Sunday, July 26, 2020


Monaco, January 1989

Ma Kelly laid into Jaws right after Christmas, told him to stay the hell out of her saloon.

Ma Kelly's Wedding Day

Forty years earlier this feisty lady was Grace Kelly's roommate at New York's Barbizon, where acting students were roomed alphabetically. 

They became close friends and both wound up in Monaco, Grace, as princess, and Kelly, as wife to the conductor of Monaco's symphony orchestra. 

Now Ma Kelly, Miss Katie's mom, is matriarch at Le Texan.

Kelly's cadre of chums includes the Dick Sisters, a pair of jet-set gays who breeze into the Principality for a spot of high society shit-stirring, then steal off to Switzerland until the heat dies down. 

The duo's senior, Dickie, was trained as a court jester and says things like, “I knew Gucci when he used to repair my shoes,” and “I'm the one who taught Robert Carrier how to cook.” 

His notoriety along the Riviera stems from the time he spiked a birthday cake with LSD at a high society bash. Lady Somebody-or-other almost killed herself driving home to Cap Ferrat... in reverse.

John J. McMillard III was conspicuous in his absence from the Alamo Bar. All Tony would say about the incident was, “Man he's a weeird dude.” 

But I found out what happened.

McMillard, convinced Cupid had discharged an arrow on New Year's Eve, could no longer contain his lust for Miss Katie. He hugged her tight, wouldn't let go, and Tony had to pry him loose.         

Without Jaws and McMillard, Le Texan is a little less like the bar in Star Wars, but not much, especially with Bob Beckman around.

When Randy Newman wrote Small People, he was thinking of Bob Beckman. 

Walking with him one night toward Le Texan, this smug little guy sneezed and inadvertently blew a fart so enormous, it propelled him six-feet forward.

Beckman likes expensive ornaments. 

He sports a top-of-the-line gold and diamond-studded Rolex, carries a crocodile attache case and chain-smokes with a classic gold Dunhill lighter. 

Throw in his bouffant hair-do, shi-shi cigarette holder and effeminate gestures, and you've got the know-it-all caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland.

Beckman  and I get round to discussing the meaning of life over several bottles of Heineken at Le Texan's Alamo Bar.

“It all comes down to one thing,” says Beckman. “Getting laid.”

And I gather this on his mind since he isn't.

“Procreation,” he continues. “That's the bottom line.”

“Maybe,” I offer, “it's because when you die, your spirit joins your offspring whose physical composition is genetically derived from you?” 

I'm nudging. Beckman has no children, wants none, and has been estranged from his parents for a decade.

“I don't buy it,” says Beckman with typical finality. “When you die, you're done.”

The smoke from his burning cigarette curls up into my nostrils and mouth, and I stand there choking, coughing, spluttering, as he lights another.

Miss Katie overhears our metaphysical mumblings and contributes an interest in psychic healers and spiritual guides, saying that she visits a tarot card reader and runs Le Texan on positive energy, trying to juggle overbooked reservations with positive vibes. 

It's down to Tony, a natural skeptic, to keep everything in perspective with a well-placed “don't give me that shit.” 

The chemistry between them works better than Huntley-Brinkley.

Roberto Lire saunters in, hands on his hips, smiling and looking around the joint. 

Squat, olive-skinned Roberto, from Milano, dresses in blue denim from neck to ankle and wears face cream in his curly black ringlets to give them luster.

His nightly circuit in pursuit of verge du jour (virgin of the day) takes him to Cafe de Paris, the piano bar at Loews Hotel, Le Texan and finally to Jimmy'z  nightclub. 

He stalks American teenage girls, offering to be their guide around Monaco “no strings attached.” 

But near the end of a late supper, he croons, “Are we going to bed?” 

If the answer is no, he argues the point; if it's still no, he gets up without a word and disappears, leaving her with the tab.

Roberto hangs out with Lorenzo; sometimes they do the circuit together. Lorenzo struts the floor at Le Texan looking like Mussolini, scowling at the men and checking out the women. If their looks don't please him, he marches out.

Often, Roberto operates as Lorenzo's advance man, looking for talent and, if found, keeps them charmed till Lorenzo arrives for an inspection.

On this evening, Roberto grinds to a halt near four young American girls standing at the Alamo Bar, margaritas lined up in front of them. 

His expression says he cannot believe his luck, and I watch as he searches for the right angle, the right position, eyes alert, never departing his prey. He elbows a space, wedges in next to them, dips into their basket of tortilla chips, and munches, awaiting an opportunity to deliver his favorite opener: 

“I can see deep into your eyes. You are a lonely woman. And I am a lonely man. Let's spend some time together.”

You could tell he wanted to dash to a telephone (“come quick, Lorenzo, two for you, two for me!”) but he dares not leave this spot for even a second because he has already observed Shorty dining at a table nearby. 

And he knows it's just a matter of time before Shorty sneaks over to ask the girls if they want to meet Prince Albert.