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 Gringo - Starring John Spacely

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larry fine


Number of posts : 234
Registration date : 2009-01-15

PostSubject: Gringo - Starring John Spacely   Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:31 am

I'm wondering if many of you are aware of the movie Gringo which stars the infamous John Spacely.


John Spacely is probably known by New Yorkers who were out and about during the punk years (Nitebob?). Spacely was a semi-legendary junkie who was the (nominal?) publisher of Punk Magazine during their early years. There was a mural of him up in St Mark's Place for years.

It was originally put up for publicity for the movie Gringo (which at that time was being marketed as The Story of a Junkie) and only came down many years after the movies chance of fame and Spacely, himself, had died.

So anyway, I'm sitting here drinking wine and listening to The Wylde Rattz and when Hot Shot comes on I hear the refrain -

"...It's just like Spacely says..."

and it puts me in mind of Ron. John Spacely is mostly known as an annoying, panhandling, con artist, pool hustling junkie from his days in New York. But Spacely (who was from L.A.) was never a junkie in Los Angeles. He either hadn't gotten into it yet (he got into heroin in New York) or came back here to clean up.

Spacely was also a good friend of Ron's and later of mine. When Ron was in The New Order and living up on Sunset Blvd, Spacely was around. I don't know how they met but they already knew each other when I came on the scene. Times were tough and there was often little or no food to eat. Spacely, being the inveterate hustler that he was, could be counted on to leave the apartment and come back an hour later with two Hollywood girls who had money and a bag full of groceries and beer. I could recount stories of John Spacely's travails, hustles, cons, etc. for days.

Ron, Spacely and I used to hang out in the Hollywood of the mid-1970's; going to The Comedy Store or the Continental Hyatt House bar with Ron and I constantly amazed at how many fake names Spacely was known by and how he always knew somewhere we could go and drink for free. I wasn't even old enough to drink yet.

So, years go by and Spacely ends up in NYC and gets picked by Lech Kowalski to star in this movie about the dark underbelly of the junkie's world. It is Spacely being Spacely. The movie shows him trying to get money for a fix, finding the dope and going to shooting galleries to use. It's pretty gritty. He tells stories that he used to tell Ron and I, just updating details, etc. The movie is available through Troma on DVD.

Spacely died a few years after the movie was shot. He'd apparently gotten clean and was an "advocate" for a drug that would help addicts kick.

Ron and I used to talk at length about Spacely and joked that we were the only two people left on earth who remembered him fondly. I might be the only one left now.

Anyway, you should check out Gringo. Ron would have dug it. And if you don't have the Wylde Rattz tracks you really ought to find those, too. They are better than The Weirdness. Me? I'm going to get some more wine.

Last edited by larry fine on Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Number of posts : 235
Registration date : 2009-02-24

PostSubject: Re: Gringo - Starring John Spacely   Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:34 am

Hi !

Yeah.. Years ago I worked in a film festival and we had some Kowalski´s films. I talked with is wife and heard some stories about Spacely...

Kowalski filmed Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls) for Gringo, but deleted all the scene's with Thunders from the film, cause he wanted to make a movie about street junkies in Lower East Side...and not about famous junkie rock legend.

I think Gringo is a great movie...and very disturbing, - some of the deleted scenes with Johnny Thunders and Spacely ended up in a documentary about Johnny Thunders life and death called "Born To Lose - The last rock n roll movie" Here´s Johnny Thunders with Spacely:

Cheers, - Enjoy the wine!
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G, F#, E
Real O Mind

Number of posts : 2310
Age : 25
Location : Scotland
Registration date : 2008-05-06

PostSubject: Re: Gringo - Starring John Spacely   Thu Sep 17, 2009 5:11 pm

Really interesting read thanks, I uploaded some Wylde Ratttz a while ago (great band) don't know if you have it or not but it's all the stuff I've cobbled together by them.
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larry fine


Number of posts : 234
Registration date : 2009-01-15

PostSubject: Re: Gringo - Starring John Spacely   Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:59 am

G, F#, E wrote:
Really interesting read thanks, I uploaded some Wylde Ratttz a while ago (great band) don't know if you have it or not but it's all the stuff I've cobbled together by them.

Thanks for that. I have the "album". It was supposed to come out on London Records and I knew someone who got an advance cassette. I was able to digitize it and have had that for sometime. The instrumentals, however, I didn't have. I just grabbed them and will burn a CD and listen over the weekend and report back. Thanks again.
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Number of posts : 720
Location : Burke, VA
Registration date : 2007-02-26

PostSubject: Re: Gringo - Starring John Spacely   Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:14 pm

I love it when Thunders smashes Spacely with a guitar and then rolls straight into Pipeline.
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Number of posts : 2
Registration date : 2011-09-30

PostSubject: Re: Gringo - Starring John Spacely   Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:29 pm

I was in high school and my friend Audrey and I heard about this wild man staying at the tropicana. Spacely. We called his hotel and set up a meet. For a six pack and cigarettes he consented to do our interview. Yeah where're from Rolling Stone magazine we told him. Doing a story on local color. You don't mind film?

He was more drunk then I anticipated mauling Audrey right away. I got few snaps of his back and ended up in the pool. Formed a strange crush.

The way I met Ron was through Spacey. Ron was living at the Sunset Marquis in Hollywood. We called it 404. Spacely now boyfriend, was a refreshing change from Beverly Thrills faire. Nothing preppy, velvety voice, and in those days no hard drugs.

I met his mother, my grandmother flipped out when she met Spacely. I used to install him in my closet until mom went to sleep. We moved in together.

The whole floor at the Sunset Marquis/ Cornet was a continuous communal party. We lived next door to Ron, and Dave, and Dennis, etc. A crazy german, Grinot Plitz, was on the floor. I have great pics to share I took from the top of Dennis & Ron's fridge. Such beautiful men.

Ron wore his fascist uniform. Others spent hours getting ready, hairspray, makeup. He would be engrossed in cartoons doing scales, quiet. 5AM suddenly vocal, an oration overlooking sunset, "Awake, sleeping giant."

Ron was exceptional, he never interfered with the will of others. Everyone could play. Will post pics soon.
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