By Jerry Honigman
It was late 1983 or early 1984. My buddy, Jim Keller, was in a good place.
A year and a half earlier, he had scored major success (along with Tommy Heath) as half of the band, Tommy Tutone. Jim had co-written the song, “867-5309 (Jenny)”, with his friend, Alex Call of the Bay Area band, Clover.
Clover, while on tour in England, had been the backing band for Elvis Costello’s debut album and had developed quite a following on their return to the States. Their line-up consisted of, among others, future “Chiropractor to the Stars” and temporary manager of the Romeos, John Ciambotti, John McFee, who would go on to become a Doobie Brother, and Huey Lewis, who would go on to become Huey Lewis.
Anyway, Keller was flush and enjoying life. He was also friends with Canadian singer/songwriter Maggie Lee, who had recently been signed to CBS Records, the label Jim and I had shared as well.
He called me one afternoon and said, “Hey, I’m having dinner with Maggie at the Improv tonight. Why don’t you join us. She’s got a friend who’s going to meet us there. It’ll be fun.”
The Improv is a famous comedy club on Melrose in Hollywood which, in addition to being a cool hangout, features a nice restaurant up front.
So, I’m thinking, “Oh, no. A setup. Probably with a great personality.” But then I thought, “What the hell? I’ve got nothing else to do, and Jenny, er, I mean Jim is buying.”
So off to the Improv I ventured.
I hadn’t been at the table with Jim and Maggie very long when her friend showed up and was introduced to me. Her name was Demi, but they pronounced it kinda funny, like DuhMe. She was pretty. She was young. She was pretty.
We had a nice meal and enjoyed some laughs and decided to adjourn to the place Maggie was renting while recording her first album. It was decided that I would ride with Demi in her little white (sporty) car, and we would meet them there.
On the way to Maggie’s, Demi stopped at a gift shop full of Hollywood trinkets and souvenirs. She went up to the counter and the two women who worked there began showing her mucho deference and fawning all over her. They also knew just what she was after. Handing here a bag full of nitrous oxide cannisters and balloons. Nitrous is the proverbial “laughing gas” provided by many dentists for various oral procedures. But some folks also enjoyed it in this form, known as “Whip-Its.” We used to find them at similar gift shops in the French Quarter.
Back in the car I asked her what all the extra-special attention from the shop ladies was all about. She told me she was on a daytime drama that they watched. Turns out, she was on General Hospital, which was not really on my radar. This was not unusual information to me. This was, after all, Hollywood.
Once we got to Maggie’s, Demi proceeded to undertake the ritual of filling the balloons with the gas for inhalation. I was not entirely unfamiliar with the practice, though I had never really enjoyed it or done it much. Until now. Her method of partaking the goodies came with a twist. She would suck the contents of the nitrous-filled balloon, and then she would lean over to me and exhale into my mouth with a soft, soulful kiss. I now understood the attraction of the Whip-It.
When my turn came, I followed the excellent example she had shown and kissed her right back. This went on for a while, sometimes without nitrous. Plenty of smooching. She was pretty.
But I’ve got to tell you, and this is the rub, I didn’t really feel much chemistry there. I understood actresses and the Hollywood culture. By this time, I had been living there for five or six years and had had my share of flighty encounters.
So, when she suggested we go back to the Improv to hang out, I wasn’t really into the prospect of making that scene with other friends she was meeting, and had her just drop me at my car.
Cut to a month or so later, in February 1984, when I went to an afternoon movie. It was called “Blame it On Rio,” and it featured Michael Caine, Valerie Harper, Joe Bologna, and, you guessed it, Demi Moore. There was my blind date up there on the big screen. Topless.
I distinctly remember thinking as I looked up at her naked twenty-one-year-old body and pretty face,
“Damn! I should’ve gotten her number!”