The details of the alleged Duke lacrosse team improprieties conjure up startlingly similar, dangerous, repressed visions in my foggy mind: college party, drinking, strippers, sexually charged environment, things getting out of hand. I don’t know what actually happened at Duke, but I hope the truth comes out.
In the ’80s I owned one of the larger DJ companies in the Los Angeles area and I DJ’d a whole lot of college parties that had all or some of the volatile elements listed above in plentiful supply. I am unaware of any sexual assault charges filed in conjunction with parties I worked, but we all know how much that means.
One of the reasons I sold the company in 1990 was that I just couldn’t pretend that the craziest shit didn’t bother me anymore; that, and I was bone tired of hauling that damned equipment around.
The following took place on a warm spring night in 1988:
There are nuclear missile sites more accessible but all of the amenities of a modern debauch are there: a portable stage, generator, Bedouin tents for private consultation, two heavily fortified bars, and a wooden parquet dance floor. These relics of party sacrament have been hauled two hours northwest of LA, over four freeways, three highways, two gravel roads, a dirt path and across 50 yards of loose, pebbly sand and tumblin’ tumbleweeds.
The DJ maneuvers his stouthearted little red truck, burdened with equipment and records, from the second gravel road onto the dirt path. He curses the obviously faulty map that was hastily scribbled upon a torn record sleeve the night before by the extravagantly drunken social chairman, Dirk, a tall, athletic and square-jawed junior patrician who squints and expectorates under the influence of alcohol.
The ink of the impromptu map is smeared at more than one critical juncture. The DJ can’t tell if he is headed toward the promised party land, or toward a dead end of dried drool.
The disgruntled DJ is on the verge of throwing his truck into reverse and backing his way toward civilization when he rounds a bend and beholds what appears to be a major archeological site, replete with dozens of hyperkinetic nomads in flowing regalia. He then notices the stage and the dance floor and begins to recognize some of the Arabians waving floppy scimitars at him.
There is the elongated Dwarf towering above the rabble, and Mush and Beak and John (“no nicknames, please”), the house president, and all of the other deranged but essentially benevolent frat lads. These archeologists seek not the treasures of antiquity, but an Arabian Night of revelry unattainable within the shadow of the Great Concrete Campus by the Freeway.
Dirk’s square jaw reaches the DJ first.
“‘Bout time, dude, you’ve got half an hour to set up before the bars open.”
“I’d have been here sooner if you hadn’t spooged on the map. Nice Indiana Jones set.”
“This is Pismo’s father’s land. Someday it’ll be just another suburb, and then he’ll be rich. I mean richer. Reagan’s ranch is around here somewhere. Pledges! Help the DJ get set up. His word is law! He is a god!”
Dirk flourishes his robes dramatically. He is still articulate, but already speaking wetly.
Electric anticipation courses through the overheated, cloudless, late afternoon air. Pledges bound about like Middle Eastern pinballs. With, or despite the assistance of the pledges, the DJ is set up upon the stage and ready to rock at 6:00pm sharp. The most zealous pledge, the wraithlike Lard, fires up the generator as insects flee the din.
The DJ’s turntables, amp and lights spring to life as the kegs are tapped, the liquor bottles liberated and the once-barren wasteland reverberates with the sound of ice merrily clunking in large plastic cups and AC/DC over the sound system.
(Some time later)
“I’m George and I’m the girl’s escort.”
Unseen voices interrupt from the direction of the dance floor as George addresses the throng from the stage.
“Excuse me, gentlemen – as I was saying – we have some rules here – especially here.”
George’s shaved head and devil’s goatee swivel through the gloaming in an effort to survey his audience. His interior lineman’s bulk slumps against the improbability of his surroundings.
“How many guys are out there?”
George whispers conspiratorially to his perceived ally, the DJ.
“80, 90, maybe 100.”
“Are they good guys?”
“Well, I like them; but they also like me.”
George’s eyes glaze and his muscles tighten against his already straining tank top. He pictures himself as heroic. Kerosene lanterns lick canvas in the distance from within the tents. The stage is a lonely island of civilization against the encroaching barbarism of the night – the alcohol, the sand, the drugs, the blast furnace air, the hormones of a battalion of insulated, callow, Masters of the Universe.
George readdresses the throng.
“No touching the ladies with your hands. Don’t throw anything, including money.”
He again peers intently at the vague forms barely perceptible a few feet away from him.
“Oh, and guys – let’s be gentlemen.”
“Rurrh,” protests the darkness.
“Bring out the fucking bitches!!!”
George’s eyes are glued to movement in the gloom as he inquires of the DJ out of the right corner of his mouth,
“How long have they been drinking?”
“The bars opened at 6.”
“So they’ve been drinking for two and a half hours?”
“You mean it’s 8:30 already?” the DJ queries as a gust of desert wind nearly knocks him over.
