Glam Rock, Farrah & Life Behind The Orange Curtain • 1976
I Lived on Newport Blvd. & 28th Street in Newport Beach. I was 18 & my roomate & cousin, Mr. Joseph Batchelor, the Clone of Jan-Michael Vincent, was 17. I was more like Brad Hamilton from ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont’, but, without the Pirate Hat. J.B. was my Sidekick since age 7 or so. I was going to Orange Coast College, Contemporary Art History and Design 101. My wheels were the ones I never should have sold. 1965 Sunbeam Tiger, stuffed to the gills with a 275-horsepower 289 Ford V8 & 4-Speed. Good for about 120 mph in that little car, and a highly sought-after Item nowadays. We used to blast Johnny Winter, Bowie, Stones & Ted Nugent on the stereo in the house a lot. Standard Newport Background Noise, 1976.
I had bought the car for $700. sitting in some guy’s yard in Silverado Canyon, outside under a tree, and it sure didn’t look like that when I bought it. Today a nice one is worth between $25 to $60,000, so that was a insanely good deal for an all-original one, even then. I was driving it to school one day up a hill over the 405. A big station wagon was in front of me & stalled abruptly, causing me to smash hard into the back of it. Just thrashed my car up to the engine in front, a very light-weight body that was trashed. My forehead hit & broke the wood steering wheel. But I was okay. Turned out the girl driving was under-age, her Mom was letting her drive. the insurance ruled in my favor, that car was in the shop 2 months & came out looking like, well, the picture. Brand New car, paint, alloy mag wheels, new Pioneer 8-track stereo. Thanks, under-age girl, for Styling Me Out. Easily worth the Mild Concussion.
I had already done & seen a lot. I’d had probably the coolest girlfriend ever, Mishel. My first, a true California girl that wore vintage Mexican skirts with sequins on them in High School, no other girl had her Style. Mishel worked as a shaper at the Morey Boogie factory. Boogie Boards had just come out, they weren’t even called ‘Boogie Boards’ then. Just Morey Boogies, and they were shaped by hand in the beginning like surfboards. She worked with all dudes, a Sureform hand planer in the back pocket of her boardies in a shaping bay just like the boys. We had broken up & I was a batchelor at this point. My motocross & desert racing career was pretty much over, but I still went riding with my Dad all the time. And Mishel & I would Reunite. I should have Married her & I knew it, but I was 18-19.
Since around age 8, I had started riding mini-bikes, then trying to MotoCross my StepMom’s French Mobylette Mo-ped around the neighborhood when I was about 11. (Ladie’s step-through model, 50 cc pea-shooter, White Wall tires not good off-road gear). I Graduated through a series of mini-bikes & small cycles to Full-Size Motocross motorcycles, up to the 400 cc Husqvarna. Czech CZ’s, Spanish Montesas & Ossas. My Dad & I shared them all.
I raced on Weekends for around 3 years at Saddleback Park & the Mojave Desert, with the Big Boys. The family house was adjacent to an open field, as yet undeveloped, but not for long. We made a full-on Motocross Track out back & I practiced after school out there & raced on Weekends. The local Yuppie Cops would try to ride their heavy street Cop Bikes into the field to bust us. I had 2 boards rigged in the fence bordering the field, I’d let them get close then blaze head-down right through those 2 boards & escape out the neighborhood, totally non-legal off-Road race bike smoking down the streets at 70 mph, kill the motor & coast home. Those guys were so pissed at me, they couldn’t ride very well even on the Street. They Knew Who I Was. I used to fire up that Badass Huqvarna, Seriously LOUD, & just rip through the Neighborhood. One hot Summer Day the new Asphalt on our street was soft from the Heat. I Burned down the street on my MX Bike, which could tear Black chunks Out of the Pavement with that Gnarly rear Knobby tire. 50 Horsepower in a 200 lb. Bike. Seriously Fast. Guys like J.N. Roberts, Malcolm Smith & Steve McQueen were my Heroes. My Dad & I rode Desert, Motocross & Enduro in the Idaho Forests. I was a Pretty Good rider & he was no Slouch either, having had Motorcycles since being in England during WWII , 30 years’ worth. He had Taught me to Ride Well, since around age 8. My old Trusty StingRay & Motocross bikes & gear were stowed at his house, The Keeper of the Gear, Coolest Garage Always filled with a Lotus, or a ’69 SS 396 Big-Block El Camino, always something Cool in there since Day 1. But I had Moved Out, Doing my Thing.
I’d been to Europe after High school & seen a bit of it. Now I was on my own, working, figuring out about Art & Design. I loved Warhol’s work, he was very much still alive then & working. Just a Big Influence from the start. I had been playing guitar for a couple years & took a Classical Guitar class at OCC, the Jr. college I was enrolled for an AA degree. In the Class was a girl named Janet. She was a Total Farrah Clone. But complete Dingbat Dumb Blonde. Man, she defined that term.
