Richard Lighting Up
How many times did Richard try to stop smoking? How many deals with our mom and dad did he strike?

Anecdotes about Richard — and Love

By Robert Locke

"I hope Mom and Dad don't come to see this play," Richard said to me during the final dress rehearsal.

"Why not?"

"Because it hits too close to home."

He was talking about the fact that the title character, Rose Jewel, was a domineering Okie gal of 65 whose daugher was a stutterer. Well, true our mom was an Okie gal and pretty domineering, yes, and it was true also that our sister Janet had severe speech impediments. Yes, there was the foundation there for some of our own family problems, plain to see.

But Janet had seen the play that very night and had asked me coyly, "When are you going to write a play about me?" So Janet had not recognized her own foundational aspect in the play. Would Mom and Dad?

Well, in fact, I did not pressure Mom and Dad to see the play, and they didn't, and I imagine I was glad.

The play itself actually has a magnificently happy outcome and there are plenty of big guffaws throughout, particularly for the character of Rose Jewel (or truly, Bob, at the expense of Rose Jewel, yes, that's true).

But no, better not to share this one with Mom and Dad. Thanks, Richard, for the advice.

But Mom and Dad are gone now, and Janet's gone, and Richard's gone, but the play is still here, and I have reconstituted it from old 3X5 floppies that had begun to fail, in consultation with a paper copy of the 1986 script. And I think that people who have come to visit these pages devoted to Richard —in search of that gay icon so fabulously handsome and well built and with such a deep, soothing sexual, resonant voice— might well like to venture a bit further into his family life and actually read this funny, loving play.

For the page that describes the two productions of Rose Jewel and Harmony click here. There is a link at the bottom of that page to reach the script itself in pdf. Drama queens welcome! Audiences love this play.

Also I want these people coming in search of Richard's legacy to be aware of previous people who have come on the same search and found my website.

Pia-Kristina Svenhard, an author in Sweden, emailed me a few years ago to ask for "the rest of the story" — as have so many — and when I sent it to her, in return she sent me two cassettes of an interview she had made with Richard in a restaurant in San Francisco in the mid-80s.

I couldn't bear to listen to the cassettes at that time, but in October, 2014, when Pia-Kristina came to visit me in California, I did listen. I took Pia-Kristina to visit Richard's grave and I brought several boxes of memorabilia for her to look through. It is her intention to write a book about AIDS survivors and AIDS victims, and she will no doubt feature Richard prominently in the book.

I screwed my courage to the sticking place and put on the headphones, and it wasn't at all bad, hearing that distinctive voice again, saying all those distinctive things that I remembered so well. And I decided to put the cassettes into mp3 format so that I could put at least one clip of Richard's voice onto the website.

This is a nice clip, I think, typical of Richard, and typical of our family love.

Listen to Richard and Pia-Kristina from 1989 (4 minutes)

One thing that Pia-Kristina said to me in the cemetery really stunned me as I knew it couldn't possibly have been true, that Richard had told her in their interview that our mother had watched Richard's movies and envied him. Listening to the cassette I was able to straighten out what he actually did say about this and how Pia-Kristina misinterpreted what he said. Pia-Kristina's English is extremely good, but her ear may not be perfect in regard to American idiom.

This is what I wrote to Pia-Kristina in an email dated Oct. 25, 2014:

"But I do want to begin with what you mention below in your email and also one of the things that you led with, and with which I disagreed wholeheartedly, about my mother watching his porn and envying him.

If you listen to that part again, which was perhaps 20 minutes into the first side of the first tape, what Richard said was, "My mother's never seen any of my work." And then he talks about her being the daughter of a fundamentalist preacher and on the day she ran away to get married to my dad (not approved at that time by either Grandma or Grandpa because my dad was such a rake) my mom cut her hair for the first time. She had always worn it long, very thick and black, and now as my Aunt Edith told me when Richard and I were staying with her, "She cut her hair and looked like a kewpie doll, she was so cute."

Grandma cried.

At about Minute 30, Richard does say that after she was married, and freed from her fundamentalist prison, she did see a movie for the first time, and maybe you understood him to say that she saw one of his movies. But no, that's not true.

He goes on to say, "Maybe secretly, but she never said it to me, she was proud of my work, and maybe she was a little envious of me, I'm not sure."

He also said that she was shocked years earlier to find out that he was posing nude for art students in college.

Personally, I was never sure that my mother understood what was involved in Richard's porn career. She might have thought he was just being filmed in the nude. He does say that my mom asked him if children were involved, and he assured her there were not."

I was very glad to get this straightened out with Pia-Kristina so that in case she does finish her book, she will not include her misconception of what Richard had said about our mother and Richard's porn. In fact, I found as I was recently retyping "My Brother the Porn Star" for inclusion here in these webpages that there is an interesting section toward the end of that interview where Richard and I talk about my mom's perception of his work on film. q.v. if interested. There is a link in the bottom paragraph on this webpage.

I have also begun a new page to help visitors in search of Richard's legacy. On this page —called DEAR-BOB LETTERS— I intend to put some wonderful excerpts from emails that many visitors have shared with me after they have asked for and read the rest of "Living, Dying and Mr. In-Between".

Because some of these visitors had read somewhere about an interview titled "My Brother the Porn Star" that I did with Richard in 1978 for Blueboy and because the magazine editors allowed me to copyright that article in my own name, I have decided to retype the entire article and add some photographs from Richard's life. Click here to read My Brother the Porn Star.


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