Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Joey Stefano: My Doubts About The Biopic

Let me begin by saying that I am NOT against the Joey Stefano biopic, the brainchild of Chad Darnell, said to be "in pre-preduction". As Joey's biographer, however, I feel qualified and entitled to have my say.

First of all, like the biopics of Montgomery Clift, Ramon Novarro and Diana Dors, that have also been "on the stocks" for years, I cannot see Joey Stefano: The Movie ever seeing the light of day. The scripts for Monty, Ramon and Diana all contain wall-to-wall men and sex, and this was NOT what they were about. Likewise the proposed project about Joey, which is not based on any book in particular, but on interviews with some of his "friends".

There is a misconception that, because Joey was a gay porn star, that his life comprised a 26-year-long saga of sex, drugs, and seediness. It did not. Regarding the drugs, he was no better/no worse than many of the rock and movie stars of his generation. Regarding the sex, he was promiscuous on the screen because this was his job. Away from the screen he had many less lovers than most of his so-called legitimate film contemporaries. I would even say that in my time, even I had more than him. Away from the screen he was a decent man, and not some mincing queen. There are even those today who claim that he was not even gay, but straight and gay-for-pay. I wouldn't go that far, but having met him I can avow that he was an extremely manly man, very much in the stamp of Rock Hudson. At the time of his death, he was engaged to be married to a woman he had known for years.



We will always be grateful to Chi Chi LaRue for launching Joey's career, to Madonna for making his name just that little bit more international, and to the likes of Karen Dior (Geoff Gann). I spent some time with her in Chicago, and she told me some wonderful anecdotes about Joey during which we laughed and cried. These people have my utmost respect.

What worries me are anecdotes from the likes of Doug Smith, a hustler friend of Joey's of whom I will say, "With friends like him, who needs enemies?" Smith would not be able to lie straight in bed. To be honest, I thought he would have self-destructed by now. He told the story of how Joey called him one day, and during the course of their chat just happened to mention that he was HIV positive." I never believed this for one minute. The story continued that Joey wrote out a list of "grievances" and gave this to his last lover, Alberto Shayo. One of the items listed was "HIV Positive!", with an exclamation mark. Here's what I wrote about this:
 
As previously stated, there is considerable doubt relating to Joey’s supposed casual admission over the phone to Doug Smith back in 1990 that he had been HIV positive—and the fact that he appears to have told no one else. Such secrets, shared with gossipy individuals, rarely remain secrets for long. But had Joey been tested recently? And if so, and if he had tested positive for real this time, would Alberto Shayo have reacted to such an admission from his lover with apparent indifference, having slept with him? One very much doubts this.
   “Joey bottomed most of the time in his work because this was what had been expected of him,” Karen Dior said. “Away from the camera, he was versatile. He liked to be the one on top because he hardly ever did this on film.”
   In other words, had Joey been HIV-positive, any partner might have been put at risk having sex with him, but more so the passive partner. Yet Alberto Shayo is not on record as having panicked about Joey’s admission, therefore one may assume that he never took this item on his list seriously, and neither should we.

It's probably against protocol, I know, but I contacted the hospital where Joey died (he did NOT die in a motel room) and, after some wrangling, managed to get out of them the contents of his death certificate. He was NOT HIV positive.

There are other stories told about Joey, mostly by Smith, which I accuse them of making up:

One anecdote recounts that Joey was slumped on the staircase of a four-star hotel, with a needle in his arm, and that blood was streaming down this and on to the stairs...moreover that guests were walking past him, oblivious to this. Really?

Another states that Joey was slumped on the pavement outside a New York bar, and that he had called a "lover" in New Jersey to say that he taken an overdose and was dying. According to the lover, he drove to New York and found him still on the pavement, three hours later. Absolute bullshit! If the story was true, didn't any of the hundreds of people who walked by notice anything? Then I checked up on the story. On that very day, Joey was IN New Jersey, shooting a film, and he was hale and hearty.



Then there is the unpleasant anecdote related by someone who is said to have been interviewed for the Joey biopic. The fact that a report came in to the Advocate that Joey had committed suicide by slashing his wrists at the Days Inn, on 1 January 1994, his birthday. I called the Days In, and was told that Doug Smith had called them to say that Joey had called him, to announce his death...that the receptionist had called an ambulance, only to find Joey sitting alone in his room, feeling despondent because he hated his birthday, which was also the birthday of his father who had sexually abused him as a child. One week after this supposed event, Joey shot About This Night, insisting that the cameraman zoom in on his wrists to prove that Smith had made up the story in a drugs-induced haze. There are no scars.

