Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo Girl Friday


SOURCE: The Daily Beast


Taking on the job of wrangling the author of Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas taught Cheryl Della Pietra a lot, starting with the fact that most of the cliches were true.


In 1992, Cheryl Della Pietra was a 22-year-old recent grad from Penn State looking to break into the publishing industry when she got a tip from a friend interning at Rolling Stone. Hunter S. Thompson was looking for an assistant. “I said, ‘Why don’t you apply?’” she remembers. “And he said, ‘Because he wants a girl.’”


Pietra wrote an application letter, faxed it, and waited. A few days later she got a call at 3 a.m. It was Thompson, telling her to come to Colorado for a three-day trial period. She boarded a plane the next day. “It felt like the experience of a lifetime at the time,” she told The Daily Beast. “I didn’t realize until much later how much it was the experience of a lifetime.”


For a few months that spring, she lived in the cabin outside Thompson’s Woody Creek, Colorado, ranch. Her job was to make sure the hard-partying author sat down at the typewriter by 2 a.m.—not an easy feat as she’d soon discover—to work on his in-progress book titled Polo is My Life (it was never actually published).


Now, more than 20 years later, Pietra is making her debut as a writer. In her new book, Gonzo Girl, she recalls that debauched time through the eyes of a semi-fictional character: “Alley” is similarly fresh from college and looking for adventure. She gets a gig with a notorious writer holed up in Colorado, surrounded by celebrities and struggling to reignite the success he had in the ’70s. Alley’s job is to get pages. Every night she must trick, bribe, and corral the booze- and drug-fueled author to sit down in front of his typewriter. All the while she is trying desperately to earn his respect, which comes by partaking in drug consumption, drink mixing, and gun shooting.


The book, Pietra says, is 60 percent factual—so much time had passed since her fateful gig that she couldn’t pass it off as nonfiction. So, she took her real experience, put new names to the characters, and re-created the dialogue. “It feels true,” she says, then laughs. “All the drug use is true.”


“I always knew it was a good story,” she says. “I was 22 at the time—I’m 45 now. I definitely needed some perspective on it to write longer form. It’s something I haven’t been able to shake.”


In the book, Alley finds Thompson—who is dubbed Walker Reade—surrounded by adoring fans from the highest ranks of politics and Hollywood. The first night, they’re reading passages from his newest book aloud, a technique that Thompson used in real life, all while snorting copious quantities of cocaine and downing strongly mixed drinks. She immediately realizes part of her job is keeping up.


“I guess I survived it,” Pietra remembers.


‘In a giant red car with Hunter S. Thompson, on drugs, and there’s a cop. That couldn’t get more cliche—which I mean in the best way.’


Today, her most vivid memories are of those early days. On her second day on the job, she and Thompson ate psychedelic mushrooms, shot a .44 magnum at exploding targets, and joy-rode a speedy convertible up a mountain in Aspen. They got pulled over. “It felt like being in a movie: in a giant red car with Hunter S. Thompson, on drugs, and there’s a cop,” she says. “That couldn’t get more cliche—which I mean in the best way.”


By the time Pietra went to work for him, it had been two decades since Thompson’s early successes such as Hell’s Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that made his name as a literary powerhouse. He was in his 50s and continued to drink, smoke, and do drugs like his younger self. But he was still larger than life. “Hunter S. Thompson not at his peak is still pretty fantastic for everyone else,” Pietra says. “I think arguably the substances took their toll and he was just older and maybe didn’t have quite the fire he had in the ’70s—though I feel he always did love writing… he once said, ‘I’ve never taken a drug yet that can get me as high as writing.’”


In Gonzo Girl, the real-life character counterparts are made fairly obvious. “Claudia” is a replica of Thompson’s devoted-to-a-fault assistant Deborah Fuller, who stuck with the author for more than 20 years. Pietra, though, is keeping her lips sealed on the celebrity behind “Larry,” a Hollywood heartthrob with whom Alley strikes up a romance in the book.


