THE FOLLOWING CONTENT IS MEANT FOR ADULTS 18+
“Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings”
I was just starting to feel like somebody. I mean, suddenly it mattered that I was here on the planet, cause overnight there was possibility– seemingly endless possibility!
We’d found a place, CBGB’s, on Bowery and Bleecker, the perfect club because no one was in charge. Well, maybe Merv the bouncer commanded the place, cause Hilly Krystal, the owner, was always passed out on the couch, after ten, after finishing his last Vodka and Fresca of the night. Yuck! As long as Hilly’s ex-wife wasn’t around, everything would be cool.
She wasn’t. Only Merv, the bouncer, in his customary yellow hard-hat, who just rolled his eyes when he saw me coming. I was clutching the first issue of Punk Magazine, the one with the Lou Reed on the cover. You know, the cartoon of Lou looking like Frankenstein?
You never saw it? Well, fuck you! But two skinhead girls noticed the magazine in my hand and came up and asked me, “Do you think Lou Reed will show up here tonight?”
I laughed. It was dead. I looked around the club and saw only the moths, you know, the “moths;” badly dressed fans drawn to the dim light of mediocre bands. Moths!
“There’s no way Lou’s gonna be here tonight,” I said to the blonde and redhead skinheads, “With bands like Uncle Sun, it’d be unspeakable torture…”
“Then what are you doing here?”
“See this?” I flashed Punk No. 1 at em, “This is my magazine…”
“Yeah, we read it,” the blonde skinhead girl smirked, “Why do you think we’re here looking for Lou…?”
Wow, cool, people really are reading us. This is wonderful.
The skinhead girls were kinda cute, kinda like Goth skinheads, with thick, black eye makeup circling their enlarged pupils, just to accent their Concentration Camp look, years before it became chic.
“Sorry it’s such a dull night,” I flirted, “and sorry you didn’t bump into Lou….”
Seeing how bored they were, desperate for something to happen, anything, I added, “But if you got a car, I can take you on a tour of the Punk Magazine offices, it’s a dump, but it’s also got the unedited transcripts of our Lou Reed interview from Issue Number One….”
Did I really say that? I did.
“Really?” the redhead nodded, “That’d be cool, nothing going on here…”
It worked! I guess Holmstrom was right, and not only will people buy us beers, they might go home with us too. Two at a time.
Of course, the Punk Magazine office was an abandoned auto parts store on Tenth Avenue and 30th Street, right next to the Holland Tunnel on-ramp. On the way uptown, after we picked up two six packs of Bud, I told the story of killing the giant rat with a layout table stool, and how I wanted to get the rat stuffed but was unable to afford it. Then we turned onto Tenth Avenue and into genuine film noir– overhead, the remains of ancient railroad tracks framed Tenth Avenue.
Huge, ugly metal pylons shouldered the train tracks, providing the perfect opening shot for any big city crime drama. To one side, Manhattan’s largest Post Office, a huge slab of concrete occupying an entire city block, sat as dozens of tractor trailer trucks fought with each other to back their eighteen-wheeler into the next vacant bay. Twenty-four hours a day.
“Neither ran, nor sleet, nor the Westies…”
Across the street from the humongous Post Office, on the opposite corner, sat a small three-story building. On the first floor was a storefront, the glass splattered in black paint, with only the small poster, “Watch Out! Punk Is Coming!” to identify it as the “Punk Dump,” the nickname of our office. It looked dangerous. But then, everything in New York City in 1975 looked dangerous. Didn’t it?
Inside the Dump, Ged Dunn, our original publisher’s office was on the left, with a huge loft bed overhead. Holmstrom’s space was across from Ged’s, a small bed, a stereo, some improv bookshelves– and a giant drawing board that he was usually hunched over. Remember, the entire issue of Punk was hand-lettered, and Holmstrom’s cartoon-style print was distinctive, personal, and a joy to read; like getting a secret love note in Study Hall.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a room. Just a couch. I was supposed to have a loft bed too, but after we finished building Ged’s bed, all talk of Holmstrom’s and my loft bed vanished.
The only cool thing in the place was Will Eisner’s desk that Holmstrom had gotten from the Father of the Graphic Novel when he drew bricks for the cover of one of the Spirit reissues.
