In Love, Morphine, and Memory
By Gene Gregorits
I hung out with Rockets a half dozen or so times. He had one place in a basement (his shrill holler would come up from under my feet on 6th street, "Gene, Iím down HERE!")
Iím aware that a lot of people scoff at good memories of Rockets.
Yet, a lot more people have them. I do.
We didnít know each other that well. But it always made my day (hell, it made my month) to see Rockets. Well I should say, to hear him. Rockets was in bad, bad shape the last five years of his life. As with Johnny Thunders, the only shock about Rocketsí death was that it hadnít occurred a long time ago. And for someone so physically and chemically stigmatized, the guy had enough life in him for a whole fucking block party.
Rockets was a great liar. He spread rumors of his own death for a cheap kick.
I thought he was pretty fucking cool. A true tough guy with brains. A dying breed.
Once I went to his place on Sheridan Square, and his dog bit the hell out of my hand. I gave him the pint of vodka Iíd brought with the other, and he slugged it down inside of five minutes.
We were supposed to go to Tower Records on Lafayette and buy ourselves each a complete set of the works of Bill Hicks. Rockets loved Bill fucking Hicks. That day never happened. A briefcase containing an address book containing Rockets many phone numbers (you never knew where heíd be) was mysteriously stolen from an empty Bleecker street bar. Itís safe to say that the last time I spoke to him was some two weeks before that night, during god knows what month of 1999.
Soon after, I left New York. I caught a one-way a flight to California. I gave most of my stuff away, and that was that. Rockets was in Jamaica at the time, and if he wasnít, I told myself he was because I was afraid to see anyone, even Rockets. It made it easier. New York had finally gotten to me.
A year later, an NYC 'zine publisher named Bob Bert told me Rockets was gone. During the course of that year, Iíd often think, or say, "Iíve really gotta find someone who can give me Rockets number." I knew, and would also often say, that Rockets might not live out the year. I think one of the reasons I didnít try too hard to reach him was fear of finding out heíd already died. He was in bad shape. I worried about him often. That trek to Tower would have been an entire afternoon, even if we were just a few blocks away. He could barely walk. To cross a street with him was a test of will. And friendship.
There were scars covering his arms. I never asked how he got them.
It was an email that told me Rockets died. I immediately wished someone had called me instead. But it was just an email read over scrambled eggs. Like nothing. "Oh, look. Rockets died." But I didnít take it that way, at all. It was the way they say it happens, like someone just kicked you in the balls. My jaw dropped, the blood left my face. I was sad as hell.
Later that morning, I returned to sleep. In my dream I was walking down sixth street, searching for the source of this bizarre, shrill holler that kept screaming at me like the invisible man. With some degree of alarm, I noted that the sound was coming from beneath the concrete, through a thick horizontal shelf of sidewalk. Through a storm drain, I saw a familiar face. He was smiling, he was alive.
"Gene! Iím down here!"
NYPD Evidence shot of murder
weapon in Spungen/Vicious murder case
Rockets: ...you gonna eat anything?
Rockets: And...lemme tell ya...for a fact...I know that Sid did not kill Nancy. That I can completely ascertain. Not just, like, from what I know...but I'm positive. I know basically what happened. And I'll be honest with you, I can't go into too many details because I'm including it in my autobiography, and it's an area where nobody has gone yet. But basically, she was killed by a drug dealer who worked at Max's Kansas City. And the reason that Sid was...the big problem for Sid was, it took him so long to report the crime...when they...when he did report it, he had the blood all over him and everything. And people had seen him walking him around with the blood all over him as if he was in, like a daze. Well, he was in a stupor, because I was there the night that Nancy died.
Gene: Right before Steve X walked in...
R: Yeah, that's the guy. That's the guy who...(hesitant)...yeah. Basically, what happened was...that...now see, you gotta realize, what happened was, I saw Steve when I left there. I saw Steve coming up. I was there just before Steve. Then Steve came down the stairs. When I saw Steve again...the next time I saw Steve, was not that night. But I saw Steve coming down the stairs giving tidbits to all these reporters about how Sid abused Nancy and the story of him beating her up with his guitar, and hanging her out the window, by her legs and all that. So that made me a little suspicious and then I realized what was going on, that he had said to me that he had all these Tuinals. He wanted to sell them to them, and he sold them a bunch. And what happened was Sid and Nancy took a bunch of them. Sid, being the type of drug hound he was, he was completely out of it. He was unconscious, fucked up. And the reason that he didn't report the murder in the morning right away was that Nancy was dead, he knew that he was gonna at least be detained, and he was on the methadone program. So he wanted to get his methadone. Plus, he was still in the half-life of barbiturates. Like the next day, you're not thinking totally clear, so that's why...that spacey look, and him stumbling, and having the blood all over him...it wasn't like some kind blood simple stupor he was in, you know how they talk about how after someone commits murder sometimes, especially a gruesome murder, they get into this head where everything is surreal and they don't know where they are, and you know, that whole shock thing.
G: Was Steve X ever called in for questioning after that?
G: Was that because the cops didn't take him seriously, or...