She also devotes many pages to her feelings toward the author, and “Alley” and “Walker Reade” share a few romantic moments. Pietra has publicly written before about a fumbled kiss she shared with Thompson, but now she demurs on questions about how far their relationship went. “It’s a question I’m not fully comfortable answering,” she says. “I don’t like the kiss-and-tell aspects… he could be very very charming and it was a very exciting place to be.”


There was a softer side to the the wild man, she discovered, when the adoring fans had left and it was just the two of them curled up on the couch, watching a movie and drifting to sleep. “It’s hard to describe how there were quieter moments in this raucous crazy life,” Pietra says.


She hopes the book will reveal Thompson’s multi-faceted personality. “I do think there’s this cartoonish caricature aspect of how he’s portrayed. The hat and aviators, drink in hand, a cigarette holder: the Doonesbury character,” she says. “People see him in a way that’s not totally human. I do hope the book humanizes him in that way.”


Pietra didn’t want to give up working for Thompson, but after a few months, she grew weary of her life revolving around the manic author’s whims. “I wanted to be the one who didn’t leave,” she says. But she’d realized it was time to focus on her own career, and had grown uncomfortable with some of the things Thompson asked her to do, like a big cocaine run to his dealer.


“Emotionally and physically and psychically it all became a little too much for me,” she says. “It’s a hard lifestyle to keep up. The fact he’d done so for so many years is really remarkable. He survived it—it’s really unbelievable.”


Even after just a few months, readjusting to the outside world was tough: “After I left, everything felt a little boring for a little while.” But she settled back into real life, working as a magazine editor in New York City, and now raising her son in Branford, Connecticut.


When asked what her 9-year-old son will think about her hard-partying past with the legendary author, she laughs. “I didn’t really think about my son until it was too late. He can read it when he’s 40,” she says. “I’m 45 years old. At this point the character based on me compared to me now—it’s laughable. I’m kind of a soccer mom. It’s a success if I get a sip of wine before I go to bed.”

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In a brand new interview with Overdrive, FEAR FACTORY guitarist Dino Cazares was asked about Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival co-founder Kevin Lyman’s recent comment that metal has gotten “gray, bald and fat,” and that it had no worthy future headlining acts to take over from the classic bands like BLACK SABBATH, IRON MAIDEN and METALLICA.


“I think he has a point,” Dino said. “I mean, who else is as big as MAIDEN? In the last 20 years, in that genre, who else is that big? The closest might be SLIPKNOT or RAMMSTEIN. It’s not because those guys have got what artists like JUDAS PRIEST, MAIDEN, and all those guys have, but maybe those guys have gotten old and bald, but those guys are still doing it. Those guys are still playing massive arenas. But as far as new and up-and-coming bands not being as big as those old bands, I think he used the wrong metaphor. If you say there’s not enough younger bands becoming as big as these big metal icons, he’s right. There’s not a lot of them. But that also has to do a lot with our generation — where music has been cheapened by everyone getting it for free.”


JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford recently said that he believed that the rock scene was “thriving” but admitted that the changes in the music industry have made it difficult for new artists to launch their careers.


Asked if he thought any of the newer hard rock artists have a shot at becoming arena-sized acts once the current crop of dinosaur bands are no longer around, Halford told 1290 KOIL: “Well, there’s incredible talent out there right now, with AVENGED SEVENFOLD, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, IN THIS MOMENT, ROYAL BLOOD… There’s a ton of bands… RIVAL SONS… I can keep going and going.”


He continued: “I’ll tell you what’s changed, and you’re probably aware of this as well, guys. Since the invention of this thing called the Internet, everything has shifted… The way we absorb music now, the way we go to shows and everything, the way we connect… I just actually started Instagram for the first time, because I’ve been told that it’s a really important social tool, @robhalfordlegacy. You can see what I get up to on the road, taking pictures of my friends and so on and so forth. So it’s a different world.


“We were pondering about this the other day in the van driving back from a gig [during our South American tour]. You know, will there be another great, big rock-star giant like Ozzy Osbourne? Will there be another great, big rock-star giant like Axl Rose, for example. Does that really matter? I don’t know. But it’s shifted, it’s changed. The good news is there’s an extraordinary display of talent coming from all different quarters in all different genres of rock and roll. So the future looks bright.”