Holmstrom met Will Eisner when he taught at the School of Visual Arts.
Ged dropped out the University of Kentucky.
I never graduated from high school.
Still, we had a magazine.
The girls were thumbing through the most recent issues of Punk; the Patti Smith one; the Ramones one; the Iggy one; and giggling at the articles. The first few issues were perfect, and more importantly, funny.
I popped open a Bud and invited them to check out Ged’s loft bed, saying, “It’s huge,” well aware that Ged told me I could never use his loft bed when he was away. Never. Ever.
“Fuck Ged, where’s my loft bed motherfucker?” I thought as a climbed the badly built ladder to his bed. “Asshole, you told us when we were stealing lumber from suburban construction sites, that our rooms were going to be built next, you lying weasel!”
Yeah, it felt delicious crawling up the ladder and across the king-size mattress and pulling the blonde on top of me. The redhead, at the other end of the mattress, unhooked her black brassiere, showing tits so white they seemed opaque.
I ended up nibbling on the tip of the blonde’s clit, while the redhead worked on my cock.
Then the redhead joined me eating pussy, before taking over and pushing me back so I could fuck her from behind while she brought the blonde to orgasm with her tongue.
After I came, I drifted off watching the blonde lick the shaved redhead’s pussy, but I was so tired, I closed my eyes and…. drifted….
I felt two pin pricks; well, more like an oversized stapler, stabbing into the base of my cock. It pinched hard, then I was awash in warm honey, like I’d just slipped into a warm bath, only from the inside out.
I looked down and saw the blonde had embedded two sharp fangs into the bottom of my erect penis. Skinny and ivory-metallic-looking fangs, like two white, polished nails driven deep into my cock. I watched as she sucked, sideways, on the length of the shaft, ignoring the head.
Obviously, she was sucking for her pleasure, not mine.
It was a curious sensation, watching someone drain the life from me. But I wasn’t frightened, instead utterly fascinated. I didn’t feel lightheaded, nor anxious. No, the more she feasted on me, the more exhilarated I became, like surfing waves of intravenous valium.
It was like getting a reverse blow-job, and instead of the head, now my base and scrotum were tingling, on the verge of rupturing.
“What are you doing?” I muttered, and she looked up at me, her lips dripping blood down her cheeks. She winked and said, “Gabba, gabba, one of us….”
“No, you gotta be kidding me,” I protested, the sex madness finally clearing enough to know what was happening. “There’s no such thing as vampires!”
“Keep telling yourself that,” she muttered and went back to drinking me.
“Hey, I’m not just another can of Bud,” I tried to grab her hair, but there wasn’t any, so I pulled on her shoulder, “I’m a person, a human being, you just can’t just drain me!”
She looked up at me, and asked in earnest, “Why not?”
“Well…well…well, ‘cause you can’t,” I stuttered, “Besides, what’s gonna happen to me anyway?”
She stopped drinking, “Didn’t you ever see Dracula?”
I thought for a moment, then said, “Actually, I preferred, ‘Abbott & Costello Meets Frankenstein and the Wolfman,’ Dracula’s in that too, but I guess they were too unimaginative to find a place for him in the title….”
As she continued to drain me, I was already skipping down the path of wondering if “Abbott & Costello Meets Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman,” was too long a title, when the blonde used the back of her hand to wipe the blood from her lips, and my dick began to wither.
We sat face to face, and she told me, “Being one of us is kinda like Dracula, you gotta feed about once a week, but you don’t hafta kill your victim…unless you wanna….”
I asked, “Yeah, great, but what happens if I don’t wanna drink blood? I’m really more of a Budweiser kinda guy.”
She smiled viciously and said, “Resist for as long as you can, but you can’t last. Nobody can…”
“So, am I immortal now?” I asked, warming up to the idea. I’d always been afraid of dying.
“Uh huh,” she nodded and went down the ladder to grab the last beer in the last six pack.
“Just avoid sunlight,” she called as she climbed down, before looking back at my sallow skin. “Which you probably do anyway, and avoid the beach like the plague, direct sunlight will turn ya to dust….”
Then from underneath the loft bed, she stated emphatically, “And stay away from wooden stakes!”