“You’ve been at it too, huh? They been doing anything besides drinking?”
“Bongs, lines, perhaps hallucinogens.”
“Hmm.” George frowns. “You ready with the tape player?”
“Ready, willing and able.”
The DJ executes a sharp salute and notices the distinctly uneasy look on George’s face, a look that is unaccustomed to sitting there. George’s features reassemble into a more resolute pout.
“Ok, let’s get this thing rolling. You’re with me, right?”
“I’m with you George, dude.”
“Cherry on Top is the first dancer. Here’s her tape. Just start it and stop it when I tell you to. Got it?”
The DJ ingests the last remaining dribble from his water bottle. This does little more than turn the desert soot in his mouth to mud. Dust devils dance opaquely by.
George departs in the direction of the road and returns shortly with a compact, fine boned, busty blonde in belly dancer attire: a bantam Barbara Eden. Her buttery voice precedes her.
“God, where are we George, Death Valley?”
“Aah, it’s not so bad. You did that biker convention around here somewhere. Remember?”
“Yeah, but the bikers didn’t make me walk through this pricker shit, they rode me to the spot.”
The DJ withholds comment. George and Cherry on Top join the DJ atop the compact stage.
“Ok, point the lights on the dance floor,” commands George. The DJ has two rectangular boxes, with eight light bulbs of various hues in each, sitting atop each of his speakers. The lights have been facing inward illuminating the stage, George, the DJ and his equipment and records. The DJ turns them out toward the dance floor as commanded, bathing dozens of ersatz nomads in a queasy, carnival glow. They blink in unison – a mob of Arabian moles.
“Fucking about time!”
“Here comes the first one!”
“Nude up, baby!”
“I can’t fucking see,” shrieks a vertically challenged sheik. The mini-Arab holds his thick glasses in place with his left hand and brandishes his cardboard scimitar in his right as he executes a series of view-improving hops.
“Quit bouncing, Kareem.”
“Get out of the way.”
“Down in front.”
A surge from the rear slams the foremost Arabesques into the stage, knocking the DJ, Cherry and George to their respective knees.
“A prayer before we begin,” sprays Dirk.
“Get your thumb out of my eye.”
“Get your sword out of my ass.”
“Look at the mini-Genie; she’s on her knees already.”
The DJ catches a whiff of Cherry’s exotic aroma as she jingles back to her feet. What is the exquisite aroma? Frankincense, myrrh, bongwater?
The DJ’s jaw tightens as Cherry brushes up against him with her pronounced and proud posterior. George disturbs the DJ’s reverie.
“Say hello to the DJ, Cherry. DJ, this is Cherry.”
“Hi Cherry, nice outfit.”
“Hi sweetie, why aren’t you dressed like, um, them?”
“I’m with, but not of, the group.”
The DJ is attired in his traditional warm weather party wear: t-shirt, big shorts, and his dancing, high-top Reeboks. He has bowed to the party theme by tying an extra-large white bandana about his perspiring head. George speaks a final warning to the congregation,
“Remember the rules: hands to yourself, stay back, and watch those god damned swords. Let’s hear it for Cherry on Top!!”
“Cherry on Top!”
“I’ll be on top of Cherry!”
“You wish, dildo!”
“You will? I will!”
“Pop her Cherry!”
“Hop on Cherry!”
“Hop on pop,” cracks Lard in his excited high tenor. Cherry hands the DJ her tape. Her sweet smile contrasts with her “fuck you” posture and the oil that she rubs on her lean, brown thighs. Dust motes fight to cling to her.
“Just turn it on and let it go, sweetie. Don’t stop the tape in between songs. Wish me luck.”
She winks, then luxuriantly licks her lips with a round, pink tongue and tinkles away – bangles, baubles and bodice bouncing.
Cherry appears in the garish lighting of the dance floor as the sea of sheiks parts and closes again around her, obstructing the DJ’s view. Cherry’s be ringed hand gestures above the be-toweled heads. The DJ pushes the “play” button on the tape player. “You Shook Me All Night Long” jackhammers through the sound system causing the assemblage to leap in unison and pound out air guitar power chords on their pseudo-scimitars.
The DJ can only glimpse an occasional gauzy garment tossed above the undulating, contracting and air guitaring throng. He is torn between wanting to see, and knowing that it is best that he doesn’t. George wades into the sea, his hairless head reflecting pink and orange and green.
“Back up, you morons! Back up, give her room.”
George moves forcefully, asserting his mass against the Arabian sea. The sea yields reluctantly. Then the generator blows. What had been dark is now the black of a coal miner’s nostril.
“Who turned out the lights?”
“Get that damn thing back on,” commands the voice of John (“no nicknames, please”), the president.
“Wow, it’s dark.”
“Hey, what’s this?” bleats Lard.