R: No. They didn't think he was anything. He just provided background. It was more like...he provided the kind of stuff they wanted to hear. Sid was a perfect fucking scapegoat. If Nancy hadn't happened, something else would have happened. Yeah, you've gotta realize...this guy was influencing youth. And everything he was about was so negative. Heroin addiction, stupid violence, and while John Lydon sang about it, Sid was pretty much the embodiment of that kind of thing. Now, you can look at it and say how stupid it was, but at the time it was easy to get caught up in that. It was the equivalent of...well, it was like anti-glamour. And even though most of the roots are in that whole glam rock thing, it really wasn't. Anyone could be a star. All of a sudden, regular people were giving themselves rock star names. It was street culture, criminal culture and street culture taken to...you know, I guess the closest thing we have now is hip-hop, and the violent aspect of that. The whole violent aspect, the whole street thing you know, guys who are making two million dollars on an album going around cutting each other with box cutters, shooting each other with guns in alleys.
G: And cops had something against anything having to do with punk...
R: Oh, absolutely! I think it was even deeper than just the cops. I do, I do believe that...you know, listen...the government does not let somebody who has that kind of a forum just spew endless shit. C'mon, look at what happened with Jean Seberg. She got involved with the Black Panthers, and all that, and basically the FBI hounded her to death. Jeanne Seberg played Joan of Ark, she was a very good actress. She was a French film star. She also was in BREATHLESS. A waif-like blonde French woman who actually was Swedish or something. The point is, she got involved with the Black Panthers, and that whole thing in the 60's...'
G: The New York Panthers or California Panthers?
R: The California Panthers. So the government started following her and she's just one. There was the Hollywood Ten and that whole blackballing thing. You don't even have to be a celebrity. It's just having access to the printed word. And how many people now...Iím sure they're having a ball with this Internet stuff. I'm sure they have whole buildings full of people that do nothing but hit websites to see what's going on with websites.
G: Do you think that the establishment really took punk and the Pistols that seriously?
R: Yeah. I think to an extent they realized that it was...let me put it this way. I think they realized the potential was there. All they really needed was...I mean, take a Malcolm McLaren, who was interested more in power than in money. Someone who was that Machiavellian...if someone like that had stepped in and used Sid, and people of that ilk...and even worse, some of the other ones that come down the pike later...we could've seen a whole different mindset among youth. It was definitely diffused with that Sid thing. Look at just the personal switch. How the hell was he...you know, there he was, his first love, his first girlfriend, he's a rock star, he's a junkie, he's the most libertine character that's been around for quite a while, that has had that much attention...and then all of a sudden, he goes to the complete fuckin other end of the spectrum. He's fuckin in jail, with a murder charge probably he's not gonna have his freedom, he's gonna have nothing. He's locked in an American prison, which for a guy like him, who was known as Sid Vicious, who was like 6'4, 6'3, weak, he's skinny and can't fight worth shit, but who has a big mouth. He'd have been killed within the first six months. He never woulda went to trial. He woulda got killed in Rikers. It was tough.
G: In the period that he did spend in Riker's. did he ever get raped or beaten up?
R: No. He got beat up a couple times. He wasn't the kind of person who jail guys would have seen...who even, you know, bull faggots in jail wouldn't have seen as attractive. He was too funky. You know, I mean he was dirty, he smelled bad. I loved him, I thought he was a great guy. Because he was an innocent, in his own sad way, he was an innocent.
G: Aside from the drug connection, did you have a pretty strong friendship with them?
R: Well, I couldn't stand Nancy. The only other thing I'll tell you is that there is a connection with the Satanic Church, and there is...uh...(long pause). I know, whenever I mention this (laughs), or come up with this, it's like (feigns shocked reaction) oh god, "fringe lunatic!", but...Maury Terry wrote a whole book about it, "The Ultimate Evil." And there are reasons...well, there are definitely reasons that I have to believe that it was videotaped....that Nancy's murder was videotaped. (pause) But it's the same kind of thing...they videotaped the Son Of Sam murders, and there is enough evidence there that Maury Terry is not the only one to believe that, and a lot of other people do believe that. Snuff films are not that exciting for the really jaded characters when they consider that it's some whacked out welfare mother who's gonna take five grand for her kids, and probably has AIDS anyhow and is gonna die in a year.
G: So the celebrity status of Nancy would have made the snuff film that much more popular.
R: Yeah, especially her status at the time. And the whole thing of having Sid sitting there on the couch, completely out of it...which was the tableau that I left them in... you know, Nancy screaming and bitching...and freaking out and being obstinate like she always was. And Sid just completely zonked, practically in a coma.
G: Was that the usual pattern for them in their relationship?
R: Usually they would either...they were either crying, screaming, or nodding, pretty much. Fighting or arguing or busting on other people. Nancy constantly was egging Sid on to like..."hit that wank off, Sid!" Or things of that nature. "Oh, that skank is looking at you! Go over and smack her." Stuff like that.
G: Of course, she knew Sid wasn't any good at fighting.
R: Yeah, well...she's more interested in the drama.
G: So in twenty years, what do you think has kept that videotape from being discovered?
