Couple of weeks ago I was spending a quiet evening at home, preparing to do some dishes and tidy up the place, when Mick Jagger suddenly dropped by. I’d never met him before and my first thought was, “Wow, what a cool and unassuming person, how warm and friendly and natural – just an ordinary guy!”
I was thinking this about myself. Mick Jagger, of course, is no ordinary guy; he’s probably the most famous male sex symbol in the whole world (not to mention a very effective singer and dancer with a real sharp band that plays terrific music). That his presence would ever grace my humble San Francisco flat was an idea beyond my wildest – well, there are some fantasies that just aren’t safe to fool around with. Yet here he was, his face nearly hidden by dullish stringy hair, his body actually quite shorter than one might expect, coming up the stairs, putting one foot in front of the other as I myself have often done; and here I was, unbelievably maintaining my cool, no groupie shrieks, no fanatic genuflections, shaking his hand with just the right manly firmness to avoid disastrous misinterpretations (“What’s this? A zealot’s clutch? A fairy’s kiss? Some dopey rock industry power shake?”), welcoming him with a sincere but casual “How ya doin’?” as if we were simply two more hippie brothers under the sun. Frankly, I think I may have overdone it.
The trouble is, it’s not easy these days to know how a man should act . . . particularly in front of a famous male sex symbol like Mick Jagger. Plus I had no warning. My friend Annie just brought him by and rang the doorbell. Naturally the place was a mess, my hair was a mess, my clothes were ridiculous – some dumb T-shirt and a pair of denims spotted with dishwater. See, I had just come back from the laundry with practically everything I own, and if Annie had phoned even half an hour before arriving, I know I could have picked out something to wear that Jagger would have liked. Well, actually, it takes me half an hour just to get my hair really right, but if she had phoned an hour before, or let’s say two hours, because, of course, shaving takes a good half-hour for a perfect job, by perfect I mean trimming the sideburns and mustache and following your downstrokes with upstrokes, particularly under the chin, and covering the nicks with this special flesh-colored medicinal application (which may look like makeup but I assure you is for healing purposes only), so that your face ends up totally smooth to the touch (not that I would expect Jagger to touch my face – what are you accusing me of?) . . . anyway, all I’m saying is, if I’d had two hours’ warning I could have straightened up the flat and myself and then greeted Jagger in a much more, well, natural manner. (The funny thing is, Jagger looked like he’d been thrown together in five minutes, but, see, he can get away with that; it probably adds to his sex appeal or something.)
Now that I think about it, trying to act natural and relaxed in front of someone like Mick Jagger is probably the most unnatural thing you could do. Of course! That’s the crux of the problem right there! That’s what I meant by overdoing it. Like, the first thing that happened, I offered Jagger a beer and he said no thanks but did I have any Coke. So I directed him to the refrigerator and made him fetch his own! I mean, how uncouth can you get? If it had been anyone else, any other “friend of a friend,” I would’ve fetched it myself, used a glass and ice and everything, without even thinking about it. But for Jagger? Wait on him hand and foot like some mincing, pussy-whipped little toady? Never. (Then it occurred to me – oh God, this is so embarrassing! – that probably what he really wanted was cocaine. Sure, he’s the fucking king of rock & roll; those guys sprinkle it on their breakfast cereal, don’t they?)
Likewise, when Jagger later pulled out a cigarette and asked for a light, Mr. Natural here hands him a pack of matches and makes him light it himself. Now, how many times have I lit the cigarettes of total strangers, a panhandler on the street, say, after giving him the cigarette even – just basic good manners, right? But for Jagger? What, and risk his thinking for one minute that I was the least bit impressed by his super-stardom? Hah!
Another problem was conversation. That was a little trickier because, let’s be realistic, what was there for Jagger and me to talk about? The only thing we had in common was the weather and our sexual organs, both extremely boring subjects. (And please, I’m not trying to say my cock is as big as his or anything like that. I have no idea how big his cock is, other than the suspicion it would not be in my interest to bring the matter up.) I could have told him I’d just seen him perform and it was the greatest rock & roll concert I’d ever witnessed. Which was the absolute truth. But confess this to Jagger? He probably hears that cornball crap from every simpering groupie he meets.
Actually, he probably doesn’t. I suspect what usually happens with most common folk is they act pretty much like I did – try to appear super cool and natural while in fact treating him like a piece of shit. He must hate that. See, there’s something we could’ve talked about. I could’ve tried to understand him. Sure, show a little sympathy for the devil. I could’ve said, like, “Mick, I want you to know I’m really pleased you’re here, but frankly, I haven’t any idea of” – or no, better yet (he’s English, right?) – “Mick, I want you to know I’m really pleased you’re here, but frankly, I haven’t the foggiest notion of what to say to you. I bet that happens a lot, doesn’t it?” And then he’d say, “Yeah, I hate it,” and maybe those big, sexy lips of his would quiver a bit and he’d start unloading on me all his lonely frustrations of being a top rock star, and we’d become close pals, and he could phone me any time he felt down, and call on me whenever he was in town, and I’d pour him some coke, either in a glass or on his cereal, and light his cigarettes and … wait a minute, see what I mean about unsafe fantasies? Shit, I hope Jagger doesn’t read this, he might think I was gay or something. Well, what if he did? What if I were? There’s nothing wrong with being gay. Yet, I must think there is or I wouldn’t be worrying about —
See, this sort of weird thing happened when Mick and Annie got up to leave (an understandable decision after half an hour of my cruel, if not unusual, treatment). Annie remarked, not seriously, “Well, I just wanted you to feel this great man’s presence.” I said, “Oh, I do, I do. I’m scared shitless.” It was my first honest reaction of the evening and I think it broke the ice. Annie smiled, leaned over and kissed me goodnight. Jagger smiled (he’s really a very friendly fellow), I leaned over and suddenly had this strong urge to kiss him goodnight – it seemed like the most natural thing to do, just a friendly peck on his mouth, no tongue action or anything. But naturally I didn’t do it.
Why not? “Well, you hardly knew each other,” a friend suggested the next day. “He’s been touring all around the country,” said another, “perhaps you thought he might have a disease.” But, of course, those aren’t the reasons. It’s because straight men don’t kiss each other. Straight women do but not straight men. They may feel like doing it, they may have good reason for doing it, but they’re so afraid of homosexuality, or perhaps their own emotions, that they never ever kiss. Jesus Christ, talk about a fucked up sex!
Anyway, instead of kissing Jagger I sort of squeezed his elbow a little – a pathetic gesture but at least I maintained my cool until the end. After they left I sat down and thought about these questions for some time. Finally I shrugged, got up and prepared to clean house as originally planned. I began by dusting off Mick’s Coke bottle and centering it on the mantelpiece. I’m still looking for an appropriate candle to go with it.
This story is from the October 9, 1975 issue of Rolling Stone.