|Would the real Spacely please stand up?|
When he first came by the Punk office (on Lafayette St. at that time), Spacely looked just like a mafia guy, with slicked back hair and a three-piece pin stripe suit. But not a big shot... more like some guy way down on the totem pole sent to collect on a gambling debt. But instead he was selling office supplies. In that regard, we were a barren soil upon which his seed could find no purchase, but we hit it off pretty well1.
He came back soon with his girlfriend Cindy. They had just moved to New York from The Coast. All my memories of this are fuzzy, but I think the idea was for him to get on a straighter path than he had been following in L.A. For it transpired that Spacely2 had been a post-hippie street punk hustler type back home. My guess is it was Cindy who got him to make the transition to office supply salesman. She was a sensible gal who had been with him from her days as a young'un street punk type herself.
After not very long, Spacely proposed to John that he pump enough money into the magazine to get out the next issue (i.e. pay the printer of the previous one). He was taken up on his kind offer, and made "Publisher" as part of the deal. ("Resident Punk" would probably have been more fitting though, as it so happened.)
He did pretty well for awhile, putting his hustling talents to good use. But there were two factors at play: (a) Punk was soon on the skids again, and (b) Spacely really didn't want to be that guy in the pinstripe suit... he wanted to be a fully licensed and uniformed punk. As these two vectors converged, Spacely started heading down the tube.
One day we came into the office to find him moaning on the couch with his head encased in bloody bandages. He wasn't too clear on what had happened, but from piecing it together it seems to have gone like this: Spacely and Cindy were at the Mudd Club. She wanted to go home and he didn't. She left without him. Sometime in the wee hours he found himself at the all-night burger joint on Canal, where he apparently made the huge mistake of insulting some transvestites. In the first place, he was undoubtedly barely able to walk. In the second place, transvestites are best left alone. They tend to be surprisingly strong and merciless in a fight. Somebody later told of seeing him laying in Canal Street with a couple of dragsters going at him with their high heels. The upshot is he lost his eye. Thus the famous Spacely eyepatch. Thus also one of the little nudges that led to his heroin addiction.
After that he was pretty useless as a publisher. But as long as Punk hung on, he was able at least to use its repute to get into clubs free. Then suddenly his hair was blonde... well, not blonde exactly, but yellow. And he had the leather jacket, studs, boots, etc. Cindy gave up with him and went her separate way. Punk went into extended hibernation. But the new Spacely forged on.
The last time I saw him was, I think, Thanksgiving in '81 or '82. I had recently broken up with my girlfriend, and I think he thought I needed company for the holiday. So he called me up and invited me to go with him to some freinds of his place for a repast. I didn't know anybody there, and Spacely was never much for amenities, so I didn't get introduced. There was no time for that anyway--within five minutes of arriving he had his works out and was shooting up speed. Another minute or so later he was passed out on their couch with the needle hanging out of his arm. Everybody looked at me like "What have you dragged into our home?" Fortunately dinner was served. My only attempt at smalltalk was to compliment the cook on the stuffing. Her reply was short and heavily laden with contempt: "It's Stovetop Stuffing." That was the last thing anybody said to me, although they might have grunted when I said goodbye (at the first opportunity). Spacely was still on the couch.
When I went back to visit NYC in 2000, there was Spacely's face covering a large wall on St. Marks Place (an ad for the movie "Gringo"). But Spacely himself wasn't there. He was... you guessed it... dead.
2. He claimed his name was John Spacely, and even had business cards printed thusly. Once I saw something addressed to him with his real name on it. He was real upset. Made me promise to forget it. He needn't have worried.
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