The Coolest People in the Arts:

250 Anecdotes and Stories

by David Bruce

Dedicated with love to Desmond, Samantha, and Autumn


Copyright 2012 by Bruce D. Bruce

Front Cover Photograph

© Vladislav Lebedinskiy


Chapter 1: From Art to Conductors


• Johnny Brewton is the creator behind the zine X-Ray, each issue of which consists of 226 copies, each one at least slightly different. It was definitely an artistic project, and lifetime subscribers included the J. Paul Getty Museum, the rare book department of S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo, and the University of Wisconsin. One contributor was Hunter S. Thompson, who helped create the cover of X-Ray #4 by putting on lipstick and kissing a few copies and by shooting a bullet through every copy. (The cover was a photograph of Marilyn Chambers holding a box of Ivory Snow.) Another contributor to X-Ray was Charles Bukowski, who impressed Mr. Brewton with his work ethic: Mr. Brewton wrote Mr. Bukowski on a Monday requesting some poems, and by that Saturday—not even a week later—he received an envelope containing some poems. Mr. Brewton says about Mr. Bukowski, “I was amazed at how generous he was—he really gave back a lot and supported small presses; he taught me a lot about professionalism and deadlines. He was always on time.” Yet another contributor was Timothy Leary. Mr. Leary’s publicist, however, in a phone conversation told Mr. Brewton, “Mr. Leary has to charge one dollar per word for articles and stories. Are you sure you want to do this?” Because the zine made basically zero money, Mr. Brewton sarcastically replied, “That fits my budget perfectly! I’ll buy one word.” The publicist asked, “Which word do you want?” Mr. Brewton replied, “I don’t know. Have Mr. Leary decide.” The publicist spoke to Mr. Leary, and Mr. Brewton overheard Mr. Leary say, “That’s great! Yes! I pick the word ‘Chaos’—that’s my piece!” Mr. Brewton titled the work “A One Word Dosage from Dr. Timothy Leary” and put a card saying “Chaos” inside a pill envelope—each of the 226 copies of the issue contained the one-word contribution. (1)

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