PW: What are your thoughts about fans identification with Dean or aspects of Dean? Often times the fans will repeatedly make the mistake of projecting their own moral standards and ideals on to Dean, rather than letting him be who he was or just observing, accepting and respecting him as having been a person in his own right, totally separate from themselves. This can be in relation to sexual identity, morals, or anything. Comment?
JG: They are not identifying with Jimmy. They are aligning with the movie mag media hype. How do you identify with a guy dead fifty-one years that you know nothing ACTUALLY about except what's in the media? Jimmy carried much of who he really was to the grave. He's six under dirt in Indiana (but should've been buried in Santa Monica). You just sniff things out. The media shapes the minds to buy the product. Anyone else got a new hot take on Dean? Let's get it out there! Rake in the bucks! Any new hot takes on the Black Dahlia? Maybe she was murdered by Richard Nixon? Hey, build a conspiracy! Way back ‘when Nixon was a kid’ NIXON DID IT!
PW: Do you think Jimmy was a borderline schizophrenic? During his boyhood in Indiana, especially, he seemed to have led two lives. Please comment on his exchange with you about his inner emotional life and how he "telescoped" back and forth, one self to the other, communicating what he couldn't say aloud to anyone. Also, there was his remark about a terrible fear of the dark, as a boy, and the possibility of the "inner self" coming to the surface and getting out for all to see.
JG: This question is too deep, man. All I can say is his "inner self" never got out. It never came up from the gut and got into his head. That would've been an explosion. It never happened for him. We talk about dealing with our shit, but Jimmy never got a handle of what his shit was.
PW: LAID BARE included many Dean anecdotes and comments not found in the two Dean books.
One was a brief vignette with you and Monty Clift in which he very drunkenly talked about Jimmy and refuted the "goddamned lies" that had already been written about his attitude toward Dean. Personally, I was glad to read that, since previously I had always read that Clift hated and feared Dean, and avoided him like the plague. Evidently that was not his feeling toward Dean at all, aside from maybe the fear part. Comment?
JG: Monte Clift wasn't into Dean as a sex object and therefore he could extend some understanding of him as a person. Monty Clift was a noble kind of guy, fucked up at times, but a man of noble intelligence, unlike Paul Newman and the rest.
PW: Did you interview Bill Hickman for either of your Dean memoirs? It's been said that Dean's
sobriquet, "Little Bastard", had nothing to do with Hickman. Any memories of Bill?
JG: I remember Bill. I talked to him a few times. He was a cool guy. I don't think "Little Bastard" had anything to do with Bill. It certainly had nothing to do with the fake "buddy" who painted it on the car.
PW: You've written that many acting careers have been poisoned by Dean's influence, simply
because the given person obsessed with Dean is often times exactly the type to never develop their own sense of self and talent. Do you recall anything else about the young actor, Tom Pitman, who basically tried to emulate Jimmy, down to the red jacket and Speedster? Since Pitman's car crash death was mentioned in Dalton's Mutant King, I figured it was another of David's mythological meanderings. LAID BARE mentions Pitman's obsession with Dean, as does Arlene Sax, in one of the Dean documentaries.
JG: I knew Tom. My first (we thought) wife was sleeping with him when I broke up with her. He was Harry Dean Stanton's close buddy. Of course, Jimmy was dead and so everything that had great impact occurred after his death. Not before.
PW: I take it that Brigitte Bardot was a big fan of Jimmy, from your anecdote in LAID BARE. In the
end, do you think she ultimately chose exactly what she believed Jimmy would have done, had he been a girl, regarding her having the child or not? Also, did you encounter quite a few Dean fans in France?
JG: Yeah, he was everything over there as he was here in '59. I'd love to write more about Brigitte but I have to wait until she kicks the bucket or I do (and therefore my son will publish my journals), because Brigitte likes to sue anyone for even pissing on the edge of the sink.
PW: Randall Riese's A to Z Dean encyclopedia lists a Bill Dakota who supposedly knew you and was a pal of Nick Adams. Unless I'm mistaken, Dakota published a gossip tabloid called The Hollywood Star, which featured an article in 1980 titled, "I Had Sex with James Dean." Why did you decide to reveal more details of your intimacy with Dean through a tabloid? Was it a swipe at the nostalgia- mongering conservatives and their glossy, right-wing myth-making? Any other memories of Dakota? I read that he was put of business by Curtis Licensing after he opened a James Dean memorabilia shop in Hollywood. He was also selling bootleg B/W dubs of Jimmy's old TV shows for a lot of money.
JG: Bill Dakota was a homosexual and ex-con; ran a sleaze-bag newspaper; pirated most of the piece you're talking about from my private writings. He had originally stole photos from my book without consent for his sleaze paper. Wanted to interview me. This was in '76. The "Sex" article didn't come out until 1980.
Frankly, he's not worth talking about.
PW: Frank Mazzola, a gang member in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, recently said that Jimmy wanted to clearly differentiate between his real self and the character of Jim Stark. He says Dean never wore the legendary REBEL outfit, specifically the red jacket, off the set of the film. Frank insists that Jimmy wanted to be known and recognized as himself, not Stark, and that the tale of the red jacket being worn elsewhere, especially during the fateful drive on Dean's last day, and it winding up behind the seat of the Spyder, is all pure legend. Just another aspect of the public's tendency to create myth and
embellishment. Do you recall Dean being that strict and regimented about separation of self from character? Did you ever see him in the red jacket off the REBEL set?