“So, am I damned?” I leaned my head over the side of the loft bed. I was getting scared again and added, “My soul cursed to the fires of hell?”
The blonde poked her head up the ladder, made a face and giggled, “You’re worried about that now? I thought that was guaranteed long before we came along!”
They were laughing at me as they fought over the slab of mirror in the bathroom, all the way in the back of the converted auto parts store. The bathroom only had a toilet with a broken seat, a slab of a mirror, a sink, but no shower. It was like a bathroom around the back of a sleazy gas station, only grosser.
“Well,” I interrupted as they fought for the slab of mirror, “Like, now do I have any superpowers? Like, can I fly?”
“Oh sure,” the redhead nodded. “But you gotta turn into a bat first, which I don’t recommend. ‘Cause when you change back, you smell like shit! Not shit, shit, but you know, wet, matted fur?
The blonde added, “And also shit, shit! It takes two or three showers to get rid of bat stench!”
“Well, I won’t being doing any flying anyway,” I mumbled, “‘cause I’m afraid of heights….” They turned away from the mirror and stared at me.
Had I enough blood left in my cheeks, I might have blushed.
“What kinda punk are you anyway?” she asked, all her illusions about me evaporating in front of her eyes, “Afraid of heights? Admit it, you’re a pussy…”
“We thought you were a cool guy,” the blonde explained, “We thought you’d be thrilled that we chose to make you one of us, not a whiny little bitch!” Then she imitated me, “So am I damned? My soul cursed to the fires of hell? Christ, let’s just hope so…”
The other one was holding her belly, laughing hard.
“When we made Johnny Thunders into a vampire, he was so grateful!” the Redhead laid a pile of guilt on me. “Such a sweet guy!”
“Isn’t that because he’s a junkie?” I asked. “And won’t it make it easier for him to get dope?”
“Sure,” the blonde nodded, buttoning up her black see-through blouse, “And blood….”
“Are there any side-effectives to feeding on a junkie?” I asked, wondering if I could get strung out feeding on the dope-fiends on the Lower East Side?
“Yeah, ya gotta watch out for that,” the blonde nodded, “I’ve lost a buncha friends that got hooked on junkie-vamp blood. It sucked, literally. See, eventually the dope neutralizes the desire to feed on blood, causing the vampire to starve to death; it’s a gruesome way to go! Worse than a stake through the heart!”
“Really gross!” the redhead added, “Ya just kinda get turned inside out– exploding guts, and blood and pus– then it slowly just turns into dust….”
“You can count the small piles of Vamp-Dust on Eldridge Street,” the blonde added. “If ya don’t believe us, that is.”
“No, I believe you,” I nodded, but I was elsewhere, wondering if Richard Hell knew Johnny Thunders was a vampire, and that’s why he left the Heartbreakers.
But that would’ve been too shallow, even for Richard.
See, I was over at Wilamina’s apartment on St. Mars Place the night Richard Hell called Johnny Thunders and told him he couldn’t be in the Heartbreakers anymore. Richard stopped going to Heartbreaker rehearsals, and it was finally time to come clean, sorta.
Richard was finally forced to call Johnny to tell him he just got out of jail and that’s why he hadn’t been to rehearsal.
Richard and Wilamina were exchanging smirks as Richard told Johnny some elaborate story about not paying his Con Ed bill, and the girlfriend of the day paid with her credit card, and the card turned out to be stolen, and they arrested Richard, even though he didn’t know the card was hot.
It was a bad lie, and Johnny probably knew, but he wished Richard luck anyway.
I loved Richard in the Heartbreakers. Watching him and Johnny compete for attention on stage was a unique spectacle. They were the only other band that were as good as the Ramones.
And Richard loved Johnny’s authentic rock & roll style, his songwriting, his hair, his clothes, so I asked him why he was leaving Richard just sorta grinned and said, “Oh, you know Johnny, he’s brilliant, but half the time I don’t know what he’s singing about, some girl on the phone, and nobody’s home…I mean, then why’s the phone ringing if no one can hear it?”
Richard was a writer, a decent poet, but had very little patience for redundant pop songs.
