HST & Friends
About HST+ Who is HST?
Biographies+ E. Jean Carroll
+ William McKeen
+ P. Paul Perry
+ Peter O. Whitmer
Once again I found myself staring down a long rack of men's magazines, searching for a title I had heard of, but wasn't quite sure what it encompassed. After a little help from a clerk, she found the June/July issue of POV effortlessly, and here I had been staring at the same spot for ten minutes. Was it because it was with all the gay magazines that had clouded my focus? She gave me a funny smile and I hastily explained, "I like Matthew Broderick, a big fan, quite a while."
It was utter crap, because I was after the gonzo story inside. POV "for men" is a few steps down from Loaded (no nudies) and just about right up there with ICON and GQ - a tome to all that is testosterone.
The cover promises "Hunter S. Thompson: The Real Story", but for dedicated fans of gonzo, there is nothing really new. I bought one for posterity, and perhaps because of the pic of HST wearing a long blonde women's wig:
But then, I'm getting a head of the story.
The real story is that there is no real story. It's a three page article by Cheryl Della Pietra, the research editor for POV. A former barmaid, she found herself working as HST's assistant. There is also a colourful (but seemingly hokey) painting of HST with a tumbler of whiskey in one hand and a rifle in the other, with this treeline in the background.
To her credit, it's a funny article. It starts out:
WANTED : Editorial Assistant JOB DESCRIPTION: Must enjoy late-night hot-tubbing, chain-smoking, binge desert eating, drinking hard alcohol, mixing margaritas and driving large cars in a reckless manner. Should be able to withstand frequent yelling and loud noises, unintelligible rantings, and handle firearms and exploding targets with ease. Knowledge of soft porn a plus. Curiosity about the limits of sleep deprivation helpful. Knowledge of housecleaning and faxing imperative. Young and sexy recreational drug users encouraged to apply.
That's what someone should have told me.
Pietra even got a mention in an October 1992 issue of Playboy: "It was Easter Sunday. A friend and I were out driving and she fired a couple of those little screamers you use to scare away birds, and all of a sudden they were threatening to arrest me..."
Then the questions:
Q:Does he really do all those drugs?
A:Yes. Constantly. This monumental intake is accompanied by a tall tumbler of scotch on the rocks, which is replenished with fresh ice and booze - constantly - from morning till night. He unapolegetically hasn't twelve-stepped his way into old age; indeed, at this point in his life, he'd probably croak if he stopped.
Q:What did you do there?
A:This is a tough one at a job interview. I went, ostensibly, to help him work on his long-promised novel, Polo Is My Life. The project has been in the works for seemingly forever, and the lack of progress makes sense. Thompson writing a work of fiction is like getting Madonna to act...
Working with HST:
What I wanted to do: Sit down, talk about the current text, see if we couldn't get a direction going for the next chapter.
What he wanted to do: Jump into the hot tub with a whole key lime pie, a cell phone, a bottle of Champagne and Caligula on in the background.
Well, he was the boss.
Eventually, she decided she could only do the job for one summer:
Trips to the gardening center wound up as portable flower shows. Every jaunt to the liquor store was like buying for a wedding reception. Lunch was a damn buffet. I began to understand that tedium can occur under any circumstances; even the most extreme can turn dull with repetition. Scotch for breakfast? Again? Really?
When the trees turned, Pietra found she had lost her fear of flying. Her last day with HST was spent in Denver at an attorney's convention, meeting Gary Hart and getting pushed into the pool (and pulling HST in). Fun, exciting, yes, but as Pietra observes: "But how long can you feed the dreams of others before you lose sight of your own?"