to get rid of this kid. I had made up my mind I wasnt ever going to fall in love again. Ive only met him, get rid of him. Well, across the street was a gay hotel called the Casa Lomo, which was four stories of rooms and actually they had shows there and a bar. It was way up out of everything, right on the edge of the projects.
You had to be tough if you were gay to go to the Casa Lomo to party or anything. I knew George, the manager. He is still alive. He is in his late eighties now. I says, George. He saw him when we came over there. I says, Youve got to give this kid a job. Hes been with me for three days. His dad hasnt sent him a money order, hasnt even answered his phone calls, collect.
He says, Alright, well, Ill give him a free room, man, you know. Hell have to be out in the showers, scrubbing them down with Lysol. I says, He dont mind. And I told him, I says, Okay, kid. This is your thing. I says, Hes got a room and theres all gay people there. Im sitting there. He was working in the morning until, I dont know, five oclock at night. All of sudden I heard the doorbell ring. Well, its on Felt Street and there is a lot of traffic twenty-four hours a day.
I went there, I looked through the window, I said, What the hell are you doing? Covered with all this stuff. He says, Well, I wanted to stay here. I says, You had a nice room over there with all of those good looking young gays from all over the world. Because it was pretty international. Gays would come and stay there a lot. He says, But I wanted to be with you. Thats that part of the story and it justnever stopped. Thirty-four years. That chocolate sure looks good. (laughs)
Okay, I think weve covered that. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience with the governor of California, two governors actually. I think you might enjoy these. One was when we where on the road in Buffalo, Wyoming. Once again, I was in the closet, deep. I got in really well with the manager of Best Western, who was booking us. He was a rough and tumble guy.
Now, thats separate from the hotel. Hes booking the club, and the food, and all that, really forward guy. According to everybody there, said he is one of the most dangerous men in the town. You can see the scars. He had to do it out with a lot of people. He had broken faces and, you know, he was reallyright away with us, really upfront. Everything was fine.
We were playing there, and the next thing I know, he said, Hey, Conan, youve got to come over to my house and see my house. He says, You like guns and I like guns. Im going Yeah, you and your guitar player. I gohe says, Yeah, well, he is doing all this stuff, giving us good drinks and treating us well. We go to his house. His wife was so sweet, and hes got all these guns and stuff, talking about this. Youre from San Francisco? Well, yeah.
He says, You know, I used to book gay clubs when I was there. He says, Yeah, I was used to all of that. Letting me know discretely. And he says, I really like you and the way you conduct business, and this and that. We got drunk and a few other things. Well, my birthday, September the eighteenth, came along. I never told anybody my birthday date, right, and I was so freaked out.
Little town, Buffalo is a very small town. And Sunday Now, it is a dry county, no bars are open, no liquor sold, no beer, no nothing. Im going to take the vanthere is two cars, the car and then the equipment vanIm going to go way out to the river and Im going to fish. Its just going to be me and my self-pity. Im getting old. So, I go out there and Im fishing.
All of a sudden I see the car come running up here and I say, What are you guys doing here? You asshole, get in this van or Get in this car. I said, What are you talking about? Just get in the car. I said, What did I do? They said, You are so dumb. They followed me back. They said, You have no idea whats going on. He saysI cant remember the guys namehe says, Theres a party for your birthday. And I went, What? How the hell did you know it was my birthday?
He says, None of your business. He says, But there is a private party for you. And I go, Oh my god. So, we headed over to this steak place, away from where we were playing, which was Best Western, steak and lobster place, really nice place, but a cowboy place. It was all locked up, right, and they had undid it, and so all these cars were there. I go, What the hell is going on? He goes, Its your party, asshole. I go, Well, okay.
So, I go in there and there is all these people going Yay, Conan! Yay, Conan! Im going, Oh my god. All these people I had seen the bar for three weeks where wed been playing. And so, Im drinking. By this time, Im feeling good. Im over there, I go over to the bar, and here is this real tall guy with boots, and there is cow shit on them, literally. Hes a rancher and he had the prettiest little eyes.
She says, Well, I would really like to dance with you. My husband wont dance with me. I says, Im yours, honey, and I picked her up literally. She was so little. Im walking across the floor to the music, right. And were having a ball. Shes just dancing and were doing this and that. I cant dance worth a crap, because of my leg, but I can move. And then go over there, and some guy come up, and he says, Well, how was it? I said, How was what?
He says, The governors wife. I went, The what? The cowboy with the cow shit all over, he is part of this party. He helped get this thing opened, because its a dry day. The only way you can have anything is a perfect locked up dry party, because there is hard liquor and everything. He says, Yeah, thats the governors wife. He turns around, and looks at me, and goes, Heeey. Okay, that was the governor. That was way back.
Okay, this is Sacramento, 1973. Governor Brown, now governor Brown, again of California, he had just been elected his first term 1973. I believe it was in the first three weeks of his term. Were playing the rock and roll bar, which was called Crabshaw corner. This was a little bikers bar, where the rough and tumble go. We were playing for forty dollars a night, plus, all the draft beer we could drink, or one pitcher a set, either one, and our tips.
We were about two sets into the thing, and the guitar player comes up to me, and he says, Conan, I think they are being raided again. What do you mean? Well, three guys in suits, he says, at least two of them look like they got something under their coats, and one of them I know has got a gun under his coat. I saw the butt of it and theyre headed for the back. I went, Well, forget it, just keep playing.