R: It was never easy to see, you know. You probably had to put up quite a bit of bread to see it, to have a screening. Listen, the place where Lucky Chang's is, the basement over there? Thirty years ago, they had live, just like how they did it in 'Nam, they called it "telephone". Matter of fact, telephone shows came over from 'Nam.
Note: A derelict stumbles to the cafe gate and leans over towards Rockets.
R: What do you want, a cigarette? Yes, they came over from 'Nam.
G: What were telephone shows?
R: Like...you know, a girl would sit on a chair, and be abused by a guy...suck his cock, get smacked around, and then...sometimes they would say "telephone for you!"...then take a gun out, put it to the girl's ear. And pull the trigger.
Shit like that. There's some of them, where the girls were...usually one of the things that makes a snuff film...they don't want complacency. One of the things that makes a snuff film enjoyable is the idea th-..well, "enjoyable" (RR gestures the use of quotation marks with his fingers)...is that the idea that they don't know it's comin', that they're making a hard S/M flick, tape, or show. And when they realize that it's not just gonna be like a couple of whip lashes, and maybe a couple of razor cuts and cigarette burns, and that once they're tied up it might go all the way, most of them are in denial right up until the last second. I know one person who's very wealthy, and a real sick individual, almost like a connoisseur of very decadent sexual books and paraphernalia. He dived into the Vatican library, you know. (laughs) And I know this all sounds like all that trite shit you hear, but...it's true.
There was a German film that was made by these artists who had obviously, from my friend who had seen the Sid and Nancy tape, told me that this was a recreation of the Sid and Nancy tape. And......they used kids.
So it was almost like a joke. It was supposed to be kiddie porn, but a kiddie snuff film. And it had a little kid about five years old, on the couch, sitting playing with a knife and all this. Him and his girlfriend, another four year old, made up to look like Nancy...they get into an argument and the kid stabs Nancy. Now that was the one that was the most popular, but they also made a version where there's the Sid character, kid, laying on the couch nodding, and the door opens and this other guy comes in with another little kid, with a video camera, videotaping the third boy...stabbing Nancy. This was done by a German artist who had seen the tape and tried to recreate it as a...almost like a goof, like an inside-inside-inside joke.
G: Did Sid Vicious know that he was being taped?
R: No, he was out of it. That's why I say, Sid couldn't have killed Nancy. There's no way someone who was as stoned as Sid was, when they estimated Nancy's time of death...and I have to be honest with you: after all these years I really don't remember how late it was. Because in those days, your clock was like, on 24-hour time. I was using a lot of drugs and everyone was. I mean, everyone would open their door at 3, 4, and 5 in the morning if you brought drugs over...or if they had been waiting for their drugs anyhow.
G: Well, either Sid or Nancy had contacted you earlier that evening about Dilaudid.
R: Yeah, I was supposed to get them more Dilaudid...
G: And Tuinal...
R: Yeah, they wanted more Tuinal. And they wanted dope. They actually wanted dope. But I said to them, "I don't want to get you the dope because the dope out there is shit. I'll get you Dilaudid." Which is pharmaceutical, and just as good. Especially for their purposes. So...they had had that before. I had gotten them some before and they were happy to get that. But the point was that Nancy had showed me like $1,400 and she said "get Dilaudid. I got the money." Because once or twice before, Nancy had said to me, "get me this or that", and I showed up with whatever I had gotten for them. The she said, "Oh, I don't have the money. It's not here right now. Can you wait about an hour?" So the first time I said "yeah", because they had always come through with the money before. This one particular time, that was the last time I let them get away with that. That time, of course, they said "the money will be here in about in hour." I said "okay", so for an hour they shot up drugs and the money never showed, of course.
G: But the Tuinal they did was what Steve brought over before you talked to them.
R: Yeah. The Dilaudid was what I was gonna get them. My point being that Nancy showed me all this money and the next day, Sid had like nine dollars and change on him. And that was all the money that was in the apartment. They didn't give me the money upfront, because the thing was I was gonna get it and bring it back to them.
Note: Rockets peers over at my notes.
R: (smiling) Oh, I see Neon Leon. When I came back to the hotel the following morning, I left. I couldn't get it at that time. And I saw that something was up.
G:: But you didn't actually go into the room.
R: You couldn't get into the room!
G: The last time you were there was 4:30 am.
R: Yeah, I had been there early, and I must have came back like 11ish because Sid had already been taken away, or was being interrogated in the room.
G: Do you know what Sid did when he woke up?
R: Yeah, he went to the methadone program. We talked about it afterwards, when he got out. Now the first time Sid got out, he started hanging out and trying to behave, not get in trouble. But he was hanging out in clubs and stuff. And basically doing dope here and there but not really being outrageous. Because he knew he could get put back in like that, you know. You're on bail, you know, you gotta be careful. Which is why...what happened was...that's when he really said to me, he said "you really gotta stay with me, make sure...because you know the city a lot better than me." Because he really was lost in New York. He said "you know the city a lot better, you know what is gonna bring trouble on and what won't, better than I do." So I said..."all right."
