Lucky you! Here’s another entry in the gossip marathon I call a memoir, Celebs Behaving Badly. Be sure to see Celebs Behaving Badly, Celebs Behaving Badly: New York City Edition, and Celebs Behaving Badly: Burbank Edition.
Copyright © 2018 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved
The Fabulous Stains
I went to California Institute of the Arts. It’s an experience I can’t believe I survived. They really didn’t care what anyone did as long as no one got killed.
My dorm suitemate was Megan Anderson, an actor (I think). Megan was constantly screaming at someone, “Don’t call me Meg-un! It’s Meeg-an!”
Don’t-Call-Me-Meg-un had a large collection of Jacques Brel records (quel bore) and a best friend, Randall Edwards (she’s a girl). Randall’s very good friend was Ed Harris (definitely not a girl).
Randall was a crazed Bruce Lee fan. She would frequently explode into my room, ranting passionate declarations of love for Bruce, who alas was unavailable. She was inconsolable when he died without her permission. I finally had to move out of the dorm. Randall became a soap star. Megan’s probably on a street corner, yelling at people.
But back to Ed. He and Randall had no place to go to run lines or whatever, so they often used Megan’s room that adjoined my bathroom, a raging vortex of inappropriate sounds. Ed was no Bruce Lee, but he was certainly one superfine hunk of manflesh. There must’ve been some chopsocky cosplay going on. A lot of weird noises emanated from that place. Also a lot of used condoms.
CalArts rents itself out to a lot of TV shows and movies as a set. Officially the reason is to impart firsthand knowledge to students about TV/film production, but really the school just wants money. One of the shows that shot there was “The Invisible Man” starring David McCallum.
Let me just say this: I adore David McCallum. “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is one of my all-time favorite TV shows (I own the entire boxed set), and I never miss “NCIS.” I watch The Great Escape every time it’s on TV. I’ll even watch that one “Sex And The City” with him in it. Love love loves me some David McCallum!
But back to CalArts. While the alleged purpose of whoring itself out to Hollywood is to provide students with filmcraft knowledge, we were nevertheless banned from “Invisible Man” sets. I guess they were trying to protect their super secret technology from people who were about to make Star Wars: Episode IV and “Star Trek: TNG.” Or maybe McCallum had suffered more than enough frothing teens during his U.N.C.L.E. tenure. Whatever. We never even saw him just walking around the place. I mean, everybody goes to the can sometime, right?
Anyway, one day I learned McCallum was secretly stashed in an empty conference room, secretly waiting to go onto his secret set.
A guerrilla paparazza even back then, I barged in with my Instamatic.
I was shocked to find McCallum alone in the room, sitting quietly in an old lounge chair, wearing the show’s “secret technology” — a Chromakey mummy suit. Basically the same “secret technology” that suffocated original Invisible Man Claude Rains in 1933.
I clicked away at my hapless idol. And then my mummy spoke to me.
“Your pictures won’t come out without a flash.”
I was ecstatic! And then I fled before someone could throw me out. (And yes, my pictures came out black.)
Bonus points: I also got to meet the legendary Jackie Cooper, who was just walking around the place like a regular person. He played Walter Carlson on the show before Peter Gunn took over the role. Cooper was very kind and nice, although he did have a deer-in-the-headlights look, probably because everyone else wanted to meet him, too, all at the same time. Who wouldn’t?
Training Wheels for Harleys
A while back I posted a 1991 piece I wrote for Spy Magazine, “Doesn’t Harley-Davidson Make Training Wheels?” It’s about celebs who own bikes and could benefit from some technical support.
For everyone wrapped in the cozy delusion that Harleys do not, in fact, come with training wheels, boy are you wrong.
The rig pictured here was designed and executed by Chas Smith, Welder to the Stars. He builds musical instruments, movie sets, recording studios, and massive sculptures for superstar artists (Paul McCarthy, Nancy Rubins, Mike Kelley, Chris Burden). He also masterminded the learner’s aid for the birotationally challenged that’s pictured below.