“Yeow!! Get yur filthy hands off of me! George, George. One of them has me. Let go – noooooo….”
Cherry’s alarmed voice trails off as she dashes away, g-string glowing in the pitch. The dry wind carries her voice from a medium distance.
“Shit, oooh (sob, sob) I fell down in this pricker shit, and – I’m bleeding. I’m bleeding! I hate you, you little college faggot shits.”
Derisive laughter meets her outburst. The DJ turns and strides toward his mental image of the traitorous generator. Following his compass-like sense of direction, the DJ shoots headlong off of the back of the stage and lands face down, mouth open on the desert. He spits out sand, pebbles and pieces of his broken luck. At least it is dark.
A few steps farther, he stumbles upon the generator. It fires up again cheerfully, unaware of the havoc that it has wreaked. The lights and music resume. The sea of sheiks leaks toward Cherry on Top’s path of departure. The DJ gingerly hops upon the jittery stage and addresses the revelers,
“Gotta keep my levels down. Sorry guys.”
George buffaloes onto the stage and stares at the dusty DJ.
“You need a shower, man.”
The DJ grins, spits grit and mumbles, ” Uh, a little accident back by the generator.”
George seizes the microphone and bellows,
“You assholes blew it with Cherry. That makes me mad. If anyone touches the next dancer – that’s it. No show – I keep the money. It’s right in the contract!”
“Fuck the contract!”
“Fuck you, baldy”
“She sucked anyway.”
“What good are they if you can’t touch them?”
“Who needs a mini-Genie?”
“I thought we were getting the touchy-feely kind.”
“Yeah, we paid for that extra shit.”
“Shut up, you pecker heads or the show’s over!” commands George impressively. The lights flicker ominously as the DJ scrambles to lower the microphone volume. The heckling dies down to wind-blown susurration.
“All right. The next dancer is Kitty Petty. She’ll be doing something extra with whipped cream and shit like that. You guys have bills right?”
“Yeah, we got money but no pussy, hah, hah, hah.”
George opts for a reasoned appeal.
“Gentlemen, I don’t want to keep your money. I want you to have a good time and enjoy life. But we have to follow the rules – NO touching with your hands. You’ll be able to use your mouths soon enough – If you’re good! Are you ready for the sensational Kitty Petty?”
“Kitty Petty, get it?”
“Can I petty your kitty?”
“Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”
“Where is she, coughing up a hairball?”
Kitty Petty emerges from the inky blackness: an imposing, erect figure in a leopard skin leotard. Her tawny hair trails her like an entourage. Only the generator speaks. Kitty hands the DJ her tape, then smiles an inscrutable feline smile and purrs, her throat abuzz. The DJ presses the play button. AC/DC echoes across the lunar landscape.
Kitty steps down off of the stage and is digested by the Arabian night. Kitty’s mane tosses above mesmerized heads. Kitty and the lads are doing something with money, whipped cream and alcohol-sterilized mouths when the generator blows again.
“Hey, fuck you!”
“I can’t see.”
“Where’d she go?”
“Yeaah! Get your fucking hands off of me! Aah, they’re touching me! Get your finger out of there! I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you all! My boyfriend kills people – he’s going to get you! We know where you live. He’ll cut your miserable little pricks off!!!”
This final threat resounds from another direction and trails off. Several dusty, crunchy footsteps follow in the direction of the voice at a perky clip. George’s cool evaporates.
“DJ asshole! Get the lights back on! Get out of the way. That’s it – show’s over. You blew it, you fucking spoiled suck asses! You pissant scumballs! Out of the way! GET THOSE LIGHTS BACK ON!!!”
The wind kicks, howls and stings. The DJ stands motionless. He puts his hand in front of his face. He closes his eyes. He opens his eyes. No difference. He hears George wading through the mob. Groans, thuds, hard body parts striking soft body parts with authority. Dozens of sheets flap animatedly in the gale. Arabian laundry day. Spilt cups bleed multicolored liquids into the sand.
“Where’s the bitch?”
“She ran off toward the hills.”
“Which way is that?”
“How do I know? I can’t see my dick to pee.”
“Lard, you squat to pee anyway – haw, haw, haw,” guffaws Dwarf, enjoying the mayhem.
“Where’s that huge-ass Mr. Clean?”
“I’m right here, douche bag. Take that!” (whack!)
Dwarf’s body bullets onto the stage, rolls past the DJ’s feet and off the other side. A cooling coating of sticky liquid attaches itself to the DJ, his records, the stage and environs. The cup is a 32-ouncer: less time waiting, more time drinking. When the body hits the ground, a dust cloud kicks up that sticks to everything wet. A particularly vehement gust sends the plastic turntable covers spiraling westward, toward the sea.