Were playing Shithouse Shoot Out, my very controversial song, which Ill tell you about. Thats important to me, too, Ill tell you in just a minute. I grabbed the tip and I said, Keep playing boys, and I headed for the pool thing, and theres governor Brown, for sure, playing pool. I went up and I went, Wow, what are you doing here? He said, Well, I like to come in here to hear you play, because Ive only been governor a few months. I want to see whats going on the night life in this place.
And he was known for that. I said, Would you sign something for me? He laughed. He says, As long as its not a bill. So, I had him one of my very suggestive business cards and he signed it. Ive got it until this day and Ive given you a photo set of it to prove it. I love doing that. So, everythings fine. Well, it waswhat was it? They got assassinated in 78, so this had to be five years later.
Im in San Francisco. Im four blocks about city hall on Ellis Street. Ive got a horrible, horrible hangover and I decideits almost noonIm going to walk or hobble down to that Chinese buffet thats down by the state capital building, about twenty-stories high or whatever, because you go in there, and get for a $1.99, you get eggs, bacon, potatoes, coffee, and a roll, or something like that. And when I went in there it was packed, absolutely packed.
The only thing open was over in the corner was a big long banquet table so I just ordered my food, went and sit down, somebody brought it over to me, and Im sitting there with my head in my hand. My head is just throbbing. I figured if I was going to throw up and make it. All of sudden I hear this voice say, Excuse me, can we share the table with you? I look up and go, Governor Brown. Well, I still wore my derby in those days. He goes, Oh, how is your music doing?
He didnt remember my name. He remembered the music. I says, I got an album out now. He says, Really? He said, Why dont you bring me a copy? Send me one to my governors office. I says, I only live two or three blocks here. Ill be right back. Okay. I ran literally up to my apartment. Got a copy of Tell Ol Anita, autographed it for him, come running back down, and at that banquet table was all of the heavy hitting politicians.
They were all in town for the funeral and memorial day for Moscone and Harvey Milk, who had been assassinated. This was a memorial day. Here is governor Brown, Willie Brown, who was theof the state. He was in charge of all of the money. I cant remember what its called, very powerful democrat, one of the most powerful. Heres Pete Wilson, who is a republican governor from San Diego, and heres the twonot the Mitchell brothersI cant remember their names.
They were two assemblymen that were there. I was going, What the heck is going on? I sat there for an hour listening to them. They were talking about how they are going to divide up all the power here and there. I thought, Oh my god, this is how politicians work.
In public they hate each other, and then they come in, and they are here for a funeral memorial, and I thought, Oh my god. And I thanked them, I says, Enjoy the music, governor, its been nice meeting you people. I stumble up to my house. I thought, Oh my god, I cant believe this has happened.
Okay, Ive told you
CW: Did you go to the memorial?
CD: No, no. TheresI always tried to avoid things like that. I was down there. I was down there at the White Night Riots The White Night riots were a series of violent events sparked by the sentencing of Dan White for the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, which took place on May 21, 1979.. We knew that the verdict was coming in on Dan White. Everybody knew it; it had gone on and on. They put up a Twinkie defense A Twinkie defense is a label for improbable legal defense coined by reporters during the trial of defendant Dan White. White's defense attorney argued that he suffered diminished capacity as a result of his depression. His change in diet from healthy food to Twinkies and other sugary food was said to be a symptom of depression. that he had some sort of reaction to sugar and twinkies and he had just lost it. So, I dont know what time of day, it was in the afternoon though, it was early in the day, they announced it was manslaughter.
I go, Manslaughter, you go in, you kill one guy, you reload, walk down the hall, walk into the others office and kill him with five shots. How the hell do you come up with manslaughter? I says, Oh shit, this towns gonna burn tonight. And I thought, Oh my god. So, I went to one of the bars and sure enough all the bars were like, everybody is going to be at this big demonstration in front of city hall.
I went down there, went from bar to bar, and as the sun went down Im down there and there is just people gathered all over. Theres a park in front of city hall, a big park. Now its all corded off all around, no cars, no trucks, except for police cars over here, when the sun was going down. Remember that. Thats a point in this here, and I still argue with people, because I happen to know something that I could share with anyone and nobody wants to believe me, so I will be cautious about what I say here.
I sit there, and I watched it, and it got louder, and it got louder, and it got louder. And it got louder and more people were gathering. I went back to my apartment, have a couple of beers, take a leak, whatever, come back, and Im in the middle of the crowd, and all of a sudden I look over, and I say, What the hell? Where did that truck come from? That big flat bed over there. Its got nothing on it but broken concrete chunks.  That wasnt here during the day. Where the hell did that truck come from? What the hell is going on right?
And Im sitting back, and its getting uglier, and uglier, and uglier. All of a sudden I see people throwing things, people are trying to talk, Carol Ruth Silver, who was a very pro-gay supporter, an incredible woman, she was on my show, she was a supervisor, she got elected to many things after that, and all of a sudden something hits her right in the face, down she went. I says, These queers are going crazy. Im gonna back up.
And the next thing I see is molotov cocktails going to all these police cars. Youve never seen that picture? Were all the cars are blazing? This was called the White Nights Riot. Im going, Oh, shit, and they are calling for reinforcements. They got all the cops they got. They got the sheriffs there. I went, Oh crap. Theyre going to be looting pretty soon. I thought, Im go up Larkin and seewhere the front of city hall is this Polk street. It goes straight up, Polk, right.
