Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Derek the Fitness Model's Date with David Cassidy

West Hollywood, June 1989

It's my third date with Lane, the date you traditionally introduce him to your friends, so we're having dinner at my house with Raul, Will, my Celebrity ex-boyfriend, Fred and Matt...and my housemate Derek?

Derek and I are not close.  We don't eat meals together, we rarely share each other's dates.  We are invited to each other's parties by default, but we rarely attend.

So why is he here?

I'm worried that the former fitness model with the baseball bat between his legs will steal my new boyfriend before we even have a chance to seal the deal.  It's happened before.

I serve barbecued chicken, baked potatoes, "roshineers," and tomatoes.  Lane brings a salad, and Derek furnishes the desert.

After dinner we start talking about childhood crushes -- tv and movie stars you found dreamy, back in the day: Luke Halpin of Flipper,  Desi Arnaz Jr.,  Barry Williams of The Brady Bunch.  

Derek keeps silent.  He's substantially older than the rest of us, so he probably doesn't want to call attention to his age by mentioning Ricky Nelson or...or Frank Sinatra.

Then someone mentions David Cassidy, the androgynous star of The Partridge Family, who had a string of hits in the early 1970s: "I Think I Love You," "I Woke Up in Love this Morning,"

"Incredibly hot!" Will exclaims.  "Those eyes!  That voice!"

"And so fey," Lane says.  "It's obvious he's one of us."

We all nod in agreement.

"He's bi," Derek says suddenly.  "But mostly into girls.  Guys once in a blue moon.  Pity...he's got a face that can break your heart."

"Do firsthand knowledge of this bi thing?"  I ask.

Hollywood, Fall 1973

Derek was 26 years old, an amateur bodybuilder, newly out, divorced from his wife Ellen, and exploring the gay world.  He was trying to make a living as a fitness model -- magazine ads, semi-nude photos in "physique magazines," and nude photos in gay magazines like In Touch and Blue Boy. He supplemented his income with gigs as a bodyguard, bouncer, and...well, paid escort.

One night his friend Panther (Jim at the time) arranged a "date" for him: "He saw you in In Touch, and wanted a better look.  He's a big star, really big, so everything has to be on the hush-hush."

Curious, Derek drove to the house in the San Fernando Valley, and got buzzed in -- by David Cassidy!

They sat in the living room, drinking wine coolers.  The most famous pop star in the world seemed rather star-struck by Derek.  He wanted to know about his workout routine, his diet.  They talked about the gay world, the bars, discos, bath houses -- David was shocked that such things existed. They were so busy talking that three hours passed before they even thought of going into the bedroom.

What they did when they got there is private, but it was amazing.  Afterwards they cuddled and talked all night. David was smooth, androgynous, rather well hung, exactly Derek's type.  He was hooked.

David had a heavy touring schedule -- and he liked girls, a lot -- so he didn't have much time for Derek.  They got together maybe once a month.

That wasn't enough.  Derek wanted a full-time lover.  He wanted to move in with David, to stand next to him as the papparazi swarmed, to spend every night kissing and talking softly in that king-sized bed with the black silk sheets.

"Sort of like the millions of teenage girls who wrote 'Mrs. David Cassidy' in their school notebooks," Fred notes.

Finally one day in May, Derek put his foot down.

"I need more time," he said.  "I understand that you're the idol of every teenage girl in the world, but I'm here, now.  We should go out, do something together, have a real date."

David thought for a moment.  "Well...I have a concert in Glasgow next Friday, and then I don't have to be in London until Sunday afternoon.  I can bring you along as...say, my new bodyguard?"

A romantic weekend in Britain with the man of his dreams!

They sat side-by-side on the plane en route to Glasgow, and stood side-by-side to be photographed leaving the airport -- you can still see the AP wire photo of David and Derek together.

Of course, they had separate hotel rooms, but after the concert on Friday night, David sought out Derek's room.  They had an energetic, passionate night.

On Saturday morning, they took a private plane from Glasgow to Cardiff, where they rented motorcycles and drove two hours north, through Brecon Beacons National Park, to the tiny town of Three Cocks for lunch.

"I thought you would get a kick out of it," David said with a grin.

Another two hours north to Aberstwyth, where they registered as "Joe Drummond" and "Derek Drummond" at a guest house.  One room, two beds.

When they walked through the town, a few people stared, as if trying to place them, but David was only recognized once: a teenage boy came up and asked for his autograph.

"Are you David's mate, then?" he asked.

"Um...bodyguard," Derek said.

"Ok, right," the boy said with a knowing grin."  He walked off, singing "I Think I Love You."

"This morning I woke up with this feeling," Matt obligingly sings, "I didn't know how to deal with, and so I just decided to myself, I'd hide it to myself, and never talk about it...."

Derek looks miserable at the memory, so I cut Matt off.  "Do you think the kid knew that you and David were together?" I ask.

Apparently David thought so.  He was quiet all the way back to the guest house.  That night he insisted on sleeping in his own bed.

On Sunday morning, they got up early, biked the 2  1/2 hours back to Cardiff, and got on a plane to London.

On Monday, David flew on to Amsterdam, and Derek flew back to Los Angeles.

He never saw David again.

"Stay away from those celebrities," Derek says, looking pointedly at me.  "They'll break your heart."

Was Derek telling the truth, exaggerating a simple bodyguard job, or making the whole thing up?

Evidence that he was telling the truth: David Cassidy did tour Britain in May 1974, and the bodyguard in the AP photo looks like Derek.

Evidence against: David doesn't mention Derek, or any same-sex relationships, in his memoirs.  It is unlikely that the most famous pop star in the world would be able to take a weekend off and motorcycle through Wales without drawing the attention of the press.

See also: Derek the Fitness Model and the Teenage Cowboy; David Cassidy.


  1. Why did Derek tell us about dating David Cassidy on that particular night? It sounds like a cautionary tale against dating closeted celebrities, but my Celebrity Boyfriend and I had been broken up for over two years by this point, and Lane was not an actor. Maybe the presence of my Celebrity Boyfriend reminded him of his lost love.

  2. The chevron (from the French for, ahem, a horny ungulate) makes the coat of arms perfect.



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