Even “Blank Generation,” Richard’s punk anthem, is a fucking novel compared to Johnny’s, “I Wanna Be Loved.” Richard was a bit more complicated than Johnny, that’s why he was leaving the Heartbreakers; if the truth be told, rock & roll bored Richard.
Sure, he liked the sex and the drugs, but the monotony of performing the same music over and over seemed like a waste of time. Richard wasn’t a trooper, like Debbie and Chris and Clem, David Johansen, Patti Smith, or the Ramones. To Richard, rock & roll was just another get-rich-quick-scheme, only this one was working! And besides, he was good at it!
I think Richard and I got along because we never talked about music, just writers and movies and pop culture. Once Richard said something that stuck with me…well, he said a bunch of things that have stuck with me, but this one was one of the cooler things; he said, “Legs, can you imagine if we created a monster that would live forever? Like Frankenstein or the Wolfman or the Creature from the Black Lagoon?”
I was overwhelmed. I mean, what a fantastically cool thing to dream!
Richard was excited by the idea, “We’d be like Mary Shelly creating Frankenstein, or Bram Stoker creating Dracula! And then Universal Studios could transform our monster into one of the coolest horror films ever made! I mean, we’d be like the coolest guys on the planet!
We were in hysterics.
Richard snickered, “It’d be like, ‘What do you do?’ Oh, I created the Wolfman, I don’t hafta do anything!”
Richard’s schemes always involved doing the least amount of work for the largest amount of bucks. I think that was his major goal in life, to do something so fantastic, he’d never have to do anything again. Which he kinda did, but it took so long for people to recognize it, Richard already moved on to the next thing.
Still, he kept going, “See those Zombies over there? Mine!”
I shook my head, “No, Zombies belong to George Romero, he took those outdated ghouls and turned them into one of the most terrifying members of the Famous Monsters Collection!
“And I’d have to say that Night of the Living Dead single-handedly re-invented the Zombie, and all the Zombies that came after George Romero should be paying him a royalty, you know? The Zombie is probably the only monster that has been reimagined and remade in my lifetime, all the rest are originals from the last century….”
“No,” Richard shook his head, “I know an original monster that’s been created, from start to finish, in our lifetime….”
I said, “Which one?”
He said, “Godzilla!”
I said, “Oh my God, you are so right! But Godzilla is so fake looking, I mean knocking trains off the tracks and crashing thru scale model building, and then they explode by cheap firecrackers! Not the scariest monster I’ve ever seen, more like monster camp!”
“Yeah,” Richard agreed, “But it’s so fake, it’s kinda cool!”
“Still,” I countered, “very lame.”
“And then there’s Alien, from “Alien,” the movie,” Richard added.
“Completely forgot about him,” I mumbled, but I was already somewhere else. I realized Richard wouldn’t have left the Heartbreakers just because Johnny Thunders became a vampire. Richard couldn’t be bothered to muster up that much judgement. That took work, and Richard would rather dream of the next big scam.
But to me, becoming a vampire seemed like such a chore, like adding another addiction on top of a boatload of other addictions; alcohol, cigarettes, and sex. That seemed like too many enough fixations for one person to carry.
When John and Ged came back from visiting their families in Connecticut and New Jersey on Monday morning, I didn’t bother to tell them I’d become a vampire, because it would only cast suspicions that I had used Ged’s loft bed, and was too hungover to hear another lecture from Ged. I mean, his sheets were still caked in my dried blood, and I was way too ill to, God Forbid, clean them.
Thankfully, John and Ged were fighting again, so they didn’t notice I was up and trying to get the fridge door open. It was complicated procedure cause the fridge was kept sealed by a giant rubber band. No shit, it was like a giant cartoon– this refrigerator literally kept shut by a huge rubber band, about six inches wide, and getting it unsnapped was a problem for a dyslexic like me, especially since I was praying there was a Coca-A-Cola inside….
Shit! There was a Coke!
Coke was the only thing that’d cut thru the residual alcohol sludge stuffed down my throat every morning, and I found two Marlboros left in the pack, and my god did that first smoke of the day taste exquisite, and combined with the Coke-fizz burning off my throat-mud, and I was coming alive! Even though I’d become vampire, it still didn’t cure my hangovers.