Well, down here its Larkin, which goes straight up parallel. I lived on Ellis between those two streets. I thought, No, no, this is gonna get worse. I saw the cars blazing and Molotov cocktails, so I went up there and went down the street. Well, when I did that they were starting to go up the street, because on Larkin was a lot of little liquor stores and stuff, and they were smashing windows, breaking cars up, windows, and I was going, Oh, shit.
I told the manager, whos a friend of mine, Get your gun and I am going to get my gun. These bastards are not going to torch our cars and break our windows out. So, we headed out the front door, and were sitting there, and here they come, right, and Im standing out there. I kind of laugh at this, because this drag queen is coming up there with two pouches full of bottles shed gotten out of that liquor store, and shes coming up there, and theyre about to break it.
Im sitting here like this, I says, You aint going no further, sister. I says, I will shoot your ass. And hes sitting there and he says, And I will do the same. And says, And Im queer, honey, so back off. Oh, well, listen, here. And she puts a quart of some kind of liquor on the ground and says, Well, this is for you, you have a lovely evening. And she went down there. I says, Son of a bitch, nobody will ever believe this.
I wrote about it in the book, and Ive talked about it before, but that was the night of gay rage. And the only way Ill talk to you about the rest is after this is off, because its my summation. But people were very, very pissed, and Dan White It was amazing, because Dan White, while he was in prison, was having conjugal visits, and his wife had a baby, a prison baby. And I felt sorry for her.
A lot of people dont quite understand it. I just saw the movie, believe it or not, just a couple of months ago, because being around Harvey Milk and all these people, I was really afraid Hollywood was going to bend it. It was pretty much right on, because Harvey Milk was a very dynamic person. Its unbelievable, and what he said, he meant. He went against the gay establishment and became supervisor. He wowed the supervisors. He got so many things passed, you know.
And I will say something thats probably hackle some people, but Harvey Milk and Dan White had a very unusual relationship. I cant say I knew what it was, but I knew enough of it that Harvey Milk canceled some things to go to the christening of one of Dan Whites nieces or something, and he went to this meeting, and they made a deal over something and Dan White
Remember Dan White spent his whole life there as a conservative catholic, whatever he was, Irish or whatever it was, and he saw his whole city turn into something else that he didnt like. He went from being a fireman and a policeman to being elected official, then found that he couldnt survive, right. He wanted to be a supervisor again. You need to watch the movie, because there is a lot of speculation on this. Can we take a break for a minute?
pause in recording
CW: Okay, the White Nights Riots. You know, I continued writing my rock and roll with Paul Brannon, who is one of the most influential people in my life. He was from Woodstock, New York, and he was there with a guy from the band, the drummer, he was kind of his mentor. And Paul is a very, very competent musician. Hes still playing, making a lot of money with big bands and old rock and roll bands. Him and his wife live in California and hes the one who played on This Queer Dont Run.
Matter of fact, he stacked all of the tracks in this recording studio, but he helped me and we finished Heart of the City, then we were working with David Denny and Bobby Scott, which was a totally new thing. David Denny had been with the Steve Miller Band. Bobby Scott had been with Stevie Wonder and a million other people.
They had been producers at large, PAL, with Motown back in the sixties, and David was out of the Steve Miller Band, living in the basement of a horrible old restaurant down in Valencia Street, very dangerous area across from the projects. And he told me, he made me a price on this recording, and I thought, Well, this guy has written gold, million selling songs, you can see that in the photos, that was his office, those platinum albums.
So, we did a three-year project with them and the guy from Journey, Herbie Herbert, came in on Play it Again, which was the first one we were doing, which was going to be a cassette thing. Matter of fact, I blame him for the fact that I sound like Mickey Mouse in that and we never marketed(does imitation). But they did a lot of really good productions on songs that I had written, and we played a few concerts, but I was getting kind of burnt out on everything.
And Rusty had told me, Look, if were going to have a real relationship and continue on, got to get out of the city, got to get away from gay politics. Were gay and we have to build a relationship together. We have to build a life together. And he says, All these newspaper people, the TV people, all that stuff, he says, No. He says, I want you to myself or something that that effect.
So, we were living in Oakland, California. We bought a house in a very dangerous part of Oakland, out by the 98th Avenue projects where everybody is getting killed all the time. I kid you not, on holidays you could hear bullets going over. Even the neighbor, she was seventy years old, used to sleep in her bathtub on all holidays, because bullets come down. You got to understand how dangerous Oakland, California is.
Now, how it was back then, still is. So, we sold our house, took the bluebird, we were going to go to Juno, Alaska. I think I told you this story. Okay, we were going to go to Juno, Alaska. We were booked there. Sale of our house fell through. So, were going to go again and there was aVancouver that was it.
Vancouver had a ferry that went up to Juno. They had us booked, they had a hotel room, six months guaranteed. We could not sell the darn house. Well, by the time we sold the house the fare to go across from Vancouver to Juno had doubled. I said, The hell with it. Lets go up to Lake Shasta, andyou got all this right.
CW: I think so, yeah.
CD: Okay, lets take it beyond that. Okay, then we end up in West Sacramento when we come down and I thought I was going to die. We ended up renting a barbershop in west Sacramento, starting a bicycle shop, and got in good with the landlord, who owned the whole property, very wealthy man out of LA. He says, Look, if youll manage this place and evict everybody in this old honky-tonk bar, you can do whatever you want. So, we did.
We had this bar, and if you look at some of the videos, youll see us with bicycles all around, having rehearsals in there on Sunday with a sign that said: Were rehearsing, if you want to buy something, be quiet and listen until we take a break. You know, well, Ive lost a lot of friends to AIDS. I was having a real hard time dealing, what my mark was going to be in life at my age.
