Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wm Floggin' Buckley - Part 2

[The script of the one-man show about my brief, very unpleasant tenure at Larry Flynt Publications, which I have performed in San Francisco, London, and Madison, Wisconsin.]

It had once been one of the most elegant and gracious houses in all Los Angeles. But by the late 70s, its owners, who had gambling problems, had begun renting out rooms to students from local art colleges. The next thing they knew, the place was full of former members of Blondie and the Loud family, subjects of a celebrated public television documentary a couple of years before.

The plumbing was a disaster. If the apprentice electrician heroin addict who lived in the south-western upstairs bedroom showered too long – and he'd been known actually to nod off in the shower -- the penniless underground cartoonist, Matt Groening, who lived downstairs would be soaked. Local gangs had spray-painted their names all over the sides of the place.

I shared one of the upstairs bathrooms with Grant Loud. He wasn't loud, but deafening. He threw a Christmas party at which he handed out photocopied lyric sheets so that everyone could sing along to The Little Drummer Boy. Pa rum pum pum pum. Whether anyone actually sang was a matter of conjecture. Grant had turned the actual record up loud enough to be heard not only on the eastern edge of Koreatown, but the western edge of Seoul.

After the police arrived, I realized Elvin McIlhenny was there. When I was the rock critic America most loved to loathe, Elvin had written me fan letters from the Missouri outback. Even though the only thing uglier than his typing was his handwriting, they'd amused me, and we'd remained in touch even after my descent into obscurity. Our relationship foundered only when he moved to LA himself, invited me to lunch, and repeated none of the stupid puns he'd been packing into his letters the past six years fewer than 900 times.

I knew that Hammond Palmer, for whom he was now working as an editor, had opened the original Cuntry-with-no-o chain of topless/bottomless bars in Savannah, Georgia, in 1978. Then, having surmised that both Playboy and Penthouse were too highbrow for the sort of good old boy who was his typical patron, he'd started a magazine of his own – Cuntry, without an o. Forget Playboy's and Penthouse's genteel tits 'n' ass. Hammond had filled his magazine with luridly retouched close-ups of women's labia, racist cartoons, and rabid denunciations of just about everyone in American public life, had it printed on really expensive glossy paper, and earned a quick fortune, whereupon he took to making a spectacle of himself on the national evening news three or four times a month, here appearing at his own obscenity trials in a fig leaf, there publicly urinating on the limousines of prominent political candidates. Finally, for his big piece de resistance, he'd got himself paralyzed in both legs and one arm when a Christian fundamentalist zealot tossed a hand grenade into his own limo.

Elvin asked if I'd be interested in writing something for the sex toys section, which he edited. I'd come to afford bus fare by this time only by redeeming empty aluminum soft drink cans, and said sure. Two days later, he sent me some recent issues. They were even worse than expected, devoted mostly to photographs of female trailer trash, naked except for stiletto heels and the odd boa, exposing their most personal parts and leering at the camera as though to say, "Come on, big boy, bludgeon me into submission with your huge manly thing." The good news was that not all the cartoons were racist or homophobic. Some were just gruesome.

In the letters section, the magazine's readers, all of whom seemed to have the identical prose style, either bragged about their sexual exploits or confessed to the most preposterous imaginable fetishes, both in goose bump-inducing detail. I decided I'd better stick with my soft drink cans.

But then Cuntry's managing editor, Don Hogarth, who sounded like a nice guy, phoned out of the blue to say he had a staff position opening up and that HPP would send one of its limousines if I'd come talk to him about filling it. Just out of curiosity, I asked how much the job paid. 35 thousand 1980 dollars.

How soon can the limousine get here?

[Continues tomorrow! Don't miss a single installment!]

No comments:

Post a Comment