The M-Word (My Trip to Morrissey’s House)
[Originally published in King Shit magazine, then reprinted in, Morrissey’s Toilet, a limited edition zine that accompanied a board from StrangeLove Skateboards.]
As I stood in the sunny cul-de-sac outside of Morrissey’s two-million-dollar house off of Sunset Blvd. waiting for his realtor to arrive to show us the place, I suddenly felt the need to have a cell phone against my ear. As a prop. I figured I might look better if I were on a cell phone. You know, like I was a hotshot Hollywood millionaire wheeling and dealing, or whatever it is they do on their cell phones. “Hold on, lemme call you back. I have to look at this fucking mansion or something, God.” Because that’s what I was supposed to be: a hotshot Hollywood millionaire interested in buying Morrissey’s house. But I had forgotten my phone in the car.
“Tania,” I said to my wife who had donned a pair of $100 shoes for the occasion, “let me use your cell phone.”
Tania was the one that learned about Morrissey’s house being for sale and sent us all an email. The subject of the email was, “Steven!” The “Steven!” in the subject was directed not only at Morrissey, but at Steve Randolph, our former intern turned realtor. “Dammit Steve,” Tania wrote, “why aren’t you telling us about these things? Dave’s gonna be a hotshot MTV guy now and our house is entirely too small for the Gatsby-sized galas we will surely be throwing!”
Attached was a link to a web site titled “Buy Moz’s LA House for Two Million!” There was a photo of the front of the house and the property description:
“Extraordinary 1931 Mediterranean in celebrity cul-de-sac above Sunset with dramatic city view. Entry to huge living room with beam ceilings, hardwood floors and massive fireplace. Upstairs master has spectacular, city view plus walk in closet and huge limestone bath. Separate guest suite plus convertible media/den and separate maid's with bath. Full Mediterranean charm. Kitchen and baths recently remodeled with great style. Media & projection equipment included as-is. $1,995,000. 4 Bed, 3 Bath. Estimated payment: $9,098 Per Month*.”
Steven, the realtor, saw the opportunity immediately. “You and Tania will be my clients,” he said. “Just be successful, rich, Morrissey fans who would pay the high price because of sentimental reasons. All you have to do is act like my clients and never break character.”
So Steve contacted Morrissey’s realtor to set up a showing and had a very interesting conversation with the man. We’ll call Morrissey’s realtor “Dick” because, while he was really cool to us, he seems like he could be a real dick. Dick is a high-end realtor to the stars who doesn’t give a fuck about anything. I quite liked him. Steve was especially impressed with his liberal use of the word “cunt.”
Dick told Steve that the only reason everyone knows that Morrissey’s house is for sale is because “the stupid cunt” who was his former realtor listed it under his real name, “Steven Morrissey.” A big no-no in the showbiz realty world.
“That’s why you were able to find the listing,” Dick told Steve.
Dick apparently saw the stupid cunt’s mistake and contacted Morrissey a couple years ago and explained to him that the stupid cunt was a stupid cunt and that he could make everything right. So Morrissey ditched the stupid cunt and hired Dick as his personal realtor. It’s probably the closest Morrissey has gotten to either a cunt or a dick.
Dick described Morrissey as “a nice guy.” Although “he’s an artist” and “he’s really unsure of himself.” This he’s gathered from the half dozen or so phone calls he has with Morrissey each year. Morrissey, apparently, likes to know what’s going on in the market. According to Dick, however, Morrissey doesn’t really know what’s going on, so Dick pretty much tells Morrissey what to do in terms of real estate. Which is in direct contrast to one of his other clients, Mick Jagger, who’s “a real asshole,” but has very good business sense. Mick tells Dick what to do.
Steve talked to Dick for about half an hour. And while Steve never broke character, in the end, Dick was pretty sure he “knew what was going on here.” Steve told him that his client, me, was a big Hollywood writer and helped create, among other things, the TV show Jackass.
“Must be a pretty funny guy, Steve,” Dick said.
“Oh, let me tell you,” Steve said.
Dick just wanted to make sure we weren’t a bunch of “freaky stalkers.” Apparently there had been quite a few since the house went on the market. Steve assured him we weren’t and that we were genuinely interested in the property. Which wasn’t even for sale anymore. It was already in escrow. After being on the market for only five days, the house had already commanded a full price offer of $1.95 million.
