Didn't start that way. At first, Pierre was going to make it with his horn. Years ago, I saw him play Raji's, the late and legendary rock club, and, in reality, he was pretty damn good. (He smiled gratefully when I told him this.) But he found himself more valuable as a source of drugs than as a capable sideman. And that career move paid handsome dividends for a while - as on this Hollywood party night.
After collecting the cash, Pierre and comrades drive out of the hills to a deserted park on the Westside, just north of the 10 freeway. There, Pierre exchanges $200 for 20 tiny balloons filled with sticky black Mexican tar heroin. On the return trip, one of Pierre's passengers, a club waitress whose only claim to fame is proximity, decides she can't wait. She snatches her share with one hand and, with the other, jams Pierre's cigarette lighter into the dash. Thirty seconds later, she throws some tar on the red-hot lighter and sucks the heavenly shit out of the fumes. "Hang on, we're almost there," Pierre says to the rest of his anxious carload, snickering to himself.
By that time, some of the band members at the Hollywood manse are getting just as fidgety. Peer into their brainpans, and you'd come up with the universal thought: Where's Pierre? Where's their medicine? At his return, many of the town's finest rockers make for him like their fans run toward them. Pierre slithers to a side room, where he distributes the booty. A job well done; six more hours of relief. If only every night were like this.
Pierre can tell you about parties like this all day long - although the specifics of any one bash get blurry as we sit in a corner pub at a rundown strip mall in Culver City. Like a lot of dealers, Pierre fingers his pager nervously every five minutes. In between, he takes long, hard pulls on his draft.
His present cover/straight job is in dry wall, and as work is rather slow this week, he's got plenty of time to gab. Still, Pierre's a mess and a half - for reasons that will soon become clear.
As dope dealers go, Pierre is a nickel-and-dimer, a provider for weekend users who don't want to rub elbows with gangstas. "Real junkies don't come to me; I cost more. They'll deal with the Mexicans themselves, or go downtown to Alvarado and Bonnie Brae and risk their asses."
Pierre tries to maintain at least a $200 back stock of tar for his 10 best clients, lest withdrawal bite their sorry asses hard. His clientele have been mostly visiting out-of-towners and local altie-rock stars, who feel at ease with Pierre because he's just a seedier version of themselves; he can still recite chapter and verse on every great rock album ever made.
Some of his customers are now in rehab, some have kicked the habit, and some are dead. But others remain on the delivery list because Pierre is to heroin what the legendary "Harry the Bastard" was to cocaine, a sure bet whose number was probably tucked into music-business Rolodexes all over L.A. The industry makes a show of an anti-drug stance, but when stars are screaming for a taste - while expensive studio time gets burned up - it's call-on-Pierre time.