Well, a self-centeredno matter how you put it, people that are in the arts that really intently like rock and roll, and movies, I dont care what they say, youre self-centered. You have to have an incredible ego, you really do. I was starting not to like who I was to the point where I thought, Ive got to do something different. I was losing a lot of friends.
I told Rusty, I cant take this anymore. I says, Lets go back to Oakland. Thats wheremy mother was murdered in Oakland in 1970. I had a lot of reasons to want to go back to Oakland, you know. So, we packed up. We used to go to Edwin Hawkins church, which is a Black church, very charismatic. The Hawkins family are very famous in Black gospel. He was the godfather of Black gospel. He just died two years ago.
He was a wonderful man. His brother Edwin HawkinsOh happy dayhe leads the choir, still does. And our neighbor across the street in Oakland used to come over and says, How do youyou boys need to come to our church. I says, Nah, they aint gonna let no faggots in no church. And she says, Oh, I think youll be real surprised whats in our church. I says, I got a hangover on Sunday. She says, Oh, youll see a lot of that, too.
And she says, And Edwin Hawkins is there. Edwin Hawkins, I saysand she had sang with Bob Dylan. She had sang with Helen Reddy. She had been a backup singer for Connie Stevens and she had a real history with Leon Russell. Unbelievable who she had sang with and, oh, I really liked her. She was a great neighbor. Plus, I watched her elderly parents, and if something was wrong, I was out there making sure they were all right.
We went over to this old, on McArthur Boulevard in Oakland. It was an old movie theater, and I went, Wow (makes noise), all these horns and all this stuff, and Im going, Oh, my head. I was just like in awe of all of this. That usher there, that womanRusty, come here. I felt like the producers, did you ever see the original producers? Oh, youre missing some real funny scenes about gay things and drag queens.
I says, Rusty, thats a guy taking up the collection in a dress. Rusty says, Shut up, I know. (laughs) Well, we started going there, and we had come back, that was way back, we had started before we went up in the nineties to do all this. And they had an AIDS ministry and they asked me to be part of it. They leased a really posh old historic home over in the Hills, and I went over there, and they wanted me to be a cook for the AIDS patients, and help counsel them cause they were all dying.
So, I started doing that and then I got involved. Then I got involved to the point where I would, you know, one guy asked me, I went to visit him in the hospital, and he was so wonderful. Landus was his name. He was so fierylittle black queen, he was so fiery, I just loved him. He had hootspa and punk. Im in there, I said, Well, how you doing? You gonna make it?
He said, Yeah, honey, Ive got to go home and die. I says, What are you talking about? He says, Well, thats a fact. He says, My lord Jesus is gonna take me home. And he says, He showed me three people thats gonna be with me. Im going, What? He says, Yeah, theyre going to be there in three shifts and youre one of them. Would you be one of them? Come sit with me for eight hours shift?
And I went, Why, of course, Landus. And all of a sudden it felt like I couldnt breathe, like, Oh my god. Id already sat with people that I knew when they were dying, very heavy-duty thing. I ended up going over there on the swing shift from four until midnight, and he couldnt talk by this time. All he could do is look at you. I had to change his diaper by myself, and give him his morphine, and roll him over, and sit there.
After about a couple of weeks, I was kind of goingyou know, his family turned his back on him, but once he got down there, they came and ripped him off for his very expensive clothes. Thats what he was afraid was going to happen. So, we were told not to let anybody in the house, period. He died, of course. It wasnt on my shift, but that impacted me so heavy I thought, I owe the community a lot.
I have been a very loose person until I met Rusty, and I was part of all of this, so its not like Im mister nice guy, Im such an angel. No, I was down and dirty way, way back, when I was rock and rolling, no matter. Its always been sex, drugs, and rock and roll kind of thing, you know. So, I got very involved there, and then when we finished our bachelors degree in theology, we went to Hawaii because I was reunited with one of my brothers, I hadnt seen in twenty years, who got his leg shot off in Vietnam.
I hadnt seen him since we were touring. This is another storywe went through Twin Falls, my grandmother says, Your brothers over there somewhere, heres his phone number. I called the number. Marshalls office. Marshalls office? No, Im calling for Bill Carrera Daddy! Marshalls office. Hello. I go, Bill? Its me. Who are you? Im over in Twin Falls.
He says, Oh, Im about twenty miles away. Whats this Marshalls Office thing? He says, Ill be over in a minute, dont have a heart attack when I show up though. I go, heres my brother, my brother who was wild, wilder than me, when I was with all the girls. And I put some with a Marshall thing, town Marshall, and he gets out with his __(?). I can show you a picture they took of me the day I met him. I had hair down to here and he is grinning.
He was a hero. Nixon had personally given him all this. He was a door gunner of a rescue helicopter that got shot down. He got his with three anti-aircraft things, and lost one leg, the other got shattered, and one arm shattered. Frank Church, who was a senator at that time, had told him when he was in the hospital of Pocatello, he says, Whatever you want when youre up and got your all this. I want to be a police officer.
Well, fortunately for my brother, when he went in the army, forcibly, they sealed all of his records. I said, My brother? A police officer? They had put him through the police academy. Let him get through with all the other stuff. He had to do twelve weeks, I think it was for all the other stuffand appointed him town Marshall of Oakley, Idaho.