Halford added: “My mate Gene Simmons [KISS] said ‘rock and roll is dead’ [a few months] ago, which caused a bit of a ruckus. I don’t believe it’s dead. I think it’s thriving, I think it’s great, and I think the future’s bright. Not only the bands that are coming up now, but the bands that are starting where we started forty years ago, making noise in the garage or whatever. It’s great.”


METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich told BBC World Service’s “The Inquiry” that the quality of modern music was a factor in why newer artists have not connected with audiences the way bands like METALLICA have been able to.


“I think one of the main reasons I connect less with new music in my life now is because there’s less great new music to connect with,” he said. “I mean, a lot of the stuff that’s been played is just regurgitated… There’s not people on the leading edge, like THE BEATLES or the Miles Davises or the Jimi Hendrixes taking us all by the hand into these completely unknown, uncharted musical territories.”


Lars also lamented the fact that diminishing record sales have resulted in record companies investing less funds into breaking newer artists, making it more difficult for up-and-coming bands to survive.


“It’s all cause and effect,” he explained. “When there’s less people buying music, there’s less money generated back and record companies take less chances. Instead of promoting five hundred records a year, they promote fifty records a year, and there’s less and less and less and less money being put into younger artists. And there’s a danger of younger artists coming close to extinction.”


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(DALLAS, TX – JULY 29, 2015) Yesterday, the EXXXOTICA Expo made headlines in the Dallas area after an advocacy group expressed their concerns about the event.

The EXXXOTICA Expo, since its inception in 2006, has been an event for adults to have an open and ongoing dialogue about adult topics. We have produced 25 successful events that do just that, and Dallas, Texas will be no different.

“In the last decade we’ve produced 25 events in 6 cities, all without incident,” said J. Handy, Director of EXXXOTICA. “In every new location we face various misconceptions about what EXXXOTICA truly is.”

Handy continued, “Sex trafficking is a major concern in society and we are firmly on the side of those fighting it. We’ve worked diligently to make sure there are no unlawful activities at our events.”

Close to half a million consenting adults of virtually all ages and from all walks of life have experienced EXXXOTICA in areas including Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York and South Florida.

“The fact is, we are upstanding corporate citizens who do not engage or allow unlawful behavior at our events. EXXXOTICA, which brings between $5-7 million to the local economy, is simply a net-positive for the City of Dallas,” added Handy.

Those with concerns about EXXXOTICA Dallas would be surprised to learn that over half of the show’s total attendance historically is made up of women and couples. EXXXOTICA’s opening day, billed as “Ladies Free Friday,” females have outnumbered males 2 to 1 at the show.

In the expo’s 10-year history, attendees have exercised their freedoms of expression, often with their spouses and significant others. Thousands of attendees are expected over the three days to have a chance to purchase products that interest them, meet their favorite stars from the adult entertainment world, enjoy stage shows and partake in seminars that have piqued their interest.

“As Americans we’re honored that this country protects our right to produce an event that’s enjoyed by so many. We can’t wait to see everyone at the show!” Handy concluded.

EXXXOTICA Dallas takes place August 7-9 at the Dallas Convention Center. For more info, please visit: exxxoticaexpo.com

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Avan Lava
Beat Kitchen, 10/3, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires
Empty Bottle, 9/28, 9 PM, free.


Tim Berne’s Decay
Constellation, 10/24, 8:30 PM.


Black Lillies
Lincoln Hall, 10/15, 8 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


Bring Me the Horizon, Issues
Aragon Ballroom, 10/13, 6:30 PM, all-ages.


Bronze Radio Return
Lincoln Hall, 10/16, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


Chancellor Warhol
Schubas, 9/16, 8 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


House of Blues, 11/13, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Circa Survive, RX Bandits
Riviera Theatre, 11/1, 7 PM, all-ages, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Beat Kitchen, 8/30, 8 PM.


Darwin Deez
Beat Kitchen, 11/19, 8:30 PM.


David Wax Museum
Schubas, 11/6, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


Vanessa Davis Band
FitzGerald’s, Berwyn, 8/15, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, 11 AM.


Al Di Meola
City Winery, 10/26, 7 PM, all-ages, on sale Thu 7/30, noon.


