For the uninitiated, Alanson Russell Loud was born a navy brat on June 26, 1951. He led a very unremarkable childhood until his innate fabulousness simply wouldn't have it anymore. At age 14 he became obsessed with the Warhol factory scene and promptly struck up a pen pal relationship with Andy. His further adolescent hijinks included taking some friends in the family car to check out the Haight-Ashbury happening and hitchhiking to Altamont to see The Stones.
Things clicked into warp-speed with the airing of the 1973 PBS documentary "An American Family" which chronicled Lance and his family. By episode 2, Lance had moved across the country into the Chelsea Hotel in NYC, came out to his mother and the nation, and introduced us to his new friends and neighbors, drag queens and (Warhol) Superstars. Lance became and remained famous simply for being himself. He was a frontman for the punk band The Mumps and he was a writer (and a damn good one) and columnist for publications such as: Circus, Interview, American Film, Details, Vanity Fair and The Advocate.
When he and I met, we exchanged phone numbers and he put his usual signature in my address book:
Just weeks after 9/11, at age 50, Lance died in a hospice from complications associated with Hep C, AIDS, and meth addiction. And in January of 2003, PBS aired it's final installment of the Loud documentaries, "Lance Loud: A Death In The American Family". I sobbed through it, fell asleep, had amazingly beautiful dreams, woke up the next morning and wrote the following to him:
I watched the PBS thing last night. Today I just can’t stay in the present. My mind keeps tumbling back to that few week period…
Attending my umpteenth 12noon A.A. meeting, seeing you around the last few days, small smiles, head nods. We finally introduced ourselves. Lance, you said. We chatted for maybe five-ten minutes. Much wit. Immediate appreciation of each other, the way two quick minds do. See you here tomorrow we said. The next day we exchanged phone numbers. (When exactly was this, Lance. I want to say that it was springtime of ’94, because it seems to me that you mentioned being in your early forties. This surprised me ‘cause physically you looked either twenty-five or thirty-two, depending on angle and lighting, and you had the spirit of an eleven year old.) So now, in addition to seeing each other every day at the meeting, we began phoning each other and having long yak sessions. You seemed startled (maybe wary) that I had gotten sober at twenty-two. You had eight years of life on me and I had twelve years of sobriety on you. I just thought it made us even-steven. One day you asked if I’d like to come over, and thus unfolds the centerpiece of my memory. You were living with your mom on Fountain Avenue and when I got there you were waiting outside. We sat on a low concrete retaining wall and one of the cats rubbed a weaver’s pattern around and between us while we talked and smoked. After about a half an hour you said (and here comes the eleven year old part), You wanna see my room? We went in the kitchen door and you introduced me to your mom (so pretty, so tired). Then we walked into the living room of this very typical, very modest Hollywood bungalow with very un-typical and un-modest signed Warhol’s on the walls. At the far end of the living room you opened the door of a coat closet and with a flourish pushed the coats across the rail to reveal another door on the back wall of the closet, which you opened, and we entered your bedroom. You see, contrary to what the world thinks, I still live in the closet, you said. This delighted and killed me almost as much as it did you. We sat on the bed and talked for a while and you said you had some stuff for me. You gave me a copy of the Dusty In Memphis album, and a pair of groovy, thrift shop plaid 70’s pants that you said were too small for you. (The world was still a few years from being equipped to handle a full on 70’s revival, but you and me were quite ready.) The ritual of giving belongings as a means of forging a friendship was a game I hadn’t played since junior high and I was suddenly sorry that I didn’t have anything for you. How long were we there, an hour? Forever? I had abandoned all sense of the outside and allowed myself to be utterly swallowed into this scene: talking and giggling on the bed in your, through-the-closet room. Lance, it was one of the few times in my life, before or since, that I was supremely in the moment. So much so, that it was completely all right when you leaned forward and kissed me. Now, technically speaking, as kisses go, it wasn’t that great. We were both nervous and shaking, we weren’t sure weather to use tongues or not (we didn’t), and we weren’t clear about appropriate duration (too short). But when we were done, you gave me a sly little smile like we were really getting away with something or maybe (probably) you had just accomplished the whole point of inviting me over. And I smiled back, because; well because it was just all so lovely. I mean here we were, two men, early forties and mid thirties, having a very adolescent first (and last) kiss. After a few minutes, we went back to the kitchen and sat with your mom who gave me coffee and a piece of homemade lemon pie. Amazing pie. It was then that reality finally broke the dam and came rushing in cause I thought, Jesus Christ, I’m sitting in Pat Loud’s kitchen having homemade pie and coffee. This isn’t a Tuesday afternoon; this is performance art. I thanked your mom, we hugged awkwardly and I split. The next day, another meeting and another yak session. It was maybe a couple of weeks after that that you went away from meetings, put down my phone number, and went back to speed. I never got to see you again. I used to wonder if I should have done something different or something more but I don’t think so anymore. No matter how much I wish I could’ve kept you around forever, it was your journey, not mine. You know honey, we both had that magnetic Pied Piper kind of vibe for other people, but not with each other. You couldn’t follow me and wouldn’t follow you. But it doesn’t change my memory, or my gratitude, of the one perfect day that we just sat still.