G: But then he got into that whole Hurrah's thing.
R: Yeah, that's what I was gonna...so what happened was one night, Sid wanted to see...well, actually, we didn't really have any plans. We were hanging out at Max's, and this guy Peter Kodiak...he's a photographer. He did The Only Ones back cover, for "Another Girl, Another Planet."
G: He shot the sleeve cover of "So Alone", too right?
G: he's back to his real name now, Peter...something else...
R: I think he's doing fashion work now. All right, so he showed up with a limo, invitations to Hurrah's and a stack of drink tickets. And this guy Dave, he was his assistant. Now he didn't come in the limo with us, he was already there. Stationed already.
G: So you guys went in a limo?
R: Yeah. And I think this was a set up. So we get there and Sid gets a handful of drink tickets...I mean, a ridiculous handful of drink tickets. Fifty drinks. So we're drinkin', we're drinkin'. And SkaFish was on, and Patti Smith's brother and his girlfriend were in front of us. And Sid was dancing around, playin', playing around, and (long pause).....he fucked up. I think he did something to Patti Smith's brother's girlfriend, something...and they got into words. Sid hit him with a beer mug. [Todd Smith] fucked him up pretty good, I was surprised that...because usually Sid....well, I guess Patti Smith's brother was a bigger punk than Sid was. (laughs)
G: He actually broke the mug on his face...
R: Yeah. It broke on impact, which is pretty...that's what I'm surprised at. Usually, you do more damage with those things and they don't break. I'm surprised it broke. [Smith] was very bloody.
Anyhow, all the bouncers came running over and it's funny because [NAME DELETED] was one of the bouncers there. He's a producer now. And heís a friend of mine...but he was one of the bouncers and there was a bunch of other bouncers and they all came rushing over. Now Arthur Weinstein of course is a real good
friend of mine...he owned Hurrah's at the time. But all these bouncers came rushing over, and I was dragging my girlfriend Joann and basically carried Sid out, all 6'4 of him, got us outta there. I managed to get us out, but I had a couple of scuffles with two of the bouncers. I was a whomper when I was a young guy.
G: Well, didn't you used to be a bouncer?
R: Yeah. I used to run the UK club which was an after hours club. I used to throw Hell's Angels and mafia guys out of the after hours club.
G: And there was a bar called The Red Bar...
R: Yeah, I used to work the door. Like, I decided who came in, who didn't. But also...that place, there was never a fight at that bar, ever. Except for the ones I had outside, you know. But...anyway, so...I got Sid out and I took him to the nursery, an after hours club. And his hand was cut open, so I...this is a real Rambo story...I took him into the ladies room, and I got a needle and thread from this girl, and just kind of closed it up enough so that it wasn't dripping and shit. Wrapped it up.
G: How the hell did you manage to do that!?! You were really drunk at that point!
R: Oh yeah. Yeah, well...(laughs). Plus, it was like, that whole Sid Vicious thing. What, he's gonna say, "no, don't do that"? Of course he was gonna let me do it. (long, hard laugh) He just saw it as more of his myth being invented. Anyway, strangely enough, it was like four days later before he got arrested.
G: I guess Todd Smith went right to the cops after the incident.
R: I really don't know. I'm sure the cops were called, so maybe...he passed away, didn't he? I think he did, yeah.
G: What about Neon Leon?
R: I don't know. Supposedly he had Sid's jacket. He was staying at the Chelsea at the same time. Now, at that time I had moved out of the Chelsea. I used to live there on and off for years. Matter of fact, right up until about four years ago, the Chelsea was my second option.
G: What about the story of Sid going to Neon Leon and telling him that he was depressed and that everything was over, stuff about dying...
R: Well, that's Leon's story but I can't see Sid feeling that way. When he came out of Riker's, he definitely was not ready to give up. And Sid was not the type to give his shit away. Sid was more the type to get something from somebody. I don't want to knock the guy, but I think that was more fantasy on Leon's part. Somehow, he did wind up with Sid's jacket, but who knows. Sid could have left it there, you know. There was a lot of shit going on at the time, it was like...people were saying things like I didn't even know Sid. I mean, how did I not know Sid when on page four of the New York Daily News there's me carrying Sid out of Hurrah's, the pictures that guy Dave took.
G: What do you know about the Marcia Resnick-Johnny Thunders-John Belushi heroin dealing?
R: John Belushi used to live right above the UK Club. Him and Judy. And I enticed him, when he first got here, to go to the UK Club. This was a 24-hour club, open all the time, 7 days a week. It was like four in the morning, and he really started to like the whole after hours thing. So I took him on the rounds, to the Nursery, to a bunch of the other places. (laughs) In a way, I feel a little guilty, But that's how he actually met Marsha and stuff. Because Marsha used to hang out a lot at CB's, then the after hours places. matter of fact, I met Marsha soooo many years ago when I was first hanging out. In the very beginning of the whole punk thing, she was doing her book BAD BOYS, and she took a picture of me on the steps of the Sunshine Hotel, right next to CBGB's. A flophouse. Even though he was John Belushi, he was such an obvious embarrassment to everybody. There's a guy that embodied the spirit of a Sid Vicious. Definitely. He'd get drunk and that whole thing, and when you combine that with the thing of comedy, and the physical comedy...you'd have a couple at Odeon paying, in late 70's dollars, about $200 for dinner...and John would come over and take the guy's fork, put a roll on it, and bang it so the roll would pop up in the air. (laughs) Like, give the guy a break...
