Article and Photos By: Scooter Tramp Scotty
Originally Published In The September 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
It was years ago, while staying with an eccentric entrepreneur who surrounded himself with old motorcycles and ragged biker types in Milwaukee Wisconsin, that I experienced a very unique adventure. In fact, the situation was so outrageous that even though I’ve often thought I should write about it I had no idea where to start. I guess it goes something like this: The Compound, as JP’s place was sometimes called, was a big piece of property by the river. It held three large brick buildings, his beautiful but strangely eccentric home, a single-story plastics factory that sat on top of three stories, and a huge garage of sorts with a machine shop where ancient, custom bikes were built and maintained by scraggly young biker types. The machine shop took up the left side of the garage and an ocean ready cigar boat waited in a corner to the right. One of this show’s characters was a guy named Joe Hart. For a time, Joe lived in the Greyhound bus/motor home conversion JP kept in the yard. Joe was a wild, young, and I think it’s safe to say, jet setter who rode Harleys. He tended to stay out all night, endured hung over mornings, knew all the ‘right’ people, and always had his foot deeply embedded in the action. For whatever reason we took a liking to each other and we started to bomb around town together…a lot. At one point Joe had us out on a yacht with a bunch of drunk friends and I was the only sober person. Of course, there was other stuff going on too. One night Joe asked me to tell him about a book I was working on at that time. So I told him the story. It seems he liked the idea more than I’d realized. At some point Joe moved to Hollywood California and I lost track of him. Not too long ago though, he contacted me with some crazy ideas about getting that, as yet unpublished, book published. Well, winter was closing in and I hadn’t visited California in three years so I decided to drop by and show some face. I set a course for the heart of West Hollywood and headed out.
As I passed the seemingly endless wall of storefronts and businesses that line Santa Monica Boulevard the city concrete was everywhere. Although it was late evening with rush hour long past, traffic still clogged the streets as multitudes of pedestrians held down sidewalks and crosswalks. Eventually, I turned uphill onto La Cienega Boulevard and began looking for the driveway that Joe had described over the phone. The directions led me past two car parking lots, between two large double story houses, and then downhill for a short distance to the driveways end. Joe greeted me in the driveway and, after getting re-acquainted, I was led past the pool and inside to tour of one of Joe’s two houses. This house had six bedrooms and, of course, the place was quite nice. The house seemed devoid of activity, which I soon learned was uncommon around here.
After introductions were made to a couple of passing roommates, Joe and I wandered outside to get a better look at the garage, which sat down and behind the pool. After moving a few things, I set up camp and deemed the place home. Although I didn’t know it at the time this would become my pad for the next month. In addition to the house Joe lived in, he also had the place directly next door. It had seven bedrooms and was also filled with roommates. Although that place had no pool, it had a freestanding structure in the yard that was being converted into a music studio but, at that time it was not quite finished. In the fence that separated the two houses Joe had installed a large gate so residents of his Hollywood party community could wander easily back and forth. As the days passed I got to know some of our residents. Micky “Memphitz” Wright is some kind of a rap star. Although I’m told his past is jaded (I know nothing about rap), for whatever reasons, we got along very well. On the living room wall a red album boasted sales on one of his albums at 10,000,000 copies, and there was a gold one that boasted sales of 500,000. A picture of Micky and Oprah Winfrey accompanied them. And I saw him once on TV while I lived there. At least partially due to his presence, as well as the Hollywood party atmosphere, there were always hot young groupies hanging around and there were seldom less than three in Micky’s bedroom at any given time. Imagine that ego trip. Next, we had a small time producer, then Shawn who made music videos, and most everyone else in residence was either looking to make it big, or already had their foot in some kind of show business door. I guess that’s what folks come to Hollywood for. When Joe arrived in the area he had only $350 to his name. He went on to build this little empire with the profits from various business ventures that I didn’t ask much about. Joe likes to stick his foot in a lot of different, and sometimes unorthodox, business doors. Publishing my book, and one other that was written on the subject of Tupac (a dead rap star), was just another of his crazy, and occasionally profitable, ideas. In truth though, I didn’t put much stock in anything actually coming from it.