You’d think it would, wouldn’t you? But it didn’t.
Yeah, the only things were Coca Cola and a Marlboro, they worked, when so many other things didn’t. At least for me.
Now I’d hafta distract John and Ged, so I could sneak into Ged’s office and steal a brand-new PUNK Magazine t-shirt out of the “New Subscriber’s Box.” The t-shirts were really cool, Holmstrom’s iconic, white PUNK logo on a black t-shirt, were used as an incentive to subscribe to the magazine. “Send a check or money order for a year’s subscription and get a free PUNK t-shirt!”
The only problem is not many people wanted to subscribe to magazine called PUNK, that, better yet, looked like it was designed for a bunch of wise asses! I mean, perfect right?
The trick was to get in Ged’s office, grab a clean t-shirt, and outta there, without them noticing that I was gone, but that was gonna be easy cause they were starting to yell at each other.
“I’m hand-lettering every fucking issue by hand, by myself, and I need some help!” Holmstrom yelled.
“John, you know we can’t afford anyone else!” Ged shouted back, “We can’t even afford Legs! And by the way, what the fuck does he do anyway?
Oh no! Here we go again!
“Legs is our secret weapon! He’s friends with everyone in the bands!” John shouted back. “He’s our eyes and ears on the street! He knows what’s gonna happen before anyone else!”
“Awww, John’s defending me!” I owed him a lot. Holmstrom taught me how to think and write, and half of our genius of working together was our ability to argue things out. John was a contrarian; he usually took whatever side of the argument the other person didn’t want, and he usually won. John’s true genius was to get you to think bigger, and try different approaches to creative problems. He really was an original thinker. Holmstrom was the mastermind behind the idea of “inspired amateurism,” that idea of using only what you could get your hands on, and turning it something funny, beautiful and worthwhile.
Though, since I’d heard John and Ged’s arguments before, I snuck out the front door to change into my brand-new t-shirt. See, I had not yet been introduced to the idea of doing laundry. It seemed too complicated. And you had to have a bunch of quarters, and I’d much rather spend my change on a fresh pack of Marlboros then clean clothes. Besides, everything we wore was black, so who could tell the difference?
I counted the bills and change in my pocket, as I walked the block to Maggie’s dinner on the corner 9th Avenue and 31at Street, all the time wondering if I toyed with the change long enough, maybe it would multiply, and I’d be able to afford a tuna fish sandwich….
But it never did.
Instead, the classic Greek counter guy was wiping glasses, who acted just like John Belushi on “Saturday Night Live,” when he’d tell the customer, “No Coke, Pepsi,” in the same accent. Well, that was our counter guy at Maggie’s! No shit, and he was usually pissed, because Ged was supposed to pay our weekly tab, but never did.
The counter guy would always say to me, “Tell the preppie guy to pay his god damn bill!” Referring to Ged, and then he’d stare at me and say, “You gonna want to put this on your tab?”
I’d nod my head and tell him the tab was gonna be paid tomorrow, and I’d order a tuna fish sandwich and a glass of milk, unless I was too hungover to chew, in which case I ordered mashed potatoes swimming in butter. It was a daily ritual, just another humiliation in an ocean of daily degradations.
Probably the worst insult, and the maybe best of these indignities– was that we didn’t have a shower in the Punk Dump. According to the lease, we weren’t supposed to be living there, but since it was such cave-like squalor, and no one could believe anybody would live there, no one ever bothered us.
The down side of not having a shower was you were never really clean, but the upside was that it was the perfect pick-up line, “Hey, you think I could take a shower at your place, the Punk Dump doesn’t have one….?” It worked, a lot, believe me.
Nancy Spungen lived the closest to the Punk Dump on 23rd Street between 8th & 9th Avenues, or 9th & 10th Avenues, so it was only seven or eight blocks away. She had kind of a nice downstairs apartment, and usually ended up making me scrambled eggs. Nancy was okay to hang out with during the day, she could be very nice, but at night? Forget it! She was too busy hunting for a rock star boyfriend– and God help you if you got in her way.