G: Did he have a whole entourage?
R: yeah. Him and Aykroyd really were like skin tight though. You'd see Ackroyd at the bar, smoking a cigar, and drinking a brandy or something. And John would like, be drinking ten vodkas and running around, you know. Grabbing women. I think one night he grabbed Ellen Barkin's ass when she was still a waitress there.
G: So at one point, Marsha Resnick was dealing heroin out of the backdoor of the SoHo weekly news...and there was also connections to the Yippies and what was going on at Studio Ten.
R: Yeah, I heard all that...Studio Ten.
G: Were you born in New York?
R: Yeah, Chinatown and Little Italy. I was born on Baxter Street. Born in Bellevue hospital, 1949. Mother's Day.
G: So you just had a birthday!
R: Yeah, last Saturday. I'm fifty years old. No one would have thought it.
G: How old were you when you first got involved with a scene?
R: My mother was a heroin addict, my father was a mafia guy, so basically....there was always a scene. I was running around with the gangs from Little Italy and even the kids in Chinatown. There used to be a thing of...the kids from Chinatown...you wouldn't think so...but kids from Little Italy and the kids from Chinatown didn't really fight each other because they were right up each other's asses. It was much more about keeping the bridge and tunnel at bay. That's who everyone hated. All this stuff about, like Abel Ferrara...I liked a lot of his work, but he missed the mark with China Girl, because it really wasn't...because there may have been incidents like that, I'm sure there were. Although later on it got [bad]. Years and years ago, there were a lot of kids that would flirt with that whole trip but just keep doing whatever they were doing, and assimilate themselves into society. There was huge exodus. In those days the thing to do was move to Long Island from Manhattan. Which is why Massapequa and so many of these towns in the north shore made a phone book what you would expect to see in a phone book from Little Italy. But basically, it wasn't about the Italians vs. the Chinese. It was about Jersey guys, and Brooklyn guys...everyone hated Brooklyn people...because there was like these weekenders who would come in and fuckin hit on our girls, and get drunk and throw beer bottles in our parks.
G: Did you get in a lot of trouble as a kid?
R: Yeah. I wasn't like real juvie material, but a lot of fights, a lot of scuffles, a lot of being warned...in those days cops used to smack you around and send you home. Unless you really...and in those days, you didn't kill somebody. You kicked their ass. I mean, the guys that would take a razor to somebody or something like that, those guys did that once or twice and wound up in Spokeford or wherever the fuck they belonged.
G: When was the first time you were aware of some kind of underground scene, a drug culture...
R: Like I said, always. I always had illegal activity in my home. I was five years old. My uncle Eddie tied me up with his raincoat when the FBI kicked down my parents' door for robbing the Minneola post office. He carried me down the fire escape and drove me to Long Island. Shot an FBI agent right in front of me. Drove me to Long Island, gave me to my aunt and said...you know...Fay, Michael's going with you for the next six months; otherwise they're gonna try to take him away from Dominic and Agnes.
G: What name were you born with?
R: Morra. Michael Morra.
G: So when did you come up with Rockets Redglare?
R: Around...well, I had a band...very much a failed band, but a band at the end of glam, beginning of punk. The name of the band was Rockets Redglare and The Bombs. People started calling me that, which was actually kind of my plan anyhow. Because I always knew I was gonna go into show business. One way or another...and I figured, there's that thing, "if you go into show biz, Americanize your name". And I said, "well, how American can ya get?" (pause) Rockets Redglare.
R: I'm really fucked up chronologically. I guess because I've always been so...so immature. (laughs) But it wasn't about garage bands in New York.
R: Well, we picked a good day for this, anyhow.
R: I didn't write the music. But we were ripping off anything that we liked. Just kind of rearranging it.
G: What did you like?
R: Bowie. We were a beefed up, incredible string band. We got some gigs here and there. A lot of loft parties. We were hanging around SoHo a lot, the West Village, East Village...
G: Who were some of the first people that you remember meeting, who were of some social stature in the area?
R: Actually, Todd Rundgren. I used to always hang out with Nils Laughton when he was in New York. Then later...I was hanging out with John Cale, and his guitar player Sturges, porno stars, Sharon Mitchell...very naughty. I played the judge in a [porno] film that Sharon Mitchell directed, which was funny. They sprayed my hair silver, and this is when my hair was black and stuff.
G: At the time, it was rather predictable to be in a room, in a party full of people from the drug dealing circuit, and the porno industry, and the punk scene all together.
