But 1999 and 2000 fucking rocked.
When divas collide - 1999
Sandra was playing the Billboard on Sunset Strip in keeping with her belief that if she worked on New Years Eve, she would work all the coming year. She also liked the premium coin NY Eve brought as Sandra has the first nickel she ever made. She called me and asked if we wanted to come, and our acceptance to the invite was a no-brainer for both of us. Billy had made tentative plans with some friends but we told them we would meet them later, after the show.
We arrived at the club around 11 to find it packed with party hats and drunkards. As soon as I walked in, I spotted Ellen with two girlfriends. I was Ellen’s first manager and worked her into her first television show for her. It was a difficult time for Ellen, that period, because she had a stalker who created havoc in her life. At one point, she was forced to come live with me. We hired the best private investigator and Ellen learned how to throw her trash away miles from her home, and always enter and leave through her back door. We had stayed friendly, or so I thought, through the years and I helped her with some personal things while I was in New York. I hadn’t seen or talked to her in a good three years, though, when we walked into the club that night.
I thought it odd that she was there in the first place since her and Sandra never got along very well. I had them as clients during the same period and it was a turf war between them. As far as I knew, Ellen showed no interest in Sandra whatsoever, and the same could certainly be said on Sandra’s behalf.
I took Billy’s hand and led him over to meet Ellen. They had never gotten a chance to meet and I wanted to reconnect as well. I always loved her, thinking the feeling was mutual. I strode right up and put my arm around her from behind.
“Hey, goodlookin’!” I said and reached to kiss her cheek all in one move. She turned to see who it was and when she saw me, she pulled away.
“Oh. Hi! How’ve you been?” she said and went right back to talking to her two friends without waiting for my answer. I think, at that moment, I didn’t comprehend her dismissal and I thought I just caught her in mid-story to her friends. I waited for a moment, standing there, and slowly feeling like an ass but I leaned in and said, over the loud music, “I want you to meet Billy.” I stepped away so Billy could take the forefront. He was drinking a beer and hadn’t really heard our brief exchange; he just took his cue and stuck out his hand.
“Hi! It’s nice…” he said with a big friendly grin.
“Yeah. You too,” I think she said. She had cut him off and continued to talk to her girlfriends, and I ended up spending the rest of the night obsessing on it. How could she totally diss me after all we had gone through together? Billy just rolled his eyes at my bluster and told me not to worry about it. We went backstage to see Sandra before she went on. She was sitting in a big easy chair, drinking tea, but stood and gave us both a big hug then shooed us out so she could finish getting ready.
When Sandra went on, Ellen and her friends were right in front of the stage. Sandra saw them but did not once reference her during the show. Sandra was electrifying that night with a brand new show that had, among other songs, her impassioned cover of Dream On. It was the first time Billy and I had seen her do that song, and, as it turns out, it was the only time she performed it.
After the show, Billy and I were among the first backstage where the club had some catering. We each grabbed a beer and I was talking to Denise, Sandra’s drummer, and Billy was chatting with Mitch, her musical director that Billy had met and fucked around with before he met me. Small world. Ellen and her pussy posse came in and when she saw me, she came up and said something about the loud music out there and how she didn’t get a chance to catch up with me. We spoke briefly until Sandra entered the room.
I went up and hugged Sandra, and told her it was a great show.
“You think so? I’m tired of the opening. I’ve been doing that same tired shit for too long now,” she said, eyeing Ellen.
“Hey, it’s a crowd pleaser. It’s your signature song,” I said. She pursed her lips in disapproval; the notion of pleasing crowds was never on her goal list.
“What’s she doing here?” she said, nodding toward Ellen.
“Writing,” I said as I smiled.
Three weeks later, Ellen hosted the Grammys for the first time. She opened the show with a song, something she had never done before, and then did three of Sandra’s jokes.
