The follow-up to Porcelain, Moby's 2016 memoir, Then It Fell Apart (to be released on May 7) continues the music artist's life story, with more absorbing and honest tales of success and struggle. This one shows a darker but no less compelling period, covering his life from 1989-1999, sharing lots of behind the scenes moments of debauchery and surreal star-studded excess.
In advance of his Live Talks event at the Aratani Theatre, celebrating the 20th anniversary of his career defining release, Play, and the new book, Moby offers L.A. Weekly readers an exclusive excerpt and intro, below.
By way of context; this chapter from Then It Fell Apart is an alcohol and drug and debauchery fueled shiny Los Angeles moment before the downward spiral that makes the book's title so apt. It was the autumn of 2000, Play was selling around 50,000 copies a week, I was playing sold out shows, and my liver was still pink enough to keep the hangovers fairly benign. And all I wanted was for things to stay that way forever and ever. Which, not surprisingly, they didn't. —Moby
The tour for Play, which was originally supposed to be four weeks long, was now entering its eighteenth month. We were doing what Barry, one of my three managers, called “a victory lap,” going to cities we’d already visited multiple times, but now playing cavernous arenas instead of small clubs.
After New York I flew to Los Angeles for the final show: a concert at the Greek Theater. The Greek wasn’t huge – it held only five thousand people – but it was one of the most beautiful outdoor venues in the world, and it seemed like a perfect way to bring the curtain down on a bafflingly long and wonderful tour. The tickets for the Greek show sold out in less than a day, so my managers raised the possibility of moving to a bigger venue. But I wanted to finish the tour with one night in an iconic Los Angeles venue surrounded by pine trees.
At the Greek we ran through the songs from Play and a bunch of my older rave tracks. At one point, while we were playing “Porcelain,” I looked in the front row and made eye contact with Christina Ricci, who was singing along. I’d met her a few times in New York, saying hello in bars, but we’d never been close.
After the show Christina came backstage. Everything about her was beautiful. With her perfectly straight, short black hair she looked like a voluptuous Louise Brooks, come to life in the twenty-first century. I offered her champagne, and as I was uncorking the bottle Morrissey walked in. With his trademark swoosh of dark hair he looked like a glamorous Mexican film star. I’d never met him, and I was immediately nervous in his presence, as I’d been a huge fan of the Smiths and his solo albums.
Often when I met my heroes I was stumped. I wanted to be a fan and gush and tell them how much I loved their work. But I also wanted to be cool, and so would pretend to be unfazed by meeting them. I didn’t know what to say to Morrissey, so I offered him champagne. He declined, brusquely asked me to consider producing his next album, and after a polite handshake left.
“Was that Morrissey?” I asked Christina after the door closed. She laughed. “I think it was.”
After two bottles of champagne Christina and I got into my black stretch movie-star limo and went bar-hopping in Hollywood. When the bars closed at 2 a.m. we headed west, meeting up with photographer David LaChapelle at the Standard hotel, where I was staying. The hotel bar was still serving alcohol, so we crowded into a vinyl booth with David and his coterie of degenerates and beautiful freaks. Being around him always felt like stepping into an early John Waters movie.
“Moby,” David said, “meet Holly.”
“Hi,” I said, smiling drunkenly at a blonde and aging – but still beautiful – drag queen.
“Moby,” David said, as if explaining a profound truth to a simpleton, “this is Holly from Walk on the Wild Side.”
“Oh,” I said, taken aback. “Can I kiss you?”
“Of course, darling,” she said, in a hoarse rasp reminiscent of Marianne Faithfull.
I leaned over and kissed Holly. I was straight, but I knew that if you’re in a booth at 3 a.m. drinking champagne with Holly from Walk on the Wild Side, you kiss her. And not a chaste peck on the cheek, but an open-mouthed kiss. You can’t kiss Holly the way you would your great-aunt.
David slammed down a shot of tequila and yelled, “Let’s go to the disco!”
“There’s a disco?” I asked.
He took my hand and Christina’s and walked us through the Standard’s kitchen to a door that led to a dark private club, hidden deep within the bowels of the hotel.
As we stepped into the disco the first person I saw was Joe Strummer. I hadn’t seen him since Glastonbury, so I ran up to him and hugged him.
“Joe!” I yelled.
“Moby!” he yelled.
We wrapped our arms around each other and started dancing to a Donna Summer track.
“I love you, Joe!” I yelled drunkenly.
“I love you, Moby!” he yelled back, just as drunkenly.
Christina joined us, followed by David and Holly. We all held onto each other and danced wildly to the looping synths and other-worldly beauty of “I Feel Love.”
We drank more. We danced more. And at 5 a.m., after hugging everyone one last time, Christina and I left the club and went up to my room. My room wasn’t terribly fancy, but on the balcony you could see the dark Pacific Ocean, far in the distance. We opened another bottle of champagne and sat on the balcony’s mid-century chairs, basking in the warm night air and gazing at the endless lights of Los Angeles. The sun started to come up, just a thin rose-colored sliver on the eastern horizon. I put my champagne glass down and kissed Christina.
As the sky turned pink we sat on my balcony kissing, talking, and drinking champagne. L.A. was usually a loud city of twenty million people, but at dawn it was so quiet I could hear birds.
I was with a smart, beautiful movie star, and I was closing the book on the greatest eighteen months of my life. The realization came to me as slowly and gently as the dawn: this was actually my life.
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“Do you think things will calm down now that your tour is over?” Christina asked me.
I smiled and took a slug of champagne from the bottle. “Oh, I hope not.”
Excerpted from Then It Fell Apart by Moby. Published with permission of Faber & Faber. Copyright © 2019 by Moby.
An Evening with Moby (discussing Then It Fell Apart and performing a few acoustic songs with a guest vocalist), at Los Angeles event at the Aratani Theatre at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St., Downtown; Mon., May 6, 8 p.m. Tickets $20-65 (includes book); livetalksla.org/events/moby/