R: Yeah. Like Ming Toy, people that like...well...almost all the musicians had girlfriends that worked as strippers or porno actresses. A lot of the girls did that to pursue their careers. (laughs) There were times when I would just come back. I'd see my friends. You gotta remember...with a guy like me, and my drug use, which was powerful enough that there were periods of time that I really didn't have time to do anything but getting high. There was this guy, at the beginning of my film career, Lance, that had a loft on 30th street and 6th avenue. His loft was like the playground for adults. He had mounds of heroin...he was a heroin dealer and a coke dealer. He has fashion models over there and celebrities. I'm not really gonna get into who was there, but there were a lot of people there. He took this incredible liking to me...and he really almost kind of like seduced me into hanging out there, because he liked to pick my brain. It was great for me...he had almost every film I could imagine on laserdisc, Beta, or VHS. He had all this great pussy around all the time. And I mean, pretty much the deal was pretty pathetic. He used to hold kangaroo court, and shave a model's head after he had chained her to a radiator for a day or so. There's a girl that's gotta be in London in two days...and he shaved her head. There was one that he did it to and she went to the job anyhow...and it was a big deal, it went over really big. And she only originally went because she needed the money and figured they'd put a wig on her or something. Gia was there all the time.
G: So when did you get into the drug thing, in terms of being hooked yourself?
R: I grew up with drugs. I helped my mother and my stepfather kick when I was 12. I was already strung out when I was in high school. They tried, my family tried all kinds of stuff to keep me from getting high. They'd send me to Brooklyn with one relative, send me to Long Island with another one. So there was a whole period of time where I was bouncing around.
G: Did you make it through high school?
G: Was it hard kicking your habit as a kid?
R: Not really. In those days you could buy two-dollar bags. Matter of fact, I got through three years of college...but a lot of dealing too though. I realized that was the only way you can keep your head up.
G: In your early to mid 20's, you really weren't a part of anything, but you were dabbling in a lot of stuff.
R: Yeah. I was like 21, 22, when I got out of rehab. I got sent away when I was 20, for a sale of heroin. But I got probation.
G: So you were already hip to what went on with the cops if you got busted and all that.
R: Oh yeah. Like I say, I was sniffing glue when I was 11 and 12. Carbona. Cleaning fluid, you know. I was doing diet pills. I knew how to get TussinEx, which is a really strong synthetic, almost as strong as morphine, by just complaining of chronic coughs. You could get Robitussin pretty easy, but TussinEx...if you knew exactly the right kind of cough to complain of, and how to cough...you could get it from a doctor and if he didn't come up with it you had to almost recommend it. "Oh, my doctor in Connecticut used to give me the stuff, the cough stuff..."
G: Did you ever get caught doing that?
R: As long as the doctor writes legitimately there's nothing you can get caught for. I mean, you can get...there was a time when you could get really strong narcotics. You could complain of a pain in your bladder, then take a urine test and prick your finger with a pin, put a drop or two of blood in the urine...automatic.
G: Do you have any good stories about the porno era, about hanging out with the people, seeing what kind of lives that they led, that kind of stuff?
R: There was a lot of dysfunction, and weirdness. Just imagine the frustration of some guy that has access to 10, 15...actually good-looking girls that would just rim their asshole at the drop of a hat. And because of all the coke, and just being so fuckin jaded, they just cannot get it up. These guys are in such a fucking weird head...(long laugh)...if you were there, believe me, you woulda had tears in your eyes. I laughed so hard. This guy Jerry.,...his father's this mafia guy from Vegas. And the father has sent Jerry to New York to oversee his porno empire. Jerry has gotten so caught up in these chicks and in all the bullshit that he's totally coked out, all the time, and he's got these twins that go with him everywhere. And a couple of times I had been with Jerry and the twins hanging out, doing blow, and smoking cocaine. The twins would be eating' each other out for like two hours. And Jerry'd be kind of like languishing around. But I figured, "ah...he can have it anytime he wants." He's probably just more interested in getting high or something. I've seen a lot of that. That as one of the things that bothered me that...there was this girl that totally fit one of my all time fantasies. She looked like a little librarian. She had glasses and milky white skin, and used to wear these cotton sundresses. One night, we're watching this movie and she starts crawling around on the floor on all fours. She pulls off her panties, and just starts backing up to where I'm just laying on the bed watching this movie. And I had the coke pipe there. And I realized, holy shit, I'd rather watch the movie and suck on the pipe, and give this girl Lisa the boot. So...that was one of things that made me realize, that made me get my priorities straight. (laughs)
Anyway, so Jerry...couple times we were hanging out and I'd see similar things like that go down. I just figured...Jerry can do this at any time. But sex is one of those things I guess...I know...you can only do so much. But there are all these drugs you can do until you drop dead. So I was seeing this girl Gloria who was a dominatrix, who I met through Sharon Mitchell. And I'll tell ya a story about her too...because for a dominatrix, this girl was the most passive and submissive woman I ever met. Which seems to be the trend...all dominatrixes seem to be suckers in the long run. Anyway, I'm there with Gloria. Now Gloria is no babe in the woods. She's been around the block a bunch of times. Jerry comes over with the twins...and a third girl...who was a knockout. Blonde, Swedish type...which I got another good story there. So, Jerry goes to Gloria's apartment, a beautiful place on 53rd street, right above Trescalina restaurant, by 2nd avenue. Jerry comes in with these three girls, bunch of coke and shit. He starts cooking the coke, and says to Gloria, "do you mind if I get comfortable?" Gloria says, "no. no problem. Get comfortable. Well...I guess in Jerry's twisted concept of what comfortable meant, it was his cue to completely take his clothes off, lay down on Gloria's bed, and start whippin' this flaccid fuckin dick of his-
G & R: Hahahahahahahaha!