So, there it was. But all of that, theres other stories, which he would shoot me if I told. He was getting something like eight hundred dollars a month, plus a free house, plus his patrol car, the truck, and an allowance at the local market. He had married the woman at the hospital down there and she had a couple of kids. So, they decided they were going to Honolulu.
CW: Was he your older brother? Older or younger?
CD: No, I only had one older brother, all half. My mother hadmy mother did many things. I cant even figure out who my father was, because it was during her gala times when she was doing part-time prostitution, part-time this, part-time that. But they had taken all the kids away, except my younger brother; he was the only one that all that time had passed.
She was a hardworking woman actually, I know when I saw her as a youth, her and her husband at that time came by with an old 48 Chrysler three window coupe with the trunk off, all this stuff, they were going around sharpening mower blades and knives. She would pick fruit. Ive got picture in orchards of when I was a baby, her picking oranges and peaches.
Like she said, I only did what I had to do to survive, right. But leaving me on a barstool and going out there, it took me a long time to say, I forgive you and I love you and I thank you, but she was dead by that time. My brotherI went in up over in Hawaii. My brother was there. I hadnt talked to him in a long time since the last time. And he says, Yeah, Im over here. Why dont you come over and visit us?
And Rusty says, Ive never been to Hawaii. It was 1998, and at that time you could get a ATA round trip fare, seventy-five dollars from Oakland, California to Hawaii and back. We went over there, fell in love with it, my brother says, Yeah, just get on over here. Im chief of operations at the biggest security company here. So, Rusty ended up working for places like Carol Burnett place and like that. I ended up at Linda Lingles of all people. She became the governor of Hawaii.
My first night there, and I got hired to be part of her security staff at her condo, that was totallybut when 9/11 came along. It was like we knew we had to get out of Hawaii. I had a TV show, and all this, and I says, We got to get out of here. Were going to World War three. I said, Well, I dont know whats happened, but somebody has hit us hard, and were going to war against somebody. And so he says, Everybody lives in Florida, lets go back there and see if we can put up with my mother.
I says, Yeah, I know how she feels about me. Oh, I love my boys. Yeah, sure you do. Get me back there and then try to get rid of me. I says, Okay. So, we shipped our car over, we had shipped everything by the post and all that, nothing could get out. Nothing. We just kept taking things over to UPS, to the post office, and we went to the travel thing.
They said, We got no thing on nothing. I says, I want to be booked on the first out. Says, Well, well book you on continental. We dont know when its going to go out. I said, Fine. It was unbelievably cheap. I said, But we want out, at least out to go back there, and set up, then come back and get our stuff, because we had already shipped our cars. And so, we got over there No, thats what happened.
We went over, and we got our cars, and all that stuff. You see, in Hawaii when anything goes down, theres no airplanes, theres no boats. You cant geteverything is brought in on boats or airplanes. I mean, youre really stranded in Hawaii during a dock strike, a hurricane. No toilet paper, you always have a months worth somewhere. Bottled water, you cant get milk or beer or any of that. All that is flown in.
Now, you can go to Chinatown and get vegetables and stuff. Theyve always got stuff. You get fresh fruit from them. But we got back here, and it was like, I didnt know what the heck was going on. I felt like I did not like Florida. I didnt like the people back here. I did not like his family at all. I didnt, you know. So, we got our own place, and we sat out at Rainbow Rock trailer park out there for a couple of years, and I kept working with public access television here, and producing shows here.
In fact, Im still in touch with them, but all that kind of shut down now. I got involved with a church over here that had a rescue mission. They had a rescue mission and all the people from prison. And I thought, Well, thats really what I am good at is sitting with people that are dying or, you know, I can talk to young people, and being in the closest. Like, there was people in the housing there.
It housed 200 people and foster care is another one of them, Well, I could see, like, there was a couple of young boys in there seventeen years old that kept trying to commit suicide and I kept going, uh oh, I know whats going on. Well, they thought I was straight, you know, I just flat lied to them about Rusty and I being brothers, because I wanted to continue what I was doing unabated.
See, I could talk to people like that without saying Im gay. They would listen to me. I had authority. You see. I could reach them. If I told somebody I was gay, forget it. Theyre already got all these Pentecostal church people coming to tell them theyre going to hell anyway. But it gave me an opportunity to reach people that other people couldnt reach.
I lived across from the rescue mission, which was very dangerous. This is where the police officer got shot right in front of our place that night, Officer Roberts, but I had a chance to work with the homeless over there, the same thing I did in Oakland and the same thing in Hawaii. I always have a heart for the homeless and people, older people, and people that are dying from terminal disease. I still do that.
But right now, all of that stuff coming down in 2009, I says, Okay, I got to get back on the horse. The only thing that bother me right now is Im kind of heart sick when I talk to people that have no idea where they come from, making so many demands, we demand this, we demand that, or telling me how I should think. Dont tell me how to think, talk, or act, if you havent been where Im coming from. Ive never been politically correct, I never will be.
Sometimes Im very conservative, you know. Im too old to give a damn. I say what I feel. Well, no most of the time I can be very polite, but I hate it when younger queers come up to me and say, Well, honey, you shouldnt do that. Im saying, Who are you to tell me how to think, you politically correct, wet behind the ears, shitting in your pants boydont get arrogant with me.
You have no idea where you come from. You dont realize what we went through, so you can have this freedom, a lot of us. You dont even know where it came from. They dont know that when I came back here in 20whatever it was1. It was a felony to be queer in this state. It has not been legal in nineteen states very long. Whats real amazing was Bush appointed Roberts as Chief Justice and he was a swing vote on that, for the pro-gay thing.