“You know, I like you, Steve,” Dick said. “I’ll let you and your clients come take a look at the property. Why don’t you show up at the house at two o’clock on Wednesday. That’s when the house is being inspected and I have to be there anyway.”
Before the end of the conversation, though, Steve was sternly warned that there was to be no funny business. And under no circumstances were we to use “the M-Word.” Steve assured him there would be no problems and we would never say the M-Word.
“Don’t fuck me, Steve,” was the last thing Dick said before he hung up.
The day of the scheduled meeting, we drove into Hollywood a little early and stopped at the Cat and Fiddle to have a couple of pints. It’s one of Morrissey’s favorite LA hangouts and the spot where I once posed with him for a photo.
“What should we do?” I asked Steve and Tania at the bar. I didn’t want to get anyone fired or fuck anyone over, but I couldn’t just stroll around Morrissey’s house without doing something. “I want to rub my dick all over everything.”
“No, no, I’m gonna shit in his toilet,” I said. “Maybe I should hide a dook? Oh wait, there’s no furniture. Ah! I’ll dry dock the fudge barge!”
“Huh?” Steve asked laughing.
“Shit in the tank,” I said. “Tania? We should fuck in there!” That’s almost better than the Mile High Club. Lots of people have fucked on airplanes, including us, but who the hell has had sex in Morrissey’s house?
I knew I was going to do none of those things as we stood in the cul-de-sac in the shadow of Morrissey’s house and the inspectors began to arrive. If any of them knew they were about to inspect Morrissey’s house, they sure as hell didn’t care. They were all very serious. The mold guy was very friendly, though. He really enjoyed his job. So while Steve struck up a casual business conversation on the subject of mold, I looked at Tania’s cell phone and tried to figure out who to call. I decided on my friend Chris Nieratko.
“Hey,” I said.
“Hey,” Chris said.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said. “What are you doing?”
“I’m standing in front of Morrissey’s house,” I whispered.
“Oh no way,” he said. “Right now?”
“Yes,” I said. Then, raising my voice again, “So did you talk about THE BUSINESS PLAN for THE PROJECT?”
“No, not yet,” he said flatly. Silence.
“Uh, so, okay. Great. THAT SOUNDS GREAT,” I said.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
I turned my back on the mold conversation and whisper yelled, “I’m trying to pretend like I’m talking on a cell phone.”
“I’m acting!” I whispered.
“I can’t hear you.”
“WELL, OKAY CHRIS, THAT SOUNDS TERRIFIC. I’LL TALK TO YOU LATER. CIAO.”
I hung up. Goddammit. I kept looking at the phone as if it held more business for me to attend to.
Suddenly, a Range Rover came tearing around the corner into the cul-de-sac. While we, and then the inspectors, had all pulled timidly into the cul-de-sac and gingerly parked our crappy cars along “the rich people’s street” (Johnny Depp lives next door!) this guy zoomed right past all of our cars and parked in the driveway as if he owned the place.
“Look at that confidence,” Steve gasped.
It was Dick.
As soon as the car came to a stop, the engine was off and he was out the door. “Gimme five minutes, Steve,” he said, barely glancing over his shoulder at us as he marched to the entry where the inspectors had gathered. He greeted them, opened the iron gate, and ushered them up the brick steps to the front door.
We were about to enter Morrissey’s house.
The house itself sits high above the street and looks very grand and majestic from the outside. As the listing said, it has a very Mediterranean air to it. There are blue wooden balconies jutting out from almost every arced window and the sun dances across the creamy plaster walls. The house has red tile roofs and iron railings, and it’s separated from the street by a hillside of beautiful tropical jungle. Giant, lush palms of every variety spring forth from the floor and, alongside grand eucalyptus trees, reach high into the sky where their canopies provide shade for not only the vibrant green ferns and crawling ivy below, but for nearly all of the house and even the street. Morrissey’s tastes have always been impeccable, and his home is no exception.
As promised, Dick emerged at the bottom of the stairs a few moments later and waved us over. He was wearing a sharp, white dress shirt and tan slacks. He was probably near 50 years old, but he had aged well. Some of his success was no doubt due to his good looks and likeability. Steve had told us over and over again how nervous he was of this meeting. Dick was a seasoned veteran and obviously one of the best in the business, while Steve was a rookie realtor, his license not even a year old.
