Last week I put the word out to all of my friends and friends-of-friends for celebrity hookup stories about Tony Dow. I got a lot of other 1950s and 1960s teen idols instead: Jack Wild, "Dennis the Menace" Jay North, Jon Provost, Brandon DeWilde. Some I'm holding off until I can do some fact-checking, but Bobby Driscoll seems pretty airtight.
It comes from a friend of Blake, my ex-boyfriend in Manhattan, who says he heard it from Wallace Berman.
The first generation of Baby Boomers remembers Bobby Driscoll (1937-1968) for only two vehicles: a young Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island (1950), and the voice and model of Peter Pan (1953).
In fact, he was a busy child star, working from the age of five, hired at the age of 11 to become Disney's first adventure boy, whose youthful masculinity and muscle would guide the way through the Cold War.
But things didn't pan out. Apparently he wasn't masculine or muscular enough to suit Walt. Promised roles fell through, and finally Disney cancelled his contract altogether. Bobby found himself scrambling for guest spots on tv shows, trying to survive in a high school where everyone ribbed him for being the androgynous Peter Pan, negotiating bouts of depression, trying every drug he could get his hands on.
Around 1956, Bobby met Wallace Berman, an artist of the 1950s avant-garde, who introduced him to Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger. He thought Bobby had a great deal of artistic talent, and should concentrate on that rather than acting.
But Bobby continued to try to capitalize on his long-gone child star cuteness. Former Disney chums took pity on him, and arranged for roles in Men of Annapolis, The Party Crashers, and The Millionaire, but he was increasingly deemed unemployable. His last mainstream acting job was in a 1960 episode of Rawhide.
He supplemented his very meager acting income with odd jobs, petty theft, and an occasional trick with female clients (he didn't have a great physique, but he was well hung, and always ready to rise to the occasion). He was arrested many times for drug possession, burglary, assault, and theft, but amazingly, either the charges were dropped or he was sentenced to probation. He only served six months in prison.
One day in 1965, after Bobby's latest arrest, he got a call from Berman, now living in Greenwich Village and quite a big name in avant-garde circles (he is one of the celebrities on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band).
"Look, the straight world is doing nothing but giving you shit," Berman said. Come to the Village and crash at my place. Work on your art."
So Bobby and girlfriend Didi relocated to New York, and moved into Wallace's pad in Greenwich Village.
Berman introduced him to Andy Warhol, and he began hanging around the Factory with the crowd of hustlers, transvestites, underground artists, and pop stars. They all made a fuss over him: he was immediately cast in the underground film Dirt (1965), and asked if he had any poetry to publish.
Andy was particularly entranced with Bobby. "Peter Pan finds a new way to fly," he said. "The ironic rebirth of a lost boy. I love it. Take your clothes off."
Andy photographed Bobby nude several times (the photos have been lost), and invited him to an orgy with Ondine and Ultra Violet (he refused).
"Suck Andy's cock!" Berman advised one day in 1966. "It will do you a world of good."
"Naw, I'm no homo," Bobby said. "Besides, he's ugly."
"Well, suck somebody's cock. Mine, if you want."
"Yeah, while you're thinking about that little hustler with the great ass. All your problems, they're not the Man's fault -- it's your hang-ups. You're a homo, and you don't want to be."
Bobby laughed it off at the time, but later he thought, maybe I am a homo after all.
Only one way to find out.
But who could he go with? Not Andy Warhol. Not Berman: he wasn't into old guys. Not Allen Ginsberg: he wasn't into fat guys. Certainly not Candy Darling: if he was going to go with a man, it would have to be all man.
Suddenly he hit on it: Joe Dallesandro, 19-year old hustler "Little Joe," 5'6" but with a 7" cock, the biggest, most buffed, and most hung of the Factory regulars, and unabashedly bisexual. Perfect!
Joe was up for it: "Me and Peter Pan, what a trip!" he exclaimed.
They "warmed up" by going down to the docks and looking at the buffed sailors, then having dinner at a Village dive notable for its gay clientele. Then they went back to Joe's pad, put on some Jefferson Airplane, dropped some acid, and started making out.
Bobby had never kissed a dude before. It was nice.
He let Joe go down on him, which didn't feel much different from a girl doing it. Then he pushed Joe down on the couch and swallowed his gigantic cock. It rammed the back of his throat. He gagged and pulled back, but he was eager for more. Joe's cock, everything that made Joe a man -- inside him!
He worked on the shaft, while Joe whispered directions: "Watch your teeth. More tongue action." It didn't take long for Joe to ejaculate. Bobby lifted his head just in time to watch the spurt. Beautiful!
"Hey, you're not bad, man," Joe said. "You sure you never sucked a cock before?"
"Only in my fantasies," Bobby told him, pushing his head down so Joe could suck him off.
The sex was cool, and it was nice to finally be able to admit his interest in muscular men. He spent the next year making up for lost time.
But coming out didn't solve Bobby's problems. When Didi caught him with a guy, she moved out. He continued using drugs. He tried to paint, but he couldn't bring himself to paint homoerotic scenes, and everything else turned dark on his canvass.
In late 1967, he contracted hepatitis. When the Factory gang went to Arizona to film Lonesome Cowboys in January 1968, he was too sick to go with them.
When they returned, Bobby had vanished. In February 1968, he wrote to Allen Ginsburg, saying that he had been arrested and needed money for bail. Why not Warhol? Why not Berman? No one knew.
Was Blake's Friend Telling the Truth?
The rather extensive biography of Bobby Driscoll on his memorial website doesn't mention any same-sex activity, nor do any of the biographies of Andy Warhol. Bobby's poetry is mostly about girls.
But Warhol's Factory crowd was all about going beyond the sexual and social limits imposed by 1960s society, and Bobby had a lot of gay and bi friends. His last letter was written to a gay man. It makes sense that he would try to escape his self-destructive spiral by embracing the feelings that he had been fleeing from his whole life.
See also: Nude Photos of Joe Dallesandro