R: -all over the place. But I mean, really, it was embarrassing and pathetic. This thing is so dead.. it's like he may as well have taking a piece of wet rope and been throwing that around. And I happened to look over at the twins and the blonde girl...it was so funny, because he's running all over and it's three girls, all simultaneously rolling their eyes in their heads. But when Gloria walked in the room (laughs) the look on her face was just priceless. He asked her, "Do you mind if I get comfortable?" Hahahaha! And he did that for about four hours. Nothing happened. But that's how burned out some of them can get. But I'll tell ya one thing...a lot of those guys wind up with greased up, big black dildos under their bed because their dick just stops working. They're in so much need for some kind of stimulation that I guess they decide to get on a real positive frame of reference with their prostate.
I'll tell you the story of the Danish girl. Actually, I started going out with her after Gloria. I didn't know [she was a porno actress] when I first met her. I thought she was just a thrill-crazed ťmigrť. She never talked about any of that. I'm showing her one night...we're over at my apartment and I show her some scenes from my movies. She goes "you know, I've been in movies, too." I said, "really?" And she says "yes. You must see some of the films that I acted in sometime. I will make you dinner tomorrow night, come over." Now, this is really funny, because this girl...I could not picture her being anything but one of the sweetest little girls in the world. Every day, she'd buy a little gift for me, whether it was just some stupid little toy or something ... sometimes, we'd be walking' down the block and she'd actually start to walk backwards, while facing me. I'd say, "Why do you do that?" And you know, she's giggling and prancing and stuff. So finally I just pressed the issue one night, and she said, "Well, I just like to see you coming towards me. It makes me happy." I'm thinking, "gee, what a sweet thing to say." Anyway, she makes me this dinner, which was really fuckin atrocious. I don't know if you've ever had any kind of Swedish food? It's like this weird, terrible spice...bad, just a lot of fish, like fluga, falugal...flu-I don't know what the fuck it was...cod, with some kind of...I don't know, herring sauce! (laughs) I don't know, but it was about the fishiest thing that I had ever tasted. It tasted like you were biting into some kind of fish's bladder. Like fish piss, melting in your mouth. Anyway, she goes "after dinner, we'll see some of my films." I go "all right." Well, the first one was a Danish film. She puts on the videotape and it's this...it's in Danish, but it opens up and it's beautiful! It's this young girl, and she's running through the park with her dog, and you see her playing with the dog, and jumping and stuff...and she gets to the barn of her farm. She's got her horse there. So now, she takes the horse and starts grooming the horse. But it's really cute and it was her dressed as a little girl, dressed in a pinafore, a little short pinafore...I'm saying "that's a little weird", you know. So she takes the little dog, gets on the horse, as the dog runs with her, and she's riding the horse. She rides the horse all the way out from the barn, out by the north forty or something, gets off the fucking horse, starts rolling around on the grass with the dog, (laughs) starts to blow the dog! I'm looking' at her ...(laughs)...and she's going' like this: (winks and makes nudging motion with crooked elbow, as if to say "what do you think? Pretty good, huh?")
And get this. After a while she gets up, leaves the dog there like this (imitates dog with dumb grim and eyes rolling back) and she walks over to the horse and starts playing with the horse's cock. Then she starts blowing the horse. (laughs) Then it shows her, and there's a screen title, and I guess it was 20 years later (laughs), or ten years later, and it shows her driving a Saab to the farm...she gets out, and the dog comes running out, and she scruffles the dog's head...gets on the horse again...now she's dressed as a business woman, right? She gets on the horse, hikes her skirt up, you know...rides the horse out by the north forty, and does the same thing as a grown woman, right? Then, of course, the guy across the way sees her, the young buck farmhand...
G & R: (laughs)
R: He sees her doing this...and then they get started. After that it just degenerated into a typical porno flick. But I was just so flabbergasted...and here I am, an inch away from saying to myself, "ah, the mother of my children!" So...we had a good couple of weeks, and we had had some great sex, but...after that, I realized that this was a go anyplace, do-anything kind of girl. Up in one club one night...at the Mudd Club, we were hanging out, I was drinking a Vodka and cranberry which was my constant drink, and she slipped down, like...the Mudd Club had a wraparound bar. The bar was packed...and me and her just happened to have a spot at the front. So she slipped down, opened my fly and starts giving me a blowjob. I guess she didn't realize, or didn't care...I didn't realize it. that that was the spot where the bar separated...it was continuous on the top, but it was separated...
