Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Down and Out with William Burroughs
from Laid Bare by John Gimore

John Gilmore (July 5, 1935 - October 13, 2016) was an actor, director, sleaze paperback author, true crime author, and chronicler of Hollywood Excess. Laid Bare, his 1997 memoir of his career during the 1950s and 1960s, is filled with anecdotes and reminiscences about a variety of fellow actors and L. A. citizens and is well worth reading.

On pages 147 - 149 of Laid Bare (Amok Books, 2003), Gilmore writes about his encounters with the riffraff staying at the so-called 'Beat Hotel' in the Latin Quarter of Paris in 1959, and the times he spent with the writer William Burroughs:

William Burroughs was also at the hotel, genuinely in pain - he seemed to shriek with every breath. A sad man, all static like a radio on the fritz, he'd shot his wife in the head with a gun in Mexico, killed her, though he claimed to have only been showing off his marksmanship. The police were always looking for him. Emaciated and desperate, he was a lecherous spook. Another post-Beat American, Gregory Corso - a loud and obnoxious poet - shouted that he had to keep pulling Burroughs out of public cans, where "he's always on his knees giving blowjobs to anyone who'll whip it out !" Burroughs made him sick, he said, and he'd have to "kill Bill" sooner or later; he'd have to "beat him to death" and turn Burroughs' face into a "flattened mass of burger."

Burroughs knew where to find the best absinthe in a section of Paris he called " the sewer", and I went with him and another poet named Frank Milne, from Hoboken, who wore some sort of turban on his head.....Burroughs kept staring at my crotch and almost obscenely licking his lips, or making strange remarks about a "penis colony in the desert." He drank quickly, painfully, and at one point began sweating and shaking. His eye rolled up like an epileptic's, and he seemed to go into a kind of fit. I got up and away from him when he started frothing at the mouth and shitting his pants.

Frank Milne's turban fell off as he tried to pull Burroughs back into a sitting position and get him out of the cafe. The turban was dirty inside and I didn't pick it up, but as I followed them outside I noticed Frank's bald head had a square scar like a flap on the crown, as though he had a metal plate in his head, or his skull had been operated on.

Burroughs died on August 2, 1997, aged 83..............who would have thought he would have lived that long ? Just goes to show, sometimes those who are the most down and out, stick around the longest...........

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