And that’s where I went, to Nancy’s, after my tuna fish, because it really didn’t fill me up. I was still hungry, ravenous actually, and I thought maybe Nancy’s scrambled eggs might do the trick. It was overcast and cold, so I didn’t have to worry about the sunlight, in fact the sun was beginning to set. Nancy had just woken up at three pm or four pm, and busied telling me a story about blowing all of Aerosmith in their limousine while she let me smoke her cigarettes.
She scrambled the eggs as she claimed, “They were all into it….”
Nancy was dressed in a beige, vintage robe that outlined a pair of drooping National Geographic breasts, and last night’s massacre was still smudged around her eyes, looking kinda cool. She appeared threatening, but was just another lonely, lost, little girl.
“They were giving me, like, champagne and coke and stuff, and I sucked em all off, and then they wouldn’t give me any backstage passes!” She whined, “Those cheap motherfuckers! I mean that’s no way to treat somebody that just gave you head! I mean, come on!”
“Yeah, that does suck,” I agreed, “exponentially so.”
“They were just so nasty,” Nancy added, “Especially for being such a great band…”
My stomach was churning like tumbling dice.
“I don’t mean to be ungrateful,” I interrupted her, “but these eggs just aren’t cutting it…”
“Whattya ya mean?” Nancy demanded, thinking I was insulting her cooking, but I wasn’t.
“I mean, they taste perfect, but I’m still so hungry,” I groaned, “Nothing seems to fill me up! I’m still fucking famished!”
Nancy looked me straight in the eyes, “Not you too?”
Then she giggled; looking especially girlish.
Now it was my turn, “Watttya mean?”
“Legs was playing where he shouldna been playing,” Nancy sang it in nursery rhyme, then shot me a wide smile– revealing a vicious pair of fangs.
“Oh no, not you too!” I shouted, thinking this vampire thing was getting way-too trendy if even Nancy Spungen had turned into one! Great, just fucking great!
“Have you fed yet?” she asked, withdrawing her fangs.
“Ya mean, have I bitten anybody?”
“Yeah,” she nodded.
“Uh-uh,” I shook my head.
“Well don’t worry about a thing, you’re in the perfect place– with perfect pickings!”
My turn again, “Whatttya mean?”
“You’re in the basement of Hell’s Kitchen,” Nancy laughed, “Every failed gangster in New York City ends up here. And the cops don’t even go looking for all those missing persons! And if you can’t find a bum, there’s all those trannies….”
“Awww Nancy, not transvestites!” I whined, “You know I’m not a homo!
It was my left-over Connecticut homophobia, but it’s hard to make-fun of homosexuals when some of your new best friends are gay. Plus, the sodomites I hung out with were smart, well read and hysterically funny. Things I appreciate in people, besides, they never dreamed of hitting on me because they said I screamed, “heterosexual,” without ever saying it, whatever that means.
So the idea of having to suck the blood out of an ugly transvestite hooker wasn’t very appealing. Not at all. It seemed too intimate to be doing it with someone I wasn’t attracted to.
And the transvestite hookers on 10th Avenue just didn’t cut it.
Nancy could tell I wasn’t going for that, so she said, “Well, there’s always rats….”
“Really? Rats?” I thought out loud, “Are they any good?”
We waited for the sun to finally set before we ventured down 23rd Street to 10th Avenue, as Nancy lifted garbage can lids looking for rodents along the way. Of course, all the garbage can lids had chains running through the handles, so no one could steal them, which only left Nancy a foot or two to explore the trash inside, but she was fast! I mean like blurry fast!!
I mean, she’d have the lid off, grab the rat in hyper-speed, break its neck with her thumb, and then toss it over to me, all in the blink of an eye.
It was my first experience of witnessing these vampire super powers and I was impressed.
“Just suck on em below the head,” Nancy instructed, as she threw me another.
I was repulsed, but also ravaged by a deep, insatiable hunger.
So I held my breath, released my fangs, and bit into the filthy fur below the rodent’s neck and sucked the thin rat blood from each one she tossed me.
It was like doing bad cocaine, stuff that’s been cut so many times with baby laxative that the only time you get off is when the diarrhea stops.
Still, after six or seven of the little fur balls, I was beginning to feel better.
“Wipe your mouth, “Nancy snapped, “You got rat guts all over your chin!”
END OF CHAPTER ONE
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