The worst treatment of Joey by these so-called friends occurred during the last days of his short life. He was staying at the La Brea Motel, and according to one story was discovered TWICE by these people, unconscious and with needles sticking out of his arm. And what did they do...summon help? No, they left him there knowing that he might die, according to one story. If this is true, then in my opinion they should have been questioned by the police and held accountable for their actions. Save that the story of the first "drugs overdose" is NOT true, for when Joey was supposed to be slumped in the shower after taking an overdose, he was actually on the phone to a mutual friend of ours, said to be quite chirpy. Sadly, the second part of their story IS true, and the fact that they all went off shopping...that the man who sold him the drugs, apparently well-known to them, absconded and got away with it. Had they got Joey to the hospital, he would have been saved...not that he mightn't have done the same again at a later date, with the same end result, had he not received the treatment he obviously needed. We shall sadly never know.

Is this then the scenario that is to be transferred to the big screen, one which will relay the message to the world that Joey Stefano was not a nice young man, extant of the raunchy sex-machine we see in his films...but a dirty, perverted, neurotic, hopeless, drug-addicted loser?

If so, let us hope that this project will be assigned to oblivion. If not, then I wish Mr. Darnell all the luck in the world and when it appears will swallow the biggest chunk of humble-pie known to man.

Also we are yet to learn, after NINE years, who is going to be playing Joey Stefano. All that we know so far is that for one of the parts, an "actor" has been hired who goes by the name of Alaska Thunderfuck. Imagine that on the billboards!

Heaven Have Mercy!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Dorothy Squires Orchestra Leader Was NOT An Alcoholic, Johnny Tudor!

Dorothy Squires & Nicky Welsh


The first thing that struck me about this book and made me question whether it would be really worth taking seriously was the youtube video used to promote it. It tells us that Dorothy Squires was a great entertainer, and we do hear her voice. But the person we see on the screen is...Edith Piaf, in clips lifted from the film, La Vie En Rose!

"Well, I'll be beggared," as Dot would say. "Have you been at the gin again, boyo?"

I never criticise another another's work, but in this instance I feel that I must make an exception. I cannot ever recall meeting Johnny Tudor, during my twenty-five years of being one of Dot Squires' closest friends and confidants. I do recall her once referring to him as "a pantomime entertainer" virtually unknown outside of Wales. Then again, Dot could be quite cutting at the best of times.

There comes a time, however, when one feels the need to defend dear friends who are no longer with us, and I object most strongly to Johnny writing that Dot's orchestra leader, Nicky Welsh, was an alcoholic...and adds an anecdote from town-bicycle singer Lita Rosa that her pianist, Kenny Brown, was possibly a drug-addict. I knew Nicky well. We had some great times over the years. He liked his drink, as did we, but I never once saw him drunk. Maybe Johnny Tudor takes exception to the fact that he and Johnnie Grey, Dot's saxophonist, disliked him intensely? My own book has a quote from Johnnie Grey,


It always baffled me why Dot had other people on the bill with her. At every show I played at, nobody was remotely interested in these mostly third-rate so-called entertainers and comedians. All they wanted was Dot, Dot, Dot!” Johnnie Gray, saxophonist.


I also take great exception to two other aspects of Johnny Tudor's book: the fact that it is promoted as "the first biography of Dorothy Squires" when my book was published at the end of last year...and the fact that it contains several pictures which appear in my own book. The latter is irreverent, bearing in mind there are few pictures of Dot of a printable quality.

As for the insults against my friends, I find this reprehensible, even though I wish Johnny Tudor every success with his work. Dorothy Squires' name needs to reach out to a wider audience and be kept alive...even by someone who tells lies.




Monday, 10 April 2017

Keith Palmer And Jo Cox: Are We Going Too Far?

It's nice to see Britain paying tribute to murdered Westminster policeman Keith Palmer. But, aren't we going a little over-the-top with our emotions? Coming on the heels of calls for the man who tried to save Jo Cox to be awarded the Victoria Cross, I rather think we are. Additionally, fans of Ms Cox are saying that they want to hold thousands of street parties this summer to mark the anniversary of her death. What makes this even more ridiculous is that MPs have to fight to get ONE street party in London to honour the Queen's 65 years on the throne. Does this mean, then, that a Syria-loving politician is considered more important than a monarch? 

Cast your minds back to PC Yvonne Fletcher, and Sharon Bokowsky, who lived in my neck of the woods. These ladies were horribly murdered, but they were not given the privilege of lying in state in an environment previously awarded only to a British prime minister. Neither are other policemen and women who have died in the line of duty, not to mention the hundreds of British servicemen and women. They deserve to be honoured, certainly, but with some kind of memorial, not with all the pomp and circumstance afforded royalty and major political figures.



