By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
He says the two of them managed to stay clean as a team, riding the newly constructed subways and trains throughout the city to 12-step meetings. His sister actually slapped him once in public when he started dating a girl, fearful that he was going to abandon her. Then she started dating an older lawyer, who treated her well, and by all accounts it seemed the unlikeliest of happy endings. But that perfect year ended abruptly one morning when Avalon knocked on his sister’s bedroom door. She didn’t respond, so he turned the stereo up and headed into the shower. He remembers hearing his mom yelling at his sister, and he shouted for them to stop arguing. It was only when he walked back into the hall that he realized his mom was actually screaming. He looked into his sister’s room and saw her sprawled across the bed, her skin pale and blue. Avalon says he looked away, remembering a Jewish tradition that advises one not to view the dead so you might remember them as they were, alive and happy.
“All my friends and all my lovers are dead. Some from cheap narcotics and others from — lead. The filthy rich and the dirt-dirt poor are all the same when they can’t take no more, because all my friends and all my lovers are dead.”
Late night at Canter’s Delicatessen on Fairfax. Avalon is sitting across from me eating a plate of corned beef and cabbage — explaining how exactly he ended up as a male prostitute. It was after his mom fired him from “the biz.” He was separated from his wife and child, addicted to heroin, and living in a cheap Portland rooming house. Nearby was a gritty stretch of Jefferson Avenue nicknamed “Vaseline Alley” for obvious reasons. Avalon met a kid while spending the night in jail, and when they were released, he watched the kid make money. When he first tried it, Avalon says, he was just ripping off the “johns” — climbing into the cars and then jumping out with their money.
“But as you get more fucked up, it gets more difficult,” he explains. “When you’re dealing with $40 tricks on their lunch break, well, that’s easy. But when you’re dealing with $10 crackheads who take all their clothes off when they take a hit and you’re locked in the motel room, that’s when the ball ain’t in your court.”
He looks across the restaurant, notices a pretty blond girl a few booths over and waves to her. She smiles and waves back. He tells me she’s a girl from the neighborhood and they went to high school together. He sifts through the cabbage with his fork for a beat and continues.
“It got to be a really dark, weird time. I mean, I’ve given guys hand jobs, but I’ve never been fucked in the ass and I’ve never sucked a guy’s dick. I know that to most people anything like that is gay. But I know what I like, so I have no problem, because at the end of the day, it’s just an act. I would much rather give a hand job than wash dishes all day. Does that make me gay? I don’t know, I don’t think so. It was tragic that I was such a complete loser, but then again, I wasn’t exactly supposed to be a lawyer or a stockbroker.”
“When you’ve got some money then come and get your jollies, a corner teen in this California dream, all up on the scene dipped in Vaseline. My foster parents told me that I could be anything I wanted to, so I became me Mickey Avalon, the kid who runs free serving sucker MCs and getting paid for my delivery. I freak beats that stain your silk sheets, filthy on the mic like Lenny Bruce used to be.”
The Mickey Avalon I have come to know is far different from what I expected as I drove to my first meeting with the latest great white hip-hop hope. Intelligent, candid and seemingly without guile, Avalon had his heart on his sleeve from the moment we met. While he talks of death and loss with something resembling calm detachment, there is an undeniable air of vulnerability about him that is both refreshing and, at times, unnerving. Heroin is, after all, a painkiller, and junkies, using or not, tend to feel almost everything. Avalon told me that he is an insomniac, awake throughout the night, painting, reading books and writing. It is not, he says, something he particularly enjoys, those silent hours alone with his thoughts and memories.
Avalon’s booked for another sold-out Saturday-night show at the Roxy. The previous day, a DJ named Stryker, on the all-powerful KROQ radio station, went on air for several minutes raving about the new underground sensation called Mickey Avalon and how he had done it all on his own. He talked about the Roxy show, and then played Avalon’s club hit “Jane Fonda.” Saturday morning, there’s a message posted on Avalon’s MySpace page that reads, “Just to let you know the entire city of Laguna Beach is coming tonight.”