I went, Oh, my god, Bush must be shitting in your pants right now. Actually, one of the things I found out about some of these conservative, theyre notyou cant paint everyone with a brush. You cant do that. I didnt realize that, it was something I found out by somebody who worked with Romney. Romney, no matter what people thought of him, signed the gay marriage bill back there when he was governor.
And Romney, when he was going through the election, somebody outed his Chief manager as being gay, and the guy started to quit. And evidently from what my friend said, because he worked with him, he said that Romney got really pissed and told him, I dont care if youre gay. Youre working for me. And he says, No, I dont want you to lose the election. I dont want to be fodder for the other side. And he resigned and I was shocked.
I didnt know a lot of these things, because I went through Nixon in my youth, and, man, I was scared. Nixon tried to steal this country. It was horrible what Nixon did. It was absolutely terrifying if you were in college back then. You know, the attorney generals wife, Martha, coming out screaming, Whats going on? and They are holding me down and sticking needles in me, and six months later she dies of a mysterious disease that came out of nowhere.
Oh yeah, google it, Mitchell, attorney general who went to prison. His wife was loved by everybody. She was almost like Tammy Faye with (makes noise), but she was telling us exactly what Nixon was doing, and what her husband was doing, and she wouldnt shut up. And then she come out and says, Theyre sticking me with needles. Theyre sticking me with needles.
Google it and the date of her death, just I like students that dig for the truth, not digging for things that compliments what they already believe, cause its easy to be a sheep. Ive been a sheep many, many times. God knows how many times Ive been a sheep. You know, but I hate it when students, theres several things that they refuse to see, you know, or acknowledge.
If youre going to school, its because you want to know the truth about something. You know, and if you dont want to know the truth about something. Theres a guy over there, Meigs, is a professor over at the colleges here, religious studies, and hes very out there, very intriguing man. He plays around here. He tried to get me to come play at a hooka joint. I was going (makes noise).
So, here we are. Its just Im out there wanting to do the same thing. I have a new album This Queer DontIve got a new single, This Queer Dont Run. And I want to go out and play again. Im going to be playing all my music, which is everything I have written, which runs the gamut from big band to country and western to rock and roll, whatever it is.
Its stories about what Ive lived through. And I use the kind of music that fits it, like watching my grandfather play, its a very blue grass feel. Because I when I was a little boy, my uncle at the Grand Ole Opry, I had to stay with him for awhile, and I used to be back stage there at the Grand Ole Opry. My grandmother had to have a hernia operation, so it was about three months, and I remember being back stage.
All I remember was the lights going up, and all these people being really happy, but I always knew afterwards, they always went fishing in the 50s. Theyre like a family, the Grand Ole Opry. Theyd all go down to that main river and they would cook, set up. In fact, one of my aunts had Johnny Cash, June Carters Dutch oven they used to put in the coals and cook and stuff. It was a family.
I remember Minnie Pearl, she was funny as heck. I just remember bits and pieces of that. Im going back up there to Nashville. My late uncles son is still up there. Hes going through a lot of things. He has been in Kosovo, three tours. Hes a deputy sheriff, and he over there training, help NATO train the new police force and the boarder patrol over there. Hes back up to Nashville, very pro-gay, very pro-gay.
So, were going to go up and visit him, because he knows were all the good places to go. Hell get us back stage at the Grand Ole Opry, because he still He was running around with Gordon Stokers grand kid. Gordon Stoker was the leader of the Jordanaires, who just died last year. Ive got a lot of emails back and forth.
He was talking about how Paul McCartney and one of themover the phone, how Paul McCartney called him to commend him on his birthday and all of that, and he says, You know how we learned our backing vocals something to this effect for what is it called, youre gonna lose that girlHelp. There is two songs in there, Help and Youre Going to Lose that Girl, where there is trailing vocals. Youre going to loose that girlyeah, yeah, yeahyoure going to loose that girl.
He says, Well, we learned our backing vocals from the Jordanaires. He says, John was the Elvis fan. He says, We were into the back up vocals to learn how, and thats where we got our inspiration off those songs. Ive saved all the emails that Gordon Stoker has sent me over the years, and back stage when Ricky Nelson came through town with the Jordanaires, way back, Rusty can tell you the date of that. I took the picture of the Jordanaires back stage, and I just had surgery four days before, and I was in a lot of pain.
I told the guard, Give this to Gordon Stoker and tell him Connie Holts nephew is here. And sure enough here he comes out with the other Jordanaires and they were the backup group for Ricky Nelson. Fats Domino was there also with his group and we spent about an hour with them. Then later on in 1998, I feel, 93, they were on tour with the Patsy Cline Review, and they were at Harrahs in Reno, and they let me know they were going to be up there, to be sure to come up, and come backstage.
So, I got a lot of interesting pictures with the Jordanaires. There is one living one now. I dont know what shape he is in, Bob Hubbard. See, all these guys went to World War II together. They all served on D-Day together. You know, amazing stories. And they all came back, and in high school, they were called the Four Hs, because each one of their last names started with an H. Hubbard, Holt, I forget the other two at that time.
And they continued on when they came back, and they became back up groups at the Jordanaires, and then they became well known as gospel group on the Grand Ole Opry, but my uncle ended up stretching out. He sang with everybody. I can show you a video with him and Johnny and Jack. Ive got a magazine article that gives him the credit of their success, because they had all these albums and nothing happened.