Poor Janet, she was Total Farrah-Style, & she Embraced it, Purposefully Farrah. Feathered Farrah Hair, that Metallic silvery-white lipstick, white Ditto jeans too tight, all teeth & giggly..tee hee. The girl was completely Tone-Deaf, had no musical talent at all, & she decided I would be the Perfect Victim to get her through the class, and I was. Man, she had Zero Musical Ability. so of course I ended up Dating Her, but it wasn’t easy. I had Farrah in my Sports Car with the top down, Farrah Hair Everywhere. Then I met her Sister, who was a bit older, owned a Newport Beach Hair Salon, etc. She was way more sophisticated & older, polished. I was just starting to do some graphics, airbrush (total 70’s!) and that. So I painted this spacy, trippy 70’s mural on the wall of her Salon. It was called Inner Visions for Hair-what else? One of my first paying freelance jobs. Janet & I didn’t have too much in common, she didn’t last long. I was out of there.
Around the corner from our house on ‘The Boulevard’, Main Street, USA in Newport, was a Mexican restaurant called El Ranchito. We went there all the time for takeout. It was really good. So this one night, I’m camped out in my room, which was the screened-in front sun porch on our old California Bungalow house. I had one of my conquests from OCC over. She was a beautiful Redhead. she deserved better, I forget her name, she was cool, but I was 18, and, well. In the middle of the night suddenly there is Massive Automatic Weapons Fire Right in Front of the House. About 25 rounds BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM!!!!!!! We were literally under the Bed, terrified. I look out & see a big Black Town Car just blasted in the middle of the street, riddled with Bullets, doors open. Turns out the El Ranchito Boys were Cocaine Cowboys. something went Awry that night Big Time. Somebody got blasted right out front, like a Movie. If you ever see the film Cocaine Cowboys, Newport was like Miami in that movie back then. But we didn’t know anything about it, we were still just kids. These Carteles were all older, Player-Type Guys. I see now that El Ranchito has 11 Locations in the Newport Beach area…so There You Go.
I was Working in a Retail Commercial Nursery, a lot like the Home Depot-style ones, after awhile I moved back home for a bit. I don’t remember why, Not for Long. I worked with this guy, Jesse who was the Boss of the Dept., he was 22, I was around 18. He set me up with a Fake I.D. so I could go to the Clubs. He lived in a cool Newport Pad also. We became Fast Friends. We were both Killer Salesmen, & Since we worked in the Dept. with the most high-end goods in the store, like Toro Ride-Along Lawnmowers & other power Garden tools, we had potential to gross the most $ for the store, and we did. We had Carte-Blanche in that place and got away with Murder. But we would kill it on the Weekends, each selling 4-5 Mowers apiece in a day. Everyone was Fixing Up their New 70’s Tract Houses, & that store was packed on weekends. We had our Rap Down. This was the Era of Hawaiian Shirts, Puka Shells, all of that. I was & Always have been a big fan of Vintage Wear. So I had all kinds of Cool Hawaiians to wear. Jesse & I made it a rule that every Sunday in the Garden Shop was Hawaiian Day. If you worked that day, you had to show up with a Hawaiian on, or we sent your ass home to get one, or Don’t Come Back today. The managers backed us up on it too. We had access to the warehouse where all the inventory was stored. These 2 very fine-looking ladies started working as Cashiers, they were new, so we decided we were going to Impress Them.We went & got the 2 store forklifts, & started around the store, these girls were cashiers just inside the floor to ceiling windows in front. There’s around 5000 people & cars in the parking lot on a Sweltering Summer Sunday. The pavement is melting it’s so hot. We’re drag-racing each other in these 2 10,000 lb. forklifts to the front so the girls will see us, Hawaiian shirts flowing. And Jesse’s wheels dig in the soft pavement & he bails out and flips his over ! My God, I just putted around back, parked my lift & went back to work.I don’t know how he dodged a bullet on that one but he did. Insurance, liability all of that. They couldn’t fire him, he was a manager. Those girls were ours after that stunt. They were inside howling laughing in that nice air-conditioned store, 100’s of customers looking on in sheer horror. We sold so much product there, we could do no wrong.
This guy named Terry came on & worked with us. He was a bit younger but a Very Smooth Operator, and had the Requisite Hawaiians, so he was In. A very tall guy, Terry rode a Kawasaki 750 Triple. Probably one of the Quickest Street Bikes ever, worth a fortune now. In 1976 this bike was downright Evil & Terry had one. He also had a Devastating Girlfriend, and she had a Devastating Friend. Terry also had 4 tickets to see David Bowie, On Tour with Mick Ronson. Bowie had swept in a year or 2 earlier & Immediately transformed the Music Scene. Girls in High School immediately turned into Glam Gueens overnight, wearing rad Shag Bowie haircuts, Glitter makeup, Super-short Hot Pants and Glitter-covered 6″ Platforms to school. Thank You Bowie, He Had Instant Power. There had been Donovan before him, there was also T.Rex with Marc Bolan, Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls, but Bowie completely Dominated. He was, & Is, the Man. Glam was It. To this Day I believe he is the Richest Rock Star. With Good Reason. And happily married to the Hottest Rock Star Wife. Well done after 40 years on the job. So I took Terry’s Girlfriend’s Friend to Bowie. She was devastatingly Foxy. As soon as we got to the show, she disappeared. I didn’t care. Bowie & Ronson put on to this day the most engaging performance I’ve ever seen. I didn’t take my eyes off the guy for 2 hours. And the rest of the evening all worked out, as well. Station to Station is by far my favorite Bowie album. Awesome Performance. Awesome Night.