By Dale Nickey – The Muse Patrol
Los Angeles, VA (The Hollywood Times) 8/8/15 –
The Dodgers, The Hollywood Sign, The Capitol Records Building, Canter’s Deli…
Certain things in your life are there and have always been there. Received L.A. culture. You don’t know when you first became aware of iconic places and people; they are simply the landscape of your life. So it is with Angelyne.
I remember cruising down Sunset as a horny teenager in my friend’s Ford Mustang and seeing these huge billboards occupying prime locations on The Strip. You couldn’t miss Angelyne. Her trademarks were her supernaturally endowed breasts, porcelain complexion, baby doll makeup, blond hair, impossibly tight spandex pants and her 6 inch stiletto heels.
Billboards, posters and adverts blanketed Hollywood. None of the adverts bothered to divulge what Angelyne did or why. She was just there. Once you saw here you knew her name and what she looked like; an icon conjured out of thin air.
Many provocative rumors and stories circulated regarding her possible talents and the source of her income. But, no gossip could explain how she could maintain a sustained promotional campaign of such magnitude. After all, this was the innocent decade of the 70’s; where celebrities still had to justify their existence by being able to do something.
L…Fucking….A – 1978. I had skulked back to L.A. after having lived in the San Francisco Bay area for over a year. However, I now saw L.A. with the eyes of someone who had left and been to a better place. L.A. was a dirty, desperate, ugly, and unhappy city. I had been to the Land of OZ.
Lola and I found a hot, dank, grungy little one room bungalow in Canoga Park. I successfully applied for un-employment and Lola found odd employment as a singing telegram messenger. We were still committed to making it in the music business. However, I returned to an L.A. music scene in the throes of chaos. I reconnected with all my music buddies in L.A., and all they could talk about was a new style which had taken over the entire town. It was called Punk. They said that anybody could get in on the deal and play anywhere. No skill was required. In point of fact, musical proficiency was now deemed a liability.
PUNK ROCK: My previous year’s devotion to the craft of music making and band leading had rendered me deaf to the far reaching ramifications of this new movement. My research revealed that the movement started in England around 1975 by young, dispossessed welfare recipients and squatters. They expressed their frustration with Britain’s austere economies by acquiring instruments by any means available and making a primal din to offend the oppressing classes. Ability didn’t count for anything. Moreover, musical proficiency was viewed with suspicion and contempt. Established groups with hard earned musical pedigree were rendered obsolete overnight. The break out Punk group was the Sex Pistols. The scored a hit with “God Save The Queen”. The British Parliament debated whether Sex Pistols leader Johnny Rotten should be executed for treason. All hell broke loose and soon the Punk franchise spread across continents to every major city. L.A. was just recovering from its first seismic musical event and had not yet settled down. There was a vibrant, crazy scene going on and I had just hit town. I contacted my friend and record engineer Lorenz. He told me that one of our mutual buddies, Leonard Phillips had hit the Jackpot with a group called the Dickies. I was well acquainted with Leonard. Lorenz produced some early demos of mine on which Leonard played piano. The piano he laid down was expert and sophisticated way beyond his years. I was not allowed into the studio when Leonard cut his tracks. Lorenz was incredibly protective and jealous of Leonard.
Leonard was a piano prodigy. He could play anything. He was proficient at the age of 14. Now he was playing dumb in The Dickies. He was the lead singer and writer. He was an offbeat singer but his writing was witty and wacky. Somehow Leonard and a gaggle of Valley buddies wangled a six figure deal from A&M records and were teeny bop sensations in Britain. They scored a minor hit “Stuck In A Pagoda With Tricia Toyota”. Lorenz took me to the Whisky a Go Go to see the Dickies and The Bags perform. The DIY spirit entered my body. I was going to get a piece of this action by whatever means necessary.
I began a weekly ritual of scouring the music rags for news to keep abreast of what was going on in the scene. I also bought the local classified rag “The Recycler” and religiously trolled the “musicians wanted” section for that one special connection that would change my life forever.
I called up the number and a girl answered. I asked straight out. Are you ‘the’ Angelyne? She answered in the affirmative without further explanation. We both knew who she was. I didn’t know she was a singer. My fantasies slammed into overdrive. Lola was not enthusiastic.