The blowjob queen and tough rocker chicks - 2000
Billy and I decided to double date this night, the night of a broken promised chaos, with Beth and Greg, two of our best friends and local scenesters. We each had a party to go to and each one couldn’t have been more polarized in atmosphere. Our first stop was at the top of Doheny Drive in the home of our friend, Howard, a famous publicist with a phenomenal view. I had met Howard years earlier off a phone sex line when I lived on the beach in my bachelor pad. We became friends and I helped him get his first important corporate client.
Billy was also friends with Howard’s lover du jour so it was a seamless mix of my friends and Billy’s. In his glass walled living room that looked out onto the endless lights of Los Angeles, he had a big screen TV playing the countdown festivities across the world, bringing in the new millennium. There were about twelve of us and Howard had ordered a catering staff of six or more to fetch drinks and clean up the scattered plates. We were all standing or sitting around talking and watching the TV but what we were really waiting for was the arrival of Howard’s newest client.
Just as London was exploding in fireworks, she walked in flanked by two other girls. Howard rushed to the door and took their coats. She was wearing a simple black dress and a sweater draped over her shoulders. One of the waiters giddily walked up to her group and asked what they would like to drink. All of our eyes were on her and she was far prettier in person than I had imagined. She had a Diet Coke. Beth and Greg were freaking out and so were we.
I eyed Howard and jerked my head for him to come over.
“Introduce us!” I stage whispered.
With Billy and me in tow, he brought us over to her and her friends.
“Monica? This is Terry and Billy,” he said.
“It’s terrific meeting you,” I said. “This is a really exciting night for the world.” I was a little flummoxed on what to say to a woman so famous, she had turned into a verb.
“Hi. I’m Bill,” Billy said as he shook her hand and he turned beet red.
“Well it’s nice meeting you two. How do you know Howard?” she asked.
“We’re old buddies,” I smiled. “We go way back.”
“And I know Russ,” Billy said, referring to Howard’s boyfriend. Monica jerked her head around to see Russ.
“Hey you!” she said as she waved to Russ in the dining room. We stood there for a while, near her chair, and watched TV, making random comments at the events. Billy and I retreated to the food area and munched on some somethings as our attention darted from the TV to Monica. When the coverage turned to Washington and Clinton’s address to the nation, the air went out of the room and we held our breath.
One of her girlfriends was constantly rubbing her back in the silent motion of talking someone off the ledge. The other was drinking a martini. When Clinton took the podium, Monica did a spit take.
“I can’t believe he’s wearing that suit and that shirt,” she said to herself, loud enough for the whole house to hear. I was near Beth and we squeezed each other’s hand in the mad delight at this odd circumstance.
“Pfff. He should have reworded that,” she said to one of the President’s comments. Her hair tossed with emphasis. It was all so room-spinningly surreal to watch Monica watch Clinton and have her make a play-by-play. His public confession happened a few months prior and Monica was just starting to make her way out into the world again. The four of us were giggly kids when we left the party shortly after Monica and her friends did.
The nest stop, Beth and Greg’s party, was a private party thrown by the lead singer of L7 in a basement in Silverlake. It took us about a half hour to drive there and when we arrived, the basement was packed and the band was about to start playing. Before they began, Billy and I snuck outside by the pool and smoked a joint. We said our New Years resolutions to one another, all ten of them, as we had done on every New Years Eve. The ceremony was simple. I would read one of mine and he would read one of his. It was a running and unspoken joke that the tenth one of his would be, “Love my Guyster more,” and I would say, “As if that’s possible!” and then we would kiss. That simple.
We went back inside just as L7 launched into “Diet Pills.” They ran through a greatest hits set until it was almost midnight when they did a version of “Auld Lang Syne” that shook the walls of the basement, and it had Billy and me kissing and hugging like stoned, crazy people. We kissed Beth and Greg and we were sweating and laughing and the world seemed bountiful and beautiful and impossible to stop.
I treasure those two nights – not because of the celebrity value. That just added to the insanity of it all. No, I treasure them because our lives were full and happy and downright fun.