THE SIXTIES- Peter, News of Ellen, Ginsburg

The author Christine, 1964

The author Christine, 1964

I was at a party on the lower east side of New York, it was summer of 1964, I was still fairly new on the New York scene. There were a lot of literary types there, Alan Ginsburgs crowd, I spotted a gorgeous guy, blonde and so good looking he could have been a model. I was instantly attracted, and I sidled up next to him on the couch. We started to have a very nice conversation, when Alan entered the room. He kept walking back and forth, and glaring at me. I got up and pulled the hostess aside and asked her what was the matter with Alan, I barely knew him. She laughed and said the blonde man was Alan’s boyfriend, Peter Orlovsky.

I was living in Boulder Colorado in the early 80’s, and occasionally attended events at Naropa University, located on the outdoor mall, a very attractive brick street, no cars allowed, lined on both sides with nice shops and buildings, always something going on there, street musicians and performers. I listened to Alan and other luminaries reading poetry at Naropa.
I was walking down the street there and saw a most intriguing man, good looking older man with long, long grey hair, pulled back in a pony tail. I had seen him several times before. Smitten with curiosity, I followed him to see where he was going. He turned into a building across the street from Naropa. At that moment I ran into a girl I knew from poetry readings. She told me there was a party upstairs in that building, and invited me to go on up with her. Upstairs I pointed out the man to her, and asked her who he was, and she said “Oh, that’s Peter Orlovsky”. At that moment Alan arrived. I shrugged and gave up. I sat next to Alan and asked him if he had any news about Bill Heine and Ellen. “You knew them from New York?”, he said, a bit surprised. I said yes, but I hadn’t been there for a long time. “Ellen died, 6 years ago” he said. I must have looked shocked, and he started apologizing, very concerned, asking me if I was close to them. He seemed very kind. I was so startled I forgot to ask what she died of.

1965 Huncke and I were spending the afternoon together, he said he would take me to the apartment of a friend of his called Gayton. My old man in San Francisco, George the Beast, had told me Gayton had a terrible reputation, that he was known as Ground Glass Gayton, because he sold meth with ground glass in it to give it sparkle, thus to resemble the more expensive crystal meth. I thought this might be just a wild tale, urban myth, nonetheless I accompanied Huncke to meet Gayton. They were middle aged at this time, I was 19. Once there, they had a short conference, and Huncke told me to wait there, he needed to go on a short trip. I felt like he left Gayton to babysit me. This apartment was dark, and had no furniture. I waited uncomfortably, as Gayton didn’t seem to want anything to do with this young west coast hippie, so I sat on the floor against a wall. Gayton was standing near the left wall, and suddenly, in less than a blink, he was standing in the right side of the room. I was so startled I screamed. He huffed out of the room in disgust. When Huncke returned, Gayton said to him, “I thought you said she was cool”.

1970 The last time I saw Bill and Ellen was walking down the street in Haight Ashbury. I was surprised to see these New Yorkers, we stopped and talked for a little while, they looked pretty well. They told me a little about leaving New York, traveling around. I’m not sure what year that was. I returned from Seattle in 1969, was in San Francisco a couple of years, it was maybe 1970, they were together, I don’t know if they were still together when she died.

The author Christine, 1964

The author Christine, 1964


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