Fruit Bats
Schubas, 10/31, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


Subterranean, 10/31, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.

Gene Ween
SPACE, Evanston, 10/1, 8 PM, all-ages, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


the Vic, 10/28, 7 PM, all-ages, on sale Fri 7/31, 11 AM.


Here We Go Magic
Empty Bottle, 10/30, 9 PM.


David Hidalgo & Marc Ribot
City Winery, 9/10, 8 PM, all-ages, on sale Thu 7/30, noon.


Hudson Mohawke, The-Dream
Concord Music Hall, 11/11, 9 PM.


Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
SPACE, Evanston, 9/28, 7:30 PM, all-ages, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Patricia Ibanez & Abel Harana Company
City Winery, 9/22, 8 PM, all-ages, free.


King Khan & BBQ Show
Subterranean, 11/20, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Mike Krol
Empty Bottle, 10/7, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Ladies of Panama
Reggie’s Music Joint, 8/9, 7 PM.


The Life & Times
Beat Kitchen, 10/25, 8 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Low Cut Connie, Turbo Fruits
Empty Bottle, 9/26, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Man Man
Lincoln Hall, 9/23, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


City Winery, 10/29, 8 PM, all-ages, on sale Thu 7/30, noon.


Ashley Monroe
SPACE, Evanston, 11/14, 10 PM, all-ages, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


James Murphy
Smart Bar, 8/21, 10 PM.
Mutoid Man
Reggie’s Rock Club, 9/5, 8 PM.


Matt Nathanson
SPACE, Evanston, 10/18, 8 PM, all-ages, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Beat Kitchen, 10/27, 6:30 PM, all-ages, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


Passafire, Lionize
Double Door, 11/13, 9 PM, on sale Thu 7/30, 10 AM.


Lula Pena & Paola Angeli
City Winery, 9/21, 8 PM, all-ages, free.


Red Fang, Whores
Subterranean, 10/7, 8:30 PM.


Chase Rice
Aragon Ballroom, 10/16, 8 PM, on sale Fri 7/21, 10 AM.


Subterranean, 11/11, 8:30 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


The Suffers
SPACE, Evanston, 10/15, 8 PM, all-ages, on sale Fri 7/31, 9 AM.


Kasim Sulton
The Abbey, 11/8, 7 PM, on sale Sat 8/1, noon.


Summer Heart
Schubas, 9/11, 10 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


Beat Kitchen, 9/22, 9 PM.


Travelin’ McCourys, Drew Emmit & Andy Thorn
City Winery, 11/15, 5 and 8 PM, all-ages, on sale Thu 7/30, noon.


Chad Valley, Stranger Cat
Schubas, 10/3, 10 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


The Wind & the Wave
Schubas, 10/22, 9 PM, on sale Fri 7/31, noon.


Wood Brothers
the Vic, 11/7, 8 PM.


Youth Lagoon, Moon King
Thalia Hall, 10/21, 8 PM, all-ages, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.

Victor Wooten
SPACE, Evanston, 9/5, 7 and 10 PM; 9/6, 8 PM, all-ages, 9/6 added, on sale Fri 7/31, 10 AM.


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Ant-Man Stomps on the Competition for 2nd Weekend at #1

Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man was #1 at the box office for a second weekend, beating Adam Sandler’s Pixels and John Green’s Paper Towns.


After becoming Marvel Studios’ twelfth movie to open in the #1 spot, Ant-Man (Disney), starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll, retained its position in the top spot with $24.8 million, down 57% from its opening weekend with $106 million grossed in its first ten days. It added another $35.4 million overseas with openings in Germany, Spain and other territories to bring its global total to $226.5 million playing in 61% of international territories.


Meanwhile, Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World continued to do well as it passed Marvel’s The Avengers to become the third-highest grossing movie domestically as it brought its North American total to $623.8 million. (Avengers grossed $623.4 million in North America in 2012, but even if Universal has overestimated Jurassic World for the weekend, it will surely take third place on Monday.) Jurassic World also holds the third place globally with a $1.54 billion world take.

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See Diary of a Damned Man for complete details.




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