Saturday, January 9, 2010

Remembering the Wilton Hilton

After M— and I split up, The Kiddo generously offered to let me stay with him in the Van Nuys house in which he was taking care of a script supervisor friend’s Alaskan Malamutes while she was on location. He taught me some things about cooking I remember to this day, and we chased some skirts together, and it was generally bachelor fun a-go-go. I was doing enough running every night to not have to think twice about polishing off a quart of Alta-Dena’s sublimely delicious coffee ice cream as we watched The Dating Game, which, by this time, had entered its wonderful sluts-on-parade phase; its invariably spandex-encased bachelorettes all seemed to have been recruited from Flipper’s Roller Disco.

But then Ms. King returned from location, and I had to find somewhere else to hang my hat. Mr. d’Andrea, who'd played bass guitar in my band The Pits, said I could inhabit his room in a notorious art hovel on the western edge of LA’s Koreatown (or, for those wanting to sound very much posher, the eastern edge of Hancock Park) while he sought fame and fortune with Mr. Valentine, late of Blondie, in New York.

The house had once been a mansion, but obviously neighborhoods go to hell from the outside in, and the west side of Wilton Avenue at 6th Street was in accelerating decline. The big house on one side was noticeably being devoured by winged pests. On the other, a small army of swarthy foreigners of indeterminate origin (Egyptians, d’Andrea thought, though I detected no trace of pyramids or hieroglyphics) had moved in, causing the whole corner to reek of exotic spices. At the Mayfair supermarket a couple of blocks east, all the fish was labeled in Korean. (I assume the red meat was as well, but I’d stopped eating it two years before.)

Two artists -- a romantic pair -- occupied one of the downstairs bedrooms, and an alcoholic animator/illustrator the other. Upstairs, Grant Loud (of the famous American Family, as seen on PBS) had one of the bedrooms, and his very shy sister Michele another, though she surrendered it soon after I moved in to an electrician heroin addict, a nice guy who commonly supplied the household with fresh shark and swordfish. Several residents had ties to the artist Gary Panter, and thus to Pee Wee Herman. It was said that Matt Groening had lived there, and maybe even conceived The Simpsons there.

The d’Andrea room had a separate outside entrance via a stairway, and a view of the tableau of urban squalor the back yard had been allowed to become. I shared one of the two ballroom-sized upstairs bathrooms with Grant, who commonly got drunk with Tim, the alcoholic animator/illustrator from directly beneath me. The drunker they got, the louder and more obnoxious. D’Andrea, speaking on the phone from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, would urge me to try to be understanding about their need to let off steam, but it has always been my policy to encourage neighbors to annoy me as much as I annoy them, and the only time I ever annoy neighbors is when I urge them to stop annoying me.

I worked briefly for Larry Flynt Publications while living there, senior-editing Hustler’s much more genteel sister publication, Chic. My sexual charisma was peaking in those days, and I brought a few Century City beauties who’d succumbed to it home with me. I don’t think a single one failed to be alarmed by Grant-‘n’-Tim’s drunken braying. We had multiple shouting matches.

They threw a big Xmas party, passing out photocopied lyric sheets so everyone could sing along, tongue firmly in cheek, with Mitch Miller albums of carols, and the crème of the LA New Wave music and fashion scenes turned out in force. I got there late because I’d been at a Chic party down in Venice, where I’d abused multiple substances and drunk too much, but didn’t fail to notice the longing looks a variety of New Wave beauties in Betsey Johnson minidresses were awarding me from across the enormous downstairs living room. I thought I’d have a quick nap to clear my head, and then invite the loveliest of them for a slumber party.

Naturally, I didn’t awake until the following morning.

[Hear my life-changing new album Sorry We're Open here! Facebookers: Read more All In Tents and Porpoises essays and subscribe here.]

1 comment:

  1. Hi...great post! Was the Wilton Hilton the same as the "Wilton House," where my pal Rick Parker had an altercation with Perry Farrell? I came on the scene a few years later but it sounds very familiar. If you have a book I'd love to read it :) AAZC