Wray writes (July 2001):
first met T. Billy at the One Way bar in Los Angeles one
Friday night in April 1981. I was just out of the Army and Billy was
there with his good friend Jim Bucalo. It was my first time there
and Billy was funny and friendly and we became good friends almost immediately.
Billy helped initiate
me into the L.A. club scene of the time: The Brave Dog, Al's
Bar, Club Lingerie, the Zero One, and (later) the
Anti-Club and Theoretical. This was a new world for me
-- part straight, part gay, with lots of sexual energy and plenty of
new music, good and bad. Billy loved all of it and you could usually
find him up front boppinā to the beat, Bud in hand. Never cynical or
superior; Billy found something to like in just about every band and
Billy worked as
a computer programmer at a major bank and he took his job seriously.
Unlike so many of us back then, he was responsible and frugal, and I
remember the little yellow Japanese-American hatchback he drove and
his tidy little house near the intersection of Myra and Hoover Streets
in East Hollywood. Terry Dorn was a neighbor and Billy would
frequently have me, Jimmy, and Terry in for a few beers and a few tokes
before we headed out to the clubs on weekend nights.
One of the reasons
Billy was so frugal was the support he provided to his two children
living in Minnesota with his ex-wife. He loved both his kids and spoke
of them often.
Billy was upfront
about his sexuality, which was primarily gay, but he still dated girls
from time to time, and he got plenty of attention from both sexes. Part
of this was his style that cool hair, those great sportcoats!
But he was really interesting because he was interested in other people.
He had a droll, ever-ready wit, a boyish lopsided smile, and a perpetual
twinkle in his eyes.
Billy knew just
about everyone there was to know in those days, knew all the door people
and a lot of the bands. When he was living in New York Joey Ramone
used to sleep on his couch. He went to every party that my boyfriend
Tomata and I threw, and one time
he helped us host a party at our loft above Swenson's Ice Cream Parlor
on Hollywood Boulevard. Two hundred people showed up and the place got
so hot that one guy took two girls into the bathroom for a cold shower.
The living room floor was packed, and Craig
Lee kicked a hole in the wall while slamdancing. I remember
a lot of special times with Billy, like going to the "Us Festival"
and seeing David Bowie, and going to the Sports Arena and
the Coliseum to see Bruce Springsteen.
I remember Sunday
brunches at Curt Hancock's house in Eagle Rock. For me, no event
was really complete unless Billy was there.
Curt and Billy had
been lovers for a time but it didn't work out. Billy liked Curt but
he liked his freedom more. He disparaged the conventions of romantic
love. He once stopped listening to rock music and switched to classical
because he said was "tired of all the love songs" (of course
he was back to rockabilly and new wave a few weeks later).
Despite this, Billy
loved people as much as any man I've known, and he knew the meaning
of friendship. I remember times when I would pour my heart out to Billy.
He would listen and give me sound advice, but I rarely took it.
After I moved to
New York in 1987 I stayed in contact with Billy and he came to visit
me and Dee Silva at our apartment in New
York. He told us he had the virus but he looked great and said he was
doing well. I was shocked to hear of his death, but considering the
mortality rate of those years I shouldn't have been.
There was a memorial
in his hometown of Jersey City but even though I was living there at
the time, I didn't attend. I sent flowers and handled it the way I handled
so many other things in those days, with drugs and alcohol.
Well, here's to
you Bil, wherever you are. Thank you for being with me in the
best and worst of times. I miss you so much. If there is a rock and
roll heaven I'm sure you're on the guest list.
Save me a spot near
Marquette writes (June 1997):
was always cool and friendly and a big fan of nu-music. He especially
went for the Rockabilly scene as it developed in the '80's. His presence
at any event immediately put people at ease. He knew everyone and never
spoke badly of anyone.
the Fabulous Oh! Sisters @theoretical.
Photo: Tomata DuPlenty
died (of AIDS) sometime in 1991... just when the ominous fear of The
Plague began to hit the West Coast hardest. Friends remembered him at
a festive wake which unfortuneately turned out to be one in series.
things sometimes go, I now live in the modest little house he had owned.
I'm sure he would like the garden I've made in the back yard. I think
of him often.
know too little about T.Billy to adequately remember him here. Hopefully
those who were closer to this fine person might take the time to offer
their own words.
to Rob Wray who wrote the piece in the right column AND to
Terry Dorn who offers even more remembrances
of T. Billy...