Saturday, 8 April 2017

THE FIRST EVER BIOGRAPHY OF DOROTHY SQUIRES BY DAVID BRET

Currently there are TWO biographies of Dorothy Squires on the market: the one by me (above) published at the end of last year, and the one by another of Dot's close friends, Johnny Tudor, published by The History Press this month.

I am condemning The History Press for promoting their book as "the first ever biography of Dorothy Squires". It is not. My book pre-empted theirs by four months. Also I am curious as why they have used some of the pictures that I used, though to be fair I have to say there aren't that many good pictures around. I am NOT, however, criticising Johnny or his work. Dot's fans have been starved for so long. They need to have BOTH books!

Let me say again that I applaud Johnny for his work. No one has ever had a book published about Dorothy because, though she was revered by her fans, she was hated by what she called "The Establishment"~the press, and radio and television producers with whom she had a very fiery relationship, one which resulted in her being declared a vexatious litigant after 33 court cases, often for trifling matters. This did not however affect her abilities as a singer, quite possibly the finest British female singer who ever lived. Therefore two biographies, lovingly told, ARE better than none. I have not read Johnny's book yet, but I know that it will be excellent because he cared about her very much, and she him.



Dot sent me a copy of the script for her autobiography, Rain Rain Go Away because she wanted me to be her ghost-writer. I was willing to do this, but not one publisher in Britain wanted anything to do with her. Some of their comments were cruel. One ended their rejection letter with the words:

"...but I regret to say that I suspect that her fame is now as dead as she is."

Therefore, when I wrote my book, rather than breaching copyright and copying Dot's words verbatim, I stuck within the law and paraphrased. Dot's own words in the book come from our meetings and phone-calls, when I made extensive notes. This is what may make it different from any other, though as I say two heads are better than one.

What makes me happy is that two people close to Dot have written nice things about her...and this makes up for all the nasty things people said about her when she was alive. If only The History Press would get their facts right!

 
 



Monday, 3 April 2017

Peter Sutcliffe: Tabloids, Get Your Stories Straight From One Who Knows

DID RIPPER ATTACK 17 MORE?


Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe quizzed in jail over 17 unsolved cases that ‘bear chilling similarities to his vicious hammer attacks’

Ripper's reign of terror saw him wield hammers, screwdrivers and knives during the 1970s and cops plan to grill him about more potential victims


Updated: 3rd April 2017, 

In a macabre sort of way, it makes a change to see Pete hogging the headlines of The Sun...as opposed to their daily and indeed hourly tedious stories about Katie Price, the McCanns, Daniella Westbrook, that bloke with all the tattoos and his off-on relationship with a woman of the ilk my mother urged me to stear clear of, along with 'exclusives' about various reality stars possessed of the talent and charisma of an otter's fart.

None of these Ripper stories are true, of course, and every one of them and more ~ including the attack on my own wife ~ are detailed in my book, which will be published two weeks after Pete dies. Besides giving statements to the police and having our names added to the hundreds of witnesses, I was given access to Pete's statements, and the court records.

I socialised with Pete when I was a teenager, and he was very fond and protective of my mother against her philandering, abusive husband. That story has been told in "Old Bastard".


We had no idea, back then, how things would turn out with Pete, and many's the time I have asked myself if we or any of his other friends might have been able to stop the future from happening. Certainly, if he had killed my father, which is what he wanted to do to save my mother from further suffering, he would not have been at liberty to kill all those women.

I've also asked myself, time and time again, if any of us saw any evil in him back then, and time and time again I come to the conclusion that we did not, though it must have been there. When we knew Pete he seemed a rational, normal man. He liked to have a laugh, and he liked to go out for a pint. There was nothing back then to suggest that in seven years time he would turn into a monster.

The irony is, we never found out that the Peter Sutcliffe who killed all those woman, and the Pete Coonan that I knew were one and the same until we saw his picture in the press...on 6 January 1981, my wife's birthday. We did know a few days before this that the man suspected of attacking her had been arrested. Imagine the shock!

My first reaction was one of intense shock, or realising how incredibly lucky Jeanne had been. I was asked how I felt, and responded that, if at all possible, I would personally wrap the noose around his neck. That opinion has not changed. Some years ago, I received a request to visit him in prison. Naturally, I refused.

So, Sun journalists, in future stick to your McCann and Katie Price theories, and leave Peter Sutcliffe to those who know what they are talking about.