All of a sudden he is a bass singer, (sing Bom-bom-bom-bom-bom) goodnight sweetheart. And he sang with Hank Williams and all those old timers. I got a lot of history of that in my family and I like playing all kinds of music. So, Im going up there and continue on. Im hoping somethings happening here, but you know what is more important to me, I couldnt believe, cause I told Susan, You know what, I keep going to all these bars and every time I leave the bar I feel more depressed.
I says, These people have no idea what their history is. I couldnt believe it. And then when that one club owner said, Harvey, who? I dont know anybody named Harvey Milk. Im going, what the hell has happened to ourall this television stuff has taken over. Now everybody thinks that everybodys gay, just like this person or like that person.
I known some of the bad assed cops, bad assed women that were cops or this or that. I had one piano player that was from a ranch in Texas, and he was so lovely, this and that. I remember the straight boy one time going to kick his ass down in Castro, and all of a sudden he went off, and mopped the middle of the street with this guy, come back and says, Honey, I dont know why he called me all those names, gonna kick my ass. He says, Didnt he know my daddys got a cattle ranch and I broke steers all my life.
He says, That was like a bucking bronc to me. I just kicked the shit out of him. Now look at me, Im a mess. Cyd was his name. But not everybodys the way they Hi, cutie (to Rusty), come on in. Not all these people, the way they portray us. It bothers me. Some of the ones I love, too. Ru Paul, we are Ru Paul fans. In fact, we are going to see Latrisse Royal.
Were gonna get tickets one way or the other. I dont know how were going to do it. We went to see Mateo at my birthday. I got pictures right up there. She came over, we partied and this and that. She asked me if I would write a song for her act. Well, I said yeah, but two years later, and she doesnt even know who I am now. I went into the club a few months back. I couldnt have the atmosphere, because this Hamburger Marys is nothing like where we played in the seventies down there.
This is a hustle money place. Every place down there is a hustle money place. They dont care where you come from or where youre going as long as you spend money. And if you cant, like they said that night, she told me to wait over there while she got done with her show, she wanted to talk to me. Hey Rusty, I need you to come here, please, I want you to meet somebody. Shes heard all about you. I promised her
Rusty: Okay, I didnt want to get in the way.
CD: Youre not in the way.
CD: Ive run into a lot of really unusual people and I guess one I left out was Eddie Van, our precious friend in San Francisco when all this was going down. I dont know when it was, the early eighties. Eddie Van was one of the best photographers and videographers. And were going doing things with battery packs, and each one weighs eighty pounds, four of them had to get down to the bottom of these cliffs to do videos for some of the stuff that we were doing, right.
He would just come to our gigs. The stuff that you see that were shot at the old Chi-Chi club, where Rusty was playing, those was all Eddie Van. Did I mention to you that the thing he was known for was a male madam? (laughs) He really was. He carried himself very well and everyone knew it. He had the professional thing, penthouse, I was there one day and I said, Thats Angela Landsbery photo here with you. Angela is one of my dearest friends.
I go, And Liberace. Oh, darling, weve been friends for years. Li and know each other very well. He says, Yes, yes, yes, but you know, those are old stories and were still friends. That was before, she was still going at the time. It was just amazing, because he would go out with us on sets and he always had two very handsome young men always around, twenty-one years old, very gay looking, looks like something you would see in GQ magazine, very expensively dressed, very polite, never had anything to say.
Back then they had pagers, they didnt have telephones, we would be at a club or somethingbeep, beep, beep, beephed say, Just a moment please. And he would go over and hed say, Yes, I have to send one of my charges here. They have a very expensive appointment. Theyre going to pick them up out in front. I say, Eddie, you whore. He says, No, Im the madam if you dont mind. We got used to him.
He was so real. And another nighthes dead nowand Im sure he would love to be, cause he wanted his legacy Another night he come in andoh, it was when we first met, thats right. Ill tell this story. He had been doing a lot of photography and stuff for me, right. He met Rusty once. I met him, introduced him, this is our photographer, videographer, and all of this stuff.
We go home, a couple hours later the phone rings. Hello? This is Eddie. He says, Oh, I got a horrible problem. Well, what? Did you want cocaine or something? No darling, he says, Ive got a very exclusive client flew into town. Its a five hundred dollar date. He wants a blonde and I dont have any blondes. Im going, Well, god, Eddie, I dont know any whores or any hustlers anymoreyou son of a bitch!
I said, You know what, Im gonna put Rusty on the phone and you can tell him what youre looking for. I says, If you ever expect to do any work with us or for us ever again, if you ever try to pull this shit again, we will never talk again. By the way, Rusty, come here. Talk to Eddie Van. He wants a blonde tonight. And Rusty was very young and nave.
He goes, Oh my god, Im not talking to him. But later on we become wonderful friends. Eddie was just like, Well, you never know until you ask. You cant blame a girl for trying. He was very, very real. When he was dying, I was there with him. Rusty was with him. I did a video of hisbecause he had a relative that was on the Vandenbergs, thats a senator, and the family had pushed him away.
Now, this was his story. Because he was an embarrassment to the family, and he was in New York, and he was a top model. Because like my cousinbut he was a wonderful man. He believed so much in the gay movement, and what was really horrible was he trusted the gay hospice, and the gay hospice nurse thatd come out was stealing his morphine. I walked in and she was shooting herself up with it.
