I've been laying around sick for a few days, head full of snot, retching up some horrid yellow bile (some sort of side effect from the chronic hep c), and blogerating is the last thing I feel like doing, but lying around staring at TCM, too out of it to even bother starting a new book, I find myself re-reading one of my favorite showbiz memoirs, a book that got almost no attention here in New York when it was published back in '97 (I assume it must have made a stink in L.A. because when I was there in '97 living high on the hog at the Chateau Marmont just a mention of Gilmore's name would send folks into seismic frenzies of denial), but I assure you this is a book you want to read: Laid Bare by John Gilmore (Amok Press, 1997).
Gilmore's clear eyed, lucid prose captures Janis Joplin years before fame as a down and out North Beach tramp, Hank Williams at the Opry on the verge of superstardom and then pissing his pants months before his death, the only account of James Dean I've ever read that made him seem like a real person, scathing looks at Steve McQueen, Dennis Hopper, the underbelly of Hollywood-- the Black Dahlia, Manson, Mickey Cohen, and wait, a side trip to Tuscon to cover the trial of Charles Schmidt, the Pied Piper Of Tuscon, sleaze galore from Barbara Payton and Franchot Tone, sad sack Tom Neal ("fate can point the finger at you or me, for any reason at all"), the sadly forgotten John Hodiak, Brigitte Bardot in Paris, Jane Seberg, Lenny Bruce, Vampira, every page of this book is fascinating. I can't remember who turned me onto it, I just remember an uncorrected manuscript showing up in my mailbox at WFMU at I think my final show (who did I pass that on to? I hope it found a good home....). I've given away a dozen copies over the years and have read every other book Gilmore's written (they're all excellent, I especially like Deranged aka the Tuscon Murders aka Cold Blooded), but Laid Bare is something truly special, a tell all that tells the truth, and it is written so well it sparkles like jewels on the page. I'm going back to my sick bed for a few days, I suggest you hunt down a copy of Laid Bare for yourself.