G: For the bartenders and the waitresses-
R: -to slip under, so they can come in and out when they had to. I'm noticing while she's sucking my dick that people on the other side of the bar are looking over (laughs loudly) and laughing, and you know...speaking to their friends. (laughs) And I'm going like this, looking for snot on my jacket, or arm, you know. And I looked down, and I see the light (laughs) shining on us. There are a lot of weird stories. In the UK Club I saw some really weird shit, like mafia type guys so fucked up on coke and shit they'd take this transvestite into the bathroom, and lay I guess all this coke on her, on him...now I had always assumed that if anything happened, the transvestite would be sucking the mob guy's cock. And that, you know...you're not gonna say anything to a guy like that, like, "hey, that's a little freaky, ain't it?"
G & R: (laughing loudly)
R: You know, "what are you, a homo?"
(laugh) You know, you're not gonna say that. So, one time, he gets me....the mob guy says "come on in and do a line with me", and I say "no Frank, it's okay". He goes, "no, come on, come on", so we go in there and I guess he trusted me, and liked me, or else he was just really fucked up, because...we're in there about two minutes, and (Rockets knocks loudly on cafe table). "Who is it?" It's the transvestite, knocking on the door. I guess either like, pissed because...(Rockets points out girl standing on the sidewalk).
I want to tell you something interesting. See this girl here? Right there? 15 years ago that girl was sooo...I mean, she still has a decent face, but she was so beautiful. She had such a fucking amazing body. Now she looks like a housewife. She looks like a fucking suburban housewife. Poor women man, time fucking kicks their asses. These fucking girls, they think they're gonna be pretty forever, and young forever.
R: Me and Spacely [John Spacely, star of notorious heroin-verite film Gringo, A/K/A Story Of A Junkie, 1984-ed.] got along, we were friendly, you know. The unfortunate thing, and it's not to knock Lech [Kowalski], but you know...Lech kind of did Spacely a fuckin big dis-service by doing that movie...because Spacely started to think that any day, the fucking hand of destiny was gonna pull him out of his shit, and he could be as big a fuckup as he wanted to be.
G: He got a lot worse after Gringo?
R: Yeah. I mean...he didn't realize he was being used...not that Lech was really using him, but he was being used by a lot of people. To him, he was fucking good buddies with Keith Richard and shit, in his mind. You know, so fuckin Keith threw him a hundred here or a hundred there. You know, when they were in town, and they did that shit at the St. Mark's Bar, and waiting for a friend on 7th street. There's a picture of John Spacely and Keith Richard...or there was, for a long time, up at the Holiday Bar.
G: Did the Rolling Stones see that film, do you think?
R: Probably not...but you know, Iím sure that Spacely made Keith aware of it. (laughs) I can remember when I was doing Desperately Seeking Susan and Talk Radio and all that shit...a couple of times I'd run into Spacely in a nightcllub or something. Here I was now, in filmsÖand I'm not trying to say I was like better than him or anything. (sighs) But I did the stand up comedy...when I really started to work, I worked. I did stand up comedy, I fucking wrote the cabaret show every week...I had Buscemi, Mark Boone Jr., all those guys involved...John Lurie. I fucking had what was then the Saturday Night Live of the Lower East Side. When you think about it, quite a few of the people that had performed in my cabaret shows have done very well for themselves. Then I fucking pursued my work, and I fucking showed up on time, sober, fucking straight, and ready to go. Didn't let my fucking addiction and my problems get in the way of the job.
R: With Lech Kowalski...after Johnny Thunders died, I did a comedy thing and Lech videotaped it. And I was talking about John, it was a memorial thing for John, and I did some comedy there, and he taped. Me and Lech always got along.
Rockets Redglare, Film Actor and Comedian, Dies at 52 (New York Times)
Rockets Redglare, a comedian, actor and longtime fixture on the Lower East Side of Manhattan who played characters not unlike himself in many movies, died on May 28 in Manhattan. He was 52.The cause was complications of kidney failure, liver failure, cirrhosis and hepatitis C, said his cousin, Madeline Schuster. Rockets Redglare's rugged good looks and rollicking nature made him a recognized figure on the Lower East Side, where he hung out and often lived. In the early 1980's he began performing as a comedian in neighborhood clubs like the Pyramid and Club 57, where for a few years he staged a string of performances called the Taxi Cabaret. In the mid-80's he began acting in films, appearing in nearly two dozen over a 15-year period. He played a sushi-hating cabby in "Desperately Seeking Susan" and a poker player in Jim Jarmusch's "Stranger Than Paradise" and appeared as himself in "Basquiat." Although his parts were often small, his colorful presence impressed viewers. "When Rockets was on screen, you couldn't take your eyes off him," said the actor Steve Buscemi, who met him on the downtown comedy club circuit in the 80's, appeared in 1992 with him in "In the Soup," then directed him in 1996 in "Trees Lounge" and last year in "Animal Factory. "Born Michael Morra, Rockets Redglare grew up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and in Lindenhurst, on Long Island, sometimes living with Ms. Schuster's family. No immediate family members survive him. While growing up on Long Island, he worked as a roadie for a band called the Hassles, which included Billy Joel. It was his first brush with the life of show business. In the late 70's he worked for a time as a bodyguard for the Sex Pistols and later for Sid Vicious, that group's bass player, who split with the band.
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