Thursday, December 14, 2017

Let's Forget About Trump For A Moment And Think About Otto


Harvey Meets The Resistance by Nancy Ohanian

You may not think this is funny-- and you may be pissed because I'm not going to name any names-- but I'm going to muse a little on the guys I know who are getting busted for predatory behavior. I live in L.A, and have worked in the entertainment business (and in politics) for long enough so that it was inevitable that I'd know some of these creeps. And I don't mean having had an experience or two with them. I mean really knowing them. (Yeah, Warners had a corporate jet and I once shared a flight with Harvey Weinstein. But I don't recall ever saying anything more than "hi" to him, either on the flight or in the studio's executive dining room. That's not what I mean.)

What I mean is when a major scandal broke about one entertainment top name I had to recall that I knew him when he was just a kid and I figured out exactly why he thought he could get away with using his power inside the power dynamic to prey on women. He managed a band, wanted a deal and a predatory monster executive showed him-- still a teenager at the time-- how it's done: "You want your band signed, bend over... here's the lube." Poor kid, it must've traumatized him and-- decades later-- he was pulling the same crap on your women looking to get ahead in the biz.

Today my phone lit up and I must have had at least a dozen messages about an old friend of mine-- let's call him Fred-- whose name was splashed across the headlines for being a pig. I've known him since he was in college. I still think of him, fondly, as a kid. But a pig, first and foremost, a pig I don't stay in touch with much either. Do you want to play around with a pig? The first time I met him, I was managing a band and he was the chairman of his school's concert committee and booked the band. After the show, I wandered over to the box office and he was stuffing cash into his pocket. That was late 70's. He hasn't changed, although his field of activities has gotten way bigger.

So, many years ago, I met this guy, Otto-- totally my... um, type. At least for a date. I wasn't his type at all. He was basically straight. But... it was late at night and he had no place to stay and it was cold and... one thing led to another. He never admitted he was gay but was sort of my on-again-off-again-on-again boyfriend for the better part of a decade. Otto was a smart guy... very, very smart-- an actual chess master in fact. But he got off to a bad start in life. Half German, half Japanese, he was recruited by a gang when he was 12 and he shot two policemen. The gangs used very young kids like that because the kids would get off easy. Otto had a rough few years but he didn't get the electric chair or even a real prison sentence and by the time he was 21 he was given a "fresh start" in life. Except whenever he did something wrong-- which he did-- they would throw the book at him. I used to send him chess sets to whichever prison he wound up in.

Anyway, one day, we were backstage at a Prince concert-- or maybe in was a Bangles concert that Prince was playing at as a surprise guest or something. It doesn't matter. Fred was working for the promoter and he was backstage too. No one else was around and he came over and started insinuating Otto was gay. He didn't understand that Otto could have killed him. Fortunately he didn't, but he did set his pants on fire. Bad, Otto! Bad, bad, bad. Fred thought putting Otto down wasn't like a "real world" thing-- just words-- and was totally shocked when the response was very "real world"-- being set on fire. Poor, Fred... recently, ladies who worked for him came forward with some pretty sordid stories that are laying his life's book open now. He's ruined. I wonder what ever happened to Otto though. I still have his letters that he sent me from prison. He was supposed to move with me to L.A. when I came down here, but he never showed up the day of the move. Eventually he wrote to me when he wanted another chess set and some Ramen sent to his new state-provided address. And then once he was out of prison I took him to see a Madonna concert. Never saw him after that and never heard from him either. Must have died. I wish I had a picture; I'd show it to you.



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