Smith explains: “Years ago I made these for a Levi’s commercial directed by Ridley Scott, where the lead had to ride a Harley and had never done so. He was going to ride the bike out of an elevator, onto Wall Street, and across a bridge with a babe on the back, and they had to be capable of doing 35 mph.”
Why didn’t Ridley Scott just hire an actor who could drive a motorcycle, you may well wonder. I sure as heck did.
So did Smith. “My first question was: ‘Why not get someone who can ride?’ And the answer was: ‘This is the guy who’s going to sell the product.'” The product being, I guess, pants for losers.
On the bright side, Smith says, “Easyriders was going to do an April Fools article on this, but it was too contrary to the Harley image.”
Below is the TV commercial. Enjoy!
PS — Smith’s own ride is a Moto Guzzi, with just the two wheels.
Photos Copyright © 2018 Chas Smith
Back when I was 17 I spent a summer in San Diego that I’m still trying to forget.
San Diego had a new nightclub called Earth. (No, really, just “Earth.” And had they’d known how hard it would one day be to google that, they’d have named it anything else.) Earth was short on emergency exits but had many enormous custom fish tanks and live-edge wood tables with embedded art under 87 coats of polyurethane. Ah, the ’70s!
The people I was staying with knew the people who were doing Earth’s light shows (remember those? lol), so we got in for free the night Ry Cooder performed. Opening for him was Elvin Bishop. That is, Bishop was supposed to open for Cooder, if he ever showed up. Dude was late late late.
No one knew why. The place was jammed with customers, all of them pissed. Not a good look for a new club. I don’t think there was even canned music playing while they waited and waited, drunk and confused.
Eventually Elvin blew in with his retinue like he was Elvis. Someone thought this a good time for him to meet the hot jailbait who somehow managed to sneak in, I guess because he wasn’t late enough already.
Next thing you know, people are pushing me at him and buzzing around excitedly, and he drools toward me and goes “Blah blah blah!” I wiped everyone off me and I sez to him, “Jeez, where the heck were you?”
Good show though. Late, but good.
All Kindsa Rolling
In the ’80s I hung out at the most fly bicycle store in New York City (or anywhere), Conrad’s Bike Shop. Back then it was owned by Conrad and Sarah Weiss, who were rock stars in the bikie world. It’s still there, in Tudor City, selling great bikes. The tech wiz who built everyone’s bikes, John Tsang, owns it now. Stop by sometime.
Back when Sarah was still the overlord, everyone knew her. She introduced me to Tour de France champ Eddy Merckx like they were old beer buds. She was equally chill around showbiz royalty. “Bob Weir was here today,” she announced drolly as I stumbled in. “You just missed him.”
So I was shocked the day she greeted me with something disquietingly unSarah-like. Not the usual “You again?” or “Don’t lean your bike on that!”
“Tell her,” is what she said.
Huh? Tell who what? I looked around.
Lurking nearby was Rolling Stone‘s photographer Annie Leibovitz. “Tell her what a good bike she got,” Sarah begged me.
Annie was there to pick up the high-end ride she’d ordered. It had a hand-built Italian frame, if memory serves, magnificently assembled with top-shelf components. That’s what Conrad’s does and why Sarah is famous. Annie was having second thoughts about it.
Apparently she was unconvinced it was something that should cost thousands of dollars. And Sarah, she was quietly panicking. A custom bike wasn’t something you returned to the manufacturer for a refund on account of buyer’s remorse. So she drafted an expert explainer. Me, the gonzo columnist for Bicycle Guide magazine.
I assured Annie it was indeed a splendid bike, which it absolutely was — certainly way better than I could ever afford or I would’ve yelled DAMN, GIRL, IF YOU DON’T WANT THAT I’LL TAKE IT! — and worth every dime Sarah was wringing out of her.
Annie left happy and Sarah seemed as cheerful as was possible for Sarah, being relieved that she wouldn’t have to part out Annie Leibovitz’s dream bike.
Copyright © 2018 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved
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