Welcome to my new blog!
What you are about to read is the title story from my book Escape From Houdini Mountain. My new memoir collection Showgirl Confidential will be published in September on Punk Hostage Press.A book signing party for Showgirl Confidential will take place Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 at Skinny's Lounge, 4923 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA, 6:30-9:30pm. The official launch party & reading is Wednesday, October 16, at Skylight Books,1818 N. Vermont,
Los Feliz,CA, at 7:00pm. Both events are free!
More readings to be announced soon!
|Ruins of the Houdini Mansion, Laurel Canyon|
ESCAPE FROM HOUDINI MOUNTAIN
It was 1981, and I’d been slam dancing the night away at the legendary club The Starwood in West Hollywood, with my pals musician Kid Congo, artist Brad Dunning, and a noted cult rock star, who will hence be dubbed Mr. Monster. I had a little crush on Mr. Monster, but then, everybody did. He was tall and rangy, good-looking in a macabre sort of way, and was known for being completely wild, both on and off stage. So when somebody suggested we all drop acid, I didn’t hesitate. Last Call rolled around a little too soon, and we beat it out of there before the lights went up.
After killing a fifth of Jack Daniel’s and beaucoup Budweiser at my house Disgraceland, we were all itching to get into trouble. Brad suggested we go to the old Harry Houdini mansion, up in the wilds of Laurel Canyon. The next thing I clearly remember is all of us running through the underbrush, screaming “HARRY! HAAAAAAA-REEEEEEE!” like Allison Hayes as The Fifty Foot Woman when she was stuck in those pesky high-tension wires yelling for her husband. We were all joking about Houdini’s ghost acknowledging us, because apparently when he’d been alive he was really into séances. Mr. Monster and I both heard music coming from Houdini’s guest house, rock and roll. For some reason, even though the music seemed pretty loud, the other two insisted we were hallucinating, so we split off to investigate.
By this time, we were full on tripping—that kind of heart-skipping, strobing, blood-and-rust-in-your-mouth, peaking LSD high.
Kid and Brad made their way down the hillside back onto the street to the car, thinking we’d only be a minute, and Mr. Monster and I trudged through the woods to the Houdini guest house, which was built into the side of the hill with windows about a story and a half up from the ground. Mr. Monster, who in his stocking feet was tall enough to give any NBA star a run for his money, suggested that if I stood on his shoulders and then he stood up, I’d be able to spy into one of the windows. Loaded and devil-may-care enough to actually think this was a good idea in the pitch dark on a rocky, uneven hillside, I climbed aboard. Steadying myself on the rotting window ledge, I saw about ten bikers: really big, scary, Bachman Turner Overdrive-sized bikers, with beards, beer bellies, straggly hair, greasy denim, and black leather jackets. They were all sitting around this trashed room with candles everywhere, listening to a boom box, drinking beer and smoking some very skunky pot. Back then, punks were punks, bikers were bikers—there was absolutely no crossover whatsoever. At that point, Mickey Rourke probably hadn’t even entertained the idea of riding a Harley.
All of a sudden, one biker looks up and spots me with a huge, cartoon-like double take. He thought I was hanging on the side of the building and ran towards me, chivalrously offering his hand. I guess he couldn’t believe his good fortune at discovering a nubile teenage girl clinging to his window ledge at, like, 4:00am!
“No, it’s okay,” I said, all casual, as though this was normal.
“I’m standing on someone.”
“Well, why don’t you both come in?” he said hospitably, gesturing to a side path that led to the door.
I jumped off Mr. Monster and we walked up to the house. We were immediately offered refreshments, contraband, and a guided tour of the residence, where the whole gang was apparently “homesteading.” It was far beyond any Roger Corman chopper-trash B movie.
We’re sitting in the bathroom, Mr. Monster and me, on the crumbling old claw-footed tub, with the Leader Of The Pack, who is astride the toilet. He’s a skinny, pale guy with darting crystal-Meth-powered eyes and a Mansonesque intensity. We’re smoking a joint. There’s a stoned-out lull in the conversation, and The Leader gets all weird and silent. Then, with what can only be described as a sinisterly quiet psychotic rage, he says,
“I was in ‘Nam, you know. One day I got this letter that my stepmother, the fuckin' bitch, slit her own throat with a milk bottle!”
Me and Mr. Monster share a brief sidelong glance, and in my acid consciousness, I knew I wasn’t the only one who was starting to get scared. Then The Leader said, with all the veins in his neck and forehead bulging,
“When I found out she did that, man, IT MADE THE WAR FOR ME!”
He then busted into a red-faced, clenched-jawed, sociopathic grin.
I squeezed Mr. Monster’s hand in what I hoped was a signal, and he made some off -the-cuff excuse about leaving, but The Leader wouldn’t hear of it. Not wanting to offend him since it was clearly apparent he was deranged, we agreed to go and look at his pride and joy, his Master Bedroom. He led us out into the woods behind the guest house, further up the hill. It turned out to be under a flagstone gazebo that was fitted with a bare bulb lighting fixture that actually worked. He pulled the switch, and sitting on top of a massive pile of trash was a round, king-sized bed with a ratty velveteen leopard bedspread! We stared in slack-jawed awe until he motioned us back to the guest house, and said sort of confidentially that we could use this bed if we wanted to “make it.”
What we did make was more excuses for having to leave right now, but we didn’t want to appear as though we were freaking out, which we were really starting to do.
As The Leader left to get us a new beer, Mr. Monster grabbed my hand and we ran for it. Seemingly out of nowhere, the leader jumped into the middle of the path like a character in a cheap ninja movie and demanded to know where the fuck we thought we were going. He herded us back to the house, and in desperation (after another failed escape attempt) I told The Leader that we’d decided after all that we’d like to “make it.” I think I even winked.
So we went out back to the gazebo, and sat on the bed in the dark feeling all paranoid, like maybe if we waited there long enough, they’d forget about us. We were there for maybe five minutes, maybe twenty—who knows?—and we began making fake sex noises, so the bikers would think we were fucking. Somehow, I’m not sure how, we really started to have sex. We were making out and Mr. Monster yanked off my tattered jeans and white '50s majorette boots in one fell swoop.
Suddenly, first softly and then louder, we heard singing. At first we assumed it was coming from the boom box, but because we heard underbrush rustling and some muffled laughter, we realized it was the bikers, somewhere in the shadows on the hill, serenading us. They were singing, a cappella, in perfect harmony, “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight…” complete with the “Ow-wee-mo-weh, ow-wee-mo-weh” choruses.
Naturally, this took things to another dimension, with or without the acid. We began laughing hysterically. I remember thinking that if we were gonna die, this was a hell of a way to go! I’m not even sure if we came, we were so wasted. We got our clothes together and ran through the trees and bushes down the hill, then hitched a ride down to Sunset Boulevard with an old man in a pick-up truck who was delivering papers.
The next day, Mr. Monster came by to hand deliver his brand new British import 45, and when I called Brad and Kid to tell them what happened, they both confirmed that they’d waited over three hours for us on the street and then went home.
A week later, reading the L.A. Times, there was a report in the Metro Section that two teenagers who’d been trespassing one night up near the Houdini mansion had been shot with a BB gun by “transients.” No suspects had been taken into custody.
* * * *
Purchase Escape From Houdini Mountain here: http://www.princessfarhana.com/book_houdini.htm