The DJ hears moaning from beyond the rear of the stage. Only he can return any semblance of order to the chaos all around him. He dashes manfully to the aid of the fallen Dwarf. Feral cries of pain, victory, defeat, and blood-lust fill the swirling blackness.
The DJ begins calculating the distance between the ground and the stage just as his trailing foot loses contact with it. He tries to drag his airborne feet behind him like a wide receiver but he is out of bounds, even in a college game. The flying DJ lands on the prostrate Dwarf, much to the DJ’s relief and Dwarf’s discomfort. The DJ reasons that Dwarf had been uncomfortable already and that the greater good has been served. The DJ is comfortable with situational ethics.
Reassured that Dwarf is neither dead nor suffering major organ damage, the DJ again springs in the direction of the inert generator. His aim is true but his shot is long; the DJ slams into, and cartwheels over the generator, airborne again.
The DJ warily, carefully locates the generator, rights it, and pushes the reset button. The generator again reanimates as though nothing untoward has happened. The gaudy lights reveal a miasma of mud, blood, bodies and beverages. There are pricks everywhere.
A lean flash of flesh streaks by, butt naked, hands flailing frantically to cover exposed body parts. Kitty Petty careens off of the stage-left speaker, dashing a light box to the ground, breaking six of the eight bulbs. She hisses, “Die! Die! You all will die.” Her grime-caked breasts heave with the effort. She is closely trailed by several Middle Eastern pursuants brandishing semi-erect scimitars.
“We’ll cut you, bitch!”
“You almost broke my finger!”
“Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.”
“We just want to be friends.”
“She’s looking for her litter box – hah, hah, hah.”
“Some party, huh?” Dirk sprays as he squints calmly at the DJ. “And the real girls aren’t even here yet.”
“Hey, bold stroke with the generator. Your timing was perfect – both times!”
“I, uh, didn’t…”
“That’s why we wanted you for this one. Music is only part of it, right dude?”
“Right, uh, thanks, but…”
“You can always count on the dancing DJ. Hey, wanna beer? How about line? Bongload? It’s time to rage!”
Dirk catches movement out of the corner of his eye, turns and peers toward the road. Seeing bus headlights, he dabs the moist lower half of his face with a stray corner of his towel ensemble.
“Later dude, the babes are here. I gotta greet them. It’s my job. Heavy hangs the mantle of responsibility.”
150 California harem girls shimmy out of the buses. John (“no nicknames, please”), the president, strolls by.
“I think we’re ready for them, don’t you?”
The DJ recognizes most of the advance scouts as they light upon the stage – sorority girls.
“We’re ready to party!” peals statuesque, blazingly blond Suzy.
“What the hell is going on around here?” demands the other Suzy, equally blond, but compact.
“Where’s the bar?”
“Why is everyone running around?”
“Play some AC/DC!”
Relieved that the women-folk are there, the DJ does their bidding, playing more AC/DC among other customary party favorites, in between generator shutdowns.
“Hey man, you can cool it with the generator. That was just for the strippers. We’ve got tents for the real girls,” notes John (“no nicknames, please”), the president, sternly, a buxom Arabian vixen on either arm.
“Some of the girls think it’s supposed to be a date party,” says the DJ.
“It is a date party, but we invited about 50 extra girls in case we get bored, or whatever. Besides, you and the bartenders need to have some fun too!” notes Dirk magnanimously.
The DJ begins hitting the beer in greater earnest. His pricker sores become less of an irritation. He dances with stray flowers of the desert, often three or four at a time. It is a good time to be alive. The celebrants of both sexes become less and less concerned about recomposing their costumes as the evening wears on, and the tents became more densely occupied.
“You wanna poke?” inquires an unknown and not scrupulously redressed Arabesque blonde of the DJ.
“Uh, no thanks, I’m working,” stammers the DJ.
“Aah, yes. Well, maybe later then. I just screwed some guy’s dick right off, so he’s useless to me now. See you later.”
The DJ feels a bewildering assortment of conflicting impulses tugging at him. No it is just Julie,
“Have a beer, play some AC/DC, let’s party!”
The rickety little stage is filled with gyrating nomads when a fist of brutal hot wind scatters the carousers like the diaspora. Several of the flung parties strike the turntables, sending them noisily to the stage floor, sending the incumbent record (AC/DC) spiraling toward the Big Dipper. Record boxes tip, record covers waltz above the stage, I Dream of Jeannie silks flap fiercely as they, too, try to take flight.
Just then, the buses begin flashing their lights signaling the end of the Arabian night. One half-hour later the coaches are loaded and wheeling their way back to the Concrete Campus by the Freeway. The DJ toils alone as the stars and the moon suddenly break through the cloud cover to reveal a magical, sparkling moonscape. Another half hour later, a bemused but cheerful couple appears, startling the DJ into dropping his final record box.
“Where is everyone? Play some AC/DC!”
He gives them a ride back to LA.