Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Statutory Rape and Me

Having seen much lately about David Bowie’s allegedly having deflowered then-14-year-old Lori Maddox [not pictured], who later went on to inspire Jimmy Page to compose Layla, or whatever the story is, I thought, in a spirt of full disclosure, that I’d recount my own past as a statutory rapist.

If my (that is, Wikipedia’s) reading of California law is accurate, my first girlfriend and I statutorily raped each other for around three months between our promising each other eternal adoration and our turning 18 a week apart. (I was immobilised by shyness and self-doubt as a teen, and got a very late start on dating.) There was no actual coitus, but a great deal of erotic touching and what is still known as petting in parts of the country that wish to be perceived as either quaint or cute. I then statutorily raped Second Girlfriend. who was 17 (to my 19) during the first month of our romance. With her, much coitus! Then, with Third Girlfriend, the one with the fantastic thick blonde hair she so delighted in flinging about attention-demandingly when she danced, no coitus (we didn’t last very long), but more statutory rape, as she too was 17, and I a worldly, world-weary 20-year-old by then. 

Three years later, Bowie visited the West Coast for the first time. I wrote about him for Rolling Stone and we became BFFs. He was at the time an unknown who looked like Lauren Bacall and performed the songs of Jacques Brel with a straight face and much earnestness, and I The King of Los Angeles, so I was rather the bigger catch, in spite of his cute English accent. He cavorted just before flying home to London with a gorgeous (very, as in around 16) young woman called something like Keysia, who's in at least one of the more rigorously researched Bowie biographies, I think David Buckley’s. She was on the phone to me pretty much the moment he left for the airport. We might have gone on to wed and spawn gorgeous children but for the fact that she was either terribly vacuous or terribly shy, though not so much in bed. 

One living — nay, embodying! — the glamorous rock and roll lifestyle in those days was hardly expected to pay attention to age-of-consent laws, just as he or she was expected to use drugs, operate motor vehicles while under the influence, look thoroughly disreputable, and have stolen his or her instrument, preferably from a music store, rather than a fellow musician. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Keysia (now a home economics teacher in the Antelope Valley Unified School District (I’m just making this up)) was actually much more experienced sexually than I, and I didn’t worry even for a moment that I’d debauched her. 

One of the members of my first signed-to-a-label band openly lusted after very young girls. I found it distasteful. Another of us dated the very young Terri Nunn (later of Berlin and Top Gun soundtrack hit fame). I don’t know what went on between them. The drummer’s girlfriend was around 16, but I didn’t think it any of my business. She and I couldn’t stand each other. 

I would occasionally swan into Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, Lori Maddox’s home away from home, to seek the companionship of a lovely maiden. The closest I came was whisking one away in my blood-red Porsche one summer night, and up to my house in chic Laurel Canyon, but she was very nervous about the whole thing, and I drove her back to Rodney’s without so much as kissing her. I saw La Maddox and Sable Starr there pretty nearly every time, and found them the opposite of attractive. Every Saturday afternoon, Sable and other Rodney’s girls would dance lasciviously on The Real Don Steele Show on LA’s Channel 9, TRDS’s cameraman must have been the dirtiest old man in southern California at the time. You wouldn’t have believed some of the angles. 

I pause to marvel at Mr. Buckley (or whoever it was) finding Keysia, whose surname I didn’t know, as I strongly suspect Bowie himself didn’t either. I suspect neither of us spent more than a couple of hours with her. His blink-of-an-eye affair with her being recounted fully 28 years after the fact takes my breath away, to quote Terri Nunn’s biggest hit.

The central notion of statutory rape laws is that persons under a certain age are incapable of making informed erotic decisions. I have known a great many 45-year-olds who didn't make very good erotic decisions. 

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