“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wilde
The Frolic Room is squished into the armpit of Hollywood Boulevard that is the area between the Pantages Theater and the corner of the world-famous streets, Hollywood and Vine. It was reportedly one of the famous scribe Charles Bukowski‘s favorite places to drink. I like to go there because it’s a few blocks away from where the tourists hang out, and it exudes the seedier and more retro-glam side of Hollywood that only a denizen of the City of Angels can appreciate.
Gaylord is my favorite bar-tender of the joint, and the separate syllables of his name correctly describe his sexual orientation and demeanor. G. is a bit on the larger side and is known in the gay community as a “bear.” I’m enjoying a whiskey soda and the Dodgers are playing a mid afternoon get-away game on the tube. There are only a couple of patrons; two sauced frat boys listening to Van Halen on the juke box. I can tell G. is bored.
“Do you remember Glenn Burke?”
“Yeah….gay baseball player… died of AIDS, what about him?”
“You know the Dodgers traded him because he was fucking Tommy Lasorda’s son?”
After some research, this turned out to be somewhat true. He was a close friend of Tom Jr. who died of AIDS in 1991. Dodgers GM Al Campanis had offered to pay for a lavish honeymoon if the talented outfielder and out of the closet gay man would get married. He was eventually traded to the Oakland A’s because of his refusal.
“Sad story…he was a true visionary…or maybe he didn’t give a shit and just wanted to be himself.”
“I just thought about it a little more because of all the gay this and gay that in sports these days.”
I throw another five spot on the counter, and after a short silence, another drink is placed in front of me. G. gives me a double because I’m such a great tipper. I pound half of it and turn again to laugh at the frat boys as I’m crunching the ice.
“Yep. It’s a damn shame, but what’re you gonna do,” I say.
At that moment a man by the name of “Tip” Rosenberg walks in. I have doubts about the name Tip, but he can bullshit with the best of them, and always seemed to be good conversation. Tip was an agent who flashed the old-time world of show business; he had a gold cigarette lighter, fancy sunglasses and expensive suits. Mind you, these artifacts were impressive in the late 70’s, yet my knack for the retro look made me an obvious sucker for this weirdo.
“What’s the word, Tip?”
“Scripts. It seems to be the place where they spend the least money! If you have a good story and provide good dialogue the audience is happy….am I wrong?”
“Well how in the hell can you explain Transformers and Avatar then?”
Rosenberg had no idea what I was talking about. Him and the Bear start to reminisce about the gay scene of the 70’s.
“We were ALL beautiful….we were in our 20’s….” etc.
I smile at these lavish conversations. I love and adore the freedom and juevos these gentlemen had to have just to be themselves. I am brightened and enlightened as I take the staircase two stories down into the subway.
Just another face amongst the faces.
GLENN BURKE R.I.P. ALWAYS AN OAKLAND ATHLETIC, AND ALWAYS A PIONEER.