You can ask just about anybody.
I don’t drink.
Well, I don’t drink very often.
Maybe once, twice a year.
I believe that years of partying with the “Bad Boys” of the 80’s might have something to do with my lack of interest in drinking today and…
After spending most of my time around recovering alcoholic-addicts, I have a lifetime full of cautionary tales… so I don’t.
But I have to admit… that maybe this night in New York City, with Brian May from Queen, might have had something to do with my decision to give up the “big party” for good.
We were both in town for CMJ: the huge music/publishing festival that takes place annually in New York.
I flew in with my band, Brian was there solo.
But we were both on Hollywood Records and so the president of the record company wanted to take us both out to a schmooz dinner, after we played CBGB’s that night.
Our job was to impress publishers, journalists, radio station owners in hopes that they would find us “down to earth” yet “intelligent and witty” and therefore, want to buy our music or play our music because not only were we talented but heck… we were just damn good people.
Now… I have always been good at schmoozing… it’s just something you have to do when you are playing in “The Show” but deep down inside…. it always made me extremely nervous and super sick to my stomach.
So, when it came time to leave for the big dinner party, my band thought it would be great if I drank a few margaritas and tequila shots with them… just to relax me before the special event.
Well, anyone that has been drinking in New York, knows that the bartenders of the Big Apple really like to make their cocktails strong and so… next thing I knew… I was in a limo, heading to a dinner party… empty stomach… well… now full of booze… and pretty much already bordering on inebriated.
My A&R person was trying to get me to pay attention as she did the run down on who would be there and why it was important to impress them but… I was in a bit of a stupor, looking out the passenger side window, enjoying the street lights, and basically spun out in my own little world.
“D.D.,” she snapped. “This is serious.”
So I gathered myself together and tried to sober myself long enough to at least LOOK interested in what she was saying.
We arrived at the restaurant: Upscale Mexican. Tequila and Margaritas strewn across the table.
This was going to be bad.
My thoughts of getting a coke or a cup of coffee to get myself back on track dissipated.
The record company president handed me a shot and pressed me to down it.
Brian May stood up, towering above me, gave me a giant hug, placed a margarita in my hand and that is basically all I remember.
I have a faint recollection of trying to pull a girl’s ear off her head, believing that she had something stuck in her hair.
And I guess I did actually get up and cross the restaurant to smell Robin Leech, from Lifestyle’s of the Rich and Famous fame because Brian May dared me to do it.
Other than that… my next memory is me on a street corner, outside of CBGB’s talking to a middle aged Italian man in a wife beater, who had a 1980’s Cadillac with a back seat full of hand guns and kept telling me not to worry about anything.
He would take care of me.
“Johnny” would take care of me.
At this time, I knew I was in trouble.
I picked up the pay telephone and called my brother Jack and started to cry.
He could hear “Johnny” rambling on in his heavy Bronx accent in the background, people outside the club screaming and fighting, and me… having my first breakdown on the road… and he wasn’t sure what to do.
“Where’s your A&R person?” He asked.
“I don’t know,” I sobbed.
“Go back to CBGB’s and get a cab back to your hotel now. Call me when you get there.”
I hung up the phone, told “Johnny” my brother said I had to go now, and so he saluted me with his heavily-clad-in-chunk-gold, pudgy Italian hand, and wished me well on my way.
I did grab a cab.
I did make it back to the hotel.
And when I woke up in the morning, naked in a bathtub full of rusty water in one of the old rooms at the Algonquin… my all time favorite New York hotel… home of the Algonquin Round Table… host to many of my favorite writers and editors: Dorothy Parker, George Kaufman, Harold Ross… I felt like I was going to vomit.
Not only because I was in the beginnings of the WORST hangover of my life but, because I had acted a fool and ended up a physical wreck in my literary place of worship.
I felt like Bukowski was the only writer that might actually applaud me at the moment, raise his glass to me in celebration of last night’s debauchery.
It was horrible.
And when I suddenly came completely to and remembered what I had done… I actually slapped my hand to my forehead and shook my head in disgust… hoping that I might somehow be able to forget the idiot I had been.
Had I actually tried to pull an ear off of a girl’s head?
Had I actually walked over and smelled Robin Leech?
I leaned out of the bathtub, grabbed the edge of the toilet, and vomited.
Ten minutes later the phone rang.
I dragged myself, naked, across the floor, and picked it up to hear Jack, my brother, and Joe, my husband, both screaming at me for scaring the shit out of them.
I guess I never called the house back to tell my brother I had made it safely to the hotel and they had no idea where I was staying until they were able to get hold of one of the record company reps in the morning.
I made my pathetic apologies and hung up.
The phone rang again.
This time it was my A&R rep.
I was ten minutes late for the record signing and press junket for my first album.
“Get your ass in a cab and get down to the Kimmel Center now!”
I had no idea where I was supposed to go but I rushed to get dressed, did everything I could to try and look like I wasn’t a drunken mess the night before, and made it to the Kimmel Center just in time to take some publicity photos with Brian.
Seeing him standing on the red carpet, his arms outstretched ready to pull me in close, a big smile on his face, soft-hearted giant, I felt like I had just been granted an “idiot” reprieve.
I rushed towards him and snuggled close, as he held me tight, and leaned down to whisper in my ear, “I loved that you actually went over and smelled Robin Leech. It was just so great.” and that was the moment that they snapped our photo.
Light bulbs popped off around us, people screamed out our names, questions were fired from all angles, and though I was a bit dazed… overwhelmed from the attention, and sick as a dog from my hell of a night. I made it through.
“Welcome to my world,” Brian said as he squeezed my hand and then sat down next to me at the autograph table where we spent the remainder of the morning visiting with fans, signing our names on cds and posters, and joking about Robin Leech until we both caught the late afternoon flights home out of JFK… me back to Los Angeles and my small home in the suburbs of Long Beach… Brian back to England… to his mansion estate… but both of us forever connected through our mutual love of music, drinking, and Robin Leech.