I showed up on time with my meeting with Angelyne. She lived in a clean upscale high rise apartment building near the Sunset Strip…. of course. She opened the door and there she was. Baby Doll makeup, jeans, silver tennis shoes and perfectly sculptured Bombshell blond coiffure. Her body was shapely and solid. She looked older than her billboards. She wanted to project early twenties. However, this was a mature woman that looked to be well into her thirties. No amount of Max Factor could conceal the creases of experience in a face that was still beautiful. She looked you in the eye and gave the impression something was going on in her brain 24/7. She may have not have possessed conventional intellect, but she was not vapid or dingy. She talked business. She was charming. Instilling lust was her prime directive obviously. However, she struck me as someone you could fall in love with.
Her apartment was a one room bachelorette affair. Very nice and clean but very small. However, what caught my eye was the décor. Solid pink and every inch of wall space in Angelyne’s apartment was covered by photographs… of her. Head shots, snapshots, fashion spreads, polaroid’s, news clippings, color, black and white… everywhere. Angelyne was serious about the business of being Angelyne. For some reason, it didn’t seem narcissistic. There was a work ethic here. This was her war room where she was plotting the ultimate conquest of Hollywood and the world. Fine by me, that was my goal as well. It was then I noticed a young male sitting in the corner. The young male got up and extended his hand. He said his name was Jake and he played electric piano. He asked me the usual preemptive questions regarding my guitar equipment, my place of residence and who I had played with. The sudden appearance of another man in the apartment chilled my spirit and I curtly asked if they had any tapes of their music. Jake produced a gig cassette from a Van Nuys club called Pier 7 where they had just played. The music sounded awful and poorly rehearsed. I heard snatches of melody here and there. However, Punk was a new ballgame and none of the old rules applied. We agreed to meet for a rehearsal and see what developed from there. Angelyne kept quiet for the most part. I could not tell how involved she and Jake were. However, it was clear he was musical director and Angelyne’s spokesman for all things musical.
Or first rehearsal took place at Program Studios. Program was in the heart of Hollywood, a stone’s throw from the corner of Sunset and Highland. It was the gayest, poorest and most decadent section of central Hollywood. This was Angelyne’s home court. The rehearsal halls were windowless, airless affairs. Standard equipment included a bandstand, a modest P.A. with a couple of vocal mikes. Dirty carpet covered the floors and walls. At the far end of the hall was a grimy and cigarette burned couch for guests to sit and listen. Above the couch was a wall-sized mirror so the band could view themselves while rehearsing. The mirror was Angelyne’s alter ego and constant companion. Posing was her one indisputable talent.
To my annoyance another guitarist showed up to the first rehearsal. I understood the music and where Jake wanted to take it. But there was too much sonic interference from our unschooled second guitarist to contend with. They had a version of the Rolling Stone’s “Play with Fire” that showed real promise. Angelyne preened and slinked around the stage; all the while keeping a watchful eye on herself across the hall. She was wearing pink hot pants and nylons paired with a shiny, trim athletic white tank top. She had lot’s frill and sparkling detail in her clothes, make-up and hair. Glitz on a grand and awesome scale. She had large lovely breasts. However, she kept them under tight reign and never allowed herself to descend into gracelessness. So sad she was such a miserable singer.
We assembled in the parking lot around Jake’s little Nissan truck after the session. I not sure what was supposed to happen next. Suddenly, Angelyne asked me to sit in the truck next to her and listen to a tape. I can’t remember if it was a tape of our rehearsal or something else. I only remember sitting next to Angelyne, and it was a tight squeeze. The other musicians congregated at the passenger side of the truck and gawked in with heads crooked like a flock of parakeets.
The left side of my body was flush against her. She neither moved away nor towards. The sudden re-deployment of blood to my nether regions made it difficult to sit erect comfortably. She talked to me a bit while Jake stared straight ahead with a patient but truculent expression. The signals were crystal clear, I was in the band. But that issue paled in significance to the larger issue. Was she attracted to me?
In the end logistics and Lola were too overwhelming to ignore. I never called back. I let it die on the vine. It was an adventure that I should have embraced.
My life has always been about parallel realities.
There is a reality somewhere that’s different. I decided to join Angelyne’s band. I kicked the other musicians into shape and her along with them. She appreciated my professionalism, talent and non-predatory nature. She would become curious about this handsome young guitar player who always maintained a respectful distance with cowardly lips that longed only to kiss her. Eventually, the sexual tension would become too powerful to ignore.
Would she have ever been mine? The sweet mystery of a distant, different past.