Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Date with Richard Dreyfuss

West Hollywood, March 1988

In the fall of 1987, my roommate Alan moved to Thailand in yet another attempt to start a gay Pentecostal church among cute Asian guys (he tried in Japan in 1986), so I needed a new place to live.  I ended up moving in with Derek, a fitness model turned realtor.

He was deeply involved with Eastern philosophy, and I had been a fan of the paranormal ever since my aunt in Indiana started telling me ghost stories.  So nearly every weekend, we went to the Bodhi Tree Bookstore on Melrose Boulevard, which specialized in New Age books, everything from natural foods and aromatherapy to Buddhism, Hinduism, and the occult.

It got very crowded on weekends.  We often saw actors, mostly the semi-celebrities who starred in tv shows a few years ago and were still recognizable.  Often browsing in the witchcraft section, trying to find a spell that would hasten their success or prevent their decline.

One Saturday afternoon, when I was browsing through the paranormal section, there was a short, rather husky guy hogging the shelf I wanted, immersed in a book.  So I glared at him, cleared my throat a few times, and eventually he moved away.  Derek immediately clomped over.

"Did you ask him out, or what?" he demanded.


"You didn't even talk to him?  Do you know who that was?  Richard Dreyfuss!"

I hadn't even noticed.

Richard Dreyfuss was not a semi-celebrity: everyone had seen the 39-year old star in  American Graffiti, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Goodbye Girl. Jaws was the most profound gay romance I had ever seen.

In the fall of 1987, he was appearing in Stakeout and Tin Men, and he had just wrapped up filming Moon Over Parador.

The next Saturday, same section, same short, rather husky guy, immersed in a book about vampires. This time I looked closely.  Yep, it was Richard Dreyfuss!  "I got my first kiss from a vampire" I said, as an icebreaker.

It didn't work.  He moved quickly away.

He wasn't there the next Saturday, but a couple of weeks later, I saw him in the paranormal section again.  I said "Hello," from one regular customer to another, and to my surprise he responded.  Soon we were chatting about Benjamin Bathurst, the British diplomat who arrived at an Austrian inn, walked around the horses, and vanished forever.

After that, we chatted regularly.  He was friendly, and I thought, a little cruisy, always paying special attention to the cute guys.  Could he be gay?  And more importantly, interested?

Important Clue #1: Cruising cute guys.

 I had already been in a relationship with a closeted celebrity.  I didn't need another. Besides, I was dating Raul, kind of. But still...he was Richard Dreyfuss!

One day I got enough courage to invite him to the Abbey, a gay restaurant on Robertson, for coffee, and he consented.

Important Clue #2: Consenting to go to a gay restaurant.

 I told him about the Naked Man in the Peat Bog and the naked Indian God at the Pow Wow.

"You're lucky that all of your ghosts were hotties," he said with a smile. "All I saw was a little girl, wearing a pink dress and horn-rimmed glasses, when I was in the hospital after a car accident."

Important Clue #3: The word "hotties." .

I decided to play my trump card.  "My ex-boyfriend saw ghosts all the time," I hinted. "And UFOs.  I felt so jealous."

"My wife is the same way.  I wish I was more attuned to the spiritual world."


Ok, not gay, not interested -- but super gay-friendly, especially for 1987.

We stayed "chatting at the bookstore" friends through 1988.  Once I invited him to a barbecue at Derek's house, but he didn't come.  Then, after I got back from Turkey, he didn't come to the bookstore anymore.

Maybe he walked around the horses and vanished.

Or maybe he moved to New York.

I never got his phone number.

See also: Derek and I Share the Cowboy of Sunset Boulevard.

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