The brick staircase wound up to an arched door within a round castle turret of sorts. Steven tried to make casual conversation with Dick on the way up while Tania and I followed behind. As we entered the foyer, we met Dick for the first time. I said hello, shook his hand and tried to appear as disaffected as possible. For a second I thought he was going to go, “Hey! Wait a minute! You guys are M-Word fans! OUT! OUT! OUT!” But he didn’t and he cordially led us into the living room with the large fireplace that I recognized from a Morrissey portrait.
“This crest,” Dick said pointing to some faded paint smudges high above the fireplace, “is Clark Gable’s family crest. I don’t have any way to prove that, but that’s what I’ve been told.”
I have no reason to doubt him since the house was originally designed by Clark Gable for Carole Lombard. It was next owned by F. Scott Fitzgerald for a short time. (When Tania wrote that email, she didn’t know that “Gatsby-size galas” had, literally, taken place there. One such gala, interestingly enough, was when the house hosted the after party for the opening preview of Saturday Night Fever. That’s, like, so weird.) A couple of decades later it was the part-time home to film director John Schlesinger. And before the “present owner” (as Dick preferred to call the M-Word) inhabited it, the house belonged to Hollywood producer and writer, Darren Starr. Who wrote and/or produced Sex in the City, Melrose Place, and 90210, and, unlike me, really was a hotshot Hollywood writer.
Besides the Gable crest, the living room, and the house, was empty. And since this tour was about as important to him as a rehearsal after a play, Dick hurried us along to the next room. “But, but, but,” I stammered to myself, “can’t we just bask in the aura that M-Word left behind? What songs must he have written in this very room?” But I had to stay in character, so I followed Dick up into the entertainment room.
“When the guy outfitted this room for the present owner,” Dick said, “he got him a state of the art entertainment system.” He pointed to a clunky, three-lens, space shuttle looking projection thing hanging from the ceiling. “It was state of the art,” he continued, “nine years ago.”
He smiled halfheartedly. He was tired of saying it. That joke isn’t funny anymore.
Throughout the tour, Steve had been doing his darnedest to keep up appearances by asking technical realtor questions. Dick had been politely entertaining the softballs that Steve was lobbing at him until we walked across the hall into the master bedroom where Dick announced he had more important things to attend to. “Excuse me,” Dick politely said as he slipped out a back door to go talk to one of the inspectors.
Finally! We were free! We got out our cameras and started snapping pictures. We hadn’t wanted to seem too eager at first. But now that Dick was gone we started taking pictures of everything. I raced into the master bathroom to take pictures of where M-Word made poo poo. “Haha, that’s where poop came out of his butthole,” I said taking a picture of his toilet.
“Vegetarian shit stinks, too,” Tania said.
“Tania, take a picture of me sitting on his throne!”
After we got done giggling, we looked around and, holy shit, what a motherfucking bathroom. It was enormous. And the whole thing was tiled in limestone. In the middle was a giant tub with jets all around it. In the corner was a really big dual shower. The walls beneath each showerhead were solid glass with views to the outside. For a dude who says he’s celibate he sure isn’t very modest. “I’d like to drop my trousers to the world!” Tania was very excited to stand in a room where M-Word had once stood naked.
Dick returned and we snapped back into character. “Oh is that the backyard?” we asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “You can go out this way.” He led us out onto the sunny back patio and just kept walking as another inspector was requesting his audience. The “tour” was now over as Dick seemed satisfied that we weren’t going to “fuck him” and he could direct his attention to more important matters. We were free to roam the grounds as we pleased, but we didn’t dare try any funny business as the layout of the house allowed Dick to pop up just about anywhere and check in on us. Which he did on occasion.
Despite the grand façade, we discovered it really wasn’t a very big house. After we saw the bedrooms, we walked back through the living room to look at the other side of the house where we found a modest kitchen with dark blue tiles.
“Tania,” I whispered, “take a picture of my hand on the faucet.”
I figured, surely M-Word had used the faucet? So he had to have touched the handles. And now I was touching the handles. Some sort of weird transubstantiation had to be going on, right? All I know is that from reading M-Word message boards that M-Word fans get pretty freaky and any one of them would probably shit their pants if they were able to touch a faucet their hero had touched. “Tibby,” for instance, a fan on an M-Word message board, was just stoked to be living in the same state as the M-Word. “It’s so depressing,” Tibby wrote about the sale of the house. “It’s funny with Morrissey living in the same state I’m in I just thought that I might meet him someday. Looks like I’ve lost my chance. I’m really depressed now.”