JG: Frank went to Hollywood High School with me. I don't know what he's talking about. He passed himself off as "gang" guy and Nick Ray bought it. Jimmy NEVER had talks with Frank about characters or self. And no, no red jacket off the set. The jackets were bought at the men's shop on the corner of Wilcox and Hollywood Boulevard. I never saw the red jacket off the set. The nights after shooting, Jimmy had a brown suede Eisenhower style jacket he wore (like to Hamburger Hamlet's).
PW: Comments attributed to Bogart throughout Dean literature are usually cynical and negative, such as the famous .."had he (Dean) lived, he'd never have been able to live up to all that publicity". LAID BARE reveals further more interesting and complimentary remarks by Bogie ( and Bacall?). Any further comments about Dean and Bogart?
JG: My stuff comes mostly from Lauren Bacall who I did a movie with. Cool lady. I don't think Bogey really knew what Dean was all about or gave it much thought. Bacall did only years later.
PW: LAID BARE also mentions a girl named Connie who traveled to Dean's funeral and took photos. Did she subsequently become Karen' in LIVE FAST?
JG: No, that's not Karen. You'll see Connie in the first book. Living in Eddie Bracken's old place. I had a thing with Connie August and September of 1955, until Jimmy's death. Almost incest, right? She'd known Jimmy in L.A. briefly earlier that year (I never knew when'always a puzzle to me because of the way he made Rebel and Giant back to back), but I didn't turn her down. She wasn't Karen.
PW: Where and when did you last see or talk to Jimmy? I understand you had left California sometime before his death and heard of it when you had been back in New York for several weeks.
JG: I can't recall exactly where and when. Sorry. Seems like at Hamburger Hamlet's'afternoon, the sun shining, he's wearing pilot glasses (not the usual ones he wore). A blue denim shirt and an Indian tooled belt. He's saying George Stevens is an "asshole." He said he was coming to New York in three months. So I went to New York as soon as he left for Texas. I was still hot and heavy with Connie all of August and September, until Jimmy was killed. I didn't see Connie again until a long time later in L.A.; living off San Vicente; she'd painted all of her furniture white, everything.
PW: Were your documentary appearances heavily edited as to time constraints? In other words, did you spend a lot of time with crews only to have little bits and pieces of comments included in the finished product? On two different documentaries I remember thinking "why don't they ask him some better questions?!"
JG: Shit. You know the scene. A two hour interview on film and we scrounge three sound bites. Yeah, a lot of stuff lost in the cyber space of media hype and big buck morality.
PW: In the years since Dean's death, have you ever wished you would or could have done something to curb his intense recklessness? Do you think he would have stopped and listened to you, although he'd repeatedly turned a deaf ear to many other people's reprimands and warnings, or do you believe, as many do, that Dean was going to wind up the way he did no matter what?
JG: No, I never would have been critical of him. I never would've said anything as dumb as you suggest, because he'd have said "what the fuck's happened to you"? I thought you were fucking Rimbaud!" These people who claim he would've wound up as he did, only say this after the fact. Yes, the studio once said, "The crazy kid's going to kill himself," and yeah, he did. We can't deny it -- but did HE do it? How many accidents happen that we could then say, hey, it was fucking written in the stars! But it wasn't because we're only saying it after the fact. It was the Porsche Spyder that killed him and I blame a lot of this on Rolf. He should never have convinced Jimmy to buy it. He should've known better. But it shows (and here's a little true insight into Jimmy), that he could be talked into something that appealed to his ego. I witnessed many people doing this to him and now many, many people since his death are stepping forward with such claims. They are the "False Witnesses" Jimmy spoke of.
PW: There are photo captions in LIVE FAST that refer to "still riding with the shadow", and " After Jimmy was dead, Stewart (Stern) and I talked for a long time, but the shadow's stayed", or something to that effect. Were you referring to' shadows' as in a lot of unanswered questions and all the unrealized dreams of Dean's, or is ‘the shadow' the memory of Dean's companionship?. Do you feel you are haunted by your memories of Jimmy?
JG: Okay, this links to the last question. I'm "riding the shadow" because he was a part of my life and will never leave; the shadow of him having existed is a kind of cast over my life; a showdown, if you will. One of the very few, the very, very few links I made out of the hole I was in and felt he had made the same link out of the hole he was in, and together we sort of walked the edge. I had a deep, deep connection with him. We were both actors in New York, both been through the Hollywood mill, both knew the same people. The fact that he became in such a short spurt of time a big movie star was beside the point. It was fun -- fun to rebel, to be at his side, to ride a hundred miles an hour on Pacific Coast Highway and touch fingertips at that speed from one motorcycle to the other. I confess it was sexual beyond belief, and that's why he was doing it. I am not "haunted" by his memory. I live with the memories of him.; they are ingrained into my system as the nerves and sinews. He was one of my only truly close friends, and knowing him somehow set a wedge to further friendships. Maybe that's why those who knew him as well turned their backs on the sense of what he'd delivered to them as the person he was. It was too much -- too much to carry through life. I've carried it because we were closer than many. His fame had nothing to do with the intensity we shared.
PW: Several of Dean's friends have talked about having dreams about Jimmy after his death. Some were quite vivid. Do you have dreams about him, or about specific experiences you had with him?
JG: The dreams I still have from time to time are easy, rambling dreams, but so clear as if I can be sitting across from him. It was such a short time in life; seems unfair that it occupies so much of the rest of one's life. Maybe they were both crazy, Jean Seberg and Jimmy Dean, and maybe I was the third crazy, but it's all as clear as though it were yesterday.
PW: Did you see REBEL & GIANT when they were released originally, or were you not able to watch them until later?
JG: I saw them the minute they came out.
PW: Thank you again, John, for your time and sharing your thoughts and memories of James Dean. Warren, Chad, myself and those fans of a more progressive mind will very much appreciate it. Best of luck with all of your future endeavors!