|The Lizard of Aaaahs
by Pamela DesBarres
I was one of the few hundred people who watched the rise and demise of the Lizard King. In the early, early days, right in front of my greedy eyes, he would slink around the Sunset Strip, black leather unzipped, devilish grin - cocky and unremorseful. 'Aaaahhh,' we all whispered, 'What goes on behind that flawless face? Where does he go when the lights go all the way down?' Tousled, tormented and in demand, he led the parade with dangerous indifference. Even the naked facts do nothing to alter those early images: dark, messy ringlets, love beads, angry, penetrating scowl. Come hither, but be careful. 'Watch out. We want the world and we want it. . .now! Mother, , ,I want to, , ,when the music's over, turn out the lights, turn out. . .cancel my subscription. . .'
The first time I witnessed Jim Morrison slither onto a stage, I was bombed out of my mind on a very early version of PCP called Trimar. My friend Jerry, the bass player for the Iron Butterfly, smuggled it out of the hospital where he worked during the day. He got it in quart jars and gave it right to me. Wasn't I just the lucky one? An itsy-bitsy vial sold for for ten dollars on the street, so I was very popular that balmy night in Hollywood.
The club (a tiny underground cavern called Bido Lidos) was packed. I held onto sopping lace hankies of this incredibly dangerous drug - inhaling, giggling, waiting. The news was out all over town that this new band, the Doors, had a gorgeous, hot, divine singer. All of us wild and loony girls couldn't wait to get a load of him. The anticipation was high, and so were we. The band played for a few minutes without this divine singer. They were pretty cool - lots of organ, kind of moody and steamy. JIm Morrison didn't really walk onto the stage that evening. I know I was struggling with reality, but somehow he was just THERE.
He was holding onto the microphone like it was trying to get away, clutching it hard, moaning, eyes closed, feeling enough pain for everyone in the room. Oh God, and what did he look like?!? Aaaaah, I had to get a closer eye-ful. I staggered and squeezed my way down to the stage, and gazed up at a future rock legend in wonder. He's Hot, He's Sexy, He's Dead. Remember that Rolling Stone cover? I had never seen such blatant sexuality on stage. He writhed in horny anguish, demanding that everyone in the sweltering, stormy room light his fire. 'We want the world and we want it. . .Now.'
He hooked us all together. WE wanted the entire, fucking world. Right this minute. I had seen the Stones a couple of times, and Mick Jagger definitely inspired some steamy-dreams, but he had his frenzy under control. Jim Morrison was so out of control that it scared people. It scared me close to imaginary death, and I loved it. While Mick suggested the danger which lurked in his trousers, Jim grabbed ahold of it and shook it in our faces. He defied the system with his dick, kind of a rock 'n' roll Lenny Bruce. His defiance was catching, and we all wanted a piece of it.
When he took a dive into the audience without premeditation, without hesitation, we all held him up, snatching up some of his stuff, oh, so briefly.
My girlfriend lucked out and rented the house above the Country Canyon Store in Laurel Canyon. It had a huge picture window, and we would sit on pillows, gazing out at God's golden back yard, waiting for one of the Byrds, or Arthur Lee from Love to stroll into the store. We would dash down the hundreds of steps and casually bump into them as they were wandering back out into the sunlight. Oh, excuse me. Would you like to come up and smoke a joint? Life was grand, Life was mellow, groovy and cool.
One afternoon I was alone at the house, lolling around in front of the window, I heard some familiar music leaking into the room. Aaaaahh, I could swear I know that sound. 'This is the end, my only friend, the end.' Mmmmm hmmmm. Definitely. I went to the window, drew aside the Indian bedspread, and heard it very clearly: the Doors. No doubt about it. Now, the Doors didn't have a record out yet. Everyone knew they got signed to Elektra and were busy recording. Wow. Who had a demo?????? Who had a copy of this precious hunk of pre-released vinyl??
I went out into the blasting rays, and down those few hundred rockstairs, until I was surrounded by that glorious music. It was pouring out of a small, green, wooden house, like right next door! The door was one of those real old fashioned jobs. The top half was open, and I could see the naked back of a guy digging around in his fridge, humming along with 'I'll never look into your eyes...again...' He grabbed a beer and when he turned around and started to knock it back, I let out a minor shriek. Lord have mercy on my teenage soul, it was Jim Morrison himself - those black leather pants unzipped to the danger zone.
My first impulse was to run, so I flew back up the stairs and waited for my heart to straighten itself out. My girlfriend came back from work and found me between hysteria and catatonia. When I told her about her infamous next door neighbor, she suggested I do the neighborly thing and pay him a little visit. Yeah! Cool idea. I inhaled a little fictitious confidence out of my quart jar and floated down the stairs to pay my respects.
Unfortunately, the awful brain-cell destroyer, Trimar, often created blackouts. So, when I found myself back in the real (?) world, I was in the middle of JIm Morrison's tatty Persian rug, antique dress over my head, showing off my backbend. Only, I wasn't alone with the Lizard King. I opened my eyes and stared into the face of a very pissed-off redhead. Uh-oh. The Lizard King was backed into a corner sort of hissing, 'Get it on...' while this redhead, who turned out to be Jim's girlfriend, asked me very impolitely to leave. The nerve! So un-neighborly! I was too high to be embarrassed, even though I should have been. So I bid my adieus and went back to the picture window.