I went, Youre from the gay hospice thing? What the hell are you doing in this house? I went back another time, there was a guy there, I walked in, and he was practicing, there must have been ten sheets writing the same thing over and over. I went back there and said, Eddie, what is going on? I dont know. They get me so screwed up on the some time. I dont know. Hes in here straightening up my room all the time, going through my files.
This is another part, part of the gay outreach for this here. He found the title to his car, took it out of the condominium complex, and went and sold it, got arrested, but you know to me, Ive had it with the gay community for many reasons and Im not talking about gay people. Im talking about all these people in charge. Its like what Harvey Milk ran into, the establishment, if youre young, you got a real talent, they can make money off of it, cool.
But, you know, for people like me that are over the hill, whatever, theyre not even interested in my story. So, if somebody says Im sounding like a, whatever you want to call it, well, at my age Im going to say exactly what I think. I still believe in the gay community, but I believe in the younger ones that know how to think for themselves, who know how to treat each other and reach out to heterosexuals.
You know, you cant live in a ghetto, whether its black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, or gay. I made more friends back here, like a Deputy Sheriff that was out there when I had people trying to come at me, because I was gay in the trailer park, and he ended up going to prison later on, but he says, Ill show you how I handle this. He took me over to these peoples house, kicked on the door.
When he answered he says, You see this guy. You people go over and put your gang signs on his thing anymore, says, Im coming back. Hes got a gun and Ive told him to shoot you. You know, that was Charlie Mays, poor Charlie Mays. He cured my problem with the gang members there that wanted to get me because I was queer, but if you know anything about Charlie Mays, he went to prison about four years ago for doing something with his partner.
He helped him kill his girlfriends boyfriend. I was so disappointed in Charlie Mays, because I liked him. I liked him. I got a deputy sheriff friend right now thats very pro-gay, that says, Yeah, it broke all of our hearts to think that Charlie would do something like that. But I found, like working with other people, they get to know you as a person, theyll kill for you. Theyll do anything for you, but you get to know people on a one-to-one basis like musicians and stuff.
I dont call people, and say I need a fiddle player to play here, and Ill play. I get them to come over, and find out if they can actually play, and then I say, Go to my website. First, make sure you like music. I figure when they go to my website theyre going to see the gay thing in there, so this way the next time I call them they say, Im not interested. Its a good way of saying Im gay without doing things like that.
But Ive met some incredible musicians and people, like my lawyer, thats been my friend for forty-five years. This is the one we adopted under the house when we lived over there. She was fighting off all the raccoons, and really she couldnt come in the house over there, because the other cats hate her. Shes mean. She was killing squirrels and eating them. Shes a tough cat. Shes a loving cat.
I wasnt going to bring her over here, but shes turned out to be such a wonderful friend. Her name is Judy Blue Eyes. But I have foundand you know what is interesting, I did a show with this guy back in Delaware, if you go on google, youll see it. There is all kinds of things Ive done, like, with queer radio and things like that. That was something they wanted me to do in the house with myself, which was (makes noise) I had to set up cameras and talk, talk by myself there.
After its over, the guy says, No, the history has to be out there. Tell it in your own way. And after its over he says, You gave me exactly what I wanted. I said, Look Ive had TV shows. I kind of gohe goes, No, you got the point across. I really believe you become peoples friends, and theyll do anything for you, then the gay doesnt matter.
Gay is only part of my DNA. There is a lot more to me than my homosexuality. Its very important to me, dont get me wrong. I like going in, and playing music in some very dangerous places, and people liking me, not because of who I am in bed, but because they like my music. I remember going in black bars when Play that Funky Music White Boy was going on.
We were playing all the black blues. We were the white band going there. Come on Honky, play that again. We had such a rapport then, words werent important, because they liked us and we liked them. We would get tips playing that song, over and over and over and over and over. But it was because we got to know them. I love black blues, matter of fact, whats her name? Oh, god, help me.
I went to one of her back store gigs, Etta James, when she was in San Francisco. I went backstage there with her and smoked with her. Of course, I didnt inhale. (laughs) She would say, Honey, what are you doing out here? Shes like, My lord, you and the union out of Montana, child what you be doing out there? You know, they hate us out there. You kind and my kind. She was a very real person.
You know, Etta James spent her whole life in that same house where she died. She loved her community. She loved people. And I just loved her singing and I just loved her. I had her autograph on my union card and I dont know whatever I did with it. I just loved her. I got gays all upset because they didnt invite anyone. They didnt invite any of them to her funeral.
I said, Why the hell should they invite you? Because you smoked a joint with her one time or something? Well, she was so pro-gay, I thought. I says, Well, was she or wasnt she. What? Do you think she is supposed to roll over for you or something when shes dead. You know, a lot of people they dont understand human relationships. Theygays particularly, we have so much to offer people.
We have talent. We have the chance to really change the world. We have a chance to reach out to those people in the middle of the road that dont even like us and say, Look, you dont have to like us to support us. Actually, Harvey Milk was doing that with Dan White, but like I told you something went queer in the middle. If you do some research, youll understand what it was.
Youll understand the hatred. He didnt like gays, dont get me wrong, and he wasnt an angel. Trust me, I was demonstrating. I was pissed when he got off with that, but for a person to take a gun and go shoot two separate people, five times, reload, go shoot the other five, usually comes when you feel youve been really double crossed. Now, thats just a theory. Do your homework. See the movie. Have you seen the movie?
CW: Mh-hm.
CD: See it again. See it again and start looking at the different things. Google some things.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 201 5 University of South Florida. All rights, reserved. This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 42 02 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


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