LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, 1984 – It was another languid, stifling and something-in-the-air kinda Los Angeles night at the Happy Malaga Castle.
Gurl 52 and your humble narrator (YHN) tossed fitfully underneath the sweat-dampened sheets and longed for the sweet release of sleep. As usual, the door that opened to the fire escape was wide open to allow any passing notion of a breeze to sift in and cool us.
The winds though, they blew devil hot as we tried to dream up a storm that would bring cooling rains and wild breezes.
Feeling Morpheus and drifting lovely, the pre-dawn reverie was shot thru with a shriek.
“There’s somebody here” Gurl 52 exclaimed!
Mumbling and having slowly grown accustomed to her light sleep and instant assessments of imminent calamity, begrudging slumber was almost re-entered by YHN when the sheet at the bottom of the bed was lifted from our bodies.
Bolting upright and grabbing an aluminum pan containing half-eaten macaroni and cheese from a late night snack to use as a weapon, sleep rimed eyes focused suddenly on the figure crouched at the foot of our bed.
“Matthew! What the fuck!?!”
It was the Castle’s building manager, naked, leaning in from the fire escape with the corner of the bed, sheet clutched in his hand.
Lunging towards him with trusty pot held high like a Scotsman’s pike, clumps of yellowed pasta flailing about, he tumbled backwards into the night.
Pushing him down towards the iron stairs accompanied by a hyper-fueled drone of “whatthefuckinmatthews, whathefucks,” he stopped.
Then looked up with an almost child-like expression, put his fingers to his lips and cooed “Sshhhhhh. Mathew’s not here right now.”
“Whaaaattt???” was all YHN could stammer back at the man who collected our rent and fixed our leaky faucet.
Looking down through the cast iron stairs with the kind of glassy glare reserved for the likes of Manson and Crispin Glover, he slowly pointed to the courtyard. He said in a weird, cackling voice, “Matthew’s not heeere. He took too much acid. He’s down there now.”
The Building Manager at Malaga Castle
Matthew lived in one of the best apartments at the Castle, with huge windows facing both the Spanish-style courtyard with it’s burbling fountain and the lovely vine-covered bungalows across the street.
Like most who lived there, we were inured to his tawdry habit of standing in the window with his bathrobe open, displaying his shriveled junk as all and sundry passed by on their way to various endeavors.
Seeing your building manager’s package on your way to work – that was something that one could take in stride as being part of Hollywood crazy.
An acid crazed freak in your bedroom is all kinds of creepy-crawl insanity and remarkably not cool. YHN was going to have a few words with Matthew, post haste.
Knocking loudly and with great fervor on his apartment door, it was finally opened by the mysterious figure we had seen fleetingly, mostly at night.
Tequila Mockingbird emerges
There stood Gurl Thirty Two, Tequila Mockingbird. She was wearing a flowing, crimson robe with vaguely oriental embroidery.
Before I could even ask if Matthew was there, she stated matter of factly, “you simply must help me decide what to wear” and pulled me into the living room.
Standing amidst a pile of clothes she related that she had to choose an outfit to meet her boyfriend Johnny Rotten; Matthew wasn’t home; since she lived in his closet and this was the only chance she had to take all her things out, and she was very pleased and happy to have some help with this life-and-death decision.
This is the amazing thing about her and what makes her a “Gurl.” She immediately drew you into her world. It didn’t matter if you were good or bad or dumb or smart. Tequila would try to find a place for everyone she met somewhere in her orbit.
She had made her bones as a annstigator of the fabled “New Wave Theater,” and as one of the L.A. Punk scenes earliest promoters. Not only of music but dance, art and film, as well.
Her ability to seek out and entice those demented, creative souls who most surely preferred secrecy and shadow into the light and into the studio made the art scene of Los Angeles in those days more vibrant and exciting than most any other.
That is the power of a single Gurl.
Tequila Mockingbird: promoter, creator, force of nature
It is so easy to taste that power when you are just starting out – to be excited about everything and fearful of no thing. Little by little, year by year, for most, excitement slinks away into cynicism and fear gives way to snark.
Not so with Tequila. Tired of promoting bands, at a time most folks are putting their instruments away and getting a “real” life, Gurl Thirty Two started the first of many bands, something she does to this day.
Her first band was “Trouble For Nora,” with Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience on drums and YHN doing sound. Somehow, she got Dr. Timothy Leary involved and minds were melted.
See, that is the thing about Gurls. They do insanely cool stuff like magic, like breathing, like falling off a log.
Eventually, Gurl 52 and YHN moved from the Happy Malaga Castle but never really moved out of an appreciation and respect for Gurl Thirty Two’s ability and insights.
Nowadays, Gurl Thirty Two is the driving force behind the punk rock museums in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Her work is now being studied in colleges and celebrated in dingy clubs.
Tequila Mockingbird is like a sphinx, inscrutable, majestic and seemingly there since time began. That is her power and strength as a true Gurl and lodestone for YHN.
No clothes were chosen in the writing of this article.
YHN, Chester Herlihy is a character from “Memorial” and is known for being a minor cog in the Hollywood machine before suffering a little, swingin’ a little and getting kinda high on his way to a transcendence of sorts.
Find more at:
Facebook 52 Gurls: www.facebook.com/michaelwhitta1/
CDN 52 Gurls: www.commdiginews.com/author/arturo-bienewski/