Pretty Dope Fiends and After School Specials

Thinking about the pretty dope fiends I’ve known after watching the riveting and very sad documentary, “Who Killed Nancy?” (2009).

One I met while walking somewhere near ABC No Rio in NYC, he asked me if I was ok because I was crying. He escorted me home, then shot up in the bathroom of my apartment on East 7th between B and C. “I want to try,” I told him, but he wouldn’t share his drugs. I’d never done heroin. He said, “You’ll get hooked and then I’ll feel bad.” He looked like a matinee idol from the 1950s, or the way little boys do, tousled in jeans and wild blonde hair, unkempt, his beauty a toss-off, casually worn.

The kind of romance there is with a pretty dope fiend is wonderful. It fulfills the need to provide and to be protected. He rode in the cab with me to the airport, a true gentleman, then asked if I had any extra cash. He called me collect just to say hi. It felt like it was us against the world.

In L.A. I met another pretty dope fiend in the parking lot of a grocery store in Hollywood. The vastness of the parking lot and the sky and the early morning sunshine and his dirty charisma were almost overwhelming. He had the true style of those who simply throw their clothes together, adorning themselves with whatever catches their eye along the way – no premeditation, a spontaneous funky true beauty. He looked like Willem Dafoe handing the gun barrel pipe to the camera in Platoon (1986) as he stood close to me, his skinny-hipped, full-lipped, half-lidded look, wearing a beaded hat and a knowing smile, handing a clear pipe of I-didn’t-know-what to me. I thought in that moment, as I pondered the pipe and his face, of all the after school specials I’d seen and all the books I’d read when I was a kid about the dangers of doing drugs and pretty dope fiends.

So I shook my head and looked away from his remarkable face and up at the sky.

I guess I’m glad I’ve been clean and sober ever since. It does make me cry because it’s been so very difficult to find my place in the world. I’ve been ripped off and fucked over just as much and just as painfully by “normal” people. I miss that feeling of solidarity I once had, allied with the squatters and the misfits and street people, us against the world, us against all those pompous ego-driven humans with their superficial values and fake smiles and rampant consumerism, their bragging and clawing and self-serving.

One night a few of us stood across the street from a famous club on Sunset, getting gasoline. We were funny-looking and so was my car (the car I drove across the country, the car we spray-painted and stickered with band names, the car I’ve driven ever since), and the people in line at the club were so intimidatingly beautiful, snazzy and so perfectly rock ‘n’ roll, every hair perfectly in place even when it was out of place, looking so good in their fine-ass threads. But I realized then that my allies, however homeless or scruffy, were just as duplicitous and greedy, thieves who’d steal your boombox and your bankroll and your best lipstick.

How is elitism punk rock? How is hierarchy hippie?

When will the true revolution ever happen?


Lucretia Tye Jasmine

About Lucretia Tye Jasmine

Wild interests and an inclination to rage against the machine with a flair that could equal the groupies and rock stars who fascinate her, writer and artist from Kentucky, Lucretia Tye Jasmine, earned an MFA from CalArts (2006), and a BFA from Tisch (University Honors Scholar, 1988). Alien She, the Museum of Broken Relationships Hollywood, the Fales Special Collections Library at NYU, the Getty Center, Joanie 4 Jackie, MoPOP, the New York Times, and The Punk Museum Los Angeles have featured her work. Recent publications include essays in "Women Who Rock: From Bessie to Beyoncé, Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl," edited by Evelyn McDonnell (2018), and "Let It Bleed: How To Write A Rockin' Memoir," edited by Pamela Des Barres (2017), with online writing for Please Kill Me, Medium, and PRISM international. Current projects are the oral history mixtape zines: "riot grrrl Los Angeles 1992-1995," and "The Groupie Gospels."
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