I once met a self proclaimed Morrissey stalker who would hang out in front of M-Word’s house just to talk to his gardener. To him, talking to M-Word’s gardener was almost like talking to the man himself. Can you imagine how he, and the other freaky stalkers, will react to me, someone who actually touched M-Word’s faucet?
After we toured the kitchen, we walked out onto the back patio. There’s a small fountain and a lot of potted plants. On the wall hung the only thing that probably belonged to M-Word that was left behind: a wire, iron sculpture of a cat. I thought of stealing it, but Dick and the inspectors were everywhere. Plus, we weren’t “freaky stalkers.” We were rich, Hollywood people who didn’t give a shit about rusty old, cat-shaped trinkets.
We weren’t done, but Dick had begun dropping hints that we were.
“Long day?” Steve asked, noting the sour tone in Dick’s voice.
“Not even close to over,” Dick replied.
“That’s what coffee is for,” Steve laughed nervously.
“Yeah, whatever,” Dick said.
Knowing our time had come, we walked back into the living room and hurriedly took some pictures of the Gable crest. I had been wanting to steal away into one of the bathrooms and lock myself in so that I could do some serious snooping, but I didn’t think that sort of thing was allowed.
“Okay, well thanks,” Steve said wandering into the room, “we’re going to get going, but I’m going to use the bathroom first.”
You can use the bathroom?!!!
Steve went in and closed the door behind him. I was going to use it next. I turned my attention to my butt. There better be a poop in my butt. There was no poop in my butt. I tried to will a poop to descend, but none were forthcoming. Grrrr. I wanted to shit in M-Word’s toilet so bad.
When Steve emerged, he had a little smirk on his face like he had done something bad. I went in after him and closed the door behind me.
I was alone in M-Word’s bathroom. First thing I did was rifle through the drawers, but found nothing. Ah, but there was a scrap of toilet paper left on the roll. “I wonder how much this could fetch on eBay?” I thought.
Then I turned my attention to the toilet. That’s where M-Word pooped. His butt touched that toilet seat. So I rubbed my hand across the toilet seat. “Mmmm,” I thought, “M-butt.” He’d also surely stood over this toilet with his wiener in his hand and peed in it. Maybe M-Word pees sitting down? While I was in Ireland I developed the rather strange habit of documenting every pub we visited by shooting a picture of my penis peeing in the pub toilet. It seemed to me a truer portrait of the pub’s character, and my visit to it, than any photo of the interior or exterior.
So I’m in M-Word’s bathroom and I got my cock in one hand and my camera in the other and I thought I was aiming both of them at the toilet, but apparently one of them wasn’t pointing at what it should have been. In Ireland I had gotten quite good at shooting and peeing at the same time, but I was obviously out of practice because I peed everywhere except into M-Word’s toilet.
“Whoa,” I said when I saw the mess I had made. “Oops.”
I looked around for something to wipe it up with, but there was nothing. I did have the little scrap of toilet paper in my pocket? Nah. If I couldn’t sell it on eBay, I reasoned, I could go TP Johnny Marr’s house with it.
“Fuck it,” I thought. “I just peed all over M-Word’s toilet. And I’m leaving it.”
We took a few more photos on our way out and even plucked a couple of flowers from the potted plants on the stairs as souvenirs. Dick was chatting with an inspector on the street at the bottom on the last step.
“By the way,” he said as we descended, “if you took any pictures, please don’t post them on the internet. We’ve been getting a lot of internet traffic on this property.”
We all promised we wouldn’t post any pictures. We thanked Dick and meekly said we were interested in purchasing the property. If anything should fall through in escrow, please give us a call.
“Half the deals I make,” Steve said all cocky, “are after a failed escrow.”
Yeah, right. But it sounded good. And with that we said goodbye, got in the car, and drove down the hill to Sunset Blvd.. It had been a lovely afternoon. We were excited. Steve put The Smiths on the stereo. We had just been to this guy’s house! The guy that was singing to us right now. We had walked where he had walked, stood in his shower, peed in his toilet, peed on his toilet, seen where he slept, and where he ate. And it was a really cool house. If I had two million dollars, I most certainly would have made a bid on it. I’d be ecstatic to make it my home. If it were mine, I would have turned it into a righteous party palace. With a cool doorbell.
But, alas, it’s not my home.
It’s his home.
And I’m fairly certain I’m welcome no more.