On the second night of my stay in the house we attended a big crazy party. At Joe’s places it was always the same, if not far more constant. The drunken antics, naked people in the pool, etc. were an endless source of entertainment to me. On occasion someone would point out a television star that was in attendance, but of course I didn’t know any of them because I have no TV. Almost all residents were young and this nutty scene seemed reminiscent of life back in my 20’s. Along with a great love for the party scene, Joe was ambitious and wanted to succeed in business so he tried to keep the craziness limited to weekends. He knew that if left unchecked the insanity wouldn’t stop even for a day. L.A. traffic was always horrible but most everything you might need except a grocery store, was within two blocks walking distance on Santa Monica Blvd- Subway Sandwich, Starbucks, bars, restaurants, ice cream, you name it; it was there. So it was some errand, or just wanting to get out of the house, that brought me to that area regularly. One day Joe told me a production company would be shooting a movie scene in the backyard that evening. It sounded interesting and was sure to be a different experience. One scene would be shot with a bunch of supposedly unruly teenagers in the pool. Even though this was southern California, it was winter and the nights were downright chilly. All afternoon Joe fought tooth and nail with the pool heater, which would come on then shortly thereafter turn itself back off. He said the pool guy had recently replaced it but was unable to come out to look at it that day. By the time evening rolled around, cameras, crews, equipment, and lighting were assembled and shooting began first on the street. By now Joe was running around going nuts with that damn pool heater! Eventually shooting moved to the backyard then the pool. Still no heater. Joe was livid.
One scene portrayed a bunch of supposedly drunken kids who’d snuck into some unsuspecting citizen’s yard for a little fun in their pool. With the hour growing later, time eventually came for those kids to embrace their “fun time” in the ice water. I couldn’t help but laugh as they stood shivering until the director called “Action” whereupon all would start splashing it up and having such a good time! Price of fame I guess. For me however, it was just a great comedy show. Although the garage offered me some sanctuary, by the time you walked to driveway’s end you would be completely immersed in the crowded, high traffic, fast paced city. For me who was much more used to the freedom of small towns and open highways the constriction of this place became oppressive rather quickly. Although this city goes on seemingly forever, the quickest sanctuary to be found is in the nearby hills above Malibu, along Mulholland Drive. There are also the other small twisting roads that sometimes offer a view of the Pacific Ocean far below; or you can simply ride Hwy-1 up the coast. Many local bikers also seek a weekend escape to these places and there are two staple hangouts. One is Neptune’s Net along the coast, and the other is the Rock Store up on Mulholland. Since none of the partyhouse residents rode motorcycles I missed the company of other riders and this was a welcomed reprieve. I also began taking overnight trips out of the city; a simple task for one with the ability to easily make his home anywhere.
One day a local Shovelhead guy, John, made contact with me on the net. John lived in the nearby suburbs and wanted to drop by and take me to lunch. I gladly accepted. He and the old Shovel soon showed up. From my garage we walked to some swanky, high priced restaurant and had a wonderful meal on the deck at street-front. After that John and I began getting together to ride the hills quite frequently. We visited hangouts, beaches, mountains and, on one occasion John, his wife Janie, and I made a trip to the less glittery town of Oxnard. Some nights, John and I would go back to his house where he’d grill steaks while Janie made fixins’ in the kitchen. Next we’d hang in the hot tub and bullshit. I soon learned about John’s violent past and the many years he had spent in prison. But I would never have guessed any of it by the guy I had come to know. These days John owns a pool business, lives in a regular home, and is anything but an outlaw. On many occasions I’ve seen time and age mellow a man as the dark memories of his youth fade to the distant past. I guess this was one of those times. Some of the greatest segments of my west coast adventure were still to come, for my time in Hollywood was far from finished…