A few minutes later, I heard a racket downstairs - a shrieking girl and something breaking - and soon after a tap on the door. It was Jim. He wanted to know what I was on, and if he could have some. Now, I'm sure it sounds like I was the drug addict of the century but that wasn't the case. Trimar and marijuana, that was it. I had no idea Trimar could be so damaging. It looked just like cool. clear water, and there was no big hangover. I just assumed this sparkling liquid was on the planet for my pleasure. Yeah right, Much later I found out it was used to knock out gorillas, elephants and whales. It was also injected into the spines of women in labor to anesthetize them. I still mourn the brain cells that bit the dust in those days. But on that sunny day in '67, I gave Mr. Morrison the quart jar, and soon we were rolling around the floor like old friends. I wish I could tell you all about the fabulous conversation we had, but I can't remember it - the price you pay.
A timeless time later, he went back to the redhead downstairs. I sopped myself up off the floor and fell into dreamland. The next afternoon, on my way back home to get cute, I was amazed to see a whole bunch of busted up Doors demos all over those rockstairs. I guess the girlfriend, whose name was also Pamela, had hurled them at Jim in a jealous rage. I hope the bad karma I incurred that day has been paid back already. You don't get away with anything.
That very night the Doors were playing The Hullabaloo Club at Sunset and Vine. I considered this extremely good timing. I got dolled up in a homemade bell - bottomed ensemble, complete with decomposing muskrat jacket, and paid a little visit to my Trimar connection. Then I stopped off at the soundcheck. Ah, the glory of the soundcheck. Not too many girls had figured out that between four and six in the afternoon, at almost any club, the band of the night would be tuning up and testing. . .one. . .two. . .one. . .two.
So I was the only one waiting at the backstage door when Jim arrived. He was happy to see me and took me by the hand to the hallowed backstage area. The rest of the band wasn't around, so I offered him a spot of Trimar from m orange-juice jar. He then suggested we find a quiet place to indulge. We poked around and found a ladder leading to a small, musty storage area. Jim laid out my beat up muskrat like it was a set of silk sheets. I'd brought my best lace hankies for the occasion, and we soaked them through before taking several deep whiffs. Up, up and away.
We landed in horny nirvana, throbbing and pulsating, making out like maniacs, until we heard the early stages of 'Light My Fire' somewhere in the distant distance. His gorgeous face loomed before me, and I could see him trying to figure out where he was, what he was doing, and what he was supposed to be doing. Then realization hit, and he was down the ladder and gone. I laid there looking at the glowing spot where his face had been, trying to gather up my limbs ad make them function. Then I followed him - very dumb move. I walked right onstage with the Doors and stood there, gaping like a goon. A large, kind faced roadie escorted me from the stage. I guess I should have been embarrassed one more time, but I wasn't The Trimar wore off, and I watched the show from the sings, my favorite vantage point.
I don't know how Jim got to the gig, but when the music was over, he climbed behind the wheel of my '62 Oldsmobile. We cruised into the wild Hollywood night. I assumed we would get back into the quart jar and some heavy petting, but I was in for a major surprise. After some date-nut bread and fresh OJ at the now defunct, legendary Tiny Naylors on La Brea and Sunset, he headed for the Hollywood Hills. He grabbed the jar of Trimar and hurled it into some massively overgrown ivy. 'That stuff could hurt our heads.' he drawled. 'Now we won't be tempted. Had it been anyone other than Jim Morrison, I might have been seriously pissed off, but I took it like a big girl. He actually gave me a small lecture on the evils of drugs. He told me his disorderly stage persona was just an elaborate act to go along with the music. I felt like a privileged insider, but I didn't believe it for a minute.
I had my head on his shoulder and he was calling me 'darling.' It was a sweet summer dream come true. I had hopes for the future when I dropped him off at that little motel across from the Roxy (even though it wasn't there yet.) He told me to come by and see him the next day. He gave me a wet kiss and a tender, penetrating look like in those famous, shirtless magazine photos. I was on cloud twenty-two.
The next evening I spent an hour and a half milling through my velvet dresses and boas trying to figure out what would please the Lizard King, but when I flounced into the motel, I discovered that Mr. Morrison had checked out. Oh well, at least I had my moment in the moonlight. Oh yes, I tried to find the ivy patch where Jim had thrown the half-empty bottle of Trimar, but it was gone forever. And I never, ever took another whiff again. Too bad he didn't follow his own astute advice on the evils of drugs.
The years rolled on by. The mystery of Jim Morrison became very tarnished in his home town. As the sixties wound down, he could be seen on the Sunset Strip on any given night, staggering around, muttering and/or screaming to himself. Green fools from Orange County dribbled over him as he growled and stung with his eyes, but the locals actually started avoiding him. He spit. He threw up. He pissed in the street.
One night I went to the Whisky A Go-Go desperate to have fun. The normal-formal group, The Ohio Express were playing, but I was determined to rock-out. I was sitting with Miss Lucy from my band, the GTOs, when Jim Morrison slid into our booth. He hollered 'Get it on!!! Suck my mama!!!' Jim definitely had a thing about his mom, no doubt about it. Anyway, we were nice to him (I still harbored a secret adoration), but he was in one of those infamous moods. - again, and very drunk, too.
He reached across the table, yelled 'Get it on!' Then he grabbed Miss Lucy's beer and hurled it in her face. She got pretty upset and told him he wasn't very nice. He said, 'I know', in a sad sorrowful voice, like he couldn't help it. Like that disturbed, disorderly persona he had told me about the night he tossed the Trimar had finally taken over. Right before he crawled over to the stage and climbed on with The Ohio Express he slapped me hard across the face for no reason. It was like he was trying to feel something.
With my cheek throbbing, and teary mascara running down my face, I watched as he grabbed the microphone away from the singer, moaned into it and shoved it down his pants. Ok, Jim, enough already. Poor Mario, the owner of the Whisky had to turn off the lights and sound to get Jim out of the way. It was heartbreaking. 'When the music's over, turn out the lights'...It just wasn't right.
Copyright 2002 by Pamela DesBarres/ Waiting-forthe-Sun.net