Sunday, July 2, 2017

That Time Belinda Met Sammy Davis, Jr. (Plus: That Time Belinda Dated ... Dave Mustaine?)

Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two? Belinda Carlisle, obviously. You don't even need me to answer that. But who can also take an unexpected compliment from Sammy Davis, Jr.?

Our erstwhile Go-Go certainly was no stranger to surreal, unexpected celebrity encounters: who can forget that awards show with Marvin Gaye, that random smooch from David Lee Roth ... hell, we could even go all the way back to Darby Crash and Pat Smear while we're at it. But there was something about the combined effect of a new Hollywood royalty husband and a sustained cocaine hiatus that managed to generate a heightened amount of extra-bizarre Belinda celebrity juxtapositions. While she never met her husband's father, she certainly spent plenty of time with Morgan's mother (and James Mason's ex-wife), Pamela Mason, who, judging by Belinda's description at least, must have been quite the character. From Lips Unsealed:
By the time I met her, she was more famous as a hostess than anything else. She had parties almost every night, which was how Morgan had grown up. I came in toward the tail end of that run and met scads of amazing people. Over the years, I met George Burns (he was charming), Stewart Granger (boisterous and handsome), Dick Van Dyke (I talked to him about Mary Poppins, whose songs I sang as a little girl), Glenn Ford (a lovely man), Gregory Peck (wonderful), Milton Berle, Robert Wagner, Anthony Perkins, Berry Berenson, and Walter Matthau, who was always seated next to me at dinners. Every time I saw that I was next to him, I thought, Oh God, not him again. He was so cranky that making conversation was a chore. But I was young, naive, and limited in what I had to say, and now I realize how lucky I was to have known him.
Walter Matthau, cranky? In real life? I cannot believe it. I ... just ... cannot believe it. "Oh God, not him again." No kidding. That would be awkward. "Hey, soooo ... Mr. Matthau, have you heard the new Pet Shop Boys album?" "There hasn't been a great band leader since the day Glenn Miller died. Who the hell are you? Pass me the Polident!" This whole description of these dinners seems like pure invention. Can you picture a young Belinda Carlisle in the same room as A) George Burns; B) Milton Berle; C) Gregory Peck; D) More than one of them at the same time?

And yet, the most mind-melting encounter of all appears to have been the time Belinda claims she met the only one-eyed black Jewish member of the Rat Pack in a Hollywood restaurant:
"I went up to him and drooled all over him in Chasen's. It was a few years before he died. He knew everything about me and the Go-Go's. On his way out, he came up to my table, snapped his fingers, looked at me and said, 'Baby, you're a vision of nowness.' I just about died. That was the best line I'd ever had from anybody!"

The best line - from anybody! And God knows she must have gotten plenty of lines. Unfortunately, I don't even get enough lines to bother to rank them. Apparently this encounter changed her life, as she still talks about it to this day, and even named the last chapter of Lips Unsealed "Vision of Nowness." Belinda, has it occurred to you that maybe Sammy said that to all the girls?

And now, from the opposite side of the musical spectrum, a story that's a little too good to be true - meaning it probably isn't. But don't let that stop you from repeating it. Allow me to quote a passage from Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine's Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir:
At one point in the mid 1980s, I was set up on a date with Belinda Carlisle, the former lead singer of an almost freakishly popular girl band called the Go-Go's and at that time a solo artist. In this case, I was more than happy to suspend my feelings about pop and metal making strange bedfellows. Belinda was gorgeous, and she was, at the time, ubiquitous (as well as single). I have no idea if she was a fan of Megadeth or of heavy metal in general. I know only that through an intermediary I was to meet her and we were to embark on an honest-to-goodness "date." Belinda came to the Music Grinder one day while we were starting to mix So Far, So Good ... So What! Unfortunately, her timing could have been better. Moments before she arrived, I had finished snorting a balloon of heroin. As she knocked at the door I chucked the empty balloon behind a dresser and lit up a joint - better the sweet smell of weed than the acrid odor of smack. Belinda walked in, looking positively radiant - and sober, I should add - and smiled.

"Hello," she said.

I tried to choke back a lungful of smoke, but to no avail.

"Whoo-huh!" I barked, a cloud of gray filling the air.

Belinda turned on her heel and walked right back out of the room. And that was the end of that particular love story. It was, I guess, doomed from the very beginning.
I think I have to cry foul on this one - either that, or Mustaine's memory is a little hazy (and based on the content of the passage, I don't find that too hard to believe). Belinda had already met Morgan before she ever went solo, and before she got (temporarily) sober. In other words, by the time her solo career started, she was already off the market. Peace sells ... but who's buying this anecdote?

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